You may not want to throw your tinfoil hat away, but you can at least take it off briefly to absorb some fascinating empirical data that demonstrates the shocking concentration of power in the world.
Are you the sort of person who, as a result of reading lots of Noam Chomsky and pursuing rigorous internet research (i.e., spending hours on Prison Planet and InfoWars), have become aware of the vast global cabal that is masterminding control of the planet? You know, those less-than-one-percenters in the Bilderberg Group, Goldman Sachs, and the leaders at G8 meetings who control the future of 99% of humanity? Well, you can take your tinfoil hat off now. Because it turns out all your wingnuttiness was justified after all. At least in part. Today a friend (hi Kim!) tipped me off to some research that I missed over a year ago, in spite of the fact that it briefly went viral. I must have been frittering my time away at an Occupy meeting at the time, which is too bad; a lot of the research lends some weight to the whole 99% motif, and might have lent some rational thinking to the hyperbole and poorly-conceived strategy that characterized that movement in so many locales. As a person who is sort of addicted to information, and has always been fascinated with how the power in the world is actually structured, I was excited several years ago by collections like the Free Press’ Who Owns the Media , the Columbia Journalism Review’s Who Owns What, the Open Secrets Lobbying Database, and the graphical connections database website They Rule. That last one is especially fun, and it’s summarized here pretty well, if the interface doesn’t immediately make sense to you. But in spite of these amazing collections of data and the ability to peruse such a huge volume of information, I was always a little frustrated by the bias or poor visual presentation of collections like these. Which is why I felt sort of like a crackhead on a coca plantation today when my friend shared a link to Who controls the world? Resources for understanding this visualization of the global economy. That link is to the TED Talk summary of the amazing research done by Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston . Part of what’s amazing about the research is that although the basic data was available, no-one had analyzed it this way before. They not only take massive amounts of empirical data, they do all the heavy lifting for you, so even an ignoramus like me can understand it. And what story does it tell? Well, Glattfelder shares it much more eloquently in his Ted Talk (video also below), but in a nutshell, it tells the story that the world’s wealth and power is in fact concentrated in the hands of a shockingly small number of stakeholders. And when I said at the top that your wingnuttiness was justified in part? Well, I was referring to the bit that may disappoint the more paranoid amongst us – the fact that there’s no empirical evidence of collusion amongst these key stakeholders. Oh well. Guess you’ll have to do your own sleuthing if you want to keep the paranoid flame burning. Video below.