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  • Another Wrinkle in the Information War

    Posted by James R. Rummel on March 22nd, 2007 (All posts by )

    I entered the public debate concerning gun control 15 years ago. A simple glance through my previous posts should indicate which side I was on.

    One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to get my opinion heard was how the media was biased in favor of gun control, and openly hostile to those of us who advocated gun ownership. Newspapers and TV media figures would routinely slant their stories to make the gun grabbers appear reasonable, while simultaneously trying to make self defense advocates appear to be out of touch extremists.

    What was worse was how the media played fast and loose with the facts. Sometimes the anti gun crowd would present an outright falsehood as fact, and the lie would appear in the newscast without any attempt to ascertain what was real.

    StrategyPage.com reports that our terrorists enemies have decided to use this to their advantage. According to the SP post, this ploy to spread disinformation is being openly discussed on Arab language websites.

    My view is that the Internet allows many people to fact check an item as soon as they become aware of it. I am interested to see if terrorists will be able to do this for long. Considering how the media never bothered to check the facts behind the gun control debate, I figure that this strategy will probably work in a limited fashion.

     

    14 Responses to “Another Wrinkle in the Information War”

    1. Methinks Says:

      I’m not surprised. I’m completely not surprised.

      Unfortunately, “fact checking” is not a big priority in Arab speaking countries. If you were subjected to as much conspiracy theory drivel as I was by the educated among them, I would think that you would be as jaded. The most disappointing thing is that most of the conspiracy theories had such giant holes in them that an entire planet could pass through it. Still, it was not large enough to alarm the bulk of the “intelligencia” in Arab countris. Moreover, even if it is not true, most Arabs (or “Arabic speakers”) are A-OK with willfully spreading – and often believing – disinformation if it “helps the cause” of “defeating the infidel crusaders”. And I’m talking about the Arabs we wouldn’t normally consider terrorists.

      Whether WE fact check the disinformation or not will be an interesting thing to observe.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      From the Strategy Page post:
      The “media jehadis” are instructed to tell stories in line with the anti-war tone of American and European media. Things like soldiers committing suicide because they were forced to take part in atrocities in Iraq. Or wounded soldiers suffering, or killing themselves, because of the poor care and abuse they have received from the army.

      I suspect this tactic will, as you suggest, have at best only limited effectiveness. It takes a lot of work to implement, and if it’s done on a big enough scale to have much effect it will very rapidly be publicized and discredited. Grass-roots Internet publicity schemes only work if you are distributing information that is not obviously bogus, from sources that are not obvious shills.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      From the comments on the Strategy Page post: a MEMRI article that goes into more detail.

    4. nathan zuckerman Says:

      There is a big difference between discussing gun control and the media and jihadists and the internet. Can you cite examples of the papers tellin glies about gun control? In fact, there is precious little gun con trol in American and thus to suggest that your side is not being heard is p.aon–well–plain silly! How much gun control exists inm
      America?

      As for the jihadists, we spread disinformation as well as they do, and anyone who believes all the nonsense posted is plain silly. Of oucrfse the bad guys will take advbantage of whatever is avbialable to them; and of course the good guys will try to counter this with their own methods…there is in fact an evolutionary rhythm involved, and they develop what they coider useful and explit what they believe our weakness and we patch up and counter…
      quick example: they spread nonsense and so MEMRI (you cite this) came about to counter their lies and nonsense.

    5. Methinks Says:

      Nathan,

      Gun control laws exist. They just don’t work. There’s a big difference.

    6. James R. Rummel Says:

      Can you cite examples of the papers tellin glies about gun control?

      The main way that the media spreads disinformation is by repeating talking points issued by the gun control lobby. These assertions are almost never checked for accuracy.

      A perfect example is the case of Michael Bellesiles, and I even linked to an article from National Review Online in my post. (You can access the article by clicking on the words “fact check an item” above.) Although questions were immediately raised when Bellesiles’ book was published, the media ignored any claims that the good professor was pulling a fast one while presenting his work as absolute truth.

      In fact, there is precious little gun con trol in American and thus to suggest that your side is not being heard is p.aon–well–plain silly!

      I said that the media is sympathetic to the gun control lobby, and hostile to those who advocate armed self defense. Please indicate where I said that the public never hears our side.

      So far as there being “precious little gun control in America”, you obviously haven’t been paying attention over the past three decades.

      So Nathan Zuckerman likes to make false claims about what Chicago Boyz contributers actually say. Hey, Jonathan! Remind you of anyone?

      James

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      The media never looks closely at the shared prejudices of the Left. If enemy propaganda is crafted to dovetail with Leftist perceptions or Leftist political needs then neither the media, nor academia, nor Leftist politicians will question it in the least.

      During the Vietnam war, Leftist propagated virtually every piece of communist propaganda virtually without any check or reflection at all. 30 years later, we know that almost everything the Left said about the war proved wrong, yet the Left learns nothing from the event. In 2004, the Left drove the Democrats to nominate John Kerry who made his political career as a mouth-piece for communist war crimes propaganda. Nobody on the Left saw anything at all wrong with this.

      Leftist care about themselves and their position in society and nothing else. If they can gain power and prestige by advancing the cause of democracy and freedom they will do so. But if their benefit requires pushing innocent people off a cliff to die in the millions then recent history has shown they will do just that.

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      nathan zuckerman,

      Can you cite examples of the papers tellin glies about gun control?

      Which do you like best: straight lies or lies or omission?

      Straight lies: How about the media myth reported for nearly 3 decades that you are most likely to be murdered by someone you know. The media has long portrayed that idea as meaning that you will be killed by friends or family when in fact it means that criminals kill other criminals whom they know.

      Lies of omission: How many national news stories have you seen about gun crimes? To many to count. Now, how many national news stories have you seen about people using guns to defend themselves or to deter crimes? Zero.

      Gun control is part of the Leftist agenda so the media does not or worse cannot question its tenets. Likewise, the idea that all the woes in the world spring from the actions of liberal-democracies is also a tenet of the Left and media cannot question it.

    9. Don Says:

      Or the media only tells a half truth when citing the ‘militia’ portion of the Second Amendment as the National Guard. In fact, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to define the militia. It does so in Title X, United States Code, subsection 311.

      “Militia: composition and classes

      (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
      (b) The classes of the militia are—
      (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
      (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

      Note how they miss the unorganized ‘militia’ which is composed of all males 17 to 45. Doesn’t fit their agenda.

    10. Brett Bellmore Says:

      “Can you cite examples of the papers tellin glies about gun control?”

      Let’s see; There’s the “Million Mom March”, where the media reported the MMM’s own vastly exagerated crowd numbers, despite being presented with aerial photos and transit authority records proving them wrong. I spent months trying to get a correction on that one from the Detroit Free Press, and never was completely successful. They finally admitted there was a contraversy about it, only when the MMM themselves admitted the march wasn’t as big as they’d claimed!

      There was the “assault weapon ban”, where papers reported that it banned machine guns, despite being presented with both the text of the ban, dictionary definitions of “machine gun”, and a quote from Josh Sugarman, the head of the Violence Policy Center, bragging about how clever it was to deceive them on this point.

      Then there’s the contraversy when concealed carry reform was being debated here in Michigan. The papers reported claims that it would lead to a bloodbath seriously, despite it being repeatedly pointed out to them that dozens of states had adopted the reform before us, and none of them had experienced anything of the sort.

      It has been my experience that many papers will publish press releases from gun control organizations, barely re-written, as straight news stories. Time after time I proved to one editor that he was being fed lies, and he just didn’t care. He always swallowed the next without hesitation. While even claims from our side that came accompanied by documentary proof were treated as unsupported “claims”.

    11. Elliot Says:

      Every time a state had a proposal for a concealed carry law, the media told us it would lead to disaster. I’m waiting for them to run the actual disaster stories. Are the sitting on the stories, or are there no stories?

    12. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

      I noticed “Nathan Zuckerman” can’t spell and didn’t stick around.

      Hmmmm…

    13. Bob Says:

      I’d be really, really careful of implying that “new media” manipulation tactics are a leftist, or islamist-only tactic. The best, and most successful/interesting manipulations that I know of are the evangelical, american, right leaning attempts to manipulate wikipedia articles.

      There’s also a pretty heavy sprinkling of bad fact checking by conservative media and politicians in the past, and at least to an extent, James is correct that the internet certainly helps immediately correct issues. I’d say that factcheck.org and prwatch show some nice political examples on both sides of the isle.

      I agree that the media plays fast and loose with 2nd amendment issues. The only solution I know of is to demand as decent of statistics and infomation from the other side as possible, and to avoid the temptation to use tainted pro-2a sources like Lott.

    14. James A Pacella Says:

      *eyes glaze over*…. yeah.. the vast conservative news media collossus. *rolls eyes*