Obama Staffer Wants ‘Cognitive Infiltration’ of 9/11 Conspiracy Groups

I don’t usually write commentary on stories, but this one seems fitting.  I’ve been making podcasts about conspiracy theories for years, and what this article says about  “crippled epistemology”  is absolutely true.

From The Raw Story:

In a 2008 academic paper, President Barack Obama’s appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs advocated “cognitive infiltration” of groups that advocate “conspiracy theories” like the ones surrounding 9/11.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.

As head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Sunstein is in charge of “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs,” according to the White House Web site.

Sunstein’s article, published in the Journal of Political Philosphy in 2008 and recently uncovered by blogger Marc Estrin, states that “our primary claim is that conspiracy theories typically stem not from irrationality or mental illness of any kind but from a ‘crippled epistemology,’ in the form of a sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources.”

By “crippled epistemology” Sunstein means that people who believe in conspiracy theories have a limited number of sources of information that they trust. Therefore, Sunstein argued in the article, it would not work to simply refute the conspiracy theories in public — the very sources that conspiracy theorists believe would have to be infiltrated.

[Read more at The Raw Story]

, , ,

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PDDVWRQVUPMKRGHURIEQVNYWHQ Sean

    wouldn't proposing this policy give credence to the belief that mass media has been infiltrated further crippling
    epistemology?

  • GoodDoktorBad

    As if what passes as truth isn't confused enough. Conspiracy theories may be crazy at times, but they often stem from something fishy going on. So, whats the point of this? Make the crazies crazier? Obscure any possible shred of actual truth to an arbitrary politically correct one?
    Lets hope insanity eats itself…

  • carloskamakaze

    Thats bullshit, obama and the global elite are starting to realize we are catching on and learning the truth about this govt and the new world order.in a few yrs they wanna shut down the internet bc we are watching” too much youtube and disinfo lol…its bc they tell the truth like it is. FIGHT THE NEW WORLD ORDER!

  • 5by5

    Sunstein thinks that “people who believe in conspiracy theories have a limited number of sources of information that they trust.”

    And this is a measure of just how much of a Beltway idiot he is.

    What I've found is that — save for the few exceptions of people who really ARE crazy — the majority of those investigating so-called conspiracy theories, or even just alternate histories not commonly presented in mainstream thought, are not somehow “bereft” of sources. Quite the opposite.

    The internet has not only allowed for many MORE sources, but has also served as a filtering tool eliminating faulty sources more quickly, by allowing for quality/accuracy checks, and research about any conflicts of interest that a source might have.

    The result has been the quality of the discussion in most cases, has gone up, even in the face of mass media attempts by partisan groups to advance wild theories (the Birthers come to mind). Some people will buy into the falsehoods — because there really IS a sucker born every minute — but more often than not, verification of truth versus manipulation or erroneous information has become easier, not harder.

    And Sunstein needs to consider helping to direct the Obama Administration to actually enforce real accountability of government officials, rather than trying some Orwellian infiltration of regular people's non-violent discussion groups.

    Beyond that infiltration being a fundamentally anti-American approach, there is the simple matter that “We the People” are not the problem. The powers that be, both in the corporate/banking world, and the whores who work for them in gov't are the problem (I'm looking at you, Senators). I would suggest Mr. Sunstein clean up the Beltway first. He's got a lot of Bushbot Fifth Columnists running about who were political appointees (supposed to leave office when a new administration took office) who were shuffled into what are supposed to be non-partisan public service positions that he SHOULD be worrying about, especially given their track record of screwing up the country.

  • honu

    Sounds like they're feeding right into the cliche conspiracy theory that the government is watching you. I'd probably be thought of as a conspiracy theorist at this point but I don't think I fall into the stereotype of one. At what point do evidence, facts and otherwise strong information for a belief become less a conspiracy and more truthful? Personally I still don't understand how the majority of Americans can believe the official story of 9-11. The fact that steel tower constructed buildings have never fallen due to fire (especially one that burns at less the temp of what steel melts at), the clear way the buildings collapsed indicating a controlled demolition, first hand accounts that there were explosions in the subbasement before the planes hit, the found traces of thermite which is a brand of chemical used in controlled demolitions at the towers site and wtc tower 7 falling without much damage was way more evidence, than I needed to form an opinion that at the very least the official story was complete and utter horsesh-t.

    • 5by5

      “Sounds like they're feeding right into the cliche conspiracy theory that the government is watching you.”

      See, right there is a prime example.

      The TRUTH is that the government IS watching you.

      When people first started talking about that with regards to the Bush Administration, they were treated like tin foil hat aficionados — but as it turns out, they were CORRECT.

      And indeed, the illegal wiretap program had not only been scooping up the calls, email traffic, and blog/BBS postings of all 300 million Americans, but the program had begin IN ADVANCE of 9/11.

      So once the program was revealed to be true, even the government's excuses ABOUT it were BS., because they claimed they were only doing it to prevent terrorism, Well it sure as hell didn't stop 9/11, even though it had been in effect since January 2001.

      But none of that information came out because of old-school investigative journalism by the MSM, it came from whistleblowers, and activist groups, and legal defense funds like EFF, and regular people investigating it on their own via the web.

      It was later only CONFIRMED by the MSM. They didn't do the hard work to begin with. They saw a parade going by, and then got in front of it and pretended they were leading it the whole time.

  • 5by5

    Moreover, what he should be asking is, “Why is it that ordinary people are having to go out and research this stuff AT ALLl?”

    Where is the independent press corps, that is SUPPOSED to serve the function of investigator?

    Oh, that's right, you geniuses deregulated the hell out of the ownership rules in that industry as well, and now only 5 mega-corps own every single means of mass media production controlling nearly everything Americans see, hear or read, and they are more interested in entertainment than news, and seek more to cut things like foreign bureaus or in-depth investigations to reduce such “externalities” that cost them money, but which the public absolutely relies upon.

    Perhaps if THOSE organizations were doing something other than talking about OJ, Britney's going commando, Tiger Wood's affairs, or the latest white girl disappearance, Americans would not only be better informed, but the government itself would be forced to run more efficiently and responsively, for fear of their less than honorable exploits being exposed.

  • http://disinfo.com/podcasts Joe

    Raymond, I knew this story, and that particular quote, would catch your eye like it caught mine. I think 5by5 brings up an interesting paradox: that the internet allows for so many *more* sources, and simultaneously acts “as a filtering tool eliminating faulty sources more quickly”. I'm not sure I buy the second part; I think that the sea of information makes it a lot easier to read many many more sources that agree with what I *want* to believe, validating my beliefs no matter how kooky they are. The answer, I think, is to resist belief altogether…on this view, believing *itself* is a kooky thing to do, regardless of whether or not the content of any given belief is considered 'true' (whatever that means).

    There are of course all kinds of problems with what Sunstein is proposing. The most telling line from his original article is this:

    “Our focus throughout [the paper] is on false conspiracy theories, not true ones.”

    Really???? So…how can I tell the difference? Whose 'truth' is really true? Alex Jones, World Net Daily, Jon Stewart, Sean Hannity, Obama, the MSM or Disinformation?

    Definitely read the original paper, here:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_I

    He quotes R.A. Wilson!!!

  • FergalR

    He also wanted to ban “The theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud.”

    Judicial Watch just got NASS GISS emails under FOI. It's not just the Limey boffins who are charlatans.

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/news/2010/jan/judi

  • Mok

    5by5 comments said everything i was thinking…thanks

    on a side note, has anyone encounter these infiltrators?

    the internet ones are easily discovered and deflected. the type i am most concerned with are in real life, going to peaceful protest and trying to start riots or whatever to give the authorities a reason to attack the otherwise peaceful protesters

  • I AdaM Ra

    Awakening is upon us, SEE IT…

  • I AdaM Ra

    Awakening is upon us, SEE IT…

21