book reviews and forward views

How Your Information Sources Shape Your World: Part 2, Changing History for Better Outcomes

Forward Views with Stella Constance

“The illiterate of the 21 century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffer

Toffer’s proverb is of great importance to all individuals, families, communities, regions and nations, whose aim is to be sustainable for the 21st Century.

However, societal innovation does have a few nemeses that it has to contend with, as follows:

  • Misinformation: incorrect or misleading information. (Merriam Webster Dictionary);
  • Disinformation: false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary);
  • Malinformation: malicious or harmful intent of the information, by what is included or omitted (hidden) in the disseminated content.

How Malinformation Targets and Attempts to Dominate Where It Can

After reading the following excerpt of a frequently omitted piece of history from mainstream reading, one can see on how the historical perspective changes significantly, when one acknowledges in the future: “Columbus Day”.

“Until their organized resistance to the foreigners, the Tainos of Espanola (now Dominican Republic and Haiti) were considered by Columbus and his men to be pliant, friendly and helpful. Indeed, they saved many Spanish lives when one of the ships in the felt was shipwrecked off the coast. After they helped build the first Spanish settlement and a fortress called La Natividad. As soon as this was done, Columbus fired a cannonball into the sea to scare the Tainos and make them aware of his power. The 1492 conquest was consolidated by the second all-male voyage of 17 ships, containing priests, soldiers and weaponry. After landing, Indians were rounded up and shipped back to Spain as Slaves. Columbus himself returned with 1, 600 Tainos. Women were raped and forced into sexual relations with Spaniards. Summary executions were common. When Columbus discovered that some Indians had taken Spanish property, he ordered their noses and ears clipped, and when he subsequently learned of three more thieves he had them beheaded. Every Spanish fortress rigged up gallows for executing local Indians.”1

So, the question it raises: what is “Columbus Day” promoting exactly – many generations later?

Addressing Centuries Old Malinformation Affecting Public Safety

When people are scratching their heads on the ongoing violence in various regions in the world, that goes back thousands of years, life-affirming Antwerp-based Moroccan-Amazigh Imam Tahar Ibn Ali shares his concerns in a YouTube posting, explaining what is Shari’a Law and public safety concerns for his fellow Muslims of any sect (that includes, non-Muslims).2 For those seeking peace in the afflicted regions, how does that revelation change on how to address one of the roots of the centuries-old violence that can assist in bringing a more lasting peace to a region?

Disinformation Addressed to Meet the Sustainability Needs of Businesses, Consumers and their Communities

When Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames wrote in 2009, How Capitalism Will Save Us: Why Free People and Free Markets are the Best Answer in Today’s Economy, they stressed the importance of “cost-benefit analysis [for communities] … be a greater part of the debate over proposed regulation, given the limitations on government and taxpayer resources”3. It comes as no surprise. Can any business or communities thrive in areas where the ecosystem of a region has collapsed? What are the environmental costs imposed by the business onto the community or region? What are the benefits? Does it outweigh the costs? Who will bear those costs? Important questions to ask and follow-up.

And follow-up Forbes and team did, as they addressed in their later articles in Forbes (magazine), one of the major global issues forecasted by world scientists regarding oceanic and continental animal extinction by 2050 (33 years) that will affect severely all human civilizations, anywhere in the world:

“We need to build a new system: one that will balance economic growth with sustainability and human flourishing. A new generation of companies are showing the way forward. They’re infusing capitalism with fresh ideas, specifically in regards to employee ownership and agile management.”4

“… the World Economic Forum sees parallels between eco-innovation and increases to a business’ profit margins …Bottom line: Sustainable business practices are your social responsibility….”5

So, what does sustainable economic development look like? Is it, perhaps, the building of a new system that has an agile management responsive to the eco-innovation needs of its business, consumers and the communities (where the business is situated)?

Misinformation: The World of Fake Websites and Fake News

It seems that fake websites and fake news are becoming more and more numerous and sophisticated, with their subtle play on the URL, while matching the target website’s display and writing styles.

An illustration of the latest occurrence was when a fake news report was circulated about a morgue employee being cremated accidentally by a fellow staff. The fake news report went viral. It was later found out that it was posted on a website using the ABC News graphic and URL (with an add-on to it), written by David Foster.6 “Close observers will see the website URL for the story has at the end, which is different than the actual site”. 7

What’s the take away from all this?

The legal business warning to consumers: caveat emptor (consumer beware) of the information products one is using, is becoming a very prominent reminder of consumers needing to check the quality of their intel (information) investment. As consumer awareness grows, one’s skill levels will also have to expand to get past societal innovation’s three nemeses, that often create disastrous historical repeats: misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. With the illustrations given above, there is hope that individuals, regardless of age, gender or culture, can “learn, unlearn and relearn”, giving humanity the chance to successfully progress in a sustainable way past the year of 2050. It is for the sake and love of our current and next generation, that we help in any way we can for the creation of a more sustainable world, while we still have time to turn it around.

1 Samson, Colin and Carlos Gigoux. Indigenous Peoples and Colonialism: Global Perspectives. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2017, p. 53.

 2 Antwerp-based Moroccan-Amazigh Imam Tahar Ibn Ali. Memri TV. Aired on July 27, 2017. YouTube.

3 Forbes, Steve and Elizabeth Ames. How Capitalism Will Save Us: Why Free People and Free Markets are the Best Answer in Today’s Economy. New York, NY: Crown Business, 2009, p. 189.

4 Hansen, Drew. “Unless It Changes, Capitalism will Starve Humanity by 2050”. February 9, 2016.

5 Semerad, David. “How To Leverage Sustainability To Increase Business Profitability”. October 31, 2017.

6,7 CBS Detroit News. “Macomb Morgue Employee Debunks Report Worker Was Cremated By Mistake While Take a Nap”. December 6, 2017.

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