Letter to the Editor

Power of disinformation

The 1938 radio broadcast War Of The Worlds, sent millions of Americans into a panic, many actually believing that Earth was being destroyed by hoards of hungry Martian monsters intent on devouring humans. The broadcast was, of course, a play based on a classic work by H.G. Wells. Intended as entertainment, the broadcast ultimately served as a warning, not of any danger from Martians, but of what can happen when fiction or disinformation is accepted as fact.

On Jan. 6, 2021, fiction and disinformation had fatal consequences when scores of enraged Trump supporters invaded our Capital, based on entirely bogus claims of a stolen election, reported by cable news and social media. In a bizarre twist, when faced with an actual deadly threat, many people minimized Covid-19, calling it overblown, or a hoax, even though it killed 740,000 of their fellow Americans and 5 million people worldwide.

Today's social media, alternative news sources, and even cable news, sell things and make money by capitalizing on the lust of many for stories that invoke fear, anger, hate, and political discord. Conspiracy theories sell particularly well. Special interests and politicians take full advantage of our gullibility to disinformation as we saw with the Capital assault.

Potential enemies of ours, whether they be extraterrestrial or earthly, need not employ monstrous machines or death rays to conquer us. They need only tap in to the frightful power of our own sources of disinformation, turn them on us, and watch us self destruct.