Conspiracies – What Do You Believe?
By Daily Bell Staff - December 29, 2015

The truth is rushing out there: why conspiracy theories spread faster than ever … From 9/11 to the Paris attacks, from Ebola to Isis, every major global event attracts a corresponding counter-narrative from the 'truthers', some so all-encompassing that they take over people's lives. Are our brains wired to believe, as a new book argues? And could such thinking actually be beneficial? … The internet age has vastly accelerated the spread of conspiracy theories. – UK Guardian

Dominant Social Theme: There must be a reason why people believe crazy things

Free-Market Analysis: This is an article that argues against conspiratorial thinking based on a new book, Suspicious Minds. The book is written by Rob Brotherton, and the UK Guardian has devoted a fairly long article to Brotherton's thesis.

And what is that? Well … basically, the idea is that people are naturally prone to conspiracy theories because of the way their brains have evolved. "Identifying patterns and being sensitive to possible threats," the article explains, "is what has helped us survive in a world where nature often is out to get you."

Brotherton explains in the article that he decided that the best way to present his thesis was to avoid confronting conspiracy theories head on. Instead, he wanted to explain how people adopted such theories for psychological reasons.

"I wanted to take a different approach, to sidestep the whole issue of whether the theories are true or false and come at it from the perspective of psychology. The intentionality bias, the proportionality bias, confirmation bias. We have these quirks built into our minds that can lead us to believe weird things without realising that's why we believe them."

Like most personality traits, proneness to intentionality bias varies across the population. "Some people are more susceptible to it than others." And, Brotherton explains, there is a small but reliable correlation between that susceptibility and belief in conspiracy theories.

The article develops Brotherton's thesis but interestingly also profiles a Texan called Matthew Elliot who is apparently a recovering conspiratorial thinker, someone who once believed that there was a single elite entity that was intent on world domination.

Elliot, the article explains, was "in deep," believing around the turn of the century that Western governments were on the verge of military takeovers. The article quotes him as relating the following anecdote from 2004:

"I remember reading about Final Fantasy VII, a movie I was really looking forward to. My initial reaction was disappointment that it was two years away – because by then we'd be under military control."

The article relates that Elliot had begun to believe conspiracy theories after 9/11 and was further familiarized with them by a close friend who introduced him to the "notorious 'truther' movement."

"The way most conspiracy theories are laid out, one thing always leads to another, so from there I became convinced that a ruling group called the New World Order orchestrated everything. This would all lead to martial law and a complete removal of our freedoms," he says.

But now Elliot is a "recovering" conspiracy theorist, who has realized that his worldview was damaging his relationships with friends and family and also making him miserable.

In the article he explains in some detail how he changed his mind. He recalls that he began to look more closely at people in power, especially politicians. When he examined such people, he found that they spoke mostly in "platitudes and generalizations" and increasingly he found it impossible to believe that such mundane people could be involved in a global conspiracy to forcefully impose a New World Order.

Additionally, he says that his life was happy and he felt increasingly "free." "None of the doom and gloom predicted and promised ever came," he is quoted as observing. For these reasons, the article relates that he has shed his conspiracy theories and is presently unencumbered – and a good deal more content.

The article's tone regarding Elliot and people like him is fairly sympathetic, as Brotherton himself seems to be. The sympathy spills over to current events as well. The article makes the case that conspiratorial thinking is an understandable outcome of the Internet itself, which has "speeded everything up," allowing people to meet each other quickly and to share and reinforce each others' worldviews.

The article provides examples of how fast conspiratorial thinking develops nowadays, making reference to recent accusations that the French government organized that country's horrible terror attacks. This claim rests on the idea that ISIS itself is somehow a creation of Western governments, the article explains.

Another conspiracy researcher named Viren Swami is also quoted. He is a professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University. He claims that belief in conspiracies has remained stable for many decades but that the circulation of new theories is a good deal more frenetic.

He is quoted as saying, "It's a symptom of a much more integrated world. The Internet speeds everything up, allowing conspiracy-minded individuals to connect and formulate their ideas. In contrast, it took months for theories about Pearl Harbor to develop."

Combine the speed at which conspiracy theories circulate with the "intentionality bias" that seems an inherent neuro-psychological phenomenon and you have an explanation for why the identification of conspiracies seems more common these days.

Brotherton believes it is difficult to combat people's attraction to conspiracy theory because when people's beliefs are attacked they often become more stubborn about them. Swami, according to the article, disagrees.

Swami believes it is possible to reduce "conspiracist ideation" (fixation) by encouraging people to think analytically instead of emotionally. He believes that formal education ought to "promote analytical thinking, to teach critical thinking skills."

But Swami doesn't put the full blame for conspiracy theory on its adherents or even a flawed educational system. He believes that regulatory democracy is to blame as well when it produces representation that is manipulative or corrupt.

People tend to lose faith in their representative system if they cannot trust those they are electing – and thus movements that encourage political and corporate transparency are very important.

"A lot of people have trouble accepting a big organisation's or government's narratives of an event, because they're seen as untrustworthy, they're seen as liars," argues Swami. Improved teaching and changes in political and business culture would undoubtedly help.

The trouble with Swami's approach is that it doesn't acknowledge that the system he wants to make more effective and transparent is not a marketplace evolution but the product of specific judicial and legislative decisions.

Modern corporations are the result of various formal decision-making processes including patent law and corporate personhood. The modern system is held in place by another artificial legislative creation – monopoly central banking.

Looking at the way financial and corporate systems have evolved, it is difficult not to see a deliberate pattern that emphasizes bigness and increased elite control.

If the thrust of legislative and judicial control at least over the past several centuries has been one of consolidation and concentration, one can certainly maintain that such an evolution was coincidental but the elongated time frame alone makes such a supposition dubious at least.

Then there is history itself and the differences between what is formally taught and what can be discovered on the Internet, which is often at variance with mainstream presentations.

Almost always, it seems, the official narrative avoids the factual reality that historical events concentrate power in fewer and fewer hands. This is especially true when it comes to wars being fought, especially by the West.

It is the Internet, of course, that helps us construct an alternative profile of events simply by allowing us to view a variety of modern and historical narratives. Eventually, a trend may become obvious and even predictable. It is this state of affairs that conspiratorial thinking responds to.

And it is for this reason that such thinking and analyzing is not going to go away anytime soon. The past two decades have ripped away the veil of the mainstream consensus and shown clearly that history, science and finance can be interpreted in many ways. The mainstream approach unfortunately can be seen, more and more, as offering justifications for the current sociopolitical environment rather than the aspects of more truthful narratives.

For many of us, understanding the reality of alternative perspectives has probably never been more important as globalists push toward their goals more aggressively than ever, leaving chaos, poverty and worse in their wake.

One ought not be lulled to sleep by bromides involving legislative transparency and conspiratorial "ideation." In fact, it seems more and more that those who wish for us to remain asleep – unaware of the rising tide of domestic and international manipulations – are waging war against those who are awake or awakening.

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  • Bolt Upright

    Ignorance is bliss. What other way is their to relieve stress from the “Gutenberg” internet.

  • sckpak

    It is no longer a conspiracy once one discovers the facts and who the players are. If history has yaught anything it is to just follow the money – who has the most to gain. Funny how it usually proves out to be the same people over and over again – that’s right, the global elites. As they would prefer, go back to sleep, nothing here to see.

    • Bruce C.

      “It is no longer a conspiracy …” Good point. But there are at least two kinds of conspiracy theories, the kind that involves invisible players acting to progress a secret agenda, and the kind that involves a “large” number of people who share the same secrets and act in unison but pretend to be independent.

    • deltajent

      @ sckpak: I think you meant it is no longer a conspiracy *theory* once one discovers the facts…It is still a conspiracy when two or more individuals conspire together to do something illicit, illegal, or unlawful. If it is legitimate it’s not a conspiracy but simply an agreement on a plan of action. A theory about some event is established as fact once there is sufficient evidence to confirm the hypothesis. There are only two views of history possible: conspiracy or coincidence. Either events are planned and actuated by individuals to accomplish some purpose (legitimate or otherwise) or it all just happens by random chance. Which do you think is more plausible?

  • Brosky

    How cute. The globalist crime syndicate thinks that if they sympathize with our conspiracy theorizing as a quirky psychological habit we won’t tar and feather them once the rest of humanity wakes up (anytime now). Well, after a fair trial, I still support tarring and feathering these creeps 🙂 The conspiratorial view of history is the only one that is logical, supported by evidence, and therefore credible. Anyone who denies that conspiracies have shaped history is a liar or a gullible fool.

  • Bruce C.

    To me one of the main arguments in favor of conspiracy theories is that the decision makers – whoever they are (visible or invisible) – are chosen by previous decision makers and so things become self-fulfilling. There really is very little direct democracy to circumvent that because even the choices are skewed.

    Also, although this article implies that people are prone to believe in conspiracies in my experience most people DO NOT. Relatively few believe the official stories are wrong. Conspiracies involve speculation and thinking that a lot of people may not like to do, and they also don’t like their world views challenged. A lot of people just don’t want to go there. As soon as the official versions are found to be lies then it opens up a whole can of worms.

  • FauxScienceSlayer

    We live in a false paradigm reality bounded by faux science, fake history, filtered news, financed by a fiat currency and directed by

    a multi-generational syndicate of monarchy monopolist psychopaths. There is ONE conspiracy that dictates all these events,

    “The Collectivist Conspiracy” on YouTube, interview with Anthony Sutton of the Wiki/Reece_Commission

    • perger

      I will view.

  • Freetruthforever .

    The meme that ‘only crazy people believe that rich/powerful people get together to plan how to combine and implement their influence over others’ is itself a promotion used to further obfuscate the implementation of those often dubious plans. Seeking to alienate truth-seekers by making the term “truthers” a pejorative term reveals how twisted this type of propaganda has become. I guess the old saying that “the truth will set you free” has been turned on its head such that the new perverted saying is “the truth will make you crazy”. Move along, nothing to see here; move along…

    • perger


    • synthetic_society

      Ignorance is strength

  • Sydney

    What is truth?

    Is it the product reason, or logic? Not so fast.

    No, reason and logic construct cages for the mind, the bars of which are strengthened by the pride inherent in the exercise of that reason and logic, Please consider what all reason and logic are based on. Premises! Yes, the fundamental concepts or world view that are the starting point of one’s reasoning. Often times premises are unknowable or unprovable. Other times they are in your face and quite obvious. Check your premises yes, but even further, where do your premises come from? This may be the central issue Let’s start from the beginning. Just exactly what are the premises we employ and who exactly promoted them? What premises are the most useful in describing or explaining the world around us, that is physical reality, ongoing change, and perhaps most importantly ones own personal experiences “on the ground” so to speak. One foundational principle, verified by reality, is there does indeed exist an entity known as a central bank and a phenomena known as a monopoly or the destruction of competition thru the use of governmental force, fraud, threat or violence. Evidently and obviously someone or some group owns this central bank and enforces monopolies on their products.. Evidently this is a small and mysterious group preferring secrecy. What is certain at least from my experience is that I work for the irredeemable currency that they create out of debt apparently, and they don’t, work that is, unless you consider scheming in secrecy work (oh, pity them, ha). The fact that they prefer secrecy defines them as predators until proven otherwise. The power arising from central banking and monopolies on currency/debt/credit, while not being unlimited is enormous. Much of that power is exercised and enhanced by false premises otherwise known as memes, or simply lies. As wealth and power are consolidated the group becomes smaller and smaller and the individual (or any one outside the group) becomes further enslaved to a world rising opposed to their own personal self interest.

    Well there you have it. It is in your face. If you want to understand the world let your reason and logic go wild so long as it is from these premises and almost everything else makes sense. Common sense really. Sometimes perfect sense. Perfect sense may endow clarity, and sometimes even peace. As far as I can tell these have been the foundational premises of the DB. These premises have assuredly contributed substantially to the DB’s greatness. Perhaps, (but just perhaps!) it may contribute to yours as well.

    If not greatness, then authenticity. If not quite authenticity then at the very least sanity. Yours will be true.

    Thank you for a great website and Best Wishes in Human Action.

  • vongoh

    Reality happens. Humans frame it.

    Brotherton and Swami are concerned with framing Reality such that, those who do not accept the frame of television and the Guardian at face value are suffering from ‘conspiracy ideation’, and are obviously allowing emotions to short-circuit reason and critical thinking.

    Because ‘everyone knows’ that powerful humans and factions never work together in secret to consolidate power and operate against the best interests of the rest of the species.

    The very idea is ludicrous. “Everybody knows that”.

  • perger

    Go speak with your neighbor or a freshly minted graduate to find out how easily sheeple are herded.
    Do you believe Obama was elected because the voters chose him, because of his leadership abilities, and Muslin name?
    Of course we are controlled and manipulated, because its so easy to do.
    Humans give themselves way to much credit for being the intelligent species.
    Look at the psychopaths that have been worshipped, the senseless slaughter because of a jilted kings. There are people that belive the Pope has a direct line to a god, morons, can you imagine all the conspiracies that have been hatch in the back room of that club?
    So, the example of the reformed nut job’s message is to be happy and a asleep, that is giving up and conforming to your Master’s plan.
    I find that average people are stupid and they are the majority, just look at the world and the people elected to run it, they are all so dumb, you know they are puppets with stings, and I could give you a good guess at who is pulling those stings.
    I am a person who would like to understand the truth about my existence and refuse to be labeled such insulting names as CT.
    Of course when a person wakes up is not pleasant, shit, the truth hurts more often than not in life. The shame is it took so long to realize how you been duped and are powerless to do anything because your a serf, and the horrible awaking that your family and friends are idiots, it’s not fun, but, unfortunately it’s the truth.
    Have another beer and enjoy the game.

    • dmartin11

      The last line says it all if you look at it another way: sit back and enjoy the game of watching the masses being duped by the elites. Yes most people are dumb. I tend to think they were born that way as well as raised that way. It’s not really their fault. There have always been a small minority intelligent enough to see through the dominant delusional worldview. We can feel sorry for ourselves and let it make us unhappy, or we can relax and enjoy life while seeing the world as it really is.

      • vongoh

        This is exactly where I’m at, High five.

    • MetaCynic

      Instead of the predisposition of some individuals to see conspiracies everywhere being labeled a mental disorder, perhaps it is human gullibility that’s the real mental disorder here. It seems that some god with a cruel sense of humor has hardwired the vast majority of humans to fervently believe easily refuted nonsense if it emanates from self-appointed psychopathic authorities.

      As a result, the human race has forever identified with its oppressors. An attack on the oppressors is viewed as an attack on them. To believe the charges that state authorities are criminals is for many true believers a fate to be cast helplessly adrift in life. The ongoing worship of the state and its agents is a manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome on a monumental scale. The history of the last century is evidence that millions of deluded humans would rather charge into the jaws of hell if ordered to do so by authorities than face the painful and humiliating fact that they are being ruthlessly sacrificed for the benefit of others.

  • Wrusssr
  • Wrusssr

    This is the most truthful explanation of ‘conspiracies I’ve heard to date.

    Below is a stunning conversation with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts shining a light behind the massive conspiracy curtain, and the unprecedented change and upheaval the world is experiencing. He’s probably as close as anyone to being the world’s most respected voice covering the geopolitical landscape. When you hear the word neocon, it is the banksters who control them.

  • Heywood Jablome

    Perhaps if some of the media outlets actually did some investigative journalist writing, with some actual proof and reference, then the group who is subject to the pejorative “truthers” would not have so much mistrust, nor would the alternative media be taken as so much of an actual solution when seeking the actual facts. Interesting that it appears in the Guardian, one of the outlets which has never shied away from a good story as opposed to the completely investigated and verified truth. There is always an agenda, and following the money trail is usually a primary method of discovering that agenda.

    • apberusdisvet

      Excellent points. There is no such thing as “permitted” investigative journalism unless such inquiry would further the elite agenda. Any mid 20th century cub reporter could have exposed the anomalies in the false flags we have all witnessed and the political and financial agendas behind them.

  • Praetor

    Conspiracy> a secret plan by a group, the action of plotting.
    Theory> a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something.

    UK Guardian, founded 1821 by the Little Circle of Unitarians. Some notables of the Unitarians, John Adams, John Q. Adams, William H. Taft, Millard Filmore, Neville Chamberlain, Linus Pauling, Susan B. Anthony, Lancelot Ware ( founder of Mensa, high IQ society), and C Killick Millard ( founder of the Dignity in Dying). Just to name a few.

    There is no such thing as ‘conspiracy theory’, only ‘conspiracy fact’. An Elite Group of rich powerful people wanting to rule the world, through a one world government, and they will do what ever it takes to achieve that, and that is a fact jack!!!

  • dmartin11

    Seems like this article is contradicting itself. A conspiracy is nothing but a group of people consciously pursuing a self-aggrandizing agenda at the expense of others. It’s normal human social behaviour. It happens all the time, in all walks of life. You can’t acknowledge the existence of globalists, for example, yet deny their push for a new world order.

    • Bruce C.

      Yes, but the assertion that “globalists” exist is a conspiracy theory itself unless a number of individuals claim explicitly that that is their agenda and then act accordingly. The conspiracy theory arises because of individuals’ actions, but not their words, and so it is an accusation of intent. What muddies the water are concepts like stupidity and poor judgement.

  • Doc

    @DB: This is off topic so I apologize for that, but why do you put “free market analysis” in the articles? I think you do something much greater than that and it might also put some people off that would benefit from your texts. Why not simply “Daily Bell Analysis” or similar?

  • rahrog

    This article is a hoot! I would be much more “happy” and “unencumbered” if only my government would provide me with “free” electro-shock therapy and mega doses of thorazine.

    • Wait.

    • Bruce C.

      Don’t hold your breath. You’re already illiterate so that would be a waste.

  • Whatever one believes will determine how the interpret and perceive – as well as the thoughts and behaviours that then automatically follow.
    So belief itself becomes the ‘battleground’ or war that operates in place of a tangibly connected peace in which communication occurs naturally and spontaneously – rather than being denied or conformed to a fearful agenda of pain or loss.
    Being truly aware of the operation of belief amidst the experience of living in a world predicated on belief is to be awake and on purpose. But beliefs that run as undercurrent or denied agenda do not announce themselves as beliefs – but are the imprinted conditioning OF the Human Condition in general and our respective roles within that conflicted self-sense in particular.
    The war of judgement is that by which one gets to determine ‘reality’ and undermine or invalidate and neutralize or deny any other witness.

    The unmasking of the devices of deceit and denial in the world is a reflection of the unmasking of that same device within our fragmented consciousness. The ‘elitist’ exceptionalism – persists the notion that the ‘problem’ is someone else’s and that they are suffering – if at all – the frustration or loss resulting from other’s lack of adequacy or worthiness. But this is not the whole truth for the nature of denial is that one does not recognize it is in fact one’s own.

    The split off fragment that is asserted as oneself is an active part of its predicate. But we are most loath to release such investment when the persona operates as the device of defence against deeper fear and rage. And so the core conditioning is never engaged but in its worldly reflection, by which it is defined and interpreted so as to protect against exposure.

    There is a deeper pattern that can be recognized as the core imprint in the human psyche – and there is a universal conspiracy or tacit agreement to avoid such exposure by mutuality of judgement – for without such a ‘power’ we would lose ‘our minds’ and have no protection from a destructive and loveless sense of power amidst powerlessness. However, I see that is happening in any case and so feel moved to question ‘mind’ in its inhibition of Life, and to reconnect and integrate with feeling. With a true presence.

  • MetaCynic

    The definition of conspiracy is two or more individuals secretly planning to do something illegal. It seems that a federal indictment is hardly ever handed out without there being lodged a conspiracy charge of one sort or another. So, from the perspective of our overlords, it looks like we serfs are genetically predisposed to conspiratorial behavior. Yet, like ignorant children, we are repeatedly reminded by employees of the media and government school teachers that members of the political caste, though swimming in the same human gene pool as we serfs, are simply incapable of conspiratorial behavior. Any notion on our part that they are conspiring against us, especially when the stakes are high, is, at best, the product of an overactive imagination or as this article suggests a borderline mental disorder.

    The fact that the landmark Bill of Rights trashing Patriot Act was first voted on by Congress without anyone having the time to read its 300+ pages, much less think about and debate its provisions, couldn’t possibly be a conspiratorial act on anyone’s part. Nope, believing so is a mental disorder. There must be an innocent explanation for abridging our precious rights with such indecent haste. Yep, it was probably a scheduling conflict. There’s nothing much to read into such things. They happen all the time. Let’s just unite, march on and not dwell on the past.

  • Sebastian Puettmann

    I share the concern about the effects that conspiratorial thinking may have on the mind. Havin dabbled in conspiracy videos and books myself, I know how much these theories can take over your whole thinking.

    I also found conspiracy theories highly interesting for the process of thinking in general. Does it make one interested in monetary policy to suspect a conspiracy in high finance? Yes it does. May more so than any other path to this otherwise dry and seemingly boring field, which normally isn’t a topic that one picks up at parties or even knows to exist. It does not hurt to admit that a couple of conspiracy theories have made me more interested in politics than two centuries of governmental school.

    I also got to know how rewarding it is, to dig through the various theories and to come to a rational conclusion. It is even more rewarding to – on the “other side” – find great thinkers like Murray Rothbard, who’s thoughts I otherwise never would have been exposed to.

    To a degree, conspiratorial thinking itself even tough me, that is is “allowed” to think those thoughts. And even though many conspiracy theories may not be true, those books certainly contain great quotes like “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” from which oneself can take someting useful. Who knew that there we even good quotes in the bible?
    As a German I am going to have to pay about 18.000 € during my whole life to the “public” media. Do they give me those great quotes to life by? No, they mainly report on football or follow the limousine of Angela Merkel around without naming her crimes. It can never hurt to have politicians in privat jets who order other people to not waist too much CO2.
    I am now 33 years old, and mainly through the works of Stefan Molyneux, have realized that most of my political wanderings are actually based on avoiding confrontation with my family. Not to be able to speak the truth to my familiar environment is the real conspiracy. Authoritarian parenting is the real police state. Making one’s children dependent on pocket money is the real wellfare state. Not attaining selfknowledge, having children with a wrong partner and forcing children to grow up in a single household is the real “conspiracy” for the “communist plot” to destroy the family. Not being taught the basics and virtues of economics is the real “socialist conspiracy”. Not being tought philosophy is the real “mind control”.
    I have dived deeply into the world of conspiracy for about 4 years, and as much as I would like to waist time on whether there really are Nazi Ufos, I now must excuse myself.
    I must make myself useful to other people via the free market. I must avoid contact to the state as much as possible. I must attain selfknowledge. I must work on mental and bodily fitness. I must find a good wife. I must have many children. I must parent them peacefully. I must support the fine journalist from Daily Bell to whom I am thankfull to even think about subjects like this.
    Happy new year!
    P.S.: any news about the reptilian aliens who live in Shambala and secretly rule the world by mind control?

  • Samarami

    “…The state is the central abstraction by which a
    catastrophically wrong idea is placed into practice.
    It is the organized system for employing violent action
    (or its threat) on the part of individuals, for as
    noted before, only individuals act. This rationalization
    occurs on two levels, first by diffusing responsibility to a
    fiction and second by inducing a group-think inversion
    of standards…”

    (Thanks, David Calderwood and LRC: )

    If one truly wishes to cease allowing conspiracies and concomitant false flag events to rule her life, s/he must first divorce herself from statist thinking — the science of rulership. One of the first steps for “libertarian” writers and adherents is to recognize reification when it occurs, and disassociate oneself from the use of it. Whenever you observe a speaker or writer say something like, “China did this” or “Russia said that” — run. Refrain from buying-in. Because it is that mentality that will cause you to live in fear. And to do things and to support things you ought not do or support.

    Neither “China” nor “Russia” exist. They are fictions — abstractions. Land masses exist. And people exist. Large numbers of those people are psychopathic at their core. It has been that way from time immemorial. They are the ones who “…raise up families of nations…” The history of that group of lunatics who become “Our-Forefathers” and hide behind the abstraction called “state” is war. Most of what we think of as “history” has to do with the wars that brought “nations” and “countries” into being.

    And “constitutions”.

    And war is conspiracy. How else would a young man (nowadays young women, g-d help us) be convinced to lay his life on the line to murder individuals “over there” under the guise that those individuals are “The-Enemy”??? Conspiracy, that’s how. Conspiracy to make them believe they have done some kind of “service” for their loved ones back home. And you’d better believe that the young men and women murderers “over there” believe the same thing — perhaps more ardently.

    The enormity of the truth is incredible. Sam

    • Good points. But culture exists and can be confined to geographical regions.

      • Samarami


        My point is not that “culture” does not exist. You exist. I exist. I guess we’re “culture”, are we not??? Wherever we hang our hats.

        Reification is fallacy. I believe “libertarians” are beguiled into using it “…as a figure of speech…” in order to water down the message of liberty and individulism.

        I cannot speak for you, and you cannot speak for me. If I specifically delegate you to represent me in a specific theater and under a specific circumstance (such as a formal hearing), then you can proceed with that “right” (whatever that means).

        Our old friend, Robert Higgs, says it best:

        And if you conspire with others to change that general rule of appropriate conduct, you’re engaging in the conspiracy. If you state, “Texas might secede from the US” you’re part of the conspiracy. Because I don’t intend to secede from anything.

        I am a sovereign state. :-]