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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Controlling the Flow of Harm



Nukes do exist


While on voluntary appellate leave regarding a court-martial, and shortly after being discharged from the military, I worked as a security police officer for the United States’ (U.S.) only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility.


While I’m not at liberty to discuss specifics relating to protection of the 18,000-acre site, I would like to address one of the most absurd conspiracy theories I’ve heard. Though some suggest the proposal was never actually expressed, I once heard that “nuclear weapons don’t exist.”


Per one source, “There’s a conspiracy theory that nuclear bombs actually don’t exist—that they never actually figured it out but they realized that the threat of nuclear bombs is good enough.” This is one of my favorite conspiratorial theories, because I used to babysit nukes and know this unfounded plot is incorrect.


For the adventurous reader, there’s even a “nuclear truth movement” which purportedly debunks the so-called myth of nuclear weapons. If nukes don’t exist, I wonder what was being housed in the pods I once protected.


Conspiracy theories


Personally, I’m unbothered by the existence of conspiracy theories. To provide context regarding such quasi-theories, one source states that a “conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that asserts the existence of a conspiracy by powerful and sinister groups, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable.”


Over the years, I’ve observed as various legacy and social media outlets have labeled others “conspiracy theorists” when challenges to widely-disseminated narratives are offered. In a blogpost entitled AntiFACTser: A Pandemic of the UnFACTsinated, I noted how those of us who questioned the official narrative related to COVID-19 vaccines were labeled in such a manner.


Having worked in and with the U.S. government for a number of years, and in different capacities, I understand the process of information control. Or rather, I comprehend how our government attempts to manipulate the flow of information.


For example, the Central Intelligence Agency stated in a 1996 memo that “countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists” was an objective of the Agency. Now, a number of former U.S. intelligence personnel work in or with mainstream media outlets.


What interest might members of the government and media have in managing the information to which you or I are exposed? Do you lack agency and am I incapable of taking personal ownership of how to process data received through various sources?


Speaking for myself, I can handle hearing about the conspiracy theory concerning a nuclear truth movement. I don’t need the nanny state to deprive me an opportunity to use critical thinking and determine in what I will or will not believe.


Controlling the flow of harm


Along with my observation of opinions being offhandedly disregarded by members of the intelligentsia, I’ve noticed a conflation between information and harm. I suspect you, too, have seen or heard about this phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Leave it to the betters among us to go as far as to pathologize the matter, concocting so-called “information disorder.” Expanding upon this idea, one source states, “The quality of information on the Internet is paramount: accurate relevant information is beneficial, while inaccurate information is harmful.”


Using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I encourage clients to think critically, question beliefs, and carefully consider the difference between actual and perceived harm. Simply stating something is harmful doesn’t mean the proclamation is valid or reliable.


It is my hope that my clients will not become dependent upon me, just as I count on them not to establish interdependence on ad-lib afflictions such as information disorder. Some people are quicker than others at rejecting dogmatic appeals to authority.


Still, others cling tightly to morally and ethically bankrupt bureaucratic sources. For instance, consider the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) campaign to control the flow of information:



In a blogpost entitled Information Overload, I discussed the misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation (MDM) addressed in the campaign. For the current entry, I will focus on CISA’s MDM campaign—particularly as is relates to a “rumor control page.”


Using an REBT lens—and keeping in mind the spheres of control, influence, and concern—I will critically assess CISA’s advocacy for controlling narratives. CISA states:


A rumor control page is a public resource for authoritative information. By providing people with accurate, timely information, the page can help slow the dissemination and amplification of MDM narratives and reduce your organization’s risk. It also provides an authoritative source for others to cite to amplify accurate information, including via internet searches.


Who determines what is or isn’t “authoritative information”? Plenty of professionals and so-called “experts” disseminated MDM throughout the pandemic. Due to their control of info, how many people were harmed by lockdown measures, vaccinations, and others reactionary means?


What bureaucratic entity effectively demonstrated competency regarding the “dissemination and amplification” of information from 2019 through 2022? No doubt, there was a culling of data; however, which entity openly advocated a challenge to official COVID-19 narratives?


How is reducing an “organization’s risk” weighed in conjunction with what information the public needs to know? Up until figuratively five minutes ago, many organizational outlets were outright denying the “lab leak theory,” as a number of them continue to employ damage control methods.


When are departments, such as CISA, going to be held accountable for potentially misleading the public by operating as an “authoritative source for others to cite,” when these entities may be responsible for having misled countless people? This includes manipulation of “internet searches.”


It isn’t entirely unlikely that those who supposedly control the flow of “harm” might perpetuate the very MDM they claim to assail. Rather than infantilizing an entire nation, I’d prefer that these entities allow the free flow of information—even if it means people will claim that nukes don’t exist.


Conclusion


Many years ago, I guarded nuclear weapons—having literally touched harmful sources capable of catastrophic destruction. Knowing that some people believe these armaments don’t actually exist is laughable to me.


Nonetheless, I’m unbothered by the existence of conspiracy theories. In fact, I’m pleased to know that a portion of the U.S. population questions official narratives—even when evidence of nuclear bombs and missiles is overwhelmingly high.


Now, some groups ceaselessly treat MDM as though it yields the cataclysmic destructive potential of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Using control as their weapon of choice, these entities strive to limit information regarding the general public.


I’d rather live in a society that allows the free flow of information than one in which meddlesome entities control the flow of data, supposedly to prevent harm. After all, invaluable lessons could be learned about an appeal to expertise associated with the most recent pandemic.


Information isn’t perfect. Often, it’s messy. People will misinform, disinform, and malinform one another—of this I have no doubt. All the same, I prefer for the intelligentsia not to foster ignorance or stir stupidity with its intrusive actions.


Just as I encourage my clients to carefully consider the difference between actual and perceived harm, I invite you to understand that not all MDM is harmful. Some, yes. Most, I’m uncertain. All, surely not.


Perhaps you have begun noticing much of what I’ve discussed herein. Maybe you’ve been led to believe that questioning official narratives is somehow worthy of a dismissive label, like “conspiracy theorist nutjob.”


You aren’t alone, nor do you have to suffer when individuals or groups treat you as though you are unworthy of existing. Nukes exist, you exist, and a psychotherapist in Austin exists—one who’s ready to help you learn how not to disturb yourself by beliefs about matters discussed herein.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW



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