30 in 30 21: Izaya's Information

Lemon Balm to stay calm

30 in 30 21: Izaya's Information

In 1975, legendary linguist Paul Grice coined his "Cooperative Principle," that conversation is a team effort towards efficiency through adherence to four normative properties of information:

  • Quantity: informative as required by situational demands (but not more)
  • Quality: as true as the speaker knows
  • Relation: relevant to preceding discourse
  • Manner: unambiguous, brief, and orderly

In 1992, Steven McCornack realized each property is a point of deception.

Speakers could lie through:

  • Omission or limited information
  • Fabricated information
  • Irrelevant information or topic diversion
  • Obfuscated information or "polite equivocation"

In 2003, Chris Edmond wrote his dissertation about the effects such information manipulation has on regime change and maximization of gains by citizens under an imperfect government.

The main finding: people under-discount how much regimes lie. While there are tradeoffs for information quality and citizens' intentions to subvert the government, manner manipulation (e.g. signal-jamming) is all that's necessary to maintain survival (the primary goal of regimes).

Izaya Orihara of Ikebukuro does a splendid job of controlling his population through information 'brokerage.' To survive, he incites a war overthrowing his own regime, plays on both sides until a winner is declared, then re-emerges as the leader of the winning group. All by leaking different quantities, qualities, relevancies, and ambiguities of information to each side.

To gain power, focus on propaganda properties. And some advice from Edmond: find an uncontaminated secondary source of information to measure your public inputs. You might still get manipulated, but you'll stand a better chance.