Who What Why: At a time when the American public seems to be more ignorant than ever, the tools of deception have become more sophisticated “We live in an age of scams that trick the senses. Photos can be altered, films and videos can be manipulated to an exquisite degree of realism. Malware can add images of nonexistent cancerous lymph nodes to CT scans. Artificial intelligence can generate photorealistic images of people who do not even exist. Videos appear to show someone saying things in a speech they never said. Voice simulators can fool your nearest relative into thinking that’s you on the phone asking for $500 to spring you from a Turkish prison.
And then there are the sophisticated tools of psychological manipulation.The human sock puppets. The trolls who control the internet. The CIA, with its department of perception management and its assets in the media. The unlimited supply of bribable witnesses who will swear to anything. And those who manufacture scandals, like the conservative activists who tried to frame presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg for sexual assault. The paid audiences, like those for hire from companies such as Crowds on Demand, who surround politicians with canned adoration. The manufacturers of false claims that genuine protesters — even children who survived mass shootings — are just paid actors.
All of this chicanery has three main effects: First, much of it does the job it was intended to do, fooling all kinds of people, from rubes to rascals… Second, knowledge that such things go on makes it easier to believe what you want…Third, and this is the most disturbing of all, those who are savvy about these fancy tools are actually ignorant in their own way — because they often don’t know the truth when they see it…”