Archives For manipulation

The late Christopher Lee (Dracula, LOTR and Star Wars) once responded to media reports claiming he was heavily involved in the occult,

“I have maybe four of five books. I’ve met people who claimed to be Satanists; who claimed to be involved with black magic; who claimed that they not only knew a lot about it, but I certainly haven’t been involved in it – I warn all of you never, never, never. You will not only lose your mind, you’ll lose your soul. I don’t have a big library. No, No. Look the internet, and the media, if they can’t think of something to do they invent it.

Omission often conjures up an immediate emotional response. As with Lee’s testimony, certain facts are strategically omitted from a story in order to present that story in a certain light.

This connects with Jacques Ellul’s concept of ‘organized myth’ in the field of manipulative propaganda and its progenitor “fake news”.

When faced with any information that takes the form of propaganda, Ellul writes, we need to ask whether or not ‘organized myth is trying to take hold of us, in order to invade every area of our consciousness?’

If so we’re being bombarded with the kind of information that is designed to ‘stimulate a feeling of exclusiveness, that produces a biased attitude’ along with it. (Ellul, Propaganda, 1965:11)

Not all cases of omission are part of the ‘organized myth’ megaphone. Not everything left out is an indicator of “fake news.”

Leaving out certain facts or viewpoints is sometimes unavoidable. No one can know all the facts as a situation is unfolding. Nor is every media outlet powered by the same reach, with boots on the ground, and not all have equal access to primary source material.

There’s also limited space available to communicate a wide range of key information. That limitation worsens as attention spans wane in the West. Thanks in part to the “stuff the verse, I only care about the chorus” approach to life, which is bolstered by the structure and pace of social media within the technological society.

Ellul would agree that “fake news” sows the seeds of ‘organized myth.’

“Fake or fabricated news” excites readers and viewers. Omission can translate into increased influence and even bigger dollars because half-truths sell.

In an industry overflowing with competition, constant information, and an audience who generally reads headlines, not articles, truth telling suffers.

One potential example of this comes from early June, when at the height of enthusiasm for the Black Lives Matter movement, the ABC ran an article appearing to push an ‘organized myth’, by omitting key information from a “push” to remove a monument of Australia’s first Prime Minister, and founder of federation, Sir Edmund Barton.

An Indigenous Australian woman was petitioning for the statue to be ditched from Port Macquarie’s Town Green foreshore, on the claim that Barton ‘represents racism’ and that the statue was ‘located on an ancient aboriginal burial site.’

The ABC article omitted that most of Port Macquarie’s foreshore is reclaimed swamp land; that the statue is located on, or nearer to that reclaimed land, and is about 20 meters away from the alleged burial site.

The article also failed to mention that an historic hotel and council car park/town center were also close by, and that artworks in the Hastings region, recognizing Indigenous Australian history, outnumber those recognizing European Australian history.

Also omitted: the alleged 1000+ year old burial site itself is respectfully recognized, well looked after, and zoned off for preservation.

Given the political climate, the ABC seems to have been openly harbouring ethnic tension, and division. Omitting key bits of information can’t easily be dismissed, largely because the article came from the local Mid North Coast branch.

If the master of manipulative propaganda is political indoctrination, then the Australian Broadcasting Corporation needs to answer some hard questions.

They have over $1 billion in tax payer funding, there’s no excuse for sloppy, or limited source material reporting. So why is the ABC flirting with omission?

Why, when it comes to important national issues, and debates, do they appear to be perpetuating an ‘organized myth’ through a pattern of one-sided reporting?

Rita Panahi noted another example. The ABC left out the mentally handicapped part, when reporting on a man who recently threw a passing racial slur at legendary Indigenous Australian actor, Ernie Dingo. A ‘key detail’ that was lost in the ABC’s apparent sadistic celebration of the B.L.M movement, and Ernie Dingo’s assault on the man.

In recent years, Andrew Bolt and Jo Nova have both cited examples where the ABC has flirted with omission, noting the ABC’s unwillingness to allow dissent on Climate Change et.al.

 ‘…lies by omission, and selective, biased editing, is permitted by a network of government funded agencies. It starts with scientists being funded to find a crisis, who selectively don’t publish inconvenient papers. Then that bias is spread by a media outlet that won’t publish expert whistleblower complaints. Then that bias is protected by a media regulator…’ (Nova)

Of course, the ABC isn’t alone. As Nova pointed out with regards to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2014,

‘rather than talking about possibilities that scientists are discussing, it was more important to remind SMH readers that Prime Minister Abbott once said climate change was “absolute crap”.

The ABC’s pattern of omission hinders its credibility. That a pattern of omission exists indicates that the tax-payer funded organization is not serving in the interests of all Australians.

I still think the ABC is an important part of Australian society, however it’s a position I’m being forced to reconsider because of how imperative it’s become to separate the sacred from surreptitiously spurious.


First published on Caldron Pool, 29th June 2020.

©Rod Lampard, 2020.

 

Bellowing temperatures?

“The sky is falling!”

Karl Marx’s mindless drones are calling.

Climate change is the opiate of the masses,

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Fixing figures, the seas are now rising!

“The sky is falling!”

.

Marxism’s callous drones are calling.

Find the oppressor, he breathes out carbon dioxide

“It must be the straight white man, toxic masculinity”,

“That racist breed, that oppressor deserves no dignity”.

“The sky is falling!”

Environmentalists,

Militant fundamentalists; socialists,

Come brawling

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Build more dams?

Like hell, man!

Keep your cattle away from the forest

We need the disasters, to stay politically relevant.

We need the fear and chaos to keep funding levels permanent.

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

.

Indoctrinate! We want it taught!

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Climate change deniers?

Holocaust triggers,

Fund the Marxist myth, pay the toll and become a believer!

your money is ours to rort!

‘The sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Keep your naïve silence, because we own the science!

Convert, pay a tax or die.

Bellows the Marxist war cry!

“The Sky is falling!”

.

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

You are what we say you are, you will do, think and say

That which you ought:

“The Sky is falling!”

Line up, fall in, protest; deny independent thought.

Only traitor’s question

The revolution needs soldiers,

We are Gaia’s priests, the new holy rollers.

Fail to Line up, fall in, protest and support the fight

Our lynch mobs will shoot, and kill on sight.

Fear what we tell you to fear.

And ignore those who say,

“beware the auctioneers;

The utopian world order

And its globalist engineers.”


©Rod Lampard, 2018

We’re walking through Nathaniel & Hans’ Bluedorn‘s 2009 book, ‘The Fallacy Detective‘ for Homeschool at the moment. The Bluedorns do an excellent job of distinguishing  between the various logical fallacies, discussing how they work on and off the page. I’ve even learnt a few things I didn’t know, and gained clarity on a few of the more nuanced fallacies like ad hominem, straw man and equivocation.

The Bluedorns provide an easy to read text. Placing at the end of each chapter well written quizzes with some humour mixed in, they effectively teach a complex subject to their reader.

‘The Fallacy Detective’ was a recommendation from one of our American homeschooling friends and I can see why they were so excited about using it as a resource for lessons in logic and communication. I haven’t finished using this text, but once I am we will be revisiting it and beginning a walk-through of Nathaniel and Hans’ next book, ‘The Thinking Toolbox‘.

In the final chapter of ‘The Fallacy Detective’ the authors hone in on propaganda. The introduction to this section differentiates between propaganda and manipulative propaganda.

Some key points are made, such as,

‘Propaganda is any strategy for spreading our beliefs or ideas…Propaganda is not always bad. There isn’t anything wrong with spreading our ideas and encouraging people to buy our product – as long as we do it honestly’ (p.188).

The definition given for manipulative propaganda is,

‘when someone plays with our emotions in a way designed to make us agree with them without thinking through the matter carefully’ (p.189)

I had a problem with these definitions because they didn’t go deep enough. For instance, someone could easily use this to (falsely) justify the accusation that preaching is propaganda, or worse manipulative propaganda. So when teaching through this part, I added a qualifier. Throwing in the fact that there is a distinction between propaganda and preaching.  Granted the two are sometimes blurred by questionable sermons, poor theology, and stale dogma.

This is sometimes seen in the Charismatic movement, where the emphasis can be more on transaction and performance. By that I mean “naming and claiming something”, “having the [quote] right anointing [unquote], “feeling God’s presence in the band if it played well, and if it didn’t play to standard? Well, God somehow didn’t show up”.

Thus giving the congregation and spectator the guilty feeling that they somehow failed to impress God and are abandoned for not having done so. Jesus had a stinging rebuke for those in the temple, who confused preaching with manipulating others. Knowing the difference between preaching and propaganda, especially manipulative propaganda falls in line with that rebuke.

‘And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.’ (Matthew 21:1, ESV)

There’s a big difference between preaching and manipulating someone in order to get something. Preaching is about proclamation, invitation, empower faith seeking understanding and learning together in humility.

I take my own understanding of preaching, from Jesus and Paul, who together, teach us that preaching, in sum, is about saying “I give this to you, in order to benefit you” (paraphrased). It’s far removed from the sales room floor of crony capitalism, the soap box of Marxists, the auctioneer’s gavel and the manipulative propagandist who, hiding behind all of these platforms, has his and her ultimate aim as being, “what can I take from you to benefit me”. At the heart of this we hear caveat emptor – let the buyer beware; Jesus and Paul telling us to be careful about what is being sold to us, who is doing the selling, and why they are selling it.

Even without the distinction between preaching and propaganda, the final chapter of ‘The Fallacy Detective’ holds itself together. The differentiation between propaganda and manipulative propaganda is followed by a clear description of, why, how, when and where propaganda is used. This includes, among others, car salesmen, lawyers right up to celebrities, artists and politicians.

Again, not all propaganda is bad, but propaganda shouldn’t be accepted without question; my take on this is that caveat emptor becomes: beware the auctioneers.

This differentiation between propaganda and manipulative propaganda gives the authors the opportunity to prepare the reader for the discussion ahead. Every time they use the word propaganda, they mean manipulative propaganda. By only using the word propaganda, the authors ingeniously force the reader to make their own differentiation between the two.

The information video I’m posting below on Marxist manipulative propaganda, circa 1957 illustrates this differentiation and the definitions presented by Nathaniel & Hans’ Bluedorn. There’s some real insight into manipulative propaganda. For instance the video explains how most Marxists/Communists play the information warfare game. Adding to this, is the small presence of American manipulative propaganda, which pops up from time to time, clearly designed to push the Communists back by using their own strategies against them.

For most hardcore Marxists there is no truth, but that which is filtered through the lens of Karl Marx. As the script writers for the video accurately describe:

“America is the major obstacle that stands between the grave-digger [Communist] and its intended victim. Here is target number one for the Reds and who’s in the bulls-eye. You are being in the bulls-eye. It’s important to know something about the enemy’s weapons and how to spoil their aim. That aim is nothing less than world conquest, and subversion by every possible means, is the cheap method used.The keyword is conflict.
Outside of the red countries themselves conflict must be promoted everywhere. Every dissatisfaction must grow into a resentment. Every resentment must become an argument. Every argument must grow into a fight. Every fight must blossom into a riot. Every riot must expand into a war. Every war must end in devastation.Where, there, in the ruins, communism finds its chance. For the Communists there must never be a compromise. Never a settlement of disputes, only conflict.”

If, as the video concludes, the only ‘effective defence against [manipulative] propaganda is the truth’, then the way forward for the aggressor, in any information war, is to attack the truth. The truth is watered down in order to get people to second guess it; smothering the truth in lies, half-truths, and the displacement of absolute truth. On this level truth means that at any stop light, red can be made to mean “go” by any individual who so desires, and no one is liable for the consequences.

This is why one of Roger Scruton’s more tongue in cheek comments in his 1994 work Modern Philosophy carries so much weight:

‘A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.’  (pp.5-6)

Worth noting is the date this video was made. With the benefit of hindsight, the information presented shows that those who came before us, were not as ignorant as we are about the dangers posed by Communism and all forms of manipulative propaganda.


References:

Bluedorn, N. & H., 2009 The Fallacy Detective Christian Logic

Scruton, R. 1994 Modern Philosophy Bloomsbury Publishing

Image design: Rod Lampard Photo: Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash