Trump Assassination Attempt Highlights the Deadly Power of Misinformation

Trump Assassination Attempt Highlights the Deadly Power of Misinformation

The recent assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump has highlighted a deeply troubling trend in American politics: the pervasive spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories. Following the incident at a rally in Pennsylvania, baseless claims quickly spread online, suggesting that the attack was orchestrated by political opponents or even President Biden himself. Figures like Senator JD Vance and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene have propagated these theories, further fueling division​​.

These conspiracy theories not only distract from the severity of the event but also contribute to the erosion of public trust in democratic institutions. For instance, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland had to publicly refute claims that the FBI had been authorized to use deadly force against Trump during the Mar-a-Lago search, calling these allegations “false and extremely dangerous.” This incident starkly illustrates how quickly misinformation can take root and distort public perception.

Moreover, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2024 identifies misinformation and disinformation as the most severe short-term risks the world faces. Its report highlights the potential for misinformation to trigger civil unrest and erode the integrity of democratic elections, particularly in a super election year when billions of people across multiple countries are expected to vote.

In this landscape, the role of the media and politicians becomes critically important. Media outlets bear a significant responsibility to ensure their reporting is accurate and fact-based. Sensationalism and the rush to break news can sometimes lead to the dissemination of unverified information, which can then be exploited by those seeking to promote false narratives. Rigorous fact-checking and a steadfast commitment to journalistic integrity are essential in countering this trend.

Politicians also have a crucial role to play. When leaders propagate or fail to denounce misinformation, they contribute to a culture of distrust and division. The reaction to the assassination attempt on Trump is a case in point. While some political figures have taken steps to clarify and refute false claims, others have either remained silent or, worse, amplified these conspiracy theories for political gain​.

The dangers of false narratives are manifold. They can incite violence, as evidenced by the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, where misinformation about the 2020 presidential election played a significant role. The recent attempt on Trump’s life, followed by immediate and widespread conspiracy theories, echoes this dangerous precedent. Research shows that when people are led to believe in falsehoods, they may feel justified in taking extreme actions​.

Such misinformation corrodes the foundational principles of democracy. Trust in institutions is crucial for a functioning democracy; when that trust is undermined, the entire societal fabric is at risk. Citizens need to have confidence that their leaders and the media are committed to the truth. Without this trust, democratic processes become vulnerable to manipulation and coercion.

The impact of misinformation is not limited to political instability. It has broader implications for society. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists identified that misinformation about vaccines and treatments significantly hindered public health efforts, leading to increased infection rates and preventable deaths. The spread of false information can lead to public health crises, economic instability, and a general sense of insecurity and distrust among the population.

Addressing this issue requires a collective effort. Media organizations must prioritize accuracy over speed, ensuring that their reporting does not inadvertently contribute to the spread of misinformation. Implementing stringent editorial standards and encouraging a culture of accountability can help in this regard.

Politicians and public figures must also commit to truthfulness in their communications. This means actively debunking false narratives and refraining from using misinformation as a political tool. Bipartisan efforts to promote media literacy and critical thinking among the public can also play a vital role in combating the spread of false information.

Technology companies, particularly social media platforms, also have a significant role to play in combating misinformation. These companies must enhance their efforts to identify and mitigate the spread of false information. This could involve improving algorithms to detect and flag misleading content, partnering with fact-checking organizations, and promoting accurate information from reliable sources.

The assassination attempt on Donald Trump should serve as a wake-up call. It is a stark reminder of the importance of truthfulness in political discourse. By prioritizing fact-based reporting and holding our leaders accountable for their words, we can begin to rebuild trust in our democratic institutions and safeguard the future of our democracy.

Truthfulness is not just a moral imperative; it is a practical necessity for the health of our society. In an era where misinformation can spread faster than ever before, it is more important than ever for journalists and politicians to uphold the highest standards of accuracy and integrity. Doing so will not only help prevent future violence but also ensure that our democracy remains robust and resilient in the face of challenges. By collectively committing to truthfulness, we can move toward a more informed and united society, better equipped to tackle the complex issues of our time.

Gleb Tsipursky, PhD, serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pro-Truth Pledge project and authored Pro Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics

Introduction From the Executive Director of the Pro-Truth Pledge

Tyler MacEachran

What’s your role with the Pro-Truth Pledge?

I have been brought on as the first staff leader for the Pro-Truth Pledge. My role is to create a nimble, cost-effective infrastructure to support awareness of and engagement around the Pro-Truth Pledge. 

I will work closely with the founders, the board of directors, the advisory board, existing volunteers, donors, and other stakeholders to increase capacity by raising funds and getting more volunteers involved. I will develop and implement a strategy towards achieving our goal of increasing truth-oriented behaviors while protecting facts and civility.

What’s the problem that inspired you to take the role of Executive Director of the Pro-Truth Pledge?

I long felt concerned about the many dangerous ways misinformation affects democracy.

It undermines informed decision-making. Democracy relies on citizens making choices based on accurate information about issues, policies, and candidates. Misinformation clouds the truth and makes it harder for people to make wise choices.

It polarizes discourse. When inaccurate information spreads, it tends to confirm people’s biases. This can drive tribalism and push people to more extreme positions, making compromise and consensus-building harder.

It reduces accountability. Democracy depends on voters holding leaders accountable for their decisions and actions. However, when there’s a lack of agreement about the facts, it becomes easier for public figures to evade responsibility.

It threatens electoral integrity. False claims about things like election fraud or the reliability of voting systems undermine trust in core democratic institutions and processes. Even just the perception of impropriety caused by misinformation is hugely destabilizing.

It enables manipulation. Malicious actors (whether domestic or foreign) can weaponize misinformation through propaganda and disinformation campaigns aimed at manipulating public opinion for political ends, rather than informing democratic discourse.

Why do you believe the Pro-Truth Pledge helps solve the problem?

I believe the Pro-Truth Pledge helps to directly address misinformation. Some of the ways we do this include:


By taking the pledge, politicians, media leaders, and other influencers voluntarily commit to standards like retracting statements proven false and owning up to mistakes. This could discourage intentional lying and loose standards around facts.

Changing Incentives 

The pledge creates social incentives and public accountability around truth-telling. Signers know their commitment is public and violations will damage their reputation. This alignment of values and incentives promotes truth.

Setting Norms 

If the pledge gains widespread adoption, it could help set strong societal norms around valuing and prioritizing truth, especially in public discourse. This cultural shift alone would reduce misinformation.

De-escalating Rhetoric 

The pledge asks signers to acknowledge the humanity in those they disagree with and promotes civility. This encouragement of empathy and good faith disagreement can de-escalate polarized rhetoric that often breeds a disregard for truth.


By advocating for media literacy education and critical thinking, the Pro-Truth Movement also aims to equip citizens to better identify misinformation themselves through sharpened evaluation skills.

Of course, the pledge is voluntary and enforcement around violations depends on public pressure. But changing hearts and minds around truth can ultimately help heal some of the underlying societal conditions from which misinformation emerges. An ethos and culture of truth matters tremendously. Promoting media literacy, transparency in the information ecosystem, and a widespread ethic of truthful civic discourse is foundational. An informed and engaged public willing to speak truth is critical in the service of democracy.

Why are you the right person to lead the Pro-Truth Pledge as its first Executive Director?

I have a well-rounded background, which began as a social worker in inner city Detroit. There, I witnessed extreme systemic issues and failed public policies and their profound impact on families. This led me to pursue my Master of Public Administration degree to combat problems on a broader scale.  

Armed with my MPA, I led several nonprofit organizations through significant positive transformations, revenue growth, and increased impact over a period of more than twenty years. Highlights included raising $75M for consecutive annual campaigns during the pandemic and achieving rare 7-figure gifts from individual, corporate, and foundation sources. 

I have intentionally sought out the most challenging of nonprofit roles that could produce the greatest public good, including launching new nonprofits and reinventing existing nonprofits that were struggling. 

Most importantly, I am passionate about the mission of the Pro-Truth Pledge and understand the urgency of taking back our democracy. I love my country and the freedoms we are blessed with. I have four children. I want them to be able to enjoy those freedoms. I understand that the key to a healthy democracy is an accurately informed and engaged citizenry. And in my lifetime, America – and the world as a whole – have never faced so much misinformation, profound bias, and deliberate, manipulative lies from public figures and the media as we see today. Democracy is under attack from within and without. I am looking forward to being a leader who helps bring back the civil and polite discussion of facts and a genuine movement towards consensus and problem-solving for issues and policies that impact us all.

How do you plan to accomplish this?

I will work with volunteers and donors to mobilize private citizens and public figures alike to take the pledge, advance the movement and hold media, politicians, and other influencers accountable to tell the truth. I will increase revenues and capacity to accomplish this and grow an army of volunteer activists to make this happen. We can, and must, combat these challenges to democracy! Please take the pledge, donate, volunteer, or send me an email at ptpdirector[at] and join the fight!

Apply to be the Executive Director of the Pro-Truth Pledge!

Job Advertisement:

Executive Director


Become an influential leader in the fight for rational discourse and truth in politics as the Executive Director for Intentional Insights and its Pro-Truth Pledge project. Take charge of an endeavor that doesn’t just aim to quell the wildfires of misinformation, fake news, and post-truth politics, but aspires to re-engineer the very landscape of public dialogue to prioritize truth, civility, and integrity, armed with empirical evidence and rational analysis. Under your stewardship, the Pro-Truth Pledge will become a gold standard for a commitment to facts and accuracy, civility and reasoned dialogue on a national scale.

This is the first Executive Director of the organization, which was previously run by volunteers, and you would be expected to stand up the structure of the organization. That means spending a lot of time contacting those who signed the pledge to ask them to donate and volunteer. Please address your ability to do so in your cover letter thoroughly.

This position offers guaranteed funding through January 2025, with the expectation for continuation based on fundraising performance. As the organization grows, we hope you’ll evolve into a managerial role responsible for leading a team.



– Develop and implement a fundraising strategy tailored to the mission of promoting truth and rational thinking

– Conduct solicitation calls to potential and current donors

Volunteer Coordination and Recruitment

– Design a volunteer engagement strategy to attract those passionate about truth-seeking

– Manage current and new volunteers

Outreach to Other Organizations

– Identify and negotiate partnerships with organizations that align with our mission of combating disinformation

– Facilitate collaborative initiatives and campaigns for greater impact

Increasing Signatory Base for the Pro-Truth Pledge

– Conceptualize and execute campaigns to encourage individuals and organizations to sign the Pro-Truth Pledge

– Use metrics and analytics to evaluate the efficacy of outreach initiatives

Public Presentations

– Advocate for truth and rational thinking through compelling, data-backed virtual presentations to diverse audiences

– Collaborate with organizations to present for their members

Earned Media and Public Relations

– Develop a media outreach strategy that capitalizes on trending topics related to disinformation

– Engage with journalists and thought leaders to secure earned media opportunities

Political and Public Figure Outreach

– Foster relationships with politicians, public figures, and organizations across the political spectrum who are aligned with our cause of combating disinformation

– Leverage these relationships to secure collaborations that amplify the impact of the Pro-Truth Pledge

Qualifications and Skills (in order of importance)

– Organized, detail-oriented problem solver who initiates action

– Prior experience in fundraising, especially involving phone-based donor outreach

– Demonstrated commitment to civic engagement and rational discourse

– Comfortable delivering virtual presentations

– Capable of engaging with diverse leaders and organizations, including those of left-leaning and secular groups

– Knowledgeable about US politics

– Values truth above ideology

– Proficient in tools including Excel, Google Docs, Mailchimp, Facebook Groups, ChatGPT, and Trello


– Fully remote position

– Desirable to travel to Columbus, Ohio, once a year for a board retreat

Salary and Benefits

– This is a part-time position (25 hours per week)

– $17-$23 per hour, based on experience

– $1 hourly rate increase after a successful 3-month review

– After that, quarterly performance-based bonuses up to $500

– Annual merit-based raise based on quantifiable outcomes

If you have any questions, email protruthpledgehire [at]

To apply, submit your resume and a cover letter detailing your relevant experience to protruthpledgehire [at]

**Application Deadline: November 30, 2023**

Debunking the 5 Myths of Hybrid Work

Employers, beware: there’s a slew of misinformation about remote and hybrid work floating around. If you don’t separate fact from fiction, your company’s future might look as bleak as a polar bear stranded on a melting iceberg.

Don’t be that polar bear. As an expert in hybrid and remote work with over 22 years of experience, I’ve guided 23 companies in just the last three years through adopting a successful return to office and hybrid work arrangements. Using best practices gained from this experience, you can make well-informed decisions that will benefit both your employees and your organization on hybrid and remote work.

Myth #1: Remote Work Inevitably Leads to Lower Productivity

Picture yourself in your favorite pair of pajamas, lying on the couch with your laptop. You might think that this is the epitome of remote work productivity, but you’d be sorely mistaken. Remote work doesn’t necessarily lead to lower productivity levels.

On the contrary, studies show that remote workers generally have higher productivity rates than their in-office counterparts. It’s not about the location; it’s about setting clear expectations, providing the right tools, and fostering a culture of trust and accountability.

Myth #2: Hybrid Work Is Just an Excuse for Slacking Off

This myth is as absurd as suggesting that mixing oil and vinegar creates a new element. Hybrid work is not an excuse for employees to slack off. Instead, it’s a flexible arrangement that allows employees to optimize their work-life balance and maximize their productivity.

When implemented properly, hybrid work gives employees the best of both worlds: the social interactions of the office and the focus of remote work. The key is to create a structured hybrid work policy and ensure that employees understand their responsibilities, regardless of their location.

Myth #3: Collaboration and Innovation Suffer in Remote and Hybrid Work Models

Think of remote and hybrid work as a game of musical chairs. When the music stops, and everyone settles into their virtual seats, collaboration and innovation can still flourish.

It may require adopting new techniques to ensure that remote employees can innovate effectively, but technology has made it possible to bridge the gap. Video conferencing, project management tools, and instant messaging apps can help maintain the flow of communication and collaboration. It’s essential to establish an environment where every voice is heard, and diverse perspectives are valued.

Myth #4: Hybrid Work Leads to Disconnected and Disengaged Employees

Disconnecting remote and hybrid workers from their colleagues is like trying to separate conjoined twins with a butter knife – it’s neither easy nor advisable. With the right strategies in place, employees can remain connected and engaged, regardless of their work location.

Encourage regular check-ins, create virtual water cooler moments, and promote a strong company culture. Remember that empathy, understanding, and open communication are the lifeblood of a connected workforce.

Myth #5: If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It – The Traditional Office Model Is Best

If you believe that sticking to the traditional office model is the safest bet, you’re like a captain refusing to abandon a sinking ship. Times have changed, and so have employee expectations.

Offering remote and hybrid work options can help attract top talent, improve employee satisfaction, and increase retention rates. Companies that fail to adapt to the new normal risk being left behind like relics from a bygone era.

Tackling Misinformation Head-On: The Key to Success

Like a skilled magician debunking a seemingly impossible illusion, it’s time for employers to confront these myths and reveal the truth about remote and hybrid work. By acknowledging and addressing the misinformation and addressing bias, you can create a work environment that fosters productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction – while securing your company’s competitive edge in the ever-evolving business landscape.

It’s time to let go of outdated assumptions and embrace the future of work. Remote and hybrid work models are here to stay, and companies that adapt, innovate, and create a culture of trust and flexibility will thrive in the long run. So, how can you make this happen? Here are a few steps to get you started:

Step 1: Develop a Clear Hybrid Work Policy

A well-crafted hybrid work policy sets the foundation for success. Be explicit about expectations, including work hours, communication protocols, and performance metrics. Establish guidelines on when employees should work in the office, and make sure to be inclusive and fair in your approach.

Step 2: Provide the Right Tools and Support

Equip your employees with the necessary tools and resources to succeed in a remote or hybrid environment. Invest in reliable technology, provide access to collaboration platforms, and ensure that employees have a comfortable and functional workspace.

Step 3: Foster a Culture of Trust and Accountability

Trust and accountability are the glue that holds remote and hybrid teams together. Encourage open communication, provide regular feedback, and empower employees to take ownership of their work, while addressing biases like proximity bias. Trust that your team members will deliver, and hold them accountable for their performance.

Step 4: Prioritize Employee Well-being and Connection

The well-being of your employees is paramount in a remote or hybrid setting. Provide mental health resources, encourage work-life balance, and create opportunities for employees to connect and bond with one another. Virtual team-building activities, casual online gatherings, and regular check-ins can all help maintain a strong sense of camaraderie and support.

Step 5: Continuously Review and Refine Your Strategy

As the world of work continues to evolve, it’s crucial to remain agile and open to change. Regularly review your remote and hybrid work policies and strategies, gather employee feedback, and make data-driven decisions to ensure your approach stays relevant and effective.


The path to debunking remote and hybrid work myths may not be as smooth as a freshly Zamboni-ed ice rink, but with determination, foresight, and a willingness to embrace change, you can steer your organization toward a future of success and growth. Don’t let the myths hold you back – embrace the new era of work and watch your company soar to new heights.

Image Credit: Flickr/Oregon Department of Transportation

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio.

The Devious Dance of AI-Generated Misinformation

An insidious new threat to truthfulness has emerged: generative AI. With its unparalleled capacity to create persuasive, engaging content, generative AI is a master of deception. So, let’s unravel the mystery of this technological chameleon and learn how to protect ourselves from its digital deceit, as I write about in my new book.

A Wicked Waltz: How Generative AI Spins Its Web

Generative AI, such as the GPT-4, is an extraordinary marvel of modern technology. It’s like a futuristic loom, weaving together words and phrases with incredible finesse, producing content that’s virtually indistinguishable from human-generated material. But with great power comes great responsibility—and the potential for misuse.

Imagine a social media post, dripping with controversy and enticing headlines, crafted by an AI. It spreads like wildfire, garnering likes, shares, and retweets, while the truth is left gasping for air in the smoky aftermath. This, my friends, is the dark side of generative AI, where it becomes a digital Pied Piper, leading us astray with false information.

The Smoke and Mirrors of AI-Generated Fake News

AI-generated misinformation is like a hall of mirrors, distorting reality in countless ways. It can be as subtle as altering the tone of an article to sow discord or as blatant as fabricating entire news stories. The real danger lies in its ability to blend deception seamlessly with the truth, making it increasingly difficult for readers to discern fact from fiction.

Take, for example, a political election. An AI could generate an avalanche of false claims about a candidate, swaying public opinion and potentially altering the course of history. It’s like a hidden puppeteer, pulling the strings of our democracy from the shadows.

Unmasking the Charlatan: Detecting AI-Generated Content

Fortunately, there are ways to unmask the AI-generated charlatan. While it’s true that generative AI can produce content that rivals human creativity, it’s not perfect. There are telltale signs that can betray its true origin.

For instance, AI-generated content can be overly verbose or use phrases that feel slightly off. It may also struggle with complex topics, resulting in inconsistencies or inaccuracies. And while AI-generated content might be grammatically correct, it can lack the human touch—a certain je ne sais quoi that’s difficult to emulate.

So, when you come across a suspicious article or social media post, increase your mental awareness and scrutinize the content for these subtle imperfections.

A Digital Shield: Tools to Combat AI Misinformation

In our quest to defend against AI-generated misinformation, we are not unarmed. Just as AI has advanced, so too have the tools to combat it. These digital shields come in the form of AI content detection tools, designed to spot the telltale signs of AI-generated text.

These tools act like a digital sniffer dog, trained to detect the unique scent of AI-generated content. They analyze patterns, syntax, and other linguistic fingerprints to separate the wheat from the chaff, allowing us to identify and neutralize misinformation before it can cause harm.

The Power of Awareness: A Call to Action

The battle against AI-generated misinformation is not a war we can afford to lose. As generative AI continues to evolve, so too must our defenses. It’s vital that we remain vigilant, educating ourselves and others about the risks and the tools available to combat this digital menace.

So, let us be the guardians of truth, standing firm against the tide of misinformation. Together, we can shine a light on the shadows cast by generative AI, ensuring that we protect the integrity of our information landscape.

An Ounce of Prevention: Encouraging Ethical AI Development

We must also advocate for responsible AI development and implementation. By fostering a culture of transparency and ethics within the tech industry, we can encourage the creation of AI systems that serve the greater good, rather than fueling the fires of misinformation.

To achieve this, we can support organizations that promote ethical AI development and push for regulations that hold AI creators accountable for the potential misuse of their technology. It’s like planting a garden of digital responsibility, nurturing it with the seeds of ethical innovation, and watching it grow into a force for positive change.

A United Front: Collaborating to Combat Misinformation

The fight against AI-generated misinformation cannot be won by any one individual or organization alone. It requires a united front, with experts in technology, journalism, and education working together to build robust defenses against this insidious threat.

By pooling our resources and expertise, we can develop innovative strategies to identify and counteract AI-generated misinformation. This collective effort will not only help us stay one step ahead of the ever-evolving AI, but also strengthen the bonds of trust and cooperation that form the bedrock of our society.

The Long Road Ahead: Remaining Resilient and Adaptable

The battle against AI-generated misinformation is akin to a never-ending game of digital cat and mouse. As AI continues to advance, it’s crucial that we remain adaptable and resilient in the face of this emerging threat.

We must not become complacent, nor should we allow the fear of AI-generated misinformation to paralyze us. Instead, let it galvanize us to action, inspiring us to seek out the truth and champion the cause of accurate, reliable information.

The danger posed by AI-generated misinformation is very real, and it’s up to each of us to take an active role in safeguarding our information landscape. By staying informed, using detection tools, promoting ethical AI development, fostering collaboration, and remaining resilient and adaptable, we can triumph over this digital menace and ensure that the truth always prevails. Together, let’s dance to the beat of accuracy and integrity, leaving the devious dance of AI-generated misinformation behind.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio.

My Conversation with Ralph Jaffe, Democratic Candidate for Governor of Maryland

By Alexandra Leigon

Every midterm election, there are candidates running who could turn the tide toward truth if they got into office. Most of them know little to nothing about the Pro-Truth Pledge. So each election, the Pro-Truth Pledge staff, and our many volunteers reach out to all candidates nationwide, asking them to sign the Pledge. It is our goal to not only have candidates commit to speaking truth in their campaign promotionals, but to spread the idea that truth in politics is something broadly achievable. If one candidate signs the Pledge, begins to shape their rhetoric and strategy with truthful information and is willing to be held accountable for the statements they make and the ads they produce, it can serve as a strong incentive to other candidates in the same race to do likewise. Having a candidate agree to the principles of the Pledge can positively affect their campaign, drawing voters to see the comparison between the candidate and others in the race. The hoped-for outcome would see all candidates do likewise in an effort to be competitive. It is not a goal achievable in any single election year, but consistently pursued election after election, it could alter the nature of campaigning over time.

Each year we hope to find more candidates willing to commit their entire campaigns to speaking and promoting the truth. This year we got especially lucky in reaching out to the candidates for governor in Maryland. We had a response from a candidate who has placed truth in politics at the center of an entire movement he started, and he was eager to demonstrate what he has been promoting for years. Ralph Jaffe is a teacher and a Democratic candidate for Governor of Maryland who resides in Baltimore. He believes the most vital element of this year’s gubernatorial race is speaking the truth. He wants to build a movement for truth in Baltimore because he believes that corruption is the greatest impediment to seeing that the citizens of Maryland are fairly represented. In his view, they need a government that will work to address issues of corruption that lie at the root of Maryland’s biggest problems. In my conversation with him, I was impressed by his genuine commitment to seeking a way to demonstrate through his own campaign and his own term in office how the current political climate could be changed. In particular, his willingness to serve without compensation and to limit his time in office to a single term could provide evidence of the positive effects of limiting corruption at the state level.

His website’s URL says it all: . His Mission Statement tells us exactly where he is coming from: “I am a teacher, not a politician. I use the political campaigns as a teaching device to show my students where the corruption is in government. Then, on a volunteer basis, my students can vote for the principles on which I stand. The JAFFE MOVEMENT’S mission is to put a stop to corruption in the Maryland political system and to replace it with true, ethical reform”. His commitment and determination are inspiring. He discusses the principles of his movement in a YouTube video here:

Image credit:

Pro-Truth Pledge Translated to Romanian

Angajament pentru adevăr

Mă angajez să fac eforturi serioase ca să:

Propag adevărul prin:

  • Verificare: voi verifica informațiile pentru a confirma că sunt adevărate înainte de a le accepta și a le distribui.
  • Imparțialitate: voi distribui întregul adevăr, chiar și atunci când în unele privințe nu îmi susține opinia.
  • Transparență: voi dezvălui sursele mele de informare, astfel încât informațiile transmise de mine să poată fi verificate.
  • Clarificare: voi distinge între opinia mea și fapte.

Onorez adevărul prin:

  • Recunoaștere: voi recunoaște informațiile adevărate, chiar dacă eu nu sunt de acord cu acele informații.
  • Reevaluare: voi reevalua informațiile mele atunci când vor fi contestate și le voi retracta dacă nu le voi putea verifica.
  • Apărare: îi vor apăra pe cei care sunt atacați pentru că distribuie informații adevărate, chiar și atunci când în alte privințe nu sunt de acord cu ei.
  • Punere de acord: îmi voi pune de acord opiniile și acțiunile cu informațiile adevărate.

Încurajez adevărul prin:

  • Corectare: voi cere ca informațiile infirmate de surse de încredere să fie retractate, chiar și de aliații mei.
  • Educare: voi informa cu înțelegere pe cei din jur să nu mai folosească surse îndoielnice de informații, chiar dacă aceste surse îmi susțin opinia.
  • Acceptare: voi accepta opiniile experților ca având mai multe șanse de a fi corecte atunci când faptele sunt disputate.
  • Felicitare: voi felicita pe cei care își retrag afirmațiile incorecte și care își actualizează convingerile potrivit adevărului.

Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway?

The country has been gripped with the aftermath of the Presidential election, marred with accusations of massive voter fraud altering the outcome of the election. As contributing factors emerge to paint a clearer picture of what led up to the historic second impeachment of the 45th President, we should recognize that all of us as citizens have a responsibility to contribute to a truth-based culture in the United States.

As a public official responsible for conducting elections in Inyo County, California, I experienced firsthand how manipulated facts fueled a national crisis that culminated at the Capitol on January 6th. For many citizens, this was the first time experiencing the damage that false accusations can cause.

Having been directly exposed to a conspiracy prior to this election, I view misinformation and disinformation as much more menacing to our culture than this single tragic incident. A few years ago, I found myself at the heart of a small conspiracy when I agreed to help a local family in crisis after their child went missing. Many people who volunteered to help were doxxed, maliciously reported to law enforcement, had their private conversations shared publicly without permission, had false reports made to their jobs, all of which pales in comparison to the stalking and harassment the family continues to endure. It was very emotional and confusing since I had never experienced anything like it before.

I am not a mental health professional, but I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my own experiences. In my opinion, we need to invest much more research into how the Internet is contributing to a less stable society. In the meantime, as individuals, we should develop strategies to deal with harassing behaviors online, and to protect ourselves from unintentionally participating in it. I would encourage readers to do their own research and seek professional support if they find themselves involved in conspiratorial thinking.

According to medical hypotheses, delusions are mistaken and unfounded personal beliefs, when there is superior evidence to the contrary. Once in a delusion, depending on how convinced the person is of the fictitious reality, they will cling to their false beliefs even when presented with conflicting evidence. We see this in politics where officials blame each other for problems, ignoring their own actions leading to current events.

In the situations that I experienced, only parts of relevant information were widely shared. Other evidence was misrepresented, with attempts to set the record straight either ignored or further twisted to feed false narratives.

People often see patterns and connections that are simply not there. We have all likely experienced a form of this at some point in our life – whether it be an insecurity, a paranoia or leaps in logic that do not add up but play into our biases. In the digital world, these tendencies can increase if they are reinforced by others that have similar beliefs. If gone unchallenged, these delusions can feed into a mass hysteria. This is a circumstance where many people in a group believe in a delusion, reinforcing each other in their false convictions.

When I found myself mistreated because of rumors and lies, it sometimes felt like nothing that I could do or say could dispel the fabrications. In large part, this was true. Once someone has made up their mind, it can be difficult to convince them otherwise. In the case of elections, I can show public evidence, but people may still choose not to believe it. In the sensitive case of a missing person, there are many things unknown, so the truth is much harder to discern.

In both cases, I chose to approach the skeptics with compassion and empathy. It is easy to take false accusations personally. After all, most of us are not used to being lied about by strangers. In any case, the perceptions of the accusers are real, even if the facts do not support their conclusions. Learning to recognize that many abusive behaviors online are complex and could be the result of underlying mental health disorders might help you refrain from the impulse to participate in the collective trauma. I asked gentle, logical, and clarifying questions when I felt that someone was acting in good faith and tried to be non-confrontational with those who did not seem to be acting rationally. It is important to be able to recognize real threats and separate that from critical or hurtful comments.

Having people publicly accuse me of motives that I did not possess or thoughts I never considered is likely a result of the perplexing phenomenon known as psychological projection.

According to “Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings. Have you ever disliked someone only to become convinced that the person had a vendetta against you? This is a common example of psychological projection.”

No one can know what another person is thinking unless they explicitly tell you. Even then, it may only be what the person believes at that moment in time, if they are even being truthful in the first place. Just because someone said something in the past, we should not assume that they are incapable of changing their minds, especially if more information materializes. An example is the current health crisis, where it would be illogical to rely on reports from 11 months ago, prior to the emergence of more recent scientific studies.

All of us should make conscious efforts not to assign motives to others or share deceptive information. If you have, it is okay to seek forgiveness if the situation warrants it. We all make mistakes. However, if we fail to recognize our own responsibility to be honest, instead placing the blame at the feet of others, we lose our opportunity to promote a more genuine humanity. Simple things, like taking the ProTruth Pledge, can remind others that speaking the truth matters. It may seem like such a monumental problem that one person’s actions could never make a difference. But, like a pebble dropped into a pond, although the catalyst of dropping the pebble may seem like one small act, collectively the ripple effect can create powerful waves with significant impacts. If we all commit to this simple philosophy – to hold ourselves responsible for telling the truth – my hope is that we can collectively manifest a more positive and truthful world.

Photo Credit: ocean.flynn, licenced under Creative Commons

About the author: Kammi Foote is currently serving her third term as the elected Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, responsible for overseeing elections in Inyo County, California. She is a frequent invited speaker regarding election integrity and has testified on measures to improve the administration of elections before the California Senate and the Little Hoover Commission. In addition, she is a board member of several nonprofits that focus on civil rights, sustainable water and environmental policies, and leadership development.

Never Be Afraid to Speak the Truth

When you hold public office, it is common for citizens to question your motives and actions. Having a healthy skepticism of government officials is an essential element of public oversight. Serving the last decade as the elected Registrar of Voters responsible for overseeing elections in a rural California county, I know what it feels like to be falsely accused of rigging election outcomes. In the past, I have not spent much time trying to challenge misconceptions; instead, I have allowed my actions to speak for themselves over time. However, this election cycle required election officials to aggressively combat misinformation and disinformation, while also adapting to the challenges of conducting an election during a global pandemic.

The nation is now trying to recover from the monumental consequences of losing its faith in the electoral system. For months, conspiracies – ranging from sabotaging the postal system to votes being counted overseas – were amplified by social and mainstream media, politicians, and thoughts leaders. Never was it so clearly obvious that widespread misinformation and disinformation campaigns can have devastating consequences to society. We should give the benefit of the doubt to the general population who merely believe election conspiracies, because they are simply misinformed. It is easy to dismiss people’s concerns when they do not seem rational, but it is important to understand the mechanisms manipulating the flow of information, leading to these views.

In the pre-Internet world, thought bubbles could form in our social circles, but we were less prone to fully immerse ourselves in one-sided thinking. This is because our neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends all have access to several sources of information that challenge our beliefs. Social media thought bubbles are much more dangerous because they use tools that manipulate opinions. These tools include blocking, muting members, bots, trolling, artificial intelligence microtargeting individuals, and deleting comments that do not support the viewpoint of the group moderators. Ever more common is complete de-platforming of users who hold unpopular opinions.

Over the past few years, it has become evident how dangerous thought bubbles can be in a culture based on debate and compromise. In the US, our society is structured to protect unpopular speech. However, it was never envisioned that we would have a digital world that silences all opposing viewpoints, creating manufactured appearances of popular consensus. We often think of mob rule in terms of political outcomes, but tyranny of the majority can affect all aspects of our personal lives, including losing jobs, declining mental health, and strained relationships with our loved ones.

The guiding principle of “groupthink” is that everyone is required to think and act the same as the group leaders. These leaders may be politicians, paid influencers, or even nation-states hiding behind false identities that intend to cause civil unrest. The goal is to squash any dissenting opinions quickly before they have a chance to contradict the narratives created for the group. Opinions on what is good or bad are often based on personal agendas, not on facts. When anyone dares to challenge the prevailing opinion, they can be alienated from the group as punishment. This creates a chilling effect on other people’s willingness to openly participate in conversations. This is dangerous because we can only discover the truth if people feel comfortable expressing their genuine opinions. When voices are silenced, it hurts everyone’s ability to understand reality and correct errors in judgments.

The importance of keeping an open mind in today’s society cannot be underestimated. Once a person or group has made up their mind about a situation, all new information is processed through a biased filter. All new evidence that supports the prevailing theory is given great weight, and all new data that contradicts the theory is dismissed. We should always pursue becoming more informed about a topic, especially when it challenges our own beliefs, rather than cling to our incorrect perceptions.

More nefarious is the intentional smear campaign. When a group or individual knowingly spreads disinformation with the intent to cause harm, it not only damages the targets of the smear campaign, but it can be damaging to everyone who believes the lies. Supporters may only want to keep up with the latest information, but having been denied access to the truth, they become unwitting pawns of leaders with malicious intentions. Anyone that displays closed-minded behaviors should cause others to be concerned that the individual is neither credible nor acting in good faith.

If you find yourself participating in social media groups that use silencing tactics, you may want to consider whether staying a part of the group is healthy. You should also ask yourself if the news that you are consuming is reliable. Seek out several sources of information to challenge what you have been led to believe about a set of circumstances. I would encourage you not to dismiss contradictory information, just because of who is reporting the facts. You might be surprised at what you learn when you venture out of your own thought bubble. If things do not make sense, or seem very unlikely, question whether they are truthful. If you are blocked, ridiculed, or silenced for questioning things in sincerity, then you may have been an unwitting pawn in someone else’s strategy of manipulation.

Remain skeptical, always question and never be afraid to speak the truth. Encourage a more truth-based society by taking the Pro-Truth Pledge, like I did last summer to re- affirm to my constituents that I would always tell them the truth. It is also important not to let online interactions affect your mental well-being. Assess whether you are letting online interaction harm your real-world relationships or causing you stress. If they are, turn off the computer or television, put down your phone and go for a walk outside.

The truth is that thought bubbles are only as influential as you let them be. If you turn off your devices, they have no power over you whatsoever.

Photo Credit: Diego Sideburns, licenced under Creative Commons

About the author: Kammi Foote is currently serving her third term as the elected Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, responsible for overseeing elections in Inyo County, California. She is a frequent invited speaker regarding election integrity and has testified on measures to improve the administration of elections before the California Senate and the Little Hoover Commission. In addition, she is a board member of several nonprofits that focus on civil rights, sustainable water and environmental policies, and leadership development.

My Path to Disinformation Resistance


Twenty years ago, after the 9/11 attacks revealed a paralysis in US information sharing, I left the private sector and joined the fight to help the Government. I was an expert in AI, information technology, and cognitive psychology, and I had been a DARPA-funded Principal Investigator for years. I had recently served as Chief Technology Officer for Software at Hewlett-Packard. I was alarmed that our FBI, CIA, NSA, and authorities could not synthesize intelligence data into a timely threat picture. If we were unable to connect giant dots that the 9/11 terrorists were leaving behind, how could anybody reasonably feel safe? Thus began my focus on the simple question: How should a society share information?

For years I focused on ways to reduce the glut of information flooding people working in defense. I spent ten years as a full Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. My classes focused on the strategic opportunities presented by advances in computing and AI, and how the US government should exploit these. Meanwhile, policy makers were redesigning major organizations and their rules for information sharing.

Meanwhile, by 2011, it had become obvious to me that the greatest threat to US security was no longer coming from foreign terrorist cells. By then we could see that malevolent actors were capable of causing havoc through widespread disinformation campaigns. The playbook for those actors was pretty simple: Adopt an identity with a reasonable back story, infiltrate social networks by a combination of sharing and fabricating click-bait, and gain influence by becoming a source for sensational misinformation. Disinformation campaigners adopted technologies I know extremely well, including AI for chat bots, image manipulation, and computer-leveraged farms of foreigners with excellent language skills to run coordinated, sometimes massive disinformation campaigns on-line. The Internet by 2011 had become a perfect breeding ground for manufactured lies that had a high social media appeal. The simultaneous rise of 24-hour news on cable and streaming increased the pressure on media companies to publish click-worthy content quickly. Fact-checking took orders of magnitude more time than rapid publication of titillating material, and the game was quickly lost.

My 2011 book, Truthiness Fever, described my understanding of the problem, the threats, and the best ideas at the time for countering disinformation. Since then, I have observed the continuing deterioration of civil society, and many others now agree with my dire predictions. What have I learned since 2011?

  • Disinformation is a primary tool of political power in the 21st century
  • 24/7 availability of infotainment encourages people to seek out reinforcing data
  • Laws in the US ignore information pollution
  • People who have consumed vast amounts of bogus media are effectively brainwashed
  • Civil society requires honest and nonthreatening communication
  • If people have to pay for lying, they will resist doing so

That last observation I believe is the key insight of the last few years. In my earlier companies, TruthSeal and TruthMarket, we tested the idea that people wouldn’t lie if they had to guarantee the truth of their claims with money. I literally could find no company that would agree to pay a bounty to anyone who could falsify that company’s claims. Moreover, when we experimented with crowd funding, we found:

  • Truth vs. Falsity proved an unsuitable basis for assessing routine business claims, because many claims couldn’t reasonably be scientifically assessed
  • Trustworthiness vs. Untrustworthiness provides a practical and implementable basis for social collaborators to attack disinformation

Scientists know that knowledge evolves with time. All hypotheses and theories are considered “conditionally true” after being confirmed by experimental evidence that doesn’t invalidate them. Knowledge progresses mostly through successive refinements to overly general beliefs illuminated by disconfirming data. There is no finish line after which we have found the truth. As one example, TruthMarket established a bounty for anyone who could show that ordinary use of smart phones was safe. The claim is not sufficiently specific to test, and no one is likely to run an experiment that could convincingly resolve the question.

This is not just a metaphysical musing. We really must move the society towards truth and away from falsehoods, so it’s vital that we get clear on what we are asking people to do. Thus, I was happy to sign the Pro-Truth Pledge, because it asks every individual and organization to commit to truth-telling and avoid lying. That is 100% good, from my perspective, and we want to make truth-telling rewarding, while punishing liars. We therefore focus on social discourse and civil interactions. In everyday contexts, we need to decide who to trust, because we cannot fact check everything we receive. So, for us the key question is how to achieve widespread Trustworthiness?

Two years ago, I realized that personal responsibility and the risk of losing valued privileges might be sufficient to regulate communications, at least among those who value the trust of others. Purveyors of disinformation experience no negative consequences for their behavior. Current social media have created a perfect environment for gestating, evolving, and weaponizing harmful memes.

These observations motivated me to launch a new company, Trusted Origins Corp. (TOC), aimed at reducing the harmful effects of information pollution. The key motive behind TOC was to change the incentives, establishing honesty and civility as a prerequisite for membership in a Community of Trust (COT). Members who violate those standards would be banished. If people want access to such communities, they won’t break the rules.

The Internet is rife with liars who want audiences. Most Internet platforms grant access to anyone with an email address. This leads to troll farms with single individuals controlling hundreds or thousands of accounts, each robotically following the disinformation scripts of its master. Moreover, until just recently none of the most popular websites or apps removed anyone for violating community standards.

In my opinion, the keys to significant further progress include:

  • Make participation in civil society a valued good
  • Block miscreants from access

Each COT adopts trustworthiness protocols appropriate to its mission. Members opt-in to the community and agree to its protocols. Members authenticate their identity and subsequently stake their own personal reputations when communicating. Every COT blocks bots, trolls, shills and bullies, the worst sources of information pollution. If COTs become socially important, the perceived personal cost of banishment also grows. To stop people from lying, you have to make them pay. The risk of losing audience should deter those who prize the size and reach of their influence.

In 2021 we launched our premier COT, the Disinformation Resistance Community (DRC), at We seek active members who will help find disinformation and help blacklist liars. We provide automated TrustedSearch™ that anyone can use to get fact-checked answers to queries, We provide a dozen features active members use to pool efforts to separate Trusted articles from Distrusted ones. The DRC is the first of what we hope will become many COTs, each with a distinct focus, but all implementing trustworthiness protocols that monitor and enforce honest and civil behavior.

— Rick Roth

Chairman & CEO, Trusted Origins Corp.

Acting Governor, Disinformation Resistance Community