Stochastic Terrorism - How it Triggers Shooters

This is a fairly short and bitchin article about stochastic terrorism. You will feel smarter after reading it.



Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.

This is also the term for what Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and others do. And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.

The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the "missile" set in motion by the stochastic terrorist. The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those "missiles" in motion.

Here's the mechanism spelled out concisely:

The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act. While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. "given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such"), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).

The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: "Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I'm not responsible for what people in my audience do."

The lone wolves.

The term "lone wolf" is used in law enforcement and intel to refer to an individual who is emotionally unstable, who lacks obvious ties to known criminal gangs or terrorist groups, and who pops up seemingly out of nowhere to commit a violent or terrorist act.
The three-letter agencies can keep an eye on organized groups, and do a damn good job at stopping violent actors associated with those groups. At least three intended car bombings were stopped last year by the FBI intercepting the bombers and substituting fake explosives in time to save hundreds of lives and arrest the would-be bombers.

End snippet.

But it's not ALL about lone wolves gunning down people. Some of it is our very own so-called "representatives" / political hopefuls. Remember when Rex Rammell "joked" about getting an Obama hunting tag?

And remember Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) stated that she wanted residents of her state to be “armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax"?

Representatuve Joe Barton (R-TX) compared the Obama administration to the Nazi regime in Germany and likened himself to Gen. George Patton, saying, “Put anything in my scope and I will shoot it.”

And...then there is "normal" people - ostensibly folks just like you and me. Hard-working, honest-to-goodness, patriotic Americans.

Chris Broughton openly carried a handgun and AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle to a health care rally in Phoenix, Arizona, then he stated - “What do you think we did in the revolution, in the American Revolution? The British weren’t stealing money from us for health care. They weren’t taxing us the way they are now back then. And what did we do? We forcefully kicked them out of our country, and we will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote.”

Okay, seriously, this guy either just demonstrated he does not understand the basics behind the American Revolution, or he made a red herring argument. Perhaps both? The scary thing about those red herrings - the under-informed American gobbles it up like candy.

The former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia said - “If we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democratic party headquarters across this country, we might just make up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.”

Remember when Representative Perriello's brother's home's gas line was cut (when somebody from the Tea Party put the wrong address on their web site and asked other Tea Partiers to "drop by" and give the Representative a clue about how they felt on his vote for health care reform)?

Then there’s Joyce Kaufman, a conservative radio host who told a crowd of supporters at a Tea Party event, “I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendments rights was they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will. This is the standoff.”

Now the soul-searching. I'm really, truly, having a soul-searching time over this. I STILL don't know which side of the fence my ass will eventually land on. See - it's like this. Part of me says, "Americans have a right to bear arms" then another part of me says, "But what American in his/her right mind needs a freaking assault rifle?" and then another part of me says, "I don't know, but I know Americans in their right mind who DO own assault rifles and who is to say they shouldn't have that right?" and then the other part of me says, "Well then who says they shouldn't have the right to nuclear missiles, too?"...and so all these parts are blathering on in a way that only somebody of my nature can manage, and so it goes, until I'm EXHAUSTED from the circular rumination effort.

And I STILL don't know where I stand in terms of gun regulations. If it were up to me, I'd say "let all the non-fearful, non-hate-based people have guns and the stupidheads can play army with those cute like cocktail umbrellas",'s not up to me.

Still stroking my mind over this issue, and likely to do so for weeks to's a real toughie for me.