Disinformationists & Disrupters

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Thomas Pynchon

I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly frustrating when I come up hard against a commenter on the internet whom I consider a ‘Disinformationist’ or a ‘Disrupter’ .

We all know them, if not immediately at first contact, then ultimately by their behaviour.

Or, at least I hope we all might be able to better spot them by the end of this helpful ‘How to’ recognise them heads-up.

It may save you the time you may otherwise have expended engaging with them in order to try and change their minds.  Because you won’t.

They do not exist to be persuadable.

Let’s just start by understanding what Disinformation is(from Wikipedia):

Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false.

Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole (a limited hangout).

Another technique of concealing facts, or censorship, is also used if the group can affect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with many easily disproved false claims.

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Such are the sorts of verbal attacks that we see every day, from Left and Right, from one or another group, political party or individual commenter, against one or another party. Of course, globally, but specifically in our own neck of the internet woods.  Mainly on other blogs because this one is moderated by active not passive moderators.

Passive Mods on other blogs appear to be hog-tied to Jay Rosen’s ‘Voice From Nowhere’ paradigm, assuming an objective perspective that sits back to let all flowers have the chance to bloom equally on their blog, even if some of them are the equivalent of internet weeds. In contrast with Active Mods, such as we are here, who are constantly on the look-out for the blog trolls that simply seek to disinform and disrupt. Who then get weeded out, so as to keep the garden blooming, unchoked with deliberate distractions from the disrupters.  Who seem to be just like any other commenter, until you start to see some constant similarities to the way they, and others of a like mind, go about their posting.

So, as a service to us all I just thought I might outline some of the ways they do this so you can tell them apart from people who genuinely have a different point of view to you. Basically so that you don’t waste your precious time and energy on trying to change their minds, with facts and rational argument. Such people will never change their mind because that is not the reason they are where they are, interacting forcefully with you.  They are trying to spread manure in the garden to burn the flowers and allow the weeds to grow and take over.

Eight Signs of a Disinformationist

1) Avoidance. They never actually discuss issues head-on or provide constructive input, unless engaged in faux ‘constructive input’ such as a Gish Gallop, generally avoiding the citing of references. 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.

2) Selectivity. 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 well.

3) Coincidental. They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a new controversial topic under discussion. They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.

4) Teamwork. They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum. 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.

5) Aggressively Mainstream/Anti-Conspiratorial. They almost always have disdain for non-mainstream or ‘conspiracy theories’ and almost always are defending the official narrative of your political opponents.

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 nonacceptance, no matter how condemning the evidence, they simply deny everything you present as evidence, and never become emotionally involved or reactive. The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem counterproductive.

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.

7) Inconsistent. There is also a tendency to make mistakes sometimes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic and simply being interested in an intent to disrupt the flow of an argument which is trending towards their opposition
8) Time Constant. Recently discovered, with respect to News/Social Media Groups, is the response time factor. There are three ways this can be seen to work, especially when envoys of an empowered player are involved in a cover up or disinformation operation:

  • ANY Blog/Social Media posting by a targeted ‘truth teller’ can result in an IMMEDIATE response. The envoys of the empowered players can afford to have people sit there and watch for an opportunity to do some damage.  Since disinfo in a Blog/Social Media setting only works if the reader sees it-fast response is called for, or the visitor may be swayed towards the truth.
  • Or, when dealing with a rebuttal to a truth in the public arena, such as in the form of a chain disinformation email, a delay in the response usually occurs. 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 any News Media/Social Media forum, it will often ALSO be seen that bigger guns are drawn and fired after the same, usually 48-72 hours delay – the team approach in play. This is especially true when the targeted ‘truth teller’, or their comments, are considered more important with respect to their potential to reveal truth. Thus, a serious truth sayer will be attacked more than once for the same sin.

Well, there you have it. A rough outline of what I believe we are up against, as web warriors for the Progressive cause, as we go into battle on a daily basis for what we believe in and wish to defend.

I’m not saying that the above is true of every encounter with the ‘enemy’ that we have, just to be aware that probably not all of them are ‘weekend warriors’, just engaging in the verbal battle for altruistic reasons simply. I’m pretty sure that eloquent exponents in our corner, the Progressive corner, are well known to the o(O)pposition, and are targeted accordingly so they don’t become too influential in the day to day ideological debate that has started to go on since the internet and other forms of Social Media flung open the Doors of Perception.

859 thoughts on “Disinformationists & Disrupters

  1. TLBD,
    My mum was a big Woody Herman fan. All the time with the Clarinet on the record player! 😀

    I much preferred Glenn Miller. 🙂

  2. Mrs Scorpio & second eldest daughter leave tomorrow for a 15 day visit to Vanuatu as part of a medical team.

    I understand they will be based at the island of Tanna where my youngest daughter paid a visit a few years ago. There is a volcano there which erupted the evening before their planned visit to the crater rim, throwing a couple of her young sisters in law out of bed that night with with the 7.5 earthquake that accompanied the eruption.

    I’m am sure Mrs Scorpio will be more than pleased to have an eventful visit there this time. In the meantime, I’ve got to revive my batching skills and fend for my self. Supper tonight was pretty rough!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Yasur

  3. Benny Goodman for me.

    I was up to a, for me, spiffy 50 wpm at 99%. Sadly, no longer.

  4. I just asked my son about the access problem. In the best tradition of The IT Crowd he said, “Leave it until tomorrow and see what it’s like then.” Knowing that these things usually resolve themselves by then in the computer world. 🙂

  5. victoria,

    The AFP matter is very curious indeed

    The question is ‘Why did they do it?’ Then, ‘Whose idea was it?’ Followed by, ‘Why were they doing it?’ Or, ‘Who were they doing it on behalf of?’

  6. Ah Fiona. What we’d do right now for an Ed Murrow.

    Bongo, Gittins and Mega are great, and there are quite a few others around that are not bad. But it would be really something to have a TV reporter with such a high following and respect.

    Oakes is perhaps the closest to a high profile, but respect … Latham had both him and Grattan pegged back in 2005. Their doyen status was a fallacy. They’d just been around the Press gallery about 30 years too long.

  7. c@tmomma

    Precisely.

    The AFP are also on a go slow investigating Mal Brough citing the appeal by Ashby as reason. Of course, investigating Brough for requesting and obtaining copies of Slipper’s diary have absolutely nothing to do with Ashby appeal.

    Something really does stink

  8. This little black duck,

    { Scorps,

    Hot dogs work a treat! }

    Frozen pies in the microwave are pretty good too. One advantage I have got is that I will be able to sleep in a nice warm, comfortable bed and not in a tent.

    Apparently it is unseasonably cold in Vanuatu at the moment too. Maybe due to climate change that Tony thinks is all bull shit!

  9. Listening to News Radio, on my new $10 USB DVB-T/DAB*/FM stick. (* untested.)

    Speaker is trying to adjourn, repeatedly, for the night – but the members aren’t finished with their local “pedal stools” yet… Patience is definitely a virtue!

    Tech heads: same stick, different drivers = 24-1850MHz(ish) software-defined radio (SDR).

  10. Then again, she told me when she was 16 or 17 was that I was a most frustrating mother, because I didn’t give her anything to rebel against

    Sounds like you’d have got on very well with the comic strip character Pogo, who I mentioned the other day in correspondence with NormanK about Porky Pyne.

    Two passing characters were conversing afterwards after a conversation with Pogo. One said, “Well, what did you think of him?”
    Friend replied, “Aw, I don’t know. Kinda boring person being so all-fired agreeable about everything.”

  11. Scorpio,

    You’ve omitted the killer line – it was warmer

    … at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth …

    according to the Testament of Tony the Infallible.

  12. Then again, she told me when she was 16 or 17 was that I was a most frustrating mother, because I didn’t give her anything to rebel against.

  13. Bernard Keane on The Drum said US were the biggest hackers and they often would do it through the servers of other countries eg China , and then they would get the blame

  14. Bugger it! I’m going to type my next post in Open Office and paste it into the Dashboard tomorrow! Grrr! When hopefully I will be able to access it again!

  15. Do you know if the House passed the Aged Care Bills today?

    Unfortunately not, C@tmomma; I got the impression it was past serious business and into “happy hour” on the HoR.

  16. Also on the Drum was Pru Goward and , trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear , said the no confidence motion was great from the coalition because it would force Tony Windsor to vote with Labor and his electorate would punish him for it . And all said sooo sincerely .

  17. c@tmomma

    I thought the aged care reform bills were passed in the HOR yesterday

  18. In that case, C@tmomma, I shall wish you and everyone else still at the bar g’night.

    Sleep well, everyone.

  19. *in* the HoR.

    C@tmomma – OpenOffice is an excellent choice, but I switched to LibreOffice when Oracle bought out Sun Microsystems. It works for me.

  20. Fiona,

    {Scorpio,

    You’ve omitted the killer line – it was warmer }

    I bet it is down in this little spot.

    When Mrs Scorpio & second daughter return, I’ll post a few photos.

  21. Scorpio,

    Good point.

    If my dim memories of various mythologies serve me correctly, in most cultures hell is definitely the hotspot.

  22. Fiona,
    I was thinking about sending it to you in an e-mail but I’m not so cruel as to make you wait. Plus, I had already done an opening paragraph I liked and I want to get it back! 😀

    Good night and sweet dreams of juicy little birds. 🙂

  23. Sigh. Back to work. Still, it’s giving me the chance to listen to ‘LA Woman’ by The Doors, all the way through. 🙂

  24. C@tmomma.

    Don’t like the way the feffers get stuck in moi’s throat.

    Plump little micies are nicier.

  25. Those of us watching Question Time today all thought Abbott was being set up to tie his position to Direct Action … and we were right …
    Storing carbon dioxide in soil and plants will deliver less than five per cent of the emissions cuts assumed under the Coalition’s direct action climate change policy, according to government estimates, as Tony Abbott also confirmed in Parliament his belief in man-made climate change.

    Climate change department officials told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday night that soil carbon and revegetation projects are currently expected to deliver just 3.7 million tonnes a year of emissions cuts by 2020.

    Labor says these new estimates blow a hole in the Coalition’s direct action climate change policy, which suggested up to 85 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide cuts could come from soil carbon projects alone by the end of the decade.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/doubts-over-coalition-plan-to-cut-emissions-20130528-2n90i.html#ixzz2Ub0aOHCh

    The scrutiny begins.

  26. Might I also note that our fashion trendsetting PM has set the glasses world on it’s ear since the beginning of the year. Just recently I noticed Hillary Clinton sporting a pair of specs like JGPM’s. However, more interestingly, I also noticed Mr Malcolm Turnbull had a new pair quite similar to hers, but in a masculine way, on his facial area. 😀

  27. gorgeousdunny1,
    I think the government have also skewered Abbott, or is that, hoist him on his own petard, via his repeating the ‘Great Big New Tax’ line today re the ‘Carbon Tax’ in QT today, when he has the ‘PPL Tax’ AND the ‘Great Big New GST’ lined up and ready to go straight to the wallets of the electorate. 🙂

  28. Gamew on, alright. PMJG told Tones it was game on, but he did not believe her. She is doing him slowly. I have never seen anything like it in my life. It is almost beautifully cruel.

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bloke.

  29. I just wonder why the AFP matter ( which is old) has emerged now and on the ABC? By my reckoning- the ABC is no friend of Labor- so what are the motives?

  30. On another topic there was an article in the Terror headlined Team Rudd blamed again- or something like that- as I am not (and don’t plan to be signed up) to News Ltd- I wonder if anyone can enlighten me?

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