We live in an era of fake news.
The propaganda is equally deceptive on both sides of the ideological line. More and more I hear intelligent people saying “I don’t know what to believe anymore.”
On one hand it’s wonderful that people are waking up. CNN has always been neoliberal propaganda. Fox “News” and Breitbart have always been alt-right lies designed to capitalize on fear.
On the other hand the underground news sources that people have flocked to in their attempts to gain information are often just as bad as the corporate media misinformation factories that have sought to deceive the American people since Bill Clinton cast the death blow to media integrity in 1996.
It has been my goal as a political writer to ALWAYS speak the truth, but this is a perilous path. I have often sent an article out for proofreading and heard back..
“If you publish this, you will lose a lot of followers.”
As if the goal behind writing is to attain popularity.
I am immediately suspicious of popularity, as most of the time it is garnered by appealing to the most number of demographics through spoon-feeding garbage coated in sugar.
But there is something alluring to me about integrity.
I am, in many ways, still that same punk-rock kid with the Mohawk and nose-ring who screamed about social injustice and the ideals of truth back when it seemed that no one cared about such things.
One can make a lot of money pandering to people’s fears and integrity is a commodity that not far too few care about, so it saddens me deeply to see people falling for lies, regardless of where they land on the political spectrum.
Media outlets are more concerned with getting traffic than reporting the truth and as a result sensationalist stories rule the day and allow small media outlets to gain massive exposure in a short period of time through publishing their own propaganda.
As is often the case, extremes have more in common than they do differences. This can be exemplified by the Pizzagate scandal, which was first floated by alt-right websites in an attack on Hillary Clinton. The story was quickly picked up by those on the alt-left and spread faster than the common cold.
It has all the makings of a successful fake news story. It targets someone who is universally hated, in Hillary Clinton. It is dark and scary. But perhaps most importantly, it allows the believer to see themselves as being on “the good side”. After all, we ALL agree that the wealthy elites passing around children like party favors is something that we must stand against.
The problem is that the story isn’t true.
I could lie and say that it was true and increase my readership.
I could be silent and cowardly.
After all, what is to be gained by pointing out the obvious flaws in this story?
One cannot prove a negative and those who lack the reasoning (or motivation) to figure out that this is fake news will surely use logical fallacies to defend it.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that those of us who dislike Hillary Clinton for VALID reasons are shouted down by the self-righteous misinformed who have been searching back-channel sources who understand all too well the flaws in human logic that can be exploited by those skilled in rhetoric.
Disagree with Pizzagate and you are accused of being a neoliberal shill who secretly works for Hillary Clinton.
It’s hard to argue with the mentally ill.
It’s impossible to argue with someone who has an agenda.
The casualty of these propaganda factories is The Truth and of course this is the very thing that misinformation sites claim to be standing up for.
The challenge is that one out of several thousand conspiracy theories end up actually being true.
For example, I know, FOR A FACT, that the Democratic Party stacked the deck against Bernie Sanders in their attempts to further the voice of The People and further the agenda of their corporate oligarchy.
But before Wikileaks published the emails showing that the DNC put their collective thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton, all we had was a conspiracy theory.
What further complicates matters is that it is impossible to prove a negative and those who devour fake news have effectively turned the tables of logic and now use the strategy of making outrageous bogus claims then putting the onus on the recipient to prove its lack of validity.
If someone says that Hillary Clinton was using a body-double, even if you know that the claim is ludicrous, you simply cannot prove a negative. The person who believes this can spend several hours finding sites that will provide “proof” for their confirmation bias and they will do so with completely pure intent.
After several hours of “research” they will think of you as an idiot who is brainwashed by corporate media for not believing what has become completely obvious to them and you will likely lose faith in their reasoning abilities as well.
Thus a chasm is formed between people who believe that they know the truth and those who have the courage to admit that they don’t have any REAL evidence one way or another.
What the propaganda consumer is missing is that their arguments suffer from an extremely emotional pathogenesis. They believe with all their heart that they have discovered some great and secret truth. Then they alienate those who disagree with them in order to create a self-sustaining echo-chamber that will perpetuate their beliefs. As they add more and more “evidence” to support their belief, they become more and more removed from the reality that the rest of us try to function in.
What they fail to realize is that their confirmation bias must be engaged in order for them to fall victim to the propaganda.
For example, if someone says to you that Hillary Clinton actually died in September, but employed a body double and that this body double is part of the DNC oligarchy in their attempts to form a one world corporate government, you will probably dismiss this claim if your feelings about Clinton are either positive or neutral.
But if you have tremendous hatred for Clinton, then this theory fulfills several of your emotionally charged preconceived notions about the entity that you hate and therefore provides the motivation one needs to dive deeper and find the information that confirms this ludicrous belief.
Thankfully not everyone steps into these logical potholes on the back-roads of reasoning.
Many people are excellent critical thinkers.
So how do we know what truth is?
You’re not going to like the answer.
The truth of the matter is that often you simply will not be able to find the truth without a master’s degree in sleuthing and even then you will find that often the information is not available and you will have to say the one thing that no ego wants to hear…
“I don’t know”
No one wants to admit that they don’t have the answers and The Internet provides a steady stream of opinions issued as facts for those who are seeking a quick resolution from the anxiety of not knowing.
Why read THIS article that is asking you to use reason, logic and skepticism when there are thousands of websites that will offer instant ego gratification to fulfill your confirmation bias.
Most people will agree that Julian Assange publishing emails that showed how the DNC conspired with corporate media in order to assure that Hillary Clinton attained the nomination for their corrupt party was the catalyst that helped Trump attain the Presidency.
And most people will agree that it appears that Trump and Putin seem to have some sort of preexisting relationship that the American public is not privy to.
But just try to discuss Assange’s motivation behind releasing these emails and leftists who have become mired in identity politics will blindly support the assertion that Assange had no motivation to help the Russians.
What is the basis for this belief?
Because Assange said so.
This is the epitome of identity politics and identify politics is the most prevalent and destructive form of confirmation bias in all of politics.
It is the lie we tell ourselves to gather information to fulfill our own confirmation bias for people whom we believe are on our side.
Am I saying that I believe the six American intelligence agencies that all report that Russia hacked the DNC?
Of course I’m not saying that, because to say such a thing would make me a “sheeple who has been brainwashed by corporate media and is nothing more than a sheepherder for the Oligarchy.”
And herein lies the most insidious part of thinking that your news is better than someone else’s news. The end result is the complete invalidation of the person who disagrees with you.
Bringing it back to the subject, if you were to ask me personally what I think of Assange’s alleged links to the Russians, I would say…
“It’s tough to say. All six intelligence agencies agree, but then again these agencies have lied in the past. They lied about the WMDs in Iraq. The CIA was more than likely involved in the assassination of John Kennedy. Furthermore we know that the United States intelligence agencies have many times decided to keep pertinent information from the people (Pearl Harbor for example). So there is definitely reason to mistrust these agencies. They are not spotless. Having said that, being locked down in an Ecuadorian embassy, counting down the days until US forces storm the building, take you to a blacksite and torture you to death can’t be fun and one could not blame Assange for striking a deal with Putin. Also, these incidents of the intelligence agencies lying are memorable, because they are infrequent. A review of their track records shows that most of the time they seem to be telling the truth. I am left to wonder why Assange did not publish Trump’s tax returns as he once hinted that he would. I am also left to wonder why Wikileaks did not publish hacks of the RNC database. Am I to believe that they could not hack the RNC? Because that is simply too far-fetched to believe as almost any skilled hacker could have infiltrated either party’s system. Then there is the matter of the traces of Russian information in the code itself. Some would say that this is enough to implicate Assange. I would counter that this could be intentionally left behind as a way to throw the intelligence agencies off the scent. So in the end I will have to say the only reasonable thing that one could say in this situation. That I will wait for further information and not make a fool of myself proclaiming to know Truth that is actually just my emotionally charged opinion disguised as Truth.”
But who wants to hear all that?
It’s much easier to just side with the people we like and passionately sing their praises in a celebration of the limitations of identity politics.
In effect, this is a human problem.
We must overcome our own psychological limitations in order to actually find truth and no one wants to accept the ultimate Truth that many times we simply cannot know.
Our “reward” for using reason is ambiguity.
While the rest of the children are off playing with their “facts”, overflowing social media with their poorly argued logic, you have to sit on the sidelines with your “I don’t know.”
Why accept our human limitations when there are thousands of propaganda machines willing to produce something that hacks into these psychological blind spots and deliver something that looks like truth and smells like truth, but is actually one big lie served up to those desperate to know what the actual f+ck is going on?
Not everyone who engages in misinformation has been duped so blatantly.
Some have motivations that cause them to abandon logic and reason.
Many use the specter of imagined corruption to justify their slactivism.
It is so much more alluring to know some secret truth about the boogeyman, George Soros and his shadow involvement in the grassroots organization that you have decided isn’t worth your time.
These “keyboard warriors” will jump down any rabbit-hole that allows them to justify their complete lack of real activism. This allows them to hide behind the safety of their keyboards without ever doing any actual work.
These Social Justice Warriors are lured by the idea of knowing some dark secret that the peasants haven’t discovered. Facts are not important to them, identity is.
Tell them that you are going to an Our Revolution meeting and they will tell you that it is secretly ran by billionaires (based on how Jeff Weaver filed the corporation for tax purposes).
Tell them that Justice Democrats is doing so great work and they will tell you that Cenk Uyguy actually works for Hillary Clinton Super-Pac Correct the Record.
Facts and research are not important to these trolls.
Their goal is to shoot holes in the activism of others.
They engage in character assassination and anyone who disagrees with them is a “tool for the oligarchy”.
Even Bernie Sanders himself is not pure enough for these people, who will ONLY accept that which is universally rejected.
These people are contrarians in the same vein as that kid you knew in high-school who hated every band that you liked and only listened to the bands that no one had ever heard of and rejected those same artists when they achieved social acceptance.
For these people it is about being superior, not about being factual.
They are easy to identify as they will use ad hominem attacks to deflect from the fact that on some level they know that they are operating with fabricated data.
Never mind that they have literally NOTHING to back up their claim.
They now want to devalue you as a person and then expect you to prove a negative, while simultaneously dismissing every one of your thoughts as propaganda.
Truth is the ultimate casualty of fake news.