Could Ferguson Become A Behavioral Analysis Operation?

From a military and scientific standpoint, the events that have been, and will be, unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri will be rich with empirical data on how people behave under perceived injustice. Thanks to Snowden’s documents, we know that military minds like to “understand things”. Could this be an important opportunity for them?

First, a brief bit of background on the Ferguson issue (for those who live in a cave)…

The drama playing out today involves a pending grand jury announcement on whether or not police officer Darren Wilson should be indicted for the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. This case seems to have resonated with the black community, probably because of the community’s general dissatisfaction with the outcome of the George Zimmerman case. (In the interest of clarity, Zimmerman was not a police officer and that case ended in an acquittal.)

It has been months since the convening of the grand jury in the Ferguson matter and this has given the black community more than ample time to reflect on the possibility that the police officer may not be indicted. During this time, we have seen angry exchanges between the Ferguson police department and the family, we’ve seen the deployment of military vehicles in Ferguson and also a rather strange announcement by the hacker group “Anonymous” claiming foreknowledge that the Ferguson grand jury would not indict.

It seems that a “pressure cooker” situation has been set up.

So, will this be the most monitored and studied civil unrest in world history? Maybe so.

Certainly our rapacious defense industry will not waste this opportunity to monitor, document and study live events so close to home. The data gathered could flesh out or confirm their understandings of human nature and the social dynamics of crowds and urban dwellers in particular. This data might very well help with analytics, the development of new defense products and on the bidding on defense contracts.

(The unrest may also be a great training opportunity for our various homeland security agencies, but that’s a post for another day.)

If there is unrest, what could be learned from it?

I would think the information gathered could include:

– new understandings of how ordinary people can get “caught up” in events

– the testing of covert surveillance equipment, with “auto-following” technologies

– the capturing and storing of faces and body postures for storage and indexing

– the tracing back of identified individuals, through databases and social networks

– the creation of personal relationship databases

– the cross-indexing of discovered data with existing databases

– the studying how provocateurs, moles and saboteurs can direct the course of protests

– the identification of people who could be “convinced” to assist with law enforcement work

– the study of how media can be used to help direct the course of protests

– the study of social media communications and the profiling of opinions

– the profiling of behavioral tendencies by race, economic and education class

Is this just be crazy talk?  What do you think?


OER Guest Writer