They Are Lying to Us

The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a certainly the a tragic and most disturbing catastrophe. It may very well end up as a 9/11 of this decade but with even more dramatic, global consequences. I often find myself fascinated by the narratives that are woven around it. Oil drilling is technology that is poorly understood by average people. For obvious reasons it’s not easy to visualize it properly. I mean, drilling is already very much about events that occur underneath the earth surface. But that’s drilling on the bottom of the ocean. It would be difficult to imagine a more unaccessible and hidden activity.

So naturally, there are a lot of experts coming in and trying to explain what is going on. And of course, nobody really knows so people start to speculate. And as they start speculating, entire narrative structures are being created. They are fascinating because the subject is new and fresh. So the on one evening I was reading into this article. It is one expert speculating on how the reason why they can’t stop the oil spill may very well be that the entire dill-hole is somehow broken and corrupted. This means that the oil spill may continue for months until the entire reservoir has been discharged into the ocean. It’s a dark and fascinating perspective. It’s deduced from data coming from a wide range of sources. Checking up on all those sources sucked me in so much that was surprised when I realized the sun was rising up again.

And if this is depressing, how about this article. It’s yet another speculation that there might be a huge methane bubble underneath the sea-floor. The oil spill may be a symptom of the sea-floor being on the brink of collapse. When the methane gets released, it will cause a mass extinction on earth, including the end of human civilization as we know it.

As frightening and fascinating those scenarios are, there is one thing they have in common with wacky conspiracy theories. In fact this little detail actually puts them well into the genre of wacky conspiracy theories:

Why is the press being kept away? Word is that the disaster is escalating.

It’s a logical fallacy common to conspiracy theories. It bugs me since it’s obviously silly, yet nobody seems to realize. If an organization would know anything about the world coming to and end, there would be no reason for them to them to keep it secret. Why would they want that? What would be their motivations? Preventing mass-panic? Profit? All of that wouldn’t matter anymore, we would all die soon anyway. Even if the goal was to make civilization go out quietly, releasing all information in a controlled way would be much more reasonable than building up secrets that might leak. You know, people would notice eventually if the world was ending.

Even in a lesser scenario, where the situation is just worse than it appears it doesn’t make much sense to keep secrets. If BP knew that they can’t do anything about the leak and that “everything is going to get much worse”, would it make sense to keep it secret? Not really. Because if everything is going to get much worse, it eventually will and then it would be all BP’s fault. From BP’s perspective, would make much more sense to err on the pessimistic side so they would be able to exceed expectations.

It is safe to assume that neither BP nor the Goverment have anything surprising to hide. The situation is just quite complicated and the outcome is difficult to foresee. Keeping out media is simply a way to prevent any tragic accidents and let the people do their jobs without distractions.

In general, there are rarely good reasons for organizations to keep things secret. At least not in the sense conspiracy theories suggest. It’s difficult, expensive, risky and there are simply no good reasons for doing so. So every time somebody suspects that the public is being lied to, you should be skeptic. Chances are that their other conclusions are just as fallacious.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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