WiseBites Episode 23: Information or Disinformation?

In times of great political strife, the elites of the world deploy one of their most trusted methods of suppressing dissent. Disinformation. This is false or misleading information which purposely spread about in order to deceive the population. This is distinct from misinformation which is accidentally wrong or misleading. Disinformation is created with the specific intention of defrauding someone or something. The use of disinformation as a political weapon began in 1920s Soviet Union, in which the KGC founded the department for disinformatzia. Some sources even attribute the coining of the term to Stalin himself. The philosophy of disinformation is demonstrated in the word itself. It was designed to sound European in origin to make people think it was Western in origin. The Russian word for disinformation was actually maskirovka. One particularly influence campaign of disinformation was Operations INFEKTION which was designed to fool the public into believing the USA created AIDs.


Who is the Disinformation King?


Although the Soviet Union was the origin of the term, the most successful users of the technique are the US government. Their first major success was when they desired to overthrow the Shah of Iran to replace him with PM Mohammad Mossadegh. In order to make this transition easier, the CIA planted false articles in Iranian newspapers. Also during the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA planted false stories in newspapers of Muslim countries, claiming that the Soviet Union had staged a celebration called ‘Invasion Day.’ This was revealed by Reuters to be part of an overall strategy to isolate journalists in a country’s media and effectively make them US agents, crafting their stories to swing public opinion to a position America viewed favorably. In more modern times, the Government of Ronald Reagan launched a disinformation campaign against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. This played so hard on the conscience of some officials, that Department of State agent Bernard Kalb resigned and said that “Faith in the word of America is the pulse beat of democracy.” To him, that had been entirely compromised.


What is Disinformation Used For?


Disinformation is a major feature in information warfare. In which the views of the public are used to put pressure on an enemy, often from within the enemy’s own country. The rights and wrongs of this have been debated by philosophers over the last few decades. The system which they subsequently came up with said that certain types of disinformation are ethical, and some not. The example of inflatable tanks used to confuse German soldiers during WW2 was labelled as acceptable disinformation, however disguising an arms factory as a medical facility was labelled as unethical.


Disinformation has been in the heads of the world recently with the allegations of so called fake news being spread in order to influence the result of the 2016 US elections. For example, a fake news story was spread about that Catholic Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump to become President. This was then spread about by the media. This was then protested by the Pope, who even went so far as to declare media disinformation as a sin. He made the memorable statement about people who read disinformation news outlets as coprophiliacs. Fake news consumers were eating shit.


This is by far, not an exhaustive list of disinformation campaigns. There are literally thousands, the vast majority have probably not been exposed as disinformation. We take the media’s word for it because we were not there. We do not have the power to independently verify the truth of what the media feeds us. To show you just how common it is, the US Defense Department has an official model for how disinformation is spread. It starts with the intelligence agency locating, contacting and winning over figures in the media who can create the fake news. This is then published in news outlets which are sympathetic with the sentiments expressed in the articles. Once published in one outlet, it is quickly taken up by the other media outlets in the area as well as being spread through the internet and social networks. This can then spread all over the world. An article planted is Moscow can end up being taken up in Washington. We could also extend this model to cover more recent improvements in technology. A theory which spread on forum site Reddit took off and sparked the infamous Pizzagate scandal which resulted in a crazed gunman entering a restaurant armed with a shotgun, looking for a pedophile ring involving Hillary Clinton. The so called child rape ring was meant to be run out of the basement, in a restaurant without a basement.


Disinformation in the Modern Era


The internet has become the holy grail of disinformation disseminators. It is no longer necessary for the intelligence services to coop a journalist, who could potentially give the game away, all you have to do is set up a fake news site on the internet. You post the disinformation in an attractive way which is optimised to do well on Google search, and it will not be long before people are picking up on it and spreading it among themselves. The amount of information contained on social media for example that is actually disinformation, is most likely staggering. It becomes even more murky when disinformation mixes with its accidental cousin misinformation. This is when the truth becomes so twisted and convoluted, that it becomes useless as a means of information, but a big fat opportunity for conspiracy theorists.



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Modern efforts to counter the effects of disinformation are themselves, subject to serious disinformation. Internet censorship allows for corporations or government to decided what is and what is not disinformation. What stops them from merely using the opportunity to pump their own disinformation out while blocking the rest out? Are such measures actually methods to combat the phenomena of fake news, or are they merely an evolution in how they work? And here we see the immense difficulty with disinformation. We are unable to discern what is real and what is not. We were not present to behold the events as they happened, so all in all we are forced to accept somebody’s word for it. Perhaps the wisest thing we can do is to know about the source from which we gather the news and understand their motivations. The truth, or as close as it gets will be somewhere in the middle of all of the petulant lies.


The Gnostic Heretic writing for the Apollo Institute of Reason AIR Review©


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