"tinfoil hat brigade"

Wed Feb 1 17:22:53 UTC 2006

        From a review of the 1983 movie Lovesick, in the 2/19/1983 Miami
Herald (via Westlaw):  "There is more involved in this romance than a
striking violation of professional ethics, though the film does concede
that; along the way, a marriage is smashed, a suicidal patient is
abandoned, and a derelict is turned out into the street, wearing a
tin-foil hat to keep the Trade-Center beams off his brain."

        I'm not sure if this one shows that the practice goes back to
1979, or that tinfoil hats still were thought only to be a novelty in
1986; maybe both.  From the 11/10/1986 issue of People (via Westlaw):
"On July 4, 1979, Linda Kozlowski, ''dressed up like a Martian with a
tinfoil cone on my head,'' was hawking ''Skylab protective helmets'' to
crowds watching fireworks from Manhattan's West Side Highway. At $5 a
pop, she sold out her entire supply of the whimsical cardboard headgear.
None too soon, either. Seven days later Skylab -- the space station that
had begun losing altitude after six years in orbit -- finally fell to
earth. Perhaps Kozlowski has a shrewd eye for novelties."

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Benjamin Zimmer
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: "tinfoil hat brigade"

On 2/1/06, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> FWIW, my first encounter with the phrase and concept "tinfoil hat" was

> within the past few years, possibly only since 2000.

sci.med, Nov 14 1991
Double blind tests are so tedious.  Why not try a magnet on one arm, a
copper bracelet on the other, a protective tin foil cap and a garlic
amulet around the neck.

sci.physics, Oct 8 1992
Larry "I wear this tin-foil hat to protect myself from N-rays" Hammer

sci.med, Dec 16 1992
>I recommend wearing a hat when you go out into the sun from now on.
Yes, and be sure to line it with tinfoil to keep out the cosmic rays.

sci.skeptic, Mar 10 1993
Hey, we've ALL got our own tin foil hats. If they aren't a filter for
"secret rays," they're a filter for perception, culture,  or taste.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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