The documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed a division of British intelligence focused on the use of psychological science to influence, deceive, and infiltrate suspected terrorist cells, hostile states, criminal gangs, and activist groups. Vaughan "Mind Hacks" Bell investigates, and notes that some of their techniques draw heavily from the work of Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, an absolute must-read classic book about techniques of persuasion.
From Vaughan's article in The Guardian:
What stands out from the leaks is that the intelligence services don’t seem to have any secret in-house psychological research they rely on. Or at least they didn’t in the early 2010s when the leaked documents were written. One presentation describes a series of “gambits for deception”, all of which seem to be taken from well-known published research on a mix of persuasion, relationship formation, scams, and, curiously, stage-magic psychology.
Indeed, (the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group's) “10 principles of influence” include some taken from persuasion research by psychologist and bestselling author Robert Cialdini. These include the reciprocity principle – giving something to encourage the person to owe you something, and the social compliance principle – where people are more likely to do something that they believe people are already doing. Others come directly from research on how scammers con their targets, such as making the scam tempting but sufficiently illegal so that the victim can be pressured to keep quiet with the threat of disclosure.
"Britain’s ‘Twitter troops’ have ways of making you think…" (The Guardian)
"Psychological science in intelligence service operations" (Mind Hacks)
Andy Moore writes, "My friend the marvelous Ms. Truelove Waits made a song containing election advice for anyone in the UK confused about who to vote for this Thursday." (I am a member of the Labour Party and a donor to the 2019 campaign).
Both Phrma (the lobby for the global pharmaceutical industry) and Biotechnology Innovation Organization (biotech lobbyists) provided letters to a US-UK government meeting to discuss post-Brexit trade terms, in which both organisations called for substantially higher British prices for essential medicines after Brexit.
There's not really any dispute that the UK Liberal Democrats party sold voter data for £100,000 to the Remain campaign in 2016, though the Information Commissioner's Office tried to suppress that revelation until after the coming election; the Libdems say they did nothing wrong, but when Opendemocracy's Jim Cusick approached the party for a statement […]
You might know someone who can make a pipe out of any conceivable household object. But if they’re doing it every time they smoke, it might be time to get them a little Christmas present. And we’ve got just the thing: The Twisty™️ Glass Original Combo Pack, priced way, way down for December. If you’ve […]
With all the revolutionary tech that’s out there, it’s pretty sad that finding a simple stud in your wall can feel like dowsing for water. This can be equally true whether you’re using a magnetic finder and it’s reliance on “feel,” or an electronic unit that can give fuzzy readings (especially when the batteries are […]
Do you have any Star Wars fans on your list? Given the reach and output of its new corporate masters these days, it might be easier to ask if there’s anyone out there who isn’t a Star Wars fan. So let’s narrow it down further: Do you know a Star Wars fan who likes to […]