## The Mathematics of Conspiracy

This interesting study tries to build a mathematical model for the continued secrecy of conspiracies, and tries to predict how long before they will be revealed to the general public, either wittingly or unwittingly.

The equation developed by Dr Grimes, a post-doctoral physicist at Oxford, relied upon three factors: the number of conspirators involved, the amount of time that has passed, and the intrinsic probability of a conspiracy failing.

He then applied his equation to four famous conspiracy theories: The belief that the Moon landing was faked, the belief that climate change is a fraud, the belief that vaccines cause autism, and the belief that pharmaceutical companies have suppressed a cure for cancer.

Dr Grimes’s analysis suggests that if these four conspiracies were real, most are very likely to have been revealed as such by now.

Specifically, the Moon landing “hoax” would have been revealed in 3.7 years, the climate change “fraud” in 3.7 to 26.8 years, the vaccine-autism “conspiracy” in 3.2 to 34.8 years, and the cancer “conspiracy” in 3.2 years.

He also ran the model against two actual conspiracies: the NSA’s PRISM program and the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

From the paper:

Abstract: Conspiratorial ideation is the tendency of individuals to believe that events and power relations are secretly manipulated by certain clandestine groups and organisations. Many of these ostensibly explanatory conjectures are non-falsifiable, lacking in evidence or demonstrably false, yet public acceptance remains high. Efforts to convince the general public of the validity of medical and scientific findings can be hampered by such narratives, which can create the impression of doubt or disagreement in areas where the science is well established. Conversely, historical examples of exposed conspiracies do exist and it may be difficult for people to differentiate between reasonable and dubious assertions. In this work, we establish a simple mathematical model for conspiracies involving multiple actors with time, which yields failure probability for any given conspiracy. Parameters for the model are estimated from literature examples of known scandals, and the factors influencing conspiracy success and failure are explored. The model is also used to estimate the likelihood of claims from some commonly-held conspiratorial beliefs; these are namely that the moon-landings were faked, climate-change is a hoax, vaccination is dangerous and that a cure for cancer is being suppressed by vested interests. Simulations of these claims predict that intrinsic failure would be imminent even with the most generous estimates for the secret-keeping ability of active participants­—the results of this model suggest that large conspiracies (≥1000 agents) quickly become untenable and prone to failure. The theory presented here might be useful in counteracting the potentially deleterious consequences of bogus and anti-science narratives, and examining the hypothetical conditions under which sustainable conspiracy might be possible.

Lots on the psychology of conspiracy theories here.

EDITED TO ADD (3/12): This essay debunks the above research.

This might be a revelation. Can anyone confirm, please?
Unfortunately, i need to relay the following info that has come to my attention since November, 2015 which i stumbled upon by happenstance. Am hoping the community here may help.

Enformable exposes commenter’s email addresses. WARNED OVER 90 DAYS AGO! 🙁 – previously posted details -> http://enformable.com/2015/12/inside-the-chernobyl-unit-4-control-room/#comment-28741
I did send him a tip via his seemingly insecure tip line on November 27, 2015 – to no avail.

Since it was “moderated” and apparently ignored, here it is: http://pastebin.com/uz9Uymeb

It would seem that i was incorrect about those email addresses not showing up on Internet Archive – The Wayback Machine! :O For Example: (from Jan 29, 2014) http://web.archive.org/web/20140129091014/http://enformable.com/about-us/ CaptD’s email address is there. Load the page, right click on a commenter’s avatar image, then select “View Image Info” (Firefox). Look at “Associated Text” & voila!

Say, wasn’t Jan 2014 around the time when Jp.gov state secretes act passed like bad gas? :/

Quote: “My name is Lucas Whitefield Hixson, and I am an Information Architect based out of Chicago Illinois.” … “After my education, I joined the United States Army, where I learned how to apply the core Army values to my work ethics.” … “I am very much a product of my environment …” http://web.archive.org/web/20110417135356/http://www.lucaswhitefieldhixson.com/about-me

WHOIS info: Quote: “Registrant Name: Lucas Hixson, Registrant Organization: Compass North Development Group, Registrant Street: 1121 W Columbia Ave Ste 3, Registrant City: Chicago, Registrant State/Province: Illinois” http://whois.stsoftware.biz/enformable-com.htm

Further: http://www.databreaches.net/swedes-uncover-disqus-user-security-breach/https://kevtownsend.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/what-lessons-should-we-learn-from-the-disqus-security-breach/ comment by antipathy: “Researchgruppen refers to itself as “the Swedish Stasi” and judging by their behaviour their aim appears to be absolute control of the social\political narrative.” Does that sound typical of any OTHER group? Hmmm.

Disqus is NOT the only platform that appears involved. Dated 2009-12-08 !!! – http://www.developer.it/post/gravatars-why-publishing-your-email-s-hash-is-not-a-good-idea

Quote from Mochizuki’s Cbox: “22 Jan 16, 12:11 PM morph: dud, first i didn’t get the problem you described about wordpress pages. but after looking at the source code of the page” [Firefox – Highlight area, then Right-Click & select “View Selection Source”] “, i got it.. bad piece of software.. on the other side, i don’t use any “important”/private mail addresses when commenting on pages” [sage advice, imho]

What could one do with merely an email address? IDK. https://kevtownsend.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/disqus-breach-irs-theft-fraudulently-obtained-credit-reports-and-political-coercion-in-sweden/ Yikes!!!

“Goggle” “IRS data breach”, or something similar and you might have more appreciation for perhaps why some commenters do not last.

Somebody (else) PLEASE TELL ENFORMABLE TO STOP!!!! I tried, and only minimal changes occurred, for whatever reason.
Shouldn’t he know better?

Speaking of the so-called Swedish-stasi, the real stasi were outed long ago. “East German Police Officers Who Aided the Stasi” http://cryptome.info/bdvp-stasi.htm http://cryptome.org/stasi-list.htm

Catch those little foxes whom spoil the vines!!

Paperino March 2, 2016 2:07 PM

Umberto Eco kind of predicted this in an article last year (sorry in Italian):
http://www.repubblica.it/cultura/2015/06/27/news/come_vincere_l_ossessione_dei_complotti_fasulli-117835911/

He says that:
1) if there is a secret, even if known by a single person, it will eventually be revealed (in bed to a lover, etc.)
2) if there is a secret, it can eventually be bought for a reasonable enough amount of money
The lack of a deep throat usually weakens the conspiracy theory by a lot.
All real conspiracies have been usually discovered pretty fast. Fascinating

1035-960-ology March 2, 2016 2:36 PM

Second-rate academics churn this stuff out as precisely-stereotyped boilerplate. The specs include:

1. Treat the ‘conspiracy’ proposition purely as ideation or belief. Never treat it as a process of inductive logic. For example, do not compare how ‘conspiracy theorists’ and normal people compile and interpret real evidence.
2. Treat conspiracies in general to taint supported opinions by association with improbable, comical ones.
3. Use the conclusions for far-fetched logical leaps that can be used to impugn accusations of state crime by argumentum ad verecundiam. A recent example was hunting for associations among the big five personality traits to pathologize support for unauthorized opinions.
4. “Someone would have talked.” That’s the gimmick here. By using an undergrad intro model to tart up the slogan with numbers, the author can avoid the point that lots of people have talked. The state suppresses or sits on the evidence. Forensic-grade testimony and documentation of state crime is overwhelming in at least the cases of US government wilful killing of JFK, MLK, RFK, at OKC and the WTC (twice).

Note how the ‘hypothetical conditions under which sustainable conspiracy might be possible’ get scoped to exclude impunity. “determinations authorized by this [Intelligence operations and cover enhancement authority] section to be made by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency or the Director’s designee shall be final and conclusive and shall not be subject to review by any court.” Nobody’s talking about conspiracy except CIA. We’re talking about CIA doing whatever they want and getting away with it.

Peanuts March 2, 2016 3:30 PM

He should have added Bengazi and the related email political coverup.

It’s actually the stupid factor, an un-patch able moment in time for which no added input can change the conclusion and causality

So he invented a stupid detector, he’s going to be rich!

Peanuts

wumpus March 2, 2016 3:40 PM

I guess it works fine for any conspiracy that can fall prey to the “Pelican Brief” fallacy. That is, if somebody, somewhere knows the complete answer and can communicate it to the public, the conspiracy falls apart. Of course, the paper is sufficiently supplied with various conspiracies that work for and against this.

Consider a vastly more common “conspiracy” to fix prices in a relatively small market: a single actor is unlikely to produce a “smoking gun” that shows exactly how the prices were rigged (the silicon valley hiring scandal appears unique). Occasionally there are trials about such things, but sometimes it appears to punish markets that occasionally allow competition on price (I suppose that this is due to the existence of competitive data to compare the fixed prices against, but in practice it is depressing).

It might be interesting to determine how many other conspiracies exist. Once that number is computed (no suggestions as to how this would be done), the next question is to how many of these are suspected conspiracies (existing out with other extreme memes) and how many aren’t suspected at all. I’m guessing that PRISM was pretty much expected by anyone paying attention to things like the PATRIOT act (which pretty much authorized it), while the others were less expected (I’m sure blacks who lived through that ere weren’t surprised, although I hope it still unexpected).

Anybody know what the graphs of what the Transmeta corp was doing during its “quiet time” were? For those that don’t remember, transmeta was a bubble-era startup that produced chips that emulated x86 chips at low power consumption: the big difference is that they were a fairly high profile startup that were able to keep the above absolutely secret until the big reveal (actually the CEO blew the secret the day before the announcement). It might be a useful means of calibrating assumptions about rho and phi.

milkshake March 2, 2016 3:45 PM

Multi-parameter computer models based on real-world examples are good enough only for analyzing problems that are very close to the examples used as a training set for building the model. Even then, one gains just a superficial understanding, which could easily be false understanding. For example – “Most criminals are dumb” conclusion comes from observation that prisons are full of dumb criminals. If you use set of known solved and unsolved crimes for the training set of your model, you have still excluded from your data set a subset of unsolved crimes that were done so skillfully (or so luckily) that no-one ever found out, or the victims of the crime were unable to report it for various reasons. The same goes for really good conspiracies.

I think insider trading, price fixing and bid-rigging level of conspiracies is a common part of everyday business. But complicated high level conspiracies are hard to keep secret, and to execute. And yet, we have seen two major wars – Vietnam war and second Iraq war – started on bullshit Casus belli and the account of OBL assassination turned out to be a complete fabrication too. These conspiracies (which involved very large number of government officials and security personnel) were holding quite well, despite the fact that high level politicians and bureaucrats presiding over the conspiracy were idiots.

Rob Corelli March 2, 2016 3:48 PM

Alert the media! The evidence is mounting that climate change is a conspiracy and a fraud. Just sayin’.

The idea that “conspiracies can’t ever be true because a large number of people can’t keep secrets” is proven conclusively false with the Jimmy Saville saga. Lots of people, including politicians and police, knew what he was up to, there were countless rumours, lots of victims reported him, and yet his crimes remained generally secret for decades. Libel law, fear of self-recrimination, self-interest on a grand scale, indifference, fear of violence, the idea that something is too absurd to be true etc etc are all factors in keeping stories like his hidden.

Security March 2, 2016 4:45 PM

3 of the 4 examples given (climate, vaccines, cancer) do NOT NECESSARILY require a massive deliberate conspiracy, for the mainstream viewpoint to be false. It could be simply innocently false, just like the “conspiracies” that the earth was flat or that the sun revolved around the earth were held for quite a while, and not that many centuries ago. This could taint this kind of study, and invalidate their examples and therefore their conclusions as well.

wumpus March 2, 2016 4:46 PM

@Milkshake
Why in the world would you expect aggressors to be able to routinely find non-bs causes belli? You also forgot the bit about neonatal care in Kuwait.

@Tony
Jimmy Saville seems to be the “exception that proves the rule”. One of the biggest differences between Mr. Saville’s situation and the typical government conspiracy is that he died and governments tend to keep going (and often the next inherits the PR issues of the previous). We learned pretty much everything the Nazis were doing, largely because the allies scooped up all the data and it was in their interest to publish. Pretty much everything will likely be able to punish those interested in exposing conspiracies for the foreseeable future.

albert March 2, 2016 5:49 PM

Grimes has a bug up his ass about vaccines. (See his website) As a physicist, he’s well qualified to be a cancer researcher as well. He’s probably looking for that magic bullet vaccine to cure all cancers. Good luck with that, douchebag – it’s not gonna happen.

If you’re going to discuss conspiracy theories, you’re gonna need some hard data about how many folks actually believe in them, and why. Public opinion polls aren’t good enough. They are easily (and often) tainted by the wording of the questions. Skepti-bunkers are well trained in this art (as are the proponents of those theories).

The idea of quantifying social behavior is stupid to begin with, let alone creating ‘models’ that result in probabilities that are as useless as tits on a boar hog.

Now they want to create ‘models’ that will calculate the probabilities of folks becoming active terrorists.

“We’re arresting you on suspicion of possibly becoming a terrorist, according to our computer models. You have the right to remain silent, but doing so will imply guilt*…”
……………

• I revised Miranda a little. I can predict the future too.
. .. . .. — ….

This paper is deeply flawed; the simplicity of its mathematical model aside, its conclusions directly contradicts experience.

For example, consider the Manhattan Project. This involved around 129,000 workers, of whom a 1945 Life article estimated that before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings “probably no more than a few dozen men in the entire country knew the full meaning of the Manhattan Project, and perhaps only a thousand others even were aware that work on atoms was involved.” The magazine wrote that over 100,000 others employed on the project “worked like moles in the dark”.

I’m not aware of any estimates of the size of Operation Gladio, but that went undetected for about 36 years, and probably involved (at least) thousands of people.

A comment by Canadian biologist Michael Pyshnov challenging the simplistic nature of “exposure” was quickly removed without comment. The official US legal process has concluded that the assassinations of MLK and JFK were most likely not the work of “lone nuts” – so does that mean these conspiracies have been “exposed”?…

Thoughtmaybe had an interesting documentary on the
effects of the aluminum moderator used in vaccines.
There are people who this has really nasty effects
on. Now screening those who receive vaccines and
only giving the normal commercial vaccines to those
who are not effected and offering unmoderated vaccine
to those whose genetic makeup makes them susceptible
might put an end to the bad science on both sides of
the debate.

Climate change could also benefit from a lot less of
the bullshit rhetoric used by folks who want to make
the science into bad politics on both sides of the
debates.

The most dangerous conspiracies are in plain sight
not hidden in some smoke filled room full of old
crooks.

next generation wth student loans while fleecing them
in exchange for a worthless piece of paper.

a world spanning empire of voyeurism that would make
the catholic confessional/inquisition cry with envy.

How about Rupert Murdoch and his ilk deciding what you
get to see and hear while stripping away the heritage
of humanity in the interests of intellectual property
rights ?

I’m glad someone can detect conspiracies, I feel safer

David Days March 2, 2016 10:33 PM

Looks like I’m swimming against the tide here, but my question is this: Suppose it is a bad model, with flaws (and it may be). Do you have a better one?

When dealing with humans, individually or as a group, it’s always difficult to encapsulate behavior patterns. Economists have been trying to do this for something as simple as spending money, and the best that the good ones have is a fairly static set of modeling tools that simplify the hell out of reality…mostly because it gets really messy.

Assuming that a person has a 0.0005% chance of breaking a conspiracy is a helluva simplification–that comes out to about 157 seconds/year of exposing the conspiracy: What if the person finds out the conspiracy will harm their kids/parents/dog and they have a change of heart? What if they are a true believer and would happily kill fellow conspirators who are in the midst of those 157 seconds? Are people wanting to expose the conspiracy, but after being stuck in the john for about 2.6 minutes, they change their minds?

I think some of the critiques are legitimate, but wholesale dismissal of the attempt is a little heavy-handed. For example, instead of “conspiracy”, what about applying the concepts (and maybe the math) to “security”? The likelihood of a severe security breach depends on how many people you have working for you, how likely an group or subgroup member is going to breach the security of the system (bank, password, HIPAA data, etc), and what depth of harm can come from that breach.

It may not be the perfect model, but I see it as a good baseline to start from.

nick james March 2, 2016 10:40 PM

this is the same problem as ensuring data security. eg. the NHS in the UK needs to conspire to keep patients data secret. given that more than 1000 people have access you can kiss confidentiality good bye.

@nick james,

given that more than 1000 people have access you can kiss confidentiality good bye.

Privacy and Confidentiality are two promiscuous “things” that were kissed “good bye”[1] a 1000 times. You want Confidentiality? “Good bye” 🙂

[1] “good bye” is an alteration of God be with you, date: circa 1580

Clive Robinson March 3, 2016 12:00 AM

@ Ben Franklin,

Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

Is “so last year”…

Have you not heard the FBI are forcing “deadmen’s secrets” out with the AWA and other peoples Trade Secrets…

Makes one wonder what model the US government used to declassify information after 25, 50, or 75 years have passed. Doesn’t seem the number of people involved was a factor.

As far as the study, it seems rational to use a Poisson distribution as the basis for modeling such event. Estimating the probability of “intentional” and “unintentional” leakage requires a large sample space. The whole thing is just a SWAG 🙂

Vesselin Bontchev March 3, 2016 3:26 AM

Vaccines do cause autism and “climate change” is a fraud – but they aren’t conspiracies.

The daughter of friends of ours has severe autism and the doctors openly agree that it is the result of complications caused by a vaccine when she was very young. The point is – these cases are rare and the negative effects caused (rarely!) by vaccines are heavily outweighed by the positive effects (stopping epidemics and saving the lives of many people).

“Climate change” is a misnomer, intentionally chosen to cloud the actual issue. Nobody in their right mind denies the fact that the climate keeps changing. What people who have studied the issue impartially are denying is the so-called “anthropogenic global warming” – i.e., that the climate is getting warmer, that it is caused by human activity, and that it will have negative effects. The truth is that the global temperatures have not increased for about two decades already, that there is no proven relationship between human activities and the increase of temperatures during the periods when they have actually been increasing, and that the temperatures have been much higher in the past which has coincided with flourishing of the human civilization (the Minoan and Roman periods). But there is no “conspiracy to hide that climate change is a fraud”, there are just bad scientists doing bad science who are rewarded with grants influenced by politicians who just see the opportunity to collect more money for “carbon dioxide credits” or whatever. It happens right there in the open, not in a secret conspiracy.

Check “International Law” and how it evolved and much is revealed about ‘Conspiracy’

Mind Map: http://www.courtofrecord.org.uk/USA/

Questions to get you thinking:

Name a superpower that extended from Spain to Indonesia, threatened Europe and which ceased to exist in 1920?

What does Jesus Christ have to do with the fall of the Roman Empire and the U.S. Constitution?

What does the Magna Carta have to do with U.S. Courts? More here: http://1215.org/ http://1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/foundation.htm

Did you know that hiring a lawyer gives evidence to the Judge that you cannot read and write or defend yourself?

Did you know that hiring a Chartered Accountant gives evidence to the Judge that you cannot count, and are therefore innumerate?

Did you know that men and women who cannot read, write and count are legal idiots? An idiot is a full time lunatic.

Now revisit the mind map http://www.courtofrecord.org.uk/USA/

mike~acker March 3, 2016 6:26 AM

it doesn’t matter much whether the conspiracy has been exposed–
what matters is the response

the government maintains adamantly that the Warren Commission investigation into the Kennedy killing is correct in its findings.

it’s my impression that most people don’t buy it

and the response is: a serious hit against government credibility

the same is true for many other boondoggles

the response is becoming evident in the Trump Campaign: turn the rascals out.

“the belief that climate change is a fraud”

This completely discredits the post doctorate’s study with me.

Dr. Groins March 3, 2016 8:23 AM

How long it would take before the truth about some fake research by a “scientist” to cover up the moon landing hoax was revealed to the public?

Dirk Praet March 3, 2016 8:34 AM

@ Vesselin Bontchev

Vaccines do cause autism and “climate change” is a fraud

And while we’re at it:

• Masturbation causes blindness
• Blondes and redheads are going extinct
• All Muslims are fundamentalists
• Albert Einstein failed mathematics in school
• Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis
• Banks have their customers’ best interests in mind
• Our politicians know what they’re doing
• Macs are immune to viruses
• Invading Iraq was a good idea
• Earth is 10,000 years old
• The NSA is not conducting mass surveillance

Reading the paper, it’s a) pretty clear that their model is wrong at the micro level and b) that probably doesn’t affect the conclusions about big conspiracy theories. They deliberately overestimate the number of people “in the know” and underestimate the amount of work required to maintain a conspiracy to get a lower bound on the per-person probability of information being leaked. Any real-world conspiracy would almost certainly be bound to have much worse performance.

Of course, what happens when the information gets out is quite another matter. It’s quite possible for it to be ignored, or suppressed, or simply not acted on in a way that makes a big splash. But for the widely-supported, relatively profitable conspiracy theories in question that again seems less likely.

Nick P March 3, 2016 11:44 AM

Another example of academic nonsense on the topic of studying conspiracies. By their own measurements, the Snowden leaks probably would’ve happened across the board in a few years. They didn’t. Matter of fact, most of the hundreds to thousands of people involved have kept their mouth shut with just a handful talking. The original program took around a decade to get out. And their Type 1 and TEMPEST guides are still a secret after a few decades.

Note: I’m still waiting for the full details on MKULTRA that Director Helms destroyed before the Congressional investigation. That was in the 1960’s. When will the redacted names turn up per their model?

So, nonsense altogether. What these academics do is ignore all real-world activity that mimicks conspiracy theory and actual conspiracies we know about that haven’t had a full reveal. They also focus on stuff without evidence or straight-up wild to make a strawman baseline. The combo leads to conclusions that don’t apply in the real world. Further, academic work like this is dangerous to people as it marginalizes people who might bring criminal activity to their attention. I recall being called a conspiracy nut when I said NSA was hitting Linux kernel with secret 0-days per my models. But someone would’ve talked or reported it they said. (eye roll)

For those interested in reality, I wrote an essay a while back showing conspiracy was a common form of human activity rather than an outlier:

On the Legitimacy of Conspiracy Theory

Follow up comment addresses dealing with government ones. Recall that there are thousands of people in U.S. government right now working under official secrecy on attacks, spying, technologies supporting those, regime change, etc. Most of this doesn’t leak out with people’s bios that have classified information being an exception. The baseline is that the government can keep secrets very well for as long as is relevant. They’re not as incompetent as people think. It’s about selecting people well, telling them the right stuff, making them feel loyalty to the group (elitism too), rewarding their compliance, and stiff penalties (Espionage Act) for noncompliance. Works like a charm to the point people like me follow breadcrumbs of evidence piecing things together.

@Nick P,

The combo leads to conclusions that don’t apply in the real world.

That’s what some Ph.D’s are good at. The math maybe good, but the model is shot.

Do you remember this prominent set of sour Ph.D’s who didn’t pass the litmus test[1]?

[1] Litmus, sour, pH… Get it? 🙂

Curious March 3, 2016 12:26 PM

I would think that strategic goals are the simplest forms of conspiracy, because strategic goals would really be “one-way-conspiracies” (I made that up just now), with no gain other than seeing a goal being achieved. So who really knows why an armed conflict was started.

This notion of ‘one-way-conspiracies’ would akin to there being ulterior motives (for someone, or for some people), but with no traceable condition between planning and effect. An absurdity in having no explicit desire for achieving something in particular, yet somehow end up benefit from “it”.

Presumably, such a type of conspiracy is very common in a bureaucracy and maybe other organizations.

Generally speaking, I think the wars that USA are involved in, can only exist as wars of populism, even though own side populace has nothing to gain from it, while other parties do.

Curious March 3, 2016 12:38 PM

To add to what I wrote:

Btw, because people can team up and work towards a common goal, any say in the choice of methods or the means to achieve that goal might very well be out of the hands of most conspirators in this context, leaving such a responsibility to maybe just one person, or maybe even to none, having sort of deferred action and consequences to random or predictable forces that is out of ones control.

Presumably, there is but one thing required to so to speak create an ensemble of conspirators, and that is to invoke a responsibility of people having to had known what the consequences would be.

I don’t mean to be a prick, but what’s with “Tuskegee syphilis experiment Tuskegee syphilis experiment”?

(or a prick prick, for that matter, but I do have to make an effort not to be one)

Curious March 3, 2016 5:08 PM

I remember a part of this documentary “The Ringworm Children”, in which an old man says something like: “I don’t think they wanted to hurt us, but I do think they experimented on us.”

@ Eagle-Eye Miguel

Re: “Tuskegee syphilis experiment Tuskegee syphilis experiment

Apparently a clerical error during registration which later proved too costly to amend by the book, and, anyway, it just happened to underline the… stereo nature of the infected regions.

Nick P March 3, 2016 5:42 PM

@ Wael

You’re too cruel man. Least me getting my hands dirty proved out many of the recommendations I make here. Hammering away a C app on Autotools might have taken time and many headaches. Mine worked very first time by wrapping/testing third party stuff, safe language, subsetting of it, design by contract, formal specs, and refinement to code. 😉

Conspiracist March 3, 2016 6:23 PM

Horrible study. Terrible science.

Cassandra wrote:

Bruce, that Grimes paper is not well founded.

There’s a fairly accurate take-down here:

http://littleatoms.com/david-grimes-conspiracy-theory-maths

• ludicrously low data set

Three, four data samples to try and make conclusions? That is as “scientific” as believing that the moon landing was faked.

Conspiracies are all over the place. Intelligence and organized crime run by conspiracies. For one. Mom and dad and the truth about sex is a conspiracy kept from children. Or santa claus.

Anywhere people get together in secret and work, that could be said to be a “conspiracy”. What are other factors? If they do so, working against others? Happens in every family, in every business. In competitive athletics and science. People do conspiracies for sex, religion, and social kicks, as well.

Four point five million Americans have clearance, keep secrets. Plenty of secret projects never get out. How many more have state level secrets across the world?

Twenty million Americans were affected with the OPM hack. Perhaps because it did not just have those currently cleared, but those cleared over the past fifteen years. How many living in America alone have had clearance, then? The population is only 300 million. Again, how many then, globally, live today with state level secrets, alone?

There are secrets too big to believe. There are secrets too small to care about.

There are a lot of qualities about conspiracies that would have to be taken into account to even begin such work.

Many conspiracies are guessed at or rumored about before they make the front pages and concrete proof is provided. Many conspiracies are learned about by foreign intelligence services long before they make the front pages. Many conspiracies would never make the front pages because they are either too difficult to believe, or too small.

Many “true to life” movies, in fact, have had facts altered simply because the true story was too coincidental or otherwise strange to be found plausible.

People are terribly irrational and biased. They believe what they want to believe based on their preferences. So, there is no truth.

People are terrible at figuring out secrets. Absolutely terrible.

The conspiracy theorists help the conspiracists. The anti-conspiracy theorists help the conspiracists too.

The cops and spies and scientists hunting for conspiracies help the conspiracists.

And the ones on their own team skeptical of their work help the conspiracists.

I will say it again.

People are terrible at figuring out secrets. Absolutely terrible.

Mark Mayer March 3, 2016 9:52 PM

@Clive Robinson
If the FBI wins their case re: the San Bernardino terrorists, that might be better put: two can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

Which reminds me: I came a across a brief discussion where one of the debaters stated that Cold War proxy fights only occurred in places where the parties could afford to lose. If they couldn’t afford it, they’d let the other side know in no uncertain terms, and there would be no proxy war.

Keeping in mind that Apple has no nukes as far as we know, the Obama administration certainly picked a proxy fight it could afford to lose in the SB terrorist case. If the current court or a higher one decide against the government, no big deal. If they didn’t know for sure, they can guess with a very high level of confidence that there is nothing useful on the phone. In losing, they don’t lose anything. Meanwhile, they stand to win a great deal if they can rile the pubic, a public emotionally on edge from the reality programming we call “election year”.

@Wael

## I am far too debased to understand your acid wit

I’ll take a whack at question #2

V.A.L.I.S.

by Philip K Dick. “The Empire never ended” explains why Philip has the experience of being a member of a messianic cult hunted by Roman legionaries overlaying his normal life in Orange County. The overlay is so vivid that he can understand the language spoken in the overlay world. Later, he learns that it is Koine Greek, a lingua franca in the Roman Empire. This experience is triggered by seeing a Christian fish symbol while undergoing terrible pain from an abscesses tooth. Also, an alien satellite might be communicating with you by shooting pink beams of light into your third eye. Hopefully your hair doesn’t start falling out.

That’s not my favorite PKD story, though. I think my favorite is

A Scanner Darkly

## , where an undercover narcotics officer who’s cover identity (Bob) is unknown to his superiors is ordered to target himself because he (the cover identity) has been acting suspiciously. As the officer becomes increasingly split between his two identities, he realizes that his superiors are right. There is definitely something suspicious about Bob.

I’m very tempted to reveal what I know about the real conspiracy, but I’m worried about their reaction. They know I know, as I well know, but pretending I don’t know seems to be rule one. Maybe I’ll camouflage it as a joke. Like I’m doing now. 😉

Conspiracist March 3, 2016 10:04 PM

@David Days

Looks like I’m swimming against the tide here, but my question is this: Suppose it is a bad model, with flaws (and it may be). Do you have a better one?

I think some of the critiques are legitimate, but wholesale dismissal of the attempt is a little heavy-handed. For example, instead of “conspiracy”, what about applying the concepts (and maybe the math) to “security”? The likelihood of a severe security breach depends on how many people you have working for you, how likely an group or subgroup member is going to breach the security of the system (bank, password, HIPAA data, etc), and what depth of harm can come from that breach.

It may not be the perfect model, but I see it as a good baseline to start from.

Statistical modelling is essential to security. I do not see anyone dismissing this wholesale. Frankly, I consider this a “conspiracy theory” forum, my own self. Even if some posters obviously are either engaged in conspiracies, or “fmr”.

The problem is his definition of “conspiracy”, which is abysmal. And his data samples used for modelling. What else is there.

It makes a mockery of himself and the site, which some scientists are against. (The site where he posted it is trying to create a sort of open disclosure standard for scientific studies, not unlike what we in computer security have done with full disclosure. You know, having real peer reviews, instead of having everything be vetted and controlled by corporations and governments and not easily repeated or challenged.)

None of the people here have to have a phd with a distinguished college to make these observations. The observations stand.

Some of them have even touted ludicrous conspiracy theories as truth, yet their arguments stand. So transparent and piecemeal was the author’s work.

It was a blatant disregard for the very art of conspiracy.

Which, no doubt, offends, both conspiracy theorist and conspiracy activist alike on such boards as these. 🙂 🙂

People who are involved in conspiracies especially see such dubious attempts as dim witted. There are pretensions to intelligence. It is bad grifting, is what it is. So, some kid had his way paid for him through college. That anybody buys this just says how bad of suckers people really are.

Real conspiracies do go on, all the time. Who can study them? Intelligence and military organizations might have some grasp on their own successful projects. If they could organize them all. Or be privy to the most important ones.

And even then, they would have broken sample sets. Just from their own organization. Other organizations may try different spins on the matter, with entirely better and worse results.

The conspiracy not a few are involved in goes on for decades. And from that, they have many smaller conspiracies. How many of these do you think that Dr Grimes has run across, unawares? How many run in his academic circles, maybe just at the fringes? How many have shook his hand? How many have sipped tea across from him, or taught and sat in the classroom down the hall? He would not know.

The unsuccessful conspiracies, that is, are the ones which are caught. How do you prove the unknown? Even if you wish to work from FOIA documents, memoirs, court cases… usually, what you are operating from is half truths, partial truths, if truths at all. Why do those cases surface in the first place? Because there was some manner of error about them, or some reason they were able to be released in the first place which means they lacked value.

Those points said, you are correct, there are a lot of facets of conspiracies which could be cobbled together for a successful, strong theory.

Pointing out that “the more people involved”, however, and reducing that to a mathematical formula is not new. While I am not sure who invented it, it was an important plot point in Death Note, a Japanese manga. I believe I read of it in a book decades ago, but am not sure. We also know there is a well known concept that ‘the more complicated a system, the more likely it is to failure’.

Yet, there are conspiracies with many, and very complicated systems that do run, quite well, without failure.

Because conspiracies have many junctures of fault tolerance.

How do you breed in fault tolerance? What are the many ways?

One can start to easily enough list a few… one of the more tried and true method is 24/7 surveillance of “anyone who knows”, and “let them know they are being surveilled in casual ways that are impossible to confront”.

Fear is another partial point of fault tolerance.

Surveillance can be used to control others and make that control known to any possible leaky wheels. For instance, show somebody you know what journalist they are thinking of talking to, and show how they are under surveillance and control. Or show that with police, judges, magistrates.

Subtle threats against family is something else.

The Cosa Nostra has had a system where even your best friend will kill you, if you turn. Most conspiracies are insular, and deeply so.

Getting one’s hands dirty as part of joining is an aspect of fault tolerance.

What else?

Being able to detect very well possible ‘falling away’ is certainly a major one.

Doubt is not as easy to manage in more open systems. Doubt is easy to manage if everyone lives in the same roof. But when you have a cellular system, who manages doubt in each cell?

There are many, many questions such as these. Many studies made. It is important to make these sorts of studies. Because conspiracies and secrets are common. Not odd. Not far flung.

And it is certainly good to look at many of these organizations and how they failed. How did the New York crime families go down? How did the last wave of caught Russian directorate s agents get caught? On and on and on. How did operation X last year go off without a hitch? How did operation Y ten years ago teeter on the brink, but come back? And is the information given, real? Did the New York crime families go down because of the ease of using RICO and the power of secret surveillance in an upstairs room over their social club really do it? Did a NY Russian KGB Officer really defect to the US and turn over all US directorate S agents he managed? And so on.

I would definitely appreciate anyone’s thoughts and opinions on these matters.

I will state, however, I believe Dr Grimes study is bunk. And I believe people, in general – myself included – are absolutely horrible at detecting conspiracies.

WhoCares March 3, 2016 10:59 PM

No one even asked, in the Apple FBI debacle, did anyone inherit the digital property rights of the account, the phone, which is also attached related to reputation and a right to contest and confront an accuser

It was a non issue cause he was convicted in a public court and justifiably executed. So I gather that the severity of the crime can negate all rights(real or imagined)

No one cared to even ask or comment or be sarcastic or legalistic on the related questions. That I can recall on schneier or anywhere else

When was it adjudicated that it didn’t matter? Did that happen actually in a private court one wonders? It could have.

Perhaps if a trustee had been sought they would have consented to the ask for access and as owner, granted the legal access to the device (or not)

But then it would have been a different deal, it would not have been the case law the FBI was engineering. Giving giving pretense to the AWA vs constitution and seeking consent to access property from the legitimate custody holder would have defeated the FBI’s true objectives

Wc

Fan of Conspiracy Conspiracies March 4, 2016 12:09 AM

@Conspiracist
That was some very enjoyable writing. Thanks for provoking a few thoughts and a few chuckles.

Grimes’ problem, or one of them, is that he entered his project with an agenda: mathematically “prove” that various science deniers are wrong. He wasn’t interested in conspiracies. He was only interested in demonstrating that certain conspiracy theories (peddled by the oil industry or the Bach Remedy industrial complex) are mathematically unlikely.

If conspiracies are ever seriously studied mathematically, it will probably be as a branch of some Asmovian psychohistory.

@Mark Mayer,

I am far too debased to understand your acid wit

Pretty clever 😉

pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. A Ph.D. who does a half-assed job fails the litmus test, and turns “red” rather than “blue”. “Blue” indicates “basic”, and if they fail the “basics”, then they are “sour” or acidic. They are on an acid trip, and their pseudo-science work gives us heartburn, being acidic as it is. Forget about taking their work with a grain of salt[1]! You need to take their word with a couple of cucumbers!

Just playing with the similarity between “Ph.D” and “pH Definition”…[2]

[1] How big a grain of salt? So you have to take “the estimates” with a pinch of salt around the size of “Lot’s Wife”.

[2] See what happens when we reverse the capitalization of two letters?

Visiting March 4, 2016 3:50 AM

An interesting study.
But the terminology implies all human questioning is paranoia.

Questioning is a natural progression of necessary change– response to injustice or deception.

Take the example of break-offs from mainstream religions, like the Protestant Reformation. People had hunches something was amiss, pursued those hunches, found evidence, bounced thoughts off others, and created an alternative. Others perceived safety, veracity, and value, so they stayed and defended their stance. Dissidents were treated as wrong, but moved on in their new safe zones.

In some cases, like questions on manipulations of the largest administrations, questioning has gone on for centuries without closure.

Small scale questioning uses the same anxieties and intent to inform: hunches about embezzlement, child abuse, dumping toxins in lakes… all start off with curiosity and a scoff. The mind struggles with disbelief that the norm could be impure, or different than the visible. But scrutiny is necessary for human survival.

Corruption is everywhere, right down to toddlers taking toys, friends cheating at cards. Drivers running a red. Cashiers giving wrong change. Spouses lying. It is there. Scrutiny of malintent is an integral part of our daily lives.

Timing of the questioning process has to vary. Since corruption weaves through every part of our society, scrutiny depends on urgency of change, tools to verify truth, opposition to investigation, intensity of offense, and more. If a standard measurement is declared, that puts us off guard.

Gerard van Vooren March 4, 2016 4:42 AM

@ Visiting,

Take the example of break-offs from mainstream religions, like the Protestant Reformation. People had hunches something was amiss, pursued those hunches, found evidence, bounced thoughts off others, and created an alternative. Others perceived safety, veracity, and value, so they stayed and defended their stance. Dissidents were treated as wrong, but moved on in their new safe zones.

The only thing I can say about Protestants is that that movement by itself also went on. Yet has “being Protestant” being questioned by the massive amount of followers? The same with Catholics and Muslims. Just because a couple of people at some time thought that what they were doing was wrong and they changed that mistake, that doesn’t mean that the majority of its followers are doing the same.

Conspiracist March 4, 2016 10:38 AM

@Fan of Conspiracy Conspiracies

I am certainly glad to provide some chuckles. 🙂

And, I was going to hit at that. What I would say is the author’s clear disingenuous and bias, pandering to political angles. Telling people what they want to hear. I went through some of the other articles, and it was the same old thing.

I am glad I make him annoyed. His “science” is crap. I “believe” in science. The principles are not entirely unsound, though they do not take in mind principles of ‘expectations affecting the result’, and so subjectivity. Not as rigorously as they need to. What do they expect. Flash forward, think ahead of the curve, ‘where we are today’ is always grotesquely behind. And right where the most esteemed have the most confidence.

But they buy into these theories knowing they are biased.

So, they are guilty and deserve to be deceived.

If they would bother to try and listen to all sides of matters, to really know their “enemy”, maybe they would find wisdom.

If they would value humility, they would find wisdom.

But arrogance posed as intelligence for the payment of praise, is the bribery they so desire over wisdom.

Thank God for Netflix. It all reminds me of the virtues of the movie “Unforgiven” they have out.

Conspiracist March 4, 2016 11:02 AM

@Mark Mayer

I’m very tempted to reveal what I know about the real conspiracy, but I’m worried about their reaction. They know I know, as I well know, but pretending I don’t know seems to be rule one. Maybe I’ll camouflage it as a joke. Like I’m doing now. 😉

Be a chameleon?

That is a rule. I think rule 1 is “you do not talk about fight club”. Rule 2 is straight from Mystery Men, “I know that you know I know, but did you know that I know you know”.

More of a “what happens” then a rule.

People who have big secrets do talk. That is part of fault tolerance. So, they often may talk as you do there. Making it into a joke. Spreading around alternative stories. Mixing truth and fiction. Stating it sideways. Reminds me of a murder case, where the guy told his sister that he had killed someone. (Very common, actually, with murderers.) But, because he had a tendency to “joke/lie” – like the time he claimed he had AIDs for a year, and did not – she did not believe him. Not consciously, anyway.

Usually, they are scared, too.

Thing is, without hard evidence, it is usually impossible to actually prove a conspiracy. I mean, you can prove there is a conspiracy. But, about what? What are they doing? The FBI knew the mafia existed in the 80s, but they had to get working surveillance tapes. Then, they had to have people saying bad things about their peers, so their peers would turn. Which they happened to do. When Sammy the Bull heard his best buddy, John Gotti, was thinking about killing him, of course he turned.

So, you see two major errors right there.

One good reason for 24/7 surveillance is not only do people never speak bad about their peers, they also learn to never speak about fight club at all. Ever. Anywhere.

Fact is, though, again, that is just a conspiracy where there was nation state adversaries intent on taking them down. They had to spend enormous money and resources to do that. They could not do that forever. And that was just one group of organized crime. There is no such effort against their own government. There is hardly such effort against foreign governments on their own soil. And wherever there is, they have to have evidence. They have to have laws. They have to have no resistence, internally, and so no penetration.

Good example of internal penetration, look at the Whitey Bulger case. Every wiretap gets turned over to the conspiracy. Everyone who dares go and tries to talk gets turned over to the conspiracy. Even with bad policy, like the Bulger’s telling the State police when they know they are under surveillance as soon as they do know, outside agencies could do nothing.

And that is with black and white crime. Where clear murders are being committed. Where it is not government controlled. But where it is criminal conspiracy controlling government. Which is like comparing ants to men.

@Nick P

For those interested in *reality*, I wrote an essay a while back showing conspiracy was a common form of human activity rather than an outlier:

On the Legitimacy of Conspiracy Theory

Follow up comment addresses dealing with government ones. Recall that there are thousands of people in U.S. government *right now* working under official secrecy on attacks, spying, technologies supporting those, regime change, etc. Most of this doesn’t leak out with people’s bios that have classified information being an exception. The *baseline* is that the government can keep secrets very well for as long as is relevant. They’re not as incompetent as people think. It’s about selecting people well, telling them the right stuff, making them feel loyalty to the group (elitism too), rewarding their compliance, and stiff penalties (Espionage Act) for noncompliance. Works like a charm to the point people like me follow breadcrumbs of evidence piecing things together.

This is very true, and I am sorry I missed your post before posting.

But, on the other hand, ‘of course intelligence is conspiracy’, and ‘how did Dr Grimes perform such a study without realizing this’.

I know Russia calls what the US calls ‘tradecraft’, ‘conspiracy’. So, Dr Grimes does not know Russian. But, he should not have attempted such a study without at least beginning study of intelligence and organized crime. Perhaps the two most overt and severe forms of human conspiracy.

And so, investigators in those fields, are many. Very well studied. And some of the brightest people on the planet. Their minds become accustomed to hard thinking. Dr Grimes did not consult them, clearly.

Sounds like he has hardly picked up a book.

But, this seems a problem with some, who cross fields. When they cross fields, they show their true intellectual and academic weaknesses. Their arrogance and transparency.

Conspiracist March 4, 2016 11:23 AM

@Visiting

Thank you, professor, for dropping in. 🙂

Take the example of break-offs from mainstream religions, like the Protestant Reformation. People had hunches something was amiss, pursued those hunches, found evidence, bounced thoughts off others, and created an alternative. Others perceived safety, veracity, and value, so they stayed and defended their stance. Dissidents were treated as wrong, but moved on in their new safe zones.

That is a very good example, and a vast one. Along these lines are exactly what I meant by some conspiracies lasting thousands of years. But, much of this is kept hardened by the very fact that it is more of an ‘unconscious conspiracy’, then a conscious one.

There are many aspects of that, too. And it would be wrong not to try and juxtapose the very same principles there, elsewhere. On similar religious and political systems.

One aspect, of course, which should come to mind to all, here, is the conspiracy to keep the earth as the center of the universe. Which, metaphorically, was a considered attribute of power for the ruling state faction. They, not God nor Heaven, were the center of the universe. That was their preference. That is what they wanted to believe.

They fought hard against such considerations. You see this always in power struggles. Where was the reasoning? The reasoning was unsaid, because it was shameful. The true reason was because ‘if people started to make such proclamations, ultimately their authority and power based on making proclamations would be ruined’.

One of the most fascinating aspects about that conspiracy, I found, was deep in the fifth century “City of God” book, by Augustine. Augustine breathlessly related how things were changing. How the church was coming to power. He indicated some reserve about the laypeople no longer being called “priests”, but “pastors” becoming “priests”. But, he chalked it off. Because he was empowered in this change. He was cheerleading it.

He was complicit.

He was, and would remain, a primary apologist.

Pure evil? Little things he became complicit in. Wanting to believe.

And yet, think about it, that little move, taking the term “priest” from the laypeople, was central. It was one of not so many moves to remove power from the people and put it in the hands of the state. Incremental.

“The devil did it”? No. Human beings did it.

“Good” human beings. Like Augustine.

Conspiracist March 4, 2016 11:35 AM

@Gerard van Vooren

The only thing I can say about Protestants is that that movement by itself also went on. Yet has “being Protestant” being questioned by the massive amount of followers? The same with Catholics and Muslims. Just because a couple of people at some time thought that what they were doing was wrong and they changed that mistake, that doesn’t mean that the majority of its followers are doing the same.

I would posit, today, “Christianity” has been assimilated into popular culture, and now has so many names, it is unrecognizable. The core components are there, moreso with any explicit version of it. But, people are bad at stroop tests.

‘A rose by another name is still a rose’?

Yet, there is racism.

I find with conspiracy activists who talk code, they can dynamically replace equivalent words with other words, and their fellow activists know what they mean.

The human body operates at a cellular level without words. But it still deals with information. DNA strings is information. Cells exchange information as a core part of their function, it most certainly can be said.

Love, sacrifice, humility, sincerity… such far reaching concepts, when defined, by the notes of explanation, well, those notes stay the same in the symphony, even if language differs.

Up, up, down, down, left, right. God mode.

Problem with god mode is it ruins the game.

So we all prefer our gaming universes to be finite, along with our own being.

Even if the very crux of the matter is that skill, luck, and cheating all disqualify.

True honor is mysterious and hard to find. As it should be.

If the point of the game is obvious, it is not fun. And what should be more scarce then the very possibility of the true point of the game?

ZeroKnowledge March 4, 2016 6:37 PM

David Robert Grimes is a well known (in Ireland) ‘pseudo-scientist’, wheeled out by the Irish liberal media every so often to promote various left-wing agendas.

Grimes is coming from the ‘mathematically disprove the existence of God’ school of thought, the holy grail of a certain myopic view of science.

He’s having a hard time with that, so instead he chooses to create a bunk paper on something he hopes to one day extrapolate to a demolition of Catholicism. In this light, it is obvious how he is trying to undercut/demean people of faith by drawing parallels with conspiracy theories, in some kind of attempt to show both beliefs are ill-founded.

Avoid. There are plenty of high-calibre, legit Irish scientists.

Conspiracist March 4, 2016 8:54 PM

@ZeroKnowledge

I think anyone pretty much does. I can only imagine Mr Schneier having a bit of a grin to post such a thing. It did unsettle the waters, and at least is some devil’s advocate talk on a critical subject of interest to everyone here.

I always get a chuckle from such deniers, because, hey! I get my paycheck from such a conspiracy. It rankles me at first, but ultimately, I get that serial killer kind of thrill of taunting and getting away with something. 🙂

Is my paycheck real? Why, yes, it is.

Biggest problem with most conspiracies: they are perfectly legal. And usually going to be above everyone else’s pay grade.

Grimes isn’t part of the problem. He just is part of the side circus.

Diversions are like rotations of planets. They keep the universe going.

Visiting March 5, 2016 10:45 AM

@Conspiracist

“Taking the term “priest” from the laypeople, was central.”

An important point, typical of most changes worthy of conspiracy title. Power-hungry groups taking from the people, by telling them they don’t deserve.

I hope I didn’t offend by bringing religion into this, but the history of religion stirs up similar dynamics. And often involves conspiracy theories!

My point, timing has such a broad range, it can’t be contained. And people are less predictable than some want to declare. (Max, Kalyan, FB, GV, you know who you are.)

It is well worth timing social transition, as people tend to think they are immovable in their convictions. But the results need to be shown to the people who will be swayed, not to those with the resources to sway.

The next question: Who is funding related research, and what do they have to gain?

@Gerard van Vooren

“Just because a couple of people at some time thought that what they were doing was wrong and they changed that mistake, that doesn’t mean that the majority of its followers are doing the same.”

So true. The same mistake occurs within the new organization. People tend toward the leadership:follower model, even while they are fighting to oppose it. They even want someone to lead protests. This last decade has shown an incredible rise in submission teaching, to the point the laymen prod each other.

I am reading on Quakers, and finding hope in mankind’s ability to self-regulate, by setting up self-scrutiny checkpoints to prevent the forceful from overpowering the quiet. They allow questioning, which seems it would shorten the measured length of claim-to-confirmation of conspiracy theories.

Does removal of hierarchy help in a security team, a corporation.. does it speed revelation of fact, or hinder.

“”conspiracies can’t ever be true because a large number of people can’t keep secrets””

The only possibility this could be true is if “large scale” conspiracies were architect’d carefuly to encapsulate its essence to be observable only by a select handful of core assailants. Thus, the shaping of knowledge and the natural flow of logics play a somewhat centric role.

Nick P March 7, 2016 11:49 AM

@ Ken

Compartmentalization and pretexts are exactly how many of them operate. Let’s use an example from startups since people post and argue over them so much on another forum I frequent. The idea is a founder and VC’s fund a product/service with the goal of selling it to get rich. The common model is getting a core team, getting the product usable, and operating at a loss (or breakeven) continuously to solely focus on growth. Users, employees, community members…. all grow in number until the thing is huge. Then, it gets acquired, many people get fired, and sometimes users get forced to use inferior product or transition due to acquired for I.P. deal.

This is a basic and common conspiracy between founders and VC’s against employees and customers. The employees are told how they’re changing the world, working long hours for little pay for greatness, and so on. They have this long-term vision. The customers are told that the product is superior, the service is good, and they should bet business on it. Many of them become part of the community pushing that product. All of that is lies, though, with only a handful of people fully knowing the real scheme that they discussed in private. It goes through several transformations before it gets to the rest. And the conspirators get rich.

To be accurate, some are upfront about how it works. Most screw people over and lie to them, though.

@ Nick P

I appreciate the frankness. But, I referred moreso to large-scale conspiracies such as constructions of great tombs of ancient emperors of the not-far Orients, in extreme cases of which the number of core assailants reduced to zero at time of completion, by their free-will or not.

As for the case of incorporated capitalism, getting rich had always been the ultimate goal. The motivation of which cannot be questioned because in the current architecture money is the prime mover, which cannot be blamed. While building up equity for the firms, the VCs and founders accumulate favors owed and debt, in parallel. Thus, there’s the repeated struggle of shareholders versus bondholders. As we live in a free-willing society, sometimes the best decisions are in contradiction. There’s only one bigger risk than the scrupulous insider, it’s the customers, and I hope I’m not making much sense.

Conspiracist March 7, 2016 5:31 PM

@Visiting

I hope I didn’t offend by bringing religion into this, but the history of religion stirs up similar dynamics. And often involves conspiracy theories!

I would argue, without religion, there is religion anyway. Grimes is an excellent example of this. Anti-religious, he is as religious as he can be.

Good examples: just the past few days, finished up on series on the American mafia, and read an article on the tyrant of Turkmenistan. The later who is worthy of a show greater then Borat, as it would be lovely to really see how a compromised media operates. Fawning over their leader. Only, we see the same thing in today’s American media, just it is more divided down the middle. People fawn over the political party belief systems and are divided.

Equal bias.

Not that any of those things, however, are like a true conspiracy. Which, I think has become defined from the JFK assassination, and probably helped from other 20th century misdeeds.

After all, governments, and their people, are often stupid and stupid because they are so biased. If it is so open, is it really a conspiracy? In such cases, only the minority dissenters are left, and they are not a ruling conspiracy, but a minority. Who get killed off as soon as they lift their heads high enough to get them cut off.

It is well worth timing social transition, as people tend to think they are immovable in their convictions. But the results need to be shown to the people who will be swayed, not to those with the resources to sway.

I believe the only bedrock of security on such matters is for policing systems which police themselves. Government must have systematic policing and self-regulation. As it stands, only really local police have self-policing and even that is heavily biased.

Put another way, for most agencies, there literally is no policing whatsoever. Except for the media, if they ever find out anything. Or congressional oversight committees. Which are a farce and politically biased circuses.

But, people get so mired into the details of this or that possible conspiracy, using them for political purposes, the very fact that even if there were a serious conspiracy, there would be no one who could do anything about it is never brought up.

No investigative bodies.

The next question: Who is funding related research, and what do they have to gain?

Grimes appears not to be funded at all, and as another poster pointed out, his arguments are usually revolving around his own religious fetishes, they probably genuinely are not funded by anyone.

Conspiracist March 7, 2016 9:18 PM

@Ken

The only possibility this could be true is if “large scale” conspiracies were architect’d carefuly to encapsulate its essence to be observable only by a select handful of core assailants. Thus, the shaping of knowledge and the natural flow of logics play a somewhat centric role.

As Nick P said, “compartmentalization” & “pretexts”.

Modern intelligence structures are well evolved to operate in exactly that way.

I would add to that “psychological warfare” including pretty advanced techniques of manipulation and intimidation, and go so far as to suggest, “assassination”.

Secret surveillance should also be added there, as that is critical to effective psychological warfare.

These things said, while there are innumerable secret projects, there is no significant evidence of most major conspiracy theories which people like to hark on. There have been Russian and Chinese assassinations that appear related to conspiracies, and there have been a lot of organized crime assassinations related to conspiracies.

But these things remain as simply rumors in the first world. And are hardly above rumors in even a Russia or China.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro March 10, 2016 9:38 PM

To those trying to object to his small “data set”, note that he doesn’t use the examples to derive his formula, only to illustrate its applicability.

Mary Phagan March 12, 2016 12:05 AM

“Hear me, O Lord, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy; hide me from he conspiracy of the wicked.” (Psalm 64)

Who was it who said that the greatest conspiracies do not need to be concealed because they are so incredible that nobody would believe them, even if told? I submit that if the truth is unbelievable, it’s no because it isn’t obvious, but because people obviously don’t want to know the truth for obvious reasons.

One of the Framers of the Constitution said “men reason not to guide their actions but to justify them.” Ergo, reason, said Luther, is “a sly whore”, and it is almost amusing that intelligent people can operate under the assumption that humans are reasonable by nature, or that, though others may be unreasonable, they are exceptions to the rule.

If we grant, contrary to all evidence, that humans are innately rational, that irrationality is an aberration rather than the rule, perhaps it would follow that truth can be democratically defined. But what if rationality (quite distinct from intelligence, mind you, or depth of knowledge) is relatively rare and only comes into play under unusual circumstances?

And what of all the “useful idiots” who followed psychopaths like Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Lenin, and other mass murderers? How long did it take, and how many human lives did it take, before the prole feed propaganda wore off and people began to awake from the mass delusions that their eulogized leaders were psychopaths?

You can put the conspiracy theorists in concentration camps, but you can’t crucify the truth, because the truth is tougher than nails:

“I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but do lie, and are a synagogue of Satan” (Jesus Christ, Rev. 2:9) Synagogue of Satan?
Really? For how long? No way, comrade. We are way too smart too fall for that, aren’t we, especially the geniuses who worked for the Gestapo, the the KGB, etc. Yes, but what is a genius, really, but an idiot with delusions of grandeur?

MIA Paper Planes March 12, 2016 1:49 AM

Thank you Mary, for your good thoughts.

However, can we please shy away from the whole “Jew” thing? That was two thousand years ago, and as you well know, we need to keep up a very supportive front.

Just as we were there for Israel on Yom Kippur.

You know, they actually have bumperstickers for that.

I mean, not like, okay, there is not just a lil more muscle to show them, rofl.

But, still.

Expectations.

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.