Sunday, August 03, 2008

Psychopathy: Continuous or Categorical?

I've been thinking about the "continuous vs categorical" debate in relation to psychopathy. I just started reading a book called "Thinking about Psychopaths and Psychopathy" edited by Ellsworth Lapham Fersch. It's a collection of questions and answers from seminars he's given on psychopathy, with contributions by various academics. Based on Fersch's introduction, it looks is promising and insightful. However, I wonder if Fersch really "gets it". While he talks about the importance of psychopathy quite eloquently and identifies the problems inherent in the conflation of psychopathy with antisocial personality disorder, there is a question and answer in the first chapter that is puzzling. (It is possible one of his colleagues answered this question, as the individual author is not listed for each section.)

In this question on the debate between psychopathy as either categorical (i.e. you either have it or you don't, like Turner's syndrome) or continuous (the extreme end of traits shared by everyone, e.g. someone with very high intelligence), he firmly takes the "continuous" side. However, I get the impression that he does so without understanding the crux of the matter, the implications of such a position.

He concludes that psychopathy is continuous because the PCL-R gives results on a spectrum (0 being "least psychopathic", 40 being "most psychopathic"), and because people can score low on the checklist (and thus, technically, have "psychopathic" traits), that people are only "more or less" psychopathic. In other words, because non-psychopaths can score more than 0 on the test and not be considered psychopaths, Fersch concludes that psychopaths only have extreme degrees of more or less "normal" human traits.

I think he is correct, but not for the reasons he would argue, because his argument is fairly weak and susceptible to distortion. First of all, the fact that the PCL-R measures a spectrum of traits does NOT mean that it is measuring a disorder which is itself a "spectrum". The fact that there is no definite "cut off point" on the scale does NOT mean that psychopathy is not categorical. It could just as well mean that we do not yet have the means of identifying an exact cut off point, or that there could be two distinct taxons (normal and psychopathic) that can overlap on the scale.

It is also possible that psychopathy is both categorical and continuous, i.e. that a person is either a psychopath or not, and that those who are psychopaths show a spectrum of indicators of psychopathy (theoretically, all psychopaths would have a majority, perhaps all, of the traits listed in the PCL-R, but they may not be detectable by known personal history and interview).

A thought experiment will make this clearer. Imagine that scientists create a robotic human with artificial intelligence, which will then be tested using a variation on the Turing test, which we will call the "human" test. Questions are asked to the robot based on a checklist of human traits. A normal human, responding to the test, will receive a score of 30 to 40, while primitive forms of AI will receive a low score. Severely mentally ill people may score in the mid-range.

Let us say that our new robot scores 26. It would be fallacious to say that, because the test is continuous, that this implies that the robot is "more or less" human. All it shows is that it shares traits with a human, and these traits may be mere programs. They are algorithms, not experiences with syntactical content. They only give the appearance of humanity.

In this example, one is either a human or not. A human will score mid- to high-range on on the scale, depending on various factors. A non-human will score low- to mid-range. In addition to this categorical difference (human or not), there is a spectrum of how "close" to human a non-human can test. Some robots will test 0 on the scale, while those with complex programming may score fairly high. However, this just shows the limits of the method of testing. Conclusions about the nature of the phenomenon cannot be discerned from measurements of a limited test.

So how do we account for seemingly psychopathic traits in non-psychopaths? I think this can be explained fairly easily. Lobaczewski describes psychopathy as a deficit, NOT an excess. That is, psychopathy is a LACK of certain essential human qualities, and this lack gives rise to the peculiarities of psychopathy. In the case of psychopathy, this lack is syntonic (social) emotions: those responsible for bonding and empathy. Because of this lack, psychopaths see people as objects and a lifestyle develops that makes use of these objects (parasitic, manipulative). Lacking "other-centered" emotions, psychopaths are wholly self-centered (traits which normal humans DO possess, in varying strengths when compared to their other-centered emotions), and thus grandiose, not able to take responsibility. They are unable to feel guilt.

The LACK is what categorically makes them psychopaths, the cause which gives rise to their psychopathic traits WHICH NORMAL HUMANS CAN SHARE. Dabrowski, a contemporary of Lobaczewski, and his concept of multilevelness of emotional functions, provides the necessary context. Normal humanity DOES exist on a spectrum. Many exist with a low level of emotional development, what Dabrowski called primary integration, thus they can be extremely self-centered and even possess many psychopathic traits. As such, normal people can have very poorly developed "other-centered" emotions (and thus the possibility to develop them), the difference being that psychopaths LACK these emotions.

It is also possible that non-psychopathic individuals can originally have such a potential for growth, yet at some point in their lives acquire brain damage that severely alters their emotions and behavior. They can also "learn" psychopathic behaviors. These people may even achieve the same score on the PCL-R as a real psychopath, but people like Fersch don't seem to see this possibility: that the PCL-R is not a perfect measure of psychopathy. It is very effective, but it is not 100% accurate. So the fact that the scale is continuous does NOT imply that the disorder is continuous.

That said, it seems that other factors may be responsible for the continuity WITHIN psychopathy, for example, hippocampus size. Successful psychopaths are perhaps just better at masking their traits, so that an interview and personal history would not necessarily reveal these traits. If we had omniscience, perhaps we would be able to make an accurate diagnosis for these cases, but a mid-range PCL-R score does not necessarily mean that a person is not psychopathic. It could simply be the result of insufficient data.

So it is important to make a distinction between the continuous nature of the PCL-R as an instrument of measurement, and and the nature of psychopathy as a categorical disorder, or taxon. To ignore this distinction is dangerous. As Lobaczewski related from his experience in Poland, pathocratic authorities muddy the waters of psychopathy research so as to evade detection. They do this by creating a "catch-all" phrase for criminal deviance. We have seen this phenomenon in American psychiatry where the official DSM-IV only recognizes "antisocial personality disorder", a catchall label that can apply to both psychopaths and non-psychpoaths. Psychopathy is NOT included in the DSM-IV, and is thus not officially recognized as a valid personality disorder by the Manual.

This might have been enough in pathocracies such as in the Soviet empire, thus providing "cover" for psychopaths who do not fit the diagnosis of "antisocial personality disorder". However, the concept of psychopathy, thanks to Cleckley and Hare, seems too well established in the scientific literature to be so easily embargoed. Thus, a new tactic was needed. Viewing psychopathy as simply an "extreme" form of normality robs us of any real understanding of the disorder.

The entire makeup of a psychopath is qualitatively different from a normal human: their thinking, their worldview, their behavior. It is this "otherness" that is responsible for their dreams of Empire and world domination. By bracketing the true nature of psychopathy from our awareness, we give up any hope of identifying the root cause of the social disease which threatens to choke humanity's life in the near future.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Limbic Warface and Martha Stout's "The Paranoia Switch"

Martha Stout's newest book, The Paranoia Switch, is a welcome addition to the new and growing science of ponerology: the study of the root causes and genesis of evil, on both the social and interpersonal levels. Stout uses her years of experience as a trauma therapist to clinically diagnose the sickness of our 'terror culture,' and those who would manipulate this trauma for their own self-interest.

The paranoia switch

Traumatic events overload our limbic system. The heightened response of our amygdala, which registers the emotional significance of the event, leads to a decreased response in the hippocampus, which usually prioritizes information and allows the higher brain centers to create coherent memories, based on their emotional importance. So, traumatic events do not get integrated by the higher brain centers as true memories, but instead leave us with non-integrated fragments of memory: isolated images and sensations. These memories can then be "triggered" by similar images. In this way, a backfiring car can trigger a war vet into a state of paranoia. His "paranoia switch" has been flicked.

"Most overwhelming of all are traumatic experiences caused not by accident (unintended explosions or car crashes), or by "acts of God" (earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.), but rather by the deliberate acts of other people, acts such as assault, violent abduction, rape - or terrorism. It would seem that, for whatever reason, we are hardwired to be most fearful of harm when it threatens to occur maliciously, at the hands of our fellow human beings, and this special variety of fear is the most contagious of all." (62)

As Stout explains later in her book, fear brokers maintain their power through the exploitation of human weaknesses. Ironically, it is often the very people we are genetically "programmed" to fear (i.e. psychopathic individuals), that exploit this fear by focusing it on an arbitrary and convenient group. Hitler used anarchists, communists, and Jews. Bush is using "terrorists", Muslims, and critics of his policies.

Stout defines terrorism as "violence committed with the primary goal of manipulating the minds of the surviving population" (27). It creates a paranoia switch in our minds, or turns on an already existing one. Its "most cherished ambition is to affect us psychologically, to instill a sense of helplessness in the minds of individual citizens, and to steal, in wholesale grabs, from our collective store of hopefulness" (24).

It is in this way that terrorists (whether they be Western intelligence agency puppet masters or foreign "terrorist" patsies) are able to steer a battered public in the direction of their choice. However, we can make sure that terrorism does not work on our minds by being aware of its effects and its purpose, and the tactics of those who exploit it.

Limbic Resonance

Even though a terrorist attack directly affects only a very small portion of a population, the whole country can feel its effects. This phenomenon has its roots in our limbic system. "[T]he limbic system plays a dominant role in regulating our feelings, the accessibility of our memories, our motivations to act, our ability to make meaning of our experiences, and even our consciences" (77). "[C]onscience is a compelling feeling of obligation that is always based in our proclivity to bond with others... it is precisely our capacity to form emotional attachments that gives rise to moral character..." (75).

"[W]ith information from any or all of our senses, processed through the limbic system, we can perceive the internal state of another human being - her or his physiological and emotional status - to which we would otherwise be "blind." ... Not only does the limbic system allow us to perceive the emotions of others ... it functions, also, to align our emotions with those of the people around us, and vice versa." (78)

In this way, the trauma of a terrorist event is contagious. We are each affected by the emotional state of those around us; we all become traumatized. "[L]imbic resonance is one of the many reasons that personality, and especially character, should be primary considerations in choosing our leadership. For good or for ill, a high-profile leader can have a radiating emotional influence on large numbers of people" (83).

Machiavellian leaders are able to exploit this fact so well because they are psychopaths. They feel no pangs of conscience, no pain at the sight of a mutilated body. Nothing disturbs their cold, callous and unemotional nature.

Limbic War

When a leader chooses to exploit this contagion, rather than to calm and heal it, he is engaging in what Stout calls "limbic warfare." "If a leader chooses to focus the group's attention on the terrifying "others" - if he or she pounds the paranoia switch installed by trauma - the group's fear level is likely to remain over the top for a long time, and, whether or not he is competent, the leader's perceived authority will hold... [A]fter group trauma, large-scale social changes can be inaugurated, intentionally or not, by a handful of scaremongers who play to the anger and paranoia of a vulnerable population" (92-3, 95). It is at these key points in history that countries are ripe for pathocracy, a macrosocial disease that can last for decades - even centuries.

Stout identifies six stages of a limbic war:

1. Group Trauma: This takes the form of a national catastrophe, like 9/11, that "installs a nonconscious paranoia switch in the minds of a nation's citizens" (110).

2. Fear Brokers: Whether perpetrators (as is the case with 9/11) or merely opportunists (as was the case with Pearl Harbour), a small group of people will attempt to use this group fear to pursue their own agenda, repeatedly triggering the paranoia switch. Such frightened people "tend to be drawn to an authoritarian personality" for a leader (111). The rest of the steps depend on the success of this step.

3. Scapegoatism: The fear brokers will then contend that a specific group, usually innocent of the crime in question, is the responsible party. Such "successful scapegoatism slows the groups healing process to a crawl" (111). In this way, wars and hatred are initiated by the fear brokers' influence over the many.

4. Cultural Regression: With a concrete enemy to blame, such primitive instincts as lust for revenge can "crystallize." In this way, the fear brokers manipulate our moralizing tendencies. Separating the population into "patriots" and "traitors" (those who support the primitive response and those who do not) identifies and stigmatizes those who are not susceptible to the manipulations. Paranoia stifles dissent and creates an internal censor.

5. Recognition and Backlash: Eventually, people become aware of the insanity of such governments and their leaders are deposed. However, this may take decades. In this early stage, "protests begin, small and uneasy at the beginning, growing larger and bolder as time goes on" [e.g. the solidarity movements in Eastern Europe in the late 80s] (113). Unfortunately, these protests usually ignore the main issue - the psychological nature of such leaders - and focus on a side issue, e.g. McCarthy's alleged homosexuality or simply the corruption of such officials.

6. Regret and Forgetting: "As the original trauma-engendered fear beings to ease, often years later, we have difficulty recalling why we allowed ourselves to be so easily co-opted into an authoritarian agenda. Many of us are left in a state of dissonance and guilt, and this uncomfortable condition promotes forgetting..." (114).

Micro/Macro Scale

"[W]e can use the small social system of a highly dysfunctional couple to help explain the strange human allegiance to destructive authoritarians in general" (120). In an abusive relationship, the victim, paralyzed by constant fear, clings to the "protection" of the very person who terrorizes them. "A battered human being learns how not to "see" the egregious behavior of her authoritarian partner ... and how to construe empty minutiae as evidence that, somewhere deep down, her truly cares" (132).

The method involves three aspects: 1) a predisposition to fear (i.e., an already-existing paranoia switch), 2) isolation (i.e., the abuse occurs behind closed doors), 3) the conviction that because the world (in reality, the unhealthy relationship) is so fearful, loyalty to a protector (in reality, the abuser, and the creator of such fear) is necessary. When we lose the ability to recognize pathological behavior, this is the first criterion of the genesis of evil at any level; everything follows from this inability to accurately read objective reality.

"After all, our leaders, like our domestic partners, are supposed to be watching our backs, and when we have been terrorized, we will sometimes continue to assume that partners and leaders are so inclined, even in the face of life-threatening evidence that a particular spouse, or a certain leader, has no such caring motivation." (135) E.g., Mao "always promised to care for and protect the people he brutalized. They people believed him. Many of them believe him still" (136).

"[C]onstant fear generated by severe abuse draws and quarters families psychologically, separating even family members who are suffering the same destructive treatment at the hands of the same person. ... [C]hronic fear ... erodes and distorts human ties [which are only regained in the harsh period of pathocracy]." (149) "In a stressed democracy, when chronic fear is causing ties to break down anyway, influencing people to separate themselves according to the designations of liberal and conservative is not difficult to do." (150)

In this way, corrupt politicians can keep their enemy (i.e., the people) divided by focusing on side issues. While a population is busy infighting over gun control, abortion, religion, etc., the deviants in office can escape notice. If the people were aware of the manipulations being used on them by their leaders, such manipulations would prove ineffective. "Witnesses, and the clear light of day, are crucially important to our safety from abuse, and anathema to abusers. In The Wizard of Oz, the little man in the draped compartment, working the knobs to project the image of a gigantic, frightening wizard, shouts, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" - because he knows that, as soon as people pull back the drapes, the illusion will be over" (118). Wife abusers depend on the secrecy of their abuse, and do everything they can to keep it that way. In the same way, corrupt politicians use a controlled media to present their mask of sanity, operating behind a veneer of cheap propaganda and conduct their black-ops under "top secrecy".

Trojan Horse Politics

Stout identifies what she calls "cowbird politicians" after the bird that lays its eggs in another's nest to be nurtured by another. "A cowbird politician, who is interested only in acquiring and maintaining individual power, has few genuine convictions, either liberal or conservative, but many be ensconced in a traditional political party... The purloined "nest" serves as a power base and also as camouflage; we tend to honor party labels and not to look behind them, making pure self-interest difficult to see" (158). Lobaczewski deals with this phenomenon in much greater detail, pointing out that the cowbird politicians are often psychopaths (they are also called Machiavellian personalities), well-practiced in maintaining a façade (a mask of sanity) of deception, and at infiltrating social and political groups like "Trojan horses."

Stout identifies the various types of pathological types that aspire to power: the psychopaths, the vengeful, the ideologically obsessed, the neurotics, the psychotics. While Stout rightly points out that it is actions and not motivations that truly count, Lobaczewski has a more in depth understanding of the role of each different pathology. A brief summary: schizoids often provide the naïve and misguided ideology, paranoids are the first to gravitate towards leadership positions in ponerogenic groups, and psychopaths are the eventual inspirational source for the entire pathocratic system, occupying all positions of influence. Neurotics, ideologues, psychotics, are all minor, but important, players in such a system, even in positions of public leadership (look behind the veil of secrecy and you'll be sure to find a psychopathic éminence grise).

Stout points out that such leaders invariably attempt to shame their population, often with sex. Just as pathocrats manipulate normal people's innate tendencies to trust and to fear, they manipulate our moral nature with gross epithets, moralizing condemnations, and humiliating innuendo, that is, paramoralisms. Lenin called his opponents hucksters, servant-boys, and Judases. Bush has conspiracy theorists, terrorists, and traitors.

A Different Future

As Stout points out in her book, it is possible to overcome this process of ponerogenesis before it comes to full fruition in the form of pathocracy. But first, we must overcome the first criterion of ponerogenesis, that is, the inability to recognize pathological individuals and behaviours as pathological. Stout writes:

"In a democracy, a person displaying some or all of these behaviors would not be well tolerated under ordinary circumstances. Several of the ten characteristics [of fear brokers] are plainly unattractive and alienating. But, again, the behaviors are unattractive and alienating under certain conditions. Following a catastrophic national event, such as 9/11 in the United States, conditions are anything but ordinary. The people are traumatized, they long for someone to make them feel secure, and an ancient paranoia switch is once again waiting to snap on. Under these conditions, fear mongers thrive. Their characteristics are so hand in glove with the trauma reaction of the population that their identifying behaviors are scarcely "seen" at all. In short, after we have been thoroughly traumatized, we cannot see the devil." (186)

The fear brokers have an Achilles' heel: their psychopathic nature. When they are exposed as the petty con artists that they are, and their nature is understand scientifically and not emotionally, they cannot con us anymore. Dr. Stout, while perhaps not grasping the extent of the Bush regime's mendacity and ruthlessness (she seems to think that 9/11 was orchestrated and perpetrated by Muslim extremists, against all reason and evidence to the contrary), her work is an important addition to the growing body of knowledge falling under the heading Dr. Lobaczewski termed decades ago: ponerology.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

World Trade Center Collapse: Spoof (A DailyKos parody)

(A Signs of the Times production, inspired by the DailyKos and the bastion of truthiness, BBC)

by Codependent Thinker, DailyDros

Readers of DailyDros have seen more than one outrageous 9/11 conspiracy theory surface on these pages. And there have been a few diaries questioning why conspiracy theory diaries are not allowed. Would it have to do with something about lack of evidence? As we've been told by our fearless leaders repeatedly, there is a TON of evidence linking Bin Laden to the attacks. Sure, they haven't shown it to us, but they said they've got it. That's good enough for us here at DailyDros!

What do the Conspiracy Theorists have, anyway? Physical anomalies, inconsistent eyewitness testimony, physical traces of thermate at the WTC, WTC7. In other words, not much! They call this evidence?! On the other hand, we've got scores of scientists willing to support the idea that because the towers were not demolished, that they could not have been demolished. That's logic. Because the towers were not demolished, that means that there must be a plausible explanation for every aspect of the towers' destruction that SEEMED to be analogous to controlled demolition.

I mean, we have Bin Laden ON TAPE, admitting that he was responsible. In fact, whenever there is a terrorist attack, we have numerous different groups claiming responsibility. Luckily for our safety, this absolutely proves that all the groups claiming responsibility were in fact responsible. That's the way it works, folks. Plain and simple. If you admit it, you did it. To think otherwise would be to believe in Conspiracy Theories, and you'll find none of those here! In the REAL world, criminals don't conspire! And when they do, they get caught. It's that simple! (I mean, why would a good American fake a Bin Laden tape? What is this, a Robert Ludlum novel??)

And to all those people who blame the Reichstag on the Germans, who think the Nazis framed the Polish to justify an invasion, who think the Japanese staged the incident at Mukden, get real! There is simply NO evidence for any of these. In fact, it was a communist who was caught at the Reichstag. The Nazis merely retaliated. What are you people, "conspiracy theorists"? I mean, pshaw!

Evidence is the bane of kooky conspiracy theorists (from now on known as CT'ers). Those pesky Facts keep getting in the way of ever crazier ideas. Questions about why no wreckage found outside of the Pentagon of the plane that hit it are just one example. However easily refuted by Physics and Engineering (the two eternally objective sciences in which bias, corruption, and being wrong are never to be found) it is still not enough. Take our word for it.

I mean, what about the FACT that Mohammed Atta's luggage contained his will, a flight manual, and a koran?? This absolutely proves he was a fanatical Muslim terrorist plotting to fly a jetliner into a building for Allah! What other logical explanation is there? Are you going to tell us here at the DailyDros that this evidence (FACTS!!!) was planted?! Get real. No American would possibly do such a thing. I mean, only CRIMINALS would plant evidence to frame someone else, and that's conspiracy thinking.

The BBC has a story today about an engineer from Cambridge who mathematically tested the collapse of the twin towers. That's right. Mathematically. That means he can't be wrong. Take our word for it.

Dr Seffen was able to calculate the "residual capacity" of the undamaged building: that is, simply speaking, the ability of the undamaged structure to resist or comply with collapse.

His calculations suggest the residual capacity of the north and south towers was limited, and that once the collapse was set in motion, it would take only nine seconds for the building to go down.

This is just a little longer than a free-falling coin, dropped from the top of either tower, would take to reach the ground.

Sure, I know what you CT'ers are thinking. "Wasn't the pancake theory already discredited by official sources? How was there enough energy to both pulverize the concrete and destroy all the central steel columns in a total collapse? There's not even any evidence that the fires reached temperatures hot enough to heat the steel to the point of failure. In other words, there's no good explanation for how all the perimeter and central support columns failed at exactly the same time, from minimal fire damage."

Two words: horse hockey. This guy's got math. Residual capacity.

I can hear the CT'ers wailing that this guy was paid by the Bush administration to provide bogus evidence. Pretty hard to refute that claim, which is typical of CT'ers tactics. After all, it IS a CONSPIRACY theory.

What are they going to say next? That people actually blackmail scientists? That some scientists have the moral integrity of a jellyfish? That scientists are wrong? Get real. They wouldn't be called scientists if they were wrong. In case you forgot, science tells us what is true, and those scientists who say our commonly accepted theories about reality are wrong are just that -- wrong! Science didn't get where it is today by accepting the kooky theories of maverick thinkers, after all... We're right and we know it. What's not to get?

"But the buildings were brought down by controlled explosions", CT'ers cry.

The controlled detonation idea, espoused on several internet websites, asserts that the manner of collapse is consistent with synchronised rows of explosives going off inside the World Trade Center.

This would have generated a demolition wave that explained the speed, uniformity and similarity between the collapses of both towers.

Not so, asserts the good Doctor Steffen. I believe him. Why don't you? I mean he's a SCIENTIST, gosh darnit! Why WOULDN'T I believe him? I don't even need to read his paper, because it's obviously correct.

The University of Cambridge engineer said his results therefore suggested progressive collapse was "a fair assumption in terms of how the building fell".

"One thing that confounded engineers was how falling parts of the structure ploughed through undamaged building beneath and brought the towers down so quickly," said Dr Seffen.

Conspiracy theorists see evidence of a "controlled detonation"

He added that his calculations showed this was a "very ordinary thing to happen" and that no other intervention, such as explosive charges laid inside the building, was needed to explain the behaviour of the buildings.

You see, he says it was "very ordinary." That's evidence. Even though the only progressive collapses in the historical record are the WTC buildings, he says they were ordinary. Must be so, then. He's a scientist.

I realize that there will never be enough "proof" to convince CT'ers, but on the eve of the anniversary of this heinous attack on innocent citizens of the world, I can only say that I am glad Dros bans conspiracy theories.

Controversial 9/11 Diaries

DailyKos accepts that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by agents of Al-Qaeda. It is forbidden to write diaries that:

1. refer to claims that American, British, Israeli, or any government assisted in the attacks
2. refer to claims that the airplanes that crashed into the WTC and Pentagon were not the cause of the damage to those buildings or their subsequent collapse.

Authoring or recommending these diaries may result in banning from Daily Dros

There are enough nut cases around without having to put up with them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rejecting conspiracy thinking keeps it alive and well - Tossell should know!

In a fitting and prototypical example of the conversive thinking that runs epidemic among our hysterized society, Ivor Tossell of the Globe and Mail demonstrates in a recent article the very fuzzy thinking he attempts to deride. If it wasn't so sad, and so pitiful a look into the lengths to which a seemingly healthy mind will go to hang onto a belief system, it would be humorous. For Tossell, in his article, accuses others of the very things he himself epitomizes, as will be shown in my comments below.

Tossell begins:

The problem with deriding conspiracy theories is that it really does leave your columnist feeling like he's just playing his part in the International Bankers' plan for one-world government.

Comment: In his first sentence, Tossell shows how little he has actually thought about "conspiracy theories." Has he ever asked himself, "Just what is a conspiracy theory?" I doubt it. If he did, he would probably conclude that a conspiracy theory was a theory (a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something) that involves a conspiracy (a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful).

So Tossell is a conspiracy theorist whether he likes it or not, for he posits that a group (Al-Qaeda) came up with a secret plan to do something unlawful and harmful. Now, for some reason, Tossell has rejected the idea that the American government and intelligence agencies could have been involved in said plan, or that said plan was not entirely secret and that there was advance knowledge of the attacks.

Why should he make such an a priori judgment? We know military and intelligence agencies commonly take part in conspiracies of their own. They are called "covert or black operations." The are also called psyops, or psychological operations, in which a lie is told for propaganda purposes. Many people are often involved, and the methods and means are often "extra-judicial." Sounds like "conspiracy theories" to me.

Already, from Tossell's use of the paramoralism "conspiracy theory" (that is, it has an emotional and moralistic connotation that makes it particularly derogatory and contagious) his logic must be: a) conspiracy theories are inherently irrational, b) the idea that the Bush-Cheney administration had anything to do with the attacks is a conspiracy theory, therefore c) the theory is irrational and cannot be true. Furthermore, using this logic, it is unlikely that the government has ever or will ever be involved in such "conspiracies". To think so is irrational!

Ironically, while Tossell sardonically mentions that he feels he is playing his part for the "International Bankers," he isn't that far from the truth. He is one in a long line of useful idiots.

Yet the topic asserts itself this week, despite my years-long attempt to ignore it.

Comment: Another clue! Tossell must have all the answers if he knows enough that he can ignore the issues, self-satisfied in his belief that one need not examine evidence to form an "opinion."

A two-hour movie, slickly produced and wrapped in an air of appealing mystery, has been making the rounds, propelled by recommendations from bloggers whose eyes were opened and lives changed. The reputable A-list websites are starting to acknowledge it. People in the offline world have asked me about it.

The thing is called Zeitgeist and can be found via Google Video. It's a online video set against a black backdrop, with no clue as to its creators' identities. It assembles archival footage, animations, and breathless narration into a kind of primer on conspiracies.

The movie comes in three parts. The first makes the case that Jesus is a mythological figure built from parts of earlier mythological figures. Christianity, say the filmmakers, is a concoction, just a form of social control.

So far, nothing ground-breaking. But now the movie jumps to 9/11, and things really get moving. The middle segment steps us through the orthodoxy of 9/11 conspiracy thinking.

Comment: Wait a minute... I thought the "orthodox (of the ordinary or usual type; normal) conspiracy theory" was the Al-Qaeda hijacker theory?

The twin towers weren't destroyed by jetliners; they were intentionally demolished with explosives.

Comment: In fact, there is a wealth of evidence to support this theory. If the towers were demolished, what would we expect to see and find? Total collapse, pulverization, explosions, molten metal, near free-fall collapse, traces of common "cutting" materials. In fact, there is evidence of all of the above. See the papers at the Journal of 9/11 Studies for the analysis of this evidence.

Something fishy happened to Flight 93, which the banker-controlled media will tell you crashed in Pennsylvania.

Comment: Something fishy did happen to Flight 93. Not only did eye-witnesses see a military jet trailing the flight (which the 9/11 Commission denied), they heard the sound of missiles being fired. The wreckage was strewn over a miles-wide radius, an impossibility if the plane had nose-dived as the official conspiracy has it. This is only scratching the surface of the problems with the official account of Flight 93. For more, see Dave McGowan's analysis at the Centre for an Informed America, and Rowland Morgan's book, Flight 93 Revealed.

The Air Force, we're told, deliberately failed to intercept any of the planes.

Comment: In fact, that the military were following a stand down order is the only plausible explanation for the events that happened on that day, according to which the FAA notified the military of each of the four hijacked airlines with enough time for interception, which did not happen. Instead, the 9/11 Commission fabricated a new story out of whole-cloth, ignoring much of the testimony that did not support their fabrication, in which the FAA failed to notify the military of any of the hijackings in time for interception. If Tossell believes the new account, he must believe that the military lied for three years to cover up for the FAA's incompetence and bringing possible charges of treason and murder upon the military. Fat chance, Tossell.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon wasn't hit by an airliner, but by something more like a missile.

Comment: In fact, there is very little evidence that the Pentagon was hit by an airliner. Not only was the damage to the Pentagon facade too narrow and short for the wingspan and height of a 757, Hani Hanjour could not have executed the 330 degree turn/descent, and would not have chosen the West side of the building. In addition, the only explanation for why the Pentagon's defense systems did not fire on the plane was that it possessed a military transponder, i.e., it was a "friendly." As with the questions surrounding Flight 93, these merely scratch the surface.

All of this leads to the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job, staged by elements of the U.S. government to provide a pretext for invading Iraq and curtailing civil liberties.

Comment: That is exactly the issue. It is the same reason Hitler adopted a policy of terror. But is it "conspiracy thinking" to believe the Nazis were behind the burning of the Reichstag? I would think so...

To what end? Warming to its topic, the film shimmers into its third act. It seems that the Federal Reserve, the U.S. money-printing organ, is in fact the implement of a small cabal of International Bankers (the ethnicity of these money-lenders goes undisclosed) who stage global calamities to spur federal spending and enrich themselves.

They arranged for the Lusitania to be torpedoed, dragging the U.S. into the First World War. They manipulated FDR into essentially staging Pearl Harbour, starting The Second World War. (That was the start of The Second World War, right?) Ditto Vietnam, ditto 9/11.

Comment: Does Tossell dispute that Pearl Harbour was known about in advance and was allowed to happen in order to gain support for American entry into the war? Does he dispute that the Tonkin Gulf incident was staged to do the same with Vietnam? It would be hard to do so, as these facts are part of the historical record, not mere "conspiracy thinking."

Their ultimate goal? A one-world government whose citizens all carry implanted microchip IDs. And all the while, the hidden powers are using the consolidated mass media, the church, and the educational establishment to create a complacent zeitgeist - a spirit of the times - that leaves us dumb as sheep.

Comment: Does Tossell dispute that there exist such men with such goals? Or was Hitler an historical anomaly? These people exist. They are called PSYCHOPATHS, and they are ruthless in their pursuit of power. Luckily for them, they've left those like Tossell "dumb as sheep."

The film is an interesting object lesson on how conspiracy theories get to be so popular.

Comment: The same could be said for the 9/11 Commission Report...

(In 2006, one poll suggested that a full third of Americans thought their government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks.) It's a driven, if uneven, piece of propaganda, a marvel of tight editing and fuzzy thinking. Its on-camera sources are mostly conspiracy theorists, co-mingled with selective eyewitness accounts, drawn from archival footage and often taken out of context.

Comment: It would help if Tossell substantiated his claims. We have only his word that the footage is "often taken out of context."

It derides the media as a pawn of the International Bankers, but produces media reports for credibility when it suits it.

Comment: Perhaps Tossell does not understand the way this particular "conspiracy" works. He is part of the conspiracy, if only because he has a weak and gullible mind, as do most journalists. They report what they are allowed to report on. It is that simple. Often they will report on facts the importance of which they do not comprehend. This is how much of the evidence for a conpiracy comes to light. A media report (e.g., an interview with Dick Cheney where he says he entered the Office of Emergency Management up to a half-hour before the Commission says he did, demolishing his reason for not being able to have given a shoot-down order, and his reason for not knowing Flight 77 was approaching the Pentagon) will feature a piece of innocuous evidence that is later revised.

Perhaps Tossell would like to test his hypothesis that the media is not controlled. Try to publish an article from the perspective that the American government was responsible for 9/11. See how far that gets you.

It ignores expert opinion, except the handful of experts who agree with it.

Comment: Is that not expert opinion? Tossell seems to believe that experts are never wrong, or influenced by emotional thinking. Also he seems to think that the opinion of experts who disagree with official dogma are less reliable than those who espouse it.

And yet, it's compelling. It shamelessly ploughs forward, connecting dots with an earnest certainty that makes you want to give it an A for effort.

The funny thing about this stuff is that it's all been thoroughly debunked for years.

Comment: In fact, it hasn't. It seems Tossell has not read David Ray Griffin's book Debunking 9/11 Debunking in which he demonstrates, with precise logic, that none of these attempts have been successful.

Everyone from Scientific American to Popular Mechanics have produced reports puncturing the central claims of the 9/11 theory,

Comment: By "everyone", he means precisely Scientific American and Popular Mechanics. After reading Griffin's analysis you will see what a poor excuse for "science" these two publications actually are.

and when you look gullible next to Popular Mechanics, you know you're in trouble.

Comment: ?! If I understand Tossell's point here correctly he is saying that if you're more gullible than PM, you know you're in trouble. Is Tossell implying that PM is gullible? If so, I would wholeheartedly concur!

Evidently, debunking isn't the issue. You can't argue aliens with someone who has an "I want to believe" poster on his or her office wall. Nor can you cite the findings of the professional, journalistic, and academic consensus to someone who's decided that having credibility means being under the sway of shadowy forces.

Comment: It was until fairly recently that the "professional, journalistic and academic consensus" was that archaeology demonstrated the historicity of the United Monarchy of Israel. New findings have eliminated that belief. The consensus can change with new data. Tossell is right that it does not mean they are under the sway of shadowy forces, merely the results of their own paradigmatic thinking.

To that line of thinking, an expert who is rejected by his peers - say, for lunatic conspiracy thinking - gains credibility just for being ostracized.

Comment: Only in Tossell's twisted view of reality.

What troubles me the most is that, for all the talk of skepticism, conspiracy counterculture is really an anti-intellectual, populist movement - much like Intelligent Design. For all their absurdity, conspiracy theorists try to drag everything back to the level of common sense.

Comment: What absurdity? It is the official conspiracy theory that is absurd. In fact the intellectual leaders of the 9/11 truth movement are not anti-intellectual. For anyone who has read David Ray Griffin's books to say that can only be evidence of either their own anti-intellectualism, or their own sophistry. To expect all members of a movement to be clear thinkers and intellectuals is an unrealistic expectation. However, some aspects of the official conspiracy theory are so absurd as to only require a moderate degree of common sense to debunk.

Just look at the video evidence, they say! Did the collapsing buildings on 9/11 look like they were being demolished? Then they must have been demolished. Did the 757 that hit the Pentagon's blast-proof walls fail to make a plane-shaped hole? Then it must have been something else. Are there unexplained quirks in the official story? Then it must be the work of a higher power.

Comment: No, actually. The fact that controlled demolition provides a more intelligible explanation for the collapses is the motivating force. And the fact that Al-Qaeda did not have the means nor the opportunity to plant the explosives.

That's the thing: Conspiracy theorists want to see a guiding force, a malevolent design, behind events.

Comment: What evidence does Tossell have for this pop psychoanalysis of conspiracy theorists? Did he consider the fact that he does not want to look at the issue of 9/11 (after all, he said he has ignored it it for years) because of a FEAR of those malevolent forces? The vast majority of people do not want to believe in malevolent and ruthless forces controlling their lives; in fact, they actively reject information that leads to that conclusion. Does Tossell really believe they don't exist?!

The notion that calamity might be the unintended consequence of subtler causes doesn't hold the same appeal. Evil, whatever its other uses, drives a great narrative. Complexity, not so much.

Comment: This is not what "conspiracy theorists" want to believe, it is what follows naturally from the evidence, which Tossell has ignored.

The Internet bred the 9/11 conspiracy movement, and thanks to films like Zeitgeist, it's alive and well. Now riddle me this: I look at what's happening, and I see people using the Internet to gain widespread currency by rejecting social institutions in favour of an amateur-accessible common-sense approach.

Comment: And thank God for the internet! Without it, we'd all be reading apologetic drivel like this piece by Ivor Tossell.

I see people who are highly selective about facts,

Comment: So do I...

and who are ready to write off opposing views as the bile of powers that be.

Comment: ...or a symptom of the imaginary "conspiracy thinking."

I see them using the Web's echo-chamber to create a place where they're right, and everyone else is wrong.

Comment: The same could be said for mainstream journalists and their use of the term "conspiracy theory." They live in a hermetic environment of people who think the way they do. And if the poll results on the Globe and Mail's website are any indication, they're in the minority.

Does this sound familiar? If I told you that I look around the Internet, and am troubled to see this pattern everywhere, would you accuse me of seeing a conspiracy?

Comment: Irrational conspiracy theories flourish in the mainstream media. Just how can one tell the difference between a rational conspiracy theory and an irrational one? See comments to Tossell's hit piece to find out.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Year Zero: This is the Beginning


Fifteen years in the future an innocent American Muslim is forcibly arrested, his daughter beaten to death - the news reports the break-up of a major terrorist cell. Iran is now Post-Iran, its Southern provinces nuked to oblivion. The War on Terror still rages and the United States is run by a cadre of fanatic evangelicals. Bioterrorism has left Detroit and New Orleans uninhabitable. The American population is implanted with surveillance microchips and Great Britain is following suit. Staged bioterrorism attacks garner support for a major pharmaceutical company to introduce a mind-numbing, conscience-killing drug into the water supply - in the guise of an immune system booster.

There are reports of something called "The Presence", which are denied by officials. The internet monitored, dissenters resort to the use of quantum encryption technology to send a batch of information - websites, banned books, top secret files, music - into the past, in hopes to change the future. Power and greed have run their course and the world is on the verge of utter destruction. It is Year Zero.

This is the premise to Nine Inch Nails' (i.e., Trent Reznor's) latest studio album, Year Zero, released on April 17. Written and produced while on tour for his previous album, With Teeth, Reznor's latest effort is a departure from previous work. In an interview with Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt (March 22, 2007) Reznor says, "I went into it with a sense of not giving a fuck. Not worried about singles, radio play, melody, 'correct' song structure, record labels, marketability, critics, kissing ass, my own fans' expectations, chart positions, being fashionable... I really just let my subconscious take over and steer the ship."

But Year Zero is more than just an album. It encompasses an entire online universe of websites created by Reznor, Rob Sheridan, and 42 Entertainment. It is music from the future, a warning of things to come, and ostensibly, an impetus for the creation of a resistance now which already exists in the future. Clues and puzzles are literally scattered across the globe: USB drives placed in bathrooms at NIN concerts contain sound clips, highlighted letters on t-shirts spell out web addresses, phone numbers reach pre-recorded "wire-taps" or song previews, codes are hidden in liner notes and distorted track noise. Year Zero covers all the bases.

Most intriguing about the concept, however, is its insidious "Trojan Horse" nature. In 2006, NIN were slated to perform their single "The Hand That Feeds" at the MTV movie awards. They planned on performing the song with an image of George W. Bush displayed behind the band. The event organizers, however, felt "uncomfortable" about this overtly "political" display. Refusing to play under such conditions, Reznor responded sardonically on his website: "Apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me."

In an era when so-called "political statements" are not only few and far between, but overtly censored by a long-since emasculated mainstream media, Year Zero is art at its best: as a subversive warning; a mirror to the terror of the world; a form of resistance in and of itself. "Art is resistance."

The Terror of the Situation

One of the Year Zero websites, the home of "Cedocore", the pharmaceutical company responsible for the above-mentioned drug, Parepin - as well as "Opal", the government-sponsored crack-cocaine of the future - has an online quiz. My diagnosis? "Under the circumstances, it would be best to call or email the authorities and then sedate yourself until they arrive. Be careful, but be thorough. Lives are at stake. Remember, there is an IV drip with Prozira waiting for you at the hospital. You will learn to live and love and laugh again!" No doubt!

Try it yourself. If you are disgusted with the destruction of Iraq, the rape of Africa, the slow genocide of Palestinine, or any other form of such inhumanity, you may need medication! It may be humorous to read the Orwellian diagnoses provided on the "Cedocore" website, but they are a window into an unsettling truth: It is not an easy time to be a person of conscience. We live in a world ruled by those least capable to rule. Like a blind man leading those who can see through a dangerous terrain, the men and women who rule our world lack that quality essential for decision-making which will affect the lives of billions: conscience.

To those without conscience, our lives have meaning only insofar as we can serve as pawns in the fulfillment of their goals. The last hundred years have seen instance after instance of such mass hysteria and subsequent psychopathic rule. We have seen their fruits: an indomitable and unquenchable lust for more power, a narcissistic drive to force others to obey one's will, all leading to the inevitable mass genocide that characterizes such regimes. When those without conscience come to rule, it is a crime to have a conscience.

In Trent Reznor's Year Zero, as in any pathocratic (i.e. ruled by psychopaths) regime, books are banned: Twain, Whitman, Salinger, Joyce, Zinn, Orwell, Vonnegut, Milgram... Curiously, the last three in this list, Orwell, Vonnegut and Milgram, all provide essential pieces to this specter we have known variously as Bolshevism, Nazism, Stalinism, Zionism, and currently, Neoconservatism.

Orwell accurately described a pathocratic regime and its characteristic doublethink. Doublethink is defined as "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them." This is an apt description of what has become known as the Bush Doctrine: War for the sake of peace. That is, "War is bad. But war is good." Two contradictory beliefs, yet both are accepted, all contradictory evidence is repressed. It is also called conversive thinking, and it is epidemic in our myopic and psychologically illiterate culture.

While Orwell described the symptoms, Vonnegut nailed their cause, in an excerpt from his memoirs published by the Guardian:

George W Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka Christians, and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or PPs, the medical term for smart, personable people who have no consciences.

To say somebody is a PP is to make a perfectly respectable diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete's foot. The classic medical text on PPs is The Mask of Sanity by Dr Hervey Cleckley, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia, published in 1941. Read it!

Some people are born deaf, some are born blind or whatever, and this book is about congenitally defective human beings of a sort that is making this whole country and many other parts of the planet go completely haywire nowadays. These were people born without consciences, and suddenly they are taking charge of everything.

PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose!

And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And they are waging a war that is making billionaires out of millionaires, and trillionaires out of billionaires, and they own television, and they bankroll George Bush, and not because he's against gay marriage.

So many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick. They have taken charge. They have taken charge of communications and the schools, so we might as well be Poland under occupation.

They might have felt that taking our country into an endless war was simply something decisive to do. What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. They are going to do something every fuckin' day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don't give a fuck what happens next. Simply can't. Do this! Do that! Mobilise the reserves! Privatise the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody's telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!

Vonnegut has also provided a framework from which to understand the Milgram experiment. For those unfamiliar with Milgram's work, here's a short summary: "The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation."

In short, the vast majority of humans will do whatever they are told to, if the person telling them to do it is "authoritative". Of course, most people are unaware of this fact of human psychology, and would not conceive of strategically manipulating others by taking advantage of it. We tend to assume everyone is like we are. "Well, I would never tell someone to give a lethal shock to someone for no reason, so this doctor must be telling me to do it for a very good one!" We have trouble saying no to such a request! However, there is a certain small percentage of the human population for whom this is not only advantageous; it is their only way of being. These are the same individuals identified by Vonnegut: psychopaths.

"Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret. Their bewildered victims desperately ask, 'Who are these people?' 'What makes them they way they are?' 'How can we protect ourselves?'"

So writes Robert Hare, one of the worlds leading authorities on psychopathy, in his book Without Conscience. To a psychopath, the world of normal people strikes him as odd and naïve. Ted Bundy, the infamous psychopathic killer, said there were two types of people: Gods (i.e. psychopaths) and Beasts (i.e. normal people). Psychopaths have nothing but contempt for the incomprehensible rules of society and the people who follow them. And they will actively use any means at their disposal (including their knowledge of normal human weaknesses, like that shown in the Milgram study) to achieve a position from which they are able to create a system more amenable to their deviant world view. Witness the inhuman totalitarian regimes of the past century, in particular. They truly, in their own minds, are waging a "War Against Terror" for the purposes of "freedom". That freedom, however, is freedom from the "terror" of living among such emotional and naive machines, i.e. us.

There is one banned book that is understandably absent from the list of books in the Year Zero universe. It is called Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes by Andrew Lobaczewski. The story of its publication is as dramatic (or morseo) as Reznor's vision. A small group of Polish scientists, living under the conditions portrayed so well in Year Zero, works in secret to understand the sickness which has taken over their nation. They are tortured, their work is repeatedly destroyed and suppressed, and they suffer unimaginable terror at the hands of a psychopathic regime. The work's author, Andrew Lobaczewski, is the last surviving member of this group, and his work is our only source of a science that describes everything that is wrong with life on this planet.

While many, like the authors of those works banned by the pathocratic Year Zero regime, can see the symptoms of such a societal disease for what they truly are, often described in haunting yet beautiful prose, they have all lacked the scientific language with which to truly understand the nature of evil, and thus prevent it. A disease cannot be cured simply by a description of its symptoms, no matter how precise.

This science, ponerology (i.e. the study of evil), describes where we are and where we will be if we continue on our present course. And without the insights which this group suffered so much to understand and pass on to us, it is a course that those in power are investing billions of dollars in bringing to its final conclusion.

Let us look where they have taken us in the last 7 years: a conscienceless, C-student President, 'winner' of two stolen elections, whose strings are expertly pulled by a group of power-lusting, clownish Neoconservative psychopaths; a false-flag operation that puts the Reichstag fire to shame and has served as justification for two (soon to be three) immoral invasions and occupations of sovereign nations; a 'two-party' system where Democrats and Republicans argue not about whether or not to go to war, but when and how to go to war; the resulting slaughter of more than 700,000 Iraqi civilians in the name of "freedom and democracy"; the raping and pillaging of Palestine by a Zionist regime of schizoid interlopers; a veritable Big Brother state in Great Britain; the list could go on for pages. Just take a browse through the archives at Signs of the Times for a look at the last few years in the making of our very own Year Zero. As Trent Reznor has said in a recent interview, "There are no concepts in the story that aren't rooted in things that already are happening".

A Warning

The increasingly brazen and coarse nature of the Neoconserative imperium has given rise to several forms of resistance. Despised the world over, Bush is widely seen as the megalomaniac that he truly is. The United States has seen the creation of large, albeit marginalized, anti-war and 9/11 truth movements. But these movements are doomed to fail without knowledge of psychopathy.

If Ponerology teaches us one thing it is that psychopaths are pervasive and chameleon-like in nature. They are not easily identifiable. As such, it is a given that any group unaware of their existence and their modus operandi are subject to ponerization. Any group.

Ideologies by themselves do not need psychopaths. Normal people are often at their root. However, psychopathic spellbinders need ideologies, and they don't care which one, either! They can with equal ease attach themselves to Communism or Capitalism. Even the so-called resistance. Watch as the ideology of the 9/11 and anti-war movements slowly becomes a justification for bloody revolution and murder. "Truth at any cost! Let the criminals hang!" The twist will be so subtle that most will not see it. Many will get caught up in the bloodlust, convinced that their motives are pure.

And that is the recurring problem that must be identified and watched for. The defeat of any psychopathic regime is merely killing one head of the hydra. The seeds of destruction are already evenly distributed throughout the population. Psychopaths will continue to rise through the ranks, donning their incredibly deceptive masks of sanity, and achieving positions of power over the rest of us. And we will not see it until it is too late. We never do.

The resistance is already infected. It was infected the moment it was started. And if we do not overcome our own self-importance and arrogance to see this simple fact, we are doomed. Take it to the bank. Neoconservatives are not the problem; Christian fundamentalists are not the problem; Jewish extremists are not the problem. Psychopaths are the problem.

Further Reading

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
Without Conscience by Robert Hare
Snakes in Suits by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak
Political Ponerology by Andrew Lobaczewski
NIN Wiki

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Programmed to Kill

Killing machine.

Having returned from Afghanistan in March of 2002, Sgt. 1st Class Rigoberto Nieves fatally shoots his wife then himself. Eighteen days later, on June 29, Master Sgt. William Wright, having returned the month before, strangles his wife to death. On July 9, Sgt. Cedric Griffin (who had yet to be deployed) stabs his wife to death. Ten days later, Sgt. 1st Class Brandon S. Floyd and his wife, Andrea, are found shot to death; another murder-suicide. All were stationed at Fort Bragg.

In July of the next year, at Fort Benning, Pvt. Jacob Burgoyne, whom base records had listed as "homicidal/suicidal" and diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), shoots Spc. Richard Davis to death. After seeing Noah P. Gamez stealing an ice chest from his Jeep, Spc. Kyle Edward Williams, 21, fires six shots into the man before also killing himself.

In early 2004, a US paratrooper who had raped a woman in Italy is given a light sentence because "the court deemed his tour of duty in Iraq had made him less sensitive to the suffering of others." James Kevin Pitts, after returning from Iraq in March, drowns his girlfriend. In April, Andrew Hallet, after serving a 6 month term in Iraq, is arrested for shooting at a police officer. In May, veteran Matthew James Denni kills his girlfriend and puts her body in the trunk of his car. In the latter half of 2004, a 35-year old Fort Riley, KS Army soldier back from Iraq is charged with 9 felony counts of forcible rape, sodomy, assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

Iraq vet Allen Gregg is sentenced to 21 years for the murder James Fallis. Spc. Pierre M. Cole ("the seventh Fort Riley soldier arrested in connection with a slaying in recent months") fatally shoots James Jung. 19-year-old Marine vet Andres Raya kills two police officers. A 30-year old vet kills his ex-girlfriend and her sister.

Spc. Brandon Bare, having returned in April 2005, kills his wife (stabbing her 71 times), as does Pfc. Stephen S. Sherwood, who then turns his gun on himself. Iraq vet Brandon Craddock, in August 2006, is charged with the attempted murder of his wife. And more recently, Iraq vet Zackary Bowen killed his New Orleans girlfriend, dismembered her, and cooked her flesh before killing himself.

This is just a sampling of the reported cases involving Afghanistan and Iraq war vets charged with murder, rape, child abuse, beatings, and assault, not to mention the hundreds who have committed suicide. What is obvious about many of these cases (and countless others) is the prevalence of PTSD. While 19% of Vietnam vets returned with the disorder, one third of Iraq vets suffer from PTSD.

A new study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that mental health disorders or psychosocial ills have hit a third of the US soldiers that have returned from Afghanistan or Iraq.

The study shows that a third of all US soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq have received treatments from the Veterans Affairs between 2001 and 2005 for mental illnesses or other psychosocial disorders.

However, many of those suffering are not getting the treatment they require. Thousands of British troops are going AWOL because of this.

Thousands of British soldiers have gone absent without leave since 2003 because the Army is unwilling to accept the gravity of mental problems caused by their tours in Iraq.

The Ministry of Defence estimates there have been 10,000 Awol incidents since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and 1,100 servicemen are currently "on the run" from the Army. ...

"As the nightmares and the flashbacks got worse, and I felt myself sinking lower, I reported to officers I was having problems dealing with what I'd experienced. Their response was to laugh at me. It's played down. Any serious issue is always laughed off. They think you're taking the mick. They just don't want to have to deal with it.''

Richard Livingston, a soldier who attempted to take his own life, said: "When I got in touch with the medical team, they put me through to a community psychiatric nurse. Once they found out about my suicide attempts and cutting myself they still sat and said, you're fit to go back to the Army as soon as possible."

While PTSD is certainly part of the problem, there are other possible factors contributing to this particular phenomenon. First of all, we do not know for certain which of the murders and murder/suicides were actually committed by the soldiers in question. It is conceivable that some have been framed, or are victims of double homicide. Perhaps the soldiers in question knew something they should not, or in some other way compromised so-called "national security" with their knowledge of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this is a very real possibility, given the sheer amount of cases, and their striking similarities, there is probably more to the story.

Consider the following from Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology:

When American soldiers returned from North Vietnamese prison camps, many of them proved to have been subjected to indoctrination and other methods of influencing by pathological [i.e. psychopathic] material. A certain degree of transpersonification [i.e. the effect on the mind and personality of persons with certain inherited or acquired psychopathologies] appeared in many of these. In the U.S.A. this was called "programming" and outstanding psychotherapists proceeded to effect therapy for the purpose of deprogramming them. It turned out that they met with opposition and critical commentary concerning their skills, among other things. When I heard about this, I breathed a deep sigh and thought: Dear God, what interesting work that would make for a psychotherapist who understands such matters well.

The pathocratic world, the world of pathological egotism and terror, is so difficult to understand for people raised outside the scope of this phenomenon that they often manifest childlike naiveté, even if they have studied psychopathology and are psychologists by profession. ...

I would here like to remind psychologists that these kinds of experiences and their destructive effects upon the human personality are not unknown to scientific practice and experience. We often meet with patients requiring appropriate assistance: individuals raised under the influence of pathological, especially psychopathic, personalities who were forced with a pathological egotism to accept an abnormal way of thinking. Even an approximate determination of the type of pathological factors which operated on him allow us to pinpoint psychotherapeutic measures. ...

Regardless of the social scale within which human individuals were forcibly reared by pathological persons, whether individual, group, societal, or macrosocial, the principles of psychotherapeutic action will thus be similar, and should be based upon data known to us, and an understanding of the psychological situation. Making a patient aware of the kind of pathological factors which affected him, and jointly understanding the results of such effects, is basic to such therapy. We do not utilize this method if, in an individual case, we have indications that the patient has inherited this factor. However, such limitations should not be consistent with regard to macrosocial phenomena affecting the welfare of entire nations....

Those people [under a psychopathic regime] who initially found the original ideology attractive eventually come to the realization that they are in fact dealing with something else that has taken its place under the old name. The disillusionment experienced by such former ideological adherents is bitter in the extreme. Thus, the pathological minority's attempts to retain power will be threatened by the society of normal people, whose criticism keeps growing.

Therefore, to mitigate the threat to their power, the pathocrats must employ any and all methods of terror and exterminatory policies [including war] against individuals known for their patriotic feelings and military training; other, specific "indoctrination" activities ... are also utilized. Individuals lacking the natural feeling of being linked to normal society become irreplaceable in either of these activities. Again, the foreground of this type of activity is occupied by cases of essential psychopathy, followed by those with similar anomalies, and finally by people alienated from the society in question as a result of racial or national differences.

In other words, in a country run by psychopaths, (whether overtly or covertly), patriotic men and women of conscience must be killed or otherwise neutralized. And there are numerous ways to do so. War thus serves a dual purpose for pathocrats. Not only does it eliminate foreign enemies, it helps eliminate portions of their own population who may pose a threat to their power. Thankfully for those in power, thousands of troops are killed or wounded in combat, and thousands, suffering from PTSD and/or "Gulf War Syndrome", lose the ability to function in society.

[Individuals exposed to certain endogenous toxins and viruses] progressively tend to lose their emotional color and their ability to intuit a psychological situation. They retain their intellectual functions but become praise-craving egocentrics, easily ruled by people who know how to take advantage of this. They become indifferent to other people's feelings and the harm they are inflicting upon them; any criticism of their own person or behavior is repaid with a vengeance. Such a change of character in a person who until recently enjoyed respect on the part of his environment or community, which perseveres in human minds, becomes a pathological phenomenon causing often tragic results.

Consider that endogenous toxins include heavy metals like mercury, pesticides, food additives, and industrial and household chemicals and we begin to see the scope of the problem: a small minority of psychopathic individuals is using every means at its disposal (or at least taking advantage of already existing conditions) to kill our consciences.

Soldiers are not receiving the care they need because they are a success. Those who come home to kill their families and themselves are behaving as planned. They are programmed to kill, and when they do, it only serves the pathocrats' interests: the population becomes more hysterical and more divided.

Similarly, the Iraq war is NOT a failure. It is progressing exactly as planned. Hundreds of thousands are dead and Israel is close to receiving its long-held wish: an Iraq dismembered into three weakened states. There is absolute chaos. And this is the way they want it.

Published on Signs of the Times.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Protocols of Zion Protocol

I've just about had it with the Protocols of Zion. To be more specific, I've had it with ADL spooks and useful idiots propagandizing said document for the purpose of character assassination, guilt by association, and the general spreading of moralistic claptrap. When a document is used by clownish racists (both Jew and Gentile) to incite both 'anti-Semitism' and 'philo-Isrealism' (and its accompanying 'anti-Arabism'), without any interest in facts or reality, something is up. What other document has served so well as propaganda for both sides of an ideological conflict?

It's easy to see how the Protocols have inspired anti-semitism. They are a set of protocols diabolical enough to whet the appetite of any aspiring megalomaniac. Regardless of their authorship (they are widely regarded as a 'fraud' or 'hoax'), they show a remarkable knowledge of human weaknesses and methods for exploiting these vulnerabilities. In short, they demonstrate an obviously psychopathic worldview. They could have been written by Soviets, Jews, Nazis, Christians, or any combination of a much more comprehensive list. By assigning these Machiavellian machinations to Jews, unthinking people are easily duped. They say, "Well, it's obvious that what is said in the Protocols is actually coming true (e.g. control of the press, the rise of the ubiquitous presidential 'advisor', and so on), so it must be the Jews!"

So, already we know a couple facts: the Protocols describe a conspiracy, one that undoubtedly exists wherever a group of power-hungry men decide to put one over their bleeding-heart brothers and sisters. Also, we know that many an anti-Semite fervently backs this document as proof that Jews, collectively, are evil. But let's add another fact to this mix: the fact that Israel is an Apartheid state. Israel (and its supporters), since before its 'creation' in 1948, has had a history of terror: massacring entire villages, destroying homes, ethnic cleansing, assassination, psychological warfare, false-flag terror, daily humiliation, targeting civilians, stealing land. No serious academic denies these facts.

Recently, Jimmy Carter broke the politician's 'code of silence', and spoken the unspeakable. He spoke the truth. He said what the whole world knows but is afraid to say. But here we come to the crux of the matter, and the subject of this article. Why are they so afraid to say it? For an answer, Jimmy Carter is a perfect case study, and I thank him for offering himself up for public character assassination and demonisation to demonstrate this oddity of what passes for political discourse on all subjects Israeli.

It is here, at this critical juncture, that the opposing camp dons their mask of feigned contempt and waxes histrionic: "How dare he! Like the pharaoh before him, Carter is stirring the multitude against Jews!" Novelist Jack Engelhard even went so far as to compare Carter's book to Mein Kampf. Listening to Abe Foxman speak to Marc Levin in the latter's documentary The Protocols of Zion, one would think that any criticism of Jews "goes right back to the Protocols", thus discrediting the criticism. You see, in the twisted minds of these defamers of character, any criticism of Jews or Israeli policies is "anti-semitic" and hearkens back to the infamous "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." I guess you could call it 'innocence by association with previous but unrelated absence of guilt'.

Can you imagine the fun George Bush could be having if he had his very own Protocols ascribed to his ancestors? With the Protocols under his belt, Bush too could stroll up to some stranger's house, blow a hole in its wall and tell its inhabitants they have 15 minutes to leave before their home is destroyed; he can saunter up to young child he does not like and shoot her in the head repeatedly for looking like a terrorist; he can set up an Apartheid state and a pro-Bush lobby that bribes and threatens foreign politicians not to speak out against his crimes, 'or else.' And then, when the criticism inevitably comes that "Bush has an overwhelming amount of power for just a single man", or that "Bush has created an Apartheid state", or that "Bush kills innocent civilians as a form of collective punishment", he can rest easy and give thanks for the well-worn copy of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Bush. He can put on a face of shocked disbelief and say, "I cannot believe you could say that? What you are saying hearkens right back to the Protocols! I mean, they're a proven hoax, and they're just downright ridiculous. When the Protocols - saying that the Bushes rule the world - were proven a hoax, it really meant that any indication that I, personally, was committing similar crimes is a blatant lie! Don't you see? It's impossible that I'm a criminal, because the book saying I'm a criminal was discredited long ago! Isn't it obvious?!"

Well, by the looks of some of the recent attacks on Jimmy Carter for his recent book, it would appear that yes, to some, it is obvious. Unfortunately, these people have no sense of 'facts' or 'reality'. To them, these are malleable and relativistic concepts. "When a fact suits an agenda, use it; when it doesn't, don't." These people get a rise out of using a kernel of truth (i.e. that the Protocols weren't necessarily written by Jews) to cover up a whole field of lies (i.e. that Israel is a racist monster of a state, hiding behind a façade of weakness, vulnerability and Democracy). Thank God there are some Jimmy Carters out there who, when confronted with a blatant lie, give it what it asks for: the truth.