Advertisements

Update: In the wake of the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria, a United Nations Security Council meeting has been convened and is being given live coverage as this is written.

What happened in Idlib, Syria?

According to the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, the chemical weapons attack in Idlib has all the “hallmarks” of Damascus. But curiously, the Russian envoy to the UN is calling for an impartial international investigation into the nerve-gas attack, implying that the details of who used these weapons and how are not known.

What is interesting about all this, aside from the alternative media screaming false-flag, is President Donald Trump’s response to the attack which involved executing a retaliatory attack against a Syrian military base with some 50-60 tomahawk missiles. This response definitively evinces that Trump is NOT a Russian agent as so many media outlets have been suggesting, so we can now sit back and watch for the next move mainstream media will make to vilify him.

On another note, it has been remarked by numerous UN envoys that the use of chemical weapons is a threat to international stability and security (of course), so it is critical that we know exactly who carried out the nerve-gas attack instead of “jumping to conclusions”, otherwise we may be viewing a nuance of the “he has chemical weapons” scenario propped up by the Bush administration to oust Saddam Hussein.

Language is veritably a thing that is taken for granted. Even now as you read these lines not much conscious effort is necessary to comprehend what concepts I am attempting to convey. We think in language and, blatantly (needless to say but say I will), we communicate with language.

“Communicate: to convey knowledge of or information about”

Just what we communicate though is limited not by our cognitive capabilities of concept formation, but by our relation of certain sounds (words) with experiences of things and phenomena as well as intellectual abstractions. You see, right now I can be rather sure that you know what I am trying to communicate, for the vocabulary I am using to express my thoughts is probably in parity with your own gray-matter repository of words. But notice the moment I alter the reciprocated nomenclature in communicating with you (i.e. I am the arbiter of a garrulous malediction against garbled, nuncupative sentences concerning one’s oneiromancy respecting visions of my hypothalamo-hypophysial portal system as described by texts on human anatomy and the general disuse of greater vocabularies) your comprehension or reception of the message is lost. Not because I am speaking utter gibberish, but because you cannot decrypt the concept present within the message – you simply have not consciously cataloged these words with their respective concepts.

“Oneiromancy: divination by means of dreams”

I raise this point to expand your awareness of the essential function of language and how crucial language is for the expression of complex concepts. If you have not the words, how can you explain anything? The less words you have, the less combinations you can string together to communicate whatever striking thoughts you have. In understanding this to be so, that one’s vocabulary is directly proportional to his/her capability of communicating anything (especially the complex), then it follows that the more one leaves his/her repository of words to gather dust or decay into commonalities (less variety) the sooner one will lose an aspect of the saliency that makes us human.

Put another way, because the most salient part of our evolution is our capacity to derive and utilize complex concepts about how our world works, it is most critical to culture and social communion that we maintain among each other the vocabulary necessary for conveying these complex concepts. Without it, we are indirectly demolishing our sapience.

To illustrate further, imagine if you will that a certain physicist has deduced accurate formulas which describe gravitation and light, but his colleagues could not understand him. Let it also be said that he could not be understood because his concepts required vocabulary beyond that possessed by his colleagues or he spoke an alien language. What is this physicist to do? It is obvious that until he, or his colleagues, erases the language barrier, the world will not receive the benefits of his equations.

Language is the mediator of human thought, and for this reason it must be safe-guarded, developed, and appreciated by the masses.

So what implications does this diatribe hold for observed trends with our youth in the technotronic era? Simple really. If language continues to lose its vigor and vivacious users, it is most natural that cognitive saliencies will decline as well.

“Technology: the totality of means employed to provide objects necessary for human sustenance and comfort”

Look at the above definition of technology and think of the benefit it gives to the man who has replaced a shovel ( a piece of technology) with higher technology ( a mechanical drill) for extraction of ore. What does the technology do for him? It saves him work (i.e. energy). The energy the man would have been expending with his own body is now expended by a machine which his sapience has manifested. It is an obvious benefit. But once the technologies move from providing material comfort by saving physical exertion to providing comfort by saving man mental exertion, problems with our evolution will proliferate immediately. Need change? I can’t do that without a calculator anymore. Need directions? I don’t know how to supply them to you without looking at a GPS. Need food? I don’t know what is edible without consulting the producers.

This is the danger of allowing the mind to be replaced with technological implements. This is the danger of not using the mind or educating oneself or expanding one’s vocabulary.

In summary, our salience is the mind, and we are slowly replacing our salience with technology and entertainment.

Digressions aside, the term “Orwellian” is apt enough to describe our modern situation. If you cannot apprehend complex concepts because of a language deficit, then 1984 has dropped away from the fictional domain and into reality.

(P.S. go read a book, knowledge is power)

You want to talk about ‘fake news’? You know, that notion that implies mainstream media pundits out of FOX, CNN, MSNBC, and the like are the only legitimate sources of verified “news”?

Guess what, that notion may be as backwards from the truth as it can be.

The Intercept is carrying a story that, to allude to clichés of logic, is proving not all crows are black. The Los Angeles Times has been actively collaborating with “CIA public affairs officers” who assess and script the articles written by Ken Dilanian, “now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times…”

The emails which have substantiated this insight, “show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication.”

As connoted before, it only takes one example like this to prop up the supposition that more of our media is infected with biased content, machined in such a way as to lull people effectively away from ‘real news’.

On this note we should ask ourselves what constitutes real news?

A Commoner’s criteria prescribes that real news should be as objective, honest, and timely, as is humanly possible.

Lets break that down a bit.

Objective: means to steer clear of subjective opinions. It means avoiding the murderous paraphrasing of speech/writing of witnesses, or other sources of information, that presents an impression out of accord with what has really been communicated.

Honest: means to not state what is incongruous with objective facts, such as Reagan’s position of not being aware of the drug smuggling taking place in the U.S. in exchange for funds to provide weapons to Iran when he was well aware, or Hillary Clinton’s claim of landing in Serbia under sniper fire when in fact she hadn’t.

Timely: means to provide news to the public as soon as all the facts have been verified, not before.

That is our opinion of how ‘real news’ should operate, and using our criteria for assessing the “real”-ness of news, it becomes apparent that the news platforms calling for ending ‘fake news’ are themselves guilty of being un-objective and dishonest. (And no, this piece here should not be considered news, it is opinion, therefore I am not beholden to the mandate of taking the time to cite every single news outlet guilty of the alleged crime)

Watch the video below to see how FOX news has been caught concocting an ‘infowar’ against Alex Jones, alleging that he has slandered Hillary Clinton when in fact his words were taken out of context (murderously paraphrased).

We will return with a piece on how this “fake-news” trend threatens free-speech on the web. Take care all.

The more technology that is present in a vehicle, the more points of vulnerability that car will possess that may be exploited by a hacker. This is the sentiment of ex-NSA spy Charles Miller who demonstrated, in a 2016 Viceland clip of CyberWar, a variety of NSA hacking tricks the agency could use on a target’s vehicle.

In the video Miller shows how the ‘head-unit’ of a vehicle, essentially an on-board computer managing radio, climate control, navigation, etc., can be hacked so as to allow for malicious tampering of the vehicle’s characteristics. Among the characteristics that can be affected following cyber-breach of the on-board computer include the steering, transmission (switch the vehicle to neutral), engine (kill the engine), and gas-pedal (accelerate the vehicle). Miller remarks that he could even turn a “radio-station on in a million cars” simultaneously.

So the NSA, and one may infer the CIA, do possess the capacity to remotely (or via hardlink) hack vehicles. This is incontestable.

Michael Hastings’ and his Mercedes Coup

On June 18th, 2013 journalist Michael Hastings was killed when his car crashed into a tree and exploded in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles.

“[A] witness to the accident, told KTLA/Loud Labs (Scott Lane) the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and he saw sparks coming from the car and saw it explode BEFORE hitting the tree.”

His body was scorched beyond recognition and was only then identified through fingerprint analysis. A few days thereafter his death was deemed free of ‘foul-play’, alluding to the possibility that his death was the result of some conspiracy relating to the stories he would write.

Prior to his death, Hastings was in the process of completing a piece on CIA Director John Brennan which, as evidenced by an email of Fred Burton released by Wikileaks, was likely to have netted much negative attention from the director himself. The email reads:

“Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning
information from inside the beltway sources. Note — There is specific tasker from the WH to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is
shocked. The Wonder Boys must be in meltdown mode…”

Brennan and witch hunts? Referencing the above, surely Michael Hastings presented himself as a target.

Was Hastings killed as the result of a conspiracy to silence him? The internet is replete with speculation. Truthfully, we don’t know.

What is known however is that the security establishment, namely the CIA, has a consistent historical record of ‘mopping up’ situations and people counter to its agenda. We will bring examples forward…

Continued…

So where were we?

 

Oh yes, we were discussing the relevance of social network analytics (SNA) to psychological operations/ military information support operations (MISO) as expounded upon by the Dep. of Defense, Joint Chiefs, and the Dep. of Army:

“Human networks are tied together by certain quantifiable links: working together, kinship, friendship, financial transactions, and countless others. Of particular importance to PSYOP personnel may be the publically and commercially available data from social media platforms.”

The average person has no idea how social network analytics (SNA) operate, and in this particular deficit of knowledge, users are also unaware of the security risks posed by the information they post to social media platforms and the like.

Recall the scene in The Dark Knight when Batman resorts to illegally hacking the cellular signal transmissions of every citizen in Gotham to create a real-time, multilayered visual of the city in order to find the Joker and his hostages. The result of SNA is sort of like this.

By collating, analyzing, and integrating enough data from commercial and public sources, one can create an elaborate ‘map’ of the flow and spread of information through social media. This map depicts informational profiles of users as well. With SNA, one can also use the resultant map to target certain information nodes to either stop information from spreading through a network or propagate MISO critical messages.

In this present Part 2 of Cognitive Engagement, I aim to supply a condensed run-down of SNA, along with the explanations of SNA from source documents in hopes of conveying the essence of a novel, obscure notion of data-mining relating to human freedom and the evolution of propaganda.

To begin, we must know what the metrics of SNU are.

 

SNU Metrics

The document cited in Part 1 of Cognitive Engagement details the metrics of SNU.

These metrics are:

  1. Centrality: a centrality measure is any metric used to determine a social media user’s preeminence/ sphere of influence within a network.
  2. Degree: a centrality measure of a social media user. The rule of ‘degree’ is basic – he/she with many social contacts, say “200”, has a greater degree of influence than one with 20.
  3. Eigenvector Centrality: a nuanced centrality metric that is used to determine how connected a social media user is with users possessing a high degree of influence. “This index locates actors who are the top of hierarchies or are popular within the network.”
  4. Betweeness Centrality: used to determine “nodes” or individuals in a network that are “uniquely” connected to other users in such a manner that resembles information access control. Without these “betweenness” nodes, certain information ‘contagions’ will not spread.
  5. Key Player Centrality: used to identify what individuals of a given network possess the highest overall influence. “MISO teams can identify a set of well-connected actors to maximize the potential impact of a message and spread it through a given network influencing a given number of nodes with minimal overlap. This algorithm can also be applied to determine which set of nodes, if removed, would fragment a network the most and damage its ability to spread information or other resources.”

In synergy with the above metrics, a comprehensive understanding of a network can be derived with “community-detection algorithms” (CDA) such as the Girvan-Newman algorithm which detects and identifies “sub-groups” of a given network. It is also “used to great effect to identify cleavages within groups, which are not easily recognized, even by those within the group themselves. PSYOP teams could use this method to increase identification of cleavages to better tailor messages and understand the topography of their intended audience.”

Utilizing these components, along with suitable information technology, it is possible to modulate, disseminate, or block critical information from spreading through a network. Understandably these analytics can be put to reasonably justified uses such as monitoring and deterring terrorist cells, but where things get dicey in relation to human freedom is the monitoring of potential extremists.

 

 Who is Targeted and Why

As explicitly stated in the document, targets of MISO influence include the broad category of ‘potential extremists’. As we covered in a former post, the criteria for classifying one as a terrorist is not exactly perfect and may serve to label individuals in order to justify the deployment of SNA unwarrantedly:

“As related by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Sec. 802 of the U.S. PATRIOT ACT provides for the justification of legal pressures against civilian populations who hold to ideologies counter to established U.S. policies. In other words, if you happen to detest and protest a certain policy of the U.S., that very action may be interpreted as a form of domestic terrorism and therefore individuals participant in such protests may be deemed ‘terrorists’.”

 

It should also be noted that certain components of an individual’s world-perspective (ideology) may falsely betray one as a ‘potential extremist’. For example, a DHS document conveys the sentiment that a belief in a conspiratorial ‘new world order’ is radical. This implies that free-thought may be under attack in our society (or already has been for years).

 

 

No. The belief in a new world order is not kooky and it should not serve as a metric in determining one’s susceptibility to radicalization.

To be Continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All that human kind holds within its domain of cognition is but a drop in the ocean of universal knowledge. Even as I have the propensity to search for an edge that might cut through falsity, I must admit that I am inclined to make the fatuous presumption that my limited capacities of conscience might somehow grasp “the truth” of the universe in all its entirety.

Who can contend with the idea that the suchness of a human being is that of limitation? Who can deny that there is a delineated capacity to what one can know? And though we concede that our disposition in comprehending the universe around us is very limited, we persist in our quest for ultimate knowledge.

Because of this struggle to understand, scientific men and women are the heroes of our story – facing the daunting odds of defeat by the dark obscurities of the star ocean’s depths with the intention of bringing forth light to a world of “unreason”. Let us hope science does not fail us. Let us hope that science will bring us an innovated perception of our lives. Yes, let us hope that science will satisfy the existential imperative to formulate an understanding of why we are here.

But of course, such objectivity will not satiate our subjective cravings, for what we want is the incontrovertible, the absolute. We want perfect knowledge to beset our imperfect minds in that we may finally rest with the certitude that we have found meaning and the most correct way to live. We would rejoice with the reception of idealistic omniscience with the exclamation, “I hold understanding of all the cosmos!” Yet it is perhaps a most grand tragedy to believe that knowledge of the infinite can be endowed to the finite.

This notion of omniscience has consistently been the defining attribute of our gods and is perhaps a psychological projection of humankind’s desire to know. The Genesis story of Eden’s tree of knowledge and the partaking of its fruit by the origins of the human species under the tempting of the serpent is perhaps an allegory of a genuine human condition. The awareness of the self impels us to seek out answers to our existence; even at the cost of our own peril.

From this allegory the ideals of theistic satanism have taken its roots in proclaiming the serpent, often connoted to be lucifer, as the light bringer more worthy of adulation and devotion than the god who attempted to conceal the light from humankind. A parallel to this is the myth of Prometheus who stole fire from the gods and gave it to the peoples of the earth. What value humanity has held to truth is evident in myth.

This sanctification of truth follows from the power derived from it. Truth is conducive to knowledge (having knowing) and the state of knowing a thing leads to advantage. This advantage is power to those who lack it.

Little illustration of this concept is necessary for the verification of it as a real principle. But for those who are thirsty for explanation, suffice yourselves to look to all the advances of humankind. They have left in their wakes marvelous achievements of eminence spanning the gamut from resource acquisitions, electronics, and chemical synthesis through applied chemistry, to Hadron colliders, complex architectural design, and the atom bomb. All of these are resultant from the power of knowledge.

He who has correct knowledge (Truth) holds immense power. Conversely, the “ill-educated” and utterly ignorant are most subject to enslavement by systems they cannot understand.  Because the most salient feature of our species is a robust brain which has demonstrably afforded us advantage on the earth, all that is necessary to make one a slave is the taking hold of the individual’s mind. Why then is it so hard for so many to grasp the potency of ideas?

The human mind is a system with a propensity for absorbing massive amounts of information. This is obvious. What is less obvious however is the phenomenon that flows from the human disposition to arrange conduct in accordance with information that has not been subjected to logical analysis.

Do you really believe that the torrents of images and taglines that flit across your inner screen do not affect the elements comprising your human consciousness? Personal bias, a proclivity to desire this informational item over that one, is not a static construct. It can be altered by anyone who understands that the nature of consciousness is such that the systems which inform it are not of a closed quality.

With this understanding one can see how exceedingly simple it is to polarize the moral character or general ideological composition of a given population. In fact, the primary subject of a 1928 book by nephew of Sigmund Freud and father of ‘Public Relations’ Edward Bernays was propaganda and the phenomenon of subversive manipulation of the human mind.

Bernay’s writes in his first chapter on ‘Organizing Chaos’:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.  Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our   minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas   suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”1 (Bernays 1928 Propaganda)

What more is needed for demonstration that there exists today, as in the past, a perpetual war for allegiances to ideological artifices that serve the powerful? For “god’s” sake just open up a book on propaganda and read the tactics and techniques employed to sway the human mind. This engineering of consciousness is ongoing and the only defense against it consists of an engagement of the higher functions of the human mind: rational awareness (though admittedly the information explosion of the digital century makes it difficult to pay attention or discern what is important).

Furthermore, if the manipulation of the human mind via propaganda was wholly a pseudo-scientific phenomenon, then I ask you pointedly, “Why do militaries around the world regiment forces to effectively utilize ‘Psychological Operations’ against allies and enemies?”.

Pulling directly from the 2003 U.S. military manual on Psychological Operations (PSYOP), the nature of a PSYOP is purposed at:

“convey[ing] selected information and indicators to foreign target audiences (TAs) to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of all PSYOP is to create in neutral, friendly, or hostile foreign groups the emotions, attitudes, or desired behavior that support the achievement of U.S. national objectives and the military mission. In doing so, PSYOP influence not only policy and decisions, but also the ability to govern, the ability to command, the will to fight, the will to obey, and the will to support.”2

This statement substantiates the notion that propaganda is used as a tool to subvert and redirect an enemy or ally in a combat or potential combat environment, and it is therefore not outside the bounds of respectable reasoning to infer that governments at home and abroad have geo-political agendas that may be best served via propagandizing the public to accede to their objectives.

On a lighter note recent (a month ago? 🙂 ) news has conveyed that we are now in a space-race to MARS. Enjoy. http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/as-billionaires-ogle-mars-the-space-race-is-back-on/

I don’t know anything.

Notes

  1. Bernays, E. (1928). Propaganda.
  2. S. Dep. of Army. (2003). FM 3-05.301 Psychological Operations Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures.

Public Intelligence has released another informative military document on new approaches to “Military Information Support Operations” (formerly dubbed ‘Psychological Operations’). Titled “White Paper on Bio-Psycho-Social Applications to Cognitive Engagement” and sealed with the stamp significations of the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, the document boasts the dominance of the U.S. military as a “tool” to policy.

What is cognitive engagement?

Answer: The concept of cognitive engagement applies to the colloquially termed “Gray Zone” which has been described to mean the, “times when nations compete with each other in everything except direct state on state war.”

So cognitive engagement is about utilizing the means of 4th Generation warfare (known as DIME to mean Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic modalities of warfare) in support of U.S. policy objectives; whatever they may be.

Simply said, ‘Cognitive engagement’ equates with the term ‘psychological operations’.

In the book Ninjutsu: A Commoner’s Guide, I briefly described a shift between modern intelligence warfare modalities from the antiquated but still considerably reliable methods of manual surveillance (such as directly observing enemy activity via camouflage of various types) to remote surveillance made possible through a multitude of scientific advancements in surveillance technologies (i.e. the camera, the drone, the computer, etc.). Where troops once relied on wit and behavioral deception to gain mission critical information, modern warfare depends on the electron and vast information-technology networks. Because of this shift in how wars are conducted, for defensive as well as offensive purposes, the concept of Activity-Based Intelligence and its umbrella concept ‘cognitive engagement’, though relatively incipient, is providing the basis for novel and pervasive methods of information warfare.

What do they bode for human freedom or anyone’s way of life?

To begin to answer that, retain to memory the following:

  1. Activity-Based Intelligence is a modality of ‘cognitive engagement’ which offers up information on any target that is in some way connected to the World-Wide-Web (WWW). Whether you purchase products online, throw memes back n’ forth on Facebook, or use a SMART phone, virtually every digital signature can be collected, analyzed, and integrated into ‘intelligent systems’ that may then compile an accurate profile of the enemy along with supplementary material that can allow one to discern the ‘gaps’ of the enemy which may be exploited via information warfare.
  2. As explicitly and implicitly stated by the document, “targeting the mind of the enemy commander is more important than the bodies of his troops.” And insomuch that this is true, Information Operations (IO) as they are called, are far more effective at assuaging a potentially serious military conflict (or perhaps a dissident uprising?) than bombs or bullets.
  3. In finding the above to be more or less true, it is not a matter of doubt as to whether these systems will be used. Of course they will. The question is on whom and why? Will the actions of our military be justified? Does anyone care?

The white paper asserts that bolstering the military’s ability to conduct operations “other than war” is a most necessary response to the increasing novelty in how foreign powers and factions manipulate or contend with one another:

“Greater connectivity will enable hostile entities to influence a wider audience and to co-opt members of disaffected populations for malign purposes.”

The justification to carry out operations ‘other than war’ may follow from witnessing how the,

 “level of complexity today, post-Cold War and September 11, has risen exponentially. States and groups used as proxies in the Cold War game are now vying for their own identity, power and authority and with them wealthy shadow governments and violent extremist have risen in many forms across the globe.”

(Can you say ISIS?)

But despite this seemingly reasonable justification for conducting operations ‘other than war’, one who has a good-natured trepidation for state-sponsored propaganda missions can’t help but ask what the term ‘operations other than war’ connotes. The paper answers those who have such a question with a staidly written definition of information operations as they apply to the ‘cognitive domain’:

“Information Operations (IO) doctrine defines the cognitive domain as the component of the information environment (IE) that encompasses the gray matter of those who transmit, receive, and act upon information. Cognitive operations such as information processing, perception, judgment, and decision-making are the most vital aspect of the IE.”

Did you get that?

Synoptically stated, the paper relates the necessity of propagandizing the f*** out of whatever target they deem a threat to U.S. policy. Their own words couldn’t be more clear.

“Cognition is influenced by individual and cultural beliefs, norms, vulnerabilities, motivations, emotions, experiences, morals, education, mental health, identities, and ideologies and thus requires research and analysis methods from the bio-psycho-social sciences to understand and manipulate.”

To be continued…