Herrhausen Simulations at the Europe’s Strategic Choices Conference

Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and Scenarios4Summits explored a new format with simulations on disinformation and societal destabilisation

During the Europe’s Strategic Choices conference in November 2019, organized by the think tank Chatham House, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and the Dutch company Scenarios4Summits explored a new format in two side events: The Herrhausen Simulations focused on the effects of disinformation and its potential for societal destabilisation.

In two separate simulations, the participants discussed a fictitious case based on scenarios. In order to do this, they assumed the roles of different political actors, such as cabinet members or advisors. Short video sequences described the unfolding political events, linked with the dynamics of digital communication and information. Collectively, the participants were asked to deescalate the situation and to develop adequate reactions.

The simulations considered the phenomenon of disinformation and its possible modes of operation: How can such activities be recognised early? What can a government do if political disturbances arise due to disinformation? The discussion focused on the role of social media and modern communication in the context of foreign and security policy in the 21st century.

The simulations showed that there is no standard solution to a political crisis caused by disinformation. According to their diverse backgrounds, the participants proposed different approaches. Some emphasized that battling an information campaign is often an asymmetric effort. Others focused on the fact that emotionalised content often proves to be more effective than facts. Even if it is necessary to understand the motives and actions of opposing parties, it is equally important to foster truthfulness and credibility. “Stand up for what you think is right”, one of the participants exhorted her peers, because “there’s a tyranny of consensus developing in such situations”.

The Europe’s Strategic Choices Conference is organised by Chatham House. For more information, click here.

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