This is sure to bother those most closely associated with the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System: some statistics on what web users find when they do searches for “human terrain system.” What is revealed is:
- the news arena is heavily dominated by our good friend, John Stanton, far beyond any other writing on the human terrain system;
- that four of the top ten blog posts of all time on the human terrain system have either featured John Stanton’s articles or have been closely related, and that is why this blog also appears in those results;
- interest in the human terrain system peaked at an all time high in the January-February period, the period in which military anthropologist Paula Loyd died — not the best way to advertise a program;
- that for all of Google’s search results for the “human terrain system,” this blog and John Stanton’s writing produce three of the top ten results.
As it turns out, it was extremely unwise for people such as Montgomery McFate (“Senior Social Scientist”) and Steve Fondacaro (Program Manager), to consistently let John Stanton’s articles go without any kind of public response, never contradicting, correcting, nor denying the content of his articles. As a result, he dominates the information terrain and his work is now a key factor in the “definition of the situation.” The work of all the milbloggers, war bloggers, and those who generally suck up to U.S. power under thin academic guises has been, it appears, largely for naught when it comes to the “information terrain” of public opinion, and the visibility of critical perspectives.
Let us now turn to some of the substantiation for the conclusions presented above.
Using Google Insights for Search, we find that not only did attention for the “human terrain system” peak in February, when the program suffered from some of the most serious criticisms and reversals of endorsements (such as that of the editors of Nature — a reversal that is now one of the top 10 Google search results for “human terrain system”), but that most of the peaks prominently feature John Stanton’s articles, as marked by the boxed letters below:
Here are the clickable links:
A: US Army report on Human Terrain System: toxic at headquarters and in Bagram
B: Human Terrain System meets the Bowman expeditions
C: Human Terrain System: Murder Charges, Paranoia, General Sacked
D: US Army’s Human Terrain System: Madness, Mayhem and Troughs of Cash
E: US Army’s Human Terrain System: From Super Concept to Absolute Farce
F: Former Human Terrain System Participant Describes Program in Disarray
G: Is the Human Terrain System Worth Its Spit?
Still, in terms of global interest in “human terrain system” the relatively more popular searches emanate from, in order: 1. the United States, 2. Iraq, 3. the United Kingdom, 4. Germany, 5. Canada, 6. Australia, and, 7. Afghanistan.
The above results can be confirmed by clicking here.
If we use some of Google’s other services, we find that the search results for all web pages on the “human terrain system” show John Stanton’s articles, and this blog, in the top ten results.
If we look at Google news search results, for all dates, we find that five of the top ten results are articles that are critical of the Human Terrain System, with most others incorporating the critical opinions of anthropologists as part of their stories. None of the top results are from the media that wrote supporting articles for HTS.
If we look at the Google blog search results, for all dates, the only anthropology blog that is represented is Open Anthropology, in second place, and once again John Stanton’s writing is also present in the top results, in fact, in four of the top ten results.
Besides congratulations, our warm thanks to you John.
This post also serves to tell the Pentagon’s Information Operations Task Force, that its effort to “control the message” and to plant fake news, has been met with the successful resistance of private citizens. (Thanks to John for that link.)