HAT Forum
Sat Feb 6th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic "Social Engineering"


“Social Engineering"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett (from Hassan’s suggestion)
Social Engineering refers to efforts made to influence attitudes and behaviours –
on a large scale by governments, media, corporations, action groups or, 
on a small scale by activists, hackers, con-men or those wishing to gain a social advantage or societal improvement. 
These efforts employ:
an understanding of how people make decisions and 
the motivations behind their behaviours 
to target them in such a way that desired behaviours will be elicited.

Examples of Social Engineering (SE) or where it is employed,
Advertising
Public Service Ads
Government Campaigns (e.g. anti-smoking)
Journalism 
Editorials
Political opinion shaping, spin doctoring, news releases
Propaganda
Public Relations
Questions
1. Is SE inherently manipulative? 
2. Does your view of SE change if its aims are seen as societally positive?
3. Does your view of SE change with the degree of transparency involved? 
4. The “calling out” or “naming and shaming” of others’ negative social behaviours could be seen as a form of SE. Discuss the real world benefits and drawbacks of this type of SE.
5. Discuss SE on the following dimensions: Pragmatic, Coercive, Necessary, Ineffective, Ethical, Obsolete
6. Should Humanist groups attempt to create their own "agenda" to infuse into the population psyche using SE? Do SE tactics align with Humanist Principles?
7. Humanist groups are often occupied with preventing religious indoctrination of children in schools. If we were in the position to instill humanist values instead, would we do it? Is this a potential source of hypocrisy?