Fool Me Not

There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.’

George W. Bush, ‘Bushism’ Nashville, Tennessee (September 17, 2002)

How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again!

Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2 (2013) p. 302

Ironically, generally misquoted as:

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

These days more than ever people desperately need to understand the concept of astroturfing – i.e. ‘fake grass roots’. Propaganda is nothing new, nor is state-sponsored Internet propaganda, for that matter. But, so prevalent is the practice now, that even Uncle Sam is in on the action of astroturfing the American people. As a result of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 we now have campaigns like Operation Earnest Voice for example, which “use sockpuppets to spread pro-American propaganda on social networking services…” It’s no surprise then to learn that for instance the NFL has been paid millions of taxpayer dollars to promote ‘patriotic’ propaganda. That puts the whole issue of ‘to kneel or not to kneel’ in an entirely different light, doesn’t it?

Sharyl Attkisson is an amazing, award-winning journalist (five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award) who has broken several ground-breaking stories. Along the way, she’s also sounded the alarm about stories designed to manipulate us into believing a particular narrative – and this includes the practice of astroturfing. Here are a couple of outstanding TED Talks Sharyl gave, which shed tremendous light on the subject. May we all have and keep our wits about us during these turbulent and uncertain times, my friends.