Open Letter to Eric Weinstein

Dear Eric,

By way of introduction, my name is D. Benton Smith and there is very little chance that you’ve ever heard of me, or reason that you should have. My only credentials are self proclaimed, although on the few occasions that I’ve expressed my deeper thoughts and opinions to others they seem to have been well received and I’ve even been accused of genius by a few of them , but what do they know? At least none of them have called me crazy.

Here’s the deal. I stumbled upon a couple of your video conversations about the phenomenon for which you coined the term Distributed Information Suppression Complex (DISC) and I believe I have a significant piece of the answer to your core question.

I see the core question , in the generalized sense, as “Why is the pattern (particularly within journalism) of information suppression worsening from earlier norms to the extent that it’s now becoming (apparently) an existential threat to civilization’s sense making apparatus?”

First allow me to stipulate that information includes the entire “bandwidth” (so to speak) of truth and lies, veracity and falsity, rectitude and error, etc.

If information is suppressed on purpose then the act is one of purposeful deceit. A case might be made that the act was righteously or beneficially motivated, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was deliberate, and that it was deceitful. Deliberate deceit is not limited to bad guys or despicable purposes.

The information which gets suppressed could be true, false, or dubious, but regardless of it’s truthiness, suppressing it is ultimately going to have some effect on the success or failure of future outcomes.

Secondly, true information (being necessary to winning any contest) is therefore vitally necessary for us to obtain for ourselves (or our team) and deny to competitors . So we are compelled, on pain of death, to lie, and to trick and to withhold truth from our rivals, just as they must do unto us.

This wretched game is not exclusively an individual sport. No individual can directly observe a sufficient amount of actionable true information to enable survival. Our short-range senses and our scant available time are just too limited, and so we form partnerships and groups to distribute the tasks. We enlist the cooperation and loyalty of numerous assistants by contributing truthful information, loyalty, honesty, alliance, etc. to such ad hoc allies, and expect them to return the favor.

The problem is that the individuals, partnerships , clans, tribes, nations and empires who comprise these cooperating “nested” collaborations are all trapped in the same unavoidable conundrum that we also are individually subject to: To survive we must be truthful, honest and loyal . . . and . . . to survive we must lie, cheat and steal. In other words, being on the “good” side does not preclude lying, cheating and stealing. Those ultimately destructive actions are just as necessary on the one side as they are on the other.

Distributed Information Suppression, therefore, is just the advanced and more organized version of simple lying by omission and distraction. It looks a little different ( more coldly dispassionate about who gets targeted perhaps) because it is being carried out by cold and dispassionate corporate apparatchiks.

DISC, however, is not the only “truth obliterating” misdeed that looks a little different when scaled up to Modern Empire size. Gas lighting, for example, also doesn’t look quite the same when manifested on the global internet scale as it does on the person-to-person scale either. But it’s still the same mechanism whereby one competitor tries to make the other competitor come to wrong conclusions and make big mistakes based on deceitfully intended data.

These necessities cultivate a veritable marketplace of lies, wherein any single sin or virtue can be used as currency to purchase or sell any other sin or virtue. These transactions constitute a very very large portion of how individuals and groups of all sizes invest their time, effort and intellect so as to get from cradle to grave with maximum personal comfort and minimum physical damage to the organism. All at the expense of their rivals. The entire system is predicated upon deception.

As a mathematician you can appreciate better than most just how many combinations and permutations of truth/lie , trust/betrayal, alliance/enmity ensue from these factors interacting within the lives of seven and a half billion people. That it is an overwhelmingly large number is profound understatement.

Back in the day, the absolute technical limitations of primitive technologies more or less prevented this horrifying reality from reaching a critical mass around the world all at once. It was not physically possible to monopolize communications or monetary exchange in 1920. In 2020 however it is way more than possible. It’s universally standard operating procedure. Prior to the First World War, attempted DISC type activities caused intermittent localized wars. Today it is causing globally paralytic chaos. But it’s the same beast.

The basic mechanism (lying) is simplicity itself. It’s the complexity generated by the sheer magnitude and pervasiveness of the lying that’s killing us now.

There is only one thing that might stop it, but that one thing is so improbable that its attainment is practically impossible.

A very large number of individuals would have to become aware that the consequences of using no-holds-barred deceit to achieve unlimited victory are predictably and inescapably catastrophic. So long as humans routinely cheat to win then the habit is unlikely to abate.

What is much more likely is that the catastrophe is unavoidable, and on a grand scale. The unpredictable logics of evolution are therefore going to play out as they will. On the small scale, however, and between small numbers of exceptionally honest or clever people, there is still some legitimate hope.