Throughout human history, breakthroughs and social advancements have led to great upheaval. We seem to be in such a moment in history now For millennia, humans communicated primarily via word-of-mouth. News from other parts of the world were virtually non-existent. A common language didn't even exist if travelers were able to physically show up. Then came writing, then the printing press, radio, TV and finally the internet.
Up until the internet, all forms of disseminating information had one thing in common -- a relatively small group of people got to decide what information was shared, how it was shared, and to whom. If we trusted those sources, everything felt right with the system. If we didn't, there were few choices to spread our concerns about the veracity of the information being shared.
The internet changed all that. Now, we all have a voice. If that wasn't enough, we've added artificial intelligence to the mix. We can only imagine the secrets that have been kept from the masses over the course of human history because it was so easy to keep them. Now, it is almost impossible to keep secrets. Once more than a few people know a secret, it gets much easier to spread it because the source of the "leak" will be hard to ascertain.
Secret-keepers need new tools to combat leaks. Mis & dys information are those tools. Hidden among all the completely made up stories about would-be events and activities are actual secrets that have been leaked out. Of course, just as anyone can make a claim about "the true story," others can claim its falsehood. Good luck sorting out the mess. The whole idea here is that you can't.
Case in point: there is a pervasive claim that the U.S. has bioweapons labs in the Ukraine. In an attempt to search for "the truth," here's what I was able to uncover.
- China and Russia both claim they have evidence of the U.S. facilities and are seeking an investigation
- I was unable to find any evidence that U.S. officials would welcome such an investigation (which you'd think they'd want if the allegations were false)
- U.S. based scientists agree that there are U.S. funded bio-research facilities in the Ukraine (but not for weapons research)
- U.S. officials categorically deny the existence of said labs
- Some speculate that Russian accusations about bioweapons is a pretense to prepare their own bioweapon attack (because bioweapons are illegal by global treaty, so someone has to break the treaty first)
- The Russians have repeatedly used bioweapons or sanctioned their use (such as in Syria), whereas there is no record of such usage by the U.S.
These "facts" leave only speculation about the two possibilities: 1) the U.S. does have secret bioweapons labs in the Ukraine and is covering it up by denial, or 2) the Russians have manufactured this story for their own purposes. To date, I was unable to find any actual hard evidence of a U.S. lab. If such facilities did exist, secrecy and security would be at a maximum, so hard evidence would be unlikely.
A small number of people know the real truth. Too bad we have no way to distinguish the liars from the truthers. We will each choose to believe what we want. Our leaders use this ambiguity to divide us. They tell us which of these stories is true, but of course only one of them can be true and that means the others are lying. Maybe they know it or maybe they don't. It's all a big mess.
If we're all going to get along, we need to stop being manipulated by the people we trust. We must learn to live with the ambiguity of not really knowing and demand hard evidence before we declare something factual. The absence of evidence isn't enough. Sadly, it's usually near impossible to disprove a negative. So, if there are no U.S. bioweapons labs in the Ukraine, nobody will ever find evidence that there is, but just because we don't have evidence doesn't prove that they don't exist. It's a conundrum. Those usually suck and this time is no exception.
My advice to you, dear reader, is be skeptical and open-minded. When somebody tells you something that you "don't believe," take a beat to recognize that you're debating over beliefs -- not facts. Acknowledge possibilities and spread skepticism. Only through this widespread practice can "we, the people" start demanding real hard evidence for claims, because as long as leaders can manipulate us with conjecture, they own us.