| The woo is out there|
|Aliens did it...|
|... and ran away|
| The fault in our stars|
ZetaTalk is an apocalyptic alien-contactee cult started in the mid-1990s by free-range nutbar Nancy Lieder. Nancy claims to be in telepathic communication with grey aliens from Zeta Reticuli, and publishes the communiques on her website of the same name. ZetaTalk has been one of the most endearingly crazy cults on the Internet for some time, though its membership has declined somewhat in recent years.
ZetaTalk's mythology is a mishmash of New Age pseudoscience, mostly cribbed from the pseudoarchaeology of Zecharia Sitchin and Erich von Däniken as well as Velikovskian catastrophism, though it differs in several important respects from related beliefs like David Icke's Lizardman mythos.
The story starts in ancient Sumer, where giants known as the Annunaki came to Earth to mine gold for some reason. Their home planet is Nibiru, also known as Marduk or Planet X, which is a brown dwarf on an eccentric orbit that passes through the inner Solar System every 3,657 years. In fact, Nibiru is on a figure-eight orbit,[note 1] continually slingshotting between the Sun and its dark cousin Nemesis some distance away.
Whenever Nibiru passes by, its strong magnetic field and gravitational pull cause a shift in the Earth's magnetic field as well as disruptions in its orbit, resulting in massive planetwide destruction. The next time Nibiru passes into the inner solar system, it will stop Earth's rotation and flip it on its side, causing massive flooding of many land areas and stripping away most of the atmosphere. Nancy's job as a conduit for the Zetas, a race of aliens who want humans to survive so that they can create hybrids with us - in fact, Nancy is the mother of one such hybrid - is to warn Earth of the coming catastrophe, as Nibiru is due to pass by Any Day Now. She is opposed in this endeavour by The Powers That Be, who worry about the overpopulation of the Earth and want to seize the opportunity to let the sheeple be killed off in the disaster. The Zetas are aware of this, though, and have deceived TPTB in a series of brilliant feints and fakeouts cunningly disguised to look like failed prophecies.
Though she had some encounters with aliens as a young girl, Nancy first became aware of her status as a "contactee" in 1993, when the Zetas started talking to her through an implant in her brain. At first she was unsure about the reality of the situation, so she asked the Zetas for a sign to prove that they were on the level. Soon afterwards, while at the movies, she opened a package of individually wrapped Starburst candies and discovered that one was in fact unwrapped. The Zetas' awesome power proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, Nancy promptly moved to Wisconsin to start ZetaTalk, and began accumulating followers to help her debate with real astronomers on the sci.astro Usenet group. Watchers of the crank world started taking notice, and her profile increased over the next few years with appearances on Jeff Rense's radio show and Coast to Coast AM, in which she pointed to Earth changes as evidence for the impending disaster.
Eventually Nancy announced that Nibiru would pass by Earth in May of 2003, causing all sorts of problems for the unsuspecting human race, including the fabled pole shift. In the early 2000s, she started doing "Live Chat" sessions on the Godlike Productions conspiracy forums, where people would ask the Zetas questions and she would respond for them. She advised people on how to prepare for the shift - stockpile canned food, build underground shelters, and kill all of your pets. Followers posted shots of lights in the night sky, insisting that Nibiru was becoming visible to the naked eye. Nancy's star rose high enough that even Phil Plait took notice, devoting a debunking page on the still-young Bad Astronomy site to the utter ridiculousness of the Nibiru / Planet X myth.
When May 2003 came and went without any sign of catastrophe, Nancy declared that the prophecy was a "White Lie" told by the Zetas to throw off Them. If she gave a real date for the arrival of Planet X, They would declare martial law and confine everyone to large cities so that the majority of the population would die in the pole shift. Her masterstroke complete, Ms. Lieder declared that Planet X had in fact arrived in the inner Solar System, though it was currently sitting motionless behind the Sun. When asked why it was not visible at any time of the year, she declared that Earth had been stopped dead in its orbit by Nibiru's gravitational pull and was similarly sitting motionless in space. When asked why different constellations were visible throughout the year, she waffled a bit and said something about the earth wobbling on its axis. Mystery solved!
“”Zetas RIGHT Again!
|—A popular slogan at GLP[note 2]|
While ZetaTalk lost most of its followers after the failed prediction of 2003, white lie excuse notwithstanding, a small core of adherents remains thanks to cognitive dissonance. Nancy maintains that the pole shift will happen Any Day Now, and certainly sometime before 2012 (the 2012 apocalypse is a disinfo campaign orchestrated by Them so that people will be unprepared for the much earlier arrival of Nibiru). Never mind that 2012 has also come and gone.
She continued to host weekly Live ZetaChat sessions on Godlike Productions and responded to just about anything that isn't an obvious troll. In May 2010, she announced that she was moving the chat to a new Earth Changes Ning (address listed below) which was set up by former enthusiastic supporter Gerard Zwaan, who resurfaced recently after a few years' absence from the scene. Posting regulations are much stricter at the Ning, where no dissent or arguing is allowed and results in an immediate ban and deletion of all posts by that poster. Although Nancy had Moderator powers at GLP, she would ban debunking posters only on her thread and only during the time of her chat, after which her thread would be opened to the debunkers.
“”1. No debunking and disruption. Debunking and disruption will lead to a ban. If you do intend to embrace any main establishment lies you will be suspended without any explanation.
|—First rule of the Earth Changes and Pole Shift website|
- The ZetaTalk website, as much of a word salad now as it was in 1995
- Bad Astronomy - The Planet X Saga, Phil Plait's debunking page at the old Bad Astronomy site, dealing with Nancy Lieder's and Mark Hazlewood's original claims about Planet X coming in 2003.
- Lieder's user profile on the Godlike Productions forum, listing all threads started by her.
- The Earth Changes and Pole Shift Ning, where Nancy is now hosting her chats
- Such an orbit is possible as a solution to the three body problem - but not in the sense described where an orbit forms a figure of 8 around two stars. In any case, it would require two stars of effectively identical mass and the complete absence of perturbing bodies like, say, planets revolving around one of the stars.
- Used straight by Nancy Lieder and her supporters (example), and ironically by the trolls