“a tailored mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal behavior in the same time and battlespace to obtain [a group’s] political objectives.” Frank Hoffman.
"In wartime, truth is so precious she should always be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies." Sir Winston Leonard-Spencer Churchill.
Rufus Miles Law of Management states: Where you stand depends on where you sit. He codified that which we should know intuitively. We see things and form judgments of things from our own perspective. We need to discipline ourselves to see things from other’s vantage point.
On a medium as the internet anybody can say anything and it all adds up to nothing single cohesive absolute. That started in the 70s. That singularity has disappeared. There are no known truths and lies. There is a duplicity or pluralism about the things that we believed in. And the idea of a duality in the way that we live—there were always two, three, four, five sides to every question. That shows us that we are living in an era of total fragmentation. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying. I’m talking about the actual context and the state of content is going to be so different from anything we can envisage at the moment. With the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.
'Everything is true, and nothing is true!' — Albert Camus
“Research done in the last 15 years shows that optimal persuasion is achieved through optimal pre-suasion: the practice of arranging for people to agree with a message before they know what’s in it. Pre-suasion works by focusing people’s preliminary attention on a selected concept — let’s say softness — which spurs them to overvalue related opportunities that immediately follow.”
Humans use only 10% of their brain. Eating carrots improves your eyesight. Vitamin C cures the common cold. None of those things are true. Repetition is what makes fake news work, too, as researchers at Central Washington University pointed out in a study way back in 2012 before the term was everywhere. It’s also a staple of political propaganda. It’s why flacks feed politicians and CEOs sound bites that they can say over and over again. Not to go all Godwin’s Law on you, but even Adolf Hitler knew about the technique. “Slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea,” he wrote in Mein Kampf. As with any cognitive bias, the best way not to fall prey to it is to know it exists. Emily Dreyfuss
According to Russia’s chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov's view, the West pioneered indirect approaches to warfare; leveraging political subversion, propaganda, and social media, along with economic measures such as sanctions. From his perspective, humanitarian interventions, the use of Western special forces, funding for democracy movements, and the deployment of mercenaries and proxies were all features of a U.S. doctrine of indirect warfare. He alleged Western sponsored “color revolutions” as a nonlinear 'hybrid' warfare.
Russia eventually came up with a hybrid warfare doctrine that they had spent 2 years worried about. Russia made a move to annexation Crimea which caught almost everyone off guard. The Russian military disguised its actions, and denied them - but those "little green men" who popped up in the Black Sea peninsula were a textbook case of the Russian practice of military deception - or "maskirovka" (is as old as Sun Tzu). Denial is another vital component in maskirovka. The U.S. call such tactics CC&D - concealment, camouflage and deception.
Russia is moving rapidly to strengthen its relationship with the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation) government in El Salvador, whose senior leaders were almost all trained in the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. With Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, China, North Korea, etc., vying for attention, simmering issues like the Russian advances in Latin America are simply not given Tier One treatment. Very few intelligence resources have been dedicated to the problem set, because there is no immediately visible threat. There are multiple “retired” senior KGB officials now running numerous electronic businesses and intelligence operations in Latin America, with strong indicators of ties to the most senior levels of the Russian military and intelligence establishments. Russia is seeking to engage in specific areas where the U.S. has traditionally engaged: counter narcotics training, weapons sales, the development of military doctrine, and strategic intelligence alliances. The Russian presence is not yet a strategic threat.
Exhaustively researched journalism – presented by legitimate news outlets; fact-checked until it was true in the face, and in the heart; run through legal, after attempts made to reach all sides for comment, all at great cost – drew far less attention than hastily hoisted screeds of pure fright and fancy typed up, often enough, by some entrepreneurial teens in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. BuzzFeed and The Guardian reported that the Macedonian town of Veles, boasting a population of 45,000, is the cradle of at least 140 American-politics websites. Working overwhelmingly for click-earned ad money, not love of Donald Trump, the youth of Veles offered up thousands of invented, mostly anti-Hillary Clinton stories (there just wasn’t much of a market for anti-Trump stories, they found) under eye-catching headlines.
Reporting bias: the tendency to systematically under- or over-report certain types of events — shapes our understanding of war. While the media in democracies typically are relatively independent from government influence, they have their own institutional biases — such as “newsworthiness” criteria that emphasize novelty, conflict, proximity, and drama. The implication is that living in a democratic state with a free press does not ensure that a media consumer will receive unfiltered information about who is doing what to whom, even during high-visibility events.
Irresponsible journalism: Each news outlet has its own approach to reporting on what’s happening in the world. While no media outlet is completely objective, some don’t even try to be. For example, Fox News tailor their news to right-leaning audiences. Cable TV, so important to Trump’s rise, seems torn between two personalities: one driven by ratings and profit, the other by its responsibility to inform the public.
Trusted news outlets sometimes spread false information. Sources may lie to reporters. Journalists can fall victim to pranks or hackers. Laziness and deadline pressures can cause mistakes. Unethical scribes have exaggerated or concocted news on many occasions. Advertisements about products and services may be disguised to look and sound like a news story. E.g. The Washington Post once won a Pulitzer Prize for a story that was later exposed as fabricated.
As long as Facebook optimises for engagement, legitimate news websites have little reason to be balanced. If Facebook abandons its stance as a 'neutral technology platform' it risks reinforcing the very conspiracy theories it is attempting to dismantle. If Facebook were to appoint themselves as official arbiters of the truth, the move would act as proof for many that big business and the media go hand in hand, legitimising a further retreat into partisan ideological bubbles as paranoia about the ‘mainstream media’ grows even stronger.
"Information Warfare: The Power Of Misdirection And Confusion:
Humans have always had an insatiable hunger for bullshit and fairy tales, from folk tales told around the fire to small-town gossip, to Bigfoot-bedecked tabloids in the checkout line. It reflect and reinforce our prejudices, and they give us sweet dreams. In an epic battle sparked by the U.S. election and fought on the vast planes of social media, news stories – stories powered in the main by researched truth – were pitted against fake stories, and fact and truth took a severe beating. People go to social media to see what their friends and the pages they follow are posting. What makes this a “post-truth” election, instead of just your average “people lying a lot about everything” election, is that folks seem entirely indifferent to the truth. Islamic terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) have proved quite adept at manipulating the mass media to their advantage. They use a combination of technical savvy and ancient techniques for changing minds.
In the early 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte tightly controlled the distribution of news in France and his conquered territories. In fact, historians believe fake propoganda news may have induced the Spanish-American War of 1898. And that trend just kept going, especially once the radical socialist movements (especially fascism and Russian communism) got hold of it in the early 20th century. All this was more evolution than revolution because starting in the late 19th century a growing number of powerful propaganda methods and techniques for controlling public opinion were developed. Many of these techniques are actually ancient but never before have they been used so intensively, persistently, and in greater variety to such a large audience.
This efforts went into high gear in the 1990s because, since the 1980s there has been an unprecedented proliferation of news media. First came round-the-clock TV news that was available worldwide. As that continued to spread in the 1990s the Internet appeared and the proliferation of news outlets accelerated. While it was nice to have news round-the-clock and with the help of the Internet, from anywhere on the planet, often in real time, there were some downsides. Major problems were created by the fierce competition for audience. That led to a ruthless approach to presenting the news. It became more important to “attract eyeballs” than reporting the news accurately. Ads about products and services may be disguised to look and sound like a news story.
Black PR firms have been providing clients with both post deletion of negative news stories and also provide hit pieces. That also led to more propaganda as governments and special interest groups found that if their message were packaged the right way lies would be more convincing than the truth. Fake news is not a new problem. Everyone can lie. Fake news is just modern propaganda. The only difference is modern technology is making fake news guilt-free, open-season and licensed mendacity. History repeats itself not as farce but as click-bait. But the age of such cyber-conflict is still in its infancy.
A popular conversational gambit is not talking at all about something and it can be very useful in Information War. This selective ignorance is a favorite technique of state controlled media. Thus, in the old Soviet Union you never heard about large scale disasters, serial killers, or areas suffering from pollution. This all came out after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and was demoralizing for many Russians, who always felt their police state was a better place to live in than it actually was. Governments still try to “control the message” and suppress bad news. What you don’t hear about doesn’t exist (until you become one of the victims). The Internet has made this technique much more difficult, which is why so many countries spend a lot of money to censor the Internet. If little lies don’t work try the “one-one punch”. This is where you pretend to represent two sides but one side gets a couple of great lines, the other side gets a lame line. A variation on the old “damning with faint praise” technique.
Another selective presentation technique is the use of subtle inaccuracies or a dismissive tone. This often involves misstating a topic, often a serious one, and pretending any objections or concerns about that are silly, unrealistic, or just not necessary. The current debate over climate change brings out a lot of this because many climate professionals are not in agreement with the “consensus” on just what is changing and why. This has led to more and more embarrassments for proponents as the experts eventually get enough people to take a look at the facts. Examples are the old “hockey stick” prediction of historical temperature that tried to ignore the well documented “little ice age” that lasted from the 13th to the 19th century. There were also false reports of glacial melting that did not match reality but were believed for a while because of too much propaganda and not enough facts. In the last decade a lot of people have lost faith in the “consensus,” which goes to show you that all the techniques here tend to have short shelf lives.
Selective presentation is often used in conjunction with “volume” and “coordination”. Volume is merely a deluge of the same story line everywhere, until it becomes dominant, and the media's view of it becomes the dominant view. The mass media loves this one because it can make any story “true” even if it isn’t. The mass media tend to follow each other and you will often find that all the "news" stories about a given current event seem to draw a similar conclusion about it. When you notice this, just ask yourself if it's probable that, in a nation of nearly 320 million, no one has a legitimate opposing opinion. This is why the traditional mass media does not like the Internet, where convincing facts or opinions that contradict the mass media truth can get into circulation. Police states (like China) particularly hate this.
Coordination occurs when a number of likeminded journalists all report the same angle at about the same time. This really doesn't require a conspiracy, there are so few "journalists" and they can easily see what their buddies' takes are on issues, then parrot the same line. This also occurs in any large organization (corporation, university, government bureaucracy). Some cultures are more into this than others. In Japan there is a saying that, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”
If all else fails you can try fogging an issue. This is often called the total nonsense gambit. Sometimes certain groups have an interest in making sure that as few people pay attention to an issue as possible. A good propagandist can write a long, nonsensical article for the purpose of confusing the majority of readers, who themselves work hard all day. It doesn't take much for them to see a catchy headline, then begin to dig into a long rambling article, then throw their hands up and say "I don't have the extra energy to decipher this!" The reader is correct, the fault is with the propagandist. The fog is often reinforced by distracting or absurd statistics. With this technique the writer attempts to drag the reader into a debate about what the reader is even seeing. This is usually used when the propagandist is falling behind and must hurry to destroy correct understanding of events.
Some very simple techniques continue to be effective. One of these is the 2,3,4 Technique. Mentioning only one side of an issue two, three, or four times in an article, each time pretending you are about to present the opposing side but you never do. Then the article suddenly ends and the reader feels bombarded, outnumbered, and alone. Even if the opposing view is held by many people, the author need merely refuse to present that side of the argument. A variation on “2,3,4” is shock and awe. This is when the writer "attacks" the reader viciously at the very outset of the article with the "acceptable" view of the topic. The writer tries to "beat it into" the reader without any regard to other views.
Another sneaky, but basic tactic is simply framing the debate. Setting an argument around two "alternatives" which you would prefer, rather than the true alternatives. A variation on that is “token equal time”. Sometimes a weak, tiny understatement is added to a propaganda piece, apparently so the writer can pretend they had been fair. This technique is quite common, it consists of an article written with entirely one point of view, then at the end a meager statement from the opposing view is printed, it is immediately refuted, then the article either ends or continues on with the preferred point of view.
Framing the debate is often complemented by efforts to "interpret" A Statement. Have you ever seen a writer say that someone said something, then what the person said followed even though it didn't look anything like what the writer claimed was meant? Selective presentation of information by misinterpretation is as good as an outright lie. A variation on that is withholding Information. Is it the same as lying? Some in the media might not want to answer that question.
There are many other techniques, as the last century has been a golden age for this sort of duplicity. The Internet has accelerated the development of new techniques because the web tends to shorten the useful life of these media scams. Now even religious zealots and mass murderers like ISIL are using these tools to get what they want."
Authority & Associative Image: To keep hammering that you are socially powerful and highly-regarded people like you or agree with you.
Social Comparison: While it sounds complex, it’s actually really simple. It states that we are constantly evaluating our beliefs by checking in with people like us, to see if they see the world the same way as us. We’re tribal creatures. In situations of uncertainty, we tend to follow the herd. All of these people couldn’t be wrong, could they? In many ways, Social Comparison Theory tries to understand how social proof works. Why do people tend to become similar to one another? What drives us to bind together with our fellow men and women? When you see social proof as a way of evaluating your environment, and getting second and third and fourth opinions on your perception, it makes a lot of sense. After all, in math class we’re taught to check our work. Why wouldn’t we also double-check our perception? Obviously the beliefs you have, the way you see the world, is valid; at least all of these people think the same way as you. The rally just might be the perfect way for people to validate and strengthen their beliefs. And, once your attitude changes, your behaviors will change as well.
- Sow seeds of doubt for public to lose confidence and be convinced that the person is incapable (like big financial responsibility/experience)
- Public start to dislike the person when immoral acts surfaces which forces the person go on the back-foot and turn defensive. This is a double whammy as it creates public confusion too (preferably, sexual choice or attacks)
- Demonise the opponent as an evil force that must be crushed (preferably, class/ethnic/territorial, the imperialistic ideological kind)
- Guilt-By-Association is used to discredit someone by associating them with an unattractive person, idea, or organization. It doesn't matter if there is an actual association or not. The simplest technique is to call people you don’t like a fascist, racist, infidel, bigot, terrorist, or whatever suits your situation. In ancient times you were accused of being a fan of Carthage or Persia. But this is too simple. To do real damage you want to link others to vile organizations or ideas and this takes a little more effort, and you may have to use some of the other techniques listed here.
- Then there is the ancient and still useful “backstroke”. This means systematically criticizing and demeaning whatever you are trying to discredit. None of these snide or critical remarks may, by themselves, inflict much damage, but if you keep doing it some real damage is done and the position, person, or situation you don’t like loses popularity.
- Another ancient favorite is misinformation. This works best if you are subtle but the main idea is to twist information to your own ends. A common use of this is in movie advertising, where if the movie is a real dog, publicists can selectively take positive comments from bad reviews and create the illusion that the film is better than it actually is. This sort of thing can land you in court with well-financed reviewers but twisting information to better suit your goals works if you can do it convincingly and not get caught by publicists or lawyers.
- Another tactic that goes in and out of style is over-Humanization. Including a sympathetic personal story is often effective, no matter how odious the reality is. For example, during the war in Iraq the Sunni minority (20 percent of the population) had exploited and terrorized the majority (Shia, Kurds, and Christians) for centuries. The Sunni were rich because they took most of the oil revenue as well. When Saddam Hussein was overthrown by a U.S. led invasion in 2003, those who opposed this operation had no trouble finding Sunni families (who were now poor and not powerful at all) who could tell sad stories of fathers and brothers killed by the Americans and the family reduced to poverty and oppression. Not revealed was that the lost menfolk were often members of the security services that had been killing and terrorizing Iraqis for years and grabbing most of the oil wealth. The Sunni Arab Iraqis were also the best educated segment of the population and often spoke English and other foreign languages. Journalists looking for sympathetic victims always had Sunni Arabs ready to step up and give the human side. What was rarely mentioned was that most of the terrorism in Iraq (that killed over 50,000 Iraqis in five years) was carried out by the Sunni Arab minority, who felt it was their right to rule and get most of the oil income. No one tried to humanize that angle. ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), founded and run by these same Iraqis, is killing even more people.
- Name calling is officially the oldest trick in the book. It is cheap and easy. Just calling someone a nasty term doesn’t work so well anymore because of overuse. So you have to be more subtle and clever. A variation on name calling is “He Said, She Said”. This is a technique whereby you can say something you know isn't true, or isn't fair, but want to say it anyway. To do that simply attribute the comment to someone else, preferably someone highly respected who says a lot of things. With Internet and search engine skills you can quickly find something a better person said that can be twisted to your ends. By invoking someone more respected to do your lying for you it’s possible to win some immediate advantage.
- Another ancient favorite, even in the age of search engines, is unproven "Facts". This is used when you are frantic to prove a position that is weak (or outright false). Cite impressive sounding "studies", "reports", and "experts" as "proving" your point. The key here is to never mention the study's name, location, where copies can be found, or the conditions specific to the experiments. Again, the Internet cuts both ways and this technique is short term. In the past you could get a lot farther with convincing but false facts.
- Another ancient standby is lying sometimes (rather than all the time). If you can lie convincingly (few people can) you have an edge here. As the old saying about Hollywood goes, “Sincerity is everything, if you can fake that you’ve got it made.” But you must use this sparingly lest you be tagged a frequent liar. A variation is telling the truth, for a while anyway. If the buildup in your argument is true, you build confidence in your honesty that can then be betrayed with a useful (to yourself) lie or misrepresentation.
- Identity: If you can appeal to someone’s core identity, you have them. Interestingly, the researchers think that the reason simple words increase perceived intelligence is due to something called cognitive fluency. Things that have low cognitive fluency are hard to think about, while things that have high cognitive fluency are very easy to think about. We like things that are highly fluent. We are also more likely to believe the explanation that is easy to think about.
- Likability: One of the principles of persuasion is likability. To change someone’s mind you have to first hold their attention, and there’s no better way to get attention than to do something outrageous or unexpected. Predictable people are boring. But storytelling and humor are great tools. By defused the seriousness of the moment and making people laugh, you make everyone feel good and associate the positive feelings with you.
The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle. The effect has been demonstrated with many kinds of things, including words, Chinese characters, paintings, pictures of faces, geometric figures, and sounds.
- High Ground maneuver: The opposite of reward is punishment — when we inflict pain on someone for doing a behavior we don’t want to see again in the future. Spanking and “grounding” are two classic forms of punishment that most of us are familiar with from our childhoods. Insults are another popular form of punishment that we, and politicians, use liberally. By calling attention to strange, unique weaknesses you are able to destroy the public’s perception of them. When it stops being effective, you A/B test something new, choose the best, and then hammer with the new linguistic kill shot.
- Confidence: Even if you have no idea what you're saying, or doing, it pays to say it and do it with confidence. If you exude confidence while you are doing something, or speaking to an audience, that raises their estimation of your competence, and therefore, their confidence in you. Trouble is, we as human beings are too easily and often swayed by what may amount to bluster, bravado, and fakery. We too quickly buy into façades and noise, because it sounds “strong” or “powerful”. When we value larger-than-life blanket statements, and over the top facial expressions and gestures, and are perfectly willing to turn off the fact checker or BS detector, any performer can sound good, especially if we are looking for a simple message.