Disinformation Dictionary

Disinformation Dictionary of Psychological Warfare

The cat is well and truly out of the bag in terms of understanding how easily wide swaths of people can be misled into believing total falsehoods and even insane conspiracy theories that have no basis whatsoever in reality. In their passion for this self-righteous series of untruths, they can lose families, jobs, loved ones, respect, and may even be radicalized to commit violence on behalf of an authority figure. It starts with the dissemination of disinformation — a practice with a unique Orwellian lexicon all its own, collated in the below disinformation dictionary.

Disinformation is meant to confuse, throw off, distract, polarize, and otherwise create conflict within and between target populations. The spreading of falsehoods is a very old strategy — perhaps as old as humankind itself — but its mass dissemination through the media was pioneered in the 20th century by the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union, the Nazis in Germany, Mussolini’s Fascists in Italy, and other authoritarian regimes of the early 1900s through the 1940s.

After World War II and the Allies’ defeat of Hitler, the role of disinformation lived on during the Cold War. The Soviet KGB were infamous for their spycraft and covert infiltration of information flows, while the United States experienced waves of anti-Communist paranoia and hysteria fueled by the spread of conspiracist thinking. Psychologists, social scientists, and others did their best to unpack the horrors revealed by the reign of the Nazi regime with a wellspring of research and critical thought about authoritarian personalities that continues to this day.

The John Birch Society rides again

In some ways, we haven’t really moved on yet from the Cold War — in fact, some appear not to have moved on since the New Deal and are hellbent on rolling its provisions back, almost 100 years later. The dregs of the JBS — an organization famously too koo-koo even for William F. Buckley, who excommunicated them from the conservative wing of the Republican Party — live on today in a reconstituted form known as the CNP, or Council for National Policy.

Founded officially in 1981 after almost a decade down in the political trenches radicalizing the right, the CNP is the shadowy organization pulling the strings of many of the set pieces in puppets in today’s political play. In alliance with other powerful networks including the Koch empire, the NRA, and the Evangelical church, the CNP is the group behind the recent hysteria out of nowhere about Critical Race Theory in public schools (where it is not taught). They are funneling the money of America’s billionaires into absurdist theatrical displays of performance artists who distract America with bread and circuses while the plutocrats make off with the cash in the form of tax cuts, tax breaks, tax carve outs, tax loopholes, tax policy, and other wealth-building sweetheart deals for themselves and their cronies.

The CNP, in partnership with Charles Koch’s massive database of all American voters (and of course, his money), have managed to brainwash the Evangelical flock and various assorted MAGA groups into believing a raft of nonsense from climate change denial to anti-masking to the Big Lie about the 2020 election and much more. They have leveraged new political technology in order to recruit and radicalize new cult members quickly and at scale — via QAnon, Fox News, the even more extreme aggressively partisan coverage of Newsmax and OAN, and a fleet of “grassroots” astroturf operations peddling their brand of seditious aspirational theocracy to ruralites like it was going out of style… on accounta it is.

This disinformation dictionary covers (and uncovers) the terminology and techniques used by disinfo peddlers, hucksters, Zucksters, and professional liars of all sorts — and will be added to over time as neologisms are coined to keep up with the shifting landscape of fakes, deep fakes, and alternative timelines in our near and potentially far future.

TermDefinitionNotes
ambiguity
active measuresRussian information warfare aimed at undermining the West
America First Unity Rally
AntifaAnti-fascists
anti-governmentThe neo-Libertarians within the gOP have no more intention of governing than Trump did. Libertarians prefer the government to be non-functional: that's the "smallest" government there is!!They *will* lead us to war, with either Russia, North Korea, Iran, or China most likely.
assert the opposite of reality
the Big Lie
black and white thinkingA pattern of thought characterized by polar extremes, sometimes flip-flopping very rapidly from one extreme view to its opposite. Also referred to as dichotomous thinking; polarized thinking; all-or-nothing thinking; or splitting.
blackmailThe demand for payment (or other benefit) in exchange for not revealing negative information about the payee.
blaming the victimA popular strategy with sexual predators, blaming the victim involves alleging that the receipient "had it coming" or otherwise deserved the abuse they suffered at the hands of the blamer.
book burningThe ritual destruction of books, literature, or other written materials -- usually in a public forum to send a chilling message about ideas that are disallowed by the state.
Borderline Personality DisorderA personality disorder in the group once known as Cluster B, characterized by intense mood swings, impulsive behavior, fear of abandonment, unstable self-image, dissociation, and self-harm.
botA software program performing repetitive, automated tasks
botnetsAn interconnected network of bots, often used for nefarious purposes like DDoS attacks or propaganda.
bullyingHarming, threatening to harm, intimdating, or coercing others into doing your bidding (or for no reason at all)
cathexisThe concentration of one's mental energy on one specific person, idea, or object -- typically to an unhealthy degree.
@citizentrolling
#clevelandsteal
closure
cognitive dissonanceMental discomfort resulting from holding conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes -- or from behaving contrary to one's beliefs, values, or attitudes.
cognitive distortion
cognitive warfare
communist
con artistSomeone who swindles others with fake promises
confirmation bias
conspiracy theoryA false narrative or set of narratives designed to create an alternative story or history that distracts from the real truth and/or obscures or absolves the responsibility of those behind the curtain.
DARVOA rhetorical device used in mind control in which the identities of the perpetrator and the victim are reversed, such that the abuser is playing on the sympathies of the abused to help him rewrite the history they both wish to forget.
deceptionLying; intentionally misleading
deep fakesFabricated video footage appearing to show an individual speaking
deep state
demoshizaShort for ‘democratic schizophrenics’ -- a Russian slander against citizens of democracies. The ‘demoshiza’ tag also serves a useful purpose in conflating ‘democracy’ with ‘mental illness’. The word ‘democratic’ has an unhappy status in Russia: it is mainly used as an uncomplimentary synonym for ‘cheap’ and ‘low-grade’: McDonald’s has ‘democratic’ prices, the door policy at a particularly scuzzy club can be described as ‘democratic’ – i.e. they let anybody in
denialism
denial of death
denying plain facts
dezinformatsiyaRussian information warfare
"dirty tricks"
disappearing
diversion
doxxing
"drinking the Kool-Aid"Coming to believe the ideology of a cult
duty to warn
emotional abuse
emotional blackmail
emotional manipulation
empty promises
extortion
fake news
false consciousnessPart of Marxist theory regarding the phenomenon where the subordinate classes embody the ideologies of the ruling class, diverting their self-interest into activities that benefit the wealthy who are taking advantage of them.
false flagcovert operations designed to deceive by appearing as though they are carried out by other entities, groups, or nations than those who actually executed them
fifth world warNon-linear war; the war of all against all -- a term coined by Putin's vizier Vladislav Surkov.
flying monkeys
fraud
GamerGateEarly harbinger of the alt-right, emerging on social media and targeting professional women in the video games industry
gaslighting
"global cabal"euphemism in far-right Russian discourse to refer to a perceived "Jewish conspiracy" behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the EU
globalization
grooming
Guccifer 2.0
hate speech
honey pot
horseshoe theoryPolitical model in which the extreme left has a tendency to sometimes adopt the strategies of the extreme right.
hybrid warfare
hypnosis
influence techniques
information terroristsMedia personalities and professionals working against the interests of democracy in the United States. Many amplify their messages through automation and human networks, creating a Greek Chorus-like cacaphony of fake support for unpopular positions.
information warfare
InfoWars
Intermittent reinforcement
jumping to conclusions bias
kleptocracyform of government in which the leaders harbor organized crime rings and often participate in or lead them; the police, military, civil government, and other governmental agencies may routinely participate in illicit activities and enterprises.
Mafia stateA systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates. A term coined by former KGB/FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. See also: kleptocracy
malignant envy
malignant narcissism
MarxistA catch-all derogatory slur for Democrats
maskirovkawar of deception and concealment
mass hypnosis
men's rights
mind control
minimizing
money laundering
motivated reasoning
moving the goalpostsChanging the rules after the game is played, when one side doesn't like the outcome.
"myth of tech misogyny"A form of denialism made popular by alt-right commentator and troll Milo Yiannopoulos, used to discredit feminist discussions about the tech and gaming industry's notorious levels of misogyny.
naive realism
narcissistic rage
narcissistic supply
The National Enquirer
neurolinguistic programming (NLP)
nihilism
non-linear warfare
novichokmilitary-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and used in the poisoning of former FSB agent turned Putin critic Andrei Skripal and his daughter in Lonson in March, 2018
one-way streetExpect loyalty from you while offering none in return
opposhort form of opposition research
paranoiaNurturing and maintaining enemies
passive aggressive
PizzaGate
plausible deniability
playing the victim
post-truth
projection
Project LakhtaInternal name for the operation that Prigozhin's IRA was running to interfere in elections across the Western world, according to the Mueller indictments.
propaganda
psychopathy
PUAPick-up Artist
QAnon
received wisdom
#releasethememo
retcon
running out the clock
sadism
selective exposure
shame
shit-posting
silovikiRussian term for those who have backgrounds and employment in the Russian power ministries -- security services, the military, and police; and more specifically a reference to Putin's security cabal.
Snow RevolutionPopular protests beginning in Moscow in 2011, demanding the reinstatement of free elections & the ability to form opposition parties. Hundreds if not thousands of protestors were detained on the first day of action (Dec 5), continuing over the next 2 years as punishments grew increasingly harsh and more activists were sent to penal colonies.
social hierarchies
sockpuppet accountsFake social media accounts used by trolls for deceptive and covert actions, avoiding culpability for abuse, aggression, death threats, doxxing, and other criminal acts against targets.
"sovereign democracy"system in which democratic procedures are retained, but without any actual democratic freedoms; brainchild of Vladislav Surkov
Special Mission
splittingSee the world as with them or against them; an extension of black and white thinking.
stonewalling
Tarasoff rule
thought-stopping
torture
trolling
undue influence
white male identity politics
white nationalism
white terrorism