When you strip away the theory from a conspiracy theory by carefully validating facts that substantiate it – or conclusively disproving alleged facts that contradict it – you no longer have a conspiracy theory. You have a conspiracy – which actually isn’t that uncommon.

Eighteen years after the World Trade Center collapse, sixteen years after the government issued its reports on the true causes, and four years after the University of Alaska Fairbanks began its detailed and extraordinary analysis of the WTC Bldg 7 event, we learn that almost nothing the government told us was true.

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techdirt reports on artificial intelligence security system flagging innocent parent as registered sex offender, despite numerous mismatches in data.

Schools and other bureaucracies are already run by people with little to no common sense, an infantile view that security can be provided by something that doesn’t require any thought or effort from them, and irrational fears that lead them to run around solving problems which don’t actually exist so they can act busy and look like they take security seriously. Bruce Schneir calls this security theater. It would be security comedy except innocent people get hurt. It’s not going to end well. This system is called Raptor. Continue reading

Or, how Lizzie Warren (probably) made sure she had Instagram views.

Elizabeth Warren shares a “sincerity” micro-brew with her authentic social media followers.

Super-hip, septuagenarian multi-millionaire Lizzie “Fauxcahontas” Warren took to the inter-webs and the social medias yesterday in a genuine, homespun, all-American moment of camaraderie with the common folk. Standing in the kitchen of her quaint little mansion in Cambridge, the revered and much-loved 1/1024th Native American icon had a beer in the company of her hubby and her dog and shared her humanity with adoring fans.

Or, not so much. In a world where most normal people would rather watch an embalming than a live stream of a politician faking authenticity, you have to ask how did Warren make sure she would have some minimum number of viewers for her little fireside chat?

I can’t find any stats on how many viewers Warren had, but you can be sure she had a plan in place to ensure a minimum audience. She is not about to throw a party and leave any risk that no one will come.

So how do you guarantee that you get views on the internet? The best way is called a click farm. While we can’t know for sure, many of the so-called InstaGram “views” may not have been fans at all. Or even humans. Continue reading

The Untold Story of the Journalists Who Opposed Hitler

I first saw this book a couple of days ago in a Facebook ad and had a cynical reaction. It just seemed too convenient, too opportunistic, too in-your-face, or too something. I thought it likely to be a propaganda piece – maybe an attempt at addressing the rather sullied reputation of modern day journalists, but also maybe a direct swipe at Donald Trump – an attempt to conflate his calling out #FakeNews and temporarily banning one particularly obnoxious narcissist from White House press conferences to the murderous actions of Hitler.

Despite the popular cliche, you actually can judge a book by its cover. That’s why the cover doesn’t look like an academic paper. It’s intended to make you judge it. You can also have an opinion about a book you haven’t read. Otherwise, how are you supposed to decide if you want to read it? So this post is me looking at the book to decide whether it’s worth my time or just useless, anti-Trump propaganda.

Because my first reaction might be wrong given my overt cynicism. But, in the propaganda-filled era in which we live, it is not smart to take any such work at face value. So I went to Amazon and read all the free information they provide about it. I am not completely dissuaded from the idea this is a well-architected piece of propaganda, but it’s not all that clear that it is. Here’s what is immediately apparent: Continue reading

More and more, the Mueller investigation reminds me of a professional wrestling match. Bodies are flying around, people sometimes get genuinely injured, but the big, high-impact moves — the flips, the flops, the super-duper-stunner kicks or whatever — are all scripted and choreographed for show. At the end of the day, it’s entertainment for the benefit of a willingly gullible audience.

On November 29, 2018 Vox.com published a list of all the Mueller indictments known to date. Two years. Tens, or maybe hundreds, of millions of dollars. This is all they have to show for it. There two ways to look at this list. One is that the wiley Mueller is keeping his cards close to his vest, slowly building a case to expose how Trump and Putin conspired to steal the US Presidency from Hillary Clinton — or something — and isn’t showing anywhere near everything he has. The other is that, after two years, Mueller still doesn’t have anything at all on Donald Trump and every Hail Mary he’s thrown, has mostly been a bust — at least in terms of the purported collusion. Continue reading

This USA Today snippet on the number of blacks killed by white police officers isolates a single data point, without context. The viewer/reader is left without any sense of cause or even useful correlations. This treatment is representative of the mass media approach to every complex issue – sensationalism vs informing the public.

While issues of race are top-of-mind in this incident, they are not the only issue. We don’t even know if they have the greatest influence. Militarization of police forces; varying crime rates among geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic groups;  even the media influence on various cultures all likely play important roles. But we don’t get a sense of any of this from USA Today.

The media’s obligation to inform the public is arguable, but the media’s effort to do so is non-existant. If the “investigative reporter” in the video is even moderately professional, and is not an idiot, I can’t imagine the stress of having your investigative work narrowed down to the single most sensational sound byte and then having to pretend that you’ve done something serious.

Is it any wonder that, among the most thoughtful people I know, very few of them pay attention to mainstream mass media anymore.

Spurious correlations. They’re everywhere. Cable news, “venerable” news sites, blogs and, of course, the twitterverse. Every time something sensational happens we’re inundated with out-of-context, misrepresented, isolated factoids trotted out as meaningful insight. Now, thanks to Tyler Vigen, we have a whole website dedicated to useless, pointless statistical correlations. Polemics everywhere should rejoice.

Spurious Correlations

Do you know what B2B prospects are looking for in a supplier? Do you know what B2B prospects want to hear? Is there an opportunity for mid-size B2B companies to brand around messages that bigger players miss?

Recently McKinsey did some research on branding themes among major B2B companies and answered some of these questions. The purpose of the resarch was to determine how well branding messages of global B2B players matched up to the interests of B2B customers. Continue reading