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Conspiracy theorists label as a subtle form of censorship

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I'm not a conspiracy theorist –
I'm a conspiracy analyst.

Gore Vidal

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the phrase "conspiracy theory" occurred in a 1909 article in The American Historical Review.[16]. Initially  the term  meant "questionable hypothesis" or "rumor" and  implied that the proposed explanation of events doe not have any facts behind it and is perceived as violating Occam's razor or, later, the principle of falsifiability.

CIA reintroduced this phase in English language in 1997 with the specific goal to block questions on JFK’s Assassination. Some call this corruption of English language to be  “One of the Most Successful Propaganda Initiatives of All Time.” Specifically, in April 1967, the CIA wrote a dispatch which coined the term “conspiracy theories” … and recommended methods for discrediting such theories.  The dispatch was marked “psych” –  short for “psychological operations” or disinformation –  and “CS” for the CIA’s “Clandestine Services” unit.

Assessing the prevalent use of the term to ridicule or dismiss, Professor Rebecca Moore observes,

"The word 'conspiracy' works much the same way the word 'cult' does to discredit advocates of a certain view or persuasion. Historians do not use the word 'conspiracy' to describe accurate historical reports. On the contrary, they use it to indicate a lack of veracity and objectivity."[21]

In the aftermath of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, the term has acquired a derogatory meaning, implying a paranoid tendency to see the influence of some malign covert agency in events.[17] The term is often used to dismiss claims that the critic deems ridiculous, misconceived, paranoid, unfounded, outlandish, or irrational.[18]

Despite conspiracy theorists often being dismissed as a "fringe group," evidence suggests that people from "a broad cross-section of Americans today — traversing ethnic, gender, education, occupation, and other divides" believe in a wide variety of conspiracy theories.

The ridicule of all conspiracy theories is really just an attempt to diffuse criticism of the powerful.

Rothbard: shallow vs. deep[edit]

From Wikipedia

Characterized by Robert W. Welch, Jr. as "one of the few major scholars who openly endorses conspiracy theory", the economist Murray Rothbard has argued in favor of "deep" conspiracy theories versus "shallow" ones. According to Rothbard, a "shallow" theorist observes a questionable or potentially shady event and asks Cui bono? ("who benefits?"), jumping to the conclusion that a posited beneficiary is in fact responsible for covertly influencing events. In contrast, the "deep" conspiracy theorist begins with a suspicious hunch, but goes further by seeking out reputable and verifiable evidence. Rothbard described the scholarship of a deep conspiracy theorist as "essentially confirming your early paranoia through a deeper factual analysis".[36]

Lack of control

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia, asserts that strong supporters of conspiracy theories usually experience a feeling of lack of control. Which means 99% of population of advanced countries.  This explanation makes a strong link between conspiracy theories and rumors.

 A theory can help a believer regain a sense of order explaining some extraordinary events. Knowing some facts can even bring the feeling of power. Lewandowsky states that belief in conspiracies can be a protective mechanism.

Another explanation is that people are inclined to believe in ideas that they initially supported. This is called "motivated skepticism" or a "self-sealing nature of reasoning".[33]

Examples of hypothesis what were previous labeled as "conspiracy theory" but later proven correct

Several hypotheses that previously were labeled as "conspiracy theories" were later proven correct.

Examples include the theory that United States President Richard Nixon and his aides conspired to cover up [19] the theory that aides of President Ronald Reagan's conspired to cover up the [27] and the theory that government mass surveillance was tracking a large percentage of the world's telephone and Internet traffic.

Katherine K. Young writes that "every real conspiracy has had at least four characteristic features: groups, not isolated individuals; illegal or sinister aims, not ones that would benefit society as a whole; orchestrated acts, not a series of spontaneous and haphazard ones; and secret planning, not public discussion" [28]

"Some historians have put forward the idea that more recently the United States has become the home of conspiracy theories because so many high-level prominent conspiracies have been undertaken and uncovered since the 1960s".[29] The existence of such real conspiracies helps feed the belief in conspiracy theories.[32]


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[Aug 20, 2019] The Pseudo Debate Over Jeffrey Epstein's Suicide Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... However, while throughout Webb's articles she draws linkages that lead to the Mossad, she only suggests CIA connections. This is similar to but milder than a point made in an article written by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist, " Did Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein Work for Mossad? " Giraldi writes that the CIA "would have no particular motive to acquire an agent like Epstein." This makes no sense. Of course, it would. The CIA and the FBI have a long record of such activities, and to hold such a club over the heads of presidents, senators, et al to make sure they do their bidding is obviously a strong motivation. ..."
"... The CIA is organized crime, and if Epstein is Mossad connected, he is CIA also, which is most likely. Epstein could not have operated as he did for decades without being sustained and protected. ..."
"... no prosecution of the central operational cog in the gang, Ghislaine Maxwell, or her cohorts named in the fantastic settlement agreement ..."
"... “It is a mind game of extraordinary proportions, orchestrated by the perverted power elites who run the show and are abetted by their partners in the corporate mass media, even some in the alternative press who mean well but are confused, or are disinformation agents in the business of sowing confusion together with their mainstream Operation Mockingbird partners.” ..."
Aug 20, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Death, sex, power, intrigue, murder, suicide -- these are the staples of the 19 th century penny press, mass media and the CIA, writes Edward Curtin .

By Edward Curtin
edwardcurtin.com

W hen phrases such as "the deep state" and "conspiracy theory" become staples of both the corporate mainstream media and the alternative press, we know the realities behind these phrases have outlasted their usefulness for the ruling elites who control the United States and for their critics, each of whom uses them refutably or corroboratively. These phrases are bandied about so often that they have become hackneyed and inane.

Everything is shallow now, in our faces, and by being in our faces the truth is taking place behind our backs. The obvious can't be true since it's so obvious, so let us search for other explanations, and when the searchers search, let us call them "conspiracy nuts." It is a mind game of extraordinary proportions, orchestrated by the perverted power elites who run the show and are abetted by their partners in the corporate mass media, even some in the alternative press who mean well but are confused, or are disinformation agents in the business of sowing confusion together with their mainstream Operation Mockingbird partners.

It is a spectacle of open secrecy, in which the CIA, which created the "conspiracy theory" meme to ridicule critics of the Warren Commission's absurd explanation of the Kennedy assassination, has effectively sucked everyone into a game of to and fro in which only they win.

"When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Outside the Narrative Frame

Only by stepping outside this narrative frame with its vocabulary can we begin to grasp the truth here in our Wonderland of endless illusions.

Death, sex, power, intrigue, murder, suicide – these are the staples of the penny press of the 19 th century, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World , Hearst's New York Journal , the tabloids, today's mass media, and the CIA. People hunger for these stories, not for the real truth that impacts their lives, but for the titillation that gives a frisson to their humdrum lives. It is why post-modern detective stories are so popular, as if never solving the crime is the point.

Robert Pfaller in 2016. (Suzie1212, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

To say "we will never know" is the mantra of a postmodern culture created to keep people running in circles. (Note the commentaries about the Jeffrey Epstein case.) Elusive and allusive indeterminacy characterizes everything in the culture of postmodernity. Robert Pfaller, a professor at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria, and a founding member of the Viennese psychoanalytic research group "stuzzicandenti," put it clearly in a recent interview :

"The ruling ideology since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or even earlier, is postmodernism. This is the ideological embellishment that the brutal neoliberal attack on Western societies' welfare (that was launched in the late 1970s) required in order to attain a "human", "liberal" and "progressive" face. This coalition between an economic policy that serves the interest of a tiny minority, and an ideology that appears to "include" everybody is what Nancy Fraser has aptly called "progressive neoliberalism". It consists of neoliberalism, plus postmodernism as its ideological superstructure."

The propagandists know this; they created it. They are psychologically astute, having hijacked many intelligent but soul-less people of the right and left to do their handiwork.

Money Buys Souls

Money buys souls, and the number of those who have sold theirs is numerous, including those leftists who have been bought by the CIA, as Cord Meyer, the CIA official phrased it so sexually in the 1950s: we need to "court the compatible left." He knew that drawing leftists into the CIA's orbit was the key to efficient propaganda. For so many of the compatible left, those making a lot of money posing as opponents of the ruling elites but taking the money of the super-rich, events like the JFK assassination are inconsequential, never to be broached, as if they never happened, except as the authorities say they did.

By ignoring these most in-your-face events with their eyes wide shut, a coterie of influential leftists has done the work of Orwell's crime-stop and has effectively succeeded in situating current events in an ahistorical and therefore misleading context that abets U.S. propaganda.

The debate over whether Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide or not is a pseudo-debate meant to keep people spinning their wheels over nothing. It attracts attention and will do so for many days to come. There are even some usually astute people suggesting that he may not be dead but might have been secretly whisked off somewhere and replaced with a dead look-alike. Now who would profit from suggesting something as insane as this? The speculation runs rampant and feeds the spectacle. Whether he was allowed to kill himself or was killed makes little difference.

(Christopher Dombres, CC0, Wikimedia Commons)

Debates to Nowhere

It's akin to asking who pulled the trigger that killed President John Kennedy. That's a debate that was intended to go nowhere, as it has, after it became apparent that Lee Harvey Oswald surely did not kill JFK. Kennedy's murder in broad daylight in public view is the paradigmatic event of modern times. It is obvious to anyone who gives minimal study to the issue that it was organized and carried out by elements within the national security state, notably the CIA. Their message was meant to be unequivocal and clear: We can kill him and we can kill you; we are in full control; beware. Then they went on to kill others, including RFK and MLK. It takes little intelligence to see this obvious fact, unless you wish not to or are totally lost in the neighborhood of make-believe.

As it was with Jack Ruby killing Lee Harvey Oswald, so it is with Epstein. There will be no trial. Nothing is really hidden except the essential truth. Guess, debate, wonder, watch, read to your sad heart's content. You will have gotten nowhere unless you step outside the frame of the reigning narrative.

New York Post: Reigniting the narrative.

A corollary example of another recent national headline grabber, the Mueller investigation, is apropos here. Douglas Valentine, expert on the CIA and author of "The CIA as Organized Crime," said in a recent interview that in all the endless mass media discussions of the Mueller investigation, one obvious question was never asked: What is the CIA's role in it all? It was never asked because the job of the corporate mass media is to work for the CIA, not to expose it as a nest of organized criminals and murderers that it is.

What is important in the Epstein case is the deep back story, a tale that goes back decades and is explored by Whitney Webb in a series of fine articles for the Mint Press. Read her articles and you will see how Epstein is just the current manifestation of the sordid history of the American marriage between various factions of the American ruling elites, whose business is sexual exploitation as a fringe benefit of being willing members of the economic and military exploitation of the world. A marriage of spies, mafia, intelligence agencies, sexual perverts, foreign governments and American traitors who will stop at nothing to advance their interests.

Destroys the Fairy Tale of Democracy

It is a hard story to swallow because it destroys the fairy tale that has been constructed about American "democracy" and the decency of our leaders. Webb's articles are not based on secret documents but on readily available information open to a diligent researcher. It's known history that has been buried, as is most history in a country of amnesiacs and educational illiterates. The average person doesn't have Webb's skill or time to pull it all together, but they can read her illuminating work. Often, however, it is the will to truth that is lacking.

While Webb places the Epstein matter in an historical context, she does not "solve" the case, since there is nothing to solve. It is another story from a long litany of sex/espionage stories openly available to anyone willing to look. They tell the same story. Like many commentators, she draws many linkages to the Israeli Mossad's long-standing connections to this criminal under and over world in the United States and throughout the world. She writes:

"Ultimately, the picture painted by the evidence is not a direct tie to a single intelligence agency but a web linking key members of the Mega Group [a secretive group of Jewish billionaires, including Epstein's patron Leslie Wexner], politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations."

If anything is obvious about the Epstein case, it is that he was part of a sexual blackmail operation tied to intelligence agencies. Such blackmail has long been central to the methods of intelligence agencies worldwide and many arrows rightfully point to the Mossad.

However, while throughout Webb's articles she draws linkages that lead to the Mossad, she only suggests CIA connections. This is similar to but milder than a point made in an article written by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist, " Did Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein Work for Mossad? " Giraldi writes that the CIA "would have no particular motive to acquire an agent like Epstein." This makes no sense. Of course, it would. The CIA and the FBI have a long record of such activities, and to hold such a club over the heads of presidents, senators, et al to make sure they do their bidding is obviously a strong motivation.

Valentine's point about not asking the question about the CIA's involvement in the Mueller investigation pertains. Does Giraldi believe that the Mossad operates independently of the CIA? Or that they don't work in tandem? His statement is very strange.

The CIA is organized crime, and if Epstein is Mossad connected, he is CIA also, which is most likely. Epstein could not have operated as he did for decades without being sustained and protected. Now that he is dead there will be no trial, just as there will be no mainstream media or justice department revelations about the CIA or Mossad. There will be a lot of gibberish about conspiracy theories and the open secret that is the spectacle of secrecy will roll on. There will, of course, be much sex talk and outrage. We will anxiously await the movie and the TV "exposés." Most people will know, and pretend they don't, that the country is ruled by gangsters who would pimp their mothers if it served their interests.

Those of us who oppose these criminals – and there are growing numbers all over the world – must avoid being sucked into the Establishment narratives and the counter-narratives they spawn or create. We must refuse to get involved in pseudo-debates that are meant to lead nowhere. We must reject the language created to confuse.

If revolutionary change is to come, we must learn to tell a new story in language so beautiful, illuminating, and heart-rending that no one will listen to the lying words of child molesters, mass murderers, and those who hate and persecute truth tellers.

As John Berger said, "In storytelling everything depends on what follows what. And the truest order is seldom obvious."

Educated in the classics, philosophy, literature, theology, and sociology, Ed Curtin is a former professor of sociology. His writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. He sees all his work as an effort to enhance human freedom.

This article is from the author's website edwardcurtin.com .

Brent Anderson August 20, 2019 at 12:09

Prince Andrew hung out with Epstein because he made a good tuna on rye. We are all conditioned to accept that powerful people do not have to go to jail. Its just the way it is and will always remain so. There is not an honest person anywhere on planet earth who believes that Bill Clinton and the others did not have sex with “those girls”. America and the west are morally corrupt piles of garbage. No wonder the African Americans and others rage against an unbalanced system of justice. Actually it is just poor people of any color who get the book thrown at them.

I saw the pictures yesterday on the telegraph of the young blond girl leaving Epsteins Manhattan home with Prince Andrew poking his head out the door. The girl looked like she was no older than 14. The dear old Queen doesn’t represent justice either.

Vera Gottlieb, August 20, 2019 at 11:29

Just curious…will the Epstein saga be as prolonged and boring as the Russiagate saga???

Litchfield, August 20, 2019 at 14:00

I don’t think so.

It is in the interest of the puppetmeister to let thing die out ASAP. Not so the Russiagate hoax: the idea was to prolong it in the hopes of finally finding a smoking gun of some kind. With the Epstein story we are awash in smoking guns, but they are being ignored.

Dan D. August 20, 2019 at 09:34

If there is no trial and further revelations about the nature of this operation, which should be expected, it won’t simply be because Epstein is dead, but because there will be no prosecution of the central operational cog in the gang, Ghislaine Maxwell, or her cohorts named in the fantastic settlement agreement. There are more than sufficient facts in the public sphere to proceed.

Bob Van Noy, August 20, 2019 at 09:07

“It is a mind game of extraordinary proportions, orchestrated by the perverted power elites who run the show and are abetted by their partners in the corporate mass media, even some in the alternative press who mean well but are confused, or are disinformation agents in the business of sowing confusion together with their mainstream Operation Mockingbird partners.”

“The CIA is organized crime,…”

Edward Curtin has summarized our contemporary hell as few others can. In the above comments he fully describes our dilemma and underscores the necessity for sites like Consortiumnews to present the truth for citizens to be able to sort truth from lies. Still we cannot forget that our democracy is “a criminal conspiracy”…

https://spartacus-educational.com/JFKmockingbird.htm

Jill, August 20, 2019 at 08:47

I actually believe knowing what happened to Epstein is knowable. It is also important because it will reveal who/what has the power to make such a thing happen. However, while this information will take a long time to come out it is our job to push on behalf of his victims right now.

There is information showing that Maxwell and several other people committed multiple rapes of children. We do not see her, Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, just to name a few, hauled in for questioning. That really needs to happen. We have built up the powerful into untouchable icons. This needs to full stop now. These are not icons, they are potential and likely guilty child rapists of children. Our power system is held up by unspeakable cruelty to children and to others who simply don’t have the power to fight back unless we offer our support and services to them. There is enough testimony and other evidence to bring them in for questioning.

The conspiracy to commit rape should be ready to go. Investigators have had that information for a long time. I’m not buying that they are too incompetent to move that case forward. We are going to need to push for this. Deliberate infliction of human misery is evil and it is not acceptable to create one’s society on such a thing.

There is ground penetrating radar which can see under Jeff’s concrete pour. It can also show the tunnels on the islands. “Lost” evidence can be relocated from it’s undisclosed location. The ranch in NM can be sealed off and also scanned by this radar. No one should believe agencies with the resources of this government behind them are incapable of doing such things.

In the meantime, there is a tape of Jeff’s wing from that night. There’s one from the hospital and the investigators can offer immunity to anyone guard or hospital/ambulance employee in exchange for their truthful explanation of what they were doing and what they saw. This was not a series of incompetent actions which all went one way and one way only. It took a lot of planning and a lot of resources. That means there are a lot of witnesses.

We do need to uncover and dismantle this chain of human misery. No More.

ML, August 20, 2019 at 11:27

Excellent comment, Jill. As a family medicine nurse practitioner for many years, I have witnessed and helped many teen victims of adults who thought it somehow A-ok to sexually take advantage of them. I understand teen psychology. They are wholly unprepared to deal with the often underhanded tactics of pedophiles who use charm, deceit, threats, flattery, physical violence, tangible needed goods like money, clothing, or even a place to sleep, to get what they want— sex with a young person.

It is truly evil and that is not too strong a word for it. Epstein apparently used all of these tactics on his victims. How I wish there were a hell for the likes of him.

Litchfield, August 20, 2019 at 12:14

I agree with all you say, and thanks for putting it so clearly. There is NO EXCUSE for this case NOT to go forward and for all the parties of interest to be interrogated, and not with velvet gloves on. Clinton, Andrew, Dersh, Wexner, Maxwell, just for starters. Possibly Barr should recuse himself, as he seems to be too intertwined with the Epstein background story.

Brian Murphy, August 20, 2019 at 12:42

Is it really such a mystery what organizations acting together have the capability to have done this? They are identified in the article. The western coalition of intelligence agencies, which includes the Mossad along with NATO powers. In the USA, that includes the entire intelligence apparatus — CIA, NSA, MIA, FBI, Secret Service, as supported and defended by the DOJ.

Which of those entities placed someone in the jail cell to crack his neck is somewhat immaterial. The current President and at least one former President were implicated, which justifies the use of the full arsenal in the minds of those involved, as a “threat to national security,” which of course means strictly “threat to the profits of certain entities.”

Walter, August 20, 2019 at 06:56

There is sparse evidence and zero proof that the charming fellow committed suicide, and only claims (somebody said stuff) that he’s actually dead. (Same for his girlfriend’s dad, same for Skirpal :–)

Whitney Webb at Mintpressnews is doing good job on Mr E.

... ... ...

[Aug 20, 2019] American Pravda How the CIA Invented Conspiracy Theories by Ron Unz

Notable quotes:
"... Obviously, a large fraction of everything described by our government leaders or presented in the pages of our most respectable newspapers -- from the 9/11 attacks to the most insignificant local case of petty urban corruption -- could objectively be categorized as a "conspiracy theory" but such words are never applied. ..."
"... Put another way, there are good "conspiracy theories" and bad "conspiracy theories," with the former being the ones promoted by pundits on mainstream television shows and hence never described as such ..."
"... by the time we attacked Iraq in 2003, polls revealed that some 70% of the American public believed that Saddam was personally involved in the destruction of our World Trade Center. By that date I don't doubt that many millions of patriotic but low-information Americans would have angrily denounced and vilified as a "crazy conspiracy theorist" anyone with the temerity to suggest that Saddam had not been behind 9/11, despite almost no one in authority having ever explicitly made such a fallacious claim. ..."
"... Based on an important FOIA disclosure, the book's headline revelation was that the CIA was very likely responsible for the widespread introduction of "conspiracy theory" as a term of political abuse, having orchestrated that development as a deliberate means of influencing public opinion. ..."
"... So as a means of damage control, the CIA distributed a secret memo to all its field offices requesting that they enlist their media assets in efforts to ridicule and attack such critics as irrational supporters of "conspiracy theories." Soon afterward, there suddenly appeared statements in the media making those exact points, with some of the wording, arguments, and patterns of usage closely matching those CIA guidelines. The result was a huge spike in the pejorative use of the phrase, which spread throughout the American media, with the residual impact continueing right down to the present day. Thus, there is considerable evidence in support of this particular "conspiracy theory" explaining the widespread appearance of attacks on "conspiracy theories" in the public media. ..."
"... But although the CIA appears to have effectively manipulated public opinion in order to transform the phrase "conspiracy theory" into a powerful weapon of ideological combat, the author also describes how the necessary philosophical ground had actually been prepared a couple of decades earlier. Around the time of the Second World War, an important shift in political theory caused a huge decline in the respectability of any "conspiratorial" explanation of historical events. ..."
"... Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies. ..."
"... This argument may be more than purely hypothetical. A crucial turning point in America's renewed Cold War against Russia was the passage of the 2012 Magnitsky Act by Congress, punitively targeting various supposedly corrupt Russian officials for their alleged involvement in the illegal persecution and death of an employee of Bill Browder, an American hedge-fund manager with large Russian holdings. However, there's actually quite a bit of evidence that it was Browder himself who was actually the mastermind and beneficiary of the gigantic corruption scheme, while his employee was planning to testify against him and was therefore fearful of his life for that reason. Naturally, the American media has provided scarcely a single mention of these remarkable revelations regarding what might amount to a gigantic Magnitsky Hoax of geopolitical significance. ..."
"... To some extent the creation of the Internet and the vast proliferation of alternative media outlets, including my own small webzine , have somewhat altered this depressing picture. So it is hardly surprising that a very substantial fraction of the discussion dominating these Samizdat-like publications concerns exactly those subjects regularly condemned as "crazy conspiracy theories" by our mainstream media organs. ..."
"... Such unfiltered speculation must surely be a source of considerable irritation and worry to government officials who have long relied upon the complicity of their tame media organs to allow their serious misdeeds to pass unnoticed and unpunished. Indeed, several years ago a senior Obama Administration official argued that the free discussion of various "conspiracy theories" on the Internet was so potentially harmful that government agents should be recruited to "cognitively infiltrate" and disrupt them, essentially proposing a high-tech version of the highly controversial Cointelpro operations undertaken by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. ..."
Sep 05, 2016 | www.unz.com

A year or two ago, I saw the much-touted science fiction film Interstellar , and although the plot wasn't any good, one early scene was quite amusing. For various reasons, the American government of the future claimed that our Moon Landings of the late 1960s had been faked, a trick aimed at winning the Cold War by bankrupting Russia into fruitless space efforts of its own. This inversion of historical reality was accepted as true by nearly everyone, and those few people who claimed that Neil Armstrong had indeed set foot on the Moon were universally ridiculed as "crazy conspiracy theorists." This seems a realistic portrayal of human nature to me.

Obviously, a large fraction of everything described by our government leaders or presented in the pages of our most respectable newspapers -- from the 9/11 attacks to the most insignificant local case of petty urban corruption -- could objectively be categorized as a "conspiracy theory" but such words are never applied. Instead, use of that highly loaded phrase is reserved for those theories, whether plausible or fanciful, that do not possess the endorsement stamp of establishmentarian approval.

Put another way, there are good "conspiracy theories" and bad "conspiracy theories," with the former being the ones promoted by pundits on mainstream television shows and hence never described as such. I've sometimes joked with people that if ownership and control of our television stations and other major media outlets suddenly changed, the new information regime would require only a few weeks of concerted effort to totally invert all of our most famous "conspiracy theories" in the minds of the gullible American public. The notion that nineteen Arabs armed with box-cutters hijacked several jetliners, easily evaded our NORAD air defenses, and reduced several landmark buildings to rubble would soon be universally ridiculed as the most preposterous "conspiracy theory" ever to have gone straight from the comic books into the minds of the mentally ill, easily surpassing the absurd "lone gunman" theory of the JFK assassination.

Even without such changes in media control, huge shifts in American public beliefs have frequently occurred in the recent past, merely on the basis of implied association. In the initial weeks and months following the 2001 attacks, every American media organ was enlisted to denounce and vilify Osama Bin Laden, the purported Islamicist master-mind, as our greatest national enemy, with his bearded visage endlessly appearing on television and in print, soon becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the world. But as the Bush Administration and its key media allies prepared a war against Iraq, the images of the Burning Towers were instead regularly juxtaposed with mustachioed photos of dictator Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden's arch-enemy. As a consequence, by the time we attacked Iraq in 2003, polls revealed that some 70% of the American public believed that Saddam was personally involved in the destruction of our World Trade Center. By that date I don't doubt that many millions of patriotic but low-information Americans would have angrily denounced and vilified as a "crazy conspiracy theorist" anyone with the temerity to suggest that Saddam had not been behind 9/11, despite almost no one in authority having ever explicitly made such a fallacious claim.

These factors of media manipulation were very much in my mind a couple of years ago when I stumbled across a short but fascinating book published by the University of Texas academic press. The author of Conspiracy Theory in America was Prof. Lance deHaven-Smith, a former president of the Florida Political Science Association.

Based on an important FOIA disclosure, the book's headline revelation was that the CIA was very likely responsible for the widespread introduction of "conspiracy theory" as a term of political abuse, having orchestrated that development as a deliberate means of influencing public opinion.

During the mid-1960s there had been increasing public skepticism about the Warren Commission findings that a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, had been solely responsible for President Kennedy's assassination, and growing suspicions that top-ranking American leaders had also been involved. So as a means of damage control, the CIA distributed a secret memo to all its field offices requesting that they enlist their media assets in efforts to ridicule and attack such critics as irrational supporters of "conspiracy theories." Soon afterward, there suddenly appeared statements in the media making those exact points, with some of the wording, arguments, and patterns of usage closely matching those CIA guidelines. The result was a huge spike in the pejorative use of the phrase, which spread throughout the American media, with the residual impact continueing right down to the present day. Thus, there is considerable evidence in support of this particular "conspiracy theory" explaining the widespread appearance of attacks on "conspiracy theories" in the public media.

But although the CIA appears to have effectively manipulated public opinion in order to transform the phrase "conspiracy theory" into a powerful weapon of ideological combat, the author also describes how the necessary philosophical ground had actually been prepared a couple of decades earlier. Around the time of the Second World War, an important shift in political theory caused a huge decline in the respectability of any "conspiratorial" explanation of historical events.

For decades prior to that conflict, one of our most prominent scholars and public intellectuals had been historian Charles Beard , whose influential writings had heavily focused on the harmful role of various elite conspiracies in shaping American policy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, with his examples ranging from the earliest history of the United States down to the nation's entry into WWI. Obviously, researchers never claimed that all major historical events had hidden causes, but it was widely accepted that some of them did, and attempting to investigate those possibilities was deemed a perfectly acceptable academic enterprise.

However, Beard was a strong opponent of American entry into the Second World War, and he was marginalized in the years that followed, even prior to his death in 1948. Many younger public intellectuals of a similar bent also suffered the same fate, or were even purged from respectability and denied any access to the mainstream media. At the same time, the totally contrary perspectives of two European political philosophers, Karl Popper and Leo Strauss , gradually gained ascendancy in American intellectual circles, and their ideas became dominant in public life.

Popper, the more widely influential, presented broad, largely theoretical objections to the very possibility of important conspiracies ever existing, suggesting that these would be implausibly difficult to implement given the fallibility of human agents; what might appear a conspiracy actually amounted to individual actors pursuing their narrow aims. Even more importantly, he regarded "conspiratorial beliefs" as an extremely dangerous social malady, a major contributing factor to the rise of Nazism and other deadly totalitarian ideologies. His own background as an individual of Jewish ancestry who had fled Austria in 1937 surely contributed to the depth of his feelings on these philosophical matters.

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

Even for most educated Americans, theorists such as Beard, Popper, and Strauss are probably no more than vague names mentioned in textbooks, and that was certainly true in my own case. But while the influence of Beard seems to have largely disappeared in elite circles, the same is hardly true of his rivals. Popper probably ranks as one of the founders of modern liberal thought, with an individual as politically influential as left-liberal financier George Soros claiming to be his intellectual disciple . Meanwhile, the neo-conservative thinkers who have totally dominated the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement for the last couple of decades often proudly trace their ideas back to Strauss.

So, through a mixture of Popperian and Straussian thinking, the traditional American tendency to regard elite conspiracies as a real but harmful aspect of our society was gradually stigmatized as either paranoid or politically dangerous, laying the conditions for its exclusion from respectable discourse.

By 1964, this intellectual revolution had largely been completed, as indicated by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the famous article by political scientist Richard Hofstadter critiquing the so-called "paranoid style" in American politics , which he denounced as the underlying cause of widespread popular belief in implausible conspiracy theories. To a considerable extent, he seemed to be attacking straw men, recounting and ridiculing the most outlandish conspiratorial beliefs, while seeming to ignore the ones that had been proven correct. For example, he described how some of the more hysterical anti-Communists claimed that tens of thousands of Red Chinese troops were hidden in Mexico, preparing an attack on San Diego, while he failed to even acknowledge that for years Communist spies had indeed served near the very top of the U.S. government. Not even the most conspiratorially minded individual suggests that all alleged conspiracies are true, merely that some of them might be.

Most of these shifts in public sentiment occurred before I was born or when I was a very young child, and my own views were shaped by the rather conventional media narratives that I absorbed. Hence, for nearly my entire life, I always automatically dismissed all of the so-called "conspiracy theories" as ridiculous, never once even considering that any of them might possibly be true.

To the extent that I ever thought about the matter, my reasoning was simple and based on what seemed like good, solid common sense. Any conspiracy responsible for some important public event must surely have many separate "moving parts" to it, whether actors or actions taken, let us say numbering at least 100 or more. Now given the imperfect nature of all attempts at concealment, it would surely be impossible for all of these to be kept entirely hidden. So even if a conspiracy were initially 95% successful in remaining undetected, five major clues would still be left in plain sight for investigators to find. And once the buzzing cloud of journalists noticed these, such blatant evidence of conspiracy would certainly attract an additional swarm of energetic investigators, tracing those items back to their origins, with more pieces gradually being uncovered until the entire cover-up likely collapsed. Even if not all the crucial facts were ever determined, at least the simple conclusion that there had indeed been some sort of conspiracy would quickly become established.

However, there was a tacit assumption in my reasoning, one that I have since decided was entirely false. Obviously, many potential conspiracies either involve powerful governmental officials or situations in which their disclosure would represent a source of considerable embarrassment to such individuals. But I had always assumed that even if government failed in its investigatory role, the dedicated bloodhounds of the Fourth Estate would invariably come through, tirelessly seeking truth, ratings, and Pulitzers. However, once I gradually began realizing that the media was merely "Our American Pravda" and perhaps had been so for decades, I suddenly recognized the flaw in my logic. If those five -- or ten or twenty or fifty -- initial clues were simply ignored by the media, whether through laziness, incompetence, or much less venial sins, then there would be absolutely nothing to prevent successful conspiracies from taking place and remaining undetected, perhaps even the most blatant and careless ones.

In fact, I would extend this notion to a general principle. Substantial control of the media is almost always an absolute prerequisite for any successful conspiracy, the greater the degree of control the better. So when weighing the plausibility of any conspiracy, the first matter to investigate is who controls the local media and to what extent.

Let us consider a simple thought-experiment. For various reasons these days, the entire American media is extraordinarily hostile to Russia, certainly much more so than it ever was toward the Communist Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s. Hence I would argue that the likelihood of any large-scale Russian conspiracy taking place within the operative zone of those media organs is virtually nil. Indeed, we are constantly bombarded with stories of alleged Russian conspiracies that appear to be "false positives," dire allegations seemingly having little factual basis or actually being totally ridiculous. Meanwhile, even the crudest sort of anti-Russian conspiracy might easily occur without receiving any serious mainstream media notice or investigation.

This argument may be more than purely hypothetical. A crucial turning point in America's renewed Cold War against Russia was the passage of the 2012 Magnitsky Act by Congress, punitively targeting various supposedly corrupt Russian officials for their alleged involvement in the illegal persecution and death of an employee of Bill Browder, an American hedge-fund manager with large Russian holdings. However, there's actually quite a bit of evidence that it was Browder himself who was actually the mastermind and beneficiary of the gigantic corruption scheme, while his employee was planning to testify against him and was therefore fearful of his life for that reason. Naturally, the American media has provided scarcely a single mention of these remarkable revelations regarding what might amount to a gigantic Magnitsky Hoax of geopolitical significance.

To some extent the creation of the Internet and the vast proliferation of alternative media outlets, including my own small webzine , have somewhat altered this depressing picture. So it is hardly surprising that a very substantial fraction of the discussion dominating these Samizdat-like publications concerns exactly those subjects regularly condemned as "crazy conspiracy theories" by our mainstream media organs.

Such unfiltered speculation must surely be a source of considerable irritation and worry to government officials who have long relied upon the complicity of their tame media organs to allow their serious misdeeds to pass unnoticed and unpunished. Indeed, several years ago a senior Obama Administration official argued that the free discussion of various "conspiracy theories" on the Internet was so potentially harmful that government agents should be recruited to "cognitively infiltrate" and disrupt them, essentially proposing a high-tech version of the highly controversial Cointelpro operations undertaken by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.

Until just a few years ago I'd scarcely even heard of Charles Beard, once ranked among the towering figures of 20th century American intellectual life . But the more I've discovered the number of serious crimes and disasters that have completely escaped substantial media scrutiny, the more I wonder what other matters may still remain hidden. So perhaps Beard was correct all along in recognizing the respectability of "conspiracy theories," and we should return to his traditional American way of thinking, notwithstanding endless conspiratorial propaganda campaigns by the CIA and others to persuade us that we should dismiss such notions without any serious consideration.

[Aug 20, 2019] The Epstein Case Everyone s a Conspiracy Theorist by Caitlin Johnstone

Notable quotes:
"... "I am not into conspiracy theories. But Epstein had destructive information on an extraordinary number of extraordinarily powerful people. It is not easy to commit suicide in prison. ..."
"... The meaningless of the term has been clearly illustrated by Russiagate, whose adherents react with sputtering outrage whenever anyone points out that they're engaged in a conspiracy theory, despite the self-evident fact that that's exactly what it is: a theory about a band of powerful Russian conspirators conspiring with the highest levels of the U.S. government. Their objection is not due to a belief that they're not theorizing about a conspiracy, their objection is due to the fact that a highly stigmatized label that they're accustomed to applying to other people has been applied to them. The label is rejected because its actual definition is ignored to the point of meaninglessness. ..."
"... The term "conspiracy theory" should always serve as red flag to any astute reader concerning what follows. The term was reportedly coined by a CIA disinformation guy in the late 1960s to counter and discredit efforts to get at the truth of the Kennedy assassination. ..."
"... Individuals hanging themselves almost never possess information about how it is done. Typically they either hurl themselves off something like a staircase or kick away something they are standing on, as a chair or stool. Neither of those approaches has much probability of producing the classic executioner's result, although the first can certainly break neck bones or even behead someone. Epstein, we know, used neither of those methods. Indeed, he couldn't, given the small, deliberately-bare cell he was in. ..."
"... What is required to achieve the instantly-broken neck, and in just the right place for quick death, is a drop of a certain amount plus a certain positioning of the rope. Those conditions generally are not possible with efforts like hanging by bedsheets. ..."
"... Sheets, incidentally, as I've previously noted, not even available to inmates at this institution. They sleep on special paper sheets. ..."
"... The term 'conspiracy theory' appears to have first been used by the CIA in the 1960s about those who did not believe the findings of the Warren Commission report on the JFK assassination. ..."
"... The assertion that Epstein's death cannot be questioned without accusations of 'conspiracy theory' seems contradicted by the fact that many people, in and out of government, including AG Barr have found the circumstances in need of an investigation. Has anyone yet accused Barr of being a conspiracy theorist for finding the Epstein death questionable? ..."
"... When the "Conspiracy Theorist" sirens are blaring, you can be certain that an elite crime has just been openly committed and they are triggering the populace to suppress any questioning of the narrative; it is all very Pavoliavian. ..."
"... This will then be followed by an endless set of dead-end inquiries which trains are minds to focus on the trivial. Were sheets in Epstein's Prison? Why were the prison guards too exhausted to monitor the prisoner? Or, my favorite – Why were the cameras off, I think a 5-year-old child could answer that question. ..."
"... If you ever wonder how Intelligence Agencies spend their day, with their budget the size of Bulgaria's GNP, I say, look no further. ..."
"... Now we get to the big one, why did Epstein return to the US when he had to know an arrest warrant had been issued? This one bothers me the most. Epstein had the money and the means to live in many countries without extradition to the US. ..."
"... If someone in power wanted him dead, it would make more sense to do it before all of the attention, not after he's arrested. ..."
"... "That epithet has a sordid history in the annals of U.S. intelligence. Legendary CIA Director Allen Dulles used the "brand-them-conspiracy-theorists" ploy following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy when many objected -- understandably -- to letting him pretty much run the Warren Commission, even though the CIA was suspected of having played a role in the murder. The "conspiracy theorist" tactic worked like a charm then, and now. Well, up until just now." ..."
"... The question should be about evidence for or against any conspiracy theory. ..."
"... In the Epstein case there is a very strong motive, by very powerful interests, to have him gone. There was a very strange lapse in the watchfulness of the prison where Epstein was kept. There has to be an inquiry. ..."
"... Part of the use of this 'conspiracy theory' term is an effort by mass, established (corporate) media to discredit and dismiss alternate media. They are aiming to protect their market by intimating that they report the truth (TM) while over there, the internet is full of hyperventilated, wild and rediculous trash. ..."
"... The invariable responses from everyone ever associated with "high-society", sex-addicted, global criminal pimp for the wealthy-and-powerful Jeffrey Epstein, – on his scandalous and disgusting activities across many years, and finally Epstein's world-record-setting-mystery death: "No comment." ..."
"... there are names of actual people who signed off on taking him off suicide watch, removing his cell mate, and telling the guards to not worry about checking in on Epstein that night. Those are all strange things which should have an answer if a reporter with the resources of the powerful behind them cared to know ..."
"... Clearly, the message is, don't ask questions. That's exactly the opposite of what everyone should be doing who wants to understand what has happened. ..."
"... A Fitbit or equivalent on Epstein with preset alarms monitored at a guard station ( or , for that matter , by his family or lawyers over the web ) could have prevented Epstein's death , but in 2019 , that's a big ask , I suppose. Maybe in a few decades. ..."
"... Apparently "pending further investigation" is now code for "national security"/"classified." Come on. They've had the body since Saturday morning. What are the results of the medical examination? This question under FOIA auspices and principle. ..."
"... The entire Russia-gate hoax is a conspiracy theory. What we need then, in advance of the Gestapo on the Doorstep, is to define conspiracy theory properly as either a) founded in facts and logic or b) founded in spin and deceit. We could then apply for Conspiracy-A permits, and have them sitting in our wallets with the rest of our cards. Again, we should be reminded of 1918 and Eugene Debs. ..."
"... – Every organized crime operation is a conspiracy, and many are charged as such. – Watergate was a conspiracy–in fact, it was a collection of conspiracies. (Let me count the ways ) – Iran-Contra was quite an elaborate conspiracy that no one would have believed if the participants hadn't been busted. Tu parles! – The CIA's overthrow of Allende in Chile in 1973 was a conspiracy. – The CIA's overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 was a conspiracy. – The CIA's many assassinations of foreign leaders around the world for decades are all conspiracies. – All of the CIA's operations in partnership with Mossad or MI6 are and have been conspiracies. – September 11 was a conspiracy. It's just a question of which version (or "conspiracy theory") you wish to believe–there are many. – The concoction of "evidence" to rush to war in Iraq was a conspiracy. – The concoction of "evidence" for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was a conspiracy, – LBJ's coverup of Israel's deliberate attack on the USS Liberty was a conspiracy. ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Plutocratic propaganda outlet MSNBC has run a spin segment about the medical examiner's determination of the cause of Jeffrey Epstein's death "pending further information."

"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 soundbite, 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.

When I mentioned Dilanian's CIA ties on MSNBC's Twitter video , MSNBC deleted its tweet and then re-shared it without mentioning Dilanian's name. Here is a screenshot of the first tweet followed by an embedded link to the current one (which I've archived , just in case):

Up until the news broke that Epstein's autopsy has been unable to readily confirm suicide, mass media headlines everywhere have been unquestioningly blaring that that was known to have been the cause of the accused sex trafficker's death. This despite the fact that the FBI's investigation has been explicitly labeling it an " apparent suicide," and despite the fact that Epstein is credibly believed to have been involved in an intelligence-tied sexual blackmail operation involving many powerful people , any number of whom stood to gain plenty from his death .

Berating by Mass Media Narrative Managers

So, things are moving in a very weird way, and people are understandably weirded out. The response to this from mass media narrative managers has, of course, been to berate everyone as "conspiracy theorists."

These outlets generally match Dilanian's tone in branding anyone who questions the official story about Epstein's death as a raving lunatic. Meanwhile, normal human beings all across the political spectrum are expressing skepticism on social media about the "suicide" narrative we're all being force-fed by the establishment narrative managers, many of them prefacing their skepticism with some variation on the phrase "I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but "

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist but there are an awful lot of very powerful people who would like to see this Epstein thing go away. Is anyone investigating the guard on duty?" tweeted actor Patricia Heaton.

"I am not into conspiracy theories. But Epstein had destructive information on an extraordinary number of extraordinarily powerful people. It is not easy to commit suicide in prison. Especially after being placed on suicide watch. Especially after already allegedly trying," tweeted public defender Scott Hechinger.

Journalist Abi Wilkinson summed up the silliness of this widespread preface very nicely, tweeting , " 'I'm not a conspiracy theorist' is such a weird assertion when you think about it, the idea there's a binary between believing all conspiracies and flat out rejecting the very concept of conspiracy in all circumstances."

Indeed, I think it's fair to say that we are all conspiracy theorists if we're really honest with ourselves. Not everyone believes that the official stories about 9/11 and the JFK assassination are riddled with plot holes or what have you, but I doubt that anyone who really sat down and sincerely grappled with the question "Do powerful people conspire?" would honestly deny it. Some are just more self-aware than others about the self-evident reality that powerful people conspire all the time, and it's only a question of how and with whom and to what extent.

Dictionary Definition

The word "conspire" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "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." No sane person would deny that this is a thing that happens, nor that this is likely a thing that happens to some extent among the powerful in their own nation. This by itself is a theory about conspiracy per definition, and it accurately applies to pretty much everyone. Since it applies to pretty much everyone, the label is essentially meaningless, either as a pejorative or as anything else.

The meaningless of the term has been clearly illustrated by Russiagate, whose adherents react with sputtering outrage whenever anyone points out that they're engaged in a conspiracy theory, despite the self-evident fact that that's exactly what it is: a theory about a band of powerful Russian conspirators conspiring with the highest levels of the U.S. government. Their objection is not due to a belief that they're not theorizing about a conspiracy, their objection is due to the fact that a highly stigmatized label that they're accustomed to applying to other people has been applied to them. The label is rejected because its actual definition is ignored to the point of meaninglessness.

The problem has never been with the actual term "conspiracy theory;" the problem has been with its deliberate and completely meaningless use as a pejorative. The best way to address this would be a populist move to de-stigmatize the label by taking ownership of it. Last month Cornell University professor Dave Callum tweeted , "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'."

This is what we all must do. The debate must be forcibly moved from the absurd question of whether or not conspiracies are a thing to the important question of which conspiracy theories are valid and to what degree.

And we should probably hurry. Yahoo News reported earlier this month that the FBI recently published an intelligence bulletin describing "conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists" as a growing threat, and this was before the recent spate of U.S. shootings got establishment narrative-makers pushing for new domestic terrorism laws . This combined with the fact that we can't even ask questions about extremely suspicious events like Jeffrey Epstein's death without being tarred with this meaningless pejorative by the mass media thought police means we're at extreme risk of being shoved into something far more Orwellian in the near future.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium . Follow her work on Facebook , Twitter , or her website . She has a podcast and a book " Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers ."


Holger , August 16, 2019 at 12:56

Well, let's call it assisted suicide then.

JOHN CHUCKMAN , August 15, 2019 at 10:10

The term "conspiracy theory" should always serve as red flag to any astute reader concerning what follows. The term was reportedly coined by a CIA disinformation guy in the late 1960s to counter and discredit efforts to get at the truth of the Kennedy assassination.

It's amazing the way it has hung around.

The mainline press loves the phrase, and you'll find it somewhere in their output weekly trying to discredit this or that matter.

The autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein is reported to have shown that his neck was broken, "in several places. "The coroner stated that she "is confident the cause of death is suicide by hanging."

I don't know. I 'm certainly not an expert. In traditional capital-punishment hanging, as in a prison by an executioner, the neck is indeed broken, but as I understand it, cleanly, not "in several places."

That is how a hanged person dies, not by strangulation, something that is the result only of botched hangings.

Virtually all self-hangings are botched hangings.

Individuals hanging themselves almost never possess information about how it is done. Typically they either hurl themselves off something like a staircase or kick away something they are standing on, as a chair or stool. Neither of those approaches has much probability of producing the classic executioner's result, although the first can certainly break neck bones or even behead someone. Epstein, we know, used neither of those methods. Indeed, he couldn't, given the small, deliberately-bare cell he was in.

What is required to achieve the instantly-broken neck, and in just the right place for quick death, is a drop of a certain amount plus a certain positioning of the rope. Those conditions generally are not possible with efforts like hanging by bedsheets.

Sheets, incidentally, as I've previously noted, not even available to inmates at this institution. They sleep on special paper sheets.

Newspaper reports of how Epstein killed himself say that the six-foot man tied a bedsheet to the top of the bunk bed in the small cell and then kneeled towards the floor, strangling himself. It is not easy to see how doing that could result in a neck broken "in several places."

I think the autopsy result, at least to a non-expert, only increases doubts.

Tony , August 15, 2019 at 08:53

The term 'conspiracy theory' appears to have first been used by the CIA in the 1960s about those who did not believe the findings of the Warren Commission report on the JFK assassination.

Some people, apparently, thought that LBJ might have had something to do with it.

Fancy thinking that the person who was facing being dumped as vice president and who had spent so much time trying to get JFK to visit his home state might have had something to do with it!

By any proper investigative standards, Johnson should have been seen as a suspect. And yet he was able to appoint his own panel of investigation and to determine its membership. Absolutely unbelievable!

Anonymous , August 14, 2019 at 23:23

People who run around slinging terms like "conspiracy theorist" are more than just empowered by psychiatry – it is literally what brought this plague of all the stigma against all dissent and doubt being more than just a mere slur. People come up with some flat out absurd nonsense all the time -- but so what.

If it's absurd, ignore it. Argue against it if you think they aren't trolling and weren't just conditioned to be a self unaware sockpuppet – but don't comdemn for it, or you destroy the one thing that stands in the way of this country becoming a tyranny on a level that will make "1984" sound like the Teletubbies.

nwwoods , August 14, 2019 at 21:04

See Whitney Webb's three part (and more to come) series on the Epstein saga at Mint Press News, but be sure do fasten your seatbelts.

Steve Parosns , August 14, 2019 at 16:11

The assertion that Epstein's death cannot be questioned without accusations of 'conspiracy theory' seems contradicted by the fact that many people, in and out of government, including AG Barr have found the circumstances in need of an investigation. Has anyone yet accused Barr of being a conspiracy theorist for finding the Epstein death questionable?

Deniz , August 14, 2019 at 18:04

I have no doubt that Barr is about to launch another investigation that will be long on theatrics, but short on convictions. I assume you have overlooked the uncanny coincidence of Donald Barr's appointment of an unlettered Epstein at Dalton.

Skip Scott , August 15, 2019 at 08:01

Given Barr's history, I have little faith in him. I think he may actually be in there to squelch any real investigation while pretending to support one. And yes, it is ALL theater.

Steve Parsons , August 14, 2019 at 16:09

A glaring non-sequitir should be corrected: "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."

Because a journalist had a cozy relation with the CIA does NOT mean "everything" s/he writes IS dismissable as "CIA pulbic relatiions".

The article about the 'cozy relationship" did not prove "everything" he wrote was "CIA public relations" in the past, so there is no reason to believe "everything" he writes in the future is either!

This is one way conspiracy theories work – a part is taken for the whole, a suspicion becomes a proof.

Please edit your statement to something that does follow, like "Since there havbe been well-documented instances of this author writing distorted stories to serve the CIA's interests, anything he writes "could be" the same.

You have written that is should be dismissed without scrutiny. Never a good idea.

manorborn , August 14, 2019 at 14:07

It should be a civic duty to be a conspiracy theorist considering how our rogue government has never once told us the truth about anything and has consistently shown itself as the world's leading aggressor.

Deniz , August 14, 2019 at 12:53

When the "Conspiracy Theorist" sirens are blaring, you can be certain that an elite crime has just been openly committed and they are triggering the populace to suppress any questioning of the narrative; it is all very Pavoliavian.

This will then be followed by an endless set of dead-end inquiries which trains are minds to focus on the trivial. Were sheets in Epstein's Prison? Why were the prison guards too exhausted to monitor the prisoner? Or, my favorite – Why were the cameras off, I think a 5-year-old child could answer that question.

If you ever wonder how Intelligence Agencies spend their day, with their budget the size of Bulgaria's GNP, I say, look no further.

Brian , August 14, 2019 at 11:50

I have this gut feeling that no one is asking the right questions about this case, I respect Caitlin as a journalist, so I'm really surprised she didn't "go there". So let me tighten up my tin foil hat, and dive in.

The first thing I've noticed is everyone and every "news" organization has come to the conclusion that Epstein is dead, why? We have no proof of this, the one photo I've seen has discrepancies of this fact, right off the bat I noticed there was no backboard under the patient on the stretcher. No official EMT would perform CPR on a patient, on a padded stretcher without one. The EMT wasn't positioned to be performing chest compressions properly on the patient (fake?).

Next we are to believe the total breakdown in the prison surrounding this incident was a coincidence and/or failure of the staff. Now I believe in coincidences, but the more there are for a given incident, the less likely that was the cause. Given the high profile of this prisoner, it becomes even less likely. Epstein had the ability to take down many high profile people, why wasn't he under 24/7 surveillance?

No one is questioning the supposed visit to Epstein from AG Barr, why? How often does the AG of the US visit a prisoner, especially one with ties to the prisoner (Barr's father was OSS during WWII, and hired Epstein to teach without a college degree at a prestigious school in NY in the early 1970's)?

Now we get to the big one, why did Epstein return to the US when he had to know an arrest warrant had been issued? This one bothers me the most. Epstein had the money and the means to live in many countries without extradition to the US. Why come back if you didn't have a guarantee of basically getting "off the hook" with a "slap on the wrist", like in south Florida? It makes no sense.

If someone in power wanted him dead, it would make more sense to do it before all of the attention, not after he's arrested.

... ... ...

Guy , August 14, 2019 at 11:47

All options/opinions will be put forward in order to properly obfuscate the truth and the truth might never see the light of day. Much too much at stake for too many .It will probably go down as another event left for the conspiracy theorists .Move on folks, nothing to see here .

Jeff Harrison , August 14, 2019 at 11:45

Here's what Uncle Ray had to offer about "conspiracy theorists":

"That epithet has a sordid history in the annals of U.S. intelligence. Legendary CIA Director Allen Dulles used the "brand-them-conspiracy-theorists" ploy following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy when many objected -- understandably -- to letting him pretty much run the Warren Commission, even though the CIA was suspected of having played a role in the murder. The "conspiracy theorist" tactic worked like a charm then, and now. Well, up until just now."

Randal Marlin , August 14, 2019 at 11:36

Undoubtedly conspiracy theories can be correct or they can be false. An example is 9/11, where a conspiracy between the largely Saudi attackers certainly existed. Some have argued that further conspiracies must have taken place. To have made the accurate decision about exactly where the planes that flew into the twin towers should hit would have required highly sophisticated knowledge about the building's construction, about the amount of fuel the planes should carry, which floor to hit, etc. It is reasonable to suppose other knowledgeable people were in on the conspiracy. There are further more speculative theories, some that are worth pursuing, others not.

The question should be about evidence for or against any conspiracy theory. Which among various conspiracy theories are supported by the evidence?

In the Epstein case there is a very strong motive, by very powerful interests, to have him gone. There was a very strange lapse in the watchfulness of the prison where Epstein was kept. There has to be an inquiry.

Glennn , August 14, 2019 at 10:41

Great article. Here's a quote from Adam Smith about the elites – Smith calls them the masters – combining. "We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combination of masters; though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject.

Masters are always and every where in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is every where a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things which nobody ever hears of. "

LH , August 14, 2019 at 10:12

Isn't it strange how all the corporate media are in lock step on 'conspiracy theories' and Epstein?

Part of the use of this 'conspiracy theory' term is an effort by mass, established (corporate) media to discredit and dismiss alternate media. They are aiming to protect their market by intimating that they report the truth (TM) while over there, the internet is full of hyperventilated, wild and rediculous trash.

They are choosing to report that these myriad of views exist, but mainly as a warning their readers/viewers not to bother going there because there is nothing but these 'conspiracy theories'.

Yet, the corporate media seem to echo the same shallow reporting on Epstein.

Susan J Leslie , August 14, 2019 at 08:09

If the narrative doesn't feel right in your gut then it probably isn't

Realist , August 14, 2019 at 05:23

The people running the system can never admit Epstein's death was due to anything other than suicide. If such evidence exists, it will be suppressed. If it were admitted that the guy was knocked off, those in control would be held to account. Nothing could be more un-American than that.

Outside hit men did not just fortuitously waltz in, enter his cell and off him under the noses of the American security state. They would need as much inside assistance as Mr. Phelps had to deviously arrange on a weekly basis in "Mission Impossible." Such sources of help would be limited to rather few suspects and their superiors in the chain of command. Heads would roll.

So I say, the guaranteed finding of any committee "investigating" this will be that the guards assigned to check on Epstein periodically were remiss (overworked, don't ya know?), offering him the small window of 0pportunity to strangle himself with the single-ply Charmin substitute he meticulously hoarded for weeks until it could support the weight of a 200-lb man 2-ft above the floor near his bunk.

It's either the above scenario, or an anorexic double-jointed ninja climbed the outside wall of the building, removed the glass from the 4-inch wide window overlooking the courtyard below, squeezed into Epstein's cell as he slept and strangled him in his bunk. Don't bother dusting for prints, he was wearing latex gloves. Even Mark Furman will never come up with a "plausible" alternative to Epstain's suiciding, no matter who killed him.

Zhu , August 14, 2019 at 05:14

It is legitimate to be suspicious about the circumstance of Epstein's death. But it is also true that most if the conspiracy stories people like to repeat are fantasy fiction. Lizard men from Zeta Reticuli do not rule the world.

Tiu , August 14, 2019 at 03:45

It's done it's job – now this event event is dominating all the headlines. Makes me wonder what it is that isn't supposed to be noticed?!

Vivek Jain , August 14, 2019 at 01:51

"[C]onspiracies do exist. If we define conspiracy as planning in secrecy for illicit purposes while misleading the public as to what is happening, then there have been conspiracies aplenty."
– Michael Parenti

"No social order of any complexity exists without the application of conscious human agency. Ruling elements must intentionally strive to maintain the conditions of their hegemonic rule. The social order of a society does not operate like a mystical abstracted entity. It is directed for the most part by people who deliberately pursue certain goals, using all kinds of power, including propaganda, persuasion, fraud, deceit, fear, secrecy, coercion, concessions, and sometimes even concerted violence and other criminal ploys . we might consider how conspiracy [by which most people seem to mean secret, consciously planned programs by persons in high places] is one of the instruments used by the dominant interests in political life. Some conspiracies are imagined; some are real."
– Parenti

Jerry Alatalo , August 13, 2019 at 23:37

The invariable responses from everyone ever associated with "high-society", sex-addicted, global criminal pimp for the wealthy-and-powerful Jeffrey Epstein, – on his scandalous and disgusting activities across many years, and finally Epstein's world-record-setting-mystery death: "No comment."

CitizenOne , August 13, 2019 at 22:33

Relax folks. There is nothing to get alarmed about. Trustworthy Attorney General William Barr has sleepily assured us in his quiet droll words that he will dig deep into the matter and investigate it with all the force he can muster which is not much. We can relax knowing that the investigation will be thorough like a fresh coat of whitewash on a rotting fence and completed in just a few days or weeks and it will be an open and shut case that some prison guard didn't do his or her job very good like he or she was supposed to. Then the case will be closed as an unfortunate event due to the poor performance of some bad prison guards. Somebody will be suspended for not doing their job real good but real bad and the matter will be officially closed leaving everyone else with questions that persist labeled as supporters of a conspiracy theory A.K.A. a lunatic.

Whew, that was a close one and we are all soon to be glad that the investigation resulted in fingering incompetent prison guards case closed. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

Roger Milbrandt , August 13, 2019 at 21:59

This is quite a good discussion of the irresponsible and tendentious use of the phrase "conspiracy theory." I think you should point out that in the case of 9/11 every explanation presupposes a conspiracy, at least by the Merriam-Webster definition of the term. The only exception would be the claim that the hijackers acted independently and that the fact that all of these events occurred on the same day is a coincidence. But who ever offers this non-conspiracy-theory explanation?

Vivek Jain , August 14, 2019 at 01:55

from Michael Parenti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-ofKI8QFWY

excerpt from a transcript of Parenti's comments:

Whenever you ascribe conscious intent and pursuit of self interest at the top, you will hear someone say: 'What are you, a conspiracy theorist?' You can say farmers consciously organize to pursue their interests and everybody will say 'Uh huh, farmers are organized.' You can say machinists or auto workers are organizing and everybody will say 'Uh huh, they're consciously organizing and pursuing their own interests,' or school teachers, and other people. But if you say the people who own most of America and most of the world – if you say they consciously organize and pursue things to get what they want, then you hear people say 'Oh, you have a Conspiracy theory? You think they really do that?'

The alternative to a conspiracy theory is an Innocence theory. That is, they do all of this stuff but they're not pursuing self interest. They just do it, you know. The other alternative is a Somnambulist theory. Somnambulism is the tendency to walk in your sleep. David Rockefeller gets up in the morning and says, 'What am I going to do, to advance and protect my interests? No, no, that would be conspiratorial.' Another alternative would be Coincidence theory: it's just coincidence that this happened. A variation of coincidence theory is Uncanny theory. Then there's Stupidity theory and Incompetence theory. There's also Stochastic theory. It means everything happening by random there's really no causality, as such. Stuff just happens. History is just these eventualities that tumble down on top of each other.

Abby , August 13, 2019 at 21:05

That one of the biggest prisoners in history was being guarded by a person who wasn't a prison guard makes me think that he was either killed in his cell or removed from it to go into the never lands never to be seen again.

Why wouldn't they have taken every possible step to make sure he stayed alive? If they wanted him to testify they would have. I think that this is an in your face and blatant show that the PTB are running on us. "Sure we know that you don't believe the official story, but what can you do about it?"

Tom Kath , August 13, 2019 at 20:57

Caitlin, as you have often remarked, "who controls the narrative controls the world". I have already suggested to Ray that we should concentrate on discrediting and undermining the FAITH in the benevolence of these controlling agencies. We might then deal later with the "truth" (discrediting their narrative).

OlyaPola , August 14, 2019 at 08:08

"Everyone's a Conspiracy Theorist. The only problem with the term is the meaningless use of it as a pejorative " ... "who controls the narrative controls the world"

"Doubling down" in self-absorption obfuscates that who chooses the narratives frames perception, thereby obviating the "need to control" whilst encouraging extrapolations of resort to belief to bridge doubt, sometimes known as "conspiracy theories".

Welcome to the O.K. Corral.

Jill , August 13, 2019 at 20:53

There are so many unanswered questions and conflicting information regarding Epstein's ? that I thought it was very telling that the press of the powerful was worried about conspiracy theories. Why would that be where they put all their energy?

The press of the powerful would be much better engaged in trying to get as much actual information as possible out to the public. Instead it's all unnamed sources say this or that contradictory thing. The strange thing is, in this case there is documented information. The prison has cameras in the hallway which can be reviewed. This might answer the question as to whether there were screams coming from Epstein's cell, what time that occurred, who was around, etc.

Further, there are names of actual people who signed off on taking him off suicide watch, removing his cell mate, and telling the guards to not worry about checking in on Epstein that night. Those are all strange things which should have an answer if a reporter with the resources of the powerful behind them cared to know.

Clearly, the message is, don't ask questions. That's exactly the opposite of what everyone should be doing who wants to understand what has happened. Many of the questions have (or should have) answers. I believe the press of the powerful should attend to getting those answers and quit being concerned about what anyone believes. If the answers to knowable information show that a conspiracy took place, that is simply what happened. Berating people for wanting to know what actually happened, for demanding answers to questions that are knowable, is called propaganda. It most certainly is not journalism.

Marko , August 13, 2019 at 20:32

A Fitbit or equivalent on Epstein with preset alarms monitored at a guard station ( or , for that matter , by his family or lawyers over the web ) could have prevented Epstein's death , but in 2019 , that's a big ask , I suppose. Maybe in a few decades.

Not that it WOULD have prevented Epstein's death. There's always a workaround.

hetro , August 13, 2019 at 20:23

Apparently "pending further investigation" is now code for "national security"/"classified." Come on. They've had the body since Saturday morning. What are the results of the medical examination? This question under FOIA auspices and principle.

hetro , August 13, 2019 at 20:19

Good points, very good points. The fight is for clarity and precision. The brainwashing machinery is working very hard to demonize whatever opposes its will. So a legitimate phrase "conspiracy theory" is pejorated or demonized.

The entire Russia-gate hoax is a conspiracy theory. What we need then, in advance of the Gestapo on the Doorstep, is to define conspiracy theory properly as either a) founded in facts and logic or b) founded in spin and deceit. We could then apply for Conspiracy-A permits, and have them sitting in our wallets with the rest of our cards. Again, we should be reminded of 1918 and Eugene Debs.

Archie , August 15, 2019 at 03:37

The term "conspiracy theory" is used so often and so casually that it's worth exploring its history and meaning.

Right off the bat, when we hear that something is a "conspiracy theory," we're expected to understand that people are talking about a crackpot idea. That much is clear, as Spock says in Star Trek IV.

But if we analyze the term, we can see it's a bit strange. Are conspiracies so unusual?
– Every organized crime operation is a conspiracy, and many are charged as such.
– Watergate was a conspiracy–in fact, it was a collection of conspiracies. (Let me count the ways )
– Iran-Contra was quite an elaborate conspiracy that no one would have believed if the participants hadn't been busted. Tu parles!
– The CIA's overthrow of Allende in Chile in 1973 was a conspiracy.
– The CIA's overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 was a conspiracy.
– The CIA's many assassinations of foreign leaders around the world for decades are all conspiracies.
– All of the CIA's operations in partnership with Mossad or MI6 are and have been conspiracies.
– September 11 was a conspiracy. It's just a question of which version (or "conspiracy theory") you wish to believe–there are many.
– The concoction of "evidence" to rush to war in Iraq was a conspiracy.
– The concoction of "evidence" for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was a conspiracy,
– LBJ's coverup of Israel's deliberate attack on the USS Liberty was a conspiracy.

I'm tired of coming up with examples. You get the point.

Now, what's a "theory"?

A theory is an explanation for phenomena in the world for which there is actual evidence. A theory is well on the way to being considered fact, though it may not be established fact without further evidence. A theory is distinct from a hypothesis in that a hypothesis is an explanation that has not received evidence leading to its acceptance or confirmation as fact.

Here are some examples of theories:

1. The Theory of Evolution–Who doubts that apart from evangelical Protestants or people with little education? We aren't 100% sure of all the details, but we accept the overall theory as fact.
2. The Theory of Gravity–Does anyone doubt it? Of course, like evolution, gravity is a lot more complex than most of us know.
3. The Theory of Relativity–This one many people might doubt, but it's generally accepted as fact, and you probably don't doubt it yourself.
4. Newton's Theories (or Laws) of Motion–Most people don't even know them, but they're (all three of them) accepted as fact.
5. Genetic theory–This is vast and complex and certainly subject to modification upon the introduction of new evidence, but we all (mostly) accept that we have genes that determine our physical characteristics at the very least. Genetic determination of intelligence is much more subject to caution (nature vs. nurture).
6. Language Acquisition theory–This is much more subject to change and hard to accept as plain fact, given the very fluid nature of the evidence for and against the various ideas that theory involves.

What about borderline theories, or theories that might better be called "hypotheses"?

The main "theory" that comes to mind is String Theory in Physics. Since there's evidence neither for nor against it and physicists have stated that it is unfalsifiable (or impossible to prove or disprove by experimentation), it might be better to call it "the String Hypothesis."

Mathematical Theory:

There is so much mathematical theory, all of which has a solid underpinning of irrefutable proof. By the standards of modern physics, a major concept in mathematics, the Riemann Hypothesis, would be called "Riemann Theory," since all available evidence appears to confirm it. However, that's not good enough for mathematicians. No proof currently exists (or has yet been verified, but see Attiyah), so it's still considered a "hypothesis."

HISTORY OF THE TERM "Conspiracy Theory": The term was coined by Allen Dulles, the ex-head of the CIA, fired by John Kennedy for having lied to him about the Bay of Pigs. Dulles was the effective head of the Warren Commission, although the titular head was Earl Warren, who was actually a mere figurehead. (See Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable. )

LONG STORY SHORT: The term "conspiracy theory" is strange but typical shorthand for telling us which ideas are taboo to believe or even entertain, but an examination of the term shows just how ridiculous it is.

OlyaPola , August 16, 2019 at 04:08

"However, that's not good enough for mathematicians. No proof currently exists (or has yet been verified, but see Attiyah), so it's still considered a "hypothesis."

Many including Mr. Feynman were aware of many causal networks, developments and consequences in and of "Cargo cult science" and hence it's still considered a (indefinite article) "hypothesis" and illustration of resort to belief to bridge doubt to attain "comfort/confort/confront" by many practitioners not restricted to mathematicians.

Among the consequences of "Cargo cult science" are the "practices and other outcomes" of Boeing and Microsoft not restricted to patching as functions of many causal networks in illustration of decay as a process of fertilisation, akin to doubt as a catalyst in "Science".

[Aug 19, 2019] CIA ( Dulles in particular) "invented" the term ""conspiracy theory" to further muddy the waters in the wash up from the Kennedy assassination.

Aug 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

animalogic , says: August 18, 2019 at 8:32 am GMT

@Sean McBride Not sure if I'm correct here, but my understanding is that the CIA (& & Dulles in particular) "invented" the term ""conspiracy theory" to further muddy the waters in the wash up from the Kennedy assassination.

[Aug 19, 2019] Conspiracy theory label can generate propaganda sufficiently toxic to severely damage or even destroy political opponents. For instance, Russiagate.

Aug 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

Sean McBride says: August 17, 2019 at 7:57 pm GMT 100 Words "dominate both polls" = "dominate both poles"?

A nice analysis of the rhetorical structure of conspiracy theories in general.

Another important aspect of this: the use of conspiracy theories to generate propaganda sufficiently toxic to severely damage or even destroy political opponents. For instance, Russiagate.

The mainstream media, since 2016, while railing against the conspiratorial mindset expressed in Internet alternative media channels, have been wallowing in it, promoting it with all the power at their disposal. Talk about twisty and sinister doublethink. One could almost describe it as diabolical.

They are often portraying false conspiracy theories as truth, and true conspiracy research as lies -- turning reality upside down and inside out.

[Aug 19, 2019] Conspiracy Theories From the Elders of Zion to Epstein's Youngsters by Gilad Atzmon

Aug 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

'Conspiracy theory' is how the mainstream media characterizes any narrative that differs from their reporting of the official line. What is a conspiracy theory? Can it be defined in categorical terms? Can a conspiracy theory be validated forensically or refuted by similar means? What criteria can be used to differentiate between a conspiracy theory and theoretical musings?

The labelling of a theory as 'conspiratorial' is an attempt to discredit its author/authors and deny its validity. A 'conspiracy theory' usually involves an explanatory thesis that points to a malevolent plot often involving a secretive interested party. The term 'conspiracy theory' has a pejorative connotation: its use suggests that the theory appeals to prejudice and/or involves a farfetched, unsubstantiated narrative built on insufficient evidence.

Those who oppose conspiracy theories argue that such theories resist falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning, that such theories are primarily based on beliefs, as opposed to academic or scientific reasoning.

But this critique is also not exactly based on valid scholarly principles. It isn't just 'conspiracy theories' that resist falsification or are reinforced by circular reasoning. The philosopher Karl Popper, who defined the principle of falsifiability, would categorically maintain that Freudian psychoanalysis and Marxism fail for the same reasons. The Oedipal complex, for instance, has never been scientifically proven and can't be scientifically falsified or validated. Marxism also resists falsification. Despite Marx's 'scientific' predictions, the proletarian revolution never occurred. I have personally never come across anyone who refers to Marx or Freud as 'conspiracy theorists.' 'Resisting falsification' and "reinforced by circular reasoning," are traits of non-scientific theories and do not apply only to 'conspiracy theories.'

The Oxford English Dictionary defines conspiracy theory as "the theory that an event or phenomenon occurs as a result of a conspiracy between interested parties; spec. a belief that some covert but influential agency (typically political in motivation and oppressive in intent) is responsible for an unexplained event".

The Oxford dictionary does not set forth the criteria that define a conspiracy theory in categorical terms. The history of mankind is saturated with references to hidden plots led by influential parties.

The problem with refuting conspiracy theories is that they are often more elegant and explanatory than the official competing narratives. Such theories have a tendency to ascribe blame to hegemonic powers. In the past, conspiracy theories were popular mostly amongst fringe circles, they are now becoming commonplace in mass media. Alternative narratives are widely disseminated through social media. In some cases, they have been disseminated by official news outlets and even by the current American president. It is possible that the rapid rise in popularity of alternative explanatory theories is an indication of a growing mistrust of the current ruling class, its ideals, its interests and its demography.

The response to the story of Jeffrey Epstein's suicide is illustrative. The official narrative provoked a reaction that was a mixture of disbelief expressed in satire and inspired a plethora of theories that attempted to explain the saga that had escalated into the biggest sex scandal in the history of America and beyond.

The obvious question is what has led to the increase in popularity of so called 'conspiracy theories'? I would push it further and ask, why is a society that claims to be 'free' is threatened by the rise of alternative explanatory narratives?

In truth, the question is itself misleading. No one is really afraid of 'conspiracy theories' per se. You will not be arrested or lose your job for being a 'climate change denier.' You may speculate on and even deny the moon landing as much as you like. You are free to speculate about Kennedy's assassination as long as you don't mention the Mossad . You can even survive being a 911 truther and espouse as many alternative narratives as you like, however, the suggestion that ' Israel did 911' will get you into serious trouble. Examining 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' as a fictional, however prophetic , piece of literature can lead to imprisonment in some countries. Digging into the true origin of Bolshevism and the demographics of the Soviet revolution is practically a suicidal act. Telling the truth about Hitler's agreement with the Zionist agency will definitely result in your expulsion from the British Labour party and you will be accused of being at the least, theoretically conspiratorial .

[Aug 19, 2019] The labelling of a hypothesis as "conspiracy theory" is an attempt to erase uncomfortable evidence by re-prioritising the relevance of certain facts

Aug 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

Jewish economist Murray Rothbard contrasts "deep" conspiracy theories with "shallow" ones. According to Rothbard, a shallow theorist observes an event and asks, who benefits? He or she then jumps to the conclusion that the posited beneficiary is responsible for covertly influencing events. Under this theory, Israel benefiting from the events of 9/11 made it into a prime suspect. This is often a completely legitimate strategy and is exactly how detective and investigative researchers operate. In order to identify the culprit, they may well ask who would benefit from the crime. Of course this is only a first step towards substantiation.

According to Rothbard the "deep" conspiracy theorist begins with a hunch and then seeks out evidence. Rothbard describes deep conspiracy theory as the result of confirming whether certain facts actual fit one's initial 'paranoia.' This explanation pretty much describes a lot of how science works. Any given scientific theory defines the realm of facts that may support or refute its validity. Science is a deductive reasoning process, so that in science, it is the theory that defines the relevance of the evidence. Would Rothbard describe Newtonian physics as 'deeply conspiratorial'? I doubt it. My guess is that, bearing Rothbard in mind, attributing a 'conspiratorial nature' to a theory is an attempt the deny the relevance of the evidence it brings to light.

If for instance, the theory that Epstein was a Mossad agent is 'conspiratorial,' then the facts that he was a business partner of Ehud Barak and involved in a company that uses Israeli military intelligence tactics become irrelevant. The same applies to former Federal Prosecutor Alex Acosta's admission that Epstein belonged to intelligence and that was why he was the beneficiary of a laughable plea deal. If, for example, the theory that it was the Jews who led the 1917 Bolshevik revolution is 'conspiratorial,' then the facts regarding the demography that led the revolution and its criminal nature are of no consequence.

The labelling of a theory as conspiratorial is an attempt to erase uncomfortable evidence by reprioritising the relevance of certain facts.

[Aug 16, 2019] One of the ways the Deep State undermines conspiracy theories is to plant evidence purporting to support the theory, but easily disproved by easily available information

Notable quotes:
"... Even more importantly, we should all be troubled by efforts to shut down content and discussions labeled "false and misleading" on major social media platforms . ..."
"... Conspiracies can be found out by many different ways e.g. documents uncovered, discrepancies, evidence that contradicts what has been claimed etc. ..."
"... "A two decade old CT, like 9/11, or worse, one six decades old (the JFK assassination), are false because they would have involved too many people–someone would have blown the whistle, if only on their deathbed." ..."
"... "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. ..."
"... The old adage 'two men can keep a secret, if one of them is dead' applies here. ..."
"... This co-ordinated and global media attack on the 'Conspiracy Theorist' is co-ordinated and Global for good reason. ..."
"... The determination of international deepstate to make illegal any question or recognition of it under guise of 'Conspiracy theorist=domestic terrorist/anti-semite/anti-Zionist/BDS/trump supporting white supremacist(etc)'- conflating those ULTRA memes with growing awareness of the Anglo/Yankee/zionist PSYOPS underway globally, mean we are entering a choke point in progression of reason, truth and beauty. ..."
"... The danger of the conspiracy theorist to the present world order, is that most of the BIG ones, the nasty ones, are true. And CIA operation Mockingbirds' job (Quote) 'is to Guard against the illicit Transformation of Probability into Certainty," that they are . ..."
"... Ultimately, the average conspiracy theorist has a better grasp of how the world works than the average liberal. ..."
"... The reality is that the ruling class and its public servants really do have a parasitic and predatory relationship to the vast majority of humanity ..."
"... I like Michael Moore's response when asked if he believed the conspiracy theories which were floating about at the time: "Just the ones that are true" ..."
"... A conspiracy theory, like any theory is as strong as the evidence put forward to support it. ..."
"... One of the ways they will do this is to plant "evidence" purporting to support the theory, but easily disproved by easily available information. Unfortunately,it is a sad fact that far too many "conspiracy theorists" readily accept and share along with genuine evidence, this planted "evidence" to the wider internet, thereby undermining the solid evidence of a conspiracy, by associating it with the easily disprovable nonsense. ..."
"... For example, after the attack on the WTC Kissinger was appointed to the head the 9/11 commission (before stepping down). ..."
"... 'Conspiracy theorists' would have thought – why are neocons appointing a mass-murdering neocon to investigate an event that might have involved neocons (raising obvious credibility issues) – whereas those who regard conspiracy theorists as dribbling fruitcakes would have welcomed the appointment of the nobel peace prize winner. ..."
OffGuardian

Noam Chomsky has pointed out , the more educated we are, the more we are a target for state-corporate propaganda. Even journalists outside the mainstream may internalize establishment values and prejudices. Which brings us to Parramore's embrace of the term "conspiracy theory." Once a neutral and little-used phrase, "conspiracy theory" was infamously weaponized in 1967 by a memo from the CIA to its station chiefs worldwide.

Troubled by growing mass disbelief in the "lone nut" theory of President Kennedy's assassination, and concerned that "[c]onspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization," the agency directed its officers to "discuss the publicity problem with friendly and elite contacts (especially politicians and editors)" and to "employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose."

As Kevin Ryan writes , and various analyses have shown :

In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase 'conspiracy theory' appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week."
While it turns out that Parramore knows something about this hugely successful propaganda drive, she chose in her NBC piece to deploy the phrase as the government has come to define it, i.e., as "something that requires no consideration because it is obviously not true." This embeds a fallacy in her argument which only spreads as she goes on. Likewise, the authors of the studies she cites, who attempt to connect belief in "conspiracy theories" to "narcissistic personality traits," are not immune to efforts to manipulate the wider culture. Studies are only as good as the assumptions from which they proceed; in this case, the assumption was provided by an interested Federal agency. And what of their suggested diagnosis?

The DSM-5's criteria for narcissism include "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity a need for admiration and lack of empathy." My experience in talking to writers and advocates who -- to mention a few of the subjects Parramore cites -- seek justice in the cases of the political murders of the Sixties , have profound concerns about vaccine safety , or reject the official conspiracy theory of 9/11 , does not align with that characterization.

On the contrary, most of the people I know who hold these varied (and not always shared) views are deeply empathic, courageously humble, and resigned to a life on the margins of official discourse, even as they doggedly seek to publicize what they have learned. A number of them have arrived at their views through painful, direct experience, like the loss of a friend or the illness of a child, but far from having a "negative view of humanity," as Parramore writes, most hold a deep and abiding faith in the power of regular people to see injustice and peacefully oppose it. In that regard, they share a great deal in common with writers like Parramore: ultimately, we all want what's best for our children, and none of us want a world ruled by unaccountable political-economic interests. If we want to achieve that world, then we should work together to promote speech that is free from personal attacks on all sides. Even more importantly, we should all be troubled by efforts to shut down content and discussions labeled "false and misleading" on major social media platforms.

Who will decide what is false and what is true? ... ... ...

President Kennedy said:

a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
Perhaps we should take a closer look at ideas that so frighten the powers-that-be. Far from inviting our ridicule, the people who insist that we look in these forbidden places may one day deserve our thanks.
John Kirby is a documentary filmmaker. His latest project, Four Died Trying, examines what John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were doing in the last years of their lives which may have led to their deaths.

George
I am responding to an earlier comment you made because, for some reason, I cannot reply to it in the proper place.

"The old adage 'two men can keep a secret, if one of them is dead' applies here."

Wrong: secrets can be uncovered even if both of them are dead.

"The conspiracies we know about are exposed because someone talks, or a computer gets hacked."

Conspiracies can be found out by many different ways e.g. documents uncovered, discrepancies, evidence that contradicts what has been claimed etc.

"A two decade old CT, like 9/11, or worse, one six decades old (the JFK assassination), are false because they would have involved too many people–someone would have blown the whistle, if only on their deathbed."

Always a bad sign when you start to repeat "would have". Lots of presumption here.

"No new facts have emerged because the only people who knew anything are long dead, taking the reasons to their graves .."

New facts can emerge all the time even regarding the most ancient of events.

" .or in the case of 9/11, because there was no great conspiracy, beyond the one reported."

So you now have godlike omniscience?

"A propensity for subscribing to conspiracy theories, is, sad to say, indicative of mental inadequacy "

There's no point in going much further here. You now devolve into psychobabble which, as always, is based on the dogmatic assertion that you are right. (cf. the formerly mentioned godlike omniscience)

Ragnar
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.

It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." These words are attributed to Joseph Goebbels.

-So, George, it would hardly make a difference whether the State is Marxist or Capitalist. It's either power or truth. They are inherently different and can not be reconciled. Ultimately, there is no bridge possible.

However, so-called "common" goals are of a lower order and cooperation here is possible, temporarily. These relationships are unstable and prone to breaking up precisely because they're ultimately not common at all. The principle are different and the personalities too. Ships Passing In The Night, like. -See?

George
We all have common goals. Basically the goals of life and health. And these are hardly goals "of a lower order". If that was true then we must be living in a state of "postmodernist relativity" where anyone can decide arbitrarily what matters. And that would certainly lead to your ships-passing-in-the-night scenario i.e. the ultimate divide-and-rule vision.

As for power, the late Marxist writer Ellen Meiksins Wood noted that, in modern times, we have an unprecedented degree of political freedom. But the reason for that is that power no longer lies in politics. It lies in economics. What is the point of having formal rights when your livelihood is gone?

William HBonney

The old adage 'two men can keep a secret, if one of them is dead' applies here.

The conspiracies we know about are exposed because someone talks, or a computer gets hacked. A two decade old CT, like 9/11, or worse, one six decades old (the JFK assassination), are false because they would have involved too many people – someone would have blown the whistle, if only on their deathbed. No new facts have emerged because the only people who knew anything are long dead, taking the reasons to their graves, or in the case of 9/11, because there was no great conspiracy, beyond the one reported.

A propensity for subscribing to conspiracy theories, is, sad to say, indicative of mental inadequacy. Such people are unable to deal with the complexities of the world as it is, and therefore seek to make it a world of black and white, good and evil, heroes and villains. The internet, with its blurring of fantasy and fact enables them. This is why discussions like this get so polarised.

TFS

1. 9/11 and JFK are false because WILLIAM HBonney has declared it so.

Boom, thanks for watching kids.

2. In other news, some Conspiracy Theorists Imagined 747-E4Bs above Washington at the time of 9/11 and 25+second delay introduced into the Air Traffic Control System but the Official Conspiracy Account of 9/11 didn't discuss it because there was nothing to see.

3. In related news, HWB wack jobs go on one

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/07/no_author/new-york-fire-commissioners-call-for-new-9-11-investigation-about-pre-planted-explosives/

4. Corbett, goes off on one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXYswf3lzU8

5. And again, Corbett goes even more mental. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWLis-TVB2w

6. But it's ok kidz, because HWB wack jobs, like first responders, police, fire personnel architects, physicists, former military personnel, pilots, Nobel Peace Prixe winners, medical experts, etc etc all collectively asertained that the Official Conspiracy Theory of 9/11 is about as usefull as the Warren Commission Report.

7. HOWEVER, HWB THINKS YOU'RE A WACK JOB.

r. rebar
unless & until someone goes to jail -- there are no conspiracies & as silence is -- like any commodity -- only as good as the price paid to maintain it -- those who know have a real vested interest in not talking (it's not a secret if you tell someone)
roger morris
Ms Parramore is doing nothing more than her profession and tenure demands. Witting or un-witting. This co-ordinated and global media attack on the 'Conspiracy Theorist' is co-ordinated and Global for good reason.

It is the 'Great Wurlitzer' at full throat coinciding with extraordinary reductions in internet freedoms of information flow. The determination of international deepstate to make illegal any question or recognition of it under guise of 'Conspiracy theorist=domestic terrorist/anti-semite/anti-Zionist/BDS/trump supporting white supremacist(etc)'- conflating those ULTRA memes with growing awareness of the Anglo/Yankee/zionist PSYOPS underway globally, mean we are entering a choke point in progression of reason, truth and beauty.

A read of the Cass Sunstein/Cornelius Adrian Comstock Vermeule Paper describing 'Conspiracy theory' as a 'crippled Epistemology' and determining 'COINTELPRO' type strategies to counter the danger of their truth becoming certainty, will enlighten those in the dark of IIO methodology and expose Ms Parramore as a true MOCKINGBIRD.

The danger of the conspiracy theorist to the present world order, is that most of the BIG ones, the nasty ones, are true. And CIA operation Mockingbirds' job (Quote) 'is to Guard against the illicit Transformation of Probability into Certainty," that they are .

mathias alexand
Try this for conspiracy thinking

https://lorenzoae.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/part-2/

George
Good link. I like this bit:

"Ultimately, the average conspiracy theorist has a better grasp of how the world works than the average liberal. Even the most outlandish "conspiracy theory" in existence -- that people like George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth are shape-shifting, extra-dimensional reptilians -- is closer to the truth than what liberals believe.

The reality is that the ruling class and its public servants really do have a parasitic and predatory relationship to the vast majority of humanity "

I've often felt there is a lot of (metaphorical!) truth in David Icke's ravings, although the reptile image is unfortunate in that actual reptiles are amongst the most sedate and peaceful creatures.

Molloy
Eichmann and today's useful idiots; Hannah Arendt

(start Arendt quote)

Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a "monster," but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the whole enterprise, and was also rather hard to sustain, in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused so many millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed. What could you do with a man who first declared, with great emphasis, that the one thing he had learned in an ill-spent life was that one should never take an oath ("Today no man, no judge could ever persuade me to make a sworn statement. I refuse it; I refuse it for moral reasons. Since my experience tells me that if one is loyal to his oath, one day he has to take the consequences, I have made up my mind once and for all that no judge in the world or other authority will ever be capable of making me swear an oath, to give sworn testimony.

I won't do it voluntarily and no one will be able to force me"), and then, after being told explicitly that if he wished to testify in his own defense he might "do so under oath or without an oath," declared without further ado that he would prefer to testify under oath? Or who, repeatedly and with a great show of feeling, assured the court, as he had assured the police examiner, that the worst thing he could do would be to try to escape his true responsibilities, to fight for his neck, to plead for mercy -- and then, upon instruction of his counsel, submitted a handwritten document that contained a plea for mercy?

As far as Eichmann was concerned, these were questions of changing moods, not of inconsistencies, and as long as he was capable of finding, either in his memory or on the spur of the moment, an elating stock phrase to go with them, he was quite content.
(end quote)

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1963/02/16/eichmann-in-jerusalem-i

Molloy
Chomsky dealing with the indoctrinated. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLcpcytUnWU&app=desktop Why it is important to call out the so-called 'Global Elite' facilitators on here.

And why it is essential to understand what Eichmann was facilitating (and the madness that morphed into the same apartheid bigotry in the 21st century).

Better understand than be hanged.

Gary Weglarz

I appreciate the article, but the sentence below is offered with no logical or rational support – it is simply an evidence free assertion:

("But Parramore and many journalists like her are neither assets of an intelligence service nor unthinking tools of big media; ) – really?

It is quite clear that if someone "is" (an asset of an intelligence service) that they will certainly not be broadcasting this fact to the world or to friends and family. And for someone to assert that "conspiracies" don't exist in the real world requires a level of credulity that most intelligent and rational people the least bit familiar with the historical record would find rather difficult to muster up. I dare say it would be much easier in fact to prove the assertion that our Western history is simply the "history of conspiracies" given the oligarchic control of Western populations for millennia. This is hardly "rocket science" as they say. We do have a rather well documented historical record to fall back on to show the endless scheming of Western oligarchy behind the backs of Western populations.

wardropper
I like Michael Moore's response when asked if he believed the conspiracy theories which were floating about at the time: "Just the ones that are true"
John Thatcher
A conspiracy theory, like any theory is as strong as the evidence put forward to support it. Often people offer as fact conspiracies that only as yet exist as theories,with greater or lesser amounts of evidence to support.I have no doubt that interested parties who are the accused in these theories, will mount efforts to discredit any theory mounted against them or those they represent.

One of the ways they will do this is to plant "evidence" purporting to support the theory, but easily disproved by easily available information. Unfortunately,it is a sad fact that far too many "conspiracy theorists" readily accept and share along with genuine evidence, this planted "evidence" to the wider internet, thereby undermining the solid evidence of a conspiracy, by associating it with the easily disprovable nonsense.

Harry Stotle

Isn't it high time we had a term to describe those who always accept the official version of events after controversial political incidents no matter how implausible this account might be?

For example, after the attack on the WTC Kissinger was appointed to the head the 9/11 commission (before stepping down).

'Conspiracy theorists' would have thought – why are neocons appointing a mass-murdering neocon to investigate an event that might have involved neocons (raising obvious credibility issues) – whereas those who regard conspiracy theorists as dribbling fruitcakes would have welcomed the appointment of the nobel peace prize winner.

Anyway, here's a clip of Henry – the believers in everything the government say would never have considered the objections raised in the film – such questions are tantamount to mental illness according to these 'progressives'.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/YcxjJDlbnC4?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

[Dec 21, 2015] Journalists are really mouthpieces for political factions within their own government power structure but the best journalists choose faction that actually embraces reality

"... Regarding Patrick Lang, I noticed that he posted a quite vehement attack against conspiracy theorists postings on his blog who were – if I recall correctly – claiming that the military were involved in the subterfuge to arm extremists in Syria. (Probably cocked up the details but too tired to check.) It struck me as noteworthy as it suggested an internecine intra-Washington struggle between Military / CIA who was going to "own" the debacle in Syria at the very least. It is utterly reminiscent of the struggle between Dulles / CIA power structure (think: institutional group think) and the incoming JFK administration / New Frontiersman during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis. ..."
"... Of course it's worth noting that Hersh had to revert to publishing this "intimate" conversation between American power structures in a foreign publication. What does that tell you about the "freedom index"? Samizdat here we come! ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com

Tim Owen, December 20, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Sy Hersh's latest via M of A:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military

marknesop, December 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm
Washington does not care who assumes power in Syria – whether it be feuding warlords or an Islamic mullah or Assad's cat. Washington knows that Islamic State needs money to survive and keep power, as does any individual or group who will rule, and that to remain in power, it will sell oil. Good enough, as far as Washington is concerned. If the place remains a seething cauldron of destabilizing hatreds, so much the better.
Tim Owen, December 20, 2015 at 8:50 pm
I read this carefully earlier today and wish I had made some notes.

It's an interesting article just in what it says about the politics of American journalism at this point in time almost regardless of the subject matter in a kind of Kremlinology vein. It almost reads like a ransom note. My impression is that Hersh is pulling punches at some key points in order not to overplay his hand.

My suggestion: don't get bogged down in the details. From my recollection of the piece from earlier today Hersh is basically championing a few figures and – most importantly – their perspectives here:

It's worth remembering that Hersh's articles on the Ghoutta attack immediately predated the great stand-down by Obama from all out air-war to destroy Syria.

Given that it's axiomatic that journalists are really mouthpieces for political factions within their own government power structure and that the BEST journalists – like Hersh – actually embrace this reality, what does the appearance of this article augur?

I especially like the sign off:

"The Joint Chiefs and the DIA were constantly telling Washington's leadership of the jihadist threat in Syria, and of Turkey's support for it. The message was never listened to. Why not?"

That sounds kind of threatening. In a good way.

* Regarding Patrick Lang, I noticed that he posted a quite vehement attack against conspiracy theorists postings on his blog who were – if I recall correctly – claiming that the military were involved in the subterfuge to arm extremists in Syria. (Probably cocked up the details but too tired to check.) It struck me as noteworthy as it suggested an internecine intra-Washington struggle between Military / CIA who was going to "own" the debacle in Syria at the very least. It is utterly reminiscent of the struggle between Dulles / CIA power structure (think: institutional group think) and the incoming JFK administration / New Frontiersman during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In other words: we, the west, have basically made no progress fighting for reform of our leadership and political structures. Meanwhile the Russians seem to have gone "right round the horn" – as the dinosaur in Toy Story might put it.

Tim Owen, December 20, 2015 at 9:08 pm
Of course it's worth noting that Hersh had to revert to publishing this "intimate" conversation between American power structures in a foreign publication. What does that tell you about the "freedom index"? Samizdat here we come!

[Apr 17, 2015] CIA Popularized Conspiracy Theory Term to Silence Dissent

https://youtu.be/bm3Z-cKRMN4

Abby Martin talks to Lance deHaven-Smith, Florida State University professor and author of 'Conspiracy Theory in America', about some of the US' most controversial events and how labeling truth-seekers as 'conspiracy theorists' damages democracy.

For further reading, here is an excerpt from Kevin R. Ryan's excellent article, Do we need another 9/11 conspiracy theory?

"The use of "conspiracy theory" to deter citizens from investigating historic events is paradoxical, to be sure. It suggests that those who commit criminal conspiracies can only be relatively powerless people who happen to live on the most strategically important lands, and conspiracies among rich, powerful people are impossible or absurd.

Basically, our entire legal system is based on the idea of conspiracy. Despite this fact we have been conditioned by the government and the media to blindly accept the official reports and to treat any questioning of those reports as "conspiracy theorizing." That is, you are a conspiracy theorist if you don't believe the government's conspiracy theory.

This cultural phenomenon goes back to 1967. At that time, in response to questions about the Warren Commission Report (which President Ford helped create), the CIA issued a memorandum calling for mainstream media sources to begin countering "conspiracy theorists."[13] In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase "conspiracy theory" appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.

Before the CIA memo came out, the Washington Post and New York Times had never used the phrase "conspiracy theorist." After the CIA memo came out, these two newspapers have used that phrase 1,118 times. Of course, in these uses the phrase is always delivered in a context in which "conspiracy theorists" were made to seem less intelligent and less rationale than people who uncritically accept official explanations for major events.

President George W. Bush and his colleagues often used the phrase conspiracy theory in attempts to deter questioning about their activities. When questioned by reporters about an emerging scandal in September 2000, Bush said the idea that his presidential campaign was flashing subliminal messages in advertisements was absurd, and he added that "conspiracy theories abound in America's politics."[14] When in 1994, Bush's former company Harken Energy was linked to the fraudulent Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) through several investors, Bush's spokeswoman, Karen Hughes, shut down the inquiry by telling the Associated Press - "We have no response to silly conspiracy theories."

.... track record raised questions about Bush's statement after the 9/11 attacks, in which he said in a televised speech - "Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th."

There is no question that criminal government-sponsored conspiracies exist. History is replete with them and they usually involve the government claiming that the country was under attack from "terrorists." This was true of Hitler's Reichstag fire and it was true of the attacks that occurred in 20th century Western Europe under the guise of Operation Gladio. An example more relevant to 9/11 was the conspiracy behind Operation Northwoods, a plan drafted and approved in 1962 by the highest levels within the U.S. military.

Author James Bamford wrote of Operation Northwoods that it called "for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. [This would provide] the public and international backing they needed to launch their war."[15] The signed documents are available to everyone today and because of this we know that high level U.S. government representatives do conspire, on occasion, to commit crimes against the American people for the purpose of starting wars.[16]


And see this: "Conspiracy Theory": Foundations of a Weaponized Term

In 1967, the CIA Created the Label Conspiracy Theorists ... to Attack Anyone Who Challenges the Official Narrative

The CIA Coined the Term Conspiracy Theorist In 1967

That all changed in the 1960s.

Specifically, in April 1967, the CIA 01 wrote a dispatch which coined the term "conspiracy theories" … and recommended methods for discrediting such theories. The dispatch was marked "psych" – short for "psychological operations" or disinformation – and "CS" for the CIA's "Clandestine Services" unit.

The dispatch was produced in responses to a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times in 1976.

The dispatch states:

2. This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization.

***

The aim of this dispatch is to provide material countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries. Background information is supplied in a classified section and in a number of unclassified attachments.

3. Action. We do not recommend that discussion of the [conspiracy] question be initiated where it is not already taking place. Where discussion is active addresses are requested:

a. To discuss the publicity problem with and friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors) , pointing out that the [official investigation of the relevant event] made as thorough an investigation as humanly possible, that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation, and that further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition. Point out also that parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by … propagandists. Urge them to use their influence to discourage unfounded and irresponsible speculation.

b. To employ propaganda assets to and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passing to assets. Our ploy should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (I) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (II) politically interested, (III) financially interested, (IV) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own theories.

***

4. In private to media discussions not directed at any particular writer, or in attacking publications which may be yet forthcoming, the following arguments should be useful:

a. No significant new evidence has emerged which the Commission did not consider.

***

b. Critics usually overvalue particular items and ignore others. They tend to place more emphasis on the recollections of individual witnesses (which are less reliable and more divergent–and hence offer more hand-holds for criticism) …

***

c. Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States, esp. since informants could expect to receive large royalties, etc.

**

d. Critics have often been enticed by a form of intellectual pride: they light on some theory and fall in love with it; they also scoff at the Commission because it did not always answer every question with a flat decision one way or the other.

***

f. As to charges that the Commission's report was a rush job, it emerged three months after the deadline originally set. But to the degree that the Commission tried to speed up its reporting, this was largely due to the pressure of irresponsible speculation already appearing, in some cases coming from the same critics who, refusing to admit their errors, are now putting out new criticisms.

g. Such vague accusations as that "more than ten people have died mysteriously" can always be explained in some natural way ….

5. Where possible, counter speculation by encouraging reference to the Commission's Report itself. Open-minded foreign readers should still be impressed by the care, thoroughness, objectivity and speed with which the Commission worked. Reviewers of other books might be encouraged to add to their account the idea that, checking back with the report itself, they found it far superior to the work of its critics.

Summarizing the tactics which the CIA dispatch recommended:

In other words, the CIA's clandestine services unit created the arguments for attacking conspiracy theories as unreliable in the 1960s as part of its psychological warfare operations.

But Aren't Conspiracy Theories – In Fact – Nuts?

Forget Western history and CIA dispatches … aren't conspiracy theorists nutty?

In fact, conspiracies are so common that judges are trained to look at conspiracy allegations as just another legal claim to be disproven or proven based on the specific evidence:

Federal and all 50 state's codes include specific statutes addressing conspiracy, and providing the punishment for people who commit conspiracies.

But let's examine what the people trained to weigh evidence and reach conclusions think about "conspiracies". Let's look at what American judges think.

Searching Westlaw, one of the 2 primary legal research networks which attorneys and judges use to research the law, I searched for court decisions including the word "Conspiracy". This is such a common term in lawsuits that it overwhelmed Westlaw.

Specifically, I got the following message:

"Your query has been intercepted because it may retrieve a large number of documents."

From experience, I know that this means that there were potentially millions or many hundreds of thousands of cases which use the term. There were so many cases, that Westlaw could not even start processing the request.

So I searched again, using the phrase "Guilty of Conspiracy". I hoped that this would not only narrow my search sufficiently that Westlaw could handle it, but would give me cases where the judge actually found the defendant guilty of a conspiracy. This pulled up exactly 10,000 cases - which is the maximum number of results which Westlaw can give at one time. In other words, there were more than 10,000 cases using the phrase "Guilty of Conspiracy" (maybe there's a way to change my settings to get more than 10,000 results, but I haven't found it yet).

Moreover, as any attorney can confirm, usually only appeal court decisions are published in the Westlaw database. In other words, trial court decisions are rarely published; the only decisions normally published are those of the courts which hear appeals of the trial. Because only a very small fraction of the cases which go to trial are appealed, this logically means that the number of guilty verdicts in conspiracy cases at trial must be much, much larger than 10,000.

Moreover, "Guilty of Conspiracy" is only one of many possible search phrases to use to find cases where the defendant was found guilty of a lawsuit for conspiracy. Searching on Google, I got 3,170,000 results (as of yesterday) under the term "Guilty of Conspiracy", 669,000 results for the search term "Convictions for Conspiracy", and 743,000 results for "Convicted for Conspiracy".

Of course, many types of conspiracies are called other things altogether. For example, a long-accepted legal doctrine makes it illegal for two or more companies to conspire to fix prices, which is called "Price Fixing" (1,180,000 results).

Given the above, I would extrapolate that there have been hundreds of thousands of convictions for criminal or civil conspiracy in the United States.

Finally, many crimes go unreported or unsolved, and the perpetrators are never caught. Therefore, the actual number of conspiracies committed in the U.S. must be even higher.

In other words, conspiracies are committed all the time in the U.S., and many of the conspirators are caught and found guilty by American courts. Remember, Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme was a conspiracy theory.

Indeed, conspiracy is a very well-recognized crime in American law, taught to every first-year law school student as part of their basic curriculum. Telling a judge that someone has a "conspiracy theory" would be like telling him that someone is claiming that he trespassed on their property, or committed assault, or stole his car. It is a fundamental legal concept.

Obviously, many conspiracy allegations are false (if you see a judge at a dinner party, ask him to tell you some of the crazy conspiracy allegations which were made in his court). Obviously, people will either win or lose in court depending on whether or not they can prove their claim with the available evidence. But not all allegations of trespass, assault, or theft are true, either.

Proving a claim of conspiracy is no different from proving any other legal claim, and the mere label "conspiracy" is taken no less seriously by judges.

It's not only Madoff. The heads of Enron were found guilty of conspiracy, as was the head of Adelphia. Numerous lower-level government officials have been found guilty of conspiracy. See this, this, this, this and this.

Time Magazine's financial columnist Justin Fox writes:

Some financial market conspiracies are real …

Most good investigative reporters are conspiracy theorists, by the way.

And what about the NSA and the tech companies that have cooperated with them?

But Our Leaders Wouldn't Do That

While people might admit that corporate executives and low-level government officials might have engaged in conspiracies – they may be strongly opposed to considering that the wealthiest or most powerful might possibly have done so.

But powerful insiders have long admitted to conspiracies. For example, Obama's Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, wrote:

Of course some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true. The Watergate hotel room used by Democratic National Committee was, in fact, bugged by Republican officials, operating at the behest of the White House. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency did, in fact, administer LSD and related drugs under Project MKULTRA, in an effort to investigate the possibility of "mind control." Operation Northwoods, a rumored plan by the Department of Defense to simulate acts of terrorism and to blame them on Cuba, really was proposed by high-level officials ….

But Someone Would Have Spilled the Beans

A common defense to people trying sidetrack investigations into potential conspiracies is to say that "someone would have spilled the beans" if there were really a conspiracy.

But famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explains:

It is a commonplace that "you can't keep secrets in Washington" or "in a democracy, no matter how sensitive the secret, you're likely to read it the next day in the New York Times." These truisms are flatly false. They are in fact cover stories, ways of flattering and misleading journalists and their readers, part of the process of keeping secrets well. Of course eventually many secrets do get out that wouldn't in a fully totalitarian society. But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of secrets do not leak to the American public. This is true even when the information withheld is well known to an enemy and when it is clearly essential to the functioning of the congressional war power and to any democratic control of foreign policy. The reality unknown to the public and to most members of Congress and the press is that secrets that would be of the greatest import to many of them can be kept from them reliably for decades by the executive branch, even though they are known to thousands of insiders.

History proves Ellsberg right. For example:

There was "a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by a group of right-wing American businessmen . . . . The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush's Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression"

Moreover, "the tycoons told General Butler the American people would accept the new government because they controlled all the newspapers." Have you ever heard of this conspiracy before? It was certainly a very large one. And if the conspirators controlled the newspapers then, how much worse is it today with media consolidation?

Moreover, high-level government officials and insiders have admitted to dramatic conspiracies after the fact, including:

The admissions did not occur until many decades after the events.

These examples show that it is possible to keep conspiracies secret for a long time, without anyone "spilling the beans".

In addition, to anyone who knows how covert military operations work, it is obvious that segmentation on a "need-to-know basis", along with deference to command hierarchy, means that a couple of top dogs can call the shots and most people helping won't even know the big picture at the time they are participating.

Moreover, those who think that co-conspirators will brag about their deeds forget that people in the military or intelligence or who have huge sums of money on the line can be very disciplined. They are not likely to go to the bar and spill the beans like a down-on-their-luck, second-rate alcoholic robber might do.

Finally, people who carry out covert operations may do so for ideological reasons - believing that the "ends justify the means". Never underestimate the conviction of an ideologue.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that some conspiracy claims are nutty and some are true. Each has to be judged on its own facts.

Humans have a tendency to try to explain random events through seeing patterns … that's how our brains our wired. Therefore, we have to test our theories of connection and causality against the cold, hard facts.

On the other hand, the old saying by Lord Acton is true:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.

Those who operate without checks and balances – and without the disinfectant sunlight of public scrutiny and accountability – tend to act in their own best interests … and the little guy gets hurt.

The early Greeks knew it, as did those who forced the king to sign the Magna Carta, the Founding Fathers and the father of modern economics. We should remember this important tradition of Western civilization.

Postscript: The ridicule of all conspiracy theories is really just an attempt to diffuse criticism of the powerful.

The wealthy are not worse than other people … but they are not necessarily better either. Powerful leaders may not be bad people … or they could be sociopaths.

We must judge each by his or her actions, and not by preconceived stereotypes that they are all saints acting in our best interest or all scheming criminals.

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Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


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Last modified: August, 21, 2019