Friday, April 28, 2017

Info Wars Indeed

4th Psychological Operations Group,
193rd Special Operations Wing,
Pennsylvania Air National Guard
"The reality is that not everyone shares our vision, and some will seek to undermine it — but we are in a position to help constructively shape the emerging information ecosystem by ensuring our platform remains a safe and secure environment for authentic civic engagement," Facebook recently announced. The monster social media site further stated what amounted to acknowledgments of the existence of well organized networks of sock puppets spreading and "amplifying" misleading information for political and financial purposes. Such instances, it was stated, included during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The public is always a bit slow on the uptake on such stories, but the circumstances are by no means breaking news, or at least they shouldn't be. It has been well reported for years that intelligence agencies throughout the world target social media sites to conduct "non-lethal warfare." Israeli Defense Forces alone acknowledge carrying out such activities in six languages on some 30 platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

FB's Mark Zuckerberg
Moreover, Facebook was reported to be among the most preferred targets for NSA data collection. Per WaPo, circa 2013, "A document supplied to The Washington Post by Edward Snowden indicates that in one representative day, the NSA collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail, and 22,881 from other providers."   

While Facebook might find it advantageous to once again address the situation for one reason or another, I'd challenge its statement of "ensuring our platform remains a safe and secure environment for authentic civic engagement." I'm not convinced it could be shown to have ever been, much less "remain" so.

Speaking of Misleading Information

Notorious InfoWars front man Alex Jones caught the losing side of a child custody case. Imagine that. Items surfacing during the messy battle included his tendencies to hurl profane insults and fan flames of such unfounded allegations as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre never happened. Attorneys for Jones argued that his on air persona is simply performance art, for what that's worth, as counterarguments included documentation of Jones calling a Congressman a "c---sucker," bellowing in a drunken stupor on inauguration night in DC that "1776 will commence again," and other gems.

Right-wing conspiracy theorist, performance artist,
narcissist, presidential aide and dad, Alex Jones
Also surfacing was the testimony of a doctor who stated Jones was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dr. Alissa Sherry conducted group therapy sessions for the Jones family and testified the diagnosis was present in Jones' case file. The disorder involves an inflated sense of self-importance, along with a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. Dr. Sherry added that Jones would regularly take his shirt off during therapy sessions, the only time she recalled a patient undressing in the middle of such sessions. 

Additional whoppers attributed to Alex Jones include accusations the government is lining juice boxes with estrogen to turn boys gay. This man, you will recall, is someone Donald Trump collaborated with and identified as having an "amazing" reputation, which brings us to:

Not THOSE Aliens

Alien on the lam?
The Trump admin launched an office supposedly designed to serve the victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens. Dubbed VOICE, the department includes a phone number for victims. The hotline was reportedly trolled in short order by callers offering up stories of renegade space aliens.

Martian jokes aside, studies conclude immigrants are actually significantly less likely to commit crimes in the U.S. than their American-born counterparts. Such studies span several years of data and were conducted by multiple sources, including the Cato Institute and American Immigration Council, among many more.

I particularly appreciated the Doubtful News take on the story:

The purpose of the hotline is to highlight the incidents of illegal immigrants who victimize Americans. According to statistics, this extra effort is baseless. And, it makes little sense. Those who are in the country without permission would be very stupid to call police attention to themselves. They wish to remain hidden and so are less likely to commit a crime. Besides, no justification has been demonstrated that these particular crime victims need a special office, VOICE, for their reporting. There are already means to report such crimes. This is clearly a manufactured problem in order to influence public opinion about illegal immigrants. It’s a waste of money and promotes misinformation. So, I’m glad it is failing. Put money to better use, on real problems.
The current presidential administration has in its short lifespan already shown a remarkable and destructive tendency to cling to a poorly argued point in the face of all reason. Policies on such issues as a border wall and so-called "travel" ban cannot even be shown to be grounded in factual data, much less that the billions of dollars in costs and lost revenue would solve the "problems" not established to exist in the first place. 

As reported in 2015 via The Intercept article, The Greatest Obstacle to Anti-Muslim Fearmongering and Bigotry: Reality:

We clearly would be wise to exercise reasonable skepticism when solicited to buy into a social media story or related point of view. Every day is April Fools out there. I opt for getting my news from multiple outlets, keeping an eye on verification and sources cited. It's an info war indeed, and your opinion is the prize. Form it wisely.


  1. Just by scanning Wikipedia, hardly one way or another politically, I count 92 deaths carried out by Muslim extremists since 2001 with 1, the Orlando shooting, having 13 more (49 deaths)than is reported in your graphic. I am all for freedom of speech, but fake news? Really Jack?

  2. Read the linked articles, "Bombastic," and note the dates, as specifically provided in the post. I stand by the point of the section on the Trump EOs, and attempting to dilute it doesn't change it a bit: Trump admin failed to so much as establish the existence of the problems as described in the "travel" ban EOs, much less that the ill conceived "solutions" would be effective. Billions spent on a border wall and lost on banning immigrants and visitors from nations that can't even be shown to commit terrorist acts on American soil? Absurd, detrimental and dangerous grandstanding.

  3. Fabulous blog, Jack, a great read, but all of them are here, for sure. In regards to Jones' diagnosis NPD and the quote, " The disorder involves an inflated sense of self-importance, along with a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others" I see and have seen that all too much in -Ufology- and been on the direct recieving end of it all too much, I was a sobbing heap of tears all too often, from it. When I was ignorant on remorseless brains. Which makes a 'person' a humanoid...rather than human. Jack, I want to thank you for keeping a powerful quote on the side of this blogsite of yours, by Anna Holmes, The New York Times, empathy and exploitation.

    1. Thanks, Simone! Glad you enjoy the blog. I empathize with your painful experiences dealing with people in the UFO genre. It happens far too often. I, too, liked the Anna Holmes quote. Thanks again, and be well, Simone!

  4. Not THOSE aliens:

    For a mind blowing statistic:

    Creating and maintaining a high-level of fear of terrorism among Americans is a diversionary tactic, IMO, to keep us from focusing on what's really been happening to this country since the 1980s. Trump is merely following the GOP playbook.

    1. Thanks for the link, PG. Info wars indeed! That's even worse than the hypocrisy of ignoring domestic violence on women and right-wing extremist domestic terrorist crime while framing immigrants as the greatest threat to life and liberty in these United States. Insults to intelligence.