Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Disinformation - part deux

OK, from yesterday's blog, we've established that disinformation is deliberately putting out false information to mislead people in an attempt to manipulate their behavior, beliefs, emotions, vote, money or all the above.

Wikipedia also describes disinformation as taking the form of forged documents and manuscripts, photographs, the propagation of malicious rumours and fabricated "intelligence."

For espionage or military intelligence, it means deliberately spreading false information to mislead an enemy as to one's position or course of action. It also distorts true information in such a way as to render it useless by the competitor (as in corporate espionage) or enemy.

Commerce and government also use disinformation to undermine a competitor or opposition (nation or political party) in a way always intended to manipulate its receiver.

Again, disinformation is outright deception and the blatant use of false statements to convince specific people that the disinformative lie is the truth in order to manipulate the behavior, beliefs, emotions, vote and/or money of the target audience.

Disinformation differs from propaganda. Disinformation's source can be amorphous - that is, feel like it comes from "on high," or an "authoritative source." Such as "an anonymous source in the Bush administration." "Scientific experts reveal..." "Democratic party sources..." "Medical authorities report..." Disinformation can also sound downright intelligent, even if it isn't true.

Propaganda is pretty blatant about its origin, and it's goal is to make you take some sort of action desired by its creator. "Christianity is the only true religion." "If you are not Muslim you are a 'non-believer.' and should die." "Anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to hell." "If you don't care about what's good for the country? Vote against the immigration bill."

That's propaganda.

Propaganda can be well received by an uneducated audience, but can be considered insulting to informed people who read it because it's so biased and distorted and assumes a great deal of ignorance about its subject. Propaganda is a more in-your-face attempt to manipulate your behavior than disinformation - sometimes even encouraging you to take clandestine, cloak and dagger action, such as attend a meeting that might be against the law, seen as disloyal to an institution (educational, religious) or against a company's rules.

The Big Lie is an irrational story intended to hit you emotionally, counting on your strong negative (even knee-jerk) reaction to the subject of the Big Lie without any disinformation. Lots of statements passed off as "facts" pertaining to "September 11th" were in fact part of a Big Lie campaign to manipulate your point of view about Iraq and "the war on terrorism."

Because many Americans already have a negative attitude toward specific groups, such as gays and lesbians, it's easy to initiate many shocking, irrational Big Lie campaigns against them that by definition are totally untrue, such as gay and lesbian parents are somehow not as good as their heterosexual counterparts. Truth is, as verified by The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (1999) there is no difference between gay and lesbian parents and their counterparts. In fact, it's noted that because gay and lesbian parents must be so carefully and intensely screened before they are allowed to adopt, there is evidence they even excel at their child rearing skills.

Hitler and the Nazi's conducted dozens of Big Lie campaigns against Jews, gays and other groups during World War II because so many were already negatively disposed toward them. It was easy to capitalize on the bigotry that already existed.

The world-wide Big Lie campaign underway now intends to convince you that The Holocaust never happened. Despite the overwhelming legal, photographic and eyewitness evidence, Big Lie tellers want to erase from our history books the fact that more than nine million people were killed by the Nazi's during WWII in concentration camps - most of them killed in gas chambers.

Along with six million Jews, three million gays, Catholics, Gypsies and those opposed to the Nazi party were murdered by Nazi's in concentration camps, following orders from German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Censorship is used to prevent information from being released - usually blocking just one side of an argument or anything that is seen as critical of the group or individual doing the censoring. Normally, censorship is accompanied with disinformation about the group or individual being censored so there is a complete disdain for the group or individual being censored and about whom intentionally untrue information is spread.

The intention of those censoring and disinforming is to make themselves appear to be the good guys; their opponents - people to be shunned, denied everything from jobs to service, or even that their numbers are so small that they barely exist.

A censorship/disinformation campaign usually makes general populations believe that there is little, if any threat from those being censored, no matter how large their actual numbers or how strongly dissidence is factually experienced in a nation, company, institution (military, relgious).

So much for intentional lies, distortions and irrational messages.

Now we deal with unintentional untruths that can have the same result: misinformation.

This is misinformation forwarded which is believed to be true. Media help pass on misinformation on a mass basis when they don't research their stories or question the facts or sources.

Misinformation becomes disinformation when "news personalities" get hold of the misinformation and pass it on in a faux factual manner that suits their biases. In the first draft of this blog I named names on the right and left who do this, but I'll leave it up to you to fill them in because you know who they are and you are smart enough to detect their inaccurate reading of factual information.

Understanding the use of disinformation is crucial when dealing with people who believe there are only two types of people: good and evil. Whether it's George Bush or Osama Bin Laden, whoever is on the speaking end of the conversation, they believe they are the "good" part of that equation and that it's OK for their side to use it because it's only advancing their good cause.

The definition of maturity is to hold two opposing points simultaneously, understanding that they can exist at once, and deal with both in a way that is constructive. Such as: while the US is considered the greatest nation in the world, it has done some horrible things in its history. It tolerated slavery, dropped two atom bombs on a warring nation when one alone was overkill with massive collateral damage, and intentionally killed thousands of American Indians by giving them blankets infested with smallpox as they were forced to move from their reservation, walking along what came to be known The Trail of Tears - and more.

America, according to its constitution, is not a nation of good and evil, nor is it intended to view the world that way; it is supposed to be a nation of justice. There's a difference. Without justice, we don't learn from our mistakes. Without justice we turn a blind eye to scurrilous acts taken against our own citizens (i.e., the McCarthy Era) and others (imprisoning unindicted foreign national and US citizens for whom there is no evidence of wrongdoing indefinitely at Guantanamo).

Refusing to learn from our mistakes? That would, indeed, assure the unconstitutional continuation of evil deeds committed by the US government not accidently, but on purpose.

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