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What is a Tin Foil Hat?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky

The term tin foil hat is generally used as a derogatory remark toward someone advancing a conspiracy theory or other story that is considered unbelievable. It appears to have been coined to describe people who claimed UFO sightings or claimed to have been previously abducted by aliens. It was suggested that such a person might wear a hat made of tin foil in order to keep aliens from intercepting his or her brainwaves. There are some people who actually construct such hats, however, believing they will protect against mind control programs, radio waves, and electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

In fact, a type of device made from aluminum or tin foil may help reduce EMR. It isn’t foolproof, since hats or other protective gear aren't solid structures. Electromagnetic radiation is also said not to be harmful, despite earlier possible concerns.

A tin foil hat may be worn by individuals who have had UFO sightings in order to keep aliens from intercepting their brainwaves.
A tin foil hat may be worn by individuals who have had UFO sightings in order to keep aliens from intercepting their brainwaves.

Some people also say that those who promote conspiracy theories or government conspiracies are part of a tin foil hat brigade, or a tin foil hat group. Those alleged to be a part of such a group may or may not believe that a hat of tin foil is useful. Anyone that actually does wear such a hat is usually considered to be mentally disturbed. The term is most often used to ridicule people, even those who would never consider wearing accessories made from foil. The wilder the conspiracy theory, the more likely the term is to be used.

A tin foil hat may make a good gag gift if given in the spirit of fun.
A tin foil hat may make a good gag gift if given in the spirit of fun.

Many times, when debates arise over various conspiracy theories, comments referring to tin foil hats are used to discredit the person attempting to advance some cover up or other questionable act by a government. On political message boards people say things like, “I see you’re wearing your tin foil hat,” to show that they think the theory has no basis and that the person suggesting it is simply paranoid. It can also be used in a self-deprecating way such as in saying, “I know you’ll think I’m wearing a tin foil hat, but I believe this conspiracy is real.”

A tin foil hat may also be known as an aluminum foil helmet. Studies have been done to test their effectiveness, although such studies are often not given much credibility. There are also people that sell hats made from this material, and many are available in joke stores and online. It might just make a good gag gift if given in the spirit of fun.

Discussion Comments


While every post I've read is continuing to make fun of 'tin hat people,' I thought there would be at least one other person out there genuinely curious as to whether developing a tin hat or some sort of metallic head cover could really shield RF or EMF waves.

There is enough research out there to warrant concern, and even lack of trust of the studies that suggest the technology is 'safe enough' -- that's safe enough for the companies to reap gross profits and say I'm sorry later.

People are the guinea pigs today, the people who take no precaution are going along with the experiments. (Consider how much wifi radios, routers are out there in apartment complexes, everyone wants internet and has gotten used to wifi use, which means more wifi radio exposure. In each complex, think of how many of these radios are permeating.)

One does not have to wear 'tin hat' to be careful. But the example above makes it a real interest, I can turn off my router but then there is everyone else's routers to contend with. Shielding makes sense.

Anyway, I was genuinely curious as a matter of science, if anyone here knew of tests done, regarding this sort of wave, or that sort of wave, if it is not possible to seal off against waves, because only parts of the head can be covered, for example.

Nobody has taken a real interest in this? Only a continued mockery?


@Emilski - I totally agree. I have been to many sites set up by people that are conspiracy theorists and their theories are so full of holes they would sink in water.

Unfortunately these people do not understand that what they are putting out to support their theories are not fact, but is simply pseudo-research conducted with a slant and a bias to support their theory.

Most conspiracy theories are just theories made up by people,like the tin foil hat belief, and that is all they are and their ideas are dismissed.

If they took the time to try and do unbiased and appropriate research then they may be able to be taken more seriously, but unfortunately they are dismissed one after another and have a very bad reputation among people for crying wolf.


@Izzy78 - I completely agree. Going off of the tin foil hat belief it sounds like it makes sense that tin foil will distort the EMR radiation, but what facts ares there to support this?

Fact is there are absolutely no facts that give credence to this, but people choose to believe it because it sounds good enough for them and that it is somewhat believable.

This is a perfect example of conspiracy theorists or believers that simply hear things and conjure up theories and simply take them as fact because they sound good enough for them to hear and a good enough explanation for the unknown.

Unfortunately, these people can never back their theories up or they put blinders on themselves and choose to believe in their own quackery without actually doing thorough research.


@jmc88 - To be entirely honest I think that people choose to be members of the tin foil hat brigade simply because they are interested in the conspiracy theories and think that there is unknown aspects to something and that is what appeals to them and everybody.

Taking the Kennedy Assassination for example there are many holes in all theories, because not everything is known, and this appeals to the tin foil hat brigade, because they feel they have an explanation, which is usually an assumption, in order to provide an explanation for the unknown.

That is all conspiracy theorists are, they are simply people that offer explanations for the unknown, however, they base it off of conjecture as opposed to fact. Such as the tin foil hat theory.


I have read and watched a lot of articles and shows about conspiracy theories and I have to say that I never get why people are so in to them.

Most of the time the things they gather for these shows or even just the theories themselves are completely unfounded and do not promote any sense of logic.

Most people who truly believe in these theories just promote the fact that the non believers simply have blinders on and choose not to acknowledge what is thought to be out there. However, the Tin foil hat brigade still shovels theory after theory that does not have the slightest bit of truth, yet attracts large numbers.

I have never understood their appeal and just simply have to wonder why these conspiracy theories are so popular and why there are people out there that continually take these people seriously.


A lot of people have started to adopt the idea of wearing a tin foil hat as just meaning to do anything crazy or weird. The tin foil hat society is a good example of this, as they bring people together who are doing lots of projects at once. While the work they do is normal, the volume is considered excessive. So they all have earned their metaphorical tin hat.

For myself I am completely obsessed with my CD collection, even traveling to Asia to get discs that I needed for my collection. I would fit right in with the tin hat society thanks to my crazy to some behavior.


@animegal - My friend actually got stuck for a Halloween costume and put on some old work clothes and made some foil wrap into a tin hat. His whole idea was to recreate the look of the one of the crazies you always see in the alien invasion movies. The cherry on top of his costume was a hilarious anti-alien protest sign.

Needless to say, his costume got quite a few laughs at the party we went to. I suppose the idea of wearing a aluminum foil hat is so ingrained in our culture now that most people have seen it in at least one movie.


I like to visit a few conspiracy websites just to see what is going on outside the mainstream media and people with the most extreme ideas don't seem to mind poking fun at themselves on occasion. I think one of the most common comments is that they will don a tin foil hat when things start to get really bad.

It is funny to hear the number of people that talk about keeping a stock of wrap aluminum foil just in case of an emergency. I suppose this is especially common when people start talking about government communications and telepathy.

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    • A tin foil hat may be worn by individuals who have had UFO sightings in order to keep aliens from intercepting their brainwaves.
      A tin foil hat may be worn by individuals who have had UFO sightings in order to keep aliens from intercepting their brainwaves.
    • A tin foil hat may make a good gag gift if given in the spirit of fun.
      By: Alliance
      A tin foil hat may make a good gag gift if given in the spirit of fun.