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Reality Hunger

Reality Hunger 

Part 3

“Alternative facts and fake news are just other names for propaganda.” 

― Johnny Corn

“Before the invention of the printing press, the problem was, lack of information, and now due to the rise of social media, it is too much information – the former leads to mental starvation and the latter to mental obesity.” — Abhijit Naskar

“We have begun to live in a world, where we eat content, drink content and breathe content, without giving a single thought to its composition and what kind of impact it has upon our lives.” ― Abhijit Naskar,

“A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.” — Simon & Garfunkel

“War is 90% information.”—Napoleon

“Reckless words pierce like a sword but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

Over the past two weeks we have been discussing what is increasingly becoming a matter of extreme importance to you and me. We have been exploring the subject of the weaponization of information.  In part one of this series, we defined the weaponization of information as, “bringing about a change in beliefs and attitudes and, as a result, promoting behavior that serves the attacker’s purpose.” 

Cognitive hackers abound. What was once a rogue activity carried out by young computer geniuses wearing sweat-pants and hanging out on their devices in their parent’s basements, has risen to a scientific, and artistic form of warfare. It is violence that violates in totality, the childhood proverb: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Not only will words hurt, they can effectually destroy, not just individuals, but entire economies as well as political structures. We are living in an age where anybody with a computer has the capacity for unconstrained evil or unlimited good.

I was planning to apologize for extending this series beyond my initial projection of two issues, but this is such an important matter for you and me that it is critical that we finish our discussion well. In fact, this week we will continue by examining some of the specific forms of this kind of warfare. 

In conclusion, next week we will look at some practical methods that we can protect ourselves, our companies and our families from this type of violence. To be sure, in the progression of global media development, there is more than meets the eye.

Review.

Information warfare is growing in influence for many young Americans and Europeans. A new study by Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that 73 percent of Americans say that the spread of inaccurate information on the internet is a major problem with news coverage today, more than any other potential kind of news bias. There are several  reasons why this form of attack against the general populace is so powerful and effective. The primary one is: us. That’s right, you and I are a huge part of the problem. As humans we are constantly subjects of our own biases and motivations. 

Motivated reasoning describes our propensity to scrutinize ideas that oppose our intuitions, less than ideas that support our intuitions. Confirmation bias is simply the reality that we would rather believe what we want, than what others want us to believe. 

The dynamics of our own human frailty coupled with the malicious desire of others to change our understanding of reality through the manipulation of information is a powerful combo. There are a handful of methods that attackers use with which they are manipulating information as weapons against us. Here are a few of them.

  1. Fake news is the propagation of news articles via social and mainstream media. These articles are promoted in such a way that they appear to be spread by other users, as opposed to being paid-for advertising. The news stories distributed are designed to influence or manipulate users’ opinions on a certain topic, towards specific objectives.
  2. Social Media- There are a multitude of ways that violence is committed on social platforms daily. These kinds of attacks are not only easy, but are increasingly profitable. Here are a few ways that people can create great wealth through social media. I am not posting the sites where you can buy these services as you may not like the exposure that could come as a result of it. It is possible to: -Create a Celebrity with 300,000 followers in a month for $2,600, -Help instigate a street protest for $200,000, -Discredit a journalist for $55,000, -Manipulate a decisive course of action for $400,000. These kinds of attacks have been completely commoditized. 
  3. Deepfakes- “Deepfakes” is a term for videos and presentations enhanced by artificial intelligence and other modern technology to present falsified results. One of the best examples of deepfakes involves the use of image processing to produce video of celebrities, politicians or others saying or doing things that they never actually said or did.
  4. Doxing- Doxing is the process of retrieving, hacking and publishing other people’s information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card details. Doxing may be targeted toward a specific person or an organization. There are many reasons for doxing, but one of the most popular is coercion.
  5. Public Shaming- Internet shaming is an online version of vigilantism, in which people take the law into their own hands. As in the physical world, vigilantes often believe that their actions are a way to bring about justice that would not otherwise be served. In other cases, online shaming is used to attack someone out of spite or to discredit the victim. 
  6. Cyberbullying is often done by children, who more and more frequently have early access to these technologies. The problem is compounded by the fact that a bully can hide behind a pseudonymous user name, disguising his or her true identity. This secrecy makes it difficult to trace the source and encourages bullies to behave more aggressively than they might in a situation where they were identified.

These are just a few of the ways that cognitive hackers are using global information systems to attack and destroy peoples lives. There is no doubt that thesis just the beginning. Next year there will be even newer ways imagined to attack even more people. For now however, we need to know how to recognize these threats and discover immediate and cost efficient ways to mitigate the risks that result from living in a volatile world such as this. Next week, we will look in depth at some very practical methods that we can use to protect ourselves, our families and our businesses against these types of attacks.

Why.

We all want to think, especially when it comes to our ideas, beliefs and politics, that our preferred ways, are so obviously superior, as to be above reproach. The same can be said for our understanding of moral, ethical and even economical matters. For all of us, the priority must always be the truth. Truth must even take precedence over our personal and political objectives. As Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “Christian values . . . cannot be accepted as a superior utilitarianism, just as a means to an end. The biblical message is truth and it demands a commitment to truth.” 

Action.

Finding an honest source of information can be hard. Identifying any one news outlet that tells the truth one hundred percent of the time is almost impossible. After all they are operated by humans who make mistakes in their writings. I will dedicate most of next weeks issue to discussing very practical ways that we can defend ourselves against these kinds of attack s and mitigate the risks that come with living in a volatile, uncertain complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

The follow-up.

Iran claims it has captured 17 CIA spies amid rising tensions….https://taskandpurpose.com/iran-captures-17-cia-spies?utm_campaign=RebelAlerts&utm_medium=email&utm_source=RebelAlerts_taskandpurpose&utm_source=Task+%26+Purpose+Daily&utm_campaign=43bbf95078-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_22_07_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_67edd998fe-43bbf95078-76835763&mc_cid=43bbf95078&mc_eid=11e02f3a1d

New audio shows UK could not prevent Iran takeover of tanker…

https://www.apnews.com/3079b05145e0442b912f270e0a9380b8

The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:  david@morethanmeets.co

Resources.

Joshua Yaffa, “Dmitry Kiselev Is Redefining the Art of Russian Propaganda,” New Republic, July 14, 2014.

Testimony of Rand Waltzman, The RAND Corporation,  Before the Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity United States Senate April 27, 2017… https://www.rand.org/pubs/testimonies/CT473.html

kng.ht/tmdreport

https://hbr.org/2015/05/outsmart-your-own-biases

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/june/how-our-unconscious-biases-shape-our-beliefs.html

https://www.emarketer.com/Article/US-Adults-Now-Spend-12-Hours-7-Minutes-Day-Consuming-Media/1015775

Deepfake PBS show…https://youtu.be/9OIFVm0dPLw

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/cognitive-biases-in-sports-the-irrationality-of-coaches-commentators-and-fans/

http://www2.psych.utoronto.ca/users/peterson/psy430s2001/Kunda%20Z%20Motivated%20Reasoning%20Psych%20Bull%201990.pdf

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/protect-fake-news

https://www.securityweek.com/fake-news-methods-motivations-and-countermeasures

https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/how-to-protect-yourself-against-fake-news

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeroenkraaijenbrink/2018/12/19/what-does-vuca-really-mean/#c49926f17d62

 

© 2019 • More Than Meets