An Examination of the Deception Industry

The human mind is – potentially – the most powerful force in the world. It is, at the same time, the most suppressed and misunderstood and unexploited force in the world. What drives the mind and the brain is its potential, its ability to adapt and change. This potential is there before us, waiting for us. We do not exploit it, however, and this is largely because we do not understand much at all about the brain. And we have no clue what the mind is. Our greatest strength is this potential, the potential to achieve anything and everything. Our failure to look to this potential can also be traced to something else – we are nasty and cunning and indeed dangerous predators. We seek to conquer and dominate everything, even the mind. Once we dominate, we suppress competition, and in so doing we even suppress the human brain.

So, what does this mean for human society? We know that those with power, the elite, will deploy all the power at their disposal to suppress the masses and prevent them from achieving their full potential. Francis Bacon (1561–1626) was surely right when he coined the phrase “knowledge is power.” Those with power have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and making sure that the masses remain ignorant and that the full potential of their brain power is never unleashed. How is this actually achieved? Propaganda and deception are relentlessly deployed by those with power. The powerless – the masses – are fed useless and often inaccurate and deceptive information. Naïve and gullible minds accept this, of course. The result is that masses are conned. And this is what we have today in the media. Those with power in our society spend much time and energy and resources on putting out “bullshit.” The bullshit has become a big business. In fact it is THE biggest business in the world.

When it comes to propaganda, deception and “bullshit”, there is not much difference between East and West, dictatorships and democracies. Nick Davies, an investigative journalist for the Guardian newspaper, in his book, Flat Earth News (Chatto & Windus, 2008, London) argues that:

Davies illustrates in detail how the corporate news media is involved in deception, propaganda and the spreading of false information. Davies’s research highlights the egregious examples, but we must admit there is a lot more. Volumes could be written on this effort to propagandize. Nevertheless, the book makes an important contribution by identifying and analysing the rarely mentioned issue of “propaganda and deception” in the news business. I cannot say if Davies’s strategy of publishing the names of journalists who put out propaganda and bullshit will bring the desired results. What is more likely to bring change is competition, and this competition will be introduced by the internet. Propaganda and deception are nevertheless a huge part of life. We may even say, as my colleague Thomas Pochari has done for many years, that this is one of the biggest forces of the brain and mind – deception and detection of deception. It just might be true that deception and detection of deception DEFINE the human brain and its power.

If deception and detection of deception define the human brain power, then we will have to consider how skilled we are at detecting deception and bullshit. I would argue that the mind is very capable at detecting deception. We do get the feeling that something is not right.  “Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognise bullshit,” argues Harry G. Frankfurt in his book, On Bullshit (Princeton University Press, 2005). We sense that we are being misled, but we often fail to scrutinize the situation. There is a good reason for this: we often lack the necessary knowledge and skills to see and locate the truth. In effect, we lack the resources to do the job.

As neuroscience and technology advance in sophistication, propaganda and propaganda techniques have become much more sophisticated. Henry T. Conserva in his book Propaganda Techniques (1st Books Library, 2003) has listed 89 actual techniques that are used by propagandists. In sum, they appear quite scary and powerful. He does warn, however, that new and even more sophisticated techniques are being developed all the time. The book is overall quite impressive. It is written in a simple and readable style. I admire Conserva’s approach to the topic: there is no bullshit and he is very direct. I communicated with him and emailed three basic questions to him. I publish below this Q&A.

 What is the ultimate function of bullshit? Bullshit suppresses the potential of the human mind. The action of deception and detecting deception takes up a lot of time and energy. This is why we see so much deception and bullshit in the mainstream media. It confuses us, it diverts us from the right path. We fail to attain knowledge and therefore fail to take the right decisions. If we are to reach our potential, we require useful and factual information.

I believe the “bullshit industry” will soon decline. Much of the printed media is already facing financial difficulties. This is because readers are turning away from the lies and propaganda. The internet is clearly the cause of this revolution. We want the truth, and in fact this is precisely why RTM is growing in influence. In the coming years and decades we will see less and less deception and propaganda. The future is the power of the human mind, and the future is realizing its full potential. This, I believe, is our destiny.

So, the revolution will be far-reaching in our society. Our leaders are stupid because they fail to recognize that the greatest source of energy is the human brain. It is the potential of the human mind that we need to unleash. A single brain is more powerful than the most powerful computer, so you can just imagine the power of over six billion brains. We will deploy human brain power to solve all the problems facing the world. I publish a few paragraphs from Henry Conserva’s Propaganda Techniques:

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From Incoherence to Coherence

Whether we want to accept the obvious or not, the fact is that we all discriminate – it is in our nature to discriminate. We adore almost everything that we discern as beautiful but we hesitate to hold the same feelings for something that we consider as ugly. The mind is selective in its choices and preferences; it becomes fascinated by beauty and beautiful things. The mind is actually a pleasure seeker and is almost always readily seduced by beauty. The real source of enjoyment that we seek and achieve from beauty is coherence. It is the coherence within the beauty that makes the seduction so successful.

There exist deeper relations between the mind and beauty, which is shown by the antipathy for ugliness and incoherence. We can say with certainty that beauty would not be beauty unless it encompasses and possesses coherence. Being coherent is a skill that is learnt, which when fully accomplished and mastered becomes an art. And those who manage to dedicate their lives to mastering this art professionally are rewarded and revered by society. We admire their skilfulness and ingenuity. They make the art look so easy (what we see as almost impossible) – perhaps too easy. Maybe it is their courage to persevere to attain these skills that we deify.

By skill I mean skills of communicating ideas, in innovative and creative ways, but even more importantly in a lucid and coherent manner. Often the most brilliant ideas are not taken up because the individual expressing the idea does not have the skills to convey them coherently and skilfully. It is why humanity has always endeared and valued creative geniuses who are lucid and coherent, who have shown determination and strength of the mind in the face of much adversity. There have been many individuals in history who have boldly and bravely chosen to elevate creativity to its ultimate heights. We have idolised them for their genius and extraordinary creative abilities.

As I have argued, creativity is the ultimate goal of the human mind. But “extraordinary creativity comes with a price tag” that not everyone will be willing to pay. Jeffery A. Kottler, in his book ‘Divine Madness’ (JOSSEY-BASS, 2006, A Wiley Imprint), has illustrated how some extraordinary creative geniuses have struggled with their sanity (or insanity) throughout their lives. It is worth noting that the creative geniuses are much more sensitive and much more fine-tuned to their senses than the rest of us. Kottler explains: “One difference between creative geniuses and rest of us is that they are more willing to trust their inner voices even when others might caution otherwise”.

The book ‘Divine Madness’ tells ten stories of creative struggle, illustrating how these extraordinary and creative ten people (of whom almost all are artists in one form or another) juggled creativity with divine madness. It is an excellent book that highlights the suffering and pain that coexists in parallel with extraordinary creativity, resulting in intense suffering after each episode of extraordinary creativity. Such experiences of suffering are exceptionally rare and there are many more cases which also show that creative people have managed to live normal lives (something that was not shown by example in the book). However, the book does have a point to prove and that is nothing in life is free and that there is always a price to pay somewhere along the way, particularly when you are an extraordinarily creative – and are in “extreme deviation from the norm”.

The importance of creativity cannot be underestimated. Creativity not only protects the mind from insanity, it nourishes the mind. It is creativity that restores the mind. I publish below a few paragraphs from the book, which in my view illustrate the thesis of Divine Madness (JOSSEY-BASS, 2006, A Wiley Imprint).

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