One hardly expects any particular quarter to maintain the kind of monopoly on what can only be described as intellectually vacant ideas intended to bolster central control or the the exercise of unquestioned authority that is routinely demonstrated by the more egregious of nation states. (North Korea, Venezuela and China come readily to mind, for instance). Bearing this in mind, consider the likely source of this passage:
Recall that extremist networks and groups, including the groups 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.
Informational and reputational cascades, group polarization, and selection effects suggest that the generation of ever-more-extreme views within these groups can be dampened or reversed by the introduction of cognitive diversity. We suggest a role for government efforts, and agents, in introducing such diversity. Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.
A 15 year old report from the Chinese Minister of Information?
Memoirs of a Venezuelan PSYOPS Officer?
A 1990's era State Sponsored Russian Hacker?
No. Not actually.
Try: A paper written last year1 by the appointee to the position of Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for the most transparent and open administration ever to breathe air.
In other words, Cass Sunstein.
One might be forgiven for wondering if Martyl Langsdorf knew what she was getting into when she accepted an invitation to design the cover for the June issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists back in 1947. That little project resulted in the creation of an absolutely fantastic and long-lived bit of propaganda, the famous "Doomsday Clock," a representation of which has been stylistically embedded (with varying degrees of style) in every cover of the publication since....continue reading and rate this entry.
Apparently, Andrew Sullivan, who writes "The Daily Dish," a blog over at The Atlantic, is a favored punching bag for... well about everyone not on the far left. I became vaguely aware of the existence of Mr. Sullivan and his blog last week in an event apparently so unmemorable that I can't remember it anymore. It was, however, enough to cause Sullivan's recent attempt at penetrating investigative reporting in the panty-bomber case to catch my eye.
Sullivan relays the email of a "reader" who seems to suggest that this whole attempt-to-blow-up-a-plane thing was some kind of artifice intended to do... well... more damage by not actually blowing up the plane, I think....continue reading and rate this entry.
It wasn't long ago when I wondered aloud in these pages if accepting grant money from public and private sources might not give rise to a cause of action, not least of all based on the False Claims Act. That would be a particularly interesting rub on things, given the number of potential causes of action we can find lurking around. (I've toyed with the idea of evaluating civil RICO as a means to pursue matters as well). Apparently, I wasn't the only one to consider this possibility....continue reading and rate this entry.
It is not often that one finds a particular discourse shot through with the sort of threads, intertwined silver filaments, that touch at once on so many personal interests and gather so many errant thoughts into a larger whole that the emotional aftermath is best characterized as the shock of a sort of theoretical unification. It is even possible, only just, to appreciate (if not share) the kind of emotion that must prompt individuals to claim religious experiences as explanation. Even the hint of disappointment following the discovery that these thoughts were not uniquely one's own, that one could no longer lay claim to their original authorship, is blunted by the pleasure of discovering a kindred spirit and the small reminder that, at least as an intellect, one is (or was) just a little bit less alone in the universe....continue reading and rate this entry.
Thoughts on the death of this particular incarnation of "climate science": In the hours before his seizure at the Hôtel de Ville, Maximilian Robespierre was either shot by Charles-André Merda or shot himself in a suicide attempt. In either case, his jaw was left in tatters which, as one might imagine, greatly reduced the prospects that his legendary skill at oration would moderate his increasingly dire predicament. Indeed, he was, of course, eventually executed.
To give the blade of the guillotine an unobstructed fall, the executioner tore away the paper bandage that had been holding his jaw together.... Animal screams of pain escaped, silenced only by the falling blade."1
- 1. Schama, Simon, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, 1990.
Some flow measurement approaching "neverending" seems to make a good candidate for "best descriptive prose" when discussing the number of apologist excuses for various components of the corpus of stolen University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit data. Amusingly, the quality of argument put forth by the many gallant defenders of Climate Science's beleaguered battlements is so desperately weak that it doesn't take but a few hours for one to find oneself suddenly overcome with the impression that one is fishing in a barrel... with dynamite....continue reading and rate this entry.
The Really Big News™ is actually that there is no really big news. Much is being made of the recent hack of the
HadleyUniversity of East Anglia's Climatic Research CenterUnit (the "CRU") whereby over a thousand emails along with documents as well as data and code were lifted and published to an FTP site before being linked to by "The Air Vent" blog and then... the world.
The leak appears to show climate scientists shaping results, strategizing on how best to conceal data and analysis from the public, planning public relations to get their message out irrespective of the most recent data setbacks, debating the best way to influence the "man on the street," discussing means to deal with critics via the press and otherwise, and reacting with barely contained glee to the news of an opponent's untimely death. While the general consensus is that the most damaging emails appear to reference the now semi-famous "hockey graph" illustration that has been a favorite of the United Nations (and everyone else pushing radical climate change policy) for a decade, I think something much more insidious (and actually quite ordinary) emerges from between the many subject lines. Rank corruption.
Update: Looks like the "missing" hockey stick data has been found:
If so, that there is the ballgame....continue reading and rate this entry.
This is the sort of thing, I suppose, that has turned the health care debate into the smoldering sludge that is left over when a pile of immolated facts are mixed over and over again with thick, sticky rhetoric. Are we really expected to believe that these four doctors, who, between them represent about every minority group you could possibly enumerate in four bodies, just happened to wander over from the hospital in their (spotless) white coats to smile at the President's health care reform plans?...continue reading and rate this entry.
It is difficult to connect with the concept that complex systems are... well... complex. That is, just pulling a lever or two on the "input" is not guaranteed to get you either the results you want, nor assure you won't get worse results in some other way. This is easy to recognize as the not-a-law "law of unintended consequences," but very difficult to apply critically to grand ideas by charismatic visionaries with a talent for public relations- the somewhat crass art that has become the central skill requirement in modern politics.
This is one of my objections to the conceit of centralized economic policy. "I'll just pour some cash in here and we'll be all good," sounds great (particularly to the people getting the cash). An economy is, most obviously, a complex system. Thus, things are rarely this simple. But if you think that's complex, try weather. Bill Gates wants to, according to Tech Flash. Bill (or proxies therefor) has filed patents I am better leaving Tech Flash to describe:...continue reading and rate this entry.