Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Anti-violence social experiments could be part of a slippery slope

Several stories have been coming out recently about a social experiment which was done to study how people reacted when domestic violence happened in their presence. The results supposedly indicate that most people probably wouldn't react to it. Whether or not that is the case there should be some concern about whether or not some of these experiments should be done. They could be part of a slippery slope; and, although this one is almost certainly near the top of that slope others that have been done, near the bottom of that slope may have done much more damage and even unintentionally contributed to the creation of at least a couple of mass murderers, including Whitey Bulger and Ted Kaczynski.

These experiments aren't entirely isolated. Many of them are organized by social psychologists that have been conducting research on human behavior for decades and they do an enormous number of experiments and exchange the information they gather with other social psychologists; and the majority of the public doesn't know much if anything about it or how they're used to influence policy. Some of the psychologists that participate in them almost certainly don't even fully recognize what they're used for.

These experiments have been going on for decades if not longer.

There were a couple experiments done a few months ago, or perhaps a year (cited below) that were very similar to see if people would react the same way if it was a woman being abused by a man or a man abused by a woman. The potential of these experiments to expose the causes of violence, if they're done right and reported to the public in a rational manner might make them worthwhile; although I suspect other research would be more important and reminders should be included about how some of that indicates that violence often escalates depending on how small children are taught from a young age.

They certainly don't seem to have the potential to cause the damage of the more extreme experiments that were done on Whitey Bulger and Ted Kaczynski and almost certainly contributed to their increased potential for violence. However if the larger volume of research continues to be discussed at a lower profile in the academic world without informing the public about it they might only impact policy in a manner that benefits the political class, not the majority of the public, including those that have been unwittingly drawn into these experiments without being asked.

On top of that they could be used more for entertainment purposes than to learn how to change behavior for the better, or to shame those that may have declined to react. In fact to some degree they probably already are.

The following is an excerpt from an article from the Huffington post about the most recent of these experiments:

Social Experiment Reveals How People React When Domestic Violence Happens In Public

Even when domestic violence comes out from behind closed doors and into public spaces, people still hesitate to intervene, according to a new social experiment video.

A Swedish video published by the group STHLM Panda created a social experiment in which male actors pretended to verbally and physically abuse their presumed girlfriends in a public elevator.

Over the course of two days of filming, the eye-opening social experiment captured multiple people witnessing domestic violence and not intervening.

“You're nothing, you understand? You're worthless!” one actor yelled at the actress while he pinned her against the wall.

Another actor pushes the actress into the wall and yells "I will kill you, I will f***ing kill you."

Surprisingly, one bystander even asked the couple: "Excuse me, can you let me get out of here before you do that?"

Out of the 53 people STHLM Panda says rode the elevator and saw the abuse take place, they say only one woman said something. “I’m gonna call the police if you touch her again," the onlooker said to the actor.

Co-creator of YouTube group STHLM Panda and actor in the video Konrad Ydhage told The Guardian they made the video to "test domestic violence and violence in close relations and to see if people react when they really need to.”

Ydhage added that they were expecting a lot more people to do something, telling The Guardian: “We were expecting that about 50 percent would intervene. I was prepared to take a hit by the bigger lads who entered the lift. But sadly enough they walked out on the girl.”

Ydhage and the group say they spoke with most of the people who rode the elevator. "Most of them said they felt ashamed of themselves for not reacting and said they were glad it was an experiment," he told The Independent. "Some people claimed they were going to call the police, but we think that that is lie. We filmed it over two days and the police never showed up once." Complete article

Little or no consideration is given to the fact that when people do bring their domestic disputes into the public they're not only harassing their spouse but they're disrupting the surrounding public as well. The same goes for the people conducting this experiment, who aren't actually abusing the spouse, since they know it is acting; but they're still disrupting the public that are participating in the experiment without their knowledge or consent.

Why should the article present the person who objects because they're carrying out their affairs in front of her in a disrespectful manner without acknowledging their own lack of respect for those they're experimenting with?

This isn't the first time social psychologists have disregarded the possibility that they might be harassing the people they use as psychological research experiments; over ten years ago a group of social psychologists or sociologists conducted experiments to determine how racists some people might be where "households received wrong-number telephone calls that quickly developed into requests for assistance," from "callers, who were clearly identifiable from their dialects as being black or white." (Edited by Arthur Miller "The Social Psychology of Good and Evil" 2005 p.141-3)

A close review of many of these experiments should raise major doubts about whether or not their own prejudices are clouding their judgement when conducting the experiments, which would taint any results, and if records aren't accurate enough it maybe difficult if not impossible to recognize the problems, potentially making these experiments useless. There should also be doubts about whether some of the unwitting subjects took the situation seriously, especially if the acting by the researches is exaggerated and they think it is some kind of a a prank. There is at least one documented case where this ahs almost certainly happened and there are probably more.

On the reality show "What Would You Do?" John QuiƱones routinely uses members of the public as research subjects and for entertainment purposes without asking their permission. Since they control the way it is presented they attempt to portray themselves in a positive light while they glorify some people caught by surprise and shame others. The best psychologists almost certainly wouldn't participate in such a show at all; and even if they were willing to ABC almost certainly wouldn't want them since they might raise serious questions about the ethics of using random people as research subjects without permission and shaming those that don't conform to the norm while glorifying those that go along with the agenda of those controlling the show.

One of the shows includes an off-duty cop that has a hard time believing that there is a father talking about buying liqueur for his children and thinks it must be a joke, and rightfully so, and only when they persist does he take it seriously and threaten to arrest him. Unfortunately when they come forward and tell him the truth he doesn't raise questions about the legitimacy of their activities, at least not that the show is willing to present to the public.

These experiments have little if any real scientific value and when they do present them to the public they don't inform them about more effective research. Instead these shows could and almost certainly are being used to study how to manipulate the public and keep them distracted from more important issues.

As indicated previously much more manipulative and dangerous studies have been done in the past including those on Whitey Bulger and Ted Kaczynski. Some of these studies took place over a longer period of time and, in some cases they took place on prisoners who could be coerced into participating. Ironically by enrolling them in these studies it turns out that in\stead of rehabilitating them and making them less violent the government conducted activities that almost certainly did the opposite and since they followed this up by trying to cover up their tracks they did little or nothing to learn from tehir mistakes and ensure that it wouldn't happen again aside from ending some of the most extreme experiments.

Whitey Bulger agreed to participate in and experiment for Dr. Carl Pfeiffer and, "What they were not told is that the LSD injections were part of an effort, sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to develop a mind-control weapon. Project MKUltra. {Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice By Kevin Cullen, Shelley Murphy p.54-6) Whitey Bulger wasn't the only prisoner that was experimented on that almost certainly turned out more violent as a result; the CIA also experimented on John Stanley Faulder, a Canadian who had been convicted in 1977 of murdering Inez Phillips, an oil heiress, Robert Renaud, and many others according to "CIA Shrinks & LSD" by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair and numerous other sources, including congressional testimony that came out in the seventies during the Church Committee hearings among other disclosures about CIA activities.

Ted Kaczynski Was also used for mind control experiments. There is no conclusive evidence, that I know of, to indicate that they involved LSD; however the records of this experiment and many others were at least partially destroyed so Cockburn and St. Clair had good reason to speculate about this possibility. Alston Chase goes into a little more detail about what the experiment did involve in the following excerpts from an article from the Atlantic:

Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber by Alston Chase

In the fall of 1958 Theodore Kaczynski, a brilliant but vulnerable boy of sixteen, entered Harvard College. There he encountered a prevailing intellectual atmosphere of anti-technological despair. There, also, he was deceived into subjecting himself to a series of purposely brutalizing psychological experiments -- experiments that may have confirmed his still-forming belief in the evil of science. Was the Unabomber born at Harvard? A look inside the files .....

Through research at the Murray Center and in the Harvard archives I found that, among its other purposes, Henry Murray's experiment was intended to measure how people react under stress. Murray subjected his unwitting students, including Kaczynski, to intensive interrogation -- what Murray himself called "vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive" attacks, assaulting his subjects' egos and most-cherished ideals and beliefs.

My quest was specific -- to determine what effects, if any, the experiment may have had on Kaczynski. This was a subset of a larger question: What effects had Harvard had on Kaczynski? In 1998, as he faced trial for murder, Kaczynski was examined by Sally Johnson, a forensic psychiatrist with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, at the order of a court. In her evaluation Johnson wrote that Kaczynski "has intertwined his two belief systems, that society is bad and he should rebel against it, and his intense anger at his family for his perceived injustices." The Unabomber was created when these two belief systems converged. And it was at Harvard, Johnson suggested, that they first surfaced and met. She wrote,

During his college years he had fantasies of living a primitive life and fantasized himself as "an agitator, rousing mobs to frenzies of revolutionary violence." He claims that during that time he started to think about breaking away from normal society.

It was at Harvard that Kaczynski first encountered the ideas about the evils of society that would provide a justification for and a focus to an anger he had felt since junior high school. It was at Harvard that he began to develop these ideas into his anti-technology ideology of revolution. .....

This requirement, the manifesto continues, has given rise to a social infrastructure dedicated to modifying behavior. This infrastructure includes an array of government agencies with ever-expanding police powers, an out-of-control regulatory system that encourages the limitless multiplication of laws, an education establishment that stresses conformism, ubiquitous television networks whose fare is essentially an electronic form of Valium, and a medical and psychological establishment that promotes the indiscriminate use of mind-altering drugs. Since the system threatens humanity's survival and cannot be reformed, Kaczynski argued, it must be destroyed. Indeed, the system will probably collapse on its own, when the weight of human suffering it creates becomes unbearable. But the longer it persists, the more devastating will be the ultimate collapse. Hence "revolutionaries" like the Unabomber "by hastening the onset of the breakdown will be reducing the extent of the disaster." .....

Francis Murphy, the Prescott Street proctor, was a graduate student who had studied for the Catholic priesthood, and to Kaczynski it seemed the house was intended to be run more like a monastery than a dorm. .....

..... Ted Kaczynski insists that the Kaczynski home was an unhappy one and that his social isolation came about because his parents pushed him too hard academically. David and Wanda say that theirs was a happy and normal home but that Ted had shown signs of extreme alienation since childhood. When family members squabble, it is almost impossible for anyone -- least of all an outsider -- to know who is right. And the Kaczynskis are squabblers. .....

.... Meanwhile, Turk seemed -- to Kaczynski, at least -- to become increasingly cold, critical, and distant. .....

.... During the war Murray served in the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, helping to develop psychological screening tests for applicants and (according to Timothy Leary) monitoring military experiments on brainwashing. In his book (1979), John Marks reported that General "Wild Bill" Donovan, the OSS director, "called in Harvard psychology professor Henry 'Harry' Murray" to devise a system for testing the suitability of applicants to the OSS. Murray and his colleagues "put together an assessment system ... [that] tested a recruit's ability to stand up under pressure, to be a leader, to hold liquor, to lie skillfully, and to read a person's character by the nature of his clothing.... Murray's system became a fixture in the OSS." .....

Before the war Murray had been the director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic. After the war Murray returned to Harvard, where he continued to refine techniques of personality assessment. In 1948 he sent a grant application to the Rockefeller Foundation proposing "the development of a system of procedures for testing the suitability of officer candidates for the navy." By 1950 he had resumed studies on Harvard undergraduates that he had begun, in rudimentary form, before the war, titled "Multiform Assessments of Personality Development Among Gifted College Men." The experiment in which Kaczynski participated was the last and most elaborate in the series. In their postwar form these experiments focused on stressful dyadic relations, designing confrontations akin to those mock interrogations he had helped to orchestrate for the OSS. Complete article

Both Ted Kaczynski and Whitey Bulger started out with problems before they were subject to these experiments; however it is virtually guaranteed that instead of attempting to a dress these problems the experiments only escalated their propensity towards violence. The CIA was studying how to control others and their subjects became more authoritative and violent as well; and they also learned to try to control others through violence when they were no longer under the control of the CIA researchers.

These experiments about how people would react to violence also have a lot of similarities to the Obedience to Authority experiments and what they called the Stanford Prison Experiment; however as I attempted to point out in Philip Zimbardo, Lucifer Effect, Stanford Prison Experiment and Corruption or Bias in the American Psychological Association these were probably also part of the CIA experiments to develop indoctrination processes for military recruits and to obtain obedience rather than to warn people not to obey when given unethical orders. Research by Professor Alfred McCoy supports this conclusion; he has provided a good case indicating that both Stanley Milgram and his professor Irving Janis, who came up with the theory of "Groupthink" were working for the CIA. Substituting Zimbardo, who is the only one still alive makes the case even stronger; and he admits that it was the Office of Naval Research that funded his research despite the fact that he claims to have been an anti-war protester.

Some of the students that participate in these experiments almost certainly believe that they're being used for a good cause and some of the efforts that follow them might actually do so. However this research is available to all that look for it and the mass media is hardly even trying to inform the public about how they manipulate them. Instead they consult with people that use this research to learn how to more effectively manipulate the public. This research could also be used by advertising psychologists, and political psychologists as well as military psychologists that are involved in indoctrinating efforts for their own separate purposes.

Until we have major media reform the only people that hear much if anything about this research will be a minority of reasonably well educated and sincere people and those that want to use to to manipulate the public, who regrettably have more employment opportunities if they do so. The majority of the public will know little or nothing about it unless that minority of sincere people spread the word at the grass roots level.

The following are some related articles, including sources for this post:

Swedish 'social experiment' shows people ignoring domestic abuse in a lift 11/14/2014

Social Experiment Reveals How People React When Domestic Violence Happens In Public 11/19/2014

This Is What Happens When The Public Sees A Woman Abusing A Man 05/23/2014

Watch How Passersby React To Domestic Violence In Public 10/07/2014

Ted Kaczynski

Arthur Miller "The Social Psychology of Good and Evil" 2005

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Are the FBI and media underestimating police shootings by at least twenty-five percent?

According to a USA Today article cited by Think Progress there were 461 "justifiable homicides" by police in 2013 against "felony suspects;" and this was the highest in two decades; however according to a count by Jim Fisher there were 607 fatal police shootings in 2011, which is supposedly before they reached the more recent high.

The following is an excerpt from the Think Progress article:

Here’s What We Know About Who Police Killed In 2013 11/13/2014

Fatal shootings at the hands of police hit a two-decade high in 2013, according to a USA Today analysis of recent Federal Bureau of Investigation data.

A count of “justifiable homicides” in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report found that 461 people were shot and killed by police in 2013. What that figure tells us, more than anything, is that 461 is the bare minimum number of people who were shot by police last year. And it is almost certainly a dramatic under-estimation.

Departments are not required to submit data for this count; it is voluntary. In fact, there are entire states including Florida that didn’t submit their death counts for years. So the increase in 2013 recorded shootings could simply be the result of more jurisdictions reporting. What’s more, the figure is only a count of “justifiable homicides,” which means those that are considered legally defensible. This means jurisdictions are least likely to include those shootings that are subject to criminal scrutiny in their reports.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch report this week on police shooting data found that out of some 18,000 U.S. police departments, only 1,100 — or six percent of all departments — reported a single fatal police shooting that was considered justifiable between 2005 and 2012. We don’t know whether those who didn’t report simply opted not to report that information, or didn’t have any shootings. University of Nebraska criminologist Samuel Walker lamented that this incomplete and inconsistent data means we don’t even know what to make of the spike in FBI-recorded shootings. “It is irresponsible that we don’t have a complete set of numbers,” he told USA Today. “… This is a scandal.” Complete article

Months, if not years before this article coming out admitting that they didn't have adequate information on police shootings kept by well funded government organizations grass roots efforts with fewer resources began doing just that, although there is no guarantee that they have the resources to be as comprehensive as the government, assuming the government tried, which has access to better information. Kyle Wagner etal are compiling the most comprehensive list that I know of according to We're Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us; 08/20/2014 and they're setting it up so that others could help by doing their own search. They also cited Jim Fisher who wrote the following almost a year earlier; if USA Today had done their homework better they could have consulted with him and come up with more detailed information.

Police Involved Shooting Statistics: A National One-Year Summary for 2011 12/25/2013

In 2011, according to data I collected, police officers in the United States shot 1,146 people, killing 607. Between January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012 I used the Internet to compile a national database of police involved shootings. The term "police involved shooting" pertains to law enforcement officers who, in the line of duty, discharge their guns. When journalists and police administrators use the term, they include the shooting of animals and shots that miss their targets. My case files only include instances in which a person is either killed or wounded by police gunfire. My data also includes off-duty officers who discharged their weapons in law enforcement situations. They don't include, for example, officers using their firearms to resolve personal disputes.

I collected this data myself because the U.S. Government doesn't. There is no national database dedicated to police involved shootings. Alan Maimon, in his article, "National Data on Shootings by Police Not Collected," published on November 28, 2011 in the "Las Vegas Review-Journal," wrote "The nation's leading law enforcement agency [FBI] collects vast amounts of information on crime nationwide, but missing from this clearinghouse are statistics on where, how often, and under what circumstances police use deadly force. In fact, no one anywhere comprehensively tracks the most significant act police can do in the line of duty: take a life."

Since the government keeps statistics on just about everything, why no national stats on something this important? The answer is simple: they don't want us to know. Why? Because police shoot a lot more people than we think, and the government, while good at statistics, is also good at secrecy. Complete article

A lot of attention has been drawn to the large number of African Americans that have been shot and killed by police, and rightfully so; however they're not the only ones that are being targeted; right or wrong. There are also a large number of veterans getting involved in many altercations with police, and there isn't a comprehensive database for this either. I have gone into this more in States with high murder rates have larger veteran populations and Teach a soldier to kill and he just might where I considered the possibility, if not virtual guarantee that one of the leading contributing causes for violence by veterans might be their training which may make them more prone to violence.

In Hazing and Bullying in the Police Academy David Couper explains that he believes that although strict disciplinarian training that includes hazing might be appropriate for training marines it is inappropriate for training police officers which are supposed to do a different job. I’m not so certain that it appropriate even for training the military. If the majority of the wars that we fight were based on accurate reporting of world news then it might be a different story, although even then I’m not so certain, but that isn't the case at all.

The vast majority of wars, if not all of them have been based on lies and the military hasn't been training people to question authority; instead they've been using hazing as part of a process to teach them to obey orders without question; and this training also desensitizes them to killing based on lies.

As I explained in Philip Zimbardo, Lucifer Effect, Stanford Prison Experiment and Corruption or Bias in the American Psychological Association the military has financed psychological research into Obedience to Authority experiments which they said they were trying to conduct so they could understand why the Nazi soldiers blindly obeyed orders and prevent that from happening again. But instead of teaching the majority of the public about this in the most effective way possible so that it could be prevented they used their research to help develop more effective ways to teach both veterans and police to obey orders.

Whether it is the hazing or other problems there are a high number of killings by both police and veterans. They don’t have the highest murder rates; that is almost entirely in many abandoned inner cities; but if they’re compared to anyplace else they are almost certainly above average more often than not. In the previous post cited about States with high murder rates have larger veteran populations I cited a report that indicated that veterans were half as likely to be in jail than non-veterans in the year 2004; however a closer look \at the report indicated that a large part of the reason for this was that they were recruiting from rural areas while the highest crime rates, including murders were in urban areas.

This report also indicated that the veterans that were in jail were more likely to be in jail for violent offences, even though they came from areas that tended to be less violent; and that 15% of the veterans from state prisons were in jail for murder. This came to more than 19,000 convicted veteran murders and if the percent for those in federal prison was the same then it would have been 21,000. If these veterans were convicted over a period of close to fifty years then this comes to an average of over 400 veterans convicted of murder per year; although this data is to limited to indicate whether or not that is going up or down. However some of the other reports cited in the same blog indicates that if it was going down prior to the war on terror that trend might have been reversed as a result of the escalating amount of violence from returning veterans.

If Jim Fisher’s figures are correct then the police probably shoot and kill even more than veterans. These figures count mostly what they consider justifiable homicides in the line of duty. The figures cited by the FBI appear to exclude many of the most questionable cases; and neither of these lists include shootings that don’t occur in the line of duty as a police officer, although they do include shootings that occur off-duty when police react to crimes that they encounter.

This doesn't include incidents of domestic violence by police officers or what they would consider clear cut murder, which is more common than most people think Several articles in the past including Police domestic violence nearly twice average rate and Police Have a Much Bigger Domestic-Abuse Problem Than the NFL Does have reported on the higher violence rates of police officers off duty.

Both police violence and violence of veterans are significantly under reported in the traditional media and when they do report it it is almost always much lower profile, and often quickly forgotten by a large percentage of the population, while the propaganda about how they’re defending our country is repeated over and over again.

After reviewing a significant number of reports about many of the murders conducted by veterans it is clear that the most common victims of these murders is probably other veterans, followed by domestic violence cases including many children. Several reports have also come out about the high rates of domestic violence towards children and that 118 deaths have occurred in the Army of children over a four year period

As Jim Fisher asks, “why no national stats on something this important? The answer is simple: they don't want us to know. Why? Because police shoot a lot more people than we think, and the government, while good at statistics, is also good at secrecy.” The same goes for the statistics on veterans killing each other children or cops killing veterans, and in some cases veterans killing cops, as well, although that seems to be less common. Reviewing many of the statistics that the government does keep makes it clear that it wouldn't be too difficult to organize the data they have in a more effective manner enabling people to understand how often this happens.

Fortunately there are some people at the grass roots level that are trying to address this problem and it includes some veterans and police, including David Couper, a former police chief from Wisconsin who reported about Police Shootings: Do We Have the Right Data?

As I reported previously in Grass roots efforts reduce crime; Politicians steal credit and several blogs on the root causes of crime it is much more effective to address them before the last minute when it becomes necessary to rely on the police to address crime when it is much more difficult to stop.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Flawed study on conspiracy theories comes up with semi-accurate conclusions

A study that came out last year indicates that that conspiracy theorists are the sane ones and the government is the one that is untrustworthy or hostile and irrational; or at least that is the way some people that support conspiracy theories have interpreted it.

A close look at the actual study indicates that there is at least partial justification to indicate that they're interpreting it accurately; however there are also some flaws in the methodology of the study and there are also some statements in it that raise doubts about how rational some conspiracy theorists really are. Ironically some of the potential flaws in the study might be the result of a conspiracy theory; which could put both sides in an awkward positions since those that oppose conspiracies might hesitate to use this explanation to debunk it and those who support them might hesitate to accept conspiracies that raise doubts about conspiracies.

On top of that let's face it, some conspiracy theorists really are nuts.

David Icke claims that the Queen of England might occasionally transform into some kind of reptilian creature or something like that.

At the same time many of the highest profile self appointed skeptics routinely ignore scientific rational, when it doesn't support their beliefs; and often use some of the same manipulation tactics that conspiracy theorists use; or at least the ones they often accuse conspiracy theorists of using.

One of the biggest problems with this study is that it relies primarily on of discussions on the internet which might include a large portion of input from anonymous people that might have an undisclosed motive.

Another problem is that they don't adequately challenge a common assumption that the debate is often between "conspiracy theorists" and "skeptics," who often like to refer to themselves as "rational skeptics."

The truth is that a good conspiracy theorist should be a rational skeptic; and a rational skeptic should admit it when there is legitimate reason to believe that there really might be a conspiracy. By declining to address this many conspiracy theorists play into the stereotypes that often give many people the impression that they might not be as rational as the so-called skeptics, including many that refuse to acknowledge research that doesn't support their beliefs.

Ironically in many cases the government or traditional media often support their own conspiracy theories, but somehow try to convince the rest of us that it shouldn't be confused with "fringe conspiracy theories" which often turns out to be those that they disagree with or that don't suit their purposes.

The following excerpt from a relatively recent article that claims a 2013 study proves conspiracy theorists are the most sane of all might demonstrate how studies can be flawed in at least some ways and misinterpreted to suit the purposes of those that report on it. However a review of it might indicate that even though both the study and the way it is presented might be flawed some of the conclusions might be close, or at least closer than the conclusions by the government or the so-called “conventionalists.”

Scientific Study Reveals Conspiracy Theorists The Most Sane Of All 10/15/2014

If you’re a conspiracy theorist, then you’re crazy, right? That’s been the common belief for years, but recent studies prove that just the opposite is true.

Researchers — psychologists and social scientists, mostly — in the U.S. and United Kingdom say data indicate that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, “conspiracy theorists” appear to be more sane than people who accept official versions of controversial and contested events.

The most recent study was published in July 2013 by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the UK. Entitled “‘What about Building 7?’ A Social Psychological Study of Online Discussion of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories,” the study compared “conspiracist,” or pro-conspiracy theory, and “conventionalist,” or anti-conspiracy, comments on news websites.

The researchers noted that they were surprised to find that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventional ones.

“Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist,” the researchers wrote.

‘The research showed that people who favored the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile’

So, among people who comment on news articles, those who discount official government accounts of events like the 9/11 attacks and the assassination of John F. Kennedy outnumber believers by more than two-to-one. That means the pro-conspiracy commenters are those who are now expressing what is considered conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters represent a small, beleaguered minority that is often scoffed at and shunned.

Perhaps becoming frustrated that their alleged mainstream viewpoints are no longer considered as such by the majority, those who are anti-conspiracy commenters often showed anger and disgust in their posts.

“The research… showed that people who favored the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals,” said the study.

Also, it seems that those who do not believe in the conspiracies were not just hostile but fanatically attached to their own conspiracy theories as well. The researchers said that, according to the anti-conspiracy holders, their own theory of 9/11 — one which says 19 Muslims, none of whom could fly commercial airliners with any proficiency, pulled off an amazing surprise attack under the direction of a man on dialysis (Osama bin Laden) who was living in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan — is unwaveringly true. .....

“The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time,” political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith said.

He further noted that, essentially, those who use the term as an insult are doing so as the result of a well-documented, undisputed and historically accurate conspiracy by the CIA to cover up the JFK assassination. Complete article

First of all if you go to the original study which he cites, (“What about building 7?” A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories 07/08/2013), the authors of that study don't claim that either “conspiracists” or “conventionalists” are more "sane" than the other; and they don't even mention the CIA. However it is understandable that they came to those conclusions on their own, at least to a point. I certainly don't limit myself to conclusions from any one study or article.

More importantly is that they're using information from a large number of people that might have an ulterior motive or others that may have been manipulated by those that do and the study doesn't seem to take this possibility into consideration. This type of activity isn't limited to discussion of conspiracy theories; there have been numerous stories about how people have been hired to do online work for advertisers, political purposes, social research projects or other reasons; and they're probably more common than many people realize.

An article from earlier this year, Why Trolls Start Flame Wars: Swearing and Name-Calling Shut Down the Ability to Think and Focus cites a study reported in the New York Times about how uncivil comments polarizes the discussion and prevents rational reviews. In order to do this study they apparently had people intentionally behave in an irrational manner. The results of this study would enable anyone that wants to disrupt discussion about issues that they don't want disclosed to do so.

The amount of disruptive behavior done for this research project is almost certainly negligible; however much more is almost certainly being done to distort discussion, perhaps with the knowledge they obtained from either this research project or similar ones. After spending even a modest amount of time on some of these discussion boards it didn't take long to recognize some people that might have been behaving for these purposes; however there are almost certainly others that do so for their own irrational reasons so if, as I suspect this is happening, then it is hard to tell them apart. Those that are being disruptive for an ulterior motive might look the same as obsessive compulsive people that spend too much time on internet chat rooms and do a lot of trolling.

Glenn Greenwald reported previously on How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations using these methods and others. This type of activity would almost certainly skewer any research results being done using this method and unless they take this into consideration then their results might be flawed.

This could mean that this study might need to be reinterpreted based on the possibility that large portions of the discussions they've been studying might involve phony attempts to manipulate the public and even help advance stereotypes about conspiracy theories as political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith says or implies.

It is understandable for some people to be skeptical of the possibility that there are a lot of trolls disrupting internet discussions but this is actually trivial compared to some of the past conspiracy theories that have been proven to be true. Googling "conspiracy theories which turned out to be true" quickly turns out a long list of conspiracy theories that have been admitted to by the government as well as others that probably aren't quite as reliable. The same source that cited this study also came up with 5 conspiracy theories which turned out to be true. At least four of the examples they cite have been admitted to in government documents or hearings and the fifth has also been proven by numerous reliable sources.

Additional examples of conspiracies that have been proven to be true could include Watergate, Iran/Contra and the effort to look the other way when drugs were being run into the country to finance the Contras as well, which was exposed in the Kerry Committee report.

One other famous and well known theory that was acknowledged by the government was the JFK assassination conspiracy theory, or one version of it.

That's right one of the most widely ridiculed "conspiracy theories" was at least partially confirmed by a well known government investigation. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that Kennedy was probably killed by a conspiracy. Then they tried to restore the previous explanation which never made any sense at all; and anyone that took a close look at the details knew this either before the HSCA came to their conclusions or after, or after they were revised so that they could restore the original incompetent explanation.

Who should feel more absurd or ridiculous for their beliefs, those that check the facts and notice when the government is changing their stories and misrepresenting history, or those that blindly believe what they're told by authority figures when it is repeated over and over again without scrutiny, even when it doesn't make sense?

Some of the conspiracy theories that have been proven true and often confirmed with disclosed documents that were previously classified are as absurd if not more absurd than arranging for a lot of people to infiltrate the internet to help distort the stereotypes about conspiracy theories. They would also be less expensive and harder to get caught at it as long as they rely on people that have an incentive not to disclose it, which would mean they would be disclosing their own illegal or unethical activity; and if they did so they would lack credibility and they could easily be portrayed as a conspiracy theorist.

However if the CIA participated in activities like Operation Northwoods, Operation Paperclip, MK-Ultra, and others as disclosed in the previous article and others that do an even better job documenting their activities then it is far more reasonable to assume that they wouldn't hesitate to create phony bloggers and message board participants than to assume that it is out of the question. However, to start assuming that just about every blogger or commenter would go to the other extreme. It would be far more rational to try to recognize principals based on their merits than to try to spend too much time trying to figure out which bloggers or commentators are credible, unless in some cases people get a large volume of information from a few sources. Even then occasional skepticism is in order.

Mike Adams, who is cited in a lower profile manner in the above article, does a far better job pointing out rational conspiracies that have been proven to be true in, "Refreshing rationality: Why NOT believing in conspiracies is a sure sign of mental retardation." He points out a long list of examples where government officials are the conspiracy theorists and prosecute people based on their theories. He states, "The idea, then, that there is no such thing as a conspiracy is flatly ludicrous," which is true; however there are plenty of ludicrous things that have also been true like some of the conspiracy theories that have been proven to be true and the selection of presidential candidates we had during the 2012 elections or during the 2010 midterm elections when the Tea Party ran a lot of ludicrous candidates.

The truth is often ludicrous!

What is more important is that in addition to being ludicrous the claim that there are no such things as conspiracies is factually inaccurate.

As for Lance deHaven-Smith's claim that The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time, which has apparently gone viral on the internet, there is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that either it is true or there are one or more other groups that have accomplished this. I don't completely rule out the possibility that there are multiple groups with a common ideology that have done this, actually this is something that the CIA might have taken advantage of if they were doing such a thing without their knowledge.

As I indicated previously in at least a couple of posts about Philip Zimbardo, Lucifer Effect, Stanford Prison Experiment and Corruption or Bias in the American Psychological Association the military has been openly financing psychological research for decades and the CIA has almost certainly been involved in a lot of it, including some that has been disclosed like the ones previously mentioned and the Obedience to Authority experiments, which Professor Alfred McCoy claims is almost certainly done with support from the CIA acting through the Office of Navel Research.

Some of this research could easily be used for propaganda purposes and there is an enormous amount of additional research that could also be used for that purpose but it involves going through a lot of material which the majority of the public isn't inclined to do. Numerous sources including Victor Marchetti and Alfred McCoy have reported, over the decades about, how the CIA has been consulting with academics since they began and before when their predecessor the OSS began consulting with academics for covert operations during WWII, as indicated in the following declassified document from http://www.foia.cia.gov/.

The CIA and Acadame By Ralph E. Cook 1983

Close ties between the Central Intelligence Agency and American colleges and universities have existed since the birth of the Agency in 1947. The bonds between national intelligence and the academic world actually predate the Agency, for Williams J. Donovan, President Roosevelt’s Coordinator of Information, established a research team of distinguished academicians to assist him in 1941. Donovan proposed a novel idea: have the information that he was collecting, mostly from the military services and the Department of State, analyzed not only by the intelligence components within the War and Navy Departments but by his team of “scholars, economists, psychologists, technicians, and students of finance.” To head his research group, Donovan chose James Phinney Baxter, president of Williams College and a noted specialist in American diplomatic history. Complete article PDF

It is understandable why they would chose to consult with scholars, psychologists, and technicians when trying to win a war but it is hard to understand why they would have relied so heavily on economists and students of finance from the very beginning unless you take into consideration that a large portion of the differences between the United States and the the USSR even before WWII was based on the way they controlled financing. What is rarely mentioned when discussing the appeasement of Hitler by the mainstream media is that part of the reason why they appeased them is because they thought he was a better alternative than the Soviet Union when it came to his financial ideology which was more like the one supported by the west giving large financial benefits to the elites.

A large portion of the information that good conspiracy theorists, who also happen to be rational skeptics rely on might not actually be completely secret at all, although it may not be widely broadcast to large segments of the public. A lot of this can be found in lower profile news outlets books and at the library; but the most accurate conclusions aren't always the quickest.

It is difficult to tell the difference between those that are trying to expose the truth for legitimate reasons and those that re doing so for an ulterior motive but it is much easier if more people recognize Manipulation Tactics and realize that those that are more likely to use them are often less likely to be sincere, although technically it is possible to use manipulation tactics to convince people of the truth there is less motive to do so.

This study may have some flaws but there are other ways to confirm that some conspiracy theorists are more rational and better informed than the majority of the public or some of the self described skeptics that automatically accept the official story without scrutiny even when research raises major doubts about it.

If the problems with this study are corrected then it could be more helpful in understanding how rational conspiracy theorists are, or sorting out the more rational ones from those that just go along with what they're told from one source or another. One of the things that they could study is how many people accepted this study without scrutiny, or even reading it.

People that are accustomed to reviewing social research studies might realize that most if not all of them have some kind of flaws in them and some are much worse. In order to recognize how reliable the studies are it is important to recognize their potential flaws. This could be similar to the Obedience to Authority experiments. A close review could determine who came up with their own ideas and who accepted the study because it supported their beliefs or who refuted it simply because it didn’t fit their beliefs and why.

A Google search of Lance deHaven-Smith's quote, “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time turns up,” hundreds if not thousands of hits with the full quote; and most of them seem to be related to the study that they claim shows “Study reveals conspiracy theorists the most sane of all.” It doesn’t take much searching to find that a lot of people accepted it without scrutiny; but apparently this brought a response from one of the author’s who claims that they’ve been taken out of context.

Mike Wood wrote Setting the record straight on Wood & Douglas, 2013 which seems to correct some of the misconceptions; however it doesn’t address some of the concerns that I made and I still believe there are additional concerns about the methodology of the study. What this does indicate is that additional study appears to be going on regarding how people respond to the study without scrutiny, or use it to support their beliefs, right or wrong.

Apparently they followed it up with another study that puts more emphasis on the claim that many conspiracy theorists accept contradictory theories at the same time which has been interpreted as saying “Psychologists prove conspiracy theorists are all crazy!” which is another misrepresentation. The claim that conspiracy theorists accept contradictory claims was in the first study; however it also says that they’re not necessarily overly attached to them. This could also be explained, for some commentators, if they make quick arguments based on the assumption that they’re theories which means that they don’t consider them firm beliefs; and if they recognize that they contradict each other and that both theories can’t be the true then this is acceptable in a rational discussion.

Sorting through multiple possibilities until they have adequate information to figure out which is true is part of the scientific process.

When doing this research it would also be helpful to have access to the servers of the discussions, although this would be an enormous amount of work and it would involve checking a lot of servers to find out the original sources and their IP or if some of the trolls all come from some of the same sources.

The people in the best position to do this would be those that control the media, since a large portion is on their servers and those that control many of the conspiracy message boards or Facebook.

Basically the people that would be in the best position to do this would be the NSA, which controls the ECHELON program, which they now call PRISM.

This is a possibility that I wouldn't rule out and if they wanted to control the disclosure of their own activities so that it either happens on their own terms or not at all this might be the way to do it.

A close look at many of the disclosures that have been coming out over the decades indicates that there are almost always obvious flaws mixed in with the truth, or something close to the truth so reasonable discretion will always be appropriate when sorting through it to get as close to the truth as possible.

On a lighter note if Monsanto pushes bizarre conspiracy theory to deflect blame for GE wheat contamination of commercial crops among other conspiracy theories indicates that it isn't whether or not there are conspiracies; but which ones you support since both sides often promote one or another. FWIW Here are a couple other articles that are related if anyone is interested:

12 Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking

German Journalist Blows Whistle On How the CIA Controls The Media

Donovan and the ClA: A History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency by Thomas F. Troy

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wal-Mart Crime report October 2014

Walmart has had their share of shootings this month as well as at least one hit and run which led to a SWAT stand off at the home of the person that left Walmart afterward. There were the usual number of bomb threats, which will inevitably rise more for the holidays; and one exceptionally detailed one where they demanded money be loaded onto a designated card. Don't they know that can be traced? Not that it matters; as usual when they didn't get what they wanted nothing happened. They also had another chase that resulted in a highway crash because of stolen baby formula.

I don't know if anyone is keeping track of how often major shootings or crashes result from petty theft, besides me I guess.

One of the Walmart employees that attempted to stop a shoplifter was pepper sprayed again. Another police video was shown on the internet where they tasered an elderly shoplifter raising doubts about how much trouble the police should go to arrest people for stealing from Walmart.

The people involved in the white collar crimes or suppressing wages and reducing consumers rights are practically never held to these standards, or even held accountable at all; if they were then perhaps this amount of force might be justifiable but there would probably be less crime or need for it, since white collar crime leads to more poverty and blue collar crime.

Grist has reported once again on how Walmart's attempt at green-washing is misleading like just about all of their other propaganda advertising. Their use of solar is a step in the right direction but proportionately it isn't nearly as much as many smaller businesses apparently; and others have reported that even if this is helpful it doesn't make up for the enormous amount of energy to ship products half way around the world or that it is lower quality and has to be replaced two or three times as often as many items used to be.

Someone in West Virginia apparently bought contaminated water that was tampered with. This is just one of many ways that Walmart has had problems with saboteurs of one sort or another. It is difficult to know why they get so many but there have been plenty of stories to indicate that a certain percentage of them are resentful about one of Walmart's policies or another.

This isn't limited to Walmart, of course, but the responses from Walmart often seem much more out of touch than many other stores, even other big-box stores. This is almost certainly because the decisions are made in the corporate office by people that probably don't know how they're carried out in the stores, or factories and they're carried out in a strict authoritarian manner. Their workers don't appear to use any discretion of their own; and their have been numerous stories to indicate that it is because their policies discourage that.

This could create a lot of problems with simple things like whether they need a receipt or not for returned items; which apparently some people have been taking stuff off the shelf and going to the return counter and getting credits without ever paying for them. Is this something that could only happen at Walmart?

If they still make profits with all these problems it is because they have been cutting so many corners with their imports that they have much larger mark ups than they used to. This has been reported in numerous books that have exposed their scandals and it comes with a cost in lower quality of merchandise which they couldn't compete with if the market wasn't divided up by big-box oligarchies.

This could also explain their latest embarrassment; their website has apparently been marketing "Fat Girl Costumes;" or at least they were until the inevitable outrage spread through the internet. The initial response was an obvious automated response by someone that didn't seem to understand what was happening, or perhaps didn't care.

If you were the one that worked there and heard about this would you care?

Would you wonder what now or what next?

Apologizes for "Islamic" Halloween costume?

Perhaps what's next could be an HIV infected person threatening to infect their loss prevention officers over eleven dollars worth of merchandise; or perhaps that was the last crazy thing to happen there.

Some one did what with a stuffed animal at Walmart? And put it back??

Strange things happen at Wal-Mart!

In 2006 Wake Up Wal-Mart did a study, "Is Wal-Mart Safe?" based on incidents in 2004, (PDF) about crime at Wal-Mart which showed that it increased when Wal-Marts opened up and that crime was higher at Wal-Mart than at other retailers. Since then Wal-Mart Shootings began compiling a list of gun related incidents at Wal-Mart and demonstrated that they have a large number of them, including on average more than one shooting per week somewhere in the country. In January of 2014 another study, "Rolling Back Prices and Raising Crime Rates?" provided additional statistical research indicating that Wal-Mart might be contributing to higher crime rates or at least a slowing of the decline in crime. The study found that. “on average, communities with Walmarts had 17 more property crimes and two more violent crimes per 10,000 people than those communities without Walmarts.” I reviewed this more in Wal-Mart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices? where I explained that although this study is helpful they could have done better with additional data that is available and I reviewed some of that. I also added my own review about why I think that Wal-Mart policies have been contributing to higher crime in a previous blog, Wal-Mart high crime rate continues uninvestigaterd and have provided additional information under the author tag Walmart Crime Watch.

Stacy Mitchell has also compiled a list of other studies about Wal-Mart and how they impact society, Key Studies on Big-Box Retail & Independent Business. To the best of my knowledge Wal-Mart has done as little as they seem to get away with, often relying on rhetoric that isn't backed up with action, when it comes to addressing any of their critics concerns, including crime. The following are a list of incidents that occurred in October 2014. According to the "Is Wal-Mart Safe?" the average store in their sampling had 250 incidents per year, indicating that these are only a fraction of the crime reports at Wal-Mart, and presumably, the ones most likely to make the news on the internet nationwide. This isn't statistically representative, as the 2006 or the "Rolling Back Prices and Raising Crime Rates?" study or some of the studies cited by Stacy Mitchell; but it does provide some additional information that may help recognize how many problems there are at Wal-Mart.

Sevierville Tenn. police looking for suspects in jewelry theft from Walmart 10/01/2014

Police: Thefts at Two Walmart Pa. Stores Connected 10/01/2014

Couple harassed by men with rifle in Tx. Walmart parking lot 10/01/2014

Judge dismisses lawsuit over Sioux Falls SD Wal-Mart 10/01/2014

Walmart responds to BCI report 10/01/2014

Marysville police investigate shooting at Washington State Walmart parking lot 10/01/2014

String of Ill. Walmart thefts may have come to end 10/01/2014

Police arrest man who threatened Rio Rancho NM Walmart patrons 10/01/2014

Teen arrested after Pa. Walmart bomb threat 10/01/2014 The suspect has been charged with “threat to use weapons of mass destruction” and “terroristic threats.”

Deputies: Man stole security cams from St. Pete Fla. Walmart 10/01/2014

Naples Fla. man steals over 40 items from Walmart 10/0/2014

Report: Woman charged with drug possession after stealing Halloween decorations at Ga. Walmart 10/01/2014

Suspect attempts to stab Va. Walmart employee 10/01/2014

Two RI women accused of shoplifting spree at North Attleboro Ma. Walmart 10/01/2014

Three wanted for stealing TV from Virginia Beach Walmart 10/02/2014

Police, Wal-Mart partner to reduce crime in Burlington NC 10/02/2014

Mother and son accused of stealing electronics from Casper Wy. Wal-Marts 10/02/2014

Fire at Ruthrauff Ariz. Walmart extinguished, store remains closed 10/03/2014

Judge: Man who attacked with hatchet in Marshall Tx. Wal-Mart insane 10/03/2014

Police: Thieves try to rip off Winter Haven Fla. Walmart 10/03/2014

Snake hitches a ride to Ohio Walmart 10/03/2014

Man running from Ill. Wal-Mart jumps onto hood of a car 10/03/2014

Person wanted for shoplifting from Tabb Va. Walmart 10/03/2014

Wal-Mart Plan Generating Lots of Comments to Iowa Politicians 10/03/2014

Siblings charged with stealing iPads from Monroe NJ Walmart 10/03/2014

New video and pictures from Beavercreek Ohio Wal-Mart shooting 10/03/2014

Open Carry rally held in front of Beavercreek Ohio Walmart 10/05/2014

Protestors block police entrance after Beavercreek Walmart meeting 10/08/2014

Officers in riot gear at Walmart shooting protest 10/08/2014

Walmart security guard beaten during robbery in Greensboro NC 10/03/2014

Bomb threat at Rosemead Ca. Walmart proves unfounded 10/03/2014

Colorado Walmart customer finds razor-sharp blade in pumpkin 10/03/2014 Cassidy York and her mother started their trip Friday to the Rimrock Walmart hoping to find a great pumpkin, with Halloween just a month away. Instead they say they got more of a scare,..

Tracy Morgan hits back at Walmart 10/03/2014

Midtown Anchorage Alaska Wal-Mart warned by APD about excessive nuisance calls 10/05/2014 He said the CAP team has found, through surveillance, "Wal-Mart is selling a significant amount of alcohol to these chronic inebriates," and the number of calls for service to the store have spiked significantly.

Janesville Wisc. Walmart closed for bomb threat 10/06/2014

Brodhead man accused of bomb threat to Janesville Wisc. Wal-Mart 10/15/2014

Police Blotter: Possession with intent to distribute in Denville; disorderly conduct outside Hanover NJ Walmart 10/05/2014

San Leandro Ca.: Two suspected shoplifters in custody after shooting at Walmart 10/06/2014

SAN LEANDRO -- Two suspected shoplifters were arrested after one opened fire on security guards at a Walmart on Sunday night, police said.

One of the suspects was injured during the scuffle, but not seriously, San Leandro police Lt. Robert McManus said. Neither suspect, nor any customers or Walmart employees, were hit by gunfire.

Although police initially said they were seeking a third suspect, they later reported that the two in custody were the only ones involved in the shooting. Police did not identify the suspects, saying only that they were both San Leandro residents, ages 18 and 39.

The shooting happened about 11:40 p.m. at the store in the 1900 block of Davis Street. Two security guards, dressed in plain clothes, spotted the suspects taking items off shelves and going past the cash registers without trying to pay, McManus said. Complete article

Suspects in San Leandro Ca. Walmart shooting, robbery charged with attempted murder 10/07/2014

Mayor: No one on Cedar Rapids Iowa council supports new Wal-Mart proposal 10/06/2014

Parents say man exposed himself to young girls at Charlotte NC Walmart .... Again 10/06/2014

Walmart to offer health insurance shopping 10/06/2014

BOLO Alert issued for man accused of Missoula Montana Walmart attack 10/06/2014

KPD: Man wanted for felony shoplifting at Fort Henry Drive Tenn. Walmart 10/06/2014

Former prisoner from Kent County allegedly uses crowbar in Fruitport Mich. Wal-Mart smash-and-grab 10/07/2014

Robber Makes Off With Pills from Tenn. Walmart Pharmacy 10/07/2014

Wal-Mart cuts health benefits for 30,000 part-timers (Video) 10/08/2014

Man leaves Wal-Mart with a stranger's purse, Mobile Alabama police ask for help identifying him 10/08/2014

Man arrested after allegedly trying to steal two TVs from Fla. Wal-Mart 10/08/2014

Police Bust Spider-Man Shoplifting Suspect After Joy Ride in Ohio Walmart Power Chair 10/08/2014

No explosives found in Cottonwood Ariz. Walmart bomb threat 10/08/2014

Accused 'eyeshadow thief' arrested again for shoplifting at Ark. Walmart 10/08/2014

Woman attacked outside Ariz. Walmart files lawsuit 10/09/2014 Tucson Police public records show the address has an extensive history of crime reports, before the attack. Watkins says, "We found that there were over 450 police calls to the 455 Wetmore location, in just a two year period."

Pinellas County Fla. deputies looking for Wal-Mart attempted shoplifting suspects 10/09/2014

Man charged with multiple TV thefts at Ill. Wal-Mart 10/09/2014

Tiffin arrested, charged with arson in Sept. 5 fire at Ohio Walmart Supercenter 10/09/2014

Robber with gun grabs money at Crowley Tx. Walmart 10/09/2014

Why Walmart Workers Losing Healthcare Might Not Be Bad 10/10/2014

Bomb Threat At Nebraska City Walmart 10/10/2014

Woman pepper-sprays Ga. Walmart employee, escapes with cart full of stolen goods 10/10/2014

DULUTH, GA (CBS46) - Duluth police are looking for a woman who stole several items at a Walmart and pepper-sprayed an employee so she could escape.

The incident occurred just after 6 a.m. Oct. 8 at the Walmart in the 2600 block of Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, according to police.

Authorities said that an employee approached the woman as she was leaving the store with a cart full of stolen goods, which is when she used the pepper spray. Complete article

Crossville Tenn. Police search for suspect in connection with Walmart theft 10/10/2014

Ky. Woman allegedly stole $15,000 in Walmart gift cards to pay for heroin 10/10/2014

Hudson NH Police Seek Woman Wanted For Wal-Mart Return Scam 10/11/2014

Police: Suspicious backpack found outside Pasadena Tx. Walmart 10/11/2014

Two charged with trying to steal items from Fla. Wal-Mart 10/11/2014

Fire forces evacuation of Spring Tx. Walmart 10/12/2014

Reported Robbery Sends Police to Nebraska Walmart 10/12/2014

Three wanted for theft at Walmart on Nimmo Pkwy Virginia Beach Va. 10/13/2014

Man jailed following arrest at Fl;a. Wal-Mart 10/13/2014

3 thieves ripoff Ill. Walmart 10/13/2014

Suspects Sought in Tenn. Walmart Theft 10/13/2014

Sheriff’s reports: Bomb threat at Commerce Mich. Walmart 10/13/2014

Denver Colorado police trying to ID attempted shoplifting suspect accused of assaulting Walmart employees 10/13/2014

Michael Brown protesters attempt to shut down Maplewood Missouri Wal-Mart 10/13/2014

Person wanted for stealing from Yorktown Va. Walmart 10/14/2014

Persons of interest wanted in Tx. Walmart store fire 10/14/2014

Police: Man arrested for exposure involving a stuffed animal in Brooksville Fla. Walmart 10/14/2014

A Hernando County 19-year-old used a stuffed animal to masturbate in a Wal-Mart on Tuesday, then put the “soiled” toy back on the shelf, Brooksville police said.

Sean Johnson, of Lake Panasoffkee, was arrested Tuesday afternoon at the store, 7305 Broad St.

His actions were recorded on surveillance video, police said. Complete article

Family robbed at gunpoint at Murfreesboro Tenn. Walmart, Suspects wanted 10/14/2014

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Murfreesboro police are asking for the public's assistance in identifying suspects who robbed a family in a Walmart parking lot.

The incident happened Saturday, Oct. 11 at the store on South Rutherford Boulevard.

Police said the family, a couple and their young son, was robbed before they could leave their parking space. Complete article

Deadly assault at Yulee Fla. Wal-Mart leads to SWAT standoff; suspect found dead inside home 10/14/2014

YULEE | A grudge ignited nearly a decade ago over a job loss exploded into violence Tuesday that ended with one man killed in a Wal-Mart parking lot and the other dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

Allen James Fourtunia, 59, blamed supervisors for losing his job at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in 2005, and a random encounter Tuesday with one of those bosses ended in death, according to the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said Fourtunia ran over Steven G. Swan, 53, in the parking lot of a super Wal-Mart on Florida 200 in Yulee, so angry that he got out of his car and kicked and punched Swan before driving off. Swan was taken to UF Health Jacksonville where he died. Complete article

Video Captures Police Tasering Suspected Shoplifter Near Lakeside Colorado Wal-Mart 10/14/2014

LAKESIDE, Colo. (CBS4) - A video that shows police tasering a suspected shoplifter has prompted complaints that officers used too much force in subduing an older man.

The incident began on Friday afternoon when security guards at the Wal-Mart in Lakeside pursued a man they thought stole from the store. Lakeside police chased the suspect across the street into Wheat Ridge to a dumpster where he was hiding.

A bystander videotaped the suspect emerging from behind the dumpster when police attempted to force his arms behind his back.

“I just pulled out my phone and started recording,” Pete Ortega said. His video was posted to Facebook, where some commenters said it was clear the police should have used more discretion.

“You probably have over 700, 800 pounds of police force there, and there’s a 60-year-old man there that probably weighs a buck-fifty, and you’ve got to pull the taser out to take him down? I just don’t think it was right,” Ortega said. Complete article

Jersey City man attempts to shoplift two cell phones from Bayonne NJ Walmart: police 10/15/2014

Surveillance image shows man stealing TV from Mich. Walmart, deputies say 10/15/2014

13 Investigates: EPA reveals details of PCB test results at Ind. Walmart warehouse 10/15/2014

Arrests after Ca. Walmart burglary of stolen baby formula pursuit and crash 10/15/2014

NATIONAL CITY — Suspects in a Walmart robbery led police on a short chase before the driver lost control of their getaway car and overturned on west state Route 94 Wednesday, National City police said.

Employees told police about 11:30 a.m. that a man who had robbed the store on Highland Avenue in a prior incident had stolen baby formula, police Sgt. Alex Hernandez said. The suspected thief got into a white, four-door Impala that was waiting outside and it sped off.

Police arrived just as the car was leaving, Hernandez said. The 22-year-old driver raced onto north Interstate 5, then north Interstate 15 and east Route 94 before exiting on Euclid Avenue. She then got back onto Route 94, headed west, and attempted to merge onto north Interstate 805 when she lost control of the car and crashed.

The car flipped off the freeway and landed upside down. Officers pursuing her said she was driving, at times, about 100 mph. Complete article

San Leandro Ca. Police Seek Man Suspected Of Inappropriately Touching Girls At Target, Walmart 10/15/2014

Several St. Louis Missouri area Walmart locations locked-up ammunition during weekend protests 10/16/2014

Wal-Mart lowers revenue outlook for year 10/15/2014 Shares of Wal-Mart closed down 3.6 percent, their worst one-day drop in nearly two years.

Low-Wage Workers To Protest Outside Walmart Billionaire Alice Walton's NYC Home 10/16/2014

Officials: 'All clear' at Northport Alabama Walmart after bomb threat 10/16/2014

Panhandler arrested after fight over turf at Montana Wal-Mart 10/16/2014

Woman steals 67-year-old's necklace in Delaware Walmart parking lot 10/16/2014

South Dade Fla. Walmart Project Could Kill Endangered Species 10/17/2014

South Jordan Utah cops nab Wal-Mart robbers in 20 minutes 10/17/2014

Banned from Walmart: Port St. Lucie Fla. police say man recorded images of women's panties 10/17/2014

Cocaine charge for man who was allegedly stealing from Walmart in Rantoul Ill. 10/17/2014

Woman hit by car, killed in Nevada Wal-Mart parking lot 10/17/2014

Ky. Wal-Mart employee injured in hit-and-run 10/17/2014

Suspect sought in theft of wallet at Waveland Mississippi Wal-Mart 10/19/2014

Man arrested for video voyeurism after woman says he took cellphone photo up her skirt at Jacksonville Fla. Wal-Mart 10/20/2014

Woman punched in face, knocked to ground during predawn robbery at Hoover Alabama Walmart 10/20/2014

HOOVER, Alabama - Police are searching for two men who robbed a woman of her vehicle early today at a Hoover Walmart.

The holdup happened about 4:30 a.m. at the Walmart on U.S. 280, said Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector. The 49-year-old victim had left the store and was approaching her 2011 Ford Flex when one man tried to take her purse.

When she resisted, one of the men punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground. They took her keys and then fled in the Ford Flex, which had license plate number 1849AN0. Complete article

Algonquin Wal-Mart evacuated after bomb threat 10/20/2014

Deputies investigate rifle theft at Va. Walmart 10/21/2014

Domestic altercation leads to stabbing in Nevada Walmart parking lot 10/21/2014

Police seek man who flashed teen girl at SC Wal-Mart 10/21/2014

Police: Josh Young charged with shoplifting at Ky. Walmart 10/22/2014

Man accused of killing mother in Massachusetts arrested in Belmont NC Walmart 10/22/2014

Police Blotter: Urinating in front of Walmart in Hanover NJ 10/21/2014

Police: Man Took Upskirt Photo at SC Walmart 10/22/2014

Alleged Colorado Walmart purse snatchers caught 10/22/2014

Westfield Mass. police seek public's help in ID'ing Walmart larceny suspect 10/22/2014

Man stabbed near downtown Long Beach Ca. Walmart 10/22/2014

Peoria man gets 23 years for armed robbery in East Peoria Ill. Walmart parking lot 10/22/2014

Police: Woman stole wallet, used cards at Fla. Walmart 10/23/2014

Mechanic Falls woman killed by tractor-trailer in Auburn Me. Walmart parking lot 10/23/2014

Havre Montana Walmart bomb scare ends without incident 10/23/2014

Man who phoned in Ga. Walmart bomb threat wanted $2,500 08/23/2014

The man who phoned in a Wednesday bomb threat to the Lexington Road Walmart was hoping to extort $2,500 from the store, according to an Athens-Clarke County police report.

No update on the investigation into the threat was available Thursday from police, but a report on the incident itself had been filed by a responding officer. According to that report, the man, described as “Asian,” based on “a strong accent that was apparent when he talked,” called the store shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday. According to the report, he was “asking for five Green Dot VISA cards,” reloadable debit cards available at Walmart, and he wanted each of the cards loaded with $500.

The store’s evening shift manager told police “she heard the man state that if (Walmart) did not load the cards or if they evacuated the building or let the police know what was going on, he would blow up the building.”

The caller went on to say that if his request was not met in an hour, “the (Walmart) building would be blown,” a threat he made repeatedly as he spoke on the phone with an assistant manager. At one point, the caller said the bomb was located “in the center of the building or on the side of the building,” according to the police report. ...

During the time he was on the phone, the man set a number of incremental deadlines for loading the money onto the cards, but “(e)very time he would give a certain amount of time to load the Visa cards the time would expire and nothing would occur,” according to the police report. ....

According to media reports, bomb threats are regularly phoned in to Walmart stores. On Wednesday, as Athens-Clarke County authorities were dealing with the local bomb threat, authorities in Havre, Montana, were also dealing with a threat aimed at a Walmart. An Air Force bomb disposal unit searched the store and adjacent areas, but found nothing. Complete article

Neenah Wisc. woman ruled competent in 2013 Walmart shooting 10/23/2014

Should You Do All of Your Shopping at Walmart? 10/24/2014

Video surveillance photos lead to capture of Hoover Alabama Walmart robbery and assault suspects 10/24/2014

Sex offender charged with exposing himself at Burlington NC Walmart 10/24/2014

Meth pipe found in SD Walmart dressing room 10/24/2014

Man accused of leaving Fla. Wal-Mart with cart full of unpaid 10/24/2014

Walmart isn’t really green, just really big 10/24/2014

Please don’t mistake Walmart’s bigness for greenness. Thank you.

On Tuesday, Slate proclaimed that “Walmart is killing the rest of corporate America in solar power adoption” because the company leads the nation in total “installed capacity” — in essence, it has installed more solar panels than anyone else. In reality, Wally World is a greenwashed clean-energy laggard owned by a family that funds anti-solar groups.

Slate’s data, which show that Walmart has more than double the megawatts of second-place Kohl’s, comes from the Solar Energy Industry Association, a U.S. trade group. But in that same report, Walmart ranked 11th (out of an undisclosed list of megacorporations) in the proportion of facilities with solar power, at just 5 percent. (For comparison, a small business with one facility and one solar installation would score 100 on that test.)

In all, solar, wind, and biomass accounts for just 3 percent of Walmart’s total U.S. electricity use, according to data from the EPA’s Green Power Partnership. And less than one-fifth of the renewable energy the company purchases from offsite is third-party certified, meaning we just have to take Walmart’s word for it. More than 200 organizations in the EPA program meet 100 percent of their electricity use with green sources, including fellow retail giants Whole Foods, Staples, and Kohl’s. Complete article

Yuma Ariz. Wal-Mart evacuated after bomb threat 10/25/2014

Man accused of trying to steal TV from Fla. Wal-Mart 10/25/2014

Victim speaks out about Orange Co. Fla. Wal-Mart robbery attack 10/25/2014

Alleged incident at Ky. Wal-Mart leaves man facing sexual abuse charges 10/24/2014

Shoplifter caught at Id. Walmart 10/26/2014

Silver Spring Twp. police search for two women accused of Pa. Wal-Mart retail theft 10/26/2014

Suffolk Va. Police investigating shoplifting case at Wal-Mart 10/26/2014

Police: Man stole from NC Walmart 10/27/2014

Contaminated WV Walmart Water? 10/27/2014

Over the weekend, one family's Saturday started off with a little yard work and ended in the emergency room. A man was taken to the hospital after drinking a bottle of Sam's Choice water that was purchased from the Walmart in Elkins.

"Saturday afternoon my husband was working in the garage. He came up, got a water out of his cooler, and chugged the majority of the water. Then he realized it wasn't water. He came in the house and said 'What is this?' It smelled like cleaning solution," said Patricia Cunningham.

The Cunninghams immediately called poison control. They told John to drink lots of water and then they went to Davis Health System and United Hospital Center just to be safe. At UHC John got a blood and urine test done.

"They did say his kidneys were down and that he had blood in his urine," said Cunningham.

Cunningham purchased a 15-pack of Sam's Choice water from the Walmart in Elkins. Three bottles were cloudy and foamed when you shook them, while the others seemed like normal water. Complete article

Man shot, killed in Colorado Walmart parking lot 10/27/2014

ARAPAHOE COUNTY - A 54-year-old man is in custody after a 61-year-old man was shot and killed in a Walmart parking lot Monday night.

Police say the suspect, identified as Daniel Fougner, was a transient.

The shooting happened at around 8:45 p.m. at the Walmart Neighborhood Market parking lot located at 1412 South Parker Rd. Complete article

Flasher strikes for third time at Arboretum NC Walmart 10/28/2014

McCandless Pa. citizens group fighting Walmart store loses one round 10/28/2014

Walmart's Website Featured a Section of 'Fat Girl Costumes' before they apologized 10/27/2014

Retail giant Walmart is reaching out to the plus size market in an ill-advised way this Halloween: by offering online shoppers a section of "Fat Girl Costumes."

This tip comes to us from a reader, who was hunting high and low for a Halloween costume when she turned to Walmart, because sometimes desperation makes us do strange things. That's when she noticed that the retail giant was helpfully directing her towards the section for "fat girl costumes."

As of this morning, the Fat Girl section is still up; it features a lot of the same outfits as the Women's Plus Size Adult section, which makes us think some web developer created the section as a "hilarious" joke and then neglected to change it. At least one person has complained about it to Walmart on Twitter, where they got a very polite, very general, only slightly robotic apology: Complete article

Man trying to shoplift food pepper sprays SD Walmart employees, then flees 10/28/2014

Bismarck ND Police trying to identify alleged scammer 10/28/2014

Shoppers upset after Walmart refuses to give them $100 gift cards they bought for $10 10/28/2014 "This mistake is being made by a person putting together a button on a web site, these kinds of mistakes are more and more common," Tiede said.

OhioWalmart worker accused of reducing prices 10/29/2014

NC Walmart 2013 shooting suspect gets nearly 98 years 10/29/2014

Albuquerque NM police looking for 3 suspects who stole cash drop safe from Wal-Mart Wed. morning 10/29/2014

Woman Arrested for Smashing Displays at Gainesville Fla. Walmart 10/30/2014

Wal-Mart to close 30 underperforming stores in Japan 10/30/2014

North Kingstown Police look for man who exposed himself in RI Wal-Mart 10/30/2014

Man robbed Utah Walmart with sawed-off rifle, police say 10/30/2014

RIVERDALE, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH) - Police arrested a man who robbed a Walmart early Thursday morning.

According to police reports Justin Adams walked into the Riverdale Walmart just before 2 a.m. on Thursday with a sawed-off rifle demanding money.

"Usually these type of aggravates robberies are with hand guns or some other type of weapon like knives," said Lt. James Ebert with the Riverdale Police Department. "He had the gun in the backpack with the zipper undone so you can see it if you looked inside the back pack." Complete article

HIV Positive Woman Tried to Infect Wal-Mart Employee: Police 10/30/2014

Dallas police say a woman who tried to shoplift $11 worth of frozen food from Wal-Mart threatened to infect an employee with HIV.

According to a police report, Diamond Lawrence, 25, attempted to walk out of the Forest Lane Wal-Mart Tuesday afternoon with the food when she was confronted by the employee.

While Lawrence was being escorted back into the store, the worker said Lawrence bragged about being HIV positive, saying "I can infect whomever I please."

Officers said Lawrence was wearing a medical wristband that identified her as having HIV.

Shortly after that, officers said Lawrence struck the Wal-Mart associate in the face, then scratched his neck, in what police believe was a deliberate attempt to draw blood and expose him to the virus. Complete article

Bomb Threat shuts down Tx. Walmart 10/30/2014

Addicts target Ind. Wal-Mart in shoplifting scheme 10/30/2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Feeding a heroin addiction often means addicts resort to stealing – from friends, family and businesses.

For former heroin addict Ashley Milburn, it meant a shoplifting scheme involving a group of women earning hundreds of dollars a day illicitly by scamming Wal-Mart.

Milburn, now serving time behind bars, spoke to Call 6 Investigator Rafael Sanchez about how she used to steal from the big box retailer – and how she's sure her fellow heroin users are still going about it.

The key to the scam: Wal-Mart's no-receipt policy for returns.

"I'd take the headlights [from the automotive section]," Milburn said. "I would take them to the customer service desk and return them to get a Wal-Mart gift card. There are a couple of pawn shops that buy the gift cards, so I'd take them there, get cash and buy some drugs." Complete article

Wal-Mart bringing Black Friday to Halloween weekend 10/31/2014

Mother and children targeted outside a Fresno Ca. Walmart 10/30/2014

Police say the suspect cased the store looking for someone who wouldn't fight back or couldn't. He picked a mom, with two kids.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Police say it was a stunning robbery in which the suspect targeted the most vulnerable victim, a mother with two young children.

The robbery happened at the Walmart in Southeast Fresno on Kings Canyon at about five o'clock Tuesday afternoon.

Police say the suspect cased the store looking for someone who wouldn't fight back or couldn't. He picked a mom, with two kids. And the best witness was a picture perfect surveillance camera. Complete article

Rincon Ga. Police: Not-so-nice neighbors and 3 different cases of sticky fingers at Walmart 10/31/2014

Gilbert Ariz. Walmart manager writes book about working retail 10/31/2014

Man fleeing Fla. Walmart security carries toddler into pond 10/31/2014

Woman robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of a metro Okla. Walmart, police looking for suspect 10/31/2014

Lufkin Tx. Police officers arrest man suspected of Walmart arson 10/31/2014

Walmart apologizes for "Islamic" Halloween costume 10/31/2014