The average person thinks of reality as something that is absolutely true based on fact and evidence but the inspection of what is real in our modern life is often neglected. For people the concept of reality is determined by a combination of personal experiences, varying from person to person, and what they’ve been told instead of taking an introspective look at the world around them. The idea in sociology that states there are many different realities based on each person’s knowledge and experience is called “multiple realities.” Generally speaking our perception of what is real isn’t based on those absolute a scientific truth which governs the laws of nature but to our interpretation of the world around us. At best the majority of our perception of what’s real is based second hand and knowing this; the battle over what the perception of what reality is becomes clear. The stability of our society as we know it requires propaganda and manipulation so the public accepts their current reality without questions.
Media’s Role in Reality
Right now, you are quietly being told what to think by me without even knowing it and might possibly be pondering the ideas that I’m presenting to as you read this little article (which is how the media works). The media plays a large role in our perceptions even if it claims to be fair and balanced, truthful or made for the purpose of entertainment. All of the things people see, whether they like it or not, influence how they see the world around them.
Just by turning on one of the many news channels and flipping between them it’s easy to see the fight over perception. Most news channels cover the exact same stories and have the exact same talking points but push a different concept of reality. The difference between the channels is the way the propaganda is sold using positive and negative connotation, emphasis on certain points and, one can’t forget, the opinions that are pushed instead of fact to the viewer. The mainstream media counts on the public’s willingness to believe what they’re told on a daily basis knowing that the majority of people won’t bother to think or research what they’re being told.
Perhaps one of the more covert methods of influencing opinion is through entertainment television. The simplest example of this are T.V. shows like cops or CSI where criminals are denied the right to due process, tortured for information, stating that free speech and guns are illegal. The repetition of ideas like this slowly makes viewers identify and accept how the fictional world operates as people slowly associate it with their perception of reality. Since the stories are mostly fiction most people suspend their disbelief and don’t question the subtle messages behind the shows.
Governments have always known that to win a war, they must win the hearts and minds of the people that their forces are occupying or face the possibility of losing control of that state. Psychological warfare is an integral part of the United States domestic and foreign policies effectively keeping reality in a manageable state. For instance, on order to keep the public’s heart in mind under control, the Bush administration created false newscasts designed to push propaganda on the nightly news. After all was said and done, over 20 agencies of the government had created hundreds of false ads and passed them off as fact without being held accountable for the statements in the ads.
Picking up on Dutch news stories, Counterpunch published an article on 3/26/2000 revealing that the United States had infiltrated the news giant CNN with members of the army’s Psyops division. According to the army’s recruitment website the official purpose of a Psychological Operations Specialist “is to alter the behavior of foreign populations in a manner consistent with United States diplomatic, national security and foreign policy objectives. A Psychological Operations Specialist is an information and media specialist who can assess the information needs of a target population and develop and deliver the right message at the right time and place to create the intended result.” What exactly were the Psyops units doing as they worked with CNN and was the integrity of the media compromised? Keep in mind that this was before the Bush was in office. The policy of using the military for the production of news hasn’t changed as officers are still used today as analysts for mainstream news shows.
On July 25th 2008, former White House Press Secretary Scott McCellan admitted that the Bush administration directly gave talking points to news anchors at Fox News. The startling admission is used as an example by rival news networks but it would be a fallacy to believe that Fox is the only news station which is used as political mouth piece. Since McCellan came out with the widely known secret about Fox NBC has come under the same criticisms for its close relationship with the Obama administration.
Sunstein’s Conspiracy Document
Cass Sunstein current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs wrote a research paper about the nature of conspiracy theories a year before he was in office. The research paper goes into great depth about those people who don’t believe the official government accounts regarding how the world works stating that those people suffer from a “crippled epistemology.” Basically Sunstein means that a lack of understanding makes people believe in so-called conspiracy theories even if their knowledge is based on government admissions. The document combines proven theories with false ones in order to minimize the effect the truth will have on the reader.
Sunstein explains that some theories are true but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t believe government official accounts:
“Of course some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true. The Watergate hotel room used by Democratic National Committee was, in fact, bugged by Republican officials, operating at the behest of the White House. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency did, in fact, administer LSD and related drugs under Project MKULTRA, in an effort to investigate the possibility of “mind control.” Operation Northwoods, a rumored plan by the Department of Defense to simulate acts of terrorism and to blame them on Cuba, really was proposed by high-level officials (though the plan never went into effect).13 In 1947, space aliens did, in fact, land in Roswell, New Mexico, and the government covered it all up. (Well, maybe not.) Our focus throughout is on false conspiracy theories, not true ones.” Conspiracy Theories pg 4
Notice how he compares admitted facts to believing in Space Aliens.
The first half of the document uses basic psychology to explain that conspiracy theories are due to ignorance but he neglects to go into depth about the legit reasons of why such theories are so popular now days; namely the government being caught covering facts up. Instead of citing all of the government admitted plans throughout the years and legit arguments these theorists have he once again attributes them to the idea that most people are retardly ignorant to the facts(which is true in some cases). Sunstein could indeed call a video of himself explaining that the second amendment doesn’t apply to citizens a conspiracy theory, though there’s video of his speech explaining it, since reality is dependent on what the government wants to admit at any certain time.
The second half of the paper is by far the most interesting as Sunstein explains his solutions and how to fight the people who question the official government stances on issues. In order to combat the ideas that may compromise the government’s agenda, sunstein argues that the United States government needs to do the following:
1. “Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories”
2. “Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech.”
3. Infiltration of groups and discredit them from within.
What this means is that in order to stop people from spreading anti-government ideas the government itself must take drastic steps to discredit those ideas. The government needs to infiltrate groups, we all remember that anti war group who made cookies in that Michael Moore movie, and make them focus on issues that discredit the groups. The government needs to hire people, like newscasters, magazines, Hollywood writers and of course writers like myself to engage in counterspeech. It all sounds like a brilliant plan to stifle thought and debate.
The idea that our thoughts and beliefs aren’t really our own and are subject to covert propaganda is a frightening one. The real question in all of this is: Who’s reality do you live in? If you go through life believing what you see on your nightly news or read in your papers is your perception really yours? In order to really think for yourself you have to be able to observe, question and think instead of passively accept what you’re told. Don’t take my word for it, think about it for yourself.