For episode 23 of the Security Shit Show – Watch it LIVEThursday night @ 2200 CST!
The "United" States of America has never been more disunited and divided, at least not in my lifetime. There's a hypothesis claiming a reason for our division is the disinformation that floods our inboxes, televisions, newsfeeds, and social media accounts every second of every day.
Is this true? Is disinformation dividing us? What is disinformation anyway? Is there someone or something behind it all?
Let’s break this down into component parts using as much logic and reason as we can muster. Logic and reason are beautiful things, but they fight against biases and emotions in our minds. The battle is in our heads.
Alright, let’s go down the rabbit hole. Trying to simplify what’s in my own head, but not oversimplify.
We need to define “disinformation”, and it helps to define “information” first. Yesterday I wrote a simple explanation of what information is, and how it differs from data.
Data is raw, unorganized representation of facts and/or statistics.
Information is organized data to provide meaning and relevance.
For our purposes, it’s safe to claim that data is fact and information is the interpretation of data; therefore, data is truth, and information is where lies can live.
A simple Google search of “disinformation” gives us:
false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.
So, disinformation then, is false interpretations of data intended to mislead.
Cool. Now, how does this apply to us, more specifically, the division of the United States of America?
Deeper into the rabbit hole we go…
This is the U.S. population according to the United States Census Bureau as of 6:15am (10/15/2020). This is also the number of realities that exist in the United States.
Yes, you read that right. There are 330 million+ REALITIES in the United States (at least).
There isn’t one single reality, unless there was nothing more than data without interpretation, and people don’t understand data without interpretation. A person's reality is their interpretation of data, and their interpretation will be heavily influenced by their perspective (with the bias, emotion, etc. that comes along).
Want to alter someone’s reality? Feed them a constant stream of information (your interpretation of data).
- If your constant stream of information confirms their perspective, you’ll drive the nail deeper (maybe even create yourself a “radical”).
- If your constant stream of information conflicts with their perspective, you might change their minds (assuming left brains prevail) or more likely evoke a slew of feelings that spill out the right side of their brain (where emotion lives), including anger, fear, confusion, depression, and maybe even violence.
A person’s perspective + the information they consume = their reality.
OK, this is simplified, but hopefully you smell what I’m steppin’ in here.
If you are naïve enough to think that (dis)information isn’t being used to manipulate people, then we you should spend some of your precious time to watch this episode of the Shit Show!
Examples of Disinformation Hot Topics
Just some topics that are used by disinformationists (a new word) to manipulate your vote and further divide us:
- 217K deaths in the United States; cause of death versus had COVID-19 at time of death.
- Trump should be held accountable for COVID-19 deaths in the United States
- Masks stop the spread of COVID-19 versus limit the spread of COVID-19 versus do nothing to help.
- “Superspreader” events; choir practices, Sturgis, birthday parties, political rallies, etc.
- Lockdowns work versus lockdowns don’t work
- Deaths from COVID-19 versus deaths from our response (failure to get preventative care, early detection of diseases, mental health/suicide, economic pressures, etc.)
- Social Justice Issues
- All cops are bad versus some cops are bad.
- Minorities are being targeted versus minorities being more involved in crime leading to more encounters.
- Law and order versus anarchy.
- We should give back land to native Americans versus helping where people are currently at.
- Reparations versus it not helping.
- Systemic racism
- All “patriots” are right-wing racists versus they’re just patriots who love their country.
- Gun control versus gun control doesn’t work and it’s a right.
- The economy
There are many, many more examples of disinformation, but this is a good start. We could spend weeks talking about these alone.
How to Fight Disinformation
1. It starts with recognizing your own bias. Ask yourself:
- Why do I believe what I believe?
- Can I defend what I believe, using reason, without changing the subject or attacking/belittling someone who’s questioning me?
- Are there facts to back what I believe, or do I use someone else’s interpretation of facts? If it’s someone else’s interpretation:
- Are they biased?
- Are they lying?
- Do I truly trust them?
- How much does my background influence my perspective at the expense of using data?
2. Entertain other perspectives. Other people might have valid points for you to consider. When doing this, ask yourself:
- Are they using data to support their view?
- Where did they get their data?
- Can I research and review the data for myself?
3. Be respectful of others ALWAYS. It’s OK for other people to disagree with you and it’s OK to be unique. There’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree unless you disrespect someone else.
4. Do research. Find data.
5. Use your left brain (logic and reason) as much or more than using your right brain (emotion) when drawing conclusions. For some people, this comes more naturally than for others.
These are my thoughts for tonight’s Security Shit Show. Could be all bullshit or some good shit. You decide (hopefully with some data).