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CHAPTER SEVEN WHAT DO GOVERNMENTS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT CONSPIRACY THEORIES? To some small extent we’ve already touched on how governments perceive and respond to conspiracy theories. We noted in chapter 2 that brief rebuttals of several conspiracy theory accusations are listed on the website www.america.gov. The page forms a sort of collective rebuttal of all conspiracy theories. However, this direct rebuttal from government to the citizen is out of the norm. The conspiracy debates are mostly left to occur in citizens’ own homes, internet chat rooms, bars, campaign groups, academic circles, and in the circus arena of corporate media. Despite there being a lot of poor quality media coverage of conspiracy theories (by poor quality I mean mass polarization of opinion and mutual character assassination) governments, at least in the West, remain largely silent on such topics. Perhaps, as Cass Sunstein explained, this really is because those governments consider dialogue in their own defence to be futile. And perhaps it’s because there is some truth to some of the conspiracy theories and, naturally, they don’t want to implicate themselves. There are two specific areas in which conspiracy theories are more frequently commented on by representatives of government. When officials or lower ranking whistleblowers publicly accuse others in government of conspiracy. When one government accuses another of conspiracy. Frequently, whistle blowing comes from former government employees who don’t have a career to protect. And sometimes whistleblowers will seek refuge in another country in the process – Alexander Litvinenko for example. In cases of conspiracy accusations between different government departments, the ensuing debates in court rooms and debating chambers can be very informative because those doing the accusing (assuming they don’t have some ulterior motive) are acting from a position that is the opposite of what Cass Sunstein calls “crippled epistemology”. They are people who have had direct experience or access to information on the conspiracy topic in question. Several of the most controversial and widely believed conspiracy theories have been fuelled in this way, such as those relating to the Waco siege, 9/11, climate change, and the invasion of Iraq.