In the Wild

Hidden In Plain Sight

Following are a few of the ‘high points’ from our conversation… and maybe an extra nugget or two, but who’s counting…

Herd Think

  • Propaganda (1928) by Edward Bernays

    The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
    We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.

    New activities call for new nomenclature. The propagandist who specializes in interpreting enterprises and ideas to the public, and in interpreting the public to promulgators of new enterprises and ideas, has come to be known by the name of “public relations counsel.”

    The systematic study of mass psychology revealed to students the potentialities of invisible government of society by manipulation of the motives which actuate man in the group. … continued … studies of the group mind, established that the group has mental characteristics distinct from those of the individual, and is motivated by impulses and emotions which cannot be explained on the basis of what we know of individual psychology. So the question naturally arose: If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it?

  • The Time When A Single Computer Ran An Entire Country – YouTube (March 10, 2016)

    The important thing to realize about systems [i.e. society, and people] is how they are controlled, and we must get rid of any notion straightaway that control is something imposed on the system from outside. It has to be built into it.

    A. Stafford Beer

  • RESOLVE 2019 Global Forum: Nafees Hamid on Neuroscience and Countering Violent Extremism – YouTube (October 25, 2019)

    So what does matter? It’s not the mass persuasion, or that commercials, or advertising has no effect. But you need to see the effect, you need to see it within the ecology of communication. It has its biggest impact when it becomes part of the day-to-day conversations of people, person-to-person communication. Social interaction actually causes people to change their religion, to buy a product they wouldn’t otherwise buy, to change their their stances on various political issues, and even to get pulled into extremist movements.

    – Nafees Hamid

So-called Foreign Policy

  • Four-Star General, Wes Clark – America’s Foreign Policy “Coup” – The Commonwealth Club – YouTube (October 3, 2007)

    What happened in 9/11 is we didn’t have a strategy, we didn’t have bipartisan agreement, we didn’t have American understanding of it, and we had instead a policy coup in this country, a coup, a policy coup. Some hard-nosed people took over the direction of American policy, and they never bothered to inform the rest of us.
    …this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office … says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years. We’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
    I couldn’t believe it would really be true but, that’s actually what happened. These people took control of the policy in the United States…
    …it was a pretty stunning thing—you mean the purpose of the military is to start wars, and change governments? It’s not to sort of deter conflict? We’re going to invade countries? … This country was taken over by a group of people with a policy coup; Wolfowitz, and Cheney, and Rumsfeld, and you could name a half-dozen other collaborators from the Project for A New American Century. They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control…

    – Four-Star General, Wesley Clark

  • How to Build U.S.-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout – YouTube

    I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough, and it’s very hard for me to see how the United States President can get us to war with Iran. Which leads me to conclude that if in fact compromise is not coming, that the traditional way America gets to war is what would be best for US interests. Some people might think that Mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us into World War II. As David mentioned. You may recall we had to wait for Pearl Harbor. Some people might think Mr. Wilson wanted to get us into World War I. You may recall he had to wait for the Lusitania episode. Some people might think that Mr. Johnson wanted to send troops to Vietnam. You may recall they had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode. We didn’t go to war with Spain until the USS … Maine exploded. And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the federal Army until Fort Sumter was attacked, which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians had said would cause an attack. So if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war.

    – Patrick Clawson, How to Build U.S.-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (September 25, 2012)

Google – “Don’t Be Evil

  • Google’s Selfish Ledger is an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering – The Verge (May 17, 2018)
    This internal video from 2016 shows a Google concept for how total data collection could reshape society


    “User-centered design principles have dominated the world of computing for many decades, but what if we looked at things a little differently? What if the ledger could be given a volition or purpose rather than simply acting as a historical reference? What if we focused on creating a richer ledger by introducing more sources of information? What if we thought of ourselves not as the owners of this information, but as custodians, transient carriers, or caretakers?”

    The so-called ledger of our device use — the data on our “actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships” — is something that could conceivably be passed on to other users much as genetic information is passed on through the generations, Foster says.

Social Media: Addiction / Prediction Dopamine Feedback Loop

  • Sean Parker: Facebook was designed to exploit human “vulnerability” – Axios (November 9, 2017)

    …we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever … It’s a social validation feedback loop … You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology … [We] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway.

    – Sean Parker

  • The Data That Turned the World Upside Down | Stanford Public Policy Program (January 28, 2017)

    In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn’t stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether deduce whether someone’s parents were divorced.

    The strength of their modeling was illustrated by how well it could predict a subject’s answers. Kosinski continued to work on the models incessantly: before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook “likes.” Seventy “likes” were enough to outdo what a person’s friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 “likes” what their partner knew. More “likes” could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves.

  • Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder and CEO Social Capital, on Money as an Instrument of Change – Stanford Graduate School of Business – YouTube (November 13, 2017)

    HOST: I want to bring us back to the point that you were making about exploiting consumer behavior in a consumer Internet business. You said that this is a time for soul searching in social media businesses, and you were part of building the largest one. What soul searching are you doing right now on that?

    CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds, even though we feigned this whole line of there probably aren’t any really bad unintended consequences. I think in the back deep, deep recesses of our minds we kind of knew something bad could happen. But I think the way we defined it was not like this. It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are. And I would encourage all of you as the future leaders of the world to really internalize how important this is. If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you. If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it and rein it in. And it is a point in time where people need to hard-break from some of these tools and the things that you rely on. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth and it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So, we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other, and I don’t have a good solution. My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore, I haven’t for years. It’s created huge tension with my friends, huge tensions in my social circles. If you look at my Facebook feed, I probably haven’t, I’ve posted maybe two times in seven years. Three times, five times, it’s less than ten. And it’s weird, I guess I kind of just innately didn’t want to get programmed, and so I just tuned it out. But I didn’t confront it. And now to see what’s happening, it really bums me out. Think about there are these examples where there was a hoax in WhatsApp, where in some village in India people were afraid that their kids were going to get kidnapped etc. And then there were these lynchings that happened as a result where people were like vigilante running around. They think they found the person, and they I mean, I mean seriously? Like, that’s what we’re dealing with. Imagine when you take that to the extreme where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs, and we compound the problem, right? We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection, because we get rewarded in these short term signals, hearts, likes, thumbs up, and we conflate that with value, and we conflate it with truth. And instead what it really is, is fake, brittle popularity. That’s short term and that leaves you even more, and admit it, vacant and empty before you did it. Because then it forces you into this vicious cycle where you’re like what’s the next thing I need to do now, because I need it back. Think about that compounded by 2 billion people, and then think about how people react then to the perceptions of others. It’s just a it’s really bad, it’s really,really bad.

    HOST: It sounds like you’re taking deep personal responsibility also in being a part of it.

    CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I kind of—look, I did a great job there, and I think that business overwhelmingly does positive good in the world. Where I have decided to spend my time, is to take the capital that they rewarded me with and now focus on the structural changes that I can control. I can’t control that, I can control my decisions, which is I don’t use this s***. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is they’re not allowed to use this s***.


    And then I can go focus on diabetes, and education, and climate change. And that’s what I can do. But everybody else has to soul search a little bit more about what you’re willing to do, because your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence, and don’t think, yeah, not me, I’m a f***ing genius, I’m at Stanford. You’re probably the most likely to f***ing fall for it.


    Because you are f***ing check-boxing your whole *** **** life.


  • Innerlight Media Group – Simon Sinek: Here’s Why Social Media Is Ruining Relationships | Facebook
  • Millennials in the Workforce, A Generation of Weakness – Simon Sinek – YouTube
    (excerpt of the following)
  • Simon Sinek: The Millennial Question – YouTube
  • They Admitted Social Media Is Programming Us – YouTube

You Will Be Assimilated, Resistance Is Futile

Belt and Road Initiative / New Silk Road