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Confuseling
4th July 2008, 02:15 AM
I've been thinking about writing a little discussion about game theory and secret societies. I couldn't be bothered to draw the table, because I'm inherently lazy. To my immense displeasure, I have discovered the | table | feature and run out of excuses.

Game theory

Game theory is a concept fundamental to modern economic thought. It describes decision making with limited information. The archetypal game, known as the Prisoners' Dilemma, brilliantly illustrates the difficulties in achieving collective action.

Prisoners' Dilemma:
| | | Player B
| | cooperate | defect
| cooperate | 1, 1 | -3, 2
Player A | defect | 2, -3 | -1, -1

It looks confusing (Christ, you should see the bbcode :)), but you have nothing to fear. The situation is as follows. Two miscreants have been caught in a crime. They are about to be interrogated separately. Honour among thieves, when it comes to the crunch, isn't all that honourable; each seeks only to maximise their own score. The rules are very simple. Each player plays simultaneously - which is to say that they don't know their opponents choice when they play. They have two options - they can agree to cooperate, and pretend to know nothing about the crime at all, hoping to get off with a light sentence. Or they can defect, and tell the police all about their misdeeds, securing their opponents conviction in exchange for a plea bargain.

Imagine we are player A. Our two choices are marked by the two rows - first cooperate, then defect. Our scores are written in red, followed by player B's in blue. Each row contains two columns, representing the eventualities of player B's choice if we choose this row - first cooperate, then defect.

In order to analyse the game, we effectively use backward induction - reasoning backwards from our opponent's choice. If player B were to choose to cooperate, we would choose from the first column - either 1, 1 if we cooperate, or 2, -3 if we defect. Remember, we are entirely uninterested in our opponents score - we seek only to maximise our own. Clearly we are better off defecting. What if they choose to defect? Second column, we get -3, 2 if we cooperate and -1, -1 if we defect. It transpires that we are in fact better off betraying our erstwhile comrade irrespective of their choice.

The game is symmetrical, so player B necessarily follows the same logic. Here lies the eponymous dilemma: we both prefer the solution in which we remain quiet, but through rational self interest we confess, and betray one another.

Iterative game theory

A bleak and hollow vision, with little relation to real behaviour? Perhaps. We may in fact sometimes be glad people don't listen to the models - Von Neumann, one of the early game theorists, counseled that the best course of action was full preemptive nuclear warfare against the Soviet Union, which would, it must be assumed, have been a mess. Social reality isn't an all or nothing stand-off, fortune has it, but rather a continual process of negotiation.

Continuing the logic of backwards induction, what happens if we play multiple times? Suppose we are going to play ten games. We start from the assumption that we are best off cooperating throughout, but I know that I'm better off in the last game defecting, because you can't punish me afterwards. You are beholden to the same logic, and as you intend to betray me in the last game, I have no interest in 'playing nice' and cooperating in the second to last in order to secure future favour. We work backwards, and realise we are exactly where we started - stabbing each other relentlessly in the back.

What, however, if we play the game an infinite or unknown number of times? We can't induct backwards from an unknown point, so things get interesting. As long as we believe that betrayal will induce counter-betrayal, we are best off trying to secure continued mutual cooperation and building trust.

Implicit collusion

So let's apply this to a real world situation - that of supermarket price-wars. Both supermarkets are better off cooperating to keep prices high, but either will gain in the short term by cutting them, taking their opponent's customers. If continued, this will inevitably induce reciprocal cuts, equalising the losses, until someone balks and a new round of cooperation ensues. We can envisage the extra points tempting either player into betrayal gradually increasing, as the profit margin, and thus the potential scope for slashing prices, gradually drifts upwards, until a snapping point is reached, and somebody starts a new round of price-wars.

The interesting thing about price-wars is when they don't happen. The very fact that a spate of reciprocal cuts suddenly occurs is indicative of a period of cooperation beforehand, during which potential cuts were foregone; otherwise, prices would forever remain flat at the minimum cost of production and distribution. Supermarkets, in a highly competitive field and with no overall capacity to consciously coordinate their actions, manage to operate this ethereal cartel for sustained periods; a process known as implicit collusion. The fact that there are many of them does not alter the fundamental logic of the situation - it's just easier to draw the chart in two dimensions. :)

Secret societies, William of Ockham, and Capital

This framework gives us a very simple, but surprisingly powerful way of analysing decision making in the face of unknown behaviour on the part of other actors. The smaller the number of players, the higher the probability of sustaining cooperation for sustained periods. We can explain the apparently coordinated behaviour of politicians, firms, even nations themselves by appeal to the notion of implicit collusion - heads of state and business do not need smoke filled rooms to apparently spontaneously decide en masse to reconfigure strategy or legislation; they can rely on continued profiteering as the cold logic of the shared motivator. The fact that they appear to dance in concert reflects the precarious nature of their position and the vicissitudes of the market, finely balanced between the conflicting interests of capital and labour (a conflict itself modelable as a game), and flocking according to subtle variations in their opponents strategies. Secret societies exist; there is absolutely no doubt about that - occasionally we discover one, and they seem to come from somewhere :). But in the vast majority of cases their invocation adds no explanatory value, and we may be certain of this particularly by the fact that whenever a culture is wrenched open to external scrutiny by rapid disintegration or conquest, they have played no functional part in its structure beyond that of spectres disguising the fundamental imperatives of class. They are part of the political mythos, borne of the same error in reasoning that caused our ancestors to worship the weather; the attribution of intentionality to explain - or to tame - threatening patterns. Superstition and magical thinking are a heavy veil to lift, but you can survive perfectly well without them. As William of Ockham had it: do not multiply entities beyond necessity.

:)

Homeland Insurgency
4th July 2008, 06:34 AM
I've been thinking about writing a little discussion about game theory and secret societies. I couldn't be bothered to draw the table, because I'm inherently lazy. To my immense displeasure, I have discovered the | table | feature and run out of excuses.

Game theory

Game theory is a concept fundamental to modern economic thought. It describes decision making with limited information. The archetypal game, known as the Prisoners' Dilemma, brilliantly illustrates the difficulties in achieving collective action.

Prisoners' Dilemma:
| | | Player B
| | cooperate | defect
| cooperate | 1, 1 | -3, 2
Player A | defect | 2, -3 | -1, -1

It looks confusing (Christ, you should see the bbcode :)), but you have nothing to fear. The situation is as follows. Two miscreants have been caught in a crime. They are about to be interrogated separately. Honour among thieves, when it comes to the crunch, isn't all that honourable; each seeks only to maximise their own score. The rules are very simple. Each player plays simultaneously - which is to say that they don't know their opponents choice when they play. They have two options - they can agree to cooperate, and pretend to know nothing about the crime at all, hoping to get off with a light sentence. Or they can defect, and tell the police all about their misdeeds, securing their opponents conviction in exchange for a plea bargain.

Imagine we are player A. Our two choices are marked by the two rows - first cooperate, then defect. Our scores are written in red, followed by player B's in blue. Each row contains two columns, representing the eventualities of player B's choice if we choose this row - first cooperate, then defect.

In order to analyse the game, we effectively use backward induction - reasoning backwards from our opponent's choice. If player B were to choose to cooperate, we would choose from the first column - either 1, 1 if we cooperate, or 2, -3 if we defect. Remember, we are entirely uninterested in our opponents score - we seek only to maximise our own. Clearly we are better off defecting. What if they choose to defect? Second column, we get -3, 2 if we cooperate and -1, -1 if we defect. It transpires that we are in fact better off betraying our erstwhile comrade irrespective of their choice.

The game is symmetrical, so player B necessarily follows the same logic. Here lies the eponymous dilemma: we both prefer the solution in which we remain quiet, but through rational self interest we confess, and betray one another.

Iterative game theory

A bleak and hollow vision, with little relation to real behaviour? Perhaps. We may in fact sometimes be glad people don't listen to the models - Von Neumann, one of the early game theorists, counseled that the best course of action was full preemptive nuclear warfare against the Soviet Union, which would, it must be assumed, have been a mess. Social reality isn't an all or nothing stand-off, fortune has it, but rather a continual process of negotiation.

Continuing the logic of backwards induction, what happens if we play multiple times? Suppose we are going to play ten games. We start from the assumption that we are best off cooperating throughout, but I know that I'm better off in the last game defecting, because you can't punish me afterwards. You are beholden to the same logic, and as you intend to betray me in the last game, I have no interest in 'playing nice' and cooperating in the second to last in order to secure future favour. We work backwards, and realise we are exactly where we started - stabbing each other relentlessly in the back.

What, however, if we play the game an infinite or unknown number of times? We can't induct backwards from an unknown point, so things get interesting. As long as we believe that betrayal will induce counter-betrayal, we are best off trying to secure continued mutual cooperation and building trust.

Implicit collusion

So let's apply this to a real world situation - that of supermarket price-wars. Both supermarkets are better off cooperating to keep prices high, but either will gain in the short term by cutting them, taking their opponent's customers. If continued, this will inevitably induce reciprocal cuts, equalising the losses, until someone balks and a new round of cooperation ensues. We can envisage the extra points tempting either player into betrayal gradually increasing, as the profit margin, and thus the potential scope for slashing prices, gradually drifts upwards, until a snapping point is reached, and somebody starts a new round of price-wars.

The interesting thing about price-wars is when they don't happen. The very fact that a spate of reciprocal cuts suddenly occurs is indicative of a period of cooperation beforehand, during which potential cuts were foregone; otherwise, prices would forever remain flat at the minimum cost of production and distribution. Supermarkets, in a highly competitive field and with no overall capacity to consciously coordinate their actions, manage to operate this ethereal cartel for sustained periods; a process known as implicit collusion. The fact that there are many of them does not alter the fundamental logic of the situation - it's just easier to draw the chart in two dimensions. :)

Secret societies, William of Ockham, and Capital

This framework gives us a very simple, but surprisingly powerful way of analysing decision making in the face of unknown behaviour on the part of other actors. The smaller the number of players, the higher the probability of sustaining cooperation for sustained periods. We can explain the apparently coordinated behaviour of politicians, firms, even nations themselves by appeal to the notion of implicit collusion - heads of state and business do not need smoke filled rooms to apparently spontaneously decide en masse to reconfigure strategy or legislation; they can rely on continued profiteering as the cold logic of the shared motivator. The fact that they appear to dance in concert reflects the precarious nature of their position and the vicissitudes of the market, finely balanced between the conflicting interests of capital and labour (a conflict itself modelable as a game), and flocking according to subtle variations in their opponents strategies. Secret societies exist; there is absolutely no doubt about that - occasionally we discover one, and they seem to come from somewhere :). But in the vast majority of cases their invocation adds no explanatory value, and we may be certain of this particularly by the fact that whenever a culture is wrenched open to external scrutiny by rapid disintegration or conquest, they have played no functional part in its structure beyond that of spectres disguising the fundamental imperatives of class. They are part of the political mythos, borne of the same error in reasoning that caused our ancestors to worship the weather; the attribution of intentionality to explain - or to tame - threatening patterns. Superstition and magical thinking are a heavy veil to lift, but you can survive perfectly well without them. As William of Ockham had it: do not multiply entities beyond necessity.

:)

But I would say that the less players involved make this "implicit collusion" more possible or easier. The corporate franchising of everything. The lack of term limits on some political positions. Even in the scenario where two people get pulled in for a crime and are interrogated separately would be less possible to maintain if there was twenty involved. With that many involved someone will always crack or look to make their self serving move. Competition is vital in a capitalistic society and instead of being coddled and preserved in America it is constantly undermined and squashed on both sides by liberal socialist like programs and chronism fascist type monopolies respectively. The game in America has become not how to play the game the best but how to get around the game.

Even our sports heroes are roided up. Our president is a prince. Your garbage man probably got a position with the city not because he was the best job applicant for garbage collector but because his uncle has years in with the city or he filled the right racial quota. The game is not played anymore it was attacked and lost.

Confuseling
4th July 2008, 12:00 PM
...The game in America has become not how to play the game the best but how to get around the game.
...

I see your point; but if we're talking game theory, perhaps better to say we're playing a different, more sinister one, rather than not playing at all? :) The difference, perhaps, between market capitalism and a kind of quasi-corporatist militarist state-Keynesianism.

I agree with you, competition is important - but not a sufficient condition to ensure fairness.

We could model its failure using the above Prisoners' Dilemma example by drastically increasing the reward and temptation payoffs (the positive ones); say adding ten to each.

Take chat shows. They all lie constantly; everyone knows it - presumably most especially the other chat shows. Wouldn't it be a great scoop to rat out on your competitors, and reveal once and for all that they're cheap, muckraking hacks? Not if we can preserve the oligopoly - as long the rewards of continuing to divide the public fleece between us outweigh the gains from betrayal, no reason to act at all. When people get into favoured positions, it should hardly be surprising that few of them turn around and shout "It's all a scam! We're pretty much luckier versions of the rest of you!" The fact that they do, even occasionally, is instructive.

You need legislation to curtail this kind of carve up - markets won't do it. And as long as legislatures compete with one another for inter-market dominance, they must lean to appeal to capital.

Father Dagon
4th July 2008, 04:12 PM
Good OP! Good thing that you mentioned economy. One of my standard questions to twoofers if they believe that you can plan the economy as the soviets tried to.

Another standard question of mine is that if they really believe that they have blown the top of the greatest conspriacy of all times (the jews faking the Holocaust), how come that they are still alive? People have, are and will be killing in order to keep secrets. So my question is:

Let's say that the conspirators has the best death squad there is. And let's say that the probability of anyone outside the conspiracy catching wind of it is almost nil, so the death squad is mostly idle. So how long time does it take before the death squads "janitorial activities" will attract much more attention than they are trying to cover up?

geni
4th July 2008, 04:35 PM
Let's say that the conspirators has the best death squad there is. And let's say that the probability of anyone outside the conspiracy catching wind of it is almost nil, so the death squad is mostly idle. So how long time does it take before the death squads "janitorial activities" will attract much more attention than they are trying to cover up?

Depends on the social groups the people they are neutraliseing are from and what connections they have.

Father Dagon
4th July 2008, 05:35 PM
Depends on the social groups the people they are neutraliseing are from and what connections they have.Yeah, but is it possible to quantify?

geni
4th July 2008, 05:45 PM
Yeah, but is it possible to quantify?

To an extent. You compare the influence the person is likely to have live and the influcence they are likely to have dead.

You need to consider how well they can recruit what groups they can recruit from and how much energy they will personaly put into opposing you.

Then consider how many people will be recruited if they died and how effective those recruits will be.

The third factor is what they actualy know.

Idealy the descision needs to be made fast.

To see how this is done in practice see the various critia dictators use to decide when to dissapear people.

Confuseling
4th July 2008, 07:08 PM
Good OP! Good thing that you mentioned economy. One of my standard questions to twoofers if they believe that you can plan the economy as the soviets tried to.

Another standard question of mine is that if they really believe that they have blown the top of the greatest conspriacy of all times (the jews faking the Holocaust), how come that they are still alive? People have, are and will be killing in order to keep secrets. So my question is:

Let's say that the conspirators has the best death squad there is. And let's say that the probability of anyone outside the conspiracy catching wind of it is almost nil, so the death squad is mostly idle. So how long time does it take before the death squads "janitorial activities" will attract much more attention than they are trying to cover up?

Thanks. I took a while writing it, but as I said it had been bubbling in my brain for a bit, and it definitely wanted me to write it. :)

Further to geni's points, I think a lot of it comes down to the scale of the conspiracy - which again I think you can draw back to game theory, in a way.

Let's take 911 truth. The standard argument is essentially that the US government did it, and you can prove it with videos on youtube. I wrote my thoughts on that here (http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=3509424&postcount=28), and R. Mackey's inflationary (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?p=2320446#post2320446) theory (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?p=2323813#post2323813) is a characteristically cunning systems analysis of the same fundamental point.

Reformulated in a game theoryish way, I suppose the point is that it might well be the case that you can allow people to wander around talking about it as much as they want, as long as 'the Truth' is drowned out by a suitable number of equally plausible other 'truths'. Killing people willy nilly, as you say, isn't a very secret way for a secret society to operate. But you do have to reserve the ultimate sanction for anyone that actually starts to gain traction.

This has to apply most concretely to other countries - their intelligence services or academic bodies cannot be allowed, under any circumstance, to start publicising these facts. If China noticed that the evidence for 911 didn't add up, or that the holocaust hadn't happened, you'd expect them to sing it from the rooftops - the entire civil society of the West would be brought low by a revolution the like of which has never been seen (ALL Western media, governments, academia etc are complicit by silent assent at the very least), and this would be to their great geopolitical advantage. So the conspiracy has to be on a worldwide scale - even a small government or group with a grudge, such as Iran or Al-Qaeda, could anonymously flood the internet and avoid reprisals.

And this plausibly brings us back to a prisoners' dilemma. Why don't factions emerge? Palace coups? You would expect a rogue element in a conspiracy this gargantuan to decide that they can bring down the whole fandango, to either take over themselves, or gain the eternal gratitude of the whole planet. That's one hell of a 'temptation' payoff. We should expect them to succeed, or be eliminated in numbers with shockingly violent prejudice.

The very fact that none of these things are happening indicates that there is no solid evidence in the public domain - even the kind of inferential evidence that modern surveillance societies could accumulate. It doesn't mean that these conspiracies haven't happened; just that any evidence that hasn't been compiled by highly trained professionals is not realistically going to be evidence at all.

[ETA: Although of course if the evidence isn't public, that doesn't answer your question at all :)]

Tippit
6th July 2008, 02:42 AM
The very fact that none of these things are happening indicates that there is no solid evidence in the public domain - even the kind of inferential evidence that modern surveillance societies could accumulate. It doesn't mean that these conspiracies haven't happened; just that any evidence that hasn't been compiled by highly trained professionals is not realistically going to be evidence at all.

Another possibility is that the success of the conspiracy revolves not around keeping what happened a secret, but rather cultivating the idea that the secret is simply too ridiculous or painful to be believed once it is revealed. The idea that a shadowy elite may be manipulating civilizations into war is a disturbing thought, not willing to be entertained by many. In this case there is not only an evidentiary hurdle to be leaped, but an emotional one as well. The evidence itself is less of an issue than the ability to authenticate it, interpret it, and obtain the power to bring people to account as a result of it.

It's much easier to believe the official 9/11 narrative than to doubt it because it creates an easily identifiable bogeyman - a cultural villain which can be responded to with force, and that is comforting in the face of an incredibly violent and evil event. People prefer knowing to not knowing, and they prefer simple lies to complicated truths.

GreNME
7th July 2008, 01:31 PM
Even our sports heroes are roided up. Our president is a prince. Your garbage man probably got a position with the city not because he was the best job applicant for garbage collector but because his uncle has years in with the city or he filled the right racial quota. The game is not played anymore it was attacked and lost.

You score one out of three there. Yes, there are problems in professional sports with regard to doping. However, if you consider between a 22 and 32 percent approval rating for President Bush equal to him being a "prince" you are out of touch with reality-- alternatively, if you're waving that "he's a distant cousin to royalty" flag you also have an incredibly weak understanding of genealogy.

As for the garbage man baloney, I almost have to laugh at the mixture of middle-class white-boy bitterness and the overblown sense of entitlement that drips from the statement. I say almost because it would only be funny if such a ridiculous attitude were an anomaly instead of an all-too-common misconception based on pure ignorance (and sometimes mild racism).

Alex_V
7th July 2008, 05:48 PM
Another possibility is that the success of the conspiracy revolves not around keeping what happened a secret, but rather cultivating the idea that the secret is simply too ridiculous or painful to be believed once it is revealed. The idea that a shadowy elite may be manipulating civilizations into war is a disturbing thought, not willing to be entertained by many. In this case there is not only an evidentiary hurdle to be leaped, but an emotional one as well. The evidence itself is less of an issue than the ability to authenticate it, interpret it, and obtain the power to bring people to account as a result of it.

It's much easier to believe the official 9/11 narrative than to doubt it because it creates an easily identifiable bogeyman - a cultural villain which can be responded to with force, and that is comforting in the face of an incredibly violent and evil event. People prefer knowing to not knowing, and they prefer simple lies to complicated truths.

I think the 9/11 conspiracy theory narrative is actually far more comforting to believers - the bogeyman is not an unknown and hidden threat towards which we feel personally powerless, but a group that we know intimately, our own corrupt gvmt. That is definitely the simpler lie.

GreNME
7th July 2008, 07:03 PM
I think the 9/11 conspiracy theory narrative is actually far more comforting to believers - the bogeyman is not an unknown and hidden threat towards which we feel personally powerless, but a group that we know intimately, our own corrupt gvmt. That is definitely the simpler lie.

I don't know about simpler, but definitely more romantic. In such a scenario the conspiracy theorists get to play the heroes in their very own (in)action movie.

Confuseling
28th July 2008, 04:49 AM
Another possibility is that the success of the conspiracy revolves not around keeping what happened a secret, but rather cultivating the idea that the secret is simply too ridiculous or painful to be believed once it is revealed. The idea that a shadowy elite may be manipulating civilizations into war is a disturbing thought, not willing to be entertained by many. In this case there is not only an evidentiary hurdle to be leaped, but an emotional one as well. The evidence itself is less of an issue than the ability to authenticate it, interpret it, and obtain the power to bring people to account as a result of it.

It's much easier to believe the official 9/11 narrative than to doubt it because it creates an easily identifiable bogeyman - a cultural villain which can be responded to with force, and that is comforting in the face of an incredibly violent and evil event. People prefer knowing to not knowing, and they prefer simple lies to complicated truths.

A valid point. Apologies for the delayed response, I have been moving house and 'netless.

This is perfectly true, in the case where there is a preponderance of vague evidence. Any smoking guns (such as the much vaunted 'physical impossibilities of the collapse') would blow open the illusion, starting with those fringe elements least beholden to the status quo, but spreading rapidly enough.

However, even a preponderance of vague evidence can be assembled by professional investigators into a convincing package - and that's what seals the deal for me. When the movement's guiding lights are the Loose Change crew and David Ray Griffon, you know it's all fiction; even if the serious researchers were overshadowed by a populist and wildly inaccurate mainstream, you would expect them to show their faces occasionally.

dudalb
28th July 2008, 01:06 PM
Love the orbital mind control Laser card.

metamars
29th July 2008, 07:41 AM
This has to apply most concretely to other countries - their intelligence services or academic bodies cannot be allowed, under any circumstance, to start publicising these facts. If China noticed that the evidence for 911 didn't add up, or that the holocaust hadn't happened, you'd expect them to sing it from the rooftops

No, not really. I've attended a talk by Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday. They both served as UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, and quit for reasons of conscience. Halliday said "I don't want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide" and Sponeck called the effects of the sanctions a "true human tragedy". When asked why neither Russia nor China makes a stink about this in the Security Council, the response was nothing like you, apparently, would expect. What do you think the reply was?

If China will not make a stink about a program spearheaded by the US and UK that many agree was effectively genocide, why would it make a stink about a program which only killed about 3,000 Americans? Please don't tell me "Concern about Iraqis" - China's record on that score is already established! I don't think there's a hard and fast rule about such things, but hopefully you see my point.

- the entire civil society of the West would be brought low by a revolution the like of which has never been seen (ALL Western media, governments, academia etc are complicit by silent assent at the very least),

Just what form would being "brought low" take? You can be sure that the US government would deny everything, which I'm sure would be quite enough for the shallow of mind here in the US, no matter how strong any evidence presented might be. That would mitigate the effects domestically. As for foreigners, surely you know that the US is already considered a lawless rogue state by much of the world. What exactly would be so different as to make the US be "brought low", whatever that might mean?

and this would be to their great geopolitical advantage.

How many foreigners don't already believe that the US attacked Iraq based on a "pack of lies"? With a million or so dead Iraqis as a consequence, plus 2 million or so displaced to outside of Iraq (and, AFAIK, not one penny sent by the US government for their relief; the NY Times has reported that many Iraqi refugee women have resorted to prostitution to feed their families), just how much lower in the minds of foreigners can the US sink to?

The very fact that none of these things are happening indicates that there is no solid evidence in the public domain - even the kind of inferential evidence that modern surveillance societies could accumulate. It doesn't mean that these conspiracies haven't happened; just that any evidence that hasn't been compiled by highly trained professionals is not realistically going to be evidence at all.

This argument makes more sense of countries like Iran - China and Russia do not behave in a way that you (apparently) would predict. However, your premise is still deeply flawed. E.g., when indications appear in public, of evidence pointing to a conspiracy beyond what the government admits to, such as the “almost irrefutable proof of insider trading”, reported by German central bank president Ernst Welteke, based on a study by his bank (http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=aearly0901german#aearly0901german ), but the FBI eventually says there's nothing amiss, we have a stark contradiction. The German study may not be sufficient evidence to convict anybody in a court of law, but it still provides a powerful argument, in the public domain, that the US government is hiding something.

Maybe the Iranian government, at some point, did make a big deal out of this. However, with no ability to conduct investigations and trials in the US (and Germany, or wherever else these "lucky" investors may be), the Iranian government will be just as stymied in pursuing this as domestic 911 Truth activists have been.

So, in this case, even if the put options analysis conclusion that has made it to the public domain does not rise to the level of "inferential evidence that modern surveillance societies could accumulate", it certainly does rise to the level of inferential evidence of likely conspiracy beyond what the US government admits to.

Yet, AFAIK, neither China nor Iran makes casting doubts on the US' handling of the 911 investigation a tactic in bringing us lower.

What is holding them back? Concerns that Welteke may be a "fantasist" or pathological liar?

Confuseling
29th July 2008, 09:55 AM
No, not really. I've attended a talk by Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday. They both served as UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, and quit for reasons of conscience. Halliday said "I don't want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide" and Sponeck called the effects of the sanctions a "true human tragedy". When asked why neither Russia nor China makes a stink about this in the Security Council, the response was nothing like you, apparently, would expect. What do you think the reply was?

If China will not make a stink about a program spearheaded by the US and UK that many agree was effectively genocide, why would it make a stink about a program which only killed about 3,000 Americans? Please don't tell me "Concern about Iraqis" - China's record on that score is already established! I don't think there's a hard and fast rule about such things, but hopefully you see my point.
...

I'm talking about the case where there's proof on youtube. China doesn't rock the boat about other Western injustices because it is not advantageous to China to do so - it is seeking to garner diplomatic favour and trade integration. However, IF it could clearly prove that 911 was an 'inside job', as near any convicted Truther would have to accept they could to avoid inconsistency (if you have proof, why on Earth doesn't China?), it would clearly be useful to it to do so.

If it makes a stink about Iraqi civilians, or illegal tariffs, or polychlorinated phenol pollution, nobody will listen, the West gets annoyed, and China loses. If it has proof that the American government deliberately killed large numbers of its own citizens, it will talk about it - because make no mistake, as soon as a government, intelligence service or academic body starts to take this seriously, many people who have dismissed the conspiracy theory out of hand will immediately begin to pay attention.

That's the key point; truthers' claims that they have uncovered irrefutable proof are pretty near self defeating. If the proof were irrefutable, it wouldn't be coming from truthers.

metamars
29th July 2008, 02:04 PM
That's the key point; truthers' claims that they have uncovered irrefutable proof are pretty near self defeating. If the proof were irrefutable, it wouldn't be coming from truthers.

As far as I can tell, the one thing that Truthers have most in common is the call for a more serious investigation. By necessity, that's one that would have subpoena power, people would go to jail for perjury, whistleblowers would be protected, etc.

One needs irrefutable evidence (I hope) for conviction in a trial. The discovery process in a trial is what may, or may not, yield irrefutable proof.

So, even if some 911 Truthers are still saying that they have irrefutable proof, already, they do not speak for everybody who believes in MIHOP or LIHOP, and in terms of legal, domestic processes, it doesn't matter, anyway. As far as foreign governments accusing the US of murder based on youtube videos, I would think they'd want something much stronger than that. It doesn't need elaboration that due to the US's superpower status in a unipolar world, an accusation of murder without the benefit of a fair trial is even more unthinkable.

But even if they had it, does China's record at the UN really inspire any confidence in you that they would use it by making it public? Or is it far more likely that they would use it as a bargaining chip? If they dared?

------------------------------------

To answer the question that I posed in my prior post, Russia and China don't embarrass the US because, in return, they don't want to be embarrassed. (This isn't always true, of course.) Obviously, exposing murder of the US's own citizens would be about the most embarrassing thing China could do, but the payback could be hell.

Confuseling
31st July 2008, 06:17 AM
As far as I can tell, the one thing that Truthers have most in common is the call for a more serious investigation. By necessity, that's one that would have subpoena power, people would go to jail for perjury, whistleblowers would be protected, etc.

One needs irrefutable evidence (I hope) for conviction in a trial. The discovery process in a trial is what may, or may not, yield irrefutable proof.

So, even if some 911 Truthers are still saying that they have irrefutable proof, already, they do not speak for everybody who believes in MIHOP or LIHOP, and in terms of legal, domestic processes, it doesn't matter, anyway. As far as foreign governments accusing the US of murder based on youtube videos, I would think they'd want something much stronger than that. It doesn't need elaboration that due to the US's superpower status in a unipolar world, an accusation of murder without the benefit of a fair trial is even more unthinkable.

But even if they had it, does China's record at the UN really inspire any confidence in you that they would use it by making it public? Or is it far more likely that they would use it as a bargaining chip? If they dared?

------------------------------------

To answer the question that I posed in my prior post, Russia and China don't embarrass the US because, in return, they don't want to be embarrassed. (This isn't always true, of course.) Obviously, exposing murder of the US's own citizens would be about the most embarrassing thing China could do, but the payback could be hell.

Well, the strength of youtube videos depends on the inconsistencies in question. If, for example, the towers 'fell at freefall speed through the path of most resistance", and oughtn't to have done, that should be blindingly apparent to the rest of the world.

Would China use this as a bargaining chip? I sincerely doubt it - if they squealed about it very loudly, flooding the west with a comprehensive technical description of the inconsistency, it's very hard to envisage anything other than an international Western revolution, removing us as a power for decades or longer, and making retaliation impossible (China produces solid evidence that US government killed its own civilians en masse, US government orders massive nuclear strikes against Chinese cities. US army obeys orders? Not a chance). China would be the preeminent superpower.

Fear of being reciprocally embarrassed could hardly stop them either - unless they have some monumental skeleton in their closet that only Western elites know about. Autocratic states don't care anywhere near as much what their publics think about them; and the entire world is already pretty well aware of what's happening in China.

If, somehow, China decides not to, somebody else would. It could even be done anonymously by somebody in a tight spot - like Iran. We can infer from the very simple fact of this conspicuous silence that there is no solid evidence in the public domain. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that there's no reason to think it did.

metamars
31st July 2008, 03:55 PM
Well, the strength of youtube videos depends on the inconsistencies in question. If, for example, the towers 'fell at freefall speed through the path of most resistance", and oughtn't to have done, that should be blindingly apparent to the rest of the world.

Would China use this as a bargaining chip? I sincerely doubt it - if they squealed about it very loudly, flooding the west with a comprehensive technical description of the inconsistency, it's very hard to envisage anything other than an international Western revolution, removing us as a power for decades or longer, and making retaliation impossible (China produces solid evidence that US government killed its own civilians en masse, US government orders massive nuclear strikes against Chinese cities. US army obeys orders? Not a chance). China would be the preeminent superpower.

Fear of being reciprocally embarrassed could hardly stop them either - unless they have some monumental skeleton in their closet that only Western elites know about. Autocratic states don't care anywhere near as much what their publics think about them; and the entire world is already pretty well aware of what's happening in China.

If, somehow, China decides not to, somebody else would. It could even be done anonymously by somebody in a tight spot - like Iran. We can infer from the very simple fact of this conspicuous silence that there is no solid evidence in the public domain. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that there's no reason to think it did.

Do you agree that there is solid evidence, in the public domain, that the US and UK sanctions helped cause the death of half a million or so Iraqis in the 90's and similar numbers, directly or indirectly, due to the invasion in 2003? If so, why doesn't China and Iran jump up and down, screaming about it, and attempting to "bring us low" (whatever that may mean)?

Just what, exactly, is China and Iran supposed to do with this information? The 9% approval rating of Congress reflects, in part, their lack of response to the public to do their freakin' jobs. If the elites in Washington, D.C., care so little about the public that they are supposed to be serving, just what exactly could China or Iran do with this "solid evidence"?

And if they don't do anything like this for well known atrocities, why should 9/11 (or any other dubious event or atrocity) be any different?

Are you aware that Nicaragua successfully sued the US in the world court (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua_v._United_States) and won? The court awarded reparations, of which the US paid not a penny.

What did Nicaragua do, subsequently, to "bring the US low?" Nothing that I have heard of.

Politics is "the art of the possible", and politicians are not going to spend their political capital without a reasonable expectation that they will get something in return. On the international stage, I doubt that there's any difference between politicians of autocratic regimes and democracies (such as they are) on this score.

metamars
31st July 2008, 04:05 PM
What did Nicaragua do, subsequently, to "bring the US low?" Nothing that I have heard of.

I should have said, "beyond the failed UN votes". The wikipedia article states:

After five vetoes in the Security Council between 1982 and 1985 of resolutions concerning the situation in Nicaragua[7], the United States made one final veto on 28 October 1986[23] (France, Thailand, and United Kingdom abstaining) of a resolution calling for full and immediate compliance with the Judgement.[24]

Nicaragua brought the matter to the U.N. Security Council, where the United States vetoed a resolution (11 to 1, 3 abstentions) calling on all states to observe international law. Also turned to the General Assembly, which passed a resolution 94 to 3 calling for compliance with the World Court ruling. Two states, Israel and El Salvador, joined the United States in opposition. At that time, El Salvador was receiving substantial funding and military advisement from the U.S., which was aiming to crush a Sandinista-like revolutionary movement by the FMLN. At the same session, Nicaragua called upon the U.N. to send an independent fact-finding mission to the border to secure international monitoring of the borders after a conflict there; the proposal was rejected by Honduras with U.S. backing. A year later, on November 12, 1987, the General Assembly again called for "full and immediate compliance" with the World Court decision. This time only Israel joined the United States in opposing adherence to international law. [25][26]

Confuseling
31st July 2008, 05:29 PM
Hehe. The so called Golden law of governance; who has the gold makes the laws.

Hardly the same thing though, from a US citizen's perspective. Firstly, depressingly, there's the universal tendency to value your compatriots more than others. Perhaps more importantly though, you can make the case that the sanctions were a good thing - not a proposition I agree with, but one that can be assembled into a coherent argument. Most people are utterly disillusioned with politics, and more or less stop listening when the argument bogs down, reverting to archetypes and personalities. Forcefully repeat a few platitudes about defending our values and evil dictators and people aren't going to listen to the people asking whether sanctions against a tyrannical regime actually do anything to weaken it or just kill more poor children; that's politics, therefore it's boring.

This is a situation utterly different from one in which you can demonstrate unequivocal evidence that the US government deliberately, directly or through its proxies, killed large numbers of its own citizenry. Sure, a few people will refuse to listen no matter what you show them - at least at first. But as soon as you have serious minded groups accepting that the evidence stacks up, hesitant people begin to seriously evaluate your case. It inevitably happens first among the peoples who most want it to be true - i.e. America's competitors and ideological opponents.

What to do with the evidence? I don't know. Take it to the UN. Or other governments. Or pirate radio. Or flood the net. Or distribute pamphlets. But the point is do something. No organised response = no evidence.

By brought low I mean the complete destruction of present civil society. If the media, academia and government are deliberately - or even unconsciously - ignoring clear evidence, that is the only course of action.

metamars
1st August 2008, 08:13 PM
So you're suggesting that China and Iran would be perfectly happy to "bring the US low" by somehow forcing US citizens to confront the evidence of US's responsibility for Iraqi deaths, if only it weren't for the inconvenient fact that Iraqis just don't count as much as Americans (to Americans)?

For sure, I agree with your observation of a "universal tendency to value compatriots more than others". Nevertheless, if China and Iran are so eager to bring the US low, why don't they use the US' deadly meddling in Iraq to at least give us a black eye? Are you suggesting that it must be "all or nothing"? Either aim for "the complete destruction of present civil society", or keep your mouth shut until the evidence of US government murder of Americans appears?

If so, I must say that I find this an incredible point of view. First of all, I don't believe that either China or Iran want such a chaotic situation to prevail in the US. We do have nuclear weapons, after all. Is it in their interest to create such instability in the US?

Secondly, even if this was their goal, I also find incredible any sort of "all or nothing" strategy.

Thirdly, even if 911 was proven, in the minds of, say, 95% of Americans, to be either LIHOP of MIHOP, I also find incredible the notion that this would "bring us low". People have rents to pay, children to raise, lives to lead. We are too fat and happy to have any kind of chaos or revolution, even if we're disgusted with our government, and facing an almost assured economic decline (and thus not all that happy). Survival comes before politics, for the vast majority of people - I think this is a truism in all countries.

Quite frankly, I'd be more concerned that Americans are so jaded that even conviction of 911 traitors in a fair court of law would elicit yawns and resignation (after a blip of anger, I suppose), at the expense of an enhanced sense of responsibility for allowing the government to degenerate to such a low level. Do not citizens of a democracy, even such a dysfunctional one as is evident in the US, have a responsibility to try and correct their government? Beyond voting, writing the occasional letter to their Congressman, and whining to friends, family, and strangers? I think so, but I suspect that your view of expected consequences of 911 convictions is not unlike that of many 911 Truthers - and just as wrong.

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance"

Attributed (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson) to Thomas Jefferson

Confuseling
4th August 2008, 04:07 AM
Are you honestly suggesting that if the majority of the population of the US believed that the government had deliberately killed large numbers of its citizenry in order to start an illegal war or two, and political opposition, mass media and academia had conspired to avoid noticing, there wouldn't be a revolution?

I think we must have our wires crossed here. You have to understand that in all of these posts I am talking about the case where the proof has been publicly available for some time, and there is a conspiracy of silence. Hell, if it transpired that the hijackers were still alive, or couldn't have flown the planes like that, or steel buildings didn't collapse from fires, I'd grab my trusty pitchfork and jump on the first train to Westminster. America would turn to absolute bedlam.

Would China want to create such a situation? I would suspect so, yes - I doubt it would affect them directly. Even if they didn't, choosing a longer game perhaps, you would have to expect some country, somewhere, or even some dissident group (Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, MEND), with the competency to point it out in stark terms, to be trying to do so.

This negates the 'we have clear proof but the media won't listen' argument - it plainly doesn't make sense. It does not in any shape or form disprove the conspiracy, but says something about the standard of evidence available.

And yes, if revealing injustices in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Palestine would instigate an American revolution, I'm absolutely certain that foreign powers would do it. They'd document them to the nth degree and then broadcast them onto US soil using any means possible. Geopolitics is still often a fairly zero-sum game when it comes down to it - and it's only Western hegemony that temporarily disguises that. So why not do it anyway - the 'black eye' you mentioned? Because we already know all of those things already, but we're either too cynical to care or consider this course of action better than the alternatives. Put it this way: why doesn't the African Union put together expensive TV ads bludgeoning home the point that Western trade injustices are killing 30,000 children per day? Sympathy fatigue, combined with a sense of impotence. There's nothing we can do, or it's Somebody Else's ProblemTM. If they did, it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference to most people. That's really not the same thing as: "Your government deliberately and consciously murdered thousands of your civilians and hundreds of thousands more foreigners; none of the checks, balances and dispassionate observers even noticed, let alone did anything about it; you might be next."