The $100 Apocalypse

According to the online rantings-and-ravings of one doomsday evangelist and conspiracy nut, printed money can be used to predict the end of the world. “This is a mega news flash,” he declares.

The evangelist’s name is Jonathan Kleck, a man who has a penchant for folding US currency in creative and neat ways to form images which he construes as depicting major disasters that have occurred in recent US history, such as the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (although he believes that the US government, with the help of Satan of course, played a central role in executing that attack).

Kleck has acquired the brand new $100 bill of US currency which went into circulation on October 8, 2013. In a recent YouTube video entitled “New $100 Bill Decrypted – Nuclear Devastation,” Kleck folds the bill to reveal a terrible truth about events to come within our lifetime. He claims to have discovered that a nuclear missile is going to strike a body of water and release a doomsday shroud of radioactivity that will send millions of people away to meet their maker.

Kleck clearly has a fetish for inverted pyramid shapes. He folds his bills to form a five-sided image with a point at the end, reminiscent of a baseball field’s home plate. Then he turns the pentagonal bills upside down and superimposes them on drawings of a “Mendes Goat” (an inverse pentagram with all the vertices connected by lines). The Mendes Goat has long been associated with the occult and, more recently in historical terms, to modern Satanism. Kleck is trying to show us that the ominous images he has revealed expose the plans of the “bad guys” in league with Satan.

When he folds his $100 bill in this manner, we see what looks like a missile – complete with very distinct fins, fuselage and head – entering a body of water:

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The missile detonates as it enters the water, precipitating the nuclear catastrophe that our self-described prophet guarantees will come in the near future. Kleck is even convinced that the new bill shows more than just the initial impact of the missile on water. He believes it depicts the resulting devastation as well. To show this, he has used a computer to separate and isolate each layer of the ink that is used in the printing of the bills. He plays with different resolutions that present different interference patterns on the bill’s picture:

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To the eyes of Jonathan Kleck, the images above look like a bomb hitting water. To somebody else, it could look like something else entirely. Not everyone sees Jesus on a piece of grilled cheese, either.

Bells and Whistles

Like most paranoid schizophrenics, Kleck appears to believe that his ominous interpretations of images on US currency are in fact not his own subjective interpretation. He is convinced that the images he sees on the money are messages straight from God of what will transpire in the future. According to his website (where he refers to himself in the third person), Kleck believes he has been divinely chosen to deliver “Prophetic Utterances” and supernaturally gifted with the ability to decrypt secret messages that only he has the ability to decode and which line up with his prophetic utterances. His spiritual gifts were delivered to him by the archangel Michael, who visited Kleck personally. His inflated view of himself is reflected in the first line one sees when visiting his website, where he describes himself as a “Bell Ringer for Jesus Christ”:

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If Jesus Christ is still alive, he should be quite capable of ringing his own bells. He is supposed to be made of magic, after all. But it is amusing to imagine Jesus deciding at some point that he needs someone to ring bells for him. “Who should I choose? I know! I want that guy who folds money bills.”

And what’s with the double-helix strand of DNA ejecting a rainbow? Perhaps he has decoded a message from God in Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon? Probably not, but that would be a much better influence than the Bible. “The lunatic is on the grass” indeed.

As it turns out, DNA holds a prominent position in Kleck’s catalogue of crazy beliefs. He has a bizarre theory about the structure of human DNA being tied into the attacks on the World Trade Center in September 2001. According to him, each individual tower represents 23 chromosomes. When superimposed on images of DNA markers, he thinks both towers strikingly resemble the markers. This gave him an idea that he enthusiastically latched onto. The Twin Towers together stand for 46 chromosomes, a complete DNA schematic that disposes of any duality. And if you read Psalm 46 in the Bible, says Kleck, there are clues to be found about the reason the Twin Towers were destroyed. He finds it significant that President Obama recited Psalm 46 in a memorial speech he delivered at Ground Zero on September 11, 2011:

Come behold the works of the Lord who has made desolations in the Earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the Earth.
He breaks the bough and cuts the spear in two.
He burns the chariot in fire.
Be still and know that I am God.

Apparently, that recitation alone is enough to convince the hopelessly credulous Kleck that Obama is the Antichrist. He has desolated the Holy of Holies by setting himself up as a god on live television. In his video “All Seeing Eye and Obama at Ground Zero = New Species,” Kleck describes how the two sets of DNA have fallen like the two towers to make way for the merging together of the two sets to form a single, 46-chromosome strain:

There’s no more two growing together. They’re saying the harvest is here because they’re saying they are one. That’s why Obama read Psalm 46, because it’s a representation of the two DNAs: 23 on one tower [and] 23 on the other tower equals 46.

The Kleckian upshot of all this is that we humans are impure creatures. Kleck believes that part of us is human and another part of us is something else entirely and that one side of our hybridized nature will soon bow to the other. He elaborated on this craziness in an earlier video entitled “Twin Towers = DNA Markers – The Tares Exposed”:

Twins are something that look the same. They look the same. The Twin Towers are two towers that look the same standing next to each other. There is a parable in the Bible called the Wheat and the Weeds. The Wheat looks just like the Weeds. They’re identical. Now listen to me: When the two stand next to each other, the Wheat and the Weeds, you can’t tell the difference. The only time you can tell the difference is when it’s the harvest. Okay, now listen closely: At the harvest, the Wheat bows down. The Weeds stay straight up.

Now listen to me: Because the only time you can tell the difference between the two is at the harvest, I’m going to prove to you we’re at the harvest. Now watch this. Let’s say we’re humans and we’re standing among these fallen angels. I’m submitting to you that all of us are hybridized to some extent. However, there is a hierarchy of this established hive.

In modern terms, Kleck is basically calling us all Mudbloods. The “evidence” he presents for this claim is laughable. In his examination of the rare $2 bill, he points out what appears to him to be the face of a creature that is half human and half sheep embedded in Thomas Jefferson’s hair. This is supposed to indicate that the “two shall become one,” two different species intertwined in one being. “That’s that condition,” says Kleck, “the human condition changing from half-devil/half-human into one. One creature, I guess.”

He proceeds to illustrate what he is trying to say by showing a photo he took of a Lady Gaga poster display:

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“You see the little bump?!” Kleck exclaims. “It’s looking like she’s kind of converting into maybe like an alien . . . The thing is, if you just follow this white line, and you just look at the face, I think you can see that that might resemble kind of an extraterrestrial look.” In Kleck’s opinion, the same “anomaly” is present on the image of Jefferson’s head on the $2 bill. Whatever is happening to pictures of dead presidents on money is happening to celebrities!

One would think Kleck has no concept of Photoshop, or even avant-garde art in general. In his world, there is no interpretative and nuanced filtering of anything he sees, only instant and unthinking affirmative appraisal of anything that he sees as a validation of his morbid fantasies.

Cheaper Revelations

In addition to examining and interpreting the $2 bill and the newly-issued $100 bill, Jonathan Kleck has also “decrypted” images on the $5, $10, $20 and $50 US bills, as well as the different versions of these bills as they have undergone changes through the years. His explanations of the images he has formed from his folding scheme are featured in a long documentary video he produced in early 2013 entitled The Destruction of America.

On the 1985-issue $20 bill he has managed to see what he believes is a representation of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. When he folds up the 1995-issue $20 bill in his special way, he insists that on one side we are looking at an image of smoke billowing around the Pentagon as it was being attacked in 2001, and on the other side an image of the Twin Towers with a similar billow of smoke surrounding the skyscrapers’ top.

Based on his subjective impression of what he sees on his folded $50 bills, Kleck has prophesied that the Hoover Dam will be destroyed by bombs sometime in the near future, an event he guarantees will happen. On the $10 bill, Kleck is convinced he sees a representation of the future destruction of a seven-story building in New York City (he is fairly certain it is Manhattan’s Watchtower Building) via a massive tidal wave.

“I guarantee you this is the destruction of New York,” declares Kleck, “a representation of what’s going to happen. The same as the Twin Towers was on our bill, the same as the Federal Building was on our bill, the same as the Pentagon was on our bill, the Hoover Dam’s on our bill, and now the destruction of New York is on your bill. And there’s nothing you can do about it, nothing you can do to stop this from coming. This is going to happen!”

Not likely. Anyone with even a small dose of critical thinking skills will sleep easy after hearing Kleck share his delusions. He appears incapable of realizing the arbitrariness of personally-preferred inverted pentagram typology and naively unaware of how subjective are his interpretations of his arbitrarily-folded bills.

What should we make of the popular notion that an image of a spider peeks out from the left side of the curved shield on the upper right hand corner of the $1 bill? It is easy to see if one looks for it, and Kleck is a master at seeing whatever he wants to believe. So does the $1 bill predict a future spider infestation of America? What about the fact that the head of George Washington on the $1 bill can be transformed into a mushroom? What message is Jesus trying to send here, Jonathan?

Kleck’s “prophetic” abilities are nothing more than a case of extreme pareidolia, a well-documented psychological phenomenon. The online Skeptic’s Dictionary defines it as follows:

Pareidolia is a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct . . . Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception. For example, it explains many UFO sightings, as well as the hearing of sinister messages on records played backwards. Pareidolia explains Elvis, Bigfoot, and Loch Ness Monster sightings. It explains numerous religious apparitions and visions. And it explains why some people see a face or a building in a photograph of the Cydonia region of Mars.

Jonathan Kleck’s pareidolia transforms trees into the shock waves of bombs. It renders what are really buildings turned on their sides by the folding of bills as skyscrapers that loom large in the public consciousness only because of recent tragic events. Kleck believes he sees details printed on the money that simply are not there and which nobody else would see if he had not placed the mental image in the minds of his viewers.

I am interested in following the work of people who espouse bizarre views that lie on the outer fringes of the marketplace of ideas. One reason for my interest is the window some of these individuals present into what the average person is capable of believing if critical thinking is suppressed in their day-to-day mental activities. Jonathan Kleck is one such individual, but he also lies in an uncomfortable “grey zone.” Here is a man who not only is clearly lacking in critical thinking skills, but I strongly suspect he is also suffering from some level of mental illness. His expressed beliefs present us with one of those rare textbook examples of personally-applied pattern-recognition, numerology, subjective validation and pareidolia taken to an extreme. In Jonathan Kleck, we see what can happen to an individual when that part of our brain that seeks out patterns and connections becomes so “loud” that it drowns out other brain functions and as a result becomes completely disconnected from reality. When there is little to no reality-testing happening in our brain, the result can easily be the kind of delusional nonsense that Kleck preaches. But he is simply an extreme example of what the average individual can fall for on a much smaller and less extreme scale.

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About Nathan Dickey

I am a freelance writer trying to finish my degree in Journalism. I attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. My interests are many, and include investigative reporting, science, philosophy, history, classic rock music, and pop culture analysis. My motivation in writing is to contribute what I can to the promotion of science and skepticism among the public. My goal is to use my journalism training to be active in the skeptical and freethought movement, analyzing dubious but popularly-believed claims involving the supernatural, the paranormal and religion.
This entry was posted in Conspiracy Theories, Skepticism, Superstition and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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