I’ve been busy lately, and haven’t posted anything for a while, but there is something that keeps bugging me. So I decided to come back and write about it.
How easy it is to manipulate you. Yes you, the average consumer of the average news. So very easy. Public opinion can be swayed very easily by a strategically placed dead (or not very dead) child, or a touching story shown in prime time, or a not factually correct allegation that plays on your deepest fears… And then – torches, forks, witches burning – the usual stuff.
Let’s see what we had…
Refugee crisis in Europe, with the most prominent evidence of which in the media was a picture of a drowned Syrian boy on the Turkish beach. While the event is undoubtedly unfortunate, there’s more to the story that you might not have been told. Most of the refugees coming to Europe – are coming from Turkey. There’s no war in Turkey. And on their way to Germany and Sweden they pass numerous less prosperous but equally safe European countries. So when does a refugee end and a migrant begins? Depends who you ask.
New York Times (and Obama) fell for this: “Handcuffed for Making Clock, Ahmed Mohamed, 14, Wins Time With Obama“. Surprisingly (or not…) Ahmed Mohamed didn’t actually make a clock. What he did was a PR stunt, probably orchestrated by his father (a former Sudanese presidential candidate, none the less), so that they could earn political (and other) capital prior to their move back to the Middle East. What did you say, Texans are racists? They are, but in this case – they, and everyone else, were played.
Republicans are desperately trying to figure out how to prevent mass shootings and whether the one they heard of was preventable. However, they only heard of one – that one in Benghazi. They never heard of any other mass-shootings, that’s just “stuff” that “happens”. What did you say, they have a chance of winning the White House and have a majority in both houses of the Congress? Well, as I said – manipulating people is surprisingly easy.
The whole world was outraged when the Israelis were defending themselves against the Palestinian attacks last year. Everyone was claiming that the Israelis are deliberately targeting civilians. Have you heard HAMAS leaders actually admitting to using human shields, the ones that they claimed before to not exist? You haven’t? The Daily Mail have. But even they then continue, in the same sentence, to talk about “slaughter” in “retaliatory strikes”. Hello, Daily Mail journalists, when someone comes at you with a brick – are you just going to stand there and wait for that brick to smash your faces? No? Then don’t call it “retaliatory strikes”. There’s a term for that, and it is “defense”.
Next time when you hear about the “Israeli Blockade” – look at this article. It is Egypt, the Arab country, who is blockading Gaza. Israelis are actually the ones delivering supplies. Including power and water for which no-one pays. And it’s not that the Gazans don’t have money… Oh, oops… Maybe the pro-Palestinians should send another flotilla with humanitarian aid? Actually, even that – doesn’t happen in reality, despite what you might have heard in the news.
Another example – you might have heard the Palestinian President talking about a 13 years old boy executed by the Israelis. Hey, there’s even a picture (warning – shocking graphics!)! Can you tell from the picture that the boy was shot? To death? You can’t. Because he wasn’t. Neither shot, nor dead. Beaten quite a bit by concerned citizens, until the police arrived and actually saved him. You know why? Here’s the explanation. With another picture. Where that boy runs around with a knife just before stabbing a Jewish 13 years old boy. The Palestinian kid was taken to the (yes!) Israeli hospital, where he recovered. He might not even be charged with (attempted) murder because he’s (gasp!) a minor.
But who cares when you have a shocking graphics picture and a lot of hatred? You put a picture of a perpetrator, call him a “victim” and the average consumer will consume, because who needs to think?
And by the way liberal bias – look at this nice article about how Noam Chomsky refuses to actually debate. I consider myself liberal, but Mr. Chomsky should stick to his science and leave politics alone.
As I said, I consider myself liberal, but I do not want to be blind and just do/think as I’m told. That’s just stupid. When I read a story – I want to know facts, not opinions. When I see a picture that appeals to my fears or to my empathy – I know I’m being manipulated. I maybe am too cynical, but that’s how the world is. Sometimes the stories are in fact sad and we should feel bad/sad/pity because that is in fact the right thing to do. But not always. Many times, especially when a smooth propaganda machine is involved and the access to the free media is severely restricted, you will not see facts. Or, you’ll see facts, but picked especially for you, passed through several filters, and distilled to only let you know what the propagandist wants you to know. Like that “shot to death” 13 years old boy who was neither shot, nor dead, and was in fact a murderer. Well, attempted, at least.
Be careful with what you read. Don’t be shy, cross-check. Even if you want to believe something – just believing doesn’t make it true. Ask any religious person.
Your Little Advisor.