I recall being about 7 years old and looking at the globe. I could see that South America fit right up next to Africa almost perfectly. I really wanted to understand why…
Later as a freshman in college in 1978, I enrolled in a geology class. But curiously, our textbook, published in 1976, said little about one of the most important geological theories of our day: Plate tectonics. In of the 350 pages only one half a page outlined the theory. Modern geology texts give the “theory” at least a chapter (35 pages) and more. Why the difference? What happened? Well, two central critics (from Cambridge and Yale) opposed the theory, keeping it out of textbooks for over 60 years. Their motives likely involved fear of the new paradigm, or an overturning of their own research.
But really, is there a difference between the process of acceptance for plate tectonics, Watergate and gold manipulation? And really, is there a difference between a geology professor, Bob Woodward, and Bill Murphy. And who gets to determine whether you are a respected expert or a tin-foil hatted conspiracy theorist? I think the answer to that question is scandalous. Let’s take a closer look.
Conspiracy theorist? I don’t think so…
The good etymologists at OED help us to know ourselves: A conspiracy theory is 1) an explanatory proposition that 2) accuses two or more persons, a group, or an organization of having caused or covered up, 3) through secret planning and deliberate action, 4) an illegal or harmful event or situation. I find this definition interesting because it aptly describes an historian, economist, or political scientist who proposes, in an academic journal, a theory that explains how a group or organization might cause or cover up, through secret planning and deliberate action, an illegal or harmful event or situation. We professors submit articles like this all the time. Isn’t that worth studying? Frankly, the term is a propaganda meme used to discredit anyone, anywhere, in quick blunt fashion. Perhaps the only difference between an historian and my friend who researches the Kennedy event is that the historian has to deal with bored freshmen and my friend has to look out for black SUVs.
Research methods for hard sciences, soft sciences and humanities are slightly different, with the highest levels of statistical rigor reserved for the hard sciences—people who build airplanes, design food additives and our pharmaceuticals and other such life threatening technologies. Social scientists, like sociologists and psychologists explain what makes us tick using empirical research and statistical tests. Humanists explain what makes us tick using qualitative research and building probable arguments. What all three areas have in common is that nobody finds absolute truth! All fields of knowledge simply make probable arguments about what is true—with greater and lesser degrees of probability (Stats 101). 95% certainty will get you published in most fields.
A theory I published about Hillary in a political journal is probably true—the reviewers agreed with me. The article has even been republished elsewhere. Arguments Pavlov made about conditioning are probably true, though he could assign a certainty value to his argument based on a statistical test. Bernoulli’s principle has an even greater degree of probability, indeed we put it to the test each time we get on a plane.
When I began paying attention to precious metals at age 50, I could see that something was wrong. I really wanted to understand why…
Bill Murphy and others have set forth a thesis that is probably true. So why is Murphy’s thesis about gold manipulation ridiculed and rejected by the mainstream? Has he deviated from the norms of scientific inquiry? Well, I don’t think so. He was educated in an Ivy League school where empirical methods molded his mind in every class. How could he approach any problem except with the methods he has been taught?
Is there not a historical record of gold manipulation, admitted in official government documents, by Fed chairs, recently released to the public? The literature review for this thesis is solid. Has Murphy not provided a “story” that explains why manipulation occurs? Yes he has. Has he not demonstrated the methods of manipulation? Has he not provided evidence that shows the manipulation in progress? And now, an example of manipulation by Barclays has been confessed and confirmed, using precisely the “mini puke” methods Murphy and others have described.
Motivation of critics
I can think of three reasons that critics reject the manipulation thesis (or any other “conspiracy” thesis for that matter). First, the critic has something to fear. I have discussed the danger of bail-ins and financial collapse with my parents. Today they are well off. After a collapse, most of their paper wealth will evaporate. But dad, and my step-mother, reject any evidence that upsets their world. I suspect they just don’t want to consider any other life than they have now. They simply cannot emotionally face living in another depression, like they grew up in.
Second, the critic has something to lose. Like the scientist whose program of research will be overturned by a new theory, a critic of gold manipulation may be in a business that depends on trust. Perhaps a broker who depends on clients like me paying commissions as we trade? Perhaps the fine people at Comex want traders to trade in their free, fundamental driven markets. I can see why these would scoff at Murphy without even examining the evidence.
Third, the critic has something to hide. A mercenary PR strategist might be paid to oppose a theory by somebody who wants the theory silenced. They can get steeped in cognitive dissonance working for a good paycheck—if they have a conscience. Like the PR team for the tobacco industry that suppressed research about the effects of nicotine, even like Hillary Clinton who vigorously defended Bill after the Monica scandal broke, before the “smoking dress” was found, the critic will assert their respectability and use tactics even Saruman would applaud.
How do they oppose good theories? My own academic research agenda has been thwarted by one particular reviewer who disagreed with the thesis of my first book. His scathing review sank my publication in 2003. He pointed out a few legitimate weaknesses in my case but asserted far worse things which he supported only with an academic diatribe filled with flowery language. Even though the editor wanted to publish, that one bad review made it impossible to get the manuscript past the “committee” that made final decisions. A few years later I was published by an academic press with no hindrances at all. Having unbiased reviewers made all the difference.
I have noted that critics of a good theory use some typical tactics.
- A bald claim of “I don’t believe it.”
- “You-can’t-prove-it” therefore it is wrong
- Citing well known data, but with an indirect connection to the issue
- Exaggeration of contrary reasons and evidence
- Minimization of reasons and evidence.
- Refocusing on evidence that doesn’t exist, but ought to.
What the critic’s argument ultimately boils down to is an attempt to hold the theorists to standards of “absolute proof” with 100% certainty. Since no new theory can meet these standards the critic then accentuates the 1% of doubt, augmenting and hyperbolizing a very weak anti-thesis, frustrating the researcher’s efforts. Often this critic will insert emotional adjectives and adverbs, metaphors, and other creative language to exaggerate and impress. One recent critical blogger used several emotion-laden phrases … <delete>
Note to self: Oh, I better not go there or I’ll just stir up trouble…
In general, exaggerated doubt pervades the criticism, evident in grammar and word selection. Any contrary arguments that may be legitimate are greatly exaggerated and a false dichotomy of this or that is often presented as the difference between us and them, with the critic using objective language to assert their own position, and employing emotion-laden language adorned with clever phrasing to reject the theory, often without even examining it.
Putting forth a reasonable theory about the secret coordination of efforts by individuals and organizations to achieve illegitimate gains is not difficult. One simply must follow general methods we teach in our colleges. First, explain the problem that prompts the research. Describe the anomalies that all can see and discuss the need to understand why these things are happening. Second, you explain, as simply as possible a “theory” that accounts for the evidence. Third, you dig in and see what others have found already, looking at the history of the issue, evaluating and judging their evidence and theories that have come before you. Fourth you look at current evidence which further supports the theory, evaluating it in an honest, unbiased (as possible) manner. Fifth, you examine the counter evidence and discuss reasons or theories that lay weight on the other side of the scale, evaluating he strength and legitimacy of this evidence. Lastly, evaluate the strength of your argument? How certain are you of the verity of the theory? I hold that most published works that outline the more reasonable theories floating around out there meet these standards.
Burden of proof
At this point, the burden of proof is incumbent upon those critics who deny gold manipulation, who deny that excessive debt is a problem for Keynsian economies, who deny that the IMF is not planning a world reserve currency, who deny that China, Russia, and most of Asia, the Mid-east and the other BRIIICS countries are not preparing for the collapse of the dollar, who deny that a group of Western elites have not been shaping the world economies to benefit themselves. Rational, well supported theories have been posited that provide mountains of evidence to back their explanations. What say ye?
For the critic to simply say at this point, “I don’t believe it," "this one reason refutes it," "that is crazy," or simply "prove it,”--the critic who uses any of those tactics only exposes their fears, suggests financial interests, or points to a deeper, more sinister, motive. Before we can take you seriously again, we need to read your anti-thesis that provides a strong, well-researched argument that gold trades freely, that the fundamentals of the metals market, the supply chain, and investor demand can reasonably account for all the strange and questionable movements in the price of the metal. You need to reasonably refute the published statements of high-level officials who openly, in writing, admitted to controlling this market.
A real thinker says, “Hmmm…that is interesting. Let’s explore it more deeply. Then we critique the idea and see if it stands on its own two feet, then we publish, then we critique more, then it goes in the textbooks. Publication is granted to a thesis that has merit. Some issues need to be debated, some issues need to be investigated, and silencing a thesis does nobody any good.
I call B.S. on these critics due to their inability to conform to the critical thinking to which they pay such adoring lip-service, yet fail to practice on their news articles and blogs. In Plato’s famous work titled The Gorgias, two guests at a dinner party were disputing with Socarates about the nature of dialectic & rhetorical inquiry. Socrates was arguing a particular point when his interlocutor, Polus, began laughing. Socrates did not put up with shit like that: “Do you laugh, Polus? Well, this is a new kind of refutation-when any one says anything, instead of refuting him to laugh at him.” The tactics of the uninformed critic have been well-understood for thousands of years. Also the respectable methods of the serious mind have also been well-understood.
I just sat through another graduation ceremony and again reflected on the nature of education. When our students have demonstrated they understand how to think, and also have a foundation of knowledge, we grant them a degree. The Sensei can grant the higher level belt to the disciple. The journeyman recognizes the knowledge and skill in the apprentice and grants equal status. I and others here are qualified to grant to you, dear reader, the Bachelor of Arts degree in Truth Studies as you learn, reason, evaluate, judge, theorize, and teach others what you have learned, seeking a stronger community and prosperity for all. Thus, if you have completed your program of study, I confer upon you the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Truth Studies!
Now go change the world.