Religious Debates Online

Developing Online Tools Against Terrorism

September 4th, 2017

It is obvious that the Islamic State (IS) is winning the propaganda war against the West. The numbers of young men quitting their jobs and families in Europe and elsewhere to join IS in Syria is increasing, as is the number of young girls going there to become jihadi brides.

There are several reasons for this. For a start, going to war (when you are young and inexperienced) is an exciting prospect.

But more importantly, IS has managed to master social media better than any other entity (private or governmental) has ever done before.

This mastery is not because they have figured out some marvellous new formula on how to best use Facebook and Twitter. Their message that the Caliphate is an ideal world governed by God’s Law and so free of poverty and inequality is clear and consistent.

This clarity and consistency is wholly missing from Western efforts to counteract IS propaganda, as a recently leaked US State Department memo has conceded.

It seems that the members of the ‘message working group’, consisting of officials from the UAE, Britain and the USA who are spear-heading Western propaganda against IS, are not working well together. The structure of the working group is less than optimal and does not enable diverging views to be resolved.

In addition to failing to send out clear and consistent messages, the West has failed to engage IS in debate on the ideological or religious levels. Perhaps this is because politics are complicating the task of fighting terrorism through social media.

However other (mainly non-governmental) groups are developing online tools against terrorism.

Information cascades

These online tools mainly focus on analysing social media for clues that ‘forecast’ upcoming terrorist events. The tools are supplemented offline with on-the-ground information-gathering and analysis by humans.

For example, CySis, the CyberSocio Intelligent-Systems Lab in Arizona State University, is currently researching ‘information cascades’ and how they can be used to develop online tools to counter terrorism.

An information cascade occurs when people decide to do something because other people are doing it, even if doing it goes against their better judgement.

CySis expects that analysing information cascades will explain why people act in this (supposedly irrational) way, how likely they are to cascade incorrect information or actions, how such behaviour may arise and desist rapidly, and how effective attempts to originate a cascade tend to be under different conditions.

This research is considered crucial because IS has developed expertise in creating memes that resonate with Muslims and indeed with disillusioned non-Muslims.

A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. It acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices that can be transmitted through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena.

The memes created by IS give rise to information cascades that persist until disillusion sets in, such as eventually arises with Jihadi brides who end up wishing to return to their original countries and families.

Structural diversity

One of the reasons IS is so successful is because they send out multiple versions of each of their messages through multiple channels.

The structural diversity of messages that go viral how a particular news item, image or meme spreads in a variety of directions is important in understanding how information cascades can be created through online messages.

For instance, a single message received from a single source is less likely to go viral than the same message received from three separate sources. CySis have discovered that when a message spreads to a variety of online communities, it is more likely to go viral, ie spread rapidly throughout the Internet.

CySis have created measurements for assessing the significance of the first 50 people to whom a message spreads based on its structural diversity. Messages that show a significant chance of going viral can then be examined to see whether they indicate identifiable threats.

The company uses Twitter and Sina Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) for data mining and analysis simply because they are readily available and are in the public domain. In addition, they are the favourite means of communication of most terrorist organisations and a variety of non-state actors.

Communications on the internet, however, are now so common that identifying information that is relevant to countering terrorist activities among the great pile of data being transmitted every day is extremely difficult. Examining all of it would absorb enormous resources in time and personnel.

However not all of it needs to be examined. Most tweets sent by IS and other entities are not successful and can be ignored. But sifting out the irrelevant tweets is a real challenge.

ScoutVision software from LookingGlass Cyber Solutions is an example of tool that can make sense of online data and identify security threats by sifting out irrelevant data.

However like all similar tools it needs to be supplemented by information gathered on the ground.

CySis have people in the UK, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Malaysia and Indonesia assessing how extremism forms in those particular cultures. They also help identify radical groups and their leaders.

The information that is gathered locally helps put online data research and analysis in context.

Because people in different countries use social media in different ways, this information also helps the developers of the online tools understand the cultural relevancy of how social media is used.

For example, IS uses various strategies for recruiting online. Some of these will work in some countries but not in others.

Combining online and offline research

The combination of online and offline research is expected to provide valuable scientific and cultural context for those who are fighting terrorism.

It will enable them to track incidents in the news, such as a terrorist attack, and see if there is any online activity before or after the incident. For example, a particular group may become notably excited or begin acting in a celebratory manner online, which might help identify the perpetrators.

When people protest against an action by a Western government, these tools can be used to analyse the reactions of particular groups and how protests are organised.

The end goal of all this development to is create an online tool that analysts can use to quickly identify the online activities of various groups, whether hostile or benign.

However, while these tolls maybe very useful in forestalling terrorist attacks or finding the culprits after an attack, they do not solve the fundamental problem of Western propaganda efforts against IS… the need for a single, clear and consistent message that is successful in counteracting the propaganda spouted by IS and other terrorist groups.

To do so will require:

[1] Development of a clear message based on the principals of Islam, so as to communicate with jihadis and potential jihadis in a language they understand.

[2] Learning and implementing the skills in social media and finding the resources needed to create structurally diverse broadcasts that go viral.

Four Times When It Is Good to Be Antisocial

August 16th, 2017

” Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.” – Amy Jo Martin

There is no debate that social media has change the way we as a society communicate. Facebook, LinkedIn, Tweeter to name a few, have been a great blessing and a powerful curse all at the same time. Whether they bless us or curse us in not in their power. They are only tools and there for have no power of their own. The use of those tools is up to us. We make them what they are in our lives. We are responsible for their use.

For most of us, social media has given us the ability to connect with family and friends that otherwise, and has been in time past, would have been lost to us. As a mobile society, we have family all over the country or even the world. Social media allows us to be in touch instantly, on a daily bases if we wish. We can even talk face to face. That has been a God send for many.

My wife travels all over the world with her work. Because of the tools we have from technology we get to talk every day and see each other whether she is in Europe or China or wherever. This has been a great comfort and joy to us.

As a coach, I talk with people all over the world. I am no longer limited to those in my geographic area alone. I can reach out to people all over the world with ease and comfort. I have even spoke to groups of people via the internet and was able to see them and they see me. It is really wonderful when you think about it.

In business, many connections are made on social media and great opportunities developed. I began a relationship with my publisher after someone who worked for them had read my posts and asked if I would do a book for them. Businesses find customer from social media, offer sales and special deals and are found by people seeking their service. For business, social media has opened many doors.

I have also seen the tool of social media misused and foolishly used by many. Lives have been shattered by careless and cruel things said and done on social media. Hate and all kinds of unspeakable evil has come into our homes through social media. It takes no detail description for you to understand what I am talking about here.

So is the answer to condemn or remove social media for the harm it can cause? Not at all. Like all freedoms, the freedom of speech can be used for good or for evil. Outlaw one area and you outlaw the whole. We see that happening in this country all the time. Under the disguise of curing a problem we see all freedoms fading away far too quickly.

We all have to accept that in this world there are good people and evil people. If you are under the illusion that all people are basically good, open your eyes and look around. There always has been and always will be great evil in this fallen world. However, there has always been and always will be great good. In the end, the good will always triumph. It may not seem like that at times, but I promise you, it does.

Not to get off track of our discussion of social media, how do we deal with this problem of misuses and abuse? First, you have got to understand that it is not social media that is the problem. Social media is just a tool and has no moral compass, makes no decisions and chooses no sides. It is the people that use social media that you must deal with. It is our choice on how social media is used, not the decision of the media itself. As American businessman, Simon Mainwaring said, ” Like all technology, social media is neutral but is best put to work in the service of building a better world.”

Another fact you need to understand is this: You cannot control, change or dictate to other people; you can only control yourself. Our Creator, in His great love and wisdom, has given control over only one thing in the entire universe. You cannot control the weather, time, other people or even world hunger, you can only control your own attitude. When we make the decision on how we will think, believe, act and treat others, we have the greatest of all powers there is. The power of choice. The great Austrian psychologist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl said, ” Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I believe there are times when it is good to be antisocial. Times when you must make the decision not to share things on social media and not to receive those things that are negative and destructive. This choice is yours to make, not the choice of social media or the government or your mother. You must be responsible for yourself and you must be the one to, in your own way, make the world a better place. I want to share with you four areas where it is good, and desirable, to be antisocial in social media.

Before we look at the four areas, I need you to see this reality that is so easily forgotten. Social media is social. That means that whatever you share is out there for the world to see. Do not be fooled into thinking that only the person you tag see your post. Every one you are connected too sees it, as well as everyone they are connected to. That is what being social is all about. It is the same as standing in the public square and shouting out your secrets to the world. So when you deal with any form of social media, always remember that it is called “social” for a reason.

#1) It is Good to Be Antisocial When You are Angry
As children we could sing, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me”. As adults we come to understand that bones heal; but the wounds caused by carelessly spoken words never heal. I have seen so many times on social media when one person is angry at another and they decide to speak out all they are feeling. Then when they cool down they come to regret what they have said. The problem is, you cannot take it back. Not only did you put it in writing, you wrote it to the world.

Recently, I saw a post from friend who was having a falling out with his wife. He said unkind and hurtful things that I know he will regret saying. Then, to make it all the worse, he carried on a discussion, online, with several people about how unfair and miserable his wife was. It proved the old adage, anger blocks out thinking and makes us stupid. I cringed as I read this exchange that I know will never go away and be a mark on their marriage forever.

The best way to avoid saying things you will one day regret is to not say them at all. When it comes to social media, your grandmother’s advice was right: “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.” Social media was created to connect people, share ideas and warm greetings, not to fight you personal battles over. For one, it is no one’s business what you are fighting about. Second, this is selfish and one sided. Even if you were right, you are wrong. You cannot win, come out on top or recover from such a stupid act. As John Wayne once said, ” Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Don’t make the mistake of talking in code either. We have all seen it. Someone posts, “Some people are such idiots that they can’t do anything right.” Or, “You may think you smart but you can go @#&%$ yourself.” The next thing you see is 52 comments all saying, “What’s wrong?” Come on now, you know exactly what you are doing. You want people to wonder. You comment is not really for the person you are angry with but for the rest of mankind to see. That is childish to the extreme.

Here is the simple rule to follow. When you are angry, do not post anything. If you must write it down, keep a journal that you alone will see. You do not have the right to throw up on the rest of the world just because your feeling were hurt. No matter what that hurt was caused by. In fact, the greater the offence the more you should not post it to social media. Find a friend, Pastor, counselor or someone to talk to if you must. I am not saying that you must hold it is, but you do have to express yourself properly. The goal should always to find a solution; to get resolve, it is never to get even or cause more pain.

#2) It is Good to Be Antisocial When You Are Spiteful
There is no reason to justify being spiteful. The very meaning of the word means to do things just to hurt or cause problems. Anger is a striking out. It causes hurt, but that is not always the motive, and when it is, it is more of a revenge than strategic plan. Spite, on the other hand is a deliberate act for no other reason than to hurt, offend or cause pain. Spite in a person shows lack of character, honesty and compassion. These are people to avoid. As Pope Francis said, ” Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful.”

In social media you will find the spiteful people are the ones who have something bad to say about everyone. They may disguise it under the name of political opinion, religious fever or even social justice. However, they do not look at facts, debate points of view or offer solutions, they only focus on assassinating a person’s character, spreading gossip, reinforcing lies and slander.

I believe that we all have the freedom to speak what we wish. We all have different political and religious views and that too is good. Spitefulness comes in when you think that the best way to promote you political or religious views is by destroying the lives of those who disagree with you. I have seen countless times people from all political view, say things about political leaders they know are not true, yet, they reinforce these lies, not to show they are right but that the person in question is wrong.

I have seen the same thing happen in religious circles. There is room for a lot of discussion and differing opinions between groups or individuals, however, when it becomes slanderous and has no purpose but to gossip and hurt others, then we have gone from personal opinion to spitefulness.

One of the things I have found in common among those who place spiteful posts is that the things they are stressing are things are really and not that important. Complaining about what a political candidate did when they were in college or even younger is really silly. We have all done things we are ashamed of, but a wonderful thing happens in the following years – we grow up. I want to know the character of a person today, not when they were 14.

The same is true with accusing religious leaders of immoral acts that you “think” happened. Anyone who accuses another person of something should be willing to 1) prove their accusation and 2) be willing to have people look into their lives. Yes, I believe that immorality, corruption, and criminal actions should be confronted, however, social media is really not the place. 90% of what you see on social media is either untrue, distorted, misinformed or a deliberate lie.

I think you should express you political and religious views on social media, however, use those views to support, what you believe, not to challenge what others believe. Present solutions or ways to find solutions, not problems and challenges you can do nothing about. Be a problem solver and not a problem maker. You do not have to keep you views, beliefs and opinions to yourself, just use them to make things better. Give people something to think about, not get angry at.

#3) It is Good to Be Antisocial When You Have Secrets
I think one of the most unintentional, yet hurtful things people do on social media is telling the world other people secrets. I say unintentional because most of the time is was never meant to be hurtful. People are excited about an event or news in a loved one’s life and they want to share it. Many do not realize how hurtful it is till it is too late to take it back.

Social media has developed a thinking in people that they need to be the first to tell the news. Things travel so fast that many people feel they have got to get it posted before someone else does; that includes the people who the news belongs to in the first place. If they stop to think, they will soon realize that it is not their news to tell. No matter how important, exciting or urgent, unless you are asked to share it, it is not your to share.

I have heard from many who have been hurt over a friend or even a family member share their engagement, a baby coming, a promotion or even the death of a loved one. Before they can even think about how to announce their news, there it is all over social media. The people posting this may not think it is a big deal, or even think they are helping, however, it is very hurtful and just bad manners in every way.

If you know of an event, happy or sad, that is happening in a person’s life please do not share it, tell it or even hint at it until they have done so. They may ask you to share or give you their permission to share at times. In these cases, you can share but only the facts. Never embellish or add what you think is happening.

The need to get the news out can be seen clearly in the case of the general news cycle. It is hard to fill a 24 hour news cycle let alone adding social media. In order to be the first, news is released that is incomplete or downright wrong. Then, those of us who read the news want to be the first to share with those who may have not seen it and we post things that we do not know are factual. Soon it is how Mark Twain described it, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”

Do yourself, and everyone else, a favor and always get the facts before you post any kind of news and story. For one it will save you the embarrassment of being proved wrong, second, you will hurt less people that way, and third, you will be doing a better job than many journalist.

#4) It is Good to Be Antisocial When Your Being Poisoned
There is no greater poison known to mankind than that of negativity, criticism, vulgarity and untruth. They are like arsenic, a little at a time is not noticeable but it builds in your system till it becomes a lethal dose. This poison is in abundant supply on social media. Every day millions of posts are uploaded that do nothing except cause hurt, destruction and bitterness.

Here is the good news, you can control it. Freedom of speech, as I said before, is a good thing and a freedom we must protect. To outlaw one areas of speech is to outlaw all areas. However, just because a person has the freedom to say what they wish does not mean they have the right to be listened to. The best defense in stopping negative and hateful speech is to not listen to it. It is really that simple and you have the power to do it.

When you see someone, even a friend or family member who is constantly posting negative and hurtful things, you have the power to block those posts from ever coming to your door. If it is someone you care about, warn them first. Maybe they do not realize they are so negative. I had a friend, who I cared very much for, who was always posting negative and lengthy post about everything they saw other people talking about. I told them that it was disturbing and that I have not read then and would block them if it continued. I did this by the way of a personal message so as not to correct them publicly and embarrasses them; there by doing the same thing I was correcting them for doing. I told them I cared for them and would still be their friend, however I would not allow them to poison me every day with this ranting. They felt that they had “a purpose” in doing this and so I blocked them.

For most of us, we have thousands of “friend” on social media. Most likely, 90% + are people you really have never met. Do not allow a stranger to poison you every day just so you can say you have 2000 friends. That is foolish. I go through my list of “friends” every month and I remove anyone who has been telling me lies (yes I know it is not “me” but a general post, still, I get it), feeding negative thoughts or posting anything I find foul or explicit. This does not include people I may disagree with. I love the fact that social media has connected me with people of different, social, political and religious views. I want to know what people think and believe. That is the spice of life. However, you can disagree and yet not be offensive or destructive.

One more thing that people do and should not be tolerated, and that is carrying on arguments on other people’s posts. This is when, let’s say, you post an opinion you have about something in the news. A friend posts a comment where they see it differently. Another friend, who may even be agreeing with you, posts a comment to the first person and tells them what an idiot they are and how they don’t understand anything. That in turn is followed by another comment by the person being attacked and they tell the attacker that they are the idiot. And on and on it goes. The person who’s page this is going on is not even in the argument. Never allow that to happen. My advice is to quickly, like at the first comment, tell them that you do not want them fighting on your page. If this continues, block them.

Do not see blocking people as rude or wrong. They do have the freedom to say what they wish just as you have the freedom not to listen. Believe me, if more people just ignored all the trash that is out there, not only on social media but also on TV, radio or the movies, we would see a lot less of it. This is the greatness of the free market system. Money and interest control the content. Take away the money and you take away the problem.

Social media is a wonderful tool and we should use it properly and to make the most of it. But with any tool, you have to respect it and recognize the dangers. When misused it can be a very strong force for evil, when use correctly, it is a wonderful force for good. In the end it all comes down to us. We have to be responsible and we have to take control.

Discussing the Eminent Achiever Creative Genius With the Online Think Tank

February 11th, 2017

For today’s affair we yield you to the accountable of the all ambiguous artistic ability and not alone the artistic ability but the Eminent Achiever Artistic Genius, the a lot of abstruse of all personality types. They are arresting to us as they cover such names as Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates and Albert Einstein.

The appellation eminent achiever artistic ability is for the a lot of allotment accessible and the accretion accordant and yet allocation is something bodies like to do, even if it generally misses the boat. Each alone on boilerplate may be rather simple to peg on the personality chart, although not all are so simplistic; about bodies are absorbing to abstraction for abstraction sake, they are predictable. The eminent achiever is somewhat predictable, as they will be at the centermost of addition and consistently the abstracted abaft a abstraction or change.

The Online Anticipate Tank gets abounding inquiries by advisers to acquisition the beating of the artistic ability as psychologists attack to actuate how they anticipate and well, what makes them beat – is this allowance an advantage or disadvantage asks one inquirer; is it both?

Excuse my account amid the lines, but that is what I do for a living. You did say “GIFT” (indicating built-in with or accustomed too, appropriately from analysis or ability be advised by a religious person; from a god) and I admiration about the “Edison Gene” commentaries accustomed on this affair myself. Still it appears to me that even if anyone is built-in with the ability genes or anesthetized forth viruses, defect, etc, that they still charge the ambiance to acquiesce it to advance itself. Nature/Nurture debate.

Do you accept that it is both attributes and breeding or are you assertive that this is a “gift” and/or change has provided conceivably a % of these individuals, appropriately acceptance abiding advance of the species? Do you feel that assertive societies actualize added of these types of people? For instance; Florence in its day, Silicon Valley afresh or age-old Greece?

The absorption is of absorption in that regard, although we see these anomalies so often, added generally now. Is it due to 6.6 Billion humans on the Planet or would you say it is accretion as humankind needs added or due to density, assortment or aberration – How about choice, freedom, liberty, democracy, animal rights? Now its your turn, what do you think?

Are Religious Nut Cases Really Entitled to a Scientific Opinion? WTF

February 5th, 2017

Often some one with religious behavior which are actual able will access the accurate analysis acreage and aloft every agreement will assert that whatever the after-effects they cannot battle with the acceptance of their god? Recently one such nut case beeline cerebration animal came to an online anticipate catchbasin claiming that man was fabricated in gods angel and her agreement would prove already and for all that man was altered and all-powerful from all added animals. She states;

“Everyone is chargeless and advantaged to there own opinions, truths and behavior afterwards discrimination. Does that accomplish them hypocrites, aloof or fanatics?”

I disagree, as if one adopts behavior in adverse to observation, absoluteness and analysis again bodies about use such agreement as hypocrite, aloof and fanatics. Absolutely that is why these agreement exist. In actuality if you abjure all the facts and still appear up with a conclusion, which is 180 degrees out, you are wrong. And that would about be due to getting biased [dictionary definition], aloof [personal affection acceptance such] or a actor [in this case claiming science and blank all calm data, facts and observations].

The religious nut case religious article addict again stated; “I accept declared my position and a simple account on why I feel this way appear the presentation of a abiogenetic allegory as accurate affirmation that bodies are agnate to humans. I accept abounding acumen to feel this way and until I am assertive contrarily this is my position on that matter. I can say this afterwards ageism appear you or any added being who feels differently. Added or less”

This did not sit able-bodied with one of the added anticipate catchbasin associates in the online anticipate catchbasin who stated; “NO, that is incorrect. In that amount one you accept declared ahead that your analysis has annihilation to do with how you “feel” alone accurate methods and research. Of which you accept produced NONE. Alone allocution about accurate method, never one section or atom of evidence. And in all your comments you accept been clumsy to abnegate the affirmation added than quick little atomic condemnations. Anyone can do that.”

And continued; “What I am adage is your position on the amount is IRRELEVANT as it is incorrect. How you feel about it is even added IRRELEVANT. If you feel un-convinced afterwards added evidence, yet do so afterwards account any of the affirmation I accept presented again that is a claimed botheration and a botheration of your person, which you will charge to accord with. How you feel about me is IRRELEVANT. You are wrong. Unless you can abnegate the allegation off all these top advisers presented and their 1000’s of references and/or apperceive something that the top DNA advisers didn’t apperceive and explain abroad all the analysis that backs up what I accept said, forth with the DNA proof, again you are alarming discharge abounding in the wind. And well, I just absolutely ambition you would do it about abroad really.”

And connected some more; “You accompaniment anybody is advantaged to their opinion? Sure they are and chargeless speech, but do not affirmation to be researcher, scientist or appellant of accuracy if you abjure what is appropriate afore your eyes. If you accept affidavit again accompany it on. But stop arena games.”

Wow, you apperceive afterwards account all this agitation it is a admiration that we do not anon abolish all religious followers from all analysis and accurate work. As this seems to be the alone way we can absolutely assure the candor of the advanced progression of the breed and actuate allusive accurate study. Consider all this 2006.

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