Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

The two major themes that run through most of my guest blogs here are the idea that we are being manipulated by a Corporate Oligarchy, whose aim is to re-establish Feudalism in an American format. The second theme is my belief that their method of control is perpetrating this revision of America through manipulation of the National myths to which we have all been exposed. They have worked hard and somewhat successfully to take the myths and turn them into memes. One myth that I’ve recently written about is the “American Dream” that all of us have an equal chance of fulfilling all our aspirations based on our innate abilities and hard work alone. One meme that has been developed from this is that our Elite 1% are entrepreneurial heroes, who are the only “job creators” worth mentioning. The truth is that most of the 1% inherited their wealth, like the Koch Brothers or Donald Trump, while many others were born in privileged settings and rose in the world through their contacts with others from the same background.

Gene Howington, a friend and another guest blogger, has approached the same territory with his four part series of discussions of propaganda methodology. Gene and I are running on parallel tracks getting at the same thing and interestingly both of us set out on our parallel paths independent of discussion with the other. Gene and I have both touched on the mechanisms that are being used and in Gene’s case eve the science of the manipulation, but I think both of us have missed the specific science that has been adopted by corporations and used to perform this attempt to control. Today I came across an article at Alternet.org http://www.alternet.org/  that flashed the proverbial light bulb in my brain. When I read it my thought was, of course……. .Why haven’t I as someone trained in mental health seen this connection before? I will present extensive quotes from the article and then link it. I think it is important enough that everyone who visits here should read this article through.

“The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals. In psychologist B.F. Skinner’s best-selling book  Beyond Freedom and Dignity  (1971), he argued that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society.”

“During the height of Skinner’s fame in the 1970s, it was obvious to anti-authoritarians such as Noam Chomsky (“The Case Against B.F. Skinner”) and Lewis Mumord that Skinner’s worldview—a society ruled by benevolent control freaks—was antithetical to democracy. In Skinner’s novel Walden Two (1948), his behaviorist hero states, “We do not take history seriously,” to which Lewis Mumford retorted, “And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.” As a psychology student during that era, I remember being embarrassed by the silence of most psychologists about the political ramifications of Skinner and behavior modification.”

This article is titled: “Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?” and it is written by Bruce E. Levine . After some explanation of the methodology used to manipulate us, Mr. Levine goes on to provide the background of the Psychologist who most influenced B.F. Skinner and surprisingly, or perhaps not, this man gave up his profession to become an Executive with the famous J.Walter Thompson advertising Agency in the 1940’s.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Walter_Thompson_Company

“[B.F.]Skinner was heavily influenced by the book Behaviorism (1924) by John B. Watson. Watson achieved some fame in the early 1900s by advocating a mechanical, rigid, affectionless manner in child rearing. He confidently asserted that he could take any healthy infant, and given complete control of the infant’s world, train him for any profession. When Watson was in his early 40s, he quit university life and began a new career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson.

Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies that achieved tremendous power in the 20th century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.”

How exactly do we get from B.F.Skinner’s psychological theories to an anti-democratic manipulation?

“For Skinner, all behavior is externally controlled, and we don’t truly have freedom and choice. Behaviorists see freedom, choice, and intrinsic motivations as illusory, or what Skinner called “phantoms.” Back in the 1970s, Noam Chomsky exposed Skinner’s unscientific view of science, specifically Skinner’s view that science should be prohibited from examining internal states and intrinsic forces.

In democracy, citizens are free to think for themselves and explore, and are motivated by very real—not phantom—intrinsic forces, including curiosity and a desire for justice, community, and solidarity. What is also scary about behaviorists is that their external controls can destroy intrinsic forces of our humanity that are necessary for a democratic society.”

The “conditioning” of many Americans, the fruit of which we’re now seeing starts with our children:

“Behavior modification can also destroy our intrinsic desire for compassion, which is necessary for a democratic society. Kohn offers several studies showing “children whose parents believe in using rewards to motivate them are less cooperative and generous [children] than their peers.” Children of mothers who relied on tangible rewards were less likely than other children to care and share at home.

 How, in a democratic society, do children become ethical and caring adults? They need a history of being cared about, taken seriously, and respected, which they can model and reciprocate. Today, the mental health profession has gone beyond behavioral technologies of control. It now diagnoses noncompliant toddlers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and pediatric bipolar disorder and attempts to control them with heavily sedating drugs. While Big Pharma directly profits from drug prescribing, the entire corporatocracy benefits from the mental health profession’s legitimization of conditioning and controlling.”

I hope my quotations have given you enough of a taste of this article to cause you to follow this link and read it in its’ entirety, with the various backup evidence it offers. It will take perhaps 5 minutes of your time, but I think that time will be well worth it to you. http://www.alternet.org/why-are-americans-so-easy-manipulate-and-control?page=0%2C2&paging=off

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

 

82 thoughts on “Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US

  1. Mike,

    FYI, your link to Altnet.org goes to the front page—not the article you reference.

    (needless to say, another great article… ;-) )

  2. Behavior modification takes many forms, but they all rely on one thing – isolation of the target. In a big country such as ours, it’s difficult to isolate people without controlling all of the centers where belief systems are first formed. If you’re going to tell a lie and repeat it until it is accepted as the truth (brainwashing), you can’t have people exposed to the truth. So education, science, the media and even religion are particularly important. One of the ways of undermining people psychologically is to take away values that they live by. As a result, we have seen a degradation in this country’s moral values through the intentional destruction of the family system. It’s all part of what you call the manipulation of America.

  3. Mike,

    Although I don’t agree with your premise that they want to take us back to feudalism, there are some very interesting ideas here. I don’t have much time right now so perhaps I read too fast, but I don’t get a clear idea of how our voting preferences are “controlled” and how this works in our religious choices. And can you offer some ideas as to why the right seems so much more “controlled” than the left?

  4. Eeyore,

    I would guess that the right’s tendency towards an authoritarian mindset is likely what results in the greater “control” you suggest.

  5. And what is the “tangible” reward that conservatisim offers? They want to eliminate the rewards: healthcare, social security, access to higher education, etc.

  6. Eeyore,

    I dunno… you get to hate all sorts of people? And when you’re rich your taxes will be low? Maybe a nice statue of Ayn Rand? I’m sure there’s something…

  7. Slartibart

    I agree they seem to respond to an authoritarian mindset, but the article talks about tangible rewards. What are those? (The cigarette story sticks in my head but the Koch brothers offer me nothing.)

  8. Slartibart,

    Think of the woman who recently called Obama a communist. She is not rich, nor are the millions of other Americans like her who will vote just as the Kock brothers want. What is her tangible reward? (For now, let’s ignore the racial component.)

  9. MikeS wrote before about another component.

    How some need authorities to steer them. The RWA’s, Right Wing Authoritarians. Folks who have chosen a source as their guiding light and who accept and defend to death (?) the guidance given.

    “Obama is a communist” “What is that?” “Study it out”.
    Reading it will take more than 5 minutes.
    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/
    ——————-
    But that is OT for the moment. Back to behaviourism and populace control, including the death of democracy.

    The expertise of the Republican side in packaging their message is obviously better than the Dem side.

    MikeS, I assume like GeneH, believes that both sides have the same ultimate purpose, since money steers them both.

    Read the article and then come back. Best so.

    So in summary, what is the score. Are we consumers? Did you suspect that you and your kids are steered?
    Why do you envy Siegel? And feel that Trump is a star? Just joking (?).

    Give Chomsky a chew.

    Lastly, how do we counteract this? I mean with starting with ourselves. Reading and study is so hard.
    Watching sports is more fun, or house furnishing programs, or playing with your grandchildren.

  10. “a Corporate Oligarchy, whose aim is to re-establish Feudalism in an American format.”

    Already there dood.
    They are working on slavery now, with an exception. They want no duty to take care of the slave AT ALL.

    The 14th amendment didn’t guarantee equality by bringing slaves up. It brought freemen down to slavery thus making all equal. The USA brought all into care creating a “status” of jurisdictional SUBJECT… whatever that means.

  11. Eeyore,
    Whatever she perceives as rewarding and for her, getting the black man out of the White House as she has been instructed to believe is reward enough.

  12. Sorry. I’m fixated on “tangible” reward, Raf, and asked that we ignore the racial problem. Mike, is my fixation hopelessly off base here?

  13. It would appear that the Catholic Church was so far ahead of Skinner that he could have studied the teachings of the church as it clawed its way from a group of followers of a peaceful carpenter to the power hungry behemoth it became after it became the state religion of Rome to its current iteration as the patriarchal, power hungry, misogynist, scandal ridden bureaucracy it is.

  14. “The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities… – AlterNet article

    ‘Compliance,’ A Low Budget Indie, Might Be The Most Disturbing Movie Ever Made

    Posted: 08/15/2012 1:28 pm

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/compliance-movie-film_n_1779123.html

    “Compliance,” … is not a Holocaust drama or a gory war film or a Lars Von Trier genital mutilation-fest. It is a psychological thriller grounded in an almost documentary level of reality and will probably hold up as one of the most well-paced, brilliantly acted films of the year.

    It was also, without a doubt, the most uncomfortable film experience of my life. Certainly it makes one question what constitutes a “great” film; though I don’t really wish the experience of viewing “Compliance” on anybody, I also haven’t stopped thinking about it.

    Further compounding the psychologically disturbing nature of “Compliance” is the fact that it is based almost entirely on true events.

    According to the film, in the decade leading up to 2004, more than 70 cases were reported of a man, pretending to be a police officer or some other authority figure, who called a fast-food restaurant and requested strip searches of employees. Each incident shared a similar pattern: The purported officer claimed to need help to solve a case, which required a manager to remove a female employee’s clothing and, in some cases, perform sexual acts on her.

    The film is based on one such event, which occurred at a McDonald’s in Mount Washington, Ky., in 2004. In Zobel’s version, Dreama Walker stars as Becky, a blond, teenage employee of “Chickwich,” a fictional fast-food restaurant in Ohio, and Ann Dowd stars — in an epically nuanced, Oscar-worthy performance — as her well-meaning manager, Sandra.

    Early in the film, Sandra receives a call from a man claiming to be a local police officer named “Officer Daniels,” who explains that Becky has been accused of stealing from a customer. Officer Daniels then instructs Sandra to remove Becky’s clothes, her belongings, to help him “find the money,” and then — well, it just gets worse from there.

    The most unsettling part of “Compliance” (or rather, one of about a million unsettling parts — really the whole movie is one long, unsettling part) is that, from an outsider’s perspective, the whole escalation could have easily been avoided. As an audience member, one knows very early on that the caller isn’t really a cop, so why doesn’t this manager know? Why does she go along with it? Why does young Becky not resist?

    At the panel following the screening, psychologist Stanton Peele suggested anyone might do the same thing in a similar situation. Though when the audience was pressed — “How many people in this room think they would have gone along with this scenario if they were present?” Peele asked — no one raised their hands.

    “Nobody in this room would have fallen for it? Really?” Peele pressed. “Well, that’s such a wonderful thing.”

    Then some of the audience members became vocal. A woman in the back suggested that any “intelligent” person would know right away that the caller wasn’t real, and obviously no cop would request this type of thing from a woman over the phone in a public place. Another man suggested it was a matter of “IQ,” and that anyone with a “high IQ” wouldn’t fall for it.

    “These people were working at a fast-food store!” the man explained.

    Someone else, however, who said he was also “highly educated,” admitted that he wouldn’t have asked if the man was a real police officer. “If you truly believed there was a threat of consequence, you would have done it,” he said. “A police officer is calling, saying you might lose your job, you might be held accountable if you don’t do these things, you might follow through.”

    “This man didn’t call banks and law firms, he called places of vulnerability,” one audience member said.

    Psychology Today editor-at-large Hara Estroff suggested that the events in the film paralleled those of the famous experiments done by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram in the early 1960s, in which he asked various subjects to deliver intense shocks to people in other rooms who wrongly answered a series of questions. The shocks increased with each incorrect answer.

    Milgram had surveyed professors and students before carrying out the experiments, and all had told him they would never do such a thing; yet, when the actual experiments were carried out, 65 percent followed through until the end, administering the final 450-volt shock to the unseen victims.

    Estroff quoted Milgram: “Ordinary people simply doing their jobs without any particular hostility can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”

    Indeed, Peele suggested, the recent Sandusky trial is a perfect example of this.

    “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children Sandusky victimized,” he said. “They never demonstrated through actions or words any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after he was arrested.”

    Regardless of whether or not “Compliance” is a film likely to draw widespread interest — it also divided audiences when it screened at Sundance this year — one can’t deny the questions it raises.

    The soft-spoken Zobel seemed to appreciate the intense reactions elicited by his film, and to look forward to seeing how the rest of the world would respond. Though he said he originally had no idea what he was getting into when he began working on the film, he said the stories of these prank calls had immediately “riveted” him.

    “They’re sensationalist news that you read about, and then the next day it’s not there anymore,” he said. “I’d immediately had such an adverse reaction to it, where I said, ‘There’s no way I would be that guy.’ But I had to ask myself, ‘Am I being honest, that I’ve never been in my life been in a situation where an authority figure has asked me to do something I disagreed with, but I’ve gone along with it because I didn’t feel I had the agency to say no?'”

  15. In 1964, as an elective in a Sociology course at Roanoke College, I worked as a volunteer at a local VA hospital where patients were heavily drugged with Thorazine, Stellazine etc. They seemed always to be in a Zombie-like state.

    In ’68-71, as a Special Education teacher, most of my students were
    taking Ritalin and other drugs.

    My point is that what you are saying in your Post is not new.

  16. Mike S, thank you, very important piece of work. I read the article, and remembered that a friend of mine went to college (one of the Seven Sisters Schools) with Skinner’s daughter. She was not psychotic or anything else weird. My friend, who became a physician, said, “She was nothing remarkable. No friends. No enemies.” And I thought, “a happy society.”

    Intellectual articles and books and disturbing movies notwithstanding, we are going there, I believe we are irremediably and inexorably going there. I have only one descendant and he will not be having children (his choice, which his partners have all gone along with so far) so I comfort myself in the belief that I won’t actually be here to see it materialize.

  17. Thank you Mike for another good article for our discourse.

    I suppose one afterthought I have from this would be there can be islands of reason available to individuals or families amidst the sea of decline in society here. That is, we as individuals can choose to live otherwise and not subject ourselves to the traps of this kind of mindset.

    An example would be as simple as this. If a parents of a family decide the influence of commercialism, bad citizenship and poor examples for children are too frequent via television they can choose to simply turn off the TV or watch only some programming. And while the rest of the children in the neighborhood become spoiled, overweight, and lazy, our family’s children can instead have the opportunity to not be a part of this and presumably do better in life.

    If the decay or corporatizing is happening it has really two concerns of someone who chooses not to be a part of it. First, whether or not the person is afforded the ability to choose whether or not to be a part of it such as market choices or keeping corporate interests from politics, the law or the judiciary. The second concern is whether this island of free choice to live otherwise is not surrounded by a sea so tempestuous, the tumult inundates the island and wipes out the inhabitants.

    So I suppose succinctly, the line in the sand we must never allow to be crossed would be to put breakwaters to protect the islands of liberty, and never allow the storm of corporatization to grow too wild.

  18. Mike, thank you much for the link. I read the article and shared / liked it on Facebook and elsewhere. All you other commenters — please share it on whatever forums you subscribe to.

  19. ID707 and Anon Posted,

    Thank you ID for linking “The Authoritarians” and thank you AP for detailing the Milgram experiments, they both dovetail beautifully with the point I’m trying to make.

  20. Darren the breakwaters are kept intact by the Supreme Court, our elected representative Congress, and the executive powers of our President.

    Ultimately one person one vote, allows the People to design and emplace the Interpreters of Law, Creators of Law, and Direction of Law.

    Corporations are people. Money is free speech. These two rulings are taking root, and their roots in time will destroy, our constitution Of the People, For the People, By the People.

    The destruction has started, Frank Luntz and Rove are Skinner spawn, and they will multiply fast. The Uber Rich love to throw crackers at fellows like these and watch them fatten.

    Mike Spindell points out,
    “One meme that has been developed from this is that our Elite 1% are entrepreneurial heroes, who are the only “job creators” worth mentioning.”

    Luntz and Rove create these circus acts for the 99%ers to be dazzled by.

    The 0.1%ers love to watch their pet Nazguls hypnotize the populace.

    The breakwater around Mordor is being built higher than the breakwater protecting our Constitution.

    Anybody got a fancy gold ring ?

  21. Important issue, great comments. The problem is as complex as its dissection. Far too often parenting is wanting and children are being ‘fed’ a diet of television, movies, music and video games which not only degrade and desensitize but applaud selfishness and glamorize dishonest behavior.

    To provide an environment that allows freedom of choice but neglects discussion of resulting consequence does disservice to all. It is abuse of the system.

  22. Mike,

    Excellent tie in, but does Max mind you reading my mind considering how filthy it can be? But seriously, I’ll have more to say later. I’m having a computer issue that’s taking away from doing anything productive this weekend. (I’m in down time burning some utility CD’s right now, but I’ll be back to it soon.)

  23. Indio007,

    Agreed, dood.
    I found a new way of stating it: We accepted the state of slavehood. Ther were economic factors, not humans to be considered. Similarly we as freedmen were also barely more than economic factors.

    We did not abstain and condemn slavery following the emancipation proclamation. We accept the premise that origin defines value, character, etc.

    As long as we have this mindset, we are a setup for receiving slave conditions and eventual status. We fight
    to keep somenone below us, but not those who would make us slaves. We never achieved freedman or full citizenship status after the years of indenture leading to the great depression. We were freed temporarily then but without payment for food to sustain us.

    Our strength is numbers, our strength is being united.
    Otherwise we are chaff blowing in the wind. Literally, not poetically.

  24. “Malisha
    1, October 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm
    Dredd, whose NOSE is that?”
    ——————————

    Clever.

    Whose prick and testicles was my question?

    The old woman versus the young one, in the perception picture.

  25. How, in a democratic society, do children become ethical and caring adults? They need a history of being cared about, taken seriously, and respected, which they can model and reciprocate.

    Well said.

  26. MikeS, Interesting piece, thanks. In our culture not only do corporations employ psychological techniques, they employ some of the most creative people in the world to advertise their wares. I always mute commercials as I know many folks do. It’s interesting to watch their counterpunch, making their tv ads an explosion of visual @ the outset of the ad. The Madison Ave. folks are mofo’s!

  27. And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.”

    I am suspicious that these practices engendered some social diseases:

    “Yesterday was August 28th 2012. Remember that date. It marks the day when the world went raving mad.

    When your children ask how and why it all went so wrong, point them to yesterday’s date, and explain that the world is not led by rational people.

    And then I asked, “And you have no reservations about the idea of lying to millions and millions of Americans and the morality of deception?”

    And at that moment I have to be honest with you, the doctor upon hearing my statement began to laugh so hard he doubled up in his chair. It must have been over a minute before he composed himself.

    We’re in the midst of a lying epidemic, according to James B. Stewart, author of Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America …

    (The Peak of Sanityquoting Barry Levinson, The Age of Insanity). Children are being raised in the midst of an epidemic of lies, which will infect them unless they somehow experience awareness.

  28. Behaviorism represents a cynical view of human nature but unfortunately, when applied to a population that can be kept in perpetual fear, also an accurate one. In short, when our brains believe we are in crisis mode, they don’t take time for higher level thinking but instead merely react to a stimulus without first reflecting and responding. Thus, as Naomi Klein laid out in the Shock Doctrine, when the population is shocked, they will fearfully surrender hard-won liberties in favor of security, not taking the time to consider Franklin’s admonition that one who bargains liberty for security deserves neither.

    What I find fascinating/fearful is to go back Lakoff’s descriptions of the way the right pushed for and achieved radical reductions of civil liberties during the Bush years and then realize that every issue he warned about has been embraced by the Obama administration. While Lakoff warned that the real battleground was in the brains of citizens, the fact that Obama surrendered these battles (either through the pressures of corporately-funded candidates or political expediency) means almost all of will be conditioned to believe in endless war, an end to social safety nets, and that civil liberties are a quaint, pre-9/11 luxury we can no longer afford.

    When the population is constantly afraid, and when the one who promised Hope (and had the power to reframe) instead adopts the same fear-based frames of his neocon predecessors, the battle is almost over. Thus, our nation will continue to go bankrupt, supposedly to win the hearts and minds of the people whose nations we conquer (while actually creating more enemies) while while domestic budgets and civil liberties are slashed simply because the battle over framing has been won in the monds of voters.

    Because we’re constantly kept in fear, and the voices of reason have been drowned out, we will remain controllable, and ultimately controlled.

  29. Wow, as a result of the terrible image of Skinner’s baby daughter in her temperature-controlled “air crib” environment for two years (I guessd) and my renewed meditation (begun about 20 years ago when I heard of that sociopathic madman and his idiotic bragging) I had a most disturbed and disturbing dream, and just now remembered why it was so hard to wake up this morning. I report somewhere and an infant is “delivered” to me to care for because somehow the infant has no adults. I’m supposed to “deliver” her somewhere else in turn, where she has adults presumably, although none of this is actually known in the dream. She’s very tiny. Everything goes fine. Nothing amiss. At one point, though, after what seems like several days (DAYS!?) of everything being fine, it occurs to me that I should check on whether she needs a diaper change. She doesn’t. But I have no diaper bag, no diapers, and then it occurs to me with an even greater shock, no food for her. In a panic I manage to arrive at a hospital-type place and ask if they can spare a diaper for this baby. The look at the baby — not alarmed — (OK that’s a good sign!) — and give me one hell of a gigantic diaper, big enough for, say, a year-old baby. Can’t fool ME; I’ve HAD a baby. So I figure, “OK, no prob, by the time she uses this one up I can get more that are closer to her size.” But they also seem to have given me a few strange little bottles and a gigantic machine that has nozzles, glass compartments, and complicated doo-jinx but only about an ounce of milk! So I spend the rest of the dream attaching things to other things in an effort to provide this baby with this ounce of milk. She does not seem either hungry or frustrated. (My own kid would’ve brought the house down with his screams by now.) I try to realign the parts of the machine to deliver it back to the hospital intact and suddenly the scene changes and there are adults around, and they are not at all critical of me, and it occurs to me suddenly that I no longer have the baby. Apparently I have already delivered her to them. With some trepidation and embarrassment, I ask, “Was the baby OK?” They say she was fine, everything is in order, and she’s very happy. Then they show me a HUGE, well-fed, complacent, unattractive (somehow, I don’t remember how the baby was or could have been unattractive but I got that impression) year-old baby in a diaper resting in a sort of glass box and expressing no discomfort. Eyes open. But perfectly STILL. It was creepy. And that’s when I must have awakened.

    The omission of the real significant information in the starry-eyed, happy dappy description that Skinner’s daughter, as an adult, gave of her “air-crib” and her happy childhood left something out. When that baby was in that controlled environment, she was comfortable. But she was neither living, nor learning to live, in an environment that was not similarly controlled. The first two years of life let us learn (a) how to regulate our body temperature; (b) how to deal with and respond to hunger and other physiological cues; and, most important, (c) how to call forth the attention we need from the adults caring for us. The idea that “since you give them what they need, they do not need to ask for more or other” is a criminal idea, leading me (by a different route but once again) to the “life interest.”

    The little Skinner baby was not deprived of her liberty (in that dependent state she had none) or of her property (ditto) but she completely lost her life interest in learning to squawk when she needed something or, without an expressible need, had something to squawk about.

    I must say that having reread about the Skinner thing AND about the wacko calling the fast food places, both in a single day, put me in a condition from which I think I have to recover!

    I’m a recovering “knower.” Perhaps I should learn to drink. :twisted:

  30. OT….

    Raff and others who live in Illinios

    Any thoughts on the proposed amendment to the IL constitution with regard to pension increases? I want to avoid a Bell,CA scenario but what ARE we going to do about the cliff we face (other than calling for a hit squad on those idiots in Springfield).

  31. I think you’re on to something, but I would push the manipulation back further than Skinner, and look specifically at Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud. He invented a lot of what, today, we alternatively call “PR” or “perception management.”

    Bernays’ first great stunt was to get women to smoke… and he went on to use PR techniques to engineer a coup that toppled the government of Guatemala.

    These techniques are quite scientific and well-developed. The PR guru of today is a man named Mark Penn, who managed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He was a top executive at the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, which helped clean up the image of the Argentine dictatorship, the company that made the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, Exxon after the Valdez oil spill, Union Carbide after the Bhopal chemical disaster, Blackwater after the murder of a number of civilians… in fact, one of the two people killed by the Unabomber was a top executive at this firm.

    As to why Americans are so easy to manipulate, part of it is that Americans accept advertising everywhere. The purpose of advertising is to manipulate people’s perceptions of the world. We take it as a sign of progress and abundance that we have so many products to choose from, but each of these products is brought to us by a little lie.

    But the techniques work on everybody, and are only becoming more quantitative. Right now, the “cutting edge” is called “neuromarketing” — essentially, watching brain activity through an fMRI while test subjects are exposed to advertising.

    http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/your-brain-marketing-135355

  32. When do they fit us up with ad watching quotameters?
    Ones that show if we have watched our quota this week.

    Thanks Indigo, was Bernay the one with the girls on the Easter Parade float who, at the reviewings stand where the assembled cameras were, whipped out cigs to demonstrate their modernity? He was fantastic.

    And thanks Malisha, no wonder you had a nightmare. The upbringing protocol with no regard to signals from the baby, mentioned earlier hit too close to home for me.

    I thought they were just emotionally damaged Scotch-Irish, now maybe they were trying to be modern. Although the first opinions seems strongest.

  33. Ask and you shall receive. You know this might make the story of manipulation both interesting and valuable to us.
    Thanks to both. This is the kind of stuff I think MikeS wants to be generated here in response.
    I am impressed.

  34. Nightmares??? Yeah, that was 9/11. And the JFK assassination. And the WS bust. And the dive of the K’s. Add as you feel to the list.

  35. Manipulation, comes with mind control, usually – and in the case of USA – with and through television and media control, slowly but surely. It goes long back, but most famous was CIA’s program Project MK ULTRA which started the fast exploring of mind and manipulations.
    A psychologist Hadley Cantril did a study on the effect of news/ broadcasts and the power of fear injected in humans. Now a well used tool from the government constantly. Hitler lost WW/1 due to the lack of understanding the power of propaganda, but he caught up.
    Manipulation is under a big umbrella of strange events of mind control.

  36. Didn’t they all love shock therapy back then too? Still in use for ‘pain’ ‘compliance':

    “Drive Stun” capability, where the Taser is held against the target without firing the projectiles, and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the target. “Drive Stun” is “the process of using the EMD weapon [Taser] as a pain compliance technique. This is done by activating the EMD and placing it against an individual’s body. This can be done without an air cartridge in place or after an air cartridge has been deployed.”

    Guidelines released in 2011 in the U.S. recommend that use of Drive Stun as a pain compliance technique be avoided. The guidelines were issued by a joint committee of the Police Executive Research Forum and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The guidelines state “Using the ECW to achieve pain compliance may have limited effectiveness and, when used repeatedly, may even exacerbate the situation by inducing rage in the subject.”

    Amnesty International has expressed particular concern about Drive Stun, noting that “… the potential to use TASERs in drive-stun mode—where they are used as ‘pain compliance’ tools when individuals are already effectively in custody—and the capacity to inflict multiple and prolonged shocks, renders the weapons inherently open to abuse”

  37. ILLLUSIONS

    If we made all cops hold a healthy weight, a healthy strength, and required 3 months of “people psychology” every two years; what do you suppose would happen.?

    Would they have a need of such weapons? There are other weapons known for hundreds of years to force compliance usnig bare hands.

    But of course nobody makes money off of them.

  38. MANIPULATIONS—how many íntegrated and synergistic ways do we not have today. Who shall count them and what shall we do about them.

    Let us examine the past. FDR gave hope and more particularly he primed the pumps with public works and employment projects. But the improvement up to 1929 levels lagged.

    Did he start a war, based on deficit financing, to get the nation rolling again? There are indictions that he did.
    The attack from Japan had been formally warned for by them due to our blockading their conquest of SE Asia, etc. We did not reply to them. Did he make a bad decision? I don’t believe that Europe and Asia could have not come under German and Japanese control if we had not. So my question may be moot.

    Are we back again to using major shocks to move the nation?

    Here’s a little excerpt on “liberalism” as written in Wikipedia. I personally am confused, when did liberal become libertarian and Ayn Rand, and where is a link to conservatism and neo-con?

    “Deficit spending sparked by World War II eventually pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. From 1940 to 1941, government spending increased by 59 percent, the gross domestic product skyrocketed 17 percent, and unemployment fell below 10 percent for the first time since 1929.[50] By 1945, after vast government spending, public debt stood at a staggering 120 percent of GNP, but unemployment had been effectively eliminated.[51] Most nations that emerged from the Great Depression did so with deficit spending and strong intervention from the state.”

  39. “And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.”
    ===========================================================

    Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc. Sounds like religion to me.

  40. David T: your fear tactics analysis is correct–during the 2004 election, all those factors you described were preyed upon and Bush won. After his election, there were no more Red Alerts, remember? Meanwhile, after the First Debate in this election cycle, why did so many voters change their “minds” after listening to Romney’s lies? Scary.

    But, as to the topic as a whole, the key is just never to trust anyone. You should also teach your children: not to trust anyone.

  41. wgward,

    If we trust no one, how then can we cooperate and defend ourselves through joint action? How then can we stop a following erosion of the socketal contract between the individual members. If we do not trust how can we avoid becoming, if not clinically paranoid, then becoming harmfully effected?
    Suggestions?
    From a fearful person.

  42. idealist707: a response, in a nutshell: we can “cooperate and defend ourselves through joint action” and still not trust anyone. One learns to always maintain an awareness and to rely on oneself, on one’s own instincts. Human nature being what it is, however, it can lead to paranoia in weak-minded individuals: the antidote? Know what “paranoia” is and don’t go there. As for me, my father laid “it” on me on my way to Vietnam, many years ago: it bothered me, at first, but in time, I realized the exceptional value of the principle…to this day.

    And, as for “fear,” well, it is an emotion/concept that is created by a person (e.g., a boss, a minister, a terrorist…) to aid in that person’s “control” of you/others; the antidote? Stay informed, maintain your self-reliance and self-resolution, etc. and do not let “fear” control your life in any way. Stonewall Jackson said it best, “Do not take counsel of your fears.”

  43. wgward
    1, October 15, 2012 at 11:12 am
    ——————————————-
    There is a huge difference between being vigilant and not trusting anyone. If you want to live your life in a constant state of fear and self induced terror then feel free to not trust anyone. Or, in the alternative, be trustworthy and understand that fear happens to people but does not have to define them. Be trustworthy and understand that fear is a temporary state and know that people rise to their best selves if allowed to do so. Be trustworthy and don’t support those who use terror and fear as tools because at the end of the day, it may just be that they have nothing else to offer…

  44. Here’s another way that “they control US”:

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ND12Ak01.htmlOn the run from

    America’s Stasi
    by Peter Van Buren

    “My case also illustrates the crude use of “national security” as a tool within government to silence dissent. TheState Department’s Diplomatic Security office, its internal Stasi, monitored my home e-mail and web usage for months, used computer forensics to spelunk for something naughty in my online world, placed me on a Secret Service Threat Watch list, examined my finances, and used hacker tools to vacuum up my droppings around the web – all, by the way, at an unknown cost to the taxpayers.

    Diplomatic Security even sent an agent around to interview my neighbors, fishing for something to use against me in a full-spectrum deep dive into my life, using the new tools and power available to government not to stop terrorists, but to stop me.

    As our government accumulates ever more of what it thinks the American people have no right to know about, there will only be increasing persecutions as prosecutions. Many of the illegal things president Richard Nixon did to the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg are now both legal (under the Patriot Act) and far easier to accomplish with new technologies.

    There is no need, for instance, to break into my psychiatrist’s office looking for dirt, as happened to Ellsberg; after all, the National Security Agency can break into my doctor’s electronic records as easily as you can read this page.

    With its aggressive and sadly careless use of the draconian Espionage Act to imprison whistleblowers, the Barack Obama administration has, in many cases, moved beyond harassment and intimidation into actually wielding the beautiful tools of justice in a perverse way to silence dissent.

    More benign in practice, in theory this is little different than the Soviets executing dissidents as spies after show trials or the Chinese using their courts to legally confine thinkers they disapprove of in mental institutions. They are all just following regulations. Turn the volume up from six to ten and you’ve jumped from vengeance to totalitarianism. We’re becoming East Germany.”

    Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq as team leader for two State Department Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Now in Washington and a TomDispatch regular, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His book,> We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), has recently been published.

  45. Mike,

    I think you’re spot on about Skinner and the role of behavioralism in propaganda. He figures promenently in the next installment in my propaganda series as well. He is, I think, part of a larger picture of how psychology and (increasingly) neurophysiology are impacting the practice of operant conditioning both in advertising and political polemics (which are naturally kissing cousins). I also think we cannot discount the effects of classical Pavlovian conditioning either or the effect it has on priming as a mechnism for influence. This array of science and technology has blossomed in the age of broadband mass media to become a kind of full-spectrum warfare against independent critical thought. That being said though, I think it’s fair to consider Skinner the Irwin Rommel of propaganda techniques. His methodolgy is brutally effective in a wide range of potentially losing situations. Consider the Skinnerian manipulation of the press (and the judge for that matter) by the “Dream Team” defending OJ as an example.

  46. https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/americas_schools_breeding_grounds_for_compliant_citizens_short

    America’s Schools: Breeding Grounds for Compliant Citizens

    By John W. Whitehead
    October 15, 2012

    “For those hoping to better understand how and why we arrived at this dismal point in our nation’s history, where individual freedoms, privacy and human dignity have been sacrificed to the gods of security, expediency and corpocracy, look no farther than America’s public schools.

    Once looked to as the starting place for imparting principles of freedom and democracy to future generations, America’s classrooms are becoming little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens. The moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed and snooped on.

    Add to this the epidemic of arresting schoolchildren and treating them as if they are dangerous criminals, and you have the makings of a perfect citizenry for our emerging police state—one that can be easily cowed, controlled, and directed. Now comes the latest development in the sad deconstruction of our schools: “smart” identification cards containing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that allow school officials to track every step students take. So small that they are barely detectable to the human eye, RFID tags produce a radio signal by which the wearer’s precise movements can be constantly monitored.

    A pilot program using these RFID cards is being deployed at two schools in San Antonio, Texas’ Northside School District. In the so-called name of school safety, some 4,200 students at Jay High School and Jones Middle School are being required to carry these “smart” ID cards embedded with an RFID tracking chip which will actively broadcast a signal at all times. Although the schools already boast 290 surveillance cameras, the cards will make it possible for school officials to track students’ whereabouts at all times.

    School officials hope to expand the program to the district’s 112 schools, with a student population of 100,000. As always, there’s a money incentive hidden within these programs, in this case, it’s increased state funding for the school system. Although implementation of the system will cost $500,000, school administrators are hoping that if the school district is able to increase attendance by tracking the students’ whereabouts, they will be rewarded with up to $1.7 million from the state government.

    High school sophomore Andrea Hernandez, who is actively boycotting the RFID cards, was told that “there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card.” Students who refuse to take part in the ID program won’t be able to access essential services like the cafeteria and library, nor will they be able to purchase tickets to extracurricular activities. Hernandez was prevented from voting for Homecoming King and Queen after school officials refused to verify her identity using her old ID card. According to Hernandez, teachers are even requiring students to wear the IDs when they want to use the bathroom.

    This is not the first time that schools have sprung RFID chips on unsuspecting students and their parents. Schools in California and Connecticut have tried similar systems, and Houston, Texas began using RFID chips to track students as early as 2004.

    RFID tags are not the only surveillance tools being used on America’s young people. Chronically absent middle schoolers in Anaheim, Calif., have been enrolled in a GPS tracking program. Some schools in New York, New Jersey, and Missouri are tracking obese and overweight students with wristwatches that record their heart rate, movement and sleeping habits. Schools in San Antonio have chips in their lunch food trays, which allow administrators to track the eating habits of students. Schools in Michigan’s second largest school district broadcast student activity caught by CCTV cameras on the walls of the hallways in real time to let students know they’re being watched.

    Some school districts have even gone so far as to electronically track students without notifying their parents. In 2010, it was revealed that a Pennsylvania school district had given students laptops installed with software that allowed school administrators to track their behavior at home. This revelation led to the threat of a class-action lawsuit, which resulted in the school district settling with irate students and parents for $600,000. Similarly, in 2003, a Tennessee middle school placed cameras in the school’s locker rooms, capturing images of children changing before basketball practice. Thankfully, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the practice in 2008, ruling that students have an expectation of privacy in locker rooms.

    Clearly, there’s something more sinister afoot than merely tracking which students are using the bathroom and which are on lunch break. Concerned parent Judy Messer understands what’s at stake. “We do not want our children to be conditioned that tracking is normal or even acceptable or mandatory,” she shared.

    “Conditioned” is the key word, of course. As Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham recognized in their book, Work Redesign, laboratory animals, children, and institutionalized adults “are necessarily dependent on powerful others for many of the things they most want and need, and their behavior usually can be shaped with relative ease.” Taking those ideas one step further, psychologist Bruce Levine noted, “Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies which achieved tremendous power in the twentieth century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.”

    Thus, if Americans have come to view freedom as expedient and expendable, it is only because that’s what they’ve been taught in the schools, by government leaders and by the corporations who run the show.

    More and more Americans are finding themselves institutionalized from cradle to grave, from government-run daycares and public schools to nursing homes. In between, they are fed a constant, mind-numbing diet of pablum consisting of entertainment news, mediocre leadership, and technological gadgetry, which keeps them sated and distracted and unwilling to challenge the status quo.

    Whether or not the powers-that-be, by their actions, are consciously attempting to create a compliant citizenry, the result is the same nevertheless for young and old alike.”

  47. Excellent articles Mike, outstanding. It’s timely that you write these two articles on the same weekend because I see a clear connection in manipulation and the acceptance of double jeopardy (of a sort) in popular media and thinking. Popular media feeds the notion that justice is hard to come by and the need for extra judicial agents and means are necessary to achieve justice. Starting somewhere around “Robin Hood” and right up to last weeks premier of the Green Arrow adaptation “Arrow” for TV we are invited to root for the vigilantes, the anti-heroes and the (morally if not legally) corrupt police and prosecutors that achieve some form of (rough) justice. It is a constant thread on TV, in movies, popular writing and comics. It’s ubiquitous.

    The popularity of superheros is I think a reflection of the feeling that there are two justice systems and only an outsider can or will address certain high crimes or crimes based on class. The Dirty Harry’s, Dexter’s, Burke’s, Spencer’s and other working class outsiders (based on attitude or profession) in popular writing and TV/movies take care of street crime and other crime that preys on the working and lesser classes.

    There is another kind of popular TV fiction that strikes at a middle ground (between those extremes) that is interesting and infuriating to me though and they point up exactly the melding of attitude manipulation and double jeopardy: the Law and Order franchise and other popular police shows. They also aim for a middle-class or middle aged audience. In these shows the police and the prosecutors are characterized as hard-working, empathetic professionals that will use the law in all of its technical majesty to achieve the desired end.

    They present the law as being so ineffective (the major plot device in most regards) that only by exploiting every technical aspect of it can justice be achieved. This even when an investigation, arrest and prosecution would otherwise be thwarted by some aspect of the law itself, is the desirable method of getting justice. No legal reason to search/bad search? Not to worry, there is a loophole somewhere even if the basis for the search is determined post-facto. Arrested on a charge that won’t hold up? Not to worry, release the alleged felon and re-arrest on a different charge, repeat as many times as necessary to achieve cooperation, a plea or a trial. Trial isn’t going the way it ‘should’? Not to worry, mess with witness’, call in the state or Feds, threaten a hand-off and enhanced penalties or subsequent trials under a different jurisdiction with different charges. Anything goes.

    This kind of constant propaganda undermines people’s respect in the law while demonstrating a legal system that is both broken in major part, but capable, in able hands, of crushing anyone it chooses. It also adequately reflects that double jeopardy is not a strict prohibition in that the more contemporary story-lines have the police and prosecutors stating that since 911, charges, and prosecutorial venues are more fungible. This sends a very coercive message. Since the criminals are heinous in most of these shows one wants the law to win but it’s pretty obvious that the deck is stacked (technically) against a perceived wrong-doer and that by hook or crook, even minor infractions (of the secondary characters) can be manipulated to destroy one. That’s actually reinforce in the news media by the overcharging and loading on of charges and penalties we see reflected for very minor incidents.

    It’s my opinion that popular media can reinforce cultural attitudes or knowledge, can alter or ‘shade’ them and are indistinguishable from propaganda (great series Gene!), and that we can be manipulated thereby. I’m also not a fan of double jeopardy as it currently plays out among the various municipal, state and federal jurisdictions. I actually read your postings Mike, while Law and Order was on the TV for background noise (Some incarnation of it is all but 24-7 in my viewing area) and that confluence has been bothering me, a lot, ever since.

    Admittedly I have always been a fan of television police shows but now many of them just make me shake my head in disgust. I still like a good chase scene though.

    ———————
    “St. James Boys Case: Will Terrorism Laws Now Cover Street Gangs?”

    http://newyorkcriminallawyersblog.com/2012/10/appeals-case-could-expand-terrorism-laws-to-cover-street-gangs.html

    “Edgar Morales Case: Court Mulls Whether NYC Man Convicted In Shooting Is A Gangster, Or A Terrorist”

    “They applied a statute that New York lawmakers passed just six days after hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, ….

    He was convicted of manslaughter, attempted murder, weapon possession and conspiracy – each count enhanced in seriousness by the anti-terrorism law.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/edgar-morales-case-new-york-city-gangster-terrorist_n_1948646.html

  48. Woosty’s Still A Cat:

    You may have mis-interpreted my post?

    I do not “live a constant state of fear and self induced terror.” I do not fear anything or anyone, including terrorists, death, etc. That is a key point.

    And, I do not trust anyone…

    It’s another way of “looking at freedom,” and being very free, too.

    Obviously, it is not a modus vivendi for most, which is probably why so many need to attend church and get weekly instruction on how to cope?

  49. “Once looked to as the starting place for imparting principles of freedom and democracy to future generations, America’s classrooms are becoming little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens. The moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed and snooped on.”

    AnonP,

    The treatment of our students today is indeed a means to make them docile and complacent. Growing up in the 50’s and graduating H.S. in the early 60’s I must admit that school chafed my natural rebellious self, but while there was an effort to rein in my non-conformity, it never rose to a serious matter. Today I would have either wound up arrested for fighting, or diagnosed with ADD and medicated. The too the education I received in history and social studies far exceeds what is being taught today. I began to see the de-emphasis on being educated from a Civics perspective, in the curriculum and textbooks for my two children as they progressed through public school in the 80’s and 90’s. They, however, attended public schools in what was considered to be an excellent school district, so I can imagine the rest of the country’s educational systems.

    With the new century and 9/11 the steps taken to control students have become quite draconian. The excuse is to keep them safe and incidents like Columbine are referenced as justification. Many Progressives, Bill Mahrer is one, ascribe the passivity of the American population to some fault in the people. That perspective is not only elitist, but definitely is not helpful towards change. My belief and I assume yours, is that people have been manipulated into docility. Until we who would change things, fully explore and understand that the people aren’t “sheeple” but suffering from the “Stockholm Syndrome”, we won’t be able to find a solution to deal with the deterioration of our country.

  50. “It’s timely that you write these two articles on the same weekend because I see a clear connection in manipulation and the acceptance of double jeopardy (of a sort) in popular media and thinking. Popular media feeds the notion that justice is hard to come by and the need for extra judicial agents and means are necessary to achieve justice.”

    Lotta,

    Yes you understand the train of thought that led me to write these two pieces this weekend. The rest of your comment was brilliant and clearly parallels a train of my thought that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time and that you’ve obviously been pondering. The proliferation of “crime dramas” on TV has basically dominated the airwaves for perhaps forty years. Generations have been reared on them and they are indeed specifically aimed propaganda.

    One meme that you illustrated so well is that criminals are hard to catch, so that the Law needs extraordinary means to catch them. The truth is that most criminals are amazingly stupid and get caught regularly. No doubt there are exceptions, like serial killers and investment bankers, but it is hard to discern if it is because they are so smart, or the LEO’s are so incompetent and/or corrupt.

    Another meme is that all of us are in danger, all of the time, especially for someone killing us. That the crime rate and murder rate has been consistently falling for a number of years is belied and disbelieved by a population who have been taught to see horrible danger at every turn.

    Yet another meme is that our LEO’s and prosecutors are all highly principled individuals, whose only desire is to bring the “bad guys” to justice.
    Just being a long time reader of this blog gives lie to that myth.

    “Admittedly I have always been a fan of television police shows but now many of them just make me shake my head in disgust.”

    The two genres that I have regularly read since a child were SciFi and mystery stories. The problem I have with the TV crime dramas is that one hour is far too short a time to develop a good mystery. I fact with many of these shows you know the “bad guy” from the beginning and with the fact that you know that the “good guys” must win, it is very hard to develops suspense. Reading Sherlock Holmes and Raymond Chandler as a boy, a crime drama without a real mystery to puzzle out, is ultimately boring. What we both know is that the television crime shows are ultimately less interested i a good mystery drama and far more interested in introducing memes that help to keep the people docile.

    Maybe my perspective is skewed but ultimately I have to side with the Bill of Rights. For instance the RICO law aimed at organized crime is to me unconstitutional. John Gotti was never convicted at five trials, until at the sixth, trumped up charges kept his excellent criminal lawyer Bruce Cutler, from representing him. Was Gotti a bad man, probably so, but then so were the people who took down our economy through fraud, or the Administration that killed hundreds of thousands of people in needless wars. As mere pawns of the machinations of those who would control our minds, actions and lives, we must find the means to protect ourselves by having a strong
    Bill of Rights upheld. To accomplish this we need to continually work to expose people to the reality of how they’re being controlled. Ironically, in such a macabre way, freedom is not defined as the freedom to make product choices in the market place.

  51. LK,

    That story of a man who brings justice to an unjust situation has been around a long time too. Perseus was, after all, fighting against the capriciousness of evils done upon the good of the world even if his criminals were technically gods. Justice will always be imperfect, but that is all the more reason to strive toward the aspiration of a just and equitable society. The benefit is in the journey even if the destination always remains slightly out of our reach.

  52. Gene, You’re right of course, the stories are all as old as humanity. From the point of view of a life-long laborite the story of Prometheus bringing fire to humanity was really the the first story of class warfare/civil rights. Why should only Gods have fire, what’s up with that? That’s the short take anyway, the long form is way more complex and subtle admittedly. :-)

    (Total non sequitur: considering some of the sub-text in the latest installment of the Alien franchise the title “Prometheus” was a good choice; I expected more elaboration on that theme though.)

  53. LK,

    Well hopefully Ridley will elaborate more in the forthcoming sequel that is in the works which allegedly about Dr. Shaw and David’s trip to the progenitor world, picking up somewhere along the journey started at the end of Prometheus. Knowing Ridley though, that is subject to change and I’m not sure if the Blade Runner sequel he is working on will become before or after. If before, that gives him just that much more time to change his mind.

  54. Mike S: “Maybe my perspective is skewed but ultimately I have to side with the Bill of Rights. For instance the RICO law aimed at organized crime is to me unconstitutional. John Gotti was never convicted at five trials, until at the sixth, ….”

    —-
    RICO, like the various conspiracy statutes can mean pretty much whatever a prosecutor wants. I recall that an elderly organized crime figure that the feds had never been able to put behind bars was eventually incarcerated using RICO. He and several friends were arrested during their regular, weekly card game. A friendly game among friends that had been ongoing for years. I forget the OC guy’s name, he was a bad man among many bad OC guys in St. Louis history, but characterizing the card game as an ongoing criminal enterprise was dirty pool.

    The conspiracy statutes have been used to punish dissent before, and I’m sure we’ll see the terrorism statutes used the same way.

    I wondered if there was an unelaborated bridge in your thinking between your two articles, they seemed to work so well together.

  55. wgward 1, October 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

    idealist707: a response, in a nutshell: we can “cooperate and defend ourselves through joint action” and still not trust anyone. One learns to always maintain an awareness and to rely on oneself, on one’s own instincts. Human nature being what it is, however, it can lead to paranoia in weak-minded individuals: the antidote? Know what “paranoia” is and don’t go there. As for me, my father laid “it” on me on my way to Vietnam, many years ago: it bothered me, at first, but in time, I realized the exceptional value of the principle…to this day.

    And, as for “fear,” well, it is an emotion/concept that is created by a person (e.g., a boss, a minister, a terrorist…) to aid in that person’s “control” of you/others; the antidote? Stay informed, maintain your self-reliance and self-resolution, etc. and do not let “fear” control your life in any way. Stonewall Jackson said it best, “Do not take counsel of your fears.”
    =====================================================
    I heard somebody else say, fear will keep you alive.

  56. I’m a behaviorist in the Skinnerian tradition and I wanted to clarify a couple of things, if I may. First, most behaviorists think that Skinner’s views on societal control were naïve, at best, and almost no one takes them seriously. Skinner was an incredible scientist, but most of us think that he went ahead of himself and started promoting views that were not supported by evidence. His views, as presented in Beyond Freedom and Dignity, are for most of us a bona fide attempt to help to the solution of many societal problems, even if they are wrong or even stupid.
    That being said, I also think that many attacks on Skinner as presented in this article and in many comments are a straw man argument. Skinner’s main point, which I don’t think was understood in the article, is that as humans we are always controlled, regardless of how anarchist we consider ourselves to be: biological needs control us, but more importantly we are always controlled by other people (just think of religion…). Even the most laissez-faire parent controls her/his child by the mere fact of not doing anything to control them… this just shifts the control of what the child does, but it does not eliminate control. So, Skinner argues, if we are always controlled anyways, why don’t we, instead of wasting our times trying to eliminate control, try and benefit from it and use it to alleviate societal ills? This is, I think, an extremely naïve view, and again I think Skinner went ahead of evidence, but on the other hand is far away from authoritarianism. Many of the people waving their torches against Skinner here don’t even know that he was completely against the use of punishment, physical or otherwise. He opposed it even beyond evidence.
    The other point I wanted to argue for here is Skinner’s influence. Can you mention anyone who explicitly recognizes the influence of Skinner’s views on their own ideas about social engineering? Neither do I, and I’m a behaviorist… so, blaming the guy is in my view using him as a scapegoat. Things like he proposed are far from new, and have been around for centuries and centuries (e.g., the views of Aristotle, Bacon, Dewey, and many others). Furthermore, some attempts at societal control have been quite successful. Take for instance the use of behavior modification by a previous major of my hometown to reduce the number of deaths of pedestrians by reckless jaywalking… the guy used mimes (yes, mimes) to make fun of jaywalkers. It worked in an incredible way and many lives have been saved ever since.
    I seriously understand anti-authoritarian views and actually share many of them. Nevertheless, if there was no authority whatsoever what would prevent anyone from getting into my house, robbing all of my food, etc.? Without control and authority, what would prevent slavery from happening all over again??

  57. “Skinner’s main point, which I don’t think was understood in the article, is that as humans we are always controlled, regardless of how anarchist we consider ourselves to be: biological needs control us, but more importantly we are always controlled by other people (just think of religion…).”

    Squab,

    You make an assumption which I think is not supported by what I wrote, or indeed by my own thinking. Skinner’s main point was indeed that we are all controlled. As you point out this belief in one form or another has bee in play in human debate for thousands of years and so is not unique to Skinner, so my use of it was hardly a “straw man”. What I was pointing out was that Skinner, with his imprimatur as a serious scientist, helped put in motion the study of Behavioral Science by those forces within the Corporations, Military and the Plutocrats, as a means of controlling our society. You’ll not that I referenced John B. Watson’s 1924 book “Behaviorism” as having a profound impact on Skinner. That Watson switched careers at mid life and began to work for one of the world’s largest
    advertising agency’s is telling as to the points I made in my blog. Some behavioral scientists have indeed enlisted in the cause of social control of human beings. To say that this is nothing new is to beg the question I’m raising.

    Mr. Levine’s article which I extensively quoted offers this proposition:

    “The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals.”

    Do you as “a behaviorist in the Skinnerian tradition” have any doubt as to the truth of that statement? I think not. While you might point out that working for those that seek to and currently are successfully controlling this society doesn’t represent everyone in the field that would again beg the question.

    Skinner argued in “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” (1971) “that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society.” To understand the effect of that one must look at its historical context. I was in my later 20’s at the time and had become involved in the field of Psychotherapy. I read his book about a year after its release, after having heard much discussion of his beliefs. Those were from a societal view tumultuous years, with a cultural rebellion occurring that was shaking the foundations of this country and certainly distressing those of the Elite that had been controlling it. Skinner’s beliefs were tailor made for this group who were seeing the rebellion of “their children” against their authority.

    “In Skinner’s [early] novel Walden Two (1948), his behaviorist hero states, “We do not take history seriously,” As Lewis Mumford wrote:“And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world, as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his behaviorist utopia.”

    My point in writing this was as I stated to put into context the after effects of the works of some influential behaviorists, of which Skinner represented the most influential voice, that have aided in the creation of a “dumbed down” American populace that is being led through behavioral techniques back to an age of feudalism. I think that if you re-read my article and the article from Bruce Levine ““Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?”, you will realize that my focus is not one to attack Behavioral Science, but those within and without the field that are using the knowledge developed from that science to control of society with which I believe are nefarious means.

    In your comment you are clear to mention that this is nothing new and I agree with that. One has only to look at the history of NAZI Germany,
    Mao’s China and Stalin’s USSR to understand that the effects of scientifically based social control are in effect endemic to all who would set themselves up as the ultimate authority. From the political and sociological perspective that informs my writing the larger question is not
    that society/environment exerts control upon all of us, but who is to use that control and what are their aims? Perhaps you would consider me naive in thinking that although, no matter how iconoclastic I may be, I also suffer the effects of social control, yet seek to try to choose those who would exercise it. I can say quite strongly that someone like Skinner, no matter how benevolent his intentions, would be ultimately unqualified for that mantle in any world that I would want to live in.

  58. Well-defended, Mike S.

    A related article which may be of interest:

    “Does Surveillance Affect Us Even When We Can’t Confirm We’re Being Watched? Lessons From Behind the Iron Curtain

    By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/does-surveillance-affect-us-even-when-we-cant-confirm-were-being-watched

    “The brief also cites the historian Timothy Garton Ash, who has written about his own encounters with the surveillance state in East Berlin, and Anna Funder, who has written extensively about life under the Stasi. In East Germany, as Funder wrote,

    it was inconceivable that a person would ask a stranger, a total stranger whether they lived near the border. It was also inconceivable that the stranger would ask you whether you were thinking of escaping. . . . Relations between people were conditioned by the fact that one or the other of you could be one of them. Everyone suspected everyone else and the mistrust this bred was the foundation of social existence.

    This kind of social division and mistrust is one of the hallmarks of surveillance societies. When people can’t trust each other, they can’t cooperate or organize. Marton, too, described how socially isolating the surveillance in Hungary was.”

    “Of course, the point is not that the FISA Amendments Act is equivalent to the kind of surveillance that took place behind the Iron Curtain. Rather, it’s that there are things we can learn from the experience of extreme surveillance in Eastern Europe.”

    “We humans are inherently social animals, keen at all times to know how we are presenting ourselves before the eyes of others. Unless we feel entirely secure in our privacy, we will act in guarded ways—and that means, to a greater or lesser extent, we will not be free.

    Let’s hope that the Supreme Court recognizes that fundamental reality. Oral argument in the Amnesty case will be held on Oct. 29, with my colleague Jameel Jaffer arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs.” – article by Jay Stanley

  59. AnonP,

    I think squab viewed my post as being specifically a critique of Skinner and Behavioral Science in general ad so missed that it was directed at the specific political use of the science to exercise control over people to their detriment. your two links eloquently speak to that. The problem with behaviorists of the Skinnerian ilk is that in their understanding of how to make the world a better place, they see themselves as the one exercising control. In their hubris they fail to grasp that they are in turned controlled by the people who hire them. The concept of democracy is indeed a flawed system to advance society, but if it were ever fully implemented it would fare
    better than an elite intelligentsia that believes only they have the answers.

  60. I apologize for not writing before, hard week. Also, thanks for your kind and detailed reply. I want to emphasize my disagreement, nevertheless. Let me try and put it more precisely.
    Watson’s book (actually 1925) was indeed influential in Skinner, but not quite to the extent that you imagine. If you want to know what authors really influenced Skinner you would have to look at Bacon, Hobbes, Ernst Mach, and Jacques Loeb, and of course, Thoreau. Now, and more importantly, you are again attacking a straw man in Watson’s case. First, you have to understand the context in which he wrote his famous diatribe. Watson wrote against the idea in vogue in the psychology of his time that behavioral traits are hereditary, innate, and the like. This idea was used by some at the time of his writing (e.g., W. McDougall) to argue for racial superiority and eugenics, an idea that Watson strongly opposed. Hence he wrote: “I would feel perfectly confident in the ultimately favorable outcome of careful upbringing of a healthy, well-formed baby born of a long line of crooks, murderers and thieves, and prostitutes.” And one paragraph later: “I should like to go one step further now and say, ‘Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select (…) regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors’” Often omitted in this infamous sentence is the next sentence: “I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years.”
    I hope this will help you see Watson in a somewhat different light. Now, of course Watson switched careers. This, however, was not because he voluntarily went to the advertising industry to use conditioning to brainwash inadvertent customers. Actually, his departure from academy was a result of the scandal that followed the discovery of his affair with one of his students. All he did, successfully so, was to introduce the idea that emotions could be used to appeal to customers. Now, this is far away from control as you present it: I have seen countless commercials of young, beautiful, smiling people toying in the beach advertising cigarretes in a very Watsonian manner, and yet I have never smoked nor I probably will ever, and this of course has nothing to do with my willpower.
    You are blaming Skinner for promoting the idea that Corporations, Military, and the Plutocrats use such “forces” to control our society. Well, if you had read that Walden Two book (a terrible book, by the way…. no serious behaviorist has ever taken it seriously, except for some hippies in the 70s) you would have noticed that it refers to a self-governed community! Furthermore, as he emphasized many, many times, said conditioning does not leave the conditioner unscathed: the conditioner herself is controlled by the same contingencies she has established. Skinner never supported authoritarian views, and as I emphasized in a point that you did not mention, he opposed strongly any type of punishment. Actually, the whole point of something like Walden Two, and in general of Skinner, is that the control exerted by said Corporations, Military and Plutocrats for thousands of years has led to extremely negative consequences, not the least of which is the lack of happiness. Beyond Freedom and Dignity, naïve, repetitive, and wrong as it is, is actually a call for everyone to stop letting others control and just submitting, but rather to effectively and intelligently use it for the improvement of everyone’s life.
    This is, I think, antithetical to your suggestion that Skinner’s views motion people to accept control by authorities. Moreover, which are those techniques that psychologists and psychiatrists have provided that could control people? Reinforcement? Punishment? Well, those techniques have been used to control people for thousands of years, even if inadvertently! What is new in their use now? I don’t think that “corporatocracy” has embraced mental health professionals for this reason… they have always used them anyway! Brainwashing existed way before any psychologist started investigating it.
    Again, it is funny that you mention how Skinner’s ideas were tailored for the “Elite” to qualm the rebellion of “their children,” when you take into consideration that the only ones to try and enact Skinner’s ideas were communes like Twin Oaks or Los Horcones (which still exists and remains Skinnerian even today), that were much in the spirit of the rebellion of the time. And wasn’t that very same rebellious spirit in Skinner’s views that led him to say that history shouldn’t be taken seriously? Because that was exactly the context in which it was presented in the book… looking for answers in history is vacuous, because it is thanks to that history that we are experiencing the current negative results. Wouldn’t any good anarchist say the same? Ain’t history used as an argument against rebellion??
    Or, what about Skinner’s notions about responsibility which in plain terms argue that criminals should not be blamed for their behavior, as the burden is not in the person but in the environment that led them to be like that? That idea, sir, has never influenced any Corporation, Military or Plutocrat, to the best of my knowledge. On the contrary, I gave you one nice, real-life example of how behavioral modification can help in the solution of societal problems such as a high rate of mortality among pedestrians caused by jaywalkin.
    Contrary to what people tend to believe, behaviorism was never that influential. You can read the works of every single early behaviorist in the brief period of popularity it had in the 30’s and 40’s and find nothing that has anything to do with the use of behavioral techniques to dumb down people: C. Hull, E. Tolman, E. Guthrie, W. Estes, J. R. Kantor, W. Hunt, K. Lashley, E. Holt, A. Weiss. I can show evidence that Watson’s views were not influential even at that point, mere 10 years after his books were published. Skinner had a Time cover, sure, but that was due to the controversy generated by views as I presented in the last paragraph. No other behaviorist after him has tried to promote those ideas, and I know of no one who actively promotes them. Quite the contrary, modern behaviorists are skeptical at best, and highly critical at worst of Skinner’s notions of social engineering (e.g., J. E. R. Staddon).
    On the other hand, many supporters of behaviorism such as John Dewey, G. Santayana, and Bertrand Russell are ardent enemies of authoritarianism. Proneness to manipulation and control are not unique to Americans (I guess this is other example of American exceptionalism), and blaming behavioral science for it is preposterous. Skinner would argue that if you want people to avoid being manipulated and controlled by such powers our environments would have to be arranged in such a manner that we could learn to think by ourselves. How would such an environment be arranged? I can think of no other way but of an education on which critical thinking, reasoning, and argumented opinion are reinforced, which is completely compatible with Skinner’s position. Nothing in your article or reply has shown that you read any of Skinner’s works or even tried to understand his arguments, and hence I insist that you are attacking a straw man. I wouldn’t want to live in a world controlled by Skinner or most of his ideas either. He was extremely naïve, and at the bottom always thought that human beings are good by nature. He also went beyond his data and believed that all we needed is an effective control of consequences, which is of course false. Yet, as you might see, his ideas do not support or encourage plutocracy or corporatocracy, and actually it is quite the opposite.

  61. Mike Spindell 1, October 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    AnonP,

    I think squab viewed my post as being specifically a critique of Skinner and Behavioral Science in general ad so missed that it was directed at the specific political use of the science to exercise control over people to their detriment. your two links eloquently speak to that. The problem with behaviorists of the Skinnerian ilk is that in their understanding of how to make the world a better place, they see themselves as the one exercising control. In their hubris they fail to grasp that they are in turned controlled by the people who hire them. The concept of democracy is indeed a flawed system to advance society, but if it were ever fully implemented it would fare
    better than an elite intelligentsia that believes only they have the answers.
    ———————————————————————————————–
    I was a squab for four years. Went in an E1, came out an E5. I did cross the equator. That means I’m not a pollywog.

  62. Squab 1, December 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I’m still waiting for a reply…
    ——————————–

    Skinner would argue that if you want people to avoid being manipulated and controlled by such powers our environments would have to be arranged in such a manner that we could learn to think by ourselves. How would such an environment be arranged? I can think of no other way but of an education on which critical thinking, reasoning, and argumented opinion are reinforced, which is completely compatible with Skinner’s position.

    Avoid being manipulated or controlled? Who gets to arrange the environments?

  63. […] Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US Jonathan Turley (Chuck L). Not bad, but they are starting WAY WAY too late. Propaganda was already well established by the 1970s, see Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk out of Democracy (which goes back to 1907), the Century of the Self (to the 1920s) or the work of Walter Lippman and Eddie Bernays, who were apologists for propaganda after the American public learned it had been used on a massive scale to stoke hatred for Germany during World War I (see Creel Committee for details). […]

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