Bernays, Edward L. Freud's American nephew and disciple
The Science of Ruling http://www.poliedu.net/PCVol4Is9NewsBias.shtml
It all began
it began with
Bernays, Edward L.
Freud's American nephew and disciple.
In the early 20th. century,
Bernays took the crude,
razz-ma-tazz occupation of press agentry,
added psychological manipulation,
laid it all on top of
some of the most shocking elitism imaginable,
and created a little-understood
but all pervasive
what Bernays believed about people like you and me:
That we are driven by "the passions of the pack in ... mob violence and the passions of the herd in ... panic." That we have "logic-proof compartments" in our minds that "prevent[us] from seeing in terms of experience and thought, rather t han in terms of group reaction." And that we are "remarkably susceptible to leadership."
These weren't just casual observations.
who spoke with Bernays
late in his long life
was struck by the way
he repeated and
but can't think.
Bernays believed that
he&other members of the elite
were exactly the leaders
to save us
from our primitive,
animal-like selves, and
to save orderly society from us.
and motives of
the group mind,"
the elite could
"control and regiment the masses
according to our will
without them knowing it ...
just as the motorist
can regulate the speed of his car
by manipulating the flow of gasoline."
He further said,
"The duty of the higher strata of society--
the cultivated, the learned, the expert, the intellectual--
is therefore clear.
They must inject moral and spiritual motives into public opinion."
Inject their idea of "moral" and "spiritual," that is.
And they weren't merely using metaphors.
Bernays and the intellectual, governmental elite
for whom he practiced his new "science"
literally believed that they must
"create man-made gods ... who assert subtle social control"
"bring order out of chaos."
another word for "chaos" is freedom
--the millions of free choices made by individuals.
Bernays and his followers aimed for instead
was a kind of hive-like cooperation.
Their task was to persuade us
to see the world exactly as they wished us to see it,
so that we would then live as they wished us to live,
buy what they wished us to buy,
believe what they wished us to believe,
fear what they wished us to fear,
whom they wished us
Foundations, "Experts," and Mass Manipulation
The first thing
Bernays did was
to start establishing
"more institutes, funds, institutions + foundations than
Rockefeller, Carnegie + Filene
if it's necessary
to "scientifically" manage our "group mind,"
then who better to do it
than certified "experts" and sages
--people we are predisposed to trust without question?
Bernays' institutes, however,
were designed to produce
whatever statistics or pronouncements
Bernays neglected to tell the public
Temperature Research Foundation,
whose stated goal was
impartial, scientific information
concerning the latest developments in temperature control
as they affect
the health, leisure, happiness + economy of the American people,"
was actually funded
by the nice folks
to this day,
with thousands of (tax-exempt) research foundations
aggressively promoting everything
from genetically engineered foods
(with funding from Montsanto, DuPont + Coca Cola)
to citizen disarmament,
with charitable foundations
over an endless stream of new,
"scientifically proven" problems.
Governments, War + Catastrophe
Using dubious studies
and well-paid "experts"
to sell products or politics
not the worst
of Bernays' legacy
as the founder
of modern public relations.
It was Bernays who,
working for the U.S. government,
helped whip Ammericans into World War I
by propagating the mantra
"Make the world safe for democracy."
Just as Bernays was Freud's disciple,
Bernays himself had dicciples.
Here's one you'll recognize--
Hitler's propaganda chief
used Bernays' book,
Crystalizing Public Opinion,
as the basis
of his campaign
to prepare Germany
for the destruction of the Jews.
Most of the daily PR
that masquerades as news
doesn't produce such
its overall impact is dangerous.
It helps destroy both
independent thought and freedom.
money and power
from individuals to giant institutions.
Are we saying that every journalist working today
is consciously lying with the goal of controlling us?
from journalism school onward,
reporters are steeped
in the premises of control
the communications elite
to find out
Even when they don't set out to deceive us,
reporters often propagate false
or misleading information.
Because of time pressures,
demands from their bosses,
through sheer laziness,
simply pass along "news"
provided to them by
and government agencies.
They may trim it,
reword it a bit,
and add an interview to it.
one thing they rarely do
is seriously investigate
the reliability of information
that's handed to them.
And every one of those institutions
producing those news releases
and white papers
has an agenda.
They want your tax money,
your unquestioning belief in their causes,
they want to control
what you believe,
how you live,
what you think you think.
Don't Get Skunked
Here are nine simple tips
by biased news
1. If you see a statistic, doubt it.
"Three million Americans homeless."
"Twelve students killed by gun violence every day."
"Average home price rises."
Unless you've personally reviewed the data and the methodology,
assume all statistics are untrustworthy.
In the three examples
the one about homelessness was simply made up
and repeated for years
The claim about dead students
rests on several bizarre assumptions:
that anyone under 24 is a "child,"
then that all "children" are "students,"
then there's a dollop of shere imagination added on top of that.
The one about "average" home prices
--well, if you understand the differences between
you can come up with almost
any "average" home price you want,
depending on whether your aim is to puff up
the status of a community or lower its property taxes.
Just because a claim comes from an "expert" doesn't make it true.
Remember that every foundation or institute,
even the most famous, has an agenda.
The most eminent scientists can be bought.
Even the most renown "expert" can be just plain flat wrong.
(he of the "43 times more likely to die" claim)
and the gently named
"Americans for Gun Safety"
trustworthy just because they sound unbiased and authoritative.
And celebrities--even the ones on your side--
don't possess any magical connection to the truth.
Just because something happened after does't mean it happened because of something else.
When you hear a statement like,
President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs
went into effect,"
its sounds plausible to assume
the programs caused the drop.
But never assume a cause and effect relationship
unless you can actually demonstrate one.
(In fact, in this case, the connection is unprovable
and the statement is downright false.Poverty rates
had been plummeting before those programs took effect.
They flattened out soon afterward and have remained nearly
static for more than 30 years as the programs have grown bigger
and more plentiful.)
Unless you establish cause and effect,
then it's just as logical to assume
that Al Gore lost the presidential election
because Elvis was sighted at Burger King
was elected to the Senate
gained 90 pounds.
4. Watch for biased language.
Biased language comes in many flavors.
may be most familiar with the kind that's used against us
(like the politically concoted term
"assault weapon," or
makes it sound as if Glocks and Rugers
are prowling the streets
on their own,
examine the language of any news article.
Look for terms
designed to evoke automatic agreement
or automatic distaste, rather than convey information:
"sensible," "common-sense," "Frankenfoods," "mean-spirited,"
"slash," "moms," "urgent," "needy," "reasonable," "for the
children," "sacred," "greedy," "homeland"--the list is endless.
And yes, you'll catch us using biased words in this article.
Emotional words, judgemental words, angry words, stirring
words belong in writing that's designed to inspire, outrage,
or otherwise move us.
But when you see emotion-evoking words
in the socalled news, beware.
5. Question conventional wisdom.
If "everyone knows" something, but the truth can't be independently verified, then perhaps you should be the one who questions what "everybody knows."
One thing "everybody knows," thanks to incessant propaganda
and misleading statistics, is that guns are more likely to
endanger their owners and owners' children than to prevent
crime. This isn't true, but the myth has prevented many
women (the very people who most need the equalizing protec-
tion of firearms) from learning to use guns and effectively
protecting their families. How many have become victims as
a result of this single bit of propaganda?
Remember, "everybody" once "knew" you could "scientifically"
detect a person's character by feeling the bumps on his head.
"Everybody" once "knew" women shouldn't be educated because
all that brainwork would draw energy away from their repro-
ductive organs. "Everybody" once "knew" the earth was flat.
It's remarkable how often "everybody" gets it wrong.
6. If the news makes you feel fear or anxiety, take a deep breath and give yourself a reality check.
Do you think it's only a matter of time until the oceans are
dead and devoid of living creatures? Do you fear that crimi-
nals lurk on every street corner? Do you worry that the world
will soon collapse in a chaos of starvation? Do you believe
America is suffering from a plague of mental illness, desper-
ately requiring treatment?
Sometimes there's genuine reason to feel anxiety about the
news. There certainly was on 11.Sep.2001. There cer-
tainly is if a serial killer is loose in your neighborhood.
But most of the time, when we read "scientific" or sociolog-
ical "news" reports on "rising tide of gun violence," "threat
to the global environment," or "new health threat to our
children," we need to ask: Who benefits? As often as not,
news stories reporting nebulous threats to our well-being
are created to help some non-profit group get more funding,
help political interests drum up knee-jerk support for new
laws ("We must DO SOMETHING about...!), or persuade you to
buy something. (Isn't it funny how all those stories about
rising depression rates and childhood mental illness match
up so well with the rising tide of drug-makers' feelgood ads
7. Anybody claiming to be "just plain folks" probably isn't.
When 40,000 "gun-control" advocates showed up in Washington
calling themselves the "Million Mom March," they weren't
merely using biased (and inaccurate) language. They were
trying to give a grassroots appearance to an effort driven
by millions of dollars in foundation funding and deep polit-
ical connections. (The media forgot to tell us that the
"ordinary housewife" who organized the group was a former
press secretary for Dan Rather and had family connections
to the Clintons.
Similar tricks are used by corporations, who like to put
ordinary employee' faces in ads and news stories as a means
of saying, "We're not a multi-billion dollar, soulless, in-
ter-global conglomerate; we're 'just plain folks.' Just
like you." Don't believe it unless you know it for sure.
Particularly don't believe any political movement is "grass-
roots" if the approach is slick or if the alleged "grass-
roots" group comes out of nowhere with big money and big
8. Don't accept dehumanizing of opponents.
In some ways, dehumanizing opponents is the most obvious of
all forms of bias in the news. It is also the cruelest be-
cause, by setting opponents up as non-humans, it can lay the
groundwork for the annihilation of a minority group or the
destruction of liberty. The classic example is Hitler and
Goebbels using propaganda to persuade Germans that Jews were
nothing but "vermin" or "cancer." Yet we tend not to notice
dehuminization unless we sympathize with the maligned group.
We know that, when government agents and the media use terms
like "extremist," "religious fanatic," "gun nut," or "hate
group," they're justifying injustice against unpopular people.
Yet we may not object to epithets like "Leftwing lunatic,"
"pinko," or "bomb-throwing anarchist." It's a matter of whose
ox is being gored. Nevertheless, when you see any dehunaniz-
ing, demonizing epithets in the "news," no matter who is the
target, it's once again time to beware.
9. Polls tell us more about pollsters than about reality.
A friend of ours was once asked to participate in a survey to
"determine [her] risk of being a victim of 'gun violence.'"
One of the risk factors was, "Have you ever heard gunfire
near your home?" Asked in downtown Washington, D.C., that
might actually assess a risk. But our friend, who lives in
the woods between a shooting range and a quarry where kids
plink at soda cans, just burst into laughter.
This is one of the many problems with polls. They try to
squeeze a complex reality into a soundbite (and often do it
in a biased way, besides). Ask a thousand people, "Do you
favor reasonable gun control?" and an overwhelming majority
invariably says, "Yes!" The media trumpets the figure.
But get specific and its a different story: "Would you
favor Senator Shoehorn's gun registration plan if the cost
were $700 million or higher?" "Do you believe members of your
household would be safer if the law required you to lock your
guns away where you couldn't reach them quickly?" Suddenly,
public support for "reasonable gun control" plummets.
With the exception of a very few well-designed, unbiased
polls, all polls are essentially meaningless. Their value
lies in PR.
1954 Huff, Darrell."How to Lie With Statistics". W.W. Norton & Company,. 2001 Poe, Richard. "The Seven Myths of Gun Control". Prima Publishing Company,. 2001 Rampton, Sheldon + Stauber, John."Trust Us, We're the Experts".Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam,. 1999 Stevens, Richard W."Dial 911 and Die".Mazel Freedom Press, 2001 Stevens, Richard W. + Zelman, Aaron."Death by Gun Control-"The Human Cost of Citizen Disarmament".Mazel Freedom Press,. 2002 Tye, Larry."Father of Spin-Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations".Henry Holt & Company, 2002 Wolfe, Claire + Zelman, Aaron."The State vs. the People-The Rise of the American Police State".Mazel Freedom Press,.