Friday, March 23, 2018

Facebook the Surveillance and Social Control Grail NOT Under Deep State Control

NewYorker |  Twelve years later, the fixation on data as the key to political persuasion has exploded into scandal. For the past several days, the Internet has been enveloped in outrage over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the shadowy firm that supposedly helped Donald Trump win the White House. As with the Maoist rebels, this appears to be a tale of data-lust gone bad. In order to fulfill the promises that Cambridge Analytica made to its clients—it claimed to possess cutting-edge “psychographic profiles” that could judge voters’ personalities better than their own friends could—the company had to harvest huge amounts of information. It did this in an ethically suspicious way, by contracting with Aleksandr Kogan, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, who built an app that collected demographic data on tens of millions of Facebook users, largely without their knowledge. “This was a scam—and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, told the Times over the weekend. Kogan has said that he was assured by Cambridge Analytica that the data collection was “perfectly legal and within the limits of the terms of service.”

Despite Facebook’s performance of victimization, it has endured a good deal of blowback and blame. Even before the story broke, Trump’s critics frequently railed at the company for contributing to his victory by failing to rein in fake news and Russian propaganda. To them, the Cambridge Analytica story was another example of Facebook’s inability, or unwillingness, to control its platform, which allowed bad actors to exploit people on behalf of authoritarian populism. Democrats have demanded that Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook, testify before Congress. Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, wants to talk to him, too. “Facebook needs to clarify before the representatives of five hundred million Europeans that personal data is not being used to manipulate democracy,” he said. On Wednesday afternoon, after remaining conspicuously silent since Friday night, Zuckerberg pledged to restrict third-party access to Facebook data in an effort to win back user trust. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he wrote on Facebook.

But, as some have noted, the furor over Cambridge Analytica is complicated by the fact that what the firm did wasn’t unique or all that new. In 2012, Barack Obama’s reĆ«lection campaign used a Facebook app to target users for outreach, giving supporters the option to share their friend lists with the campaign. These efforts, compared with those of Kogan and Cambridge Analytica, were relatively transparent, but users who never gave their consent had their information sucked up anyway. (Facebook has since changed its policies.) As the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has written, Facebook itself is a giant “surveillance machine”: its business model demands that it gather as much data about its users as possible, then allow advertisers to exploit the information through a system so complex and opaque that misuse is almost guaranteed.

Facebook, and the Revelations of Open Secrets

NewYorker |  When Facebook finally acknowledged that Cambridge Analytica was using Facebook data it had obtained surreptitiously, the company’s response was not to alert its users or audit its partners or engage in any sort of meaningful reform. Rather, it sent a polite request to Cambridge Analytica asking it to delete the GSR-sourced material, some of which, according to the Times, remains on the company’s servers.

This weekend’s reports about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica did introduce us to Christopher Wylie, a twenty-eight-year-old Canadian coder and data scientist, who conceived and helped construct C.A.’s psychographic tools. For at least a year, it seems, Wylie had been feeding information to Carole Cadwalladr and her team at the Guardian and its sister paper, the Observer. Now he is out of the shadows. In a thirteen-minute video posted on the Guardian’s Web site on Saturday, Wylie details the story of the creation and deployment of “the weapon” that he and Nix sold to Bannon, and then to Mercer, to fight their “culture war.” It was in those early days of 2014, Wylie says, that he and Bannon began testing slogans like “drain the swamp” and “the deep state” and “build the wall,” and found a surprising number of Americans who responded strongly to them. All they needed was a candidate to parrot them. Cambridge Analytica promised that psychographics could not only target people as voters but also as personalities. “We would know what kind of messaging you’d be susceptible to and where you are going to consume it and how many times we are going to have to touch you with it to change how you think about something,” Wylie told the Guardian. “Web sites will be created. Blogs will be created—whatever we think this target profile will be receptive to. See it, click it, and go down the rabbit hole until they start to think something different.” The goal was to break society. “It is only when you break it can you remodel the pieces into your vision of a new society.” As one former executive of Mercer’s hedge fund told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, last year, “He wants it to all fall down.”

Perhaps the most telling revelation from the recent reporting—aside from the U.K.’s Channel 4 catching Alexander Nix on camera explaining how his company could supply beautiful Ukrainian women to entrap politicians—is that Cambridge Analytica is essentially a shell company created by the British firm Strategic Communications Laboratories. During the 2016 campaign, according to Cadwalladr, C.A. was staffed primarily by non-U.S. citizens, in possible violation of American campaign-finance laws. This included the contractors the firm brought to Austin, Texas, to work with Trump’s digital team there.

“We were really speaking directly to the voters in a number of states,” one former C.A. employee, who worked with a number of non-U.S. citizens or green-card holders, told the Guardian.

What right really do they have to demand to block any information getting to us?

"Google has partnered with the United States Department of Defense to help the agency develop artificial intelligence for analyzing drone footage, a move that set off a firestorm among employees of the technology giant when they learned of Google’s involvement." — Gizmodo / March 6, 2018
Gizmodo's report on Google's work for the Pentagon has been making headlines all day. It's also thrown the normally placid halls of Google's Mountain View HQ into chaos. Seems that Googlers can't believe that their awesome company would get involved in something as heinous as helping the Pentagon increase its drone targeting capability. 

But the fact that Google helps the military build more efficient systems of surveillance and death shouldn't be surprising, especially not to Google employees. The truth is that Google has spent the last 15 years selling souped-up versions of its information technology to military and intelligence agencies, local police departments, and military contractors of all size and specialization — including outfits that sell predictive policing tech deployed in cities across America today.
As I outline in my book Surveillance Valley, it started in 2003 with customized Google search solutions for data hosted by the CIA and NSA. The company's military contracting work then began to expand in a major way after 2004, when Google cofounder Sergey Brin pushed for buying Keyhole, a mapping startup backed by the CIA and the NGA, a sister agency to the NSA that handles spy satellite intelligence. 

Spooks loved Keyhole because of the "video game-like" simplicity of its virtual maps. They also appreciated the ability to layer visual information over other intelligence. The sky was the limit. Troop movements, weapons caches, real-time weather and ocean conditions, intercepted emails and phone call intel, cell phone locations — whatever intel you had with a physical location could be thrown onto a map and visualized. Keyhole gave an intelligence analyst, a commander in the field, or an air force pilot up in the air the kind of capability that we now take for granted: using digital mapping services on our computers and mobile phones to look up restaurants, cafes, museums, traffic conditions, and subway routes. "We could do these mashups and expose existing legacy data sources in a matter of hours, rather than weeks, months, or years," an NGA official gushed about Keyhole — the company that we now know as Google Earth.

Military commanders weren’t the only ones who liked Keyhole's ability to mash up data. So did Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

The purchase of Keyhole was a major milestone for Google, marking the moment the company stopped being a purely consumer-facing Internet company and began integrating with the US government. While Google’s public relations team did its best to keep the company wrapped in a false aura of geeky altruism, company executives pursued an aggressive strategy to become the Lockheed Martin of the Internet Age. “We’re functionally more than tripling the team each year,” a Google exec who ran Google Federal, the company's military sales division, said in 2008.
It was true. With insiders plying their trade, Google’s expansion into the world of military and intelligence contracting took off.

What kind of work?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Black Desk 2.0: Welcome to the Real Face of the FBI

medium |   A new Intercept article by George Joseph and Murtaza Hussain reports on never-before-seen documents obtained from the FBI via Freedom of Information Act by the civil rights groups Color of Change and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The FOIA request for FBI files pertaining to Black Lives Matter activism was answered with a stack of heavily-redacted documents revealing evidence of police stakeouts at the homes and vehicles of activists, as well as the use of police informants, with no mention of any potential crimes suspected of the people they were monitoring.

One such document is a report provided “for coordination with Monsanto” describing a single Black Lives Matter activist’s plans to fly from New York City to Ferguson for a 2014 protest against racially motivated police brutality. The document covers the protesters’ plans to begin their demonstration at a Monsanto factory, as well as money raised for protest materials and bail money, without a single visible mention of potential crimes or violence.

“Coordination with Monsanto.” To protect them from Black Lives Matter protesters.

Welcome to the real face of the FBI.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has enjoyed an obscene resurgence in popularity among purportedly left-wing Americans lately as the current administration locks horns with them over the imperialist Russiagate psyop, but the FBI has never been the friend of anyone other than establishment power structures. The FBI does not exist to protect and serve the American people, and it certainly doesn’t exist to protect the rights of black Americans to protest the violence of an increasingly militarized police force. The FBI exists to protect Monsanto, and all the other seats of real corporatist power in the United States.

What's Wrong With Former CIA Director John Brennan?

consortiumnews |  What prompted former CIA Director John Brennan on Saturday to accuse President Donald Trump of “moral turpitude” and to predict, with an alliterative flourish, that Trump will end up “as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history”? The answer shines through the next sentence in Brennan’s threatening tweet: “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe [former FBI Deputy Director fired Friday night] but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

It is easy to see why Brennan lost it. The Attorney General fired McCabe, denying him full retirement benefits, because McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.” There but for the grace of God go I, Brennan must have thought, whose stock in trade has been unauthorized disclosures.

In fact, Brennan can take but small, short-lived consolation in the fact that he succeeded in leaving with a full government pension. His own unauthorized disclosures and leaks probably dwarf in number, importance, and sensitivity those of McCabe.  And many of those leaks appear to have been based on sensitive intercepted conversations from which the names of American citizens were unmasked for political purposes. Not to mention the leaks of faux intelligence like that contained in the dubious “dossier” cobbled together for the Democrats by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

It is an open secret that the CIA has been leaking like the proverbial sieve over the last two years or so to its favorite stenographers at the New York Times and Washington Post. (At one point, the obvious whispering reached the point that the Wall Street Journal saw fit to complain that it was being neglected.) The leaking can be traced way back — at least as far as the Clinton campaign’s decision to blame the Russians for the publication of very damning DNC emails by WikiLeaks just three days before the Democratic National Convention.

This blame game turned out to be a hugely successful effort to divert attention from the content of the emails, which showed in bas relief the dirty tricks the DNC played on Bernie Sanders. The media readily fell in line, and all attention was deflected from the substance of the DNC emails to the question as to why the Russians supposedly “hacked into the DNC and gave the emails to WikiLeaks.”

This media operation worked like a charm, but even Secretary Clinton’s PR person, Jennifer Palmieri, conceded later that at first it strained credulity that the Russians would be doing what they were being accused of doing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Defense is NumberOne" Always Looks So Shady...,

strategic-culture |  On March 17, the Russian General Staff warned about an imminent attack on Syria. The statement did not elaborate. Of course, some information is classified but an independent and impartial analysis of publicly available information leads one to the same conclusion. Let’s look at the facts.

There are warships deployed by US Navy in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. They are ready to launch roughly 400 long-range Tomahawks against a target in the Middle East on any given day. Sea-launched cruise missiles were used to strike Syria in April. Anything that is at all related to the military operations on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is hush-hush information, but it’s an open secret that the strategic bombers based there can launch at least a hundred cruise missiles and then use other high-precision munitions in a follow-up attack. On average, one bomber carries 20 AGM-86 ALCMs. Five bombers are believed to be normally stationed on this island that is off-limits to inquisitive outsiders. This means that at least 500 cruise missiles can be fired on short notice.

On March 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that Great Britain, France, and some additional countries besides the US had special forces operating in Syria that were engaging the Syrian Army directly. But it’s not just commandos.

It was reported on March 16 that the UK would be stationing a significant number of troops at the US-controlled Al-Tanf military base, adjacent to the Iraqi border. This facility is prominently eatured in NATO’s war planning in Syria. It blocks the corridor linking Iran to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq. The size of the deployment — about 2,300 troops accompanied by tanks and helicopters — is too significant just to be intended to fight Islamic State militants who are already on the run.

Inside Israel's Secret Raid On Syria's North Korean Nuclear Reactor

politico |  Even if President Donald Trump is able to reach an agreement with Kim Jong Un, with North Korea promising to freeze or even dismantle its nuclear program, there will always be uncertainty about possible cheating.

Just ask Israel—which, despite having one of the world’s most competent and aggressive intelligence services, the Mossad—nearly missed the fact that North Korea was helping build a nuclear reactor in next-door Syria, a country long viewed by Israel as a dangerous threat.

The American CIA missed it, too, and now, 11 years after Israeli air force jets bombed the clandestine Syrian facility, Israel’s military censor is finally lifting the veil of secrecy and permitting locally based reporters to publish interviews with participants in the operation for the first time. We spoke with dozens of former cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as military and intelligence chiefs and commanders and even some of the pilots who took part in the operation. The codename for the Sept. 6, 2007, raid, conducted near the remote desert city of Deir ez-Zur: “Outside the Box.” Before today, Israel has never officially acknowledged its existence.

Years later, Israeli spooks are still raising bitter questions about the CIA’s intelligence failure. Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo asked in an interview with us: “Where were the Americans? North Korea is a highly important target for them. And it still isn’t clear whether [Syrian President Bashar] Assad was running the nuclear project, or was it the North Koreans?” The former spy chief added that he has some doubts that Syria was going to keep the plutonium, or perhaps it was going to be shipped to North Korea as a supply of which the West would be unaware. “This is a resounding failure by the Americans,” Pardo said.

Pardo’s questions raise another: If one of the best intelligence communities in the world, and certainly the most formidable in the Middle East, could be fooled by North Koreans and Syrians, what might the CIA be missing? That could be true in Korea, in Iran, or almost anywhere on Earth.

The Israeli air force raid on a secluded, unmarked building in northeastern Syria took place—a few minutes after midnight between 5th and 6th of September. To attack deep in enemy territory is easy, but Israel’s American-made F-15 and F-16 jets enjoyed protection by sophisticated electronic jamming that blinded Syria’s air defenses, and they had no trouble dropping tons of explosives on the target and confirming visually that it had been flattened. (Photos, many provided by Israeli intelligence, were released by the CIA to Congress – and immediately leaked to the media in Washington.) 

The Syrian facility was almost identical to the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea that produced plutonium for nuclear bombs, according to Israeli intelligence officials, and it was only weeks away from beginning to produce highly radioactive materials.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

George Clooney?!?!?! The Key to Making Peace in Africa

ForeignPolicy |  The scenario in South Sudan is hardly unique. Something similar plays out across many African countries torn by conflict, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. Oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, copper, and a variety of other mineral deposits and trafficked wildlife provide immense opportunity for those in power to line their own pockets. Brutally repressing all forms of opposition is seen as the only way to maintain control of the spoils.

Remarkably, there is currently no coordinated strategy to disrupt the illicit siphoning of money by leaders and their foreign business partners. For leaders, giving up power almost certainly means losing access to their spoils, and it might even mean facing prosecution. Every year, billions of aid dollars pour into Africa: taxpayers and donors around the world fund peacekeeping forces, state-building programs, humanitarian assistance, elections, and peace processes. But none of this support has been able to keep corrupt leaders and their network of beneficiaries from stealing billions of dollars.

Every year, billions of aid dollars pour into Africa: taxpayers and donors around the world fund peacekeeping forces, state-building programs, humanitarian assistance, elections, and peace processes. But none of this support has been able to keep corrupt leaders and their network of beneficiaries from stealing billions of dollars.
This is the fatal flaw of peacemaking in Africa: those supporting mediation lack the leverage necessary to stop corrupt figures from using their forces to bomb, burn, imprison, silence, torture, starve, impoverish, kill, and rape to maintain or gain power. South Sudanese peace talks, for example, are currently stuck because Kiir and his allies have rejected any notion of sharing power with the rebels, since such an arrangement would require giving up their exclusive grip on the crudely-constructed looting machine masquerading as a government.

For years, the tool of choice for building leverage against actors undermining peace or human rights has been to impose targeted sanctions. But sanctions have been used sparingly in Africa. They have been applied to only a few individuals at a time, with very little enforcement, and are rarely extended to predatory commercial collaborators, both inside and outside Africa, who facilitate and enable official misdeeds. Over time, warring parties have come to regard sanctions as a vague annoyance for their public relations rather than as any serious threat to their power. The Obama and Trump administrations recently removed comprehensive sanctions against neighboring Sudan, but were unable to extract meaningful changes in Khartoum’s behavior. This move is a potent example of the folly of current peace efforts in Africa, which have for the most part eschewed the use of readily available tools for applying pressure that are both more sophisticated and better focused. 

This standard but failing approach can change. Serious financial pressure with real bite is not only possible; it has proved effective in the past. 

As a start, sanctions must be levied against entire networks, not just individuals. That was the approach the United States took with Iran and North Korea in order to drive them to the negotiating table. The United States deployed extensive sanctions targeting Iran’s leadership and military networks in an effort to disrupt the illicit funding streams used by the country’s ruling elites to maintain their grip on Iran’s economy. For example, in June 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, a state-owned entity that includes 37 ostensibly private businesses located around the world, many of which were used as front companies meant to evade sanctions. They generated and controlled massive, off-the-books investments that they hid from both the Iranian people and international regulators. 

Wlhat Does Hollywood Gain By Placing the Queer Gaze in the Spotlight?

LATimes |  Such an approach, and the resulting film, is a manifestation of the unique vantage point Berlanti brings to projects as a gay man. As Hollywood continues conversations about inclusion and diversity, the distinctive outlooks LGBTQ filmmakers bring have become a calling card. Call it the "queer gaze."

The "male gaze," a term coined in 1975 by film theorist Laura Mulvey, describes how film — and art of all sorts — is created through the lens of a heterosexual man. Such a gaze has manifested itself in stereotypical roles for women and minorities, including the busty dumb blond and the sassy black woman.

Over the last couple of years, awareness has risen for an unofficial retort, the "female gaze," as women have taken and been given more opportunities to write and direct their own narratives with female characters at the center. Look no further than the boom of women behind the scenes in television — from the all-female directing teams of "Queen Sugar" and "Jessica Jones" to the writers rooms of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "Jane the Virgin" — for representations of women toppling patriarchal conventions.

The "queer gaze," meanwhile, remains less known and discussed as a creative perspective. A direct response to the oft unspoken of yet ever-present "straight gaze," the queer gaze recognizes how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people create and view art. Moreover, it challenges binary notions of existence and storytelling employed in many male gaze versus female gaze conversations where the context is nearly always heterosexual.

LATimes |  I have never been so upset by a poll in my life. Only 22% of Americans now believe "the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews," down from nearly 50% in 1964. The Anti-Defamation League, which released the poll results last month, sees in these numbers a victory against stereotyping. Actually, it just shows how dumb America has gotten. Jews totally run Hollywood.

How deeply Jewish is Hollywood? When the studio chiefs took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago to demand that the Screen Actors Guild settle its contract, the open letter was signed by: News Corp. President Peter Chernin (Jewish), Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey (Jewish), Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger (Jewish), Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton (surprise, Dutch Jew), Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer (Jewish), CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves (so Jewish his great uncle was the first prime minister of Israel), MGM Chairman Harry Sloan (Jewish) and NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker (mega-Jewish). If either of the Weinstein brothers had signed, this group would have not only the power to shut down all film production but to form a minyan with enough Fiji water on hand to fill a mikvah.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Alt-Right and the Jewish Question

Quillette |  For many on the alt-right, every grievance is, at root, about Jews. Andrew Anglin, host of the most popular alt-right/neo-Nazi website, explains: “the only thing in our movement that really matters [is] anti-Semitism.” If only the Jews were gone, he argues, the white race, freed from bondage, would immediately overcome all of its problems. Where does this attitude come from?
Jews are a conspicuous people, small in number but large in footprint. As Mark Twain wrote in 1899:
If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race….Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk….What is the secret of his immortality?
For many people throughout history, the answer to Twain’s question was simple: Jews conspire among themselves to dominate and disadvantage gentiles. This answer fell out of fashion, at least in polite society, after World War II. Since the 1990s, however, the conspiratorial account of Jewish prominence has taken on a new, more meretricious form in the work of (now retired) California State University, Long Beach psychologist Kevin MacDonald, known affectionately among alt-righters as “KMac.” According to Richard Spencer, the inventor of the term “alt-right” and unofficial leader of the movement: “There is no man on the planet who has done more for the understanding of the pole around which the world revolves than Kevin MacDonald.” And: “KMac…may be the most essential man in our movement in terms of thought leader[ship].” To understand the alt-right’s anti-Semitism, we must understand MacDonald’s ideas, particularly as outlined in his most influential book, The Culture of Critique.

According to MacDonald, Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy.” Jews possess both genetic and cultural adaptations (including, on the genetic side, high IQ and ethnocentrism) that allow them to develop successful intellectual movements that undermine gentile society and promote their own group continuity. “Jewish intellectual movements,” MacDonald argues, are led by charismatic figures analogous to rabbis. They attack white nationalism while promoting Jewish nationalism, and use pseudoscience to “pathologize” anti-Semitism, which in reality is a justified response to “Jewish aggression.” According to MacDonald, Jewish intellectual movements include Freudianism, Frankfurt School critical theory, and multiculturalism. These movements, MacDonald claims, taught white gentiles to reject ethnocentrism and accept high levels of nonwhite immigration to their countries while tolerating Jewish ethnocentrism and racially restrictive immigration policies in Israel.

MacDonald’s theory and the anti-Semitism of many on the alt-right are largely reactions to the perceived liberalism of Jews. One of us (Cofnas) has just published an academic paper that examines MacDonald’s most influential book, The Culture of Critique, and finds that it is chock full of misrepresented sources, cherry-picked facts, and egregious distortions of history. MacDonald and the alt-righters are, nevertheless, correct that many liberal leaders over the last hundred years have been Jewish. We’d like to offer an explanation for this phenomenon, as well as determine whether Jewish liberalism is the cause or the result of anti-Semitism.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

What, Exactly, Are Male Supremacy Groups?

rantt |  Last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center for the first time added two male supremacy groups to its hate group watch list, noting in their announcement that “the vilification of women by these groups makes them no different than other groups that demean entire populations, such as the LGBT community, Muslims or Jews, based on their inherent characteristics.”

The decision to officially track the actions of two groups espousing male supremacy ideology comes at a time in which fringe and extremist groups have become increasingly emboldened through many factors, such astheir unprecedented access to key political leaders. And it also comes at a time when these groups are affecting tangible, real-world damage—to women, to marginalized people, to media, and to the overarching landscape of American politics.

The rise and embrace of male supremacy groups has yielded violence and provably damaging anti-woman White House policies. But perhaps most terrifying of all, groups that operate on the premise of white male victimhood, of the equation of female empowerment and diversity to anti-male persecution, are spreading the message that marginalized voices are a threat to free speech that must be expunged. This ideology of invalidating modern feminist speech is most recognizable in that innocuous term, “political correctness” — the idea that basic demands for respect and recognition are somehow far from basic, and rather, an oppressive overreach; that speech in opposition to misogynistic, hateful speech is somehow not free speech, but rather, the hate speech that it responds to is.

The very concept of political correctness, espoused by the same thinkers who founded male supremacy activism, is meant to trivialize oppression, and through that trivialization, silence, rewrite history, and make marginalized groups vulnerable to political attacks.

Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes

CounterPunch |  You may not recognize names like Amy Cuddy, Kristina Durante, or Brian Wansink but if you listen to NPR, watch TED talks, or read popular online news sites or local and national outlets such as the New York Times, you have probably stumbled across their work. They are among a growing number of academics who have produced one or more exciting, novel, too-amazing-to-be-true research studies that have caught the attention of the media and have been widely disseminated through American culture to the point that we may have internalized their findings as fact. Yet their work has since been debunked, shown to be unscientific and irreproducible. It is all part of what has been dubbed the “replication crisis” in science. Since replication is one of the basic tenets of science, failure to reproduce the results of a study (especially after several attempts) indicates a lack of support for the original findings. How does this happen time and time again, and what does it say about science and the news media?

Case 1 – Amy Cuddy
Amy Cuddy’s famous study on how an assertive “power pose” could elevate testosterone levels and increase a person’s confidence and risk-taking was published in the prestigious Psychological Science, one of the top journals in that field. Then a professor in the Harvard Business School, Cuddy went on to give the second most-popular TED talk ever, sign a book deal, and travel around the world commanding huge fees on the lecture circuit based on the general theme of her study. In the meantime, other skeptical researchers Joe Simmons and Uri Simonsohn questioned the veracity of her claims and Eva Ranehill and collegues failed to replicate the results of the study. One of Cuddy’s co-authors, Dana Carney, has since withdrawn her support of the study, saying “I do not believe the effects are real.” But Cuddy, having voluntarily left her academic position, still stands by her work.

In truth, not only is the power pose study a replication failure, it is a failure of peer review. No one needs a particularly specialized expertise to see some of the problems with the study. One glance at the methods section of the paper and you see the sample size of 42, hardly sufficient or statistically powerful. In addition, like in many studies, specific subjective proxies were used to indicate a much more general, supposedly objective, finding. Here, risk taking was measured by participants’ willingness to perform a certain gambling task. Yet one’s interest in gambling is not necessarily directly proportional to one’s interest in other risky activities. Further, participants’ levels of confidence were self-reported on a scale of 1-5. Self-reporting is always error prone, because your level of “2” may not be equivalent to my level of “2.” And yet, all of these subjective measurements are treated as concrete quantifiable data. Finally, the study assumed no cultural differences; demonstrations of power or confidence might not be viewed as beneficial and positive as they are assumed to be in the American culture.

You can see how the reliability of the study deteriorates under scrutiny. But no study is perfect. One of the biggest problems with this study and many similar ones is not just how unreliable the results are, but that the results are treated as generalizable to everyone everywhere. If Cuddy had defined the results as provisional and contingent upon certain assumptions, and circumstances, then her research might have been more defendable, but instead she presented her shoddy science as universal immutable fact. This practice appears to be too widespread.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Psy-Opping, Gaslighting, and Outright Lying - MSM Weirder By the Minute...,

medium |  This Red Scare reboot keeps getting stranger and stranger.

In a recent discussion with Infowars‘ Alex Jones, Luis Elizondo of To The Stars Academy spoke about new video footage of UFO phenomena recently released by the Pentagon, and says the three videos that have been released so far comprise just a small fraction of the strange and compelling evidence that he has accessed personally.

“These are just three videos now that have come out that everybody’s looking at,” Elizondo said as Jones downed an entire pitcher of CAVEMAN True Alpha Bone Broth Formula™ without pausing to breathe or breaking eye contact with the camera. “But there is far more compelling evidence that I was privy to that — you know, I think you’re looking at the tip of the iceberg.”

“It could be anything, so I wouldn’t rule anything out, and that’s why I think we need to look at it,” Elizondo added. “I mean it could be Russian. It could be Chinese. It could be little green men from Mars. We don’t know what the hell it is.”

Oh wait, sorry, I got mixed up. That wasn’t Infowars, it was CNN.

The mass media propaganda machine is very busy. It’s got wars to manufacture consent for, it’s got Russia to lie about, it’s got a CIA-packed midterm election to sell as healthy democracy, it’s got end-stage ecocidal neoliberalism to disguise as freedom and sanity, and it’s got a corporatist oligarchy to dress up as a constitutional representative republic. How is it finding the time to talk about space aliens so much all of a sudden?

IG's Don't Place Internal Investigative Targets Under Oath...,

theconservativetreehouse |  Don’t be so blinded by the tripwire flares you fail to see the obvious.  Within the statement from Attorney General Sessions hopefully you’ll note: “Including Under Oath”
The IG doesn’t place the internal investigative target “under oath”.  An outside prosecutor who is assisting the IG does.  Hence Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling us what is going on – SEE HERE – Just like he did before:
… I have appointed a person outside of Washington, many years in the Department of Justice to look at all the allegations that the House Judiciary Committee members sent to us; and we’re conducting that investigation. (read more)

You're Going To See Pure TNT Come Out Of This IG Report