What is Jade Helm and Why Are People So Afraid of It?

The name has got some people shaking in their boots.

By Alain StephensApril 29, 2015 8:44 am

America has long be fascinated by conspiracy theories like those surrounding John F. Kennedy’s death, President Obama’s alien lizard-people heritage or The Illuminati. There’s the preppers — people who store food and other basic necessities in the case of the imminent demise of society as we know it — and the doomsday cults — who have specific dates set out for the apocalypse. Then there’s the chemtrail believers and whispers about Area 51.

Recently, there’s been some suspicious stuff going on across Texas and the American southwest. These strange goings-on have people asking: who or what the heck is a Jade Helm?

Jade Helm 15, as the full name reads, is a military operation which plants U.S. military Special Forces into the general populace for undercover training. The Internet has been abuzz with theories of federal gun confiscation, Walmart prison camps and even a secret deal to hand over select U.S. states to Mexico. In fact, people are shaking so hard in their boots that Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas State Guard Tuesday to monitor Jade Helm 15 operations, which are scheduled to run from June 15 through September of this year.

Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, talks with the Texas Standard about what’s really going on and why people are so afraid.

“I think that we’re living in an era where there’s tremendous lack of trust in government institutions,” Markman says. “Human beings are really good at giving causal explanations about the way the world works. We wanna know why. So we tend to give really big explanations for things.”

Markman says the extra oversight might not be necessary, but could help subdue some of the more creative worriers.

“I think a lot of us who do have a fair amount of trust in our government institutions and in our social institutions may think this is overkill,” he says. “In a lot of ways it’s going to be hard to tamp this down because the thing about people who have this level of mistrust is that it is very easy to begin to shift your story no matter what happens.”