Deception by omission

Strategy page defines one of the more insidious forms of propaganda.

The term “deception by omission” might sound harsh, but it is accurate. Deception does not need the active misrepresentation of facts, it can occur when someone fails to reveal something relevant to the situation – particularly when the people leaving out some of the facts are advocating a specific course of action (such as withdrawal from Iraq ).

From in the Jewish World Review there are two stories about a media report in the Palestinian terror war against Israel and where pictures did not tell the story. Caroline B. Glick on The image of the truth:

The intifada and Katrina — seeing is not necessarily believing when propagandists pose as objective chroniclers

and David Gelernter on When pictures lie:

Yet the truth of what happened on Sept. 30, 2000, is critical to the way the world works, the way people behave. The pictures we were shown and the story we were told is true or false, not both. Enderlin, France 2 and the larger media establishment have an obligation to tell us which it is. Because lies can kill. Lies do kill.

We now have the Katrina Disaster to serve as a laboratory to use in investigating this deception by omission. One current story has to do with the effort to find links between huge construction companies doing restoration work and the Bush administration, but omitting any note of more significant links between those companies and the state government. Or there is the omission of any referent in judging FEMA or the Bush administration response to the disaster. Or there is the omission of the state and local disaster plans in considering what happened. Or there is omission of the pictures of heroism or doing what must be done for those of the whiners, the complainers, and the accusers.

A basic concept in observation is that you will never know anything and have to qualify measures by an appropriate estimate of their precision and their accuracy. This also implies that in order to be able to use your observation you need to work at making sure it is as good as possible. It is becoming very clear that using one source for news it not a good way to get an accurate picture of current events. Accepting what is presented at face value is not a good practice, either.

What is troubling is that there are so many cases of blatant deceptions by omission and that they tend to have a clear bias in direction of message.

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