Daily Archives: May 14, 2012

LIONEL FREE PODCAST: A Gratis Introductory Lesson in Legal Mind Expansion and Controlled-Contained Jocosity

The ultimate tautology: a free gift. The following podcast is gratis. Free. On the house. You’re welcome.

The intellectual buzzkill. The best way to get folks to look the other way is to refer to their ideas and thoughts as conspiracy theories. It’s a deal breaker and means nothing actually.

“In the United States today, the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ functions as a sort of giant cudgel, used to scare us out of talking openly about a broad (and ever-growing) range of scandals that the powerful cannot afford to let the people comprehend.” — Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Culture and Communication, New York University

“Apparently, ‘conspiracy stuff’ is now shorthand for unspeakable truth.” — Gore Vidal

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m a conspiracy analyst.” — Gore Vidal

“‘It is an article of faith that there are no conspiracies in American life.” — Gore Vidal

The most dangerous man you’ve never heard of. And then there’s this beaut. Commit this guy’s name to memory, Google it. Never forget it. It’s by that lover of liberty Cass Sunstein, Sam the Sham Powers’s old man.

What can government do about conspiracy theories? Among the things it can do, what should it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5).

Sunstein, Cass R. and Vermeule, Adrian, Conspiracy Theories (January 15, 2008). Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 08-03; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 199; U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 387. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

Weather I’m right … . You want to predict the weather; I’d rather control it.