A Critical Evaluation of the HAARP Conspiracy

A critical evaluation of the HAARP conspiracy reveals that there is nothing suspicious about this Alaska-based research project. So, why has it become conspiracy's favorite child? When we tried to make sense of all the conspiracies surrounding it, we realized that it's just a prey of our half knowledge; yet another that is.
Conspiracy theorists have time and again said that it is possible to manipulate weather and engineer natural calamities using the HAARP. Last year though, they went a step ahead and claimed that it was President Obama who engineered hurricane Sandy―using the HAARP―to secure a second term for himself.

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is a joint research venture funded by the US Air Force, US Navy, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and―in what might leave many people surprised―some of the prominent universities of the country. Since it began back in 1993, the HAARP has been in news pretty frequently; more so for wrong reasons though.

The research project was an instant hit among conspiracy theorists from the very beginning. Every time there is some natural calamity in the United States, these self-proclaimed 'experts' point their finger towards the HAARP research facility in Alaska. That the HAARP is conspiracy theorists' favorite whipping boy becomes all the more evident with a number of theories about it flooding the cyberspace. While some of these have a hint of logical reasoning, others are mere baseless claims ... allegations to be precise. Nevertheless, most of these conspiracy theories either allege that the research project is a weather control device, or call it a directed-energy weapon in disguise.

HAARP Conspiracy Theories

While the information revealed by the authorities suggests that the HAARP is no different from the other ionospheric heaters, some scientists opine that sudden heating of the ionosphere can result in unnatural effects on the planet. Conspiracy theorists take the argument a step ahead by alleging that the HAARP actually controls the near-surface weather of the planet (and is also responsible for global warming). That the research is carried out in midair, around 50 miles above the surface of the Earth, is conveniently ignored here. These experts also attribute the series of hurricanes over the past decade―including Hurricane Sandy in 2012―to this research project, without a shred of concrete evidence whatsoever.

The allegation that the high frequency radio waves alter the core of the planet has put the project HAARP in spotlight time and again. If the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, the alteration of the Earth's core as a result of the activities carried out in this research facility is what is causing earthquakes and other similar natural disasters. In what was one of the most circulated conspiracy theories in the cyberspace, the conspiracy theorists alleged that the March 2011 earthquake, which triggered a tsunami in Japan, was also caused because of the HAARP.

Some conspiracy theorists are of the opinion that HAARP is a military megaproject in guise of a research center, which primarily acts as a surveillance system and has the ability of destroying the enemy aircraft in midair. There also exist some theorists who claim that the radio waves emitted by HAARP can result in adverse effects on the human mind and body. In what can be considered the most bizarre claim, there are some conspiracy theorists who allege that the authorities are using the facility to control people's mind.

What Does the HAARP Actually Do?

The HAARP was built to assess the potential of developing the ionosphere to further enhance radio communication and surveillance technology. At the HAARP Research Station, located at the US Air Force site in Alaska, the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI) or 'ionosphere heaters'―a high power radio frequency transmitter―is used to excite a specific portion of the ionosphere for a temporary period. The IRI is capable of producing a single beam of radio waves with the power exceeding 3.6 million watts. Other than the IRI, an UHF radar and a fluxgate magnetometer are also used to study the physical changes that occur in that specific portion.

Many educational institutes, including the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have been closely involved in the development of this project over the course of last two decades. While conspiracy theorists often allege that most of the information about the HAARP project is classified, the truth is far from the same. In fact, all the information about the HAARP project can be found in the public domain. The facility, the conspiracy theorists add, is a high security zone where unauthorized entry is strictly prohibited, which again is a blatant lie. In fact, the facility has open house and guided tours for civilians interested in this research program.

Additionally, the HAARP research center is not the only ionosphere heating facility in the world or the United States, for that matter. There exist several ionosphere heaters in various parts of the world; the HIgh Power Auroral Stimulation (HIPAS) Observatory, which was operating from the northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, was one of the best examples of the same. If the HAARP has earned notoriety, it's because of our half knowledge and all those rumors floating the cyberspace. The chances of coming across someone who hasn't received those emails titled 'HAARP Conspiracy' are pretty rare. It's the circulation of HAARP myths along with the use of terms like weather warfare and mind-control machine that has made the research project so infamous.

Like we said earlier, the HAARP has been more in the news for wrong reasons since it came into being. That is bound to make one think, if nothing is suspicious, then why is it so popular among conspiracy theorists controversial? That's because―to put it in renowned skeptic, David Naiditch's words―"its purpose seems deeply mysterious to the scientifically uninformed."