Soapbox: Can We not Spot Disinformation?

I have to acknowledge how troubled (Ok, maybe not troubled … perhaps grumpy) I am by the list of Senator Obama’s votes put out by in 2008, which continues to circulate on the Internet.  (

I’m not familiar with the organization and I think of it as lightworkers. But maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s a front organization for cabal or GOP disinformation. I don’t know. I see that the original list was put out months before the 2008 election so maybe it was not a group of lightworkers.

But let’s come from the assumption that it is a group of lightworkers until proven otherwise.

Reading it from the standpoint of it being such, what I got to see from its attack on the President was that it took a whole block of votes, during which Sen. Obama was campaigning for President, and recorded them as if he did not “bother” to attend the vote. Here are two examples:

Obama didn’t bother to vote on the College Cost Reduction Act, HR 2669.  College is financially out of reach for millions of middle class American youth.  Roll Call 272.

He didn’t bother to vote either way on bringing it to the floor on the 17th either.  That was Roll Call 253

It could as well have been said that Sen. John McCain also did not bother to vote since he too would have been on the campaign trail.

And every senator before these two – Senators Gore, Kerry, Dole, etc. – would also have taken time out from the Senate to campaign.

Imagine twisting events to suggest that Sen. Obama was somehow sloughing his duty by not being present for those votes.

I’m going through my own private bout of self-righteous indignation over here. Grumble, grouch, grimace…. Don’t even ignore me, as Samuel Goldwyn would say.

Lightworkers reading that – and I could name two prominent lightworkers right off the bat – themselves imbibe the information and conclude that Sen. Obama was in fact derelict. That becomes one more brick in the wall of criticism and that’s how a meme is started or maintained.

It’s the first release of the information that seems to do the most damage, except in the case of something like the present instance, which is still kicking around the Internet three years later.

There is seldom a retraction on a matter like this and, when there is, it gets buried on a back page.

How many other times has invalid information been slipped to us this way?

When I was in college it was a commonplace to say that the writer of a thesis ransacks heaven and Earth for anything that proves his hypothesis right and ignores anything that proves it wrong. In other words, it isn’t that we get an hypothesis and subject it to valid tests. We simply gather up the evidence for and ignore the evidence against.

If you change that statement a little bit and say that we actually ransack heaven and Earth for any information that can be manipulated to reflect poorly on President Obama, I think you have the current situation.

In a genuinely free society – and ours is not – we can’t, and don’t try to, censor other people’s opinions, except if they promise serious and irreparable harm to others. So we may not be able to control this type of disinformation at source. But we as readers can surely exercise discernment and not agree to just swallow any information whole.

I’m actually speaking to lightworkers about President Obama. May I ask that we weigh the information being fed us and really try to discover whether it has validity or not?

OK, down off my soapbox. I feel better having said that. I’ll put my bowler hat back on and, in my tight jacket and oversized shoes, silently slip away.

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