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And you know something’s happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — gulf water temperatures 2° above average fuel winds, flooding in TX ]

Furthermore,

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These frank admissions that we have gone beyond the known signal a qualitative shift in the situation.

You don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?

It’s altogether a hard rain falling..

Quant and qualit in regards to “al wala’ wal bara'”

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — score one for quantitative, links-based analysis ]
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It’s not so surprising that JM Berger‘s exploration of concepts in IS propaganda notes first that the title of al-Mujahir‘s speech which he will be digging into in greater detail — “Be Patient, For Indeed the Promise of God is Truth” — is a Quranic reference, then turns to the same root concepts — first tawhid, and then al wala’ wal bara’

The first is tawhid, or monotheism, a belief in the indivisible oneness of God, which can be extrapolated into a “rejection of legal, class, social, political, racial, national, territorial, genetic, and economic distinctions” and general political unity among Muslims. Importantly, this concept provides a divine mandate linking the Eligible InGroup to the Extremist In-Group.

The second concept is wala and bara (loyalty and enmity), which functions “as a tool of ‘in-group’ control”, which is broadly interpreted by jihadists to mean that Muslims are required to stand together loyally (wala) and fight outsider and outside influences (bara), across spiritual, emotional and physical dimensions.

— that Joas Wagemaker and others have found cento jihadist thought:

Notably, the concept of al-wala’wal-bara’ was taken a step further by a Hanbali scholar, Hamd ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Atiq (d. 1883), who, as Joas Wagemakers perceptively observed, connected al-wala’ wal-bara’ with the concept that can be seen as the very basis of Islam, the unity of God (tawhid). In other words, a Muslim cannot profess his belief in tawhid, and by extension Islam, if he does not demonstrate his enmity toward non-Muslims. Moreover, ibn ‘Atiq used Qur’anic verses, in particular Surat 60:4, to uphold the necessity of expressing bara’. The trend that ‘Atiq established by binding al-wala’ wal-bara’ to the foundation of Islam continued into the twentieth century, where it was taken up in Saudi Arabia by religious scholars who supported or opposed the Saudi rulers.

Robert Rabil, Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism

Wagemakers ties this conjunction of tawhid with al-wala’ wal-bara’ to Juhayman al-‘Utaybi, and thence back to al-Faraj and forward again to al-Maqdisi. Al-‘Utaybi’s Mahdist occupation of the Grand Mosque in Mecca on the first day of the current Islamic century should be viewed as the founding moment for the movement of Salafist jihad leading directly to ISIS’ proclamation of the caliphate.

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It is when the quantitative, “linkage-based” conceptual analysis kicks in —

— that the power of the digital approach makes itself clear.

Here we have dozens of phrases linked to beliefs, traits, and practices, which are susceptible of manipulation for counter-messaging — in a way which picks on the weak points in existing jihadist propaganda. This JM achieves by comparing al-Mujahir’s recent speech with al Adnani‘s 2011 “The Islamic State Will Remain Safe”.

In al-Adnani, grandiose predictions; in al-Mujahir, more realistic appraisal, six years later. In the gap, potential for illustrating IS’ failure to live up to its promises over that six year period.

JM’s approach, utilizing the prior work of his ICCT colleagues Haroro Ingram, gets into the weeds, into the detail, in a way that theologically-minded scholars have not.

For the Quant side, a distinct win.

Stunning Dillard solar ratio

Monday, August 14th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — mathematics and metaphor, a ratio of the irrational ]
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A total solar eclipse in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Norway, on March 20, 2015 — Jon Olav Nesvold

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From Annie Dillard’s Classic Essay: ‘Total Eclipse’:

Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him.

Annie Dillard is one of our great stylists, so it’s perhaps not surprising she came up with this jaw-dropping piece of mathematics, or should I call it logic? It’s a ratio, anyhow:

Seeing a partial eclipse : seeing a total eclipse :: kissing a man : marrying him

By common consent, ratios are usually applied to quantifiables — but there’s really no quantifying seeing, kissing, or marrying.

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I don’t think I’ll be able to make the eclipse, but if any of you can, please do. No less an authority than Annie Dillard — she wrote Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek and Holy the Firm — strongly advises it.

Retweets as quantifiers of interest, but so what?

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — mostly skeptical of quantification of human affects ]
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TwShiloh retweeted these two NJ Homeland Security tweets (DoubleTweet in the Wild!) with a comment:

Two products released at the same time. Note the retweet/like rates. ?That’s what confirmation bias looks like on Twitter.

I’m just now sure what I should deduce from the fact that Anarchy gets so many more RTs than White Supremacy.

and:

Are we more inclined to favor attacks on the left (anarchists) than on the right (supremacists) — does left violence just seem more noteworthy — do more people from one side of the divide follow New Jersey Homeland Security, maybe — or is it all just a little to anecdotal and indeterminate to form any conclusions?

H/t JM Berger.

Good from Zeynep on Facebook moderation, plus a question

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — wondering, roughly: is the world digital or analog? if that even means anything ]
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This post — Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children — together with the tweet about it below —

— triggered Zeynep Tufekci‘s latest. Here she goes:

And here’s the tweet she’s quoting in that last one:

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A significant ouroboros from that ProPublica article, BTW:

Facebook also added an exception to its ban against advocating for anyone to be sent to a concentration camp. “Nazis should be sent to a concentration camp,” is allowed, the documents state, because Nazis themselves are a hate group.

That should give us pause for thought, I think.

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There’s something very important going on here in this discussion as a whole and Tufecki’s tweets in particular: quite aside from the powerful issue of Facebook and its rules for moderators, there’s a more general question about quality and quantity — or should I say qualitative and quantitative approaches?

I’m wondering how well this distinction between (depending which tweet you quote) “human societies” and “simple, abstract toy models” — or “human society” and “so neat Venn diagrams & uniform rules” or “code” and the “complexities and messiness of human societies” or a “2 billion user base” and “powerpoints” — maps to the distinction between digital and analog..

Any thoughts?


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