Presented at DEF CON 15 (2007)
Aug. 3, 2007, 6 p.m.
"You're over the line," an intelligence professional told Richard Thieme recently. "You know enough to know what's not true but you can't know enough to know what is. You're well into the wilderness of mirrors."
Hacking one complex system is always in some ways like hacking another. You must see nested levels of the context that others assume and which is therefore invisible, you must see through the story that the system tells about itself, and you must have a means of filtering out disinformation and misinformation while suspending belief in the patterns your own mind suggests along the way. You must never believe what you think until the evidence is compelling. And you must have a way of staying sane when the consensus reality that has knitted you into its tissue is challenged at its core.
Ever since a USAF fighter pilot with the "right stuff" told Richard Thieme (who was then his Episcopal clergyman) in 1978 that "we chase the things and can't catch them" -- Thieme has explored this domain with beginner's eyes and an open mind. He has interviewed astronauts and NASA psychologists, physicists and social scientists, and scholars in "the invisible college" who conduct serious research and rigorous historical analysis. He has compared notes with intelligence professionals who believe that the least unlikely hypothesis for some of the data is, as one said, "a cultural intrusion" over many decades.
In this presentation, Thieme shows how "hacking the system" of data, disinformation, and "true believers" in an environment which has been saturated with ridicule since 1952, when critical elements of the government made a decision to debunk reports and those making them, is like hacking any complex system in our world of huge black budgets, appropriate paranoia, psy ops, and obsessive secrecy.
This presentation will make you think. It will make you re-examine your presuppositions about what is real. It will at the least bring you face to face with the possibility that you have been "owned" by the managers of perception who appointed themselves guardians of the Bigger Picture - an awareness that animates all real hackers.
Richard Thieme / neuralcowboy
as Richard Thieme
Richard Thieme continues to write and speak to the deeper issues of technology and its impact on the human condition. He has published several dozen short stories in the past few years, including "Zero Day: Roswell," "More Than a Dream," "Incident at Wolf Cove," and "Species: Lost in Apple-picking Time," which touch on some of the issues raised by this talk. (Those stories and more are at www.thiemeworks.com)