Tomorrow Happens

...trends slamming at us from the dark

David Brin

David Brin
Location
San Diego, California, USA
Birthday
October 06
Bio
http://www.davidbrin.com David Brin’s novels have been translated into more than twenty languages, including New York Times Best-sellers that won Hugo and Nebula awards. His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed cyberwarfare, the World Wide Web, global warming and Gulf Coast flooding. A 1998 Kevin Costner film was loosely adapted from his post-apocalyptic novel, The Postman. ............................................ Brin is a noted scientist, futurist and speaker who appears frequently on television (Life After People, The Universe), discussing trends in the near and far future, on subjects such as surveillance, technology, astronomy, and SETI. His non-fiction book, The Transparent Society, deals with issues of openness and security in the wired-age. ............................................. David Brin web site: http://www.davidbrin.com http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidBrin Facbook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Brin/22358129265

Editor’s Pick
MAY 6, 2011 12:34AM

Paranoia has many roots and levels

Rate: 13 Flag

As one who nurses a few conspiracy theories of his own -- but only ones that fit the Seven Secret Rules of Plausibility ;-) -- I actually find most of the run-of-the-mill-kneejerk stories, concocted by modern loonies (not only on the far right, but also plenty on the far-left and even far-out) to be just plain dumb. They are nearly always based on several self-flattering premises:

1) that the powers who are supposedly performing the conniving-nefarious activity are nearly all-powerful, nearly all-knowing and have unlimited supplies of eager, willing, compliant, conscience-free, yet staggeringly competent henchmen, who somehow commit their acts with perfect timing, without a glitch, hiccup or anyone deciding to blab... and

2) that somehow, in a world filled with skilled scientists, cops, investigators, journalists. intelligence agents and dedicated enemies of the (purported) conspirators, somehow it is the believer and his or her close-aligned pals who are the only ones smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors to the truth... and

3) that lots of people on this planet can be delusional crazy while vigorously denying it, yet nevertheless go on to proclaim, in serene confidence -- "But I'm not one of them!"

94669

Days after Osama bin Laden’s death, a wealth of conspiracy theories have been spun, claiming that Osama was actually a U.S. agent, that he had actually been dead for a decade, his body kept on ice in some super-secret location. Or that Osama is actually alive and well, being interrogated by U.S. officials on a remote island hideaway. Or possibly that President Obama invented Osama’s death to boost his re-election campaign, or as a distraction from Trump pushing the “birther” issue (clever use of one conspiracy to kill another…) And yet, in order to conspiracy OBL’s death, they are going to have to malign and impugn the US Navy Seals. That won’t be easy.

There are powerful psychological drivers behind conspiracies: A need to explain one’s own poverty and failure. The allure of enticing pattern recognition. Above all, the warm feeling we get from being in the know…from being part of the “elect group” that can see what’s going on! There are no richer mental drug-highs than self-righteous indignation, resentment, and contempt for fools. See my article on Conspiracies and Wishful Thinking.

 Self-delusion is the greatest of all human talents. 

This is not the time or place for me to get into intense detail, in a formal essay appraising all the types and species of human paranoia... and why my own particular brands just happen to be the ones that are smart, on target and sensible! Alas. Lacking both the requisite energy and spare-expendable lifespan, I'll just offer a few enlightening tidbits below...

=== IS IT ALL A MATTER OF PERSONALITY? ===

This seems especially pertinent, given America’s recent swerve down Kookoo Lane. Aha! Belief in Conspiracies linked to Machiavellian Mindset -- a firm belief that "they did it" is linked to the concept that "I would do it". It's exactly what I would have written, if they hadn't systematically stolen my ideas. Wait, am I confusing conspiracy theorizing with paranoia?  Easy to do... except when the conspiracies are real, but only a few can see them!

Or might it all be chemical? In work that gives cranky teenagers another reason to blame their parents for all life's woes, researchers have uncovered a genetic link to happiness.  The study of more than 2,500 Americans revealed two variants of a gene that influenced how satisfied – or dissatisfied – people were with their lot. Those born with two long versions of the gene (one is passed down from each parent) were more likely to declare themselves "very satisfied" with life than those who inherited two short versions.  

=== TECHNO PARANOIA? ===

 Your GPS-enabled cell phone allows your location to be tracked at all times. Even the photos you take on such a device have a location-coding attached when you upload them to the internet, pinpointing the precise coordinates of your home or where you had that weekend tryst.

 Is your entire life on your cell phone? Arresting officers may be able to search the arrested person’s cellphone, downloading everything from address books, photos and websites to thousands of texts… plus everything the phone touched in the Cloud… all without a warrant, because the phone was on your immediate person, and thus “like” a pocket or a purse or a set of keys? Or is the phone something much more? A “portal” into your whole life, meriting a warrant to rummage through?

Can arresting officers search the arrested person's cellphone, downloading everything from address books, photos and websites to thousands of texts... plus everything the phone touched in the Cloud... all without a warrant, because the phone was on your immediate person, and thus "like" a pocket or a purse or a set of keys? Or is the phone something much more? A "portal" into your whole life, meriting a warrant to rummage through?

How about the Corn Conspiracy? Ethanol blamed for record food prices worldwide Federal mandates on ethanol have helped push corn prices up from $3 to $7 a bushel. And of course, corn syrup appears in nearly every item of processed food…

From the Washington Times: How the U.S. Treasury Department froze Libyan assets. They expected $100 million, but found over $30 billion -- mostly all in one bank. To put it in perspective: In 2009, Libya had a gross domestic product of $62 billion.  Anybody remember the “Helvetian War” from my novel EARTH -- to retrieve the money stashed by dictators or drug lords in secret Swiss bank accounts?

 === FINALLY, THE UNDERLYING REASONS FOR PARANOIA ===

"Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things." -- Douglas Adams

Calm down. Remember, the thing that you are trying to defend... against those who are conspiring to bring it down... is a calm, enlightened, pragmatic civilization filled with smart problem-solvers, who appreciate knowledge, wisdom and skill... and who negotiate with one another.

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Comments

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I wonder if the increase in paranoia in American society is a partial result of the combination of the total information awareness society coupled with the dumbing down of the USA.
Well said ladies. Awoke at 2:49 a.m. Where's the meteors?
They negotiate with one another? Behind my back? ZOMG THAT'S THE SCARY PART!!!
The most important roots of paranoia and the most widely overlooked by many people involve child abuse that often starts at a very early age. A couple good researchers who have studied this and provided compelling evidence, in my opinion as well as many other peoples, are Alice Miller author of “For Your Own Good” and Philip Greven authoe of “Spare the Child”
"Lacking both the requisite energy and spare-expendable lifespan, I'll just offer a few enlightening tidbits below, and save all-encompassing wisdom for another time."

... for another time, you have the thoughts and fire-power for another book here. A great post today!
and I thought I was the only paranoid one on OS (adjusting my tinfoil hat to keep their thought stealing waves out of my brain)

If you look hard enough, you can find a conspiracy anywhere
david, you're highly intelligent, but like most others on this subject, you have a serious blind spot. do you know the slightest amount about how intelligence agencies operate, what they do, what they have done in the past? this country spends something like $200B on intelligence agencies and we are only one country in the world. maybe you should review the recent Mossad assassination operation in Dubai for a highly sophisticated govt conspiracy involving forged passports, maybe 2 dozen agents on the ground [with obviously many more in support etc] on which you have zilch comment and possible, even awareness. and this is just one of the *known* intelligence operations in the world. many more are unknown. that is a measure of their success. so I say david, first get a @#%& clue about the world, and then write something about it.
the truth is that merely the *known* conspiracies [yes, ponder that oxymoron] are NUMEROUS AND RAMPANT..... any decent historian can verify this....
Someone rightly said, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you. And then Nirvana made a self-fulfilling prophecy out of it in a song.
Truth is stranger than fiction!
I beleieve in open conspiracies.
I like your breakdown. My suspicion is that some conspiracy theorists naively expect civilization to be entirely corruption-free. Any whiff of historical corruption sends them into a finger-pointing frenzy, as if all of western civilization must be dismantled and reconstructed according to some romantic notion of perfection. Exactly whose notion of perfection? Nobody seems to know.

Me, I'm just glad to see civilization slouching towards equality and freedom.
I agree quite much with vzn. There are so many already known false flag operations that we must always suspect any news about American wars. You might know that for example the Vietnam war was started by plain lies.

'The official story of 9/11 I never believed. This new 'official story about killing Osama bin Laden' has been changed so many times already that it is quite impossible to believe any word of it.
Thank you so much for writing this! Douglas Adams is genius...and I happen to know a first rate conspiracy theorist...and what he fails to realize in terms of conspiracy...is that I am conspiring to limit my exposure to his madness! xox
"There are powerful psychological drivers behind conspiracies: A need to explain one’s own poverty and failure."

I wonder what those who lost money to Madoff (and those like him) and those who got downsized for corporate profits think about this now that they're broke? Or the innocent people who wind up convicted of crimes they didn't commit and released 20 years later?

You've posted some interesting theories, I'm hopeful that some smart problem solvers figure it all out soon. I'm really tired of developing more paranoia every time I get bashed.
I don't believe in any of the conspiracy theories either. I just believe what the government tells me. So I believe Iraq had WMD, Pat Tillman was a hero killed by enemy fire, Jessica Lynch was heroically rescued, and 19 cave dwelling muslims defeated the most sophisticated air defense system in the world. Oh and building 7 collapsed in its own footprint because of debris that hit it from the other towers. And the Gulf of Tonkin wasn't a false flag.
""""""Remember, the thing that you are trying to defend... against those who are conspiring to bring it down... is a calm, enlightened, pragmatic civilization filled with smart problem-solvers, who appreciate knowledge, wisdom and skill... and who negotiate with one another."""""

If someone would only tell me just where I might find this place - why, I'd be extremely happy to defend it.

.
Alaska Progressive wrote above:

"I just believe what the government tells me. So I believe Iraq had WMD, Pat Tillman was a hero killed by enemy fire, Jessica Lynch was heroically rescued, and 19 cave dwelling Muslims defeated the most sophisticated air defense system in the world. Oh and building 7 collapsed in its own footprint because of debris that hit it from the other towers. And the Gulf of Tonkin wasn't a false flag."

And I believe that he just believes that :=)

But the problem is, what can we do.

If some of the close aides of Obama wouldn't believe the story of OBL killed in Pakistan, they cannot say it? If they said so they would in effect call Obama a lier? And can they say that kind of thing against his face?

We can write here almost what we want, but does it have any effect?

The President of Finland said openly during an UN meeting that she didn't believe that Iraq had WMD and even said that she thought that Americans were consciously misleading the rest of the world with that story... But Bush didn't say anything and the rest of the leaders there at the meeting kept silence, too.

Americans have given the power to Obama. And even if the majority of Americans would think that the story of killing of OBL in Pakistan is just a fabricated story, Obama would just call the majority of Americans conspiracy theorists?
AP/II
1+1==3
HAHAHAHA
thats what I call an
INSIDE JOKE
HAHAHAHA
the jokes on you david. but dont feel bad if you dont get it, few other people do either....
david, despite being highly educated, and a near rocket scientist, has still not read a particular peer reviewed scientific paper written by an international team of Phds..... peer reviewed & published.... 2years ago. another "little" blind spot there.....
"that somehow, in a world filled with skilled scientists, cops, investigators, journalists. intelligence agents and dedicated enemies of the (purported) conspirators, somehow it is the believer and his or her close-aligned pals who are the only ones smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors to the truth... "

and what about when All of the Above suspect the conspiracy theory? what do you do then David?