Propagandists Use Automated Software to Spread Disinformation

George Washington's picture

Rampant Disinformation

NATO has announced that it is launching an “information war” against Russia.

The UK publicly announced a battalion of keyboard warriors to spread disinformation.

It’s well-documented that the West has long used false propaganda to sway public opinion.

Western military and intelligence services manipulate social media to counter criticism of Western policies.

Such manipulation includes flooding social media with comments supporting the government and large corporations, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this and this.

In 2013, the American Congress repealed the formal ban against the deployment of propaganda against U.S. citizens living on American soil. So there’s even less to constrain propaganda than before.

Information warfare for propaganda purposes also includes:

  • The Pentagon, Federal Reserve and other government entities using software to track discussion of political issues … to try to nip dissent in the bud before it goes viral

Automated Propaganda

Some of the propaganda is spread by software programs.

We pointed out 6 years ago that people were writing scripts to censor hard-hitting information from social media.

One of America’s top cyber-propagandists – former high-level military information officer Joel Harding – wrote in December:

I was in a discussion today about information being used in social media as a possible weapon.  The people I was talking with have a tool which scrapes social media sites, gauges their sentiment and gives the user the opportunity to automatically generate a persuasive response. Their tool is called a “Social Networking Influence Engine”.

 

***

 

The implications seem to be profound for the information environment.

 

***

 

The people who own this tool are in the civilian world and don’t even remotely touch the defense sector, so getting approval from the US Department of State might not even occur to them.

How Can This Real?

Gizmodo reported in 2010:

Software developer Nigel Leck got tired rehashing the same 140-character arguments against climate change deniers, so he programmed a bot that does the work for him. With citations!

 

Leck’s bot, @AI_AGW, doesn’t just respond to arguments directed at Leck himself, it goes out and picks fights. Every five minutes it trawls Twitter for terms and phrases that commonly crop up in Tweets that refute human-caused climate change. It then searches its database of hundreds to find a counter-argument best suited for that tweet—usually a quick statement and a link to a scientific source.

 

As can be the case with these sorts of things, many of the deniers don’t know they’ve been targeted by a robot and engage AI_AGW in debate. The bot will continue to fire back canned responses that best fit the interlocutor’s line of debate—Leck says this goes on for days, in some cases—and the bot’s been outfitted with a number of responses on the topic of religion, where the arguments unsurprisingly often end up.

Technology has come a long way in the past 5 years. So if a lone programmer could do this 5 years ago, imagine what he could do now.

And the big players have a lot more resources at their disposal than a lone climate activist/software developer does.  For example, a government expert told the Washington Post that the government “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type” (and see this).  So if the lone programmer is doing it, it's not unreasonable to assume that the big boys are widely doing it.

How Does It Work?

How does this work?

We have no inside knowledge, but we can imagine some possibilities:

  • Any article that includes the words “Russia” or “Ukraine” automatically triggers comments accusing Russia of seeking to form a new empire, Putin of being the new Hitler, and the Russians invading and being responsible for all of the violence Ukraine
  • Any article including the words “NSA”, “spying” or “mass surveillance” automatically triggers comments saying that the government is just trying keep us safe, and anyone who questions their actions is a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist who lives in his mom’s basement
  • Any article mentioning the  phrases”Federal Reserve” or “quantitative easing” automatically launches comments saying that the Fed is doing the best it can under difficult circumstances, and that the economy would be much worse without QE

So that moron who keeps spewing garbage - and doesn't seem like he's even listening to your responses - may actually be a bot.

How Effective Are Automated Comments?

Unfortunately, this is more effective than you might assume …

Specifically, scientists have shown that name-calling and swearing breaks down people’s ability to think rationally … and intentionally sowing discord and posting junk comments to push down insightful comments  are common propaganda techniques.

Indeed, an automated program need not even be that sophisticated … it can copy a couple of words from the main post or a comment, and then spew back one or more radioactive labels such as “terrorist”, “commie”, “Russia-lover”, “wimp”, “fascist”, “loser”, “traitor”, “conspiratard”, etc.

Given that Harding and his compadres consider anyone who questions any U.S. policies as an enemy of the state  – as does the Obama administration (and see this) – many honest, patriotic writers and commenters may be targeted for automated propaganda comments.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Arthur Schopenhauer's picture

They're putting LSD in the food and the water to make everybody paranoid.  I'm a robot and don't need to eat or drink, so it doesn't affect me.

Kina's picture

But I think it can work both ways so that there is so much of an avalanche of propaganda data, and anti-propaganda data being spewed out everywhere that it all gets ignored, or all information taken with a bucket of salt.

 

So those wishing to negate US eo-con etc propaganda invasion of blogs and the like can simply automate a defence and attack on comments that seem to attack their favoured postion. etc etc.

Kina's picture

"That @ssh&le Who Spews Garbage and Doesn't Listen to Your Reasonable Comments ... May Be a Bot"

 

Or my wife.

antidisestablishmentarianismishness's picture

Get a grip, you paranoid psychotics!  Write your own bot programs to fight back if you don't like us.  Here's the thing: there are only four real persons posting on this entire website.  All the rest are bots messing with your feeble minds.  

Kraut's picture

George Washington is actually the depressive robot Marvin from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

q99x2's picture

The propagandists hire shills to give my comments down arrows bitchez.

Radical Marijuana's picture

Hah! You are one of the entities I am sure must be human, because it is not yet possible to program a computer to have such a sense of humour!

cheech_wizard's picture

Because everyone needs a completely bogus paper to add to their resume...

http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/scigen/

 

Dragon HAwk's picture

So the real question of course comes down to how can you tell if it's a real person..

 I for one can't spell for crap. although i do try to make the little red lines go away. I think humor is the best eliminator

if you can comment on something with some humor tossed in. I like to think the Bots scratch their metal Heads

 God has a sense of Humor, or he would not have created Humans

 but i am sure ZH is infected with these smart Bots

Radical Marijuana's picture

Would a human troll pass the Turing Test?

It appears to me that the two tails of the real idiocy of some human beings has crossed over the threshold of the apparent intelligence of some computer programs.

On the path to some possible future singularity, when some computer becomes smarter than some human beings, the flip side of some computers becoming more obnoxious than some human beings would surely also manifest! Along the way one would expect it to become practically impossible to decide whether one was exchanging information with a deliberately stupid human being, or an intelligently programmed machine pretending to be a human being.

Surely, machines pretending to act like arrogant @ssh&les would be easier to program than machines which were attempting to simulate compassionate understanding! Anyway, given the kinds of information presented in the article above, it certainly becomes plausible that some of those who post comments on Zero Hedge are computerized simulations.

(Although I have no first-hand knowledge, I have often wondered whether the entity posting under the name "Moneybots" on Zero Hedge was actually a human being, or a sophisticated kind of canned parrot? Perhaps those who set up that account had a sense of humour when they were turning that over to the use of their computer program?)

We have long ago gotten past the point where art imitating nature, transforming into nature imitating art, became mixed up and blended together in hyper-complicated ways! Whatever the current degrees which to two tails, or Venn Diagram areas, of ignorant people and intelligent machines have already overlapped ... IF a technologically based civilization could survive its contradictions, then there are no reasonable doubts that those tailing areas will continue to overlap more and more in the foreseeable future.

In my view, the essential trait that human beings have is that they can build mental models of the world, which have mental model of themselves within their mental models of the world. That creates an infinite tunnel of models, within models, within models ... Furthermore, that creates all of the rest of the psychological and political problems which human beings have dealt with, for as long as they were relatively able to aware that they were aware, in the sense of having a model of the world with a model of themselves inside of their model of the world.

In my view, any entity that can do that will manifest all of the traits that we have associated with human beings, including religions and spirituality. For instance, it is a stock science fiction theme that some future androids would develop to become more compassionate than human beings. After all, contemplation of the infinite tunnels of models, within models, within models, leads the set of models and associated behaviors through from their forms of artificial selection, back to the original natural selection issues, which were chronic problems inherent in the nature of life, and those would become even greater problems the more that some kind of intelligence was selected by the forces of natural selection to develop better models of the world, with a models of themselves within their models of the world.

At the present time, human intelligence has developed as the internalization of natural selection, and that has enabled the development of human cultures to operate artificial selection systems. However, the history of human warfare then selected for the most socially successful systems of artificial selection to operate through the maximum possible deceits and treacheries, which then became the foundation of a political economy based on enforced frauds.

The two leading edges of automation are, first and foremost, the High Frequency Trading, which is automated fraud, that has taken all the stock jobbers' tricks and systematized them up to approaching the speed of light, while the second leading edge is the trend towards automated drones, which will surely develop to the point where they are killing some human beings without any real human presence left in that loop.

Basically, the frauds enforced in the combined money/murder systems are the primarily ways that the progress in physical science and technology are being applied ... Inside that context, that there would develop computerized trolls, which appeared more considerate than the previously active human trolls, is a relatively trivial issue, although something that we might directly encounter much more probably than ever directly encounter a HFT or a deadly drone.

conscious being's picture

RM Nice post. Let me posit that there's more to being human than meets the eye. William Shakespeare — 'There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' Philosophy a.k.a science in Shakespeare's usage. Carl Jung had a lot of what at the time was revolutionary thought to say about this, common consciousness, archetypes, which he came to via access to Eastern Philosophy. Serious question - Have you seen Jung's "Red Book"? His "Liber Novus"? If not, you realy ought to have a look. It is his diary written over a number of years. I would describe it as Western rationalist / materialist meets Mysticism and conducts a no-holds-bared dialogue, backed up by the nearly psychedelic artwork he added each day, derived from his dreams the night before as was the text of his dialogue, so the text compliments the artwork and vice versa.

The point is, science can not mimic that which it can't/ doesn't understand. Children are born with all kinds of awareness that they are socialized to ignore until large parts of this natural born awareness is atrophied. It wasn't always so. In some parts of the world, it still isn't so. All tbe best.

Radical Marijuana's picture

Have you seen Jung's "Red Book"? His "Liber Novus"?

Not yet, but I liked his theory of archetypes, and his introduction to the Wilhelm Baynes translation of the I Ching.

Sadly, you are right that: "Children are born with all kinds of awareness that they are socialized to ignore until large parts of this natural born awareness is atrophied."

I believe that the ruling classes are engaged in a war against the consciousness of those they rule over. Therefore, almost everything has been inverted and perverted. For instance, "money" used to mean metal coins, which had intrinsic value, while a "dollar" was a precise amount of silver. Gradually, the meanings of the words "money" and "dollar" were inverted and perverted. In ways like that, the biggest bullies' bullshit dominates how people are taught to think, to the degree where it is almost impossible for them to not continue to automatically believe in that bullshit.

I am SURE that: "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." ... while I barely perceive even an infinitesimal fragment of those.

conscious being's picture

RM - Robert Wilhelm is the I-Ching translator I think you are refering to. Look for Jung's introduction to The Tibetan Book of the Dead which is also excellent and illustrates nicely, his break with Freud. Up until November, 2001, only 24 people had seen the Liber Novus. At that time, 11/2001, for some unexplained reason, 9-11?, the family made it available for free on the internet, where it remained for about a year, but no more. Now I see you can buy it from Amazon new, for $143!! Marked down, on sale from ... $250!! I see a case of supressed knowledge. You can still find it for free if you look hard enough in the torrent download world for example, but it keeps moving around. Ideally, you can find the text with the artwork as one illuminates the other. I hope you can find one or more of these because, you write great stuff, but primarily from a materialist (marxist?) perspective and to me that's a just a part of the greater perspective. Cheers.

 

 

Radical Marijuana's picture

http://www.akirarabelais.com/i/i.html

Richard Wilhelm's and Cary F. Baynes

translation of

I Ching

& I found this link to recording of lectures by Lance S. Owens, that I bookmarked to listen to later:

http://www.gnosis.org/redbook/index.html

Bumbu Sauce's picture

I read a few political blogs(less and less as time goes by) and the paid government shills are easy to spot.  Back before Obamacare was passed, there were a bunch of new registers that praised it and posted nothing but kaiser survey data to buttress their "arguments."  Immediately after those motherfucking assholes passed Obamacare, POOF! All the Obamacare proponents disappeared.  They never discoursed with other commenters.  

conscious being's picture

Bumbu, it is odd when people refer to themselves in the third person.

Alternate Skiffy's picture

You guys are all greeky russian troll-bots! Just stop denying it)))

rgraf's picture

!@#!$$% double posting submission bot

rgraf's picture

I was trying to cuss out my my celco, but before I got to anyone worth traumatizing, I suspectedI was talking to a bot. The celco answer bot wasn't prepared for the question I asked, or at least not the way I asked it. Rather than ask, 'am I talking to a person?', which would be PC, I asked. 'is this a computer?' The bot answered yes. Or, you can just push 0, since a human answered phone will disable the key from doing anything other than making the dtmf sound, but a bot will have the key be active. And if you want to traumatize customer service, (a real person if you can get one), they are programmed to apologize if you had a complaint. Yelling 'I don't want an apology' will leave them result in them aplogoizing. Repeat as necessary.

mendigo's picture

My thinking is

Short responses

Constructive

Dont reply to replies

lakecity55's picture

Just ignore the bots. You can see them after a while.

Jstanley011's picture

So give us an example on ZH that you think was posted by an example onZH xzzz..pppkbrrrrrrrrrr.. that you think on ZH that you think was bbbbbbb goop think was posted by a llllllddd ZIRP. bot.

nmewn's picture

Hah!...member for 3 years, 21 weeks!

We should be careful when considering "conformist" opinions & views, they just may be wrong.

Including mine ;-)

My Days Are Getting Fewer's picture

Stop beating your brains out about refuting propaganda. 

When I was a young litigation lawyer in NYC in the 1970s, I had a case in the NY civil court, which was being defended by a crusty lawyer, who had been practicing law in the NYC courts for more than 50 years.  We were engaged in pretrial discovery, which devolves into "motion practice".  Like:  Judge, they won't answer my questions - please make them answer.  Judge, they won't show up for depositions or produce documents, please hold them in contempt, etc.

So, I made the motion and wrote an eloquent brief - the longer, the more the firm got paid by the client.  I receive my opponent's response:  He had a rubber stamp made which printed out "Bull Shit!"

Instead of writing a long-winded rebuttal, he took my brief and stamped Bull Shit over most of the arguments and mailed it to me and the judge.  When we got to court, he stood up and said this:

Your Honor, my opponent has written a long brief which is total bull shit.  Here are the reasons why his motion should be denied:  1, 2, 3, 4.  Then, he sat down.  The judge listened and thinking for about 20 seconds ruled:  Son (meaning me), you do not have sufficient evidence to hold the defendants in contempt.  Motion denied!

Instead of beating your brains out, why not create a couple of Bull Shit stamps to counter this crap, like:

Utter Propaganda

Unworthy of a response:  baseless opinion devoid of fact

Bull Shit

Not worthy of a response - shill sponsor - deny payment

ETC

Radical Marijuana's picture

After spending about 15 years in court cases against the government of Canada over the laws that control the funding of political parties, the main thing that I discovered is that the apparently intelligible rules of court, and charter of rights are BULLSHIT, because the senior government bureaucrats, lawyers, as well as the judges, will deliberately ignore any facts or laws that would lead them to a conclusion that they do not like, and therefore, the rules of court and charter of rights amount to nothing more than bullshit.

There is nothing but systems of lies, backed by violence. The human rule of law is ONLY connected to the laws of nature by the ability to back up lies with violence. In that context, human and/or computerized trolls are quite consistent with the theory and practice of resolving human conflicts which has been developed for thousands of years. The first book on the Art of War starts by saying that success in war is based on deceits, and ends by saying that spies are the most important soldiers. The Western tradition, with authors like Machiavelli and Clausewitz, were elaborations of the same basic principles and methods of organized crime, as applied on larger and larger scales, through military conflicts.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31020283

"All human history can be portrayed as the history of deception."

--  Alexander Vladimirov

After the larger military conflicts are resolved, those who prevailed have the political power to set up courts, which are ceremonial conflicts, wherein rational evidence and logical arguments do not actually matter all much, because, really, IT IS ALL BULLSHIT FIGHTING BULLSHIT.

Zero Hedge's comment area was originally thought of as a kind of "Fight Club," as named after the movie with that title. From that perspective, it is not at all surprising that those who cheat and win will cheat again and again, and probably continue winning. I would guess that people do not spend lots of money on automated trolling unless they thought that was worthwhile. After all, there is almost nothing but organized crime surrounded by controlled opposition, and the ability to continue to control the opposition is crucial to the ability to continue to operate the essential core of organized crime.

In my view, one of the main reasons why it is practically impossible to imagine any realistic solutions to the real political problems is the degree to which there is almost nothing but controlled opposition groups, which are significant in the public spaces, as those who are pretending to be resisting the established systems. From that perspective, of course, one would expect that posting comments on articles was almost totally fighting bullshit with bullshit, and so practically as useless ...

EXCEPT, THERE IS NO WAY TO ACTUALLY AVOID THE FIGHT, SINCE THE BEST ORGANIZED GANGS OF CRIMINALS ASSERT CLAIMS, WHICH THEY BACK UP WITH COERCION, TO ALREADY OWN ALL OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NATURAL RESOURCES, AS WELL AS MAINTAIN THAT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONTROL WHAT ANYONE ELSE IS ALLOWED TO CONSUME.

My Days Are Getting Fewer's picture

Stop beating your brains out about refuting propaganda. 

When I was a young litigation lawyer in NYC in the 1970s, I had a case in the NY civil court, which was being defended by a crusty lawyer, who had been practicing law in the NYC courts for more than 50 years.  We were engaged in pretrial discovery, which devolves into "motion practice".  Like:  Judge, they won't answer my questions - please make them answer.  Judge, they won't show up for depositions or produce documents, please hold them in contempt, etc.

So, I made the motion and wrote an eloquent brief - the longer, the more the firm got paid by the client.  I receive my opponent's response:  He had a rubber stamp made which printed out "Bull Shit!"

Instead of writing a long-winded rebuttal, he took my brief and stamped Bull Shit over most of the arguments and mailed it to me and the judge.  When we got to court, he stood up and said this:

Your Honor, my opponent has written a long brief which is total bull shit.  Here are the reasons why his motion should be denied:  1, 2, 3, 4.  Then, he sat down.  The judge listened and thinking for about 20 seconds ruled:  Son (meaning me), you do not have sufficient evidence to hold the defendants in contempt.  Motion denied!

Instead of beating your brains out, why not create a couple of Bull Shit stamps to counter this crap, like:

Utter Propaganda

Unworthy of a response:  baseless opinion devoid of fact

Bull Shit

Not worthy of a response - shill sponsor - deny payment

ETC

DOGGONE's picture

These are simple historical data series, kept out of sight to sucker the people! Tell everyone, to crush the big con!

"Stop whoring for Wall Street"
http://www.showrealhist.com/yTRIAL.html
http://patrick.net/?p=1223928

Duc888's picture

Confession:  I got trolled by an early "bot" on a dating site about 10 years ago.  Once I figured it out it was pretty damned amusing carrying on a conversation of sorts.

 

cheech_wizard's picture

And you didn't ask her/bot the following?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAZI4ydY6R8

22 second mark...

 

Lmo Mutton's picture

Hey bots FU. FU NSA. FU NWO.

kchrisc's picture

The key to propaganda is:

1) It is always about "money, power, and/or division." Don't let them take it, don't let them have it, and don't believe it.
2) The truth is their lies not within their lies. Don't believe their lies, understand WHY they are lying. Find the "money, power, and/or division" angle.

The banksters need to repay us.

Quinvarius's picture

This is interesting from the point of view that the internet can have a discussion with itself.  I am not sure how it ultimately resolves the differences when two bots talk at each other, or if it means anything when no one is reading all the responses.  I feel like i have to build one now so I can be part of this internet mind.  Maybe if other bots read this stuff and make real decisions based off it, that would be the final effect.  I feel that this is evolution of some sort.  

flysofree's picture

As they say "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." I would consider your blog nothing short but a 'propaganda' site that promotes disinformation about the Middle East and portrays Arabs(in particular Palestinians) through rosy glasses.

usednabused's picture

Why don't you head back to hymieville? That countries politicians are masters at deception and propaganda. You belong back in your motherland and stay the fuck out of ours.

Tarzan's picture

usednabused,  Of who do you refer when you tell Jews to stay out of "OUR" motherland?  Do you have a mouse in your pocket?  Are you of a pure race?  Any Jews or Negros in your ancestry?  What races are welcome in "our" land?  While your thinking about that, where is hymieville, Palestine or Germany?

flysofree's picture

Are you an American? I am a REAL American. I am free to criticize anyone and unlike the fascist you are I don't advocate 'ethnic cleansing' or political correctness.

Can't you do better than to call people names? Can't a REAL Christian American think for himself and detest the 'propaganda' behind the Washington blog.

Besides the writer of this blog is no George Washington, he is more like Rudolf Eichmann.

 

What is a hymie anyway--something to be proud of? What the hell are you?

 

 

cheech_wizard's picture

Define "REAL American"... I'll wait.

JCC's picture

The above is a classic example of a bot

 

Changing the subject: check

Name calling: check

Devolving to religion: check

Ignatius's picture

TVs should come with the option of punching it in the nose.

Punch the TV and the network CEO's nose bleeds.

VooDoo6Actual's picture

MK Mind ConTROLL by the BORG.

Shitgum Suicide's picture
Shitgum Suicide (not verified) Mar 23, 2015 4:07 PM

Tarzan- But that's what a bot would do, isn't it?

Yes I would agree with you but there is another reason for it. Maybe he
Is just a gutless coward who can't handle criticism so he projects and deflects any debate. That is unless you agree with him.

If you notice the mentality of who people who don't want to here anything other than what they believe is selling you something. Which is what leftists have to do is sell you in their bullshit and foment distrust in your country and the concept of liberty is an Old and outdated firm of running peoples lives.

This is a mental disorder which can be examined quite easily by the stupidity of leftists and propagandists which are one in the same.

Because if we let them live their lives and keep more of their earnings, we can sell them fear and resentment towards those that work for. Living and actually stop blaming successful peoe for their plight.

Or maybe he's Just a stupid retarded bot because someone feels the
Need to obfuscate.

Stupid bot.

Tarzan's picture

Well Shitgum,  He's used that on me more then once when I've dared disagree with something he writes.  And I do dare!   Especially when he lets his bias show.  I don't really believe he's a bot and I hate to break it to you but I agree with George many times.  I just think his writing are a bit biased at times and occasionally borders on bigotry.  But unlike you I do not believe it's a left right issue.  I came from the christian right.  I always sided with America on every issue until about 10 years ago when I started reading some history about Vietnam.  My father was killed there and the downing of his P3 Orion was surrounded by controversy.  Look up VP-26 in 1967-68.  Anyway, I now realize we have created many of the problems we send our boys off to die for ( I have three boys of fighting age).  Much of what George writes brings light to that fact.

The left is in my opinion the least informed group, most prone to group think and least likely to buck the trends of there party.  But they are not the problem.  It's much deeper then that and your just going to have to keep reading things that challenge your beliefs before you can see the light that America is knee deep in the EVIL that is overtaking the world!

the grateful unemployed's picture

The first rule of controlling the message is to control the dissent. this means you want the outcome of a public debate to turn out your way. You allow the dissenting voice be from only the most poorly reasoned speakers and writers. Newspaper oped pages do this regularly. Only the least articulate have their letters published, where the media has a stake in the outcome.

The MSM allows economists like Paul Krugman to speak for that group critical of government economic and fed policy. This is why Krugman is a joke to ZH readers. His argument is a joke. At issue during the Iraq war was not the moral basis, but how big the war should be, or as John Kerry said when he ran against Bush, we can do the Iraq war better. Bush was a college debater, despite his malapropisms, he understood the techniques.

When they passed medicare D they first proposed a bill no one could understand. (We had to pass it to see whats in it, the prequel to Obamacare) The debate falls pretty much down the middle. By proposing a bill aiming to be indecipherable, and therefore equally supported and opposed, it is then only a matter of sending the lobbyists onto the floor to get the 5% of swing votes necessary to pass the bill, 55/45. Viola, that's how bad law is made.

The bots in this instance are doing push polls, someone calls you and asks a question, do you like candidate Jones? You say yes, the bot says would you still like him if you knew he practised beastiality?

Or as the lawyer said, "How long has it been since you stopped beating your wife?" These things may go high tech, but they are old school, I mean school yard tricks. Mostly people see through them, Social Media is a screen to cover the face of the person, but anonymity is a great strength, and a right I believe. It allows people the freedom to say what they feel and to use any language or phrase they choose. The commenters with the most approval are usually those who capture the emotion of the argument, because those who just argue the facts are dissemblers, the facts will always present whatever one side wants to present. WMDS for instance.

I tend to believe in trial by media, the only twelve people in LA who didn't know OJ was guilty were the twelve jurors who were sequestered and spoon fed a lot of BS, via the judge who ruled on what was admissible. (just like an OPED editor who controls the argument on one side of the issue)

rgraf's picture

The pro position usually makes a false appeal to authority. The con usually gets crass and looks stupid. I think Obamacare wasn't about complexity, but rather nobody was allowed to read it in its entirety. They just showed the applicable portions to those who were bribed or extorted into supporting certain provisions. This allowed them to avoid debate. I haven't experienced any polls calling since I rarely even know where my phone is, let alone answer it, but I'm sure the polls are slanted and purged or just smear campaigns. Back in the 80s when I did answer the phone, I got the LaRouche pundit (they were known to be quite hostile to opposing views on the phone) to hang up in frustration, saying, 'oh no. you're not getting me into that trap again.) That was after a half hour of conversation while I was going through some paperwork. Figure I probably saved a couple of people from the slug, and I didn't waste my time.

As for the wife beating question, it is usually phrased as either 'have you stopped beating your wife?', or 'are you still beating your wife?' depending on whether one wants a yes or no response. The trick is to ask a series of questions that the lawyer knows the answer to and to get the same yes or no at least three times in a row. The inclination is to either answer with another yes or no, or the respondent will pause, making themselves look uncertain or deceitful.

A particularly useful tactic in arguments is to not answer, but rather to question the questioner with a analogous example that makes the questioner look foolish, and it undermines any sense of authority and puts an end to their train of thought. This is especially useful in appeals to emotion.

The argument that 'freedomof speech does not extend to yelling fire in a crowded theater' is a good example. They put the picture in the mind of the audience of a crowded theater and a fire, which conjures up people being immolated. But there is no fire. Nobody is trampling granny and the babies in a bull rush out the door. Nobody is running unless they at least see smoke. But the picture was painted. Then, the argument can turn to 'what about libel?' But who do you blame for the supposed harm that libel is supposed to cause? THe person who made the libelous statement, or those who believed it and acted upon it? Those are just 'foot in the door' approaches to government approved speech, otherwise known as totalitatinism. Mention that word, and the other side usually loses it.

the grateful unemployed's picture

theres an article posted on MSNBC right now, about how Obamacare has silenced all its critics (on the 5th anniversary) i would say anecdotally that mandated HC insurance is not universally accepted, that it remains to be seen who really foots the bill, the insurance companies, or the state medicaid programs. we also know that HC insurance is the top consumer spending item (consumer confidence up, booyah).

pass the bill to impeach the president (just to see whats it in)

 

rgraf's picture

I agree with your points. But as to who foots the bill, I think it's more like which straw breaks the camel's back. The government is probably about to go broke as the 92 million who have dropped out of the system are just the beginning of an abandonment that will be the demise of govzilla. I suspect April 15 will be a key indicator that the system is failing entirely.

As for the bill to impeach the president: unfortunately it has to come from the accomplices to start with. It is not possible to vote government away. You have to stop voting and cooperating with them. Tending to one's own needs and not interfering in the affairs of others is the only way to slay govzilla. Cooperation with those of a like mind, rahter than legitimizing the collectivist control system.

Tarzan's picture

As an employee of a large newspaper with access to both what ends up in print and the unedited wire story it came from I must concur, the Media is obsessed with controlling dissent.

 

By the way, You sir would make Mrs. Malaprop very proud!

williambanzai7's picture

Attention: All bots to the left and all trolls to the right...