Organized and Professional Disinformation Operations
Well-funded and highly-organized disinformation operations are in full-swing throughout the internet. From forums to comment boards and even professional websites that have only one purpose: Defame, distract, and destroy the truth.
However organized, the tactics are very predictable in a world filled with lies and half-truths. This, sadly, includes every day news media, one of the worst offenders with respect to being a source of disinformation.
Disinformation campaigns are launched against those seeking to uncover and expose the truth and/or the conspiracy. The H1N1 scandal was a prime example of how hundreds of operations can be launched to sway opinions on the facts.
For every fact-based article on the realities of the H1N1 vaccine, there were both very primitive and sophisticated counters on message boards, comment forums and hundreds of alternative and mainstream websites.
Stephen Barrett’s Quackwatch.com and supporters such as skeptic.org.uk and skepticblog.com are examples of websites which promote both synthetic and organic disinformation on almost any topic that does not concur with mainstream thought.
There are specific tactics which disinfo artists tend to apply, as H. Michael Sweeney has brilliantly detailed. Also included with this material are eight common traits of the disinfo artist which may also prove useful in identifying players and motives.
The more a particular party fits the traits and is guilty of following the rules, the more likely they are a professional disinfo artist with a vested motive. People can be bought, threatened, or blackmailed into providing disinformation, so even “good guys” can be suspect in many cases.
A rational person participating as one interested in the truth will evaluate that chain of evidence and conclude either that the links are solid and conclusive, that one or more links are weak and need further development before conclusion can be arrived at, or that one or more links can be broken, usually invalidating (but not necessarily so, if parallel links already exist or can be found, or if a particular link was merely supportive, but not in itself key) the argument.
The game is played by raising issues which either strengthen or weaken (preferably to the point of breaking) these links. It is the job of a disinfo artist to interfere with these evaluation… to at least make people think the links are weak or broken when, in truth, they are not… or to propose alternative solutions leading away from the truth.
Often, by simply impeding and slowing down the process through disinformation tactics, a level of victory is assured because apathy increases with time and rhetoric.
It would seem true in almost every instance, that if one cannot break the chain of evidence for a given solution, revelation of truth has won out. If the chain is broken either a new link must be forged, or a whole new chain developed, or the solution is invalid an a new one must be found… but truth still wins out.
There is no shame in being the creator or supporter of a failed solution, chain, or link, if done with honesty in search of the truth. This is the rational approach.
While it is understandable that a person can become emotionally involved with a particular side of a given issue, it is really unimportant who wins, as long as truth wins.
But the disinfo artist will seek to emotionalize and chastise any failure (real or false claims thereof), and will seek by means of intimidation to prevent discussion in general.
It is the disinfo artist and those who may pull their strings (those who stand to suffer should the crime be solved) MUST seek to prevent rational and complete examination of any chain of evidence which would hang them. Since fact and truth seldom fall on their own, they must be overcome with lies and deceit.
Those who are professional in the art of lies and deceit, such as the intelligence community and the professional criminal (often the same people or at least working together), tend to apply fairly well defined and observable tools in this process.
However, the public at large is not well armed against such weapons, and is often easily led astray by these time-proven tactics.
Remarkably, not even media and law enforcement have NOT BEEN TRAINED to deal with these issues. For the most part, only the players themselves understand the rules of the game.
Here Are 8 Traits of a Disinformationalist
They never actually discuss issues head-on or provide constructive input, generally avoiding citation of references or credentials. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other.
Virtually everything about their presentation implies their authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.
They tend to pick and choose opponents carefully, either applying the hit-and-run approach against mere commentators supportive of opponents, or focusing heavier attacks on key opponents who are known to directly address issues. Should a commentator become argumentative with any success, the focus will shift to include the commentator as well.
They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a new controversial topic with no clear prior record of participation in general discussions in the particular public arena involved.
They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed or elected to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.
They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum, but there will likely be an ongoing pattern of frequent exchanges of this sort where professionals are involved.
Sometimes one of the players will infiltrate the opponent camp to become a source for straw man or other tactics designed to dilute opponent presentation strength.
They almost always have disdain for ‘conspiracy theorists’ and, usually, for those who in any way believe JFK was not killed by LHO. Ask yourself why, if they hold such disdain for conspiracy theorists, do they focus on defending a single topic discussed in a News Group (NG) focusing on conspiracies?
One might think they would either be trying to make fools of everyone on every topic, or simply ignore the group they hold in such disdain. Or, one might more rightly conclude they have an ulterior motive for their actions in going out of their way to focus as they do.
6) Artificial Emotions
An odd kind of ‘artificial’ emotionalism and an unusually thick skin — an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and unacceptance.
This likely stems from intelligence community training that, no matter how condemning the evidence, deny everything, and never become emotionally involved or reactive.
The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem artificial. Most people, if responding in anger, for instance, will express their animosity throughout their rebuttal.
But disinfo types usually have trouble maintaining the ‘image’ and are hot and cold with respect to pretended emotions and their usually more calm or unemotional communications style.
It’s just a job, and they often seem unable to ‘act their role in character’ as well in a communications medium as they might be able in a real face-to-face conversation/confrontation.
You might have outright rage and indignation one moment, ho-hum the next, and more anger later — an emotional yo-yo.
With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game — where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth, or simply give up.
There is also a tendency to make mistakes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic, or it may be somewhat ‘freudian’, so to speak, in that perhaps they really root for the side of truth deep within.
I have noted that often, they will simply cite contradictory information which neutralizes itself and the author. For instance, one such player claimed to be a Navy pilot, but blamed his poor communicating skills (spelling, grammar, incoherent style) on having only a grade-school education.
I’m not aware of too many Navy pilots who don’t have a college degree. Another claimed no knowledge of a particular topic/situation but later claimed first-hand knowledge of it.
8) Time Constant
There are three ways this can be seen to work, especially when the government or other empowered player is involved in a cover up operation:
- ANY NG posting by a targeted proponent for truth can result in an IMMEDIATE response. The government and other empowered players can afford to pay people to sit there and watch for an opportunity to do some damage. SINCE DISINFO IN A NG ONLY WORKS IF THE READER SEES IT – FAST RESPONSE IS CALLED FOR, or the visitor may be swayed towards truth.
- When dealing in more direct ways with a disinformationalist, such as email, DELAY IS CALLED FOR – there will usually be a minimum of a 48-72 hour delay. This allows a sit-down team discussion on response strategy for best effect, and even enough time to ‘get permission’ or instruction from a formal chain of command.
- In the NG example 1) above, it will often ALSO be seen that bigger guns are drawn and fired after the same 48-72 hours delay – the team approach in play. This is especially true when the targeted truth seeker or their comments are considered more important with respect to potential to reveal truth. Thus, a serious truth sayer will be attacked twice for the same sin.
Remarkably, even media and law enforcement have NOT BEEN TRAINED to deal with these issues. For the most part, only the players themselves understand the rules of the game.
By Marco Torres, Prevent Disease; | Related: Federal Government Hires Internet TROLLS to Monitor and “Correct” Online Discussions;
About author: Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.