36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

May 28, 2014

Stratfor: Disband the CIA and NSA, it’s all the intelligence gathering you’ll ever need!

Filed under: (In)Security, Specific Stupidity — Tony Demchak @ 2:01 pm

A friend pointed this out to me on another website. We have this brilliant tagline:

Best-selling author George Friedman founded Stratfor in 1996 to bring customers an incisive new approach to examining world affairs. Under his direction, Stratfor taps into a worldwide network of contacts and mines vast amounts of open-source information. Analysts then interpret the information by looking through the objective lens of geopolitics to determine how developments affect different regions, industries and markets.

So, they Google stuff on the internet and watch CNN. And calling geopolitics “objective” is hilarious.

Their vision:

Stratfor’s vision is to be the foremost provider of predictive geopolitical-based intelligence services.

Stratfor’s core philosophy is that transformative geopolitical events are neither random nor unpredictable. Building on nearly 20 years of experience as the world’s premier geopolitical intelligence firm, Stratfor develops constraint-based narratives for key trends around the globe — placing today’s events in context and forecasting tomorrow’s new developments well before they appear in the headlines.

This reminds me of this Dilbert comic. Wally has a ponytail because he’s discovered it makes people give him venture capital. Ah, 1999.

The core philosophy is bold, I’ll give them that. I love the idea of “constraint-based narratives,” which makes me think of unconstrained narratives. “We predict that giant robot whales will develop nuclear technology, but we think Aquaman will try to calm them down, until he realizes whales are mammals and not fish. ESPECIALLY robot whales, who are clearly robot mammals.”

Of the three experts they champion, the one thing they all have in common is that they’ve sold a lot of books. That means they’re good at convincing people to believe their bullshit, which is not the worst qualification for running a geopolitical intelligence firm, you have to admit.

You can check out their methodology, which successfully proves that they have at least one graphic artist. Oh, one of the award winning reports they author?

The very first sentence is complete horseshit.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.

Since you’re using “are” — indicating present tense — I would argue the exact opposite: most people who are Americans did come from the United States since, you know, no matter how bad illegal immigration is, it has yet to reach over 50%. Even if you include legal immigrants, it’s still way less than 50%. According to the Brookings Institution, it’s actually less than 20% (although it is not clear whether or not this figure includes illegal immigrants, they link to a paper I could read if I cared to break it down.)

It takes a special kind of stupidity to achieve almost complete incoherence one sentence into a flagship paper. One more insane sentence, which leads off the second paragraph:

The American geography is an impressive one.

“One?” One of what? Are you trying to say, “The American geography is an impressive geography?” Because that’s moronic. “Geography” — specifically, the science of studying the earth, or physical location on the earth of some natural feature — cannot be impressive. Would you call the “Grand Canyon an impressive geography of America?” No. You could say “the Grand Canyon is an impressive feature of American geography.” But geography, in and of itself, cannot be impressive. I’m theoretically paying damn good money for your nonsensical advice. Try to make it coherent nonsensical advice!

Oh, and a free tip (the next one is $100,000): nothing is inevitable, in a historical sense. Only Marxists think that. Wait a minute… you aren’t a big Commie, are you, Stratfor?

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2 Comments »

  1. Okay, so my bias here is that I like the idea of organizations like Stratfor and there is definitely a market for their services. International firms pay for these kinds of services—though admittedly better than the linked blog post—and for good reason: understanding political circumstances is vital when you’re trying to make long-term business decisions. For individuals who are interested in the world at large but don’t have top secret clearance, people with good analytical skills putting the pieces together can make for extremely interesting reading, even if there’s a lot of speculation and said analysts occasionally get it wrong.

    That said, this article is, honestly, not the type of thing that I would point to as a great example of OSI in action.

    Incidentally, Aquaman can control whales, dolphins, and the occasional porpoise, so yeah, he’s got mammals covered. If the giant whales were whales turned robotic like Robot Chicken, I think Aquaman could still convince them to stand down; on the other hand, if these giant whale robots are actually robots which happen to be shaped like whales but have no other correspondence to actual whales, then the writers would have to retcon pretty hard to get out of that one. But, before you try to out-nerd me here, I realize that Robot Chicken is really a cyborg and that cyborgs and robots differ. I did not know if you were using “robot” in the technical sense of the term or in the common vernacular, which tends to lump cyborgs and robots together—think Robocop.

    Comment by Kevin Feasel — May 28, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

    • I like the idea of such an organization too. Just not this one. And basing expertise on how many books you’ve sold is dodgy, especially when articles prove you can’t write.

      Comment by Tony Demchak — May 29, 2014 @ 1:46 am


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