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Public Opinion Manipulation Techniques: Inventing People

Why Fake Data When You Can Fake a Scientist?

“Where is Wilson?” – Media in China used a fake researcher from Switzerland to spread propaganda against the Swiss laboratory hypothesis”. This is what the Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported on Aug. 11, 2021, about Chinese propaganda aimed at disproving the hypothesis of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak from a laboratory in Wuhan.

“Fellow researchers complained that they were subjected to enormous pressure and even intimidation from the U.S. and certain media outlets,” complained a “Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards.” Only… this biologist does not exist.

Inventing people in order to present them as witnesses of the desired misinformation is certainly not an invention of modern times. However, how do you ensure that an invented person is perceived as real? There are various tricks in the bag of tricks of manipulation and propaganda.


A trick from the old times is to present a fake story in its full detail to make it more credible. In fact, people are more inclined to believe a story if it is presented pictorially with many details. Also, visuals play an enormously important role even if they are only created in the mind. This is the principle of storytelling.

This trick ensures that the urban legend of the vacationer who wakes up in a bathtub full of ice in his hotel and discovers that he is missing a kidney was believed and quickly spread. In the process, such stories mutate like viruses, as there is also a variant of a businessman to whom the same thing happened.

The story always starts with a detailed account of how he met an attractive woman in a hotel bar, drank cocktails with her, took her to his room, and from then on he remembers nothing more. This type of storytelling, rich in details, is not only exciting but above all easy to believe.

Today, thanks to social media, you don’t have to be a great storyteller to give credibility to a fictional person. All you need to do is open a social media account and fill it with photos and appropriate content.

The photos don’t even have to be of a real person, because AI-based algorithms today can easily manage to create realistic-looking faces of non-existent people. And it gets worse: according to a new study, people trust AI “fake” faces more than real ones!

To conclude: Not every expert who takes a stand against the scientific consensus or the so-called mainstream media is actually an expert.

Moreover, in some cases, he or she is not even a real person. It is therefore worth taking a close look at so-called experts and checking whether they have published specialist articles on the topic in question in reputable publications.



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