Information warfare is an aspect of all psyops programs and relates closely to perception management. In this regard, information warfare can be defined as “a class of techniques, including collection, transport, protection, denial, disturbance, and degradation of information, by which one maintains an advantage over one's adversaries.” This definition of information warfare can be applied in any competitive situation, public or private, civilian or military.
The first step in any psyops program involves data collection and analysis. This includes collecting information on the intended target – whether a person, group, community, or entire population – and assessing such things as their knowledge, opinions, beliefs, motivations, habits, routines, emotional and intellectual strengths and weaknesses, information sources, interests, capabilities, dependencies, uncertainties, etc. The more information about a target that can be gathered, the higher the situational awareness of the attacker, which will give them greater ability to create the most effective plan of attack on the individual or group. Conversely, the less accurate the information a targeted individual or group has, the easier it will be to thwart their attempts to defend or protect themselves against an attack. Therefore, the control of information is a very important aspect of psyops programs.
In today’s digital world, data collection by a Psyops Specialist is extremely easy and can be very sophisticated, since almost every means of communication and information storage is potentially accessible and exploitable, and the powers-that-be who initiate these psyops programs have the means to easily do so without detection. Everything you might say or do, online or off, can be monitored and analyzed in order to provide whatever information might be desired. After enough data has been collected, a person or group’s actions can be predicted with a very high degree of precision. With the ease of computer automation, data collection and analysis can be conducted in real-time, and prescribed responses can be decided and initiated instantaneously or precisely timed for the greatest effect.
This leads to the second step in information warfare, which involves information protection through denial and disturbance. One of the main aspects of information warfare is the need to minimize the amount of useful or accurate information to which a target has access. As a targeted individual, your attackers will therefore want to minimize the amount of useful and accurate information you have access to that might enable you to understand the nature of your attacks so you can defend yourself or fight back. This might involve limiting your sources through ‘denial of service’, by which you are denied access to certain sources (particularly online) through apparent communication breakdowns, but more commonly (in order not to raise suspicions) it is just as easily affected through ‘information overload’, where you are provided access to an overwhelming amount of information, where much of what seems useful is actually false or misleading, while the
majority of it is useless in that it is irrelevant and/or overly repetitive. A large amount of information that is made available to a targeted individual or group can thus keep them from learning anything useful or relevant to their needs by bombarding them with excessive amounts of useless and distracting information, wasting their time and keeping them from acquiring what they need to know in a timely fashion.
The third step in information warfare is information manipulation through degradation. The ultimate goal in information warfare and perception management is to degrade the opponent’s perception of reality by way of inaccurate information, so manipulating perceptions through the continual denial or distortion of accurate information is employed rigorously. Again, this can be achieved largely through computer-automated systems that alter or filter information content before it reaches a target, but, as stated, it is also achieved through the heavy dissemination of inaccurate information where it will most likely be picked up by the targeted person or group it is intended for. The growing degradation of accurate perceptions leads to the incapacitation of the target to properly understand their situation so that they become less and less capable of defending or protecting themselves against their attackers. Over time and with the continued manipulation of information that the target receives, and by continually monitoring their responses to what they have so far acquired, this degradation can be increased until the target is completely incapacitated and their perceptions are totally misaligned with the reality of their situation. They become intellectually isolated more and more and incapable of properly dealing with their situation or making sound judgments. This forces them to seek out sources that might better provide the information they need, and in the online community, this will lead them into groups with common needs and interests. However, these groups are also susceptible to being targeted, and might even be set up for the purpose of drawing them in and identifying them, thereby gaining further control over them. I’ll discuss online groups in more detail in the sections ahead.
Although some forms of perception management might be achieved through a single well-placed piece of information such as a heavily disseminated report from a highly trusted source, there is actually a far greater likelihood of achieving it through the cumulative effect of many iterations of that information coming from many apparently separate (and far less reliable) sources over a long period of time. This is commonly seen within the targeted community where many people will make the same or similar claims, thus seemingly giving weight to the believability of the information. The old adages of ‘strength in numbers’ and ‘say it long enough and loud enough and eventually it will be believed’ both apply here. In this case, the reliability of the sources of the information is not nearly as important as when it derives from a single source, which must be already perceived as highly reliable in order for the information to be accepted as true. When the information comes from multiple sources and repeated over a long period of time, no matter the reliability of the sources, the effect is just as good, and often better. It just takes more time to have its cumulative psychological effect.
Whatever the information might be that is intended for a target audience, it must have maximum appeal in order to be accepted by them. Therefore, it must be entertaining to their interests in order to capture their attention long enough to deliver the underlying message. This does not preclude the employment of the entertainment industry to inject messages into the storylines, dialogues, and imagery of movies and TV shows. Again, the cumulative effect is often more successful than a single one-time effort, so that conditioning an audience to perceive reality in a certain way through the use of entertainment media is likely to be a part of any large-scale psyops program.
Further to all this, the Journal of Information Warfare states:
“Whereas IO [Information Operations] operators in the past could focus on relatively limited and well specified targets, they now need to understand many different potential audiences in terms of channels that will reach them and messages that will persuade them. …[T]here may be a need to develop media outlets that are attractive in their right and can compete with local media in quasi-commercial terms; that is by providing content that is attractive, credible and interesting to target audiences.”
This means that every potential media outlet will be taken advantage of, specifically new and developing outlets that are internet-based. Youtube videos and podcasts are two such outlets that are being used to great effect to capture target audiences and disseminate carefully crafted information that is designed to manage perceptions. They thrive by promoting certain front-line ‘spokespeople’ who act as leaders and information sources in the online community. I’ll discuss these leadership roles in a later section.
It’s human nature to fall into the routine of always going to the same places for information and entertainment, and of following the same interests over a long period of time. Worse, it’s human nature to fall into the habit of avoiding what we aren’t familiar with. This means that we tend to be drawn to the same sources and the same subject material to the exclusion of all others. It is very common in the targeted community to keep searching through the same type of material on the same subjects in the hopes of coming across any new nuggets of information among the repetition. Targeted individuals need to be aware of doing this, and to vary their sources and take a wider interest in information that might be only partially related to their current interests or focus. A broader understanding of related material will allow you to compare your current beliefs against other possibilities to gauge their accuracy and allow you to make necessary adjustments.
One more thing that needs to be understood is that whatever version of the truth we hear first will have a strong effect on what we believe, even after we hear other more accurate versions later on. For instance, if you hear about something for the first time, what you hear will tend to be already accepted when you hear later versions, and this will influence how you interpret those later versions. This is taken advantage of in psyops programs whenever possible by introducing a credible sounding false version as soon as possible and before more accurate versions can be disseminated. If the first version can be introduced through a source that is already highly trusted by the target audience, it will be all the easier to affect their perceptions in spite of later, more accurate versions.
As a targeted individual, you need to always bear these facts in mind when considering any piece of information related to your targeting.
Manipulation Through Words and Images
“PSYOPS targeting in today’s age can be precise – mass PSYOPS need no longer be the primary means to conduct information dissemination. The Internet, email, personal computers, paging systems, cellular telephones, CD-ROMs, allows the modern PSYOPS practitioner to target specific segments of the population – even individuals. Today’s marketing firms still use mass mailings but with the message modified to correspond to the changing incomes, ethnicity, family situations, etc., of specific population segments. Many today seek information through hundreds of television channels, radio stations, the Internet, or printed media. Specific PSYOPS targeting, exploiting the diffusion of information dissemination can be more effective than older methods and lessen potential ‘information collateral damage.’” – Journal of Information Warfare
Words and images are the fundamental weapons used in information warfare and perception management. They can be crafted in a variety of media formats using a variety of styles and a variety of techniques to influence the perceptions of a target audience in a variety of ways. As part of a psyops program, words and images are used to alter or reinforce particular opinions, attitudes, or beliefs in a target audience. A Psyops Specialist knows that a message that is stated often enough and loud enough and soon enough will have its greatest effect on an audience, and so part of their job is to get that message before their target audience in as many ways as possible for the greatest possible effect.
Since the purpose of psyops programs is to induce or reinforce thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors favorable to the originator's objectives, whatever can help to achieve this end will likely be employed in a ‘soft force’ psychological attack of words and images. Perception management starts with key facts and ideas that provide the foundation for an alternate version of reality, and applies a number of psychological techniques to change perceptions and sway an audience into believing that version of reality. Words and images are crafted to encapsulate ideas, and there are a wide variety of techniques that can be used to present these in order to influence an individual or group to think in certain terms and to believe certain things. We’ll be looking at some of those techniques throughout this document.
New words or phrases are created to symbolize specific ideas, attitudes, opinions, etc. They simplify our ability to talk about things by encapsulating the information they represent. As they become more familiar with repeated use, they tend to influence our thoughts and perceptions by the way we interpret and apply them, and this is routinely taken advantage of in psyops programs. Through the repetitive use in specific contexts, they can be used to mold and influence the thoughts and beliefs of a target audience. Over time, they can become part of a larger lexicon used within that group.
Certain words and phrases can be introduced in specific contexts so as to give them specific meanings – usually with the effect of limiting or distorting their original and more accurate definition. Some examples of these crafted words and phrases that we regularly encounter in today’s world are ‘terrorist’, ‘mentally ill’, ‘politically correct’, ‘national security’, ‘conspiracy theory’, ‘UFO’, etc. Each of them conjures up in our minds a specific image or idea that has an effect on formulating our opinions about whatever material they’re inserted into and associated with. The effect of their use is very often completely unconscious, so we don’t usually recognize how they mold our thoughts and limit our ability to communicate ideas. These specially created words and phrases distort the meaning of any information an audience receives once that audience has been conditioned to think in terms of them. Psyops Specialists know all this and will use this knowledge to their advantage in managing perceptions.
For example, when most people hear the term ‘UFO’, they automatically think of it in terms of extraterrestrial craft, and rarely consider the proper, more general meaning of ‘unidentified flying object’, which could refer to any airborne object whatsoever – from a plane to a bird to a helium balloon – as long as it’s airborne and what it specifically is remains unidentifiable to those seeing it. This misinterpretation of the term (through both innocent and purposeful misuse) has been hugely taken advantage of by the military and their media assets for a long time, in order to build up a false understanding in the public mindset so that its use automatically leads to the assumption that extraterrestrial craft are being referred to when such is not necessarily the case.
This applies as much to any of the examples given above. At the same time that they’re first introduced to an audience, these words and phrases are usually presented in a specific context in order to further add to the perceived meaning for the intended effect. In the case of the term ‘conspiracy theory’, this has been largely applied to influence the public to ridicule anything that suggests government conspiracy. The term ‘terrorist’ has been used to create the image of bomb- or gun-wielding mercenaries or ‘lone nuts’ who target people violently, indiscriminately, and without warning. The use of the term ‘mentally ill’ has effectively led the public to think only in
the context of people who are out of touch with reality and incapable of thinking for themselves. The term ‘politically correct’ has been applied in order to limit what can and can’t be said or discussed in formal public dialogues, and the term ‘national security’ has come to be nothing more than an excuse for excessive government secrecy. But these are only a few of the endless number of words and phrases that are constantly being created and introduced into the public mindset to narrow and alter perceptions. This serves to control our thinking and communications within a limited predefined context that avoids the consideration of other possibilities.
Images are another tool for manipulating perceptions. As with words and phrases, images can be used to great effect in psyops programs. An image can be made to convey a specific meaning when it’s repeatedly presented in a specific context until such a point that it takes on that context. When it reaches this point, it has become a symbol (just as words and phrases are), and has far more specific meaning than it would otherwise. For instance, the image of the Twin Towers in New York, with (or even without) heavy smoke pluming out of them, conveys a much stronger and more specific message than it would if the 9/11 tragedy had never happened. With the added image of Osama bin Laden associated with it, the meaning is extended and certain deeper contexts are conveyed. In the same way, an image of a hovering flying saucer in all its physical detail (whether real or faked) conveys a much stronger sense of realness than a tiny spot of light in a dark sky, which in turn is better than the description of such a scene. Images can be far more powerful than words and bring a greater sense of realism to an issue when presented in the right context at the right time. Today’s computer software allows digital mages to be easily created or altered so that it’s virtually impossible to differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake. In order to counter the effects of words and images, you need to become more consciously aware of how they can influence our thoughts and perceptions by paying attention to how you react to the things that you hear and see. The more you understand the techniques used and how you’ve been reacting to them, the better you can defend yourself against them in the future.*
As with all psyops programs, the resulting effect of words and images is what’s important, and the manner used to introduce them is of secondary concern. There are many ways to use words and images to manage perceptions, not limited to what is described above. Some of these are far more sophisticated and involve more carefully crafted presentations that manipulate the target audience’s thinking processes so as to insert information directly into the subconscious at the right moment, while the logical processes are temporarily suspended and right-brained thinking is dominant (this isn’t referring to subliminal inserts, although they have a very similar effect). Many of these more sophisticated methods are far more commonly used in visual presentations, rather than in written material, but in many cases they can be incorporated into either.
There are two particular things you need to always be cautious of in the presentation of any information, in any media format whatsoever. These are its emotional content and its suggestive content. I’ll elaborate on these further, but let me first provide a few actual examples that I’ve selected randomly but which should be familiar to many targeted individuals:
“People are suffering and dying! They are being attacked by invisible forces and they have no way to protect themselves! This is a slow-kill attack against innocent people! It’s cruel and inhuman! Little children are suffering! The authorities will do nothing about it, and if you complain to them they’ll just label you as psychotic! There is nothing you can do and no way out!”
“Please help me. For years I have been stalked and tortured by agents who have always and inexplicably remained out of reach. They have been attacking me from behind the walls or ceilings of the apartments or hotel rooms that I have had over the years, by directing some form of energy pulse at me, as well as seemingly causing my bed to subtly vibrate. They mainly bolster their attack when I'm trying to sleep, but they're here, 24/7.”