Information, Disinformation, and Misinformation
Barbara Bush: Law, Politics and Govt
Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two class periods
In 1975, George Bush became head of the Central Intelligence Agency, America’s “spy” organization. This information-gathering and analysis arm of the federal government is top-secret and, as a result, deals in all 3 modes of intelligence activities noted in the title.
Divide the class into small groups. Tell them that they are intelligence teams at the CIA Training School. It is their responsibility to identify a major news story from somewhere in the world (does not necessarily have to appear to relate to the United States). Try to insure that each group selects a different story. Each group’s job is to:
1. create a summary of the story that is unbiased (information); 2. look again at the story and identify (then write out) ways in which the events could be reported incorrectly and that would be considered “honest mistakes” (misinformation); 3. examine the story again and look for ways (then write them out) to purposefully distort the data (disinformation) so as to create an international incident or major misunderstanding among allies. Describe what might take place as a result of the disinformation. After each group has presented its work, discuss with students the implications of each form of data in today’s global community.
This lesson can be done without any particular websites, but the following treatment of disinformation gives a lucid overview.
This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.