Manipulation 101

Bruce Fenton

Give good information to low credibility sources

Give bad information to high credibility sources

Amplify bad information

X person does B bad thing

Members of the public start to find out about X doing bad thing, rumors / reports begin

B — bad thing — gets mixed in with rumors and speculation — with this comes naturally low quality sources & false claims C, D & E


Actual bad thing B: X really did steal puppies (true)

“X steals puppies”

Opponents of X, who believe anything negative about X, pile on.

Enter Jimmy.

Jimmy is an idiot who dislikes X. Jimmy creates claim C & says “Yeah, I bet X stole those horses in London too!” (false) Jimmy’s followers repeat.

(There are a million Jimmy’s on any side sometimes they are idiots, sometimes controlled opposition, often unwitting, could also active on side of X)

Allies of X muddy the water with unrelated claims C, D & E

Example: “X steals horses from London”(this is false, but promoted by X’s allies for the purpose of loudly publicly discrediting it)

These refutations are typically in great depth and detail.

Enemies of X, some who are low quality sources, repeat this or sometimes make up their own incorrect theories


“X’s opponents claim X stole horses from London, X has never even been to London!” The more snark and eye roll the better since it serves to make opponents and claims seem unreliable and silly.

X and media work together to both amplify and discredit surrounding info

Media reports (with giant eye roll) “Conspiracy theorists claim that X did C, D & E…here’s how we refute this false & misleading news” …media avoids B as much as possible, is vague and lumps the general topic together with easily refuted claims

Works even better if Jimmy’s allies file a lawsuit and lose or if Jimmy has issues or can be accused of some character flaw.

(This is a variation of another common manipulation tactic, which is to find the worst/ stupidest commentator on a topic as to make everyone on that side seem stupid.)

Repeat 10,000x

The result is that the public is bombarded with propaganda that makes opponents of X seem less credible so that accusation B seems incredible and is lost in the noise.

Only the most dedicated truth seekers can navigate this maze — and it’s easy to make them look like nuts.