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  • The power of network visualization

    Posted by Charles Cameron on December 11th, 2010 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

    We’ve been having an intriguing discussion recently in the comments on Zenpundit about mapping / modeling complex situations in a way that leaves us humans more liable to come to nuanced understandings and less liable to unintended consequences, and one point that keeps on cropping up is the need to pare down the number of nodes in our mapping without losing sight of the subtleties…

    I was thus delighted to find, as I was doing my morning trawl of usual and unusual news sources, that Glenn Beck had come out with his estimate of how many Muslim terrorists there are in the world (10% of the global Muslim population, ie 157 million), Fareed Zakaria had refuted him — and there was even a helpful Silobreaker network diagram to show me how the relevant nodes under discussion fit together:

    Beck Muslims and Brewery

    I was delighted to see that (Mormon) Glenn Beck is more closely associated with (Muslim) Rep. Keith Ellison than he is with terrorists, and sorry to note that Beck’s Brewery and Islam are somehow linked… But naturally, once I had seen this much I wanted to drill down even deeper — so I entered the appropriate keywords at Silobreaker and found this:

    silobreaker beck islam

    You’ll see that Beck’s link with Al Qaeda is, thankfully, a weak one. And I think you’ll agree with me that even shifting from a six node to an eight node graph considerably ups the sophistication of analysis required to fully comprehend the issues portrayed.


    In any case, I thought it might be appropriate to post Silobuster’s more detailed map of the current situation with WikiLeaks here:

    Wikileaks Silobreaker

    All becomes clear, eh?

    I particularly like the node labeled “Gland” (it’s almost hidden but not quite, you’ll find it lower right, between PayPal and Twitter)– that might be the one I’d zero in on to get a fuller appreciation of the complexities of the situation.

    And for the record, this post is an example of British “humor” — or as we prefer to call it, “dry wit”.


    3 Responses to “The power of network visualization”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      This is starting to remind me a little bit of Robert Anton Wilson. Even the squirrels in the trees are in on the conspiracy. What conspiracy? You know, the conspiracy.

    2. Charles Cameron Says:


      There was even Xeni Jardin’s allegation (now withdrawn) that the CIA had set up its own “honeypot” WikiLeaks server — and there appear to have been faked WikiLeaks diplomatic cables circulating in parts of the Pakistani press…

      Cyberwars and rumors of cyberwars…

    3. Charles Cameron Says:

      Indeed, it seems there’s plenty of room in conspiracy space for WikiLeaks:

      Wikileaks – A Big, Dangerous US Government Con Job
      By F. William Engdahl

      The story on the surface makes for a script for a new Oliver Stone Hollywood thriller. A 39-year old Australian hacker holds the President of the United States and his State Department hostage to a gigantic cyber “leak,” unless the President leaves Julian Assange and his Wikileaks free to release hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive US Government memos. A closer look at the details, so far carefully leaked by the most ultra-establishment of international media such as the New York Times, reveals a clear agenda. That agenda coincidentally serves to buttress the agenda of US geopolitics around the world from Iran to Russia to North Korea. The Wikileaks is a big and dangerous US intelligence Con Job which will likely be used to police the Internet.


      WikiLeaks – More Israeli Game Theory Warfare?
      By Jeff Gates

      “The United States is the real victim of WikiLeaks. It’s an action aimed at discrediting them.” Franco Frattini, Foreign Minister of Italy

      The impact of the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables fits the behavior profile of those well versed in game theory warfare. When Israeli mathematician Robert J. Aumann received the 2005 Nobel Prize in economic science for his work on game theory, he conceded, “the entire school of thought that we have developed here in Israel” has turned “Israel into the leading authority in this field.” The candor of this Israeli-American offered a rare insight into an enclave long known for waging war from the shadows. Israel’s most notable success to date was “fixing” the intelligence that induced the U.S. to invade Iraq in pursuit of a geopolitical agenda long sought by Tel Aviv. When waging intelligence wars, timing is often the critical factor for game-theory war planners. The outcome of the WikiLeaks release suggests a psy-ops directed at the U.S.

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