Russia Conspiracy Theorists Have Failed To Meet Their Burden Of Proof

in russia •  last month

The establishment Russia narrative is soul-wiltingly dull. Oh hey a shocking shocking bombshell revelation about something Russia did, everyone freaks out, then people actually look into the nature of the allegation and it turns out it's nothing. Lather, rinse, repeat. An interminable addition of zeros, day after day after day after day.


One of the very few interesting specks of light on this scene has been Aaron Maté and his unusual knack for convincing promulgators of the establishment Russia narrative to debate him, shining a big spotlight on just how weak the argument is. In December he famously debated "Collusion" author Luke Harding in a beatdown that was the verbal equivalent of watching a prime Mike Tyson fight Bruno Mars, and he recently had a more low-key but equally revealing interview with John Feffer of Lobelog and Foreign Policy in Focus.

Like Harding, Feffer based his debate on the assumption of a "pattern" of allegations about the Russian government and its supposed support for the 2016 Trump campaign, which taken individually are all poorly substantiated and easily debunked, but taken together create the illusion of a solid argument in a debate tactic known as a Gish gallop fallacy. Named for a Young Earth creationist who made abundant use of the tactic, a Gish gallop is designed to overwhelm the opposing side with a deluge of weak points that are difficult to dispute in their entirety in a real-time dialogue.

The mainstream Russia narrative is made entirely of such individually weak arguments. Russiagate is one giant Gish gallop.

Maté employed the same strategy as he did with Harding, stopping and pointing out the individually weak points in Feffer's arguments like the absence of evidence for the DNC hack and the unsubstantiated claims by the Dutch intelligence community, which forced Feffer to change tactics in a very interesting way I'd like to highlight here.

Go to this transcript of the interview and do a search for the word "counter". It starts popping up after a few exchanges, always in the same way and always from Feffer. I'll list their occurrences here:

"I have to say that the evidence is far more compelling than the counter argument which is we don't know, or it could be a fat guy sitting on a couch somewhere."

"Well, you keep bringing up all these sources that you don't really have much faith in, but frankly, what is the counter narrative? Who exactly hacked into the DNC?"

"It's been challenged, but I find the narrative that's been put forward to be honestly more convincing than the counter narrative."

"So, yes, there is evidence; if you think that the evidence is robust or not is up to you. I personally think it's far more robust than any of the counter-narratives that have been put forward, which have absolutely no bearing in reality."

Do you see what Feffer is doing here? He is trying to shift the burden of proof off of the party that is making the claim. The whole debate could be accurately summed up as Maté sitting there pointing out the unsubstantiated nature of each of Feffer's claims, and Feffer trying to turn it around by saying there's no proof of Maté's "counter narrative" either.

This is plainly fallacious. The power establishment which lied about Iraq, lied about Libya, lied about Vietnam, and is currently lying about Syria is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt that it is telling the truth about Russia and its new cold war escalations with that country. It most certainly carries the burden of proof, and it has most certainly failed to meet that burden.

From the false Nayirah testimony to the Gulf of Tonkin incident to "Saddam has WMD" to "Gaddafi's troops are taking Viagra for rape" to the Bana Alabed psyop, there is an abundance of publicly available evidence that the US power establishment will unhesitatingly lie to the public to manufacture consent for war, and the mainstream media will unhesitatingly help them. You do not need to dip into tinfoil hat territory to see this. This is publicly available information.

The US-centralized empire has every incentive to lie in order to manufacture support for escalations which hobble the Russia-China tandem, and has an extensive history of doing so. It isn't up to us to come up with a perfect "counter narrative" for how that happened behind the opaque wall of deep state secrecy; that's an argument from ignorance. It isn't up to us to prove a negative, it is up to them to prove their positive claim. Prove the DNC hack, prove that the troll farm had ties to the Russian government and an intention of disrupting the election, provide proof of any Trump-Russia collusion whatsoever. That has not happened. At all.

There is currently no convincing reason to believe that this isn't another "Saddam has WMD", and there is every reason not to. Iraq was an absolutely unforgivable crime against humanity, and it is everyone's duty to prevent the US-centralized empire from ever being given that trust again. World-threatening escalations keep mounting between two nuclear superpowers and this evidence-free narrative is being used to justify it. In a post-Iraq invasion world, this is simply unacceptable.

The burden of proof is on the people promoting Russia conspiracy theories, and they have failed to meet this burden. Until the mountain of proof needed in a post-Iraq invasion world is provided, that's all that really needs to be said.

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This russia gate shenanigans have been going on for so long. When will they drop it? What a joke.

You mean you do not believe Adam Schiff who gave a boy scout salute while telling us he had seen the evidence?

Next you will be telling me there is no Santa Claus.

They couldn't counter the counter narrative so they just started a gun control narrative to distract everyone.

Aaron Maté should so totally challenge Senator Bernie Sanders to a debate on Russiagate!

Thanks @caitlinjohnstone
Russia Russia Russia …. We’ve clearly reach the stage where MSM and its followers believe ”it was obviously collusion”'

Therefore, evidence is no longer needed to support the narrative, but evidence is demanded to counter it. What an interesting world we live in.

No evidence of collusion so far (unless Puppy Memes and retweets of WaPo Editorials are your thing), but as long as they keep digging and tossing the odd tidbit to Maddow and Co, the narrative will run and run like Forrest Gump caught in a Gif.

Riding and smiling as always … Geoff

Even The New Republic, hardly a voice for opposing interventionism, had an article warning about Russia hysteria starting a new cold war. I discussed this here (along with alos quoting Glenn Greenwald on the topic and having additional links):

At this alarming time in history, I'm seeing how extremely important it is to keep dissecting the ways they manipulate & try to control our dialogue. Thanks as always for shedding valuable light to what can often make me wish there was a remote to shut them down.

Iraq and Afghanistan are crimes against humanity.

Thanks @caitlinjohnstone for Taking a #STAND against #FakeNews!

  • This has been a witch hunt.
    • Always good to meet another soul that doesn't fall for the Operation Mockingbird propaganda.
      • Following
  • Trying to let my vote power repower after realizing it shouldn't be used like the Facebook like button. :::rolling eyes:::
    • Otherwise, I would upvote this.
      • Promise to upvote posts like this in the future...


It is so sad to see how easy to manipulate the whole nation with lies.Where is the critical thinking?

I'm pretty sure you've seen this, but in case you haven't, Jimmy's on it too...

As you mention in your article, so many of these so called tin foil hat conspiracy theories, are documented and publicly verifiable from the establishment think tanks, and government documents. The funny thing about all of this, is that when I try mentioning this to clueless people who are convinced the media would never lie, I get these weird blank looks of confusion. Sometimes I get the look of love at first sight, but without the love. And then comes the reflex anger of disbelief.

Nice post Caitlin. Your pointing out Feffer's "cheap trick" is important in understanding the whole Cheneyite approach to propaganda, which is in terms of what was formerly known as psyops, but is now domestic "information operations" and it's all about narratives . . .

They will never stop
They will twist and turn anything even if they sound totally insane! We are living in a world of people living in a almost literal alternative universe! They are insane

Gah. I just read Bernie Sander's tweet today, the one where he said Russian trolls infiltrated Bernie groups to convince his flock that Hillary Clinton is a criminal. Basically he was saying his supporters were a bunch of brainless sheep, and he has more respect for Hillary Clinton than them.


Yeah, Bernie does the Democrat talking points sometimes no matter how stupid it makes him sound. I've seen some say that he has to do that or else he'll be blacked out again and worse than before, and that's probably why he does it, but the corporate media is never ever going to treat him fairly and it makes me sad to see him kowtow. I wish he'd take a "I welcome their hatred" stance with regards to the corporate media, if he gets blacked out again, he'll just have to rely entirely on social media grassroots. It's not like the corporate media helped him at all in 2016, he should just assume they'll be opposed to him in the future too.


Corporate Media lied about Bernie. RT America told the truth. And now look how he thanks them.