The greatest conspiracies are open and notorious — not theories, but practices expressed through law and policy, technology, and finance. Counterintuitively, these conspiracies are more often than not announced in public and with a modicum of pride. They’re dutifully reported in our newspapers; they’re bannered onto the covers of our magazines; updates on their progress are scrolled across our screens — all with such regularity as to render us unable to relate the banality of their methods to the rapacity of their ambitions.
The party in power wants to redraw district lines. The prime interest rate has changed. A free service has been created to host our personal files. These conspiracies order, and disorder, our lives; and yet they can’t compete for attention with digital graffiti about pedophile Satanists in the basement of a DC pizzeria.
This, in sum, is our problem: the truest conspiracies meet with the least opposition.
Or to put it another way, conspiracy practices — the methods by which true conspiracies such as gerrymandering, or the debt industry, or mass surveillance are realized — are almost always overshadowed by conspiracy theories: those malevolent falsehoods that in aggregate can erode civic confidence in the existence of anything certain or verifiable.
In my life, I’ve had enough of both the practice and the theory. In my work for the United States National Security Agency, I was involved with establishing a Top-Secret system intended to access and track the communications of every human being on the planet. And yet after I grew aware of the damage this system was causing — and after I helped to expose that true conspiracy to the press — I couldn’t help but notice that the conspiracies that garnered almost as much attention were those that were demonstrably false: I was, it was claimed, a hand-picked CIA operative sent to infiltrate and embarrass the NSA; my actions were part of an elaborate inter-agency feud. No, said others: my true masters were the Russians, the Chinese, or worse — Facebook.
The term “conspiracy theory” has stopped many sorely needed investigations in their tracks. From James Bovard at jimbovard.com:
Biden’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” report last week declared that “enhancing faith in American democracy” requires “finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories.” In recent decades, conspiracy theories have multiplied almost as fast as government lies and cover-ups. While many allegations have been ludicrously far-fetched, the political establishment and media routinely attach the “conspiracy theory” label to any challenge to their dominance.
According to Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law professor and Obama’s regulatory czar, a conspiracy theory is “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” Reasonable citizens are supposed to presume that government creates trillions of pages of new secrets each year for their own good, not to hide anything from the public.
In the early 1960s, conspiracy theories were practically a non-issue because 75 percent of Americans trusted the federal government. Such credulity did not survive the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Seven days after Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson created a commission (later known as the Warren Commission) to suppress controversy about the killing. Johnson and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover browbeat the commission members into speedily issuing a report rubberstamping the “crazed lone gunman” version of the assassination. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, a member of the commission, revised the final staff report to change the location of where the bullet entered Kennedy’s body, thereby salvaging Hoover’s so-called “magic bullet” theory. After the Warren Commission findings were ridiculed as a whitewash, Johnson ordered the FBI to conduct wiretaps on the report’s critics. To protect the official story, the commission sealed key records for 75 years. Truth would out only after all the people involved in any coverup had gotten their pensions and died.
Almost any story that challenges the officially approved explanation will be rightfully labeled a conspiracy theory, which doesn’t mean the story is wrong, but technically means only that the story alleges two or more people conspiring to commit an illicit act. From Jim Fetzer at unz.com:
The public has been fed an endless stream of attacks upon conspiracy theories, which, we are told, are supposed to be very bad for human beings and other living things. But precisely why is almost never explained. And when you consider that our political parties and the mainstream media indulge themselves in conspiracy theories, such as the claim that Russia interfered with the 2016 election (otherwise Donald Trump could never have been elected) or, alternatively, that Dominion voting machines were used to steal the election of 2020 (and otherwise could not have been defeated) are, in the first instance, promoted by the media (in spite of virtually no evidence at all) and, in the second, denied thereby (in spite of massive supporting proof). Both are conspiracy theories, where one appears to be true and the other appears to be false.
Since at least some conspiracy theories thus appear to be true, we need to be able to tell the difference. Even university professors have shown a decided aversion to conspiracy theories, buying into the stereotypical conception that the key characteristic of conspiracy theories is that they are unfalsifiable. A “tip sheet” for one college, for example, makes the declaration that “The main problem with any particular conspiracy theory is not that it’s wrong, but that it’s inarguable; not that it’s false, but that it is unfalsifiable. Because it is unfalsifiable, a conspiracy theory is not provable or disprovable.” If that were true, it would certainly count against them, making them akin to theoretical affirmations about the existence of God (as a classic case) or the existence of a universal “Force” a la Star Wars (more contemporary). But is it actually true?
A study published in Frontiers of Psychology, “’What about Building 7?’ A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories” (8 July 2013), for example, suggests that those often characterized as “conspiracy theorists” are more skeptical of what they are told by the government (“official accounts”) than they are enamored of specific alternatives and are more open-minded in the interpretation of evidence. They are less inclined to defer to officials as authorities and more inclined to look at the evidence, which even hints that the study of alternative theories of events like 9/11 might be an effective method to teach critical thinking.
People who don’t believe that two or more people in government sometimes agree to commit crimes or other illicit acts (the definition of conspiracy) have a name, too: idiots. From Matthew Ehret at off-guardian.org:
If you are starting to feel like forces controlling the governments of the west are out to get you, then it is likely that you are either a paranoid nut job, or a stubborn realist.
Either way, it means that you have some major problems on your hands.
If you don’t happen to find yourself among the tinfoil hat-wearing strata of conspiracy theorists waiting in a bunker for aliens to either strike down or save society from the shape shifting lizard people, but are rather contemplating how, in the 1960s, a shadow government took control of society over the dead bodies of many assassinated patriots, then certain conclusions tend to arise.
Even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream- a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”
(Lest you think that this was a subversion of democracy, Ball informs us that “they were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.”)
Another conclusion you might come to is that many of the political figures whom you believed were serving those who elected them into office, actually serve the interests of a clique of technocrats and billionaires lusting over the deconstruction of western civilization under something called “a Great Reset”.
ll of us believe in some conspiracies. Many subscribe to the philosophy of the ultimate pessimist, that guy named Murphy, and his law, which observed that the other line moves faster. You know it’s going to rain after you wash your car, or painted something outside. The car’s going to need an emergency $500 repair, right after you get a $500 bonus. A gust of wind will come along and mess up your new hairdo. The list is endless.
Most people believe at least some things are rigged against them. They may not extend that to the system being rigged against average people everywhere, but in their own personal lives, they nod their heads knowingly when something goes awry. You play the same number all the time in the lottery, and the one day you don’t buy a ticket, are you surprised that it finally comes up? It’s only paranoid when you start talking about shadowy, powerful forces.
Every year, the world’s government, business, and media leaders meet in absolute secrecy at ritzy hotels around the world. The so-called Bilderberg group was never written about for decades, outside of the feisty weekly newspaper The Spotlight. Their existence was denied by all respectable people. With the advent of increased citizen journalism on the internet, these power brokers were filmed going in and out of these meetings. Intrepid reporters like the late Jim Tucker snuck inside and took their attendee list and agenda. Hearty citizen journalists gathered outside and attempted, almost always unsuccessfully, to interview the participants. Now, the Bilderbergers are a real thing, but you’re a “conspiracy theorist” if you believe the most influential people in the world meet for any significant reason.
In the summer, the elite hold another confab, in the mountains of northern California. For decades, it was “crazy” to claim that powerful, strictly male figures would get together in secrecy, and worship a giant owl. Then Alex Jones snuck into Bohemian Grove and filmed the “cremation of care” ceremony, which took place under a giant owl. Walter Cronkite was the voice of the owl for many years. But we’re still assured that they’re just getting together to relax.
The DC Circuit has ruled that the CIA is under no obligation to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests pertaining to its involvement with insurgent militias in Syria, overturning a lower court’s previous ruling in favor of a Buzzfeed News reporter seeking such documents.
As Sputnik‘s Morgan Artyukhina clearly outlines, this ruling comes despite the fact that mainstream news outlets have been reporting on the Central Intelligence Agency’s activities in Syria for years, and despite a US president having openly tweeted about those activities.
“In other words, the CIA will not be required to admit to actions it is widely reported as having done, much less divulge documents about them to the press for even greater scrutiny,” Artyukhina writes, calling to mind the Julian Assange quote “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”
My latest: Despite extensive reporting by the @WSJ & CIA-vetted @nytimes confirming it happened, a DC court has sided with the @CIA, finding that a Trump tweet doesn't constitute proof that it funded al-Qaeda in #Syria. https://t.co/NFaQBrggV5
The CIA’s brazen collaboration with dangerous extremist factions seeking to topple Damascus, and its equally brazen refusal to provide the public with any information about the extent of its involvement in Syria from the earliest stages of the violence in that nation onwards, will necessarily provide fodder for conspiracy theories.
Is what we’re in a knowledge crisis, or is it a crisis of stick your fingers in your ears and scream to avoid anything you regard as unpleasant or not in alignment with your politics? Fro Adam Ellwanger at humanevents.com:
When pressed on the matter by President Trump in a debate, Joe Biden boasted that five former heads of the CIA said that the story was “a bunch of garbage.” A couple of days earlier, dozens of former intelligence officials had signed a statement that asserted the news had all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation: “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” the statement read, “just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.”
Bush administration speechwriter and Atlantic editor David Frum claimed on Twitter that “The story could not have been more obviously fake if it had been wearing dollar-store spectacles and attached plastic mustache.” Weeks after the FBI investigation of Hunter Biden was confirmed, Wikipedia still labels their entry on the matter as a “conspiracy theory.” Thus, in spite of emails,photographs, and video-recorded evidence to the contrary, any claim that the Bidens did anythingimproper (let alone “wrong” or “illegal”) was deemed “baseless.”
If the CIA told us anything about all the nefarious plots out there against the US, they’d have to kill us. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
I’d like to tell you a folktale. It’s called “The Emperor’s New 9/11”.
Once upon a time there was an Emperor who loved war and military expansionism. He was always searching for new ways to instigate military conflicts without losing the support of the international community or waking up the populace to the fact that they’re just propagandized cogs in the machine of a globe-spanning Empire which uses endless military and economic violence to maintain its unipolar hegemony.
One day two men calling themselves Intelligence Experts came into town claiming that they had devised a wondrous new type of enemy threat that is invisible to the common folk.
“Is it as good as 9/11?” asked the Emperor excitedly. “Oh how I loved how that one allowed me to initiate a new era of military expansionism on the pretence of fighting global terrorism!”
“It’s even better!” explained the Intelligence Experts. “This magical enemy threat is comprised of Cyber Attacks which are completely invisible to public scrutiny, and you have complete control over where and when they happen. You just name a foreign government you don’t like, and we’ll say they have attacked the democracy of the Empire!”
“You mean the pretend democracy I lied to them about having?” asked the Emperor.
“Of course,” said the Intelligence Experts. “So you just name the disobedient government you want a fight with and we’ll give you your new 9/11.”
“Hmm, well I’m not very fond of the Russians,” said the Emperor. “They’ve been brazenly acting against our interests on the world stage and they keep getting friendlier with China. Let’s set to work on them first.”
So the Intelligence Experts set to work weaving their narrative about Russian Cyber Attacks. The Emperor put his mass media to work knitting together wonderful yarns of the Emperor’s wonderous new 9/11, simultaneously invisible to commoners yet outrageous and necessitating an aggressive response.
The Empire’s military budget was inflated, treaties were ended, and a new arms race was begun. Sanctions were rolled out against the Russian government, the Empire’s Nuclear Posture Review was readjusted with a much more hostile stance toward Moscow, troops were deployed and NATO was expanded. Anyone who objected to any of this was labeled Russian propaganda by the Empire.
By the strict definition of conspiracy—”to join in a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act or an act which becomes unlawful as a result of the secret agreement”—you’d be pathologically naive not to believe that those in government have not engaged in conspiracies. From Caitline Johnstone at medium.com:
“Our sources are still saying that it looks like suicide, and this is going to set conspiracy theorists abuzz I fear,” said NBC correspondent Ken Dilanian. “NBC News has been hearing all day long that there are no indications of foul play, and that this looks like a suicide and that he hung himself in his cell.”
Dilanian, who stumbled over the phrase “conspiracy theorists” in his haste to get it in the first soundbyte, is a known asset of the Central Intelligence Agency. This is not a conspiracy theory, this is a well-documented fact. A 2014 article in The Intercept titled “The CIA’s Mop-Up Man” reveals email exchanges obtained via Freedom of Information Act request between Dilanian and CIA public affairs officers which “show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication.” There is no reason to give Dilanian the benefit of the doubt that this cozy relationship has ended, so anything he puts forward can safely be dismissed as CIA public relations.
SLL is officially a “conspiracy theorist” and believes that anyone who accepts without question the official explanation on anything more complicated than a jaywalking ticket (and even there you should be suspicious) is brain dead. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
Cornell professor, and long-time Zero Hedge friend, David Collum recently appeared on an episode of the Quoth the Raven podcast to talk all things conspiracy. Collum is an economic commentator, chemist, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University and is known for writing his “Year in Review”, which appears here on Zerohedge at the end of every year.
On the episode, host Chris Irons notes that Collum’s appearance was prompted by a recent Tweet he put out, in defense of being a conspiracy theorist which sparked a massive social media response and outpouring of reactions, both pro and con.
I am a "conspiracy theorist". I believe men and women of wealth and power conspire. If you don't think so, then you are what is called "an idiot". If you believe stuff but fear the label, you are what is called "a coward".
On the podcast, Collum and host Chris Irons tap into every major conspiracy theory over the last couple of decades, as well as several current events and the world of finance.
Collum Thinks Jeffrey Epstein Could Have Been Working For “Powerful People” And “Setting People Up”
The discussion starts with analysis of the current Jeffrey Epstein fiasco and Collum ponders what “can of worms” could open for Bill Clinton and Donald Trump as a result of Epstein going to trial and documents relating to his indictment coming to light.
“It’s going to be bi-partisan,” Collum says about the Epstein allegations. “Epstein was working for powerful people, to get dirt on powerful people. Epstein wasn’t just a dirtball, he was setting people up,” he continues.
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