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TBR News February 21, 2020

Feb 21 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 21, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for February 22: “The moment Trump heard that Amereican intelligence personnel were warning Congress that Russia planned to support Trump’s efforts at gaining a second term, he went ballistic and threatened to “clean out that whole nest of traitors.” Whether this nest contained Congess or the intelligence community, or both of them, is not known. Trump is prone to wild fits of screaming fury when his persona or his manipulation are exposed to what he honestly believes are a worshipping America. These behavior glitches can easily be dealt with but in a padded room, not the Oval Office.”

Trump Approval Rating
source                                          date     approve  disapprove
_____________________________________________________________________
American Research Group Feb. 20, 2020  37%         59%

The Table of Contents
Revealed: quarter of all tweets about climate crisis produced by bots
• ‘It’s a cycle’: the disproportionate toll of homelessness on San Francisco’s African Americans
• A CIA Instruction Manual
• Innovation Should Be Made in the U.S.A.
• The Season of Evil
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Revealed: quarter of all tweets about climate crisis produced by bots
Draft of Brown study says findings suggest ‘substantial impact of mechanized bots in amplifying denialist messages’
February 21,2020
by Oliver Milman in New York
The Guardian
The social media conversation over the climate crisis is being reshaped by an army of automated Twitter bots, with a new analysis finding that a quarter of all tweets about climate on an average day are produced by bots, the Guardian can reveal.
The stunning levels of Twitter bot activity on topics related to global heating and the climate crisis is distorting the online discourse to include far more climate science denialism than it would otherwise.
An analysis of millions of tweets from around the period when Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement found that bots tended to applaud the president for his actions and spread misinformation about the science.
The study of Twitter bots and climate was undertaken by Brown University and has yet to be published. Bots are a type of software that can be directed to autonomously tweet, retweet, like or direct message on Twitter, under the guise of a human-fronted account.
“These findings suggest a substantial impact of mechanized bots in amplifying denialist messages about climate change, including support for Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement,” states the draft study, seen by the Guardian.
On an average day during the period studied, 25% of all tweets about the climate crisis came from bots. This proportion was higher in certain topics – bots were responsible for 38% of tweets about “fake science” and 28% of all tweets about the petroleum giant Exxon.
Conversely, tweets that could be categorized as online activism to support action on the climate crisis featured very few bots, at about 5% prevalence. The findings “suggest that bots are not just prevalent, but disproportionately so in topics that were supportive of Trump’s announcement or skeptical of climate science and action”, the analysis states.
Thomas Marlow, a PhD candidate at Brown who led the study, said the research came about as he and his colleagues are “always kind of wondering why there’s persistent levels of denial about something that the science is more or less settled on”.
The researchers examined 6.5m tweets posted in the days leading up to and the month after Trump announced the US exit from the Paris accords on 1 June 2017. The tweets were sorted into topic category, with an Indiana University tool called Botometer used to estimate the probability the user behind the tweet is a bot.
Marlow said he was surprised that bots were responsible for a quarter of climate tweets on an average day. “I was like, ‘Wow that seems really high,’” he said.
The consistent drumbeat of bot activity around climate topics is highlighted by the day of Trump’s announcement, when a huge spike in general interest in the topic saw the bot proportion drop by about half to 13%. Tweets by suspected bots did increase from hundreds a day to more than 25,000 a day during the days around the announcement but it wasn’t enough to prevent a fall in proportional share.
Trump has consistently spread misinformation about the climate crisis, most famously calling it “bullshit” and a “hoax”, although more recently the US president has said he accepts the science that the world is heating up. Nevertheless, his administration has dismantled any major policy aimed at cutting planet-warming gases, including car emissions standards and restrictions on coal-fired power plants.
The Brown University study wasn’t able to identify any individuals or groups behind the battalion of Twitter bots, nor ascertain the level of influence they have had around the often fraught climate debate.
However, a number of suspected bots that have consistently disparaged climate science and activists have large numbers of followers on Twitter. One that ranks highly on the Botometer score, @sh_irredeemable, wrote “Get lost Greta!” in December, in reference to the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
This was followed by a tweet that doubted the world will reach a 9-billion population due to “#climatechange lunacy stopping progress”. The account has nearly 16,000 followers.
Another suspected bot, @petefrt, has nearly 52,000 followers and has repeatedly rejected climate science. “Get real, CNN: ‘Climate Change’ dogma is religion, not science,” the account posted in August. Another tweet from November called for the Paris agreement to be ditched in order to “reject a future built by globalists and European eco-mandarins”.
Twitter accounts spreading falsehoods about the climate crisis are also able to use the promoted tweets option available to those willing to pay for extra visibility. Twitter bans a number of things from its promoted tweets, including political content and tobacco advertising, but allows any sort of content, true or otherwise, on the climate crisis.
Research on internet blogs published last year found that climate misinformation is often spread due to readers’ perception of how widely this opinion is shared by other readers.
Stephan Lewandowsky, an academic at the University of Bristol who co-authored the research, said he was “not at all surprised” at the Brown University study due to his own interactions with climate-related messages on Twitter.
“More often than not, they turn out to have all the fingerprints of bots,” he said. “The more denialist trolls are out there, the more likely people will think that there is a diversity of opinion and hence will weaken their support for climate science.
“In terms of influence, I personally am convinced that they do make a difference, although this can be hard to quantify.”
John Cook, an Australian cognitive scientist and co-author with Lewandowsky, said that bots are “dangerous and potentially influential”, with evidence showing that when people are exposed to facts and misinformation they are often left misled.
“This is one of the most insidious and dangerous elements of misinformation spread by bots – not just that misinformation is convincing to people but that just the mere existence of misinformation in social networks can cause people to trust accurate information less or disengage from the facts,” Cook said.
Although Twitter bots didn’t ramp up significantly around the Paris withdrawal announcement, some advocates of action to tackle the climate crisis are wary of a spike in activity around the US presidential election later this year.
“Even though we don’t know who they are, or their exact motives, it seems self-evident that Trump thrives on the positive reinforcement he receives from these bots and their makers,” said Ed Maibach, an expert in climate communication at George Mason University.
“It is terrifying to ponder the possibility that the Potus was cajoled by bots into committing an atrocity against humanity.”

‘It’s a cycle’: the disproportionate toll of homelessness on San Francisco’s African Americans
In a city where the homeless population is 37% black, having a job doesn’t mean you can afford housing
February 21, 2020
by Vivian Ho in San Francisco
The Guardian
When Tracey Mixon walks out her door in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, she is more likely to meet another black person than in most places in the city.
The Tenderloin is where many of the city’s homeless services are centered, making it a hub for the unhoused as they seek help. In a city where the black population teeters between 5% and 6%, 37% of its growing homeless population is black. “They sleep outside of my building,” Mixon, 49, said.
“They’re people I’ve known for years. They went from having places to live to being out out there on the streets. With me living in the Tenderloin, I see a lot of these people all the time and it hurts for me to see so many black people out there.”
In a state where a housing crisis has given way to a surge in homelessness, a disproportionate number of those experiencing housing instability are black. In Los Angeles, 37.5% of the homeless population is black, while in Oakland, where 70% of the homeless population is black, whole homeless encampments are dedicated to black and Latinx people.
The disparity is reflected nationwide. Although black people made up 13.4% of the overall population, according to the latest US census data, 39.8% of all homeless people were black.
Mixon joined a group with the Coalition on Homelessness on Thursday, going from office to office in San Francisco City Hall to bring attention to this racial disparity during Black History Month. Just nine months ago, Mixon was homeless too, along with her nine-year-old daughter. For almost a year, she said, she and her daughter lived in shelters, hotel rooms and on the couches of family and friends.
“It was tough,” said Mixon, who is now a peer organizer for the Coalition on Homelessness. “I made sure she was in school every day. I made sure I was at work every day. Just because we were homeless, I didn’t want our routine to be stopped.”
More and more throughout California, the homeless find themselves in similar circumstances as Mixon and her daughter: holding down jobs, making a decent living, going to school – just not able to find an affordable place to live.
In the office of the San Francisco lawmaker Rafael Mandelman, Miquesha Willis broke down in tears talking about her current situation.
Willis, 32, makes $30 an hour at her construction job. But she and her two-year-old son are homeless, staying with her mother on good days and scrambling to find shelter on bad days.
“It’s a cycle, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” she said in an interview. “My wages are OK, but it’s not enough for San Francisco. It’s not enough for market-rate rent. It’s too much for below market-rate rent. I’m still trying to increase my wages to beat homelessness here. It’s crazy.”
In cities like San Francisco, black communities are getting pushed out as rent prices get jacked up. Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the black population fell by 19% in San Francisco and almost 23% in Oakland. Black residents are forced to move farther inland to places where housing is cheaper, such as Antioch and Stockton – even though for many, their jobs remain in the city.
Willis tried moving to Antioch but couldn’t make the commute work. Her job required her to clock in before public transportation began running on some days, and her car broke down, making it impossible for her to get to work.
Like so many people her age, Willis is questioning what she wants to do for a living – if it would be worth it to finish college, to try starting her own business, to switch careers. San Francisco made its name this century as the hub for the latest tech boom, where anyone with a startup idea could come and achieve their dreams. But Willis has found that San Francisco is only a welcoming place only for some, for those who can afford the privilege to fail.
“There are people who are trying to make things happen for themselves and trying to grow in their career and make something happen for their families,” she said. “This is one of the highest-paying cities. Why are so many people struggling here?”

A CIA Instruction Manual

THE INTERROGATION OF SUSPECTS UNDER ARREST
Your virtuous interrogator, like the virtuoso in any field, will tell you that formulating the principles of his art would be a presumptuous and sterile procedure. Interrogators are born, not made, he almost says, and good interrogation is the organic product of intuition, experience, and native skill, not reducible to a set of mechanical components. Yet the organic whole can usefully be dissected, and examination will reveal its structural principles.
This article selects from the many different ramifications of the interrogation art that genre which is applicable to suspected agents under arrest, and sets forth some of the principles and procedures which characterize it. The essay is slanted toward relatively unsophisticated cases, and does not cover the subtler techniques which should be used, for example, against a suspected double agent, nor those required when access to the subject or the control of his person is limited. It does, however, treat interrogation as a process designed to yield the highest possible intelligence dividend. Such an interrogation is usually incompatible with one intended to produce legal evidence for a court conviction, since statements by the accused may be barred as court evidence on the ground that they were made under duress, during prolonged detention without charge, or in some other violation of legal procedures.
An interrogation yields the highest intelligence dividend when the interrogee finally becomes an ally, actively cooperating with the interrogator to produce the information desired. It is to a discussion of principles and procedures helpful in transforming a recalcitrant prisoner into something approaching an ally that this article is devoted. This kind of interrogation is essentially a battle of wills in which the turning-point is reached as the subject realizes the futility of his position. It usually develops in three tactical phases: a) breaking the cover story; b) convincing the subject that resistance is pointless and acquiescence the better part of valor; and c) getting active cooperation.
The question of torture should be disposed of at once. Quite apart from moral and legal considerations, physical torture or extreme mental torture is not an expedient device. Maltreating the subject is from a strictly practical point of view as short-sighted as whipping a horse to his knees before a thirty-mile ride. It is true that almost anyone will eventually talk when subjected to enough physical pressures, but the information obtained in this way is likely to be of little intelligence value and the subject himself rendered unfit for further exploitation. Physical pressure will often yield a confession, true or false, but what an intelligence interrogation seeks is a continuing flow of information.
No two interrogations are the same. The character, behavior, and degree of resistance of each new subject must be carefully assessed, and his estimated weaknesses used as the basis of a plan for intensive examination and exploitation. Each interrogation is thus carefully tailored to the measure of the individual subject. The standard lines of procedure, however, may be divided into four parts: a) arrest and detention; b) preliminary interview and questioning; c) intensive examination; and d) exploitation. The first three stages may often be merged; they constitute the softening-up process during which the cover story is broken and the subject may be shown up as a liar, an important step in making him realize the futility of further resistance.
In the matter of proving the subject a liar a word of caution is necessary. Showing some subjects up as liars is the very worst thing to do, because their determination not to lose face will only make them stick harder to the lie. For these it is necessary to provide loopholes by asking questions which let them correct their stories without any direct admission to lying.
When the cover story and the will to resist have been broken, when the subject is ready to answer a series of carefully prepared questions aimed at an intelligence target, the exploitation can begin, often in a veiled spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance. At this stage the interrogation may for example be moved to an office assigned the subject, where he might even be left alone for a few minutes to show that he is being trusted and that there is something constructive for him to do. This feeling of trust and responsibility can be very important to a broken subject, because he may now have suicidal inclinations; he must be given something to occupy his mind and keep him from too much introspection.
We shall examine in detail each stage of the interrogation procedure after a word on the language problem. Without doubt an interrogator using the subject’s language is in a much better position than one who has to work through an interpreter. But the interrogation skill is infinitely more important than the language skill, and a good linguist should not be substituted for a good interrogator. In the absence of an interrogator who speaks the language, an interpreter should be used, preferably one with some training in interrogation techniques. It is very important that the interpreter not only report accurately what both parties say but also reflect as faithfully as he can their inflection, tone, manner, and emphasis. He should try to become part of the furniture in the room rather than a third personality, and the interrogator should act as though he were not there.
Arrest and Detention
The interrogations officer, since his critical objective is breaking the subject’s will to resist, should attempt to control the psychological factors in every aspect of the subject’s life from the earliest possible stage, normally the time of arrest. If possible, he should plan in advance the conditions of arrest and immediate detention. If the subject is already in detention, the principles set down in the following paragraphs may be applied to his removal from ordinary detention to the place of interrogation.
The arrest should take the subject by surprise and should impose on him the greatest possible degree of mental discomfort, in order to catch him off balance and deprive him of the initiative. It should take place at a moment when he least expects it and when his mental and physical resistance is at its lowest. The ideal time which meets these conditions is in the early hours before dawn, when an abrupt transition from sleep to alert mental activity is most difficult.
If the arrest cannot be made during the pre-dawn sleep, the next best time is in the evening, when a person is normally relaxed in his own home. One is most impressionable when relaxing at home, as witness the findings of advertising firms who have studied the impact of television commercials. A less desirable time is in the morning when the day’s routine begins, especially in the case of underground personnel, because they will have thought through the day ahead of them and steeled themselves to its risks.
The police detachment which effects the arrest, or removal from detention to the interrogation center, should impress the prisoner with its cool efficiency and assurance. This scene is important enough to justify a rehearsal, if necessary. A subject arrested by three or four ill-dressed, clumsy policemen is more likely to regain his composure after the initial shock and draw some confidence from his superiority over his captors. If he is abruptly awakened by an arresting party of particularly tall, smart, well-equipped and business-like officers, he will probably be exceedingly anxious about his future.
The arresting party should also be schooled in observing the prisoner’s reactions and in the techniques for a quick but thorough search of his room and person. In ordinary arrests there are arguments for having the prisoner witness the searching of his room: he cannot then claim theft or willful damage to his property; he can be asked questions about what is found; and his reactions may help the searchers uncover hidden objects. But during the search preceding an intelligence interrogation it is usually better to have the subject out of the room; his ignorance as to what has been found there will foster uncertainty and uneasiness in his mind. One member of the arresting party should be specifically charged with watching the prisoner’s reaction to everything that goes on.
Other aspects of the arrest and the conditions of initial detention should be governed by the interrogator’s preliminary assessment of the subject’s personality and character on the basis of records, reports, and any other sources available. If, for example, the prisoner belongs to a subversive organization which makes a practice of stressing the harsh and summary treatment its members should expect if they let themselves fall into the hands of the security authorities, the arresting party might make a point of treating him correctly and even courteously. This unanticipated finesse might disconcert his antagonism and be a useful factor in winning him over later.
Some of the alternative detention conditions from which the interrogator must choose according to his preliminary assessment of the subject are: a) a long period or brief interval between arrest and initial questioning, b) solitary confinement or quartering with other prisoners, c) comfortable or discomfiting accommodations, and d) subjection to comprehensive personal search or no. Some subject-types would be enabled by any delay between arrest and questioning to firm up a cover story, regain their composure, and fortify themselves against the interrogation. On the other hand, a prisoner left in solitary confinement for a long period with no one, not even his custodian, speaking a word to him may be thoroughly unnerved by the experience. When this course is chosen it is important to deprive the prisoner of all his personal possessions, especially of things like snapshots and keepsakes, symbols of his old life which might be a source of moral strength to him.
Other techniques which may or may not be employed at this stage, according to the subject’s personality, include the use of a stool-pigeon, the double stool-pigeon routine, microphoning the cell and doctoring it in other ways. The double stoolpigeon technique has two stool-pigeons in the cell when the prisoner arrives. One of them befriends him, warns him that the other is a stool-pigeon, and if possible enlists his help in agitating for the removal of this plant. When the third man has been removed the subject may have come to trust his fellow-agitator and confide in him. The cell can be doctored by having messages written on the walls, either with deceptive content recommending for example some attendant as a sympathetic channel to the outside or with discouraging and depressive impact.
Preliminary Interview
The preliminary interview is not intended to obtain intelligence, but only to enable the interrogators to make a firm assessment of the character and type of subject with whom they will have to deal. It is useful to have the interrogators – preferably two of them – seated behind a table at the far end of a long room, so that the subject after entering will have some distance to walk before taking his chair in front of them. This device will enable them to observe his poise and manner, and may often quite unsettle the subject. The interrogators should sit with their backs to the main source of light in order to obscure their faces, veil their expressions, and place a strain on the prisoner.
The subject can be placed under further strain by providing him an uncomfortable chair, say one with a polished seat and shortened front legs so that he tends to slide off it, or one with wobbly legs. On the other hand, an opposite technique has sometimes been successful: the prisoner is made so comfortable, after a hearty lunch with beer, that he drops his guard in drowsiness.
The interview must of course be recorded, either on tape or in stenographic notes. The interrogators must on no account try to do this job themselves; it would distract them from the critical task of framing questions and steering the course of interrogation according to the implications of the subject’s replies. Whether the stenographer or recorder should be concealed or visible depends on the subject’s sophistication and the state of his alert. If the recording process is not evident some subjects may become careless of what they say when they see that the interrogators are not taking notes, whereas a visible recording would alert them to be more cautious. For others, consciousness of a recording going on in full view may be unnerving, and they may betray the weak links in their stories by showing signs of distress at these points.
At a later stage of the interrogation it may be of value to play back to the subject some part of this recording. The sound of his own voice repeating his earlier statements, particularly any with intonations of anger or distress, may make a psychological breach in his defenses.
The attitude of the interrogators at the preliminary interview should usually be correct, studiously polite, and in some cases even sympathetic. It is imperative that they keep their tempers both now and throughout the interrogation. The prisoner may be given the true reason for his arrest or a false one, or he may be left in doubt, according to the circumstances of the case. The interrogators must try to determine whether his usually vigorous protestations of innocence are genuine or an act, but they should not at this stage give any indication of whether they believe or disbelieve him. A clever prisoner will try to find out how much the interrogators know; they should at all costs remain poker-faced and non-committal.
At this interview the interrogators should do as little as possible of the talking, however many questions they are anxious to have answered. The prisoner should be asked to tell his story in his own words, describe the circumstances of his arrest, give the history of some period of his life, or explain the details of his occupation. The object is to get him to talk without prompting in as much continuous narrative as possible; the more he talks the better the interrogators can assess his personality.
Personalities are individual, but some typing of subjects can be done cutting across factors of race or background. One category displays no emotion whatever and will not speak a word; another betrays his anxiety about what is going to happen to him; a third is confident and slightly contemptuous in his assurance; a fourth maintains an insolent attitude but remains silent; a fifth tries to annoy his interrogators by pretending to be hard of hearing or by some trick like repeating each question before answering it.
After the interview the interrogators should confer, formulate their assessment of the subject’s character, and work out a plan of intensive examination, including the kind of detention conditions to be applied between questionings. The details of this plan will vary widely, but it will be based on two principles, that of maintaining psychological superiority over the prisoner and that of disconcerting his composure by devices to bewilder him.
The Intensive Examination
The intensive examination is the scene of the main battle of wits with the prisoner, having the critical objective of breaking his cover story. The cover story, if it is a good one, will be a simple explanation of the subject’s activities as a straight-forward normal person, plausible even to his close friends, containing a minimum of fabrication and that minimum without detail susceptible to a check or ramifications capable of development. Its weakness may often lie in the subject’s abnormal precision about certain details, especially when two or more subjects are using the same cover story.
The most difficult subject is one who will not talk at all, and prolonging his solitary confinement usually increases the difficulty of getting him to talk. It is best to put him into a labor gang or some such group of prisoners where he may be drawn into conversation. After some days or perhaps weeks he may be communicating normally with these others, and may have concluded that his interrogators have given him up for good. At that time some incident can be created involving the labor gang which requires that they all be questioned. If innocuous questions are put to the silent prisoner rapidly in a routine and indifferent manner, he may answer them. He may then find it hard to revert to complete silence if caught off guard as the questioning is switched without break to matters of real interest. The device of starting with questions easy for the subject to answer is useful with many whose replies to significant questions are hard to elicit.
Everything possible must be done to impress upon the subject the unassailable superiority of those in whose hands he finds himself and therefore the futility of his position. The interrogators must show throughout an attitude of assurance and unhurried determination. Except as part of a trick or plan they should always appear unworried and complete masters of the situation in every respect. In the long and arduous examination of a stubborn subject they must guard against showing the weariness and impatience they may well feel. If a specialist in the subject’s field is used to interrogate him, say scientist to interrogate a prisoner with a scientific specialty, this interrogator must have unquestioned superiority over the subject in his own field.
Many prisoners have reported amazement at their own capacity for resistance to any stable pressures or distresses of an interrogation, such as onerous conditions of confinement or the relentless bullying of a single interrogator. What is demoralizing, they find, is drastic variation of cell conditions and abrupt alternation of different types of interrogators. A sample device in the regulation of cell conditions for unsophisticated prisoners is the manipulation of time: a clock in a windowless cell can be rigged to move rapidly at times and very slowly at others; breakfast can be brought in when it is time for lunch or in the middle of the night’s sleep; the interval between lunch and dinner can be lengthened to twelve or fifteen hours or shortened to one or two.
The questioning itself can be carried out in a friendly, persuasive manner, from a hard, merciless and threatening posture, or with an impersonal and neutral approach. In order to achieve the disconcerting effect of alternation among these attitudes it may be necessary to use as many as four different interrogators playing the following roles, although one interrogator may sometimes double in two of them:
First, the cold, unfeeling individual whose questions are shot out as from a machine-gun, whose voice is hard and monotonous, who neither threatens nor shows compassion.
Second, the bullying interrogator who uses threats, insults and sarcasm to break through the subject’s guard by making him lose his temper or by exhausting him.
Third, the ostensibly naive and credulous questioner, who seems to be taken in by the prisoner’s story, makes him feel smarter than the interrogator, gives him his rope and builds up false confidence which may betray him.
Finally, the kind and friendly man, understanding and persuasive, whose sympathetic approach is of decisive importance at the climactic phase of the interrogation. He is most effectively used after a siege with the first and second types, or after a troubled sleep following such a siege.
The course of the intensive questioning cannot be standardized, but some useful procedures are outlined in the following paragraphs.
When the subject is brought in he is asked to tell again the story he gave at his preliminary interview. Then he is asked to repeat it, and again a third time. He will be annoyed and with luck might even lose his temper. He at least will be worried about possible inconsistencies among the four versions he has given. In some cases it will be better that the interrogator not disclose his awareness of any such inconsistencies; in others it may be advantageous to emphasize them by making a comparison in his presence and perhaps playing back a recording.
If the cover story is still intact, the next step is to probe for detail. One of two interrogators questions rapidly into many details of a particular aspect of some incident. Then the other puts detailed questions on another aspect of the same incident. Then the first takes up a third aspect, and so on alternately for some time. The object is to force the subject to invent detail hastily. Finally, without any break, the interrogators start going back over their detail questions a second time; and the subject, not having had time to fix his improvisations in mind, is most unlikely to remember them.
By deliberately misquoting the subject’s replies the interrogator may often succeed in confusing him, or better yet in irritating him and making him lose his temper. A talkative subject should always be encouraged to give full and lengthy explanations; he is likely of his own accord to get mixed up and introduce inconsistencies into his story. Catching the subject in a lie of relatively little importance sometimes unnerves him and starts his resistance crumbling.
A not too sophisticated subject can be told that his fellow-conspirators have let him down, that an informer among them has betrayed his secret, or that some of them are in custody and have been persuaded to talk. Incriminating testimony from others, true or false, can be read to him, or a hooded man can pretend to recognize and identify him. The subject can be placed in profile at a window while two guards lead a “prisoner” past outside who will send in word that he recognizes his true identity.
Sometimes a very long period of silence while the interrogators are pretending to go over critical evidence will unnerve the subject.
The whole procedure is a probe for an opening – a confession of guilt, an admission to having lied, a state of confusion or even extreme concern on some particular point. Once an opening is found, however small, every effort is concentrated on enlarging it and increasing the subject’s discomposure. At this stage he is allowed no respite until he is fully broken and his resistance at an end.
The Exploitation
When the subject has ceased to resist his interrogators and is ready to talk freely he must be handled with great care, both because this attitude may change and because he may now have suicidal impulses. He should get better treatment and better detention conditions. He should be induced to ally himself with his interrogators, and encouraged to believe that he is doing something useful and constructive in assisting them. It is often important to keep him hard at work regardless of whether the product of his efforts is of any real value; he could be asked to write out a lot of details about his subversive organition, for example, whether or not such information were required. The object is to keep him busy, to keep his mind occupied, to prevent his having time for introspection.
Since interrogators for the exploitation must be well acquainted in the particular field of information involved, it may now be necessary either to introduce new specialist interrogators or to give the earlier ones a thorough briefing in this field. Which course is better will depend on the subject’s character, the way he was broken, and his present attitude toward those who have been handling him. Sometimes only a fresh interrogator can get real cooperation from him. Sometimes, on the other hand, he is so ashamed of having broken that he is unwilling to expose himself further and wants to talk only to his original questioner. And sometimes he has built up a trustful and confiding relationship with his interrogator which should not be destroyed by the introduction of another personality.

Innovation Should Be Made in the U.S.A.
Offshoring by American companies has destroyed our manufacturing base and our capacity to develop new products and processes. It’s time for a national industrial policy.
November 15, 2019
by Sridhar Kota and Tom Mahoney
WSJ
In 1987, as the Reagan administration was nearing its end, the economists Stephen S. Cohen and John Zysman issued a prophetic warning: “If high-tech is to sustain a scale of activity sufficient to matter to the prosperity of our economy…America must control the production of those high-tech products it invents and designs.” Production, they continued, is “where the lion’s share of the value added is realized.”
Amid the offshoring frenzy that began in the late 1980s, this was heterodox thinking. In many quarters, it still is. Even as trade tensions with China have deepened, many U.S. political and economic leaders continue to believe that offshoring is not only profitable but also sound economic strategy. Manufacturing in China is cheaper, quicker and more flexible, they argue.
With China’s networks of suppliers, engineers and production experts growing larger and more sophisticated, many believe that locating production there is a better bet in terms of quality and efficiency. Instead of manufacturing domestically, the thinking goes, U.S. firms should focus on higher-value work:”innovate here, manufacture there.”
Today many Americans are rightly questioning this perspective. From the White House to Congress, from union halls to university laboratories, there is a growing recognition that we can no lnger afford the outsourcing paradigm. Once manufacturing departs from a country’s shores, engineering and production now-how leave as well, and innovation ultimately follows. It’s become increasingly clear that “manufacture there” not means “innovate there.”
What’s the solution? It’s time for the U.S. to adopt an industrial policy for the century ahead- not a throwback to the old ideas of state planning but a program for helping Americans to compete with foreign manufacturers and maintain our ever more precarious edge in innovation.
Consider the results of the original offshoring craze of the 1960’s, which centered on consumer electronics. The development of modern transistors, the establishment of standardized shipping containers and creation of inexpensive assembly lines in East Asia cut costs for consumers and created huge markets for televisions and radios; it also catalyzed the Asian manufacturing miracle. Though American federal research investment in the decades that followed enabled the invention of game-changing technologies such as the magnetic storage drive, the lithium-ion battery and the liquid crystal display, the country had, by then, already let go of consumer electronics manufacturing. Asia dominated.
Since the turn of the millennium, the off-shoring trend has accelerated, thanks to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and major investments in workforce and production capacity by other Asian nations. U.S.-based companies began to contract out both design and product-development work. A 2015 study by the consulting firms Strategy& and PwC found that U.S. companies across sectors have been moving R&D to China to be closer to production, suppliers and engineering talent- not just to reap lower costs and more dynamic markets. An estimated 50% of overseas-backed R&D centers in China have been established by U.S. companies.
Innovation in manufacturing gravitates to where the factories are. American manufacturers have learned that the applied research and engineering necessary to introduce new products, enhance existing designs and improve production processes are best done near the factories themselves. As more engineering and design work has shifted to China, many U.S. companies have a diminished capability to perform those tasks here.
Manufacturing matters- especially for a high-tech economy. While it’s still possible to argue that the offshoring of parts assembly and final production has worked well for multinational companies focused on quarterly earnings, it is increasingly clear that offshoring has devastated the small and medium-sized manufacturers that make up the nation’s supply chains and geographically diverse industrial clusters. While the share of such companies in the total population of U.S. manufacturers has risen, their absolute numbers have dropped by nearly 100,000 since the 1990’s and by 40,000 just in the last decade. Numbers have fallen in relatively high-technology industries such as computers, electronics, electrical equipment and machinery.
The loss of America’s industrial commons-the ecosystem of engineering skills, production know-how and comprehensive supply chains- has not just devastated industrial areas. It has also underined a core responsibility of government: providing for national defense. Recent Pentagon analyses of the defense industrial base have identified specific risks to weapons production, including fragile domestic suppliers, dependence on imports, counterfeit parts and material shortages. Meanwhile despite tariffs, manufacturing imports continue to set records, especially in advanced technology products. Dependence on imports had virtually eliminated the nation’s ability to manufacture large flat-screen displays, smartphones, many advanced materials and packaged semiconductors. The U.S. now lacks the capacity to manufacture many next-generation and emerging technologies.
This is to say nothing of the human suffering and sociopolitical upheaval that have resulted from the hollowing out of entire regional economies. Once vibrant communities in the so-called Rust Belt have lost population and income as large factories and their many supporting suppliers have closed. The shuttering last March of the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio- resulting in the loss of some 1,400 high-paying manufacturing jobs- is just the latest example. It joins a list that includes most of the long-established furniture industry in North Carolina, large steel mills in places like Bethlehem, Penn., and Weirton, W.Va. and the machine tool industry that once clustered around Cincinnati. Real wages across the country have been stagnant for decades, and though the causes are debatable, he loss of manufacturing jobs and the dramatic decline in manufacturing productivity growth have certainly played major roles.
In terms of long-term competitiveness, the biggest strategic consequence of this profound decline in American manufacturing might be the loss of our ability to innovate- that is, to translate inventions into production. We have lost much of our capacity to physically build what results from out world-leading investments in research and development. A study of 150 production-related hardware startups that emerged from research at MIT found that most of them scaled up production offshore to get access to production capabilities, suppliers and lead customers. As for foreign multinationals, many participate in federally funded university research centers and then use what they learn in their factories abroad. LG, Sharp and Auo, for example, were partners in the flexible display research center at Arizona State University funded by the U.S. Army, but they do not manufacture displays here.
The slow destruction of the U.S. industrial eco-system is a clear case of market failure, and the government has an important role to play in remedying it. Thanks to continued federal funding in the sciences, the U.S. is still the best in the world in groundbreaking scientific discoveries and inventions. But the federal government must do more than invest in basic research; it must also fill the innovation deficit by creating a new infrastructure for R&D in engineering and manufacturing.
The American government invests about $150 billion annually in science and technology, significantly more than other advanced industrial nations. Yet relatively little of this is devoted to the translational R&D in engineering and manufacturing needed to turn basic research results into successful commercial products. Germany, Japan and South Korea spend three to six times as much as the U.S. on industrial and production technologies. These three advanced nations have high wages and strict regulations, and their energy costs and levels of automation are higher that in the U.S.
Historically, American companies have performed this essential translational research, but in the past two decades of cost cutting to maximize quarterly earnings, corporate R&D labs at GE,IBM, Xerox, AT&T and other industrial giants invented new products and production processes, ranging from semiconduictors and lasers to MRI machines and industrial robots. In too many industries, this translational R&D capability has been lost, or at least seriously downsized, and the U.S. has lost its leadership position.
Aerospace is the main counter example, where the U.S. continues to lead in advanced technology. It is the last major industry that has maintained a strong trade surplus. Not surprisingly, it is also more dependent on government customers- mostly the Department of Defense- and the beneficiary of substantial government R&D investments in basic and translational research. Though few would call it such, this amounts to a successful industrial policy to support an industry deemed critical to national defense. It’s an example that needs to be replicated.
Unless something is done, the weak U.S. industrial commons will continue to create incentives for American companies to manufacture offshore, innovate offshore and weaken national competitiveness. A strategic and coordinated national effort is needed that moves beyond tax and trade policy, which, so far at least, has not resulted in an American manufacturing resurgence.
This national effort- call it Industrial Policy 2.0- should focus on ensuring that hardware innovations are manufactured in this country. The idea is not to recover lost industries but to rebuild lost capabilities. The U.S. needs to leverage its dominance in science and technology to create future industries to provide us with first-mover advantages in reclaim American leadership in manufacturing.
The first step would be to create a new federal agency responsible for the health of U.S. manufacturing. A number of agencies currently have manufacturing-related programs, but there is little or no coordination or strategy. Defense alone cannot solve this challenge because defense procurement needs are dwarfed by commercial markets, and defense-specific technologies may have few commercial applications.
A new agency is needed to signal new priorities. This National Manufacturing Foundation, as it could be called, would be a cabinet-level agency focused on rebuilding America’s industrial commons and translating our scientific knowledge into new products and processes. What policies might it promote?
• To maximize the wealth and jobs created from our national R&D investments, the
results must be manufactured in the U.S. Any licensee of federally funded research resuts should be required to manufacture at least 75% of the value added in this country, with no exceptions and no waivers.
• An additional 5% of the federal science and technology budget should be invested in engineering and manufacturing R&D and process technologies. This included creating translational research centers as innovation hubs around the country. Affiliated with major research universities and institutions, these centers would take promising basic research results and perform the translational R&D necessary to demonstrate the viability of large-scale commercial production.
• Developing hardware typically requires more resources and time than developing software. Public-private partnerships could provide the needed patient capital. State-level programs in Massachusetts, Georgia and other states already provide encouraging examples, The South Carolina Research Authority, for example, provides grants, loans and didrect investments to a portfolio of companies, roug.ly 40% of which are manufacturers. Leveraging defense procurement and other federal spending would help too, as would the targeted use of Small Business Administration loans.
• Restoring innovation in domestic manufacturing will require much greater investments in human capital. The country needs significantly more graduate fellowships in engineering for qualified domestic students and many more four-year engineering technology programs that focus on application and implementation rather than concepts and theory. American multinationals need to do their part by revamping internship and apprenticeship probfams to fill the skills gap.
Industrial Policy 2.0 would not be the industrial policy discussed and often criticized in past decades, it would not pick winners and losers but would keep other countries from taking advantage of our winners; it would make sure the U.S., not its economic rivals, benefits from American know-how. The goal would be to maximize innovations in hardware technologies and, in doing so, to create high-value products, well-paying jobs, national wealth and national security.
Such steps are essential to generating a strong return on the U.S. taxpayer’s enormous investments in science and technology. For too long Americans have suffered from the self-inflicted wound of hollowing out our industrial capacity. Other countries have moved quickly to take our place, It’s time for the U.S. to act.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

Preface
This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccuratre.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 94

The main hall stretched up for three stories and its main feature was a wide, marble staircase that ascended to the second floor landing. The ceiling of the dome above was painted with a profusion of naked cupids, dark clouds and various half-clad mythological personages and from its center hung an immense crystal chandelier.
The black and white marble floor was highly polished, reflecting the Gobelin tapestries hung on the white marble walls.
Alex thought it looked like a museum and Claude was staring with great interest at the various very expensive carpets, furniture and lighting fixtures. He had tried three times to get inside this treasure trove and now he had simply walked in through the front door with the new owner. To steal from a friend would be impossible but it was never impossible to dream.
Gwen stared at the oversized opulence with awe while Chuck, who had grown up in the house, began giving instructions to damp members of the staff about the allocation of the various pieces of baggage.
It was not necessary to climb the long flight of steps because there was a discreet elevator hidden behind a very valuable carved wooden door. His grandfather had it installed years before when he found it difficult to make the ascension on foot.
The elevator only held three people at a time so the butler, Chuck and Alex made the first journey, followed in a few minutes by the others.
The entire second floor of the north wing was where the Rush family had their entirely private world and in due time, luggage was placed in the various suites which had just been cleaned and furnished with fresh linen and bedding less than ten minutes before the new head of house had arrived.
Gwen was delighted with the baroque splendor of her new room and Claude even more delighted with the magnificent Boucher hanging on the wall of the sitting room. The furniture, he estimated, was all genuine Louis XVI and probably worth a million dollars on the current market.
Gwen looked at the canopied bed.
“My God, Chuck, I don’t know if I can sleep in that thing!”
“You can try, dear. Your maid will assist you in putting your things away and if you will excuse the rest of us, we will try to settle in before the clothes arrive.”
Claude’s rooms had an excellent view of the forest to the west and he was happy to observe that the decor was Florentine and worth far more than the furnishings in Gwen’s room. He had another Della Robbia put away which would fit in very well and while the others were poking about in their rooms, he began examining several of the pictures on the wall.
A few minutes later, he walked down the carpeted parquet hall and into Chuck’s large suite. The first thing that caught his eye was a painting depicting a number of semi-nude people sitting in various poses.
“Jesus Christ, Chuck, do you know what that piece is? That one there? Right.”
“No. I know my grandfather thought it was the best piece he had. What is it?”
“It’s a Signorelli. One of his earliest. It’s called ‘The School of Pan’ and it used to hang in a Berlin museum. Vanished at the end of the 1939 war and it was assumed it got burnt up somehow.”
He moved up to it and looked very closely at the surface.
“No, it’s the real thing. How in hell did it get here?”
“Berlin, you say?”
“Yes. The Kaiser Friederich Museum. Lucca Signorelli. No question about it.”
“Well, that makes sense, Claude. I mean Berlin makes sense. How much do you think it’s worth?”
“Try many, many millions but I wouldn’t show it, kid. The krauts would probably want it back and….oh shit!”
He walked over to another painting, a small one depicting a Virgin and Child.”
“My God, you’re lucky I never got in this place. Do you know this one, Charlie?”
“No, not offhanded. Who did it?”
“No doubt it’s a genuine DaVinci! Jesus, just hanging up in someone’s goddam bedroom! And don’t ask me what that’s worth. The frame is original and it’s probably worth a hundred thousand as it stands. I think I’m going to love it here. It’s like living in a museum.”
He pointed to a large portrait depicting a thin, aesthetic man wearing a crimson skullcap and robes. The man had an aquiline nose and an imperious expression.
“That’s French, Sixteenth century, Champaigne. A court painter.”
He walked over to it and squinted at the small lettered plaque at the bottom of the frame.
“This is weird, Chuck. Hey, look here. ‘Armand du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu.’ Armand is my Dad’s name and it’s the same last name as mine.”
Chuck, who was no expert on art but was very well versed in history, began to laugh.
“I always thought you knew, Claudie. That’s an ancestor of yours. Cardinal Richelieu was the chief minister to Louis XIII and the greatest statesman of his time. Do you think our little Claudie here looks like that, Alex?”
“The eyes are the same but the nose is too big. You ought to let Claude hang this in his rooms, Chuck.”
“Why not? Ah Monsieur le Duc, permit me to offer you the portrait of an ancestor, on loan of course, as a token of our appreciation for your assisting our son in helping us achieve all of this…”
He smiled and moved his hand in a circle encompassing the room.
“What do you know about my people?” Claude asked as he mentally measured the picture.
“Oh, I recognized the name and looked in my Almanach de Gotha when you first came to visit. I think your father is, or was, a military man…”
“Yeah, he was some kind of such. He married my mother when he was going to college in the States and then went back to France. Is he some kind of duke?”
“We could check further but I believe so. And if he dies, why we can all call you ‘Your Grace.’”
This set Alex off on one of his sarcastic spasms
“That’s great! We won’t call you Claudie anymore. Now we can call you Gracie instead.”
Claude scooped him up and swung him around in circles, his feet swinging in the air.
“I told you to watch your bad mouth, asshole! You call me that again and I’ll drop you like a bad habit.”
Alex pulled his sweater down over his ridged stomach and laughed as he staggered from his trip.
“That was fun, Claude! Do it again! Please, swing me around again!”

There was a rap on the door. It was the butler to announce the arrival of the clothes.
There were two vans full of clothes downstairs and a salesman and a tailor upstairs. The fittings were done in Alex’s sitting room and the furniture was piled high with suits, slacks, sports jackets, overcoats and boxes of sweaters and shirts.
Cuffs were pinned and chalked, sleeves marked on the pieces Alex was told by Chuck to accept and boxes of underwear and socks littered the floor.
In one corner of the room, Claude was being fitted for a tuxedo and full formal while Chuck, who had a tuxedo, was discussing the cut of a formal jacket. The staff, not certain of sizes, had brought along a good portion of the men’s department of the Chicago store and there was enough for everyone.
The sales person was a woman, preventing Alex from making sarcastic remarks. At least he was quiet during the lengthy process but, as Chuck thought, it is difficult to be too dignified while standing around in one’s shorts in the presence of a strange woman.
After two hours of trying on, marking and pinning, the clothes to be altered were all removed to the waiting vans and the sales lady was in transports of delight. She worked on a commission and the total sales were in excess of twenty five thousand dollars, not including the fifteen pairs of shoes and the studs for the dress shirts which originated in another department.
Gwen needed clothes as well but the store had not been told this and another convoy was due to arrive the next morning. The funeral for Charles Rush would be held at noon and Gwen had enough clothes for that but on the evening of the next day there would be a formal reception at the house for the more prominent employees of the Rush empire and a formal gown was a necessity.
A supper was served in the family dining room at ten and the company was in various stages of dress or undress. Alex had on only a pair of red shorts, Claude wore sweat pants and a running shirt while Gwen was wrapped in a bathrobe and Chuck wore baggy and unpressed slacks and an elderly sweater with frayed cuffs.
Chuck had a lapin à la moutarde, rabbit with mustard sauce, while Claude had a filet of beef with Bernaise sauce, duchesse potatoes, a green bean casserole, a vintage Burgundy and a basket full of hot rolls.
Gwen had Chicken Kiev and a small salad while Alex thoroughly enjoyed smoked salmon with dill sauce and new potatoes with butter and sour cream.
All of this repast was beyond reproach although Alex felt his rolls were of superior quality and said so a number of times.
There was pastry, cheese and fruit for dessert and when the servants had cleared the table, everyone enjoyed several glasses each of an excellent, and very expensive Spanish sherry.
The chef and the head of the wine cellar were engaged in pleasant conversation in the servant’s lounge. There had been no demands on either the kitchen or the sommelier since their employment and the news filtering down from upstairs that there would be a large dinner in two days was something to contemplate. The chef, who was French, made a number of sarcastic comments about the problems he had finding fresh rabbit on short notice.
“Ah, but then I am reminded of the entertaining story about the gentlemen in the American wild west who ordered lapin for their dinner and were amazed that their Chinese cook could supply it on such a short demand. ‘Oh Wong’, said the host, ‘so wonderful of you to find rabbit so quickly. How ever did you do it?’ and the cook said, ‘Oh, rabbit not hard to find, especially at night. I wait until I hear rabbit singing ‘Maiou’ on the fence and then I shoot him quick.’”
“Well, the amontillado had just arrived and I planned to have a few glasses with our dinner tonight but the new boss got all of it. Oh well, mon ami, there is always another day to consider.”

(Continued)

This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

David Perlmutter

David Perlmutter is a Florida-based celebrity doctor (neurologist) and author in the tradition of celebrity quacks and frauds like Dr. Oz (indeed, Perlmutter serves as medical advisor for The Dr. Oz Show), and is partially responsible for currently popular and myth-based gluten nonsense fads and for the pseudoscientific basis for popular paleo-diet advice. In particular, Perlmutter advocates a functional and holistic approach to treating brain disorders, and the false main claim of his 2013 pseudoscientific magnum opus Grain Brain is that gluten causes various neurological conditions. The book successful enough for Perlmutter to produce several equally shoddy sequels. He has also contributed to the Huffington Post,The Daily Beast, and Mind Body Green. Perlmutter used to be president of the Perlmutter Health Center until it was sold in 2015, and has also, tellingly, received numerous awards from various quack organization, such as the 2002 Linus Pauling Award of the Institute for Functional Medicine and a 2006 National Nutritional Foods Association thing, as well as a 2015 “Communications and Media Award” from the American College of Nutrition. He also made it onto this list.
It is no exaggeration to call Grain Brain enormously influential; it topped bestselling lists for an unnervingly long period of time (there is a decent explanation for its success here) and really made its author something of a star in the altmed pseudoscience community. In the book (good reviews here and here), Perlmutter ostensibly revealed “the surprising truth” that gluten is a “silent germ” responsible for declining brain health. This is demonstrably complete and utter bullshit. Even pseudoscience advocate David Katz called it a “silly book” that exhibits “the raw power of pop culture repetition, not the staying power of truth.” There is a decent, though sympathetic, summary of Perlmutter’s claims (and the rather serious problems with them) here, and a short summary here.
Meanwhile, real scientists, such as microbiome expert Jonathan Eisen, were not impressed with Perlmutter’s 2015 sequel Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain – for Life: “To think we can magically heal diseases by changing to a gluten-free diet and taking some probiotics is idiotic … It resembles more the presentation of a snake-oil salesman than that of a person interested in actually figuring out how to help people.” The book was the result of his 90-minute TV special, Perlmutter’s “BRAINCHANGE”, which was aired on over 110 PBS affiliates and has continued to air on a regular basis since then. The book promises to help readers harness “the power of gut microbes to heal and protect your brain – for life,” and offers ostensibly groundbreaking preventative measures and treatments for allergies, autism, Alzheimer’s, ALS, dementia, Parkinson’s, and cancer. The claim, though false, is actually not particularly new; Perlmutter has for decades offered readers “miraculous” treatments that can prevent and remedy all sorts of medical problems, and claimed that the various supplements and “detoxification” regimens he sells on his website are crucial to optimizing brain health. Needless to say, the data do not bear his claims out (there is for instance a fact check of some of his claims here). But then, Perlmutter is not really a scientist – he had a couple of solid publications (unrelated to his current efforts) four decades ago; the more recent stuff are either case reports or published in scam or bottom-feeding journals like the Journal of Applied Nutrition (listed here). He’s got anecdotes, though. His anecdotes do sound miraculous, we’ll give him that. Miraculous-sounding anecdotes is not exactly a credibility boost. It is worth pointing out that the anecdotes in his 2000 book BrainRecovery sounded equally miraculous (and exhibited a similar complete lack of actual evidence to back them up), only this time around cholesterol and saturated fat were culprits, things he recommends in his later work – in the previous work, nonsense like hyperbaric oxygen chambers (he even ran his own “Perlmutter hyperbaric oxygen center”) and special, proprietary supplements were the order of the day (the FDA was not impressed), including glutathione: it’s effectiveness in Parkinson’s patients, he claims, “is nothing short of miraculous”. His stock of anecdotes is at least remarkably flexible.
Glutathione, by the way, is demonstrably useless (Perlmutter displayed a momentary lapse of judgment and actually contributed to real research showing that it is useless; he seems to have learned), a conclusion Perlmutter conspicuously aggressively neglected to mention in subsequent recommendations for it. Criticism of his recommendations were (and are) predictably dismissed as Big Pharma trolling.Meanwhile, Perlmutter was himself shilling for Protandim, testifying to its undeniable efficacy for treating and preventing many brain orders; the producer, LifeVantage, eventually revealed that it was a scam and wasn’t, as claimed, developed by a biochemist but cooked up by a business executive. So it goes.
Beyond conspiracies, Perlmutter is also fond of another familiar, general response to his critics: “Each progressive spirit,” he tweets, “is opposed by a thousand mediocre minds appointed to guard the past.” He is, in other words, just like Galileo; indeed, Perlmutter explicitly pulls the Galileo comparison, failing to notice the rather crucial bit of asymmetry that Galileo wasn’t opposed by the contemporaneous scientific community.
And of course, as his empire grows, so does the amount of bullshit. Perlmutter has pushed everything from “empowering coconut oil” to demographically tailored supplement blends (such as a $90 “Scholar’s Advantage Pack” for “young adults seeking to optimize cognitive function,” and a $160 “Senior Empowerment Pack”), his own organic foaming hand soap, as well as a $8,500 brain detoxification at a retreat he runs, which includes shamanic healing ceremonies. Recently, Perlmutter has been a devoted champion of the toxins scare.
To top it all, Perlmutter has also made appeals to the antivaxx community. In particular, he has advocated the “alternative vaccine schedule” nonsense (i.e. advising parents to ask their pediatricians about scheduling childhood vaccinations separately), which would put children and communities at greater risk of contracting preventable diseases. Of course, Perlmutter is advocating this against better judgment, but it resonates with his target audience, and Perlmutter is a disgusting excuse for a human being who apparently wouldn’t think twice about a few hundred dead kids a year if it pads his wallet.
Diagnosis: A remorseless snake oil pusher, and one of the most dangerous and vilest of those in the US today.

Tom Perkins

Tom Perkins is a rich venture capitalist and founding partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Perkins is also delusional, and in a way that seems to have become rather common. In response to a Matthew Yglesias column, Perkins stated that “[w]riting from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’” The persecution complex is strong with this one – “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?” – and although we generally shy away from discussing fiscal policies here, it strikes us as important to emphasize how lunatic Perkins’s Godwin venture actually is. Asking Perkins to pay more in taxes is not “like genocidal anti-Jewish rioting orchestrated by Hitler”.
Perkins followed up by revealing his own take on an ideal democratic system: “You don’t get the vote if you don’t pay a dollar in taxes. But what I really think is it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars, you get a million votes. How’s that?” Now, Perkins followed up by stating that he was just “trying to be outrageous,” before doubling down on the rich people/Holocaust comparison (“the parallel holds”), adding that progressive taxation is persecution and “if Germany had American gun laws, there would have never been a Hitler,” which is not only stupid but reveals an almost stunning lack of understanding of the social and political situation in Germany at the time (including details about whoand how many people supported Hitler). Other subjects Perkins discussed were how the Koch brothers are victims of “persecution”, the evils of “child labor laws” and the non-existence of racism. On the question of whether he felt that he might have lost touch with the real world, Perkins responded that “philosophically,” he said, “nobody can prove that they are connected to reality,” an answer that must be characterized as a marvel of delusional hubris.
Apparently he has also written a book.
Diagnosis: Good grief. “Conspiracy theorist with a persecution complex” doesn’t even begin to suggest the inane delusions of Tom Perkins. At least we have to assume that he hurts rather than helps his cause. The notion that one is being persecuted, however, is a very common among lots of different interest groups, from antivaxers to evangelicals. Use Perkins as a mirror.

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