Presented at THOTCON 0x5 (2014)
April 25, 2014, 10 a.m.
There is no one "government." There are many components of government that interact and respond to challenging and anomalous events, often contending with one another - and leaving their disputes on record. UFOs were challenging and anomalous since the 1940s, when "foo fighters" trailed planes on bombing runs over Germany and Japan. But strange flying vehicles did not go away when the war ended. In the 1950s, the CIA advocated training observers "inside" to learn what they could while dismissing reports from "outside." To understand why and how a government responds that way is analogous to hacking a complex system. One has to do appropriate reconnaissance, then execute effective counter-measures, then engage in offensive operations. The proliferation of reliable reports of unidentified flying objects elicited a response that feels familiar in the days of Assange, Snowden, and the NSA. UFOs were anomalous, well-documented, and challenging because, as Major General John Samford said, "credible people have seen incredible things." Snowden, too, thought he had seen incredible things that needed to be brought into the light. But this talk isn't about Snowden, it's about how governments manage these challenges. An NSA veteran thinks that Thieme's talk is "perfect timing - it's about how the government deals with serious yet largely unknown or not understood potential threats, while trying desperately to keep the public from knowing what they are doing. What better way to discuss the current situation at a meta level, without ever getting into the knee-jerk muddle of response to current events? You can't ask for a better context for this talk." Richard Thieme was privileged to be invited to join the UFO History Group which includes the best researchers in the field. After 5 years of work, they produced "UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry," an outstanding work of historical scholarship that reads like a fascinating detective story. In almost 600 pages and with nearly 1000 citations, the work illuminates the response of the government since the early 1940s. how and why policies were set, and how they were executed. Reviewers say, "this is the best book about the UFO phenomena that was ever written" and "UFOs and Government is a triumph of sober, conscientious scholarship unlikely to be equaled for years to come." Don Quixote said, "Insanity is seeing things as they really are." This speech uses UFO phenomena as dye in the arteries of "how things really are." And how governments carry out cover and deception with all of the best intentions in the world.
Richard Thieme / neuralcowboy
as Richard Thieme
Richard Thieme is a former priest who became a commentator on technology and culture, founding the consulting firm ThiemeWorks. He is a frequent keynote speaker at government agencies and technology conferences around the world, routinely drawing large audiences, and is described as an "institution" and "father figure" in the hacker convention circuit. He is the author of the syndicated column "Islands in the Clickstream", which was published in 60 countries and in 2004 was turned into a book of the same name. In 2010 he published a book of short stories, Mind Games, and in 2012 he contributed to the peer-reviewed academic work, UFOs and Government, a Historical Inquiry. He has written for multiple publications including Wired, Forbes, and Salon.com. Andrew Briney, editor-in-chief of Information Security magazine, describes Thieme as "a living symbol of the human dimension of technology".