Video: Fake News in the Great War

I find propaganda to be phenomenon that’s simultaneously fascinating and infuriating. I view myself as a propagandist, of a sort, in that I try to use rhetoric and evidence to influence people. But the vast majority of propaganda that’s out in the world is created or boosted by extremely powerful people and governments, all with their own agendas. They also seem to all be some degree of malicious, working to hide truths and spread lies, in amongst the facts they choose to recognize. Someone’s lying about everything so loudly and with so much conviction that it makes it incredibly difficult to tell what’s going on in the world. Often the best we can do is try to find sources we can trust, and keep a close eye on what they choose to ignore, or how they misrepresent things. My personal go-to has been to look at how a source talks about issues on which I believe I have enough expertise to tell fact from fiction, but that’s far from foolproof. It’s a vexing problem, and it’s one that will not be going away any time soon.

Another general rule I have is to consider historical parallels. I’m in the “history doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes” camp, and my hope for changing the kind of poem we’re in relies on understanding the structure of things as they have been. That’s why I’m grateful to people like Dan of Three Arrows, for digging into history on topics like this

The video goes over the use and abuse of propaganda leading up to, and during World War 1, covering lies countries told their own people, lies people and publications told each other, lies they told everyone else, and the corrupting effect those lies had not just directly, but also indirectly on people’s ability to believe in future reporting. In particular, this video frames WW1 as the first media war, in which global communication networks spread lies to global audiences, and  fabricated false realities for large segments of humanity. That has been more or less the norm ever since, and from what I can tell it’s only gotten worse in my lifetime. Hindsight isn’t flawless, but it can provide a perspective that I think is extremely important in dealing with the world as it is.


  1. lochaber says

    I’m mostly confused about the conspiracies/propaganda that circulate that just seem so absurd as to be inherently implausible, regardless of who is spreading them. Like, when people were claiming Obama was hiding millions of radical Islamic extremists in national parks… Just, like, have you visited a national park? have you gone camping? do you have any idea what it takes in terms of infrastructure and logistics to put people someplace and keep them healthy?

    Or when Alex Jones was going on about a NASA funded/operated pedophile base on Mars?

    I’m reminded of when I was a kid back in the 80s, and watching some daytime talkshow (I can’t remember whey I was home watching TV instead of at school, I almost never got sick…) about the Satanic Panic, where someone was claiming they went to some satanic ritual where they were digging up skeletons out of the graveyard, and swinging them around in chains, in front of a bonfire in the… (graveyard?churchyard?churchbackyard?), and having an orgy, and killing babies, and even as a sheltered kid, I found that just too ridiculous to believe. I’d been out at night before, and mostly, it was boring. And, how would that amount of desecration not get noticed? even backwoods bonfires sometimes got visits by cops, I couldn’t imagine a graveyard/churchyard bonfire escaping notice, especially since most churches tend to be closer to population centers. I just don’t get it…

  2. says

    It’s shit like when Joe Rogan shared the cat litter myth – people insisting that their friend saw it, etc.

    And if you already believe in global conspiracies, or aliens, or magic/religion, is this other stuff that big of a stretch?

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