Back in September 2014, I wrote a short blog post about Ross Ulbricht, i.e. Dread Pirate Roberts, i.e. the Silk Road guy, i.e. “The Amazon of Drugs.” At the time, the big narrative was “the real-life Walter White.” Cool. Now, about six-seven years later, with all the changes in the world and the economy, the big narratives are more that he’s considered by many to be a kingpin who got screwed by the system, the ultimate libertarian, or something else. Nick Bilton from Vanity Fair has a book out about Ross and the subsequent legal case, including how a kid who started by growing mushrooms in Bastrop Park in Austin, Texas eventually got to the point that he was hiring Hell’s Angels to kill people for him. That is some Walter White stuff.
Bilton goes on the Ryen Russillo podcast recently, and yesterday I’m listening to it as I walk my dog. One of Bilton’s core points is: at one point, five major government agencies full of career law enforcement professionals are chasing this dude from Austin to Australia, and at the time, he’s a 23 year-old computer programmer. He is not some criminal mastermind. He may be evolving into that, sure, but you would probably think the five law enforcement divisions would be the safer bet. And eventually, they were. This guy was caught. But it took time.
Alignment around both strategy and execution was impossible. That’s why the whole thing took so long, and more drugs and guns and body parts were sold in the intervening time on Silk Road than ever needed to be.
Bilton makes the same point that my friend Redding makes all the time: take something like the JFK Assassination. Let’s say that was a conspiracy and people in the government (LBJ!) knew. OK. That was November 1963. You really think that with all the need for relevance and fame and “I broke the story of what really happened” and death bed confessions and broader stupidity, that this thing could be covered up since 1963? The government is powerful, yes. That powerful? And that unaligned with how human behavior and psychology tend to work? That’s a stretch.
Same with aliens. At some point, some silo of the government would rat on some other silo because they want “the win” or “the attention” from knowing where the aliens are (Nevada, obviously).
I’ve been into conspiracies for years — wrote about Sandy Hook once or twice, wrote an article recently about “The Tin Foil Hat Era,” and did an interview with my friend Gabe where we talked a lot about it.
But I do believe they can truly be maintained for decades by humans desperate for relevance and attention and awash in politics and silos? No. Someone would choke and talk.