NYT video series on Fake News. Worth the watch
I had heard about a video series on NPR’s Fresh Air regarding the origin and current issue with the concept of Fake News via Russia. You can listen and read the interview of the author, Adam Ellick here.
There are 3 videos of 15 to 17 minutes each. The series is titled: Operation Infektion, Russian Disinformation: From Cold War to Kanye You can watch them here. It begins with the AID’s hoax that it was a biological weapon developed and released by the US Military and how the KGB planted it and got it to spread such that it was ultimately reported on a US national news broadcast. This hoax still has it’s believers.
We learned about propaganda from our experience with Nazi Germany. With the advent of the internet, propaganda has become a more effective and a less costly means of waging war. Based on the reporting in the last episode of this series the US is vastly behind the curve when it comes to protecting our self from the harm it causes.
This really is an issue as large and significant as any of those most directly effecting us such as health care, climate change, income inequality. Unfortunately unlike those whose effects are directly experienced, propaganda/fake news has a virtual reality cover. Which leads to me to the question: What happens as humanity becomes more accustom to experiencing life via virtual reality than naturally? I suspect we become more susceptible to the intent of propaganda/fake news.
We used to understand the need to have a space free of commercial activity. It was our PBS. Now, even that is captured by commercial activity. We allow advertising in everything now. Has this over time now made us more susceptible to the desired effects of propaganda/fake news? I think it has. I believe Jerry Mander was very astute regarding what was happening to our collective conscience when he wrote his book: 4 Arguments for the Elimination of TV. One perspective he presented was the difference between nature’s time and the artificial time created by our modern society. We have continuously shortened the experience of time compared to amount of time it takes for nature to move. Productivity would be one commercial example of time shortening. The use of financing would be another. Ultimately, we are not living the reality of nature, but the reality of our creation which is a reality created for selfish gain whether monetary, power, control, life’s risk reduction or what have you. Throw in the internet, and our created reality becomes even more selfish in it’s desires and/or purpose in that it is so ever more efficient at reaching ever larger herds of people in the most vulnerable aspect of being human: emotion.
When we only had the written means of mass communication, it was up to the individual receiving it to determine the emotion and thus how much to believe, trust and then act upon. The images created were your own. With radio, vocal tonal inflections could now add clues as to how the message should be processed and acted upon, thus more powerful. Once moving pictures were added to sound, the ability to present a complete message such that there could be little if any risk of having the message misconstrued was complete. It is the TV news person having a smile and joyous voice as they tell you about the cute kitten and then immediately switching to a stern, motherly or fatherly voice and facial expression as they present a story requiring a moral judgement.
I guess what I’m saying here is that as much as living in this age of the internet and all it represents is so much fun, we have been very ignorant if not naïve as to what this virtual play ground has been doing to us. How did we get here today with Trump and the republican party? We did it to ourselves by not paying attention to how we are changing as a species as a result of our ability to add an artificial path to living life compared to natures own path in time.
Ok, the short message is that we have a real problem regarding the use of the internet for waging war. And, it’s not just the mechanics of the activity, it’s the lack of cognitive protection that exists due to carrying on in our merry way.
What happens as humanity becomes more accustomed to experiencing life via virtual reality than naturally?
I suspect that we’ll have to re-define “humanity”. Bunches of people, maybe most people can lose themselves in soap operas and newspaper astrology columns (late 20-th century), or Fox News and FaceBook (early 21st century), or The Matrix (late 21st century?). And from the standpoint of everyone else …. they’ll be gone.
Bunches. Maybe whole nations. The world will remain, to be observed and likely governed, by people who remain capable of stepping free of that mindset. Granted, this might be describing the top ranks of the Chinese Communist Party, so I have to admit there are other mental quagmires to step into than the internet.
Okay, I’m being rhetorical. What am I really thinking? That FaceBook “likes” and “swiping right” and Pepe-the-Frog memes and so on aren’t high value methods of political discussion, and that at some point we will learn to step back from them, and restrict governance to other channels. We may have to write letters to Congressmen to get our opinions noticed, for example. We may have to physically sign petitions, rather than clicking “Like” on iPhone,
Ruling the world will revert to those who take an effort. Kind of an interesting question — is this going to be the current Upper Class or a politicized segment of the Lower Class?
Funny, but the best propagandists in the world reside at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC–not to mention the NYT and Washington ComPost. Goebbles would be astonished at how they have managed to get most Americans to voluntarily swallow such obvious BS without the threat of the Gestapo kicking in their doors. Take Russia–we’re led to believe it’s a grave military threat, when it is NATO conducting military maneuvers on the Russian border and not the reverse. We’re also supposed to believe it of a country with a GDP half the size of California.
Do the Russians try to fight back via fake Internet stories? Undoubtably, but if that’s all it takes to undermine our supposedly glorious and robust democracy, it is all over anyway.
Here’s an idea–read RT.com just once. Seriously. And then ask yourself if the “propaganda” being published by that Kremlin outlet is any more obviously slanted that ANY American mainstream “news” outlet. Hint: it isn’t.
“We learned about propaganda from our experience with Nazi Germany.” This is flat out wrong. We learned about propaganda from the British in World War I If you’ve never heard of the Creel Committee and the Four Minute Men you are not qualified to write on this topic.
I am aware of the information noting the US/NATO pushing its boundaries as it relates to Ukraine and Russia’s response. Broken promise to Russia.
Of the entities you mention, only one is state owned: RT. Yes, it has legitimate info, but that as noted in the article I posted helps hide its purpose of being in service of the state. The others are commercial ventures in service to their own desires.
I suggested that commercialization is a problem as it relates to our ability to know the difference between natural and virtual reality.
Procopius, thank you for reminding me of the Creel Committee. However, I think there is a bit of a difference in what CPI was and what Nazi propaganda was for. Yes, both used to sway public opinion. And as we would like to believe there is a way to receive unadulterated info, there is not. I believe this speaks to Karl’s points.
With that, I was not speaking purely as to what is or is not propaganda. I was talking about a change that is happening to humanity via the ability to create virtual reality that includes the shortening of time and whether this will create a situation where propaganda in no longer identifiable. When propaganda was first used is beside the point. At the same time, my noting of Nazi propaganda was to note the completeness of the change of a society and what it lead too. Wilsons’s CPI is not an example of such end results of propaganda as it relates to humanity moving away from natural reality experience.