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.