Skepticism

Were the California Wildfires Started by SPACE LASERS? Yes, Says Nazi

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Transcript:

Well, there’s a tragic thing happening, so of course conspiracy theorists have come out in droves to tell us that it’s not happening! In this case, it’s the California wildfires I spoke about last week. To date, hundreds of people are missing and dozens of people have been found dead from the Camp Fire in Northern California, and between that and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, 250,000 acres have burned, more than 12,000 homes and other buildings are gone, leaving many people homeless. And as I mentioned before, millions more people are being negatively affected by smoke from the fires, leaving San Francisco with the worst air quality in the world.

 

The cause of the fire is most likely to be related to PG&E screwing up, as it has often in the past, and for which it should honestly be put out of business.

 

But none of those facts are good enough for the alt-right, which exists mainly to make up fantasies. There’s a guy on Twitter named Mike Tokes, who is for some reason verified. He says he’s a political strategist and entrepreneur. That may be true, but he’s also a Nazi, as shown in many photos in which he’s shown flashing a white power symbol and grinning like an idiot next to a guy doing a sieg heil.

 

So this Nazi, verified by Twitter, has posted a thread that has gone viral, probably thanks in part to his Twitter verification, about how the wildfires were actually caused by (prepare yourself) SPACE LASERS. Here’s all his evidence.

 

First, he points out that some homes burned down with no apparently damage to homes next door to them. Do I need to debunk this or has everyone here seen an incident in which one home burns down but thanks to winds, lack of foliage, or dumb luck, the home next to it is spared? Like, we’ve all seen that, right? Good. I’ll just move on, then.

 

Next he posts photos of burned out cars, saying they are impossible because forest fires can’t melt steel beams. Whoa, I just got a hardcore flashback. Imagine the alt-right cribbing their conspiracies from the wacked out left of 2002. What a world!

 

Here are the facts: a typical wildfire burns at about 800 degrees celsius (or 1,472 F), but in extreme conditions, which this is by the way, temperatures can top 1200C, or 2,192F. Steel begins to soften at 425C, and fully melts into puddles at at 1300C. So yeah, a wildfire can absolutely weaken steel, and in an extreme case it actually might be possible for it to melt steel, though obviously we don’t have any evidence of that happening here.

 

We do have evidence, shown in the Nazi’s photos, of aluminum melting into puddles. Sure enough, the melting point of aluminum is only 660 degrees celsius — a full 150 degrees cooler than the temperature of a typical wildfire. Of course, this is also what we’ve seen happen in previous wildfires, like this one in Tennessee, so it’s not exactly shocking news.

 

Nazi Mike cites a man claiming to be a firefighter who has responded to “hundreds” of car fires but never seen aluminum melt. A car fire tops out at about 800 C, the same as a typical wildfire, but it’s not super common to see in a car fire because, well, generally firefighters show up and put the thing out before it has a chance to sit there for a long time at 800 C. You don’t just need the temperature to hit that high, you need it to be that high and then stay that high for long enough for something to happen. It’s not magic.

 

Next up, alt-Mike presents his theory as to what’s really happening: yep, you guessed it, space lasers. He includes several photos clearly showing lasers from space striking the area where the California wildfires are happening, so that’s that, can’t argue there. I was ready to do some work on these photos but Twitter user Nick Poole beat me to it. Nazi Mike posted one photo from a Falcon 9 launch from Vandenburg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara (where no fires are happening), another photo of a controlled burn from an oil refinery in Canton, Ohio (2500 miles from the Car Fire), a photo of an actual fire in California with a bit of grease on the lens of the camera that can also sort of look like a space laser, another photo with a lens flare that could also sort of look like a space laser, and finally he posted a picture of an airplane with a drawing of a laser coming out of it. The plane itself is a YAL-1 that used to use an infrared beam to destroy ballistic missiles being fired at it.

 

Whew. We’re almost done.

 

Next in the tweet storm, Mike says that the California wildfire map lines up in the same path at the plans for the California High Speed Rail System. My first impression with this one was, well, that’s not a map of the wildfires. I know, because I live in one of those shaded bits and I am definitely not on fire. Also not on fire is Sacramento, San Jose, most of LA, and San Diego. I looked it up and found that it’s actually a “Red Flag Warning” map, showing areas where we have to be careful because the weather makes it more likely for fire to spring up.

 

The second thing I noticed was that the maps don’t line up, at all. The fire warning map is mostly along the Sierra Nevadas, because as I mentioned in my video last week, that forest is at high risk of catching fire. The rail system is not being built in the mountains. That would make zero sense. Why would you purposely build a railroad on top of a mountain range when you could build it on the flat land right next to the mountain? Our politicians can be stupid but not that stupid. Not Nazi Mike Tokes stupid.

 

Finally, Mike posts a video showing a “steel and asphalt” bridge on fire and buckled. I already talked about how wildfires can easily soften steel, so this is no surprise at all. Mike says he spoke with a firefighter who said it would be “impossible” for a forest fire to create this kind of damage. First of all, it’s not a forest fire, it’s a wildfire. Second of all, that firefighter is either an idiot or made up. Tough to tell with the alt-right, these days.

 

So that’s it, a step-by-step breakdown of this new, stupid conspiracy theory. Feel free to link to this video for the next 50 years as idiots like Nazi Mike Tokes continue to point to this as all being the fault of space lasers. Like 9/11 conspiracies, I have a feeling this one isn’t going away soon.

 

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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