by Elze van Hamelen
engineering has become
were previously published
reader-funded Dutch newspaper
De Andere Krant.
and Social Engineering
Image is from Pandemic.news
A government-wide network of behavioral experts - the Behavioral
Insights Network Netherlands (BIN NL) - has been supporting all
departments in conducting behavioral experiments since 2014.
The experiments aim to
use behavioral knowledge from the social sciences to steer citizens
toward "right" solutions and choices.
At their core, they
involve large-scale application of manipulation techniques, in
policy development, implementation, monitoring and communication.
Although much information
about this can be found on government websites, most citizens are
probably unaware of these social engineering experiments. Nor has
there been a public discussion about the desirability of applying
According to BIN NL,
government policy focuses on behavior change."
The network was
established in 2014 because the cabinet,
"would like all
ministries to experiment with applying behavioral insights to
different policy themes, and a government-wide network to drive
These behavioral insights
are based on knowledge from psychology, social science, behavioral
science and behavioral economics, and focus on steering people
toward desired behavior so that they automatically and unconsciously
make the "right" choices.
This can be done, for
example, through 'nudge' in the right direction, without the
imposition of coercion or economic incentives.
For example, you can
encourage healthy eating by presenting the healthy food in the
cafeteria first, and the croquettes last. In policy terms, this is
called "adjusting the architecture of choice."
There are many methods
for directing people's behavior in this way: by rearranging the
environment, by presenting information in a certain way, by playing
into feelings of belonging to a group or fear of exclusion, or
otherwise by evoking emotions such as fear, shame, pride, guilt,
The behavioral sciences
specialize in applying these insights.
The interest in applying this knowledge arose in 2004 as a result of
experiences of the Dutch army in conducting psychological operations
The Scientific Council
for Government Policy (WRR), whose task is to advise the
government and parliament on social issues, investigates the
possibilities for the government to apply behavioral knowledge and
issues an opinion in several reports, such as,
"The human decision
maker" (2009), "Making policy with knowledge of behavior"
(2014), and "Knowing is not doing" (2017).
To this end, she works
with government officials, policy makers, politicians, scientists,
and the "social field."
The core idea that emerges in these reports is that citizens have
limited rationality and can no longer cope with all the choices and
complexity in society.
In "Knowing is not yet
doing," the WRR writes:
makes high demands on the resilience of citizens, there is quite
a difference between what is expected of citizens and what they
can actually cope with."
The WRR continues:
"From the behavioral
sciences, it has been shown that people's ability to weigh
information and make rational choices is limited," namely
because of so-called limited "non-cognitive abilities, such as
setting a goal and making a plan, taking action, persevering,
and being able to deal with temptations and setbacks... these
[non-cognitive abilities] are often referred to in everyday life
as 'personality' or 'character'."
abilities or character traits are also referred to as 'doing
abilities' in policy documents.
The government can "help"
overcome these "limitations" by guiding behavior.
The WRR, in its report
"Making policy with knowledge of behavior," states,
"more and more
policymakers are exploring how to use choice architecture to
compensate for cognitive limitations of citizens."
Mindspace - A
Guide to Behavioral Manipulation
The British Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) is cited as an example
that is attracting international attention with successes.
Author Laura Dodsworth,
who wrote the book "State of Fear" about the application of
behavioral insights in the UK during the corona crisis, writes of
"The BIT was
established in 2010 by the government of David Cameron.
Britain is so good at applying behavioral insights that it has
become an export product.
The BIT is now a
profitable company with a 'social purpose,' with offices in
London, Manchester, Paris, New York, Singapore, Syndney,
Wellington and Toronto.
In 2019 alone, they
carried out 750 projects in 31 countries worldwide. In total,
they trained more than 20,000 public servants in applying
and nudges focus on distracting or making certain choices
difficult. It is used to avoid discussion and instead manipulate
people without them realizing it.
It is an attack on
people's ability to decide for themselves what is good for
"Should the Netherlands also have such a team?" the WRR writes,
advising the government to respond as a government "to the
limited doing abilities of citizens by adapting the choice
The government followed
up on the WRR's advice, in 2014 by setting up BIN-NL so it can
support ministries in conducting behavioral experiments, and in 2018
with integrating behavioral considerations into policy development.
In January 2018,
then-Minister of Law Sander Dekker and Minister of the
Interior Kasja Ollongren wrote in a letter to the House of
"in principle, the
Cabinet sees added value in freedom of choice and that the
degree of freedom of choice should be considered on a
The core team of BIN-NL
meets monthly and organizes various activities, such as lectures, a
training module for government trainees, and the congress Day of
Every two years, BIN NL
issues a report to the Senate and House of Representatives, which
reports on the experiments in the areas of health, work, education,
finance and more.
The idea that behavioral
control is necessary to achieve policy goals comes up repeatedly in
it, for example for achieving climate goals, the digital transition
and the inclusive society.
When developing policy, officials apply the Integral Assessment
Framework (IAK), which is a set of questions that must be
answered before policy or regulations are submitted to parliament.
It provides structure for developing good policy.
On June 29, 2018,
Minister Dekker wrote to the Senate that in order to,
"make broader use of
behavioral insights," "the criterion of do-ability will be
included in a number of existing policy instruments," including
How will this work in
If there is "reason to
correct behavior," the IAK provides a convenient step-by-step
framework for applying behavioral insights.
Step one maps out
"what current behaviors are perpetuating, exacerbating or
improving the undesirable situation. In doing so, also look at
what facts and figures are known about the behavior."
In the next step, the official determines the target group so he
knows "which target group you want to change the current
Step three formulates
"the behavior you want to see in your target group": "Instead of
the current behavior, who will exhibit what behavior in the
future, where and when?"
Step four maps not
only the target group, but also the "context, motives and
The next step is to
map what process/steps the target group goes through in
exhibiting the desired behavior and which parties that person
will have to deal with.
In what context
does the target group find itself?
What does someone
have to do to exhibit the desired behavior?
parties does this person come into contact?".
Based on these steps, an
intervention plan (step 5) is developed, with which "people are as
it were automatically guided towards a sensible choice", which is
tested in a "pilot or living lab" (step 6).
In the last step, effects
are evaluated, and there is also a possibility of monitoring for
The implication of all
these interventions is that a lot of behavior needs to be monitored.
Although not referenced, the step-by-step scheme is very similar to
the Behavioral Dynamics Methodology (BDM) developed by
British SCL group, which is used by defense.
The BIN-NL supports civil
servants in applying behavioral insights.
Step 1. Map current
Step 2. Determine the target group
Step 3. Formulate the Desired Behavior
Step 4. Context, motives and drivers
Step 5. Develop an intervention plan
Step 6. Implement the intervention
Step 7. Evaluation
In a free
society, should governments apply social engineering?
Most examples of pilots and experiments that BIN-NL reports on every
two years seem harmless at first glance: paying off your student
debt faster, eating healthier, or setting off fireworks safely.
But the underlying
assumption is that citizens cannot think for themselves, that the
government must then do that for them, and that the government is
therefore right in its problem analysis and chosen solution.
It ignores the fact that
there can be disagreement - discussions for which there is less and
However, other topics are less innocent. BIN-NL writes:
faces many different transitions. Think of the climate
transition and the digitalization transition.
They have at least
one thing in common:
is needed to achieve policy goals.
This also applies to
major policy themes such as health, housing, mobility and an
enabling and inclusive society."
strongly related to the prison of air that is being built around us
with current technology.
Should we allow ourselves
to be manipulated in it, or is deliberately choosing analog
solutions where possible a way to maintain autonomy and privacy?
The government's ideal
image for living seems to be life in a "smart city," regulated by
cameras and sensors, with no room for farmers.
The desirability of
this is anything but fixed.
The "inclusive society"
mostly represents a radical "woke" agenda. Should behavioral
scientists already be working to get us, through "choice
architecture," to "choose" that dystopia ourselves?
Nor does there seem to be any doubt - is it the government's job at
all to direct the behavior of citizens?
In a free society,
citizens are allowed to choose how they behave, provided they do not
Is the problem that
citizens are "cognitively limited," or is the problem that we
have an out-of-control, opaque, impenetrable byzantine
bureaucracy as a government, that tries to micromanage the lives
What are the ethical
frameworks for large-scale behavioral experiments by government
that citizens have not chosen nor been informed about?
The BIN-NL website has no
information on this. The behavioral experts seem to see mostly the
opportunities and benefits.
Insights Netwerk Nederland (BIN NL)
Met kennis van gedrag beleid maken
Kabinetsbeleid Integraal afwegingskader voor beleid en
A Guide to Behavioral Manipulation
The publication of the British report 'Mindspace - Influencing
behavior through public policy' from 2010 seems to have been the
worldwide kickstart of systematic application of knowledge from
behavioral science to public policy and implementation.
The report summarizes a
century of behavioral science research, and provides recommendations
on how governments can apply it.
Mindspace was compiled in response to a commission from top
British civil servant Sir Gus O'Donnell and Sir Michael
Bichard, head of the Institute for Government, a think
tank that advises and supports the British government through
Following this report,
the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT, see main article) was
formed, and Prof. David Halpern and Dr. Michael Hallsworth,
who co-authored the report, later became CEO of BIT and "Managing
Director BIT Americas," respectively.
distinguishes two ways of processing information:
processes" and "automatic processes."
Reflective processes are
used when we consciously process information, think about it and
Presenting facts so that
people can make their own judgments and choices about them is what
the report calls the "traditional interventions" of policy.
The contrasting model, on
which behavioral scientists primarily focus, focuses on automatic
processes, which proceed through an already present bias. Messages
are shaped to be processed unconsciously.
intentionally shifted from facts and information to influencing the
context in which people act.
How does this
work in practice?
In the article "MindSpace,
Psyops, and Cognitive Warfare - Winning the Battle for the Mind,"
which appeared on the site "Canadian Patriot," poet David
Gosselin describes in detail how these kinds of messages to
"shift context" are constructed.
The slogan "Stay
home, save lives" seems very simple.
But, Gosselin writes,
the unconscious message is, "If you don't stay home, lives may
The context or reality is
framed as a binary choice - there is no room for the distinction
that for most it is not dangerous to go out the door, and that it
does not put others at risk.
It distracts from facts,
while the fear of killing reinforces the unconscious message.
The message also
reinforces a scapegoating process:
those who dare just
venture outside have no problem causing deaths! They are almost
During corona, we have
been bombarded by such manipulative slogans and government campaigns
that shift attention away from facts and toward an emotion-driven
fictional picture of reality.
The word Mindspace is a mnemonic for officials for responding
to bias, and automatic and unconscious processes:
The messenger greatly
influences how we take the message. This is why, for example,
the government paid influencers to promote
rewards work strongly
to motivate us, such as we can go "back to normal" if you get
vaccinated, or "you can sit on the terrace again" if you show
We are strongly
influenced by what others do. Therefore, not wearing a mouth cap
when everyone in the supermarket has one on can be perceived as
"millions of people took this shot, and trusted the science,"
also signal a social norm, fueling a need to join the group.
We are quick to
follow a preconceived easy choice. A vaccination bus stationed
in front of a high school, or other accessible vaccination and
testing sites support this.
Our attention is
drawn toward new or salient information. To persistent
infections and deaths in the headlines, for example.
These are small
signals or messages, an image (people with mouth masks), feeling
(mouth mask), and slogans, creating a subconscious idea that
causes us to change our behavior.
For how this works in
practice, see this fascinating explanation of stage hypnotist
enormous influence on our behavior and choices, communication
campaigns therefore deliberately play on fear, shame, guilt,
increases the likelihood that someone will carry out intentions.
The statewide Corona
Behavioral Team and the GGD conducted a field experiment to test
this - people in a test lane filled out a survey afterward
committing to compliance with the stay-at-home rule.
People like to
maintain a good self-image.
Speeches by president
Mark Rutte: When you comply, you help society, and when
you don't, you choose to perpetuate lockdowns and other
Many people may have felt
When you see the science
and organization behind the communication campaigns in context, it
becomes clear how particularly sophisticated this large-scale
manipulation campaign is.
"Social Conformity Event" in History.
Policy Was Aimed at "Changing Behavior",
Corona policy was primarily focused on directing citizen
behavior such as wearing mouth masks, keeping a distance, staying
home, and test and vaccination readiness - experimental measures
with no scientific basis.
This is evidenced by the
large-scale use of behavioral scientists in implementation and
communication of corona policy.
The government and media
are supported in this behavioral management by the RIVM (the Dutch
CDC) Corona Behavior Unit and the government-wide Corona Behavior
The application of behavioral insights is taking off during corona,
and various government departments are working together to develop
"interventions" that make citizens more compliant with corona rules.
"This is the first
policy topic on which the government has deployed relatively
large amounts of behavioral expertise," BIN NL writes in report
"Rich in Behavioral Insights" (2021).
This behavioral expertise
focuses on fueling autonomous and unconscious behavior by acting on
emotions such as fear, shame, guilt, wanting to maintain a positive
self-image, or wanting to belong to the group.
Or, by presenting
information or possibilities in such a way that the 'right' choice
is automatically made.
At the beginning of the crisis, in March 2020, the RIVM Corona
Behavior Unit will be established.
The behavioral unit
aims to "promote the physical, mental and social health of the
population," and is supported in this by an advisory board and
several expert teams including 40 professors and 19 doctors.
They conduct research
with which they support government communication and policy.
The unit reports to,
among others, the National Coordinator for Terrorism and Security
(NCTV, the Dutch version of 'Homeland Security') and the National
Crisis Communication Core Team (NKC).
In addition to BIN-NL,
the RIVM Corona Behavior Unit, the government-wide Corona Behavior
Team is was established.
They cooperate on
developing interventions to promote compliance.
The NKC coordinates
press and public communications, drawing on the behavioral
recommendations of the RIVM Corona Behavior Unit and the Corona
The commitment to
behavioral guidance is very explicit in a memo released under a FOIA
request from the Ministry of Health dated May 12, 2020:
"It takes more to
But it also takes
more than nudging. It's about thinking about the whole journey
that people make in certain situations, contexts, moments in the
day, and so on. And what choices they make in the process.
What is difficult or
easy to do? What can we do to help people exhibit the right
behavior? You want people not to have to think. How do actions
and choices come about?
Key questions then
How can we
properly engage the unconscious part of people with cues and
prompts (e.g., washing hands, how does a new ritual arise?)?
How do people
stay intrinsically motivated?
How can people
themselves become experts in making good judgments?"
The RIVM Corona behavior
unit is asked in the memo for advice and support:
"In what way can we,
in the very short term, give nudging a better place in the
communication of the national government when it comes to
The NKC applies these
behavior or speaking from 'we'."
They are asked,
"what need is there
at the local and regional level, for example, a toolkit, or an
overview of principles of nudging?"
The report "Rich in
Behavioral Insights Edition 2021" that was published by BIN-NL,
shows how efforts were made to manipulate citizen behavior, and that
the focus was not on health outcomes.
The research and
interventions focused on whether citizens stay home after a positive
pcr test, on willingness to test regularly, and on stimulating
large-scale testing even when there are no symptoms.
The behavioral scientists
overlook the fact that the tests have no diagnostic value, and that
asymptomatic transmission has not been scientifically proven - and
that staying home when you have no symptoms but a positive test is
of no medical benefit.
context, the "infections" resulting from large-scale testing are
presented day in and day out in the media as a measure of the
pandemic, thus creating lingering fear.
Additionally, investigations documents that were released under FOIA,
show even more explicitly that government interventions were focused
in the summer of
2020, experiments were be conducted in Amsterdam and Rotterdam
investigating the effect of wearing masks on distancing, a
measure that the RIVM notes has "modest scientific support."
It was already known
that wearing masks would not prevent the spread of the virus.
measure do not measure any health indicators.
One behavioral expert
substantiates masking as follows:
"Masks have become
the most visible evidence of Covid".
Seeing the masks causes
anxiety, in addition they signal the "social norm," who follows the
rules, and who does not.
They are very effective
for continued obedience...
Similar to the Netherlands, the British government has several
departments that advise on the application of behavioral knowledge.
One such department is "SPI-B,"
the "Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior," was concerned
in March 2020 because a large number of citizens see did not feel
sufficiently threatened by the virus because they knew it posed no
risk to their age group.
Therefore, the behavioral
unit recommended that,
"The perceived level
of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are
complacent, using hard‐hitting emotional messaging based on
accurate information about risk."
The British government
followed with a campaign featuring images of elderly people on
respirators with the messaging "Look her in the eyes. and tell you
never bend the rules".
In Germany, a similar
recommendation leaked out from the Interior Ministry.
This recommendation to
increase fear in became known as the 'panic paper'. It is known that
manipulating fear is one of the most effective ways to install
Although no "panic paper" came out in the Netherlands, communication
campaigns surrounding corona played on fear, for example by
presenting images of mass graves and headlines and through headlines
or advertisements such as:
"Nearly 170,000 new
infections a day as British variant engulfs Netherlands" (AD,
"British variant more than 60 percent deadlier" (NRC, March
"1.5 meters can save your mom's life" (Amsterdam, 2020)
"Keep your grandmother out of the ICU" (Amsterdam, 2020)
"A corona test is free. Your grandma priceless" (Do What Must
Campaign, The Hague).
guidance for vaccination readiness
"What kinds of
messages are most persuasive for increasing vaccination
this question was
investigated by five scientists affiliated with the prestigious
American University of Yale.
They developed and tested
messages aimed at self-interest, guilt and shame, anger, courage,
trust in science, regaining personal freedom and economic freedom,
and published their findings in the article "Persuasive messaging to
increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions," in the scientific
The scientists write,
evoke a sense that vaccinating is social, address concerns about
how others see you, and also help convince others to get
vaccinated, and condemn those who don't."
The first part of the
study was be conducted between May and July 2020, well before the
first corona vaccine is developed, let alone temporarily authorized.
The scientists do not
address whether concerns about vaccine safety or effectiveness may
The assumption is that
vaccinating is the solution to the crisis, and the use of behavioral
knowledge is desirable to increase vaccination willingness - an
assumption that we also find among behavioral units and government
in the Netherlands.
Examples of recommended messages include:
"Stopping Covid is
important because you can get sick, and die from it. It is
dangerous for people of all ages. Getting vaccinated is the most
effective way not to get sick."
"By getting vaccinated you can protect everyone around you, it
reduces the risk of your family or people around you getting
"Imagine how guilty you feel when you make someone else sick..."
"Imagine how embarrassed you feel when you make someone else
"Those who do not take a vaccine are not brave, but reckless...
they are putting their family's health at risk."
"The only way to defeat Covid is to follow scientific
approaches... the people who refuse a vaccine are not aware of
"Every person who gets vaccinated reduces the likelihood that we
will have to go back into lockdown."
The messages are echoed
almost one-to-one in the Dutch campaign to encourage vaccination
"Either you get
vaccinated, or you get sick" (Hugo de Jonge - July 2021)
"Corona vaccination: 'we roll up our sleeves. To protect
yourself and those around you, vaccination is the most important
step" (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport)
"Do you want to embrace the other again? Will you get vaccinated
against corona?" (Poster in retirement home).
"Slow vaccination suspected cause of high excess mortality in
the Netherlands" (2022, Trouw)
"An unvaccinated person in the ICU costs four to ten people
their operation" (Trouw, October 2021)
"Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema: vaccine refusers often
ill-informed" (AT5, December 2021)
"Unvaccinated people are egoists. Thanks to them society remains
locked. (Noordhollands Dagblad).
In the Netherlands, there
is a particularly strong commitment to regaining (!) freedom:
more and more possible" (Tv spot, Ministry of VWS)
"OMT: end of January room for relaxations, provided enough
booster shots are taken" (January, 2022).
"Camping with my grandfather again, that's what I do it for.
Daan, 22 years old". (Campaign Only Together)
"I want to be able to just go to school again. That's why I got
the shot. Get your vaccinations without an appointment" (Girl
year at 14, advertising GGD Amsterdam)
"I feel like going to a festival again. Just give me the jab!" (GGD
"This weekend DJs at vaccination location NDSM to win over young
people" (AT5, July 2021)
"Heineken: the night belongs to the vaccinated" (Advertisement)
Later, pressure to get
"vaccinated" has been greatly increased by stepping up pressure,
coercion, threats of exclusion and intimidation:
often poorly educated, 'right-wing Christian' or immigrant"
Trouw, November 2021)
"Majority vaccinated think people without vaccinations can be
refused entry to public places" (EenVandaag July 2021)
Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge: "We continue to vaccinate,
neighborhood by neighborhood, door by door, arm by arm" (Press
Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge: "I do not resign myself to the
right to say no to vaccine" (Press conference, December 2021)
The slogans and messages
play purposefully on automatic, unconscious processes.
As a result, an image
forms, under the radar, that if you get vaccinated you care about
your family, are fulfilling your social duty, are helping society
come out of lockdown, you are smart - because you understand the
science, and that those who don't participate are particularly
antisocial, evil and stupid.
None of the slogans
provide real information that helps you make an informed, educated
choice, worse, the unconscious image that is created causes a
resistance to do go look at that information.
political debate with social engineering
The behavioral influence campaigns rest on the assumption that we
are dealing with a potentially apocalyptic virus that justifies the
But it was clear very
early on in the crisis, in part because of the research of
Stanford's top virologist John P. A. Ioannidis, that we are
dealing with a disease similar to severe influenza, which is
primarily a risk to the elderly.
Nor are the measures -
such as 1.5-meter distance, wearing masks, mass testing, lockdowns,
or achieving maximum 'vaccination' coverage - to prevent the spread
of the virus that for most gives a 99 percent survival rate, had a
good scientific foundation.
What we now know, based
on the investigation of documents that have been released under FOIA,
is that this was also known to the government.
This shows the real problem with behavioral influencing: rational
exchange based on scientific, factual information was not possible
within the public domain. Indeed, it is actively censored,
suppressed, blackballed and excluded.
At the same time, the
social engineers assume a consensus therefore behavioral control
would be justified.
Politics is replaced
by social engineering.
Had real open discussion
of alternatives been possible, the money spent on behavioral
control, communication and surveillance could have gone instead to
expanding care and supporting caregivers.
Where the justification
for manipulation starts with the assumption that citizens have
"limited rationality," and that the government must therefore
'guide' them in their choices, it morphs into the desire that those
citizens should rather stop thinking for themselves altogether.
overheidscommunicatie en interventies
RIVM Corona Gedragsunit
Jullie gedragsexperiment was in opdracht van het rijksbrede
State of Fear. Laura Dodsworth. (staat ook de Biderman coercion
Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior (SPI-B), a
subcommittee that advises the Scientific Advisory Group for
Emergencies (SAGE) in the U.K.
SPI-B warned in March last year that ministers needed to
increase 'the perceived level of personal threat' from COVID-19
because 'a substantial number of people still do not feel
sufficiently personally threatened.'
Then, the so-called "Panic Paper" was leaked, which was written
by the German Department of the Interior. Its classified content
shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in fact, the population
was deliberately driven to panic by politicians and mainstream
Crowdsourced verzameling van nudge boodschappen:
We blijven vaccineren, wijk voor wijk, deur voor deur, arm voor
is the Battlefield in 21st-century Warfare
Image from Graphene Flagship
NATO has added to the traditional
domains of warfare - land, sea, air, space and cyberspace - a new
This is not just about
imposing certain ideas or behaviors, as in traditional propaganda
and psy-ops, but about modifying cognition - influencing the process
by which we ourselves arrive at ideas, insights, beliefs, choices
The target is not
primarily an enemy army, but the citizen.
Winning the war is no
longer determined by moving a border on a map, but by ideological
conversion of the target.
"Cognitive warfare is
one of the most debated topics within NATO," researcher
François du Cluzel told a panel discussion on Oct. 5, 2021.
He wrote a foundational
paper "Cognitive Warfare" for the NATO-affiliated think tank
Innovation Hub in 2020.
warfare overlaps with information warfare, classical propaganda and
psychological operations, du Cluzel points out that cognitive
warfare goes much further.
In information warfare,
one "only" tries to control the supply of information. Psychological
operations involve influencing perceptions, beliefs and behavior.
The goal of cognitive
"to turn everyone
into a weapon," and "the goal is not to attack what individuals
think, but how they think."
"It is a war against
our cognition - the way our brains process information and turn
it into knowledge. It directly targets the brain".
Cognitive warfare is
about "hacking the individual," allowing the brain to be
To achieve this, almost every domain of knowledge imaginable is
applied: psychology, linguistics, neurobiology, logic, sociology,
anthropology, behavioral sciences, "and more."
always begins with an understanding of the environment and the
target; the goal is to understand the psychology of the target
population," du Cluzel writes.
The basis remains
traditional propaganda and disinformation techniques, enhanced by
current technology and advances in knowledge.
can be predicted and calculated to such an extent," according to
du Cluzel, "that AI-driven behavioral science 'behavioral
economics' should be classified as a hard science rather than
Because almost everyone
is active on the Internet and social media, individuals are no
longer passive recipients of propaganda; with today's technology,
they actively participate in its creation and dissemination.
Knowledge of how to
manipulate these processes,
"is easily turned
into a weapon"...
Du Cluzel cites the
Cambridge Analytica scandal as an example.
submitted personal data
to Facebook, detailed individual
psychological profiles had been created of a large population.
Normally such information is used for personalized advertising, but
in the case of Cambridge Analytica it was used to bombard
doubting voters with personalized propaganda.
"exploits the weaknesses of the human brain," recognizing the
importance of the role of emotions in driving cognition.
seeks to understand the interaction between humans, machines and AI
(artificial intelligence) will be increasingly important here.
Other promising technologies that could be used are,
technologies, or "NeuroS/T," and "NBIC" - nanotechnology,
biotechnology, information technology, cognitive science,
"including developments in genetic engineering."
NeuroS/T can be,
agents, brain-machine couplings, as well as psychologically
Influencing the nervous
system with knowledge or technology can produce,
changes in memory,
learning ability, sleep cycles, self-control, mood,
self-perception, decisiveness, confidence and empathy, and
fitness and vigor.
Du Cluzel writes,
"The potential of
NeuroS/T' to create insight and the capacity to influence
cognition, emotions and behavior of individuals is of particular
interest to security and intelligence agencies, and military and
Waging war on
individuals' cognitive processes represents a radical shift from
traditional forms of warfare, where one tries, at least in
principle, to keep civilians out of harm's way.
In cognitive war, the
citizen is the target and his or her brain is the battlefield. It
changes the nature of warfare, the players, the duration and how the
war is won.
According to du Cluzel,
has universal reach, from the individual to states and
A conflict is no longer
won by occupying a territory, or by adjusting borders on a map,
"the experience of
warfare teaches us that although war in the physical realm can
weaken an enemy army, it does not result in achieving all the
goals of war."
With cognitive war, the
end goal shifts:
"whatever the nature
and purpose of war itself, it ultimately comes down to a clash
of between groups that want something different, and therefore
victory means the ability to be able to impose desired behavior
on a chosen audience."
In effect, then, it is
about bringing about an ideological conversion in the target
The enemy is not only civilians in occupied or enemy territory - but
also their own civilians, who, according to NATO's estimates, are
easy targets for cognitive operations by enemy parties.
"Man is the weak link
this must be recognized in order to protect the human capital of
This "protection" goes a
"The goal of
cognitive warfare is not merely to harm militaries, but
societies. The method of warfare resembles a 'shadow war,' and
requires the involvement of the entire government in fighting
War can thus be waged
with and without the military, and du Cluzel continues:
"Cognitive warfare is
potentially endless, what for this type of conflict you cannot
make a peace treaty, or sign a surrender."
Dutch citizens are also targeted
According to the Cognitive Warfare report, China, Russia and
non-state actors (non-state actors) also value cognitive war.
Therefore, NATO sees it
as an important task to be able to face this form of warfare.
According to correspondence that emerged from FOIA requests, the
doctrine of cognitive warfare is allready strongly entrenched in the
The independent news site
General of the Land Forces Command writes on August 4, 2020 in a
memo to then Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld that
'information-driven action' (IGO) takes place in 3 dimensions:
the physical, the
virtual and the cognitive.
Acting in the land
domain involves operating within these three dimensions to
achieve desired effects achieve within a political-strategic
action takes place, by definition, among human actors and
groups, effectiveness is in the cognitive dimension is crucial.
At its core is taking away the will to fight at or impose our
will to opponents.
By the way with this,
we are following the NATO doctrine for the land domain."
This modus operandi, in
which the entire government is involved in information and cognitive
war, and seeing the citizen as a possible enemy, who must be
manipulated toward correct behavior must be manipulated, we see
strongly in the corona period.
Not for nothing did the
Netherlands organize in the spring of 2020 organized a Navo
Innovation Challenge, focused on
"We are looking for
innovative solutions to identify, assess and identify, assess
and manage biological threats, so that NATO forces, allies and
civilian units are protected are protected," the announcement
It specifically seeks
inclusive measures to monitor health monitoring" and
"collaborative opportunities between military, civilian health
and research institutions, officials at the local and national
level and surveillance analysts."
The Dutch newspaper
NRC Handelsblad reported in November 2020 that, without legal
basis, the Land Information Maneuver Centre (LIMC) had been
established - a department that is under the land forces that
surveilled Dutch civilians during the corona period, using
Behavioral Dynamics Modeling.
BDM is an approach
developed by the British SCL group, the parent company of the
aforementioned Cambridge Analytica, and with which the military
gained experience during missions in Afghanistan, civilians were not
only monitored but also actively influenced.
FOIA documents released
in early 2022 revealed that the LIMC worked closely with police and
the NCTV (Unit combating terrorism, similar to Homeland security).
How is it possible that for some it is very clear that we are facing
a coup, revolution or even Third World War, while for others
everything is seeming 'normal'?
"My father prepared
me for the previous war," Sebastian Haffner writes
shortly before his escape from Nazi Germany in 1938.
In the book 'Defying
Hitler', he describes how he experienced World War I as a boy of
seven, growing up during the interwar period and how he experienced
the rise of Nazism.
He imagined by war a
trench warfare, and was not prepared for terror, mass hysteria and
We imagine war as a demagogue. For example, look at all the unwanted
leaders that are demonized- Trump, Putin, Assad, etc. - who are
branded "a new Hitler" by the mass media.
War is an army
invading, soldiers in the streets, cities being bombed.
We are now in the midst
of a revolution - in the classic sense - a radical upheaval of the
organization of the state system and power relations.
Kees van der Pijl
clearly explains in his book "States of Emergency" how this
revolution, unlike, for example, the French and American
revolutions, has not been initiated from below, but from above, by
They implement policy
through co-opted governments and organizations such as,
...supported by Big Tech
The system being worked
toward is totalitarian, technocratic and centralized.
Relatively few people
realize how radical the upheaval we are living through, probably
because this war has not been initiated by direct physical force,
but by cognitive war, directed at civilians.
The doctrine of cognitive
warfare shows that modern war is waged primarily as an advanced
psyop. It does not conform to the classical image of warfare.
That is why it is not
visible to most.
remember what freedom is?
None of the documents on cognitive warfare shows any sign of
awareness of how far this methodology diverges from the basic values
that are the foundations of a free society: centering on the rights
and freedoms of the individual to do, think, organize his or her own
life, without external interference.
Cognitive warfare is sold as a way to "win war without fighting," so
that there will be fewer (civilian) casualties.
This seems positive at
first, but, this approach, especially when applied on a large scale
AND to its own citizens, does not give any space to the individual
to gather information for himself, assess it and act accordingly.
The citizen is no longer
an independently thinking human being, but a vulnerable subject with
Behavior that deviates
from what the NATO, the LIMC or the government identifies as
problematic should be "corrected."
Is the government or
the military rational?
Is rationality a
prerequisite for making choices, decisions or beliefs?
Why is a citizen not
allowed to have a dissenting opinion without being labeled as
"potentially state dangerous"?
Wanting to correct "state
dangerous" citizens with "wrong" beliefs are reminiscent of the
literature on Soviet Russia, Mao-China, Pol-Pot.
It has no place in a free
Cognitive Warfare Project - Reference Documents
NRC - Soft maar gevaarlijk wapen
NATO Innovation Challenge focuses on COVID-19 crisis (in NL)