Why should anyone believe anything? We think that journalism and the news are about the truth. Most people, by far, get their news from TV, and increasingly so now from the Internet. That is so although most people know that the news that affect them are largely lies and that, moreover, so is most of everything else that they take in, in the way of information being fed to us. Advertising is a large part of it and uses the same media, which tends to make advertising more credible than it often deserves to be. However, because that works so well, advertising agencies make sure to present their prime efforts to indoctrinate us during the news hour. That, of course, is when advertisers can rely on having a captive audience, which in turn makes the demand for ads during the news hour so great that half of it is used up presenting advertising, instead of the mere 20 or so minutes during regular programming hours.
Wishful thinking leads many people to assume that whatever reaches them in the way of information is the truth, but how do they decide what is the truth and what is not? A common reaction by people who hear something that is the truth but goes contrary to what they believe the truth to be is: “Why should I believe you?” That is what they say, but what they really mean when they say that is, “I don’t believe you!”
Right. People don’t have to believe anything or anyone. However, whether the truth is being involved or being promoted or not does not matter much, and people do not have much of a choice as to what they are being made to believe. Constant repetition of what they hear or read, over and over, whether it is true or not, does make people believe almost anything. That is a fact that everyone who ever made a living and perhaps even a fortune from promoting propaganda is well aware of. Constant repetition turns even a large, outrageous lie into a generally accepted truth. Constant repetition is what makes propaganda work. That truth has been known ever since Rockefeller funded a large research effort in the 1930s to determine what makes advertising effective.
That massive research project – involving the participation of several universities (Princeton, Chicago, Columbia), and being led by members of the Frankfurt School, a communist think tank – explored and examined every imaginable principle of advertising and public relations. That research project, nicknamed “the Radio Project”, determined what makes effective propaganda work well. It turned the design, production and application of propaganda from an art into a science.
The aspects of effective propaganda are of course a bit more complex, but repetition is at the heart of it all. For instance, it was found that even atrocious and objectionable pop songs can be brought to the top of the charts if only a large number of people each got to hear them at least ten times each day for a period of about ten days or so. The key is not only repetition but also saturation of the target audience with the object message.
How can the average Joe defend himself against being brainwashed through applied propaganda tactics? It is tough, and it requires some effort, but the prime essential is that to resist effectively against effective propaganda is to think, and to apply logic. Practice makes perfect. Start with the five Ws.
According to the principle of the Five Ws, a report can only be considered complete if it answers these questions starting with an interrogative word:
Who did that?
Where did it take place?
When did it take place?
Why did that happen?
Good and diligent news agencies will have editorial staff that demand from their journalists and reporters that in every news report and every article they produce for publishing the five Ws be addressed, rigorously. The reality of that is that even well-known newspapers and news agencies (e. g.: NY Times, Huffington Post, BBC, CBC) routinely fail to apply that principle.
You can never assume that any information that you come across or that is brought to your attention is the truth, so, don’t! You need to determine whether the news items, articles or whatever other information comes to your attention are the truth, any time and every time. This is one time when you must live by the belief that your resistance is not futile, that you owe it to yourself and to your children to resist, and that — unfortunately — the more you resist, they more the forces that use propaganda to attempt to brainwash you and your children will intensify their efforts to succeed in doing that.
The Princeton Radio Project was, after all, just at the beginning of the process of transitioning the art of propaganda into a polished science.
1.) The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and ‘Political Correctness,’ by Michael Minnicino
2.) Paul Lazarsfeld
3.) Rockefeller Foundation, by: Andrew Gavin Marshall
4.) Pavlov, socialism and propaganda, by Walter H. Schneider