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The Cognitive Crucible

Education Podcasts

The Cognitive Crucible explores all aspects of our generational challenge: Cognitive Security. It is the only podcast dedicated to increasing interdisciplinary collaboration between information operations practitioners, scholars, and policy makers. Join the discussion forum each week with the Cognitive Crucible host, John Bicknell. Have a question or would like to suggest a topic go to:

The Cognitive Crucible explores all aspects of our generational challenge: Cognitive Security. It is the only podcast dedicated to increasing interdisciplinary collaboration between information operations practitioners, scholars, and policy makers. Join the discussion forum each week with the Cognitive Crucible host, John Bicknell. Have a question or would like to suggest a topic go to:


United States


The Cognitive Crucible explores all aspects of our generational challenge: Cognitive Security. It is the only podcast dedicated to increasing interdisciplinary collaboration between information operations practitioners, scholars, and policy makers. Join the discussion forum each week with the Cognitive Crucible host, John Bicknell. Have a question or would like to suggest a topic go to:








#53 Watts on Domestic Extremism

Mr Clint Watts joins the Cognitive Crucible and gives an FBI-perspective on domestic extremism. The conversation references a recent article on Clint’s Selected Wisdom substack: Virtual Insanity to Real World Calamity: “How Will Lies Power Domestic Terrorism in 2021?” Clint asserts that domestic terrorist groups are far from homogeneous. Particularly worrisome are young, largely single, largely male, “stochastic haters” who tend to be committed to violence and are accelerating destabilizing...


#52 Gehlen and Smith on Navy MISO and Competition

During this episode, CDR Erika Gelen and Prof. Frank Smith discuss their co-authored article: “Advantage At Sea Requires Rethinking Influence.” After reviewing the tri-service (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) strategy “Advantage at Sea,” they make the case that the US Navy handicaps itself in great-power competition--especially relative to military information support operations (MISO). They also have some concrete recommendations for senior leaders regarding competition. To get onto the...


#51: Bonus Episode Phoenix Challenge

In this bonus episode, we replay an excerpt from Dr. Michael Vickers' Phoenix Challenge 2021 Keynote address. Dr. Vickers is the former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. He spoke about the growing criticality of Information Operations and the ways in which our adversaries in great power competition have learned to use our openness, values, and our own technologies against Western...


#50: Gioe on Active Measures and Implications for the West

During this episode, Dr. David Gioe discusses active measures. Active measures is a term which gained increasing public attention following the 2016 US election meddling by Russia. Dr. Gioe defines active measures as nation state actions which are intended to remain non-attributable. Also known as the “dark arts,” active measures are not new. Dr. Gioe recounts some historical active measures examples, discusses implications for the West going forward, and suggests a strategy for citizens to...


#49 Armstrong on the Smith-Mundt Act

During this episode, Matt Armstong, who was formerly a Governor on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (since renamed the U.S. Agency for Global Media), discusses the Smith-Mundt Act and public diplomacy. Matt is also the author of the upcoming book: The Right to Know: the War of Words and the Origins and Evolution of the Smith-Mundt Act. Also known as the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, Smith-Mundt was developed to regulate broadcasting of programs for foreign...


#48 Bendett and Edmonds on AI and Autonomy in Russia

During this episode, Jeff Edmonds and Sam Bendett--both of whom are Russian specialists with the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA)--discuss their recently published report: AI and Autonomy in Russia. Funded by the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), the report covers everything from ethical considerations, to Russian entrepreneurship, to human capital gaps within the Russian citizenry. Link to full show notes and resources Guest Bios: Samuel Bendett is an Adviser with CNA...


#47 Bar-Yam on Complex Systems and the War on Values

During this thought provoking episode, Prof. Yaneer Bar-Yam discusses the nature of complex systems and complexity science. Our discussion covers the cacophony of signals within the information environment and how complexity science provides tools for understanding system dynamics. Prof. Bar-Yam also reports his scientific findings related to the COVID pandemic which he and his colleagues at NECSI have observed. He asserts that values are emergent properties of our cultural and social...


#46 Ryder on Public Affairs

During this episode, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder discusses the evolution of military public affairs, media relations, and strategic communications. Our discussion covers how public affairs integrates with other information related capabilities, partnerships with other agencies, and trust in media. Link to full show notes Guest Bio: Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder is the Director of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. In...


#45 Cicalese on Risk

During this episode, Carm Cicalese of Cyber CIC discusses military and corporate risk. Carm is bringing his considerable military leadership and information operations experience into the boardroom and helping corporate customers think about cyber, information, and cognitive risk in new ways. Perspectives on risk are evolving as is the entire information environment; Carm walks through his most current thinking about how organizations should mitigate risk. Link to full show notes Guest...


#44 Armistead on the Journal of Information Warfare

During this episode, Dr. Leigh Armistead, President of Peregrine Technical Solutions and the Chief Editor of the Journal of Information Warfare, discusses practical steps people can take to secure their homes and devices in order to protect themselves from information warfare, hacks, and cyber threats. He also talks about the 20th year anniversary of the Journal of Information Warfare and how the journal will revisit the articles published in its very first issue. Link to full show...


#43 Schuck on C2 and the C-OODA loop

During this episode, Dr. Tod Schuck of Lockheed Martin discusses Command and Control (C2) and the importance of information maneuverability. Our wide ranging conversation covers Shannon information theory, cybernetics, the evolution of C2, business, the "million dollar microsecond," as well as military applications. We conclude with Schuck’s new formulation of the OODA loop, where he adds an explicit cognitive dimension: the C-OODA loop. Full Show Notes with Resources Guest Bio: Dr. Tod...


#42 Chudoba on NGA Tech Acquisition and “Moonshot”

During this episode, Mr. Phil Chudoba discusses technology acquisition at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Our conversation covers NGA’s mission, how NGA facilitates operations in the information environments, as well as NGA’s “moonshot” initiative. Link to full show notes Guest Bio: Mr. Phillip C. Chudoba serves as the Associate Director for Capabilities, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. In this capacity, he is responsible for defining the strategic direction of the...


#41 Ilves on the Estonian Perspective

Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who was the President of Estonia from 2006-2016, discusses a variety of cyber, information operations, and cognitive security topics including: Russian influence, cyber operations vs. kinetic operations, anti-vaxxer disinformation, coding education, and technology adoption in the United States. The episode concludes with Toomas passing along social media security advice to digital native youths. Full show notes: here Bio: Toomas Hendrik Ilves is an Estonian...


#40 Mitchell on Jack Voltaic

During this episode, LTC Erica Mitchell discusses the Army Cyber Institute’s Jack Voltaic (JV) project, which studies response gaps alongside assembled partners to identify interdependencies among critical infrastructure sectors, provide recommendations, and prevent strategic surprise. JV provides an innovative, bottom‐up approach to critical infrastructure resilience in two unique ways. Whereas most federal efforts to improve resiliency focus on regional or multistate emergency response, JV...


#39 Dyer on the Section 809 Panel and Risk Management

During this episode, VADM Joe Dyer USN (Ret.) recaps his service on the Section 809 Panel, which was chartered by the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He also discusses 5G technology, investment strategy, enterprise portfolio management, changing from process to product, and the Congressionally-funded National Spectrum Consortium. Full show notes Bio: Vice Admiral Joseph W. Dyer USN (Ret.) is Chief Strategy Officer for the National Spectrum Consortium. He was a C-Level...


#38 Reynolds on Operations in the Information Environment

LtGen Lori Reynolds leads the Marine Corps’ modernization efforts related to operations in the information environment. During this episode, our wide ranging discussion covers competition, professional military education, authorities, technology, and partnerships. Full Show Notes with Links and Resources Bio: Lieutenant General Reynolds was commissioned in May 1986 upon graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and assigned as a Communications Officer. As a Company grade officer, she served...


#37 Vivian on MCDP 1-4 Competing

During this episode, one of the principal authors of Marine Corps Doctrinal Pub (MCDP) 1-4 (“Competing”), Col Bill Vivian, USMC (ret.), discusses the creation of this timely document. After recapping the Marine Corps' capstone doctrinal publication, which is called "Warfighting," he then offers a perspective on the evolution of information operations and great power competition from the vantage of a career infantry officer. More information about the Phoenix Challenge conference with...


#36 Ghose on Disruptive Innovation, Amazoogle, and Entrepreneurship

During this episode, Mr. Shomit Ghose of ONSET Ventures outlines the difference between marginal and disruptive innovation. We also talk about the embodiment of the Red Queen Hypothesis and the OODA loop in today’s competitive business climate where companies are expected to innovate quickly in order to stay ahead of their competition. Shomit asserts that the big tech companies are outpacing most others, which has analogues for national security, as well. We conclude the episode talking...


#35 Dawson on Social Media Weaponization

During this episode, MAJ Jessica Dawson of the Army Cyber Institute at West Point shares recent research about the social media ecosystem and how it is being weaponized. We also discuss the concept of identity and a new framework for understanding narrative weaponization for the purposes of mobilization and radicalization. Our conversation concludes with Jess’ policy and regulatory recommendations for mitigating risk. Link to full show notes and resources Bio: MAJ Jessica Dawson is a...


#34 Chiu on Market Intelligence and the Competition for Attention

During this episode, Emma Chiu of Wunderman Thompson discusses global trends which affect brands as well as the competition for attention. She describes growing anxiety and a sense of urgency as some trends--especially trends mapped to digital and technology capabilities--seem to have accelerated during the COVID crisis. Brands are also grappling with Gen Z consumers and how they are driving cultural shifts; for example, Emma describes how younger generations engage in employee activism and...