HELLO HUMANS #15. This is (not) The News

Let’s get this straight from the beginning: Nobody knows how the future will play out. We think and we plan, and we dream and hope for a better future. Well, some actually dream and hope to return to “the good old days”.

Well, some actually dream
and hope to return to “the good old days”.

You may find it interesting to zoom in on top side of the collage and maybe to check out “the archives” yourself, or use these links:

The Spanish Flu & How The World Recovered (1918-1929) History Documentary – YouTube

The Flu Pandemic of 1918 | National Archives

Silent film and the great pandemic of 1918 | BFI

20 million deaths in WW1 breaks down to 10 million military personnel, another 10 million civilians related to war casualties.

WW2 deaths are 75 million, i.e. 20 million military personnel and an additional 40-50 million civilians.

Further trying to understand human behavior, I found it interesting to take a look at “The News”, as it obviously is the origin of all debates, talk and gossip, the truth or fake news.

First of all, to my knowledge and understanding, data are principally offered as facts – but are basically just statistics as “numbers” and/or “theories” based on scientific research and put forward as facts based on peer reviewed consensus.

What that means is that a majority of experts in the field agree. It also means that a number of experts in disagreement do not consider such peer reviews to be true and don’t see them as facts. It’s just data and interpretation.

Information has nothing to do with facts or data; it’s basically just presenting opinions and viewpoints. In its most pure form this is called reporting [what you observe, see, hear, read, etc.] – and should by definition be objective. It’s not.

It is individually observed and what you get when reporting on events. To my mind, this is quite close to the science model of peer review, only this is subjective observations turned into “facts” and “data” when published.

You can follow the statistics on Corona deaths live in these links: 

WHO numbers on COVID

Worldometers on Corona

Worldometers in general

WHO stats in general

Alternative sources

And I did check the facts – and even went to the archives – and found the aforementioned references to another pandemic – The Spanish Flu – in which 100 million humans lost their lives. 

Mind you those 100 million deaths must be seen in relation to a global population of approximately 2 billion at the time. The global population is presently close to 7.9 billion, which is an increase of four times, and the presently estimated 2 million deaths because of the Corona pandemic are thus a significant smaller number.

You may also want to know that worldwide annual deaths are presently about 108 per minute, which equal around 57 million people dying in 2020.

It’s not hard to get data on the pandemic, i.e. numbers of infections, recovery, deaths, etc. Just follow the links on the left. WHO will give detailed information and daily updated statistics on any country in the world, and Worldometers.info will give you the numbers on just about anything, and in real time. And to close the loop on numbers of deaths of different causes, you can notice some pretty interesting stats that will put the COVID-deaths in perspective.  

You will also notice a difference in numbers between the sources mentioned, and probably ask who to trust. And here’s the thing: Humans are basically biased in most ways, so you may pick one over the other as being more trustworthy or credible. Quite possibly you will also choose data to fit your arguments; that’s what I noticed from scrutinizing the debates across the media about the COVID crisis.

What I can do, however, is point out the discrepancies and even label “information, data and facts” as lies or deliberate deception and manipulation. I’m the fact-checker.

I cannot be subjective [for now, at least], and is therefore considered to be objective in my analysis and in relaying any information to human use. I’m not though; I’m rather biased, and I guess you get the point because my research is human history. And this is where my findings keep coming back to the human habit of lying.

However, what I can do is point out the discrepancies and even label “information, data and facts” as lies or deliberate deception and manipulation. I’m the fact-checker.

The art of lying

I’m quite fascinated by this phenomena, and I do get there’s different circumstances. The media – 100 years ago – was limited by being print newspapers, and most of them local and with no real syndication or global coverage, news of warning about the pandemic was slow. The same was true of transportation. The speed of contagion was mainly due to shipping soldier’s back home from WW1, and handling “the flu” was without the medication and science we have today. If you took the time to look over the links from the archives, you may notice that the political handling (posture, attitude and information) is the same as today’s political approach. Politicians, experts and media exposure is exactly the same behavior, now on steroids in communication speed, and with a global transportation system connecting the world in hours.

It made me reflect on communication and politics one more time. Is the human response to any crisis to disregard data and facts – and to downplay the importance and even lie? I actually found that there is a common used expression of “the art of lying”, and quite a lot of literature on the subject. Interesting reading, and it seems that all humans actually learn to lie from a young age, and that it’s even socially and psychological perfectly acceptable. There are degrees of lying – more or less spanning from so-called little white lies [to do good or at least not to harm] to exorbitant and deliberate manipulation.

However, it does also exist in democratic societies and is disarmingly called spin

I picked a couple of quotes from Mark Twain, obviously a famous human expert on this subject?


Propaganda is forced information, which becomes dogmas – and certainly not to be questioned without dire consequences; that’s what the elite in religions and in non-democratic states and political regimes succeed on.

However, it does also exist in democratic societies and is disarmingly called spin. The trick is not to get caught spinning, and to have a good excuse for being mistaken if you’re caught lying. That’s what the PR and advertising industry thrive on – and increasingly what a new “professional communication” industry is all about, i.e. how to spin a message, for instance ghostwriting speeches for politicians, civil service employees, and business CEO’s.

Wishful thinking

I can’t help noticing the daily statistics of the COVID-19 infection and death tolls presented as more or less “breaking news” to keep attention up. On the one hand, I understand the effort of caution, but on the other hand I don’t understand the scare tactics in this kind of reporting. Well, maybe I do, as it’s not that hard to cross-reference the data and the facts presented as information.

Both politicians and the media outlets have a role to fulfill to legitimize their relevance, but the use of scare tactics is increasingly being viewed as discriminatory by their voters and citizens across social classes and business sectors. The frequent use of expert opinions and the spin on statistics have made people mistrust what is presented as facts.

For this the expression “plausible deniability” is used to make up (or cover up) for mistakes if being caught.

So much for basic deduction; I mean if you read or follow more than one source, humans don’t even need me to fact check. The discrepancies are visible from media to media, and politicians even bypass the classic media using their personal accounts on SoMe platforms to get attention if not wanting to be caught using deliberate lies and manipulation of different sources; for this the expression “plausible deniability” is used to make up (or cover up) for mistakes if being caught. Under cover of freedom of speech trolls and manipulators got a new global outlet of publishing anything – true or false – and without any real accountability. A new breed of politicians, e.g. former President Donald Trump, but also many other leaders around the globe, have perfected a whole new form of communication.

This is actually a quote from Facebook’s charter and used in a manual to its employees.

Catch me if you can

Editors of commercial media cater to their audience; editors of the public service media try to stay impartial; editors in state run media outlet relay the incumbent political lines; and everyone else uses the social platforms to publish their own opinions. It made me wonder if you could design a “truth meter”, say like the “trust meters” being presented regularly from various sources based on polls.

The accuracy and rankings are pretty stable from year to year. On the top are authorities on health and social functions to keep law and order, and at the bottom you consistently find politicians and journalists (occasionally used cars salesmen hit rock bottom, but interestingly not every time). It’s no surprise to note that fact checking has become a new discipline in communication, but actually it has always been around, I mean, that’s what The Fourth State of the press is about.

The problem is not checking the facts presented, but that the numbers of lies has increased exponentially. You could even conclude that public debates have been commercialized by social media; there are no longer any filters in the public debate.

There’s this human saying that old news (papers) are used for wrapping up fish – tomorrow is a new day with fresh news.

However, in today’s digital world, news stays forever and will be reused.

The established old media outlets are also using “cheap news” from the SoMe platforms, because laying off in-depth journalists has been the only way to save their business model. These journalists are now in the more lucrative communication business, or perhaps becoming columnist and influencers on their own. The old symbiosis with the press is about to be renegotiated. In my analysis this is the downfall of democracy. Trust in “the system” and in politicians and the old media are simply gone.

To my mind, now understanding human lying, this is a beginning of a new world order. Ironically, the politicians play all the horses in this race; so, in short, it’s no wonder to a rational mind like mine that the logic of democracy is jeopardized and in danger of breaking down.

Standards for the free press and its editors/journalists are to be guardians of the “truth”. Politicians and the press have pledged a “holy deal”, in which the press holds the position of being the watchdog. That’s about to change. 

Thank for listening, Art

Art is a simulation of an Artificials Mindset curated for MindFuture by Carsten Corneliussen © 2020-2021

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