From Pater Tenebrarum’s recent piece The Taming of Deluded ‘Conspiracy Theorists’?:
Look who is warning us again about the great harm conspiracy theories are doing to the minds of impressionable citizens everywhere: Cass Sunstein has emerged at Bloomberg, to once again plead for ‘correction’ of the many conspiracy theories that are disseminated on that pesky new medium, the intertubes, seemingly without inhibition. Contrary to the infamous paper in which he described how to precisely combat the spreading of false information that lacks the government’s seal of approval, he doesn’t list his favored censorship and disinformation techniques outright this time, but it is certainly implied that ‘something must be done’.
With regard to conspiracy theories, there is a long history of dangerous thought entering the minds of deluded citizens. There were people who long doubted the official version of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or those who believed that the government’s minions were capable of thinking up other ‘false flag’ activities such as ‘Operation Northwoods’, or the poor confused souls who argued that Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ were a trumped-up pretext for war based on thoroughly politicized intelligence, or the mean-spirited traitors who charged that the US military killed a Reuter journalist and his helpers in Iraq and then covered it up, or the completely delusional paranoiacs who asserted for many years that the NSA was literally recording everything. Next they’re going to say that the official version of the WTC attack lacks credibility, in spite of its enshrinement as unassailable truth following the government’s decision to investigate itself! (Source)
No one has found a good name for our age. The Modern Age has come and gone as has the Post-Modern Age.
I propose that we are now living in the “Age of Signals,” the “Age of Signs,” the “Semiotic Age,” or even the “Semaphorm Age,” if we want to be more clever. The basis of this sort of term is the signal or the sign. Everything in the universe signals. When people signal each other, we use signs. Signs are communicative entities that carry meaning.
Computers and electronic media use signs. In this Age of Signs, people now battle each other through signs and symbols as much or more than with physical weapons.
In the essay above, Pater Tenebrarum battles Cass Sunstein (and, in my view, wins hands-down) over semiotics, or signs.
Sunstein has a long history of advocating clandestine government control of what citizens think. In his own words, Sunstein says, “our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories.”
Obviously, the term “conspiracy theory” is a loaded semiotic. It is a “sign” that neutralizes ideas Sunstein dislikes. The term originated with the intelligence services after the JFK assassination. It was designed to marginalize people who doubted the Warren Commission Report.
“Conspiracy theory” or “conspiracy theorist” is one of the most successful propaganda semiotics ever invented and Sunstein’s upfront use of the term should be an immediate warning to alert readers.
Tenebrarum does a good job of refuting Sunstein, and I hope readers will take a few minutes to read his essay.
The battle between these two is a fine example of semiotic battles that are raging all over the world. To name a few—the long-range US goal of starting a war with Iran, steadfastly ignoring the US role in overthrowing Yanukovich in Ukraine, the removal of fundamental Constitutional rights in the USA, and so on.
There is a long list of hot-button and little-or-no-button (destroying the Bill of Rights) issues in the world today. Gladiators still do battle on the field with real weapons, but more than ever the important battles are fought for the hearts and minds of the public through well-placed semiotics.