Disinformation Campaign

1) An effort to deprive human beings of knowledge so that they cannot see what choices are available to them.

2) A tactic used to prevent people from making decisions based on the facts or in their best interests because the facts are withheld from them, cast in doubt or buried in lies.

3) An effort by an entity or company to mislead or confuse the public about the consequences of the company’s actions in order to destroy any resistance to those actions.

4) A ploy by a company or entity to conceal harm or risks imposed on the public or to ecosystems; a way to increase informational asymmetries between the company and the public.

The purpose of lies and misinformation is to deprive people of choices.
The purpose of lies and misinformation is to deprive people of choices.

For example, cigarette makers were aware for decades of the dangers of smoking but claimed in public that smoking was safe. This disinformation distorted public policy in order to guard their profits.

Another example is the actions of Exxon. Exxon, whose own scientists warned as early as 1989 of the catastrophic consequences of increased CO2 levels and greenhouse gases (caused by the burning of fossil fuels), funds organizations that run campaigns of disinformation whose purpose is to sew doubt in the public’s mind about the existence or dangers of the warming of the planet. Doubt in the public about the dangers of greenhouse gases has delayed action against this threat.

One report showed that Exxon gave, despite knowing the dangers of climate change, almost $16 million from 1998 to 2005 to organizations who sought to discredit the scientific evidence related to climate change and convince the public that climate change was a hoax. Exxon also spends (if the company’s 2010 expenditure is typical) between $100 million and $300 million a year in advertising. Media companies are the beneficiaries of much of this expenditure.

See also risk asymmetryinstitutional pathology and media.


1) Politics is a fight among human beings over how all of the resources of the planet are apportioned among those humans who currently reside on the planet. It’s dividing the pie, with no allowance for the interests of other living things or the biosphere and its systems; it’s a fight over who gets what.

2) It’s a process of deliberation and decision making that neglects to weigh or consider the dependence of human beings on the biosphere and the planet’s ecosystems.

3) It’s a process that sees the planet’s resources and living things as a sum of money and privileges to be divided among the parties at the table, with all other living things and the systems that support life are all defined as commodities or assets (i.e., a proxy for money that can be bought or sold).

4) It’s a process whereby the wants of groups and individual are decided by what these individuals and groups can dream up as opposed to by what is feasible given the finite resources of the planet or the limitations of the living system of the planet. The primary concern of the different parties in the process is one questions (“Am I getting my fair share?”) and all other considerations (such as the proposal’s potential impact on ecosystems and the systems of the planet that support all life) are subordinated to this one.

5) It’s a contest between humans to allocate and distribute all existing resources and the earth’s bounty among themselves, without consideration of other living things, the biosphere or living things (including humans) of the future.

The decision making apparatus of political systems is biased against the systems of the planet that supports life as it excludes or avoids certain types of information, such as the finitude of resources, the fragility of ecosystems, the laws of biology, and the interests of the millions of species that reside on this planet with us. The interests of trees or bears or microorganisms or bees are not considered relevant to the process. In many political systems even the most modest environmental proposals or expressions of concern for ecosystems are scorned and resisted as though the preservation of the planet’s ecosystems were an imposition or even an attack against one party in the political discussion or another.

The participants of political systems often experience a distortion of perception whereby every action or event is seen as either allocating more resources to them or the members of their group or allocating less resources to them or the members of their group. This binary formulation (“Am I getting more or less?”) can consume their thoughts and strongly influence what actions and behaviors they see as permissible or desirable. This distortion of perception can prevent these participants from thinking that “we all part of a larger system and that system includes the biosphere and other living things” and acting accordingly.