Information Entropy: Countering Propaganda

Falsity carries less information, less entropy and consequently travels more efficiently through a transmission medium.

All information is “sticky” or epistemologically contagious. Countering propaganda invokes the same issues of information, entropy and systemic self-propagation that creating it must have to consider.

An implicit bias here is that unsubstantiated assertions do not have immediate costs of verifiability in rapidly evolving contemporary communications contexts – this incurs less relational and referential “drag” or resistance to transmission. It also appears that falsehoods pass as fast, if not faster, than facts through a transmission medium of minds and material artefacts. Falsehood carries less information, less entropy and consequently travels more efficiently through its transmission medium.

Leveraging an epidemiological metaphor: after initial infection has provided a threshold or baseline of cultural presence, transmission mechanisms autonomously orient themselves to adaptively optimal solutions of self-propagation. The change of mechanism is expected and is best conceived of as a phase transition in system function. As with disease, it is in the earliest phases of contagion (or preemptively – before an outbreak even occurs) that it is more efficient to inhibit what can easily become exponential growth.

Communications systems are emergent complexities that possess the information and energy-processing characteristics of the material, biological and psychological substrates on which they depend.

Optimised by the implicit biases of physics towards the self-propagation of emergent logic and complex sub-systems of communication (a.k.a. “narrative”) as an autonomous method of obtaining and securing continuity, ordered abstractions and symmetries of patterned information seek optimally concise methods of self-propagation prior to truth values being articulated.

It is at a level of analysis and conceptual abstraction prefiguring speech, cognition or cultural extension and influence that propaganda interdiction is most effective.

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