An Ipsos Mori poll recently showed that, yet again, the British are wrong about almost everything. We think there are three times more immigrants in the UK than there actually are and that 31 times more benefit fraud is committed than actually occurs.
Teen pregnancy is thought to be 25 times higher than it actually is, and everyone believes there is more crime than ever, even though crime rates have been falling for over a decade.
We have no idea about how our taxes are spent, and we seem to believe that it disproportionately goes to marginal groups like the jobless, the disabled and ethnic minorities.
Is this an accident?
Clearly we are factually completely incorrect in relation to the reality of our own country. We are largely informed about the state of our country through the mass media.
It would be fair to say that our perceptions of the UK accurately reflects the mass media’s coverage of topics like immigration and benefit fraud, even if this is not the reality.
Take for example the Daily Mail, who last week reported numbers of immigrants in the tens of millions, then published a tiny apology stating that what they meant was actually percentages of immigrants.
This is the kind of thing that is going to give you a skewed perception of reality.
The same with our political process.
Last week The Express reported that UKIP were ahead of Labour in opinion polls. This is manifestly false, as the other papers reported the real statistics.
We have pointed out time and again that UKIP have been given 25 times more coverage on the BBC than the Greens, yet 73% of UKIP supporters would vote for Green policies. This week, despite being ahead of Lib Dems in the Polls with 8%, the Greens were once again absent from BBC reporting!
It is simply because UKIP have presented as the only voice of dissent when respect for Parliament is at all time low.
It is also worth noting that the species threatening catastrophe that is man made climate change has been presented as mere academic debate between two reasonably evenly matched sides. In fact, it is an independently verified human caused phenomenon, only opposed by fossil fuel industry paid scientists, and PR (propoganda) shills. Even BP’s scientists and CEO’s agree climate change is man caused and is dangerous.
Whilst we are presenting only the most egregious examples, this pattern can be seen widely throughout the mass media.
Over representation and exaggeration of certain subjects, (usually highly emotive ones, around marginal and defenceless groups) and complete avoidance of groups that actually challenge the the governing elite is standard practice for the mass media.
This is not only skewing our perceptions of reality, but it is also changing social attitudes.
“Data released by the Guardian in May 2014 reveals there is more self-reported racial prejudice in Britain than there was a decade ago.”
“A recent report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation pointed out that the public expects levels of poverty to get worse, while at the same time “support for welfare spending… is at an historical low”.
A change in social attitudes like this changes our interactions with each other. We are more likely to find open abuse and oppression of marginal groups – such as the disabled or ethnic minorities – acceptable.
We even find this oppression desirable from our political leaders, as we clammer more for harsher punishments to be levelled at those least able to defend themselves.
These groups are not responsible for the problems we face as a society, but we are misdirected, and our anger becomes misplaced. Then we feel aggrieved when anyone opposes that misplaced aggression.
“It’s political correctness gone mad” “How dare they tell us how many black people should be on T.V.” “It’s not racist to be CONCERNED about immigration” “Cultural Marxists are fascists” (a favoured online argument of neo nazis and other racist groups like the EDL).
There is no hope for a progressive, rational and positive set of solutions to take hold in contemporary society unless we first take hold of the mass media, and make it act in the public interest, rather than the private interests of the establishment.