Famous Dates of Conspiracy Theories (Possible 5GW Events)

5GW, or SecretWar, is a form of warfare that attacks an enemy’s observation capability. In a recent post, Purpeslog wrote (emphasis and link mine):

A 5GW operation will create conditions and contingencies to avoid detection by hiding among the crazies. I can see where parts of an operation might purposely be exposed and then linked with false information and crazy theories to discourage real investigation. All of this is aimed at the observation part of the OODA loop of the opponent.

In that vein, Adam of The Metropolis Times has just finished his series on conspiracy politics. On that note, six (possibly 5GW) dates that will live in history

5 thoughts on “Famous Dates of Conspiracy Theories (Possible 5GW Events)”

  1. he he!

    “5GW” is what I call it when I believe it. “Conspiracy theory” is what I call it when I don't. 🙂

    Not saying that you should believe all conspiracy theories. Or disbelieve all 5GW ones. But I am saying that you're not going to find a *principled* way of distinguishing conspiracy theories from 5GW hypotheses.

    In both cases the epistemological method will be the same :

    – look at large, diffuse data-sets about huge, complex systems.

    – come up with some hyotheses about who the “agents” are behind the scenes, and the lines of causality which fit the data.

    – publish them informally among a community of like-minded people who share roughly the same world view as you

    – get attacked and called names by people who don't share roughly the same world-view as you and who can “see” that you're “obviously” wrong about such agents or lines of causation

    – get a thick skin and keep pushing your world view, try to find more data that fits the pattern you claim to be seeing. (Although you'll never find enough.)

    – retreat into only talking to that group of people who share your world view

    Actually it's not funny at all unless we can break out of that last.

  2. Phil, what do you think of a Critical Theory [1] [2], or Boydian Critical Theory, as an epistemology for determining what is a 5GW and what is just a “conspiracy theory”? Just say that “true” is what interpretation helps you achieve your ends.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/05/03/an-epistemology-of-their-own-why-iraqis-should-embrace-criti.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/04/01/pnm-theory-is-critical-theory-that-s-a-good-thing.html

  3. **”5GW” is what I call it when I believe it. “Conspiracy theory” is what I call it when I don't. :-)**

    Heh. Knowledge of 5GW theory among ConspiracyTheoryBuffs will just re-enforce their irrational views making it easier for 5GW operators to hide their activities.

  4. 5GW…. I feel like I should be awarded a Bachelor's in poly sci just for reading tdaxp. (that's a good thing, I like poly sci)

    I actually find April 19/20 to be the most interesting date in conspiracy history:

    April 19, 1775 – American Revolutionary War begins. “Shot Heard Round the World.”

    April 20, 1889 – Adolf Hitler is born.

    April 19, 1933 – US abandons gold standard.

    April 19, 1943 – Nazis enter Warsaw Ghetto.

    April 20, 1953 – The CIA's Project BLUEBIRD is officially transitioned into Project MK-ULTRA.

    April 19, 1961 – Bay of Pigs.

    April 19, 1993 – Waco seige ends with the fire.

    April 19, 1995 – Oklahoma City bombing.

    April 20, 1999 – Columbine massacre.

  5. dan. Your piece on critical theory is very interesting.

    Personally, I'm a pretty hardcore Popperian “critical rationalist” (no relation) so I'm generally suspicious of critical theory.

    But I ran your piece past a friend who *does* subscribe to some version of it. His comment was that you make it sound like CT means you fix your political objectives and then adapt your epistemological method to fit them.

    But, of course, there's feedback from each to the other. Everything affects everything else. In CT your ethical commitments can neither be more nor less fixed than your factual beliefs. They are as likely to be changed when your facts change as the other way around. (Because they're made of the same internal “stuff” : concepts.)

    Otherwise you really are guilty of simple wishful thinking.

    There's a big difference between admitting that all factual hypotheses need to be expressed with concepts, and that concepts are always flavoured by politics; and thinking that factual hypotheses do (or should) play *second-fiddle* to political projects.

    I'm pretty sure you'd want to reject the following characterization of the discussion :

    phil : “there's no principled distinction to be made between a 5GW hypothesis and a conspiracy theory”

    dan : “the principle is that 5GW hypotheses are the ones that advance my political agenda and the conspiracy theories don't”


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