Sunday, March 23, 2014

Former Obama Administration Official Calls for Infiltration of Conspiracy Theory Groups

Former White House adviser Cass Sunstein, who is responsible for creating government "nudges,"  (SEE: Getting Nudged, Real Hard), is out with a new book, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas. The man hates conspiracy theories and thinks the government should be pro-active in countering such theories.

In the new book, he writes:
A potential approach (growing directly out of the account here of how such [conspiracy] theories spread) is cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. As used here, this admittedly provocative term does not mean 1960s-style infiltration with a view to surveillance and collecting information, possibly for use in future prosecutions. Rather, it means that government efforts might succeed in weakening or even breaking up the ideological and epistemological complexes that constitute these networks and groups...How might this tactic work? Recall that extremist networks and groups, including those that purvey conspiracy theories, typically suffer from a kind of crippled epistemology. Hearing only conspiratorial accounts of government behavior, their members become ever more prone to believe and generate such accounts. Perhaps the generation of ever-more-extreme views within these groups can be dampened or reversed by the introduction of cognitive diversity. Government might introduce such diversity—needless to say, only under circumstances in which there is a compelling and legitimate need to respond to the conspiracy theory, as, for example, to reduce a threat of violence from potential terrorists in another nation...[In one] variant government officials would participate anonymously or even with false identities.

It's possible these operations are already ongoing, in two ways, by such infiltrators spreading misinformation or by infiltrators advancing a legitimate conspiracy theory to absurd levels, thus discrediting a theory to all but those who have studied the facts of a theory in detail and who know how to separate the truth from government fiction.

Why do I say these operations may now be ongoing? When Sunstein was at the White House, he was head of  the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Got that? Head of Information Affairs. This guy isn't talking theory, he's talking what he has already set up.


  1. @Unfortunately, it is never possible to know what is a legitimate conspiracy theory until after the fact.

    By then, it's too late.

    It's also not possible to verify if it is a genuine conspiracy, without deciding whom you will accept as authoritative or not. That is where opportunity for the government lies.

    In early June last year, I noted that the Snowden story looked like a psyop and spy versus spy.. Except for Scott Creighton, I don't think anyone else was saying that.
    There was enough evidence out there to conclude that to someone who's seen that kind of thing long enough. To naiver people, it might look like someone advancing an "extreme" theory to discredit a legit whistle-blower.
    Actually, my sense is that "infiltrators" are less damaging than the number of legitimate activists/journalists who go silent in order not to offend bosses, clients, readers, colleagues. That actually leads to the success of official conspiracy theories....which don't seem to bother Cass Sunstein.

    Controlled opposition, for instance, is not a "conspiracy theory." It's a fact that major opposition to the government in this country is kept within the confines of what the intelligence agencies find tolerable.
    Thus, when someone with a large platform backs the government's own position on speech controls, not merely as to procedural details (we should engage in inflammatory or derogatory language) but as to substance (voicing or religious views is by default hate), it is quite reasonable to argue that he is dispensing state propaganda, whether voluntarily or unknowingly.

    1. Lenin said the best way to control the opposition is to lead it.
      That is exactly what snowmen is doing.
      I agree. Don't fall for this snowmen BS.
      He has already conceded that the collection of out information is ok , it just what they do with it afterwords.

  2. What better way to legitimize conspiracy theories than to erect a system wherein it is known that "government officials would participate anonymously or even with false identities"?

    As is so often the case, the meddlesome intellectuals and bureaucrats who would micro-manage our lives fail completely to consider the unintended consequences of their actions.

  3. Calling Sister Wolfgang. . .

  4. There are NO conspiracy theories. None

    Move along! Nothing to see here!

  5. infiltrators advancing a legitimate conspiracy theory to absurd levels? Is G. Edward Griffin a govt agent?

    1. You have to use your brain to figure out what is real.
      No easy task.

    2. As requested, Sister Wolfgang strikes.

  6. Cass is right! These conspiracy theories are getting ridiculous. Next thing you know some nut job will be claiming that the administration is using the IRS to target their political enemies. Or that the DOJ shipped guns to Mexican drug lords. Or that the FDA are bought and paid for by Big Pharma. Sheesh ... what a crazy bunch of ... oops... never mind.

  7. I read the headline for this article and thought "Cass Sunstein." And sure enough...

    The man is a sociopath. He should not be anywhere near political power of any kind.

  8. It's safe to assume, I think, that Cass isn't concerned about kooks who speculate that government is withholding knowledge of space aliens and hiding evidence of alien technology. To discredit those kooks' conspiracy theories would liberate time and attention for more plausible theories about government skullduggery, e.g. a conspiracy to cognitively infiltrate "extremist groups" which threaten the status quo in politics.

    Now, "extremist networks and groups, including those that purvey conspiracy theories" are a beleaguered bunch. Many people say "conspiracy theory" with disdain and a sneer, as there could be no good theory of a conspiracy. So perhaps what's needed here are new terms. To this end I propose 'conspiracy hypothesizers' and 'conspiracy hypotheses'. These terms better state the situation about people who have not rigorously tested their ideas, and by promoting the usage of these terms among "extremist networks and groups", there would be a natural segue to cognitively infiltrate them with ideas about how to form truly excellent educated guesses about the activities of nudgers and other troublemakers. Good conspiracy hypotheses should be tested, of course. If, upon doing so, a conspiracy hypothesis is found to bear scrutiny, only then should it be called a conspiracy theory.

    The new terms, 'conspiracy hypothesizers' and 'conspiracy hypotheses', if followed by improvement of conspiracy hypothesizing skills, could help also to resolve the "crippled epistemology" that has twisted Cass' underwear into a knot. There is even a ring of science to it all, and this ought to be comforting to sciencey people who want to believe that government is basically good.

  9. When employees of Govco arrogate to themselves the authority to propagandize people then it no longer is even paying lip service to the idea of "democracy." By this action, government's employees are arguing that government is the gatekeeper of what shall be considered truth. Sunstein is an idiot, and a dangerous idiot, but the ignorant and unknowing are the ones who put people like that into positions where they can abuse authority.

    What I want to know is what Sunstein means by: "...[In one] variant government officials would participate anonymously or even with false identities." Oh really? What kind of "false identities"? Does one mean fabricated "official" identities? Really? Isn't that illegal for anyone to do. YOU try getting a "false identity" with a fake passport and fake SS number and see what happens. What Sunstein is admitting is that he believes that there are two sets of law: one for the government aristocracy, such as himself, and one for the peons, everyone else.

    Sunstein is just the latest incarnation Joseph Goebbels. As with Goebbels, Sunstein just didn't get the memo that "The Big Lie" only works as long as people are expecting to hear the truth. Once the game is up and people know that government employees will lie to them, even when the truth would serve them better, The Big Lie gambit loses all of its power.

    "The trouble with mere pragmatism is that it doesn’t work."
    -– G. K. Chesterton