THE LAWSON’S PEAK BOOKS

Bad Info

Add to the long list of maladies in our electronic age the magnitude of bad information.

It’s appalling, really. It makes no difference which side of politics you’re on, the amount of bad information disseminated by national media and the Internet is mind-boggling.

Like most of the rest of you, I probably get dozens of political e-mails a day, and when I take the time to check them, I find that most are just flat wrong. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on: The vast majority of stuff you receive in your mailbox is incorrect, fully or partially.

I don’t know how these things get started, but the effect is devastating. Just a little Google research will reveal thousands of links to a particular piece of e-mail. If you wade through the many, many repeats of the e-mail you got by people who didn’t bother to check the facts either, you’ll eventually find evidence of the truth.

People seem to just get something in their e-mail, say, “Oh, my goodness, that’s terrible!” And they promptly forward it to a hundred more people who do the same thing, thus spreading the untruths in a compounded manner.

I kid you not, most of it is false. Things somehow become “fact” by repeating them in this day and age, but that’s not the way it works. I get e-mail after e-mail saying “this is true” and it is, in fact, not true at all.

What really annoys me is that, judging by the quality of politicians we have in office nowadays, there’s plenty to be hacked off at them about without making up stuff, or nurturing falsehoods.

The national media doesn’t help. They have their own agenda, it has become clear, and journalism has become propaganda. As I said once, reporters no longer go to White House press conferences with notepads, they go with pom poms. It was the same way for Bush…except they went with poison pens. The media either glorifies a politician or crucifies them, and that’s not the way it is supposed to work.

Take climate change. As soon as those hacked e-mails were released, the propaganda machine moved. Remember that huge iceberg menacing Australia? In almost no media coverage was it mentioned that the iceberg spalled off a glacier in 2000. If the media had mentioned it, they would have been obliged to note that this is what glaciers do: They head southward until they hit the ocean, the temperature differential and the weight of the leading edge caused it to fall off, and it floats away, slowly melting as it heads into warmer water. Glaciers, you see, have been doing this for hundreds of millions of years.

But to so report would put into doubt the notion that global warming has caused Australia to be menaced by a gigantic ice cube. So rather than be accurate and tell a complete story, they have chosen to be inaccurate and propagate a lie.

It is incomprehensible to me that a profession of which I am proud to belong has gone so far astray. Supposed “impact” reporting and “fact check” essays turn out to be so full of bias and leanings left or right as to be rendered entirely useless to anyone who bothers to think about what they’re reading.

We’ve managed, through all this misinformation, to polarize ourselves as a nation into left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, rather than all being Americans. We’ve managed to convince ourselves that something is true, because we want it to be so, because we are so infuriated with the other side.

I’ve let myself be lured into heated debates with people, when I pointed out that something they clung so desperately to was incorrect. Such people have ignored any attempt to show them evidence, and resort to calling names and making accusations of one affiliation or another because, in the end, they don’t want to know the truth, they only want to believe what suits them, and hate those who oppose.

And I submit to you, lest you be tempted to label me a right-winger or left-winger, that both our political parties in the system are just flat nuts. Neither are concerned with you, only themselves, greed and power. From extreme left to extreme right and all points in between, the vast majority care nothing for you or me…they only hunger for money and control over the people who elected them.

What you have here is taxation without representation, just like in the colonial days. On all sides.

You’ll get more factual information by laying on the couch with a gallon of gin and a baby bottle nipple attached to the top, while watching Monty Python, than all these e-mails and the majority of the national media.

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