The recent revelations that the NSA has been collecting the detailed phone records of Americans since 2001 has a lot of citizens saying that claims the NSA operates a vast domestic dragnet have been vindicated.
Saying someone is “wearing a tin-foil hat” means that they have paranoia or a belief in conspiracy theories, especially involving government surveillance or paranormal beings.
Originally, the term referred to the practice of wearing headgear consisting of metal foil to block mind-reading.
“Well, we had discovered that metal was relatively impervious to the telepathic effect, and had prepared for ourselves a sort of tin pulpit, behind which we could stand while conducting experiments. This, combined with caps of metal foil, enormously reduced the effects on ourselves.”
Unfortunately for contemporary tin foil hat wearers (sometimes referred to simply as “tin foil hats”), a 2005 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the metal hats actually amplify certain radio frequencies instead of blocking them.
From the study (emphasis ours):
It has long been suspected that the government has been using satellites to read and control the minds of certain citizens. The use of aluminium helmets has been a common guerrilla tactic against the government’s invasive tactics.
Surprisingly, these helmets can in fact help the government spy on citizens by amplifying certain key frequency ranges reserved for government use.
The findings led the authors to “speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.”
Now that’s a tin foil hat conspiracy theory!
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