Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Modern network theory and 'improbable' conspiracies

Many who have a difficult time accepting that a major conspiracy could operate "undetected" in government might benefit from a course in social network theory. Or even, just consider how the internet operates. MySpace isn't the only social network possibility, of course.

Many people who are far afield in many respects join in with a group that shares a particular interest. Think of teams of internet gamers. They often coordinate actions over a wide area with little or no perception by people outside their clique.

The point is that modern electronic communications provide a means of multi-node (multi-person) communication that is fast and efficient. Though data-mining might detect a network's activity, that fact does not diminish the point that large-scale collective action can occur in our midst without our knowledge. In fact, we've become accustomed to this and tend to tune out awareness of such networks.

In a country with 300 million people, there is no way to avoid overlapping networks, whereby you may be part of a particular group that your friends or neighbors or even your relatives know nothing about. As long as the group's aim is not terribly anti-social, we don't call it a conspiracy. It's a network. But certainly malevolent social networks can and do exist -- as those who defend the government's 9/11 theory so often tell us! Wicked networks can exist outside the government but not inside, is what they are really saying.

Another point even some academics have trouble with is the potency of television in shaping mass opinion. People may say they are somewhat skeptical of TV news, but the reality is that TV is the most powerful propaganda weapon in human history. TV tends to affect emotional perception far more efficiently than print media. Additionally, people reading news reports may go back and read a previous paragraph to check points as they read at least somewhat analytically. How many people play back a news report (though that pattern is changing a bit with sites like YouTube)? But the impressionism of TV works on minds schooled to passively accept TV input. Even if one is trying to be analytical, the emotional impact and seductiveness of the message is often far greater than the script would imply.

People who desire control have studied this phenomenon to death and are well aware that, by control of TV news, information and entertainment, they have a strong upper hand on public awareness and opinion, no matter how damning the real facts are. That's how modern "hide in plain sight" conspiracies can continue.

No comments: