follow CCP

Recent blog entries
popular papers

Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing

What Is the "Science of Science Communication"?

Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem

Ideology, Motivated Cognition, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment

A Risky Science Communication Environment for Vaccines

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Making Climate Science Communication Evidence-based—All the Way Down 

Neutral Principles, Motivated Cognition, and Some Problems for Constitutional Law 

Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus

The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Science Literacy and Climate Change

"They Saw a Protest": Cognitive Illiberalism and the Speech-Conduct Distinction 

Geoengineering and the Science Communication Environment: a Cross-Cultural Experiment

Fixing the Communications Failure

Why We Are Poles Apart on Climate Change

The Cognitively Illiberal State 

Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study

Cultural Cognition of the Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology

Whose Eyes Are You Going to Believe? An Empirical Examination of Scott v. Harris

Cultural Cognition and Public Policy

Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in "Acquaintance Rape" Cases

Culture and Identity-Protective Cognition: Explaining the White Male Effect

Fear of Democracy: A Cultural Evaluation of Sunstein on Risk

Cultural Cognition as a Conception of the Cultural Theory of Risk

« Do Type S and Type M errors reflect confirmation bias?! | Main | Science literacy *plus* science curiosity--a research program for enlightened self-government (lecture summary & slides) »

What's worse? Macedonian "fake news" or Russian distortions of social proof?

This is “fake news,” Macedonia style:

Does it matter?  I have my doubts.

This is “fake evidence of social proof,” generated by the Russian government and its operatives and disseminated widely through Facebook:

Does it matter?  I have my fears that it does.

In a session at the just-concluded Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Atlanta (slides here), I suggested two models of how misinformation, including fake news, works.  One, the “passive aggregator” model, assumes a credulous public being manipulated by economic and political interest groups via the dissemination of “fake news” either directly or through client news providers.  


PA is a “supply side” model.

The “motivated public” model (MP) is a “demand side” alternative.

It asserts that factionalized groups of citizens are unconsciously motivated to interpret elections and public policymaking generally for their effect in promoting or impeding sectarian public philosophies. On this account, opportunistic information providers can earn a profit from disseminating “fake news” congenial to one or another sectarian group. The Macedonian “fake news” mills, for example, made millions from the “clicks” on the commercial advertisements that adorned their postings.

Work in the science of science communication, I suggested, supports MP. If this is right, we shouldn’t worry overmuch about Macedonian “fake news”: already conditioned to selectively credit or discredit true news based on their cultural predispositions, the members of factionalized cultural groups can be expected to reliably identify and credit fake news that supports their side and to dismiss the rest as bogus.

Even in a world with no fake news, cultural partisans would find (distort) more than enough “true” information to support their positions

The real issue is why people adopt this form of information processing to begin with.

That’s where Russia’s “fake signals of social proof” come in.

Citizens of diverse cultural orientations don’t contest evidence relating to each and every risk or policy-relevant fact.  They fight over only those that have become entangled with cultural identities, thereby transforming opposing positions on them into badges of membership in, and loyalty to, one or another sectarian faction.

Culturally diverse citizens adopt this posture toward risks and other policy-relevant facts when they observe others in their their affinity group embroiled in fights with their cultural adversaries. The information conveyed by such conflicts is not about the degree of harm associated with contested facts but about the status of positions on them as recognizable tokens of group identity.

This is where Russia comes in.  Its Facebook postings are not about the facts relating to one or another policy but about the facts of social proof—who is fighting whom over what.

As they saturate our democatic-deliberation environment with this form of pollution, the predictable—and indeed sought after—impact is the descent of our public discourse into intractable states of cultural division.

Forget the trivial question of how to “counteract” inherently-absurd stories about Hillary and pizza-gate.

The question is how to protect ourselves from the manipulation of public perceptions of cultural conflict in our society, and about what we should do in response to nations bent on infusing this poison into our public discourse.

Do you hear a dog whistle here?...

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (52)

I believe that what we are facing is way more complex than described by the word “identity”.

In my opinion, the place to start here is to grasp the concept that we are facing very disruptive change. The advances of technology and the increasing effects of global climate change will force human societies to form new socio-economic structures. Some people will need to physically relocate. Some ways of life (and thus their associated cultures) may not survive, at least not in their current forms.

In the first Industrial Revolution, fueled by the rise of fossil fuels, the role of the peasant farmworker was largely obliterated. A new cultural lifestyle, that of a new money “Robber Baron” oligarchy and factory workers in big city tenements was created. The old landlords power was diminished. The transition forward was not easy. It took time for democratic principles and processes to take hold. Eventually, the wealth created by the new economy was better distributed, and overall, societies advanced. People in general had a better quality of life. Better nutrition and medical care, more time for education and social activities, and the hope that their children could have an even better future than they themselves enjoyed.

We are now approaching not only at the end of the era of fossil fuels, but also, with the rise of computerized data management, artificial intelligence, and automation, the end of many long established industries and career paths. This sets up a clash between old oligarchies and new, and between those who really would benefit if their career lasted until they retired, and those who are searching for paths in new technologies. Just as with the first Industrial Revolution, tensions are being created between rural and urban areas.

I do not agree with the following statement:

“The information conveyed by such conflicts is not about the degree of harm associated with contested facts but about the status of positions on them as recognizable tokens of group identity.”

Harms of cultural change are not distributed equally. Some people really do benefit from the preservation of the status quo as long as possible. there is not clear positive path forward for some people and their children. Some people's lives could be devastated by impacts of climate change, some reside in places in which they might be barely impacted at all. Others see their futures in being active agents of the changes to come. It is even true that global climate change could be intertwined with religious views, and seen and embraced as a harbinger of a predicted Apocalypse. I think that the cultural divisions are real, and deep. They are intractable at least until such time as we have a leadership and a governance process that is capable of addressing how the changes can lead to broader benefit and greater social good. Economic globalization, including the power of corporate multinationals, complicates the ability of our Western Democracies to address these issues. It could be that the idea that democracy gets derailed by more streamlined corporate/governance structures such as that exemplified by modern China. Russia, is a country that might actually embrace global climate change. They may very well may see themselves as a seacoast world power, centered on the Arctic.

Some in the US look backwards to an ideal of being "Great Again", some look towards a new future. Other nations sense an opportunity to take power.

Worldwide, positions on these serious conflicts are not “tokens of group identity”. Alternative futures are possible.

But yes, there are some distracting circus sideshows. Divide and conquer is still a thing.

March 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

"the predictable—and indeed sought after—impact is the descent of our public discourse into intractable states of cultural division."

Indeed. And this is confirmed by the fact that the current Russian efforts have sometimes attempted to amplify *both* sides of culturally conflicted issues. While for some issues (e.g. energy policy) they may indeed have a preferred outcome, more generally they appear to care much less about the issue itself or whether one side will achieve eventual dominance, than they do about simply heightening conflict and division across US society.

If their efforts are sustained long term, a natural defense may arise, and one detrimental to the Russians. A more suspicious and robustly homogeneous culture, for instance strongly nationalistic, is far less vulnerable to such attacks and much more likely to counter-attack. That clearly has major downsides, e.g. to the diversity that leads to enhanced creativity and also benign internal social contract. But the question may not be just 'what do we do about it', but what do we do that preserves plurality before nature acts instead. The conflicted cultural groups being exploited were emergent in the first place; a different solution could well be emergent too if external stimulus is maintained long term, and especially if its source is frequently identified after episodic damage. Spreading and amplifying rumours regarding tribal or feudal divisions within your enemy, including false flagging and smearing and contrived social signals etc. is probably as old as culture itself; the Russian effort is just one modern instantiation.

However above is worst case / long-term. In practice and certainly for the short-term, technology based information warfare of this kind may be much easier to combat than the older version spread by quiet whispers. Upping the game of defensive technology to detect / weed-out these things should be straightforward. At this stage the efforts were scarcely even hidden, although this path would presumably result in some loss of freedom regarding restrictions on social media providers or whatever. However the real problem arises if the game escalates up the ladders of both technology and information sophistication, and so extends longer-term.

For overt messaging of this kind, one needs a big reach to make a real difference. I can't recall where I saw it now, but the estimated reach likely made next to naff all difference. In which case this is a warning shot, but one from which societies should learn.

March 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Only if the oligarchical interests can be brought under public control.

China is moving towards a society well regulated by social media:

And in the interests of profits, US originating firms may be willing to play along:

First there, and then........

March 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

It's possible to trip over the odd Balkan joker or even Russian troll, but the game is run by the top hackers worldwide. Introducing my friend Microchip, in Utah, who for some reason decided to upload an account of his activities today.

Universally known as Micro, he runs botnets by the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands. I don't know why he decided to publish this today but I didn't read all of his 73 pages either. The file is clean (no malware) and it may be censored, so if you want to send it on to someone for comment please save it as .pdf first.

March 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

@AndyWest--good point about agitating on both sides. Maybe that is better way to explain the creation of Blacktivist & Woke Blacks....

The exploitation of existing divisions (not creation of new ones) also seems right to me

March 6, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Gauthia- you see big picture, as always. I'm more of a stamp collector

March 6, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan - you have fallen for the Russia conspiracy theory peddled by a neocon website and the legal counsels of Facebook, Twitter, et al, where you got your slides.

I already posted my friend Microchip's proof he's the one running the Twitter bots, writing the AI letters to the FCC, and so on. He's not Russian, he's alt-right.
"It's All Us, Not Russians. And We're Not Going To Stop"

On the Russian conspiracy itself, cui bono? Neocons acting to promote their latest wars - as brilliantly explained by Taibbi of Rolling Stone today. Taibbi is afraid for his own friends on the left, not for Microchip's botnets, but he has a point:
".......If you don't think that the endgame to all of this lunacy is a world where every America-critical movement from Black Lives Matter to Our Revolution to the Green Party is ultimately swept up in the collusion narrative along with Donald Trump and his alt-right minions, you haven't been paying attention."

If you are still not convinced, consider that a total of $9.7 billion was spent in the 2016 election including all candidates, PACs, other advertising online and off. If the Russians managed to change anything with an expenditure of $100,000 (easily tracked since they mostly paid with rubles) then they should move here and open a campaign consulting firm. Instead, they're piling on ever more negative PR by poisoning their former spies with horrible chemicals - another one is now dying in a London hospital as I write this. Definitely not nice people - but masters of internet propaganda, definitely not!

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

I think that Dan needs an overall picture to know which stamps to focus on. Also, as you continue to collect stamps, and place them into a collection, a bigger vision comes into view.

Context and tipping points matter. Lots of retail plate glass windows get smashed by thugs with rocks, but few had the impact of those that took place on Krystallnacht. And what could have been just a group of hoodlums managed to become a movement.

Communication matters. The invention of the printing press caused the Bible to "go viral" with great disruptions to the one true Catholic church, and ultimately causing Protestantism to divide into thousands of factions.`

"Going viral" is not a matter of sheer volume, it is about effectively riding and amplifying volatility waves. It doesn't necessarily take a lot of outside funding, particularly in our "clickbait" funding era.

A lot of identity based product and idea marketing has to do with effectively connecting peoples identity with something that feels bigger than themselves. Something that makes themselves feel bigger than they'd otherwise be.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis


'The exploitation of existing divisions (not creation of new ones) also seems right to me'

Yes, culture has inertia. To create a significant division that is truly new (i.e. one which is not just a minor variant of an existing social conflict), would I guess be orders of magnitude harder and longer to achieve, even if one could second guess what issue might work. Of course if one spots an issue that's been bubbling in the background for years and seems ripe for mainstream emergence, that would seem like a great candidate, but this is only a more sophisticated take on exploiting existing divisions. Probably the most efficient strategy is to have a go at agitating every big or small division you can find, and see which ones give you the best bang for the buck.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

"The grand total for all political ad spending in the 2016 election cycle, according to Advertising Age, was $9.8bn. The ads allegedly produced by inmates of a Russian troll farm, which have made up this week’s ration of horror and panic in the halls of the American punditburo, cost about $100,000 to place on Facebook.

A few months ago, when I first described those Russian ads in this space, I invited readers to laugh at them. They were “low-budget stuff, ugly, loud and stupid”, I wrote. They interested me because they cast the paranoid right, instead of the left, as dupes of a foreign power. And yet, I wrote, the American commentariat had largely overlooked them.

Now that Robert Mueller’s office has indicted the Russian actors who are allegedly behind the ads, however, all that has changed. American pundits have gone from zero to 60 on this matter in no time at all – from ignoring the Facebook posts to outright hysteria over them.
Yes, go after the Russian trolls. Prosecute them for their alleged crimes. Punish Putin if he tried to jack with us. But understand that this sort of operation is not going away.

Its extremely modest price tag guarantees it, as does the liberals’ determination to exaggerate its giant-slaying powers. This is rightwing populism’s next wave, and in an oligarchic world, every American plutocrat will soon be fielding his or her own perfectly legal troll army. Those of us who believe in democracy need to stop panicking and start thinking bigger: of how rightwing populism can be undone forever."

Third and final warning. Thank you for reading.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ai. Thanks for sharing that, Ecoute. People with passion can do just about anything.

Just skimmed the 73-pager. I think either your friend Micro's either a megalomaniac or he wants to cover his butt in case he's investigated.

I clearly need to spend more time on (or training a bot to keep track of) /pol/.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

"... and about what we should do in response to nations bent on infusing this poison into our public discourse."

Sell them American TV, American films, American music, American literature, American history, and so on as cultural campaigns in their countries extolling liberty, suggesting that the principle of 'Free Speech' is a good thing, and that they should adopt it, too? Even if that causes entrenched social/cultural conflicts, like the Arab Spring?

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNiV


...along with that lethal cultural weapon, 'the burger'.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

link drop - 3M did a world-wide (14K respondents) survey of science attitudes:

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

More on fake retweets:

as covered in popsci here:


March 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

wow - that MIT study on retweets of fake news in sciencemag went viral very quickly:

as if the Russian bots are all re-tweeting it to say "It's not us, it's you!".

March 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

So add another topic to the long list of issues where Pubz and Demz exchange positions at the drop of a hat: Bilateral talks with North Korea without preconditions having been met. (I think I already mentioned picking winners and loses though taxes tariffs?).

Remember when a Pub/Trump talking point was that we shouldn't legitimize Kim and allow him to brag to North Koreans and the world that he forced America to the bargaining table by the threat of nuclear weapons?

“Talking is not the answer!”

Give Boot some credit. Ideological consistency seems a rare bird these days.

March 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

another sciencemag article - the Science of fake news - co-authored by everyone except Dan, now going viral at a web site near you:

March 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

BTW - if any of the co-authors of the above sciencemag article (Gordon?) are listening - many of the OpenUrl links in the references are broken.

March 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Fake news overlaps with other information disorders, such as misinformation (false or misleading information) and disinformation (false information that is purposely spread to deceive people).

This is the problem. The overlap has no discernable or definable boundaries. Only towards the extremes can we make a clear distinction. Fake news has no clear distinction misinformation, which has no clear distinction from information shaped by, or interpreted through, ideological filters. It's fascinating to me, even as it is extremely troubling to me, that these age-old realities seem, somehow, to me at least, to have become more salient, potent, and ubiquitous in recent years.

Is that only because of biases that influence my own observation process? Maybe it is merely that my life has become more affected by these age-old realities, whereas others have been affected by these realities more than I in the past?

Is it that actually, Internet age technologies have some kind of a "multiplier" effect, and that my perception that the problem has grown is not merely an artifact of my own biases? Is it possible, actually, that Internet technologies have merely flattened the hierarchy of these problems, so that the trajectory is less one of a select dominant element (to which I belong to some extent) feeding the misinformation to a more dominated element? Has the Internet democratized the power of misinformation? Is there some measure by which we can say that the "reality" of public perception are more problematized today than when a larger segment of the country relied on a more limited array of information sources, such as settling in to watch Walter Cronkite on the evening news?

March 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Fake news, as wiki notes, is neologism describing a very old concept. And on the biggest scale, it is a side-show.

The main show is an arms race between group deceits (aka strong cultural narratives - these all being untrue), which are at the unintentional end of the misinformation spectrum because their spread is largely driven by passionate and *honest* belief, and the detection of group deceits, which for the population at large is not accomplished by reason but by instinctive perception of group deceit (there's a dynamically maintained balance between the opposing behaviors, accomplished via selection). New technologies may disrupt the balance on occasion, causing one side or the other to dominate regionally or wider for a while until the other side catches up. E.g. printing. Possibly language itself, as early culture precedes language. The Internet.

Within this context of this giant game, reason is still a modest and fragile player when it comes to anything with a perception of high social impact, whether that reason is not in service to group deceits, hence is something we think of as a striving for the truth (which truth can only be known for sure via the long retrospective view of future history), or is in service to cultural deceit. For the latter case, there are two sub-cases. 1: The reason may help promote the misinformation of cultural deceit yet still indeed be reason (i.e. although blind to the larger truth, nevertheless perfectly logical and 'reasonable' regarding the perceived facts within the cultural bubble), and honestly motivated. This sub-case looks identical to a striving for truth, but may sometimes be distinguishable by the use of social data such as Dan harvests, to try and detect the subordination to visible culture. 2: reason is used to deduce the best ways to promote what are seen as cultural truths (but in fact are group deceits), or oppose the enemies of those same 'truths', and in the name of the bigger cause honesty is then put aside, because one of these ways is to consciously (i.e. using intelligence and reason), spread disinformation (so fake news, it is usually defined as 'with intent'). So here, reason is dishonestly creating disinformation to serve the misinformation of a group deceit which is honestly believed.

Some hold that misinformation is the super-set of which disinformation is the intentional end of the spectrum. Some hold that misinformation is purely unintentional and separate to the intentional disinformation. Either way, disinformation is one tool of propaganda (there are others), and most propaganda tends to be in service to cultural group deceits. An added complexity is that the perception of high social impact as mentioned above, can itself be an artefact of cultural deceit. Another complexity is that by no means is all disinformation in service to culture, though much is; disinformation can be created for corporate or personal agendas, for instance, although bear in mind that sometimes these agendas are themselves aligned to and partially or wholly motivated by cultural aims. Disinformation may be detected by the persistent and diligent application of reason, but when disinformation is in service to culture, it might also be (selectively) detected by our instinctive balance against cultural excess, per above, which instinct incidentally is itself cultural value dependent (hence the 'selective').

The creation and detection of disinformation, like the much bigger arms race in paragraph one above, is likewise disrupted by new technologies, and both games interplay. In theory the new technologies will each increase the pace of action, yet sides will still balance, eventually, after disruptions. A problem is that our lives are rather short compared to some of the bigger disruptions, and a flicker of imbalance may still produce a 20 year or more disruption, say. In the larger game, cultural excess tends to build up, veering further and further from reality, hence reality checks when they come can severely shock societies (e.g. revolutions). And the fact that a correction is on average in the direction of reality, doesn't mean it won't pass through many horrors on the way. Likewise sudden cultural excess unchecked may pass through horrors too. Increases in disinformation may be a clue to a systemic lack of balance somewhere, hence a bad sign, but whether it is really increasing is hard to tell. Much of what seemed the comfortingly believable news shows of our past (at least for the older among us including me; Joshua mentions such a show) were really laden both with cultural misinformation and many shorter lived disinformations too, though the pace of the game was slower.

It is also hard to tell whether the sum of misinformation and disinformation, from whatever processes, is higher now than historically in relation to objective truths, or lower. Only 150 years ago pretty much everyone even in developed Western countries publicly declared belief in religion, despite significant but pragmatically sheltered skepticism, and its group deceits dominated all aspects of society far more strongly than either religion does now (in the same countries), or any secular cultures rising in its stead. Pretty much everything that society was about and all news, was hence in the context of or in direct service to, a huge deceit, which today is not the case (despite major belief still in some countries, like the US). While core cultural narratives are honest misinformation per above, given that cultures are also the biggest purveyors of disinformation via reasoned dishonesty in service to culture, it seems at least plausible that disinformation is also less now than then, and more plausible still that the total of misinformation + disinformation is less now.

So maybe via 2 steps forward, 1 step back, our access to reality is improving. However, that step back could last most of a lifetime in a particular region (not all regions are in sync). And reason has to be fed and protected against the much bigger beasts of group deceits, plus the instinctive detections of same (innate skepticism) that can for instance misfire against science. Along the way the thing we are both feeding and relying on, reason, can also betray if it is subverted to cultural aims, for instance by creating some very clever disinformation.

March 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

"The main show is an arms race between group deceits (aka strong cultural narratives - these all being untrue), which are at the unintentional end of the misinformation spectrum because their spread is largely driven by passionate and *honest* belief, and the detection of group deceits,"

The main show is the arms race between free speech and censorship. The purpose in raising widespread concern about "fake news" is to justify introducing measures to shut opposing views down. As we're seeing with the pressure being brought on social media companies to "do something about it".

The "problem" with free speech (and freedom of belief) has always been that it implies that people can say (and believe) things we don't like, don't agree with, or think are incorrect and morally wrong. Even deliberately. And this is intolerable to the personalities for who conformity to a single common social norm is everything. Everyone must believe the same things; must converge on the same truth. And those who preach heretical error must somehow be silenced, lest they lead the flock astray.

This is, as you say, not a new problem.

March 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

AW: 'The main show is an arms race between group deceits... ...and the detection of group deceits.'

NiV: 'The main show is the arms race between free speech and censorship.

The latter is just one aspect of the former, because the main driver of censorship is generally cultural, and much of the motivation to maintain free speech comes from instinctive resistance to the cultural excess, along with reasoned opposition too.

Yes indeed regarding the "problem" with free speech, as you frame it. The 'single common social norm', which defines heresy as outside of that norm, is cultural, or on lesser stages the strong group-think that hasn't yet blossomed to possess all the characteristics of a main culture.

March 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Jonathan - it's not only the links which are broken in the study you link. The entire "study" is a joke, starting with the simple observation it's being peddled as an "MIT study", when a simple examination of a list of author affiliations shows only 1 (one) out of 16 (sixteen) is in fact at Tech.

The entire "study" is a polemic aimed at exactly what NiV diagnoses, censuring speech with which the 16 disagree. Not surprisingly they join the Russia! Russia! chorus to peddle their anti-Trump, anti-alt-right, anti-conservative agenda under a pseudo-mathematical coloration. Their statistical analysis is laughable, and I use the term advisedly. Their legal and psychological tenets may or may not be anchored in reality - these subjects, unlike mathematics, are forever in flux.

Fortunately there is someone at USC named Emilio Ferrara who has (since 2012) collected the right numbers, which overwhelmingly confirm what my friend Micro stated (link provided above) and which I know to be true:

"It's All Us, Not Russians. And We're Not Going To Stop"

See in particular his (with co-authors) especially his table 10.

The alt-right has a plan, and we're playing offense. The disgraceful gang of 16 is playing defense, and the fear in their screed is palpable. It cheered me up no end - thanks for posting it!

March 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

The purpose in raising widespread concern about "fake news" is to justify introducing measures to shut opposing views down.

Nothing like slippery slopes, false dichotomies, and simplifications.

Let me try that.

The purpose of conflating concern about "fake news" with censorship is to promote misinformation.

March 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Oh, and lest I forget, motive-impugning, mind-reading, and demonization also....(prolly some others too, but that'll capture the basic flavor).

March 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dypoon - with some delay I also read Micro's 73-pager. Glad you liked it, but megalomania does not apply to his comments, at least not relating to the FCC Net Neutrality public comment debacle. Micro did unleash hundreds of thousands of bot writing in favor of repealing that Obama-era regulation, but none of his bots ever used identities of real people, which, apparently, is a crime, at least in NY:

So he runs no risk of getting investigated, therefore has no need for preemptive action. He posted the long memo online because he got aggravated with leftists blaming all bots on Russians. Anyway Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, was notoriously against the legislation, so bots or no bots, the repeal stays.

As far as the election bots indicted by Mueller, Putin gave an interview to NBC where he helpfully said: "..Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship.."

Micro does sound extreme at times, but I think he just plays crazy in order to confuse those trying to track down his identity. Another famous hacker, Andrew Auernheimer, has less reason to sound reasonable since his name is known already. He is the webmaster of the Daily Stormer, and definitely has radical views, including this classic:

"Trolling is basically Internet eugenics. I want everyone off the Internet. Bloggers are filth. They need to be destroyed. Blogging gives the illusion of participation to a bunch of retards… We need to put these people in the oven… We are headed for a Malthusian crisis. Plankton levels are dropping. Bees are dying. There are tortilla riots in Mexico, the highest wheat prices in 30-odd years… The question we have to answer is: How do we kill four of the world’s six billion people in the most just way possible?"

Auernheimer's arithmetic sounds dodgy until you realize he excludes from world population ab initio all persons of European ancestry plus "honorary whites" like the Japanese. I don't know who the remaining 2 billion he would spare are.

Finally, if you read Emilio Ferrara's article, you know only about 5% of all posts are made by bots, the rest are humans. I trust Ferrara's calculations more than those of the disgraceful 16 (not to mention Schneiderman's, who is truly clueless) because Ferrara wrote the BotOrNot software for DARPA. It works.

March 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Dypoon - you will not find too many people from the alt-right on /pol/ or elsewhere on the chans. And none of those trained in math and computer science. Here FYI is the latest warning concerning online communications (posted anonymously):

"I see a lot of people still using Discord. I want you to understand how bad this is. Everything goes through Discord servers first. They’re archiving everything forever. Highly efficient voice codecs like Speex can be as little as 2.15 kilobits per second. That’s one megabyte per voice channel recorded per hour. A single tape cartridge in the most common Ultrium series now holds 12 terabytes of data and can be held in your hands. It costs $180. At 2.15 kilobits per second, they can hold fourteen centuries of voice recording on a single tape. Everything you say in your whole life can sit on a tiny tape and be stably held in that form until you die.

Imagine that tape in the hands of Communists– because that’s the type of people that run Discord.

I see some people abandoning Discord for Threema. It is subject to Swiss legal jurisdiction– essentially Merkelstan. Gonna have the same problems that we’ve had with Protonmail (also Swiss), who wipe hatespeechy users when they find them. Not because they want to, but because they have to. Platform censorship is going to be a bad issue here when the Stasi catch wind that evil alt-righters are making use of the app.

Do not consider the group chats safe. They are not safe. Since Threema’s private messages have perfect forward secrecy people might speak as if the group chats have forward secrecy. They really don’t. This isn’t really clear to people. I don’t want to use this stuff for the same reason I stopped using PGP for email. People assume PGP encryption meant message secrecy (it doesn’t, don’t make this mistake) and say things that should not be said over that medium.

What you should do is run a Tor hidden service IRC server for your group of friends. This requires some agency. It requires you all to learn to use Tor (...) and an IRC client. It’s worth it. You all need to start thinking about this immediately.

If enough groups ran Tor hidden service IRC services, they could link together eventually and become an anonymous international communications platform for everyone pro-white. Think about it."

March 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Maybe it's fake-news-tainment:

Which seems just ever so slightly displaced from Dan's view. Wells appears to suggest a consumerist-fun objective as the underlying motivation. It might be fun because of one's identity, but it is not sincerely believed. The Kentucky farmer isn't experiencing cognitive dissonance, just properly separating work from play.

Which leads to voter-taimnent:

There is no mechanism by which being well or badly informed will come back to personally affect you, and so no reason not to vote according to whatever facts you feel like believing in.

March 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

But Sophia McClennen thinks it's just the stupid:

The real problem is that the United States is one of the least intelligent nations in the developed world. We aren’t good at processing and analyzing information, and that makes us suckers for bots, trolls and all other sorts of disinformation tactics.

March 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

link drop - Kathleen Hall Jamieson says science communication is broken if it keeps communicating that science is broken:

March 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

In yet another demonstration of the inability of the PC totalitarians to shut down free speech, the top-trending link on alt-right sites today is an essay by a professor at Baillol citing as a source The Daily Stormer in its bibliography. (The link given for Andrew Anglin's essay is the one disabled by the same totalitarians last year, but the publication can still be found via Google). Got to admit I didn't read the entire essay, but its bibliography certainly seems fascinating.

March 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

That was Balliol, sorry typo.

Nathan Cofnas has already had to flee Twitter under a barrage of criticism. The Russian trolls are after him, and I would worry about them a whole lot more than about the alt-right - generally out only to destroy political correctness. Cofnas (see previous post) criticized Kevin MacDonald, who incidentally agrees with Steve Cohen of The Nation on Russia >
> so this isn't political along any right-left axis.

March 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

link drop:

The Bullshit Doctrine: Fabrications, Lies, and Nonsense in the Age of Trump:

Fake News: A Definition:

Donald Trump as a Critical-Thinking Teaching Assistant:

March 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Cofnas is back, with an associate - neither seems to know much history though, since they write:
"Persecution of Jews began for religious reasons in the Middle Ages"

Somebody should tell them to leave the alt-right alone, and try reading Latin and Greek sources:

March 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

I find it incredible that Pinker and Peterson piled on - concurring with Cofnas et al but obviously without consulting anyone who knows Roman and Greek authors.

The alt-right know the beginnings of Western Civilization better than Messrs Pinker, Cofnas, Peterson, obviously. And we consider Plutarch a reliable source. This is the beginning of the linked text:

"The Romans and Greeks appear alike to have held the Jews in detestation "

Source: Plutarch's Moralia, version of abbé Ricard, link at: The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, Volume 42

March 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute -

But for some dishonest alt-right leaders, the literal truth of his ideas is probably not that important.

I don't have reason to believe that you're a "leader," but it is nonetheless useful to see that you reinforce that conjecture.

March 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

The fight to save Western Civilization from invading third-world hordes under cover of political correctness requires no "leaders". It does require knowledge of the matter, and as just demonstrated, above Cofnas's knowledge of the subject is grossly deficient, which voids the rest of his argument.

In particular his designation of "dishonest" leadership is, in my view, laughable, since the alleged "dishonesty" is never specified. The only "leader" he mentions, incidentally, is Andrew Anglin, a satirical writer whose publication is banned from the entire internet - though Cofnas et al apparently have no problem locating it. I don't know if Anglin, MacDonald, or anyone else mentioned by name in that latest screed, have standing to sue for defamation, but there is precedent, a case where the ADL appealed a Colorado jury's award of $10.5 million to plaintiffs, and lost:

Some lively discussion took place in that courtroom:

That's a Colorado case

March 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

cont'd (sorry had to take a call)

Colorado case details here

March 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Finally, a voice of sanity on Dan's original topic here, the Russia, Russia! hysteria:

"The near hysteria over this Russian operation far exceeds its real impact on our political system. In the end, these measures are likely to produce a greater reduction in free speech than trolls or moles on the Internet.

The most lasting damage could prove to be the result of the “fixes” rather than the original problem. We should focus on protecting our communication and voting systems and leave the Internet alone."

March 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

And a new lawsuit:

"Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer, along with Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Augustus Invictor, the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights and the East Coast Ku Klux Klan are being sued by prominent Jewish civil rights attorney Roberta Kaplan.

Kaplan, known best for her victory in the Supreme Court on helping to legalize gay marriage, in US v. Windsor before the Supreme Court in 2013, has taken on Sines v Keller, a $3 Million lawsuit filed by Charlottesville, Va. residents and organized by Rev. Seth Wispelwey, a minister at Sojourners United Church of Christ in Charlottesville, who along with other clergy blocked Unite the Right protesters during the rally.
Default judgements are issued when a defendant fails to respond to a federal complaint within the time frame allotted by the court. This would put all of them on the hook for $3 Million, and likely bankrupt all of them. However, if Kolenich and Spencer are able to win the case, the defendants would be able to countersue for Abuse of Civil Process, and potentially receive financial compensation for damages."

March 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ms. Kaplan appears to have used private chats on Discord (see previous warning on this page on security of Discord chats) which may or may not involve breach or reasonable expectation of privacy by chat participants. So this article from today's Financial Times may apply - posting it in its entirety as it's subscription only.

Facebook bans political data company Cambridge Analytica

Social network claims research firm failed to delete user information collected by an app

Facebook has banned Cambridge Analytica, the political data company that worked with the Trump presidential campaign, claiming it violated rules by failing to delete user data collected by an app for research purposes.
The social network said on Friday that it would suspend Strategic Communications Laboratories, the parent group of Cambridge Analytica, and was prepared to take legal action if it discovered any unlawful behaviour.
Paul Grewal, vice-president and general counsel, wrote in a blog post that in 2015, Facebook had learned that Dr Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, had passed data collected by a personality prediction app that ran on Facebook to Cambridge Analytica.
The “this is your digital life” app was billed as a research app used by psychologists. Some 270,000 people downloaded the app, which used Facebook login, and gave it consent to access data from their Facebook profiles including their city, the likes and information about their friends.
Facebook claims that Dr Kogan then broke the company’s rules by passing it to third parties, Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies. When Facebook learned of the violation in 2015, it removed the app from Facebook and demanded assurances the data had been destroyed.
But Mr Grewal says Facebook received reports in recent days that claim the data were not deleted. “We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made.
We are suspending SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan from Facebook, pending further information,” he wrote. Cambridge Analytica and Dr Kogan did not reply to request for comment. Mr Wylie and Eunoia Technologies could not be reached for comment.
The political research firm has received significant attention for its data mining and building profiles to “micro target” voters. Cambridge Analytica has said it amassed more than 5,000 data points on the behavioural trends of US citizens and combined it with psychological surveys on Facebook.
A UK watchdog said last year it was probing Cambridge Analytica and other data analytics companies to see whether Britons’ data protection rights were breached during the EU membership referendum. The ban comes as Facebook is trying to deal with the fallout from accusations that the platform was used to manipulate voter opinion by a Russian disinformation campaign and fake news during the US presidential election of 2016.
Facebook, like all tech companies with European users, is also preparing to comply with new privacy regulations coming into force in May. The General Data Protection Regulation carries fines of up to 4 per cent of global revenue for violations, which could include the use of personal data for political purposes without the users’ consent.

March 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute -

Was just coming here to link to an article on that for your benefit. How foolish if me to think that you wouldn't already be on it.

Anyway, it isn't as if we needed more proof of the fascist politically correct leftist deep state, eh?

March 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua


There is such a thing as more evidence, but proof is binary - there is no such thing as "more proof". Of course, you couldn't be expected to know this :)

As to the progress of the alt-right's war against the fascist politically correct leftist deep state, thank you for asking. We are currently on a break, on the general principle never to interfere when the enemy is falling apart.

1. The SPLC publishes an article entitled "How Fascists Operationalize Left Resentment". Original article - since retracted - was however reposted on another leftist website for the record:
2. Yet another bunch of leftists threatens to sue the SPLC, whence the retraction:
3. SPLC apologizes:
4. The German left helpfully starts promoting a theory that the US, not Russia, is suspect in the Novichok nerve agent poisoning in England - apparently everyone and his kid brother can make the stuff in a lab - in order to replace Russian natural gas exports to Europe. This is in German but the map and graph are self-expanatory.
5. McCabe (fired by Sessions, on the recommendation of the Inspector General, a bit more a day before he qualified for a pension) says unless his firing is rescinded he's going to bring everyone else in the FBI's Russian collusion investigation down with him.

I hope that settles the topic of the Russian trolls and their Macedonian sidekicks once and for all.

March 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

there is no such thing as "more proof"

I see the nannyism never ends with you, eh? What kind of a childhood leads to someone to be so unswervingly anal?

March 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Btw, Ecoute. - keep whistling past graveyards.

March 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Mathematical proof was the first, and arguably the greatest, concept introduced by the Greeks. Others before them had calculations, but the concept of "proof" is the basis of the entire Western Civilization. Almost as great is the related concept of scientific discovery backed by evidence, not magical incantations.

Clearly some posters here cannot now, and probably never will, grasp these basic epistemological concepts. Or that "whistling while walking past graveyards" is not applicable - there is not enough available topsoil on the planet to satisfy E.O. Wilson's requirements, let alone Auernheimer's plan quoted above on this thread.

March 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Maybe this is a way to convince Ecoute that anthropogenic climate change is happening:

March 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan - I investigated! Here is where bro Trayon got his climate change model:

March 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

My sense is that Ecoute wouldn't take seriously anyone's opinions on climate change except if the source was a very, very skinny white nationalist.

March 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>