Weaponized Media

https://newslit.org/combating-disinformation-about-the-war-in-ukraine

Politicians, foreign agents, con artists, and grifters are using media as weapons. It behooves all of us to learn how to recognize and combat information crafted to confuse and deceive us. There has been a rapid proliferation of interest and learned attention to the threats posed to society and the remedies available. The first line of defense is to inform ourselves and our friends.

Here are some contemporary resources:

Carlo-Cippola

What Drives People to Self-deceive?

It seems to me that people deceive themselves when they need to do so to reduce the dissonance between two incompatible perceptions. It takes cognitive energy to hold incompatible beliefs.

Consider this discussion of “Replacement Theory” as the primary motivation that prompted people to participate in the January 6th insurrection.

The fear that white privilege may be replaced by minority privilege could cause otherwise rational people to fear the progressives’ embrace of racial justice, economic equity, gender equity, and “woke” thinking in general. Political opportunists have been fueling such fears.

Solidarity

We are discovering that our economic interdependence can be a powerful deterrent to rogue behavior by leaders like Putin. Listen to historian Yuval Harari (Sapiens) as he analyzes the Ukraine situation.

Solidarity in Europe is not, by any means the whole picture. Here is a more pragmatic, or perhaps cynical view from Ian Bremmer, who heads an international consulting organization that advises heads of industry on international politics.

Not Credible

I am struck at how the news of Ukraine is being distorted in the Russian media in an effort to keep the Russian in the street from knowing of the atrocities being committed against Ukraine. Why should I be surprised? Russia has been fraught with propaganda for most of my life.

It is a way of life in authoritarian countries to publicly parrot and defend the party line and keep one’s personal assessment of the truth strictly private. “I have an opinion, but I don’t agree with it.” is a Russian joke that plays upon the state-enforced duplicity.

In China, it is also unsafe to be candid in criticism of the ruling party. As one Chinese national put it, “One never knows when the wind will change.” It may be OK to express dissent today, but your words once uttered may return later to haunt you.

While we find such fears foreign to us in America, legislators in Florida and Texas are actively working to suppress all sorts of views and information. Yes, it can happen here. With that in mind, read the following:

We are only as good as the information we get. Only as grounded, as enlightened, as capable of forming rational opinions about our political leaders and making intelligent decisions about our lives. If we’re fed lies, we’re lost. If we subsist on fiction, we dwell in a fantasyland. [Read more …]

Frank Bruni, NYT

Invisible Networks

Our modern world is interconnected by many largely invisible networks that we take for granted. No nation and no individual person can prosper without them. They are the physical manifestation of a simple truth: humans do best in collaboration with others.

The American myth of the Lone Ranger, aloof, independent and powerful is indeed a fiction. Putin is discovering that his authority is not absolute, and that his country is dependent on the goodwill of other nations.

Followers of Ayn Rand’s individualist philosophy might learn from this. Individual enterprise stands on the shoulders of networks of producers, educators, scholars, and ordinary working people who populate the social networks that prosper us all.

It’s all about community.

2/28/2022

To the point, this interview illustrates how even Putin and his supporters are deeply dependent on the financial networks of the rest of the world.

Back to Normal – Not

Our savvy about contagion has been heightened by our experience with Covid-19. Most of us now do the things that make the risk of increased social contact acceptable. We wear masks in high risk situations, we avoid some activities, we keep our resistance up with vaccine boosters.

Here’s a straight from the shoulder discourse that captures what I believe to be a sensible position to adopt.

Thanks to Doug Muder’s Weekly Sift for this link.

Better Blue than Dead?

Today David Leonhardt posted two tragic charts in his NYT newsletter, The Morning. They are tragic because they reveal the grim consequences of media illiteracy and politically motivated disinformation. Those who follow Donald Trump and believe in the GOP have sickened and died at much higher rates than those who don’t.

I think it was Stalin who said one person’s death is a tragedy, 100 deaths are a statistic. Leonhardt reveals the tragedy by focusing on a representative unvaccinated couple in New Jersey’s very pro-Trump Ocean County. The woman suffered for months in intensive care with Covid. Both are now vaccinated. The charts above show how much more likely people like them were to suffer the worst impacts of Covid-19.

Here in Bucks County, a “purple” county politically, Covid deaths have averaged five a day in recent months. It wasn’t front page news. I had to dig for the statistic. If the national trends hold true here, most were unvaccinated. Most unvaccinated people lean right politically. Many who lean right see compliance with mask requirements as a blue political statement.

If a serial killer was targeting five unmasked people a day, regardless of their politics there would be a massive mobilization of law enforcement to stop the carnage. So far I see no such reaction to our political mass killers, the ones who fuel anti-vax and anti-mask sentiment with the obvious lethal consequences. Nobody’s accusing those of railed against masks of murder.

What you believe can kill you. if you support Republican politicians, listen to what they say, what they avoid saying, and watch how they actually vote. Are they representing your family’s wellbeing? The public interest?

GOP Tells the Truth About Republicans

Well, yes. But not in the way they may have intended. Here is a “survey” they posted to their mailing list recently. I was registered as a Republican for a time, so I am on that list.

Those who know me well will recall that market research was one of my early careers. I know how to construct a survey intended to discover facts and opinions in an unbiased way. This one is carefully crafted to do exactly the opposite, and I doubt that the “results” are ever actually tabulated, except for the amount contributed.

Continue reading GOP Tells the Truth About Republicans

GOP Suicide Pact

As of November 163,000 preventable deaths were attributed to unvaccinated Americans succumbing to Covid. That is a staggering average of 900 people a day. While only 10% of those who identify as Democrats have not been vaccinated, 40% of Republicans haven’t. All the posturing and political theater by GOP leadership has fostered this tragic consequence of fear and ignorance.

If you doubt the statistics, check the source:

COVID-19 preventable mortality and leading cause of death ranking

Jared Ortaliza , Kendal Orgera Follow @_KendalOrgera on Twitter , Krutika Amin Follow @KrutikaAmin on Twitter , and Cynthia Cox Follow @cynthiaccox on Twitter
Published: Dec 10, 2021FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint

This updated issue brief examines COVID-19’s effect on mortality rates, and estimates that in November 2021, COVID-19 was number three on the list of leading causes of death in the U.S. As recently as January 2021, COVID was the number one leading cause of death, though COVID rank had briefly dropped to the 7th leading cause of death in July 2021 before the delta variant, relaxed social distancing and inadequate vaccinations led to a surge in new cases and deaths.

The analysis also estimates that nationally at least 163,000 deaths from COVID-19 between June and November could have been prevented with vaccines.

The analysis can be found on the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an information hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system.

One has to ask what motivates the party solidarity that tolerates so many flagrant affronts to values we once thought to be sacred: character, integrity, respect for other’s lives, and the principles of democracy. The GOP fancies itself to be the party of law and order, conserving and protecting the national interest. Where is the evidence in recent events that either GOP leadership or the rank and file care a whit for anyone but themselves?

Conflict Entrepreneurs

“Let’s you and him fight!”

That’s the mantra. Some people enjoy the drama they cause by triggering a confrontation and fueling the configuration. It’s akin to being an arsonist – a social arsonist. The result can be devastating to any community of shared interest.

Karen Tibbals names this destructive game in her current blog post:

I’m seeing a lot of this in the political mail I get from the GOP. Half truths and outright lies are employed to fuel outrage and villify the motives of the Democrats and all those who criticize Republicans.

It’s particularly distressing that these tactics attack proposals and policies that have socially desirable reforms such as stopping tax fraud and closing loopholes. The GOP attack on reforms that would allow the IRS to spot high dollar tax evasion and enforce the law earned three Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s fact-checkers.

“Disinformation is how you transform democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts.”

– Maria Ressa, journalist & 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner

Nonetheless, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), restates the falsehood in his current email blast, the theme of which is to denigrate Democrats and exalt Republicans as virtuous defenders of truth, freedom, and the American way. Never mind the GOP’s determined efforts to stonewall voting rights or the investigation of the instigators of the January 6th insurrection.

Toomey

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