In January of 2011, writing for the Daily KOS, a blogger known as G2Geek first coined the phrase.
He defined the term as:
“the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”
The remainder of the article explains at length how this applies especially to the myth of the “lone wolf” terrorist, and has since been updated to include some clarification.
“The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.
One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act. While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. ‘given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such’), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).
The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: ‘Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I’m not responsible for what people in my audience do.’
The lone wolf who was the ‘missile’ gets captured and sentenced to life in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and goes on to incite more lone wolves. “
In 2015, Valerie Tarico, a psychologist and writer from Seattle, Wash., further breaks down how the process works and declares it “perversely brilliant,” as she explains how “Chirstianist Republicans Systematically Incited Colorado Clinic Assault” on a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Using her article as a baseline, Reverb Press extrapolated for their own December 2015 article.
(1) A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
(2) With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.\
(3) Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past “purges” against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
(4) When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the “tragedy.”
Time and again we see this play out.
We saw it from the manifesto of Dylann Roof explaining why he opened fire in the historically African-American Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
We saw it when InfoWars and the conservative press pushed the blatantly false “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory resulting in an armed man showing up a restaurant with the intention to serve “justice” himself.
We see it regularly with the increase in hate crimes throughout the United States as a direct result of the Republican — particularly Donald Trump — use of hate speech and violent rhetoric against people of color and their embrace of the American “Alt-Right” and its base of modern American neo-Nazi and Confederate “Lost Cause” racists as well as violent “incels.”
We see it in the remarkable frequency with which Fox News incites its viewers to violence.
We saw it again last night as the President continued his practice of whipping his willfully ignorant fan base into frenzied levels of uninformed outrage with his incessant verbal assault on the media culminating in one of his supporters attacking a BBC cameraman at the event.
At this moment Stochastic terrorism is the single greatest National Security threat to the lives and safety of the American people.
Until we hold those accountable for inciting it as responsible as those that ultimately commit the crimes that were incited it will remain so.
No wall we can build will reduce to it.
But incessant hate-filled White Nationalism rhetoric from those with power and broadcast access will continue to increase it.