Mainstream Media: Keeping the public trapped in a constructed narrative

In my last article, I discussed the concept of speech and what dictators like Stalin knew pertaining to its usefulness in conditioning processes. For instance, social scientists know that certain tones and speech patterns can produce reflexive reactions in men much the same way the sound of the bell made Pavlov’s dog salivate. The term “reflexive theory” (Chown, 2008) refers to the way human beings respond to speech. Stalin believed language evolved to become something he referred to as, “adaptive equipment.” This pertains to how language shapes our response to the surrounding environment, and how those responses can be used to predict future behavior. These discoveries came about because Stalin directed all Soviet science academies to adhere to a Pavlovian study of human behavior (Meerloo, 1961, p. 22). To the communists, man is nothing but a stimulus-response organism, one which they can program to behave in a desirable manner. With modern media, messages crafted to gain the public’s compliance, and guide our thoughts to a directed end, are more effective with the use of this knowledge. This is the origin of modern propaganda.

The concept of reflexive theory is something we see daily in our society. Applying what they know about our responses to language, social scientists are able to craft clever slogans and catchphrases that trap us in a box that, as Meerloo explains on page 22 of Rape of the Mind, serves the totalitarian agenda. Slogans like hope and change, MAGA, and never-Trumper, along with words like racist, are used until the desired reaction is conditioned into men’s response pattern. This is something we have all experienced no matter what side of the political spectrum we sit on. Conservatives who questioned Trump were berated as never-Trumpers and still are to this day. As if Trump is the only option for conservatives. The same is true for anyone who questioned Obama, they were automatically lambasted as racists. These responses were automatic and not thought out. They are produced by a system of rewards and punishments in the form of approval or disapproval, which is a powerful form of social control (Skinner, 1971, p. 72).

Communists have been using language to manipulate behavior and control thought since the 1930s. According to the Black Book of Communism (1999, p. 19) perverse language was one of the most effective tools of implementing the totalitarian agenda. They use words in a manner that confuse the mind and distorts perception in accordance with social and political objectives. Terms like defund the police and back the blue are good examples. Both are deliberately contrived narratives created by people who Edward Bernays (1928, p. 10) describes as “those who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses.” Both are clever catchphrases that serve the tyrant’s purpose by trapping each side in the respective narrative. The more the left screams to defund the police, the more the right supports them. There is no room for logical discussions over reforms which may be needed. It is either this or that. The goal is to create support for more federal control, which is an agenda they have been pushing for many years.

The primary aim of today’s mass media, and this includes Fox News as well, is to overcome the psychological barriers which prevent the change of attitudes and opinions (Petty, Priester & Brinol, 2002, p. 157).  According to Meerloo (1961, p. 67) communication specialists and “public-opinion engineers,” have concluded through decades of study that propaganda can be successful in creating any perception while also providing the illusion that people are freely choosing their own opinions. They do this through an elaborate model of presenting information allowing for moderate dissent which is controlled by the same people defining the mainstream narrative (Herman & Chomsky, 1988, p. XU). This keeps the information within the “bounds and margins” (Herman & Chomsky, 1988, p. XU) useful to pushing the aims of the tyrant. This is what Meerloo meant when he said, “their political task is to condition and mold man’s mind so that its comprehension is confined to a narrow, totalitarian concept of the world” (1961, p. 22). Everything that is discussed in the mainstream media is done from this perspective. There is an underlying aim, a desired opinion; and the alternative, which serves to define the way the opposition should think about the issue. In other words, mainstream media channels like MSNBC and CNN are setting the agenda and Fox News exists to keep the opposition bound to a pre-defined worldview. This isn’t always effective, therefore, opinion polls and other means of gauging public attitude are employed to change the message as necessary, to gain the desired compliance. This occurred throughout the so-called Covid-19 pandemic, as studies were done analyzing social media attitudes in relation to issues like mask-wearing and social distancing (Raamakumar, Tan & Wee, 2020).

Studies such as the one mentioned above are conducted all the time. The biggest mistake the average American makes is assuming that things are the way they seem. The common perception is that we live in a country where the communist left is taking over the country, and the valiant Donald Trump came to the rescue only to see the left steal the election. This is a media construct built on existing beliefs and attitudes created by media-fed stimuli. Americans fail to realize that “at this very moment, an elaborate research into motivation is going on, whose aim is to find out why and what the buyer likes to buy. What makes him tick?” (Meerloo, 1961, p.67). This research largely revolves around our response to media messaging, and how to adjust the message to gain compliance and or shape public beliefs. This research examines the mind as a stimulus-response mechanism and focuses on the cognitive processes between the receiving of information and the formation of a judgment (Shrum, 2002, p. 71). This is called social cognition.

According to Shrum (2002, p. 71), social cognition research has had profound impacts on political communication studies and marketing. Understanding how an individual processes and retrieves information, in accordance with their decision making, would give anyone in a position to influence the public a major advantage. There are two theoretical outlooks from which they study social cognition. The Heuristic/Sufficiency Principle and the Accessibility Principle (Shrum, 2002, pp. 71-72). The Heuristic/Sufficiency Principle states that people rarely do the work necessary to retrieve information pertinent to the decision they must make from their memory (Shrum, 2002, p. 71). They only seek to retrieve the most recently gained, and sufficient information needed to form an opinion (Shrum, 2002, p. 71). The term sufficiency relates to an individual’s motivation and ability to process the incoming information. In other words, if people run into conflicting ideas when forming opinions, the Heuristic/Sufficiency principle states that people will probably make quick judgment calls, based on information they are receiving in the present, because it is too much work to compare that information with what they may already know. This coincides with what Cass Sunstein wrote in Nudge (2008, p. 37). He states that people do not know what to do with themselves when coming across information that contradicts their previously held beliefs. People, according to Sunstein, simply do not think deeply enough about complex situations or every choice they must make, and because of this, their behavior and choices are easily persuadable. Remember America, this is what they think about you.

The second principle in social cognition research is the Accessibility Principle (Shrum, 2002, p. 72). This principle states that it is the information that is most readily accessible at the top of the mind, so to say, that is most relevant in forming attitudes and opinions. In other words, it becomes a matter of convenience to go with what was most recently processed as opposed to doing any serious study into previously stored information that goes into the creation of the public’s perception of media messages. This concept is known as a Determinant of Accessibility (Shrum, 2002, p. 72) and revolves around the frequency in which a message is heard and, how recently as well. This has tremendous implications in the way media runs constant, twenty-four- hour a day news. According to Shrum (2002, p. 72), stories, which are referred to as constructs, that are run frequently can form memories that become chronically accessible, meaning that they are easily accessed in many different situations. The brain’s stimulus-response mechanisms will allow people to associate their easily accessed memories with relevant information being received.

If there is truth to any of this, then the consequences are dire for an unsuspecting, gullible public. Our perceptions are formed and strengthened through a media narrative based on what has been understood, and what is currently being studied, pertaining to our reactions to speech and media messaging. The political paradigm of left vs right politics is a media construct, a created perception that continues to feed us information meant to keep us trapped in that paradigm. Trump supporters continue to believe he is the only hope for the nation and liberals continue to believe we are all racists. This is a construct that serves the so-called Deep State, it doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on. Any deviating from this mainstream narrative, on either side, leaves one being shunned and attacked by their peers. It is all done by design by people who have devoted their lives to the study of the human mind, while the rest of us are concerned about paying bills and keeping ourselves entertained.

 

 

 

 

Bernays, E. Propaganda (1928) IG Publishing  bernays.pdf (whale.to)

Chown, K. (2008) Reflex theory in a linguistic context: Sergej M. Dobrogaev on the social nature of speech production. Stud East Eur Thought 60, 307–319.

Courtois, S., Werth, N., Panne, J.L., Paczkowski, A., Bartosek, K.& Margolin, J.L. The Black Book of Communism (1999) Harvard University Press. Cambridge Ma.

Meerloo, J, A, M. Rape of the Mind. (1961) Martino Fine Books. Rape of The Mind: Joost Meerloo: Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming: Internet Archive

Raamkumar, A., Tan, G, S. & Wee, L, H. (2020) Use of the Health Belief Model-based deep learning classifiers for Covid-19 social media content to examine public perceptions of physical distancing: Model development and case study. JMIR Public health and surveillance. 6(3)

Shrum, L.J. Media consumption and perceptions of social reality: effects and underlying processes. From Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (2002) Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey. Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research, Second Edition (ethernet.edu.et) 

Skinner, B. F. Beyond Freedom and Dignity. (1971) Pelican Books, Middlesex England. BF-Skinner-Beyond-Freedom-&-Dignity-1971.pdf (selfdefinition.org)

Sunstein, R., C. & Thaler, H., R. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. (2008) Caravan Books, Yale University Press. Richard_H._Thaler_Cass_R._Sunstein_Nudge_Improv. (14).pdf

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