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societal manipulation for fun and profit
fear drives conformity and describing what "everyone thinks" determines what people conform to
fear has long been the tool of the demagogue and the authoritarian. they use it for one simple reason: it works. fear deranges a people. it shuts off rational function and leaves the lizard limbic brain in charge rendering the frightened unable to see nuance or reason and desperate to hear and abide by simple commands to action dispensed by loud, shouty people.
it drives a need for conformity and safety in the herd. those who feel out of control and threatened undergo a fundamental mental shift.
they no longer ask: “is this true?”
instead, they ask: “will others be OK with me thinking this?”
and this is the basis for propaganda and psyop. as is so often the case, the germans have a wonderful word for this:
the literal meaning is “stable smell.” it refers to smelling like all the other horses in the stable. they know you and you them. you’re in the tribe, not outside it. and being in the in group is critical to the fearful.
the group is warm and safe. people feel intense pressure to conform even in the best of times. the scientific literature is rife with examples. but in times of fear, this spreads rampantly and the penalty for being outside the herd is vastly magnified. they come for citizens and soldiers, scientists and senators. everyone must join the mob or risk its wrath.
we’ve spoken quite a lot about this in the past, but i’d like to touch on a different aspect: just what consensus are people going to be driven to? when they ask “is it ok for me to believe X or express Y in public?” what touchstones do they use to establish this overton window of herd participation? and how can these touchstones and perception be controlled and manipulated? because that is where the true essence of propaganda lies.
that is why the big lie works, why repetition trumps rationality especially when catalyzed by fear, and why control of the message is control of reality.
this is why so much of the governmental messaging on covid and other topics is about fear and not about reason. it’s pop-psychology and message manipulation because that’s what works on the herd and turns it on itself reining in stragglers and doing the demagogue’s work for them. it’s why we see so many weasel phrases like:
the science is settled
trust the experts
disagreement is disinformation
all experts agree
and various manifestations of “your X protects me”
it’s why they repeat it over and over so you see it everywhere. they do not provide facts, they provide quantity. this is not epidemiology, it’s manipulation of gestalt.
the goal is to isolate you, alienate you from other viewpoints, and saturate you with “the message” until even if you fight it and disbelieve it, you still think it represents “the consensus.”
do this well, and a minority viewpoint can be made to look like the majority view of a society.
look at the CRT extremists. there are really not that many of them. but they make themselves look like they are everywhere because they dominate the media. look at the “white supremacists” alleged to be the greatest threat to america. this is a tiny band of irrelevant people. but if the media and out leader keep repeating it over and over, it makes the shadow of a gecko look like a dragon.
it’s all about monopolizing the message and repeating it everywhere. (it’s also why coke and pepsi spend so much on ads despite every living human already knowing what their products are. if you stop the repetition, people think you disappeared.)
it’s why they vilify and gaslight opposition and call them deniers and disinformers. our message is the gestalt. theirs is anti-social. no one agrees with them. no one like them. let’s gang up on them and put a stop to it!
but truth leaks out, bit by bit because not everyone stands down. not everyone is irrational. some get up on tables and speak loudly of other views, other science, other interpretation.
and when they do, others realize they are not alone.
as fear fades and rationality returns, those voices gain currency and people begin to actually hear them. they wonder “was i in the wrong herd? did i get this wrong?” suddenly, the horses around you all smell wrong. i’ve seen A LOT of this this year as friends have sidled up to say “wow, how did i not see this? these people are barking mad. how did they fool me?”
clearly, this is not everyone, but it’s many and the more who flip, the easier it is for the next ones to follow because the new herd begins to look big and safe.
and this is why those who cannot convince then shift to compulsion. they shift to “lie ‘till you comply” tactics and to overt censorship. they cannot allow the other side to speak or to convince not because it’s wrong but because it’s correct and as that knowledge spreads, the phase state of the herd’s view will flip.
the perceived minority becomes the authority. saner folks land in the limelight of the public trust.
the window of what it’s OK to believe moves. suddenly, it’s “it is not OK to close schools or mask kids, it never worked and it’s morally repugnant” ascendant over “we must lock our children down to save them.”
and this is why we’re seeing such a nasty surge in censorship attempts right now. it’s why the congress and the white house want to control social media and what can and cannot be shared.
they want to shape “normal” by limiting what you see. they want to deprive you of other viewpoints because that makes it easy to deprive you of your liberty. when your tales have become this tall, you need to be the only one speaking if you expect to be believed.
people ask: why is this not so in the US?
i have a tantalizing and perhaps uncommon take here: because mostly, we have already won.
let’s add a little perspective:
deaths are down 71% from same time last year and are dropping vs rising then
hospitalization is 50% lower
the US is at or within a week or so of seasonal peak.
community resistance is widespread and effective
excess deaths have reverted to normal levels
and yet the “casedemic” of non-clinical and non-threatening positive high Ct PCR tests is all the media speaks of. it’s tales of terror, denial of summer seasonality for covid (just like last year), demands for closures, restrictions, and more grift, graft, and tyranny. and it’s easy to get lost in that. it’s easy to over-focus on it. but don’t because there is one very important difference between this summer and last summer:
this is over and no one that matters thinks covid and covid restrictions still matter.
this will doubtless elicit howls of protest and claims of this politician or that pushing X or Y or Z, but let’s consider the facts on the ground:
last year at this time, the peak of summer seasonality, even stalwart states were caving. texas caved, utah caved, california and new york were ascendant and crowing about “locking down and masking up” and closing schools and hamstringing lives and livelihoods. panic clearly won last summer. florida and south dakota stood alone cast as villains and lunatics.
but look at this year. all the fear got thrown at us again, the same lies, misuses of data, and fabulism about hospitals being slammed and 30 year old ultramarathoners begging for vaccines on their deathbeds. and nothing happened.
we opened, we stayed open. we took our lives back. places that tried vax passports failed. states stood tall and banned them. governors said “this is done and we are not going back.” masks went away. society came back. and no one is going back. the new normal is pretty much the old normal in most of america. and it’s WAY too big to hide anymore.
they played this game one too many times. and the people have cottoned on. and no one wants to play anymore.
yes, of course there are mop up fights in the various karentopias like LA and NY, but even they are struggling. the teacher’s unions that have used this pandemic to such brutal effect to advance themselves are alienated and nearing full blown pariah status. they are one more dumb statement away from setting off a cascade of voucher programs.
this endless narrative of fewer and fewer places “locking back down” and imposing restrictions again is less and less representative. last summer, it was epidemic. this summer, it’s just isolated little pockets getting media attention as though they somehow stood for the whole.
they do not.
so don’t fall for this game. we won and the politicians and media want to tell us we lost.
we wrested our lives back and THAT is normal, not the endless lurching into and out of arbitrary and ineffective restriction and the substitution of convoluted permission for inalienable liberty.
it is literally a fight for what the word “normal” means because the consensus perception will become the consensus reality.
this is why they lied about masks and lockdowns being “normal” and “science.” but we all know they were not. if they were, why have we never seen this before? did you ever even see your doctor wear a mask in peak flu season before? no. you know why? because 100 years of evidence based guidelines said it didn’t work.
it is not normal for unelected and unaccountable health officials to wield absolute suzerainty over our lives and livelihoods. it’s a deranged aberration.
it is not normal to misuse diagnostic tools and test millions of people a day for a disease of which they are exhibiting no symptoms. it’s madness and self serving profiteering.
it is not normal to turn a respiratory illness into a moral failing and to ignore cost and benefit to force experimental vaccines onto those to whom they almost certainly represent more risk than safety.
it is not normal to put children at risk to shield the elderly.
it is not normal predicate the ability to work, play, and go to school on phantasmagorically shifting mandates and permissions.
they serve us, not we them.
remember normal and normal will return.
render it normal to remember normal and normal becomes the herd once more and all but the most neurotic and oppressive prefer this one. that’s why we used to have it.
you really do have to fear fear. fear enables and catalyzes the derangement of the individual and the mob alike.
but when fear recedes, rationality returns.
and we never, never fall for this again.
stay brave and you will stay free.
that’s the fight.
remember that, and it’s halfway won.