Monday, October 29, 2007

Glenn Greenwald has demonstrated how not to think critically. He's received a spoofed email, and doesn't understand how it can be fake:

UPDATE IV: After a crash course in tracing email headers and IP addresses and the like
. . .
All three of those sets of emails came from the same IP address — — as the original email I received today, so clearly that is an IP address used by the U.S. military in Iraq.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the alleged jury, it appears that some education is in order. Whenever you see an IP address that starts with “10.”, “172.16.” through “172.31.”, “169.254″, or “192.168″, it is the rough equivalent of a “555″ telephone number. These ranges of addresses are set aside for local networks. They cannot be assigned to servers on the Internet, and properly-configured Internet routers will refuse to send traffic to them.

An email that comes from a 10. address is prima facie fake.

How is this a failure of critical thinking? Greenwald conflated "This email says it's from" with "This email was written by Colonel Steven Boylan, spokesman for General Petraeus". If you don't realize the difference, you might be interested in a buying a bridge.

UPDATE 1: (heh)
This is not to state that the message itself is necessarily fake, only that the 10. address itself is not "on the Internet". Validation of the author is purported to be done by that machine with the 10. address, which may be valid within a local network, but cannot be verified outside that network. This part of the message is assumed to have been placed there by the next machine above it, which is the one to point to when establishing its validity.

In fact, the validity "chain" must always begin at the top of the headers, for it establishes a nested "Computer A says " Computer B says "Computer C says ... "person X says "..."...""" statement. If Computer A is lying, it doesn't matter whether Computer B is truthful or not, because it never said the rest of the statement. What does make the 10. address special is that it is entirely a creation of the local network administrators, so there is no mechanism to contact it directly to validate that part of the chain of custody.

In that respect, perhaps it's better to say that a 10. address is like a sock puppet.


Anonymous said...

You feel pretty SMRT today? After learning that all the e-mails came from area code '555'?

Wow you must be so techno-savvy what with all the great hosting and application building that you've done on your own.

Oh nevermind. It's, the idiot savant's last refuge at being heard.

The Monster said...

Anonymous @2:23 illustrates some critical thinking errors. Anyone want to identify them?

Svinrod said...

Greetings TM'
I'll take a stab at it. First, he assumes without any evidence that you are not familiar with hosting and application building protocals.
Second, He assumes that by utilizing as a "common tongue" that you do not speak the "Imperial Language" also.
Do I get a cookie?

The Monster said...

Not bad, Svin.

Fundamentally, it's argumentam ad hominem: attacking the content of the argument by challenging the person making the argument. Anon 2:23 fails to appreciate the irony of posting "It's, the idiot savant's last refuge at being heard." on! By his own logic, we can safely dismiss his entire comment as the rantings of an idiot savant. (The inability to distinguish between an "area code" and an "exchange" might be another clue.)

And speaking of the Imperial Language, a lot of folks probably don't know what prima facie means. I leave that as an exercise for readers here, at least for the nonce.

You may have your cookie, provided that your browser is configured to accept one on your behalf.

daddyquatro said...

My, that was certainly out of left field. I've been blogging for months (kinda) and I've yet to attract a troll. Here you go and till one up with your first pass o' the spade. Impressive.

Mr. Any Mouse's ad hominem isn't even very good. I'm assuming he's using idiot savant to mean a person very advanced in one area of knowledge and limited in all other areas. Not necessarily a bad thing.
Most of the top bloggers started out on blogspot and some of my favorites are still there.

Can I have a cookie?

Otto Gass said...

Google results for "glenn greenwald sock puppet" reminded of GG's earlier playfulness concerning IPs. There's a hole in the bucket.

Odd that GG would lean on Franklin Foer to substantiate his professional and civil interactions with Col. Boylan, whom in the previous sentence had characterized as hostile, arrogant and unresponsive.

Nope, no agenda there. Whoops, I winked too hard and now I can't see.

rudytbone said...

Besides, the military uses Domino, not MS SMTP email. It's more secure.

Paul A. said...

Hey, Monster!
To answer your "final" question in this "test," prima facie pretty much means "on its face," or "at first impression." It is legally considered the initial statement of a case in legal proceedings, to be taken as true unless refuted. In common usage, however, it is often taken to mean that the fact being examined is "self-evident." That is not its true meaning, especially in a legal sense.
That is to say, prima facie should not be confused with "res ipsa loquitur," which means "the thing speaks for itself," and amounts to the statement that the fact being presented is "self evident."
Am I close?
(I should be... I took a moment, and did what I was taught to do... if not certain, look it up!)