Friday, April 19, 2013

the greatest instrument for mass persuasion

Experiments conducted by researcher Herbert Krugman reveal that when a person watches television, brain activity switches from the left to the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is the seat of logical thought. Here, information is broken down into its component parts and critically analyzed. The right brain, however, treats incoming data uncritically, processing information in wholes, leading to emotional, rather than logical responses. The shift from left to right brain activity also causes the release of endorphins, the body's own natural opiates--thus, it is possible to become physically addicted to watching television, a hypothesis borne out by numerous studies which have shown that very few people are able to kick the television habit. It's no longer an overstatement to note that the youth today that are raised and taught through network television are intellectually dead by their early teens.

The dumbing down of humanity is represented by another shift which occurs in the brain when we watch television. Activity in the higher brain regions (such as the neo-cortex) is diminished, while activity in the lower brain regions (such as the limbic system) increases. The latter, commonly referred to as the reptile brain, is associated with more primitive mental functions, such as the "fight or flight" response. The reptile brain is unable to distinguish between reality and the simulated reality of television. To the reptile brain, if it looks real, it is real. Thus, though we know on a conscious level it is "only a film," on a conscious level we do not--the heart beats faster, for instance, while we watch a suspenseful scene. Similarly, we know the commercial is trying to manipulate us, but on an unconscious level the commercial nonetheless succeeds in, say, making us feel inadequate until we buy whatever thing is being advertised--and the effect is all the more powerful because it is unconscious, operating on the deepest level of human response. The reptile brain makes it possible for us to survive as biological beings, but it also leaves us vulnerable to the manipulations of television programmers. This is where the manipulators use our own emotions as strings to control us. The distortions and directions we are being moved to are taking place in the subconscious, often undetected.

Propaganda techniques were first codified and applied in a scientific manner by journalist Walter Lippman and psychologist Edward Bernays (nephew of Sigmund Freud) early in the 20th century. During World War I, Lippman and Bernays were hired by then United States President, Woodrow Wilson, to participate in the Creel Commission, the mission of which was to sway popular opinion in favor of entering the war, on the side of Britain. Edward Bernays said in his 1928 book Propaganda that, "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized 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." (read more)

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