Jason Hartman brings guest Stephen Davis, author of Truthteller: An Investigative Reporters Journey Through the World of Truth Prevention, Fake News and Conspiracy Theories. The two discuss the prevalence of fake news online.
Thanks for your support. Jason, I appreciate your support and your whole network. It’s really been very beneficial to me and, and a whole lot of others. I encourage everyone to use your resources that you have. But thanks. Thank you.
Welcome to the creating wealth show with Jason Hartman. You’re about to learn a new slant on investing some exciting techniques and fresh new approaches to the world’s most historically proven asset class that will enable you to create more wealth and freedom than you ever thought possible. Jason is a genuine self made multi millionaire who’s actually been there and done it. He’s a successful investor, lender, developer and entrepreneur who’s owned properties in 11 states had hundreds of tenants and been involved in thousands of real estate transactions. This program will help you follow in Jason’s footsteps on the road to your financial independence day. You really can do it. And now here’s your host, Jason Hartman with the complete solution for real estate investing. asters
Jason Hartman 1:02
Welcome to Episode 1330. And greetings from a cabana by the pool at the beautiful Dorado Ritz Carlton resort in Puerto Rico. And I gotta tell you, I remember years ago, well, I’ve given this advice too many people many times, but I’ll just give you one example of that. I had this new real estate agent working at my traditional real estate company years ago. He was not a person with any advantages, kind of like the way I grew up, right. I didn’t have any connections, didn’t have any money didn’t have much of an infrastructure or anything like that from my life. So this agent, his name was Mike came to my firm as a total newbie, and I trained him and he became a very successful agent. And early on in his career, I gave him the book, Earl nightingales greatest discovery, you can probably still get but it’s out of print. So it’s not easy to get but it’s a fantastic book. had a huge influence on me. One of the things that I took from that book, although Earl Nightingale never said this specifically, but conceptually, the message was there. And it was, if you want to become more successful, hang around with successful people. Obviously, I told you about the Jim Rohn quote, I repeat often on that, you know, your income will be the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. certainly true about that. You know, a lot of us have these old friendships and old relationships from high school or college or whatever. And life isn’t all about money, obviously. But look, this show is about money. So that’s what I’m talking about. Okay. So I get it, that there’s more to it than financial success, right, obviously, but a lot of us sort of just sit and find ourselves in these old relationships that we started many years ago. And you know, whoever said you have to be friends with, you know, your old friends all your life, you know, people grow in different directions. And want different things out of life. And so, so that all happens. Anyway, let’s go back to Mike for a minute. And of course, this is the 10th episode show. And we’ll have our guests here the truth teller, talking about investigative reporting one of my favorite topics in a moment. But the thing I told Mike, is I said, Look, Mike, you haven’t been around much success in your life, you haven’t seen that you haven’t been exposed to it. And when I was younger, neither was I, you know, I hadn’t really been exposed to that too much. And I said, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go to the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach. It’s now called the island Hotel in fashionable Island, which is right near where we held our last meet the masters of income property event several months ago, a impassionate Island Newport Beach. I said, Mike, I want you to go and I want you to just go to the Four Seasons Hotel, and I want you to sit in the lobby, and I want you to just observe, I want you to watch people I want you to get a seat In the middle of that lobby, and just sit and watch the people, I want you to notice how they’re dressed, how they act, I want you to look around at the beautiful environment, you’re in the decorations, I want you to notice the staff and how the staff treats the customers, and all that kind of stuff, right? And you know, you want to hang around successful people. If you can’t do that you want to do it virtually through podcasts and audio books and written books and so forth. Oh, and by the way, I got an interesting thing about written books in a moment. Another tangent, tangent alert, right? So you want to hang around success and be in a successful environment in good looking environment in an environment that is appealing and good for your soul. And the environment I’m looking at right now is absolutely gorgeous. There is this beautiful pool. I mean, you can look this place up online and and you can see it it’s absolutely beautiful. You know, this beautiful restaurant bar area. Yeah, that we’ve met several times here on this trip and, and last night we ate dinner at a different place within the Ritz Carlton resort. And you know, just being in this environment is so it’s inspiring. The message I’ll give you today about that is the same message I said, when I was in Peru about maybe what was that about four years ago, I was, you know, I came on the podcast, and that was an arranged trip, part of a mastermind group, I was in at the time, paid a lot of money to be in that mastermind group and paid a lot of money to go on that trip to Peru. And so none of us paid for the hotel directly. One of the hotels we stayed in, but we got there. And it was just unbelievable. It was so gorgeous. And a couple of us on the trip in the mastermind group went down to the front desk and said, you know, what does it cost to stay at this hotel, and you know, this is probably the rack rate. I’m sure they got a better deal, the people organizing the mastermind group trip, but they said it was $900 a night. And that hotels was absolutely spectacular. It was, I mean, you open up the closet in that hotel, it had multiple choices of clothing, literally, you know, four different choices of bathrobes, you know different choices of slippers, and workout clothing and just everything you would want. I mean, just super well appointed, fantastic food, fantastic environment. My message on that podcast years ago was whatever you do, you know, just get this one thing out of your way. And here’s the thing, it’s the money thing. So we all have many tasks in life, many duties in life, and we can help you with this one. We can help you take care of the money thing. Just get it out of your way. You know, whether you you love money, you hate money, it doesn’t matter. Just get it out of the way. Check it off the to do list. Get your income property portfolio, going If you’ve got it going, increase the size of it, and increase your reach and expand your horizons. And that’s what we’re here to help you do lots more at Jason hartman.com. Our team can help you with that. That’s our mission in life is to help you climb the money mountain, and to get to the top of it, but hey, I have bad news, you’ll never get to the top because the mountain keeps getting higher. Okay, but at least get to where you feel comfortable and where the view is nice. And I tell you the view right here as I’m sitting in this cabana, with my microphone and, and my dog looking at my friends in the pool, and I gotta jump in the pool there with them. So we can talk about doing big things. Take care of the money thing. And that’s what we’re here to help you do. We are your guide. We are your team. We are your resource to help you take care of the money thing. So take advantage of it. Our Consultations are free. Go to Jason Hartman, calm we’re here to help. Okay, another interesting point when we were at dinner last night at one of the Ritz Carlton restaurants here, I had an interesting conversation With a gentleman who’s here as part of the mastermind group, his name is Tom and he’s a consultant. He’s been a consultant for many different real estate gurus over the years and, you know, had some really interesting insights into how sort of shady some of them are. And hey, no surprise there. There’s a lot of shady players in every industry. Certainly real estate is no exception, no exception at all. And so it was interesting hearing about that. And he said it well, in a really politically correct way. He said, You know, these people, they’re not necessarily shady. They’re not necessarily bad people. They just use the tools that are available to them and work the system. Now. You know, there’s a difference between law and ethics, right? There’s a difference between law and ethics. Okay, law is the last stop, right. That’s when you really got to hold someone accountable for their actions. You use the law. Hopefully before you get to the law, ethics will kick in and people will realize, hey, look, you know, this isn’t the right thing to do. Right. As I’ve said, one of my favorite quotes, is this one. Here it is. It applies to women, obviously, but the quote, says gentlemen, right. So it says the definition of a gentleman is someone who has the advantage, but doesn’t take it. It’s someone who has the advantage, but doesn’t take it. That’s the gentlemanly thing to do. That’s the ethical thing to do. Right. So anyway, that wasn’t really the topic of the conversation I wanted to share with you. It was about the printing press. And I just found this to be really interesting. So I did not know this. So this guy, he’s a big fan of Victor Hugo talked about how, throughout history, people tried to preserve and give messages down to future generations through my favorite art form, architecture. He said architecture was the way they really did that they did it with architecture, whether it be the pyramids or Notre Dame or whatever, right. architecture was the way they pass things. was down and left a message for future generations. But what kind of, although it didn’t kill it, but to some extent it did. What killed architecture, interestingly, was Gutenberg printing press. When the printing press came along, people had a new way to pass down their message and their legacy for posterity, right to future generations. They had books, they had the written word before that there wasn’t much of the written word, you know, was clay tablets and handwritten documents and things like that you couldn’t do much with that. Right? But with the printing press, you could scale it. So I just thought that was kind of an interesting point. Anyway, that’s kind of the topic of our show today. And it was the topic of my opening talk at our recent profits in paradise event, to an extent to when I talked about information and the bits and the bytes versus the atoms. If you were there you you know the reference, add profits in paradise few weeks. back. Anyway, we’re talking to an investigative reporter today. That’s our 10th episode show guests. Remember 10th episodes, we go off topic and don’t directly talk about income property and real estate every 10th show, we do something of general interest in today’s no exception. So we will talk to the truth teller. And here he is.
Jason Hartman 11:23
It’s my pleasure to welcome Steven Davis. He is the author of truth teller and investigative reporters journey through the world of truth prevention, fake news and conspiracy theories. Steven, welcome. How are you are very good. Thank you, Jason. Good to have you on the show. So we live in a world of propaganda and misinformation, all sorts of tactics that the bad apples out there use to hide the truth shade the truth spin the truth. In your book, you start off talking about character assassination, and then you talk about conspiracy theories and It’s just a very interesting topic how our minds are influenced by the media and such. Tell us more about that.
Stephen Davis 12:06
yet. The first thing to say is that fake news and conspiracy theories and disinformation. misinformation has always been with us. You know, the papers in colonial America and Victorian England were basically propaganda sheets. The differences now on social media is the volume and the speed with which it travels around the world. And my concern is that there was so much misinformation and disinformation out there, that beneath that it makes it easier now than ever before, for governments and corporations and dictators to lie to you and to get away with actual scandals. And of course, the group that you relied on to uncover these things, investigative reporters, such as myself, there are fewer of us around than they used to be.
Jason Hartman 12:51
Yeah, that’s definitely true. It’s interesting that we’ve seen this era of media fragmentation, as I call it, where there are fewer media Let’s and you you think on one hand, of course, that’s good, because a lot more people have a voice. I think you could certainly argue that the media is much more democratized than it’s ever been. But at the same time, you have the opposite trend. You have the major media companies that have consolidated like crazy. And then, as you see this fragmentation of the news media landscape, and so many media outlets, the big outlets have really almost done away with investigative reporting, investigative journalism, because the budgets have been cut, as they all vie for advertisers amongst you know, so much competition there. It’s really interesting. We’re talking about this today, because just yesterday, literally on my personal Facebook page, I posted that famous Mark Twain quote, that says, you know, a lie can travel halfway around the world, while the truth is still putting on its shoes. And I think Winston Churchill said it another way, but whatever you get the idea kind of help us understand the media landscape? And I don’t know, is it? Is it really worse than it has been? I mean, people are certainly more skeptical than they were in the past, aren’t they?
Stephen Davis 14:09
On the skeptical issue? Of course, it’s in the interests of liars and deceivers that there be so much fake information that we all just throw up our hands and say, Well, can we believe anything, and let’s get on with our lives. And let’s not take part in politics or civic life that makes it easier for people to lie and deceive. The Mark Twain quote is interesting, because now of course, the equivalent is his Twitter. And studies show that fake news travels fast on Twitter than the truth. And very often people we tweet things without even getting to the end of the hundred and 40 characters. So you have this disinformation traveling around the world at vast speed. The major media can’t keep up with it. Somebody might put a lie on Twitter and 5 million people have seen it. And an hour later, the BBC or the New York Times or The Guardian might point out why it’s wrong. But by that stage, it’s Too late and not enough people have read the real version of the veins. As far as the media landscape goes, the major issue with I have you call it the democratic kind of nature of things now, which is fine. But you know, I think the problem is a lot of people think they citizen journalists and don’t have the training to be proper journalist, but a treated as proper journalists by the media, so anybody can kind of tweet from the scene of some place. You don’t even know if it’s a real person. That’s an issue for me. And of course, for investigative reporting, the issue is really resources, serious investigations, take time and money. In truth teller, I tell the story about how I was sent to the Amazon to investigate a tip that BP the world’s largest oil company was destroying part of the rain forest, you know, the mining company that was destroying the rain forest. Now what I’ve just told you was all we knew about the story when they sent me to Brazil. London Sunday Times sent me to Brazil, literally a needle in a haystack. Because the Amazon, as you know, is bigger than Western Europe. I spent weeks and weeks out there investigating it. I found the mind. I smuggled myself in. I got a photograph. It exposed the P, which at that stage was branding itself green. It was a big piece of investigative reporting. I can tell you absolutely. Now, Jason, that no major media company would fund an investigation like that and spin that amount of money on as little information as they had to start with. And what’s worse is, you remember, we were all reading stories about the importance of the Amazon rainforest to the environment into a search for truth teller. I actually went back to contacts and the province that I’d been in all those years ago and people are destroying the rainforest that did even greater rate than they were then and it goes virtually unreported because these days, reporters Don’t get out of the office. Reporters don’t get sent to the, you know, the deepest, darkest parts of the Amazon rainforest to get stories. So society is missing out.
Jason Hartman 17:10
Yeah, they are missing out. But what is the solution? If you agree that the problem is sort of as I outlined it, I’m sure you could do a better job being so deep in it, but we’ve got this fragmented environment. On the one hand, it should be good. On the other hand, it’s bad. We just don’t have I mean, 60 minutes is kind of the last bastion of big time investigative journalism, isn’t it?
Stephen Davis 17:36
Okay, so 60 minutes is still very good, by the way. Well, the solution is I lecture journalism students all over the world. I’ve lectured several thousand journalism students in the last 10 years from about 30 different countries, including the United States. And I always say to them, if you want a future of good journalism, you have to pay for it. That’s the generation that’s interest that used to getting stuff for free for you. Music craziness, everything on the internet. I tell them if you want free stuff, you’re liable to get propaganda and fake news. If you want real journalism, which is labor intensive, and which costs money, you have to pay for it. Now, it’s slightly encouraging that a few other people all over the world or group of people have adopted that idea that a million people last year made voluntary contributions to the Guardian, that the New York Times has, you know, over two and a half million digital subscribers. Now, the simple truth of the matter is for the public, if you want good journalism to survive, you have to pay for it.
Jason Hartman 18:37
Why don’t we all mean, just one moment on that though, if we argue like 60 minutes, right, nobody pays for 60 minutes. They just paid by watching ads. So what’s wrong with the advertising model? Was that broken because of the advertisers? So influencing the journalism I certainly I think that’s true with the drug companies because they don’t yet see monetizing
Stephen Davis 19:00
was broken because, you know, newspapers and television programs were funded by advertising. And it used to be said that, for instance, in print, when the print advertising disappeared, it would be supplanted by digital advertising online. And that hasn’t happened. And the reason it hasn’t happened is because Facebook and Google have hoovered up all the advertising. So that model has been destroyed. And now the media I’ll live to, I mean, act on digital subscriptions. And you know, you mentioned 60 minutes, it still does well, it’s still rates and advertisers still like it. But the simple fact is that the level of advertising on broadcast television is also falling because as you use quite correctly said, The audience is diffuse now and might be watching, you know, 200 different channels instead of three.
Jason Hartman 19:53
Okay, so so what do we do? I mean, okay, so people have to pay for it. And you’re saying that can’t really be supported effectively by ads. Okay, so people pay 10 bucks a month to subscribe to their favorite news outlet. But, you know, they’re just going to get one opinion all this news has become so biased and so over editorialized, I mean, where’s the, you know, it’s not even news anymore. It’s just pinion, most of it,
Stephen Davis 20:22
where I would disagree with that. I mean, there is a lot of opinion quit done. And it’s actually Of course, you look at the TV channel, for instance, a cable news channel. It’s cheaper, much cheaper to have two blokes on giving their opinions and shouting at each other and call it a TV show. Then do actual investigative reporting like 60 minutes does. But you know, for 10 or 12 bucks a month, you could subscribe to three different sources. And then you could look at the BBC, which is the national broadcaster in Britain and you could, you could have access to the ABC online in Australia and you could get yourself a collection of sources which would practice probably journalism and not cost you too much money. I mean, if you don’t want to pay, as I said, then serious journalism, which is incredibly expensive and time consuming, and employs people who spend years training to be good at it, that’s going to die off. But what you can do as an individual as well, alongside this, it’s you can take responsibility for the information you share and consume. It’s not good enough to say I just passed on something I didn’t really know it was fake, because then you’re just part of a long string of people around the world, passing on falsehoods and sharing falsehoods. You can’t claim like, you know, the getaway driver from the bank robbery.
Jason Hartman 21:42
I didn’t know. He just robbed the bank.
Stephen Davis 21:47
So I believe what will happen Jason in the next decade, is that media literacy courses of the kind that I just designed for the University of Otago and New Zealand to be open source and available to students all over The world media literacy courses will be seen as wide out there. And as important as English history, geography and maths, and they’ll be widely taught at every level. And the aim will be to get people to become ethical consumers and shares of information. If people have to feel as Soviet if Facebook have to change their business model, because people share lists and the more careful Soviet I mean, personally, I think Facebook is acting with a great deal of social irresponsibility at the moment. I couldn’t agree
Jason Hartman 22:35
Stephen Davis 22:36
it means our way. Just for instance, you have a video a fake video of Nancy Pelosi that they know is fake and they refuse to take it down. I mean, the problem with Facebook is that sort
Jason Hartman 22:47
of surprising though, because Facebook leans to the left you think they’d want to protect Nancy Pelosi? You know, I don’t know. It’s kind of odd.
Stephen Davis 22:57
Yeah, but they want to protect more, Jason. The idea That they not be treated as a publisher or broadcaster. I mean, for years, they’ve convinced themselves of that. I’ve seen a lot of interviews on this book tour. I’ve been interviewed by the BBC, and media everywhere all over the world. And of course, everything we say on that media. The media platform is responsible for what you say and do podcast or publish, because they are a publisher or broadcast. Now Facebook, of course, is actually a publisher and a board controller. But it’s somehow convinced us over the years that it not be treated as a party. It’s
Jason Hartman 23:35
not just this is this is this is this is absolutely ridiculous. Same with Google. Same with every blog platform out there. Somehow, they get to escape the responsibility that a media outlet has let me give you an example. Okay, I’m sure you’re going to agree with this. If you write a defamatory, libelous article about someone or something Some company or some person, and you get that somehow published in the New York Times as an op ed, for example, right? The New York Times will be liable for that. But if you publish it on pretty much any internet site, they’re going to say, well, we’re just a platform, we’re protected by the communications decency Act, which nothing could be further from the truth. There’s nothing decent about that act at all. And so we can put up our hands and claim that we’re just a platform. And we don’t have any responsibility. That is ridiculous. The law has got to change. And you know what, thank God that the European Union is starting to change this. And I think ultimately it will change in the US, you know, when it changes is when the politicians get affected by it. That’s when it changes. They don’t care about us, but they
Stephen Davis 24:50
always decide Facebook has always fallen back on the idea that it’s kind of extra territorial. Whenever somebody tried to regulate it says, well, we’re not really in your country. We’re kind All over the world. Yeah, but you’re quite right. I mean, a profound change needs to happen. And it needs to be that Facebook is responsible for everything it publishes and everything.
Jason Hartman 25:11
Stephen Davis 25:13
Oh, yeah, I just use Facebook as
Jason Hartman 25:17
Google and others got it. I think we got that point. And you and I agree completely. Let’s take the other side of it, though. What about them shutting down the people they don’t like Alex Jones comes to mind. Not that I agree with her wanting to defend Alex Jones. But why is it that some non governmental entity that you have no recourse against can just destroy you? You know, Twitter, PayPal, even the payment platforms do the same sort of discrimination. They cut off Wikileaks, you know, they you build a whole life on their platform, and then they can just take it away and they don’t have to explain it. They don’t have the answer to Anybody, you know, that would be fine. In a world where there’s a whole lot of choice, where there’s a whole bunch of platforms out there? Where, oh, look, if you don’t want to do business with me fine, the company down the street will do business with me, you know, and it’ll be a free marketplace. But it’s not that way. These companies are bigger than most countries. I mean, it’s absolute, the scale that they’ve been able to benefit from on a platform that they use and did not build or pay for called the internet. They didn’t build that, you know, like to go back to Obama saying you didn’t build that, right? Well, I actually, I actually, actually agree with him here. Why do they get to be the arbiters of who gets to speak and who doesn’t?
Stephen Davis 26:42
I think this comes down to the classic and long standing debate between freedom of speech and speech, which tips over into harm. You know, the classic harm Spence harm principle, as outlined by philosopher john Stuart Mill, which he essentially said just to sort of remind people that the village of the age where the corn merchants are putting up the price of bleed for poor people. And he said basically, you can make a speech saying though called merchants of villains, the corn merchants can go to jail, you can say all sorts of terrible things about them. What you can do is get a mob to go and burn down their house and kill them. That tips over from free speech to hate speech. So we’re trying to work out a difficult line here. Now the alex jones of this world I mean, he’s an appalling individual who caused tremendous and unnecessary grief for the victims of Sandy Hook. Fair enough.
Jason Hartman 27:33
But some of his I
Stephen Davis 27:35
think some of these
Jason Hartman 27:36
ladies are something me and we should see you know,
Stephen Davis 27:40
totally. I was about to say personally, I think the man is laughable. But look, I think if you try and suppress the speech, you only help them and I don’t think that what he says tips over into hate speech at will I do think they need to clamp down is the actual hate speech which circulates on the internet, which is Actually urging people to commit violence. And we saw the terrible consequences of that in my home country recently, where disgruntled young men got guns and murdered a lot of people in a mosque in in Christchurch. So I agree with you absolutely. The alex jones of this world.
Jason Hartman 28:19
Let me tell you what’s interesting about that, though, and I’m sure you’ll think you’ll have an opinion about this one. Why is it that the movies and video games are never criticized? I mean, there’s almost zero criticism against them, and against the pharmaceutical companies that make these drugs that make people crazy. I mean, it’s like, you don’t even bring it up. There’s no discussion about this in the media anymore. There used to be I remember back in the 70s, they would discuss violence on TV constantly. But now it’s like almost just go through your Netflix queue, or not your cue but just surf movies online, IMDb, whatever. And you’ll see that almost every every movie poster has a gun in every video game as a shooter game, what nobody talks about that it’s amazing.
Stephen Davis 29:08
Well, a lot of people used to talk about it, you’re right. And it seems to have kind of slightly become less of a story these days. I guess though, from my point of view, they may be entertainment I like or don’t like, but it’s clearly entertainment. I might not be entertained by somebody is, but there’s a world of difference between that and somebody broadcasting as they did a live shooting of actual people being killed. The same, but what is clearly real life and what is not sure. And if it’s about real life, like a whole fantasy world, or, you know, science fiction or whatever, I guess that that’s entertain some people and they should be allowed to see it.
Jason Hartman 29:47
It’s just amazing that, you know, they only run to the gun manufacturers. That’s all they talk about. And they never talk about any of these other issues that influenced this kind of terrible tragic behavior, which is crazy. Okay, so Since we did get a little conspiratorial you’ve got a chapter had about conspiracy theories. It’s aptly titled and my I think it says my conspiracy theories are better than your conspiracy theories. Tell us about that.
Stephen Davis 30:12
Yeah and truth teller lie outlawed various tools which governments and corporations use to deceive you, actually quite sophisticated tools which they’re quite good at. And one particular one is the creation of conspiracy theories to hide an actual conspiracy theory. And in truth teller, I give an example when a former Russian intelligence officers called scruple was poisoned the United Kingdom, and the finger was pointed at the Russians. It seems pretty clear they were the only people with a motive to do it. And in fact, two of the officers happened to be in the same town at the time of the poisoning and were caught on cctv camera. But within 10 days of that story, I was tracking around the world for other conspiracy theories had been generated. circulated about what happened. So now if you look back at and if I asked my students to go and investigate it, and they’d come back and say, Well, Mr. Davis, there’s five different theories on this. How do we know what to believe? So what a very, very effective way of obscuring the truth, simply create a conspiracy theory floated online. Yeah.
Jason Hartman 31:23
Okay. So what are these other tools that these oppressive regimes whether they be government, corporations, anything tell us some of the tools they use?
Stephen Davis 31:33
Okay, one classic, which is used, in fact, by Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and others is the big lie. And it’s based on the way our brains work. Our brains are wired to treat information that’s familiar that we hear often is trustworthy. That’s logical if you think about it. So you tell a big lie. And initially, a lot of people might not believe you, but you repeated again and again, month after month, year after year. Yeah. And eventually a lot of people will start to believe it because
Jason Hartman 32:05
I’m like what Joseph gurbles said or something?
Stephen Davis 32:08
Yeah, absolutely. That goes back quite a way in it, but it’s very effective. And I give examples of it in the book. Another really, and this is really kind of quite common now is the character assassination. I personally have had my character attacked by senior police officers by a senior minister in the British government. And also with the internet, as you know, it’s very, very easy to circulate false rumors and assassinate people’s character and then have them not believed. In the book, I tell the story about a matrix agent called Richard Tomlinson, who was trying to blow the whistle on things the British government was doing, and they had them chased around the world. And they were deliberately trying to assassinate his character. So that no nobody would believe him. They told the Swiss place when he was living in Switzerland that he was a pedophile. It was a completely invented story. Oh,
Jason Hartman 33:07
man, look at Ilan musk with the Thailand divers are you know, you remember the story anyway. I’m glad that guy saved him for saying that I, I don’t know what the outcome was, but I hope he wins. You know,
Stephen Davis 33:19
it’s very effective, as you know, because you flake this stuff, and you get it online. And then people are searching you a year or two later and they come across it. Oh, wow. Okay, sometimes enough to make the allegation.
Jason Hartman 33:33
It’s a drive by shooting it’s a hit and run where the perpetrator can be anonymous. But just so you know, that’s not actually true. You can find them. We’ve hired cyber investigators and it is fascinating. That is a fascinating world. It’s very hard to actually be totally anonymous online. may seem easier than it really is. But that’s a nother show in and of itself. But yes, in concert in principle, you’re absolutely Right. I think intelligence agencies go to public the tracks like, Oh, well, if it’s the government, yes, that’s probably a lot harder to a lot harder to hold them accountable. Absolutely. But yes, it is a huge problem. I couldn’t agree with you more. And if you’re an investigative reporter, you’re going to have enemies because you’re, you know, one one side’s going to like you and the other is going to hate you. That’s just the unfortunate reality right?
Stephen Davis 34:26
It is an in truth teller lie describe one particular memorable occasion I I did an investigation into what happened to the human shields of the first Gulf War is a whole lot of people, British American, French, and many other countries who were taken hostage by Saddam Hussein and used as human shields. And there was a secret report into it which was covered up by the British government but which is explained in my book truth teller. At one stage a British Member of Parliament asked questions about this in Parliament to the the labour defense minister government Defense Minister gfo now At the end of it, whom says to the MPI need a private word with you and this so they come the Office of private word, and Hoon says to the MP, you’ve got to be careful that Steven Davis, I think he’s a bit of a fantasy. And we told you that, yeah, when the MP told me this after I’d finished laughing about it, I thought How ironic that a member of a government that produced a totally fantastical weapons of mass destruction dossier that took Britain into war in Iraq, should turn around and make that accusation of me. But it’s very typical of things. And of course, they will say it privately. He never be caught dead saying this publicly, where I could challenge him. It’s the kind of private conversation the whispers by which they seek to undermine the journalists integrity, and therefore stop them being an effective investigative reporter.
Jason Hartman 35:52
Wow. Yeah. It’s just amazing how that works. Do you think human perception will change? Do you think humans are Becoming skeptical of the the fake reviews. I mean, Take, for example, the website Yelp. You know, competitors write negative reviews about their competitors on there. I hope everybody knows that. And then they have their own people write fake positive reviews, right? You know, who do you believe that this stuff have any credibility anymore?
Stephen Davis 36:21
I think people realize that a lot of it is not true. The problem is, we can’t have everybody switching off entirely and saying I can’t believe anything anymore. Because that in itself is a gift for those who who lie to you, of course and deceive you, because then they’ll get away with it more often. I was asked by another interviewer, whether I was an optimist or a pessimist after truth teller and I said, I began as an optimist and ended as a pessimist because I think things are going to get worse before they get better because of deep fakes, artificial intelligence, truly creating false worlds. But I also think alongside that And you use the reviews thing, and the hotel reviews and all these other things. I think people are learning to be more skeptical. So if we give them an alternative if we give them education programs to help them, I think there is a chance that we can, you know, we can turn this around. One of my favorite ever quotes that the great author HG Wells said, history is a race between education and catastrophe. And I think that’s true. And I think education has got to win. Basically,
Jason Hartman 37:28
that’s a good quote. He was good stuff. We’ll wrap it up with any closing thoughts, maybe address anything, I didn’t ask you, whatever you like. And please give out your website to
Stephen Davis 37:38
truth teller is available now. I think in pretty much in all Barnes and Noble stores in the states and on Amazon. There are two reasons to buy it. One is because I think it’s a good book and spent two years researching like that too. I really think people should think seriously and take part in a good public debate about misinformation and deception. nation and the sheer volumes of at which are damaging so many parts of society, politics, medicine, health. For more about this, you can go to my site, which is simply called Steven Davis writer.com.
Jason Hartman 38:13
Good stuff. Steven Davis, thank you for joining us and keep up the good work. Society really appreciates people like you doing the tough work and taking a lot of heat for it too. But it is very, very important. You’re keeping a lot of people honest out there, or at least preventing them from doing too much harm. So thank you very much.
Stephen Davis 38:35
Thank you, Jason. Great to chat to you.
Jason Hartman 38:38
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