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2 minute read - Psychology

Paranoia as a learning and testing strategy

Mar 14, 2011

Honestly who doesn’t enjoy reading conspiracy theories? Who doesn’t enjoy putting on the Helm of Paranoia.

I use paranoia as a learning strategy and as a testing strategy.

You can too…

For learning:

  1. Assume that the author of the book lied to you
  • This forces you to do more research
  • Read additional books
  • Read differing opinions
  • Check their facts
  1. Assume the author didn’t want you to know the truth
  • They deliberately obfuscated their writing so you have to simplify them
  • They deliberately made it overly specific so you would not learn the different ways to apply the technique, so you have to generalise it
  • They deliberately didn’t teach you the principles, so that they would retain the edge and you could never compete. So you need to take their approach apart to identify the principles that it codifies
  1. Assume the author didn’t know the truth and others misled them
  • Only you can draw out the patterns in the text to identify the underlying earth shattering secret truth that has remained hidden in the text.

For testing:

  1. Assume that the system has lied to you
  • Yes it ‘says’ it has saved the record – how do you know?
  • Yes it ‘says’ you can’t use numbers in the password – how do you know?
  1. Assume the system didn’t want you to know the truth
  • Look for the hidden buttons that others have overlain and obscured
  • Look for the hidden windows
  • Look for the hidden div elements (how can you make them appear)
  • Look for the hidden form fields – what secrets do they hold
  • Look for the secret cookies – what do they mean? What information have they tracked about you?
  • What other secrets has it hidden from you?
  1. Assume the system doesn’t know the truth
  • Can you mislead it?

The truly paranoid among you will now rightly assume that I have lied to you, that I don’t want you to know the truth, and that others have so misled me that what you have here is a pale reflection of the truth that only you can uncover.

And for your ongoing research pleasure, I heartily recommend Paranoia Magazine. I haven’t read it for a long time as I haven’t found a shop that will stock it – no doubt due to the machinations of one cabal or another. But that won’t stop you getting a good old historical dose of paranoia with the free back issues at (Just don’t tell them I sent you, they don’t need to know.)