Misinformation and disinformation PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 11:15

It's good to know the distinction between the two. Misinformation is any false or incorrect information. It may just be an honest mistake or at worst a simple lie. There’s already an intention to deceive, an attempt to make someone believe something that is not true, but in a very limited way.

Its more popular equivalents are false or misleading information, bum steer, gossip and false rumor. It has a restrictive context, and unless it finds a good opportunity, it is often transmitted under cover and not in the open.

Disinformation is another animal. It takes misinformation to another level, often to the extreme. Disinformation, of course, is based on a misinformation or a lie that is pursued and elaborated with the intention to deceive not only an individual or a few people, but masses of people.

Disinformation is meant to confuse rivals or perceived enemies, or to influence public opinion. Played big and in the open, it can distort the truth further than what misinformation does. It is driven with an agenda to inflict deep and widespread deception on the people. Its other name is black propaganda.

Unlike the usual propaganda and the big lie techniques designed to draw emotional support, disinformation is meant to manipulate the people at the intellectual level by discrediting a piece of information or by supporting wrong conclusions. Its appeal is more irresistible, its lie almost invincible.

It uses a massive machinery, well-funded and well-oiled, and with an army of moles, sleepers and crawlers in different strategic places doing the spade work daily, all orchestrated by a mastermind who is often hidden.

Just consider the ugly revelations the current Wikileaks that are dragging big names to shame! There one gets an idea of the range and scope of the intelligence and spying systems secretly put to work to do other aspects of disinformation—political, military, commercial, etc.

In this recent controversy about Pope Benedict’s comments on condom use, these concepts come to mind. What is involved is not only misinformation, but a shameless, blatant disinformation carried out by big international institutions with the help of large parts of the media world like the AP.

How else can you conclude when at the start of the rage, the Vatican already made explanations about what the Holy Father meant? Yet, despite these clarifications, agencies like the UN, officials like PNoy and his DOH men, and a good number of mediamen continued crowing their wrong conclusions.

This is not anymore about finding the truth and trying to be objective. This is already marketing an ideology and falling into the subjective trap. Not news reporting, but editorializing. It’s not even fair advertisement. It is pure and simple black propaganda.

Wrong views were echoed and re-echoed “ad nauseam,” reminiscent of the evil ways of Nazi Germany’s Goebbels during World War II, except that in this case we are not in an open, declared state of war.

There is a clear attack on the Catholic Church, on her faith and doctrine, and the corresponding culture these build. There’s a systematic effort to discredit all these especially by sensationalizing the usual human anomalies that can actually occur anywhere else also.

They make a big fuss about clerical sexual misconduct, as if this kind of misconduct does not happen everywhere else, and even condoned. They seem to understand their own kind, but not when these things happen in some parts of the Church.

Worse, I don’t think we can expect any gesture of apology from them. Even when they are caught “in delicto flagrante” lying and doing this disinformation campaign, they don’t seem to acknowledge their mistake.

To put it bluntly, what we have here is a devil’s game. The devil is the father of lies. He can’t help but lie. It’s in his DNA. And the lying has developed into sophisticated levels.

Obviously to counteract this disinformation, the truth has to be brought to the open, no matter how complicated such process involves. Truth in its fullness should be understood as truth that goes together with charity. And charity always involves sacrifice, the cross, understanding, forgiveness, etc.

We need to go through all these requirements to resolve not only the issue of the papal comments on condom, but also all other widely coordinated efforts at disinformation aimed at undermining the Church.

I hope the popular piety surrounding Advent’s “simbang gabi” and Christmas itself will offer the golden opportunity to bring the Christian truth with charity to confront any effort at discrediting the Church and our Christian culture.

By FR. ROY CIMAGALA