Misdirection

In the comedy series, Dad’s Army, the road signs from one town to another were always being swapped around, so that the invading German army (expected any day) would be appropriately misdirected to the wrong place when they arrived.

Such misdirection is common in wartime. The Allies very successfully misdirected the Germans into believing that they would invade the continent via the shortest route – i.e. Calais -, when in fact they invaded via a longer route – i.e. Normandy-,  The Allies even constructed entire armies of inflatable tanks and planes, and parked them in fields in southeast England to assist in the deception.

The wooden horse of Troy was another famous deception. The Trojans thought it was a gift left by the Greeks, when actually it wasn’t.

And I’ve been wondering whether, post WW2 – during which they become very adept at misdirecting their enemies -, governments simply carried on using the same propaganda techniques that they’d been using on their enemies, only now on their own peoples.

Want to get people to stop smoking? Easy. Just convince them all that smoking causes lung cancer, and they’ll all stop smoking in next to no time. Whether smoking does or does not actually cause lung cancer doesn’t matter. Perception is everything: if people can be got to believe that it does, they’ll do what you want them to do.

Want to get people to stop using fossil fuels? Easy. Just convince them that carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere are causing global warming. Whether carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually does cause global warming doesn’t matter. Perception is everything: if people can be got to believe that it does, they’ll do what you want them to do.

Want to get people to stop using plastic bags? Easy. Just convince them that plastic bags and bottles floating in the oceans are killing fish, and they’ll stop using them. Whether plastic bags in the oceans actually do kill fish doesn’t matter. Perception is everything: if people can be got to believe that they do, they’ll do what you want them to do.

And so on, endlessly, with countless other things you might want them to do, or stop doing. Just invent a new scare for each one. Alcohol. Sugar. Salt. Fat. Fast food. Whatever. Keep them off balance the whole time. If they show signs of seeing through one deception, hit them with a new one.

And at the moment in the USA there’s a civil war going on between the old mainstream broadcast media and the new internet media. i.e. CNN and MSNBC against Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh. Both call each other “fake news”. Both come out with completely different portrayals of the world. Both sides say, “Trust me. Trust me. Don’t listen to the other guy.  He’s lying. We’d never lie to you. We’re as pure as driven snow.”  In one narrative, the mad, bad, and incompetent Donald Trump only became president with the help of Russian collusion. In the other narrative, Donald Trump is an American superhero who only just managed to save the republic from crooked Hillary. Nobody knows who’s really on whose side: who’s one of the White Hats, and who’s one of the Black Hats. Is Attorney General Jeff Sessions really working for Trump, or is he working for the other side? Was Steve Bannon the brain behind the Trump campaign, or was he an interloper with his own personal ambitions? Nobody is above suspicion, and their fall from grace can be very sudden. In Stalin’s Soviet Union, they’d have been put up against a wall and shot.

I’m not suggesting that there was anything deliberate about all the misdirection and deception. Rather I’m suggesting that it’s part of a wartime culture. It’s what happens during wartime. Always. Everywhere. And we’ve always been engaged in one sort of war or other – hot war, cold war, warm war. And when the enemy needs to always be misdirected, then your own people always need to be misdirected as well. For the road signs in Dad;s Army never misdirected the German Army (it never arrived), but they almost certainly misdirected lots of English people, who were trying to get to Leicester, but ended up in Gloucester.

Did the troops landing in Normandy know where they were landing? Almost certainly not. That had to be kept secret from almost everybody until the last moment. They probably only knew, from the training they were being given, that they were going to be landing on a beach somewhere. They had no idea where. And in fact maybe they were told that they were going to land in Calais.

I think that large scale misdirection of this sort can only happen if the news media are under tight control, and everyone’s singing from the same hymn sheet. And for the past century or more it has been possible for governments to control the press, control radio, and also control television. It’s quite easy to do if you control the broadcast media at source e.g. the radio station transmitters. But it seems to be much harder in an internet era when there are multiple sources swapping information with countless other sources in a two-way continual exchange. In that world, rival messages and narratives can develop. And that’s exactly what’s happening in the US political arena. It’s no longer possible for anyone to centrally control the message that’s being sent to everyone. There’ no longer one truth, but multiple rival truths. And quite possibly everyone concerned believes that they’re the only people telling the truth.

And I’m one of these new internet sources. When I press Publish, I get published globally (although maybe not China). I get read by people in Europe and the Americas and Australia and New Zealand. I even get read in Russia, and occasionally in India. And I don’t have to present my blog posts to an editor to approve before they’re published. I’ve never been censored or silenced. Google doesn’t seem to misdirect people to another Frank Davis. Nor does Facebook. Or WordPress.

And I tell my truth. In this respect I’m as pure as driven snow. But that doesn’t mean that I’m right. Don’t we all think we’re right, all the time, about absolutely everything, until we find out that we’re wrong? And when we do find out we we’re wrong, doesn’t it take less than a second before we’ve effortlessly changed our tune, and become even more right than we were a second or two ago?

And it’s snowing outside. It has been snowing on and off for days. And that’s how I know all about driven snow, and how pure it is. And also why I’m already sick of the stuff.

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to Misdirection

  1. Rose says:

    Want to get people to stop using fossil fuels? Easy. Just convince them that carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere are causing global warming

    Here’s one I forgot to post the other day.

    Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn’t been verified
    24 January 2010
    “The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”

    “Dr Lal’s admission will only add to the mounting furore over the melting glaciers assertion, which the IPCC was last week forced to withdraw because it has no scientific foundation.”

    “The claim that Himalayan glaciers are set to disappear by 2035 rests on two 1999 magazine interviews with glaciologist Syed Hasnain, which were then recycled without any further investigation in a 2005 report by the environmental campaign group WWF.
    It was this report that Dr Lal and his team cited as their source.”

    “The WWF article also contained a basic error in its arithmetic. A claim that one glacier was retreating at the alarming rate of 134 metres a year should in fact have said 23 metres – the authors had divided the total loss measured over 121 years by 21, not 121.”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245636/Glacier-scientists-says-knew-data-verified.html

    https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/freezing-arctic-blast-looms/#comment-153934.

  2. >It’s no longer possible for anyone to centrally control the message that’s being sent to everyone.

    Well, the progressives don’t agree. They’re still trying hard to shut down alternative media. The other day CNN got YouTube to pull an Infowars video, and reports are that Infowars is close to being shut down. YouTube has demonetised right-wing accounts. Twitter bans people that are off-message and who get too popular. Leftists flood right-wing websites with DDOS attacks. You’re simply too small at the moment to attract attention (same with my blog), but start getting a million visits a day and things may change.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I know they’re trying to shut down the alternative media. I watch Infowars quite a lot, and I’ve noticed them complaining about demonetisation, and attempts to silence them. But they;re still around, and getting bigger. And if there’s a hunger in people for the likes of Roger Stone and Steve Pieczenik or Jerome Corsi, people will find a way. What does it matter if YouTube demonetises them? Inconvenient. I got interested enough in Corsi talking about QAnon to subscribe to his jrlCorsi YouTube channel, only to find it more or less devoid of videos a couple of days later after some intervention. But doesn’t that make it all the more interesting? Doesn’t it draw attention to them. Alex Jones has said that he knew he was winning when Hillary Clinton mentioned him by name in a speech: she’d just informed a few million people about him who’d never heard of him. Michael Savage is banned from entering Britain: that’s about the best recommendation that ayone could ever get!

      If YouTube and Facebook etc kick such people out, they’ll just go somewhere else, and YouTube and Facebook lose them, it’s only going to be at their expense, for putting political loyalty above their bottom lne. A sure fire way of going broke (which is what the MSM are doing).

      • Hopefully you’re right, but the left’s use of DDOS attacks means that alternative platforms are difficult to find. You need a lot of expensive infrastructure to cope with those.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Infowars seems to come under regular attack, but they always seem to survive, examples: December 2016, and February 2018.

          Alex Jones himself currently seems to be less concerned about such attacks than by threats to remove his presence from Google and Facebook and Twitter.

          Jerome Corsi had his Facebook page suspended a couple of days ago, but today it was restored, with YouTube offering to help restore it – which seems to fit with claims that some people working for Facebook are acting independently of it.

  3. waltc says:

    Well, you’re right. Propaganda is propaganda is propaganda. And it’s always a war–for the (far too susceptible) human mind. It comes at you from all angles, not just the media, but government, academia, Experts, and finally from your parroting neighbors. (Everybody knows what Everybody knows.) and you can’t keep up fast enough to whack the mole. And also, as in war, it tells you not only what to fear, but who to hate (the Krauts, the Gooks, the smokers, the gun owners). And it tends to succeed. Finding alternatives requires active work; all you have to do is sit still for propaganda. It blares at you constantly from all angles.

  4. johnm33 says:

    I prefer my misdirection with a little [url=https://theconversation.com/the-manipulation-of-the-american-mind-edward-bernays-and-the-birth-of-public-relations-44393]bernays sauce.[/url]

  5. And that’s how I know all about driven snow, and how pure it is.

    Pure snow ??? You can only be saying that because you’ve not yet heard about acid snow (aka second-hand acid rain), and the havoc it may wreak on our health (in the long run, natch!)…

  6. Peter Carter says:

    The way it looks to me, people don’t really believe the stuff about climate and plastic bags – they just make the tiny gestures they are told to. The aim is to find ways to demonstrate that they are ‘nice’ and to contrast themselves against the other tribe (probably Brexiteers) who are not nice. They don’t need the cause to be based on anything real; just something symbolic to demonstrate that they are on the right side.

  7. Don’t we all think we’re right, all the time, about absolutely everything, until we find out that we’re wrong?

    Some people – not a few, I’m afraid – still deem themselves to be right about something after finding out they’ve been wrong all the time, as long as nobody ‘important’ calls them out on it. Sincerity does not imply being honest with oneself… in the case of anti-smoking ‘researchers’, the epidemiological blunder (or ‘catastrophic howler’, in R.A. Fisher’s words) is so humongous it cannot have escaped the attention of even the most scatterbrained of 2nd rate scientists for so long.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    And I tell my truth. In this respect I’m as pure as driven snow. But that doesn’t mean that I’m right. Don’t we all think we’re right, all the time, about absolutely everything, until we find out that we’re wrong? And when we do find out we we’re wrong, doesn’t it take less than a second before we’ve effortlessly changed our tune, and become even more right than we were a second or two ago?
    I don’t think I’m right all the time but I argue my point until convinced otherwise, rightly or wrongly. I can’t become more right than right.

    And it’s snowing outside. It has been snowing on and off for days. And that’s how I know all about driven snow, and how pure it is. And also why I’m already sick of the stuff.
    We’re here the unlucky ones; only on Tuesday did we wake up to snow. What a welcome change to the usual cold rain we get in Winter! I even WALKED the scenic route to the shops!!
    How can you be sick of it?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I only ever like snow for about an hour when It’s just fallen. After that, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to go out in it. I’ve fallen over on snow or ice quite enough times, thank you.

  9. johnm33 says:

    So was the horse the decepton at Troy, or was the story of the horse the deception? Ever wondered how Aeneas managed to sail away, with enough wealth to support his army whilst they laid out the foundations, drains and aquaducts of Rome, with him taking a 2 year sojourn in Carthage?, and everyone else killed/enslaved. A bribe? perhaps.
    Since you mentioned Leicester, years ago, something on Timeteam[?] provoked my curiosity, they refused to date a piece of wood from an ancient bridge, anyway over the years i read the various histories including those of the holinshed project, and came to the conclusion that the ‘roman’ roads were in place by 350 bc. I’d always thought Lear was fictional but as far as the ancients were concerned he was real, and they were there. So his dad had a place in Batheastern and a road was built direct to Leicester, which he founded, more or less passing the entrance to his palace/castle. Last year i took a few days out to walk around the area, my guess is that originally Lears leicester was based around fosse road south, his palace now has a hospital on the site, that being the hill accessed via westcotes drive from the fosse road. Lear seems to have become fictional in about 1830, why?

  10. Yvonne says:

    There are roads in Manchester, and possibly other towns and cities in UK, that don’t have marked street names. The reason given is that they were taken down during the war and never replaced. Was this true deception or is it just folklore?
    Many locals still give directions referencing pub names but I guess this will die off sooner rather than later with the demise of so many pubs.
    Satnavs have overtaken A-Zs; however, I wonder what landmarks will be used for directions if there is a satellite blackout? Particularly when so few people actually have roots in the areas they live.
    Worryingly, I read a KPMG report on blockchain technology being used to keep individuals’ data. Apparently this will cut duplication and simplify property transactions. The downside will be loss of privacy. Ironic that bitcoin was supposed to free individuals from central bankers and already governments looking as a way for greater control.

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