It all started innocently enough. Writing about the decisions and conflicts of the powerful and famous, printing up a ton of copies on cheap paper to circulate the information as widely as possible. Many more people were illiterate in those days, and it was much harder to transmit information over large distances. So the impact of the news was very localized, but there was a sense in which, over time, we would get better at keeping people informed through this emerging mechanism.
Little did we know that it was all an elaborate plan to slowly prepare us for global conquest.
The invaders were not susceptible to the biases that so hindered their prey, so it took them longer than it might have to understand why it was the humans seemed to defeat themselves in a hundred different ways each day. They performed various psychological experiments to get to the bottom of it, and concluded that these biases could be used to their advantage. The bias towards short term thinking in particular would come in handy, as the invader’s plan would be centuries in the making.
In the beginning, they were very directly involved. Using their finest brain manipulation technology, they implanted the idea of newspapers into the minds of numerous individuals around the world. They encouraged their subjects to write in terms that appealed to the group affiliation and confirmation biases of potential readers. To cover their bases, they made sure that multiple groups were represented.
They A/B tested different versions of the same article within towns and neighborhoods and observed the effect. In this way, they were able to refine the news into a weapon to turn people into drooling, ranting, biased idiots. Over time, the human population grew and the increasingly effective news outlets turned them into a bigger and bigger pool of potential slaves for the invaders to walk right in and conquer.
In the 20th Century they kicked things into gear, introducing more and more tools through which news could be delivered in an even more potent state. First came radio, then came TV—a tool so powerful it would not be surpassed until the 21st Century, when the world wide web came along, and smartphones made it possible for people to carry the news with them everywhere they went.
When the invaders finally came, in wave after wave of spaceships, humanity barely resisted. Democrats immediately jumped to blaming Republicans, and vice versa, and they all started arguing about it rather than mobilizing a defense. Android and iPhone users conjured up reasons that the others’ choice in smartphone OS had something to do with it.
The invaders’ plan, hundreds of years in the making, finally came to fruition.