Conspiracy Theories

Mary Rosh, Federal Agent


Cass Sunstein, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has a plan for discouraging conspiracy theorists: Conspire against them!

Raw Story reports:

Cognitive Clarity
R. Crumb

Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor, co-wrote an academic article entitled "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures," in which he argued that the government should stealthily infiltrate groups that pose alternative theories on historical events via "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine" those groups.

His paper does have some sensible things to say on the subject of political paranoia, but it periodically goes off the rails as well, and this proposal is where it gets the most deranged. Quoting the article itself:

In one variant, government agents would openly proclaim, or at least make no effort to conceal, their institutional affiliations….In another variant, government officials would participate anonymously or even with false identities. Each approach has distinct costs and benefits; the second is riskier but potentially brings higher returns. In the former case, where government officials participate openly as such, hard-core members of the relevant networks, communities and conspiracy-minded organizations may entirely discount what the officials say, right from the beginning. The risk with tactics of anonymous participation, conversely, is that if the tactic becomes known, any true member of the relevant groups who raises doubts may be suspected of government connections.

Well, yes. If you send covert agents to influence the way dissidents think, you're going to magnify rather than tamp down their distrust. Nonetheless, Sunstein and his coauthor conclude by calling for "cognitive infiltration designed to break up the crippled epistemology of conspiracy-minded groups." They also endorse "enlisting independent groups to supply rebuttals," though it seems to me that such groups cease to be "independent" the moment they're "enlisted." Of course, if there are independent debunkers out there, why would they need the government to direct their efforts in the first place? It's a peculiar worldview that thinks even skepticism needs to be centrally planned.

NEXT: Students for Liberty Conference, February 12-14

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  1. Jeebus on a pogo stick.

    This twat actually thinks we should use taxpayer dollars to play mindgames with nutters?

    Every time one of these morons opens his yap, my Ivy League degree gets devalued.

    1. Ivy League degree, ouch!!! How did that whole “Harvard’s econ and finance dept. lost a billion dollars” feel? Man, your degree has been taking a beating for a coupla of years now…don’t forget GWB Yali. At least my 3/4 degree from a non Ivy school was worthless to begin with. You must feel like you invested gold into dollars circa 1920. My sympathies. If it makes you feel better your knowledge expertise shines through regardless of the paper.

      The internet is for political blogging porn

      1. Don’t forget the Affirmative Action President and his piece of toilet paper from Harvard.

      2. And, don’t forget that GWB couldn’t get into UT law school. Yale happily accepted him though.

        1. Yes, and don’t forget also that GWB graduated from Yale with a higher GPA than John Kerry had and was admitted and graduated from Harvard Business School.

        2. And don’t forget that Al Gore essentially failed out of Divinity School and grad school in general.

        3. And don’t forget that Al Gore essentially failed out of Divinity School and grad school in general.

        4. I forget – Did Obama ever release his University grades, list of classes he took, SAT and LSAT (Law School Admittance Test) scores? Plus how he paid for room, board, books and tuition at Harvard? And who sponsored him to get into Harvard?

  2. Nothing cures paranoia more effectively than confirming the need for it.

    OIRA incidentally, is a quite powerful agency (within another quite-powerful agency, the OMB).

  3. The anonymous plan is self-refuting.

    The open plan has some merit since many of these movements get traction because of the impression that they are being deliberately ignored. Of course, knowing Sunstein, the open agents will be there exclusively as handlers and not as listeners, so his implementation of the open plan would be almost indistinguishable from the anonymous plan.

  4. “cognitive infiltration designed to break up the crippled epistemology of conspiracy-minded groups.”

    I thought the CIA was already pretty well infiltrated.

  5. Heck, the vast majority of these kooks do nothing more than chat with each other about their theory. Who cares? Why would anyone put any effort at all into even watching them let alone infiltrate them.

    1. Why to “help” them of course, even if they don’t want it.

    2. Because for some people it’s extremely important to crush all dissent, even when it isn’t necessary.

      1. Well, for my Marxist colleagues, dissent is a form of psychological damage which really, truly needs help. Unless it’s dissent against ChimpyMcBusHitler or similar.

  6. “The key to the success of this anonymous program, detailed in this publicly available paper, is that nobody knows about it. The cattle are too stupid to read academic papers, so we’re safe.”

  7. That’s libertarian Cass Sunstein.

    Because “left-libertarians” are libertarians.


    1. What nutter called Cass Sunstein a libertarian? Anyone other than Cass Sunstein?

      1. Balko called Austan Goolsbee a “free market economist” and decried Republicans for temporarily blocking his appointment.I don’t recall anyone calling Sunnstein a libertarian but many did praise and defend him.

        1. Your reply to “What nutter called Cass Sunstein a libertarian?” is to point to someone who’s not a nutter calling an unrelated person something other than a libertarian. Well, I’m convinced!

          1. You’re Welcome.

  8. Did you expect rational thinking from the coiner of “libertarian paternalism”?

    1. Don’t say such hurtful things, or they will sic the vegan cannibals on you.

  9. Don’t we call this Feeding the Troll?

    this is like watching Jack Webb communicate with hippies on Dragnet.

  10. There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you guys for a long time.

    1. brotherben,you don’t need to come out of the closet.

  11. So THAT explains Chony and MNG.

  12. Because “left-libertarians” are libertarians.

    I don’t think Sunstein has ever described himself as a left-libertarian. As T says, “libertarian paternalist” is his preferred handle.

    1. I’m not a smart man but even I know those two words don’t fit together. It’s unnatural.

    2. Maybe he should switch to “libertarian fascist”. That would make just as much sense, and be more accurate. What an asshole.

      1. Remember, these are the same folks who think “military intelligence” is funny.

      2. Whatever happened to the Libertarian Fascist Socialist Green Party (or some permutation of those words)? Was that ever verified to be a hoax or what?

  13. How do “undermine” conspiracy nuts? They thrive on contradictory evidence. This’ll just make ’em more convinced, more obsessed, more motivated and more batshit crazy.

    1. Kind of like global warming scientists.

      1. I prefer the term ‘scienticians’.

        It’s less made up than their fudged data.

        1. ‘scienticians’

          Love it.

        2. Is that a form of ‘scientologist’?

  14. If you have to take action to undermine conspiracy nuts then you are pretty much admitting that there are some conspiracies going on.

    1. It’s half making me re-examine some of my early dismissal of the conspiracy theories.

      Well, not really, but still.

  15. Canada is way ahead on this curve. They’ve already paid government workers to post racist screeds on neo-Nazi sites.

    Google “Richard Warman”.

  16. South Park had a better idea. They had Bush fanning the “inside job” flames just so people would think the government is competent enough to pull off a 9/11 conspiracy.

  17. Hey Cass! We’re waiting for you here at Hit and Run!

    Oh wait, you already sent Chad and Tony. My bad.

  18. This is the same tactic the Soviets used to shutdown dissent. Label anyone who questions the government a lunatic and send them to a mental institution. This is just what you would expect from a Marxist like Sunstein.

    Man, Obama sure has a picked himself a nice little cabinet of loonies. We had Dunn the lady that loves Mao, Holdren the guy who wants to use a planetary regime to cull the excess population and use geo-engineering to fight “global warming” and Van Jones the born again Communist.

    And I thought things couldn’t get any worse than Dubya.

    1. Don’t forget Kevin Jennings and his love for fisting.

  19. iowahawk, you need to look up “Hal Turner” the USA’s own undercover neo-nazi FBI agent. The US government has been doing this for decades.

  20. It’s a peculiar worldview that thinks even skepticism needs to be centrally planned.

    Not when you are the SuperRationalCentralPlannerPaternalist!

    Wow, that is a really sucky name for a superhero bureaucrat.

    And how can Sunstein ever hope to get laid by leftist/feminist chicks when he’s forever proclaiming himself a paternalist?

    1. Cass reproduces asexually by budding.

      1. Aw, you shouldn’t have outed us, Bud!

  21. I am no conspiracy theorist but this is f&^*ing frightening.*** In fact, it is this kind of shit that feeds the conspiracy theorists. 9/11 was not an inside job people. The federal government was and is just filled with a bunch of incompetent boobs.

    *** I am not an employee, agent or contractor with the federal government or any agency thereof.

    1. *** I am not an employee, agent or contractor with the federal government or any agency thereof.

      Nor am I. But, Cass, if you’re reading this, I am willing to sell out my principles and join the federales in our efforts to dispel all conspiracy theories and persuade my fellow comrades to worship at the alter of our Dear Leader in exchange for a GS-13 paygrade, job security via federal employment, and a generous pension that I know you guys really can’t afford. Feel free to contact me directly for more information on my qualifications and a list of references.

      1. I must admit I have been tempted at times to work for the federal government. A majority of people in my profession work for some level of government or other. What keeps me from doing it is that I would not be able to look myself in the mirror if I did.

        1. Mirrors are overrated

      2. Only a GS-13? Why aim so low?

    2. *** I am not an employee, agent or contractor with the federal government or any agency thereof.

      Technically, you are a part-time serf of the federal government.

      As are we all.

  22. Plant Immigration Rights Suppo,

    9/11 was a total inside job buddy. Who was arrested on 9/11? It wasn’t Al Qaeda. It was a bunch of Mossad agents that were quietly let go and later admitted on Israeli TV they were there to “document the event”. Look at the collapse of WTC7. Um, office fires don’t bring down steel structured 47 story towers within 10 seconds. Sorry.

    1. Are you one of these people who thinks that “steel can’t melt”? How do you think they FORM steel to begin with. As for WTC7 it had been badly shaken before it fell. It was a progressive collapse.…..tml?page=5

      1. Strawman. Of course, steel melts. But there is this thing called temperature which comes in different DEGREES. Office fires do not melt steel and this was proven by Underwriter’s Laboratories own experiments on the WTC steel. Look at the video of that collapse it is absolutely impossible to explain it away with office fires. That is a symmetrical, free-fall collapse. Look, don’t drag me into another endless debate on 9/11. The information is out there and we’re not going to change each other’s opinions.

        1. The reason I asked was I actually have heard and read people claiming that steel does not melt. If you realize that it does good for you. “Office Fires” – that is a strawman. Offices rarely contain large amounts of jet fuel. Normal office fires have paper and pencils and sometimes wood floors as fuel. Not jet fuel.

          1. I was discussing WTC7 – the third tower to collapse without jet fuel. The collapse of the main two towers is no more plausible but WTC7 is the clearest example of controlled demolition.

            1. For clarity:

              I was discussing WTC7 – the third tower to collapse. WTC7 collapsed *without* jet fuel.

              1. And all it took was the two huge fucking towers next door collapsing in the hours beforehand, taking out a good chunk of WTC7 in the process.

                Obviously though, its a conspiracy.

                1. Where is this huge chunk? And let’s assume you’re correct – how does an asymmetrical structural weakness result in a symmetrical, free-fall complete collapse? We’re talking about 4.7 stories collapsing PER SECOND. You would need to simultaneously melt the entire steel structure with office fires to see that happen. Impossible.

                  BTW – NIST’s explanation for the collapse was OFFICE FIRES.

                  The amazing thing I find when discussing 9/11 is that it is always the truthers that are the most informed on the details of 9/11 and the true believers can only ever point to “Popular Mechanics” for that hard-hitting scientific analysis of 9/11.

                  What a joke.

                  1. Here is a section of 1,000 pound chunks from the WTC towers collapse hitting WTC7:

                    Whats really funny is that 9/11 truthers believe themselves to be informed on the details of 9/11, despite being disproved time and time again.

                    The only thing 9/11 truthers have is the amazing ability to argue the same thing after being disproved time and time again. That and an insular groupthink were truthers pat each other on the back about how they aren’t sheeple, all while behaving in a cult-like manner.

                    Not surprising for a movement led by a bunch of neo-nazis, though.

                    1. Are you out of your mind? The video you link to shows peripheral damage that in no way can explain a symmetrical, free-fall collapse. Have you ever played Jenga?

                      As for the neo-nazi comment. What are you on about? Does it take a neo-nazi to raise the obvious questions about why Israelis were arrested celebrating the attacks? These are legitimate questions. Have you bothered to watch “Fabled Enemies” freely available on Google video?

                    2. Your comments just show who the typical critics of the “Israelis” are.

                      And yes, generally it is neo-nazis and their sympathizers who raise the “obvious” questions about Israeli’s blowing up the buildings.

                    3. You keep saying “symmetrical”. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Every assertion you have made in this thread has been thoroughly and completely debunked. Repeating them does not make them an less false.

                      WTC7 did not collapse symmetrically.

                    4. “Have you ever played Jenga?”

                      I fly my Playmobil airplane into my Jenga blocks and they collapse just like the WTC

                    5. Are you out of your mind? The video you link to shows peripheral damage that in no way can explain a symmetrical, free-fall collapse. Have you ever played Jenga?

                      As for the neo-nazi comment. What are you on about? Does it take a neo-nazi to raise the obvious questions about why Israelis were arrested celebrating the attacks? These are legitimate questions. Have you bothered to watch “Fabled Enemies” freely available on Google video?

                  2. Would you like a source other than Popular Mechanics? OK. From the link below (which has pictures to illustrate)

                    “They further claim that any damage from falling debris from WTC 1 and WTC 2 would have needed to be symmetrical to trigger the pancaking collapse of WTC 7.10

                    These arguments only reveal the assumptions of their authors. First, the fires burning in WTC 7 were extremely extensive, as Figure 3 shows. The reason this is not obvious from 9/11 Truth Movement presentations and documentaries is that they tend to only show the north side of WTC 7, selectively causing the building to appear both far less ravaged by fire and structural damage than it actually was (see Figure 4).”


                  3. Sure, the government control demo-ed the building but then, just for fun, ALSO flew some plans into them! And all 64,000 people involved in this conspiracy have managed to maintain absolute silence.

            2. Insteresting phrase “controlled demolition”. This phrase begs a question – controled by whom? Whether the attacks were by al quida operatives or operatives within the United States Federal Government they were clearly planned. Either way, it was “controlled”. Now, again, there were two large buildings next to WTC7 that fell. This was a progressive collapse.

              1. You don’t see anything unusual about the collapse of WTC1 and WTC2? Do you see those massive plumes of pulverized concrete and huge steel beams being flung 100’s of meters perpendicular to the collapse? Have you heard the countless eyewitness testimony of explosions prior and during the collapse? Even prior to the impact of the jets? How do you explain the free-fall speed collapse in both of these cases? A progressive collapse would not be free-fall because each level would provide some resistance to the collapse.

                But here I go again. Save me the trouble of typing all of this out and read a book like:

                The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Expos? by David Ray Griffin (Paperback – Sep 30, 2008)

                1. How many times must David Ray Griffin be shown to be an idiot before you 9/11 truthers stop citing him.

                  9/11 truth – truly where persistence and ignorance meet.

                2. Do you see those massive plumes of pulverized concrete and huge steel beams being flung 100’s of meters perpendicular to the collapse? Gee, maybe those perpendicular shards of concrete had something to do with building seven collapsing.

                  1. We’ve already been over this. Your logic is simply impeccable.

                3. Anything unusual? Of course it was unusual. It is not every day that large planes fly into tall buildings. It is perfectly understandable given the jet fuel in the aircraft. Please, explain, if it was a detonation (in the sense you mean), why do the parts of the towers below the impact point not begin to fall until the higher floors have collapsed onto them?

                  1. That’s what you see in any controlled demolition.

                    When it’s not a controlled demolition you see an asymmetrical collapse. These three towers are the only examples of steel structured towers collapsing due to fire that we have.

                    Got it?

                    1. “These three towers are the only examples of steel structured towers collapsing due to fire that we have.”

                      You are incorrect:

                    2. Sadly your facts won’t even make a dent in Marxists view. He is wholly convinced that the jews brought down the buildings in a controlled demolition, and no matter how often he is proved wrong, he will never be convinced otherwise.

                      Its standard operating procedure for 9/11 truthers.

                    3. Joe, I like to be optimistic about people. People can change. Hell, I voted for Bush for President – both of them. Now I see the error of my former ways. I will never make such a mistake again. My point is that people can change – I did.

                    4. To clarify I mean both terms of W. Not both Papa and Son. When I turned 18 I voted for Perot, not GHWB.

                    5. Me too. “read my lips no new taxes” was about too much.

    2. If that steel is painted with super thermite it will come down just like it did. At least that what Jesse Ventura told me on the teevee.

      1. Or if two aircraft hit large buildings next to WTC7 thus toppling them.

    3. Jeez o pete. What good did dropping building seven add to the national call for retaliation?

      1. Very good point. I await an answer from one of the “9/11 Truther” posters.

        1. Obviously, the jew who owned the building did it for the insurance money.

      2. Heh. Yeah, because obviously just bringing down the two tallest and most symbolic buildings in NYC might not be enough, they had to also bring down a totally nondescript building nobody had ever heard of to really cinch the deal.

        1. And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for a bunch of cranks and white supremacists on the internets.

      3. didn’t the Enron investigation end due to all of the paperwork going down in Building 7?


    5. Thanks for showing their is nothing anti-semitic about the 9/11 truth movement.

      1. I had assumed that Frank was being sarcastic. But, perhaps I should not have made that assumption. It is true that there are still plenty of antisemites – some of whom are involved in conspiracy theories.

  23. We need a Conspiracy Czar!

    1. You think we don’t have one?

      1. I believe his name is Cass Sunstein.

  24. For the record, I only believe in two current conspiracy theories. One, the Chicago Clinton Machine ran four candidates against John Edwards in 2008. And two, The Clinton Machine is really a European syndicate that exists solely to knock America down to socialist Europe’s pitiful level of prosperity. I await my federal agent to befriend me.

    1. I only believe one:
      The *entire world* is under control of (hee, hee, hee,) *ME!*

      1. Entiree world, eh? Need any high level minions or henchmen…?

  25. Jesus H. Fucking Christ on a Popsicle stick, 9/11 Retards are annoying.

    1. They seem to believe that Ockham and Popper never existed. Or at least, never had anything interesting to say.

    2. Which one of you said “Who blew the Truther dog-whistle?”

      Because someone blew the Truther dog-whistle, and I want to give appropriate attribution. Suspect it was teh Episiarch…

      1. It’s really Jesse’s fault, just like everything bad in this world.

      2. You think that’s bad?

        I can summon the C H E M T R A I L ers who make the truthers look like a bunch of kiss-ass sunday school children.

        1. All 9/11 Troofers are Chemtrailers. No really. Go into any Troofer meeting and start starting about chemtrails and NOT ONE OF THEM will disagree with you. At best they’ll quibble about the ultimate motivations behind the mass chemical dousings.

  26. Does the abundance of conspiracy theorists say more about the government or the people?

    1. I say the government. Given the evil nature of government it is understandable how some could invent conspiracy theories about them. I would say this is like early man seeing fossils of a T-Rex, calling it a dragon, and assuming that it could breathe fire.

      1. I don’t know, I think it says more about the people. The ubiquity and similarity of various conspiracy theories (I don’t mean factual similarity, but methodological similarity) says something about the psychological needs they seem to fill for so many people.

        1. Conspiracies exist you fool. Take “Operation Northwoods” for example. It’s a documented example of the US government planning false flag terrorist attacks on American soil to justify an invasion of Cuba.

          There is a distinct lack of mature discussion in this comment section. You all find it so easy to make judgments about “conspiracy theorists” and their psychological makeup when you don’t even have the most basic understanding of how the world really works.

          So many of you appear to think that sarcasm is a substitute for a well constructed argument.

          1. MarxistsInTheWhitehouse|1.14.10 @ 9:11PM|#
            “Conspiracies exist you fool. Take “Operation Northwoods” for example.”
            Yes they do. And for obvious reasons, they become pretty quickly known in most all regards; people can’t keep their yaps shut.
            Which leaves ‘truthers’ out in the ozone again.

            1. That’s a total crock and it’s impossible to prove. Are you seriously claiming that no conspiracy can ever remain a secret? That would assume everything that is commonly accepted or is academically accepted or government sanctioned knowledge is somehow the ultimate truth.

              Your claim is ridiculous and to consider “conspiracy theorists” crazy when we have a government as secretive and thoroughly corrupted as ours is simply dishonest.

              Anyone that can look at the events of 9/11 and claim that there is no reason for suspicion and no reason to question the official version of events is simply a dishonest individual. There are so many implausible and unlikely coincidences in the events of that day.

              1. “official version of events”

                Yet another slippery phrase. If by “official version of events” you mean W’s claim that “they attacked us for our freedom” I do not believe in the “official version of events”. If, on the other hand you mean that there are government employees who actually have the competence to pull off something like 9/11 without botching it badly and letting the cat out of the bad – that is just too far fetched for me. The idea that there are competent people working for the federal government is very, very, very far fetched.

              2. I can’t tell which makes you a bigger fool: believing that the high-functioning retards that run our government are capable of pulling off the greatest, most far-reaching stunt ever devised; or thinking that the venal scum who work in our government could keep a secret that large without someone running to the press for glory as a whistleblower.

              3. MarxistsInTheWhitehouse|1.14.10 @ 9:35PM|#
                “That’s a total crock and it’s impossible to prove.”
                WHAT is impossible to prove?

                “Are you seriously claiming that no conspiracy can ever remain a secret?”
                Yes, I am.

                1. I’ll qualify this: Two guys lying about a fish one of them caught, well………
                  Thousands of government employees hiding what could make them a fortune to expose?

              4. “Anyone that can look at the events of 9/11 and claim that there is no reason for suspicion and no reason to question the official version of events is simply a dishonest individual. There are so many implausible and unlikely coincidences in the events of that day.”
                And you have to know that this isn’t an argument, it’s an appeal to ignorance. ‘Nother fail.

              5. Find one guy who planted the explosives (it must have taken a large team) and show me his pay stub. Until then, you’re nuts.

          2. There is a distinct lack of mature discussion in this comment section.

            Drink? Fuck it, I’m drinking.

          3. Dude, I came to confess. I was the second gunman on the grassy knoll.


          4. “There is a distinct lack of mature discussion in this comment section.”

            You mean like when one poster calls another poster a fool?

            1. But Marxist knows the truth, while we are all just sheeple, so it is ok for him to call us fools.

    2. Two words: Santa Claus. For many of us it is our first conspiracy theory, and lo and behold it turns out to be true.

      Google’s in on it. NORAD’s in on it. Hell, even the town drunk who dons the gay apparel for a few bucks in December is in on it. And everywhere their elven spies elude our grasp.

      1. But it is so cute when we lie to them!

      2. Two words: Santa Claus. For many of us it is our first conspiracy theory, and lo and behold it turns out to be true.

        Sunstein actually makes this point in the paper. So it’s not all bad…

      3. So you hate Santa Claus in addition to snowball fights. Winter’s just not your time of year, is it?

  27. But why would such psychological needs exist? Perhaps because the truth, that by participating in the political process they are at least partly responsible for its evil, is much more dificult to accept.

    1. You will notice that central tenet to conspiracy theory is the importance of the theorist. They know something that no one else knows, making them special; and they are the subject of special scrutiny from the government/Illuminati/Masons, meaning someone actually knows they exist and considers them important.

      1. You mean sort of like religious leaders or clergy? Yea, I can see the parallels. Accepting something on faith for example.

    2. Conspiracy theories serve for the secular what religious dogma does for the faithful. I have yet to meet someone with a hard-on for a good conspiracy that wasn’t sure God is just a two-bit myth.

      1. Juris, you beat me to it.

      2. Perhaps it’s necessary, but it’s not sufficient.
        I hold no religious bleefs, nor conspiracy bleefs.

      3. I don’t know if I buy that. There is something distinctly different from religion about conspiracy theories and their adherents. It doesn’t provide an existential explanation or even a code of ethics (like, say, environmentalism) and it does not have a faith-based list of beliefs or dogma that must be accepted (at least not explicitly) but rather is decidedly “evidence” based – notwithstanding the fact that the “evidence” is always twisted, distorted, or misinterpreted. I’d say it is much more like some pseudo-science nonsense than religion.

        Besides, there are plenty of Christian white-supremacists who adhere to various conspiracy theories. And of course there are extremist Islamic groups that believe all manner of antisemitic conspiracy theories. None of them would believe God is a myth. So no, I don’t see it as a quasi-religious thing at all really.

        1. As I was trying to express above, I believe that conspiracy theory adherents have a particular psychological issue. They create elaborate fantasies in order to convince themselves that they are more important than they are; because underneath it all they feel achingly unimportant, and the desire to fill that void expresses itself in the willingness to believe idiotic theories–because those theories make them feel like they are important.

          1. Yes, I think that is a large part of it – I would generally agree with that. My disagreement wasn’t with your post.

          2. Sort of like the armchair psychiatric diagnosis of an entire class of people he’s never met makes the diagnoser feel important. It helps if that class is one that’s despised by his audience.

            1. You’re reaching, Pulpa. It might have worked better if I wasn’t right on the money.

      4. Erm…you’re aware that Alex Jones is a fundamentalist Christian, right?

  28. It’s just another version of the “if only the right people were in charge” fallacy. It’s much easier to blame the people in charge than to ponder the possibility that the developments you dread are products of the natural and inevitable evolution of society.

    Also, the belief that someone knows what’s going on and is in control — even an evil person — is far more comforting to some than the notion that no one is in charge and we’re all equally helpless in this world.

  29. There doesn’t need to be a conspiracy to make cunts like Sunstein stupid; they willingly go along with being that fucking dumb.

  30. I hope Sunstein gets a little funding for this idea. It will prove to be amusing. What will happen? Sunstein’s people will get their asses handed to them. They will go into those chat rooms with assumptions about the people they are dealing with being entirely incorrect. They will be less informed than the people who they want to take on. It doesn’t matter if the premise of a conspiracy is wrong or not, those people live and breath and know the minute details of their subject. As an object lesson to show up the bent logic of libertarian paternalism, I could not think of a better way to show it.

    “cognitive infiltration designed to break up the crippled epistemology of conspiracy-minded groups.

    Too many have died with epistemology on their sides.

  31. Alan, I know where you are going with this but the danger is too great to give them this power. It is a very dangerous president. If they can do this for conspiracy theories they don’t like they can also do this for political beliefs they don’t like – such as libertarianism or classical liberalism. They could also do this for religions they don’t like. This is a road you do not want to go down. If they declare our thoughts to be sufficiently abnormal it is only a few steps before they can justify reeducating us in other, more coercive ways. After all, any deviation from what is right according to the government is a threat to their power. I obviously strongly disagree with people like MarxistsInTheWhitehouse but I will defend his right to speak and express his views. By defending his rights I am also defending mine and yours. The power Sunstein is asking for is too great to give him.

  32. There is power and then there is power. This smacks of authoritarianism, is certainly not constitutional, but as far as power goes, I find Sunstein’s idea to be comically impotent.

    So long as this stays checked by being only a mere provocation piece, Sunstein’s ideology goes unchecked and he assumes its soundness and superiority, and assumes that it is underlined by a healthy epistemology shared by like minded public servants and academics.

    If he is given the clear to go ahead with this idea the most likely outcome will be his face becomes smashed and smeared in the payment when the rubber hits the road of an unmanageable reality.

    What is one more violation out of tens of thousands of violations of our liberty compared to the potential payoff from a few FOI request a few years down the road?

    Sure, I’m cynical, but has our outrage ever stopped them from doing what ever they want to do in the first place. Sunstein deserves a little credit for laying bare his plan in the first place. I have long suspected, way back in ’96 chatting it up on AOL’s On The Right and On The Left that this sort of thing took place. Now we might have an actual tangible enemy to point to and destroy.

    1. I’d like to agree with you, alan, and your logic seems sound…except I think you massively underestimate the fortress of arrogance that surrounds Sunstein and his ilk’s ideas. Instead of having his theories stomped like a narc at a biker rally, Sunstein would just weasel into blaming it on his subjects, somehow.

      Never, ever, underestimate the capacity of someone who does not have to have their ideas tested in the real world to cleave to said ideas no matter how patently stupid (to us) they are.

      1. Probably right.

        It would be unrealistic to expect us to be able to checkmate Sunstein, but we can wound him, and take down apparatchiks in the process, and he would provide the means of doing so.

        It would be nice to think that we could make the government as weary of libertarians as they are of enviros and health nuts (even the emaciated guy behind Concerned Scientist for the Public Health has more clout that we do) but truth is we don’t. We don’t offer a means of seizing more power so there is no trade off in ignoring us.

  33. It seems to me that it is just stupid to not monitor websites; that are in the public domain, that have dangerous messages. At the same time it is also dangerous and counter productive for real protection against threats, to make threats out of angry morons

  34. Far to often the government seems to have taken run of the mill misfits, and build up there egos and promised them guns, and then arrested them, claiming they have stopped a terrorist attack.

  35. I guess we know where MNG, Chad, and Tony came from, then?

    1. Great thread. We’ve seen the one conspiracy-monger in this thread. I wonder who the government agent is. Or are they one and the same?

      1. Haven’t you seen in POW movies? The traitor is always the guy who does the asking. ART-POG: A REALLY TRICKY-PERSON OF GOVERNMENT

  36. As a completely disinterested, responsible libertarian, I must say that responsible libertarians must disavow all their extremist opinions, like opposition to the War on Drugs and criticism of necessary interrogation techniques in the War on Terror.

    1. This man is correct, the War On Drugs is great policy. Throw those non violent fuckers in prison! And dont get me started on Marijuana, just one toke on a marijuana cigarette and you will go on a murderous rampage, I saw evidence of this on a great documentary called “Refer Madness”. I am here to save you America, I am your friend… Gotta go now, the liquor store is about to close and Im short on Jack Daniels and Marlboros…

  37. It sounds like Sunstein wants to start constructing our version of the Okhrana (Czar Nicholas II’s secret police). See wikipedia.

    Hey, we’ve already got lots of Czars, why not an Okhrana?

  38. From the cartoon, what does ‘completey’ mean?

  39. When I read this I thought it was some sort of satire, as in “How could anybody suggest this seriously?”
    Since this Harvard prof seems to have actually made the suggestion seriously, I recommend that a serious response is in order. Since such totalatarian tactics are anathema in America the prof should be treated like racists and dismissed immediately never to work in academia again.

  40. As usual, The Onion was way ahead of this one:…..government

    1. Spot On Eric! That is the first thing I thought of when I read this. Life is imitating art once again.

  41. My epistemology isn’t crippled, but it is limping.

  42. It’s a well-known fact that the government itself is promulgating all the crazy conspiracy theories.
    That way, when the truly evil meta-conspiracies of the rulers are revealed, nobody will believe them.

  43. Didn’t we already get Kwanzaa this way?

  44. Cass S went to Harvard? Putting out nutty stuff like this will give Harvard grads a bad name as “smarter-than-thou” Statist pricks. Oh, wait…

  45. Like many public speakers, I’ll begin with an old joke: In the Soviet Union, whenever an anti-communist cell meets to plan the counter-revolution, three of the participants are KGB agents and the fourth is a fool.
    I’m not necessarily a 9/11 Truther, but I would like to present two statements that the government has promoted:
    1. To implode a building making it collapse straight down into itself requires very sophisticated knowledge and precisely placed explosives set off in a timed and concerted manner.
    Such jobs need highly trained and licensed pyrotechnicians.

    2. The Twin Towers were collapsed in on themselves by being hit with jumbo-jets piloted by half-trained terrorists.

    One way or another, we have been lied to. Which statement is the lie? I don’t know, but both cannot be true. One or both must be false.

    1. Not necessarily. 1. is roughly true for a building of relatively low numbers of floors, and *to be relatively certain* that the building will fall within a certain footprint.

      2. is true when the building is very large, the planes are relatively full of jet fuel, the planes hit relatively high on the building, and the fire reaches a contained temperature that weakens the structural steel approximately equally all across the building. Then ‘pancaking’ is expected.

      So, both can be true. They are not mutually exclusive unless stated the way you do, and it is possible to state them with equal truth-value in ways that allow both to be true.

      Please not that the Pentagon did not collapse in a pancake. Too wide compared to its height, among other things.

  46. Sunstein also wants to crack down on some of you kooks who hold the nutty conspiracy theory that Man Made Global Warming is a cooked up sham.

  47. Cap’n- on the minute chance you’re not a truther nutter and are really curious about what you’re asking:

    To collapse a building in on itself with minimal risk to surrounding persons & property takes very careful planning and calculation. To drop one with no regard to collateral damage just requires explosives, fire, and/or physical impact.

    I’ve been to a demolition- stood about a block and a half away from a 6 story building being dropped. I didn’t even get dusty. How safe were people down the street from the WTC when it came down?

    1. I find it surprising that the death toll outside the buildings was so low, but I do not think anything other than commandeered, fully fueled jumbo-jets caused the Twin Towers and other WTC building to fall.

      1. The spewing powderization, the instant and rapid aerosolization of the buildings looks completely natural. Just looking at it you can see how it would pulverize all the way to the ground through the path of greatest resistance.

      2. People did have quite a while to GTFO of the area between the time of impacts and collapse. Anyone having stuff fall on them was either working the emergency or a no-good, moronic gawker.

  48. Anyone ever read “Bill the Galactic Hero” by Harry Harrison? In one section of the book, the Hero bill, is hired by the government to be a secret agent in a conspiracy against the government. Come the eventual showdown between the Conspirators and the Government, it turns out that EVERYONE in the movement is a government agent. 🙂

  49. R C Dean|1.14.10 @ 6:05PM|#

    “This twat actually thinks we should use taxpayer dollars to play mindgames with nutters?”

    Well, keep in mind that even if your skeptical about things like the healthcare bill… your a nutter to them.

  50. No surprise here, historically the Dems have always felt the true enemy of their Utopian agenda is the American citizen not outside groups like AQ etc.. it is one of the many reasons why they suck at foreign policy, they are totalitarian by nature.

    1. There is no left or right ideology operating on Capital Hill. Both parties are owned by the same corporate money. It is our narcissism that gets us to talk about the left or the right like we are still part of a process that got bought out from under us. It’s like we used to be pretty and are now purposely standing in dim flattering light unable to admit we’re old hags.

  51. In the same article, Sunstein additionally lists the following as an irrational Conspiracy Theory: “that the theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud”

    And yet, Climategate went down after Sunstein wrote this and now most people know that scientists prodded by lobbyists DID LIE about the numbers, fraudulently, as in to deceive the public with false claims.

  52. The funny thing about conspiracies is that some of them are based upon something more substantial than hypothesis or theory.

    A recent example is found in Climategate, where the factual evidence has proven that the conspiracy theorists were quite correct all along.

  53. At the time of the “Oslo accords” (“peace process”), the left-wing Israeli gov’t decided to plant agents within the “nutter” groups opposing it. In order to gain credibility (presumably), those agents took on an active role. A very active role indeed. In fact, one of them was close to the man who then assassinated the Prime Minister.

    When that information came out, it did not do wonders to discredit conspiracy theorists. Funny that.

  54. GREAT! Just by proposing this thery this idiot has singlehandedly strengthened the conspirinut movement more than a dozen Alex Jones’ ever could. They already believe every person who counters their insane drivel with inconvenient facts are a government or industry paid stooge, and are now if there actually WERE government agents planting disinformation, well, it would prove the conspiracy people right. Is that the right direction? What’s funny is they sometimes believe fellow conspiracy theorists who take a SLIGHTLY different turn than themselves are government agents tryng to spread disinformation.

    It may be beter to just make sure there’s always a good independent source like and to strenthen FIOA laws so that there are fewer shadows for conspirinuts to point to.

    Come to think of it, if this guy is proposing the government do something the nuts already think is happenning, I question how much of the various conspiracy movements this guy has really studied. Maybe someone’s academic credentials and tenure shoudl be in question.

    1. Sorry, for some reason I got to thinking the author of the article was an academic rather than a Gov. employee, WHICH IS EVEN WORSE even if he’s some nobody who was never actually going to shape the policies of any other office. Still, I am sure there are a dozen posts on saying “See, we told you.”

  55. If the Obama administration sets up a program to disrupt, confuse, and humiliate conspiracy theorists, it’ll be the first thing they’ve done that I wholeheartedly endorse.

    1. That is one of the most sad anti-American things I’ve read in a while.

  56. What a pantywaist criticism of one of the worst ideas I’ve seen in a long time.

    Hey, guys, it’s OK to criticize a black president and his administration every once in a while. Try it sometime. I know, it may be skeeeeery the first time you dare criticize a black man, being deathly afraid of being called “Racist” and all, but you’ll get used to it.

    Seriously, this is you (reason readers): “We need high taxes to fight the Xtians!” The one thing leftists and rightists agree on is that soi-dissant libertarians are absurd, loathesome creatures.

  57. either way, they win. by separating out the “nuts” or turning them against one another. man I hate these guys.

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  60. My friend has been thinking that too. I am not a big fan of all of the conspiracies. They are sometimes too much to believe for me.
    Spencer |

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