How to use sloppy thinking for disinformation Part 1

Part 1, preface: Generating “mounting evidence” in 5 examples

In the information war that was ignited moments after MH17 crashed, a lot of stories appeared in (pro)western mainstream and social media in which statements from separatists were misinterpreted. This was done to construct a story that actually an implicit admission of guilt was conveyed. Actually in all cases the conclusion was based on rather biased and sloppy thinking or even on deceitful intentions.

Unsound Logic Cover Photo

In a series of blogposts I will show 5 examples of this way of thinking. Topic of the first part, in this blogpost, will be a brief explanation how biased, sloppy and unsound reasoning was used to create evidence against the separatists. Of course, the quintessential example will be mentioned shortly – the famous retracted message about a downing of an AN-26 on a message board that was in name dedicated to DPR commander Igor Strelkov.

Also the interview Vice reporter Simon Ostrovksy had with Cossack commander Nikolay Kozytsin will be reviewed in this first part of the series. Kozytsin played his part in that other famous cornerstone of the “fatal mistake narrative”, the video of the Ukrainian secret service (SBU) with intercepted calls, published 6 hours after MH17 crashed..

 

This series “How to use sloppy thinking for disinformation” also contains the following blogposts:

Part 2. The separatist from Oplot (Corriere della Sera)

Part 3. The separatists at the crashsite (BBC video)

Part 4. The Leonid Kharchenko intercepts

Part 5. Jérôme Sessini, photographer for Paris Match

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Of course, most important example of disingenious thinking to provide evidence about separatist guilt was the story that was fabricated around the retraction of a posting from proseparatist message board “Strelkov_info”. In two blogposts I deconstructed the narrative that commander of the DPR forces, Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, had deleted a posting in which he tacitly admitted having shot down a Ukrainian cargo plane AN-26, which appeared to be flight MH17 later on.

See: Myth of the “fatal mistake”: how the MH17 infowar started

and Down the rabbit hole with Putin haters: old narative fails but Strelkov did it anyway

One of the sources behind this apparent fabrication was proKiev propaganda organization Euromaydan, that posted a message on Facebook only 54 minutes after the Strelkov_info message board – a fansite, not related to the commander himself – posted the information they had retrieved from other sources on social media.

It said:

“Apparently, the terrorists shot down a Malaysia Airlines plane. Strelkov brags on Vkontakte. There are videos.”

Euromaydan strelkov

 

Also Ukraine Crisis Media Center followed with a posting mentioning that:

Terrorists probably mistook passenger plane of Malaysia airlines for Ukrainian transport aircraft.

UCMC Strelkov

 

Also many others were very eager to draw the wrong conclusions, ie. Jeffrey Lewis, aka ArmsControlWonk, part of the anti-Russian OSINT community.

 

fatal mistake narrative

Consensus of opinion throughout the (pro)western world. Kiev propagandists, the Ukrainian secret service, reporters, newspapers and also the State Department assure that backgound of the MH17 crash was based on a fatal mistake. Disinformation and fake intercepts were enough to make this narrative accepted.

 

The constructed narrative spread itself over the internet and finally even ended up in a “Note of Suspicion” that the Ukrainian judiciary wrote about Igor Strelkov Girkin (see screengrab below).

 

1637

 

The use of certain hidden premisses, false assumptions and unsound logic was behind the construction of this story, as I wrote in my first blogpost about this topic. It was assumed Strelkov himself had written the report about a downing of an AN-26, with his fingers still on the trigger.

Statements from a source high up in the chain of command suggested knowledgde of inside information close to the event and so it was preconceived that the information arrived from first-hand witnesses implicated in an actual downing. At the same time other possibilities – ie. (official) sources receiving information from others, local residents for example – were cancelled out.

This is a method that is repeated over and over again, as we shall see in the following parts of this series of blogposts.

Another example of the recipe used, was shown by German filmmaker and engineer Micha Kobs. In his elaborate report “Haunt the Buk”, p11, he wrote about an interview that Vice reporter Simon Ostrovsky had with Nikolay Kozytsin, the Cossack commander that played a role in the intercepted conversations that the SBU published within 6 hours after the crash.

Below you will find screenshots from the conversation, as copied from the Kobs report.

Ostrovsky 1Ostrovsky 2

Kobs writes:

He replied “не скажу”. Of course “no comment” sounds a little guiltier than the quite simple translation “don’t know”.

Anyway, the online translation of dic.academic.ru might help with all the possible translations.

Here is one example of the use:

A: Который час?

B: Я вам не скажу-у меня неm часов.

A: What time is it?

B: I couldn’t tell you (I don’t know because I’m not wearing a watch)

 

All the elements are present in this example. Source is a separatist high up in the chain of command, so there can be made assumptions about a certain level of first-hand knowledgde about the event; There is a statement from this source, from which allegedly can be derived – by subjective conjecturing towards a preconceived idea of guilt – that he tacitly also admits this guilt; Then a slight manipulation of the translation of his wordings mixed with these elements reenforces the suspicion.

The circular reasoning involved holds as an axiom that because a particular interrogated separatist belongs to a guilty party, also all his statements and actions should or could be interpreted as manifestations of this guilt. The conclusion drawn from this faulty, biased interpretation is presented as just another example of this guilt, adding to the impression evidence is mounting.

I will present 4 examples more that followed more or less the same path of misinterpretation and manipulation, reenforced by unsound logic, creating – as was said – mounting evidence that separatists were involved in downing the wrong plane. Also these 4 examples played an important role in the information space from which ordinary citizens had to draw conclusions about the backgrounds of the MH17 disaster.

Its very important to give this attention. Apart from the false evidence emanating from the Strelkov_info fabrication, also one other example of the 5 other cases described here, entered the official complaint against the Russian Federation that Ukraine sent in to the International Criminal Court of Justice (see part 4 of this series).

It is not my duty to exonerate or incriminate any party here. However, evidence should be sound and beyond doubt. For me the most important motivation is that stories like these permeate the collective memory and in that way become part of the narrative. And so of our history. Moreover, its my strong desire to live under an honest version of the Rule of Law.

With this blogpost I try to establish a counterfactual story as a wall, how small it may be, against the threat that false evidence enters the collective mind of humanity.

ICC

This series also contains the following blogposts:

Part 2. The separatist from Oplot (Corriere della Sera)

Part 3. The separatists at the crashsite (BBC video)

Part 4. The Leonid Kharchenko intercepts

Part 5. Jérôme Sessini, photographer for Paris Match

5 gedachtes over “How to use sloppy thinking for disinformation Part 1

      • Contrary to other people, who concentrated on the BUK conspiracy theory (which is just a distraction), I was more focused on the story (and the parallel stories) about the SU-25.

        What happened after the press conference from the Russian Ministry of Defense on 21 July 2014?

        Why was there a guy, with the initials “bllct”, on the British Wikipedia busy, to keep the service ceiling for the SU-25 at 7,000 metres? Who gave the order?

        Why did Dutch Wikipedia removed all the technical specifications for the SU-25? Who gave the order?

        Both events I witnessed personally. Was it coincidence? No, because in 2013 I witnessed something simular on the Dutch Wikipedia about Mali. A gigantic list of earth treasuries, from ruby’s to diamonds to gold, vanished, right before my eyes. This was after the Dutch parliament okayed the mission in Mali.

        Why did FlightAware took their servers off-line for maintenance, after at least two witnesses had noticed that earlier MH-17 flights took a far more southern route than the MH-17 on 17-7-2014. Once back on-line…you quest it. But, who gave the order?

        Why has the Dutch Safety Board a law wich excuses them to withhold information from a report, when this information can harm the economic, financial and diplomatic relations with a friendly nation?

        If I was the only one who witnessed this kind of things, you may call me a crackpot, but I’m not the only one.

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  1. “I never believed in the SU25 story, and since the RF has shot it down permanently by issuing raw radar data”.

    Of course the “presumably SU25” means that the Russian Federation’s military doesn’t have a clue how to identify a military plane on its doorstep and its military radar plot depicting the presumed SU25 as an obsolete F-111 Raven electronic warfare plane was merely black humour.

    The Ministry of Defence didn’t say the presumed “SU 25” shot a missile. They asked what it might be doing.

    Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force of the Russian Federation, Lieutenant General Igor Makushev and Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Andrei Kartapolov and Maj-Gen Andrei Koban, head of radio-technical forces of the Russian Air Force just made it up eh? Got a marking pen out and drew a little squiggle and fell about rolling on the floor laughing and saying ‘that will confuse them’!

    This was to be followed by Viktor Meshcheryakov, deputy design chief, Lianozovo Electromechanical Plant after outlining some limitations of civilian radar taught Maj-Gen Andrei Koban a galling lesson in radar and misidentification and effectively suggested that the Ministry of Defence are deluded and simply must by lying, or as Bellingcrap (leading experts in military radar and Russian military communications behaviour) “confirmed” the ‘Ministry of Defence presented evidence that they faked their previous evidence’ classified military radar plot in their July 21st 2014 press conference.

    Quite astounding that the Ministry of Defence call a press conference to point out they were just faking it in 2014 but this time they must be faking it because Bellingcrap said so and in any case the new Ministry of Defence scenario much better matches Bellingcraps radar expertise, and narrative, so this is a good reason to take MoD seriously this time.

    The Ministry of Defence saying “presumably” an SU 25 must be because they don’t have a clue about SU 25 performance and clearly know nothing about radar (including the special ones they didn’t talk about) and why things just seem to vanish. However, nameless Dutch experts suggesting radar is like a lighthouse and might not have been shining its light in the right direction at the right time, or the 5m long Buk missile was too small and too fast for the radar were on the ball in their multi-page detailed research, eh?

    I suggest not revealing capability and a bit of politics goes into Ministry of Defence presentations but military experts and people who ought to know what was happening in the skies over Donbass knew exactly what the Ministry of Defence were getting at, even if we don’t, and there isn’t much to form a belief one way or the other if you exclude witness accounts and the irreconcilable damage on MH17 with a Buk missile with bowties. https://youtu.be/o8SHZriRbi8

    Like

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