Polarisation – Understanding the dynamics of us versus them

Author: Bart Brandsma

With many oppositions, such as in politics, but also at home, at school, in an association, … there are people who have a feeling to be attacked verbally (or non-verbally). Two camps are formed, each with a number of groups, which the author classifies in:

–    The pusher
The joiner
The silent
The bridge builder
The scapegoat.

Each of them plays a role in a case of polarization.

The pusher mainly seeks his justification and power via one liners with which he tries to pull the mass of the silent to his joiners.

The bridge builder often tries to restore the harmony by working on the pusher with arguments, which usually amounts more fuel for the pushers and their joiners. He is usually not trusted, and often becomes the scapegoat.

There is, however, a method to break this vicious circle, based on four game changers:

–    Change target group: you do not have to concentrate on the pusher nor the joiners, but on the silent.
Change topic: find the underlying, often deeper hidden real reasons and goals of the dispute, and talk about it. This is very difficult, because if you hit the ball here, this is fuel for the pushers. However, it is the only chance you have to be believed by the silent.
Change position: speak from the group of the silent, in the middle of them, not from the point of view of the bridge builder. So also: show your own feelings in the case, be one with them.
Change the tone: you have to be truthful. The silent feels it directly if you do not believe what you stand for. In this respect, what the author calls mediative speech and mediative behavior is therefore an absolute necessity. If you ruin that, the polarization will explode in your face.

According to the author there is a strong intertwining between “big brother” polarization and “small brother” conflict. Both of them run together for a large part, but not entirely, so that polarization can always trigger a sequel after the end of a conflict.

This is the first book I know that appeared on the subject. It deals with the phenomenon of polarization in human language, so that everyone can understand it. It is a hands-on booklet laced with examples, even where things went wrong.

Attempting polarization is perhaps the most difficult aspect of human opposition. There should therefore soon be more objective reporting of cases, which are recognized as such, including the unraveling why it succeeded or why not to depolarize them.

Heat-Health Action Plans

Edited by: Franziska Matthies; Graham Bickler; Nose Cardeñosa Marín; Simon Hales

The work deals primarily with climate changes, heat waves and health reactions. In addition, there are a number of topics that are reviewed. The first is climate change itself. Attention is also paid to heat waves with the idea that prevention is possible! This requires meteo-early warning systems as well as public medical advice. But urban planning is also not unimportant. Nevertheless, there are still many deaths in the figures of 2006. One conclusion is that not enough actions are being organized in many European countries. The booklet gives a number of hints in theory:

Negative effects: preventive treatment! (theory)
Use existing local emergency planning systems
Go for the long term
In all sectors (not only health sector)
Communicate effectively from the government
Advise for indoor coolers
Caring for the vulnerable
Health sector & social sector must be ready
Long-term Urban planning
Real-time surveillance and evaluation

But actually we just want hands-on advice. And that’s what we get!

Recommendations to the public

Keep your house cool, close windows during the day, open windows at night
Stay out of the heat: do not walk long in the sun between 12.00 and 15.00
Hydrate your body: drink enough, but drink no alcohol or heavily sweetened drinks
Wear light, loose clothing, hat with wide brim, sunglasses
Help others
Ask your doctor for advice on medication during hot days; keep your medication below 25 ° C
Do you feel unwell, dizzy, anxious, weak?
Drink water, possibly fruit juice
Immediately rest in a cool place
Go to the doctor

Vulnerable groups

Previous tips are doubly important for vulnerable groups such as
Diabetes mellitus, hormonal disorders
Organic mental disorders, dementia, Alzheimer’s
Mental disorders due to medication or alcohol
Schizophrenia, schizotype disorders
Movement disorders (Parkinson),
Cardiovascular, hypertension, coronary arterial diseases, …
Diseases of respiration, COPD, bronchitis, …
Kidney diseases, kidney stones

Recommendations for general practitioners

Understanding thermoregulatory and haemodynamic reactions in heat
Understanding heat illness, clinical manifestations, diagnosis and treatment
Recognize early symptoms of heatstroke
Apply cooling and resuscitation
To be familiar with the risks and protection factors in heat-wave related diseases
Advice to patients to learn good protection techniques
Side effects of heat on prescribed medications
Follow up of patients in terms of sufficient drinking
Know your contacts! Teach your patients the necessary contacts!

Recommendations for residential care

The recommendations for the public remain valid
Monitor the indoor door temperatures
Move the residents / patients to a cooler place
Ask doctors to follow up the weak
Monitor the drinking by the residents
Monitor body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, hydration, early symptoms of heat diseases
Start treatment where necessary
Inform and train the staff, if necessary, take care of different levels of staff.

Effects of heat with medication

Medications in combination with heat can
Have a direct impact on the temperature regulation of the body
Impact on the ingoing or outgoing pathways of organs, sweating and vasodilatation in the skin
Increase heat sickness
Reduce positive effects of medication
Poisoning (symptoms) worsen
Increase dehydration

Recommendations regarding drinking

Drink, only to compensate for loss by 150%
Even if you are not thirsty
Drinking excessively can have complications
With heat stroke
Adding NaCl can restore the water balance
Drinking tailored to the patient

Risk communication in case of heat

Build a trust
Dialogue, not monologue
Along all channels
Communicate faster, rather than more completely
Transparency: Clear, well-defined, easy language, factual material

Approach to heat-disease

Bring the victim in a cool location with shade
Call a doctor

Approach to heat stroke (outside the hospital)

Move to a cool place
Ice compresses in the neck, armpit and groin
Spray the skin with water at 25 ° C – 30 ° C
In case of loss of consciousness: put them on their side
With anxiety, delirium, give isotonic drink (NaCl)

Cooled interior doors

Monitor the temperature
Provide extra shade
Provide electric fans
Mobile coolers based on evaporation
Local air conditioning

Risk Analysis and Governance in EU Policy Making and Regulation – An introductory guide

Author: Bernardo Delogu

In this book, the author presents a number of concepts and methods of risk analysis that are most relevant to the development and application of EU risk policies and legal measures. It focuses on three types of risks: health risks, safety risks and environmental risks.

Throughout the book, the author starts with the concept of risk and risk analysis, and continues with the treatment of risk management, risk communication and ultimately risk governance. The book concludes with a summary chapter of the most important issues that were dealt with throughout the work.

But what are the issues that, in addition to a lot of things that had to be treated as a good principle applied to policy, were the most important aspects of this work?

Firstly, there are the risk management principles and criteria that the EU uses as a regulatory body. The first is the prudence principle (PP: precautionary principle). A second is the subsidiarity principle. The third is the proportionality principle. Each of these principles must always be justified. For example, excessive irresponsible caution can not be approved.

Other points are the risk-risk evaluation, the cost-benefit evaluation and the difference between hazards and risks. The latter was best explained up to now in this book. Hazard is a property of eg a material or a being “in itself” while a risk is a threat in which the environmental situation is taken into account. For example a cheese Camembert and the listeria bacteria. The listeria bacteria itself is a life-threatening bacterium. In an ‘environment’ of camembert, however, she is not risky for people. (https://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/goledsud)

Furthermore, the relationship with stakeholders is very important for the EU. In doing so, they apply the principles of participation, openness and liability, effectiveness and ensuring systematic consultation processes across EU services, including evaluations and quality control.

The most important message that other governments and managers of companies can draw from the book is that scientific research on the risks should and should not be done independently of the policy makers. Although the scientists need to be able to do their work independently of political preferences and accompanying preconditions, it is important that they share the results with politics so that they can add values ​​other than scientific correctness, without, however, going against the principle of prudence. The policymaker must also be able to accept that science does not always give the desired answer, or even has an unambiguous answer. Everyone, the scientists, the risk managers and the decision makers, must know their own role and that of the others.

Understanding Hybrid Warfare

Author: Multinational Capability Development Campaign (MCDC)

Hybrid what?

There is no clear definition yet. There are rather some descriptions, such as:

A hybrid crisis is a combination of two or more crises between which a link can exist (not necessarily) and which can reinforce each other.

Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that uses political war and mixes conventional war, irregular war and cyber war with other methods with a strong influence, such as fake news, diplomacy and intervention in foreign elections.

However, it is known that the aggressor tries to avoid retaliation. Hybrid warfare is typically tailored to stay below the clear detection radar and response thresholds.

The cases on which this study is based are:

–    Iran’s activities in Syria
Use of Gas and loans by Russia as a means of pressure in Ukraine
IS in Syria and Iraq
Hybrid warfare in an urban context
Cyber ​​used by Russia

Two things are clear on this subject: nobody understands it fully, but everyone thinks it’s a problem

That is why there is a need to take 2 steps

Step 1: A common language (understanding the subject and communicating about it smoothly)

Step 2: An analytical framework

Step 1: Understand

There is no clear definition yet, as we wrote earlier, but there are descriptions, eg:

“The synchronized use of multiple power tools tailored to specific vulnerabilities across the entire spectrum of social functions, in order to achieve synergies.”

They often fall back on the speed, volume and ubiquity of digital technology.

It is important to recognize that multiple power tools are used in multiple dimensions and at different levels simultaneously in a synchronous way. This allows the actor to use various MPECI (Military, Political, Economic, Civil, Information) resources that they have available to create synchronic attack packages that are tailored to perceived or suspected vulnerabilities. The instruments of power used will depend on the capabilities of the actor and on these vulnerabilities, as well as on the political objectives of the actor and his planned way to achieve his goals. As in all conflicts with wars, the characteristic of hybrid warfare will depend on the context.

Hybrid threat does not lend itself to classical threat analysis for, among others, the following reasons:

–    A wide set of MPECI tools
Vulnerabilities across societies are being exploited in a way that we normally do not think of
Syncing and the way that is done are unpredictable.
Uses the exploitation of ambiguities, creativity and our understanding of warfare to keep his attacks invisible
A hybrid attack can remain unnoticed until it is too late.

We will therefore have to learn to look differently at conflicts in the future.


Step 2: the Analytical Framework:

The analytical framework is structured with three components:

–    Critical functions and vulnerabilities
Synchronization of resources
Effects and non-linearities (complexities)

We give a brief explanation of these three components

Critical functions and vulnerabilities

Critical functions here are activities about the PMESII (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, Information) spectrum that, when they are no longer carried out, can lead to an interruption of services on which society depends.

They can all be divided into a combination of actors, infrastructures and processes. They all have vulnerabilities.

Synchronization of resources

Synchronization (syncing) is the ability of the attacker to coordinate effective power tools (MPECI) in time, space and with certain goals to achieve a desired effect. With this he can achieve greater effects than with overt coercion. Benefits for the attacker are:

Use tailored resources and vulnerabilities

Compulsion but remain under the radar of the detection thresholds and response thresholds

Easier to escalate and de-escalate different MPECI simultaneously

Effects and non-linearities (complexities)

Effects are changes in the condition of the target. They can not be properly controlled by the attacker because one can no longer predict a linear sequence of effects. Causality becomes increasingly difficult to show and predict as more elements of the MPECI are used and vary.



One has to set up “BTIMs” to learn recognize and know things:

Baselines, Thresholds, Indicators, Monitoring in real time, from the philosophy: “You do not know what is abnormal if you do not know what is normal and if you do not measure what the evolution is”

For the baselines, a list and assessment of social critical functions must be made. Indicators must help determine whether an attack is in progress or is starting. Thresholds help determine what the normal / abnormal operation is.

Without knowing what is normal, nothing can begin.

Unfortunately no real examples of existing “BTIMs” are given in the document.

What are the recommendations of this document?

–    Make regular national self-assessment of critical functions and the vulnerabilities of all sectors and of society.
Improve the classic threat analysis so that it contains the following tools and possibilities: Political, Economic, Civil, International and research how these resources can be synchronized in an attack on vulnerabilities
Create a national methodology for coordinating self-assessment and threat analysis specifically for: understanding, detecting, responding to hybrid threats
Internationalize, work together coherently across borders.

Conclusion: Here I am going to be a contrarian.

The study finds that the framework is a visual tool for responding during a hybrid attack.

That seems wrong to me. In addition to the BTIMs that have to be set up, and which must be able to function separately from the framework, the visual tool i.m.h.o. will rather remain a tool for analysis afterwards.

The tool does, however, provide an explanation of what information must be preserved during the crisis.

X-Events. The Collapse of Everything

Author: John Casti

The book is written “For the connoisseurs of unknown unknowns” and is divided into three parts.

The first part – Why ‘normal’ is not normal anymore – talks about complexity theory. The complexity theory means that each issue has two (or more) sides, for example a service delivery of an organization has an organization side and a customer side. Both have a certain degree of complexity. Without going into the definitions of complexity here, but from the gut feeling, we can view the delivery of electricity in the USA as an obvious example. We can say that the demand side is very complex: different quantities, different times, different needs that have grown throughout history as a very complex system. But there is an outdated infrastructure that has a low complexity with regard to the current state of technology. Between both complexity levels there is a gap, which according to the complexity theory is a source of vulnerabilities, and can trigger an extreme event to correct the system. For example, a blackout. This example is a simple illustration of the theory, which is obvious. The best solution for the continuity of the customer side and the supplier side in this case is an increase of the complexity on the supplier side, until it equals that of the customer side. In other words, a technical upgrade.

The first part ends with seven complexity principles:
– Complexity: Main characteristic
– Emergence: The whole is not equal to the sum of the parts
– Red Queen hypothesis: Evolve to survive
– For nothing the sun sets: Exchange between efficiency and resilience
– Goldilocks principle: Freedom levels are ‘just right’
– Incomplete: Only logic is not enough
– Butterfly effect: Small changes can have huge consequences
– The law of the required variety (this is the somewhat important one): Only complexity can control complexity

Part two is a collection of 11 chapters, each of which deals with a separate case, in which the complexity gap is shown each time and how a disaster can arise from it.

In part three, the author argues that the breadth of the gap or the excess of complexity can be seen as a new way of quantifying the risk of an extreme event. This, however, without really going into formulas.

Finally, the author determines three principles with which the gap can be made smaller or can be prevented.

– A first principle is that systems and people must be as adaptive as possible. Because the future is unprecedented but increasingly dangerous, it is wise to develop the infrastructures with a large degree of freedom, to be able to counter or use what you encounter.

– The second aspect, resilience, is closely related to the first principle, that of adaptation. With this you can not only collect hits but also take advantage of them.

– The third principle is redundancy. This is a proven method in the security sciences to keep a system or infrastructure going when faced with unknown unforeseeable and foreseeable shocks. Actually this is about extra capacity that is available when, for example, a defect occurs.