The Taming Of Deluded 'Conspiracy Theorists'

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum of Acting-Man blog,

Valiant Knight of Government-Approved Information Rides to the Rescue

Look who is warning us again about the great harm conspiracy theories are doing to the minds of impressionable citizens everywhere: Cass Sunstein has emerged at Bloomberg, to once again plead for 'correction' of the many conspiracy theories that are disseminated on that pesky new medium, the intertubes, seemingly without inhibition. Contrary to the infamous paper in which he described how to precisely combat the spreading of false information that lacks the government's seal of approval, he doesn't list his favored censorship and disinformation techniques outright this time, but it is certainly implied that 'something must be done'.

With regard to conspiracy theories, there is a long history of dangerous thought entering the minds of deluded citizens. There were people who long doubted the official version of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or those who believed that the government's minions were capable of thinking up other 'false flag' activities such as 'Operation Northwoods', or the poor confused souls who argued that Iraq's 'weapons of mass destruction' were a trumped-up pretext for war based on thoroughly politicized intelligence, or the mean-spirited  traitors who charged that the US military killed a Reuter journalist and his helpers in Iraq and then covered it up, or the completely delusional paranoiacs who asserted for many years that the NSA was literally recording everything. Next they're going to say that the official version of the WTC attack lacks credibility, in spite of its enshrinement as unassailable truth following the government's decision to investigate itself!

We incidentally even know of certain people who routinely assert that the scientific and utterly wertfrei monetary policy enacted by well-meaning central banks is harmful and favors certain groups in society over others! Surely such highly dangerous attempts to foment popular dissent need to be properly suppressed before they irreparably disturb the social harmony of the Collective.

Also, consider for a moment the honest and well-intentioned politicians and bureaucrats who advanced the schemes listed above in the national interest. It was only their self-less concern for our well-being that drove them to make a tiny mistake here or there. By accusing them of nefarious motives, the conspiracy theorists have undoubtedly deeply hurt their feelings. It is an outrage crying out for rectification.

 

What 'Needs to Be Done'

Cass Sunstein certainly knows what needs to be done to ensure that the geistige Volksgesundheit is maintained. The intertubes simply must be corralled to reduce the great harm all this conspiracy theorizing inflicts. In his 2008 paper 'Conspiracy Theories' written with Adrian Vermeule, he proposed the following eminently reasonable measures:

  1. Government might ban conspiracy theorizing.
  2. Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories.
  3. Government might itself engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories.
  4. Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech.
  5. Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help."

Surely number (1) would be most effective and help to conserve resources. But where would be the fun in that? Intellectual combat with the deluded masses is surely more satisfying. We are therefore informed that:

However, the authors advocate that each "instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5)”

We should be grateful that these social engineers are thinking up such excellent ways of protecting the already overloaded neural circuits of the citizenry. Incidentally, it seems actually quite possible that the NSA has heard about these useful proposals, considering that its agentsInfiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputationsaccording to Glenn Greenwald. See, we are already protected!

As a result, have every reason to feel all 'snuggly and secure', as Mark Fiore points out in the video below, which nicely summarizes why we have absolutely nothing to fear.

Snuggly and secure! You have nothing to fear, citizen! As long as you have nothing to hide, are not blowing any whistles you treasonous leaker, or exhibit undue interest in the Bill of Rights.

 

Techniques of the Demagogue

Sunstein's recent Bloomberg article is quite interesting though in that it nicely demonstrates the demagogic techniques employed in advancing statist interests. One can immediately see that he has learned a few lessons from the push-back he received the first time around. As noted above, he refrains this time from telling us in detail what government should actually do in order to 'reduce the harm from conspiracy theories'.

He merely asserts that such harm exists, encouraging readers to think about  how it might be reduced. He mentions in closing that 'we' need to “persuade the conspiracy theorists to find their way around to the truth”,  but he doesn't say how.

Whenever an author invokes 'us', asserting that 'we' must do this or that, what he really means is actually that the government's apparatus of coercion and compulsion must be set into motion to attain certain goals the author approves of. In recent weeks we have e.g. heard that 'we' must bail out the Ukraine financially, or that 'we' must punish Mr. Putin and his henchmen with sanctions, but this is of course not a call to voluntarily engage in these activities. It is simply an announcement, informing us that those steering the government apparatus will do all these things. 'We' only figure in the sense that 'we' are going to pay for it all (and certainly not voluntarily).

So when Sunstein says that 'we' must 'help' those poor deluded conspiracy theorists, he is actually saying the same things he was saying before, only in a less direct manner. It means the government must intervene.

The other technique on display is the 'straw man' technique. Discussing conspiracy theories in detail, Sunstein deliberately lists many that can either be very easily disproved, or of which it can be assumed that most readers will immediately classify them as nonsense.

At one point he tries to assure us that his approach is evenhanded by conceding that a number of conspiracy theories have later turned out to be the truth, but he immediately reverts to his previous condescending tone, belittling those who show an interest in investigating government misdeeds. He lists three examples: the Watergate scandal, the CIA's MK Ultra program, and the fact that 'aliens have really landed in Roswell' -  in other words, he only lists two examples and immediately downplays their importance by adding a plainly ridiculous third one to the list.

 

Degrees of Harm

It could even be conceded arguendo that Sunstein succeeds in demonstrating that harm is sometimes inflicted, as e.g. in the context of conspiracy theories surrounding vaccines (we actually don't know what these theories assert, not having delved into the subject in detail; however, the history of modern medicine certainly suggests that a great many scourges that have plagued mankind have been successfully vanquished with the help of vaccines).

So it may be true that there are a small handful of cases when belief in a conspiracy theory might actually harm those believing it. But so what?

Sunstein's proposals as formulated in his original paper (and we have no reason to believe that he has changed his opinion on these points) are infinitely more harmful. Life is never without risks, but the wrongheaded belief held by social engineers that the government must eliminate every last one of them by intervening in every nook and cranny of our lives can ultimately only end in tyranny.

The ubiquitous and all-encompassing surveillance state that has been installed to allegedly 'protect us from terrorists' is actually an excellent example of how extremely misguided these attempts to shield us from every conceivable evil are. The reality is in this case that the threat is statistically minuscule; as we have previously noted, more Americans die from drowning in their bathtubs and even from merely falling off a chairs than from terrorist attacks. And yet, no-one has proposed to spend tens of billions every year to keep tabs on the citizenry's evil furniture, at least not yet. The danger that the gathering of every last scrap of data will be abused is orders of magnitude greater than the danger emanating from terrorists.

Central bank policy is yet another example: the attempt to spare us the pain of economic busts only leads to even bigger economic catastrophes down the road. This has only recently been demonstrated when the interventions following the bursting of the technology bubble resulted in its replacement by the housing bubble. In the end, a far more painful recession than the one the initial intervention sought to mitigate resulted. The same principle will be demonstrated again when the current echo bubble bursts at some point in the future.

 

The Conspiracy Theory of History

Finally, it should be clear that what one might term a 'conspiracy theory of history' often comes a lot closer to the truth than the officially approved line that is taught in public schools. The one thing that should be clear to every astute observer is that governments routinely lie. They sometimes even admit it, such as JC Juncker did in his function as president of the euro group of finance ministers (this incident serves as an example of how brazen the ruling class has become in modern times; they don't even care anymore how transparent they are).

The fact that governments are lying routinely and are keeping a great many of their activities secret in allegedly 'free societies' is what provides the fertilizer for conspiracy theories. Even in the rare cases when governments tell the truth, many people are no longer inclined to believe them. Distrust of government is however not akin to a mental disease – it is rather a sign that one is alert and keeping one's eyes open. It is also a necessary and healthy approach that provides a small, but important contribution to keeping government abuses in check.

As Murray Rothbard pointed out:

“Anytime that a hard-nosed analysis is put forth of who our rulers are, of how their political and economic interests interlock, it is invariably denounced by Establishment liberals and conservatives (and even by many libertarians) as a "conspiracy theory of history," "paranoid," "economic determinist," and even "Marxist." These smear labels are applied across the board, even though such realistic analyses can be, and have been, made from any and all parts of the economic spectrum, from the John Birch Society to the Communist Party. The most common label is "conspiracy theorist," almost always leveled as a hostile epithet rather than adopted by the "conspiracy theorist" himself.

 

It is no wonder that usually these realistic analyses are spelled out by various "extremists" who are outside the Establishment consensus. For it is vital to the continued rule of the State apparatus that it have legitimacy and even sanctity in the eyes of the public, and it is vital to that sanctity that our politicians and bureaucrats be deemed to be disembodied spirits solely devoted to the "public good." Once let the cat out of the bag that these spirits are all too often grounded in the solid earth of advancing a set of economic interests through use of the State, and the basic mystique of government begins to collapse.”

(emphasis added)

And this, in a nutshell, is what is really behind Mr. Sunstein's concern with 'conspiracy theories'. It is all about preserving the State's perceived right to rule by letting nothing intrude on the notion that politicians and bureaucrats are 'disembodied spirits solely devoted to the public good' rather than people who pursue their own personal interests.

 

Sunstein Cass

Former government advisor Cass Sunstein: still concerned about 'conspiracy theories'

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
fonestar's picture

Even fonestar got accused of being part of some conspiracy to pump Bitcoins.  What's this world coming to?

surf0766's picture

PLease brush up on your math because that is the next thing they will attack you with.

Murf_DaSurf's picture

 

 

Cass is the first guy on The LIST

NoDebt's picture

Thanks, Knuk.  You beat me to it.

Always amazes me how maniac statists/control freaks/sociopaths like him telegraph EXACTLY what they're going to do and then a few years later, despite all the protests and public outcry.... damned if it doesn't happen anyway.  

Look forward to meeting all my fellow ZH'ers in the FEMA camps a few years from now (and the Tylers, too!).  We're all marked men.  

Looney's picture

I hope this asshole, Cass Sunstein, is found one day raped by a remotely-controlled bulldozer-drone, sprayed on by a skunk, and given a clean bill of health by the (very!) Affordable Care Act.

Looney

knukles's picture

This is another outstanding example of the "new Left" Bringers of Freedom, Equality, Justice, Love, Tolerance and Diversity, Forced and Shoved Down Your Throat at the Point of the Spear, and Fear in the Form of Terror Tactics, the Police State 3 AM Knock Upon Your Door.
The Very Same Folks Who Hated Every Last Bit of Authoritarian Control as Young Men, Fighting What They Believed to be an Overpowering System, Stripping Individual Rights in Favor of The State

This, to What They Have Come

Demigods and Demons

Evil Incarnate

Looney's picture

After Uncle Knukles’ comment, I need something comforting… something like a 20-y.o. left nipple (preferably a female nipple) to suck on.  ;-)

Looney

P.S. A goat nipple will do just fine... left or right... as long as the goat-bitch don't flirt with me...  TOO much... ;-)

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Cass Sunstein and his ilk are very agitated. The term 'conspiracy theory' no longer has a negative connotation. This forces them into discourse with people they perceive as being intellectually inferior, where before, they could simply label an adversary a 'conspiracy theorist' and end all debate. It's tiresome for them.

The perceived anonymity of the Internet has certainly lowered inhibitions for 'acceptable' discourse, but that is not all. For many, the economic decline is now undeniable. People are feeling threatened, and the instinctive need to protect oneself is beginning to surface. When people feel threatened they group together and the ideas of the group AKA tribe (family, friends, ethnicity, or whatever) become elevated above the ideas of outsiders, regardless of facts.

Mister Kitty's picture

I once heard Alex Jones claim that the government is engineering homosexual fish.  Sometimes the conspiracies go a little too far.  Bitches.

dogismycopilot's picture

what's happening is that all of the psych meds and other medspeople are taking are being washed into the sewers and then are not killed by the sewage treatment plants...then the fish eat the treated human waste as it is pumped off shore and are basically taking your meds and absorbing into their bodies (along with the decaying plastic  soup).

figure the ocean life (coastal areas) soon are going to make the 'mercury' grand lakes fish look like Organic free swimming fish in next 10 years. 

middle east fish are safer because they have only been munching on the corpses of people in the Tigris and Euphrates. 

BigJim's picture

We're all still  wondering why you chose your name.

TahoeBilly2012's picture

http://names.mongabay.com/data/1000.html

Here is the most common last names in America. Is it a conspiracy that the top 50 last names never seem to show up very often as key journalists, economists, politicos etc. etc. Oh there are a few out there....but predominently you find, um, well few slightly more obscure lasts names. Just a conpiracy theory I am working on.

Tom_333's picture

Hatfield and McCoy made the list...

zionhead's picture

Well now more than ever AIPAC has a problem with 'non approved thinking'.

The NSA spy racket is the most profitable biz in America, social networking is hot, every zio-spawn is a billionaire.

But 'non approved thinking' is now over 50%, ... its amost 60%, which means that something BIG must be done.

*

The zio-con that can come up with SOFTWARE solution, that can elmininate 'non conventinal thinking' will be the next billionaires,

You got an idea about an app or service that can get the public thinking correctly, and you be the next billionaire.

*

The problem is IHMO you have carrot&stick, of course the USA already has the most people in prison, and the most children on drugs, and AIPAC is still losing the "WAR ON TRUTH".

How can you win the WAR ON TRUTH, I suspect peer pressure, people who voice unpopular ideas should be physically harmed publicly, that should shut them up.

Here's an idea publicly disclose the location of people who voice anti-AIPAC talking-points, ... that should quickly SHAME anybody that voice "THEIR OPINION" on the internet.

Trouble is anonymity must be destroyed ASAP.

*

Internet is useful, you can track the trouble makers, but as yet you cannot shut them up, or change their tune. It's coming.

All are now drones, ... and all must speak the AIPAC talking-points, if your not on the program, and dialed in, then you need to be re-educated, that means CAMP-FEMA.

The list(s) are now done, they know exactly who are the trouble makers, and example must be made ASAP, just saying its coming.

 

TahoeBilly2012's picture

I like your thinking Zio. Everytime time I see a name that's not "Smith" or "Johnson" or "Calhoun"  in the media I Google it and guess what....it's dark out there as you say. Always a "Kirchik" or a "Sustein" or a "Nudelman" running the gamot defending the status quo. Their favorite theme is to suggest that things are all pretty much NORMAL, nothing to see, how about a little more stimulus or another war....it was always like this, right? You are correct in that more and more Billionaires are Tribe and the simple answer is the financiers and media congloms together can make or break a social network type media. How dis Zuckerberg become the guy on top with all those other guys involved? He got the backing and was instructed to throw his pals off the train.

Bunders's picture

Samsung phones remote filesystem access backdoor.

"Samsung Galaxy devices running proprietary Android versions [the software that came with the phone] come with a back-door that provides remote access to the data stored on the device. In particular, the proprietary software that is in charge of handling the communications with the modem, using the Samsung IPC protocol, implements a class of requests known as RFS commands, that allows the modem to perform remote I/O operations on the phone's storage. As the modem is running proprietary software, it is likely that it offers over-the-air remote control, that could then be used to issue the incriminated RFS messages and access the phone's file system."

"While we don't have any absolute certainty regarding other Samsung Galaxy devices [than Nexus S, Galaxy S, Galaxy S 2, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Galaxy S 3, Galaxy Note 2], it is likely that any other such device in its 3G flavor is affected by the back-door as well, as it probably uses the Samsung IPC protocol with the same proprietary user-space implementation."

"Alternatively, the kernel could block the incriminated RFS requests and keep a trace of them in the logs for the record. That option would work for CyanogenMod, where the incriminated proprietary blob is still used."

Privacy apartheid?

Mad Muppet's picture

Non approved thinking. What a great construct. That sums things up very well.

Bonapartist's picture

hardly the "new left"- this is the same group of Bolsheviks that killed 50 million Russian Orthodox Christians- the new boss is the same as the old boss.

Harbanger's picture

Progressives aka the new left, the slow cook version of the Bolshevicks, wouldn't hesitate to take out 150 million if they stood in the way.  In fact, they already mentally took out most of the population.

Future Jim's picture

I think this Progressive Platform should go a long way to unmask them.

Harbanger's picture

End of Innocence

Think for yourself,
Know the promise of reality, and renounce your claim to innocence.
Then, with new resolve, enter the battle of freedom and dignity for every sentient being,
and never doubt the power of one man to change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Thanks Future Jim!

sgt_doom's picture

This is another outstanding example of the "new Left" ...

Excoooose meeeee! Sunstein is just another Jonathan Kay (Foundation in Defense of Democracies stooge, who wrote that anti-truther book, casting aspersions without anything factual to back it up), just another form of very bad Jew (e.g., Summers, Geithner, Rubin, Levitt, Martin Feldstein, Alan Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, Mishkin, etc., etc., etc.

There are good Jewish-Americans, and far too many bad ones today, which should wake up people to why there were pograms in the past, and why so many throughout history have been universally despised!

Sunstein represents the worst of humanity, and like Gerard Celente says, the problem today with Amerika is "bullets, bombs and banks; Harvard, Princeton and Yale" --- and those last three should be immediately nuked, and all those on their faculties destroyed!

(Also, why did The Guardian censor 9 out of 10 of my technical comments on that missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370?  For what possible reason would they have?  Was it an MI6/CIA extreme rendition operation after all?  Makes one really wonder, now don't it?)

 

fonzannoon's picture

It's truly funny that we talk about being put in Fema camps and meanwhile you can walk into any high end establishment in NYC and the place is filled with Russians laughing it up and using C-notes as bar napkins.

zionhead's picture

The RUSSIAN Oligarch's that drop $100 notes on the floor at ZIO-Eatery's in NYC are NOT who Cass Sunstein fears.

Cass Sunstein fears the HAIR-LIP, the USA proles, the vast majority of unwashed goyim,  who need to have CORRECT-THINKING pounded into their little minds.

AIPAC ( CASS SUNSTEIN ) doesn't fear Russian's, they fear ameriKKKan's.

Cass Sunstein doesn't fear the 1%, he fears the 99%.

NoDebt's picture

They only want to control the mass indigenous population- the easy prey.  People with means who can move around are harder targets.

zionhead's picture

Knuckels, YOU DON"T "FUCK Cass Sunstein, HE FUCKS YOU.

Just ask Barry "May I have another" Soetero.

 

VD's picture

Cass Sunstein IS THE CONSPIRACY FACT INCARNATE.

disabledvet's picture

meh. looks like a rank amateur to me. I imagine he's cheap next to paying 25 million an hour to keep "the media" on "Message 777."

the trade craft is pretty simple: you have to have a cover story, and it must be credible.

In other words "no Mongolian Horde."
That makes your cover story "as incredible as it actually is" and thus "open to suspicion."
Overlay this with "the blow horn of the media" and pretty soon "message now control you" to paraphrase our Russian Compatriot in these here parts.

In other words "complain about missing plane enough long and soon finger points at you."

Sustein is just another in the closet homo blowing shit out his ass for his day job.

"the Mongolian Horde as arrived"...who did it and why will be part of a "debating subroutine" i've been working on for my students in "Advanced Rhetoric: from Socrates to Nietzche."

The first chapter is entitled "Gibberish: not just a word."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6xyV68KN5A

hard to imagine these are actually serious actors.

then again...maybe the "serious actors" are the ones running this thing.

Omen IV's picture
"it is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion" ....Joseph Goebbels

........Cass Sunstein is the Joseph Goebbels of the Obama administration

oncefired's picture

he must wax that bald head

kchrisc's picture

The guillotine list just got longer.

Thought Processor's picture

 

 

Creating "The List" would be a good start.

 

Suggest that everyone begin thinking of one themselves for now.  Compare notes at a later date.

 

But a good start it would be.

A Lunatic's picture

There's only 278 more shopping days until Christmas.......

Winston Churchill's picture

Don't forget his wife.

His, and hers ropes..

zionhead's picture

Maybe an Immortal can post a sexy picture of his wife, there's lots of x-rated photo's of her floating out there in cyber space.

She's HOT

Samantha Power, USA Ambassador to the UN, and Spokes-Zionist for the World.

Martin Silenus's picture

Hot??  Hope yer not serious, she's a fucking boot.

Yen Cross's picture

  We're on the same page Billy. Well done.

Bonapartist's picture

So you've pegged yourself to WB7's photoshops?

williambanzai7's picture

No. if that were the case, he would call himself the Banzai7ist

nmewn's picture

Call me a conspiracy theorist here...but I'm seeing a pattern ;-)

  1. Government might ban conspiracy theorizing.
  2. Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories.
  3. Government might itself engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories.
  4. Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech.
  5. Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.
YHC-FTSE's picture

I think we're all familiar with 3, 4, & 5 of Der Fuhrer's directives: They're called fucking Israeli Trolls constantly pissing all over the threads all over the net as soon as criticisms are voiced about them. 

Now I've got to add a disclaimer to show that I have nothing against decent jewish folks, just zionists who are the opposite of, blah blah fuck it. They've insulted me and made false accusations of 'racism' enough times to make me gag even though I have stood up for decent people of all races and religions most of my  adult life. Evil fuckers like this bastard who will be copied by the shitheads in my parliament to make brain dead servile nodding heads of us all. 

Why not just cut to the fucking chase and order ball gags on every citizen?  Thumbscrews for anyone who types dissent? 

Fuuuuuck! Does he not fucking realise what an evil shit he is? HOW DARE HE TELL ME WHAT TO THINK. I'm going to need a tall glass of beer. 

nmewn's picture

Excellent rant...lol.

Personally, I'm always amused when people call me a racist in order to shut me up, knowing I'm from the South. The child I found in the middle of nowhere, as the cars and trucks went blasting by him hurrying on to somewhere, even with all the tears glistening down his black cheeks against the setting sun, thinks otherwise. 

Its somehow enough for me & him to know though ;-)

Dickweed Wang's picture

I love my country but fear my goverment and the corporations that control it . . . .

Element's picture

 

 

Government might ban conspiracy theorizing.

 

That one's going to be tricky nmewn:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430/northwoods.pdf

 

Sunstein is an insane neocon turd subscriber to the notion that deception and lie is always best. We all see you.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Jt73_ZqjxwY/TwTul7xyzUI/AAAAAAAADxA/QU3lZRMWn3...

 

It's not us destroying the propaganda's effectiveness Sunstein, it's your endless tidal wave of lies - well done! You did it for us! Even your stupid attempt to redirect and lie, all the more, is an absurd joke. You're just another pustulating boil on the ass of the world, promoting destruction and impoverishment in the name of laughable fake high-principles you clearly don't give damn about, you dweller in the amoral bog-of-eternal-stench.