Tell the truth, and tell it fast... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

from Tom Atlee:

Dear friends, It seems that the federal government and its associated networks are moving increasingly towards secrecy and public relations to deal with public Y2K fears (see the WIRED article below). While I can understand their position, it is a bit like not telling the kids that daddy has lung cancer. The kids will pick up the bad vibes anyway, make up their own stories about it, and become increasingly unable to talk about the problem openly and intelligently. If this happens, family life rapidly deteriorates.

On the other hand, it isn't advisable for parents to just walk into the kids playroom, announce that daddy has lung cancer and a 70% chance of dying in the next year, and walk out.

The parents would be better off sharing with their children the full situation -- including, and especially, all the positive things that could be done. They would explore what the children think they and their family should do help the situation. First off, the kids might tell daddy to quit smoking. (My own daughter got me to quit 17 years ago. It makes you wonder who's leading whom.)

Not that the feds are our parents. But since they're thinking in paternalistic terms, we might as well pursue the metaphor. The main point is that there is an untried alternative to secrecy on the one hand, and unrestrained openness on the other. We might call that alternative "empowering openness" or "responsible openness." Responsible openness involves releasing information into a context where those involved can use it creatively to deal well with the situation.

Here are a few ways federal authorities could do this:

1) Engage the media in co-creating responsible openness. A government has a hard time being responsibly open when the media report government-sourced information in ways that create public disengagement and panic. The government could call a conference of media leaders to ask for their ideas in how both government and media can practice responsible openness with Y2K.

2) Do a PR campaign -- but not about how everything's fine, because no one can guarantee that it is. Rather, tell people about all the positive, pro-active, pro-social work being done by citizens to engage creatively with Y2K. If the media environment is filled with positive possibilities and guidance about what people can do, the public will respond in positive ways to each new piece of information. And then the government can feed THOSE NEW POSITIVE RESPONSES back through the PR loop, further enhancing awareness of positive possibilities and the likelihood of further positive responses.

3) Set up public forums designed to evoke collective intelligence and community wisdom about Y2K. Poorly designed forums can result in little more than heated exchanges of rumor and mud. But more wisely designed forums can facilitate intelligent evaluation of information, expression of deep feelings and values, shared exploration of a full range of options, and the development of broadly supported visions and plans. (See )

Is the government going to do these things? Who are we to ask that question?! We, the people, need to keep in mind that our government will be as paternalistic as we allow it to be. It isn't likely to take initiatives like I've described unless we demand it. Our silence makes paternalism a fact. Our voices make democracy a fact. The sooner the better.



Feds Plan Y2K Spin Control

by Declan McCullagh

Copyright ) 1994-99 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.

Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * Oakland, CA *

-- Critt Jarvis (Wilmington, NC) (, January 27, 1999


Critt --- I don't think one has to be a paranoid like most of us on this NG (except me and STOP watching me, it makes me nervous) to notice that these suggestions propose a paternalistic extension to *now* include big government plus big media. Count me out.

There is already a high degree of collusion between the two which is one (though not the only) reason for the proliferation of alternate media and growing public mistrust of mainstream media.

The still somewhat messy disconnect between government and media is one of the few things we've got going for us. To paraphrase your other thread with Eddy's quote, the best thing government and media could do is stop treating people like mushrooms.

Tell the truth and be done with it. Of course the truth will be pushed, manipulated, spun, reinterpreted .... welcome to life. Enforce libel laws and all that good stuff. But when you start by "managing" the truth to "help people" you're already going down the wrong road.

-- BigDog (, January 27, 1999.

Has anyone heard this take on y2k? I find it fascinating.

I spoke with someone I've known very well for years. They guy isn't as rich as Bill Gates, but he's done very, very well. Simply put. He knows how to make money.

Now, I've spoken to him about all of this. 'Told him I've done the research, etc.

His reaction: Computers will not malfunction. This is all about money. Follow the money. Internets stocks are soaring and they used to be in the tank. Why are they soaring? Because people are going crazy on the Internet trying to follow this story! And others. Monica, etc. Somebody's making a ton of money off of this stuff!

What's he doing to prepare for Y2K? Basic preparations we should all be doing anyway. Red Cross kind of stuff.

And if he's wrong? Guess what? If everything tanks, there will still be an economy. And guess what? I know this guy will never stand in a bread line. Because? He'll figure out a way to make money off it! (And if China starts to hit us with ICBMs, he won't care, 'cause he'll be dead or dying and he knew it had to happen sometime!)

(And while we're all spending time trying to find out what this is all about--he's making money!)



-- MB (, January 27, 1999.

Hi Critt, I totally agree with your assessment, however, the government has been doing this for years in many different situations. The difference now is the Internet. There is too much water under the dam, so to speak, and if they try this at this late point in the game, it could have the opposite effect, with the masses beleiving it will be much worse than it actually could be? Don't know. I have just finished an Y2K article for a new national magazine called Point B, in which as an intro, I offer 4 fictious futures from one persons point of view. A diary if you will. The worst case scenario is discribed by the diarist as a case of Rational Panic, when all of the sudden all 5.6 billion of us got it at the same time. He ends up saying y2k was nothing more than salt in an open wound. This could be intersting...Rusty2k

-- Rusty2k (, January 27, 1999.

A couple of points:

1. There really is no "government" or "media" making decisions to withold Y2k information. There are ELITES, i.e., very rich people. Their main businesses (in dollar volume) are arms and drugs, but the lynchpin is banking (think "bank run"). They also own and control the media and government, which are specialized tools for manipulating labor (you and me), which they also consider their property. When I talk about rich people, I'm not talking about your local successful businessman. I'm talking about the banking dynasties. They want to control your perception, because they need your trust to run their global confidence game.

2. 'managing the truth' to 'help people' is what's been happening for ever. We haven't gone down the wrong road - we arrived at the end of that road a long time ago. Read "Neccessary Illusions" and "Manufacturing Consent" by Noam Chomsky. "Manufacturing Consent," the video, is also a good intro to this way of thinking.


-- E. Coli (, January 27, 1999.

Critt, Tom, Big Brother, Whoever,

While I agree that what is outlined above would indeed be a positive approach for "the authorities" to take, I think that it is also important to examine the possible motives for the approach that is currently being taken.

I liked the Dad metaphor. I'd like to expand upon it:

I think our "government" and the people it "governs" are kinda like a dysfunctional family. Mom (big business) is the real boss but gives Dad (government) and the kids (citizens/consumers) the illusion that Dad's the one in control. Mom has but one simple and overriding goal in her life; to enrich herself and keep control. Her comfort is the only thing that she cares about, at the expense of everything else. After all, why have all those damn kids if they aren't going serve you?

Mom is very clever. She lets the kids believe that they have a say in the decisions that Dad makes, while really, she has Dad present things in such a way that, really, the kids only ratify what Mom has already decided. She lets Dad take the heat when things go wrong. Dad kinda likes his role, and he plays along with Mom's games because he knows that she keeps him well fed. Dad's not exactly stupid, but he's not that smart, either.

Mom is a terrific story teller. Every night she lulls most of the kids to sleep with her fantastic yarns. A couple of the kids don't like her stories and often don't participate, but she's good at making the other kids feel that these few are the "bad seeds." Often, she'll get Dad to take them out back for a good whuppin'. The threat of whuppin's keeps most of the kids in line.

Now it turns out that Mom and Dad and a couple of the kids have dicovered a problem. It's a problem that threatens Mom's power and control as well Dad's illusion of power and control. The few kids who know about the problem desperately want to tell the other kids, but Mom and Dad don't really want them to understand the problem. Dad simply says over and over that the problem is under control, don't worry about it while Mom uses her story telling skills to confuse the issue. She gets a particular kick out of making the kids who understand the problem look like whackos. The sleepy kids enjoy viewing the other kids as whackos also. It makes them feel superior.

Now, it turns out the kids who understand the problem are starting to scare the other kids. Mom and Dad are afraid that the other kids might run out of the house and freak out the whole neighborhood. They want the kids to understand that they can't live without Mom and Dad and the everything looks like it may get out of hand.

Mom and Dad sit down and discuss the whole thing and decide to just not tell the kids anything anymore. They'll keep telling nice stories, and maybe throw in a few the kids haven't heard before. They figure that way, with no real information, the kids will settle down and look forward to the big party coming up. The few kids who understand the problem are concerned that the other kids might be in danger.

The whole thing is a big mess!

-- pshannon (, January 27, 1999.

E is correct (hey, I said stop looking at me). Think "Rothschild." Think "Riadi". Clinton is a patsy who will do anything for a pat on the head from the big boys. I'm kidding about paranoia but this really is the way the world's "business" works, bottom line.

The elites aren't omniscient and they have screwed up with Y2K (I said, they're not omniscient) but E *is* correct and I admit, by implication, my own post didn't go deep enough.

When people wonder why Milne is torqued about the entire system and would just as soon it was razed to the ground, go back and read E's post here. And think about it, don't just blow it off.

.... Providing yet another reason why TEOTWAWKI might just be far from bad news for people down on the farm. As well as why the elites will go bananas to put Humpty back together again, if they can.

Fasten your seatbelt, the airport is in sight.

-- BigDog (, January 27, 1999.

MB --- Your friend is a hustler and will bottom-feed post-Y2K. But he is a moron about Y2K. And he is a guppy so far as the big boys are concerned.

-- BigDog (, January 27, 1999.

pshannon, et. al.,

Fortunately its a collective group of Moms and Dads and not just singular ones.

Some Moms do a better job at explaining the facts of life to the kids. I expect they will continue to surface with good advice. Also, some of the Dads, from behind the Washington concrete curtain, still are using their rational brains and encouraging logical deduction and intellectual assessment among the kids. Their quiet encouragement will continue as well.

The difference is, the kids have graduated from high school and are entering college now. The tests and homework assignments are harder and the overall grading tougher. But, thats what higher education is all about. Expect this summer to enroll in the Y2K masters degree programs (very high temperatures) and later next fall, those still motivated, will move on to graduate school and be digitally researching on their doctoral thesis. Publishing too.

At the 2000 turn, well all get the opportunity to rate the Moms and Dads of the business and government worlds. They will also be forced to grade themselves.

Believe me, well help with that effort. We have long memories. And, hopefully, will have learned our lessons well.


-- Diane J. Squire (, January 27, 1999.

Pshannon: Now that was a good story!!!

Too bad it's not really a "story", but the sad, sad truth.....


-- Bobbi (, January 27, 1999.

And the kids who really understand the problem ignore the prattle of their dysfunctional Moms and Dads, and escape romancing the trance of a lunatic legacy.

"Mmmmm, I sleep well again tonight."

Thanks, all.


-- Critt Jarvis (Wilmington, NC) (, January 27, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ