Friday, December 24, 2010

Theories of secrecy

There is a fascinating article in this month's Playboy Magazine by John Richardson about the alleged Russian spy Anna Chapman.

In said article, Richardson, who's father was a CIA agent, makes a complicated and insightful point about the nature of spying and the self-defeating conceit that it can create, paraphrasing, 'an obsession with secrecy can turn the glaringly obvious into a secret...'

The knowns hold none of the fascination of the mysteries of espionage and secrecy. When a really fetching theory is afoot from the intelligence community, the obvious can feel irrelevant, unimportant. This parallels the type of reasoning that surfaces in conspiracy theories. The totally mundane and simple explanation is discarded in part for its blandness, whereas the extremely intricate and complicated explanation is venerated for its sophisticated and Byzantine twists.

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