Disinformation: How it works
by 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 sociopolitical structure. Those who had theological, metaphysical or scientific information outside of the conventional and scripted collective worldview 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, maintain 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 been accomplished for the most part. 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: This is otherwise known as “cherry-picking” data. One simple piece of information or root item of truth can derail an entire disinformation news story; so instead of trying to gloss over it, they simply pretend 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 nauseam, 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 TV. 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 TV debates in highly restrictive environments that 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 grass-roots 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 his 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 blindsided 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 use 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 counter side. As grass-roots 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) grass-roots 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:
•Make outrageous comments designed to distract or frustrate: This is an Alinsky tactic used to make people emotional, although it’s less effective because of the impersonal nature of the Web.
•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 that incite violence — a technique obviously intended to solidify the false assertions of the think tank propagandists like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which purports that Constitutionalists should be feared as potential domestic terrorists.
•Dominate discussions: Trolls often interject themselves into productive Web discussions in order to throw them off course and frustrate the people involved.
•Prepared responses: Many trolls are supplied with a list or database with prepared 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. Examples include 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 “gray area” where the truth becomes “relative.”
•Straw man arguments: This is 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 attack 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.
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 using 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 diffuse mass-produced lies, the future will look bleak indeed.