The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people~ Tom Clancy
Yesterday, as we Americans celebrated the Fourth of July 2018 we honored this nation’s tradition of giving a nod to the Forefathers, joining the community festivities and relaxing on our shared national observance of the truths “made evident” in the Declaration of Independence. And yet, in these troubled times, many Americans eschew the festivities and stress out instead on the swamp-draining reality in which we are drowning….
As a fierce proponent for open government my thoughts inevitably turn to the fact that it was on July 4, 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act https://foift.org/resources/freedom-information-act/– a factoid notably absent from public discourse, much less presidential proclamations…..
In truth, reflections on the passage of FOIA are fraught with pain for many. We had such hope. Skimming through the scores of FOI-related blog posts I’ve written In recent times (145 in total according to the omniscient system….) I am appalled at the profound impact that changing times are having on the tone and focus of those posts.
Earlier posts honed in on information-seeking skills – “information literacy”, “critical thinking,” “information power” and related topics. The onus was consistently on the seeker of truth, a truth that was presumed/assumed to be true……
Over time, particularly over the past year, emphasis of the posts is on the source of information – the eroding of truth, manipulation of the facts, “fake news” “alternative facts” and malevolent efforts to debunk the truth.
In relatively recent times Information has become a commodity to be manipulated, twisted, ultimately weaponized. Essential data are missing because data are not collected – real facts are twisted to shape opinion – data are weaponized to influence discourse and decisions. Clever forces, eager to seize the opportunities of information technology, have seized the power of information. The result is a citizenry that is drowning in the misinformation/disinformation swamp.
As with all liars weaponizers of information depend on their victims to be hapless believers of alternative facts and innuendo. They feed on weakness, fear, lack of confidence, devoid of critical thinking skills.
More than any time since our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence We the People must exercise – flaunt – our independence by embracing our power. Our mighty challenge is to hone the skills and exercise our power to seek the truth.
Our challenge today is difficult and critical. In this era of well-crafted lies we must strengthen in ourselves and in others the confidence that critical thinking demands. The forefathers expected no less. History demands that we rise to the occasion, that we reach out, affirm our values, hone the skills and the internal strength to resist – and eventually repel – distortion of truth and manipulation of a complicit citizenry