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Reality Hunger

By July 10, 2019June 30th, 2020Cyberwarfare, Deception, fake news, Media, The Weekly

“Objectivity is a myth which is proposed and imposed on us.” Dimitry Kiselev

“In this digital age, we’re experiencing the weaponization of everything.” James Scott, Senior Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology 

“But soon this may seem an age of innocence. We’ll shortly live in a world where our eyes routinely deceive us. Put differently, we’re not so far from the collapse of reality.” Franklin Foer, The Atlantic 

“Words also shoot.”  Sergei Shoigu, Russian Minister of Defence

We are celebrating our 100th edition of More than Meets the Eye this week. It is hard for me to imagine that we have produced that many issues already. I hope they have been worth the time and money you have invested in receiving them. Thank you for your loyalty. It has been my joy to research, write and publish them.

Beginning today, we are rolling out a new More than Meets the Eye website. It will include weekly blogs, an archive and a glossary of terms which may be helpful for you. At the same time we are starting a new subscription campaign. We invite you to engage your friends, family and colleagues with the opportunity to read The Weekly editions of MTMTE.

“Today, thanks to the Internet and social media, the manipulation of our perception of the world is taking place on previously unimaginable scales of time, space and intentionality. That, precisely, is the source of one of the greatest vulnerabilities we as individuals and as a society must learn to deal with.” This quote comes from a testimony given by an executive from the RAND Corporation, Rand Waltzman, before the United States Senate in 2017. He testified that there are forces at play which are shaping our understanding of reality in ways that we have never imagined. Those same media forces are now being weaponized to not only mold our perceptions of reality but to destroy us as well. Even more frightening is that these medias are gearing up to cause us to destroy one another.

Over the next couple of weeks I plan to examine the matter of the weaponization of information and words. In the very near future our world will be one where nobody can discern truth from fiction. We will discover what the weaponization of information actually is and how it has already been used by Russia, China and the USA, via  organizations such as ISIS, al Qaeda and others. 

Weaponization of information and words is a tactic which is being used by individuals against other individuals as well. The marrying of media technology with political agendas, personal vendettas and ideology has arrived.  There is more than meets the eye concerning those who use it, how long it has been going on and the untold damage that has been done and continues to be unleashed as a result. 

This week we will explore how information is being weaponized. We will see the damage that has already been done. 

Next week we will uncover new ways that information will be used and how this can effect our lives. We will also discuss ways that we as citizens of the future world can protect ourselves against these attacks, at least in some measure. 

Deep within each of us is a hunger. The hunger begins with pangs to know what is right, real and true. The truth is that there seems to be so little reality. Soon the only reality will be the passionate hunger for it.

Review.

What do I mean when I say weaponized information? How can simple words be used to destroy and malign? 

The weaponization of information is the very conscious use of information, true or false, to achieve goals ranging from the tactical to the strategic through an active learning process on part of the target. The ultimate objective of the release of information is to shape the target’s preferences in line with the pre-defined aims of the sender. In other words, the goal of weaponized information is bringing about a change in beliefs and attitudes and, as a result, promote behavior that serves the attacker’s purpose. Attacks involving weaponized information are sometimes referred to as cognitive hacking.

The power of information warfare, whether initiated by a national army, a terrorist organization or individuals is not that they twist or turn all information. The goal is to manipulate enough of it so that you are never certain what is reality and what is not. This poses a huge problem for human beings. “Thus far, however, human beings have displayed a near-infinite susceptibility to getting duped and conned—falling easily into worlds congenial to their own beliefs or self-image, regardless of how eccentric or flat-out wrong those beliefs may be.”

This information warfare is very potent due to the combining of regular information with disinformation…over and over again. It is repeated many times in so many different ways that in time no one comprehends its veracity.  This is done and has been for a long time through traditional channels such as television and radio, but more recently it is being repeated on social media platforms, where users troll under hidden or assumed identities, automated bots or video blogs and more recently, targeted political ads.

These information warriors may aim at a particular political figure by relentlessly attacking his character, his positions and his family until everybody begins to believe what they hear. The accusations are either true, exaggerated or completely false. When enough truth is mixed with untruth few are able to tell the difference. Eventually people will believe nothing or they will simply accept untruth as reality. Both are dangerous and are laden with serious consequences.

Governments have been slow to respond to the social challenges that new technologies create, and might rather avoid them. The question of deciding what constitutes reality isn’t just epistemological; it is political and involves declaring certain deeply held beliefs as specious. Few individuals will have the time or perhaps the capacity to sort elaborate fabulation from truth. 

Why.

The evolution of media and technology are causing deep seams within the fabric of reality. For ages humans have relied on what their eyes can see as evidence of reality. Today our eyes are no longer a valid resource for discerning truth from falsehood. Actually there was a historical figure, as some call him who walked the earth over 2,000 years ago who told us that this would happen. He said that man should live by faith, not by sight. In other words, there are things that the eye does not see. These words have never been more true.

We must develop a strategy for discerning reality from falsehood. Most of us are too busy to keenly grasp the nuances between truth and lies. We consume whatever news is put in front of us because we assume it is reality. That passive position is no longer a viable one in today’s world. We must become intelligent consumers of information. We have to find sources as close to the situations/events as possible so that we can understand with assurance what is and is not true. If we do not discipline ourselves to discern truth, we will be like a tiny boat on the waves of a stormy sea, being tossed to and fro with little hope of ever really understanding.

Action.

  1. Become a student of current events. Be brutal in what kind of information you allow to determine your position. Most people I know do not know why they believe what they do. Their opinions are most of the time parroted responses of something they either heard on TV or read on social media. I regularly speak with young people about their positions on local, national and international matters. Their lack of knowledge on current events is epic. As long as we as a nation do not consume information with a view to accuracy we will find ourselves lost in a sea of confusion, thinking we know, but deep down inside realizing our ignorance.
  2. Find sources of information you can trust. I have provided on our new website morethanmeets.co, a resources tab. I will be continually adding sources that you can trust. I have written a short synopsis on each one in order to help you to understand how much the source can be relied upon.
  3. Surround yourself with a community of people who are interested in the truth. This journey is a difficult one to make on your own. Having friends and family around you with whom you can share your thoughts and ideas is extremely important in a world where truth continues to shift. Knowing where your shoreline is deems incredibly critical.

The follow-up.

Iran threatens to restart deactivated nuclear centrifuges… https://taskandpurpose.com/iran-nuclear-centrifuges?utm_campaign=RebelAlerts&utm_medium=email&utm_source=RebelAlerts-taskandpurpose&utm_source=Task+%26+Purpose+Daily&utm_campaign=e9c5525d18-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_08_07_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_67edd998fe-e9c5525d18-76835763&mc_cid=e9c5525d18&mc_eid=11e02f3a1d

Russian-led assault in Syria leaves over 500 civilians dead: rights groups, rescuers… https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-casualties/russian-led-assault-in-syria-leaves-over-500-civilians-dead-rights-groups-rescuers-idUSKCN1U200Q

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

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/realitys-end/556877/

The essayist David Shields calls our voraciousness for the unvarnished “reality hunger.” 

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2019/07/how-deepfakes-could-disrupt-2020-us-election/158203/?oref=defenseone_today_nl 

https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/politics-means-use-abuse-scandal/ 

https://www.diis.dk/en/research/the-weaponization-of-information

https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-awareness/security-weaponization-misinformation/

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/09/weaponization-everything/151097/

https://www.mei.edu/events/countering-weaponization-information-0

https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/weaponized-information

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