Do you know the difference between misinformation and disinformation? After hearing the word “disinformation” over and over in the media, I decided to look it up. Both misinformation and disinformation are false information, but the difference is that misinformation is false information that the one spreading believes to be true, and disinformation is false information that one spreads even though they know it to be false. Disinformation is used to purposefully mislead or deceive others.
I’ve written over one thousand articles over the past two decades, many of which contained information that questioned current, mainstream, and commonly-accepted ideas, philosophies, and beliefs. I’ve received minimal push-back in all these years, primarily (I believe) because I do my homework before putting something down in print. I don’t let emotion dictate what I write, what I write is backed by references, facts, and data, and I certainly do not write to deceive others.
Let’s look at the opiate epidemic. I wrote about that very early on and did receive criticism from some readers, as well as some in the medical field. I was seeing good people getting addicted to these pain medications at an alarming rate. I noted that their underlying causes of the pain were not being addressed, but they were merely receiving temporary relief by taking these medications. I felt that these meds were dangerous, obviously addictive, and causing great harm.
At that time, critics would have said that what I was disseminating was misinformation. Doctors claimed that patients needed these drugs, that they were very helpful, and that they were proven NOT to be addictive. I was warning about what I was seeing in practice with patients. It wasn’t disinformation because I believed what I was sharing to be true. And I definitely wasn’t trying to deceive anyone… why would I? I had no financial stake in these drugs and no reason to mislead others.
We now know that the opiates were addictive, harmful, and never solved any health issue. So, I can say with certainty, now, that it wasn’t misinformation that I was spreading either. But even before the opiate epidemic was proven to be a problem, the information I was sharing could really be labeled as disinformation or misinformation. I wasn’t telling people what to do or what not to do, I was just sharing my observations, the observations of others, and noting findings that alerted me to give the issue deeper thought and more concern.
As it turns out, the information I was providing was neither disinformation nor misinformation, but accurate, necessary, and helpful information. It was information coming from a perspective and experiences that many do not have, thus being valuable. Those that took this information to their doctors were often brushed off, some even scolded for questioning their recommendations… and of course, the science. They were told it was foolish to listen to someone like me, and that I did not know what I was talking about. Remember, I never told patients or the public what to do, but merely shared observations, concerns, and clinical experiences.
The ironic thing… my so-called misinformation or disinformation was anything but that. It was true and accurate. The information coming from the doctors, hospitals, scientists, and drug companies was the misinformation. Actually, it wasn’t just misinformation, it was disinformation, because the drug companies for sure, and many of the doctors, knew the information to be untrue.
Why would they spread disinformation? Money… of course! They had motive to lie, mislead, and deceive the public. So be careful deciding who is spreading misinformation. And remember there are many, many, many examples in the past of good people spreading accurate information, but being accused of spreading disinformation… and of bad people believed to be telling the truth, who were spreading disinformation.
I seek the truth. I do this for myself, my family, my patients, and for you. When I come across information, data, sources, or experiences that catch my attention, raise my eyebrow, and trigger concern, I feel obligated to share that. I will never tell you what to do, coerce you, or push you. I promise to provide you with INFORMATION. It will never be disinformation.