Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Propaganda War!

I’ve seen this quote variously sourced but it goes like this “News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising.” I’d like to generalize on that little zinger: information is that which someone wants suppressed–everything else is propaganda. After asking my sociology teacher to show the class “What Barry Says,” a propaganda piece for the left as concerns US imperialism, something occurred to me. It’s really all just propaganda isn’t it? What happened was that one of the students in the class said that he thought that whoever made the short film is an idiot. A philosophically deep observation, true, but was there some merit to it? The teacher informed me that he later apologized to her about the remark, to which I replied that an apology was only necessary if the young gentleman was unwilling to generalize his statement. I wrote:

I’m always fascinated by that video piece because it IS such blatant propaganda and technically good, too. Even though I agree with the premise that the US is engaged in war corporatism, I know that piece was created not to persuade people, but to energize the people that already believe what’s being said. To that degree, I believe that anyone who unquestionly buys in to propaganda without measuring the facts is in idiot insofar as you define idiocy as possession of ignorace. What I wonder is if the student who made that comment would equally think that the makers and watchers of Fox News or even Superbowl advertising were idiots.

Whether it’s CNN’s take on the events of the day or the White House’s press release or some corporations cheerleading diatribe about the latest NEW AMAZING PRODUCT! or even anarchy protesters spouting vitriol about globalization, it doesn’t really matter what they say so long as you believe it. None of the just-named bodies or organizations are really capable of delivering to you unfettered, unfiltered and unbiased information. They all have cause. CNN wants your “eyeballs”. The White House wants your votes. The corporations want your dollars. The anarchists… well, they want anarchy but they’re still willing to bend the truth to their cause. Truly inert information is a near impossibility. Science comes closest to culling information that is “pure” but grant money and politics can affect even that noble pursuit.

So the sign post for our generation is “Information Consumer BEWARE!” Take information from one source at the peril of being decieved. It helps to ask yourself why such and such an entity is delivering information to you–what their motives are–but that’s not enough these days. The truth is often deeply buried. The best defense you have is the computer sitting in front of you most of the time these days.

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