Past Meetup

Skeptical Salon Double Trouble: The Men Who Stare At Goats

Hosted by Chicago Skeptics

Public group

This Meetup is past

22 people went

Location visible to members


We're trying something old and something new with this Salon: watching the film AND reviewing the book off of which the film is based...hence the earlier start time. For time reasons, we will [attempt to] start the movie promptly at 7:00 p.m., then move onto discussion of the movie and book.

From an old CS favorite, we revisit Jon Ronson's propensity for madness and humor in The Men Who Stare At Goats. In the course of our discussion, let us delve into psychics, telekinesis and other supernatural phenomenon purported to have been researched by the U.S. Army and the reasons for pursuing said research in the face of evident lunacy.

Just when you thought every possible conspiracy theory had been exhausted by The X-Files or The Da Vinci Code, along comes The Men Who Stare at Goats. The first line of the book is, "This is a true story." True or not, it is quite astonishing. Author Jon Ronson writes a column about family life for London's Guardian newspaper and has made several acclaimed documentaries. The Men Who Stare at Goats is his bizarre quest into "the most whacked-out corners of George W. Bush's War on Terror," as he puts it. Ronson is inspired when a man who claims to be a former U.S. military psychic spy tells the journalist he has been reactivated following the 9-11 attack. Ronson decides to investigate. His research leads him to the U.S. Army's strange forays into extra-sensory perception and telepathy, which apparently included efforts to kill barnyard animals with nothing more than thought. Ronson meets one ex-Army employee who claims to have killed a goat and his pet hamster by staring at them for prolonged periods of time. Like Ronson's original source, this man also says he has been reactivated for deployment to the Middle East.

The other reviews and synopses can be found here: