Dissent

Part 6 of 6 in the series Big Lie

The Big Lie (German: Große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” — Wikipedia

“Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses.”
― Plato

British army…Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age,… will be responsible for what is described as non-lethal warfare. Both the Israeli and US army already engage heavily in psychological operations.

Against a background of 24-hour news, smartphones and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the force will attempt to control the narrative.1

(c) The Simpsons
 
 

Todd Wilkenson warns whistleblowers of tactics used by bureaucrats in his book, Science Under Siege: The Politicians’ War on Nature and Truth:

“Bureaucrats try to discredit anyone who challenges their narrow way of thinking,” [says John Craighead, founder of the Craighead Wildlife-Wildlands Institute]. “I can tell you from personal experience that [the government] will try and destroy your reputation. You can’t win because they have you outnumbered and it takes all your time to fight those bastards.”…

According to [attorney Thomas] Devine, the following methods are routinely used to quash scientific dissent and promote shunning by peers of those who advocate environmental protection.…

  • Tactic One: Make the dissenters the issue instead of their message. “The first commandment for this brand of ‘political science’ is to obfuscate the dissent by attacking the source’s motives, professional competence, economic credibility, sexuality, or virtually anything else that will work to cloud the scientific issues,” Devine says.
  • Tactic Two: Isolate the scientific dissenter. “Here the technique is to transfer the ‘troublemaker’ to a bureaucratic Siberia, both to make an example of them and to block the employee’s access to information,” Devine says….
  • Tactic Three: Place the dissenter on a pedestal of cards. A common practice is to give the whistleblower an assignment but make it impossible to complete it in a timely or professional manner. “This technique involves appointing the dissenter to solve the problem and then making the job impossible through a wide range of techniques, undercutting any realistic possibility of actually achieving reform,” Devine says. “The finale then is to fire the employee for being incompetent when the problem is not solved.”
  • Tactic Four: Create trumped-up charges against the person the agency wants to silence. “The technique here goes well beyond merely defeating a whistleblower. In order to prove to others that no one is safe, the goal is to make the most outrageous charges possible,” Devine says. “For example, a dissenter who is renowned for being a gentleman may face sexual harassment charges. A soft-spoken, self-effacing individual will be branded a loud-mouthed egomaniac.”
  • Tactic Five: If you can’t make conditions miserable enough so that the whistleblower quits, eliminate the job. A common practice is to lay off dissenters even as the agency is hiring new staff.
  • Tactic Six: If intimidation doesn’t work, prosecute them. Attack whistleblowers for “stealing” the information they use to expose corruption, even if they collected or prepared the information themselves. This tactic is often used in the corporate world.…
  • Tactic Seven: Substitute “democracy” for the scientific method. Employ the bureaucratic equivalent of mob rule: A group of peers who will not challenge the dysfunctional status quo and who are loyal to corrupt managers outvotes the whistleblower in management decisions and thereby subdues him or her. A more subtle variation of this tactic is to misuse peer review as a discrediting tactic by packing the allegedly “objective” panel with people who have a particular bias.
  • Tactic Eight: Don’t allow a written record of anything you say to the person you wish to intimidate. At the same time, issue an informal gag order against the dissident with the warning that if they seek outside help, they will be punished. Managers seasoned in the art of intimidation carefully restrict any threats they make to oral dialog and hearsay. Such intimidation is supported by applying verbal peer pressure, holding meetings behind closed doors, and carrying out harassment over the phone. The point is that it is difficult to accuse someone of wrongdoing if there are no paper trails and no corroboration witnesses.…

Lawyers who represent whistleblowers say that carrying a tape recorder…should be a tactical tool for dissidents. Get everything in writing and if a supervisor asks you to meet him in a back room with no witnesses, insist upon taping the conversations so that if a threat is made the supervisor can’t deny it.2

On the Newsvine website, GOPisextinct describes conservative blogging tactics this author encounters regularly on social media forums:

  • Engage. Demand an elaborate, time-consuming comparison / analysis between your position and theirs.
  • Entangle. Insist that the Liberal put their posts “in their own words”. That will consume the most time and effort for the Liberal poster. They will be unable to spread numerous points on numerous blogs if you have them occupied. Allowing a Liberal to post a web link is too quick and efficient for them. Tie them up. We are going for delay of game here.
  • Demoralize. Dismiss their narrative as rubbish immediately. Do not even read it. Once the Liberal goes through the trouble to research, gather, collate, compose and write their narrative your job is to discredit it. Make it obvious you tossed their labor-intensive narrative aside like garbage. This will have the effect of demoralizing the Liberal poster. It will make them unwilling to expend the effort again, and for us, that is a net win.
  • Attack. Attack the source. Any Liberal website or information source must be marginalized, trivialized and discounted. Let the blogosphere know that “Truthout.org”, “thinkprogress.org”, “the nation” and “moveon.org” are Liberal rubbish propaganda. Discredit Liberal sources of information whenever possible.
  • Confuse. Challenge the Liberal position with questions, always questions. The questions need not be relevant. The goal is to knock the Liberal poster off their game, and seize control of the narrative. Once you have control you can direct the narrative to where you want it to go, which is always away from letting the Liberal make their point. Conversely, do not respond to their leading questions. Don’t rise to their bait.
  • Contain. Your job is to prevent the presentation and spread of Liberal viewpoints. Do anything you must do to prevent a Liberal poster from presenting a well-reasoned argument, or starting a civil discussion. Don’t allow a Liberal to present their dogma unchallenged,….EVER.
  • Intimidate. Taunt the Liberals. If you find yourself in a debate with a Liberal where you are losing a fact-based argument then call them a name to derail their diatribe. Remember your goal is to prevent a meaningful exchange of views and ideas which may portray Liberalism in a positive light. Your goal as a conservative blogger is to stop the spread and advance of the Liberal agenda. Play upon any identifiable idiosyncrasies, character flaws, physical traits, names, to their disadvantage. Monitor other posts for vulnerabilities you can exploit. Stay on the offensive with Liberal wimps. Don’t let up.
  • Insult their Movement. Assign as many character and moral flaws to Liberals as you can. You must portray Liberals as weak, vacillating, indecisive, amoral, baby killers, unpatriotic, effete snobs, elitists, Leftists, Commies, sense of entitlement, promiscuous, union lovers, tax raisers, Welfare Queens, Socialists, lazy, sex-obsessed, druggies, Jesus haters, moochers, troop haters,….etc. Always use these negative epithets when referring to, or describing Liberals / democrats.
  • Deceive. Identify yourself as a “moderate”, “centrist” or “independent”. It will also cause Liberals to lower their guard a bit, which gives you an effective opening. This may also have the effect of aligning conservative viewpoints with the real moderates we are attempting to reach. It may serve to influence some moderates over to the Republican side.
  • Patriotism. Always claim the high ground of pro-military, low taxes, strong defense, morality and religion. We own those virtues. Learn how to exploit them when debating. Call the Liberals weak on terrorism, it drives them crazy. Ask them, “Why do you hate Freedom?” Always a nebulous, generic, and unprovable question.
  • Smudge the Lines. Say that there is no difference between the two parties. Look for ways to show how similar the two parties are. Make them doubt their allegiance to the democrat party. The goal here is to implant doubt.
  • Infiltrate. Inquire as to the personal lives of Liberal posters. Get to know them. Where they live, work, how many kids. Call them by their first names. This will make them tone down their narrative. After all, you are not going to insult a trusted friend are you? Neither will they. If they are a powerful blogger with a sharp tongue you need to find a way to weaken their rhetoric, and nothing will do that as well as familiarity.
  • Demean. Always refer to the other side as “Liberals”, “Lefty Liberals”, “Libbies”. Never assign them the status of a bona-fide political party. Hang Liberalism around their neck like a burning tire. Make Liberalism appear as a moral turpitude or a character flaw. They are NEVER, NEVER to be referred to as “the Democratic Party”. At best it is “the democrat party”. Never assign them respect.
  • Opportunity. Be alert for ways to insert our catch phrases into your narrative. You will receive your daily list of talking points and topics that we want you to cover. Consistent, persistent repetition and inculcation will drive our talking points home and so will neuro-linguistic programming. Stick with it and our talking points will become truth. If they debunk your talking point, ignore it, and move on as if you didn’t hear it.3

The Professional Paranoid website lists “Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation” built upon David Martin’s “Thirteen Techniques for Truth Suppression”:

  1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it — especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.…
  2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the ‘How dare you!’ gambit.
  3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations.…
  4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad.…
  5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary ‘attack the messenger’ ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach.…
  6. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer.…
  7. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could be taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.…
  8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough ‘jargon’ and ‘minutia’ to illustrate you are ‘one who knows’, and simply say it isn’t so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.…
  9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion.…
  10. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man — usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with — a kind of investment for the future should the matter not be so easily contained.)…
  11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the ‘high road’ and ‘confess’ with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made — but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which, ‘just isn’t so.’ Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later, and even publicly ‘call for an end to the nonsense’ because you have already ‘done the right thing.’ Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for ‘coming clean’ and ‘owning up’ to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.…
  12. Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve.…
  13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards or with an apparent deductive logic which forbears any actual material fact.…
  14. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best with issues qualifying for rule 10.…
  15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.…
  16. Vanish evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won’t have to address the issue.…
  17. Change the subject. Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to side-track the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can ‘argue’ with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues.…
  18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent.…
  19. Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the ‘play dumb’ rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by (it may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld, such as a murder weapon.)…
  20. False evidence. Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations — as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution.…
  21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body. Subvert the (process) to your benefit and effectively neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. Once convened, the evidence and testimony are required to be secret when properly handled.…
  22. Manufacture a new truth. Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.…
  23. Create bigger distractions. If the above does not seem to be working to distract from sensitive issues, or to prevent unwanted media coverage of unstoppable events such as trials, create bigger news stories (or treat them as such) to distract the multitudes.…
  24. Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, or merely by destroying them financially, emotionally, or severely damaging their health.…
  25. Vanish. If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, to avoid the issues, vacate the kitchen.…4

George Washington writes for Zero Hedge that “in April 1967, the CIA wrote a dispatch which coined the term ‘conspiracy theories’ … and recommended methods for discrediting such theories. The dispatch was marked ‘psych’ – short for ‘psychological operations’ or disinformation – and ‘CS’ for the CIA’s ‘Clandestine Services’ unit”:

Summarizing the tactics which the CIA dispatch recommended:

  • Claim that it would be impossible for so many people would keep quiet about such a big conspiracy
  • Have people friendly to the CIA attack the claims, and point back to “official” reports
  • Claim that eyewitness testimony is unreliable
  • Claim that this is all old news, as “no significant new evidence has emerged”
  • Ignore conspiracy claims unless discussion about them is already too active
  • Claim that it’s irresponsible to speculate
  • Accuse theorists of being wedded to and infatuated with their theories
  • Accuse theorists of being politically motivated
  • Accuse theorists of having financial interests in promoting conspiracy theories5
10 commandments of logic

Virginia Hoge, in trying to help gay teens from being cyber-bullied, addresses the “16 Essential Troll Busting Techniques” at the poppsikle blog:

One: A show of strength: I think the most important thing with trolls, is to be like a brick wall against them. You put up a verbal wall that says: Nope, you are not going to get away with this. No matter how much you threaten or insult me, I am not going to back down. A show of strength is important with them, they are less courageous than you are. Nothing anyone can say can get to you if you don’t let it. Trolls work to get under your skin, don’t let them. When dealing with trolls, you need to learn to take control of your own perceptions. This is hard and takes time so be patient with yourself.

Two: All trolls can pretty easily be tripped with their own words. They are illogical and all you have to do, is to point out the illogic of their posts. Turn what they say around, work into it. You leave them frustrated with nothing to say in doing this.

Three: Humor is a great tool with trolls. Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand. The importance of playfulness and humor, cannot be over-estimated. A collection of funny YouTube videos, of songs etc., is also a good thing to collect to have to use against trolls. A YouTube link makes a funny reply, also links to funny pictures.

Four: Handling insults and lies. The natural response when insulted or when a troll tells a lie about you, is to say “No I am not” or “No I did not”. This ironically, becomes a way they have caught you up in a troll game. They will keep saying “Yes you are” “Yes you did” (because you have shown them what they said got to you). The best way to counter insults, is with humor and irreverence. Make a joke about it, show humility even, laugh at yourself. When a lie is told about you, say one time only “No dude, I didn’t do it”. And walk off. No arguing.

Five: Never show anger. This is a hard one. They are working very hard to make you angry. Showing anger gives them what they want. Stay as calm as possible, as irreverent as possible, but still being firm. It is very important to recognize when it happens, that a troll has gotten to you, and then to back off of the debate. Walk away from the computer. There is always another day. Time is something you can us in your favor.

Six: Never show hurt. The natural response when a troll has hurt you, is to appeal to the “audience”, be it the troll or a number of viewers of the thread on an open message board, about your hurt. Its called crying in trolling. Again, it shows the troll they have got to you and you cannot expect conscience, from the troll, you cannot expect them to feel sorry for you and I have found, you can expect very little sympathy from other audience members also, even if they are your friends. People are very uncomfortable with hurt feelings and your “crying” about them will not elicit the response you seek. Keep your hurt hidden, stay a brick wall. Walk away from the computer if they have gotten to you.

Seven: Mocking. This is when it gets ugly, but is needed sometimes for stubborn, professional trolls. Mock them, they cannot stand it, and it shows them that you are as adept in their tactics as they are.

Eight: Ignore them. When trolls keep posting hateful crap, when it gets the most ugly, ignore these comments. When they get really mean, you know they are putting their “all” into it, and your ignoring these comments will drive them the most crazy. I have likened it to a game of tennis. If they hit the ball to you and you do not return it, there is no game. They don’t get the perverse pleasure they seek in getting to you.

Nine: The LOL. Learning the different meanings of lol (laugh out loud) are important when dealing with trolls. Lower-case “lol”, shows humility – important – it shows you are not being “preachy”. In the example above, adding a lower-case “lol” to “No dude, I didn’t do it, lol” helps to better convey your meaning, as strange as that sounds. It works. “Lol” is used for stronger emphasis and best used on its own. “No dude, I didn’t do it. Lol.” Its stronger so use it carefully. Upper-case LOL means the full out “laugh out loud”. This is used in mocking the troll. When the troll says something ridiculous, sometimes the best thing you can reply is “LOL”. And leave it at that.

Ten: Back up other posters they are attacking. Back up is important with stubborn trolls, don’t just defend yourself, defend others. Agreement is a troll tactic, they often work in pairs, agreeing with each other. We can do that also.

Eleven: Persistence. Trolls have all day and night to post away, and will and do. You need to stay on them, not just make one comment and leave, you need to debate with the troll to turn the argument into your favor. Time is something you can use in your favor, take time off, make the troll wait for you, don’t reply to every comment of theirs, be selective, reply to none sometimes. Talk about something completely different. That puts you in control.

Twelve: Love. Trolls are human beings, as mean, ugly and nasty as they get. Do not hate them, your hatred will only hurt you, not them. You need to see beyond the front they are putting up, into their humanity and always remember it. It can be called on, especially with trolls you are countering for a long time. But do not use it early on, do not try to “win the troll over” too soon. That will not work. Only keep it in the back of your mind and in time, it can be possible to break through and find your common humanity. I have made friends with some trolls who used to troll me.

Thirteen (related to the above): Reconciliation/Understanding. Trolls are often hot-headed people and say hurtful things quickly, often have short tempers, have been hurt themselves by hurtful words and are lashing out. Its important to distinguish between a troll that has a good person underneath and a malicious hater, because one of the most under-looked but important tools in troll busting is Understanding. It is possible to make peace with someone you do not agree with, to find common ground and this is often very productive.

Beware of biases in yourself, understand that there are going to be people you don’t agree with, don’t make every disagreement a cause for combat. Laugh off minor insults, don’t be too prickly. Again, stay calm, don’t get angry.

Fourteen: Keep your replies as short as possible. Your reply to the troll is what they will base their “ammo” on for their attacks. The more “ammo” you give them, the worse it is for you. Keeping your replies as short as possible gives them less to work with and nails your point more efficiently.

Fifteen: Troll Crying. Crying, in troll terminology, is over-complaining, crying about someone (if the troll is your combatant, you). Its a show of weakness and I find it all the time in the biggest bullies. The biggest bullies are the biggest crybabies. This is a Win for you. Once a troll starts crying, you know they are weaker than you are and falling back, capitalize on this.

Sixteen: Have fun with it. In essence, countering trolls is a cyber version of the Great Art of Debate. Read up on debate tactics, study the masters. Importantly: study how trolls fight with each other, find ones that are good at it. Trolls will often call trolling playing.

You can learn to play too.6

Wikipedia

Wikipedia reports of one type of deflection to another problem in order to avoid the question:

Whataboutism (also known as whataboutery) is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument, which is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda. When criticisms were leveled at the Soviet Union, the Soviet response would be “What about…” followed by an event in the Western world.

The term “whataboutery” has been used in British English since the period of The Troubles conflict in Northern Ireland. Lexicographers date the first appearance of the variant whataboutism to the 1990s, while other historians state that during the Cold War Western officials referred to the Soviet propaganda strategy by that term. The tactic saw a resurgence in post-Soviet Russia, relating to human rights violations committed by, and criticisms of, the Russian government. The technique received new attention during Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine.[15][16] Usage of the tactic extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.7

See also

Shahida Arabi, “20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You,” 30 June 2016, at http://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2016/06/20-diversion-tactics-highly-manipulative-narcissists-sociopaths-and-psychopaths-use-to-silence-you/ (retrieved: 11 January 2017).


1 Ewen MacAskill, “British army creates team of Facebook warriors,” 31 January 2015, The Guardian, at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/31/british-army-facebook-warriors-77th-brigade (retrieved: 1 February 2015).

2 Todd Wilkenson, Science Under Siege: The Politicians’ War on Nature and Truth (Boulder, CO: Johnson Books, 1998), pp. 86, 6-8, 282.

3 GOPisextinct, “Tactics for Effective Conservative Blogging,” 27 November 2011, at http://gopisextinct.newsvine.com/_news/2011/11/27/9056810-tactics-for-effective-conservative-blogging (retrieved: 30 March 2014).

4 H. Michael Sweeney, “Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation,” 1997, 2000, 2001, at http://www.proparanoid.net/truth.htm (retrieved: 2 February 2016).

5 George Washington, “In 1967, the CIA Created the Label ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ … to Attack Anyone Who Challenges the ‘Official’ Narrative,” ZeroHedge.com, 23 February 2015, at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-02-23/1967-he-cia-created-phrase-conspiracy-theorists-and-ways-attack-anyone-who-challenge (retrieved: 10 August 2016).

6 Virginia Hoge, “16 Essential Troll Busting Techniques,” poppsikle blog, December 2013, at http://poppsikle.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/16-essential-troll-busting-techniques/ (retrieved: 26 May 2014).

7 Whataboutism, Wikipedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism (retrieved: 24 September 2017).

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