Hack-proof your mind

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Is the current generation of Americans especially susceptible to propaganda and emotional manipulation?

Early this past summer, Stella Morabito wrote a column for The Federalist called How to Escape the Age of Mass Delusion. Morabito pondered the startling turnaround in societal norms on sexual identity issues, the backlash against modest attempts to protect the liberties of dissenters from the new consensus, and the mob eruptions in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore:

American conservatives are by and large clueless about propaganda methods and tactics. And it shows. There are virtually no conservative social psychologists around. You'd think once a liberal social psychologist hits the public over the head with this fact some on the Right would take notice and at least try to get clued in.

Meanwhile, the Left has been employing social psychology and depth psychology on the masses for decades. President Obama's campaign staff was filled with social psychologists. In this context, those who believe conservatives can subsist on reason and logic alone are kidding themselves. It's no wonder GOP leaders are caving on so many principles, and being absorbed so easily into the Left's machine.

A lot of people are scratching their heads today, wondering how life got to be so surreal, so fast in the United States of America. Based on the silencing tactics revealed by the LGBT lobby, many observers are likely now thinking: "Gee, I thought marriage equality was merely a gay rights movement. I didn't realize that fascism was part of that package." The Great Unraveling continues at a rapid clip when slipping on a pronoun in these days of transgender rule could cost you your career or earn you massive social media rallies chanting "hater" at you.

To understand these phenomena, Morabito turned to a nearly 60-year-old book, The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing, by Dutch psychiatrist Joost A. M. Meerloo. Meerloo wrote the book "after years immersed in the study of social psychology and countless interviews with victims of mental coercion, including Nazi officers and American prisoners of war in Korea." Morabito quoted the opening of Meerloo's forward:

"This book attempts to depict the strange transformation of the free human mind into an automatically responding machine - a transformation which can be brought about by some of the cultural undercurrents in our present-day society as well as by deliberate experiments in the service of a political ideology."

Further quotes from Meerloo:

"It is simply a question of organizing and manipulating collective feelings in the proper way. If one can isolate the mass, allow no free thinking, no free exchange, no outside correction and can hypnotize the group daily with noises, with press and radio and television, with fear and pseudo-enthusiasms, any delusion can be instilled."

"The totalitarian potentate, in order to break down the minds of men, first needs widespread mental chaos and verbal confusion, because both paralyze his opposition and cause the morale of the enemy to deteriorate - unless his adversaries are aware of the dictator's real aim."

"The techniques of propaganda and salesmanship have been refined and systematized; there is scarcely any hiding place from the constant visual and verbal assault on the mind. The pressures of daily life impel more and more people to seek an easy escape from responsibility and maturity."

Morabito explored the social and mental engineering that laid the groundwork for today's mob eruptions:

Unfortunately, too many Americans have been sleeping through most of its propaganda battles, and for a very long time. When it comes to understanding the inner workings of social psychology and political correctness, we seem to be at a loss.

Meanwhile, the power elites who now control the media, academia, and Hollywood seem to understand social psychology well enough to exploit it on a massive scale. They have engaged in psychological warfare against the private mind by inducing "collective belief formation." There's really nothing new here. Conditioning and nudging the masses into groupthink is a very old trick of all wannabe dictators. The bloody twentieth century is filled to the gills with examples.

Yet it feels like we've awakened to an ambush. A lot of Americans watched in shock while cultish mobs suddenly attacked the RFRA that [Indiana Gov. Mike] Pence initially defended. But the groundwork for mass hysteria like this was stealthily laid for decades, and the minefields sown.

Family breakdown led to community breakdown, which we can see in the decline of trust in society. Ignorance was cultivated in the schools through political correctness and squashing free debate. The academy's disparaging of western civilization virtually wiped out respect for any serious study of history and civics, as well as for the Socratic method and the rules of civil discourse. Political correctness sewed confusion into the language, particularly regarding identity politics. Youth are now set to be programmed for conformity through the K-12 "Common Core" curriculum mandates.

All of that and more promotes the semantic fog that allows for mind rape. It amounts to an act of "logicide," to borrow a term from Meerloo, whom I will continue to quote below. To kill logic and reason that might stand in their way, wannabe dictators "fabricate a hate language in order to stir up mass emotions." Leaders in Indiana, Arkansas, and Louisiana have been unable to understand this tactic and are grossly unprepared to deal with it. So they simply surrendered. In effect, they joined the mob, further endangering everybody's freedom....

I encourage you to read the whole article, in which Morabito goes on to call for action to fight against mass delusion through free speech and targeted ridicule and to fight against societal atomization through genuine friendship.

So, in the end, freedom truly depends upon breaking down the walls of separation that tyranny builds. It means cultivating the art of friendship, boldly exercising our rights to free association and to communicate our thoughts to others. It means cultivating knowledge instead of cultivating ignorance.

After all, political correctness is primarily a tool for crushing people's ability to have open conversations in friendship and mutual respect. In this context, it seems very much like a tool to bring all personal relationships under state control. And it shouldn't surprise us that this is being done today in the name of equality for certain kinds of personal relationships. Tyrannies always pretend to promote the very thing they seek to destroy.

The ongoing campus war against free speech inspired Morabito to write a follow-up: 10 Resources For Hack-Proofing Your Mind

The dynamics are similar wherever there is obstruction of the free exchange of ideas. They include: using silencing tactics to achieve conformity of thought; blind rage and intolerance towards any ideas that diverge from the agenda; and all-out efforts to eliminate perceived enemies.

But the visible actors who are shutting down freedom seem not to be free agents themselves. They act more like recruits whose behavior has been conditioned through political correctness, an effective behavior modification tool. It's been entrenched for decades in the West, in education, media, and pop culture. With terrorists, we know that indoctrination is far more direct.

Either way, messing with your mind--or coercive thought reform--is a common denominator of any agenda that depends on shutting down real conversation. Whatever the grievance du jour, it serves mostly as a distraction from the main goal: collectivist conformity that ends up empowering an elite. Campuses are prime recruiting grounds....

Student agitators are not the root of the problem, though. They seem more like victims of coercive persuasion since universities stopped valuing independent thought for conformist thought. They're easy targets for mind-rape by the elites and lobbies who can use them for mass mobilization behind various agenda items. We can now see the student agitators acting as deployable agents for hacking the minds of others. Kind of like a Borg.

To resist this (submission is futile) we must first be aware of our own human susceptibility to coercive thought reform and mind manipulation. So, where to start?

Why not start a mind-rape prevention book club? Students who wish to retain their sanity on PC-conditioned campuses should be especially interested in exploring this. But everyone should try to learn how to fight mob psychology either on their own, or, ideally, in conversations with others.

Below is a very select list of books and other materials that can help to inoculate the mind against mass delusion. None of the titles are recent. That's partly because I've found the greatest clarity and respect for independent thought in material written decades ago....

In these times of growing confusion and delusion, we must try to learn all we can about how to keep our minds free from coercive manipulation. Let's recognize political correctness for what it really is: a political tool to imprison us into conformity of thought. The PC-induced "safe spaces" on campuses amount to nothing more than Pavlovian conditioning chambers. Sane spaces--places that allow real learning and real relationships--are what people really need, because without free expression, there is no diversity.

One of her recommendations is the Mind Hacking Alert pamphlet from NJ Safe and Sound. It focuses on the special vulnerability of young adults under the age of 25:

You're already at risk for mind-hacking because of your age. The part of the brain that's responsible for emotions, judgment, decision-making, planning, and impulse control- the prefrontal cortex- is not fully mature until around age 25. That doesn't mean you're stupid - only that you have to be extra smart around mind-hackers.

The pamphlet goes on to list specific vulnerable conditions, including many that apply to new college students.

RELATED: Sharyl Attkisson, an award-winning investigative journalist and a former reporter for CBS news, spoke recently about "Astroturf and manipulation of media messages" (10 minutes).

What is astroturf? It's a perversion of grassroots. Astroturf is when political, corporate, or other special interests disguise themselves, and publish blogs, start Facebook and Twitter accounts, publish ads, letters to the editor, or simply publish comments online, to try to fool you into thinking an independent, or grassroots, movement is speaking. The whole point of astroturf is to try to give the impression that there's widespread support for or against an agenda when there's not. Astroturf seeks to manipulate you into changing your opinion by making you feel as if you're an outlier when you're not....

Astroturfers seek to controversialize those who disagree with them. They attack news organizations that publish stories they don't like, whistleblowers who tell the truth, politicians who dare to ask the tough questions, and journalists who have the audacity to report on all of it. Sometimes astroturfers simply shove, intentionally, so much confusing and conflicting information into the mix that you're left to throw up your hands and disregard all of it, including the truth.

Attkisson calls Wikipedia "the astroturfers' dream come true" as paid operatives "co-opt pages on behalf of special interests," violating Wikipedia's policies "with impunity." As an example, she discusses the connection between an apparently objective study on sleeplessness by the National Sleep Foundation, which turned out to be funded by the makers of a new sleep drug.

She then offers tips on how to protect yourself against astroturf, listing hallmarks of astroturf". One example: "Instead of questioning authority, they question those who question authority."

(Here's Attkisson's take on the media's attacks on Donald Trump over his statements, corroborated by contemporaneous news reports, about Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey. Her weekly program, Full Measure, airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. on KTUL channel 8 in Tulsa and KOKH channel 25 in Oklahoma City.)

MORE: The latest example of either herd mentality or coordination: The attack by leftist bloggers and politicians on anyone offering "thoughts and prayers" for the victims of today's shootings in San Bernardino, California.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 2, 2015 7:32 PM.

Bartlett Jr vs. Bynum IV: Tweedle-dee vs. Tweedle-dum was the previous entry in this blog.

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