The Men Who Stare at Goats

Contributed by David Fiddimore: member 2126/ Edinburgh – 2nd December 2009

Film: general release November 2009

Cloud spotters may derive particular pleasure from the cloud busting scene in the 2009 film of Jon Ronson’s book “The Men Who Stare at Goats”. Ronson is a journalist and “Goats” followed his very successful book “Them” – a hilariously irreverent series of investigations into popular conspiracy theories. “Goats” – a detailed investigation, if not exactly a true story – illustrates what happens when the lunatics take over the asylum. The asylum in this case is the US military, and the lunatics a group of senior officers who came to believe in the possibility of raising a battalion of super soldiers with psychic powers – the First Earth Battalion – who adopted the philosophy of the Jedi Warrior from “Stars Wars.” Parts of their psychic training included “cloud busting” by staring at clouds, and stopping the hearts of goats by staring at them. (Neither the film nor the book point out that clouds are perfectly capable of busting on their own, and that the strain of goats on which they experimented happened to a be a particularly highly strung breed, known to collapse unconscious if someone so much as claps their hands in the same room!) I chuckled all the way through the film – it’s a bit of an ensemble piece – watching George Clooney, Ewan Macgregor and Jeff Bridges act their socks off. Enjoy the short cloud busting scene while you can, or wait until next year and put a copy of the DVD in a cloud spotter’s Xmas stocking. And remember; don’t begin to worry until the goats start staring back at you!! Happy Cloud busting!!

You can view the YouTube trailer here

Gavin Pretor-Pinney adds that there is a history of cloud-busting. One person who claimed to be able to do it was Rolf Alexander

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.