In the mis/dis-information age, many centers of power can literally dictate what is true or fake to the unaware. Wake up!
Most people have read or heard enough of fake news being used to entrap others in long-drawn fraud and scam campaigns, to the point that they are now more careful about believing anything they consume and “share with friends”.
Although such fraud and scam campaigns hinge on age-old psychologic techniques, they continue to be effective (if not even more so) in the digital age.
What if you were told that “fake news” is actually old news — as far as the shady worlds of clandestine government psyops operations and commercial advertising?
What some “truth” or “known fact” you hold sacred in your life is one day revealed to be false or twisted, for the sake of a politician’s agenda or a commercial firm’s profit motives? In your zealous defense of this “truth”, you may have even taken drastic measures against friends, family and strangers through the years. You may even have suffered and sacrificed much to uphold your misguided “beliefs”.
Well, don’t look now, but powerful and/or influential individuals and organizations have been using “illusory truth” technics for decades. Legions of people have died fighting to uphold those “truths”, and many more have taught generations of their offspring to die for such inane causes.
Truth manipulation techniques
How have government organizations in the past crafted fake content and “truths” that have become firmly enshrined into generations of soldiers and people — in the name of (inter)national defense?
- Mass Psychological Operations (PSYOP): This Wikipedia entry provides shocking reading for people who may not otherwise suspect that anything officially deemed to be factual, is actually a “conspiracy” by power elites
- Abuse of the illusory truth effect: Read this entry to see how effective the technique of repeating untruths/half-truths in a big way over a long period of time is. Napoleon had reportedly observed: “there is only one figure in rhetoric of serious importance, namely, repetition”: whereby a repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth.
- Abuse of authority: Which institutions in a country control official statistics, facts and interpretations of the data? Can the people ever be sure that there are sufficient separations of powers to eliminate conflicts of interest? Can any international or influential authority have the monopoly on truth — to dictate or manipulate as needed for “the greater good”?
- Setting up official fact-checker entities: It is great to have officially endorsed agencies that aim to fact-check controversies, disputes and doubts in the mass media — until people find out that such agencies can be manipulated under the table, or, when mistakes in fact-checking occur, they are written off as a matter of interpretation or are simply downplayed with voluminous instances of accurate fact-checks.
- Abuse of censorship and narrative control: These powers, when used judiciously and lawfully, keep the peace. However, when used to silence unwanted dissent… it is the most powerful weapon against truth. Maybe this case could show the relevance.
- Manufacturing facts to mitigate or nullify uncovered lies: It is too easy for powerful entities caught lying to find official scapegoats or deny everything. Much more difficult but much more potent is to stand by the lies, feigning betrayal, reiterating non-verifiable excuses and alibis, and by pre-meditated manufacturing of mitigating “facts” (facts occurring after a lie) — often possible with technology nowadays.
- Selective choice of authority: In controversies where so-called experts are at a loss to provide answers, and they are divided in their opinions, powerful truth-manipulators can cherry pick experts whose opinions are liquid or can be molded by incentives. All other expert opinions are deemed irrelevant, non-existent, or unaccepted by the powers-that-be in that scenario. Usually, huge sums of payoffs are involved, and these can keep the truth hidden for decades until victims manage to gather enough courage, unity, legal and social momentum to obtain justice.
- Gaslighting, equivocal messaging and other PR tools: When an authoritative entity wishes to insist that something that is happening is not the truth, it can simply issue meaningless edicts on opposing opinions, claiming that “there is not enough evidence proving that” (even though there is not enough evidence proving their own case either). Any entity that argues scientifically or statistically against this appeal from authority is outranked, made to feel small, and/or overshadowed by powerful public relations propaganda and double-speak. This is highly effective since most people are too busy with the grind of life to see (and have become desensitized to) the glaring abuse of power and officious actions.
Remember what we were taught in the history books? The authorities had settled on the idea that the earth was the center of the solar system. We all know what happened to Galileo Galilei. Even if he was a minority of one, the truth eventually could not be suppressed any longer — after centuries of acceptance. Ditto goes to the decades of denials of UFO research.
And the takeaway lessons from this listicle? Keep an open mind in this disinformation/misinformation age: just as the principle behind the presumption of innocence is a legal right, people whom you believe to be sources of conspiracy theories and sensationalism deserve fair treatment and justice as much as anyone. Who knows, one day they may be vindicated by truth: the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…