The Syrian War Condensed: A more Rigorous Way to Look at the Conflict
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

What Is the Syrian Conflict Really About?

I totally agree with Dr. Taleb. He has a deep understanding of the entire region including the many different language dialects and their long ancestral roots in tandem with his great mathematical prowess. He brought into the world and lucidly articulated the great wisdom of The Black Swan,one of the most influential concepts in recent history — statisticians hate him for it because he barbecued their sacred cows. He knows the distinctions in the manifold tribes and their ideologies: they are never going to “get along.” What we are presented in the United States is influenced by think tanks (see Note 5 in Nassim’s post) and well-articulated propaganda buttressed by highly-distorted statistics. But more than an issue of (“fake”) statistics (which is true) this is really an issue of propaganda (which, in this case, means that statistics can be weaponized and used as a propaganda tool to underwrite a narrative that is seemingly grounded on the respected, objective basis of the “numbers”: statistics. However, because of the fact that weaponized garbage-in = garbage-out automatically, even if you had the correct process (proper algorithms…) the outcome will be false but not necessarily meaningless — it can deviously be not only false but concomitantly project an intentional albeit fabricated interpretation that beautifully dovetails with “the reports from the region” that constitute highly believable but “fake news” from highly respected news institutions. These institutions (the same ones exposed by WikiLeaks ad nauseam) have been hijacked with a carefully crafted agenda serving as loudspeakers of political process). This, folks, is neither new or news.

Ok, let’s lift the hood here…

To help help you grasp the scale of global naiveté in proper context, this is from Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries:

The World Wide Web offers information and data from all over the world. Because so much information is available, and because that information can appear to be fairly “anonymous”, it is necessary to develop skills to evaluate what you find. When you use a research or academic library, the books, journals and other resources have already been evaluated by scholars, publishers and librarians. Every resource you find has been evaluated in one way or another before you ever see it. A lot of great information can be found online, but it’s trickier to know what has been peer-reviewed online and what has not, because anyone can write a web page. Excellent resources reside along side the most dubious. The Internet epitomizes the concept of caveat lector:let the reader beware.


What constitutes a good fake is how well it resembles the real thing.
Propaganda is defined as the “systematic propagation of information or ideas by an interested party, esp. in a tendentious way in order to encourage or instill a particular attitude or response. Also, the ideas, doctrines, etc., disseminated thus; the vehicle of such propagation.” (from Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989)
Misinformation is defined as the action of misinforming or condition of being misinformed; or erroneous or incorrect information. Misinformation differs from propaganda in that it always refers to something which is not true. It differs from disinformation in that it is “intention neutral”: it isn’t deliberate, it’s just wrong or mistaken.
Never underestimate the evil intentions of some individuals or institutions to say or write whatever suits a particular purpose, even when it requires deliberate fabrication. Disinformation refers to disseminating deliberately false information, especially when supplied by a government or its agent to a foreign power or on the media with the intention of influencing policies of those who receive it.

Note: emphasis mine

(Source: Johns Hopkins University (Sheridan Libraries), Information and Its Counterfeits: Propaganda, Misinformation and Disinformation)

Americans have been fed more disinformation (intentionally wrong to mislead) than misinformation (simply erroneous) in order to create a false but believable narrative (propaganda) about the Syrian Conflict that demonizes Putin and Assad and so — contrastingly and implicitly — makes the US/NATO some form of white night (i.e. black vs. white — no gray). Propaganda, when executed with precision, is always about the formation of a simple polarity: black vs. white, good guys vs. bad guys → us vs. them.


  • You are either with us or against us.” (GW Bush)
  • I’m with HER.” (Secretary Clinton)
  • We are going to build a wall.” (Trump: xenophobic = polarity)
  • Pepsi vs. Coke (etc. commercial propaganda aka “marketing”)
  • There is irrefutable evidence of WMD in Iraq…” (create an enemy → us vs. them)
Confirmation Bias (Denial or suppression of information content xenophobic to ones personal belief system is built-in to our biological operating system): The extraordinary polarization of Democrat and Republican blogs during the 2004 US election which created silo effects — “bubble or echo chambers”. (Visual creator: Lada Adamic | (Social Physics: Using networks and data to understand people, culture and society))

Part of my background was working at Lockheed as an electrical engineer on the Trident submarine-launched strategic nuclear missile in the 1980s. I wrote an objective intelligence briefing on what the Syrian Conflict is really about, what the stakes are, Russia’s geopolitical role in the region, and an analysis of the 800-pound gorilla in the room that Americans are oblivious to: the critically important differences in foreign policies between the US/NATO and Russia in regards to military escalation. Please take the time to read this document. And listen to Dr. Taleb. I do.

For those wanting a serious analysis of the “Technology of Influence” and a in-depth assessment on propaganda (‘fake news”, dis/misinformation) techniques past, present, and future (including AI and neurobiology) explore this:

With Appreciation,

James Autio