The truth is a mirror scattered into countless pieces, and everyone thinks that a small piece they see is the complete truth.
– Richard Burton
“Haki Abdul El-Yezdi’s Casida”
Everyone is blind in the image
In 1986, the Guardian posted an advertisement on television and in the cinema, which left a deep impression on my mind. In this black-and-white short film, a bald head is fleeing a coming car. The ad doesn’t have any background music, only a serious narration: “An event seen from one perspective gives an impression.” Then, the ad shows the same person from another angle: he runs straight toward a businessman, seems to want Attack him or steal his travel bag. “Another perspective gives a completely different impression.” The lens turned again and we saw the whole scene from above: a batch of building materials trembled above the top of the businessman and lost control. The bald head pulled the merchant aside and saved his life before the goods landed. “Only when you see the whole picture, you can fully understand what is going on,” concludes the narration.
The ad, called Perspectives, was produced by BMP’s John Webster and is still known as one of the best TV commercials in history. A considerable number of British viewers have received a strong hint that only the Guardian will present the true face of the world, rather than merely showing a politically influenced perspective. This was a powerful propaganda and achieved great success, which enabled the newspaper to adopt the theme of “complete picture” again in the 2012 promotion .
The problem is that no one really has the whole picture. Life is extremely complicated, and you can’t see the whole picture.
Look out from the nearest window. What do you see? How many cars are there? What are their colors and materials? How many plants are there? Can you see the manhole cover? What material was the building built with? How many windows are open?
If you have difficulty describing the vision outside the window, try to summarize one person. Is your daughter, niece or sister performing better at school than their peers? If so, what you think of is probably her test score or the running competition she won. However, are these indicators really enough to evaluate a rapidly changing, multifaceted individual? What is her moral level? Is her lunch choice healthy? How many praises did she get from her selfie?
If we try to consider all the available information before forming a practical understanding of reality, our brains will explode. We have no choice but to simplify and choose. We all have been doing this. The problem is that everyone may choose a different perspective to present the real world. You may see five different trees outside the window, and I may see the manhole cover outside the window.
We are observing the same world, but our understanding of it is completely different. We are like the blind people who first came into contact with elephants in the traditional Jain story in India:
The person who touched the leg said that the elephant is like a pillar;
The person who touched the tail said that the elephant is like a rope;
The person who touched the nose said that the elephant is like a branch;
The person who touched the abdomen said that the elephant is like a wall;
The person who touched the ivory said that the elephant is like a pipe;
The person who touched the ear said that the elephant is like a fan.
How do we decide what to include in our sampling of reality? We can make unconscious choices based on interest, natural inclinations, or anything we think of right now. We can focus on what we understand or that fit our mindset, discard or dilute the thoughts and data that conflict with our current understanding of the world; or we can deliberately choose the parts of reality that fit our purpose.
Do you want to popularize driverless technology?
Legislators will soon face the question: “Are we supposed to allow privately owned driverless cars to drive up the streets of the city?”
How should they answer?
Driverless cars have been new to most people so far. Google and Tesla are doing research in this area, and large auto companies have their own research and development plans. You may have seen videos of Google’s driverless cars like pods, and perhaps their design influenced your point of view. You may have heard that someone was killed when driving a Tesla car in automatic navigation mode, which may have affected your point of view.
Responsible legislators may gather more information from civil servants, stakeholders, and political advisers before making decisions, and they may hear competitive truths from different people.
Economist: Driverless cars can become a huge emerging industry that stimulates technological development and consumer demand and promotes economic growth. Driverless cars can also liberate billions of hours of driving time, allowing drivers to engage in more productive work or digital entertainment consumption, both of which contribute to economic development.
Industry union representatives: Driverless cars do not require drivers, so millions of people in the freight and taxi industry will be unemployed, increasing inequality. Profits will be captured by Uber and UPS, and ordinary workers will be affected.
Environmentalists: Driverless cars reduce the cost of taxis, increase the attractiveness of alternative modes of travel, reduce the number of people buying cars, and reduce traffic congestion and energy and resource consumption. In addition, driverless cars are more efficient than humans and can reduce emissions and losses.
Security experts: Nearly 1.3 million people die each year from traffic accidents, most of which are caused by human error. While software failures and lack of awareness of danger can lead to some driverless car accidents, our roads become safer if humans do not control the car.
Political adviser: Compared with the new issue, voters are much more tolerant of old issues. If a driverless car system failure causes hundreds of people to die on the road, even if the total number of deaths from traffic accidents declines, this may be politically unacceptable.
Autonomous car manufacturers: In fact, there are many different types of driverless cars. Some driverless cars require human involvement in the “Advanced Driver Assistance System”, some driverless cars can provide man-made control options, and some driverless cars have no human-machine interface at all. This is not a question of choice. It depends on how much autonomy you are prepared to allow.
Underwriters: Most insurance needs to change from the individual driver’s human error insurance to the manufacturer’s technical failure insurance, which may bring disaster to the entire insurance industry.
City planners: Driverless cars do not need to be parked in the city center, so we can transform the tens of thousands of square meters of high-quality urban land currently used as parking lots into lucrative development zones or parks, playgrounds and other facilities.
City Manager: We rely on parking income to pay for city services. If people no longer need to park, we need to raise municipal taxes or cut services, which will hurt vulnerable groups.
Business leaders: Driverless cars will become the standard in the world in the future. The sooner we allow unmanned vehicles to get on the road, the greater the opportunities and competitive advantages our company has in the emerging global driverless car industry.
Security experts: Driverless cars are vulnerable to hackers. One day, our cars may be completely paralyzed or controlled by terrorists or hostile countries.
Ethical philosophers: When setting up procedures for driverless cars, we need to consider options in extreme situations, such as hitting a child crossing the road, or avoiding the roadside, endangering the lives of passers-by? As a legislator, you need to decide what action a driverless car should take in many terrible situations.
Due to the complexity of such issues, the fast pace of modern life, and the narrow scope of attention, in most discussions, we can only consider a few perspectives of a topic. If we are not sure that we have heard the voices of each group, we will not be able to get close to the whole picture.
Most people are like this. We learn about news and opinions from a few narrow channels. We tend to discuss issues with friends or colleagues who share our ideas. Confirmatory bias is ubiquitous. We will subconsciously filter out ideas or data that conflict with our ideas. Therefore, it is easy to make a very selective depiction of very important issues. On many issues, we can only hear a small part of the competitive truth.
Strategy to cover the truth: Ignore
For everyone, ignoring is a natural strategy. We won’t post photos that are detrimental to Facebook, and we won’t talk about our hiccups or our intimate relatives on our first date. The more complex the theme, the greater the chance of ignoring the unfavorable truth – because there are too many other things to say!
We will see that people often hide important truths and distorted reality by ignoring them. Asset managers will set up different funds, but will only promote funds with the best growth rates. Medical administrators will celebrate the decline in cancer deaths, but will not mention the increase in hospital infections. Food packaging will promote healthy ingredients and print unhealthy ingredients on the back.
However, ignoring is not necessarily misleading. Computer manufacturers and retailers can confuse us with 100 highly technical features and design details that differ from competitors. However, they know that we can’t cope with so much information. So, they ignore most of the information and focus on a few simple metrics such as memory capacity and processor speed. We don’t see many other subtle product differences, which is what we hope for.
For a long time, bookstores have always hated Amazon, which is understandable. As an online retailer, Amazon has caused many bookstores to close down. James Daunt, the general manager of the British Waterstone Chain Bookstore, called Amazon “a ruthless money-making demon.” Writers who have established a large readership through the artificial sale of physical bookstores have condemned their losses. Ann Patchett, the writer and bookstore founder, said: “Amazon wants to kill us.” Scott Turow, then president of the American Writers’ Guild, called Amazon “the literary world.” Darth Vader.”
On the other hand, many writers and small publishers see Amazon as their savior. The Kindle Direct Publishing allows authors to publish their own e-books and get a 70% sales share. Many of these authors have been rejected or abandoned by traditional publishers. 70% of sales are also much higher than publishers like Penguin Random House and Hachette. According to Jonathan Derbyshire of Prospect magazine, these authors see Amazon as a midwife of large-scale democratization of literary production and distribution. In a survey of members of the British Writers’ Association, people “respected Amazon more than criticism.”
Of course, these narratives are an oversimplification. You can also talk about Amazon’s many other influences on the book industry. do you know? Amazon also runs an e-book “lending library” and has set up a publisher. Because Amazon is an extremely complex company, authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers can form a completely different view of the company based on the many competing truths they hear, and can choose to spread the company completely differently. Message.
This is just a book.
What about all the other products that Amazon sells?
What about all the other businesses that Amazon does?
The Amazon market allows millions of businesses and individuals to sell merchandise directly to Amazon customers, opening up valuable channels for novice entrepreneurs to enter the market. Amazon will even store goods and complete orders for them.
Amazon offers video and music services and makes its own TV shows and movies.
Amazon has a full food supermarket.
Amazon operates the world’s largest public cloud service, with a 34% share of the cloud services market in 2017 (Microsoft ranked second, only 11%).
So what is Amazon? It depends on which truths you put in front. Bookstore destroyers, author saviors, monopoly bullies, small business helpers, grocery stores, tax avoiders, reading promoters, movie studios, technology innovators, authoritarian employers, virtual markets, global distributors, or sales champions. One or two key truths will occupy your consciousness. What is Amazon? It depends on your choice.
Strategy 2 to cover the truth: confusion
One of the most dramatic and destructive confusion cases in recent years has occurred in South Africa. There, the extremely wealthy Gupta family was investigated by the media for its apparent power and influence on national politics. The close relationship between the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma has led them to allegations of “kidnapping the country” – private interests that largely control the systematic political corruption of government activities. The South Africans were surprised to find that the Gupta family was allowed to use the South African Air Force Base for personal purposes. By 2016, Zuma had to deny in Congress that he had asked the Gupta family to choose the government minister.
In early 2016, the Oakland Investment Company, owned by the Gupta family, employed the British public relations firm Belbotinger, which is known for helping some extremely annoying customers. The firm’s strategy of ignoring the truth was revealed a few years ago, when research by the Bureau of Investigation and Investigation showed that someone using Bellbotinger’s computer removed the negative content of his client’s wiki page. Oakbee commissioned Belpotinger to promote “economic segregation in the country” throughout South Africa and need more “economic liberation” discussions.” It seems that this £100,000 monthly mission is to selfishly remove people’s attention from the scandal of the Gupta family’s abduction of the country. Belpotinger needs to let the whole country consider other things and pay attention to another enemy: “white monopoly capital.”
Since then, Bel Pottinger has been accused of making fake news. In fact, most of the seditious materials used by the firm are in fact accurate. For more than 25 years after the end of political apartheid in South Africa, most of the country’s wealth is still in the hands of a handful of whites. The economist Thomas Piketty studied South Africa’s income distribution in 2015 and found the same racial inequality structure as in the era of apartheid. In the words of Victoria Geoghegan, the partner who launched the campaign, Bellotinger “uses convincing research, case studies and data to show that apartheid still exists”.
Therefore, most of the speeches, social media posts and slogans produced by Belbotinger are truth. However, the firm received such a generous reward because their actions shifted the public’s attention to the Gupta family. They use these truths in order to deliberately confuse water in a highly stressful political environment.
Regrettably, the discussion on economic apartheid has been very successful for a country that has been plagued by social and political issues. The anger over “white monopoly capital” quickly spread throughout South Africa. By 2017, Belbotinger was accused of carrying out a racial split movement that ruined the hard-won reconciliations that had been achieved over the years. The firm began to be abandoned by prestigious clients. Subsequently, Georgagen was fired, the president resigned, and Belbotinger entered the bankruptcy management process. A firm known for its impact on reality ultimately failed to save its reputation. The lesson for this misunderstanding is obvious : if you must confuse, carefully choose the irrelevant truths that you introduce—they may hurt you.
Strategy 3 to cover the truth: contact
Misleaders can bury the bad news in the ocean of other truths by confusing, or they can make people feel that there is a connection between two or more unrelated truths.
When Bush Bush explained the reasons for the invasion of Iraq in a televised speech one year after the “9.11” attack, he chose to link Al Qaeda to Iraq:
We know that Iraq is still financing terrorist activities and providing support to organizations that have terrorized the Middle East through terrorism. We know that Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network have a common enemy – the United States. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have high-level contacts for 10 years. Some al-Qaeda leaders fleeing Afghanistan went to Iraq, including a very senior al-Qaeda leader who was treated in Baghdad this year and related to the biochemical attack plan. We learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members to make bombs, poisons and deadly gases.
As far as I know, each of the above statements is true. When they are put together, you will feel that Iraq is funding Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda is operating on Iraq, and Al Qaeda is working with Iraq to develop a plan to attack the United States. These are not facts, and Bush did not say so. He doesn’t need to say that. He carefully selected some truths from an extremely complicated situation and weaved them together so that the American audience reached their own conclusions.
Misleaders can ruin the entire plan and movement through association. The personal misconduct of some key allies seriously hurt Rudy Guiliani, who won the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. For most of 2007, Giuliani has been leading the Republican primary. However, in June, his South Carolina president, Thomas Ravenel, was accused of selling cocaine. In July, Southern District President David Vitter was accused of accepting prostitution services. Later that year, another longtime ally, Bernard Kerik, was accused of tax fraud. Giuliani should not be responsible for these actions, he may not know at all. However, this provided a powerful statement for his opponent. In July 2007, an article in the New York Times about Giuliani began with “cocaine, corruption and jealousy.” The connection between these one-sided truths and the presidential candidate undoubtedly contributed to the failure of Giuliani.
In the second year, a similar pattern of crime-related patterns almost ruined Barack Obama, who competed for the president. ABC News Network selected some passages in the sermons of his then pastor, Jeremiah Wright. These paragraphs have severely criticized the US government, ending with: “No, no, no, not God blesses the United States, God condemns the United States.” Although Obama himself has never expressed such views or used such vicious language, he Was forced to sever the relationship with the pastor and separated from his church in order to save his campaign.
Obama and Giuliani have nothing to do with these scandals, but their political opponents can advertise a one-sided truth about the people around them, causing great harm to them. A similar strategy is used to discredit brands, question scientific discoveries, and corrupt the image of many in the public mind. As more and more information about the people and organizations around them is made publicly available, it is increasingly easy for us to be unfairly degraded by being associated with one-sided truth.