Cover image for You are being lied to : the disinformation guide to media distortion, historical whitewashes and cultural myths
You are being lied to : the disinformation guide to media distortion, historical whitewashes and cultural myths
Kick, Russell.
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399 pages : illustrations ; 31 cm
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PN4784.O24 Y68 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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You Are Being Lied To is a massive collection of articles that ruthlessly destroy the distortions, myths, and outright lies that are fed to us by the government, the media, corporations, history books, organized religion, science and medicine, and society in general. No one is spared, and all sacred cows are candidates for the grinder.

Do you believe any of the following?

Alcoholics Anonymous is effective. Hackers pose a grave threat to the nation. There's a hidden code in the Bible. The Big Bang is an airtight fact. Thousands of species have gone extinct because of deforestation. Licking certain toads will get you high. Most terrorists are Middle Eastern.

Wake up! You're being lied to.

This book acts as a battering ram against the distortions, myths, and outright lies that have been shoved down our throats by the government, the media, corporations, organized religion, the scientific establishment, and others who want to keep the truth from us. An unprecedented group of researchers--investigative reporters, political dissidents, academics, media watchdogs, scientist-philosophers, social critics, and rogue scholars--paints a picture of a world where crucial stories are ignored or actively suppressed and the official version of events has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. A world where real dangers are downplayed and nonexistent dangers are trumpeted. In short, a world where you are being lied to.

Among the revelations inside:

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sydney Schanberg on John McCain's efforts to conceal information on POW/MIAs Howard Bloom on liars in the media Riane Eisler on the realities of human nature James Ridgeway on tainted blood and more Jim Marrs on missing evidence in important cases Greenpeace cofounder Peter Moore on environmental myths Michael Parenti on atrocities in Kosovo Douglas Rushkoff on the information arms race Gary Webb on the gutless corporate media Howard Zinn on Columbus

Author Notes

Russ Kick is the editor of the three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon and the bestselling anthologies You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know is Wrong, 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know and Death Poems: Classic, Contemporary, Witty, Serious, Tear-Jerking, Wise, Profound, Angry, Funny, Spiritual, Atheistic, Uncertain, Personal, Political, Mythic, Earthy, and Only Occasionally Morbid. He is also the creator of the popular website

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Containing expos?s on topics ranging from Columbus to Columbine, this collection of stimulating articles Disinformation Books' inaugural title challenges popular beliefs on the Big Bang and the depredations of hackers. Kick, author of Psychotropedia and a columnist for the Village Voice, has collected an impressive array of articles by such contributors as Sydney Schanberg of the New York Times, in which he asks why John McCain persistently blocks public disclosure of MIA files, and the lesser-known Jim Marrs, a Kennedy conspiracy zealot and freelance journalist who discusses missing data from historical tragedies, including the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations and the Lockerbie bombing. Do gay teens really constitute a suicidal risk group? Was Jesus a myth? The best articles will surely compel readers to pursue further reading; none should be accepted as exhaustive. Public libraries ought to invest in a copy to keep alongside other sources of skepticism; academic libraries will find the scholarship uneven but provocative. [You may obtain a free e-book copy of this title if you purchase the paperback from; the e-book may also be purchased separately for $8.85. Ed.] Robert C. Moore,, Southboro, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream Noam Chomsky From a talk at Z Media Institute, June 1997. Part of the reason I write about the media is that I am interested in the whole intellectual culture, and the part of it that is easiest to study is the media. It comes out every day. You can do a systematic investigation. You can compare yesterday's version to today's version. There is a lot of evidence about what's played up and what isn't and the way things are structured. My impression is that the media aren't very different from scholarship or from, say, journals of intellectual opinion. There are some extra constraints, but it's not radically different. They interact, which is why people go up and back quite easily among them. If you want to understand the media, or any other institution, you begin by asking questions about the internal institutional structure. And you ask about their setting in the broader society. How do they relate to other systems of power and authority? If you're lucky, there is an internal record from leading people that tells you what they are up to. That doesn't mean the public relations handouts, but what they say to each other about what they are up to. There is quite a lot of interesting documentation. Those are major sources of information about the nature of the media. You want to study them the way, say, a scientist would study some complex molecule. You take a look at the structure and then make some hypothesis based on the structure as to what the media product is likely to look like. Then you investigate the media product and see how well it conforms to the hypotheses. Virtually all work in media analysis is this last part-trying to study carefully just what the media product is and whether it conforms to obvious assumptions about the nature and structure of the media. Well, what do you find? First of all, you find that there are different media which do different things. For example, entertainment/Hollywood, soap operas, and so on, or even most of the newspapers in the country (the overwhelming majority of them) are directed to a mass audience, not to inform them but to divert them. There is another sector of the media, the elite media, sometimes called the agenda-setting media because they are the ones with the big resources; they set the framework in which everyone else operates. The New York Times , the Washington Post , and a few others. Their audience is mostly privileged people. The people who read the New York Times are mostly wealthy or part of what is sometimes called the political class. Many are actually involved in the systems of decision-making and control in an ongoing fashion, basically as managers of one sort or another. They can be political managers, business managers (like corporate executives and the like), doctrinal managers (like many people in the schools and universities), or other journalists who are involved in organizing the way people think and look at things. The elite media set a framework within which others operate. For some years I used to monitor the Associated Press. It grinds out a constant flow of news. In the mid-afternoon there was a break every day with a "Notice to Editors: Tomorrow's New York Times is going to have the following stories on the front page." The point of that is, if you're an editor of a newspaper in Dayton, Ohio, and you don't have the resources to figure out what the news is, or you don't want to think about it anyway, this tells you what the news is. These are the stories for the quarter-page that you are going to devote to something other than local affairs or diverting your audience. These are the stories that you put there because that's what the New York Times tells us is what you're supposed to care about tomorrow. If you are an editor of a local newspaper you pretty much have to do that, because you don't have much else in the way of resources. If you get out of line and produce stories that the elite press doesn't like, you're likely to hear about it pretty soon. What happened recently at San Jose Mercury News (i.e. Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" series about CIA complicity in the drug trade) is a dramatic example of this. So there are a lot of ways in which power plays can drive you right back into line if you move out. If you try to break the mold, you're not going to last long. That framework works pretty well, and it is understandable that it is a reflection of obvious power structures. The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. "Let them do something else, but don't bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn't serious. Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. `We' take care of that." What are the elite media, the agenda-setting ones? The New York Times and CBS, for example. Well, first of all, they are major, very profitable, corporations. Furthermore, most of them are either linked to, or outright owned by, much bigger corporations, like General Electric, Westinghouse, and so on. They are way up at the top of the power structure of the private economy, which is a tyrannical structure. Corporations are basically tyrannies, hierarchic, controlled from above. If you don't like what they are doing, you get out. The major media are part of that system. What about their institutional setting? Well, that's more or less the same. What they interact with and relate to is other major power centers: the government, other corporations, the universities. Because the media function in significant ways as a doctrinal system, they interact closely with the universities. Say you are a reporter writing a story on Southeast Asia or Africa, or something like that. You're supposed to go over to the university next door and find an expert who will tell you what to write, or else go to one of the foundations, like Brookings Institute or American Enterprise Institute. They will give you the preferred version of what is happening. These outside institutions are very similar to the media. The universities, for example, are not independent institutions. There are independent people scattered around in them (and the sciences in particular couldn't survive otherwise), but that is true of the media as well. And it's generally true of corporations. It's even true of fascist states, for that matter, to a certain extent. But the institution itself is parasitic. It's dependent on outside sources of support, and those sources of support, such as private wealth, big corporations with grants, and the government (which is so closely interlinked with corporate power that you can barely distinguish them)-they are essentially the system that the universities are in the middle of. People within them, who don't adjust to that structure, who don't accept it and internalize it (you can't really work with it unless you internalize it, and believe it)-people who don't do that are likely to be weeded out along the way, starting from kindergarten, all the way up. There are all sorts of filtering devices to get rid of people who are a pain in the neck and think independently. Those of you who have been through college know that the educational system is highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don't do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really, honestly (they aren't lying) internalize the framework of belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions like, say, Harvard and Princeton and the small upscale colleges, for example, are very much geared to socialization. If you go through a place like Harvard, a good deal of what goes on is a kind of socialization: teaching how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on. I'm sure you've read George Orwell's Animal Farm , which he wrote in the mid-1940s. It was a satire on the Soviet Union, a totalitarian state. It was a big hit. Everybody loved it. Turns out he wrote an introduction to Animal Farm which wasn't published. It only appeared 30 years later. Someone found it in his papers. The introduction to Animal Farm was about "Literary Censorship in England," and what it says is that obviously this book is ridiculing the Soviet Union and its totalitarian structure, but free England is not all that different. We don't have the KGB on our neck, but the end result comes out pretty much the same. People who have independent ideas or who think the wrong kind of thoughts are cut out. He talks a little, only two sentences, about the institutional structure. He asks, why does this happen? Well, one, because the press is owned by wealthy men who only want certain things to reach the public. His second observation is that when you go through the elite education system, when you go through the proper schools (Oxford, and so on), you learn that there are certain things it's not proper to say and there are certain thoughts that are not proper to have. That is the socialization role of elite institutions, and if you don't adapt to that, you're usually out. Those two sentences more or less tell the story. When you critique the media and you say, look, here is what Anthony Lewis or somebody else is writing, and you show that it happens to be distorted in a way that is highly supportive of power systems, they get very angry. They say, quite correctly, "Nobody ever tells me what to write. I write anything I like. All this business about pressures and constraints is nonsense because I'm never under any pressure." Which is completely true, but the point is that they wouldn't be there unless they had already demonstrated that nobody has to tell them what to write because they are going to keep to the rules. If they had started off at the Metro desk and had pursued the wrong kind of stories, they never would have made it to the positions where they can now say anything they like. The same is largely true of university faculty in the more ideological disciplines. They have been through the socialization system. Okay, you look at the structure of that whole system. What do you expect the news to be like? Well, it's not very obscure. Take the New York Times . It's a corporation and sells a product. The product is audiences. They don't make money when you buy the newspaper. They are happy to put it on the World Wide Web for free. They actually lose money when you buy the newspaper. The audience is the product. For the elite media, the product is privileged people, just like the people who are writing the newspapers, high-level decision-making people in society. Like other businesses, they sell their product to a market, and the market is, of course, advertisers (that is, other businesses). Whether it is television or newspapers, or whatever else, they are selling audiences. Corporations sell audiences to other corporations. In the case of the elite media, it's big businesses. Well, what do you expect to happen? What would you predict about the nature of the media product, given that set of circumstances? What would be the null hypothesis, the kind of conjecture that you'd make assuming nothing further? The obvious assumption is that the product of the media, what appears, what doesn't appear, the way it is slanted, will reflect the interest of the buyers and sellers, the institutions, and the power systems that are around them. If that wouldn't happen, it would be kind of a miracle. Okay, then comes the hard work. You ask, does it work the way you predict? Well, you can judge for yourselves. There's lots of material on this obvious hypothesis, which has been subjected to the hardest tests anybody can think of, and still stands up remarkably well. You virtually never find anything in the social sciences that so strongly supports any conclusion, which is not a big surprise, because it would be miraculous if it didn't hold up given the way the forces are operating. The next thing you discover is that this whole topic is completely taboo. If you go to the media department at the Kennedy School of Government or Stanford, or somewhere else, and you study journalism and communications or academic political science, and so on, these questions are not likely to appear. That is, the hypothesis that anyone would come across without even knowing anything that is scarcely expressed, and the evidence bearing on it, scarcely discussed. There are some exceptions, as usual in a complex and somewhat chaotic world, but it is rather generally true. Well, you predict that, too. If you look at the institutional structure, you would say, yeah, sure, that's likely to happen because why should these guys want to be exposed? Why should they allow critical analysis of what they are up to? The answer is, there is no reason why they should allow that and, in fact, they don't. Again, it is not purposeful censorship. It is just that you don't make it to those positions if you haven't internalized the values and doctrines. That includes what is called "the left" as well as the right. In fact, in mainstream discussion the New York Times has been called "the establishment left." You're unlikely to make it through to the top unless you have been adequately socialized and trained so that there are some thoughts you just don't have, because if you did have them, you wouldn't be there. So you have a second order of prediction which is that the first order of prediction is not allowed into the discussion-again, with a scattering of exceptions, important ones. The last thing to look at is the doctrinal framework in which this proceeds. Do people at high levels in the information system, including the media and advertising and academic political science and so on, do these people have a picture of what ought to happen when they are writing for each other, not when they are making graduation speeches? When you make a commencement speech, it's pretty words and stuff. But when they are writing for one another, what do these people say? There are several categories to look at. One is the public relations industry, you know, the main business propaganda industry. So what are the leaders of the PR industry saying internally? Second place to look is at what are called public intellectuals, big thinkers, people who write the op-eds and that sort of thing. The people who write impressive books about the nature of democracy and that sort of business. What do they say? The third place to look is the academic sector, particularly that part that has been concerned with communications and information, much of which has been a branch of political science for many years. Continues... Excerpted from YOU ARE BEING LIED TO Copyright © 2001 by The Disinformation Company Ltd. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Howard BloomNoam ChomskyNorman SolomonHoward BloomGary WebbGreg BishopRuss KickKenn ThomasMichael ParentiMarni SullivanSam SmithJeff Cohen and Norman SolomonR.U. Sirius and Michael HorowitzGeorge SmithEarl LeeDouglas RushkoffSydney SchanbergJeff Cohen and Norman SolomonDavid McGowanRuss KickRobin RamsayChristian ParentiAli AbunimahJames RidgewayDavid McGowanPreston PeetCletus NelsonJonathan VankinBarry ChamishJim MarrsJudith Rich HarrisTristan TaorminoDavid SteinbergPhilip JenkinsRobert SterlingPaul McMastersPhilip JenkinsJames LoewenHoward ZinnNick MamatasMichael ZezimaJim MartinPaul ArmentanoThomas LyttleJim HogshireCharles BufeDan RussellM.M. MangasarianDavid ThomasPhilip JenkinsWarren Allen SmithPatrick MooreRuss KickAlex ConstantineMichael A. CremoWilliam R. CorlissRiane EislerAlex BurnsRichard MetzgerMark PescePeter RussellDavid LoyeRuss KickRuss Kick
About Disinformationp. 5
Introductionp. 6
Keynote Address
Reality Is a Shared Hallucinationp. 12
The News Media and Other Manipulators
What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstreamp. 20
Journalists Doing Somersaultsp. 25
The Puppets of Pandemoniump. 29
New Rules for the New Millenniump. 38
The Covert News Networkp. 40
Why Does the Associated Press Change Its Articles?p. 44
We Distort, You Abidep. 47
The Media and Their Atrocitiesp. 51
Making Molehills Out of Mountainsp. 56
Why They Hate Oliver Stonep. 60
The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TVp. 63
Sometimes Lying Means Only Telling a Small Part of the Truthp. 64
Upon Hearing of the Electronic Bogeymanp. 66
School Textbooksp. 73
The Information Arms Racep. 82
The War Secrets Senator John McCain Hidesp. 88
Jimmy Carter and Human Rightsp. 95
All the President's Menp. 97
Oil Before Ozonep. 101
God Save the President!p. 107
Colony Kosovop. 111
The Truth About Terrorismp. 114
You Can't Winp. 117
Official Versions
Anatomy of a School Shootingp. 124
How the People Seldom Catch Intelligencep. 128
Reassessing OKCp. 139
Votescamp. 143
The Rabin Murder Cover-upp. 147
What's Missing from This Picture?p. 152
The Social Fabrication
Don't Blame Your Parentsp. 164
The Female Hard-onp. 170
Art and the Eroticism of Pubertyp. 172
"A World That Hates Gays"p. 176
Apt Pupilsp. 187
A Panic of Biblical Proportions over Media Violencep. 194
The Man in the Bushesp. 196
Condemned to Repeat It
Amnesia in Americap. 202
Columbus and Western Civilizationp. 205
Go Out and Kill People Because This Article Tells You Top. 214
Saving Private Powerp. 219
What I Didn't Know About the Communist Conspiracyp. 227
Drug War Mythologyp. 234
Toad-Licking Bluesp. 241
Poppycockp. 245
AA Liesp. 254
The Unconscious Roots of the Drug Warp. 261
Holy Rolling
The Truth About Jesusp. 272
The Bible Codep. 278
Mystics and Messiahsp. 286
Who's Who in Hellp. 290
Blinded by Science
Environmentalism for the Twenty-First Centuryp. 296
Humans Have Already Been Clonedp. 304
NutraFear and NutraLoathing in Augusta, Georgiap. 307
Forbidden Archaeologyp. 311
There Is So Much That We Don't Knowp. 316
The Big Picture
Will the Real Human Being Please Stand Up?p. 328
You Are Being Lied To: A Disinformation Books Roundtablep. 335
I Have Met God and He Lives in Brooklynp. 347
Church of the Motherfuckerp. 354
A Sentient Universep. 356
A Lost Theory?p. 359
Appendix A More Lies, Myths, and Manipulationsp. 364
Appendix B More Readingp. 375
Contributors and Intervieweesp. 392
Article Historiesp. 399