We need to question dominant narratives in order to reclaim our freedom

I often find myself advocating positions characterized by others as conspiracy theories and am irritated in these cases at what I feel is unthinking lazy vituperative, often from energetic individuals capable of a very high level of thinking. I say that the emperor (as I see it) has no clothes. The unthinking response: “that’s conspiracy theory” (of which this article’s illusory pattern perception argument is an excellent example). The thoughtful response I’d prefer: “the emperor is not naked as I see it and let me explain why I see it this way.” The most disturbing aspect to this scenario is that it appears to be the result of carefully crafted disinformation propaganda.

According to Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermuele in their paper entitled Conspiracy Theories:

“Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups.”

Responding to the above-mentioned paper, Brandon Smith apologetically writes in the following:

“So, the same man (Sunstein) who accuses the alternative media of conspiracy mongering and the destruction of the western world is actively seeking to foment a conspiracy to undermine that movement.”

He continues, explaining the insidious origin of the use of the term to shut down contrary debate:

“CIA memo 1035-960, circulated within the CIA in 1967 and exposed through a freedom of information act request by the New York Times in 1976, outlines strategies the agency would use to shut down critics of the Warren Commission Report. Specifically, they suggested the accusation of “conspiracy” with negative connotations attached, predominantly in mainstream books and articles. This was indeed done through the CIA’s many puppets in the media, and the concept of “conspiracy theory” as a pejorative was born.”

Where the report of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy is concerned, the memo directs CIA employees as follows: “… addressees are requested to employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics.” (source)

The emperor has authority because we believe that the emperor has authority. The moment we question that authority is the moment when we will begin to see the emperor’s nakedness. It is also the moment we will begin to reclaim our freedom.

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Notable replies

  1. ACD says:

    “… 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. The dispatch was produced in responses to a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times in 1976.” (source)

  2. ACD says:

    This essay sets up a straw man, Oliver, and knocks him down without the slightest effort to address the validity of his hypothetical argument. The writer is a member of faculty at a major university.

  3. It’s a bit funny how many of us, when discussing a certain issue, preface our comments by stating, “Now, I’m not a conspiracy theory person, but…” In reality, every single last one of us are conspiracy nuts, all fallen from the same tree. Let me explain…with the assumption we all understand the definitions of conspiracy, conspiracy theorists, etc.

    Conspiracy is so inextricably woven into the fiber of all societies that we simply accept it, unconsciously, without question. Drug companies, for one, are a good example of conspirators. The overwhelming majority of the public is convinced there are really only two methods of treating cancer…drugs and radiotherapy. When observing the end results of chemo and radiation therapies, the evidence points to an almost certain death sentence within a very short time after undergoing these treatments. Yet, the consensus is that these are the only two acceptable means of treatment…AND anyone who advocates an alternative treatment method is to be disregarded as untrustworthy, ignorant, and uneducated about effective treatment of the disease…even when they can produce evidence to the contrary.

    Fossil fuel conglomerates are another example. The damaging effects of fossil fuel, in all its derivatives, cannot be rationally dismissed by anyone as an overreaction by tree huggers.

    Law enforcement agencies acting in tandem with law makers, have now made it possible to charge every human being alive with a crime should it become necessary to achieve a desired outcome. Yet anyone who stands up to protest such over-criminalization is immediately labeled an anarchist, criminal, law-breaker, etc.

    I could continue with countless more examples, but for brevity’s sake these will do. But to get to the point…we would be naive to believe in the three examples above that there is not in place a deeply embedded propaganda machine designed to discredit those who oppose their agendas.

    I remember when interferon was heralded as the cure for AIDS, and patients were showing remarkable recoveries, and the government stepped in, backed by big pharma, and made treatment with interferon illegal in the U.S. The drug companies and their employed doctors came out en masse to decry interferon as untested, unreliable, and even deadly, and to underline that anyone believing or advocating otherwise were quacks and whackos.

    Any time there is a supposed cure for certain cancers, you see the wheels in motion again.

    Any time you see someone standing up against the massive intrusion into our lives by more and more laws, you will almost always see where those “rebels” end up being accused and/or arrested and charged with a heinous sex crime.

    And let us not forget Waco, Texas and David Koresh, Ruby Ridge, General Schwarzkopf and his infamous fictitious nightly news briefs during the Gulf War, Wounded Knee, Oklahoma City, ad infinitum. And already many of you are shaking your indoctrinated heads, dismissing every word I have just written. Why? Because I must be “…one of them there conspiracy nuts!”

    Any time we stand up to accept a label, whether it be Democrat, Baptist, LGBT, vegan, or what-have-you, we automatically embrace a set of beliefs that we cannot stray from, and are compelled by “the mob” to condemn and dismiss any who hold opposing or different ideologies. We are bullied through facebook, twitter, the news media, television and radio to conform, and those who do not are dehumanized and categorized as extremists, fascists, hate-mongers, and so on.

    It is only when we begin to question EVERYTHING we believe and hold to be sacred that we can separate ourselves from the need to attach weight to anything we have come to believe as important and necessary, and begin to experience the freedom we are entitled to as human beings.

    Any thoughts?

  4. I am not sure what this means. I can not question the periodic table, the speed of light, the two slit experiment or how the universe was created. I do have questions that have not yet been answered but I am sure they will. There are no conspiracies as that implies there are people smart enough to do them but no one smart enough to run the world properly. There are 7 billion people in the world, on average they do not have time to waste on chasing make believe events, they need to put food on their table, not stuff ballot boxes.

  5. Perhaps you don’t understand the definition of conspiracy, Bill. In layman’s terms, anytime two or more people covertly collude to bring about a certain end, then you have the basic structure of a conspiracy. Whether any of these seven-plus billion people of the earth believe in conspiracies or not is irrelevant and meaningless. Why? For the exact same reason you cannot question how the universe was created. Regardless of what any of us believe in that respect, the true origin of the universe will never be anything other than what it was. Do you think God cares if half the planet believes in the Big-Bang theory?

    When man ceases to ask questions, he is then cemented into an existence which becomes as meaningless and irrelevant as the question of conspiracies. Regarding creation, have you ever asked “Why” you were created? Was it simply to scurry here and there in a miserable effort to put food on their tables, as you so eloquently put it? What kind of an inhumane and cruel Creator would cause that to be our prime directive? Yet you fail to question religion’s nefarious conspiracy to subjugate the masses, to control them, and most importantly to extract as much wealth from them as possible. You fail to question the distinction between “religion” and the true intended meaning of spirituality. And if you believe in the big bang, you have apparently failed to ask, "Where did the singularity come from, and how is it possible that, like its Theist counterparts assert, that it has eternally and everlastingly existed? But I digress…

    There are those who are “qualified” to run the world “properly”…but those who are involved with fomenting conspiracies don’t want them to run it properly…it would cost them the ability to extract their ill-gotten wealth.

  6. Perhaps it is because of who I am that I react to things differently. I am an autodidact, dropped out at age 16. A very poor family I had to work. And I did work, pay check to pay check all my life. Never noticed religion, never gave it anything. No one would have wanted what I had as we did not have anything to want. I was very fortunate in the fact I always enjoyed my work. My hobbies were my work and work were my hobbies.

    I do have views on God and how the universe was made and why God made it in a specific way. I developed an explanation for both that satisfies me and why I exist and my purpose in life. I am very confident in my concepts and can explain them to anyone interested. Most are not. Figuring out a motivation for God is above my pay grade. It would be easier to explain the motivation for my cat. Food probably.

    You talk about “two or more people covertly collude to bring about a certain end,” and these are people who are not too bright and cannot keep secrets. Anyone who can do such stuff can make money in the real world, no secrets, just smarts.

    I have a lovely friend but sort of strange as if I say something he is just as likely to comment on what I said as to ask me why I said what I said. I wonder if this is common among the 7 billion?

    You say, “When man ceases to ask questions, he is then cemented into an existence which becomes as meaningless and irrelevant as the question of conspiracies.” and I am continually asking questions. Now some questions do not have rational answers. Why some religions or political parties say some of the things they do, nothing can explain it. Questions on science are constantly being answered, and new ones asked. That is where my mind resides.

    Is the world we are living in just a result of enough of the 7 billion making bad choices? It seems that might explain a lot. For me, it would be nice if we had some evidence for other civilizations, that would make for a much more exciting news topic.

    You are probably right; there are a lot of people working on getting the wealth from those that have it. I feel sorry for them, and they need to do things to improve their character, make them better people, more sensitive to the needs of others. They are probably smart enough to help others. If you have any questions, I will be pleased to reply. If not on this topic via PM.

  7. ACD says:

    Here is an example of a former conspiracy theory which is now openly avowed:

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