Information and Disinformation: How Carrots Helped Win World War II

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Today, in honour of Remembrance Day (Commonwealth countries) and Veteran’s Day (US), here’s a guest blog by Joanne Reed about how one of our favorite home-grown vegetables, the carrot, helped win World War II. Enjoy!

Where does human behavior come from? Behavior comes from our perception of an event or a situation. Where does perception come from? Perception comes from information received, be it from personal experience, newspaper or media. If our behaviors are influenced by information, how can we be sure that what we receive is information or disinformation?

Controlling Perception

It is possible to control human perception. The best way to do this would be to filter or censor the type of information that the public receives, or by using deceptive tactics such as subterfuge, propaganda or misinformation to make the public believe something that is not true.

The “Carrot Myth”

According to conventional wisdom, eating lots of carrots will magically enhance your vision! While there is a little bit of truth in this, the “Carrot Myth” was engineered by British Intelligence and popularized and reinforced by the British Ministry of Information – the government department responsible for publicity and propaganda – during WWII.

During the 1940 Blitzkrieg , the Luftwaffe often struck and bombarded London under the cover of darkness. In order to make it more difficult for the German planes to hit targets, the British Government issued city-wide blackouts. The Royal Air Force (RAF) were able to repel German fighters in part because of the development of a new secret radar technology. The on-board Airborne Interception Radar (AI) was invented and first used by the RAF in 1939 and had the ability to pinpoint enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel. To protect their secret weapon, British Intelligence invented a propaganda campaign that claimed that British pilots could see in the dark because they ate a lot of carrots!

There is no denying the fact that carrots, by virtue of their heavy dose of vitamin A (in the form of Beta Carotene) are very good for the health of your eyes; but this truth was stretched a little by granting carrots the “superpower” of improving your night vision and give you the power to spot enemy planes in the dark! The truth is that eating carrots does not help you see better in the dark any more than eating blueberries will turn you blue. That said, the carrot campaign of subterfuge helped hide a new technology that was critical to the Battle of Britain, a major campaign fought entirely by air forces and the first defeat of Hitler’s military forces, and to the eventual Allied victory.

author joanne reed
this is your quest
information and disinformation
Joanne Reed – Author of “This Is Your Quest”

Information and Disinformation Overload

Today, we are living in a world of information and disinformation overload; data about almost anything is available at the click of a button, we are constantly bombarded by streams of information (and sometimes disinformation), making it very difficult to know what and who to believe.

Hoaxes, hysterias, misinformation and scams have been around a long time. Con men and Ponzi schemes are in every corner of recorded history. You might think that our access to vast oceans of information on the internet would change that, but it hasn’t. In fact, humans are just as gullible and easily led as ever. Skepticism is just as rare as any other time, and most people are willing to believe something they read on the internet, heard second or third hand, without subjecting their curiosities to even the most basic fact-checking.

It is important to remain skeptical. Some people may dismiss you as a cynical, but that’s likely to be the person who’s actively trying to influence you or sell you something. There are no awards for coming to a conclusion the fastest, so take your time, and don’t form an opinion based on emotion. Here are some quick ways to keep yourself in check:

  • Check your sources
  • Understand the difference between opinion and fact
  • Beware of anecdotal evidence
  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Question your beliefs
  • Turn to history for clues

Skepticism is healthy. Be discerning about the information you receive and the medium through which it is transmitted, they are skills worth developing.

And this, my Dear Companion, is Your Quest!


If you liked this post, you may also like:

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Don’t Worry Be Happy – The Benefits of Music
Being in a State of Flow. The Key to Happiness?
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Positivity vs. Negativity – Battle of the Fittest
How to Have Superpowers and Remain Resolutely Human.
#1 Spot! Sweet! Thank you to my French readers for keeping me there!
Understanding The Psychology of Willful Blindness
Goddess Athena – The Art of War

You can also purchase Joannes book ‘This is Your Quest’ online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Nobles (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Or check out her Amazon Author Page here.

2 thoughts on “Information and Disinformation: How Carrots Helped Win World War II

  1. I hate carrots anyway.
    Not to change the subject, but the ease with which hysteria is propagated nowadays is frightening. You would think that people would have learned from history, but no one seems to know or care much about history. We want to believe that all the atrocities endured by various groups, whether real or not (such as witches) could not be repeated. We know only that it is politically incorrect to single out groups who have already been singled out already, such as Jews, Negroes, Homosexuals and such; so new targets are being invented.

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