I have an unhealthy interest in the doings and goings of the great disinformation debate. The disinformation bogeyman dangled about so readily and so often by our politicians and press, as proof, or disproof, of this or that. When in fact what it often boils down to is simple disagreement: you choose to believe this, they prefer you to believe that.

It has ever been thus; Jesus of Nazareth was accused of disinformation, and he in turn levelled the same charge at the Scribes, Pharisees and Temple accountants. Humanity’s greatest concept, democracy, is division, the contest of ideas, claim and counter-claim.

But what gets my goat is the last decade’s rise, all over the planet, of governments of all hue and colour, but especially of the left, claiming copyright on truth, curated here, perhaps coincidentally, during the great war on disinformation during the bleak period known as The Ardernghast.

Seeding ‘research’ into disinformation on the basis of the bogeyman’s alleged threats to social cohesion, and indeed democracy itself, has created a hive industry all of its own with several projects funded from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet alone; there are others.

One contract was self-explanatory in a bureau-speak way: “Insights to build an empirical picture of the disinformation landscape”. At least it was asking for evidence. Winning the contract, after tendering a bid of (close to) half a million dollars ($446,627) for the 12-month project, an Auckland company largely owned by a researcher from that city’s fine university set themselves the extraordinary task of building the evidence. So far (the contract runs to June 2024) they haven’t done very well, but that may be disinformation on my part. Judge for yourself, from “Disinformation Trends in New Zealand”:


I don’t see disinformation; I only see opinion. The definition of tyranny is “cruel and oppressive government”: excuse me? But that’s how The Ardernghast earned its name.

Kindness. Photoshopped image credit Wibble. The BFD.

Never mind the murky push and shove in politics; what about real stuff, like money? In the section FINANCIAL MIS/DISINFORMATION we learn:

As financial disinformation increases in New Zealand it might erode trust in local financial institutions, or spike unexpectedly with dire consequences. The spectacular collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March 2023, driven in part by misinformation on social media regarding the bank’s health, illustrates the rapid and devastating consequences of financial disinformation.

Excuse me again? SVB’s downfall was caused by that bank’s $1.8 billion (USD) loss on sales of securities, and consequent scrambling in panic to raise $2.5 billion to cover the shortfall. The ‘social media’ disinformation was in fact advice from Peter Thiel, one of the world’s canniest investors, for account-holders to get their money out – fast. His input was a public service, not disinformation.

There’s more, much more, but I don’t dare to bore you with it. Let’s just say: half a million dollars for that? Good work, if you can get it, don’t you think?

Living in Wellington idbkiwi is self-employed in a non-governmental role which suits his masochistic tendencies. He watches very little television, preferring to read or research, but still subscribes...