Conspiracy Theories
 

Cass Sunstein is a law professor from Harvard who has earned a reputation as quite the authoritative "Mr. Manners" for all proper American-minded individuals. He has written books and held positions in government, most notably that of top administrator of the federal government's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

One of his tasks was to discover as much as he could about conspiracy theories and those who propound them. With fellow professor Adrian Vermeule he wrote a published paper about them with the presumed intention to persuade readers of such thinking's absurdity.

Below is the abstract for the piece, and while the entirety of the work can be read online, it can be found in his book Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas. I've taken that abstract and excised key parts of it for pertinent questions. The abstract is the essence of the entire work; the piece itself is really not much more than a mildly eloquent "Conspiracy Theorists are kooks so just don't believe what they say" blithering.

The questions are designed not as much to highlight the brazen assumptions made by conspiracy theorist debunkers but to elucidate the ways World Operatives mold and shape the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual substance of a viciously Catholicized population, indeed as the very legitimate public service dutiful officers like Sunstein are sworn to achieve.

   

Key words Entire text of abstract Questions

 

believe

Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe... Because someone believes something, does that necessarily mean it is not truthful or veritable? Haven't many now been convinced that believing something is the same as living in a fantasy world, to make it easier for World Operatives to marginalize truth seekers in these ways?
     
powerful people

withhold the truth
...that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event. Does this mean powerful people never withhold the truth, particularly to the specific detriment of those who are lied to? And if people see the truth behind deception, isn't it a good thing to pursue truth further?
   
Those who subscribe

risks of violence
A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts of the world, that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or the United States. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law.  Does this mean if one has a hunger to uncover deliberately concealed truths that he/she is more prone to commit violent acts? Is not this intimation designed merely to indict a truth seeker as a violent individual? And isn't this simply a proposition to prosecute thought in complete violation of the very first principle of freedom of conscience?

(A brief note about Sunstein's recommendations for government response to conspiracy theorists. He lays out five of them, the first two expressly draconian involving direct prosecution and expanded taxation. I imagine some of the strategy there is to soften the impact of the other three, which are simply variations of the intentions seen herein.)
     
cognitive blunders   

informational and reputational influences
The first challenge is to understand the mechanisms by which conspiracy theories prosper; the second challenge is to understand how such theories might be undermined. Such theories typically spread as a result of identifiable cognitive blunders, operating in conjunction with informational and reputational influences. To what extent does government dictate which "cognitive blunders" are the unacceptable ones and by what criteria? Why even use the unnecessarily erudite term "cognitive blunder" instead of just simply "being mistaken about something"? Are "informational" things bad? Why are their informational sources any better? And what exactly are "reputational" influences? Isn't this merely contrived intellectual jargon meant to try to presume one is above it all?
     
not likely to be persuaded

dispel their theories
A distinctive feature of conspiracy theories is their self-sealing quality. Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their theories; If a theory or part of a theory is indeed grounded firmly in truth, what exactly is it that could be used to dispel that? Why do so many conspiracy theory debunkers always seem to display such exasperation, as if that tactic has any bearing on the argument at hand?
     
proof of the conspiracy they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy. If it is indeed a grand lie that could be the one instrumental thing concealing something veritably true, then wouldn't that itself be proof of a conspiracy lest the lie's managers girding that deceit be exposed? And while some may say "You can't disprove what we're suggesting" as a reason for its verity, does that necessarily mean the theory itself is false? 
     
crippled epistemology  Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology,... Isn't the term "crippled" a loaded and emotionally charged presumption, claiming merely that conspiracy theorists just don't know enough? And does this then mean it should be presumed that all theorist assertions should be discounted because by definition all of their knowledge is insufficient and all their knowledge acquisition skills are deficient? Isn't this a bit arrogant, especially in light of the fact that no one's knowledge and no one's knowledge acquisition skills are free from some naturally constrictive or "crippling" influence, including those of the best World Operatives?
     
rational to hold such theories  ...in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories,... What, really, does this mean? Are they saying it is rational or irrational to hold conspiracy theories? Isn't this merely a fancy way to try to reject conspiracy theories by just bleating "that's irrational", another common tactic that does nothing to address the real issue?
     
cognitive infiltration

extremist groups
         
...the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light. What does "cognitive infiltration" mean? Isn't this merely the forceful dissemination of the standard System line into settings which consist of gathering and intellectually processing truth seekers? Is it not ridiculous to think those who see the lie for what it is will suddenly be persuaded by better lies?

What precisely is an extremist group? Are not World Operatives extremist in their devotion to their Superior and to their duties? In fact, really, who isn't an extremist? Isn't one who is extremely moderate an extremist for his/her cause, even if that is extremely wishy-washy or mealy-mouthed? Wouldn't a World Operative who isn't extremist in his/her commitment to quash conspiracy theorists be completely worthless?   
                

   

I consider the whole point of the "Conspiracy theorists are kooks" program is not to prosecute conspiracy theorists per se, but to so ruthlessly marginalize anyone who doesn't intellectually assent to the official version of things. It is pure intimidation for the purpose of keeping one from pursuing truth in these matters, and an indoctrination using the very best propaganda seven-fold power can afford.

Let's face it though, some conspiracy theories are stupid, fanciful, incredible. Parts of some fine ones are embarrassingly make-believe. Does this mean all of them must be censored? This is another gross logical fallacy in all of this. The very clear suggestion: "Since some theories are preposterous means all theories are preposterous." This tactic is employed all the time to discount the genuinely truthful things some people want to know about. 

A critically important part of all this is indeed to stoke the flames of rebellion from people who are being harmed by the disinformation and to get them to get out and be violent. "Ooo we hate these conspiracy theory detractors!" Essentially, Sunstein is the Great Provocateur here. This also must be understood: Sunstein is perfectly correct, some people who acknowledge the government's role in deceit and murder do want to remonstrate violently against that government. Again, Sunstein is perfectly within the bounds of his sworn duty to bring attention to it in preparation for the summary and wholly justified prosecution of such actions. Sunstein is a vibrant part of the massive heaving and wretching, waves and waves of it among all evildoers and evilcrushers, swelling and abating, swelling and abating over and over again.

It is the essence of human sacrifice on the large scale, and note it isn't just coming from provocative government. There is truly a conspiracy of humanity. In my newspaper this morning there was a story about the U.S. attorney general working out provisions for better 4th Amendment protections against civil forfeiture, the confiscation of money and property if government believes it was taken illegally. I don't believe government is the only one guilty in this, for it wouldn't be happening if people weren't actually engaged in their own conspiracies appropriating for themselves what isn't theirs. The very best value extracting bankers, investment firm managers, financial gurus of all stripes can imaginatively bend the rules until they almost shatter (if there are any rules to begin with), and the reason they never get prosecuted is because people are in the mix of the conspiracy themselves. After all, they too need their return on investment for a sound retirement.

In fact, it is these much more important conspiracies that are happening right in front of our eyes and nobody blinks because so many are scooping up the product of the conspiracies themselves. Much of Sunstein's work and the people's conversation about "conspiracy theories" involves who really shot Kennedy and which UFO sightings are legit. These aren't just partial hangouts, they are partial hangout conventions. So much attention there! Very little attention to the fomenting of the rebellion and to government's covert but wholly justified response, which includes maintaining concentrations camps and arranging internment procedures.

All ultimately designed to keep people's eyes from The One Who Would Save Them.

I should note that Sunstein does do his work in defining some of the things introduced in the abstract. For instance "reputational influences" are people accepting what others say at face value without the requisite examination, and when it reaches critical mass a theory tends to stick. This brings up yet another question. Why aren't the things Sunstein hears about, from whatever sources, considered themselves to be "reputational influences" that may be just as disreputable?

By the way, it should be mentioned that Sunstein cleverly plays up the animosity directed at his work as a tack to appear above it all. For instance the back of his referenced book is full of vitriolic quotes from those who revile him. (An example: "Sunstein is evil, pure evil.") For my part I commend him for his industrious work in fulfilling Cain's charge, he is faithfully doing what he is supposed to be doing, and the quotes only amplify that principle.

What is the truth about conspiracy theories? It is not as complicated as it is made to be, by either Sunstein or the theorists. It starts with immersion in Scripture as a foundation for understanding, then prayerfully talking about it with others who desire God's wisdom in these things and examining history and current events in that setting. If you do that, you'll get it.

Then, safely in the embrace of The One who Himself has all authority over all powers and principalities, you'll know how to respond. You'll know.

For a more comprehensive response to the conspiracy theory anxiety, here is a page with the definition of what I call a world system factualist.

 

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This page was originally posted by David Beck at yourownjesus.net on December 29, 2014