Won't get pwned again
by Tom Sullivan
Still image from "The Kids Are Alright" (1979).
There are libraries filled with things I don't know. Let's get that out of the way. I'm not as smart as I think I am.
Keeping those two things in mind is good practice as a general rule.
Believing themselves too smart to be fooled is one way very smart people get taken in by claims of the paranormal on the part of clever hucksters, as magician/skeptic/debunker James Randi well knows. A Randi colleague, Jamy Ian Swiss, put it this way:
Any magician worth his salt will tell you that the smarter an audience, the more easily fooled they are. That’s a very counterintuitive idea. But it’s why scientists, for example, get in trouble with psychics and such types. Scientists aren’t trained to study something that’s deceptive. Did you ever hear of a sneaky amoeba? I don’t think so.So, a word of caution for progressives who pride themselves on their education, command of the issues, and their political savvy: vandals are already out there actively trying to mess with you. Best not to fall for it.
A POLITICO review of recent data extracted from Twitter and from other platforms, as well as interviews with data scientists and digital campaign strategists, suggests that the goal of the coordinated barrage appears to be undermining the nascent candidacies through the dissemination of memes, hashtags, misinformation and distortions of their positions. But the divisive nature of many of the posts also hints at a broader effort to sow discord and chaos within the Democratic presidential primary.Rather than use bots this time, cyber propagandists are identifying real people already pushing anti-left memes. Guardians.ai identified approximately 200 accounts coordinating to spread the mind toxins. The same cluster "was the driving force behind an effort to aggressively advance conspiracy theories in the 2018 midterms, ranging from misinformation about voter fraud to narratives involving a caravan coming to the United States, and even advocacy of violence."
The cyber propaganda — which frequently picks at the rawest, most sensitive issues in public discourse — is being pushed across a variety of platforms and with a more insidious approach than in the 2016 presidential election, when online attacks designed to polarize and mislead voters first surfaced on a massive scale.
The proper answer is, Who cares? Like any policy idea, it’s either good or bad. The fact that the term “socialism” has become so fluid, with so many people using it to describe different things, makes it even less meaningful to just ask whether an idea is or isn’t socialist.Devoid of their own ideas, propagandists love a bogeyman. Donald Trump is nothing if not a propagandist. He is backed by a cable network of professional propagandists and an ad hoc assembly of enthusiastic wingmen. A wise man once said, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."