States of the Union

The US Ministry of Public Enlightenment – Part II

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[You can find Part 1 here.]

The State Department employs many individuals from the social psych field. These individuals know how groups function, and how they can be swayed. They know manipulation tactics, for both society and the individual. They understand social deviance; how to combat it, and how to make use of it. They are experts in the trade of social control, and rely on your ignorance to employ their measures. Awareness of the tactics won’t prevent much of it, but understanding a weapon is the only way to defend against it.

So, what are the methods and tools used by the Ministry of Propaganda? I’ve been out of college for almost a decade now, so I’m a little rusty, but I think I remember enough to cover the basics. Welcome to Sociology 100.9 (just shy of Soc 101). Psychology has already planted its territorial flag in the term “Social Psychology,” and Psychologists aren’t great at sharing, so, since my degree is in Sociology, I’m calling it Society and the Individual (which was actually the name of the class that convinced me to declare Sociology as a major; it was taught by the Director of the department, and was my first real forray into the intrigue of social theory).

If you’re even a little incredulous that those in power would go to such extremes to control the populace, stop for a moment and do a little thought experiment. Imagine you had virtually unlimited resources, but at any moment someone else could step in and seize everything you’ve worked so hard to attain; power, wealth, influence, and control. Think of the reach of the government at your fingertips, and the willingness of others in power along with you to maintain control as well. How do you go about ensuring that 1) you keep your power, 2) you increase your holdings to ensure a steady flow of wealth, and 3) those who would take that power from you remain unaware of the breadth of your influence (which makes them that much less likely to take it. Think of is as burying treasure and burning the maps so no one else knows exactly how much is buried, or where)?

How do you keep the people from becoming angry at you for the measures you’ve taken to attain and retain all that power? As for those who are aware, and intent on your prize, how do you defend against their advances? You can’t simply kill all of them (though you might wish you could), because you need them productive to keep up your stream of revenue. So you need them compliant. But why would they remain compliant when they know the power is there for the taking, and feel used and taken advantage of? Does it not seem logical that the best defense is to insure they remain unaware in the first place? Compliant, and aware. Think about those words. Do they sound at all familiar?

 

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Link: (http://www.infowars.com/clinton-campaign-email-outlines-effort-to-produce-an-unaware-and-compliant-citizenry/)

Bill Ivey, the author of this email to John Podesta, has since attempted to clarify this email, and spin its meaning, so in fairness you should read both sides: http://www.snopes.com/clinton-compliant-citizenry/

Experience tells me the most honest statement is the one in the email that was never intended for public consumption. But that’s just my outsider’s opinion. I’m applying what I’ve seen of the HRC campaign, and the DNC, and the executive branch, and none of those correlations may be fair. But, you know what they say…

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The safest course then is to proceed as if we are among a population that at least someone out there has conspired to keep unaware and compliant. Better safe than sorry, after all. And I don’t believe that assumption is more than just a “safe bet.” I don’t generally walk around thinking that someone’s “out to get me,” but when I pause, and think about the nature of power, then look at the evidence, I can’t come to any other conclusion.

In part 1, we looked at the mechanisms and structure of the propaganda machine. Now, let’s take a look at the functions of those mechanisms, and the means by which they’re achieved.

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Social Deviance and Conformity: A deviant isn’t just someone who resists the norm, it’s one who can stand up and speak out, even as everyone else remains silent. Many a study has been done to determine at what point a deviant becomes compliant, or at which point the group is swayed by the individual.

An example is the line experiment by Solomon Asch [16]. Basically, a group is shown one line drawn at differing lengths (depending on the experiment), then a grouping of three or four lines, some shorter,some longer. The group is then asked to identify which of the grouped lines matches the first line. The different variations of the experiment call for shills of varying numbers to act as voices of defiance or compliance, in an effort to determine at what point a group can be moved to provide a wrong answer in the name of conformity, or at what point an individual can sway a group to the right answer, despite the voices of conformity.

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It’s fascinating stuff, and disturbing at the same time. Particularly when one realizes that these findings have been applied to society as a whole. When feeding us a lie, the variables are adjusted to increase the statistical probability of compliance or deviance, depending on the desired outcome. It’s a numbers game, and the house usually wins.

Compliance: After World War II, the world was in shock at the atrocities committed by the Germans against their own people (never mind that the same, and worse, was actively happening in Russia and China). The people demanded to know “how,” and Stanley Milgram’s Shock Experiment [17] was one of the more controversial answers.

Milgram wanted to know how an individual could be pushed to do something atrocious—something they would never do under normal circumstances—under the urging of perceived authority. There were many variations of his experiment over the years, but the theme was generally the same. It’s frightening easy for an individual to shove their own sense of right and wrong aside when they can rely on the moral compass of perceived authority.

Milgram set up a lab, separated into two main rooms, one for the subject, and one for the shill. The shill was supposedly hooked to a shock-inducing device, with electrodes on their skin. The subject was led into a separate room by individuals (typically in lab coats), and told to sit in front of a machine with a dial and a button (or something similar). The dial showed low level shock on one end, high level in the middle, and “dangerous” levels at the far end, and the button was supposed to release the shock to the shill on the other side.

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The subject was told things like “we’re testing the effects of stress on the memory,” to explain the reasons for the shocks the real subject would be inducing on the shill subject. The shill was to be asked a series of questions, and if they got the answer wrong, the actual subject was then to turn the dial to the next level and press the button to shock the shill.

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As the dial neared the danger zone, the disturbing findings of the test showed to high likelihood that the subject would cave under perceived authority of someone like an expert scientist (or, say, a military uniform; “I was just following orders”). A frightening number of people were willing to turn the dial to its most lethal level, and press the button even as the shill cried out in agony, begged to stop, then grew completely silent. Many continued to press the button, even after the shill grew non-responsive.

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We learned so much about how the German people did such terrible things, and discovered, to our “civilized” horror, that just about anyone was capable of doing the same, even in America. Human Ethics Committees have since been commonplace to judge the ethics of performing such experiments, because so many subjects of Milgram’s tests developed post-traumatic stress disorder, complete with nightmares and depression at the realization of what atrocities they too were capable of.

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Now, imagine for a second that the government has studied these experiments inside and out. They’ve repeated them time and again, and have a formula to determine what gives them the greatest statistical chance at achieving compliance in any given scenario. And ask yourself if you really believe that they haven’t done just that. It’s in the government’s interest to study and ensure compliance to the greatest extent possible. It’s self-preservation, aimed at “maintaining the peace,” at its core, but it’s also about manipulating the populace to do things that are both against their natures, and against their individual best interests, or for “the greater good.” The real trick is making them believe it is in their best interest, which is the job of the propaganda.

Cognitive Dissonance [18] [19] – I see this term thrown around completely out of context all the time. Cognitive Dissonance is essentially when an individual is faced with two contradictory views. Studies in dissonance reveal the lengths to which the human mind will go to resolve those conflicts.

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One of the more famous experiments, by Festinger and Carlsmith, was on induced compliance. They had subjects come in to perform a menial task, making them aware that others were performing similar tasks with slightly different variables. They made it a point to bore the subject to tears, then sent them off to return on a later date. When the subject returned, they put on a little show for them, and led them to believe that the observers needed the subject’s help with another subject’s experiment. They paid them $1-20 to convince the other subject that the experiment was interesting and exciting, which they generally agreed to do. When the main subject was later faced with the dissonance of having believed the experiment to have been boring, yet having accepted money to lie to another subject by saying it was interesting, their minds generally worked to alter their beliefs that the experiment was ever boring in the first place.

This is the power of the mind to alter memories and beliefs to resolve even mildly uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. It’s evident today in the mainstream media. They fought tooth and nail, not to be journalists, but to be campaigners for Hillary Clinton. When she lost the election, they were faced with the dissonance of knowing that they’d compromised their principles for a corrupt candidate (after already resolving past dissonance by dismissing the corruption), and believing that Donald Trump would be bad for the country. They resolved this conflict by further demonizing Trump, reinforcing their belief that he needed to be stopped at any cost (and passing that belief on to their readers and viewers, infecting others with yet more dissonance like a bad case of herpes).

With a thorough understanding of dissonance resolution and compliance, just imagine how much someone in power could accomplish by applying those principles to the populace. Targeted releases of information can affect dissonance resolution by urging the recipient of the information one way or another (sometimes with a gentle nudge, sometimes with blunt force trauma), and it goes on every day.

The Halo Effect [20] [21]– This is a well-documented cognitive bias that shows that, if an individual has positive feelings about someone (like a celebrity) or something (like a policy, or a product) in one area, it can (and does) cause positive feelings in areas the individual would otherwise have neutral feelings about. For instance, we like a singer’s music, and think they’re attractive, so we begin the attribute things like “intelligence” and “beneficence” to them as a result of our inherent bias. We can see it in use by the HRC campaign bringing Beyonce, and Katy Perry to their rallies. Those in attendance see the pretty celebrities, like their music, then have more positive feeling about things like their political views, as if their words somehow hold more weight than an intelligent, well-educated individual.

Think I might be exaggerating the extent of the Halo Effect’s exploitation? Think back to Obama’s rise to the presidency. His voting record was almost non-existent, and he certainly wasn’t elected for his experience, or his policies (which were largely abandoned after he was elected). Neither was he elected because he was “black,” as the right likes to dismissively think. The powers behind him took a clean-cut, seemingly well-spoken, quasi-black junior politician, put him before a public who was hungry for a progressive change, then planted the words “hope,” and “change” to the voters, coaxing them to subconsciously apply these attributes to the candidate, knowing full well the Halo Effect would steer the voters to positive feelings about these perceived qualities, and others. The results speak for themselves.

Perceived Power [22] [23] – The Stanford Prison Experiment addressed the effects of perceived power by putting subjects in different social roles. One group became guards, and the other “prisoners.” The experiment showed that individuals in each role assumed the norms we associate with those positions; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It showed how fulfilling certain social roles can far-too-easily drive a person to downright evil deeds. Despite it being a mere experiment, the “prisoners” rebelled, and the “guards” retaliated brutally. And it was even worse when the roles were suddenly reversed.

Social controllers understand this concept, and employ it to its own brutal effect. It can be seen in the perceived moral high ground bestowed upon the left. It’s driven them to participate in violent protests, and senseless attacks on the character of anyone not “on the right side.” With just a little nudge (orchestrated protests), it reinforces their roles, and makes them far less likely to be open-minded to any opposing views.

Bystander Apathy [24] [25] – The Bystander Effect shows that an individual is less likely to get involved in a crisis when there are others around who might be able to intervene. The mere presence of others inhibits our own instincts to help in an emergency. Say that you see a man collapse in the middle of a shopping mall. If there are a dozen other people closer to him than you, you’re far less likely to approach him and see if he’s okay.

This is put into major effect by “activist groups,” or “organizations (typically nonprofits, which makes them seem benevolent, in some twisted way).” It steers “radicals (anyone with the drive to take action” away from any actual action by giving them the perception that others are actively working on it already. The exact opposite is also in use, when activists are needed for things like protests. This would be ineffective without a thorough understanding of Bystander Apathy.

Conflict and Prejudice [26] [27]– There are many facets to group conflicts and their resulting prejudices, including the role of the authority over the individual groups, so I highly recommend you at least read the articles above. One of them evaluates Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment, which is limited to groups as a whole, not their internal workings. Basically, two groups of boys were taken into the wilderness and kept unaware of one another for a week or so. They formed an identity (group names, emblem, flag, etc.), worked to perform tasks together, built a camp, slept, ate, and played together. Once they’d bonded, the two groups were introduced to one another, and were inherently prejudiced towards one another. They were further pitted against each other through challenges, and were so antagonistic that they wouldn’t even eat together. The experimenters, who had pitted these groups against one another, had a difficult time getting them to integrate. The groups were resistant to it, so the experimenters gave them a common problem to resolve (they had to fix their “damaged” source of fresh water, which was “essential” for both groups’ survival). This worked. They even started eating together, and choosing movies to watch together, and finally, rode the same bus home.

Touching, no? You’re right, it’s troubling. It shows the power the authority can have over group dynamics. You can see it put to effect within the US in our two-party system, which keeps groups distracted, and to keep them from turning on the authority, they’re given common goals (uniting in times of war and tragedy for instance). You can see it in the current “race war” that’s being manufactured, and in the forced integration masses of migrants. I’d predict that the goal is to tear us apart before bringing us together under a common goal, but one can only speculate at this point. Time will tell.

Globally, you can see it in our common goal of “combatting climate change,” “preserving a stable global economy,” and  “managing the (manufactured) migrant crisis.” It brings entire nations together under a global banner, and is frighteningly effective when the propaganda machine is working in full force.

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False Consensus Effect [28] [29]– We all tend to believe that others think like we do, particularly when under similar circumstances, with the perception of having similar information at hand. Lee Ross demonstrated this back in the 70’s. Subjects were given a story of conflict, then given two alternate ways of responding. They were then asked three questions. 1) What their choice was, 2) to guess what others would choose, and 3) to describe the attributes of those who would choose each of the two options. Most people believe that others will choose the same as they did, regardless of which option they themselves chose. They also tend to think there’s someone “wrong” with those who chose differently than they did.

These experiments are important because they reveal how wrong most of us are in our assessments of ourselves and others. Our biases are not necessarily “good instinct,” and more often than not, are simply wrong. How to exploit this? Well, we feed the biases of course. Neither the Left nor the Right can understand how the other can believe what they believe. The Left can’t fathom how the right can deny climate change. And their biases assume there’s something deeply wrong with the Right for not accepting the alleged science. The government reinforces those biases by pushing the line that the science is “conclusive,” which minimizes the chance that those on the Left might consider the opposing view as anything but insanity (or pure evil). And it’s a two-way street, so don’t think this is purely a liberal agenda, they’ve just got the upper hand at the moment. The Right has been just as guilty.

This leads into Confirmation Bias [30] – There are many different cognitive biases [31], but I’ve seen this one used with sweeping results across the Left and the Right. Confirmation Bias is where we inherently seek things that confirm what we think to be true. It’s a danger in science, because it can (and often does) skew results, which is why peer reviews are so imperative. Look at the 2016 Presidential election polls leading up to the election, and the mountains of stories about Hillary being a shoe-in, for proof of its pervasiveness. It’s something we should all be aware of in our exposure to information. The only way to grow and refine is by seeking that which challenges our understandings of the world (thus, my effort to fact check with sources on the Left, the Right, and the Middle). But the propaganda machine, with the complicit media, used Confirmation Bias as a weapon in the election. It encouraged voters to believe Hillary absolutely would win, in an effort to discourage voter turnout. I might be wrong; it might just be that either they were victims of confirmation bias too, or they used it for political purposes, though I suspect it was both, acting in tandem.

Confirmation Bias also apparent in the climate debate. The UN used science that confirmed conclusions they’d drawn beforehand, and excluded anything to the contrary. Those biased results determined what’s taught in schools, and disseminated through the media, which reinforces the biases of students, readers, and viewers, and makes the lot of them skeptical of anything that contradicts the “conclusive” results.

[Rabbit Trail]: Let me reiterate, I don’t deny climate change, or man’s influence on it. I’m angry at the horridious science, that’s been a terrible disservice to climate science by stifling studies that might potentially contradict the narrative, and elevating those that fit the narrative, no matter how flimsy the science used. Our understanding of climate change has essentially been set back to the dark ages because of politicized science on a massive scale. There’s no way to know exactly what to believe, because fair, and unbiased science (that sticks strictly to the scientific method from beginning to end) has been throttled. That’s what climate activists should be furious about. Imagine scientists finding evidence that an ice age is imminent, and having the peer-reviewed science completely discredited, defunded, and denounced, despite it being sound science, because it disagrees with the accepted political narrative.[/End of Rabbit Trail]

As a result of the barrage of propaganda I’m exposed to on a daily basis, my own biases have been reinforced, making me skeptical of anything the government or the media claims. I believe it’s a healthy skepticism, for the most part, but I have to remain constantly aware of it if I don’t want to fall victim to it.

It’s our responsibility to treat information with a degree of skepticism, if we want to prevent despotism. You can bet that those in power have a firm grasp of these concepts, so we should too.

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You’ll know it’s too late when the commerative first edition is released by the State Department.

In today’s age, propaganda has taken creative new forms. The government employs trolls on social media to throttle opposing views, bury conflicting information, and disseminate the narrative [32]. And we’ve seen in Part 1 of this post, just how far-reaching the government’s arms of propaganda extends across the globe. Worst of all, our taxpayer dollars finance this “war on information.” We are literally paying to propagandize ourselves, and remain blissfully ignorant of its influence on our lives. We should be furious! But only an informed populace can feel the righteous anger such measures should instill. Thus, the war on information in the first place. We’re to be unaware and compliant. To be informed, or be enslaved, that is our choice.

For God and Liberty,

Jullian Sellars

Resourses:

[16] – http://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html

[17] –  http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html

[18] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

[19] – http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/10/how-and-why-we-lie-to-ourselves.php

[20] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect

[21] – http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/10/halo-effect-when-your-own-mind-is.php

[22] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

[23] – http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/09/our-dark-hearts-stanford-prison.php

[24] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect

[25] – http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/10/why-we-dont-help-others-bystander.php

[26] – http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/09/war-peace-and-role-of-power-in-sherifs.php

[27] – http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/09/war-peace-and-role-of-power-in-sherifs.php

[28] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_consensus_effect

[29] – http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/11/why-we-all-stink-as-intuitive.php

[30] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

[31] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_bias

[32] – http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-02/government-trolls-are-using-psychology-based-influence-techniques-youtube-facebook-a

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One thought on “The US Ministry of Public Enlightenment – Part II

  1. Pingback: The US Ministry of Public Enlightenment – Part I | States of the Union

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