- Aldous Huxley's inspired 1954 essay detailed the vivid,
mind-expanding, multisensory insights of his mescaline adventures. By altering
his brain chemistry with natural psychotropics, Huxley tapped into a rich
and fluid world of shimmering, indescribable beauty and power. With his
neurosensory input thus triggered, Huxley was able to enter that parallel
universe described by every mystic and space captain in recorded history.
Whether by hallucination or epiphany, Huxley sought to remove all bonds,
all controls, all filters, all cultural conditioning from his perceptions
and to confront Nature or the World or Reality first-hand - in its unpasteurized,
unedited, unretouched infinite rawness.
- Those bonds are much harder to break today, half a century
later. We are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever
known. Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped
and molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being
subtly and inexorably erased. The doors of our perception are carefully
and precisely regulated. Who cares, right?
- It is an exhausting and endless task to keep explaining
to people how most issues of conventional wisdom are scientifically implanted
in the public consciousness by a thousand media clips per day. In an effort
to save time, I would like to provide just a little background on the handling
of information in this country. Once the basic principles are illustrated
about how our current system of media control arose historically, the reader
might be more apt to question any given story in today's news.
- If everybody believes something, it's probably wrong.
We call that
- CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
- In America, conventional wisdom that has mass acceptance
is usually contrived: somebody paid for it. Examples:
- Pharmaceuticals restore health
- Vaccination brings immunity
- The cure for cancer is just around the corner
- Menopause is a disease condition
- When a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics
- When a child has a fever he needs Tylenol
- Hospitals are safe and clean.
- America has the best health care in the world.
- Americans have the best health in the world.
- Milk is a good source of calcium.
- You never outgrow your need for milk.
- Vitamin C is ascorbic acid.
- Aspirin prevents heart attacks.
- Heart drugs improve the heart.
- Back and neck pain are the only reasons for spinal adjustment.
- No child can get into school without being vaccinated.
- The FDA thoroughly tests all drugs before they go on
- Pregnancy is a serious medical condition
- Infancy is a serious medical condition
- Chemotherapy and radiation are effective cures for cancer
- When your child is diagnosed with an ear infection, antibiotics
should be given immediately 'just in case'
- Ear tubes are for the good of the child.
- Estrogen drugs prevent osteoporosis after menopause.
- Pediatricians are the most highly trained of al medical
- The purpose of the health care industry is health.
- HIV is the cause of AIDS.
- AZT is the cure.
- Without vaccines, infectious diseases will return
- Fluoride in the city water protects your teeth
- Flu shots prevent the flu.
- Vaccines are thoroughly tested before being placed on
the Mandated Schedule.
- Doctors are certain that the benefits of vaccines far
outweigh any possible risks.
- There is a terrorist threat in the US.
- There is a bioterrorist threat in the US.
- The NASDAQ is a natural market controlled by supply and
- Chronic pain is a natural consequence of aging.
- Soy is your healthiest source of protein.
- Insulin shots cure diabetes.
- After we take out your gall bladder you can eat anything
- Allergy medicine will cure allergies.
- An airliner can be flown with professional precision
by a group of crazed amateurs into a 100-storey building and can cause
that building to collapse on its own footprint. Twice.
- The Iraquis blew up the World Trade Center.
- This is a list of illusions, that have cost billions
to conjure up. Did you ever wonder why most people in this country generally
accept most of the above statements?
- PROGRAMMING THE VIEWER
- Even the most undiscriminating viewer may suspect that
TV newsreaders and news articles are not telling us the whole story. The
slightly more lucid may have begun to glimpse the calculated intent of
standard news content and are wondering about the reliability and accuracy
of the way events are presented. For the very few who take time to research
beneath the surface of the daily programming and who are still capable
of independent thought, a somewhat darker picture begins to emerge. These
may perceive bits of evidence of the profoundly technical science behind
much of what is served up in mass media.
- Events taking place in today's world are enormously complex.
An impossibly convoluted tangle of interrelated and unrelated occurrences
happens simultaneously, often in dynamic conflict. To even acknowledge
this complexity contradicts a fundamental axiom of media science: Keep
- In real life, events don't take place in black and white,
but in a thousand shades of grey. Just discovering the actual facts and
events as they transpire is difficult enough. The river is different each
time we step into it. By the time a reasonable understanding of an event
has been apprehended, new events have already made that interpretation
obsolete. And this is not even adding historical, social, or political
elements into the mix, which are necessary for interpretation of events.
Popular media gives up long before this level of analysis.
- Media stories cover only the tiniest fraction of actual
events, but stupidly claim to be summarizing "all the news."
- The final goal of media is to create a following of docile,
unquestioning consumers. To that end, three primary tools have historically
- Over time, the sophistication of these tools of propaganda
has evolved to a very structured science, taking its cues in an unbroken
line from principles laid down by the Father of Spin himself, Edward L
Bernays, over a century ago, as we will see.
- Let's look at each tool very briefly:
- Deliberate misrepresentation of fact has always been
the privilege of the directors of mass media. Their agents - the PR industry
- cannot afford random objective journalism interpreting events as they
actually take place. This would be much too confusing for the average consumer,
who has been spoonfed his opinions since the day he was born. No, we can't
have that. In all the confusion the viewer might get the idea that he is
supposed to make up his own mind about the significance of some event or
other. The end product of good media is single-mindedness. Confusion and
individual interpretation of events do not foster the homogenized, one-dimensional
- For this reason, events must have a spin put on them
- an interpretation, a frame of reference. Subtleties are omitted; all
that is presented is the bottom line. The minute that decision is made
- what spin to put on a story - we have left the world of reporting and
entered the world of propaganda. By definition, propaganda replaces faithful
reporting with deceitful reporting.
- Here's an obvious example: the absurd and unremitting
allegations of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as a rationale for
the invasion of Iraq. Of course none were ever found, but that is irrelevant.
We weren't really looking for any weapons - but the deceit served its purpose
- get us in there. Later the ruse can be abandoned and forgotten; its usefulness
is over. And nobody will notice. Characterization of Saddam as a murderous
tyrant was decided to be an insufficient excuse for invading a sovereign
nation. After all, there are literally dozens of murderous tyrants the
world over, going their merry ways. We can't be expected to police all
- So it was decided that the murderous tyrant thing, though
good, was not enough. To whip a sleeping people into war consciousness
has historically involved one additional prerequisite: threat. Saddam must
therefore be not only a baby-killing maniac; he must be a threat to the
rest of the world, especially America. Why? Because he has weapons of mass
destruction. For almost two years, this myth was assiduously programmed
into the lowest common denominator of awareness which Americans substitute
for consciousness. Even though the myth has now been openly dismissed by
the Regime itself, the majority of us still believe it.
- Hitler used the exact same tack with the Czechs and Poles
at the beginning of his rampage. These peaceful peoples were not portrayed
as an easy mark for the German war machine - no, they were a threat to
the Fatherland itself. Just like Albania in the Dustin Hoffman movie. And
threats must be removed by all available force.
- With Iraq, the fact that UN inspectors never came up
with any of these dread weapons before Saddam was captured - this fact
was never mentioned again. That one phrase - WMD WMD WMD - repeated ad
nauseam month after month had served its purpose - whip the people into
war mode. It didn't have to be true; it just had to work. A staggering
indicator of how low the general awareness had sunk is that this mantra
continued to be used as our license to invade Iraq long after our initial
assault. If Saddam had any such weapons, probably a good time to trot them
out would be when a foreign country is moving in, wouldn't you say?
- No weapons were ever found, nor will they be. So confident
was the PR machine in the general inattention to detail commonly exhibited
by the comatose American people that they didn't even find it necessary
to plant a few mass weapons in order to justify the invasion. It was almost
- So we see that a little deceit goes a long way. All it
takes is repetition. Lay the groundwork and the people will buy anything.
After that just ride it out until they seem doubtful again. Then onto the
- A second tool that is commonly used to create mass intellectual
torpor is dissimulation. Dissimulation simply means to pretend not to be
something you are. Like some insects who can disguise themselves as leaves
or twigs, pretending not to be insects. Or bureaucrats who pretend not
to be acting in their own interest, but rather in the public interest.
To pretend not to be what you are.
- Whether it's the Bush league in Iraq or Hitler in Germany,
aggressors do not present themselves as marauding invaders initiating hostilities,
but instead as defenders against external threats.
- Freedom-annihilating edicts like the Homeland Security
Act and the Patriot Act - currently the law of the land - do not represent
themselves as the negation of every principle the Founding Fathers laid
down, or as shaky pretexts for the Takers to further loot the country,
but rather as public services, benevolent and necessary new rules to ensure
our SECURITY against various imagined enemies. To pretend to be what you
are not: dissimulation.
- Other obvious examples of dissimulation we see today
- pretending like the world's oil will not be gone in 35
- pretending like more and more government will not further
stifle an already struggling economy
- pretending like programs favoring "minorities"
are not just another form of racism
- pretending like drug laws are necessary for national
- pretending like passing more and more laws every year
is not geared ultimately for the advancement of the law enforcement, security,
and prison industries
- pretending there is a bioterrorist threat in the US today
- pretending there is a terrorist threat in the US today
- pretending the Bush regime has not benefited from every
program that came out of 9/11
- To pretend to be what you are not: dissimulation.
- A third tool necessary to media in order to keep the
public from thinking too much is distraction. Bread and circuses worked
for Caesar in old Rome. The people need to be kept quiet while the small
group in power carries out its agenda, which always involves fortifying
its own position.
- All actions of the present Reich since 9/11 may be explained
by plugging in one of four beneficiaries:
- War gear
- Security systems
- Every act, every political event, every public statement
of the present administration has promoted one or more of these huge sectors.
More oil, more drugs, more weapons, more security.
- But the people mustn't be allowed to notice things like
that. So they must be smokescreened by other stuff , blatant obvious stuff
which is really easy to understand and which they think has a greater bearing
on their day to day life. A classic axiom of propaganda is that people
shouldn't be allowed to think too much about what the government is doing
in their name. After all, there's more to life than politics, right? So
while the power group has its cozy little war going on, the people need
to have their attention diverted.
- All the strong men of history would have given their
eyeteeth to have at their disposal the number and types of distractions
available to today's regimes:
- - TV sports, its orchestrated frenzy and spectacle
- - Super Sunday
- - an endless succession of unspeakably boring, inane
movies, short on plot, long on CGI
- - the wanton sexless flash of MTV with its uninspired
lack of talent, a study in split second phony images
- - colossally dull TV programs which serve the secondary
purpose of instilling proper robot attitudes into people who have little
other instruction in life values
- - the artistic Mojave of modern music, with its soulless
cyber-droning, a constant quest for the nadir of reptilian brain stimulation,
devoid of lyrical competence, instrumental proficiency, or passion
- - the ever-retreating promise of financial success, switched
now to the trappings and toys that suggest success, available to anyone
with a credit card
- - organized superstitions of all varieties, with their
requisite pseudo-spiritual trappings
- - the constant dramatization of crimes and "issues"
throughout the world whose collective goal is the humble and grateful acknowledgement
of "how good we've really got it"
- - dwelling for months on the minutiae of unsupported
allegations of impropriety, preferably sexual, of a celebrity personality
- With these noisy, banal distractions the forces promoting
the general decline in intelligence and awareness jubilantly engulf us
on all sides. Media science holds the advantage: as people get dumber and
dumber year by year it gets easier and easier to keep them dumb. The only
challenge is that their threshold keeps getting lower. So in order to keep
their attention, messages have to become more obvious and blatant, taking
nothing for granted.
- Here are some indicators of our declining intelligence:
- - flagrant errors of grammar and spelling rampant in
advertising, which go unnoticed
- - declining SAT scores and the arbitrary resetting of
normals, which has occurred at least twice in the past 8 years, in order
to cover up the how dumb our kids are really getting
- - increased volume and decreased speed of the voices
of newsreaders on radio and TV
- - the limited vocabulary and cliched speech allowed in
radio programs; the obvious lack of education and requisite pedestrian
mentality required of the corporate simians who are featured on radio
- - increasing illiteracy of high school graduates, both
written and spoken
- - the unwritten policy requiring school teachers, especially
math and English teachers, to pass students who have failing marks, especially
if they're a certain race or other, so that the school won't "look
- - decreasing requirements for masters theses and PhD
dissertations in both length and content
- - increasing oversimplification of movie and TV plot
lines - absence of subtlety in conceptual and dramatic content; blatant
moralizing of compliant robot values
- - the speed at which images on TV are flashed, giving
the viewer barely enough time to recognize which sledgehammer idea they
are referring to before the next one appears, about 2 seconds later. That
way there is no possible way the brain can follow a train of thought in
any kind of depth. From childhood the brain learns that it is not to be
tasked with understanding abstractions or concepts of any subtlety from
the information presented. All the brain has to do is react to the incessant
bombardment of fragmented ADD-generating visual stimuli without trying
to derive sense or logic from it. This is why TV should be watched only
with the sound off, since it has generally the same educational value as
a lava lamp.
- - the enormous proportion of time spent by TV channels
telling the viewer what will be shown in the future, leaving no time for
actually delivering what they have already endlessly promised in the recent
past, which should be airing at the present moment.
- - newspaper articles that are not written by reporters
but that are scientifically crafted phrase by canny phrase by the PR industry
and placed into the columns of syndication in the guise of 'hard news'
- - Jerky, clumsy news clips, loaded with coarse innuendo
and nonsequitur, ridiculously brief: most news clips evoke only the most
superficial suggestion of events which may or may not have transpired,
resulting generally in the transfer of no information
- - the downward spiral of the level of ordinary conversations,
which are commonly just exercises in stringing together random cliché
s from the very finite stock of endlessly repeated homogeneous bytes. It's
as though we're only allowed to have 50 thoughts, and most conversation
is just linking these 50 programmed audio clips together in a different
order. Listen to what people say, the way they say it. Or worse yet, visit
a chat room.
- PUT-UP JOB
- Now let's imagine for a moment that 9/11 was a put-up
job engineered for the sole purpose of cementing the current regime into
power and frightening the bovine populace into surrendering even more of
what little freedom they have left. Hypothetical situation of course, just
work with me a little here. Imagine there never were any dissident crazed
terrorists representing Osama or Saddam, but instead a highly disciplined
though slightly whacked-out team of military fanatics, programmed somehow
to think they were doing something valuable for some faction or other.
But carefully trained by agents from on high. A put-up job, from the inside.
- So then imagine that all the violence and stress perpetrated
on the collective American psyche since 9/11 about war, bioterrorism, and
security has all been completely unnecessary. And that all the billions
of dollars of extra security and wasted time in airports and borders was
also totally unnecessary because there never were any terrorists, except
those on Capitol Hill. And all the shrill media articles and "stories"
that support the few underlying events have been unnecessary, their prime
purpose being self promotion. Think how much our quality of life has suffered,
and how it will never be the same. What if all this stress has been totally
- Many of our best people have come to precisely these
conclusions. Once you get past the initial hurdle of being able to consider
the unthinkable possibility that a regime could be so obsessed with gaining
political advantage that they would actually blow up 3000 of our own people,
the rest falls into place. Over the top? Not such a stretch really when
you compare the thousands that have been sacrificed to the whims of other
murderous tyrants the world over throughout all of recorded history. Exactly
how is it impossible?
- WHAT DO WE REALLY KNOW?
- When it comes to a discussion of what's going on in the
world, the honest individual must admit that he has almost no idea. When
was the last time George Bush invited you into the Green Room for a private
chat with Cheney and Ashcroft about the future of big oil? When did Bill
Gates last invite you up to his Redmond digs for a wine and cheese brainstorming
session about the next Big Thing? Or when did your neighbor who lives three
houses away from you call you up to tell you about the unfulfilled plans
of his father who just found out he's dying of cancer? How many life stories
of the world's six billion people do you know anything about? This is to
say nothing of fluid events which are coming in and out of existence every
day between the nations of the world. What do you really know about what
is really going on?
- Seems like much more effort is spent covering up and
packaging actual events that are taking place than in trying to accurately
report and evaluate them. These are questions of epistemology - what can
we know? The answer is - very little, if our only source of information
is the superficial everyday media. The few people who buy books don't read
them. Passive absorption of pre-interpreted already-figured-out data is
the preferred method
- HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED
- But wait, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's back
up a minute. In their book Trust Us We're Experts, Stauber and Rampton
pull together some compelling data describing the science of creating public
opinion in America. They trace modern public influence back to the early
part of the last century, highlighting the work of guys like Edward L.
Bernays, the Father of Spin.
- From his own amazing 1928 chronicle Propaganda, we learn
how Edward L. Bernays took the ideas of his famous uncle Sigmund Freud,
and applied them to the emerging science of mass persuasion. The only difference
was that instead of using these principles to uncover hidden themes in
the human unconscious, the way Freudian psychology does, Bernays studied
these same ideas in order to learn how to mask agendas and to create illusions
that deceive and misrepresent, for marketing purposes.
- THE FATHER OF SPIN
- Edward L. Bernays dominated the PR industry until the
1940s, and was a significant force for another 40 years after that. (Tye)
During that time, Bernays took on hundreds of diverse assignments to create
a public perception about some idea or product. A few examples:
- As a neophyte with the Committee on Public Information,
one of Bernays' first assignments was to help sell the First World War
to the American public with the idea to "Make the World Safe for Democracy."
(Ewen) We've seen this phrase used in every war, police action, and spoiling
raid we've carried out since that time.
- A few years later, Bernays set up a stunt to popularize
the notion of women smoking cigarettes. In organizing the 1929 Easter Parade
in New York City, Bernays showed himself as a force to be reckoned with.
He organized the Torches of Liberty Brigade in which suffragettes marched
in the parade smoking cigarettes as a mark of women's liberation. After
that one event, women would be able to feel secure about destroying their
own lungs in public, the same way that men have always done.
- Bernays popularized the idea of bacon for breakfast.
- Bernays also set up the liaison between the tobacco industry
and the American Medical Association that lasted for nearly 50 years. His
ad campaign proved to all and sundry that cigarettes were beneficial to
health. Just look at ads in old issues of Life, Look, Time or Journal of
the American Medical Association from the 40s and 50s in which doctors
are recommending this or that brand of cigarettes as promoting healthful
digestion, or whatever.
- During the next several decades Bernays and his colleagues
evolved the principles by which masses of people could be generally swayed
through messages repeated over and over, hundreds of times per week.
- Once the economic power of media became apparent, other
countries of the world rushed to follow our lead. But Bernays remained
the gold standard. He was the source to whom the new PR leaders across
the world would always defer. Josef Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda,
closely studied the principles of Edward Bernays when Goebbels was developing
the popular rationale he would use to convince the Germans that in order
to purify their race they had to kill 6 million of the impure. (Stauber)
- SMOKE AND MIRRORS
- As he saw it, Bernay's job was to reframe an issue; to
create a desired image that would put a particular product or concept in
a desirable light. He never saw himself as a master hoodwinker, but rather
as a beneficent servant of humanity, providing a valuable service. Bernays
described the public as a 'herd that needed to be led.' And this herdlike
thinking makes people "susceptible to leadership." Bernays never
deviated from his fundamental axiom to "control the masses without
their knowing it." The best PR happens with the people unaware that
they are being manipulated.