[silk] Stochastic Terrorism

Udhay Shankar N udhay at pobox.com
Wed Jan 12 19:13:09 PST 2011

Fascinating idea. A logical extension of dead drops (or even multi-part
crypto keys, if you think about it). Or even Psychohistory. <g>

On a related note, I'd recommend John Robb's [1] thoughts on "Open
Source Warfare" [2].


[1] http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/
[2] http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/15/john-robb-interview.html


Stochastic Terrorism:  Triggering the shooters.
by G2geek
Mon Jan 10, 2011 at 05:37:39 PM PST

Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random
lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are
statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random
extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.

This is also the term for what Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and others do.
And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of
ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.

Update: the mechanism spelled out.

(This update is to resolve some ambiguity.)

The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public
official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the "missile" set in
motion by the stochastic terrorist.  The stochastic terrorist is the
person who uses mass media as their means of setting those "missiles" in

Here's the mechanism spelled out concisely:

The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast
memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a
lone wolf and committing a violent act.   While their action may have
been statistically predictable (e.g. "given the provocation, someone
will probably do such-and-such"), the specific person and the specific
act are not predictable (yet).

The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: "Oh, it was
just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I'm
not responsible for what people in my audience do."

The lone wolf who was the "missile" gets captured and sentenced to life
in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and
goes on to incite more lone wolves.

Further, the stochastic terrorist may be acting either negligently or
deliberately, or may be in complete denial of their impact, just like a
drunk driver who runs over a pedestrian without even realizing it.

Finally, there is no conspiracy here: merely the twisted acts of
individuals who are promoting extremism, who get access to national
media in which to do it, and the rest follows naturally just as an
increase in violent storms follows from an increase in average global

And now we return to the rest of the original diary...

((Udhay Shankar N)) ((udhay @ pobox.com)) ((www.digeratus.com))

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