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)
In 2014, the British discount grocers Iceland Foods (so named for their pioneering role in selling frozen food) was granted an EU-wide trademark on the word "Iceland" by the EU Intellectual Property Organisation, which apparently saw no risk in giving a British grocer a monopoly over the use of the name of a sovereign nation […]
Back when David Cameron was Prime Minister, he took advice from Patrick Rock (later revealed to be a a trafficker in images depicting the abuse of children) on how to stop children from seeing internet pornography.
Guy Shrubsole is the author of Who Owns England? a forthcoming book that reports out a paintstaking researched data-set laying out, for the first time, a comprehensive view of the land ownership in England, finding that half of the country is owned by 1% of its people: a mere 25,000 aristocrats, oligarchs and corporations.
From your apartment door to your bike lock, it’s not uncommon to carry a number of different keys on your keyring, but that doesn’t make it any more bearable when you’re fussing to find the right one or deal with the infamous pocket bulge. The KeySmart Pro’s smart design cuts down on key clutter and […]
Happy DNA Day! April 25 is a day to recognize deoxyribonucleic acid – better known as the molecule that holds the code to our entire genetic makeup. What better way to celebrate than with a complete ancestry test that’s about more than just satisfying idle curiosity about your family tree? The lab techs at Vitagene use […]
For musicians, clubgoers or anyone in the thick of a loud environment, earplugs aren’t just an option. If you plan on keeping your hearing through sustained exposure to levels over 85 decibels (roughly the sound of a blender), they’re a must. The good news is, most earplugs will muffle the sound. The bad news is, […]