Propaganda is not intelligence

All week I’ve felt myself getting stirred up into a frenzy, slowly, gradually. As the social media algorithms pick up on your likes and dislikes and begin to reinforce our positions we become more and more manipulated into reaffirming our current positions. However there’s one thing we need to keep in mind. Propaganda is not intelligence.

The freedom of the press is one of the rights guaranteed by the first amendment. Because our founding fathers designed our system of government to be of the people there would need to be a method of accountability for informing the legal authority (the people) of what was happening in their areas, their government and abroad. The press would then become the intelligence mechanism by which the people of the nation would make decisions and govern those they had appointed to represent them. In order for this to work it would need to be codified into an unchanging document (the constitution) that the government could not suppress the press or else the people’s method of oversight would be unreliable and susceptible to censorship and manipulation.

In intelligence one must separate fact from fiction, emotions from evidence. There is a real danger in being led off course by an enemy’s counterintelligence efforts and making yourself a useful idiot to facilitate his goals. Such efforts include both active and passive measures such as feeding false information to your intelligence network, discrediting or undermining confidence in valid intelligence, or even super saturating intelligence networks with information such that it becomes impossible to discern real actionable intelligence from false leads.

These false leads can be particularly dangerous because many are designed to appeal to certain emotional positions we have that we’re subconsciously seeking confirmation of. We call this confirmation bias. As such, oftentimes analytical models are used to evaluate and analyze intelligence to help reveal some of these emotional biases we have. Analytical models don’t tell us what is true or false but they do tell us whether statistically we are following evidence or emotions. One such model is called the analysis of competing hypotheses. It’s not really the focus of my writing here but it is interesting and relatively simple to use.

Back to the point... emotions are based on our likes and dislikes, preferences and fears, personality and experiences. An optimist might interpret information as if all things are working toward an ultimate good. A pessimist the opposite. Some people want to have their fears confirmed, others want them to be disproven. Regardless of the truth. This is where the real danger lies and where we have a real problem with our, the people’s, intelligence apparatus.

Our intelligence apparatus is entirely dependent on the moral and political objectivity of the journalists gathering the intelligence. By taking positions on political matters they have surrendered their objectivity and opened themselves up to shaping intelligence vs gathering intelligence. Thus you end up with a right wing news network an