The Rag Blog on Jan. 11 was among those to take note in alarmist terms (“Got Fascism?”) of a suggestion by Cass Sunstein—President Obama’s Harvard Law School friend and recently appointed administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs—for “cognitive infiltration” by government agents to combat the growing popularity of conspiracy theory. In a piece entitled “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures” in the August issue of the Journal of Political Philosophy, Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule write:
[W]e suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.
This is just about the most demoralizing paragraph we have read in a long, long time. Now any rationalist who dissents from the ever-increasing wackiness about how every terrorist attempt from 9-11 to the failed Christmas Day jetliner bombing to the Fort Hood shootings is a “false flag operation” will be baited as a government agent! Gee thanks, Sunstein! Just what we needed. You don’t think the Haiti earthquake was caused by the Pentagon? You’re a cognitive infiltrator! We can hear it already…
See our last post on the 9-11 conspiracies.