Originally posted by SkepticOverlord
Here are some points that support -- through various methods of double-speak -- using false information or deceptive tactics:
Page 14: engage in counterspeech,
Counterspeech? I'm engaging in counterspeech with you right now. So are you. What I'm saying runs counter to what you're saying.
They do so by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial
Read that more carefully. the "stylized facts" are being attributed to the conspiracy theorists, not the government agents. He's not suggesting the
government use "stylized facts", he's suggesting they cast doubt on the theories and the so-called "facts" that support them.
As far as "cognitive diversity", do you not support people thinking and reasoning? I want all the "cognitive diversity" you've got! Bring it on!
Please. The more thinking and reasoning, the more likely I am to arrive at the truth.
In another variant, government officials would participate anonymously or even with false identities.
So, they would lie about their identities... I don't see Sunstien advocating this, he's exploring possibilities. Still, how many people have lied
about their identities on the Internet? If this is the worst of Sunstein's crimes, we're in really good shape!
After reading this paper, I have to say that it’s VERY interesting and well-done. I would advise all conspiracy theorists and skeptics alike to
It’s really exceptional, IMO and is a good introduction to the study of how conspiracy theorists think and how their theories spread.
It’s also clear to me that Sunstein is NOT talking about planting false information, but cognitive infiltration. In other words, to infiltrate false
conspiracy theories with facts… Is that bad? I don’t think so. I mean, if they HAVE the information to debunk a theory, as long as it’s TRUE, I
want to hear it! Because I’m more attached to knowing the truth than I am to believing a conspiracy theory of my choice.
I can see how this could be a threat to the existence of ATS, because many of the members are willing and even eager to believe and discuss every wild
theory that comes along, but in my mind, the truth is more important. And I don't care how many government agents would infiltrate here, it's not
going to have an effect for some of the very reasons Sunstein discusses in the paper.
Sunstein speaks in very general terms and of course, I don’t think that everything he says applies to all conspiracy theories, but thinking about
the conspiracy theory of Obama’s birthplace while reading this paper, it was very clear how such a story could grow, even though it has no roots and
nothing to feed it.
Here are a few excerpts that I found particularly relevant:
Rather than taking the continued existence of the hard core as a constraint, and addressing itself solely to the third-party mass audience,
government might undertake (legal) tactics for breaking up the tight cognitive clusters of extremist theories, arguments and rhetoric that are
produced by the hard core and reinforce it in turn. One promising tactic is cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. By this we do not mean
1960s-style infiltration with a view to surveillance and collecting information, possibly for use in future prosecutions. Rather, we mean that
government efforts might succeed in weakening or even breaking up the ideological and epistemological complexes that constitute these networks and
Our main suggestion is just that, whatever the tactical details, there would seem to be ample reason for government efforts to introduce some
cognitive diversity into the groups that generate conspiracy theories. Social cascades are sometimes quite fragile, precisely because they are based
on small slivers of information. Once corrective information is introduced, large numbers of people can be shifted to different views. If
government is able to have credibility, or to act through credible agents, it might well be successful in dislodging beliefs that are held only
because no one contradicts them.
Realize that Sunstein is talking about rebutting FALSE conspiracy theories with TRUE information… I don’t see a moral or legal problem with this.
It seems to me that this paper explores what a government might do to infiltrate conspiracy groups to give them more information. I honestly don’t
see the danger.
SO, I await your counterspeech.