Exercising Discernment and Reclaiming Your Mind in an Era of “Global Hyper-Propaganda”
As historians acknowledge, propaganda—and other systematic efforts to influence public opinion—are nothing new. The Roman empire, for example, was famously skilled in the use of opinion-molding techniques, finding many ways to juxtapose its portrayal of Rome as the representative of “peace, good government, and the rule of law” against a caricature of other societies as “barbaric, lawless and dangerous”—with the implication being that “such people could not but benefit from Roman rule.”1
Classical Romans and Greeks considered the arts of grammar, dialectic and rhetoric the three pillars of critical thought and “free thinking minds”—with the idea being that a person “must master the language of a subject in order to think, and. . . be able to think in order to persuade.”2 To strengthen the third pillar and make their arguments more riveting and persuasive, Greek rhetoricians analyzed successful speeches by “lawyers, demagogues, and politicians”—identifying tactics such as the use of “sonorous and solemn language, carefully gauged humour, artful congeniality, appropriate mixtures of logical and illogical argument, and flattery.”3 It is no coincidence that the Merriam-Webster dictionary lists “spellbinder” as a synonym of rhetorician.
Two years into the planet-wide coup d’état4 ushered in by a putative coronavirus, we have entered a new era of “global hyper-propaganda,”5 facilitated by smartphones and other invasive tools of individual monitoring and control.6 In fact, New York University propaganda expert Mark Crispin Miller suggests that we have been witnessing, since 2020, a carefully planned “propaganda masterpiece”—a “global propaganda spectacle of unprecedented scale and sophistication” so effective that it “prevents people from even looking for the truth.”5
With a large swath of the population continuing to accept tyrannical policies and self-destructive Covid injections, it is evident that “constant, unremitting, one-sided” messaging and the skillful engineering of fear—successful propaganda’s hallmarks—have been all too effective. Miller says, “This particular instance of fear-mongering is the most persuasive, the most compelling, the most devastating kind of fear-mongering that’s ever. . . been used in the history of propaganda—and that’s really saying something.”
Journalist Caitlin Johnstone, a critic and analyst of “the way power structures use mass-scale narrative manipulation to advance their agendas,” argues that it’s essential to recognize that the powerful “lie to us about everything” and to “snap out of the trance,” though she admits that doing so takes time and effort and requires “a deep, sustained curiosity about what’s really going on underneath all the muddled mental chatter.”7 The remainder of this article discusses how propaganda has evolved and thrived in modern times; understanding how it plays out at both the “mass” and individual levels is an important step toward thinking more clearly about the events of 2020 and beyond—and taking stock of what we are up against.
Twentieth-Century Pioneers and Critics
As sophisticated as the Greek and Roman techniques of persuasion may have been in their day, there is little doubt that twentieth-century communication technologies introduced new and even more powerful opportunities to engineer consent and shape “the organized habits and opinions of the masses.”8 A legendary figure in this regard was “Father of Spin” Edward Bernays (1891–1995)—one of the century’s “foremost salesmen of ideas”9—whose post-WWI books helped propel propaganda to new heights. As the twice-over nephew of Sigmund Freud (and the great-uncle of Netflix co-founder Marc Bernays Randolph), Bernays was acutely aware of the influence that could accrue from tapping into the public’s unconscious, famously stating, “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
In 1927, communication theorist Harold Lasswell published an influential book Propaganda Technique in the World War.10 An interesting historical footnote for our times is the name given to Lasswell’s mass persuasion model—the “hypodermic needle theory” or “hypodermic-syringe model.” The model (sometimes also referred to as the “magic bullet theory”) was anchored in Lasswell’s conviction that human behavior could be manipulated “in a controlled and conditioned way” by “injecting” the public with “direct, immediate and powerful” mass media messages (giving new meaning to the phrase “getting under someone’s skin”).11
Nowadays, communication theorists debate whether the “hypodermic effect” is obsolete, with some asserting that modern-day audiences are too “literate” to take media messages at face value.12 Others argue, however, that as information and communication technologies—and especially social media—have made audiences “actively passive” (“very active in responding to a false message but passive in making choices on whether the message [is] true or false”), the model not only “still holds significance” but is, in fact, resurgent.11,13
Along with its enthusiastic proponents, propaganda has always had detractors. World War II historians noted, for example, the influence of Bernays’ ideas on the infamous Joseph Goebbels, who had a highly successful twelve-year reign (1933–1945) as the Third Reich’s minister of propaganda. After the war, it did not take long for social critics to draw attention to the parallels between Nazi Germany’s “propaganda industry” and America’s “culture industry.”12
In his 1957 muckraking book The Hidden Persuaders, author Vance Packard wrote that some of his propaganda-creating informants “were so frank and detailed about their. . . operations that. . . I at times wondered if they had become insensitive to some of the anti-humanistic implications of what they were doing.”14 More than half a century later, a writer reflecting on Bernays’ legacy suggested that the “brazen” techniques of manipulation launched by Bernays lacked a moral compass and tended to encourage “a patronizing and ultimately cynical view of human nature and human possibilities, one as likely to destroy lives as to build them up.”9
Tools and Agents of Propaganda
An extensive entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica notes that propaganda’s agents generally go by socially acceptable names: public relations professional (the term coined by Bernays), researcher, analytic specialist, information specialist, media specialist, opinion manager, lobbyist, psychopolitical analyst and so on.3 Back in the 1950s, Packard had a less soothing expression for these individuals: “depth manipulators.” “[I]n their operations beneath the surface of conscious life,” Packard worried, these manipulators were “starting to acquire a power of persuasion that is becoming a matter of justifiable public scrutiny and concern.”14
According to the encyclopedia, these professional hackers of the subconscious rely on a wide variety of signs and symbols to communicate their messages. Signs may include sounds (for example, words or music), gestures, postures, structures (for example, monuments), items of clothing (such as uniforms) or visual signs. The swastika or hammer and sickle represent two examples of historically potent symbols.
Media—whether print, electronic or audiovisual—are the primary channels that modern propagandists use to communicate the signs and symbols they select to manipulate the minds of their target audiences (whom they call “reactors”). Among the various types of media, Encyclopedia Britannica emphasizes that the Internet and television are particularly effective tools of persuasion—especially for large-scale propaganda efforts—providing a “mutually reinforcing” capability to “convey a great many types of signs simultaneously.” With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and software, smartphones and other “smart” devices can also tailor propaganda down to the individual level.
Persuasive public speakers—“front men,” “Trojan horses” or “dummy leaders”—also make effective propagandists, particularly if they are individuals who the target audience is “likely to listen to or appreciate”3 or are “someone everyone can admire.”15 These agents of “controlled opposition”—a form of counterintelligence propaganda—“pretend to oppose the establishment while covertly serving it,”16 working to “undermine and garble the message of truth and freedom.”15
Capturing the public’s imagination—often through adept use of the “sonorous language,” careful humor and “artful congeniality” so admired by ancient Greece’s spellbinders—controlled opposition figures skillfully intersperse propaganda with bits of truth, but “only aspects of the truth that the establishment tolerates,” whereas “truths that the establishment wants the masses to ignore or remain ignorant of are omitted or spoken of as half-truths.”17 As one website puts it, “Controlled opposition gives us amazing nuggets of information, get[s] us [to] follow them like heroes, then ultimately spin[s] us off into la la land.”18
Related to the phenomenon of controlled opposition are the terms “limited hangout”—the “deliberate revelation of some information in order to prevent the discovery of other, more important information” [italics in original]19— and “modified limited hangout” (the mixing of “partial admissions with misinformation”).20 According to the Wikispooks website, “By presenting some true and useful information, a source may gain credibility, which can be put to use later, if a credible source is desired to disseminate disinformation” [italics in original].20 As Catherine Austin Fitts (former investment banker and founder of the Solari Report21) explains it:
“A ‘limited hangout’ is a partial confession, a mea culpa, if you will, that leaves the essence of a crime or covert reality hidden. Because it includes some small part of the truth, the limited hangout is irresistibly attractive to dissidents and political critics whose thirst for such truth makes them jump at the dangled scraps. Once the system’s watchdogs are busy chewing on the limited hangout, the guilty players can go about their illegal business for a new round of unaccountable, semi-secret mayhem.”22
Johnstone believes it is not possible to ascertain whether someone is controlled opposition or not—and says not to bother trying. Instead of attempting to figure out whether someone is a “hero” or “controlled opposition,” she suggests staying focused on dissecting the narratives being pushed by those in power.16 However, others assert that an influencer’s history, language and behavior—as well as red flags like improbable overnight popularity—can provide tell tale clues.
Brain Waves and Entrainment
The modern media and technologies that are now so ubiquitous— movies, “smart” TVs, smartphones, social media, search engines and more—facilitate another powerful programming strategy (one that encyclopedias diplomatically leave unmentioned), which can be implemented at both the individual and crowd levels: subliminal brain-wave entrainment.
Neurofeedback experts explain brain-wave entrainment as “a method to stimulate the brain into entering a specific state by using a pulsing sound, light, or electromagnetic field.”23 When the brain hears a repetitive pattern—whether “a repetitive pattern of words. . . a repetitive cadence of rhythm, or. . . a repetitive acoustic sound” emitted via loudspeaker— “the brain will follow that sound” and “will fall into rhythm with that sound.”24 This “frequency following response” is a natural tendency of the human brain.24
Entrainment builds on modern scientists’ (and politicians’) fascination with the brain—an interest that burgeoned in the late nineteenth century when European scientists began exploring ways to measure the brain’s electrical activity. In 1924, German psychiatrist Hans Berger identified what he called “Berger’s waves”—the brain waves now known as alpha waves—after recording the first human electroencephalogram (EEG).25 Contemporary neuroscientists describe alpha brain waves as “a bridge from the external world to the internal world, and vice versa,” with the hallmark of the alpha brain state being relaxation and “passive attention.”26
Nazi scientists were reportedly “obsessed” with mind control27 and paid close attention to Berger’s brain discoveries. Though they forced Berger into retirement in 1938 and banned him from conducting any further EEG work (Berger committed apparent suicide in 1941),25 there is little doubt that unsettling forms of brain research (much of it later carried out in concentration camps) remained a top Nazi priority.
As explained by scientist Adam Trombly in a 2011 interview with Catherine Austin Fitts, the Nazis were not only aware of the “frequency following response” but “very intentionally acoustically designed” large stadiums “to augment and enhance alpha entrainment”:
“[W]hat the German scientist community had discovered was, if you played alpha waves to patients who were having problems with their nervous system or psychosis or whatever, or even if they were just anxious, if you played alpha waves to these people they would become calm. Their brains would fall into a rhythm with the alpha waves. . . . They would feel relaxed, and open and therefore more suggestible.”24
In other words, in the alpha brain-wave state of pleasant relaxation that entrainment induces, people become less discriminating—“because that discriminating faculty has kind of been relaxed away”—and thus are more susceptible to subliminal programming.
Practitioners of neurofeedback warn that brain-wave entrainment, in some instances, can produce “unwanted side-effects,” including “increased anxiety, convulsions, overwhelming subconscious images, nausea, headaches, dizziness or increased heartbeat,” or “feeling a little unusual.”23 They also warn that the developing brains of those under twenty-six years of age are “more sensitive.”
Cell Phones and Other Entrainment Tools
The Nazis’ entrainment efforts, as per Trombly, were “very, very primitive compared to what we’re seeing today”—and particularly in the United States, which is as obsessed as Nazi Germany once was with what military personnel refer to as “mind war.”28
Consider a patent approved by the U.S. Patent Office in 1992, titled “Silent Subliminal Presentation System.”29 The system was designed to encode subliminal (meaning “below the threshold of audibility to the conscious mind”) audio frequencies with “desired intelligence.” As paraphrased in 2020 by writer Jeremy James—who defines subliminal entrainment as a “long-term and strategic” technique “where sets of affirmations build on one another over time to produce deeply held convictions which are impervious to reason”—this patented system would “enable a person’s mind to be hacked and a message of any kind implanted—all without his knowledge.”29 Other related U.S. patents include a 1990 patent for “an apparatus and method for remotely scanning people’s brain waves” and a 1998 patent for the use of directed microwave radiation “to produce certain effects” in humans.28
The mass rollout of cell phones and smartphones introduced further opportunities to influence human moods, thoughts and even bodily functions—in effect operating as psychotronic weapons.28 (Psychotronics—Mind+Device—is “the science of mind-body-environment relationships. . . concerned with the interactions of matter, energy, and consciousness.”)30 The process of brain entrainment, activist Peter Kirby wrote in 2018, “is fundamental to psychotronic weaponry.”28
Providing a “limited hangout” on this topic, Scientific American published an article back in 2008 titled “Mind Control by Cell Phone.”31 At the time, Nokias were the world’s most popular cell phones and the iPhone had barely been introduced. Explaining that electromagnetic signals from cell phones could alter brainwaves and behavior, the article cited research showing that when cell phones were transmitting, “The power of a characteristic brain-wave pattern called alpha waves. . . was boosted significantly”—in talk mode, cell phones seemed to be “particularly well-tuned to frequencies that affect brainwave activity.” Scientific American also noted researchers’ professed astonishment that “the effects of the disrupted brain-wave patterns continued long after the phone was switched off.” One of the quoted researchers disingenuously asked, “One wonders if with different doses, durations, or other devices, would there be greater effects?”
In the twenty-first century, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), established in 1958 by President Eisenhower, has become, with its almost four billion dollar annual budget, “the world’s most powerful scientific military agency.”27 DARPA is driving the research agenda for the field known as brain-computer interface (BCI) or brain-machine interface (BMI)—turning efforts to connect the human brain directly with the outside environment into “one of the fastest expanding fields of scientific inquiry.”32 DARPA funding—distributed among defense contractors, universities, university-corporate consortia and startups—is behind “[a]lmost every advance or major technology in the [BCI] field,” with more of the agency’s funding reportedly going to “invasive” interfaces such as brain implants than to “non-invasive” ones.33
It is worth noting that DARPA, which works closely with both the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services, played a lead role in the development of the mRNA technology that made its debut with Covid vaccines.34 It has also worked to develop hydrogel nanotechnology and nanotech biosensors that can be embedded under the skin. As subdermal technologies and implantable microchips exit the realm of science fiction,35 there is good reason to worry about the “possibility of misuse of in-body nanotechnology by totalitarian governments,”34 including for mind manipulation, surveillance and financial control purposes.
An account in Forbes about BCI “breakthroughs” matter-of-factly reported in 2019 that BCI and mind control were moving “one step closer to becoming reality,” spearheaded by “high profile and powerful corporations” such as Facebook and Elon Musk’s Neuralink, as well as startups like Kernel and BrainCo.36 In a surprisingly honest assessment of these technologies’ dark transhumanist agenda, the Forbes writer noted that BCIs will “allow for the causation to flow. . . from the outside world into our brains,” something “that’s currently better left to a Philip K. Dick or William Gibson novel”:
“[T]he intent and direction is clear: hook people up directly to the internet and to smart technology, and not just to permit them to control things remotely, but to influence or even control how they behave.
[. . .] And at the same time, the possibility of being ‘connected to AI’ would mean that our actions will flow less from our own judgments and thoughts on what’s in our best interests, and more from what data and algorithms have decided is best for us.”36
Keeping Our Wits About Us
In a prescient 2017 blog post about controlled opposition and the “vaccine frame-up,” health freedom advocate and naturopath Rosanne Lindsay described how the two “sides” of the “vaccine debate” often put forth the same message, albeit worded slightly differently: “The frame of The Establishment (CDC) says, ‘Vaccines are safe and effective.’ The controlled opposition says, ‘We are not opposed to vaccines. We just want safe vaccines.’”15 From Lindsay’s perspective, these “value judgments” intentionally exclude any consideration of morality. A less artful—but more moral and evidence-based37—assessment would inevitably lead to a different conclusion, namely, that “‘safe vaccine’ is an oxymoron and a contradiction.”15
One year into the disastrous, genocidal rollout of Covid-19 injections—experimental products with suspiciously secret ingredients and clinical trial data that regulators and manufacturers are trying hard to keep hidden from the public38—Lindsay’s remarks about the “vaccine frame-up” seem even more relevant. As she noted five years ago, the statement “I am not ‘anti-vaccine’” (uttered by some of the celebrity physicians who spoke at the January 23, 2022 “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington, DC) smacks of being a “controlled, simulated message”—a “double-negative meant to confuse” rather than a clear statement of principle.
At our current historical juncture, as Catherine Austin Fitts explains, much is at stake—with “a smart grid, biometrics, vaccine passports, digital ID wallets, and digital currency promising to turn into a full-blown social credit system that ends human liberty in the Western world, if we allow it.”39 These mechanisms constitute, in Fitts’ words, an “individualized high-tech trap that is closing in around each one of us.”6
Unfortunately, it is difficult for many people to grasp the reality and power of the propaganda and mind-control technologies that are helping make the global coup go, or to accept the fact that “these technologies are being purposefully used against [each of] us on a routine, daily basis.”28 Fortunately, as activist Peter Kirby puts it, it is still possible for “a relatively small percentage of intelligent and well-informed individuals [to] push the envelope”—and the size of that group is most definitely growing.
Michael Lesher of Off-Guardian also reminds us that while “the essence of humanity is under assault,” the “enemies of humanity have a weak point”—“they do not understand the power contained in each soul that refuses to be duped.”40
Totalitarianism and Cults: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
In October 2020, half a year into the so-called “pandemic,” playwright and satirist CJ Hopkins published a brilliant essay titled “The Covidian Cult,” highlighting “mass conformity to a psychotic official narrative” as a hallmark of totalitarianism.41
Hopkins’ website, appropriately enough, is called “Consent Factory, Inc.” Tracing the parallels between cult leaders and totalitarian leaders, Hopkins pointed out that both use the same techniques—techniques focused on disorienting and controlling the listener’s mind. Somewhat counterintuitively, the fact that the official narrative is frequently “internally inconsistent” and “illogical” strengthens (rather than weakens) leaders’ power, forcing “adherents to attempt to reconcile [the narrative’s] inconsistency and irrationality, and in many cases utter absurdity, in order to remain in good standing with the cult.” The result, says Hopkins, is a sort of mental short-circuiting; eventually, people “give up even trying to think rationally, and just mindlessly parrot whatever nonsensical gibberish the cult leader fills their heads with.”
One of the disturbing features of the Covid-initiated push for global totalitarianism, according to Hopkins, is that “instead of the cult existing as an island within the dominant culture, the cult has become the dominant culture,” with those who refuse to join becoming “isolated islands within it” [italics in original]. Fortunately, with truckers now forcing government leaders into hiding, satirists having a field day with beyond-absurd headlines42 and more and more people spotting the holes in the narrative, those “isolated islands” seem to be multiplying.
Timeless Rules of Propaganda
A couple of years after the appearance of Edward Bernays’ book Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923), Science magazine published a few paragraphs about “propaganda based on psychology,”43 noting that successful propaganda makes use of “simple psychological principles” and “definite rules, well known to the propagandists.” Summarizing those “rules,” the anonymous Science author writing in 1925 advised the following [Note: bulleted format added]:
“If you have an idea to put over, keep presenting it incessantly.
Keep talking or printing persistently.
Avoid argument generally.
Don’t admit that there is another side to the question and avoid arousing any associated ideas except those which are favorable.
Reserve argument for the small class of people who depend on logical processes, or as a means of attracting attention of those with whom you are not arguing.
Connect your idea in every possible way with the known desires of your audience.
Remember that desires are more often the basis of the acceptance of ideas than logic.
Make your statements clear enough to be understood by your audience.
Use direct statement only when you are sure that a basis for acceptance has already been established; otherwise use indirect statement and implications.
Use direct statement in such a way that your audience will take it in, but not think too much about it.”
Ominously, Science concluded: “For lasting results, aim your propaganda at children and mix it with your teaching.”
Five Critical Thinking Recommendations
On February 20, 2022, board-certified internal medicine physician Dr. Annie Bukacek shared some thoughts about the “Defeat the Mandates” rally that took place in Washington, DC, on January 23.44 Summarizing Dr. Bukacek’s presentation in Health Impact News, Brian Shilhavy noted Bukacek’s five recommendations for mitigating fear-mongering and using critical thinking, “especially for those authority figures who appear to be on ‘our side.’” In Shilhavy’s words, the five recommendations are as follows:
“Be vigilant for an upcoming new and invisible enemy used to scare people into submission. If the corona variants lose the fear factor, they’re going to come up with something else.
Be sceptical of any authority figure using the CDC exaggerated death numbers from COVID, that we know are based on improper death certificates and flawed PCR COVID testing.
Watch out for anyone promoting an upcoming ‘safe and effective vaccine’ for something even by the exaggerated CDC numbers has close to a 99 percent survival rate overall, and statistically 100% percent survival rate for the younger generation.
Any authority figure who claims to understand the COVID debacle, but ignores the central role of government in this mess, at those individuals you need to take a closer look.
Be of good cheer. A COVID positive test does not mean severe illness or death. Scrutinize any authority figure who talks of a positive COVID test as a reason to fear death.”45
Netflix Role in Elite Propaganda
The family tree of serial entrepreneur and former Netflix CEO Marc Bernays Randolph includes both Sigmund Freud and Edward Bernays. According to Randolph’s flattering bio on Wikipedia, Randolph had, early on, a “fascination with using computer software to track customers’ buying behavior” and used this interest to fold market research into the Netflix user interface. One of Randolph’s current roles is board member (and investor) of Looker Data Sciences, a “business intelligence” platform owned by Google since 2019.
Reed Hastings, Netflix’s other co-founder, is the great-grandson of investment banker and scientist Alfred Lee Loomis, who played a significant role in the development of both radar and the atomic bomb and pioneered EEG techniques for the study of brain waves. Loomis’ son Henry Loomis (Hastings’ grand-uncle), also a physicist, joined his father in researching radar and brain waves and provided Navy radar training at Pearl Harbor during World War II. After the war, Henry worked at the Department of Defense, directed the Office of Intelligence and Research at the United States Information Agency, directed and expanded the Voice of America and served as president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
In recent years, Netflix’s role as a tool of elite propaganda has become more blatant, with the company signing multi-year deals with the Obamas in 2018 and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2020 to produce films and series.
Faulkner N. The official truth: propaganda in the Roman Empire. BBC, Feb. 27, 2011. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/romanpropaganda_article_01.shtml
Smith BL. “Propaganda.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/propaganda
Catherine Austin Fitts interview – Global financial coup d’état & technocratic slavery that follows. The Last American Vagabond, Dec. 8, 2021.
Mark Crispin Miller: “2020 – a propaganda masterpiece” (video included). Extremely American, Aug. 3, 2021.
Fitts CA. Control is one person at a time. The Solari Report, Jan. 14, 2022.
Johnstone C. They don’t just lie to us about wars. They lie to us about everything. Activist Post, Feb. 13, 2022.
Borders M. How the centralized media lost its power over the people. Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Nov. 12, 2018.
Gunderman R. The manipulation of the American mind: Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations. The Conversation, Jul. 9, 2015.
Lasswell HD. Propaganda Technique in the World War. New York: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co, A.A. Knopf; 1927.
Nwabueze C, Okonkwo E. Rethinking the bullet theory in the digital age. International Journal of Media, Journalism and Mass Communications. 2018;4(2):1-10.
Thompson K. The hypodermic syringe model of audience effects. ReviseSociology, Sept. 4, 2019.
What is the hypodermic needle theory? The hypodermic needle theory in a nutshell. FourWeekMBA, n.d. https://fourweekmba.com/hypodermic-needle-theory/