Monday, October 29, 2012


25 rules of disinformation

Note: The first rule and last five (or six, depending on situation) rules are generally not directly within the ability of the traditional disinfo artist to apply. These rules are generally used more directly by those at the leadership, key players, or planning level of the criminal conspiracy or conspiracy to cover up.
  1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don't discuss it -- especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it's not reported, it didn't happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.
  2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used to show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the 'How dare you!' gambit.
  3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method which works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such 'arguable rumors'. If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a 'wild rumor' from a 'bunch of kids on the Internet' which can have no basis in fact.
  4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent's argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
  5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary 'attack the messenger' ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as 'kooks', 'right-wing', 'liberal', 'left-wing', 'terrorists', 'conspiracy buffs', 'radicals', 'militia', 'racists', 'religious fanatics', 'sexual deviates', and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
  6. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain criticism, reasoning -- simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent's viewpoint.
  7. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could be taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
  8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough 'jargon' and 'minutia' to illustrate you are 'one who knows', and simply say it isn't so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
  9. Play dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.
  10. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man -- usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with - a kind of investment for the future should the matter not be so easily contained.) Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually then be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues -- so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.
  11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the 'high road' and 'confess' with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made -- but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which, 'just isn't so.' Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later, and even publicly 'call for an end to the nonsense' because you have already 'done the right thing.' Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for 'coming clean' and 'owning up' to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.
  12. Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to lose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.
  13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards or with an apparent deductive logic which forbears any actual material fact.
  14. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best with issues qualifying for rule 10.
  15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.
  16. Vanish evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won't have to address the issue.
  17. Change the subject. Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to side-track the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can 'argue' with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues.
  18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. If you can't do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent. Not only will you avoid discussing the issues in the first instance, but even if their emotional response addresses the issue, you can further avoid the issues by then focusing on how 'sensitive they are to criticism.'
  19. Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the 'play dumb' rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by (it may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld, such as a murder weapon.) In order to completely avoid discussing issues, it may be required that you to categorically deny and be critical of media or books as valid sources, deny that witnesses are acceptable, or even deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance.
  20. False evidence. Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations -- as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution. This works best when the crime was designed with contingencies for the purpose, and the facts cannot be easily separated from the fabrications.
  21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body. Subvert the (process) to your benefit and effectively neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. Once convened, the evidence and testimony are required to be secret when properly handled. For instance, if you own the prosecuting attorney, it can insure a Grand Jury hears no useful evidence and that the evidence is sealed and unavailable to subsequent investigators. Once a favorable verdict is achieved, the matter can be considered officially closed. Usually, this technique is applied to find the guilty innocent, but it can also be used to obtain charges when seeking to frame a victim.
  22. Manufacture a new truth. Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.
  23. Create bigger distractions. If the above does not seem to be working to distract from sensitive issues, or to prevent unwanted media coverage of unstoppable events such as trials, create bigger news stories (or treat them as such) to distract the multitudes.
  24. Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of theircharacter by release of blackmail information, or merely by destroying them financially, emotionally, or severely damaging their health.
  25. Vanish. If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, to avoid the issues, vacate the kitchen

False flag

False flag operations are covert operations which are designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example during Italy's strategy of tension. ...

Eight Traits of the Disinformationalist

Time Constant. Recently discovered, with respect to News Groups, is the response time factor. There are three ways this can be seen to work, especially when the government or other empowered player is involved in a cover up operation:
  1. ANY NG posting by a targeted proponent for truth can result in an IMMEDIATE response. The government and other empowered players can afford to pay people to sit there and watch for an opportunity to do some damage. SINCE DISINFO IN A NG ONLY WORKS IF THE READER SEES IT - FAST RESPONSE IS CALLED FOR, or the visitor may be swayed towards truth.
  2. When dealing in more direct ways with a disinformationalist, such as email, DELAY IS CALLED FOR - there will usually be a minimum of a 48-72 hour delay. This allows a sit-down team discussion on response strategy for best effect, and even enough time to 'get permission' or instruction from a formal chain of command.
  3. In the NG example 1) above, it will often ALSO be seen that bigger guns are drawn and fired after the same 48-72 hours delay - the team approach in play. This is especially true when the targeted truth seeker or their comments are considered more important with respect to potential to reveal truth. Thus, a serious truth sayer will be attacked twice for the same sin.

Logical fallacies

Formal fallacies are arguments that are fallacious due to an error in their form or technical structure. All formal fallacies are specific types of non sequiturs.
  • Ad hominem: an argument that attacks the person who holds a view or advances an argument, rather than commenting on the view or responding to the argument.
    "Ad hominem (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one's opponents in order to attack their claims or invalidate their arguments, but can also involve pointing out true character flaws or actions that are irrelevant to the opponent's argument. This is logically fallacious because it relates to the opponent's personal character, which has nothing to do with the logical merit of the opponent's argument."
  • Appeal to probability: assumes that because something could happen, it is inevitable that it will happen. This is the premise on which Murphy's Law is based.
  • Argument from fallacy: if an argument for some conclusion is fallacious, then the conclusion is not credible.
  • Bare assertion fallacy: premise in an argument is assumed to be true purely because it says that it is true.
  • Base rate fallacy: using weak evidence to make a probability judgment without taking into account known empirical statistics about the probability.
  • Conjunction fallacy: assumption that an outcome simultaneously satisfying multiple conditions is more probable than an outcome satisfying a single one of them.
  • Correlative based fallacies
    • Denying the correlative: where attempts are made at introducing alternatives where there are none.
    • Suppressed correlative: where a correlative is redefined so that one alternative is made impossible.
    • Fallacy of necessity: a degree of unwarranted necessity is placed in the conclusion based on the necessity of one or more of its premises.
  • False dilemma (false dichotomy): where two alternative statements are held to be the only possible options, when in reality there are more.
  • If-by-whiskey: An argument that supports both sides of an issue by using terms that are selectively emotionally sensitive.
  • Ignoratio elenchi: An irrelevant conclusion or irrelevant thesis.
  • Is-ought problem: the inappropriate inference that because something is some way or other, so it ought to be that way.
  • Homunculus fallacy: where a "middle-man" is used for explanation, this usually leads to regressive middle-man. Explanations without actually explaining the real nature of a function or a process. Instead, it explains the concept in terms of the concept itself, without first defining or explaining the original concept.
  • Masked man fallacy: the substitution of identical designators in a true statement can lead to a false one.
  • Naturalistic fallacy: a fallacy that claims that if something is natural, then it is good or right.
  • Nirvana fallacy: when solutions to problems are said not to be right because they are not perfect.
  • Negative proof fallacy: that, because a premise cannot be proven false, the premise must be true; or that, because a premise cannot be proven true, the premise must be false.
  • Package-deal fallacy: consists of assuming that things often grouped together by tradition or culture must always be grouped that way.
  • Red Herring: also called a "fallacy of relevance." This occurs when the speaker is trying to distract the audience by arguing some new topic, or just generally going off topic with an argument.
Informal fallacies:
Informal fallacies are arguments that are fallacious for reasons other than structural (formal) flaws.
  • Argument from repetition (argumentum ad nauseam): signifies that it has been discussed extensively (possibly by different people) until nobody cares to discuss it anymore
  • Appeal to ridicule: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by presenting the opponent's argument in a way that makes it appear ridiculous
  • Argument from ignorance (appeal to ignorance): The fallacy of assuming that something is true/false because it has not been proven false/true. For example: "The student has failed to prove that he didn't cheat on the test, therefore he must have cheated on the test."
  • Begging the question (petitio principii): where the conclusion of an argument is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises
  • Circular cause and consequence: where the consequence of the phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause
  • Continuum fallacy (fallacy of the beard): appears to demonstrate that two states or conditions cannot be considered distinct (or do not exist at all) because between them there exists a continuum of states. According to the fallacy, differences in quality cannot result from differences in quantity.
  • Correlation does not imply causation (cum hoc ergo propter hoc): a phrase used in the sciences and the statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not imply that one causes the other
  • Demanding negative proof: attempting to avoid the burden of proof for some claim by demanding proof of the contrary from whoever questions that claim
  • Equivocation (No true Scotsman): the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time)
  • Etymological fallacy: which reasons that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning.
  • Fallacies of distribution
    • Division: where one reasons logically that something true of a thing must also be true of all or some of its parts
    • Ecological fallacy: inferences about the nature of specific individuals are based solely upon aggregate statistics collected for the group to which those individuals belong
  • Fallacy of many questions (complex question, fallacy of presupposition, loaded question, plurium interrogationum): someone asks a question that presupposes something that has not been proven or accepted by all the people involved. This fallacy is often used rhetorically, so that the question limits direct replies to those that serve the questioner's agenda.
  • Fallacy of the single cause ("joint effect", or "causal oversimplification"): occurs when it is assumed that there is one, simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.
  • False attribution: occurs when an advocate appeals to an irrelevant, unqualified, unidentified, biased or fabricated source in support of an argument
    • contextomy (Fallacy of quoting out of context): refers to the selective excerpting of words from their original linguistic context in a way that distorts the source’s intended meaning
  • False compromise/middle ground: asserts that a compromise between two positions is correct
  • Gambler's fallacy: the incorrect belief that the likelihood of a random event can be affected by or predicted from other, independent events
  • Historian's fallacy: occurs when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision. It is not to be confused with presentism, a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas (such as moral standards) are projected into the past.
  • Incomplete comparison: where not enough information is provided to make a complete comparison
  • Inconsistent comparison: where different methods of comparison are used, leaving one with a false impression of the whole comparison
  • Intentional fallacy: addresses the assumption that the meaning intended by the author of a literary work is of primary importance
  • Loki's Wager: the unreasonable insistence that a concept cannot be defined, and therefore cannot be discussed.
  • Moving the goalpost (raising the bar): argument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded
  • Perfect solution fallacy: where an argument assumes that a perfect solution exists and/or that a solution should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist after it was implemented
  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc: also known as false cause, coincidental correlation or correlation not causation. (ex: Thousands of experiments have conclusively proven that beating drums and clashing cymbals brings back the sun after a total eclipse.)
  • Proof by verbosity (argumentum verbosium) (proof by intimidation): submission of others to an argument too complex and verbose to reasonably deal with in all its intimate details. see also Gish Gallop and argument from authority.
  • Prosecutor's fallacy: a low probability of false matches does not mean a low probability of some false match being found
  • Psychologist's fallacy: occurs when an observer presupposes the objectivity of his own perspective when analyzing a behavioral event
  • Regression fallacy: ascribes cause where none exists. The flaw is failing to account for natural fluctuations. It is frequently a special kind of the post hoc fallacy.
  • Reification (hypostatization): a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a "real thing" something which is not a real thing, but merely an idea.
  • Retrospective determinism (it happened so it was bound to)
  • Special pleading: where a proponent of a position attempts to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule or principle without justifying the exemption
  • Suppressed correlative: an argument which tries to redefine a correlative (two mutually exclusive options) so that one alternative encompasses the other, thus making one alternative impossible
  • Well travelled road effect: estimates of elapsed time is shorter for familiar routes as compared to unfamiliar routes which are of equal or lesser duration.
  • Wrong direction: where cause and effect are reversed. The cause is said to be the effect and vice versa.
Propositional fallacies:
  • Affirming a disjunct: concluded that one logical disjunction must be false because the other disjunct is true; A or B; A; therefore not B.
  • Affirming the consequent: the antecedent in an indicative conditional is claimed to be true because the consequent is true; if A, then B; B, therefore A.
  • Denying the antecedent: the consequent in an indicative conditional is claimed to be false because the antecedent is false; if A, then B; not A, therefore not B.
Quantificational fallacies:
  • Existential fallacy: an argument has two universal premises and a particular conclusion, but the premises do not establish the truth of the conclusion.
  • Proof by example: where examples are offered as inductive proof for a universal proposition. ("This apple is red, therefore apples are red.")
Formal syllogistic fallacies: Syllogistic fallacies are logical fallacies that occur in syllogisms.
  • Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise: when a categorical syllogism has a positive conclusion, but at least one negative premise.
  • Fallacy of exclusive premises: a categorical syllogism that is invalid because both of its premises are negative.
  • Fallacy of four terms: a categorical syllogism has four terms.
  • Illicit major: a categorical syllogism that is invalid because its major term is undistributed in the major premise but distributed in the conclusion.
  • Fallacy of the undistributed middle: the middle term in a categorical syllogism is not distributed.
Faulty generalizations:
  • Accident (fallacy): when an exception to the generalization is ignored
  • Cherry picking: act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position
  • Composition: where one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some (or even every) part of the whole
  • Dicto simpliciter
  • Converse accident (a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter): when an exception to a generalization is wrongly called for
  • False analogy: false analogy consists of an error in the substance of an argument (the content of the analogy itself), not an error in the logical structure of the argument
  • Hasty generalization (fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction, secundum quid)
  • Loki's Wager: insistence that because a concept cannot be clearly defined, it cannot be discussed
  • Misleading vividness: involves describing an occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is an exceptional occurrence, to convince someone that it is a problem
  • Overwhelming exception (hasty generalization): It is a generalization which is accurate, but comes with one or more qualifications which eliminate so many cases that what remains is much less impressive than the initial statement might have led one to assume
  • Pathetic fallacy: when an inanimate object is declared to have characteristics of animate objects
  • Spotlight fallacy: when a person uncritically assumes that all members or cases of a certain class or type are like those that receive the most attention or coverage in the media
  • Thought-terminating cliché: a commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to quell cognitive dissonance.
Red herring fallacies:
A red herring is an argument, given in response to another argument, which does not address the original issue. See also irrelevant conclusion
  • Ad hominem: attacking the person instead of the argument. A form of this is reductio ad Hitlerum.
  • Argumentum ad baculum (literally "appeal to the stick" or "appeal to force"): where an argument is made through coercion or threats of force towards an opposing party
  • Argumentum ad populum ("appeal to belief", "appeal to the majority", "appeal to the people"): where a proposition is claimed to be true solely because many people believe it to be true
  • Association fallacy (guilt by association)
  • Appeal to authority: where an assertion is deemed true because of the position or authority of the person asserting it
  • Appeal to consequences: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument that concludes a premise is either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences for a particular party
  • Appeal to emotion: where an argument is made due to the manipulation of emotions, rather than the use of valid reasoning
    • Appeal to fear: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by increasing fear and prejudice towards the opposing side
    • Wishful thinking: a specific type of appeal to emotion where a decision is made according to what might be pleasing to imagine, rather than according to evidence or reason
    • Appeal to spite: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made through exploiting people's bitterness or spite towards an opposing party
    • Appeal to flattery: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made due to the use of flattery to gather support
  • Appeal to motive: where a premise is dismissed, by calling into question the motives of its proposer
  • Appeal to nature: an argument wherein something is deemed correct or good if it is natural, and is deemed incorrect or bad if it is unnatural
  • Appeal to novelty: where a proposal is claimed to be superior or better solely because it is new or modern
  • Appeal to poverty (argumentum ad lazarum): thinking a conclusion is correct because the speaker is financially poor or incorrect because the speaker is financially wealthy
  • Appeal to wealth (argumentum ad crumenam): concluding that a statement is correct because the speaker is rich or that a statement is incorrect because the speaker is poor
  • Argument from silence (argumentum ex silentio): a conclusion based on silence or lack of contrary evidence
  • Appeal to tradition: where a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it has a long-standing tradition behind it
  • Chronological snobbery: where a thesis is deemed incorrect because it was commonly held when something else, clearly false, was also commonly held
  • Genetic fallacy: where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone's origin rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context.
  • Judgmental language: insultive or pejorative language to influence the recipient's judgment
  • Poisoning the well: where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say
  • Sentimental fallacy: it would be more pleasant if; therefore it ought to be; therefore it is
  • Straw man argument: based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position
  • Style over substance fallacy: occurs when one emphasizes the way in which the argument is presented, while marginalizing (or outright ignoring) the content of the argument
  • Texas sharpshooter fallacy: information that has no relationship is interpreted or manipulated until it appears to have meaning
  • Two wrongs make a right: occurs when it is assumed that if one wrong is committed, another wrong will cancel it out
  • Tu quoque: the argument states that a certain position is false or wrong and/or should be disregarded because its proponent fails to act consistently in accordance with that position
Conditional or questionable fallacies:
  • Definist fallacy: involves the confusion between two notions by defining one in terms of the other
  • Luddite fallacy: related to the belief that labour-saving technologies increase unemployment by reducing demand for labour
  • Broken window fallacy: an argument which disregards hidden costs associated with destroying property of others.
  • Slippery slope: argument states that a relatively small first step inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant impact
Source 1
Source 2

Cognitive bias

Many of these biases are studied for how they affect belief formation and business decisions and scientific research.
  • Bandwagon effect — the tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink, herd behaviour, and manias.
  • Bias blind spot — the tendency not to compensate for one's own cognitive biases.
  • Choice-supportive bias — the tendency to remember one's choices as better than they actually were.
  • Confirmation bias — the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions.
  • Congruence bias — the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, in contrast to tests of possible alternative hypotheses.
  • Contrast effect — the enhancement or diminishment of a weight or other measurement when compared with recently observed contrasting object.
  • Déformation professionnelle — the tendency to look at things according to the conventions of one's own profession, forgetting any broader point of view.
  • Endowment effect — "the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it".
  • Focusing effect — prediction bias occurring when people place too much importance on one aspect of an event; causes error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.
  • Hyperbolic discounting — the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs, the closer to the present both payoffs are.
  • Illusion of control — the tendency for human beings to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they clearly cannot.
  • Impact bias — the tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of the impact of future feeling states.
  • Information bias — the tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action.
  • Irrational escalation — the tendency to make irrational decisions based upon rational decisions in the past or to justify actions already taken.
  • Loss aversion — "the disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it". (see also sunk cost effects and Endowment effect).
  • Neglect of probability — the tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty.
  • Mere exposure effect — the tendency for people to express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them.
  • Omission bias — The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful omissions (inactions).
  • Outcome bias — the tendency to judge a decision by its eventual outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made.
  • Planning fallacy — the tendency to underestimate task-completion times.
  • Post-purchase rationalization — the tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was a good value.
  • Pseudocertainty effect — the tendency to make risk-averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes.
  • Reactance - the urge to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do out of a need to reassert a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice.
  • Selective perception — the tendency for expectations to affect perception.
  • Status quo bias — the tendency for people to like things to stay relatively the same (see also Loss aversion and Endowment effect).
  • Von Restorff effect — the tendency for an item that "stands out like a sore thumb" to be more likely to be remembered than other items.
  • Zero-risk bias — preference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk.


  • A plausible but fallacious argument.
  • Deceptive or fallacious argumentation.

Rules for Making Oneself a Disagreeable Companion

RULES, by the Observation of which, a Man of Wit and Learning may nevertheless make himself a disagreeable Companion.
Your Business is to shine; therefore you must by all means prevent the shining of others, for their Brightness may make yours the less distinguish'd. To this End,
  1. If possible engross the whole Discourse; and when other Matter fails, talk much of your-self, your Education, your Knowledge, your Circumstances, your Successes in Business, your Victories in Disputes, your own wise Sayings and Observations on particular Occasions.
  2. If when you are out of Breath, one of the Company should seize the Opportunity of saying something; watch his Words, and, if possible, find somewhat either in his Sentiment or Expression, immediately to contradict and raise a Dispute upon. Rather than fail, criticise even his Grammar.
  3. If another should be saying an indisputably good Thing; either give no Attention to it; or interrupt him; or draw away the Attention of others; or, if you can guess what he would be at, be quick and say it before him; or, if he gets it said, and you perceive the Company pleas'd with it, own it to be a good Thing, and withal remark that it had been said by Bacon, Locke, Bayle, or some other eminent Writer; thus you deprive him of the Reputation he might have gain'd by it, and gain some yourself, as you hereby show your great Reading and Memory.
  4. When modest Men have been thus treated by you a few times, they will chuse[choose] ever after to be silent in your Company; then you may shine on without Fear of a Rival; rallying them at the same time for their Dullness, which will be to you a new Fund of Wit.
Thus you will be sure to please yourself. The polite Man aims at pleasing others, but you shall go beyond him even in that. A Man can be present only in one Company, but may at the same time be absent in twenty. He can please only where he is, you where-ever you are not.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, November 15, 1750
-- Benjamin Franklin

  • Avoidance. They never actually discuss issues head-on or provide constructive input, generally avoiding citation of references or credentials. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other. Virtually everything about their presentation implies their authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.

  • Selectivity. They tend to pick and choose opponents carefully, either applying the hit-and-run approach against mere commentators supportive of opponents, or focusing heavier attacks on key opponents who are known to directly address issues. Should a commentatorbecome argumentative with any success, the focus will shift to include the commentator as well.

  • Coincidental. They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a new controversial topic with no clear prior record of participation in general discussions in the particular public arena involved. They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed or elected to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.

  • Teamwork. They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum, but there will likely be an ongoing pattern of frequent exchanges of this sort where professionals are involved. Sometimes one of the players will infiltrate the opponent camp to become a source for straw man or other tactics designed to dilute opponent presentation strength.

  • Anti-conspiratorial. They almost always have disdain for 'conspiracy theorists' and, usually, for those who in any way believe JFK was not killed by LHO. Ask yourself why, if they hold such disdain for conspiracy theorists, do they focus on defending a single topic discussed in a NG focusing on conspiracies? One might think they would either be trying to make fools of everyone on every topic, or simply ignore the group they hold in such disdain.Or, one might more rightly conclude they have an ulterior motive for their actions in going out of their way to focus as they do.

  • Artificial Emotions. An odd kind of 'artificial' emotionalism and an unusually thick skin -- an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and unacceptance. This likely stems from intelligence community training that, no matter how condemning the evidence, deny everything, and never become emotionally involved or reactive. The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem artificial. Most people, if responding in anger, for instance, will express their animosity throughout their rebuttal. But disinfo types usually have trouble maintaining the 'image' and are hot and cold with respect to pretended emotions and their usually more calm or unemotional communications style. It's just a job, and they often seem unable to 'act their role in character' as well in a communications medium as they might be able in a real face-to-face conversation/confrontation. You might have outright rage and indignation one moment, ho-hum the next, and more anger later -- an emotional yo-yo. With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game -- where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth, or simply give up.

  • Inconsistent. There is also a tendency to make mistakes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic, or it may be somewhat 'freudian', so to speak, in that perhaps they really root for the side of truth deep within.

    I have noted that often, they will simply cite contradictory information which neutralizes itself and the author. For instance, one such player claimed to be a Navy pilot, but blamed his poor communicating skills (spelling, grammar, incoherent style) on having only a grade-school education. I'm not aware of too many Navy pilots who don't have a college degree. Another claimed no knowledge of a particular topic/situation but later claimed first-hand knowledge of it.

    Thursday, 09 August 2012 Brandon Smith

    There was a time, not too long ago (relatively speaking), that governments and the groups of elites that controlled them did not find it necessary to conscript themselves into wars of disinformation.

    Propaganda was relatively straightforward. The lies were much simpler. The control of information flow was easily directed. Rules were enforced with the threat of property confiscation and execution for anyone who strayed from the rigid socio-political structure. Those who had theological, metaphysical or scientific information outside of the conventional and scripted collective world view were tortured and slaughtered. The elites kept the information to themselves, and removed its remnants from mainstream recognition, sometimes for centuries before it was rediscovered.

    With the advent of anti-feudalism, and most importantly the success of the American Revolution, elitists were no longer able to dominate information with the edge of a blade or the barrel of a gun. The establishment of Republics, with their philosophy of open government and rule by the people, compelled Aristocratic minorities to plot more subtle ways of obstructing the truth and thus maintaining their hold over the world without exposing themselves to retribution from the masses. Thus, the complex art of disinformation was born.

    The technique, the “magic” of the lie, was refined and perfected. The mechanics of the human mind and the human soul became an endless obsession for the establishment.

    The goal was malicious, but socially radical; instead of expending the impossible energy needed to dictate the very form and existence of the truth, they would allow it to drift, obscured in a fog of contrived data. They would wrap the truth in a Gordian Knot of misdirection and fabrication so elaborate that they felt certain the majority of people would surrender, giving up long before they ever finished unraveling the deceit. The goal was not to destroy the truth, but to hide it in plain sight.

    In modern times, and with carefully engineered methods, this goal has for the most part been accomplished. However, these methods also have inherent weaknesses. Lies are fragile. They require constant attentiveness to keep them alive. The exposure of a single truth can rip through an ocean of lies, evaporating it instantly.

    In this article, we will examine the methods used to fertilize and promote the growth of disinformation, as well as how to identify the roots of disinformation and effectively cut them, starving out the entire system of fallacies once and for all.
    Media Disinformation Methods

    The mainstream media, once tasked with the job of investigating government corruption and keeping elitists in line, has now become nothing more than a public relations firm for corrupt officials and their Globalist handlers. The days of the legitimate “investigative reporter” are long gone (if they ever existed at all), and journalism itself has deteriorated into a rancid pool of so called “TV Editorialists” who treat their own baseless opinions as supported fact.

    The elitist co-opting of news has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the printing press. However, the first methods of media disinformation truly came to fruition under the supervision of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who believed the truth was “subjective” and open to his personal interpretation.

    Some of the main tactics used by the mainstream media to mislead the masses are as follows:

    Lie Big, Retract Quietly: Mainstream media sources (especially newspapers) are notorious for reporting flagrantly dishonest and unsupported news stories on the front page, then quietly retracting those stories on the very back page when they are caught. In this case, the point is to railroad the lie into the collective consciousness. Once the lie is finally exposed, it is already too late, and a large portion of the population will not notice or care when the truth comes out.

    Unconfirmed Or Controlled Sources As Fact: Cable news venues often cite information from “unnamed” sources, government sources that have an obvious bias or agenda, or “expert” sources without providing an alternative “expert” view. The information provided by these sources is usually backed by nothing more than blind faith.

    Calculated Omission:
    Otherwise known as “cherry picking” data. One simple piece of information or root item of truth can derail an entire disinfo news story, so instead of trying to gloss over it, they simply pretend as if it doesn’t exist. When the fact is omitted, the lie can appear entirely rational. This tactic is also used extensively when disinformation agents and crooked journalists engage in open debate.

    Distraction, And The Manufacture Of Relevance: Sometimes the truth wells up into the public awareness regardless of what the media does to bury it. When this occurs their only recourse is to attempt to change the public’s focus and thereby distract them from the truth they were so close to grasping. The media accomplishes this by “over-reporting” on a subject that has nothing to do with the more important issues at hand. Ironically, the media can take an unimportant story, and by reporting on it ad nauseum, cause many Americans to assume that because the media won’t shut-up about it, it must be important!

    Dishonest Debate Tactics: Sometimes, men who actually are concerned with the average American’s pursuit of honesty and legitimate fact-driven information break through and appear on T.V. However, rarely are they allowed to share their views or insights without having to fight through a wall of carefully crafted deceit and propaganda. Because the media know they will lose credibility if they do not allow guests with opposing viewpoints every once in a while, they set up and choreograph specialized T.V. debates in highly restrictive environments which put the guest on the defensive, and make it difficult for them to clearly convey their ideas or facts.

    TV pundits are often trained in what are commonly called “Alinsky Tactics.” Saul Alinsky was a moral relativist, and champion of the lie as a tool for the “greater good”; essentially, a modern day Machiavelli. His “Rules for Radicals” were supposedly meant for grassroots activists who opposed the establishment and emphasized the use of any means necessary to defeat one’s political opposition. But is it truly possible to defeat an establishment built on lies, by use of even more elaborate lies, and by sacrificing one’s ethics? In reality, his strategies are the perfect format for corrupt institutions and governments to dissuade dissent from the masses. Today, Alinsky’s rules are used more often by the establishment than by its opposition.
    Alinsky’s Strategy: Win At Any Cost, Even If You Have To Lie

    Alinsky’s tactics have been adopted by governments and disinformation specialists across the world, but they are most visible in TV debate. While Alinsky sermonized about the need for confrontation in society, his debate tactics are actually designed to circumvent real and honest confrontation of opposing ideas with slippery tricks and diversions. Alinsky’s tactics, and their modern usage, can be summarized as follows:

    1) Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.
    We see this tactic in many forms. For example, projecting your own movement as mainstream, and your opponent’s as fringe. Convincing your opponent that his fight is a futile one. Your opposition may act differently, or even hesitate to act at all, based on their perception of your power. How often have we heard this line: “The government has predator drones. There is nothing the people can do now…” This is a projection of exaggerated invincibility designed to elicit apathy from the masses.

    2) Never go outside the experience of your people, and whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.

    Don’t get drawn into a debate about a subject you do not know as well as or better than your opposition. If possible, draw them into such a situation instead. Go off on tangents. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty in your opposition. This is commonly used against unwitting interviewees on cable news shows whose positions are set up to be skewered. The target is blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address. In television and radio, this also serves to waste broadcast time to prevent the target from expressing his own position.

    3) Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

    The objective is to target the opponent’s credibility and reputation by accusations of hypocrisy. If the tactician can catch his opponent in even the smallest misstep, it creates an opening for further attacks, and distracts away from the broader moral question.

    4) Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

    “Ron Paul is a crackpot.” “Gold bugs are crazy.” “Constitutionalists are fringe extremists.” Baseless ridicule is almost impossible to counter because it is meant to be irrational. It infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage. It also works as a pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

    5) A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

    The popularization of the term “Teabaggers” is a classic example; it caught on by itself because people seem to think it’s clever, and enjoy saying it. Keeping your talking points simple and fun helps your side stay motivated, and helps your tactics spread autonomously, without instruction or encouragement.

    6) A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

    See rule No. 5. Don’t become old news. If you keep your tactics fresh, it’s easier to keep your people active. Not all disinformation agents are paid. The “useful idiots” have to be motivated by other means. Mainstream disinformation often changes gear from one method to the next and then back again.

    7) Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

    Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. Never give the target a chance to rest, regroup, recover or re-strategize. Take advantage of current events and twist their implications to support your position. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

    8) The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

    This goes hand in hand with Rule No. 1. Perception is reality. Allow your opposition to expend all of its energy in expectation of an insurmountable scenario. The dire possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.

    9) The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

    The objective of this pressure is to force the opposition to react and make the mistakes that are necessary for the ultimate success of the campaign.

    10) If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.

    As grassroots activism tools, Alinsky tactics have historically been used (for example, by labor movements or covert operations specialists) to force the opposition to react with violence against activists, which leads to popular sympathy for the activists’ cause. Today, false (or co-opted) grassroots movements and revolutions use this technique in debate as well as in planned street actions and rebellions (look at Syria for a recent example).

    11) The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

    Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. Today, this is often used offensively against legitimate activists, such as the opponents of the Federal Reserve. Complain that your opponent is merely “pointing out the problems.” Demand that they offer not just “a solution”, but THE solution. Obviously, no one person has “the” solution. When he fails to produce the miracle you requested, dismiss his entire argument and all the facts he has presented as pointless.

    12) Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.

    Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. The target’s supporters will expose themselves. Go after individual people, not organizations or institutions. People hurt faster than institutions.

    The next time you view an MSM debate, watch the pundits carefully, you will likely see many if not all of the strategies above used on some unsuspecting individual attempting to tell the truth.
    Internet Disinformation Methods

    Internet trolls, also known as “paid posters” or “paid bloggers,” are increasingly and openly being employed by private corporations as well governments, often for marketing purposes and for “public relations” (Obama is notorious for this practice). Internet “trolling” is indeed a fast growing industry.

    Trolls use a wide variety of strategies, some of which are unique to the internet, here are just a few:

    1. Make outrageous comments designed to distract or frustrate: An Alinsky tactic used to make people emotional, although less effective because of the impersonal nature of the Web.

    2. Pose as a supporter of the truth, then make comments that discredit the movement: We have seen this even on our own forums — trolls pose as supporters of the Liberty Movement, then post long, incoherent diatribes so as to appear either racist or insane. The key to this tactic is to make references to common Liberty Movement arguments while at the same time babbling nonsense, so as to make those otherwise valid arguments seem ludicrous by association. In extreme cases, these “Trojan Horse Trolls” have been known to make posts which incite violence — a technique obviously intended to solidify the false assertions of the think tank propagandists like the SPLC, which purports that Constitutionalists should be feared as potential domestic terrorists.

    3. Dominate Discussions: Trolls often interject themselves into productive Web discussions in order to throw them off course and frustrate the people involved.

    4. Prewritten Responses: Many trolls are supplied with a list or database with pre-planned talking points designed as generalized and deceptive responses to honest arguments. When they post, their words feel strangely plastic and well rehearsed.

    False Association: This works hand in hand with item No. 2, by invoking the stereotypes established by the “Trojan Horse Troll.” For example: calling those against the Federal Reserve “conspiracy theorists” or “lunatics”; deliberately associating anti-globalist movements with racists and homegrown terrorists, because of the inherent negative connotations; and using false associations to provoke biases and dissuade people from examining the evidence objectively.

    False Moderation: Pretending to be the “voice of reason” in an argument with obvious and defined sides in an attempt to move people away from what is clearly true into a “grey area” where the truth becomes “relative.”

    7. Straw Man Arguments: A very common technique. The troll will accuse his opposition of subscribing to a certain point of view, even if he does not, and then attacks that point of view. Or, the troll will put words in the mouth of his opposition, and then rebut those specific words.

    Sometimes, these strategies are used by average people with serious personality issues. However, if you see someone using these tactics often, or using many of them at the same time, you may be dealing with a paid internet troll.
    Stopping Disinformation

    The best way to disarm disinformation agents is to know their methods inside and out. This gives us the ability to point out exactly what they are doing in detail the moment they try to do it. Immediately exposing a disinformation tactic as it is being used is highly destructive to the person utilizing it. It makes them look foolish, dishonest and weak for even making the attempt. Internet trolls most especially do not know how to handle their methods being deconstructed right in front of their eyes and usually fold and run from debate when it occurs.

    The truth is precious. It is sad that there are so many in our society who have lost respect for it; people who have traded in their conscience and their soul for temporary financial comfort while sacrificing the stability and balance of the rest of the country in the process.

    The human psyche breathes on the air of truth. Without it, humanity cannot survive. Without it, the species will collapse, starving from lack of intellectual and emotional sustenance.

    Disinformation does not only threaten our insight into the workings of our world; it makes us vulnerable to fear, misunderstanding, and doubt: all things that lead to destruction. It can drive good people to commit terrible atrocities against others, or even against themselves. Without a concerted and organized effort to defuse mass-produced lies, the future will look bleak indeed.

    Friday, October 26, 2012


    Josie Taylor, ABC Updated October 26, 2012
    Victorian lawyers and the Child Safety Commissioner have raised serious concerns about a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy who was held in solitary confinement at one of the state's adult jails.
    The teen spent nearly four months in solitary confinement at the Charlotte maximum security unit inside Port Phillip Prison while under the protection of the Department of Human Services (DHS).
    Legal experts now want to know how many other juveniles are inside adult jails.
    The Charlotte unit is described as a jail within a jail - it is the highest security section inside Port Phillip Prison.
    Former drug squad detective Paul Dale and underworld figure Mick Gatto have served time there.
    The 16-year-old Aboriginal boy was incarcerated there from July until last week while under a child protection order from the DHS.
    The teenager spent 22 hours a day in solitary confinement. The other two hours of the day were spent handcuffed in an exercise yard.
    Director of the Law Institute of Victoria, Michael Holcroft, is highly critical of the case.
    "It's a form of torture. It's the same sort of thing that happened to David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay," he said.
    Tiffany Overall from justice group Youth Law has been trying unsuccessfully to find out how many more young people have been held in solitary confinement at adult jails.
    "It is not acceptable for a 16-year-old to be in the adult prison system and to be in the adult prison system in solitary confinement. Someone should be accountable," she said.
    Youth Diversion Roundtable
    The teenager was moved to the adult prison after he and a number of other youths tried to escape from the Parkville Juvenile Justice Centre in July.
    It is alleged he attacked a guard, cutting his neck with a knife.
    The Youth Parole Board then approved the teen's transfer to Port Phillip Prison, where he was placed in the Charlotte unit.
    Two others, both aged 17, were also transferred to solitary confinement within the adult prison.
    "Even if someone was a violent person, there has to be a better way of dealing with this than locking them up in solitary confinement in an adult prison for four or five months," Mr Holcroft said.
    The ABC's program has learnt the case was raised at a Youth Diversion Roundtable on September 19, which was attended by three Victorian Government ministers.
    Corrections Minister, Andrew McIntosh, Community Services Minister, Mary Wooldridge and Attorney-General, Robert Clark.
    People who attended that meeting have confirmed that serious concerns were raised about the boy's welfare.
    However, the 16-year-old remained in solitary confinement at the jail for another month.
    Mr Holcroft said the case may breach human rights protections.
    "The Human Rights Charter says children should not be kept with adult prisoners, although there is an exception there if it's not feasible otherwise. I'm sure there were other alternatives here," he said.
    "It's extremely distressing that such a young person would be kept in solitary confinement for a period of months receiving, I presume, no rehab or support."
    The Child Safety Commissioner, Bernie Geary, became aware of the case earlier this month and visited the 16-year-old in the Charlotte unit.
    'Abhorrent detention'
    Victoria's Shadow Attorney-General Martin Pakula says the Government must explain what has gone wrong with the system.Â
    "As a minister, if you're made aware of a serious problem, your responsibility is to act immediately," Mr Pakula said.Â
    "I understand there was an escape attempt but the solution to that surely is not to put young people into the adult prison system."
    The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service said it has serious concerns that a child under the protection of the DHS was jailed in such a way.
    7.30 Victoria has obtained an email sent from the Aboriginal Legal Service two weeks ago to the director of youth justice within the Department of Human Services, the Child Safety Commissioner and the Department of Community Development.
    In the email, the legal service describes the case as "the abhorrent detention of 16/17 year olds in adult prisons ... under ... draconian conditions ... this in our view breaches both the Victorian Charter (of Human Rights) and CROC (the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child)."
    One week after the email was sent, the 16-year-old was released back into youth detention to the Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre.
    7.30 Victoria understands the two 17-year-olds have been moved out of solitary confinement but remain at Port Phillip Prison.
    The Law Institute wants the case investigated.
    "I think we need to know firstly how many young offenders, how many juveniles are being held in adult prisons, how prevalent this is," Mr Holcroft said.
    "I certainly hope not very, and then someone needs to look at this particular case and find out what went wrong.
    "I'm sure the Department of Corrections has that material but it's not something they're likely to share very freely... it's probably embarrassing."
    7.30 Victoria asked Premier Ted Baillieu, along with Ms Wooldridge, Mr McIntosh and Mr Clark to appear on the program to comment on the case, but all declined.
    In a statement, Mr Clark said while he attended the September 19 meeting, he left before the case of the 16-year-old was raised.



    If you want to send Facebook a message, please feel free to use our graphics for your Facebook page
    This has been brewing since around May. At least that’s when we first started noticing it here at Dangerous Minds and we certainly weren’t the only ones.
    Spring of 2012 was when bloggers, non-profits, indie bands, George Takei, community theaters, photographers, caterers, artists, mega-churches, high schools, tee-shirt vendors, campus coffee shops, art galleries, museums, charities, food trucks, and a near infinite variety of organizations; individuals from all walks of life; and businesses, both large and small, began to detect—for it was almost imperceptible at first—that the volume was getting turned down on their Facebook reach. Each post was now being seen only by a fraction of their total “fans” who would previously have seen them.
    But it wasn’t just the so-called “fan pages,” individual Facebook users were also starting to notice that they weren’t seeing much in their newsfeeds anymore from the various entities they “liked”—or even updates from their closest friends and family members. Something was amiss, but unless you had a larger “data set” to look at—or a formerly thriving online business that was now getting creamed—it probably wasn’t something that you noticed or paid that much attention to.
    When we first noticed the problem, our blog had about 29,000 Facebook “likes.” Our traffic was growing 20% month over month, but our Facebook fans grew at a far faster pace. We were getting hundreds of new ‘likes” every day. Still do. As I write this, our Facebook fans now number over 53,000, not quite double what it was then, but give it another month or so and it will be.
    53,000 is a more than respectable number of Facebook fans for a blog that’s only been around for a little over three years. So why is it that our pageviews—our actual inventory, what we sell to advertisers—coming from Facebook shares are off by half to two thirds when the number of new “likes” has risen so dramatically during this same time period?!?!
    In a widely read—and widely shared on Facebook—NY Observer article titled “Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right,” (emailed to me by a friend, a prominent blogger, with the subject line: “Why putting a lot of energy into building a Facebook presence is a sucker’s game”) PR strategist and social media expert Ryan Holiday succinctly laid out the case against the damage Facebook had inflicted upon its most active users with its recently rolled out Promote “option”:
    It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.
    As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”
    In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.
    This is a clear conflict of interest. The worse the platform performs, the more advertisers need to use Sponsored Stories. In a way, it means that Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users. In the case of Sponsored Stories, it has meant raking in nearly $1M a day.
    I love how Rajaram phrases that so delicately: “Sponsoring posts is important.”
    It’s perhaps the most understated stick-up line in history, worthy of a James Bond villain calmly demanding that a $365 million dollar ransom gets collected from all the Mom & Pop businesses who use Facebook. How many focus groups do you reckon it took until Facebook’s highly paid marketing and PR consultants finally arrived at such an innocuous phrase for describing information superhighway robbery?

    DO THE MATH (!)
    At Dangerous Minds, we post anywhere from 10 to 16 items per day, fewer on the weekends. To reach 100% of of our 50k+ Facebook fans they’d charge us $200 per post. That would cost us between $2000 and $3200 per day—but let’s go with the lower, easier to multiply number. We post seven days a week, that would be about $14,000 per week, $56,000 per month… a grand total of $672,000 for what we got for free before Facebook started turning the traffic spigot down in Spring of this year—wouldn’t you know it—right around the time of their badly managed IPO.
    Whenever the controversy raging over Facebook’s exorbitant Promote fees gets covered in the media, I’ve noticed that the comments have been very telling. Opinion seems to be about nine to one against it. Some in the “it’s a free country” section of the peanut gallery maintain that the new Promote “option” isn’t extortion, just capitalism, baby, and furthermore that disgruntled Facebook users have the simple option to seek out other venues that are free such as Twitter and Google+
    That’s true. They are right of course, in a strict free market logic, but this would be an unsophisticated viewpoint to hold if you are the CEO of a multi-billion dollar concern like Facebook. It surely doesn’t take a Harvard degree, does it, to figure out that Facebook so aggressively angering their user base by inserting themselves into the equation in this way, is perhaps—if only because of the size of the company’s market cap—the single most misguided thing a major corporation has ever deliberately done, bar none, in the entire history of American capitalism and the world.
    What else would come even close? New Coke?
    These comments, from that same NY Observer article, spell out what this all really means and lays bare why Facebook’s ham-fisted money grab is so staggeringly inept:
    I run a Facebook page with 15,000 fans. That’s 15,000 people who have consciously signed up for our website updates and want it to appear in their newsfeed. Yet, we’re having exactly the same problem this article chronicles. We’re barely reaching 15-20% of our fan page and we’re sharing stuff that always used to be popular. Facebook for us was always a vehicle to drive traffic to our website (just like our email list, twitter page, etc). It’s become less and less valuable as a tool to do this due to Edgerank and Facebook wanting to charge you to reach the audience you’ve ALREADY paid to reach. It’s a betrayal. It’s just not worth it to pay $100 to reach all of our fans for one article. As a small business, I’m starting to care less and less about Facebook and I’m not alone. They need to get rid of Edgerank and get rid of Sponsored Posts.
    A fellow named Bill Downey replied to that comment. Imagine your name is Mark Zuckerberg as you read the following:
    I have a similar experience, my page has over 40,000 fans and when Facebook started this the traffic to my website dropped from 30,000 a day to 5,000 a day. I tried paying for extra reach but it’s not worth it for a small site like mine. The fee they charge I can not make up thru ad revenue. It’s probably fine for McDonalds page or Coke who can afford $200 per post for the full reach. I would be all for paying if the cost to play wasn’t so steep, they need to come up with better scaling for the fees for smaller pages. They don’t care about the little guys when they can sock it to the big companies. The worst part of it though is the lying to our fans that sign up to see our content and then never do unless they fall in that 15% group. Facebook has a number of other issues that make most of its users hate it. I know I despise it and I am desperately trying to find a way to replace it for promotion.
    “I despise it.” Hear that beleaguered holders of Facebook stock? That kind of talk would make my blood run cold. How many companies can you name that you actively despise?
    For online publishers who depend on “page views” to sell advertising against—and who have invested considerable time and effort courting Facebook fans—the company’s new policies are particularly galling: Imagine losing 85% of your inventory and then being asked to pay a daily king’s ransom—more than it’s even worth to you—to get it back!
    Netflix was only trying to soak you for another $6 a month, not starve you to death!
    Personally, as a publisher of a medium readership blog, I used to get a great deal from using Facebook—but I understood it to be a two-way reciprocal arrangement because I was driving traffic back to Facebook as well, and reinforcing their brand awareness with prominent widgets on our blog—but like Bill and Jonathan here, we’re actively seeking out other ways of driving traffic to the site now. With this very post—which will likely be the first and very last thing we’ll ever pay to promote on Facebook—we’re hoping to increase sign-ups to our daily newsletter (sign up at the top of this page), our Twitter feed and our Google+ page
    We simply can’t afford to pay Facebook $2000 to $3200 a day and we can’t afford to do nothing, either. Their shockingly greedy business plan offers us no alternative and we’re not alone. The Facebook management team have obviously never read the classic business motivational parable Who Moved My Cheese? They should buy a few hundred copies and spread ‘em around the office so the behavior of the mice won’t seem so confusing to them!
    So we’re doing the $2000 Facebook Promote package for this very post as a one-shot deal. It promises that 1.7 million people—all of our “fans” and also their friends—will see it in their newsfeeds.  Will Facebook even allow it past their human approval process for promoted posts? There’s nothing in this post that violates any of their policies and guidelines, but how long, I wonder, will they allow it to spread through their millions and millions of data-streams? Will I have “free speech” on Facebook if I pay them $2000? The way I look at it, this is what I have to do to get Mark Zuckerberg’s attention to let him know that he’s killing our business.
    It will be interesting to see how this experiment turns out. I hope you’ll pass this along if you find what I’ve written here to be of interest, or if it might be relevant to someone you know. If you want to send Facebook a message, please feel free to use our graphics for your Facebook avatar. I’d like to get our money’s worth! The more of you who connect with us via Twitter, Google+ and our newsletter (sign-up widget at the top of this page), the better.
    But make no mistake about it. Had Facebook debuted the Promote “option” with a more reasonable rate card that would apply to frequently updated blogs and media outlets—something akin to “book rate” at the post office—we’d have been willing to pay between $7 to $10 a post. Facebook WOULD have made around $2500 to $3000 a month from Dangerous Minds, every month. That’s around $30,000 a year, but apparently the price of a new car is not enough for Facebook to want to cultivate Dangerous Minds as a customer! Instead, we’re left with no options save for putting our efforts into Google+, Twitter, and our daily email newsletter.
    Ironic, isn’t it, that the one time we’re willing to pay Facebook’s insane rates, is also likely to be the last time we use Promote. We’re even willing to pay them to reduce our dependence on Facebook—how else to regain what they took from us save for a stunt like this one—and so it finally seems that this relationship has gone properly toxic.

    Consider this, if they’re charging a blog the size of Dangerous Minds $200 per post, what would a major metropolitan newspaper, with dozens of sections and hundreds of individual daily articles and blog posts that relies heavily on Facebook for web traffic, have to pay out to them just to get their old traffic back? It would amount to tens of millions of dollars per year. Facebook are angering not just indie bloggers, small business owners, non-profits and rock bands, but people employed by mainstream media outlets who have seen their hard-earned traffic shrink by as much as 85%. Consider how tenuous it already is to work at a newspaper—where there is about as much job security as there is in seasonal strawberry picking, if not far less—and then the rug gets pulled out from under them like this?
    The medium and small blogs are already up in arms about Facebook’s extortionate Promote fees. What’s wrong with this picture from a marketing and public relations standpoint when writers for The New York Times, Washington Post, Gawker, Buzzfeed, Business Insider, Boing Boing, Laughing Squid or Huffington Post begin to “despise” Facebook, too? I wonder what Arianna Huffington and Rupert Murdoch will make of this when it’s brought to their attention? This is a very big deal.
    Summing up, Facebook has taken a pee in their own pool from quite a lofty height, turning vast armies of “influentials” against the company, people who are now making plans—born of necessity—to bolt from that pool and to stop putting any effort there. Furthermore, Facebook’s greedy grab will have the knock-on effect of causing many blogs to simply throw in the towel, diminishing Facebook’s own business ecosystem and Facebook’s value to its own users to the point where only Axe Deodorant, Taco Bell and Nike will be showing up in your Facebook newsfeed, which after all, is pretty much the sole point of Facebook in the first place! They’ve deliberately broken their own product’s biggest selling point. Whose idea was that?
    The Facebook Promote story is just now beginning to pick up speed and will soon reach critical mass. Have you tried posting anything to a friend’s Facebook wall in the last couple of days? Try it now and see what happens.
    If Google plays their cards right, they’ll be able to kick Facebook right in the teeth when they’re already reeling from a self-inflicted wound. An online advertising campaign touting how “Google+ will never charge you, that’s a promise” would be speaking directly to the Jonathans and Bills of the Internet. Google would simply be crazy not to try to capitalize on these head-scratching missteps every way they can. If anything can boost Google+, it’s Facebook’s management team. All Google has to do is sit back and wait.
    I can sympathize with Facebook’s travails on the stock market and I can appreciate that they are providing a value—a great one, unprecedented, really—by connecting such a vast number of human beings in an electronic global village. But I can’t pay them $2000 a day and $672,000 a year for the exact same product that I was getting for free back in March!

    Send a message to Facebook about their exorbitant Promote fees! Download larger versions of this graphic (in both blue and red) to post on your own Facebook page HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. Graphic by Dimitri Drujchin, original photo Guillaume Paumier




    Tuesday, October 23, 2012


    By Rob King

    They were both critically acclaimed writers who were ahead of their time, creating imaginative visions of the future in their novels.
    But an enlightening letter sent by Aldous Huxley to his fellow author George Orwell more than 60 years ago reveals that the two men had very different ideas of how the world would change.
    Huxley's 1949 letter - the latest addition to a website that collects fascinating missives from the past - praises Orwell for the novel 1984, which offers a terrifying portrayal of a future totalitarian society.
    ca. 1940s --- George Orwell, famous English author. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
    Aldous Huxley.....AUTHORS - NOVEMBER 1934 Died November 1963 . REXMAILPIX.
    Worlds apart: The novel 1984 by George Orwell, left, predicted a different world to that envisaged by Aldous Huxley, right

    But the late California-based author - who had coincidentally taught Orwell more than three decades earlier - went on to focus on the differences between Orwell's vision and that revealed in his own masterpiece.

    'My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World'

                                  - Aldous Huxley
    His novel Brave New World, published 17 years before Orwell's, had foreseen a society characterised by medicated contentment, a widely accepted, eugenics-supported caste system, and a government-enforced obsession with consumerism.
    But Orwell's novel presented a nightmarish vision and gave birth to the phrases 'Big Brother', 'thought crime' and 'double think', all now commonly used to describe increasing state control.
    The book was later made into a film starring John Hurt, Richard Burton and Suzanna Hamilton.
    In the letter Huxley began by echoing the positive reviews for 1984, telling Orwell 'how fine and how profoundly important the book is'.
    Going on to focus on the differences between their predictions, however, Huxley wrote: 'The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.
    Book: 1984 by George Orwell
    Front cover of the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
    Different visions? The covers of these editions of Orwell's 1984, left, and Huxley's Brave New World, use similar imagery
    'Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful.
    'My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.'
    The letter was written at Huxley's California home in October 1949, a few months after the release of Orwell's book.
    Adaptation: Orwell's novel was adapted for a film starring John Hurt and Richard Burton
    Adaptation: Orwell's novel was adapted for a film starring John Hurt and Richard Burton
    It has been added to the website Letters of Note, which gathers and posts fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.
    The relationship between the two authors began in 1917, while Huxley was a tutor at Eton and Orwell was a pupil. Huxley taught French.
    Huxley's other students at Eton included the writer and scholar, Harold Acton.


    Wrightwood. California.
    21 October, 1949

    Dear Mr. Orwell,

    It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book.

    It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is.

    May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution?

    The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf.

    The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.

    Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful.

    My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.

    I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.

    Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers
    and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government.

    Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations.

    Another lucky accident was Freud's inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism.

    This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years.

    But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

    Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.

    In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World.

    The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.

    Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.

    Thank you once again for the book.

    Yours sincerely,

    Aldous Huxley