A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
David Baldacci's "The Whole Truth" Raises the Specter of Perception Management
David Baldacci's The Whole Truth provides more than just another spine-tingling spy or espionage thriller, something that Baldacci is very, very good at writing. The story concerns the use of a perception management firm to invent truth from pure fiction and make everyone in the world believe it almost instantaneously through electronic information transmission. Baldacci writes in his Author's Note at the end of the story that the Department of Defense defines perception management in one of its manuals, and notes that many public relations firms now offer perception management as a service. Baldacci believes, however, that not many such firms do a very good job at perception management since doing so requires specializing in creating Big Lies.
Baldacci notes that PM people create facts and sell them as truth. He states that many of the techniques he writes about in his story are "standard operating procedures" for these firms.
The reason why his focus on perception management is so scary is because we have a continuing battle to know what we can believe and what has been invented out of thin air. The way we are led to think about the wars we are currently fighting, about political issues and participants, about science, about research results from experiments, about government information releases, about coverups, about lies--all of these and many more issues provide us with a cautionary tale to be careful what we believe, to be cautionary about notably biased information sources, to always, always ask "What is being left out here?" We cannot just turn into a society of cynic disbelievers, but we must use better judgment than we sometimes have used in the recent past to take off our blinders and evaluate critically the sources, the bias, the data, and the underpinnings of the information we are fed. We need reliable information and we need to be more critical of what other people want us to believe.