“There’s a sucker born every minute.” ~ Source Unknown/Disputed There is no shortage of new victims, or of con men, or of honest men.
Americans are bombarded with information on a daily basis. Some of us long for the days before 24-hour news and Social Media. The phrase “24-hour news” is a misnomer. It is a 24-hour commentary mixed with the news. Social Media, which I abandoned more than a year ago, makes it worse. Many of the stories are disinformation, propaganda, or simply somebody’s opinion.
For example, there are reports that Russian soldiers are destroying their equipment and refusing to fight. Some people also believe in the Ghost of Kyiv who supposedly shot down a bunch of Russian fighter jets. Domestically there were those who said Trump was a Russian puppet or some other descriptive word like “agent” et cetera. In addition, we have the Biden laptop scandal. The list goes on and on.
- The first two examples are samples of propaganda: ideas or statements that may be false or present only one side of an argument that are used in order to gain support for a political leader, party, etc.
- The one about Trump is disinformation: false information that is given deliberately.
- The last one about the Biden laptop is a cover-up: action that is taken to hide a mistake or an illegal activity from the public.
Deception involves telling a partial truth. If a person or organization lies most or all the time then few will believe them. Deceivers must also appeal to emotion rather than intellect. If they appeal to the intellect rather than emotion then people will more easily uncover the parts of the story that are false, misleading, or out of context. Emotions can eradicate your analytical thinking skills and make you more susceptible to propaganda, disinformation, or cover-up storylines.
As stated in the title, there are negative outcomes. Below are just a few.
- Henry Louis Gates arrest controversy caused a national debate about the harassment of minorities by police. This was furthered by President Obama’s comments before he knew anything when he said “the Cambridge police acted stupidly”. Years later, in his memoir A Promised Land, Obama wrote that according to the White House’s polling, the incident caused a larger drop in white support for his presidency than any other single event. However, this false narrative set us up for the next big disinformation event:
- The “hands up don’t shoot” lie led to “The Ferguson Effect“. This led to the rise of the now-disgraced BLM and Defund the Police movements. America is still dealing with the fallout from this original lie. The number of people killed and the amount of property damage done based on this false narrative is incalculable. Race relations have not been this bad since the 1960s.
- All the disinformation and propaganda about Trump drove a huge divide in America. It led to actual hatred by some who would have otherwise been more reasonable. The outcome of false accusations and disinformation caused further racial and political divisions.
- The politicization and cover-up (lab not bats) of the origin of the China Flu, the vaccines as well as potential treatments, caused people to suffer needlessly. It also led to what we can term “The Covid Election of 2020”.
- The Biden laptop cover-up and states mishandling of the Covid Election led to not being able to trust our election results. This in part led to the protests on 6 Jan 2021.
- The disinformation and propaganda by QAnon and religious groups saying Trump would reclaim the presidency in part led to the trespassing at the Capitol, the destruction of some 1.5 million of the taxpayer’s property, and the punching and shoving of some people, and Ashli Babbit’s death on 6 Jan 2021. Note: The most egregious crimes (all misdemeanor) adjudicated to this point resulted in 41-month sentences. Jacob Chansley pleaded guilty in September to a single criminal count of obstructing a proceeding of Congress. Source CNBC. Scott Fairlamb received a 41-month sentence for punching a police officer. Source Reuters. As of March 2022, nobody has been found guilty of anything more than a misdemeanor. Source Wikipedia as of April 2022.
There are dozens of other examples. Regardless of how you see the above points, the question remains how do you sort it out? Here are some tips. Maybe you can add others to the comments.
- When possible wait before drawing conclusions. Any story can take days, weeks, or even years to be reconciled. Case in point, the Biden laptop.
- Check your own biases. Does a story align with your beliefs? Facts and beliefs are two different things and often get you in trouble when you mistake the two.
- Consider the source or sources. If all you watch, read or associate with is one-sided then you are likely to be negatively influenced. A good resource is AllSides.com. They also have a “Fact Check” bias chart.
- Try to develop a healthy skepticism but not be closed-minded.
- Maintain friendly relationships with people who believe opposite from you. Do not take it personally when a friend disagrees with your point of view.
- If you know you are right bring people to your side by asking questions. Do it privately so people are not publicly embarrassed when they cannot answer. Telling people they are wrong gets you nowhere. Ask them why they believe what they believe. You just might be surprised at the answer.
Mac and Mike, two Vets for Trump discuss: