Opposition Research…a Major Contributor

Opposition Research, the methodology that gains popularity in some circles during election cycles, is not one of the better-documented areas. There are excellent opposition researchers – they may also research their own candidates to see what might be employed against them – but while their results are obviously visible their techniques and methods seem to be tightly held. Larry Zillox’ fourth edition of “The Opposition Research Handbook” is an outlier in that respect. While there is no checklist that guarantees research success, this book provides a good look at the matrix of research areas that need to be covered when looking at individuals and the techniques that go with them. While the book’s title suggests it is a good read for politicos, it actually is an eye-opener for anyone doing research on individuals. With about 300 resources in approximately 150 pages it has become a valuable addition to The Research School library. Can any reader suggest other books or websites that might be valuable in opposition research?

Not Everything is Believable

Just because it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck is no reason to believe it is a duck. This week a webpage – made to look like a New York Times article down to typefaces, page design and even bylines – circulated on social media claiming a hold-out endorser had indeed, and finally, come down on the side of one of the presidential candidates. The phony article appeared originally on Clone Zone, a website that allows users to make “clones” that appear to be other, established sites. Analysts need to be aware of this site and the potential it poses for making false information look real. The article about the deception appears at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/us/fake-new-york-times-article-claims-elizabeth-warren-endorsed-bernie-sanders.html?mabReward=CTM&moduleDetail=recommendations-0&action=click&contentCollection=Politics&region=Footer&module=WhatsNext&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&src=recg&pgtype=article

Observation – Non-Internet Research Example

Clothing and alcoholic beverage preferences were used in Northern Ireland to pinpoint which side of that civil war people supported. In Kazakhstan ribbons on a rear-view mirror tell much about the car’s owner. The article at http://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-kazakhstan-wary-ethnic-russians-broaching-autonomy-144542461.html is a reminder that observation of non-Internet factors can be used to pinpoint the views or people. In the U.S. decals on many rear windows speak volumes about the members of the family including ages and sex – and even provide information about pets. Simple non-Internet observation can be helpful in filling in information when researching individuals.