Author: Manipulation Watcher

Reality Show Update 2013

So here we are at year’s end again, and it’s time for our annual review of reality shows, as we did in 2012 and in 2011. So without further ado, how real were the shows in 2013? DUCK DYNASTY Tradition demands that we review at least one previous ranked show. Let’s do this with one of the most popular breakout shows this year, Duck Dynasty. It’s now the second-most watched cable shows of all time. It got a 7/10 on our reality scale last year. How is it fairing today? As the show has aged, to some extent it...

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Corporate Sabotage part 1

Competition is good – the whole idea of competition is that corporations will compete with one another, and in the process develop new, better, cheaper products. Often, it does – and the company with the better product goes on to reap rich rewards, until the next battle. And, at each iteration, we the customers benefit! It’s a good system. Occasionally, though, this doesn’t work as expected – because some companies have figured out that destroying the competition is a lot easier than coming up with some better product. Corporate sabotage can take many forms. One of the most famous...

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Manipulating social media, part 1

On the Internet, who can you trust? There’s an old joke that on the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog. That may be true, but it does raise the question of who can you trust online? Or, more prosaically, what kind of manipulation are you subjected to online? In the dawn of the Internet (roughly 12 years ago), the rise of review sites like Amazon or Ebay was supposed to essentially solve the problem of who or what to trust online. The idea was that there was wisdom in the crowd: the more people rated an object or...

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The power of narrative

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and frankly, if not, why not? It’s quality stuff!) one theme that you might recognize across several posts – such as this one or this one –  is that a lot of manipulation involve letting people manipulate themselves, to some extent. We like stories, as a species: we evolved to recognize patterns, after all, and stories are the ultimate patterns. Since time immemorial, at the end of the day, around the communal fire, we have sat around and shared stories – to cheer ourselves up, to keep the darkness at bay,...

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Manipulative Mistakes, part One

To err is human. But when you truly want to err, you need to add in a dash of manipulation. People make mistakes every day. Most are benign – a typo here, a tile that doesn’t fit there, a delay or a redo once in a while. Mistakes are a part of life, but sometimes they highlight the extent to which different groups will go to manipulate the crowds. Let’s take a couple of examples. Do you know what this is? It’s a polygraph, a lie detector. Many police department and federal agencies use these things to ferret out...

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