The very label [conspiracy] serves as an automatic dismissal, as though no one ever acts in secret. Let us bring some perspective and common sense to this issue.
The United States comprises large organizations – corporations, bureaucracies, “interest groups,” and the like – which are conspiratorial by nature. That is, they are hierarchical, their important decisions are made in secret by a few key decision-makers, and they are not above lying about their activities. Such is the nature of organizational behavior. “Conspiracy,” in this key sense, is a way of life around the globe.
Within the world’s military and intelligence apparatuses, this tendency is magnified to the greatest extreme. During the 1940s, […] the military and its scientists developed the world’s most awesome weapons in complete secrecy… […]
Anyone who has lived in a repressive society knows that official manipulation of the truth occurs daily. But societies have their many and their few. In all times and all places, it is the few who rule, and the few who exert dominant influence over what we may call official culture. – All elites take care to manipulate public information to maintain existing structures of power. It’s an old game.
America is nominally a republic and free society, but in reality an empire and oligarchy, vaguely aware of its own oppression, within and without. I have used the term “national security state” to describe its structures of power. It is a convenient way to express the military and intelligence communities, as well as the worlds that feed upon them, such as defense contractors and other underground, nebulous entities. Its fundamental traits are secrecy, wealth, independence, power, and duplicity.
Nearly everything of significance undertaken by America’s military and intelligence community in the past half-century has occured in secrecy. The undertaking to build an atomic weapon, better known as the Manhattan Project, remains the great model for all subsequent activities. For more than two years, not a single member of Congress even knew about it although its final cost exceeded two billion dollars.
During and after the Second World War, other important projects, such as the development of biological weapons, the importation of Nazi scientists, terminal mind-control experiments, nationwide interception of mail and cable transmissions of an unwitting populace, infiltration of the media and universities, secret coups, secret wars, and assassinations all took place far removed not only from the American public, but from most members of Congress and a few presidents. Indeed, several of the most powerful intelligence agencies were themselves established in secrecy, unknown by the public or Congress for many years.
Since the 1940s, the US Defense and Intelligence establishment has had more money at its disposal than most nations. In addition to official dollars, much of the money is undocumented. From its beginning, the CIA was engaged in a variety of off-the-record “business” activities that generated large sums of cash. The connections of the CIA with global organized crime (and thus de facto with the international narcotics trade) has been well established and documented for many years. – Much of the original money to run the American intelligence community came from very wealthy and established American families, who have long maintained an interest in funding national security operations important to their interests.
In theory, civilian oversight exists over the US national security establishment. The president is the military commander-in-chief. Congress has official oversight over the CIA. The FBI must answer to the Justice Department. In practice, little of this applies. One reason has to do with secrecy. […]
A chilling example of such independence occurred during the 1950s, when President Eisenhower effectively lost control of the US nuclear arsenal. The situation deteriorated so much that during his final two years in office, Eisenhower asked repeatedly for an audience with the head of Strategic Air Command to learn what America’s nuclear retaliatory plan was. What he finally learned in 1960, his final year in office, horrified him: half of the Northern Hemisphere would be obliterated.
If a revered military hero such as Eisenhower could not control America’s nuclear arsenal, nor get a straight answer from the Pentagon, how on earth could Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon regarding comparable matters?
Secrecy, wealth and independence add up to power. Through the years, the national security state has gained access to the wrorld’s most sophisticated technology sealed off millions of acres of land from public access or scrutiny, acquired unlimited snooping ability within US borders and beyond, conducted overt or clandestine actions against other nations, and prosecuted wars without serious media scrutiny. Domestically, it maintains influence over elected officials and communities hoping for some of the billions of defense dollars. [including scientists, universities, etc.]
Deception is the key element of warfare, and when winning is all that matters, the conventional morality held by ordinary people becomes an impediment. When taken together, the examples of official duplicity form a nearly single totality. They include such choice morsels as the phony war crisis of 1948, the fabricated missile gap claimed by the air force during the 1950s, the carefully managed events leading to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution… […]
The secrecy stems from a pervasive and fundamental element of life in our world, that those who are at the top of the heap will always take whatever steps are necessary to maintain the status quo.
[S]keptics often ask, “Do you really think the government could hide [anything] for so long?” The question itself reflects ignorance of the reality that secrecy is a way of life in the National Security State. Actually though, the answer is yes, and no.
Yes, in that cover-ups are standard operating procedure, frequently unknown to the public for decades, becoming public knowledge by a mere roll of the dice. But also no, in that … information has leaked out from the very beginning. It is impossible to shut the lid completely. The key lies in neutralizing and discrediting unwelcomed information, sometimes through official denial, other times through proxies in the media.
[E]vidence [of conspiracy] derived from a grass roots level is unlikely to survive its inevitable conflict with official culture. And acknowledgement about the reality of [conspiracies] will only occur when the official culture deems it worthwhile or necessary to make it. Don’t hold your breath.
This is a widespread phenomenon affecting many people, generating high levels of interest, taking place in near-complete secrecy, for purposes unknown, by agencies unknown, with access to incredible resources and technology. A sobering thought and cause for reflection. [Richard Dolan]
In “Zen And the Art of Debunkery,” thinker and writer Daniel Drasin describes the goals of true science, exposes the pseudo-scientific opposition to scientific advancement, then reveals some of the absurdities one must rely on to be a “natural” at COINTELPRO – whether one is receiving pay from the alphabet soup guys or not. A few of the items in his list are:
Cultivate a condescending air that suggests that your personal opinions are backed by the full faith and credit of God. Employ vague, subjective, dismissive terms such as “ridiculous” or “trivial” in a manner that suggests they have the full force of scientific authority. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Portray science not as an open-ended process of discovery but as a holy war against unruly hordes of quackery- worshipping infidels. Since in war the ends justify the means, you may fudge, stretch or violate the scientific method, or even omit it entirely, in the name of defending the scientific method.
Keep your arguments as abstract and theoretical as possible. This will “send the message” that accepted theory overrides any actual evidence that might challenge it–and that therefore no such evidence is worth examining.
Reinforce the popular misconception that certain subjects are inherently unscientific. In other words, deliberately confuse the *process* of science with the *content* of science. (Someone may, of course, object that since science is a universal approach to truth-seeking it must be neutral to subject matter; hence, only the investigative *process* can be scientifically responsible or irresponsible. If that happens, dismiss such objections using a method employed successfully by generations of politicians: simply reassure everyone that “there is no contradiction here!”)
Arrange to have your message echoed by persons of authority. The degree to which you can stretch the truth is directly proportional to the prestige of your mouthpiece.
Always refer to unorthodox statements as “claims,” which are “touted,” and to your own assertions as “facts,” which are “stated.”
Avoid examining the actual evidence. This allows you to say with impunity, “I have seen absolutely no evidence to support such ridiculous claims!” (Note that this technique has withstood the test of time, and dates back at least to the age of Galileo. By simply refusing to look through his telescope, the ecclesiastical authorities bought the Church over three centuries’ worth of denial free and clear!)
If examining the evidence becomes unavoidable, report back that “there is nothing new here!” If confronted by a watertight body of evidence that has survived the most rigorous tests, simply dismiss it as being “too pat.”
Equate the necessary skeptical component of science with *all* of science. Emphasize the narrow, stringent, rigorous and critical elements of science to the exclusion of intuition, inspiration, exploration and integration. If anyone objects, accuse them of viewing science in exclusively fuzzy, subjective or metaphysical terms. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Insist that the progress of science depends on explaining the unknown in terms of the known. In other words, science equals reductionism. You can apply the reductionist approach in any situation by discarding more and more and more evidence until what little is left can finally be explained entirely in terms of established knowledge. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
At every opportunity reinforce the notion that what is familiar is necessarily rational. The unfamiliar is therefore irrational, and consequently inadmissible as evidence. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
State categorically that the unconventional may be dismissed as, at best, an honest misinterpretation of the conventional. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Characterize your opponents as “uncritical believers.” Summarily dismiss the notion that debunkery itself betrays uncritical belief, albeit in the status quo. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Maintain the idea that a single flaw invalidates the whole. In conventional contexts, however, you may sagely remind the world that, “after all, situations are complex and human beings are imperfect.” [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Since the public tends to be unclear about the distinction between evidence and proof, do your best to help maintain this murkiness. If absolute proof is lacking, state categorically that “there is no evidence!”
If sufficient evidence has been presented to warrant further investigation, argue that “evidence alone proves nothing!” Ignore the fact that preliminary evidence is not supposed to prove *any*thing.
In any case, imply that proof precedes evidence. This will eliminate the possibility of initiating any meaningful process of investigation–particularly if no criteria of proof have yet been established for the phenomenon in question.
Practice debunkery-by-association. In this way you can indiscriminately drag material across disciplinary lines or from one case to another to support your views as needed. For example, if a claim having some superficial similarity to the one at hand has been (or is popularly assumed to have been) exposed as fraudulent, cite it as if it were an appropriate example. Then put on a gloating smile, lean back in your armchair and just say “I rest my case.”
Use the word “imagination” as an epithet that applies only to seeing what’s *not* there, and not to denying what *is* there.
Ridicule, ridicule, ridicule. It is far and away the single most chillingly effective weapon in the war against discovery and innovation. Ridicule has the unique power to make people of virtually any persuasion go completely unconscious in a twinkling. It fails to sway only those few who are of sufficiently independent mind not to buy into the kind of emotional consensus that ridicule provides. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Use “smoke and mirrors,” i.e., obfuscation and illusion. Never forget that a slippery mixture of fact, opinion, innuendo, out-of-context information and outright lies will fool most of the people most of the time. As little as one part fact to ten parts B.S. will usually do the trick. (Some veteran debunkers use homeopathic dilutions of fact with remarkable success!) Cultivate the art of slipping back and forth between fact and fiction so undetectably that the flimsiest foundation of truth will always appear to firmly support your entire edifice of opinion. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Employ “TCP”: Technically Correct Pseudo-refutation. Example: if someone remarks that all great truths began as blasphemies, respond immediately that not all blasphemies have become great truths. Because your response was technically correct, no one will notice that it did not really refute the original remark.
Trivialize the case by trivializing the entire field in question. Characterize the orthodox approach as deep and time-consuming, while deeming that of the unorthodox approach as so insubstantial as to demand nothing more than a scan of the tabloids. If pressed on this, simply say “but there’s nothing there to study!” Characterize any unorthodox scientist as a “buff” or “freak,” or as “self-styled”– the media’s favorite code-word for “bogus.” [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Remember that most people do not have sufficient time or expertise for careful discrimination, and tend to accept or reject the whole of an unfamiliar situation. So discredit the whole story by attempting to discredit *part* of the story. Here’s how: a) take one element of a case completely out of context; b) find something prosaic that hypothetically could explain it; c) declare that therefore that one element has been explained; d) call a press conference and announce to the world that the entire case has been explained!
Label any poorly-understood research “occult,” “fringe,” “paranormal,” “metaphysical,” “mystical,” “supernatural,” or “new-age.” This will get most mainstream scientists off the case immediately on purely emotional grounds. If you’re lucky, this may delay any responsible investigation of such phenomena by decades or even centuries! [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
Remember that you can easily appear to refute anyone’s claims by building “straw men” to demolish. One way to do this is to misquote them while preserving that convincing grain of truth; for example, by acting as if they have intended the extreme of any position they’ve taken. Another effective strategy with a long history of success is simply to mis- replicate their experiments–or to avoid replicating them at all on grounds that “to do so would be ridiculous or fruitless.” To make the whole process even easier, respond not to their actual claims but to their claims as reported by the media, or as propagated in popular myth.
Hold claimants responsible for the production values and editorial policies of any media or press that reports their claim. If an unusual or inexplicable event is reported in a sensationalized manner, hold this as proof that the event itself must have been without substance or worth.
When a witness or claimant states something in a manner that is scientifically imperfect, treat this as if it were not scientific at all. If the claimant is not a credentialed scientist, argue that his or her perceptions cannot possibly be objective. [John Baez: “Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case“]
If you’re unable to attack the facts of the case, attack the participants–or the journalists who reported the case. *Ad- hominem* arguments, or personality attacks, are among the most powerful ways of swaying the public and avoiding the issue. For example, if investigators of the unorthodox have profited financially from activities connected with their research, accuse them of “profiting financially from activities connected with their research!” If their research, publishing, speaking tours and so forth, constitute their normal line of work or sole means of support, hold that fact as “conclusive proof that income is being realized from such activities!” If they have labored to achieve public recognition for their work, you may safely characterize them as “publicity seekers.”
Fabricate supportive expertise as needed by quoting the opinions of those in fields popularly assumed to include the necessary knowledge.
Fabricate sources of disinformation. Claim that you’ve “found the person who started the rumor that such a phenomenon exists!” · Fabricate entire research projects. Declare that “these claims have been thoroughly discredited by the top experts in the field!” Do this whether or not such experts have ever actually studied the claims, or, for that matter, even exist.