Simulacrum Levels are a framework for analyzing different motivations people can have for making statements.
Simulacrum Level 1: Attempt to describe the world accurately.
Simulacrum Level 2: Choose what to say based on what your statement will cause other people to do or believe.
Simulacrum Level 3: Say things that signal membership to your ingroup.
Simulacrum Level 4: Choose which group to signal membership to based on what the benefit would be for you.
Some more descriptions of the four levels:
Level 1: “There’s a lion across the river.” = There’s a lion across the river.
Level 2: “There’s a lion across the river.” = I don’t want to go (or have other people go) across the river.
Level 3: “There’s a lion across the river.” = I’m with the popular kids who are too cool to go across the river.
Level 4: “There’s a lion across the river.” = A firm stance against trans-river expansionism focus grouped well with undecided voters in my constituency.
Level 1: Symbols describe reality.
Level 2: Symbols pretend to describe reality.
Level 3: Symbols pretend to pretend to describe reality.
Level 4: Symbols need not pretend to describe reality.
A concrete example of the above from Michael Vassar:
Level 1: A court reflects justice.
Level 2: A corrupt judge distorts justice.
Level 3: A Soviet show trial conceals the absence of real Soviet courts.
Level 4: A trial by ordeal or trial by combat lacks and denies the concept of justice entirely