disinformation

In it simplest form, active measures incorporates information warfare aimed at undermining the West.

Active measures (“активные мероприятия” in Russian) refer to a form of political warfare conducted by the Soviet Union and now, by extension, Russia, to influence the course of world events. These measures include a wide range of activities, such as espionage, the dissemination of propaganda, and the establishment of front organizations, all aimed at manipulating the public opinion and decision-making processes in other countries.

The goal is often to destabilize opponents and weaken alliances contrary to the interests of the Soviet Union or Russia, without engaging in much riskier direct military conflict.

Disinformation in active measures

Historically, active measures have included complex operations, such as spreading disinformation, orchestrating smear campaigns, and using psychological warfare to sow discord and confusion among the target population. For example, during the Cold War, the KGB engaged in active measures to spread false information about the United States, aiming to weaken its credibility and influence on the global stage.

These operations were meticulously planned and could span years or even decades, employing a variety of tactics from leaking altered documents to fostering relationships with sympathetic or unknowing individuals within influential positions.

In the digital age, the concept of active measures has evolved with technology. Social media platforms and the internet have become fertile grounds for such operations, allowing for the rapid spread of disinformation and the manipulation of public opinion on a scale previously unimaginable.

These modern active measures can involve cyber attacks, the use of trolls and bots to amplify divisive content, and the strategic release of hacked information to influence political outcomes, as seen in various elections around the world (the Wikileaks email dumps that helped Trump eke out the presidency in 2016, e.g.). The adaptability and covert nature of active measures make them a persistent challenge for governments and societies trying to safeguard democratic processes and maintain national security.

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The chemtrails conspiracy theory emerged in the late 1990s. It posits that the long-lasting trails left by aircraft, conventionally known as contrails (short for condensation trails), are actually “chemical trails” (chemtrails). These chemtrails, according to believers, consist of chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes by government or other agencies for purposes unknown to the general public. This theory gained momentum with the rise of the internet, allowing for widespread dissemination of disinformation, misinformation, and speculation.

Contrails of a Boeing 747-438 from Qantas at 11,000 m (36,000 ft), by Sergey Kustov

The roots of this theory can be traced back to a 1996 report by the United States Air Force titled “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025.” This document speculated on future weather modification technologies for military purposes. Conspiracy theorists misinterpreted this as evidence of ongoing weather manipulation. The theory was further fueled by a 1997 petition titled “Chemtrails – Ban High Altitude Aerial Spraying” and a 1999 broadcast by investigative journalist William Thomas, who claimed widespread spraying for unknown purposes.

Why people believe in chemtrails

  1. Distrust in Authority: A significant driver of belief in the chemtrail conspiracy is a general mistrust of governments and authoritative bodies. For some, it’s easier to believe in a malevolent secretive plot (which is often some kind of variation on the global cabal theory) than to trust official explanations.
  2. Cognitive Bias: Confirmation bias plays a crucial role. Individuals who believe in chemtrails often interpret ambiguous evidence as confirmation of their beliefs. The sight of a contrail, for instance, is perceived as direct evidence of chemtrail activity.
  3. Scientific Misunderstanding: Many chemtrail believers lack an understanding of atmospheric science. Contrails are formed when the hot humid exhaust from jet engines condenses in the cold, high-altitude air, forming ice crystals. This scientific process is often misunderstood or overlooked by proponents of the chemtrail theory.
  4. Social and Psychological Factors: Belief in conspiracies can be psychologically comforting for some, providing simple explanations for complex phenomena and a sense of control or understanding in a seemingly chaotic world. Social networks, both online as social media and offline as “meatspace” connections, also play a significant role in reinforcing these beliefs.

Chemtrails in the broader context of conspiracy thinking

The chemtrail conspiracy is part of a larger pattern of conspiratorial thinking that includes a range of other theories, from the relatively benign to the dangerously outlandish. This pattern often involves beliefs in a powerful, malevolent group controlling significant world events or possessing hidden knowledge.

  1. Relation to Other Theories: Chemtrail beliefs often intersect with other conspiracy theories. For example, some chemtrail believers also subscribe to New World Order or global depopulation theories like the white supremacist Great Replacement Theory.
  2. Impact on Public Discourse and Policy: The belief in chemtrails has occasionally influenced public discourse and policy. Local governments and councils have been petitioned to stop these perceived practices, reflecting the tangible impact of such beliefs.
  3. Challenges for Science and Education: Confronting the chemtrail conspiracy presents challenges for educators and scientists. Addressing scientific illiteracy and promoting critical thinking are key in combating the spread of such disinformation and misinformation.
  4. A Reflection of Societal Fears: The persistence of the chemtrail theory reflects broader societal fears and anxieties, particularly about government control, environmental destruction, and health concerns.
Contrails (but not chemtrails!) in the sky, by Midjourney

Chemtrails as part of a broader science denialism

The chemtrail conspiracy theory is a multifaceted phenomenon rooted in mistrust, scientific misunderstanding, and psychological factors. It is emblematic of a broader pattern of conspiracy thinking and science denialism that poses challenges to public understanding of science and rational discourse. Addressing these challenges requires a nuanced approach that includes education, transparent communication from authorities, and fostering critical thinking skills among the public.

This theory, while lacking credible scientific evidence, serves as a case study in how misinformation can spread and take root in society. It underscores the need for vigilance in how information is consumed and shared, especially in an age where digital media can amplify fringe theories with unprecedented speed and scale. Ultimately, understanding and addressing the underlying causes of belief in such theories is crucial in promoting a more informed and rational public discourse.

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A “meme” is a term first coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene.” Originally, it referred to an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. However, in the digital age, the term has evolved to specifically denote a type of media – often an image with text, but sometimes a video or a hashtag – that spreads rapidly online, typically through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter/X, Reddit, TikTok, and generally all extant platforms.

Memes on the digital savannah

In the context of the internet, memes are a form of digital content that encapsulates a concept, joke, or sentiment in a highly relatable and easily shareable format. They often consist of a recognizable image or video, overlaid with humorous or poignant text that pertains to current events, popular culture, or universal human experiences. Memes have become a cornerstone of online communication, offering a way for individuals to express opinions, share laughs, and comment on societal norms.

Grumpy Cat meme: "There are two types of people in this world... and I hate them"

Once primarily a tool of whimsy, amusement, and even uplifit, in recent years memes have become far more weaponized by trolls and bad actors as part of a broader shift in internet culture towards incivility and exploitation. The days of funny cats have been encroached upon by the racism and antisemitism of Pepe the Frog, beloved patron saint meme of the alt-right. The use of memes to project cynicism or thinly-veiled white supremacy into culture and politics is an unwelcome trend that throws cold water on the formerly more innocent days of meme yore online.

Memes as tools of disinformation and information warfare

While memes are still used for entertainment and social commentary, they have also become potent tools for disseminating disinformation and conducting information warfare, both domestically and abroad. This is particularly evident in political arenas where, for instance, American right-wing groups have leveraged memes to spread their ideologies, influence public opinion, and discredit opposition.

  1. Simplicity and Virality: Memes are easy to create and consume, making them highly viral. This simplicity allows for complex ideas to be condensed into easily digestible and shareable content, often bypassing critical analysis from viewers.
  2. Anonymity and Plausible Deniability: The often-anonymous nature of meme creation and sharing allows individuals or groups to spread disinformation without accountability. The humorous or satirical guise of memes also provides a shield of plausible deniability against accusations of spreading falsehoods.
  3. Emotional Appeal: Memes often evoke strong emotional responses, which can be more effective in influencing public opinion than presenting factual information. The American right-wing, among other groups, has adeptly used memes to evoke feelings of pride, anger, or fear, aligning such emotions with their political messages.
  4. Echo Chambers and Confirmation Bias: Social media algorithms tend to show users content that aligns with their existing beliefs, creating echo chambers. Memes that reinforce these beliefs are more likely to be shared within these circles, further entrenching ideologies and sometimes spreading misinformation.
  5. Manipulation of Public Discourse: Memes can be used to distract from important issues, mock political opponents, or oversimplify complex social and political problems. This can skew public discourse and divert attention from substantive policy discussions or critical events.
  6. Targeting the Undecided: Memes can be particularly effective in influencing individuals who are undecided or less politically engaged. Their simplicity and humor can be more appealing than traditional forms of political communication, making them a powerful tool for shaping opinions.

Memes in political campaigns

Memes have been used to discredit candidates or push particular narratives that favor right-wing ideologies. Memes have also been employed to foster distrust in mainstream media and institutions, promoting alternative, often unfounded narratives that align with right-wing agendas.

Trump QAnon meme: "The Storm is Coming" in Game of Thrones font, shared on Truth Social

While often benign and humorous, memes can also be wielded as powerful tools of disinformation and information warfare. The American right-wing, among other political groups globally, has harnessed the viral nature of memes to influence public opinion, manipulate discourse, and spread their ideologies. As digital media continues to evolve, the role of memes in political and social spheres is likely to grow, making it crucial for consumers to approach them with a critical eye.

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Cyberbullying involves the use of digital technologies, like social media, texting, and websites, to harass, intimidate, or embarrass individuals. Unlike traditional bullying, its digital nature allows for anonymity and a wider audience. Cyberbullies employ various tactics such as sending threatening messages, spreading rumors online, posting sensitive or derogatory information, or impersonating someone to damage their reputation — on to more sinister and dangerous actions like doxxing.

Geopolitical impact of cyberbullying

In recent years, cyberbullying has transcended personal boundaries and infiltrated the realm of geopolitics. Nation-states or politically motivated groups have started using cyberbullying tactics to intimidate dissidents, manipulate public opinion, or disrupt political processes in other countries. Examples include spreading disinformation, launching smear campaigns against political figures, or using bots to amplify divisive content. This form of cyberbullying can have significant consequences, destabilizing societies and influencing elections.

Recognizing cyberbullying

Identifying cyberbullying involves looking for signs of digital harassment. This can include receiving repeated, unsolicited, and aggressive communications, noticing fake profiles spreading misinformation about an individual, or observing coordinated attacks against a person or group. In geopolitics, recognizing cyberbullying might involve identifying patterns of disinformation, noting unusual social media activity around sensitive political topics, or detecting state-sponsored troll accounts.

Responding to cyberbullying

The response to cyberbullying varies based on the context and severity. For individuals, it involves:

  1. Documentation: Keep records of all bullying messages or posts.
  2. Non-engagement: Avoid responding to the bully, as engagement often escalates the situation.
  3. Reporting: Report the behavior to the platform where it occurred and, if necessary, to law enforcement.
  4. Seeking Support: Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for emotional support.

For geopolitical cyberbullying, responses are more complex and involve:

  1. Public Awareness: Educate the public about the signs of state-sponsored cyberbullying and disinformation.
  2. Policy and Diplomacy: Governments can implement policies to counteract foreign cyberbullying and engage in diplomatic efforts to address these issues internationally.
  3. Cybersecurity Measures: Strengthening cybersecurity infrastructures to prevent and respond to cyberbullying at a state level.

Cyberbullying, in its personal and geopolitical forms, represents a significant challenge in the digital age. Understanding its nature, recognizing its signs, and knowing how to respond are crucial steps in mitigating its impact. For individuals, it means being vigilant online and knowing when to seek help. In the geopolitical arena, it requires a coordinated effort from governments, tech companies, and the public to defend against these insidious forms of digital aggression. By taking these steps, societies can work towards a safer, more respectful digital world.

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The “repetition effect” is a potent psychological phenomenon and a common propaganda device. This technique operates on the principle that repeated exposure to a specific message or idea increases the likelihood of its acceptance as truth or normalcy by an individual or the public. Its effectiveness lies in its simplicity and its exploitation of a basic human cognitive bias: the more we hear something, the more likely we are to believe it.

Repetition effect, by Midjourney

Historical context

The repetition effect has been used throughout history, but its most notorious use was by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany. Hitler, along with his Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, effectively employed this technique to disseminate Nazi ideology and promote antisemitism. In his autobiography “Mein Kampf,” Hitler wrote about the importance of repetition in reinforcing the message and ensuring that it reached the widest possible audience. He believed that the constant repetition of a lie would eventually be accepted as truth.

Goebbels echoed this sentiment, famously stating, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The Nazi regime used this strategy in various forms, including in speeches, posters, films, and through controlled media. The relentless repetition of anti-Semitic propaganda, the glorification of the Aryan race, and the demonization of enemies played a crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of the Nazi regime.

Psychological basis

The effectiveness of the repetition effect is rooted in cognitive psychology. This bias is known as the “illusory truth effect,” where repeated exposure to a statement increases its perceived truthfulness. The phenomenon is tied to the ease with which familiar information is processed. When we hear something repeatedly, it becomes more fluent to process, and our brains misinterpret this fluency as a signal for truth.

Modern era usage

The transition into the modern era saw the repetition effect adapting to new media and communication technologies. In the age of television and radio, political figures and advertisers used repetition to embed messages in the public consciousness. The rise of the internet and social media has further amplified the impact of this technique. In the digital age, the speed and reach of information are unprecedented, making it easier for false information to be spread and for the repetition effect to be exploited on a global scale.

The repetition effect on screens and social media, by Midjourney

Political campaigns, especially in polarized environments, often use the repetition effect to reinforce their messages. The constant repetition of slogans, talking points, and specific narratives across various platforms solidifies these messages in the public’s mind, regardless of their factual accuracy.

Ethical considerations and countermeasures

The ethical implications of using the repetition effect are significant, especially when it involves spreading disinformation or harmful ideologies. It raises concerns about the manipulation of public opinion and the undermining of democratic processes.

To counteract the repetition effect, media literacy and critical thinking are essential. Educating the public about this psychological bias and encouraging skepticism towards repeated messages can help mitigate its influence. Fact-checking and the promotion of diverse sources of information also play a critical role in combating the spread of falsehoods reinforced by repetition.

Repetition effect: A key tool of propaganda

The repetition effect is a powerful psychological tool in the arsenal of propagandists and communicators. From its historical use by Hitler and the fascists to its continued relevance in the digital era, this technique demonstrates the profound impact of repeated messaging on public perception and belief.

While it can be used for benign purposes, such as in advertising or reinforcing positive social behaviors, its potential for manipulation and spreading misinformation cannot be understated. Understanding and recognizing the repetition effect is crucial in developing a more discerning and informed approach to the information we encounter daily.

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The term “alternative facts” gained widespread attention on January 22, 2017, when Kellyanne Conway, then-Counselor to President Donald Trump, used it during a “Meet the Press” interview. Conway was defending White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false statements about the attendance numbers at Trump’s presidential inauguration the day before.

When challenged by the interviewer, who cited several facts indicating a much smaller crowd size relative to President Obama‘s inauguration, Conway asserted that Spicer was offering “alternative facts” to the media reports, which suggested a lower attendance compared to previous inaugurations.

Kellyanne Conway, by Midjourney

Philosophical and Historical Context

The term, while new in its specific phrasing, taps into a long-standing philosophical debate about truth and reality. Historically, the idea that there can be different interpretations of facts has roots in relativism and constructivism.

However, the way “alternative facts” was used implied a more radical departure from the accepted notion of objective facts, tilting towards a post-truth era where the line between truth and falsehood becomes blurred. It indicated an intentional strategy of disseminating disinformation early on in the Trump administration, and articulated it out loud in a way that previous presidents had never done before.

Use in US politics

The use of “alternative facts” in US politics has been controversial and highly debated. Proponents argue that the term simply reflects different perspectives and interpretations of events. Critics, however, see it as an attempt to legitimize falsehoods or misleading information, particularly when used by those in power to contradict evidence and well-established facts.

The term quickly became symbolic of the Trump administration’s relationship with the media and its approach to information dissemination. It was seen as part of a broader strategy that involved discrediting mainstream media as so-called “fake news,” promoting favorable narratives, and challenging the notion of objective truth. It extended the already prevalent right-wing strategy of science denialism into a kind of denialism of reality itself — a dangerous path towards authoritarianism reminiscent of the use of Newspeak in George Orwell’s famous classic dystopian novel, 1984.

Donald Trump spewing "Alternative Facts" into the disinformation ecosystem, by Midjourney

Implications for American democracy

The implications of the widespread use of “alternative facts” for American democracy are profound and multifaceted:

  1. Erosion of Trust: The concept challenges the role of a free press and fact-checking institutions in democracy. When official statements are at odds with verifiable evidence, it erodes public trust in both the government and the media.
  2. Polarization: It exacerbates political polarization. When people cannot agree on basic facts, finding common ground becomes challenging, leading to a more divided society.
  3. Manipulation and Propaganda: The term can be weaponized for political ends, allowing for manipulation of public opinion and spreading propaganda.
  4. Accountability and Governance: In a democracy, accountability is key. If leaders are seen to use “alternative facts” without consequence, it undermines democratic governance and the expectation that leaders are truthful and transparent.
  5. Public Discourse and Decision Making: Accurate information is crucial for informed decision making by the electorate. When false information is disseminated under the guise of “alternative facts,” it impairs the public’s ability to make informed decisions.
  6. Legal and Ethical Concerns: The concept raises ethical concerns about honesty and integrity in public office and can complicate legal proceedings when factual accuracy is disputed.

The dangers of “reality denial”alternative facts” in political discourse

“Alternative facts,” as a term and a concept, represents more than just a linguistic novelty; it signifies a shift in the landscape of political discourse and the relationship between truth, power, and democracy. Its emergence and use reflect deeper tensions in society about trust, media, and the nature of reality itself. For American democracy, grappling with the implications of this term is not just an intellectual exercise but a necessary endeavor to preserve the integrity of our democratic institutions and public discourse.

It’s one thing to have legitimately different perspectives on the issues. It’s quite another to throw out the founding ideals and Enlightenment principles of rational inquiry, scientific observation, and reality testing altogether. If we cannot agree even on the basic facts of a situation, the ability to arrive at any kind of policy consensus about what to do to solve issues and problems in society that will always occur is deeply impaired — and indeed, our democracy is placed in great peril.

We must recommit fully to the finding of Actual Facts — and put behind us the childish nursing of our favored Alternative Facts.

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A Cult Dictionary of Mind Control, and the Language of Abuse

Cultism has a long history here in the United States — but what is a cult, exactly? One could argue the Confederacy was a kind of cult, and the KKK after it. America gave rise to cult leaders Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Sun Myung Moon, among many many others who led cults big and small (Charles Koch, perhaps?! Certainly Donald Trump.).

Christianity itself was considered a cult by some during its humble beginnings after the turn of the millennia and then some. It’s no accident that religious revivalism and many types of faith fervor colored the nation for decades and centuries. It’s the blind worship of a singular ideology or individual, in the case of a cult of personality, that is often the signature trait of both cult leaders and cult followers, who will do anything they’re told — even unto the grave.

A cult leader tripped out byy his loyal followers, by Midjourney

Some might call the patriarchal nuclear family the Original Cult. Many if not most Evangelical sects revere it, among numerous others who believe in God the Father quite literally. Others still seek to exploit that zeal, by offering up a series of “flawed saviors” who dangled the prospect of a more theocratic state governed by Law and Order. Their money buys them much more than just the puppets who rule, and the citizens struggle to pierce the veils of illusion.

Mind control and emotional manipulation

Known by many names, from mind control to brainwashing to undue influence techniques, the use of methods to knowingly manipulate a target’s sense of reality is a devious and unethical way to achieve one’s aims with increased plausible deniability. Having obedient servants do your dirty work, bury your secrets, and protect your property perhaps is an archetypal dream of an America gone by… or current.

From schoolyard bullies and repressive religious upbringing to sexual predators and organized crime, the toolkit is eerily similar — it makes you wonder if they all get pamphlets in the mail from Head Evil, or if they instinctually all arrive at these methods on their own. Their goal is to get inside your head, destabilize you and keep you off balance, and gain some sort of advantage over you both currently and in ensuing negotiations, conflicts, or other events.

A cult leader manipulating his followers with charisma and disinformation. by Midjourney

Today we are seeing it on a large scale in the digital domain, from Facebook radicalization and QAnon to right-wing backchannels and encrypted messaging. We had better get familiar with the lexicon and vocabulary of the coming era, so we can fight the creeping scourge of thought control roiling the land.

TermDefinitionNotes
abuseUsing one's position of authority unfairly and/or deceptively for personal gain.https://doctorparadox.net/tag/emotional-abuse/Includes many forms, from emotional and psychological to financial, physical, narcissistic, and more.
aggressionBehavior intended to harm, injure, or assert dominance over another, either physically or psychologically. It's often characterized by hostility and, in some contexts, can be provoked or unprovoked.https://doctorparadox.net/the-authoritarian-personality-craves-power/
anarchyA political philosophy and social movement that rejects all forms of involuntary, coercive hierarchy and authority, advocating for a society organized without a government or governing body.
anti-governmentAn attitude or stance that opposes or is critical of the existing governmental structure, policies, or officials, often advocating for limited government intervention or reforms to current governance systems.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Ideologies/anti-governmentExamples: the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and other militia groups; the Sovereign Citizens Movement
anti-SemitismAntisemitism is a form of discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, or hostility directed against Jewish people with a history dating back thousands of years.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/antisemitismReferred to as "the oldest hate," anti-Semitism is also inherently anti-feminist, because Jewish societies were once matrilineal.
apocalypticismPreoccupation with the imminent end of the world.https://doctorparadox.net/proteanism-vs-cultism-open-closed/see also: millenarianism
ArmageddonThe apocalypse; the End Times; the end of the world as we know it (...and we feel fiiiiiiiine!)https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/end-times/also a movie with Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, & Ben Affleck -- from back in 1998 when our apocalypsi seemed somehow more quaint
authoritarianA personality type characterized by conventionalism, aggression, anti-intellectualism, superstition, paranoia, cynicism, destructiveness, projectivity, and a profound lack of imagination.https://doctorparadox.net/essential-thinkers-on-authoritarian-personalities/
authorityAuthority refers to the legitimate power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. It is typically associated with individuals or institutions that hold a recognized position within a social, political, or organizational structure.
beliefsBeliefs are more like a kind of stock we own than a calculation we do on the fly. We spend time building them and deriving value from them.They're not simply tools for making good decisions, though, but are treasured in their own right and new information that challenges them is unwelcome. We often try to avoid it, in order to protect our beliefs.https://doctorparadox.net/category/psychology/beliefs/
biasBias is a predisposition or inclination, often unreasoned, that leads to a subjective perspective or judgment in favor of or against a person, group, or thing. It can manifest in various forms, such as racial bias, gender bias, or confirmation bias.https://doctorparadox.net/data-sets/psychological-biases-list/see also: motivated reasoning, bigotry, prejudice, revealed wisdom
bigotryAn unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices against a particular group, often manifesting in intolerance or hatred towards those of different races, religions, or sexual orientations.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/bigotry-is-bad-thinking/see also: hate crimes, genocide
boundary violationsBoundary violations occur when someone oversteps personal or professional limits, disrupting the expected or agreed-upon boundaries in a relationship or interaction. These can range from minor infractions to serious breaches, like in cases of harassment or abuse.
brainwashingA process of forcibly and systematically altering an individual's beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors through psychological pressure, often in a controlled environment, stripping away previous identities and beliefs.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/brainwashing/see also: mind control, thought control, undue influence
briberyBribery involves offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting something of value as a means to influence the actions of an individual in a position of power or authority, typically in a way that is illegal or unethical.
bullyingA form of aggressive behavior where an individual or group repeatedly and intentionally causes harm or discomfort to another person, often involving an imbalance of power.https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/how-to-deal-with-bullies/
charisma schoolCharisma schools are institutions or training programs that aim to teach individuals how to enhance their personal appeal and persuasive power, often focusing on communication skills, self-confidence, and leadership qualities.Popular in PUA and "men's rights" communities
child abuseAny physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child by an adult, resulting in potential harm or risk to the child's health, survival, dignity, and development.
child bridesYoung girls, typically under the age of 18, who are married off, often in cultures where early marriage is practiced, leading to issues like loss of education, health complications, and abuse.
child pornographyThe creation, distribution, or possession of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual acts or in sexually explicit poses, which is illegal and considered a severe form of child exploitation.
child traffickingThe illegal practice of procuring or trading children for various forms of exploitation, such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, or illegal adoptions.
cognitive dissonanceCognitive dissonance occurs when an individual experiences mental discomfort or psychological stress due to holding contradictory beliefs, values, or attitudes, often leading to rationalization or attitude change.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/cognitive-dissonance/
con artistA con artist is an individual who deceives others for personal gain, often through manipulation, fraud, or confidence tricks, typically involving financial or emotional exploitation.Synonyms: swindler, scammer, trickster, deceiver, fraudster, charlatan, impostor, grifter, hoaxer, hustler
conditional loveConditional love is an affection or emotional attachment that is dependent on specific conditions being met, contrasting with unconditional love, which is given freely regardless of circumstances.
conspiracy theoriesExplanations for events or situations that invoke a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often politically motivated, when other explanations are more probable. They typically involve the belief that certain events or situations are the result of a secret plot by usually unseen and influential forces. https://doctorparadox.net/why-do-people-believe-conspiracy-theories/
corruptionThe abuse of entrusted power for private gain, often involving practices like bribery, embezzlement, or nepotism, and can occur in both public and private sectors.https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/corruption/
C-PTSDComplex post-traumatic stress disorder -- a psychological condition occurring after exposure to trauma whether physical, emotional, or otherwise.see also: PTSD
CSAMChild sexual abuse material
cult leadersPeople who wield an alternating current of fear and "love" -- they swing a blunt instrument because they cannot manage the complexity of human relationships and real love.https://doctorparadox.net/are-all-cult-leaders-narcissists/Many cult leaders are on the narcissism spectrum.
cult of personalityA cult of personality arises when a country's regime – or, more rarely, an individual – uses the techniques of mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, the arts, patriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. A cult of personality is similar to apotheosis, except that it is created specifically for living leaders and not usually maintained after their death.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/american-fascism/cult/
dark moneyPolitical spending by organizations that are not required to disclose their donors. Common in U.S. politics, it allows for significant financial influence while maintaining anonymity, often impacting elections and policy-making.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/dark-money/
DARVODARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." It's a reaction pattern by perpetrators of wrongdoing, particularly in cases of sexual misconduct, where they deny the behavior, attack the accuser, and present themselves as the victim.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/what-is-darvo/
deep fakesHighly realistic and convincing digital manipulations of audio or video, often using artificial intelligence to alter or create content where someone appears to say or do something they did not.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/deep-fakes/
defense mechanismAn unconscious psychological strategy used to protect oneself from anxiety or distress, often by denying, distorting, or repressing reality. Common examples include denial, repression, and rationalization.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/defense-mechanism/
demagogueryA political strategy where a leader appeals to popular desires, prejudices, and emotions rather than using rational argument, often through rhetoric and propaganda, to gain power or manipulate the public.https://doctorparadox.net/people-data/demagogues/
denialismDenialism involves the refusal to accept well-established facts, theories, or evidence, often in the context of historical events, science, or social issues. It's characterized by the rejection of expert consensus and the use of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of legitimate debate.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/american-fascism/denial/
denying plain factsDenying plain facts refers to the outright rejection or dismissal of clear, indisputable evidence or truths. This behavior is often rooted in cognitive biases, ideological beliefs, or a deliberate intention to mislead or deceive.
dissociationPsychological dissociation is a mental process involving a disconnection from one's thoughts, identity, consciousness, or memory. It can occur as a coping mechanism during trauma, leading to a sense of detachment from the self or the external world, like a protective psychological escape from reality or intense stress.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/what-is-dissociation/
dogmaA rigid ideology or belief systemhttps://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/freedom-from-dogma/A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable. -- Carl Sagan
domestic violenceDomestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. It can include physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats.
emotional abuseA form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, such as anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It often involves manipulation, belittling, and controlling behavior.https://doctorparadox.net/tag/emotional-abuse/
emotional blackmailEmotional blackmail is a form of manipulation that uses guilt, fear, and obligation to control someone. It often involves threats and punishments, either directly or implied, to coerce the other person into doing what the manipulator wants.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/emotional-blackmail/
entitlementEntitlement refers to the belief that one inherently deserves privileges or special treatment. It's a mindset in which an individual feels that they are owed something by society, life, or others, often without corresponding responsibility.
extortionExtortion is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats. It's a criminal offense which involves coercing a person or institution to hand over assets, services, or property.
extremismExtremism involves holding extreme political or religious views and often advocating for radical or violent measures to support those views. Extremists often reject or undermine the norms and values of society in pursuit of their ideology.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/extremism/Now that sensible moderate conservatives have sensibly gone elsewhere, all that's left of the GOP is the terrifying extremism.
false memory implantationFalse memory implantation refers to the psychological phenomenon where a person recalls memories that are factually incorrect but believed to be true. These memories can be implanted through suggestion or therapy techniques.
father figuresMen who provide guidance, support, and mentorship to someone, often in the absence of a biological father. They play a significant role in personal development, offering emotional, moral, and practical support.Some people think of "freedom" as "freedom from" -- freedom from having to take responsibility for oneself, because one can take orders from a crusty old white dude who promises protection
financial abuseFinancial abuse involves controlling a person's ability to acquire, use, and maintain financial resources. Often seen in domestic relationships, the abuser may withhold resources, hide information, or limit the victim's access to money, severely restricting their autonomy.
flying monkeysA term derived from 'The Wizard of Oz', used in psychology to describe people who act on behalf of a narcissist to a third party, usually for an abusive purpose. They may spread lies, gossip, and carry out abuse by proxy.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/flying-monkeys/
front groupsPublic-facing groups with innocuous and virtual-sounding names that exist only to recruit new members into the next circle of the organization, where the process of wearing down the independence of the target begins.
fundamentalismA strict adherence to specific theological doctrines typically in a reaction against modernist theories, leading to a literal interpretation and strict adherence to basic principles of a religion or a religious branch.https://doctorparadox.net/diptychs/the-artist-vs-the-fundamentalist/
gaslightingGaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes such as low self-esteem.https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/gaslighting/
God complexA God complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility. A person with a God complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of complex or intractable problems.
grandiosityAn unrealistic sense of superiority, characterized by a sustained view of oneself as better than others that is often expressed as disdain or disregard for others' feelings. It is typically associated with narcissistic behavior, where an individual may exhibit exaggerated self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/grandiosity/
griftGrift refers to the act of engaging in petty or small-scale swindling or fraud. It usually involves trickery or deception for personal gain, often in a charming or persuasive manner.see also: con artist
groomingThe process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy. The grooming process is often very deliberate and involves manipulating the victim’s trust and isolating them.see also: child abuse, child trafficking, human trafficking, sex trafficking
groupthinkGroupthink occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints.https://doctorparadox.net/models/bad-models/groupthink/
guiltA cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated a universal moral standard and bear significant responsibility for that violation.
guruA spiritual teacher, particularly in the Indian religions. In broader use, it's an expert or authority in a particular field, who seeks to guide others based on knowledge or wisdom they possess.
high demand groupsOrganizations that often require extreme commitment and loyalty from their members. These groups can be religious, political, or social, and they typically demand a significant amount of time and energy from their members, often at the expense of personal relationships and independence.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/high-demand-groups/
human traffickingHuman trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. It is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights.
hypnosisA trance-like state in which a person has heightened focus and concentration. It is commonly used for therapy to recall memories or modify behaviors, often induced by a hypnotist using verbal repetition and mental images.see also: Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP)
ideologyA set of beliefs, values, and ideals that form the basis of a social, economic, or political philosophy or program. It can be a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things, or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Ideologies/%E2%9C%B3%EF%B8%8F+Ideologies+HomeHas it slain coherence?!
influence techniquesInfluence techniques are methods used to try to persuade or influence others' thinking, behavior, or perceptions. These can range from simple persuasion and negotiation tactics to more complex psychological strategies like manipulation and coercion.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/influence-techniques/
intermittent reinforcementThe same psychology behind casinos, intermittent reinforcement rewards the subject according to an irregular payout schedule that does not correspond to any of the actions of the subject. It is cognitively a very "sticky" mechanism -- one that has another common ancestor: addiction.
isolationIsolation is the process or fact of isolating or being isolated, which can be physical, social, or emotional. It involves keeping a person away from others or limiting their access to external sources of information or interaction, often used as a tool for control in various contexts.
Kool-AidThe phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" is a colloquialism that has come to refer to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination. It originally referred to the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, where followers of Jim Jones drank a cyanide-laced drink as an act of revolutionary suicide.
labor exploitationA situation where workers are not fairly compensated for their work, often involving poor working conditions, low wages, and long hours. It can include violations of labor laws and is often linked to practices like forced labor and child labor.
love bombingA manipulative strategy used by individuals, often in the context of romantic or personal relationships as well as in cults, where excessive affection, attention, and flattery are used to influence or control another person. It is typically characterized by overwhelming displays of attention and affection, often early in the relationship, to gain trust and dependency.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/love-bombing/
magical thinkingThe belief that one's thoughts, words, or actions can influence the course of events in the physical world in a manner not governed by the laws of physics or biology. This type of thinking is often characteristic of childhood development, but in adults, it can be a feature of various psychological conditions or a cultural belief system.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/magical-thinking/
malignant envyA deep-seated resentment and anger towards another person’s possessions, qualities, or luck, often leading to a desire to harm or undermine the envied person. It's a destructive and pathological form of envy.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/malignant-narcissism/see also: narcissism, NPD, malignant narcissism, Cluster B
manipulationA skill or art of influencing or controlling someone to your advantage, often without their awareness. It involves using tactics like deception, misdirection, psychological tricks, and exploiting weaknesses to gain control or achieve a desired outcome.
mental predatorsPeople who assume they have the right to abuse and manipulate others and use them for their own personal gain -- and behave accordingly.https://doctorparadox.net/tactics-of-emotional-predators/see also: cult leaders, narcissism, sexual predators
mind controlA process in which an individual's thoughts, feelings, or actions are manipulated by another person or group. It often involves techniques that decrease the victim's ability to critically analyze or make independent decisions, leading them to adopt certain behaviors or beliefs.see also: brainwashing, undue influence, mental predation
minimizingMinimizing is a psychological defense mechanism where a person downplays the significance of an event or emotion. It's often a way of reducing the impact of an action or thought that is perceived as threatening or harmful.
misogynyMisogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women. It manifests in various ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, patriarchy, male privilege, belittlement of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/misogyny
mob ruleMob rule refers to control by a mass of people, where decisions are made through the exertion of group dynamics rather than established legal procedures or democratic processes. It often suggests a chaotic, lawless situation controlled by a volatile, aggressive crowd.
moving the goalpostsA logical fallacy in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. It's a way of changing the criteria of a debate or argument to exclude evidence that may oppose one's stance.
naive realismThe belief that we see reality as it really is – objective and without bias; that the facts are plain for all to see; that rational people will agree with us; and that those who don't are either uninformed, lazy, irrational, or biased.
narcissismNarcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. It's often centered around a person's inflated self-image and deep need for admiration.https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/narcissism-and-cluster-b-personality-disorders/
narcissistic rageIntense anger, aggression, or passive-aggression when a narcissist experiences a setback or disappointment, which threatens their sense of superiority and self-esteem. It's often disproportionate to the event that triggered it.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/narcissistic-rage/
narcissistic supplyNarcissistic supply refers to the attention, admiration, emotional energy, or other forms of "supply" that narcissists require and seek. It's a form of psychological dependence on others to fulfill their self-esteem needs.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/npd-narcissistic-personality-disorder/
neggingA manipulative behavior where a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or otherwise flirtatious remark to another person to undermine their confidence and increase their need for the manipulator's approval.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/negging/Often used in PUA and "men's rights" groups.
nihilismThe philosophical belief that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that morality does not exist naturally, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived.
organized crimeThe mob and mob-like structures
paddlingA type of physical punishment, often delivered to children by strict or fundamentalist parents, in which a paddle is used to psychically strike the child -- often on the backside.see: spanking
paranoiaExtreme constant fear; conviction that others are "out to get you"https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/paranoia/
patriarchyA social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. It often leads to the marginalization of women within these structures.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/patriarchy
phobia indoctrinationThe process of teaching and ingraining irrational fears or hatreds towards certain groups, concepts, or ideologies. This often involves reinforcing negative stereotypes and fostering discriminatory attitudes.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/american-fascism/phobia-indoctrination/see also: bigotry, prejudice, racism, sexism, hate crimes, genocide
plausible deniabilityA situation where a person can deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because there is no clear evidence to prove involvement. It is often used in situations where it is beneficial to avoid direct blame or legal liability.
playing the victimA manipulative behavior where a person portrays themselves as a victim of circumstances or the actions of others, typically to gain sympathy, justify their own behavior, or evade responsibility. It often involves exaggeration or fabrication of troubles.
police brutalityThe use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police officers against civilians. This can include physical violence, verbal attacks, psychological intimidation, and abuse of police powers.a murdery version of the circle jerk
post-truthA political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. It denotes situations where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.post-truth scandals: Trump, Iran-Contra, Benghazi, Whitewater, Hillary's emails
prejudiceA preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. This bias, often negative, is directed towards people, groups, or concepts, and is typically founded on stereotypes.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/prejudicesee also: bigotry, motivated reasoning
"proactive" violenceViolence committed as a deliberate strategy, often preemptive or anticipatory, rather than as a response to an immediate threat. It is used to achieve an agenda or exert control before any actual aggression has occurred.
projectionA psychological defense mechanism wherein individuals attribute their own unacceptable thoughts, feelings, or motives to another person. It is often a way of denying one's own negative traits by ascribing them to the external world.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/projection/
propagandaInformation, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view. It is often characterized by its persuasive intent, aiming to influence the audience's beliefs or actions.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/propaganda/see also: disinformation, fake news
prophecyA prediction of future events, often based on divine or supernatural revelation. Prophecies are typically found in religious contexts and are seen as authoritative declarations of what will happen.
Prosperity GospelA religious belief among some Christian denominations that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations will increase one's material wealth. It is often criticized for prioritizing material gain over spiritual values.
psychological abuseA form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It includes emotional manipulation, intimidation, and persistent criticism.
psychological apocalypticismThe belief in an impending collapse of society or a cataclysmic event that will lead to drastic changes in the world order, often based on fear and anxiety. This mindset can drive extreme behaviors and ideologies, based on the perception of an imminent existential threat.see also: phobia indoctrination, Armageddon, End Times, paranoia
psychological warfareThe use of propaganda, threats, and other psychological techniques during war or conflict to influence an opponent's state of mind, undermine morale, and manipulate or deceive them. It aims to weaken the enemy's will to fight and resistance, without direct physical confrontation.https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/psychological-warfare/Employed heavily and optimized for the modern era by the Soviet KGB
psychopathsIndividuals who exhibit a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This is often associated with an absence of empathy and remorse, bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/psychopaths/
PTSDPost-traumatic stress disorder -- a psychological condition occurring after exposure to trauma whether physical, emotional, or otherwise.
purityA concept often associated with an absence of contamination, pollution, or imperfection. In various contexts, it can refer to physical cleanliness, moral or ethical standards, or cultural or religious ideals of innocence and virtue.
racismThe belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another. It also refers to prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief in racial superiority.https://doctorparadox.net/category/psychology/racism/
radicalismThe beliefs or actions of individuals, groups, or organizations who advocate for thorough or complete political or social reform. It often involves the desire to transform or replace existing structures with new systems that are fundamentally different.
rapeA type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. It is a serious crime and a grave violation of the victim's rights and dignity.The second most serious violent crime after murder.
rape cultureA sociological concept describing a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Practices that contribute to rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.see also: misogyny, patriarchy, bigotry, prejudice, strict father morality
re-educationPeriod of indoctrination when the recruit is taught the ideology of the cult as the One Truth; a process by which individuals are forced to abandon their previous beliefs or ways of thinking, often in a controlled environment, and to adopt new attitudes, often aligning with specific political or ideological agendas
religious abuseThe maltreatment of a person, often a child, in a religious context. This can include psychological manipulation, exploiting religious beliefs to exert control, and sometimes physical or sexual abuse under the guise of religious practice.example: the notorious child sex abuse scandals of the Catholic church, the Mormon church, and the Evangelical church
retconShort for "retroactive continuity," it's a literary device in which new information is introduced to a fictional narrative that alters the interpretation of previous events. It is commonly used in serial storytelling, like comics or television series -- as well as in disinformation campaigns and propaganda.
revealed wisdomKnowledge or understanding considered to be divinely disclosed, often through sacred texts or spiritual experiences. This type of wisdom is often foundational to religious beliefs and practices.
sadismThe tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others. It can also refer more broadly to cruel behavior or attitudes.
scapegoatingThe practice of unfairly blaming an individual or group for problems or negative occurrences, often as a way of distracting attention from the real causes or to satisfy the need to assign blame. It's a common tool in politics and social dynamics.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/scapegoating/
selective exposureThe tendency to favor information or media sources that confirm one’s beliefs and to avoid information that contradicts them. This behavior often leads to biased decision-making and a polarized understanding of issues.
sexual assaultAny type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This includes rape, but also encompasses a range of non-consensual sexual activities.
sexual predatorsIndividuals who seek out or engage in sexual activity with another person in a predatory and exploitative manner. They often use manipulative tactics or force to coerce their victims into sexual situations.
shameA painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. Unlike guilt, which is a feeling of distress about one's actions, shame is often related to the self-perception of being seen negatively by others.
social dominanceA socio-political theory which suggests that societies are structured in hierarchical group systems, where one group has dominance over others. This dominance is maintained through a combination of power, social norms, and ideologies.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/social-dominance/
sociopathsPeople with little to no empathy -- they can be very cold and cruel, yet also warm and charming.
sophistryA method of argument that is seemingly plausible but actually fallacious and misleading. It involves using clever but unsound reasoning, often to deceive or persuade others.
spankingA form of physical punishment involving the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause physical pain, generally with an open hand. It is often used as a disciplinary measure for children.Popular in a number of religious circles, usually fundamentalist sects.
spare the rodA phrase often interpreted as a justification for physical discipline in child-rearing. It suggests that failing to discipline children physically will lead to poor behavior and character development.
Special MissionIn a general sense, this term refers to a specific task or duty assigned to a person or group, often implying that it has a unique, important, or secretive nature. It's commonly used in military, diplomatic, or corporate contexts.
stonewallingA refusal to communicate or cooperate, such as in a conversation or negotiation. This behavior involves shutting down dialogue, often as a power move or to avoid dealing with an issue.
supremacyThe state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status. It can refer to the dominance of one group, ideology, or social system over others.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/supremacy/
tax fraudThe illegal practice of deliberately falsifying information on a tax return to avoid paying the full tax obligation. Examples include underreporting income, inflating deductions or expenses, or hiding money in offshore accounts.
televangelistA preacher who uses television broadcasts to spread their religious or moral messages, often appealing for financial support from viewers. Televangelists are typically associated with Christian evangelical movements.
thought reformAlso known as "brainwashing," it's the process of forcibly and systematically changing an individual's beliefs and attitudes, usually in a controlled environment. It often involves the breakdown of the individual's identity and beliefs, followed by the introduction of new beliefs.see also: re-education, influence techniques, undue influence, brainwashing
thought stoppersTechniques or phrases used to halt or disrupt an individual’s critical thinking or analysis. These are often simplistic sayings or mantras designed to end an uncomfortable conversation or silence dissenting thoughts.
tortureUsing physical violence during interrogation or to achieve compliance with a subject or recruit.
totalismA practice or expression of a totalitarian system, which demands complete subservience to an authority or ideology. In a totalist system, individual needs and opinions are often suppressed for the perceived good of the group or the authority's agenda.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/totalitarianism
toxic positivityThe overgeneralization of a positive mindset, dismissing or invalidating genuine emotional experience. It involves the rejection of negative emotions and the insistence that individuals should maintain a positive attitude in all circumstances.
trauma bondingThe development of a strong emotional connection between a victim and an abuser, formed through a repeated cycle of abuse, devaluation, and positive reinforcement. It's often seen in abusive relationships and can make it difficult for victims to leave the situation.
undue influenceExcessive pressure or influence exerted by one person over another, which disrupts the victim's ability to make independent decisions. This can occur in various relationships, including legal, financial, and personal contexts.
verbal abusePervasive and chronic denigration of the recruit or target, with the goal of diminishing her self-esteem and building up a dependence on the cult leader.The use of words to cause harm to the person being spoken to. It involves the use of derogatory remarks, criticism, threats, and yelling, with the intent to intimidate, control, or demean the victim.
victim blamingThe tendency to hold the victim of a crime or wrongdoing responsible for the harm that befell them. It involves suggesting that the victim's own actions or behaviors were the cause of their victimization.see also: DARVO; Mudsill Theory
white nationalismWhite nationalists argue for policies that would establish or maintain a white majority in the country, often opposing immigration from non-European countries and advocating for policies that they believe would preserve white culture.https://doctorparadox.net/save-democracy/right-wing-ideologies/white-nationalist-beliefs/
whitewashingTrying to clean up the reputation of someone or something after the fact -- attempts to rehabilitate a famous person following crime, for example.
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Shitposting, a term that has seeped into the mainstream of internet culture, is often characterized by the act of posting deliberately provocative, off-topic, or nonsensical content in online communities and on social media. The somewhat vulgar term encapsulates a spectrum of online behavior ranging from harmless, humorous banter to malicious, divisive content.

Typically, a shit-post is defined by its lack of substantive content, its primary goal being to elicit attention and reactions — whether amusement, confusion, or irritation — from its intended audience. Closely related to trolling, shitposting is one aspect of a broader pantheon of bad faith behavior online.

Shit-poster motivations

The demographic engaging in shit-posting is diverse, cutting across various age groups, social strata, and political affiliations. However, it’s particularly prevalent among younger internet users who are well-versed in meme culture and online vernacular. The motivations for shit-posting can be as varied as its practitioners.

Some engage in it for humor and entertainment, seeing it as a form of digital performance art. Others may use it as a tool for social commentary or satire, while a more nefarious subset might employ it to spread disinformation and misinformation, sow discord, and/or harass individuals or groups.

Online trolls shitposting on the internet, by Midjourney

Context in US politics

In the realm of U.S. politics, shit-posting has assumed a significant role in recent elections, especially on platforms like Twitter / X, Reddit, and Facebook. Politicians, activists, and politically engaged individuals often use this tactic to galvanize supporters, mock opponents, or shape public perception. It’s not uncommon to see political shit-posts that are laden with irony, exaggeration, or out-of-context information, designed to inflame passions or reinforce existing biases — or exploit them.

Recognition and response

Recognizing shit-posting involves a discerning eye. Key indicators include the use of hyperbole, irony, non-sequiturs, and content that seems outlandishly out of place or context. The tone is often mocking or sarcastic. Visual cues, such as memes or exaggerated images, are common.

Responding to shit-posting is a nuanced affair. Engaging with it can sometimes amplify the message, which might be the poster’s intention. A measured approach is to assess the intent behind the post. If it’s harmless humor, it might warrant a light-hearted response or none at all.

For posts that are disinformation or border on misinformation or toxicity, countering with factual information, reporting the content, or choosing not to engage are viable strategies. The key is not to feed into the cycle of provocation and reaction that shit-posting often seeks to perpetuate.

Shitposting troll farms lurk in the shadows, beaming disinformation across the land -- by Midjourney

Fighting back

Shit-posting, in its many forms, is a complex phenomenon in the digital age. It straddles the line between being a form of modern-day satire and a tool for misinformation, propaganda, and/or cyberbullying. As digital communication continues to evolve, understanding the nuances of shit-posting – its forms, motivations, and impacts – becomes crucial, particularly in politically charged environments. Navigating this landscape requires a balanced approach, blending awareness, discernment, and thoughtful engagement.

This overview provides a basic understanding of shit-posting, but the landscape is ever-changing, with new forms and norms continually emerging. The ongoing evolution of online communication norms, including phenomena like shit-posting, is particularly fascinating and significant in the broader context of digital culture and political discourse.

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Science denialism has a complex and multifaceted history, notably marked by a significant event in 1953 that set a precedent for the tactics of disinformation widely observed in various spheres today, including politics.

The 1953 meeting and the birth of the disinformation playbook

The origins of modern science denial can be traced back to a pivotal meeting in December 1953, involving the heads of the four largest American tobacco companies. This meeting was a response to emerging scientific research linking smoking to lung cancer — a serious existenstial threat to their business model.

Concerned about the potential impact on their business, these industry leaders collaborated with a public relations firm, Hill & Knowlton, to craft a strategy. This strategy was designed not only to dispute the growing evidence about the health risks of smoking, but also to manipulate public perception by creating doubt about the science itself. They created the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) as an organization to cast doubt on the established science, and prevent the public from knowing about the lethal dangers of smoking.

And it worked — for over 40 years. The public never formed a consensus on the lethality and addictiveness of nicotine until well into the 1990s, when the jig was finally up and Big Tobacco had to pay a record-breaking $200 billion settlement over their 4 decades of mercilessly lying to the American people following the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) of 1998.

smoking and the disinformation campaign of Big Tobacco leading to science denialism, by Midjourney

Strategies of the disinformation playbook

This approach laid the groundwork for what is often referred to as the “disinformation playbook.” The key elements of this playbook include creating doubt about scientific consensus, funding research that could contradict or cloud scientific understanding, using think tanks or other organizations to promote these alternative narratives, and influencing media and public opinion to maintain policy and regulatory environments favorable to their interests — whether profit, power, or both.

Over the next 7 decades — up to the present day — this disinformation playbook has been used by powerful special interests to cast doubt, despite scientific consensus, on acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer, the viability of Ronald Reagan‘s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and perhaps most notably: the man-made causes of climate change.

Adoption and adaptation in various industries

The tobacco industry’s tactics were alarmingly successful for decades, delaying effective regulation and public awareness of smoking’s health risks. These strategies were later adopted and adapted by various industries and groups facing similar scientific challenges to their products or ideologies. For instance, the fossil fuel industry used similar tactics to cast doubt on global warming — leading to the phenomenon of climate change denialism. Chemical manufacturers have disputed science on the harmful effects of certain chemicals like DDT and BPA.

What began as a PR exercise by Big Tobacco to preserve their fantastic profits once science discovered the deleterious health effects of smoking eventually evolved into a strategy of fomenting science denialism more broadly. Why discredit one single finding of the scientific community when you could cast doubt on the entire process of science itself — as a way of future-proofing any government regulation that might curtail your business interests?

Science denial in modern politics

In recent years, the tactics of science denial have become increasingly prevalent in politics. Political actors, often influenced by corporate interests or ideological agendas, have employed these strategies to challenge scientific findings that are politically inconvenient — despite strong and often overwhelming evidence. This is evident in manufactured “debates” on climate change, vaccine safety, and COVID-19, where scientific consensus is often contested not based on new scientific evidence but through disinformation strategies aimed at sowing doubt and confusion.

The role of digital media and politicization

The rise of social media has accelerated the spread of science denial. The digital landscape allows for rapid dissemination of misinformation and the formation of echo chambers, where groups can reinforce shared beliefs or skepticism, often insulated from corrective or opposing information. Additionally, the politicization of science, where scientific findings are viewed through the lens of political allegiance rather than objective evidence, has further entrenched science denial in modern discourse — as just one aspect of the seeming politicization of absolutely everything in modern life and culture.

Strategies for combatting science denial

The ongoing impact of science denial is profound. It undermines public understanding of science, hampers informed decision-making, and delays action on critical issues like climate change, public health, and environmental protection. The spread of misinformation about vaccines, for instance, has led to a decrease in vaccination rates and a resurgence of diseases like measles.

scientific literacy, by Midjourney

To combat science denial, experts suggest several strategies. Promoting scientific literacy and critical thinking skills among the general public is crucial. This involves not just understanding scientific facts, but also developing an understanding of the scientific method and how scientific knowledge is developed and validated. Engaging in open, transparent communication about science, including the discussion of uncertainties and limitations of current knowledge, can also help build public trust in science.

Science denial, rooted in the strategies developed by the tobacco industry in the 1950s, has evolved into a significant challenge in contemporary society, impacting not just public health and environmental policy but also the very nature of public discourse and trust in science. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach, including education, transparent communication, and collaborative efforts to uphold the integrity of scientific information.

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Climate Change Denial: From Big Tobacco Tactics to Today’s Global Challenge

In the complex narrative of global climate change, one pervasive thread is the phenomenon of climate change denial. This denial isn’t just a refusal to accept the scientific findings around climate change; it is a systematic effort to discredit and cast doubt on environmental realities and the need for urgent action.

Remarkably, the roots of this denial can be traced back to the strategies used by the tobacco industry in the mid-20th century to obfuscate the link between smoking and lung cancer. This companies conspired to create a disinformation campaign against the growing scientific consensus on the manmade nature of climate change, to cast doubt about the link between the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of the planet’s natural ecosystems — and they succeeded, for over half a century, beginning in 1953.

climate change and its denial, by Midjourney

Origins in big tobacco’s playbook

The origins of climate change denial lie in a well-oiled, public relations machine initially designed by the tobacco industry. When scientific studies began linking smoking to lung cancer in the 1950s, tobacco companies launched an extensive campaign to challenge these findings. Their strategy was not to disprove the science outright but to sow seeds of doubt, suggesting that the research was not conclusive and that more studies were needed. This strategy of manufacturing doubt proved effective in delaying regulatory and public action against tobacco products, for more than 5 decades.

Adoption by climate change deniers

This playbook was later adopted by those seeking to undermine climate science. In the late 20th century, as scientific consensus grew around the human impact on global warming, industries and political groups with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo began to employ similar tactics around lying at scale. They funded research to challenge or undermine climate science, supported think tanks and lobbyists to influence public opinion and policy, and used media outlets to spread a narrative of uncertainty and skepticism.

Political consequences

The political consequences of climate change denial have been profound. In the United States and other countries, it has polarized the political debate over environmental policy, turning what is fundamentally a scientific issue into a partisan one. This politicization has hindered comprehensive national and global policies to combat climate change, as legislative efforts are often stalled by ideological conflicts.

a burning forest of climate change, by Midjourney

Denial campaigns have also influenced public opinion, creating a significant segment of the population that is skeptical of climate science years after overwhelming scientific consensus has been reached, which further complicates efforts to implement wide-ranging environmental reforms.

Current stakes and global impact

Today, the stakes of climate change denial could not be higher. As the world faces increasingly severe consequences of global warming — including extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ecosystems — the need for decisive action becomes more urgent. Yet, climate change denial continues to impede progress. By casting doubt on scientific consensus, it hampers efforts to build the broad public support necessary for bold environmental policies that may help thwart or mitigate some of the worst disasters.

Moreover, climate change denial poses a significant risk to developing countries, which are often the most vulnerable to climate impacts but the least equipped to adapt. Denialism in wealthier nations can lead to a lack of global cooperation and support needed to address these challenges comprehensively.

Moving forward: acknowledging the science and embracing action

To effectively combat climate change, it is crucial to recognize the roots and ramifications of climate change denial. Understanding its origins in the Big Tobacco disinformation strategy helps demystify the tactics used to undermine environmental science. It’s equally important to acknowledge the role of political and economic interests in perpetuating this denial — oil tycoon Charles Koch alone spends almost $1 billion per election cycle, heavily to climate deniers.

A climate change desert, by Midjourney

However, there is a growing global movement acknowledging the reality of climate change and the need for urgent action. From international agreements like the Paris Accord to grassroots activism pushing for change, there is a mounting push against the tide of denial.

Climate change denial, with its roots in the Big Tobacco playbook, poses a significant obstacle to global efforts to address environmental challenges. Its political ramifications have stalled critical policy initiatives, and its ongoing impact threatens global cooperation. As we face the increasing urgency of climate change, acknowledging and countering this denial is crucial for paving the way towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

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Sockpuppets are fake 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.

In the digital age, the battleground for political influence has extended beyond traditional media to the vast, interconnected realm of social media. Central to this new frontier are “sockpuppet” accounts – fake online personas created for deceptive purposes. These shadowy figures have become tools in the hands of authoritarian regimes, perhaps most notably Russia, to manipulate public opinion and infiltrate the political systems of countries like the UK, Ukraine, and the US.

What are sockpuppet accounts?

A sockpuppet account is a fake online identity used for purposes of deception. Unlike simple trolls or spam accounts, sockpuppets are more sophisticated. They mimic real users, often stealing photos and personal data to appear authentic. These accounts engage in activities ranging from posting comments to spreading disinformation, all designed to manipulate public opinion.

The Strategic Use of Sockpuppets

Sockpuppet accounts are a cog in the larger machinery of cyber warfare. They play a critical role in shaping narratives and influencing public discourse. In countries like Russia, where the state exerts considerable control over media, these accounts are often state-sponsored or affiliated with groups that align with government interests.

Case Studies: Russia’s global reach

  1. The United Kingdom: Investigations have revealed Russian interference in the Brexit referendum. Sockpuppet accounts spread divisive content to influence public opinion and exacerbate social tensions. Their goal was to weaken the European Union by supporting the UK’s departure.
  2. Ukraine: Russia’s geopolitical interests in Ukraine have been furthered through a barrage of sockpuppet accounts. These accounts disseminate pro-Russian propaganda and misinformation to destabilize Ukraine’s political landscape, particularly during times of crisis, elections, or — most notably — during its own current war of aggression against its neighbor nation.
  3. The United States: The 2016 US Presidential elections saw an unprecedented level of interference. Russian sockpuppets spread divisive content, fake news, and even organized real-life events, creating an environment of distrust and chaos. Their goal was to sow discord and undermine the democratic process.
Vladimir Putin with his sheep, by Midjourney

How sockpuppets operate

Sockpuppets often work in networks, creating an echo chamber effect. They amplify messages, create false trends, and give the illusion of widespread support for a particular viewpoint. Advanced tactics include deepfakes and AI-generated text, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between real and fake content.

Detection and countermeasures

Detecting sockpuppets is challenging due to their evolving sophistication. Social media platforms are employing AI-based algorithms to identify and remove these accounts. However, the arms race between detection methods and evasion techniques continues. Governments and independent watchdogs also play a crucial role in exposing such operations.

Implications for democracy

The use of sockpuppet accounts by authoritarian regimes like Russia poses a significant threat to democratic processes. By influencing public opinion and political outcomes in other countries, they undermine the very essence of democracy – the informed consent of the governed. This digital interference erodes trust in democratic institutions and fuels political polarization.

As we continue to navigate the complex landscape of digital information, the challenge posed by sockpuppet accounts remains significant. Awareness and vigilance are key. Social media platforms, governments, and individuals must collaborate to safeguard the integrity of our political systems. As citizens, staying informed and critically evaluating online information is our first line of defense against this invisible but potent threat.

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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 and totalitarianism 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.

A crowd of people consuming disinformation, by Midjourney

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, propagandists, and professional liars of all sorts — including confirmation bias, the bandwagon effect, and other psychological soft points they target, attack, and exploit. From trolling to active measures to “alternative facts,” we dig into the terminology that makes disinformation tick.

This resource 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.

TermDefinition
active measuresRussian information warfare aimed at undermining the Westhttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/active-measures/
alternative factsStatements that are not supported by empirical evidence.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/alternative-facts/
ambiguityAmbiguity is utilized in disinformation by presenting information that is deliberately vague or open to multiple interpretations, leading to confusion and uncertainty. This technique exploits the lack of clarity to obscure the truth, allowing false narratives to be introduced and believed without being directly disprovable.https://doctorparadox.net/
America First Unity RallyAn event organized by supporters of Donald Trump, held in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 18, 2016, during the RNC that featured speakers known to spread conspiracy theories and unverified claims.https://doctorparadox.net/
AntifaAntifa, short for "anti-fascist," is a decentralized movement composed of individuals and groups that oppose fascism and far-right ideologies, often through direct action and protest. The group serves as a frequent scapegoat for the right-wing, who tends to blame Antifa for anything they don't like, without evidence.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/antifa/
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.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Ideologies/anti-government
assert the opposite of realityA disinformation technique where false information is presented in a manner that directly contradicts known facts or established reality. This approach is used to confuse, mislead, or manipulate public perception, often by claiming the exact opposite of what is true or what evidence supports.https://doctorparadox.net/
astroturfingCreating an impression of widespread grassroots support for a policy, individual, or product, where little such support exists.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/astroturfing
bandwagon effectA psychological phenomenon whereby people do something primarily because other people are doing it.https://doctorparadox.net/data-sets/psychological-biases-list/
the Big LieA propaganda technique originally devised by Adolf Hitler, based on the idea that if a lie is colossal and audacious enough, and repeated often, people will come to accept it as truth. This technique relies on the premise that the sheer scale and boldness of the lie makes it more likely to be believed, as people might assume no one could fabricate something so extreme without some basis in reality.https://doctorparadox.net/gop-myths/gop-big-lies/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/black-and-white-thinking/
blackmailThe demand for payment (or other benefit) in exchange for not revealing negative information about the payee.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/emotional-blackmail/
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 (see also: DARVO)https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/what-is-darvo/
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.https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/book-burning
botA software program performing repetitive, automated tasks -- often used in the dissemination of disinformation.https://doctorparadox.net/category/technology/bots/
botnetsAn interconnected network of bots, often used for nefarious purposes like DDoS attacks or propaganda.https://doctorparadox.net/
bullyingHarming, threatening to harm, intimdating, or coercing others into doing your bidding (or for no reason at all)https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/how-to-deal-with-bullies/
cathexisThe concentration of one's mental energy on one specific person, idea, or object -- typically to an unhealthy degree.https://doctorparadox.net/
cherry-pickingCherry-picking refers to the practice of selectively choosing data or facts that support one's argument, while ignoring those that contradict it. This biased approach can misrepresent the overall truth or validity of a situation, leading to skewed conclusions.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/cherry-picking/
@citizentrollingFormer Twitter account of Chuck Johnson, the far-right mega-troll who doxed two New York Times reporters and argued that homosexuality caused the Amtrak derailment.https://www.wired.com/story/chuck-johnson-twitter-free-speech-lawsuit/
clickbaitContent designed to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link.https://doctorparadox.net/
climate change denialismClimate change denialism refers to the disbelief or dismissal of the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and primarily caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. It often involves rejecting, denying, or minimizing the evidence of the global impact of climate change.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/climate-change-denial/
cognitive closurePropagandists exploit the psychological need for closure by presenting oversimplified explanations or solutions to complex issues, appealing to the desire for quick, definitive answers. This tactic preys on the discomfort with ambiguity and uncertainty, leading individuals to accept and adhere to the provided narratives without critical examination.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/cognitive-closure/
cognitive dissonanceMental discomfort resulting from holding conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes -- or from behaving contrary to one's beliefs, values, or attitudes.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/cognitive-dissonance/
cognitive distortionIrrational, exaggerated, or negative thought patterns that are believed to perpetuate the effects of psychopathological states, such as depression and anxiety. These distortions often manifest as persistent, skewed perceptions or thoughts that inaccurately represent reality, leading to emotional distress and behavioral issues.https://doctorparadox.net/
cognitive warfareCognitive warfare is a strategy that aims to change the perceptions and behaviors of individuals or groups, typically through the use of information and psychological tactics. This form of warfare targets the human mind, seeking to influence, disrupt, or manipulate the cognitive processes of adversaries, thereby affecting decision-making and actions. (see also: psychological warfare)https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/psychological-warfare/
con artistSomeone who swindles others with fake promises.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/con-artist/
confirmation biasConfirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. Disinformation peddlers exploit this bias by crafting messages that align with the existing beliefs of their target audience, thereby reinforcing these beliefs and making their false narratives more convincing and less likely to be critically scrutinized.https://doctorparadox.net/data-sets/psychological-biases-list/
confirmation loopA situation where beliefs are reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/confirmation-loop/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/conspiracy-theory-dictionary-from-qanon-to-gnostics/
cultivation theoryA theory which argues that prolonged exposure to media shapes people's perceptions of reality.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/cultivation-theory/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/what-is-darvo/
deceptionLying; intentionally misleadinghttps://doctorparadox.net/
deep fakesFabricated video footage appearing to show an individual speakinghttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/deep-fakes/
deep stateThe term "deep state" refers to a conspiracy theory suggesting the existence of a hidden or shadowy network of powerful and influential individuals within a government or other organization. These individuals are believed to operate outside the democratic system and pursue their own agenda, often in opposition to the official policies or leaders of the institution.https://doctorparadox.net/conspiracy-theories/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 inhttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/demoshiza/
denialismDenialism is the practice of rejecting or refusing to accept established facts or realities, often in the context of scientific, historical, or social issues. It typically involves dismissing or rationalizing evidence that contradicts one's beliefs or ideology, regardless of the overwhelming empirical support.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/science-denialism/
denial of deathThe denial of death is a psychological defense mechanism where individuals avoid acknowledging their mortality, often leading to behaviors and beliefs that attempt to give meaning or permanence to human existence.https://doctorparadox.net/
denying plain factsDenying plain facts is the act of refusing to accept established truths, often in the face of overwhelming evidence, typically to maintain a particular narrative or belief system.https://doctorparadox.net/
dezinformatsiyaRussian information warfarehttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/dezinformatsiya/
digital footprintThe information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity.https://doctorparadox.net/
"dirty tricks""Dirty tricks" refer to underhanded, deceptive tactics used in politics, business, or espionage, often involving unethical maneuvers designed to damage opponents or gain an unfair advantage.https://doctorparadox.net/
disappearingIn the context of disinformation, disappearing means removing or concealing information, individuals, or objects from public view or records, often to hide evidence or avoid scrutiny.https://doctorparadox.net/
diversionDiversion is a tactic used to shift attention away from a significant issue or problem, often by introducing a different topic or concern, to avoid dealing with the original subject.https://doctorparadox.net/
doxxingDoxxing involves researching and broadcasting private or identifying information about an individual, typically on the internet, usually with malicious intent such as to intimidate, threaten, or harass the person.https://doctorparadox.net/
"drinking the Kool-Aid"Coming to believe the ideology of a culthttps://doctorparadox.net/
Dunning-Kruger effectA cognitive bias where individuals with low ability at a task tend to overestimate their ability.https://doctorparadox.net/models/dunning-kruger-effect/
duty to warnThis refers to a legal or ethical requirement for certain professionals, like therapists or counselors, to break confidentiality and notify potential victims or authorities if a client poses a serious and imminent threat to themselves or others. It's often applicable in scenarios where there's a risk of violence or harm.https://doctorparadox.net/
echo chamberEnvironment where a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/echo-chamber/
echo chamber effectA situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an enclosed system.https://doctorparadox.net/
ego defenseEgo defense mechanisms are psychological strategies employed by the unconscious mind to protect an individual from anxiety or social sanctions and to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope. These mechanisms can lead to the formation of false beliefs, as they may distort, deny, or manipulate reality as a way to defend against feelings of threat or discomfort.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/ego-defense/
election denialismElection denialism is the act of refusing to accept the legitimate results of an electoral process, often based on unfounded claims of fraud or manipulation. It undermines the democratic process and can lead to political instability or violence.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/election-denial/
emotional abuseEmotional abuse is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It involves tactics like belittling, constant criticism, manipulation, and isolation to control or intimidate the victim.https://doctorparadox.net/tag/emotional-abuse/
emotional blackmailEmotional blackmail is a manipulation tactic where someone uses fear, obligation, and guilt to control or manipulate another person. It often involves threats of punishment, either directly or through insinuation, if the victim does not comply with the manipulator's demands.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/emotional-blackmail/
emotional manipulationEmotional manipulation involves using underhanded tactics to influence and control someone else's emotions or actions for the manipulator's benefit. It can include gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and playing the victim to gain sympathy or compliance.https://doctorparadox.net/tactics-of-emotional-predators/
empty promisesEmpty promises refer to assurances or commitments made with no intention or ability to fulfill them. They are often used to placate or appease someone in the moment but lead to disappointment and mistrust when the promised action or change doesn’t occur.https://doctorparadox.net/
extortionExtortion is a criminal offense that involves obtaining something of value, often money, through coercion, which includes threats of harm or abuse of authority. It's a form of manipulation where the perpetrator seeks to gain power or material benefits by instilling fear in the victim.https://doctorparadox.net/
fact-checkingThe act of checking factual assertions in non-fictional text to determine the veracity and correctness of the factual statements.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/fact-checking/
fake audienceBots or paid individuals used to create an illusion of more support or interest than is really the case.https://doctorparadox.net/
fake newsFake news refers to fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent, often created to mislead or deceive readers, viewers, or listeners. It is intentionally and verifiably false, and is disseminated through various media channels, typically for political or financial gain. Trump is fond of mislabelling actual journalism outlets as "fake news" as a way to discredit them.https://doctorparadox.net/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/
false equivalenceFalse equivalence is a logical fallacy that occurs when two opposing arguments or issues are presented as being equally valid, despite clear differences in quality, validity, or magnitude. It involves drawing a comparison between two subjects based on flawed or irrelevant similarities, leading to a misleading or erroneous conclusion.https://doctorparadox.net/
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 themhttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/false-flag/
false narrativeA false narrative is a deliberately misleading or biased account of events, designed to shape perceptions or beliefs contrary to reality.https://doctorparadox.net/
fifth world warNon-linear war; the war of all against all -- a term coined by Putin's vizier Vladislav Surkov.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/fifth-world-war/
filter bubbleIntellectual isolation that can occur when websites use algorithms to selectively assume the information a user would want to see.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/filter-bubble/
flying monkeysIn a psychological context, "flying monkeys" refers to individuals who are manipulated to harass or undermine someone on behalf of a manipulative person, often in situations of abuse or narcissism.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/flying-monkeys/
Fox News EffectThis term describes the significant influence that watching Fox News can have on viewers' political views, often swaying them towards more conservative positions.https://doctorparadox.net/
framing effectThe way information is presented so as to emphasize certain aspects over others.https://doctorparadox.net/
fraudFraud is the intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right.https://doctorparadox.net/
GamerGateEarly harbinger of the alt-right, emerging on social media and targeting professional women in the video games industryhttps://doctorparadox.net/
gaslightingGaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment.https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/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 EUhttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/global-cabal/
globalizationThe process of increased interconnectedness and interdependence among countries worldwide, characterized by the free flow of goods, services, capital, and information across borders.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Economics/globalization
greenwashingA deceptive practice where a company or organization overstates or fabricates the environmental benefits of their products or policies to appear more environmentally responsible.https://doctorparadox.net/
groomingA manipulative process used by predators to build a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a potential victim, often for abusive or exploitative purposes.https://doctorparadox.net/
groupthinkThe practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility -- making poor decision-making more likely.https://doctorparadox.net/models/bad-models/groupthink/
Guccifer 2.0A pseudonymous persona that claimed responsibility for hacking the Democratic National Committee's computer network in 2016, later linked to Russian military intelligence.https://doctorparadox.net/
hate speechSpeech that attacks or demeans a group based on attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender, often inciting and legitimizing hostility and discrimination.https://doctorparadox.net/
The Heartland InstituteThe Heartland Institute is an American conservative and libertarian public policy think tank focused on promoting free-market solutions to various social and economic issues. It is well-known for its skepticism of human-caused climate change and its advocacy against government regulations.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/the-heartland-institute/
hoaxA deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/hoax/
honeypotIn cybersecurity, a strategy that involves setting up a decoy system or network to attract and trap hackers, thereby detecting and analyzing unauthorized access attempts.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/honeypot/
horseshoe theoryPolitical model in which the extreme left has a tendency to sometimes adopt the strategies of the extreme right.https://doctorparadox.net/
hybrid warfareHybrid warfare is a military strategy that blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare, and cyberwarfare with other influencing methods, like fake news, diplomacy, and foreign electoral intervention.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/
hypnosisHypnosis is a mental state of heightened suggestibility, often induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which involves focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.https://doctorparadox.net/
influence techniquesInfluence techniques encompass a range of tactics and strategies used to sway or manipulate someone's beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors, often employed in marketing, politics, and interpersonal relationships to subtly or overtly change people's minds or actions.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/influence-techniques/
information overloadExposure to or provision of too much information or data.https://doctorparadox.net/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/
information warfareInformation warfare involves the use and management of information to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent, often involving the manipulation or denial of information to influence public opinion or decision-making processes.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/
InfoWarsInfoWars is a far-right American conspiracy theory and fake news website and media platform led by Alex Jones, known for its promotion of numerous unfounded and false conspiracy theories.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/People/Alex+Jones#Early+life+and+Infowars.com
Intermittent reinforcementIn the context of manipulation, intermittent reinforcement is a behavior conditioning technique where rewards or punishments are given sporadically to create an addictive or obsessive response, making a person more likely to repeat a behavior.https://doctorparadox.net/
jumping to conclusions biasThis is a cognitive bias that involves making a rushed, premature judgment or decision without having all the necessary information, often leading to misinterpretation or misinformation.https://doctorparadox.net/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/kleptocracy/
kompromatKompromat is a Russian term that refers to the gathering of compromising materials on a person or entity to be used for blackmail, manipulation, or public shaming, often for political purposes. It typically involves collecting sensitive, embarrassing, or incriminating information to exert influence or gain leverage over individuals or groups.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/kompromat/
Mafia stateA systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates. A term coined by former KGB/FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. See also: kleptocracyhttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/mafia-state/
malignant envyMalignant envy refers to a deep-seated, destructive form of envy that desires to spoil or harm the qualities, possessions, or achievements of someone else, often arising from feelings of inferiority or failure.https://doctorparadox.net/
malignant narcissismMalignant narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial behavior, aggression, and sadism, often manifesting in manipulative and destructive tendencies.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/malignant-narcissism/
malwareMalware, short for malicious software, refers to any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network. It encompasses a variety of forms, including viruses, worms, spyware, and ransomware, aiming to exploit, harm, or unauthorizedly access information and systems.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/malware/
manipulative mediaMedia that is altered to deceive or harm.https://doctorparadox.net/
MarxistA catch-all derogatory slur for Democratshttps://doctorparadox.net/
maskirovkawar of deception and concealmenthttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/maskirovka/
mass hypnosisMass hypnosis refers to a phenomenon where a large group of people, often in a crowd or under the influence of media, enter a state of heightened suggestibility, making them more susceptible to persuasion and collective beliefs, often used in the context of propaganda and political manipulation.https://doctorparadox.net/
Mean World SyndromeMean world syndrome is a term in media theory that describes how people who consume large amounts of violent or negative media content tend to perceive the world as more dangerous and hostile than it really is. This phenomenon, coined by communications professor George Gerbner, suggests that heavy exposure to media violence shapes viewers' beliefs about reality, increasing their fear and anxiety about being victimized.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/mean-world-syndrome/
media biasThe perceived bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media.https://doctorparadox.net/
meme warfareThe use of memes to disseminate an ideology or counter its adversaries.https://doctorparadox.net/
men's rightsThe men's rights movement is a movement that advocates for the rights and interests of men, often focusing on issues like family law, alimony, and false rape accusations, but it has faced criticism for spreading misinformation and fostering anti-feminist sentiments.https://doctorparadox.net/
microtargetingMicrotargeting is a marketing strategy that analyzes consumer data to identify and target specific segments of a population with highly personalized messages, often through social media and online platforms. In disinformation campaigns, it's used to manipulate public opinion by spreading tailored misinformation to vulnerable groups, exploiting their beliefs or fears for political or ideological gain.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/microtargeting/
mind controlMind control refers to the process or act of using psychological techniques to manipulate and control an individual's thoughts, feelings, decisions, and behaviors, often associated with cults, brainwashing, and coercive persuasion.https://doctorparadox.net/
minimizingMinimizing is a manipulation technique where the severity, importance, or impact of an issue, behavior, or event is downplayed, often to deflect responsibility or diminish perception of harm.https://doctorparadox.net/
misinformationMisinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread, regardless of intent to deceive, which can include rumors, hoaxes, and errors, often leading to misunderstanding or misinterpretation of facts.https://doctorparadox.net/
money launderingMoney laundering is the illegal process of making large amounts of money generated by criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding, appear to have come from a legitimate source.https://doctorparadox.net/
moral panicA widespread feeling of fear, often an irrational one, that some evil threatens the well-being of society.https://doctorparadox.net/
motivated reasoningMotivated reasoning is a cognitive bias that causes individuals to process information in a way that suits their pre-existing beliefs or desires, often leading to skewed or irrational decision-making and reinforcing misinformation or false beliefs.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/motivated-reasoning/
moving the goalpostsChanging the rules after the game is played, when one side doesn't like the outcome.https://doctorparadox.net/
"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.https://doctorparadox.net/
naive realismNaive realism is the cognitive bias leading individuals to believe that they perceive the world objectively and that people who disagree with them must be uninformed, irrational, or biased.https://doctorparadox.net/
narcissistic rageNarcissistic rage is an intense, often violent, emotional outburst by someone with narcissistic personality disorder, usually triggered by a perceived threat to their self-esteem or self-worth.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/narcissistic-rage/
narcissistic supplyNarcissistic supply refers to the attention, admiration, emotional energy, or other forms of "supply" that a person with narcissistic tendencies seeks from others to bolster their self-esteem and self-image.https://doctorparadox.net/
narrative framingThe context or angle from which a news story is told.https://doctorparadox.net/
The National EnquirerThe National Enquirer is an American tabloid newspaper known for its sensationalist and often unsubstantiated reporting, typically focused on celebrity gossip, scandals, and conspiracy theories.https://doctorparadox.net/
neurolinguistic programming (NLP)Neurolinguistic Programming is a controversial approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy, which claims that there is a connection between neurological processes, language, and behavioral patterns learned through experience.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/neurolinguistic-programming-nlp/
nihilismNihilism is a philosophical belief that life lacks objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value, and often rejects established norms and values, sometimes leading to skepticism and pessimism about the world.https://doctorparadox.net/
non-linear warfareNon-linear warfare is a military and geopolitical strategy that involves unconventional, unpredictable tactics that do not follow traditional lines of conflict, often blending military and non-military means, including cyber attacks, disinformation, and economic tactics.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-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, 2018https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/novichok/
one-way streetExpect loyalty from you while offering none in returnhttps://doctorparadox.net/
opposhort form of opposition researchhttps://doctorparadox.net/
Overton windowThe range of ideas tolerated in public discourse.https://doctorparadox.net/models/
paranoiaNurturing and maintaining enemieshttps://doctorparadox.net/psychology/paranoia/
passive aggressivePassive aggressive behavior is a way of expressing negative feelings indirectly rather than openly addressing them, often involving subtle actions or inactions intended to annoy, obstruct, or control others.https://doctorparadox.net/
photo manipulationAltering a photograph in a way that distorts reality.https://doctorparadox.net/
PizzaGatePizzaGate was a debunked conspiracy theory that falsely claimed high-ranking Democratic Party officials and U.S. restaurants were involved in an underage human trafficking ring, which was widely disseminated online and led to dangerous real-world consequences.https://doctorparadox.net/conspiracy-theories/pizzagate/
plausible deniabilityPlausible deniability refers to the ability of people, typically senior officials in an organization, to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation.https://doctorparadox.net/
playing the victimPlaying the victim is a manipulative technique where a person portrays themselves as a victim of circumstances or others' actions in order to gain sympathy, justify their own behavior, or manipulate others.https://doctorparadox.net/
political advertisingPolitical advertising encompasses the use of media and communication strategies by politicians and parties to influence public opinion and voter behavior, often highlighting policy positions, achievements, or criticisms of opponents. In disinformation campaigns, it can be strategically deployed to spread false or misleading information, aiming to manipulate public perception and undermine trust in political processes or adversaries.https://doctorparadox.net/
post-truthPost-truth describes a cultural and political context in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.https://doctorparadox.net/
prebunkingPrebunking is a proactive strategy aimed at preventing the spread of disinformation by exposing individuals to weakened versions of common misleading techniques before they encounter them. This method helps build resilience by teaching people how to critically analyze and question the validity of information they come across.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/prebunking/
projectionProjection is a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies their own negative qualities by ascribing them to others, often leading to blame-shifting and misinformation.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/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.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/project-lakhta/
propagandaPropaganda is the systematic dissemination of often biased or misleading information, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/propaganda/
psychographic profilesPsychographic profiling in political microtargeting involves analyzing individuals' personality traits, values, interests, and lifestyles to tailor messages that resonate on a deeply personal level, often used to influence voter behavior. This technique has raised concerns about disinformation, as it allows for the manipulation of perceptions and opinions by targeting susceptible segments of the population with tailored, and potentially misleading, content.https://doctorparadox.net/
psychopathyPsychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/psychopaths/
PUAPUA, or Pick-Up Artist, refers to a person who practices finding, attracting, and seducing sexual partners, often using deceptive and manipulative tactics.https://doctorparadox.net/
QAnonQAnon is a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against former U.S. President Donald Trump.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/what-is-qanon/
received wisdomReceived wisdom refers to ideas or beliefs that are generally accepted as true without being critically examined, often perpetuating existing biases or misconceptions.https://doctorparadox.net/
red herringSomething that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question.https://doctorparadox.net/
#releasethememo"#ReleaseTheMemo" was a social media campaign promoting the release of a classified memo written by U.S. Representative Devin Nunes that alleged abuses of surveillance by the FBI and the Justice Department in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.https://doctorparadox.net/
retconRetcon, or retroactive continuity, is the alteration of previously established facts in a fictional work, often seen in comics, movies, and TV shows, used to reshape the narrative.https://doctorparadox.net/
running out the clockRunning out the clock is a strategy in debates or negotiations where one party intentionally delays or prolongs the process until a deadline is reached, limiting the ability of the other side to respond or take action.https://doctorparadox.net/
sadismSadism is the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.https://doctorparadox.net/
samizdatSelf-publishing material that is banned by the statehttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/samizdat/
satireThe use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices.https://doctorparadox.net/
selective exposureSelective exposure is the tendency to favor information which reinforces one's pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory information, a significant factor in the spread of misinformation.https://doctorparadox.net/
shameShame is a complex emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment, often used in social or psychological manipulation to control or degrade others.https://doctorparadox.net/
shit-postingShit-posting is the act of publishing deliberately provocative or irrelevant posts or comments online, typically to upset others or divert attention from a topic, often seen in online forums and social media.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/shitposting/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/siloviki/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/cold-war-dictionary/snow-revolution/
social botsAutomated accounts that use AI to influence discussions and promote specific ideas or products.https://doctorparadox.net/category/technology/bots/
social hierarchiesSocial hierarchies refer to the structured ranking of individuals or groups within a society, based on factors like class, race, wealth, or power, often influencing people's behavior, opportunities, and interactions.https://doctorparadox.net/
social proofA psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.https://doctorparadox.net/
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.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/sockpuppet-accounts/
source amnesiaSource amnesia refers to the phenomenon where one can recall information but not the source it came from, a situation that exacerbates the spread and entrenchment of misinformation. In the digital age, this contributes significantly to the challenges of distinguishing credible information, as misinformation can spread widely once detached from its dubious origins​.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/source-amnesia/
source credibilityThe perceived trustworthiness or authority of the source of information.https://doctorparadox.net/
"sovereign democracy"system in which democratic procedures are retained, but without any actual democratic freedoms; brainchild of Vladislav Surkovhttps://doctorparadox.net/
Special MissionIn the context of disinformation, a "Special Mission" often refers to covert, deceptive operations or tasks assigned under the guise of legitimacy, typically to influence public opinion or political situations.https://doctorparadox.net/
spinA form of propaganda that involves presenting information in a biased way.https://doctorparadox.net/
"spirit cooking"Spirit cooking refers to a form of performance art popularized by Marina Abramović, which uses ritualistic elements and symbolic gestures in a dinner party setting, often incorporating themes of life, death, and renewal. The term gained widespread attention and controversy in the context of John Podesta's emails released by WikiLeaks in 2016, where an invitation to a spirit cooking dinner led to various conspiracy theories, though it was associated with Abramović's art rather than any literal practice.https://doctorparadox.net/
splittingSee the world as with them or against them; an extension of black and white thinking.https://doctorparadox.net/
stochastic terrorismRefers to the use of mass communication to incite random individuals to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. It involves the dissemination of rhetoric and propaganda that demonizes certain groups or individuals, creating an environment where violence is implicitly encouraged without directing specific acts.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/stochastic-terrorism/
stonewallingStonewalling is a refusal to communicate or cooperate, such as by not responding to questions or withdrawing from a conversation, often used as a tactic to avoid confrontation or evade accountability.https://doctorparadox.net/
Stop the Steal"Stop the Steal" was a slogan and movement promoted by supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump, falsely claiming widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election in an attempt to overturn the results.https://doctorparadox.net/
Tarasoff ruleThe Tarasoff rule refers to a legal principle requiring mental health professionals to breach confidentiality and notify potential victims if a client makes credible threats of violence against them, stemming from a 1976 California court case.https://doctorparadox.net/
thought-stoppingThought-stopping involves the deliberate cessation of unwanted or disturbing thoughts, often used in ideological or religious indoctrination to avoid critical thinking and maintain control over beliefs.https://doctorparadox.net/
tortureTorture is the act of inflicting severe physical or psychological pain or suffering on someone, typically to extract information, punish, intimidate, or for the personal gratification of the torturer.https://doctorparadox.net/
troll farmsA group of individuals hired to produce a large volume of misleading or contentious social media posts.https://doctorparadox.net/
trollingTrolling is the act of making unsolicited or provocative comments online, often anonymously, with the intent of upsetting others, provoking a reaction, or disrupting discussions.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Tech/trolling
undue influenceUndue influence involves the exertion of excessive pressure or manipulation by one person over another in a relationship, typically to gain control, decision-making power, or exploit the vulnerable party.https://doctorparadox.net/
urban legendA humorous or horrific story or piece of information circulated as though true.https://doctorparadox.net/
viral misinformationFalse information that spreads rapidly through social media networks.https://doctorparadox.net/
wallpaper effectThe "wraparound" pervasiveness of Right-wing Media and its Brainwashing effects at scalehttps://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/wallpaper-effect/
whisper campaignA method of persuasion in which damaging rumors or innuendo are spread about the target.https://doctorparadox.net/
white male identity politicsWhite male identity politics is a form of identity politics centered on the interests, experiences, and perspectives of white men, often emphasizing racial and gender hierarchies and reacting against perceived threats to white male dominance.https://doctorparadox.net/
white nationalismWhite nationalism is a political ideology that advocates for the self-governance and superiority of white people, often emphasizing racial purity and the creation of a white-only state.https://doctorparadox.net/save-democracy/right-wing-ideologies/white-nationalist-beliefs/
white terrorismWhite terrorism refers to acts of terrorism committed by individuals or groups motivated by white supremacist or white nationalist ideologies, typically aimed at advancing racial and ethnic hierarchies.https://doctorparadox.net/
yellow journalismJournalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/yellow+journalism
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Donald Trump pathocracy, by Midjourney

Pathocracy is a relatively lesser-known concept in political science and psychology, which refers to a system of government in which individuals with personality disorders, particularly those who exhibit psychopathic, narcissistic, and similar traits (i.e. the “evil of Cluster B“), hold significant power. This term was first introduced by Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski in his work “Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes.”

The crux of pathocracy lies in the rule by a small pathological minority, which imposes a regime that is damaging to the majority of non-pathological people. The key characteristics of pathocratic leadership include a lack of empathy, a disregard for the rule of law, manipulation, authoritarianism, and often, brutal repression.

Origins and development of the concept of pathocracy

Pathocracy emerges from Łobaczewski’s study of totalitarian regimes, particularly those of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and Communism in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. Born in Poland in 1921, he witnessed the upheaval and transformation of his own country during the horrors of World War II and subsequent Communist occupation.

He suffered greatly to arrive at the insights in his work — arrested and tortured by the Polish authorities under Communist rule, he was unable to publish his magnum opus, the book Political Ponerology, until he escaped to the United States during the 1980s. Łobaczewski spent the rest of his life and career trying to unpack what had happened to him, his community, and his nation — such brutality over such a shockingly short span of time.

Łobaczewski posits that these authoritarian and fascist regimes were not merely politically oppressive, but were also psychologically abnormal. He studied the characteristics of these leaders and their closest supporters, identifying patterns that aligned with known personality disorders. His work also identified a much higher percentage of personality disordered individuals than is still commonly understood, finding that about 7% of the general population could be categorized as severely lacking in empathy and possessing the tendencies — latent or overt — leading to the rise of pathocracy in society.

Characteristics of pathocratic leadership

  • Psychopathy: Leaders in a pathocracy often display traits synonymous with psychopathy, including a lack of empathy, remorse, and shallow emotions.
  • Narcissism: Excessive self-love and a strong sense of entitlement often drive pathocratic rulers.
  • Manipulation: These leaders are adept at manipulation, using deceit and coercion to maintain their power. They also often exhibit other traits and behaviors of emotional predators.
  • Paranoia: A heightened sense of persecution or conspiracy is common, leading to oppressive and authoritarian measures.
  • Corruption: Moral depravity, ethical degeneration, and widespread corruption are endemic in a pathocracy, as pathological leaders tend to surround themselves with similarly affected individuals who feel no shame about performing unethical and/or illegal actions either in secret, or in broad daylight with little fear of retaliation.
Continue reading Pathocracy Definition: Are we in one?
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September 11, 2001, remains one of the most pivotal days in modern US history — with effects reverberating around the globe. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon not only changed global politics but also gave rise to numerous conspiracy theories, many of which persist to this day despite numerous debunkings. These 9/11 conspiracy theories stem from a combination of the event’s unprecedented nature, its immediate global impact, and the numerous subsequent changes in both U.S. and global policies.

9/11 conspiracy theories about the World Trade Center explosions

Top 9/11 conspiracy theories

1. Controlled Demolition of the World Trade Center — One of the most persistent theories is that the Twin Towers fell due to a controlled demolition rather than plane impacts and ensuing fires. Proponents point to the manner of the collapse, the speed at which the buildings fell, and reports of explosions as evidence. However, extensive investigations and reports, including those by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), have debunked this, attributing the collapse to fire-induced structural failure.

2. The Pentagon Missile Theory — Another widespread theory suggests that no airplane struck the Pentagon. Instead, proponents argue that a missile caused the explosion and damage. This theory arises from the initial lack of clear video footage showing a plane and the size of the entry hole. However, eyewitness accounts, debris analysis, and further released footage confirm that it was indeed American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon.

3. Inside Job — A more disturbing theory suggests that the U.S. government had prior knowledge of the attacks or was even directly involved. This theory is fueled by the Bush administration‘s immediate focus on Iraq and Afghanistan, along with questions about ignored intelligence warnings. However, investigations, including the 9/11 Commission Report, found no evidence of government complicity, though they did highlight intelligence failures.

4. Israeli Involvement — Another theory posits that Israeli agents had foreknowledge of the attacks. This stems from reports of a group of Israelis seen filming the attack and showing apparent foreknowledge. Investigations found these individuals to be Israeli citizens, but no evidence linked them to foreknowledge or involvement in the attacks.

5. No Planes Theory — A more extreme theory asserts that no planes were involved in the attacks, and the impacts we see in footage were computer-generated. This theory ignores the extensive eyewitness accounts, physical evidence, and the sheer implausibility of such a massive orchestration of fake imagery.

6. Stock Market Insider Trading — Before the attacks, an unusual amount of “put” options (bets that a stock will fall) were placed on companies most affected by 9/11, leading to speculation of foreknowledge. Investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission found no evidence that anyone with advance knowledge of the attacks profited from stock market trades.

7. Hijackers Still Alive — Some conspiracy theorists claim that several of the identified hijackers were found to be alive after the attacks. This confusion arose from mistaken identities and common names. The 9/11 Commission thoroughly vetted the identities of the hijackers, confirming their involvement and deaths in the attacks.

8. NORAD Stand-Down — Another theory suggests that NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) was ordered to stand down on 9/11, preventing an effective military response. This theory misinterprets the chaos and confusion of the day’s events. NORAD and the FAA were unprepared for an event of this nature, leading to delays and miscommunications but not a deliberate stand-down.

9. Phone Calls from the Planes Were Faked — Some theorists argue that the emotional phone calls made by passengers from hijacked planes were fabrications. This theory falls apart under scrutiny, as the calls were well documented and consistent with the known events aboard the flights.

Why so many 9/11 conspiracy theories?

The sheer scale of the tragedy of 9/11, combined with its unforeseen nature and the subsequent geopolitical shifts, created a fertile ground for conspiracy theories. Human psychology plays a role too; in times of great crisis, people often seek complex explanations for catastrophic events. Additionally, the initial confusion, changing narratives, and genuine intelligence oversights contributed to the proliferation of these theories.

While 9/11 conspiracy theories tap into various aspects of doubt and distrust, they have been largely debunked through extensive investigations. Most of the so-called “9/11 Truthers” eventually stopped peddling their swill and moved on to hawking other conspiracy theories. Understanding these theories is useful, not only for historical knowledge but also for protecting oneself from unscrupulous manipulators who tend to come out of the woodwork during times of crisis and uncertainty.

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republican vs. democrat cage match boxing ring

Buckle up, we’re in for a wild ride. Many of the serious scholars of political history and authoritarian regimes are sounding the alarm bells that, although it is a very very good thing that we got the Trump crime family out of the Oval Office, it is still a very very bad thing for America to have so rapidly tilted towards authoritarianism. How did we get here?! How has hyper partisanship escalated to the point of an attempted coup by 126 sitting Republican House Representatives? How has political polarization gotten this bad?

These are some of the resources that have helped me continue grappling with that question, and with the rapidly shifting landscape of information warfare. How can we understand this era of polarization, this age of tribalism? This outline is a work in progress, and I’m planning to keep adding to this list as the tape keeps rolling.

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is both a personality type and a form of government — it operates at both the interpersonal and the societal level. The words authoritarian and fascist are often used interchangeably, but fascism is a more specific type of authoritarianism, and far more historically recent.

America has had flavors of authoritarianism since its founding, and when fascism came along the right-wing authoritarians ate it up — and deeply wanted the United States to be a part of it. Only after they became social pariahs did they change position to support American involvement in World War II — and some persisted even after the attack of Pearl Harbor.

Scholars of authoritarianism

  • Hannah Arendt — The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Bob Altemeyer — The Authoritarians
  • Derrida — the logic of the unconscious; performativity in the act of lying
  • ketman — Ketman is the psychological concept of concealing one’s true aims, akin to doublethink in Orwell’s 1984, that served as a central theme to Polish dissident Czesław Miłosz‘s book The Captive Mind about intellectual life under totalitarianism during the Communist post-WWII occupation.
  • Erich Fromm — coined the term “malignant narcissism” to describe the psychological character of the Nazis. He also wrote extensively about the mindset of the authoritarian follower in his seminal work, Escape from Freedom.
  • Eric Hoffer — his book The True Believers explores the mind of the authoritarian follower, and the appeal of losing oneself in a totalist movement
  • Fascism — elevation of the id as the source of truth; enthusiasm for political violence
  • Tyrants and dictators
  • John Dean — 3 types of authoritarian personality:
    • social dominators
    • authoritarian followers
    • double highs — social dominators who can “switch” to become followers in certain circumstances
  • Loyalty; hero worship
    • Freud = deeply distrustful of hero worship and worried that it indulged people’s needs for vertical authority. He found the archetype of the authoritarian primal father very troubling.
  • Ayn Rand
    • The Fountainhead (1943)
    • Atlas Shrugged (1957)
    • Objectivism ideology
  • Greatness Thinking; heroic individualism
  • Nietszche — will to power; the Uberman
  • Richard Hofstadter — The Paranoid Style
  • George Lakoff — moral framing; strict father morality
  • Neil Postman — Entertaining Ourselves to Death
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Can be disguised as hyper-rationalism (Communism)
  • More authoritarianism books
Continue reading Hyper Partisanship: How to understand American politics today
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