Most of us believe we think for ourselves. We come to logical conclusions based on our rational thinking on subjects.
How true is this? How much of our thinking and our behaviour being influenced and shaped by manipulators? Manipulators can include advertisers, politicians, corporations and governments and even non profit societies. These manipulations can be aimed at good purposes such as charities or for not so good such as getting us to buy things we don’t need.
Answer these questions to discover how much your thinking and behaviour may be influenced or shaped by the manipulators.
1) Who first invented the light bulb?
2) Have you ever eaten bacon and eggs for breakfast?
3) Have you ever used the term “Banana Republic?”
4) Have you ever smoked cigarettes?
5) Have you ever been to a ballet?
6) Have you ever used Ivory soap?
7) Have you ever drunk fluoridated water or used fluoridated toothpaste or had fluoride treatment for your teeth?
8) Have you ever used disposable cups?
9) Have you ever stopped smoking?
10) Have you ever bought an item of clothing without actually needing it? Example: have you bought a shirt when you already have one or more?
How to score yourself:
Give yourself one point if you answered Thomas Edison to the first question. The first inventor or the light bulb was actually Sir Joseph Swan, a British physicist and chemist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Swan
The reason we have been manipulated to think it was Edison is because of a public relatiosns or “PR” stunt staged by master manipulator Edward Bernays. In October of 1929, Bernays created an event called “Light’s Golden Jubilee” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb.
Give yourself one point for each “yes” answer to questions 2-9.
Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud and the inventor of the term “public relations,” had a hand in each of the above behaviours.
Point 2) Bernays used his uncle Sigmund’s ideas to promote the concept that bacon and eggs was the ideal breakfast. Largely due to his efforts, that idea was widely adopted.
3) Bernays was hired by the United Fruit Company and the U.S. government to create a propaganda campaign to help overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala. The term “banana republic” was used to explain United Fruit Company’s domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Latin American countries.
4) I have no info on men and the early causes of smoking, so men, you get a pass on this one. For women though, score one point if you answered yes.
One of Bernays’ most famous campaigns was getting women to smoke. Prior to the 1929 Easter Parade in New York, which Bernays staged, women could be arrested for smoking in public or outside of designated areas. Working on behalf of the American Tobacco Company, Bernays hired young models to light up simultaneously on his signal. He had alerted newspaper photographers who were on hand to capture images of the young models lighting up “Torches of Freedom” during the event.
The New York Times of April first 1929 printed: “Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of ‘Freedom.’” This helped to break the taboo against women smoking in public. After the historical public event, women started lighting up more than ever before. It was through Bernays that women’s smoking habits started to become socially acceptable.
5) In 1915 during Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes American tour, Bernays convinced magazines to write articles that told people that ballet is fun to watch.
6) Bernays worked with Procter & Gamble for Ivory soap. The campaign successfully convinced people that Ivory soap was medically superior to other soaps, largely because the soap floated better than its competitors.
7) Bernays helped the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and other special interest groups to convince the American public that water fluoridation was safe and beneficial to human health. This was achieved by using the American Dental Association in a highly successful media campaign.
8) In the 1930s, Bernays’ Dixie Cup campaign was designed to convince consumers that only disposable cups were sanitary.
9) Bernays had a hand in getting people to stop smoking as well. After his semi-retirement in the 1960s he worked with anti-smoker lawyer John Banzhaf’s group, ASH and supported other anti-smoking campaigns.
10) In a 2002 award winning BBC documentary, “The Century of the Self,” Bernays is credited with largely starting the “consumer society.” The documentary claims that prior to Bernays, most people wore out their pants before buying a new pair. So, if you buy clothing to replace an item of clothing before it is worn out, you are to some extent, the victim of a propaganda system that created the fashion industry.
This manipulation of the “public mind” as Bernays termed it, is going on today and many levels and goes beyond just costing us money in buying what we don’t need or items that are more expensive than they need be. (Just look at the premium we pay for brand names.)
In his 1928 book “Propaganda,” Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. (My bolding) This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
The problem with Bernays’ opinion is that his methods can be used to create totalitarian societies as well. Bernays himself was shocked to find out that the Nazis used his methods to consolidate their power.
In his 1965 autobiography, Bernays recalls a dinner at his home in 1933 where:
“Karl von Wiegand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Wiegand his propaganda library, the best Wiegand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Wiegand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. … Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.”
Though shocked, this did not stop Bernays. The genie he let out of the bag still roams the media landscape today. And as we noticed from our little questionnaire affects our thinking and behaviour on a daily basis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays
I don’t have any pat answers or solutions to this. My approach has been the following.
How can I tell if I am brainwashed? I can’t by definition! If I am brainwashed, I can’t tell. Therefore, the only safe assumption is that I am brainwashed.
Proceeding from that assumption, how can I un-brainwash myself? The answer? I don’t know for sure. I am suspecting it has a lot to do with getting into the “now” that Eckhart Tolle talks about in his books The Power of Now and A New Earth.
Meditation may hold much of the answer to the problems of today. Would love your feedback. I believe Ram Dass is right when he says: “We are all just walking each other home.”
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