Disinformation v. Misinformation

Currently the 45th president of the United States is actively implementing a psychological tactic designed to shape an unrealistic societal environment, directed primarily at the American people. He is intentionally creating an atmosphere of doubt insecurity and chaos where that environment did not exist in order to foster development and maintain a distinct social group. In the past that tactic had a goal of preparing the population for significant change into a fascist totalitarian direction. America is currently confronted with a test. Going down this dangerous path totalitarian regimes have taking pressures citizens experience through decades of poverty imprisonment and lack of hope before the anti-democratic establishment is challenged and things are righted has had side effects. War, wealth transfers to the propaganda elite and deaths of those that stand in the way just to name a few.

Natural fears, negative assumptions and prejudices are easily amplified in a nation of immigrants as opposed to more homogeneous societies. Just reinforce those beliefs and amplify the misconceptions and you have a country made up of people ready to tear their national identity to threads. Americans after one or two generations have usually become for the most part Americans more like their neighbors in towns and cities all across the country rather than the distant family they left back home an ocean away.

Misinformation or the misstatement of facts is what honest and reputable people or organizations, media and governments unfortunately do from time to time with no malice. People inadvertently do make mistakes. However, when confronted with better information or more precise facts the reputable admittedly own the error and restate facts as best as they can truthfully and honestly. If not through a healthy and open debatethe truth is found. That original mistake is usually used by the dishonest and portrayed as intentional and in today’s jargon as “fake” by the dishonest.

Not to go unnoticed by experts blackmail, espionage and psychological warfare has worked its way into the mainstream our our current American discourse. Many experts have concluded that Russia assisted in Donald Trump’s presidential win in the 2016 election. Whether wittingly or unwittingly Americans participated in the election of someone that did not receive the majority or popular vote aided by a foreign power. Incidentally, that’s at least the second time in United States history that a person not wanted by the majority of people sits in the White House. Disinformation through social media seems to be a primary avenue used to get information or news for many and wouldn’t you know it the validity of neither the source or content of so-called news and human interest stories were not checked.  

Hitler’s Third Reich’s disinformation was directed toward its people and the world to both minimize internal resistance and to push back in time any action the Allied forces could have been planning. Intelligence and German Resistance: A Documentary History by Jurgen Heidenking outlines the elaborate steps taken by the Nazi’s to root out assasination attempts, resistance forces as well the plans offered by American experts to counter with post World War II propaganda programs to ease the transition away for fascism. Retired intelligence officials especially cold-war veterans are quick to know the difference.

Using propaganda and fostering the acceptance of conspiracy theories, biases and prejudices is exactly the opposite of what an honest democratic government should do. Facts matter. Statistics are real. One nation undivided is formidable. The dishonest work for the opposite. Creating public dissents by expanding or not challenging conspiracies to create a dis-union is where America is today. In other words the government is actively attempting to tear down the society. Making our country vulnerable to outside and extreme internal forces.

Being well informed seems to be the antidote to bad information. Note the recent publication, The Democratic Defense Against Discrimination by Daniel Fried, former ambassador to Poland  and Alina Polyakova of the Brookings Institute. A 13 page pamphlet addressing the present day Russian threat to our democracy. Through time tested techniques Russia deployed disinformation attacks on the United States during the 2016 election. This publication suggests many ways to combat disinformation for example sharing intelligence with U.S. government and foreign agencies aimed at tracking bad actors and various campaigns. A well educated, well informed populous and a free press is a good place to start.

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