My name is Mick West. I’m a writer and a skeptical investigator. I used to be a video game programmer. I focus on investigating and explaining conspiracy theories such as Chemtrails, 9/11 controlled demolition, and False Flags. I also cover more esoteric topics such as UFOs, pseudoscience, Flat Earth, photo analysis, and quackery.
Escaping the Rabbit Hole:
Based on my experiences interacting with conspiracy theorists, my book: Escaping the Rabbit Hole, was published by Skyhorse Publishing on September 18, 2018. Escaping the Rabbit Hole examines the full spectrum of conspiracy theories from 9/11 to Flat Earth, and looks at how people get into them, how they get drawn down the rabbit hole, how they get out, and how you can help. Interviews with former conspiracy theorists show that there is hope even for the most deeply entrenched conspiracist. I explain the key flaws with popular conspiracy theories, and how to talk to people who believe in them.
My Web Sites:
- Metabunk.org – My primary site where I post and discuss various investigations. A polite forum of and about skeptical investigation. Metabunk gets 10,000 visitors a day and has an active discussion community.
- ContrailScience.com – About contrails and the “chemtrail” conspiracy theory
- CowboyProgramming.com,Â – Where I write about games programming and post some of the experimental code I have written.
My Social Media, etc.
- Twitter: @MickWest Where I engage my audience and perform and promote skeptical investigation
- YouTube: Mick West (and my old account Epoxynous) where I post various skeptic related videos
- Facebook: Metabunk – Metabunk.org’s official Facebook page.
- Flickr: Metabunk – Metabunk related photo galleries
- Amazon: Mick West – About me and my book
- Wikipedia: Mick West – My entry on Wikipedia
- Reddit: u/MickWest – I don’t really post much on Reddit, but I’m listing this to verify it’s me. Formerly u/Metabunk
CBS Evening News, November 2010
I helped explain a “mystery missile launch” off the coast of Los Angeles. My related page on Contrail Science got over a million views.
CNN, November 2010
Explaining the “mystery missile” and another contrail UFO
America’s Most Secret Structures, Discovery Channel, 2014
I was profiled as a “Contrail Expert”, and explained the science of Contrail formation relating to the “Chemtrails” conspiracy theory.
Joe Rogan Questions Everything, SyFy, 2013
I appeared in two segments on this show hosted by Joe Rogan. In one segment I discussed the “Chemtrails” theory, and in the other, I helped Joe debunk a machine that was supposed to affect clouds by simulating the HAARP research radio.
Overcast, Dedal Films, 2016
Several minutes of me explaining the “chemtrail” theory in an award-winning documentary.
KPCC, Nov 2010
Interview regarding the Mystery Missile
Pat Walsh KFBK, 2015
35-minute segment discussing the “Chemtrails” theory.
Radio New Zealand, 2016
“Mick West is a science writer and is dedicated to the art of debunking wild theories that circulate online and helping other people do the same, with his website, Metabunk.“
“On this episode, we enlist the help of Mick West, himself no stranger to locking horns with conspiracy theorists as the creator of debunking websites Contrail Science and Metabunk, and author of Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect. Flat Earthers, 9/11 â€œtruthers,â€ and chemtrail believers hate this guy in spite of his efforts to patiently set them straight, so he must be doing something right. Listen, learn, and enjoy!”
A two-hour podcast discussing the “Flat Earth” conspiracy theory. This was very popular, having over half a million views on YouTube alone. Several people made detailed response videos.
Joe Rogan Experience #388, Sept 2013
A three-hour podcast where I discuss chemtrails and all kinds of conspiracy theories with Joe Rogan and guest Bryan Callen
The Mad Scientist Podcast, 2017
” a sit-down interview with Mick West, founder of Metabunk.org, Contrailscience.com, and overall debunker extraordinaire. “
Critical Wit, 2011
“Mick West is a pilot and creator of the website, ContrailScience.com. Â We talk about the history and science of contrails; how they are formed, how they take on a variety of shapes, and why they can last for short or long durations. Â And weâ€™ll also discuss Mickâ€™s criticsm of the chemtrail conspiracy. Â We also discuss another website heâ€™s developed recently on â€˜how to debunkâ€™ called Metabunk.org.”
Podcast UFO, (UK) 2017
“Our First Guest: Mick West of Metabunk to talk about the Chilean UFO”
Polly and Grant (Australia), 2016
“We talk to Mick West for Anti-Conspiracy “
CSICOP: “From Chemtrails to CSICon: An Interview with Mick West.”, 2017
An interview regarding my presentation of the “Expert Elicitation” paper.
Articles and Publications
I study UFOs – and I don’t believe the alien hype, The Guardian, 11 Jun 2021
Quantifying expert consensus against the existence of a secret, large-scale atmospheric spraying program, Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 8, 2016
A peer reviewed study I co-authored on expert opinions of the evidence put forward supporting the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory. This was the most popular article in the history of Environmental Research Letters and got a top 5% Altmetric score. There was extensive media coverage of this paper, and I presented it at CSICon 2016.
Curated Crowdsourcing in UFO Investigations, Skeptical Briefs Volume 27.1, 2017
A detailed article on how I solved a UFO case that baffled the Chilean Navy for two years.
Other Media Mentions (incomplete list)
Daily Express, UK, 2018
“Sceptics at debunking website Metabunk.org have been analyzing the footage to see if it does in fact â€œdefy physicsâ€ as claimed. Mick West, administrator of Metabunk.org, who has poured cold water on many previous claims of evidence of UFOs, came to the conclusion it could just be a misidentified plane in the far distance.”
Daily Express, UK, 2017
“Mick West, administrator of Metabunk.org, a website which investigates and exposes hoax UFO and alien sightings, concluded the alleged lizard was simply a dust removal device at the head of the rover.“
“Similar videos have also been examined by Mick West of the metabunk.org website.”
“But, now Mick West, an administrator for the Metabunk.org website, based in Sacramento, California, claims to have solved the case.”
Daily Mail, UK, 2017
“The amazing rainbow contrails are a result of these ice crystals, according to Contrail Science.”
Huffington Post, 2014-2017
“Mick West of Metabunk.org, a site devoted to investigating and debunking â€œmysteriesâ€ of this sort, maintains itâ€™s boat wake, “
” Mick West, a retired video game programmer who now runs Metabunk.org, an online site, â€œdedicated to the art and pastime of honest, polite, scientific investigating and debunking.”
” While it initially appeared the FBI had just released the photos, conspiracy-debunking website Metabunk uncovered evidence indicating they were released to the public as early as 2011, “
The Guardian, UK, 2017
NBC News, 2015
“Metabunk.org’s Mick West says it looks like the weird effect that’s created when someone walks through your line of sight while you’re taking an iPhone panorama. On his website, he demonstrates“
Vice.com, 2014, 2015
“In the US, Mick West runs the website metabunk.org, pulling in 10,000 unique visitors a day. He reckons the Charlie Hebdo rumors were predictable.”
“Mick Westâ€”editor of anti-conspiracy theory website Metabunk, which published an article explaining why Chris’s video was a hoaxâ€”explained the history of the chemtrails theory to me. …”
Gazette Review, 2017
“the skeptical website Metabunk claimed to have been contacted by one of the boys in the picture”
Dive Photo Guide
“Over on the de-bunking website, Metabunk.com, a bunch of very smart people have gotten together to discuss why this technology is just not in our near future.”
“As the well-informed sceptics of metabunk.org point out, if you fiddle with the zoom 5feature a little, the dots will suddenly materialise.”
“But as the online fact-checker Metabunk noted, although Trump gave a speech in Richmond, Henrico County, on October 14, 2016, he did not mention 9/11 during the speech. “
Christian Science Monitor, 2015
“But the website metabunk.org says the shadows in the first video are exactly as they should be and demonstrates why the shadows converge. “
Slate, David Weigel, 2014
“Metabunk has done a number on this, and to be fair, our Colorado candidate doesn’t seem to have bought into the exciting sequel to the Sandy Hook conspiracy.”
“I recently found Metabunk, a website devoted to debunking various conspiracy theories, misunderstood natural phenomena, and flat-out weird beliefs. “
Daily Star, UK, 2014
“Sci-fi expert Mick West, of website Metabunk.org, said: “There is not a lot in the original video that can be pointed to as an automatic fake.”
International Business Times, 2013
“At Metabunk.org, a user named Mick set up his own experiment to show that an object can be moved around by vibration. “
La Presse, Canada, 2015
“The appearance of “paranoid” theories of this nature does not surprise Mick West, a programmer based in California who has run a blog for several years, Metabunk, trying to thwart this type of speech.”
Discover Magazine, 2014
“Mick West, who runs the debunking website Metabunk.org, also convincingly argues that the object is a digital byproduct.
â€œThe answer is that Google stores multiple resolution image tiles, and uses a different set of tiles depend on how much you are zoomed in,â€ West explained.”
Scientific American, 2010
“The airplane explanation was put forth rather quickly by Contrail Science, which demonstrated how an airplane flying horizontally toward a viewer can, from certain perspectives, mimic the appearance of a rocket flying vertically into the sky. “
I’ve published several technical articles in Game Developer magazine where I was a contributing editor. Some are republished here:
- My articles on Gamasutra. These are a mix of Game Developer Articles, and some articlesÂ from Cowboy Programming
- My gameography on Mobygames. All the games I worked on. This was mostly programming and design up to Tony Hawk’s Underground. Then consulting on some games. The last programming I did there was the AI for World Series of Poker back in 2005.