Friday 23 February 2024

Suppressing populist common sense.

Kurt Mahlburg has a useful Mercator piece on the obvious bias of so-called misinformation experts.

Do conservative misinformation experts exist?

I just found out that there’s a peer-reviewed journal dedicated entirely to the topic of misinformation.

It was brought to my attention this week in a tweet by Bjorn Lomborg, who had evidently been browsing its pages.

Misinformation Review is the publication’s rather benign title. Launched in 2020, the open-access journal is run out of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School — Harvard University’s school of public policy and government. Wheels within wheels and all that.

The journal’s website boasts that “over 40 misinformation experts from over 20 different universities and institutes” serve on its Editorial Board, and that its pages are viewed hundreds of thousands of times annually.

What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, according to Bjorn Lomborg.

Some will have seen this before, but the whole piece is well worth reading. It's a reminder that the rise of so-called misinformation experts seems to be associated with the realisation that ordinary people could become too well-informed for elite requirements. As Mahlburg says, what is being attempted here is the suppression of populist common sense - it is this which we see every day and which is so striking.

It’s no secret that the vocabulary of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation invaded mainstream discourse with a vengeance shortly after Brexit and Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 election victory.

The internet’s fabled democratisation of information — buoyed by the rise of social media and the smartphone in the mid-to-late noughties — had been far more successful than ever anticipated. Brexit and Trump sounded the alarm: trust in Western institutions was in tatters. With the help of independent journalism, the masses had started forming their own views away from the ubiquitous narratives of the legacy press and the bureaucracy.

In short, the misinformation industrial complex was a belated reactionary movement of the elites aimed at suppressing populist common sense.


Sam Vega said...

Misinformation could have been a problem at any time since the democratising of media in the noughties. Even earlier, if we count minority newspapers like the Socialist Worker. But he's right: we only started hearing about it after Brexit and Trump.

Radio 4 has two regular programmes that I hear when driving. Marianna Spring on internet "hate", and Jon Ronson on the culture wars. Both rely on innuendo and prevarication, and both are very creepy in tone. The overwhelming sense is one of being "got at".

A K Haart said...

Sam - it's as if Brexit and Trump caused a ripple of belated realisation to pass through mainstream minds over quite a short period. It took a surprisingly long time for the penny to drop and still the response seems clumsy.

dearieme said...

I remember that the BBC's misinformation censor admitted to lying on her job application form. But this chap seems to be far worse than that.

A K Haart said...

dearieme - thanks for the link, he certainly is far worse than the BBC censor. It isn't easy to understand such people apart from accepting that they are a feature of public life, so be wary of sources.

Tammly said...

All is explained by Tucker Carlson's interview with Mike Benz. Explains the baffling phenomena, the timing and it's not pretty believe me.

A K Haart said...

Tammly - thanks for the info, I've watched a YouTube version of the interview and it certainly isn't pretty.