Ten commandments for the social-media demagogue


  1. Ignore facts. Facts are pesky and quaint. They constrain your narrative and might constrain, oh my, your priors. And they might even make it necessary that you provide links. Which might actually be checked. So, don’t go there.
  2. If someone brings them (pesky and quaint facts) up, either ignore them and their facts or, if that is not possible, question them and their facts – and do so with the right mix of indignation and annoyance — but do so preferably with opinions of others. For example, you could say your acquaintances and/or friends told you so. Remember: facts are pesky and quaint. They could be fact-checked. Opinions of acquaintances and/or friends, not so much.
  3. When you identify something, stay away from precise descriptors; it’s just too friggin labor-intensive. So rather than being specific (lots of work to figure out), say something like “the left” or even better say “the regressive left”. That will a) signal unmistakably where you stand and b) draw the admiration of your followers. Hail, you.
  4. Never worry about base rates. Way too complicated an argument. For example, if you were to look up the percentages of sexual assaults and rapes in Germany, you might learn that those of immigrants were about the same as those of “natives”. Which would make posting attention-grabbing individual cases look kinda silly. But that’s where you want to go. Post attention-grabbing individual cases. (Don’t forget to prettify your post with some pictures that tuck at heart-strings. Children that have drowned, or at least look sad, are always a winner.)
  5. Don’t worry about the fine difference between allegations of facts and established facts. Again way too subtle an argument. They are really the same to most people anyways. Because, you know, the subtle distinction between allegations of facts and established facts is just too cumbersome. Again, it constrains your narrative and might constrain your priors about how the world is, and in any case ought to be. According to you.
  6. Attribute motivations, or use conversational implicatures to have them imputed. For example, say that Merkel does not care about her female compatriots and the fact that they get raped by those Magrev types. (Note the clever use of commandments 4 through 6 here.)
  7. Relatedly, freely and generously use innuendo. When doing so, make sure that you maximize the reputational impact on your target.
  8. Make sure to be aggrieved when someone challenges you.  Accuse them of being ignorant and not knowledgeable.
  9. Post and post and post (preferably articles you have not read so that you can post more of them; the headline should be good enough to discern which fits your priors.) Don’t bother to summarize key arguments you find in an article, or at least to cut and paste the key paragraphs of the article. Way too labor-intensive.
  10. Freely and generously dispense your opinions. Never miss a chance to comment just because you had the opportunity not to say something,
17 Responses to "Ten commandments for the social-media demagogue"
  1. Andreas
    I guess you are saying – unless you are an academic with a PhD and follow rigorously the above commandments you do not have a voice
    It just builds up inside until Donald comes to the rescue
    I guess it would be great with elites running the world if everyone was just happy complying but that’s not the way it is – democracy is about ideas and freedom of expression
    I dont think you’ve thought it through but you’re peddling something much more sinister

      • Let’s, see. That would exhibit 1 for commandment 6, no?
        And possibly exhibit 2 for commandment 10. Well done.

  2. Ein, zwei, drei…. reduce your opponents arguments to numbers, I would have expected less of the fuhrer himself
    Take that – commandment number 3

  3. I was just reading “the commandments” again
    A little problem with commandment 4
    It seems to imply there is a certain acceptable level of sexual criminality
    Those who extend the hand of welfare and refuge kind of expect a level of zero
    When proper immigration processes are in place they work from a positive set of norms and screen for applicants who demonstrate a level of knowledge, skills and behaviors with the objective of exemplary conduct

  4. Re: Belgium terrorist attacks…Belgium’s ambassador to Australia Jean-Luc Bodson said such comments [by our PM] were dangerous.

    “It’s dangerous because it’s precisely what (Islamic State) wants – that we would make a confusion between terrorism and migrants and between terrorism and Islam,” Mr Bodson told the ABC on Thursday.

    This guy is an expert….

    I wanted to ask you if this was an imputed implicature? C6
    Maybe its ignoring facts C1
    … right mix of indignation and annoyance C2
    C4 – are the base rates of terrorism comparable in Brussels?
    Make sure to be aggrieved when someone challenges you. C8

  5. Sadly, this post pairs very well with Joshua’s (game theory?) post on Donald Trump. It is bothersome to think such post may not be intended as frivolous.

  6. I guess that’s what you mean by an imputed implicature C6
    And C7 – Innuendo
    C4 – Never worry about base rates – the base rate in Europe is orders of magnitude lower than the ME locations you mention so it should be front page news – too much generalisation and relativism

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