Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, recently suggested that the feds should "cognitively infiltrate" conspiracy theorist hang-outs and anti-government groups online. Over at Huffington Post, former BB guestblogger Arthur Goldwag
, author of the fantastic book Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies
, lays out why the government "shouldn't resort to secret agents and bought-and-paid-for claques and shills and ringers to promote its ideas." From HuffPo:
Sunstein's proposal was not issued under the auspices of the government, but in an academic paper. Co-authored with Harvard Law School Professor Adrian Vermeule and published in The Journal of Political Philosophy in 2008 (it can be downloaded as a PDF file here), "Conspiracy Theory" surveys the existing scholarship on the origins and characteristics of conspiracy theories and contemplates whether or not governments should try to neutralize them. In general, it takes a social sciences approach, arguing that conspiracy theories are neither legitimate political ideas nor symptoms of a psychological disorder, but are rather the inevitable distortions of closed-off, self-reinforcing belief systems. Using government agents to inject "cognitive diversity" into those communities, it suggests, just might provide the body politic with an antidote to the thought contagions they inspire.
"Cass Sunstein's Thought Police"
Looking for a tiny PC that still has space for a gaming-quality video card? SFF PC Cases is a remarkably detailed spreadsheet listing dozens of models, complete with cost, dimensions, volume and even important build tips. The very smallest are not practical for powerful builds, but the critical “Maximum GPU length” field is right there […]
Enjoy Michael Mullany’s review of the Gartner Hype Cycle, with all the things tech predictors got right and all the things they got wrong: “we’re terrible at making predictions.” Lesson 6: Some technologies keep receding into the future There are some notable technologies that recur on the Hype Cycle and every time they appear they […]
Why we secretly love our cords. Tamara Warren: There’s a certain security in the cord. It’s the idea of connection, perhaps even dating back to our days in the womb. … A battery, no matter how sophisticated, is fleeting. When we have our cords with us, we are in constant pursuit of power, even when […]
Toaster ovens are the perfect appliance for small things like toasted sandwiches and roasted garlic (try it!), but anything more involved usually requires a full-sized conventional oven.However, despite its small size, the Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven can handle anything from baked pastries to broiled meats. This kitchen appliance has a minimal countertop footprint, and cooks […]
The Pry.Me Bottle Opener holds tens of thousands of times its own weight, and you can pick one up now from the Boing Boing Store.This remarkable keychain is considerably smaller than any of your keys, but don’t let that fool you: it can easily open any bottle, and could even tow a trailer full of […]
Guaranteeing your privacy online goes way beyond checking the “Do Not Track” option in your browser’s settings. To ensure that your internet activity is totally hidden from Internet Service Providers, advertisers, and other prying eyes, take a look at Windscribe’s VPN protection. It usually costs $7.50 per month, but you can get a 3-year subscription […]