The Abduction of Satan

Satan’s deceptive approach to claiming human souls is akin to authoritarian disinformation campaigns which target hearts and minds in the cognitive domain. In both contexts, there is a war going on outside and inside of the self which no human is safe from. You can run but you cannot hide forever from these threats. Combatting Satan and disinformation requires keeping it real by embracing the truth. In both cases, the long term consequences for the individual soul and collective humanity hang in the balance.

The biblical portrayal of Satan offers a profound understanding of the motivations and tactics driving disinformation campaigns, particularly when considering the historical and ongoing presence of anti-Semitism. Satan emerges throughout scripture as a figure of deception, division, and a relentless pursuit of power, exhibiting a particular hatred towards God’s chosen people, the Jews, and towards Jesus Christ, who is the embodiment of God’s divine truth and love for Christians.

Christ and Antichrist – Ilya Glazunov (Russian nationalist) – 1999

In the Old Testament, Satan’s adversarial role is evident in his temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), leading to humanity’s fall from grace and separation from God. This act of deception sets the stage for a long history of conflict and distrust between humanity and the divine. Further examples of Satan’s influence include his role in Job’s suffering (Job 1-2) and his attempts to thwart God’s plans for the Israelites (Zechariah 3).

The New Testament further emphasizes Satan’s hatred for Jesus and his mission to bring salvation to humanity. The temptation of Christ in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) illustrates Satan’s attempt to corrupt Jesus and lure him away from his divine purpose by offering worldly power and dominion. This act reflects Satan’s desire to usurp God’s authority and establish his own reign of darkness and deceit. Additionally, Satan’s influence is seen throughout the Gospels in the actions of those who oppose Jesus, culminating in his crucifixion.

Further, the New Testament portrayal of Satan provides more compelling understanding of the motivations and tactics employed in disinformation campaigns. Most notably, Revelation 12:9 depicts Satan as the “deceiver of the whole world,” underscoring his rebellion’s ability to manipulate and mislead us on a global scale.

Across various Christian scriptures, Satan continues to be portrayed as a complex figure whose strategies to mislead humanity are characterized by deceit, division, and a lust for power. In John 8:44, he is identified as a “murderer from the beginning” and the “father of lies,” highlighting his association with violence and deception. Mark 3:23-27 further emphasizes Satan’s role as a divider, seeking to sow discord and break apart nations and communities, and separate people from the truth and God.

To this extent, 1 Peter 5 reminds the faithful to be “self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

The psychological implications of the Satanic archetype as a disinformation paradigm are multifaceted. He represents the shadow self, embodying the darker aspects of human nature that we often repress or deny, including envy, hatred, the desire for power and control, and the willingness to transgress moral boundaries. Disinformation campaigns exploit these vulnerabilities, appealing to our fears, biases, and prejudices to manipulate our beliefs and behaviors. Succumbing to disinformation in this context is akin to giving into the temptation to sin through the Devil’s deception.

In this regard, 1 Peter reminds us of the value of information literacy and self-awareness when assessing the validity of information in a globally-conscious context. He also reminds us that resisting giving in to temptation despite the suffering in the world is something which unifies “God-believers”.

Furthermore, the recurring theme of anti-Semitism throughout history can be viewed as a manifestation of the Satanic archetype converging with disinformation. Satan’s hatred for the Jews, as God’s chosen people, fuels a narrative of “othering” and scapegoating, blaming Jews for societal problems and portraying them as a threat to national identity and security. This aligns with Satan’s role as a divider, sowing discord and conflict between groups.

The identification of Jews as Jesus’ crucifiers negates Jesus’ command to “forgive them for they know not what they do” in alignment with his clear message and mission (Luke 23:34-38). As a result, anti-Semitism based in the perception of Jews as the murderers of Jesus defies his commandment to forgive those who judged him wrongly; and is as a result an anti-Christian practice by definition.

Disinformation campaigns often utilize these anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories to manipulate public opinion and justify discriminatory policies.

Satan means “adversary” and specifically in context the adversary of God. His name is self referential to his role. In this adversarial arrangement where Satan challenges God, it seems evident that because they were the people chosen by God to bring his message to mankind, Satan hates Jews. As God’s only son who he was also unable to lead astray, Satan clearly hates Jesus; and it results in his efforts to tempt Christians into anti-Christian behavior through the seduction of sin as represented in the temptation to embrace anti-Semitism.

From despotic leaders like the Pharaoh, to Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, and the “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18) observed by Christians throughout history, a common thread between Jews and Christians has been their opposition to wicked and tyrannical rule as a core aspect of the culture of monotheism, and a narrative of rising above worldly oppression. In this sense, the disinformation apparatuses of modern authoritarian regimes also suggest an inherent connection to the Satanic archetype, and an opposition to the core values of Judeo-Christian societies. Like the leaders of authoritarian countries, Satan is symbolic of the tyrannical autocrat who tempts us to partake in beliefs and behaviors which are contrary to our individual and social best interests.

By understanding the biblical foundation and psychological implications of the Satanic archetype, we can better recognize and deconstruct the tactics employed in disinformation campaigns and their connection to historical and ongoing anti-Semitism; as well as their relationship to the concept of sin in general. The emphasis on deception, division, and the pursuit of power serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of succumbing to the shadows of human nature and the importance of upholding truth, unity, and compassion in the face of manipulation and hatred.

(Context and Disclosure of AI Tool Use: The above text was constructed using a forensic semiotic approach to narrative and analysis of disinformation. The title draws inspiration from Charles Peirce’s concept of “Abduction”, and specifically in the forensic semiotic context as articulated by Marcel Danesi. The title is thus a play on words, with multiple meanings relating to the context and analytical method. This narrative was constructed using a large language model based on training by Michael Hotchkiss using content themes from n01r.com and applying computational forensic semiotics methods in Gemini Pro 1.5. It represents the author’s true feelings, beliefs, and expertise in disinformation research.)

The ROC’s Pro-Vaccination Conspiracy Theories

In American conservative media, there has been a recent push encouraging vaccine adoption. Notable examples of figures making public statements advocating for vaccines over the past week include Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise, and Sean Hannity. Such gestures have been welcomed by semi-puzzled liberals, who have come to associate conservative politics during much of the pandemic with skepticism of vaccines and an embrace of conspiracy theories [1].

In the past month, a similar push for the acceptance of vaccines has been furthered in Russia. This seems to have been kicked off on June 30 with Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in show where he said he had received the Sputnik V vaccine. This added additional detail to quieter earlier disclosures that the Russian president had received a second shot in March. While promoting the safety of domestic Russian vaccines, Putin continued to stoke fears in Western vaccines, saying: “thank God we haven’t had tragic situations after vaccinations like after the use of AstraZeneca or Pfizer.”  [2]

Putin’s patriotic vaccine statements seemed to form a cue for senior clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to come out publicly in favor of vaccination with domestic vaccines, using many of the tropes of conservative conspiracy theory. This vaccine promotion is interesting because these figures have themselves often been associated with national ideology, conspiracy theories, and disinformation – and even rumors of involvement with the FSB.  Their approach may offer some constructive lessons in how conspiratorial language can be repurposed to promote vaccine adoption. But it also raises more questions about the state of disinformation in Russia and its effects abroad.

Holy men Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), Vladimir Putin, and Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov)

Continue reading “The ROC’s Pro-Vaccination Conspiracy Theories”

Russian Origins of the Vaccine Microchip Conspiracy Theory

I recently read an article which suggested that the conspiracy theory that vaccines contain microchips emerged following a March 18, 2020 Reddit AMA with Bill Gates [1]. In response to the AMA, biohackers began to write positively about the potential for chip-based medical devices to combat epidemics and deliver vaccines.

Within several days of the Reddit AMA, a Baptist pastor from Jacksonville Florida named Adam Fannin – known best for his anti-Semitic conflicts with comedian Sarah Silverman in 2019 – found one of these biohacking blog posts online. Fannin then developed it into his own interpretation of apocalyptic prophecy largely based on his “deep distrust of Gates”. Fannin made a 9-minute YouTube sermon which went viral and accumulated nearly 2 million views before it was taken down.  “The pastor titled the post, “Bill Gates – Microchip Vaccine Implants to fight Coronavirus,” adding one pivotal word to the biohackers’ title: vaccine.”[1]

Looking more deeply into the origin of the vaccines and microchips story, I think it is important to observe how it may emerge from and complement Russian Orthodox nationalist geopolitics and information warfare. Continue reading “Russian Origins of the Vaccine Microchip Conspiracy Theory”

Notre Dame Fire Conspiracism as Reflective of Russian Ideological Competition with the West?

Attached is my most recent peer reviewed paper which was accepted for publication in the proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (ICCWS) to be held on 12-13 March 2020 at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. The paper is based on an analysis of the online conspiracy theories which surrounded the 15 April 2019 fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.  (While the paper was published I am not attending the conference for personal reasons.)

Included in the milieu of conspiracy theories circulated online were fake Nostradamus prophecies evoking a kind of conspiracism known as ‘popular eschatology’. The sharing of such conspiracies drove a large global increase in Nostradamus interest, as revealed by Google Trends.

The overall mix of the Notre Dame fire conspiracy theories – to include notions of false flags, Islamophobic sentiments, and Nostradamus prophecies – seem to be similar to 9/11 conspiracies, and may share commonality in their links to Russian influence.

A model of Russian information warfare based on ‘katechonic’ Russian Orthodox and nationalist ideology

In a related sense, conspiratorial Nostradamus prophecies attributable to Russian proxies are associated with the visit of Pope Francis to North Macedonia in early May 2019, causing a massive spike in Nostradamus interest there (leading it to be the second highest region in the world for Nostradamus interest, and having no apparent relation to the Notre Dame fire except in terms of influence on Catholic and Western Christian culture).  Such conspiracies about Popes involving Nostradamus as reflected in Google Trends have been similarly observed during times of Papal transitions such as in 2005 and 2013, and seem similar to other instances where Nostradamus interest spiked in association with probable Russian ‘active measures’.

The new paper argues that Nostradamus prophecies can be seen as similar in how they promote Islamophobia and anti-Catholicism as to how the Russian secret police concoction ‘The Protocols of Zion’ may have been useful in promoting anti-Semitism in furtherance of fin de siè·cle Russian influence campaigns.  It dives deep into a cultural examination of Russia’s apparent sense of hostility to Catholicism based on its historical legacy as a Russian Orthodox country, and it attempts to frame the described 2019 ‘anti-Catholic conspiracies’ within a framework of Russian disinformation sympathetic to such nationalistic ideas.

Since the time I wrote this paper, the most notable development in Nostradamus propaganda is the broader acceptance that Russia uses figures like Nostradamus or Baba Vanga in spreading coronavirus conspiracies. I’m very happy to see that disinformation researchers are beginning to accept the idea of Nostradamus (and similar ‘prophets’) as a kind of information warfare and are educating the public about it.

Here is the new paper: Notre Dame Fire Conspiracism as Reflective of Russian Ideological Competition with the West (2020)

If you are interested in my prior peer reviewed works on Nostradamus, please see:

  1. Russian Active Measures and September 11, 2001: Nostradamus Themed Disinformation (2017) – International Journal of Cyber Warfare and Terrorism (IJCWT)
  2. Nostradamus Prophecy as a Russian Information Warfare Concept (2017) – Proceedings of the European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (ECCWS)
  3. Nostradamus Ratios: Why is Russia an Outlier? (2018) – Proceedings of the International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (ICCWS)
  4. Russian Information Warfare and 9/11 Conspiracism: When Fake News Meets False Prophecy? (2019) – Developments in Information Security and Cybernetic Wars (chapter in edited book)