Among the dispatches of the Finnish military on the 1st of January, 1940 was this statement:
The numbering of some of the Finnish divisions is changed in order to confuse Soviet intelligence.
Which got me thinking about deception operations and how intelligence analysts are supposed to account for them. Deception usually gets a mention in analytical training but typically nothing more than ‘Make sure the information you’re using isn’t a part of a deception plan on the part of your foe.’ Not a whole lot on how to go about doing that.
Deception can be tricky all around. After all, if your deception plan is too good you might fool your friends, allies and sympathizers which can be counterproductive. In the example above, I imagine the Finnish armed forces had to do a lot of coordination ahead of time lest orders or supplies for Division X get delayed while some sergeant somewhere tries to figure out what happened to Division X and why there’s a Division Y all up in his business all of a sudden.
And when we think about deception we usually think about it as an intentional act caused by an opponent. Sometimes, however, we unintentionally deceive ourselves. Our minds often do a better job at deceiving us than an adversary ever could.
A great example of that at play can be found in movies and TV where a reoccurring trope is the zany mix up. A conversation heard without context or misinterpretation of some information leads the protagonist to believe in a reality which at complete odds with what is actually happening.
A great example of that is the 2011 Horror/Comedy movie Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
The whole movie is based on all the characters misinterpreting the information they are receiving and deceiving themselves through their cognitive biases. The actual attempts at deception (where Tucker and Dale decide to pretend to be the crazy hillbillies they are accused of being) don’t work nearly as well.
The movie does a great job of demonstrating how at some point we get so invested with a particular analytical line that we will ignore evidence (even highly credible and reliable evidence) to the contrary. In that regard, that aspect of the film is more realistic that the filmmakers probably know.
Mike Bennett has put his vampire audio novel ‘Underwood and Flinch’ up on You Tube. This is totally worth you time. Mike does great stuff.
We’re coming up on Halloween so here’s a cool, creepy vid for you (h/t i09)
We’ll stick with the animal world with this brilliant infographic on cheetahs. I include it here not only for its intrinsic value but as an inspiration into thinking about how other types of data (yes, I’m looking at you intelligence analysts) could be presented in different and (dare I say it) more effective ways. Click on the image to see the thing in it’s big, animated glory.
huh…seem to be on an anatomy kick today. Check out these amazing pics of animal skulls from the NYTimes. Lesson learned today: Do NOT screw with the Chinese water deer.
Finally, courtesy of Discover magazine, is this piece summarizing research that seems to indicate that people that sign their documents on the top of documents (before they’ve entered data or made a statement) their information is more accurate than if they sign at the bottom of the document (after they’ve already done the work).
People are often dishonest in little ways on forms, rounding numbers in a beneficial direction or failing to mention a relatively small item as part of a larger list. If they sign a form once they’ve done all that, they don’t go back and correct it; instead, they’ve already woven a story to themselves—consciously or not—about why what they did was perfectly fine.
It’s worth noting that most intelligence products do not have the author(s) names attached. Now, there’s usually a very good reason for that. Namely, that the analysis done is supposed to represent the agency’s position and not the individuals. Additionally, there’s a security issue as well. Knowing that analyst ‘A’ is the one who writes all the stuff about security issues in Outer Mongolia opens that analyst up to targeting and influence.
That being said, I’ve heard analysts say things like ‘I don’t care, my name’s not on this.’ There’s got to be a way to address both problems.
Some really good looking horror movies are peculating through the entertainment digestive track…
Mama, take some kids raised by themselves in the woods for years…add a creepy ghost…buckle up
Maybe kids are becoming the next monster (look out, zombies). Citadel seems to be about cannibalistic kids roosting in an abandoned apartment complex.
So, what if all those tin foil hat wearers are right after all and the world is run by a secret cabal? The Conspiracy takes the fake documentary trope to find out. This one could go either way. I like the idea but there are so many ways it could go wrong I won’t get my hopes up.
Well, at long last a movie maker is going to use Chernobyl as a backdrop for a horror movie. The trailer for ‘Chernobyl Diaries’ is out it looks like it’ll be pretty good.
There’s also a game coming out based upon the comic/TV series ‘The Walking Dead‘. There’s a trailer out but it doesn’t reveal much of anything. The website, however, has some interviews with the developers and you can begin to piece together a bit of what the game looks like. They’re explicitly avoiding the typical zombie shooter in exchange for an episodic story game. They’re planning on releasing interconnected episodes every couple weeks with each to be playable within a couple of hours.
Mrs. TwShiloh and I finally got to see the Swedish 2006 vampire movie Frostbiten. While it doesn’t break any amazingly new boundaries it was quite well done and took some interesting twists on the vampire story. It isn’t everyday, after all, you can encompass SS operations in the Ukraine AND a high school party in one vampire movie. If you can find a copy with subtitles, check it out.
I also just finished the 2010 ‘zombie’ novel The Reapers are the Angels. Pick this up now! Definitely not the traditional zombie hack ‘n slash, the book takes place roughly 25 years after a zombie apocalypse and focuses on a young girl who’s on her own and traveling throughout what’s left of the Southern U.S. It reminded me of the book Earth Abides (which you really should read as well) and a bit of Grapes of Wrath with of course, zombies and the occasional mutant. It’s so much more than a horror tale and is more a story about how people interact with a world they got rather than one they expected or were promised. This will be one of the few books that gets into my ‘reread’ pile.
Finally, Mrs. TwShiloh and I caught Tucker and Dale Versus Evil which is a romantic-comedy/slasher film. I can only describe this film as totally charming and a ton of fun. In stark difference to some of the other mock horror films, you actually like the characters in this one and I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing them in a follow up provided they could come up with a clever enough script.
The Horror Etc. podcast has not one butTWO (!) episodes centered around Nordic horror. Horror Etc. is fast becoming one of my favorite podcasts as it brings the right level of quality, likability of the hosts, geeky levels of enthusiasm about their subject and horror.
Matter is a kickstarter project looking for donations to provide weekly, in-depth reporting on science and technology. If you’re interested in that sort of thing (as I am) and you’ve got a few bucks to spend, please consider supporting them. They’ve got some nice rewards for modest donations ($25 gets you a 3 month subscription and $10 will get you their first 5 stories free).
Even if you aren’t interested in that particular project, think about browsing the kickstarter site (or RocketHub) and funding some other project.
I can’t remember if I posted this or not but even if I did, it’s worth a second look. amazing dogfight animation that makes me want to watch more. Check out Paths of Hate.
God may have 1,000 names but hobos had 23 in the 16th century. I wonder if the need to name so many particular varieties of vagabond was like the Inuits having 18 different words for snow?
Finally, I just finished reading ‘Tooth and Nail” by Craig Dilouie. There’s not much character development here and a bit too much military jargon but this guy can write some great action. Think Black Hawk Down in New York City during the zombie apocalypse. Very quick and very fun read.
What’s with all the stories about pythons in the Everglades? It seems I’ve been bombarded with them in all my normal information outlets.
We’ve had numerous cases from around the world where top-apex predators have been removed or severely reduced. But here we have a case where a top predator has been added to an ecosystem, and it’s certainly not unreasonable to assume that the ecosystem is going to respond in dramatic ways. But it is a really unique situation; there are really few cases like this.
These posts are getting science-heavy…not sure why other than there’s so much interesting stuff and I don’t have enough to add to them to justify their own posts. But how…how, dear reader, could I possibly pass up the opportunity to tell you about the recent archeological find that revealed only the third guinea pig skeleton in Europe! No, it wasn’t Fluffy (well, maybe it was) but this comes from the 16th century!
I’m not into MMOs and have been around the block enough to know that game trailers don’t necessarly reflect the actual playing experience but…This is a really cool looking trailer for a new horror game coming out shortly.