Thirty-five years ago at a lecture in London the late great Dr Arthur Deikman demonstrated how the techniques of brainwashing (usually associated with cults or totalitarian societies) are found equally in American corporate settings as well as in government, media and other mainstream organisations.
In his engaging, witty and profound talk Dr Deikman discussed the pressures of cultish environments which included:
- Compliance with the group.
- Dependence on a virtuous or infallible leader.
- Avoidance of dissent.
- Devaluing the outsider.
- Elevating membership of the in-group (the “chosen people”)
- Restricting access to outside influences to control the milieu.
- Breaking reality down into simplistic, all-or-nothing precepts: good versus evil; “if you’re not with us you’re against us.”
- Bombardment with stimuli, whipping up emotions such as shame, blame, fear, and hope in order to drown out self-reflection and force compliance with groupthink.
While the use of these pressures to force conformity is nothing new, you’ll no doubt not be surprised to hear that brainwashing, is now called radicalisation.
So what we can learn from history about how the internet is now brainwashing us?
Washing of Brains
In 1950, the term ‘brainwashing’ was used for the first time in an article written by Edward Hunter an American journalist and propaganda expert.
While working as a foreign correspondent in Asia during the 1950s, Hunter wrote news articles and books about the People’s Republic of China’s programme to re-educate the masses in communist ideology. His earliest reports on brainwashing were teasers for Hunter’s book, Brain-Washing in Red China: The Calculated Destruction of Men’s Minds (1951), which is considered the first full monograph to describe the Chinese process of ‘brainwashing’.
The term is a translation of hsi-nao, a Chinese term meaning to cleanse the mind.
In this early account, ‘brainwashing’ meant intensive indoctrination in Maoism and the harsh repression of alternative political ideologies.
Hunter also detailed how the population of China was being brainwashed by the Communist Party in their universities and re-education camps.
Americans Renouncing America
When the American public became aware of brainwashing it gave them an explanation for some very disturbing events.
After the Korean War (which was a proxy war between America and Communist China) the public had discovered that some captured American servicemen had seemingly converted to the Chinese Communist, anti-American ideology.
At the time this phenomenon seemed inexplicable, but with this new concept of brainwashing, they had an explanation. The servicemen had been the unwilling victims of insidious psychological mind-control techniques.
One influence that seemed to be at play was the need for a consistent sense of self. As Robert Cialdini rightly pointed out, we all need to have a sense that our actions and beliefs are consistent.
To begin with, the soldiers’ captors had made their prisoners publicly state mildly anti-American sentiments. At first these seemed perfectly reasonable. Statements such as “American policy isn’t always perfect.” were easy to demand but gradually the captured servicemen were induced to become increasingly extreme in their pro-Communist and anti-Western sentiments.
Making a God of a Man
“How intoxicating to feel like God and to hand out definitive testimonials of bad character and habits.”
– Albert Camus
As well as controlling the environment (Chinese students were prohibited from ever leaving campus grounds during the more fanatical communist ideological indoctrination waves) the Chinese Communists used other means to control and shape beliefs.
The Chinese Communists demanded devout reverence for Mao Zedong. Non-Communist outsiders were devalued and labelled ‘imperialists’ or ‘reactionaries’.
Public confessions and torture, often in workplaces and universities – the so-called ‘struggle sessions’ – whipped up a frenzy of fear and zealous righteousness among the people.
No one could be ideologically pure enough. In fact, often it was the most ideologically righteous who would suddenly be denounced and subjected to witch hunts.
We’ve seen these cult-like patterns occur time and time again throughout history, from the zealous witch hunts in Europe and America, in which mass hysteria induced people to ‘confess’ to being witches, to 1950s American McCarthyism and the ‘red scare’, when people could be blacklisted simply for knowing someone who might have communist sympathies.
However, in order for brainwashing to ‘stick’, it needs to appeal on some level to the people’s emotional needs.
How They Manipulate Emotional Needs
All human beings have a basic emotional needs – for attention, a sense of conformity, status, belonging, a connection to a meaning greater than themselves, and, of course, safety and security.
People can therefore be manipulated by any source which appears to provide for basic emotional (or physical) needs, whether that source be one person or many.
When these needs are deliberately manipulated then the human mind becomes malleable to thought control.
A totalitarian society seeks to exclusively control these needs.
At first the Chinese Communist party appeared to genuinely want to help their population, and guide them into being reborn as perfect socialist citizens.
These needs were exploited by the Chinese Communists, and they continue to be exploited today in the online environment.
They had ultimately become the people’s psychopathic pied piper.
Brainwashing – History
In the UK the first mass brainwashing program was established in the aftermath of World War I under the patronage of the Duke George of Kent. It was based in the Tavistock Centre (which became the Tavistock Institute) just outside London.
The original Tavistock Clinic, (led by John Rawlings Rees) was developed as a psychological warfare centre for the royal family and British intelligence.
Rees and a group of Freudian and neo-Freudian psychiatrists, applied wartime experience of psychological collapse to create a theory of mass brainwashing. This involved group experiences which could be used to alter the values of individuals.
Through that program they learned how to induce changes in the axiomatic assumptions that govern society.
During World War II, Tavistock became the headquarters for the British Army’s Psychological Warfare Bureau, which, through arrangements with the British Special Operation Executive (SOE) became known as MI6.
Tavistock also advised the United States Armed Forces in matters of psychological warfare.
The Tavistock Institute ultimately embedded itself in all the American psychological warfare programs, including MK Ultra, the Committee on National Morale and the Strategic Bombing Survey.
Edward Bernays, was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda. He was instrumental in developing brain washing techniques for the American government.
In Bernay’s influential and controversial book entitled Propaganda (published 1928) he described how social science and psychological manipulation could be used as brain washing techniques for public communications.
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.
Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.
The CIA and US government cultivated brainwashing techniques back in the Fifties, using the Korean War as the pretext to carry out some of the most brutal experiments in history.
The CIA also used the Korean war to obtain the massive budgets needed to allow them to work on brainwashing.
During an interview for the 2015 documentary ‘CIA Covert Experiments’ Dr Colin Ross, a psychiatrist, revealed how the Korean War was pivotal to the CIA in order to progress their psychological brainwashing programs.
“During the Korean War, American soldiers apparently started making false confessions of warfare, but the first question is: Were they really false confessions? Before MK ultra was Bluebird and Artichoke, so the whole rationale was ‘it’s defensive’ – it’s because of what the Communists are doing. The problem is, the Korean War started in June 1950, Bluebird was signed by the CIA into operation in April 1950.”
Our environment shapes our beliefs and attitudes which is why in totalitarian societies the environment of citizens is tightly controlled by those at the top.
There are subtle and not so-subtle forms of mass psychological manipulation. Many of the characteristics of brainwashing techniques can be found in our society today.
These techniques are being used today by governments and commerce alike.
So what on Earth has all this got to do with our interconnected and enlightened times?
Well, for many of us it’s our environment …. which is now largely in cyberspace.
How They Brainwash Us With Computer Screens
Many of us spend a huge amount of our time online. In a 2019 report it found that the average internet user now spends 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day.
This internet usage provides governments around the world with the perfect forum to devalue the outsider.
We might think that brainwashing is harder to do now because outside, alternative influences are harder to control – and that’s true, to a degree. But consider the situation in China, where there is extensive internet censorship and mass surveillance of its citizens.
In China access to internet platform like Twitter, Instagram Facebook, YouTube, Google and even Gmail is completely disallowed. The Chinese government has even developed the notorious Social Credit System, which limits work options, ability to travel, and other freedoms if they deem you to have the ‘wrong’ ideas or friends.
So technology has made thought control easier… in China
Now think about the censorship we are currently seeing here. Observe how dissenting voices are gradually being censored by Big Tech’s thought police.
These so called fact-checkers are just the beginning in a utopian nightmare.
The Illusory Truth Effect
How do the people that control the internet convince people of something which is entirely untrue?
They just keep repeating it. Over and over.
This technique is known as the illusory truth effect and has been flying around the world of psychology since 1977.
The illusory truth effect is the idea that if you repeat something often enough, people will slowly start to believe it’s true.
Recently more evidence has arrived to back it up.
A study published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed that the illusory truth effect is much stronger than we imagined. It turns out that even if a person has prior knowledge disproving a lie they’re being told, they’ll still believe the lie…. if it’s repeated enough times.
Fake news, by definition, is a false news story, often of a sensational nature, deliberately created with the intent to mislead.
Recently, however, the term “fake news” has been weaponised. It is now used against reporters, independent media outlets and anyone who voices an alternative opinion which conflicts with “the official agenda”.
A clamp down is now being applied to any alternative news coverage which governments and/or their officials find disagreeable or critical.
There are several types of fake news:
Stories that aren’t true. These are entirely invented stories designed to make people believe something false, to buy a certain product, or to visit a certain website.
Stories that have some truth, but aren’t 100 percent accurate. For example, a journalist quotes only part of what a politician says, giving a false impression of their meaning. Again, this can be deliberate, to convince readers of a certain viewpoint, or it can be the result of an innocent mistake. Either way, it quickly attracts an audience and can become entrenched as an “urban myth”.
Stories which use statistics to bolster weak arguments. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase we are all familiar with. It is especially relevant at times like these. With governments, politicians and various ‘experts’ throwing around all sorts of statistics and numbers – which often conflict with one another – we need to keep a close eye on things, and keep asking questions. The phrase is also used to express doubt over statistics used by an opponent to prove their point.
To confuse matters further, there are also people who claim that factually accurate stories are fake news, just because they don’t agree with them or find them uncomfortable.
Every intelligent adult on the planet should read a document titled the Statement of Principles which was published in 1997 by The Project for the New American Century. This document reveals the true agendas that are shaping our world today. The PNAC was literally an “organisation whose goal is to promote American global leadership”.
The PNAC was replaced in 2009 by a new think-tank named the Foreign Policy Initiative which operated until 2017.
The PNAC, which helped US Presidents decide official policy and openly spoke of America’s “new order”.
Today this term is often referred to as the “New World Order”.
The PNAC called upon Americans to “embrace the cause of American leadership” as the US government creates “an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity and our principles”.
The events of September 11th were used to manipulate (brainwash) public emotion, using people’s grief, anger and fear to guarantee American support for the NWO, and “to launch a new era of American internationalism.”
When we are not being directly coerced by the state run MSM we are, to some extent, able to voice our ideas and beliefs online.
Or that’s what we thought until this Corvid pandemic came along. Whilst the internet should allow us to see multiple viewpoints, if we try to seek them out online today the material we find only confirms the ideologies which Governments, Big Tech and commercial interests want to reinforce in our minds.
Governments and institutions alike are now using the global pandemic to hi-jack the entire internet. This means that they now control what we see and listen to. They have the capability to ensure that any dissenting voices are silenced or ridiculed. (censored or de-bunked)
Information overload is now causing people to follow the herd and no longer take the time to completely research the issues before forming a conclusion.
Billions of photographs, videos and clips of data are now being sent out every day daily on social media platforms, blogs and across the entire internet.
The question must be asked if these small morsels of information are causing people to become complacent in allowing others to influence their thinking?
These platforms are now being used by national governments to quash rumours from misinformation and to counter disinformation.
For example in a recent video conference with Allied defence ministers the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace committed to supporting NATO’s efforts to combat COVID-19 misinformation.
“One current priority is combating the spread of harmful, false and misleading narratives through disinformation. To bolster this effort, the British Army will be deploying two experts in countering disinformation.
They will advise and support NATO in ensuring its citizens have the right information to protect themselves and its democracies are protected from malicious disinformation operations used by adversaries.
NATO can play a key role in the international fight against COVID-19, and Allied solidarity is more important than ever to ensure both the security and the health of our almost one-billion citizens.”
Well that does sound like the right thing to do. Doesn’t it?
However, could this seemingly good intention be abused?
Could governments use the internet to brainwash the world population into forming opinions based on a hidden agenda?
Is propaganda being put out by individuals, well financed organisations and governments? Are people simply accepting the information given to them without question?
If they are then various agendas can be presented which are not necessarily in the best interest of society as a whole.
If that is the case then it is surely the brainwashing of the masses. This is extremely dangerous and is rapidly eroding individual freedom and human rights.
Sharing views and opinions on social media used to be an excellent method to share all forms information.
However, the stark reality today is that the information we are ‘allowed’ to see is now carefully constructed by powerful corporate, political and special interest groups in order to covertly sway public opinion. Blatant lies are fashioned to sway public opinion and the brain washing of viewers into accepting what are now destructive societal norms.
The practice of manipulating and controlling public opinion with distorted media messages has now become so commonplace that there is an entire industry dedicated to it. This secretive dark-state industry is now actively engaged in applying the phycolgical techniques associated with brainwashing.
Astroturf – A New Brainwashing Program
With alternative media on the rise, the propaganda machine continues to expand. Sharyl Attkisson, an investigative reporter with CBS, explains how “astroturf,” or fake grassroots movements, are used to spin information not only to influence journalists but to sway public opinion.
“Astroturf is a perversion of grassroots. Astroturf is when political, corporate or other special interests disguise themselves and publish blogs, start Facebook and Twitter accounts, publish ads, letters to the editor, or simply post comments online, to try to fool you into thinking an independent or grassroots movement is speaking.”
Astroturfing techniques usually consist of a few people attempting to give the impression that mass numbers of enthusiasts advocate some specific cause. In the UK this technique is better known as rent-a-crowd.
An increasingly common online technique now being used by Governments and commerce alike is that of public shaming, forced apologies and the devaluing of outsiders. These kind of apologies demand public shaming, and ‘confessions’ which we now see among the Twitterat elite. This technique also reflects the classical Chinese thought reform programs, ie brainwashing.
Often, just as in the Chinese thought reform programs, an apology/confession is not enough.
Now, consider this. What is to stop an online lynch mob (paid by the state) from choosing to take offence as some sort of a power play? After all, power over others is still power, even when it comes in the guise of taking offence.
Yes, create a climate of fear, guilt, revenge, collective shaming and enforced grovelling apologies and you’ve produced a super fertile ground for brainwashing.
In order for brainwashing programs to thrive, reality needs to be perceived in simple and absolutist terms. And that’s an all too common perspective in cyberspace today. Lets face it it’s all-or-nothing in the online environment.
It gets worse. People with conflicting opinions can easily be framed not just as wrong or mistaken, but as evil. This leads to the devaluing of outsiders.
Where There’s Life, There’s Hope.
Yes, readers, there is hope! Unlike the prisoners of the Chinese regime, we can voluntarily free ourselves.
We can choose to use the internet without letting it shape who we are and what we believe in.
We can resist the shaming and demonising of those who hold opposing views to our own. Instead we can learn from them. After all knowledge is power. And no, it doesn’t mean we have to agree with them, just learn.
Yes, let’s all refrain from using the online world as a way to meet our need for emotional stimuli and/or zealous righteousness.
Thanks for visiting RIP. I’ll be posting more ‘TRUTHS’ very soon.