Sheeple (a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”) is a term of disparagement in which people are likened to sheep, a herd animal. The term is used to describe those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research. By doing so, they undermine their own individuality and may willingly give up their rights. — Wikipedia
“Dictionaries list words as they are popularly conceived, but current usage sometimes lacks scientific accuracy,” wrote José Delgado in Physical Control of the Mind:
Unless each term is defined, the reader’s conception may differ from the writer’s. Classifications and definitions are only human agreements which try to capture the essence of a person, place, or event by describing several of its elements. They are like sketches, which may omit or distort details. Naturally, if there is no agreement on the subject under discussion, the meaning of related words and sketches will be useless. Definitions should be considered as working tools to guide us on confusing ideological
Theories, experimental tools, and descriptive language are all very different, depending on whether we are dealing with chemistry, action potentials, social relations, or ghosts. When the entity under consideration is very complex, as the mind is, it is necessary to employ different methods to analyze the various properties, and it may be difficult to integrate results obtained in a variety of ways which reveal diverse aspects of
truth.1When consulting the literature we should not assume that different phenomena are equivalent merely because authors use the same words to identify them.2
For example, many people when encountering something they don’t understand may think of the word “conspiracy”, which then triggers the word “theory”, and the two combined as “conspiracy theory” then elicits the false belief that it must be some impossible crazy idea. This form of
“The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word,” reports the Wikipedia.org encyclopedia:
It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate
The term ‘conspiracy’ refers to two or more criminals working in cahoots, such as gangs and other organized crime networks. The Lectric Law Library explains:
18 U.S.C. 371 makes it a separate Federal crime or offense for anyone to conspire or agree with someone else to do something which, if actually carried out, would amount to another Federal crime or offense. So, under this law, a ‘conspiracy’ is an agreement or a kind of ‘partnership’ in criminal purposes in which each member becomes the agent or partner of every other member.
In order to establish a conspiracy offense it is not necessary for the Government to prove that all of the people named in the indictment were members of the scheme; or that those who were members had entered into any formal type of agreement; or that the members had planned together all of the details of the scheme or the ‘overt acts’ that the indictment charges would be carried out in an effort to commit the intended crime.
Also, because the essence of a conspiracy offense is the making of the agreement itself (followed by the commission of any overt act), it is not necessary for the Government to prove that the conspirators actually succeeded in accomplishing their unlawful
In the case of Craig v. U.S. C.C.A. Cal. 81 F2d 816, 822, the California Court of Appeals ruled:
A conspiracy may be a continuing one; actors may drop out and others may drop in; the details of operation may change from time to time; the members need not know each other or the part played by others; a member may not need to know all the details of the plan of the operation; he must, however, know the purpose of the conspiracy and agree to become a party to a plan to effectuate that purpose.
Maggie Koerth-Baker addresses “Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories” in The New York Times published shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing caused a flurry of wild speculation:
“The best predictor of belief in a conspiracy theory is belief in other conspiracy theories,” says Viren Swami, a psychology professor who studies conspiracy belief at the University of Westminster in England. Psychologists say that’s because a conspiracy theory isn’t so much a response to a single event as it is an expression of an overarching worldview.
As Richard Hofstadter wrote in his seminal 1965 book, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” conspiracy theories, especially those involving meddlesome foreigners, are a favorite pastime in this nation. Americans have always had the sneaking suspicion that somebody was out to get us — be it Freemasons, Catholics or
While psychologists can’t know exactly what goes on inside our heads, they have, through surveys and laboratory studies, come up with a set of traits that correlate well with conspiracy belief. In 2010, Swami and a co-author summarized this research in The Psychologist, a scientific journal. They found, perhaps surprisingly, that believers are more likely to be cynical about the world in general and politics in particular. Conspiracy theories also seem to be more compelling to those with low self-worth, especially with regard to their sense of agency in the world at large. Conspiracy theories appear to be a way of reacting to uncertainty and
powerlessness.…[But] psychologists aren’t sure whether powerlessness causes conspiracy theories or vice versa.…
Economic recessions, terrorist attacks and natural disasters are massive, looming threats, but we have little power over when they occur or how or what happens afterward. In these moments of powerlessness and uncertainty, a part of the brain called the amygdala kicks into action. Paul Whalen, a scientist at Dartmouth College who studies the amygdala, says it doesn’t exactly do anything on its own. Instead, the amygdala jump-starts the rest of the brain into analytical overdrive — prompting repeated reassessments of information in an attempt to create a coherent and understandable narrative, to understand what just happened, what threats still exist and what should be done now. This may be a useful way to understand how, writ large, the brain’s capacity for generating new narratives after shocking events can contribute to so much paranoia in this
“In many movies there are scenes of a protagonist revealing everything to a skeptical official – and promptly being admitted into a mental hospital,” writes Esther Inglis-Arkell:
These scenes occasionally play out in real life. They even have a name, the Martha Mitchell Effect.
Brendan Maher was a psychologist who spent much of the 1950s and 1960s working with patients in the prison system, so he had to have had a lot of experience with the Martha Mitchell Effect before it got a name. Two major causes of the effect are being the target of organized crime or being under constant surveillance by law enforcement – and he had to have heard plenty of stories involving those two
The effect isn’t a mental problem of the patient, but a kind of mental block of the psychiatrist. Its most famous sufferer was Martha Beall Mitchell. She was the wife of the Attorney General for the Nixon administration, and she had a few things to say about what top level officials were doing. When she made public statements, she was dismissed by those officials on the grounds of mental illness – an explanation that nearly all the press believed. It was only when the Watergate Scandal erupted that people realized she’d been right all
i Mickey Mouse adj. 1.a. Slang. Unimportant; trivial: “It’s a Mickey Mouse operation compared to what goes on in Lyons or Paris” (Jack Higgins). b. Slang. Irritatingly petty: the school’s Mickey Mouse requirements for graduation. 2. Slang. Intellectually unchallenging; simple: His Mickey Mouse assignments soon bored the students. 3. Music. a. Blandly sentimental. Used of popular compositions and performers. b. Relating to a soundtrack that accompanies the action in an unsubtle, melodramatic way suggestive of music written for animated films [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed.].
– Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996), p. 133.
U.S. Military Slang. Anything that is unnecessary or unimportant [The Barnhart Dictionary of New English].
– Len Deighton, Goodbye, Mickey Mouse (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), p. 1.
1 José Delgado, Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society (New York, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1969), p. 24.
2 Ibidem, p. 34.
3 Conspiracy, The Lectric Law Library, at http://www.lectlaw.com/def/c103.htm (retrieved: 27 May 2012).
5 Maggie Koerth-Baker, “Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories,” The New York Times, 21 May 2013, at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/why-rational-people-buy-into-conspiracy-theories.html (retrieved: 25 May 2013) and http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/why-rational-people-buy-into-conspiracy-theories.html?pagewanted=2 (retrieved: 25 May 2013).
6 Esther Inglis-Arkell, “When you have a story so unbelievable, everyone thinks you’re crazy,” io9.com, 3 June 2013, at http://io9.com/when-you-have-a-story-so-unbelievable-everyone-thinks-510422090 (retrieved: 4 June 2013).
“How The CIA Uses Social Media to Track How People Feel,” The Atlantic, 4 November 2011, at http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/11/how-the-cia-uses-social-media-to-track-how-people-feel/247923/ (retrieved: 4 October 2012).
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