disinformation

Words, words, and more words.

In a world of increasing disinformation, it’s more important than ever to be armed with actual information. And being curious about the meaning, nature, and origins of things is a rewarding journey in and of itself.

Think of these dictionaries as tools for your mind — they can help you make connections between concepts, understand the terminology being used in the media and all around you, and feel less lost in a sea of dizzying complexity and rapid change. A fantastic vocabulary also helps you connect with people near and far — as well as get outside your comfort zone and learn something new.

Dictionaries List

This section includes dictionaries and definitions of important terms in important realms — and is continually being built out. Stay tuned!

Terms and Concepts

Authoritarianism and American Fascism

Authoritarianism is a political system where a single leader or a small group holds significant power, often without the consent of the governed. Decisions are made by authorities without public input, and individual freedoms and democratic principles are usually suppressed. The government may control various aspects of life, including media and the economy, without checks and balances. This leads to a concentration of power that can foster corruption and human rights abuses. In an authoritarian regime, obedience to the authorities is often emphasized over personal liberties and democratic participation.

Psychology

Definitions and terms relating to the study of the mind, including ideas from social psychology, political psychology, positive psychology, and Buddhist psychology.

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Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning that occur when arguments are constructed or evaluated. They are deceptive and misleading, often leading to false or weak conclusions. Recognizing and avoiding logical fallacies is essential for critical thinking and effective communication.

These flaws in rhetorical logic can be observed aplenty in modern political and civil discourse. They are among the easiest types of argument to dispel, because their basic type has been discredited and compiled together with other discarded forms of rational persuasion, to make sure that ensuing generations don’t fall for the same tired old unethical ideas.

By understanding and identifying these common logical fallacies, individuals can sharpen their critical thinking skills and engage in more productive, rational discussions. Recognizing fallacies also helps avoid being swayed by deceptive or unsound arguments — which abound in increasing volume thanks to the prevalence of misinformation, disinformation, and disingenuous forms of motivated reasoning.

Types of logical fallacies

There are several types of logical fallacies, each with its own pitfalls. Here are a few examples:

The Straw Man argument, illustrated
  1. Ad Hominem: This fallacy attacks the person making the argument rather than the argument itself. For instance, dismissing someone’s opinion on climate change because they’re not a scientist is an ad hominem fallacy.
  2. Straw Man: This involves misrepresenting an opponent’s argument to make it easier to attack. If someone argues for better healthcare and is accused of wanting “socialized medicine,” that’s a straw man.
  3. Appeal to Authority: This fallacy relies on the opinion of an “expert” who may not actually be qualified in the relevant field. Just because a celebrity endorses a product doesn’t mean it’s effective.
  4. False Dichotomy: This fallacy presents only two options when, in fact, more exist. For example, stating that “you’re either with us or against us” oversimplifies complex issues.
  5. Slippery Slope: This fallacy argues that a single action will inevitably lead to a series of negative events, without providing evidence for such a chain reaction.
  6. Circular Reasoning: In this fallacy, the conclusion is used as a premise, creating a loop that lacks substantive proof. Saying “I’m trustworthy because I say I am” is an example.
  7. Hasty Generalization: This involves making a broad claim based on insufficient evidence. For instance, meeting two rude people from a city and concluding that everyone from that city is rude is a hasty generalization.

Understanding logical fallacies equips you to dissect arguments critically, making you a more informed participant in discussions. It’s a skill that’s invaluable in both professional and personal settings. Arm yourself with knowledge about this list of logical fallacies:

Logical fallacyExplanationExample / Notes
ad hominem attackattacking something about the character of the opposing side, instead of engaging with the argument or offering a critique
ambiguityusing double meanings and language ambiguity to mislead
anecdotalappeal to a personal, individual observation as relates to the topic in questionoften used to dismiss statistical analysis
appeal to authorityusing opinion of authority figure or institution in place of an actual argument
appeal to emotionmanipulating emotional response in lieu of valid argumenta huge part of Donald Trump's playbook
appeal to naturearguing that b/c something is “natural” it is valid / justified / inevitable / good / ideal
bandwagonappealing to popularity as evidence of validationRetort: "When everyone once believed the earth was flat — did that make it true?"
begging the questionwhen conclusion is included in the premiseone form of circular argument (tautology is another)
black or whitepresenting two alternative states as the only options, when more possibilities existvery commonly used by political and media resources as a way to polarize issues
burden of proofclaiming the responsibility lies with someone else to disprove one's claim (& not with the claimant to prove it)
composition/divisionassuming what is true of one part of something must be applied to all parts
fallacy fallacypresuming that a poorly argued claim, or one in which a fallacy has been made, is wrong
false causepresuming that a real or perceived relationship between things implies causation
gambler's fallacyputting a tremendous amount of weight on previous events, believing they will influence future outcomes (even when outcome is random)also a psychological bias
geneticvalue judging based on where something comes from
loaded questionasking a question with an assumption built in, so it can't be answered without appearing guilty
middle groundclaiming a compromise between two extremes must be the truththe media establishment is often guilty of this for a number of reasons: lack of time for thorough inquiry; need for ratings; available field of pundits and wonks; established programming formats, and so on
no true scotsmanmaking an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws
personal incredulitysaying that because a concept or argument is difficult to understand, it can't be true
slippery slopearguing that a small change or decision will inevitably lead to larger-than-intended (perhaps even disastrous) consequences rapidly
special pleadingmoving goalpost to create exceptions when a claim is shown to be false
strawmanmisrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier to attack
texas sharpshootercherry-picking data to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumptionthe impending era of big data will increase the prevalence of this type of sheister
tu quoqueavoiding having to engage with criticism by criticizing the accuser

Read more:

30 Common Psychological Biases ↗

These systematic errors in our thinking and logic affect our everyday choices, behaviors, and evaluations of others.

28 Cognitive Distortions ↗

Cognitive distortions are bad mental habits. They’re patterns of thinking that tend to be negatively slanted, inaccurate, and often repetitive.

Think Better with Mental Models ↗

Mental models are a kind of strategic building blocks we can use to make sense of the world around us.

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“Global cabal” is one of several popular conspiracy theories in radical right-wing discourse that refers to a perceived “Jewish conspiracy” behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the UN. There are many euphemisms and alternate names for the same core conspiracy theory alleging the existence of a single group of shadowy people who control world events behind closed doors as clandestine world rulers. It has appeared in many forms, derivatives, and retellings throughout history, from Nazism to one of its latest incarnations: QAnon.

A cabal is a small, usually secretive group that uses its considerable power to establish control over a larger group, or more broadly over society itself. The term is derived from the word kabbalah, a school of thought in Jewish mysticism that is concerned with the essence of God. Thus the concept of a global cabal ruling secretly over the world has deeply anti-Semitic origins, even though a number of its proponents are unfamiliar with the foundations of the idea in anti-Jewish hatred.

the global cabal, by me and Midjourney

Structure and origin of global cabal conspiracy theory

The most basic tenet of the global cabal conspiracy theory genre is that a single group controls everything that happens in the world, but manages to keep that control entirely secret from everyone except those who believe in the global cabal. The identity of the controlling group may be different in different networks of believers: Jewish bankers in the case of the Nazis (emerging out of the anti-Semitic blood libel conspiracy theory), Freemasons, The Illuminati, reptilian lizard people, Democratic pedophiles in the case of QAnon, and so on.

The origins of the global cabal conspiracy trace back to the 18th century, when the Illuminati conspiracy theory began to circulate. The Illuminati conspiracy theory alleged that a secret society of Freemasons was working to overthrow the governments of Europe and establish a New World Order. This conspiracy theory quickly spread to other parts of the world, and it has been used to explain a wide range of events, from the French Revolution to the 9/11 attacks.

Global cabal conspiracies have a predilection for collapsing the distinction between opposites. The Nazis claimed that communism and capitalism were both Jewish plots; conspiracists in America allege that bitter political rivals like the Bushes and the Clintons are actually BFFs in on the “real” story conducted behind the scenes and out of the public eye. The Russian rhetorical tactic of whataboutism is a quintessential manifestation of this phenomenon, wherein the speaker refutes an accusation by stating that other people elsewhere have also done that thing, often people on the accuser’s side or team.

The New World Order, by Midjourney

How to deprogram global cabalists

The staying power and allure of conspiracy theories surprises many people — why would anyone want to believe in these far-fetched, over the top ridiculous ideas about how the world works? People believe in conspiracy theories because they offer simple solutions in a complex, overwhelming world. They also offer a sense of superiority and positive self-image by means of collective narcissism — which likewise makes them fragile and prone to insecurities and doubts.

People going through traumatic or epochal life events are especially vulnerable to the power of conspiracy theories. They find comfort and easy social support in the arms of the group of believers, but buy in to the cultish practice of demonizing and dehumanizing the non-believers. Their abrasiveness can make it difficult to approach them about the topic of their belief in conspiracy theory, even if they’re a close family member — sometimes especially if they’re a close family member.

Often the conspiracy theory believer will refuse to read any information from a source that is not in the right-wing echo chamber. If you think they might, however, send them this essay by Yuval Noah Harrari. It’s the best I’ve found to explain the core essence of the “belief system” and the core con of the whole thing.

Media echo chamber, by Midjourney

If they won’t accept information from credible sources, you might find an opening by asking them questions about their beliefs, getting them to talk more about the ideas, and look out for opportunities to ask “frame breaking questions” that address the fundamental flaws of the global cabal theory: that even small numbers of people are difficult to control, much less a whole planet; and that no one can predict the future with a high degree of accuracy.

In reality, there is not one but many conspiracies at work all around us to knit the fabric of history together. James Madison called them factions. Many of these conspiracies work directly against one another, and many work entirely independently but pursue some percentage of similar goals in common.

Global cabal conspiracy theory is totalitarian, in the sense that it collapses all of the immense complexity of human existence into billions of puppets pulled by the strings of a very few puppetmasters. Real life is a multiverse — and that can be overwhelming, and confusing.

The anxiety of the modern world can be intense, and conspiracy theories offer a seductively simple relief. But ask your global conspiracist friend or family member whether or not they think there are some things that are too good to be true: like a story about a handful of people causing everything that happens in the world.

Conspiracy theories, by Midjourney

Global cabal conspiracies list

Global cabal is part of a broader category of conspiracy theories, which often involve secret or hidden groups working behind the scenes to control events or manipulate public opinion. While these ideas can be intriguing, they are often unsupported by evidence and can lead to misinformation, great misunderstanding, and even political violence.

Here’s a list of other belief systems that are related to or often associated with global cabal conspiracy theories:

  • Illuminati: A supposed secret society aiming to control world events.
  • New World Order: A proposed authoritarian world government.
  • NazismAdolf Hitler‘s ideology of fascism was little more than an appropriation of pre-existing global cabal theory and anti-Semitic blood libel
  • Freemasonry: Often linked to various conspiracy theories, though it’s a legitimate fraternal organization.
  • Bilderberg Group: An annual private conference of influential people, often associated with global control theories.
  • Cultural Marxism — a version of the global cabal conspiracy theory revived from the Nazis by Paul Weyrich and William S. Lind
  • Chemtrails: The belief that aircraft trails contain harmful substances.
  • Area 51: Associated with UFOs and government secrecy.
Area 51 aliens chillin' in the desert in the style of a Hunter S. Thompson acid trip
  • False Flag Operations: The idea that governments stage attacks to manipulate public opinion.
  • MK-Ultra: A real CIA program that has spawned various conspiracy theories.
  • 9/11 Conspiracy Theories: Various theories about the September 11 attacks.
  • Moon Landing Hoax: The belief that the moon landings were faked.
  • Reptilian Elite: The idea that shape-shifting reptilian beings control Earth.
  • HAARP: A research program that has been associated with mind control and weather manipulation theories.
  • Vaccine Conspiracy Theories: Various theories about the hidden dangers of vaccines.
  • Zionist Occupied Government (ZOG): Anti-Semitic theories about Jewish control over governments, and a chosen secret cabal of the anti-government white power movement that flourished in the U.S. after the Vietnam War.
  • Flat Earth Theory: The belief that the Earth is flat, not spherical.
  • Big Pharma Conspiracy: The idea that pharmaceutical companies suppress natural cures.
  • Deep State: The belief in a hidden government within the legitimate government.
The Deep State, by Midjourney
  • Satanic Ritual Abuse: The belief in widespread satanic ritual abuse, often linked to elite groups.
  • QAnon: A wide-ranging conspiracy theory alleging a secret plot against President Trump. The latest incarnation of the global cabal casts Donald Trump in the role of savior from the shadowy group of Democratic pedophiles who run the country and — via NATO and the UN — the world.
  • Crisis Actors: The belief that events like mass shootings are staged with actors.
  • The Great Replacement conspiracy theory — white nationalist variant of the global cabal conspiracy, in which the nefarious plot of the shadowy Elites this time is to dilute the white race by allowing sane immigration policy. This stochastic violence strategy is being waged by Rupert Murdoch‘s Fox News via fish stick-heir Tucker Carlson, resulting in directly named ideological inspiration for some of the most heinous mass murders of our time including the Anders Breivik killing of 77 in Oslo, Norway and the assassination of 10 people, mostly Black, in a Buffalo supermarket the shooter chose for its high percentage of Black people. Great Replacement theory is also known as white genocide conspiracy theory.

Learn more:

Antisemitism ↗

Antisemitism is a form of discrimination, prejudicebigotry, or hostility directed against Jewish people.

Why do people believe conspiracy theories? ↗

Our ability to see patterns in randomness and dissemble stories on the spot, along with numerous other cognitive and psychological biases, make us vulnerable to belief in conspiracy theories.

Blood libel ↗

Blood libel is a very old anti-Semitic myth that has stubbornly persisted for centuries, one of several conspiracy theories that scapegoat the Jewish people for all of society’s ills.

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Propaganda is a form of communication that aims to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors towards a particular cause, idea, or ideology. It involves the use of persuasive techniques to shape public opinion and to create a favorable image of a person, group, or organization, while discrediting or demonizing its opponents.

Propaganda can take many different forms, including posters, speeches, films, radio broadcasts, social media posts, and news articles. It can be used for political, social, religious, or commercial purposes, and it is often associated with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian societies.

One of the key characteristics of propaganda is its use of emotional appeals, rather than rational arguments, to sway people’s opinions. Propagandists often appeal to people’s fears, hopes, bigotries, or prejudices, and use catchy slogans, symbols, or images to make their message more memorable and persuasive. They may also use repetition, exaggeration, or distortion of facts to reinforce their message and to create a sense of urgency or crisis.

Disinformation at scale

Another key feature of propaganda is its use of selective or biased information to support its claims and to discredit opposing views. Propagandists may use half-truths, rumors, lies, or Big Lies to create a false or misleading picture of the situation, and to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality. They may also use censorship or propaganda techniques such as suppression of dissent, demonization of opponents, or use of fear to create a chilling climate of fear and intimidation.

Propaganda can also be used to create a sense of unity or identity among a group of people, by emphasizing their shared values, beliefs, or interests, and by portraying outsiders or enemies as a threat to their well-being. Propaganda can thus be used to mobilize people for a common cause, such as a war or a political campaign, or to reinforce existing social norms and values.

However, propaganda can also have negative consequences, such as creating divisions, fostering hatred, or suppressing dissent. It can lead to the dehumanization of other groups or individuals, and to the justification of violence or discrimination. Propaganda can also undermine democracy by limiting people’s access to accurate information and by creating a distorted view of reality.

To resist propaganda, it is important to be critical of the messages we receive, to question the sources and motives of the information, and to seek out alternative perspectives and sources of information. We should also be aware of our own biases and prejudices, and strive to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions and viewpoints.

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McCarthyism refers to the anti-communist political repression and paranoia that swept the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly during the tenure of Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin. It was a period of intense fear and suspicion of communism during the Cold War that manifested in government investigations, trials, and blacklisting of individuals suspected of being communists or communist sympathizers. The era was marked by a pervasive fear of subversion and betrayal, as many Americans believed that communists were working to infiltrate and undermine American institutions.

The roots of McCarthyism can be traced back to the early 20th century, when communism was viewed as a major threat to Western democracy. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of the Soviet Union fueled anti-communist sentiment in the United States, which intensified during the Red Scare of the 1920s. However, it was not until after World War II that anti-communist fervor reached its peak.

National anti-communist paranoia

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9835, which established a loyalty program for federal employees. The program required all federal employees to undergo a background check and sign a loyalty oath, swearing that they were not members of the Communist Party or affiliated with any other subversive organization. The program was intended to weed out any suspected communists from the federal government, but it soon became the basis for a broader campaign of anti-communist witch-hunts.

In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to national prominence with his claims of widespread communist infiltration in the federal government. In a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, McCarthy claimed to have a list of 205 known communists in the State Department. He provided no evidence to support his claim, but the speech propelled him to the national spotlight and began a period of intense media fascination with the Senator’s provocative claims.

Over the next several years, McCarthy became the face of the anti-communist crusade. He chaired the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and conducted public hearings and investigations into suspected communist activity. Many of his targets were innocent, and his tactics often included intimidation, character assassination, and guilt by association.

Army-McCarthy hearings

McCarthy’s tactics eventually led to his downfall. Between April and June of 1954, he conducted televised hearings to investigate alleged communist influence in the Army. The hearings were a disaster for McCarthy, as he made unfounded accusations and engaged in verbal attacks on witnesses. As the hearings progressed, McCarthy’s behavior became increasingly erratic and confrontational. He bullied and intimidated Army officials and witnesses, often interrupting them and accusing them of lying. His behavior turned public opinion against him, and the hearings marked the beginning of his decline.

The turning point of the hearings came when Army counsel Joseph Welch famously confronted McCarthy after he had attacked a young lawyer in Welch’s law firm:

“Senator, you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Joseph N. Welch, Army chief counsel

The exchange was a defining moment in the hearings, and it marked the beginning of the end for McCarthy’s political career after millions of Americans witnessed his aggressive demagoguery. In fact it went on to become one of the most famous moments in the history of congressional hearings, and is often cited as an example of the power of a well-timed and well-delivered rhetorical response.

The hearings ultimately failed to uncover any evidence of communist infiltration in the Army, but they did expose McCarthy’s reckless and abusive tactics and damaged his reputation. They also demonstrated the power of televised hearings in shaping public opinion and holding government officials accountable.

Historical influence of McCarthyism

McCarthyism had far-reaching consequences for American society. Thousands of people were investigated, blacklisted, and lost their jobs or were denied employment on suspicion of being communist sympathizers. The entertainment industry was particularly hard hit, with many actors, writers, and directors being blacklisted for their political beliefs. The unfounded smears against Hollywood contributed to a negative sentiment on the right-wing that continues even to this day.

The era of McCarthyism also had a chilling effect on free speech and political dissent. Many people were afraid to express their opinions or engage in political activism, for fear of being labeled a communist or communist sympathizer. The era demonstrated the dangers of political repression and the importance of protecting civil liberties and freedom of expression.

McCarthyism was a dark period in American history that was characterized by political repression, paranoia, and fear of communism. It was fueled by the perceived threat of subversion and betrayal, and it led to the persecution of innocent people, the erosion of civil liberties, and a chilling climate of fear and suspicion. The legacy of McCarthyism serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of political repression and the importance of protecting free speech and civil liberties in a democracy.

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Blood libel is a very old anti-Semitic myth that has stubbornly persisted for centuries, one of several conspiracy theories that have scapegoating the Jewish people for all of society’s ills at their core. The heart of the false claim is that Jews murder non-Jewish (or Gentile) children to use their blood for apocryphal religious rituals, during Passover and other prominent Jewish holidays.

Originating from a series of stereotypes about Jews amassed through the ages, blood libel is also intimately related to the global cabal conspiracy theory and was heavily used in Nazi ideology to justify the horrors of the Holocaust. Somewhat ironically, the Nazis claimed that the Jewish people were inherently violent and murderous — and used this baseless claim as justification of their own systematic program of violence and murder of over 6 million Jewish people in Germany during the 1930s and 40s.

The outlandish claims of blood libel have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked by scholars, historians, anthropologists, psychologists, and an armada of dedicated truth-tellers — yet the stickiness of the myth persists, even after the consequences of this toxic belief system of antisemitism became apparent during World War II. Today, the blood libel myth has been given new life in the modern revision known as the QAnon conspiracy theory — a movement which contains elements of blood libel, global cabal theory, and a hodge podge of other fantastical and fanatical belief systems that have hooked gullible populations throughout history.

It’s important to remain skeptical of those who make these claims, and to ask who benefits from the deep virulent divisions and bitter partisanship created by the widespread belief in these toxic conspiracy theories.

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conspiracy theories, disinformation, and fake news

Conspiracy Theory Dictionary: From QAnon to Gnostics

In half a decade we’ve gone from Jeb Bush making a serious run for president to Marjorie Taylor Greene running unopposed and winning a House seat in Georgia. QAnon came seemingly out of nowhere, but taps into a much deeper and older series of conspiracy theories that have surfaced, resurfaced, and been remixed throughout time.

Essentially, QAnon is a recycling of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion conspiracy theory that drove the Nazi ideology and led to the genocide of over 6 million Jews, gypsies, gays, and others who made Hitler mad. It’s riddled with the kind of conspiratorial paranoia that led to the deaths of over 75 million people in World War II.

The spread of the QAnon conspiracy theory greatly benefits from historical memory, getting a generous marketing boost from sheer familiarity. It also benefits from an authoritarian mentality growing louder in America, with a predilection for magical thinking and a susceptibility to conspiratorial thinking.

Tales as old as time

Conspiracy theories have been around much longer even than the Protocols — stretching back about as long as recorded history itself. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? In an increasingly complex world brimming with real-time communication capabilities, the cognitive appeal of easy answers may simply be stronger than ever before.

Anthropologists believe that conspiracy theory has been around for about as long as human beings have been able to communicate. Historians describe one of the earliest conspiracy theories as originating in ancient Mesopotamia, involving a god named Marduk and a goddess called Tiamat — both figures in Babylonian creation mythology.

According to the myth, Marduk defeated Tiamat in battle and created the world from her body — but some ancient Mesopotamians at the time thought that the story was not actually a mere myth, but a political cover-up of a real-life conspiracy in which the followers of Marduk secretly plotted to overthrow Tiamat to seize power.

This “original conspiracy theory” was likely driven by political tensions between city-states in ancient Mesopotamia, although there are very few written records still around to corroborate the origin of the theory or perception of the story at the time. Nevertheless, the Marduk-Tiamat myth is regarded as one of the earliest known examples of widespread belief in conspiracy theories, and it points to the relative commonality and frequency of false narratives throughout history.

Whether deployed purposefully to deceive a population for political advantage, created to exploit people economically, or invented “naturally” as a simple yet satisfying explanation for otherwise complicated and overwhelming phenomena, conspiracy theories are undoubtedly here to stay in culture more broadly for some time to come. We had best get the lay of the land, and understand the language we might use to describe and talk about them.

Conspiracy Theory Dictionary

TermDefinitionNotes
4chanA notorious internet message board with an unruly culture capable of trolling, pranks, and crimes.alt-Right
8chanIf 4chan wasn't raw and lawless enough for you, you could try the even more right-wing "free speech"-haven 8chan while it still stood (now 8kun). Described by its founder Frederick Bennan as "if 4chan and reddit had a baby," the site is notorious for incubating Gamergate, which morphed into PizzaGate, which morphed into QAnon -- and for generally being a cesspool of humanity's worst stuff.alt-Right
9/11 truthersPeople who believe the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001 were either known about ahead of time and allowed to happen, or were intentionally planned by the US government.
alien abductionPeople who claim to have been captured by intelligent life from another planet, taken to a spaceship or other plane of existence, and brought back -- as well as the folks who believe them.UFOs now real, nbd
American carnageEvocative of "immense loss" in the Nazi mythology
AntifaAntifa is anti-fascism, so the anti-anti-fascists are just fascists wrapped in a double negative. The real cancel culture -- and a dangerous one.
Anti-SemitismOne of history's oldest hatreds, stretching back to early biblical timesReferred to as "the oldest hate," anti-Semitism is also inherently anti-feminist, because Jewish societies were once matrilineal.
Biblical inerrancy
birtherismOne of Donald Trump's original Big Lies -- that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and therefore, wasn't a "legitimate" president.
Black Lives Matter
blood libel
child trafficking
Christian Identity
climate change denial
The Confederacy
contamination
cosmopolitanismAnother term for globalist or internationalist, which are all dog whistles for Jewish people
Crossing the Rubicon
cultural MarxismAnti-semitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jewish intellectuals who fled the Hitler regime were responsible for infecting American culture with their communist takeover plans and that this holy war is the war the right-wing fights each day.
deep state
DVEdomestic violent extremism
fake news
GamerGate
George Soros
Hollywood
Illuminati
InfoWars
JFK assassination
John Birch SocietyThe QAnon of its day (circa 1960s), this extreme right-wing group was theoretically about anti-communist ideals but espoused a host of conspiracy theories and outlandish beliefs
lamestream mediaDerogatory term for any media that isn't right-wing media.
leftist apocalypse
Makers and Takers
micro-propaganda machineMPMthe “micro-propaganda machine” — an influence network that can tailor people’s opinions, emotional reactions, and create “viral” sharing (��LOL/haha/��RAGE) episodes around what should be serious or contemplative issues
motivated reasoning
New World Order
nullificationA constitutional "theory" put forth by southern states before the Civil War that they have the power to invalidate any federal laws or judicial decisions they consider unconstitutional. It's never been upheld by the federal courts.
One World Government
PizzaGate
post-truth
PRpublic relations
propaganda
Protocols of the Elders of ZionForged anti-semitic document alleging a secret Jewish child murder conspiracy used by Hitler to gin up support for his regime.
PsyOpsPsychological operations
QAnon
Q Drops
reactionary modernism
Reichstag fire
Rothschilds
sock puppets
"Stand back and stand by"
The Storm
WikiLeaks
ZOGZionist ---- Government
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hate speech in a town hall

Hate speech is a way of dominating & monopolizing the conversation:

  • It removes the possibility of polite, congenial dialogue.
  • No productive discussion can happen until it is removed, b/c one party is only pretending to be there for dialog but is only there for broadcasting.

Hate speech is a weapon being used to shut down political discourse — under the guise of promoting it.

It’s a kind of false flag operation — a strategy of war disguising itself as “legitimate political discourse.”
Putin and the American right-wing are using the exact same tactics — and this is no accident. It’s not a coincidence Elonely Muskrat is carrying water for Russian dictators and oligarchs — the right-wing as an ideological movement is now global.

It’s also no accident this whole Twitter takeover drama is happening just before the mid-terms. The right-wing needs to inject some juice into the splintering base, some of whom are wavering as the actual (intentionally) obscured vision of the GOP leaks out (i.e. destroy government altogether).

Continue reading GOTV: Elonely Muskrat hate speech edition
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disinformation

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.

disinformation, illustrated

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 John Birch Society — 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 now digital scale — via QAnon, Fox News, the even more extreme aggressively partisan coverage of Newsmax and OANN, 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
wallpaper effectThe "wraparound" pervasiveness of Right-wing Media and its Brainwashing effects at scale
white male identity politics
white nationalism
white terrorism
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