Sign up ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Project HAARP is a favorite target of conspiracy theorists. It has been blamed for causing the Haiti earthquake, the recent Japanese earthquake and many, many other events.

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is an ionospheric research program jointly funded by the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Its purpose is to analyze the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance purposes (such as missile detection).

Even Jesse Ventura got onboard the HAARP conspiracy wagon. Is there ANY scientific basis for any of these theories? There are two theories specifically that seem to get traction in the fringes. The first even sounds feasible: Can HAARP affect the weather? The other, probably the most famous and also least feasible: Can HAARP cause earthquakes?

share|improve this question
HAARP seems to be some organization that is committed to researching ionosphere for better radio communications. I don't see much correlation between radio and earth quakes, IMHO. Hopefully an expert knows better. Nice question by the ways. :) – skizeey Mar 18 '11 at 9:02
Is your question about the HAARP conspiracy wagon (text) or about any conspiracy theory (headline), maybe such, which will be invented in the future? A theory can be substantiated by observed facts, so if you find some letters between managers of HAARP and politicians, which substantiate a theory, or you find a money stream from evil persons with an evil agenda to some scientists at HAARP, that would substantiate a conspiracy theory. History, political science and sociology are sciences which deal with conspiracy, but I guess you're more asking about physics? – user unknown Mar 19 '11 at 7:57
It's a conspiracy theory. None of those ever have any basis in fact or reality. Case closed. – jwenting Mar 19 '11 at 21:06
@jwenting, this depends on your definition of conspiracy theory. If you believe that the 9/11 attacks were planned by Al Qaeda, then congratulations, you are a conspiracy theorist. (If you believe they were planned by the US Government, even more so!) If subscribe to a different definition, where only falsehoods can be considered conspiracy theories, then you are begging the question by labelling it as such. – Oddthinking Jul 29 '11 at 15:52
not really, OT. We all know what's meant by the term "conspiracy theory". As to AQ, they claimed responsibility. That makes anyone believing they're responsible at worst gullible to believe a lie (if they lied). Those however claiming it was the "big bad government" and come up with fake "evidence" to support such claims, that's conspiracy theorists by the accepted definition. – jwenting Aug 1 '11 at 6:03

1 Answer 1

up vote 16 down vote accepted

The "beauty" of a conspiracy theory is that no matter what evidence is presented, there is a "talk around" for the believer. No matter what answer is given, they will have a more conspiratorial rebuttal for that. To suggest that HAARP is anything beyond "an ionospheric research program jointly funded by the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Its purpose is to analyze the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance purposes (such as missile detection)." without anything to go on is a great hallmark of "making stuff up."

AS REQUESTED: Info about HAARP and what they do.

What is HAARP?

HAARP stands for The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. The goal of this program is to further advance our knowledge of the physical and electrical properties of the Earth's ionosphere which can affect our military and civilian communication and navigation systems. The HAARP program operates a world-class ionospheric research facility located in Gakona, Alaska.

Is HAARP a classified project?

HAARP is not classified. There are no classified documents pertaining to HAARP. The Environmental Impact Process (EIP) documents have always been, are now, and will always be completely descriptive of the program in its entirety. The EIP documents are a matter of public record.

What kind of research will be conducted at the HAARP facility?

The research to be conducted at HAARP falls into two broad categories:

The study of basic natural processes that occur in the ionosphere under the natural but much stronger influence of solar interaction. This includes studying how the natural ionosphere affects radio signals with the goal of developing techniques that may be available for mitigating these effects to improve the reliability and/or the performance of communication and navigation systems. Development of technology to use effects produced through ionospheric interactions. One example of this is learning how to generate new signals in the ELF range for the real application of subsurface communications.

BACK TO CONSPIRACY THEORIES: As we understand weather and earthquakes, there is no known mechanism by which HAARP can accomplish either conspiracy goal. Since HAARP uses EM, it does not fall into any known application for having an actual effect on weather (Wiki). As for using any sort of EM to control earthquakes, most of this stems from theoretical work that there may be some precursors to earthquakes. (Wiki) Although, if this was reliable, I am quite certian Japan would also have this level of technology, and would have actually used it to warn their population prior to the 11 MAR 11 earthquake.

Does that mean that the research these agencies do can't go beyond analyzing the ionosphere for those particular applications? No. They may indeed find some interesting applications that they weren't aware of before starting the study. Is there anything nefarious going on? Well, wanting to detect missiles, and perhaps enabling covert communications could be considered "nefarious" by some, but not beyond the scope of what agencies such as the USAF, USN, and DARPA do all the time.

So if the government claims HAARP is ionospheric research, and a conspiracy theorists claims it's meant to control the Yellowstone Caldera, what answer should any reasonable person give? A simple "no" will of course be met with "the government is lying" response, and no matter what is shown to the believer, they will claim that there is something hidden. In these cases, it is standard policy to ignore these fringe elements because engaging them is ultimately more destructive than just ignoring them.

share|improve this answer
+1 for the Conspiracy Theory psychology – drxzcl Mar 22 '11 at 11:18
This answer talks a lot about the mindset of the people making the claims, and how to deal with them, and very little to do with the HAARP program. As someone who has never heard of the HAARP program, I would love to see an answer explaining more about what they ARE actually doing (with references!) – Oddthinking Jul 29 '11 at 15:56
@Oddthinking, ye have but to ask! :) – Larian LeQuella Jul 29 '11 at 23:30
They are testing communication of radio signals through the atmosphere? I feel enlightened; thank you! And that is alleged to be affecting tectonic plates? Oh dear, I feel dirty now. – Oddthinking Jul 30 '11 at 3:59
@CamiloMartin not understanding the physics will put you at a serious disadvantage in discussing the subject. Perhaps this web page will help: – Larian LeQuella May 1 '12 at 22:18

protected by Sklivvz Sep 27 '12 at 23:49

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.