One Sentence Persuasion & Responsibility (and VAGRANT, stopping Snowden, Hayden, more NSA targets)

From a college marketing class, some wonderful points about psychology, human nature, and security.

First, the secrets of most magic tricks are absurdly simple. Yet magicians are able to mix and combine them into elaborate illusions that would fool anyone.

(This is one of the maddening things about many Internet commentators that insist on mind-reading satellites or whatever; they don’t get this principle. Equally maddening are those who insist well-known principles are the ONLY possibility.)

Second, the following sentence:

“People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”

Apply this to the more successful politicians and you’ll see this right away. Obama did #1 and #3, Hitler did #2, #4, and #5.

Conversely you should keep a little part of your mind devoted to evaluating who’s using these principles on you. You may notice some things 🙂

Third, there’s an overarching principle behind the quoted sentence. Responsibility. Politicians are all about taking responsibility off your shoulders, saying you’re not responsible for the sucky parts of your life, let them handle it, they’ll make things better.

Writing in 1909, an Italian hypnotist (can’t remember his name off the top of my head) made a related point: a good hypnotist more or less takes the role of a parent, if only for a moment. In other words, takes responsibility for the subject.

This last point therefore suggests an elegant counter-manipulation strategy… stay responsible for yourself, claw back responsibility at every opportunity, and be verrrrry careful of people that volunteer to take responsibility for you.

VAGRANT: Someone asked what VAGRANT (the “collection from open computer screens” technology was. John Young responded with an intriguing tweet:

“Similar but much more sophisticated and capturable from far greater distances, through various kinds of barriers, including SCIFs.”

I wonder if it’s related to the unusual form of radiation (Lord Kelvin’s “longitudinal” radiation from sudden capacitor discharge) I mentioned in my Consciousness/TEMPEST/Video Games thing.

Stopping Snowden, a new tack: mere hours after the NSA big squeeze said “we ought to come up with a way of stopping” the Snowden leaks[1], the Washington Post was already on it. In a neat illustration of foreign intelligence quid-pro-quo, warnings leaked out that an “unnamed NATO country” — euros to doughnuts it’s one of the two that’s been complaining lately — was fingered by the Snowden documents spying on Russia.[2]

Subtext: Either you put a lid on this stuff, or those nice intelligence operations of yours? You know, it would really be a shame if they got leaked too…

If you wonder why so many Western governments were not eager to provide Snowden refuge, this is why. Quid pro quo is the governing law of inter-spy interaction, perhaps the only one most of them recognize. (It famously kept the ‘muricans and the Russkies killing each others’ intelligence officers during the Cold War — as one commentator put it, “there would have been a bloodbath.”)



Former NSA/CIA chief is spied on… by random twitter user. Robot overlords/the Matrix/collective consciousness has a sense of irony?

More NSA targets, courtesy John Young.

“magicians aren’t so quick to dismiss. Instead, they take theses simple secrets that “wouldn’t fool anybody” and build upon them to create illusions that baffle the most brilliant among us.[…]

On encouraging their dreams…
Parents often discourage their children’s dreams “for their own good” and attempt to steer them toward more “reasonable” goals. And children often accept this as normal until others come along who believe in them and encourage their dreams. When this happens, who do you think has more power? Parents or strangers?

On justifying their failures…
While millions cheer Dr. Phil as he tells people to accept responsibility for their mistakes, millions more are looking for someone to take the responsibility off their shoulders. To tell them that they are not responsible for their lot in life.

And while accepting responsibility is essential for gaining control of one’s own life, assuring others they are not responsible is essential for gaining influence over theirs. One need look no further than politics to see this powerful game played at its best.

On allaying their fears…
When we are afraid, it is almost impossible to concentrate on anything else. And while everyone knows this, what do we do when someone else is afraid and we need to get their attention? That’s right. We tell them not to be afraid and expect that to do the trick.

Does it work? Hardly. And yet we don’t seem to notice. We go on as if we’d solved the problem and the person before us fades further away.

But there are those who do realize this and pay special attention to our fears. They do not tell us not to be afraid. They work with us until our fear subsides. They present evidence. They offer support. They tell us stories. But they do not tell us how to feel and expect us to feel that way. When you are afraid, which type of person do you prefer to be with?

On confirming their suspicions…
One of our favorite things to say is “I knew it.” There is just nothing quite like having our suspicions confirmed. When another person confirms something that we suspect, we not only feel a surge of superiority, we feel attracted to the one who helped make that surge come about.

Cults often confirm the suspicions of prospective members by telling them that their families are out to sabotage them. It is a simple thing to confirm the suspicions of those who are desperate to believe them.

And finally, on helping them throw rocks at their enemies…
Nothing bonds like having a common enemy. I realize how ugly this sounds and yet it is true just the same. Those who understand this can utilize this. Those who don’t understand it, or worse, understand but refuse to address it, are throwing away one of the most effective ways of connecting with others.

No matter what you may think of this, rest assured that people have enemies. All people.

It has been said that everyone you meet is engaged in a great struggle. The thing they are struggling with is their enemy. Whether it is another individual, a group, an illness, a setback, a rival philosophy or religion, or what have you, when one is engaged in a struggle, one is looking for others to join him—those who do become more than friends.

They become partners.[…]

There isn’t a word about your wants, your needs, your hopes or your concerns. There isn’t a word about your offer or proposal. There isn’t a word about what you think. It is all about the other person.

Again, this is heresy. People write books about how to frame your ideas, how to present yourself, how to “put your best foot forward.” And yet, all that people really care about is themselves. Can you imagine how much energy you will free up if you stop focusing on yourself and put your attention on other people? “

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