Sunday, May 24, 2009

The truth, the whole truth …

On the one hand, we have this … a fine, upstanding former soldier, doing his duty by Queen and country, fearlessly exposing a "rotten parliament".

On the other, we get a serial bankrupt, leaving behind him unpaid debts, squalid failures, broken promises and the wreckage of a personal life – an opportunist making a quick buck.

They are, of course, the same man, John Wick, the "whistleblower" who sold MPs' expenses details to The Daily Telegraph.

Undoubtedly, both stories are accurate, especially the latter story – you can bet it will have been "legalled" to death by The Mail on Sunday. But what a different picture the two stories present. This is a graphic example of how "framing" and selective use of information can shape your perception of people and events.

Once again, therefore, we become aware of how easy it is for those who control the portals of information to manipulate public sentiment, with the selective use "facts", to achieve precisely the effect intended. For the intelligent reader, the lesson is obvious. Nothing is real, nothing is precisely what it sets out to be, and everyone has an agenda. If someone points in a particular direction, you look the opposite way to see what is coming.

Then there is the lumpen herd – easily manipulated, its passions easily roused and always willing to join the stampede, with not a nano-second of thought or reflection. And behind the stampede lies a trail of devastation.