finem respice

Dealing With Dissidents Online

Submitted by ep on Sat, 01/16/2010 - 05:55
watching

One hardly expects any particular quarter to maintain the kind of monopoly on what can only be described as intellectually vacant ideas intended to bolster central control or the the exercise of unquestioned authority that is routinely demonstrated by the more egregious of nation states. (North Korea, Venezuela and China come readily to mind, for instance). Bearing this in mind, consider the likely source of this passage:

Recall that extremist networks and groups, including the groups that purvey conspiracy theories, typically suffer from a kind of crippled epistemology. Hearing only conspiratorial accounts of government behavior, their members become ever more prone to believe and generate such accounts.
Informational and reputational cascades, group polarization, and selection effects suggest that the generation of ever-more-extreme views within these groups can be dampened or reversed by the introduction of cognitive diversity. We suggest a role for government efforts, and agents, in introducing such diversity. Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.

So...

A 15 year old report from the Chinese Minister of Information?
Memoirs of a Venezuelan PSYOPS Officer?
A 1990's era State Sponsored Russian Hacker?

No. Not actually.

Try: A paper written last year1 by the appointee to the position of Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for the most transparent and open administration ever to breathe air.

In other words, Cass Sunstein.

  1. 1. Apparently first "uncovered" by Mark Estrin earlier this week.
[Art Credit: Unknown Artist "Untitled," Photograph (Unknown Date), Unknown Source. It's for your protection]

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