Knowing is better than believing. The latter tells us not to look!

Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything
Come, let the nice PR man pull your chain,
push your buttons, & flap your antenna!

Why Americans Will
 Believe Almost Anything
 By Tim O'Shea
 The Doctor

         Aldous Huxley's inspired 1956 essay detailed the vivid,
         mind-expanding, multisensory insights of his mescaline adventures. By
         altering his brain chemistry with natural psychotropics, Huxley tapped
         into a rich and fluid world of shimmering, indescribable beauty and
         power. With his neurosensory input thus triggered, Huxley was able to
         enter that parallel universe described by every mystic and space
         captain in recorded history. Whether by hallucination or epiphany,
         Huxley sought to remove all controls, all filters, all cultural
         conditioning from his perceptions and to confront Nature or the World
         or Reality first-hand - in its unpasteurized, unedited, unretouched,
         infinite rawness.

         Those bonds are much harder to break today, half a century later. We
         are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever known.
         Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped and
         molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being
         subtly and inexorably erased. The doors of our perception are
         carefully and precisely regulated. Who cares, right?
         It is an exhausting and endless task to keep explaining to people how
         most issues of conventional wisdom are scientifically implanted in the
         public consciousness by a thousand media clips per day. In an effort
         to save time, I would like to provide just a little background on the
         handling of information in this country. Once the basic principles are
         illustrated about how our current system of media control arose
         historically, the reader might be more apt to question any given
         popular opinion.
         If everybody believes something, it's probably wrong. We call that
         Conventional Wisdom.


Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything

 Why Americans Will
 Believe Almost Anything
 By Tim O'Shea
 The Doctor

         Aldous Huxley's inspired 1956 essay detailed the vivid,
         mind-expanding, multisensory insights of his mescaline adventures. By
         altering his brain chemistry with natural psychotropics, Huxley tapped
         into a rich and fluid world of shimmering, indescribable beauty and
         power. With his neurosensory input thus triggered, Huxley was able to
         enter that parallel universe described by every mystic and space
         captain in recorded history. Whether by hallucination or epiphany,
         Huxley sought to remove all controls, all filters, all cultural
         conditioning from his perceptions and to confront Nature or the World
         or Reality first-hand - in its unpasteurized, unedited, unretouched,
         infinite rawness.
         Those bonds are much harder to break today, half a century later. We
         are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever known.
         Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped and
         molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being
         subtly and inexorably erased. The doors of our perception are
         carefully and precisely regulated. Who cares, right?
         It is an exhausting and endless task to keep explaining to people how
         most issues of conventional wisdom are scientifically implanted in the
         public consciousness by a thousand media clips per day. In an effort
         to save time, I would like to provide just a little background on the
         handling of information in this country. Once the basic principles are
         illustrated about how our current system of media control arose
         historically, the reader might be more apt to question any given
         popular opinion.
         If everybody believes something, it's probably wrong. We call that
         Conventional Wisdom.
         In America, conventional wisdom that has mass acceptance is usually
         contrived: somebody paid for it.
         * Pharmaceuticals restore health * Vaccination brings immunity * The
         cure for cancer is just around the corner * Menopause is a disease
         condition * When a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics *
         When a child has a fever he needs Tylenol * Hospitals are safe and
         clean. * America has the best health care in the world. * Americans
         have the best health in the world. * Milk is a good source of calcium.
         * You never outgrow your need for milk. * Vitamin C is ascorbic acid.
         * Aspirin prevents heart attacks. * Heart drugs improve the heart. *
         Back and neck pain are the only reasons for spinal adjustment. * No
         child can get into school without being vaccinated. * The FDA
         thoroughly tests all drugs before they go on the market. * Back and
         neck pain are the only reason for spinal adjustment. * Pregnancy is a
         serious medical condition * Chemotherapy and radiation are effective
         cures for cancer * When your child is diagnosed with an ear infection,
         antibiotics should be given * immediately 'just in case' * Ear tubes
         are for the good of the child. * Estrogen drugs prevent osteoporosis
         after menopause. * Pediatricians are the most highly trained of al
         medical specialists. * The purpose of the health care industry is
         health. * HIV is the cause of AIDS. * AZT is the cure. * Without
         vaccines, infectious diseases will return * Fluoride in the city water
         protects your teeth * Flu shots prevent the flu. * Vaccines are
         thoroughly tested before being placed on the Mandated Schedule. *
         Doctors are certain that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh any
         possible risks. * There is a power shortage in California. * There is
         a meningitis epidemic in California. * The NASDAQ is a natural market
         controlled only by supply and demand. * Chronic pain is a natural
         consequence of aging. * Soy is your healthiest source of protein. *
         Insulin shots cure diabetes. * After we take out your gall bladder you
         can eat anything you want * Allergy medicine will cure allergies.
         This is a list of illusions, that have cost billions and billions to
         conjure up. Did you ever wonder why you never see the President
         speaking publicly unless he is reading? Or why most people in this
         country think generally the same about most of the abov e issues?
         In Trust Us We're Experts, Stauber and Rampton pull together some
         compelling data describing the science of creating public opinion in
         America. They trace modern public influence back to the early part of
         the last century, highlighting the work of guys like Edward L.
         Bernays, the Father of Spin. From his own amazing chronicle
         Propaganda, we learn how Edward L. Bernays took the ideas of his
         famous uncle Sigmund Freud himself and applied them to the emerging
         science of mass persuasion. The only difference was that instead of
         using these principles to uncover hidden themes in the human
         unconscious, the way Freudian psychology does, Bernays used these same
         ideas to mask agendas and to create illusions that deceive and
         misrepresent, for marketing purposes.
         Bernays dominated the PR industry until the 1940s, and was a
         significant force for another 40 years after that. (Tye) During all
         that time, Bernays took on hundreds of diverse assignments to create a
         public perception about some idea or product. A few examples: As a
         neophyte with the Committee on Public Information, one of Bernays'
         first assignments was to help sell the First World War to the American
         public with the idea to "Make the World Safe for Democracy." (Ewen)
         A few years later, Bernays set up a stunt to popularize the notion of
         women smoking cigarettes. In organizing the 1929 Easter Parade in New
         York City, Bernays showed himself as a force to be reckoned with. He
         organized the Torches of Liberty Brigade in which suffragettes marched
         in the parade smoking cigarettes as a mark of women's liberation. Such
         publicity followed from that one event that from then on women have
         felt secure about destroying their own lungs in public, the same way
         that men have always done.
         Bernays popularized the idea of bacon for breakfast. Not one to turn
         down a challenge, he set up the advertising format along with the AMA
         that lasted for nearly 50 years proving that cigarettes are beneficial
         to health. Just look at ads in issues of Life or Time from the 40s and
         During the next several decades Bernays and his colleagues evolved the
         principles by which masses of people could be generally swayed through
         messages repeated over and over hundreds of times. One the value of
         media became apparent, other countries of the world tried to follow
         our lead. But Bernays really was the gold standard. Josef Goebbels,
         who was Hitler's minister of propaganda, studied the principles of
         Edward Bernays when Goebbels was developing the popular rationale he
         would use to convince the Germans that they had to purify their race.
         Bernay's job was to reframe an issue; to create a desired image that
         would put a particular product or concept in a desirable light.
         Bernays described the public as a 'herd that needed to be led.' And
         this herdlike thinking makes people "susceptible to leadership."
         Bernays never deviated from his fundamental axiom to "control the
         masses without their knowing it." The best PR happens with the people
         unaware that they are being manipulated.
         Stauber describes Bernays' rationale like this: "the scientific
         manipulation of public opinion was necessary to overcome chaos and
         conflict in a democratic society." Trust Us p 42
         These early mass persuaders postured themselves as performing a moral
         service for humanity in general - democracy was too good for people;
         they needed to be told what to think, because they were incapable of
         rational thought by themselves. Here's a paragraph from Bernays'
         Propaganda: "Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society
         constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of
         our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our
         ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of. This is a
         logical result of the way in which our democratic society is
         organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner
         if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In
         almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or
         business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are
         dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the
         mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who
         pull the wires that control the public mind."
         A tad different from Thomas Jefferson's view on the subject:
         "I know of no safe depository of the ultimate power of the society but
         the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to
         exercise that control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not
         take it from them, but to inform their discretion."
         Inform their discretion. Bernays believed that only a few possessed
         the necessary insight into the Big Picture to be entrusted with this
         sacred task. And luckily, he saw himself as one of that few.
         Once the possibilities of applying Freudian psychology to mass media
         were glimpsed, Bernays soon had more corporate clients than he could
         handle. Global corporations fell all over themselves courting the new
         Image Makers. There were dozens of goods and services and ideas to be
         sold to a susceptible public. Over the years, these players have had
         the money to make their images happen. A few examples:
         Philip Morris Pfizer Union Carbide Allstate Monsanto Eli Lilly tobacco
         industry Ciba Geigy lead industry Coors DuPont Chlorox Shell Oil
         Standard Oil Procter & Gamble Boeing General Motors Dow Chemical
         General Mills Goodyear
         THE PLAYERS
         Dozens of PR firms have emerged to answer that demand. Among them:
         Burson-Marsteller Edelman Hill & Knowlton Kamer-Singer Ketchum
         Mongovin, Biscoe, and Duchin BSMG Buder-Finn
         Though world-famous within the PR industry, these are names we don't
         know, and for good reason. The best PR goes unnoticed. For decades
         they have created the opinions that most of us were raised with, on
         virtually any issue which has the remotest commercial value,
         pharmaceutical drugs vaccines medicine as a profession alternative
         medicine fluoridation of city water chlorine household cleaning
         products tobacco dioxin global warming leaded gasoline cancer research
         and treatment pollution of the oceans forests and lumber images of
         celebrities, including damage control crisis and disaster management
         genetically modified foods aspartame food additives; processed foods
         dental amalgams
         LESSON #1
         Bernays learned early on that the most effective way to create
         credibility for a product or an image was by "independent third-party"
         endorsement. For example, if General Motors were to come out and say
         that global warming is a hoax thought up by some liberal tree-huggers,
         people would suspect GM's motives, since GM's fortune is made by
         selling automobiles. If however some independent research institute
         with a very credible sounding name like the Global Climate Coalition
         comes out with a scientific report that says global warming is really
         a fiction, people begin to get confused and to have doubts about the
         original issue.
         So that's exactly what Bernays did. With a policy inspired by genius,
         he set up "more institutes and foundations than Rockefeller and
         Carnegie combined." (Stauber p 45) Quietly financed by the industries
         whose products were being evaluated, these "independent" research
         agencies would churn out "scientific" studies and press materials that
         could create any image their handlers wanted. Such front groups are
         given high-sounding names like:
         Temperature Research Foundation International Food Information Council
         Consumer Alert The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition Air Hygiene
         Foundation Industrial Health Federation International Food Information
         Council Manhattan Institute Center for Produce Quality Tobacco
         Institute Research Council Cato Institute American Council on Science
         and Health Global Climate Coalition Alliance for Better Foods
         Sound pretty legit don't they?
         As Stauber explains, these organizations and hundreds of others like
         them are front groups whose sole mission is to advance the image of
         the global corporations who fund them, like those listed on page 2
         above. This is accomplished in part by an endless stream of 'press
         releases' announcing "breakthrough" research to every radio station
         and newspaper in the country. (Robbins) Many of these canned reports
         read like straight news, and indeed are purposely molded in the news
         format. This saves journalists the trouble of researching the subjects
         on their own, especially on topics aboutwhich they know very little.
         Entire sections of the release or in the case of video news releases,
         the whole thing can be just lifted intact, with no editing, given the
         byline of the reporter or newspaper or TV station - and voilá! Instant
         news - copy and paste. Written by corporate PR firms.
         Does this really happen? Every single day, since the 1920s when the
         idea of the News Release was first invented by Ivy Lee. (Stauber, p
         22) Sometimes as many as half the stories appearing in an issue of the
         Wall St. Journal are based solely on such PR press releases.. (22)
         These types of stories are mixed right in with legitimately researched
         stories. Unless you have done the research yourself, you won't be able
         to tell the difference.
         As 1920s spin pioneers like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays gained more
         experience, they began to formulate rules and guidelines for creating
         public opinion. They learned quickly that mob psychology must focus on
         emotion, not facts. Since the mob is incapable of rational thought,
         motivation must be based not on logic but on presentation. Here are
         some of the axioms of the new science of PR:
         * technology is a religion unto itself * if people are incapable of
         rational thought, real democracy is dangerous * important decisions
         should be left to experts * when reframing issues, stay away from
         substance; create images * never state a clearly demonstrable lie
         Words are very carefully chosen for their emotional impact. Here's an
         example. A front group called the International Food Information
         Council handles the public's natural aversion to genetically modified
         foods. Trigger words are repeated all through the text. Now in the
         case of GM foods, the public is instinctively afraid of these
         experimental new creations which have suddenly popped up on our
         grocery shelves which are said to have DNA alterations. The IFIC wants
         to reassure the public of the safety of GM foods, so it avoids words
         Frankenfoods Hitler biotech chemical DNA experiments manipulate money
         safety scientists radiation roulette gene-splicing gene gun random
         Instead, good PR for GM foods contains words like:
         hybrids natural order beauty choice bounty cross-breeding diversity
         earth farmer organic wholesome.
         It's basic Freudian/Tony Robbins word association. The fact that GM
         foods are not hybrids that have been subjected to the slow and careful
         scientific methods of real cross-breeding doesn't really matter. This
         is pseudoscience, not science. Form is everything and substance just a
         passing myth. (Trevanian)
         Who do you think funds the International Food Information Council?
         Take a wild guess. Right - Monsanto, DuPont, Frito-Lay, Coca Cola,
         Nutrasweet - those in a position to make fortunes from GM foods.
         (Stauber p 20)
         As the science of mass control evolved, PR firms developed further
         guidelines for effective copy. Here are some of the gems:
         - dehumanize the attacked party by labeling and name calling
         - speak in glittering generalities using emotionally positive words
         - when covering something up, don't use plain English; stall for time;
         - get endorsements from celebrities, churches, sports figures, street
         people...anyone who has no expertise in the subject at hand
         - the 'plain folks' ruse: us billionaires are just like you
         - when minimizing outrage, don't say anything memorable
         - when minimizing outrage, point out the benefits of what just
         - when minimizing outrage, avoid moral issues
         Keep this list. Start watching for these techniques. Not hard to find
         - look at today's paper or tonight's TV news. See what they're doing;
         these guys are good!
         PR firms have become very sophisticated in the preparation of news
         releases. They have learned how to attach the names of famous
         scientists to research that those scientists have not even looked at.
         (Stauber, p 201) This is a common occurrence. In this way the editors
         of newspapers and TV news shows are often not even aware that an
         individual release is a total PR fabrication. Or at least they have
         "deniability," right?
         Stauber tells the amazing story of how leaded gas came into the
         picture. In 1922, General Motors discovered that adding lead to
         gasoline gave cars more horsepower. When there was some concern about
         safety, GM paid the Bureau of Mines to do some fake "testing" and
         publish spurious research that 'proved' that inhalation of lead was
         harmless. Enter Charles Kettering.
         Founder of the world famous Sloan-Kettering Memorial Institute for
         medical research, Charles Kettering also happened to be an executive
         with General Motors. By some strange coincidence, we soon have the
         Sloan Kettering institute issuing reports stating that lead occurs
         naturally in the body and that the body has a way of eliminating low
         level exposure. Through its association with The Industrial Hygiene
         Foundation and PR giant Hill & Knowlton, Sloane Kettering opposed all
         anti-lead research for years. (Stauber p 92). Without organized
         scientific opposition, for the next 60 years more and more gasoline
         became leaded, until by the 1970s, 90% or our gasoline was leaded.
         Finally it became too obvious to hide that lead was a major
         carcinogen, and leaded gas was phased out in the late 1980s. But
         during those 60 years, it is estimated that some 30 million tons of
         lead were released in vapor form onto American streets and highways.
         30 million tons.
         That is PR, my friends.
         In 1993 a guy named Peter Huber wrote a new book and coined a new
         term. The book was Galileo's Revenge and the term was junk science.
         Huber's shallow thesis was that real science supports technology,
         industry, and progress. Anything else was suddenly junk science. Not
         surprisingly, Stauber explains how Huber's book was supported by the
         industry-backed Manhattan Institute.
         Huber's book was generally dismissed not only because it was so poorly
         written, but because it failed to realize one fact: true scientific
         research begins with no conclusions. Real scientists are seeking the
         truth because they do not yet know what the truth is.
         True scientific method goes like this:
         1. form a hypothesis
         2. make predictions for that hypothesis
         3. test the predictions
         4. reject or revise the hypothesis based on the research findings
         Boston University scientist Dr. David Ozonoff explains that ideas in
         science are themselves like "living organisms, that must be nourished,
         supported, and cultivated with resources for making them grow and
         flourish." (Stauber p 205) Great ideas that don't get this financial
         support because the commercial angles are not immediately obvious -
         these ideas wither and die.
         Another way you can often distinguish real science from phony is that
         real science points out flaws in its own research. Phony science
         pretends there were no flaws.
         Contrast this with modern PR and its constant pretensions to sound
         science. Corporate sponsored research, whether it's in the area of
         drugs, GM foods, or chemistry begins with predetermined conclusions.
         It is the job of the scientists then to prove that these conclusions
         are true, because of the economic upside that proof will bring to the
         industries paying for that research. This invidious approach to
         science has shifted the entire focus of research in America during the
         past 50 years, as any true scientist is likely to admit.
         Stauber documents the increasing amount of corporate sponsorship of
         university research. (206) This has nothing to do with the pursuit of
         knowledge. Scientists lament that research has become just another
         commodity, something bought and sold. (Crossen)
         It is shocking when Stauber shows how the vast majority of corporate
         PR today opposes any research that seeks to protect: Public Health and
         The Environment
         It's a funny thing that most of the time when we see the phrase "junk
         science," it is in a context of defending something that may threaten
         either the environment or our health. This makes sense when one
         realizes that money changes hands only by selling the illusion of
         health and the illusion of environmental protection. True public
         health and real preservation of the earth's environment have very low
         market value.
         Stauber thinks it ironic that industry's self-proclaimed debunkers of
         junk science are usually non-scientists themselves. (255) Here again
         they can do this because the issue is not science, but the creation of
         When PR firms attack legitimate environmental groups and alternative
         medicine people, they again use special words which will carry an
         emotional punch:
         outraged sound science junk science sensible scaremongering
         responsible phobia hoax alarmist hysteria
         The next time you are reading a newspaper article about an
         environmental or health issue, note how the author shows bias by using
         the above terms. This is the result of very specialized training.
         Another standard PR tactic is to use the rhetoric of the
         environmentalists themselves to defend a dangerous and untested
         product that poses an actual threat to the environment. This we see
         constantly in the PR smokescreen that surrounds genetically modified
         foods. They talk about how GM foods are necessary to grow more food
         and to end world hunger, when the reality is that GM foods actually
         have lower yields per acre than natural crops. (Stauber p 173) The
         grand design sort of comes into focus once you realize that almost all
         GM foods have been created by the sellers of herbicides and pesticides
         so that those plants can withstand greater amounts of herbicides and
         pesticides. (The Magic Bean)
         Publish or perish is the classic dilemma of every research scientist.
         That means whoever expects funding for the next research project had
         better get the current research paper published in the best scientific
         journals. And we all know that the best scientific journals, like
         JAMA, New England Journal, British Medical Journal, etc. are
         peer-reviewed. Peer review means that any articles which actually get
         published, between all those full color drug ads and pharmaceutical
         centerfolds, have been reviewed and accepted by some really smart guys
         with a lot of credentials. The assumption is, if the article made it
         past peer review, the data and the conclusions of the research study
         have been thoroughly checked out and bear some resemblance to physical
         But there are a few problems with this hot little set up. First off,
         money. Even though prestigious venerable medical journals pretend to
         be so objective and scientific and incorruptible, the reality is that
         they face the same type of being called to account that all glossy
         magazines must confront: don't antagonize your advertisers. Those
         full-page drug ads in the best journals cost millions,Jack. How long
         will a pharmaceutical company pay for ad space in a magazine that
         prints some very sound scientific research paper that attacks the
         safety of the drug in the centerfold? Think about it. The editors
         aren't that stupid.
         Another problem is the conflict of interest thing. There's a formal
         requirement for all medical journals that any financial ties between
         an author and a product manufacturer be disclosed in the article. In
         practice, it never happens. A study done in 1997 of 142 medical
         journals did not find even one such disclosure. (Wall St. Journal, 2
         Feb 99)
         A 1998 study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that 96%
         of peer reviewed articles had financial ties to the drug they were
         studying. (Stelfox, 1998) Big shock, huh? Any disclosures? Yeah,
         right. This study should be pointed out whenever somebody starts
         getting too pompous about the objectivity of peer review, like they
         often do.
         Then there's the outright purchase of space. A drug company may simply
         pay $100,000 to a journal to have a favorable article printed.
         (Stauber, p 204)
         Fraud in peer review journals is nothing new. In 1987, the New England
         Journal ran an article that followed the research of R. Slutsky MD
         over a seven year period. During that time, Dr. Slutsky had published
         137 articles in a number of peer-reviewed journals. NEJM found that in
         at least 60 of these 137, there was evidence of major scientific fraud
         and misrepresentation, including:
         * reporting data for experiments that were never done * reporting
         measurements that were never made * reporting statistical analyses
         that were never done
         Dean Black PhD, describes what he the calls the Babel Effect that
         results when this very common and frequently undetected scientific
         fraudulent data in peer-reviewed journals are quoted by other
         researchers, who are in turn re-quoted by still others, and so on.
         Want to see something that sort of re-frames this whole discussion?
         Check out the McDonald's ads which often appear in the Journal of the
         American Medical Association. Then keep in mind that this is the same
         publication that for almost 50 years ran cigarette ads proclaiming the
         health benefits of tobacco. (Robbins)
         Very scientific, oh yes.
         KILL YOUR TV?
         Hope this chapter has given you a hint to start reading newspaper and
         magazine articles a little differently, and perhaps start watching TV
         news shows with a slightly different attitude than you had before.
         Always ask, what are they selling here, and who's selling it? And if
         you actually follow up on Stauber & Rampton's book and check out some
         of the other resources below, you might even glimpse the possibility
         of advancing your life one quantum simply by ceasing to subject your
         brain to mass media. That's right - no more newspapers, no more TV
         news, no more Time magazine or Newsweek. You could actually do that.
         Just think what you could do with the extra time alone.
         Really feel like you need to "relax" or find out "what's going on in
         the world" for a few hours every day? Think about the news of the past
         couple of years for a minute. Do you really suppose the major stories
         that have dominated headlines and TV news have been "what is going on
         in the world?" Do you actually think there's been nothing going on
         besides the contrived tech slump, the contrived power shortages, the
         re-filtered accounts of foreign violence and disaster, and all the
         other non-stories that the puppeteers dangle before us every day? What
         about when they get a big one, like with OJ or Monica Lewinsky or the
         Oklahoma city bombing? Do we really need to know all that detail, day
         after day? Do we have any way of verifying all that detail, even if we
         wanted to? What is the purpose of news? To inform the public? Hardly.
         The sole purpose of news is to keep the public in a state of fear and
         uncertainty so that they'll watch again tomorrow and be subjected to
         the same advertising. Oversimplification? Of course. That's the mark
         of mass media mastery - simplicity. The invisible hand. Like Edward
         Bernays said, the people must be controlled without them knowing it.
         Consider this: what was really going on in the world all that time
         they were distracting us with all that stupid vexatious daily
         smokescreen? Fear and uncertainty -- that's what keeps people coming
         back for more.
         If this seems like a radical outlook, let's take it one step further:
         What would you lose from your life if you stopped watching TV and
         stopped reading newspapers altogether?
         Would your life really suffer any financial, moral, intellectual or
         academic loss from such a decision?
         Do you really need to have your family continually absorbing the
         illiterate, amoral, phony, uncultivated, desperately brainless values
         of the people featured in the average nightly TV program? Are these
         fake, programmed robots "normal"?
         Do you need to have your life values constantly spoonfed to you?
         Are those shows really amusing, or just a necessary distraction to
         keep you from looking at reality, or trying to figure things out
         yourself by doing a little independent reading?
         Name one example of how your life is improved by watching TV news and
         reading the evening paper. What measurable gain is there for you?
         There's no question that as a nation, we're getting dumber year by
         year. Look at the presidents we've been choosing lately. Ever notice
         the blatant grammar mistakes so ubiquitous in today's advertising and
         billboards? Literacy is marginal in most American secondary schools.
         Three-fourths of California high school seniors can't read well enough
         to pass their exit exams. ( SJ Mercury 20 Jul 01) If you think other
         parts of the country are smarter, try this one: hand any high school
         senior a book by Dumas or Jane Austen, and ask them to open to any
         random page and just read one paragraph out loud. Go ahead, do it. SAT
         scales are arbitrarily shifted lower and lower to disguise how dumb
         kids are getting year by year. (ADD: A Designer Disease) At least 10%
         have documented "learning disabilities," which are reinforced and
         rewarded by special treatment and special drugs. Ever hear of anyone
         failing a grade any more?
         Or observe the intellectual level of the average movie which these
         days may only last one or two weeks in the theatres, especially if it
         has insufficient explosions, chase scenes, silicone, fake martial
         arts, and cretinesque dialogue. Radio? Consider the low mental
         qualifications of the falsely animated corporate simians hired as DJs
         -- seems like they're only allowed to have 50 thoughts, which they
         just repeat at random. And at what point did popular music cease to
         require the study of any musical instrument or theory whatsoever, not
         to mention lyric? Perhaps we just don't understand this emerging art
         form, right? The Darwinism of MTV - apes descended from man.
         Ever notice how most articles in any of the glossy magazines sound
         like they were all written by the same guy? And this writer just
         graduated from junior college? And yet has all the correct opinions on
         social issues, no original ideas, and that shallow, smug, homogenized
         corporate omniscience, to assure us that everything is going to be
         fine... Yes, everything is fine.
         All this is great news for the PR industry - makes their job that much
         easier. Not only are very few paying attention to the process of
         conditioning; fewer are capable of understanding it even if somebody
         explained it to them.
         Let's say you're in a crowded cafeteria, and you buy a cup of tea. And
         as you're about to sit down you see your friend way across the room.
         So you put the tea down and walk across the room and talk to your
         friend for a few minutes. Now, coming back to your tea, are you just
         going to pick it up and drink it? Remember, this is a crowded place
         and you've just left your tea unattended for several minutes. You've
         given anybody in that room access to your tea.
         Why should your mind be any different? Turning on the TV, or
         uncritically absorbing mass publications every day - these activities
         allow access to our minds by "just anyone" - anyone who has an agenda,
         anyone with the resources to create a public image via popular media.
         As we've seen above, just because we read something or see something
         on TV doesn't mean it's true or worth knowing. So the idea here is,
         like the tea, the mind is also worth guarding, worth limiting access
         to it.
         This is the only life we get. Time is our total capital. Why waste it
         allowing our potential, our personality, our values to be shaped,
         crafted, and limited according to the whims of the mass panderers?
         There are many truly important decisions that are crucial to our
         physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, decisions which require
         information and research. If it's an issue where money is involved,
         objective data won't be so easy to obtain. Remember, if everybody
         knows something, that image has been bought and paid for.
         Real knowledge takes a little effort, a little excavation down at
         least one level below what "everybody knows." 1
         Stauber & Rampton Trust Us, We're Experts Tarcher/Putnam 2001
         Ewen, Stuart PR!: A Social History of Spin 1996 ISBN: 0-465-06168-0
         Published by Basic Books, A Division of Harper Collins
         Tye, Larry The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of
         Public Relations Crown Publishers, Inc. 2001
         King, R Medical journals rarely disclose researchers' ties Wall St.
         Journal, 2 Feb 99.
         Engler, R et al. Misrepresentation and Responsibility in Medical
         New England Journal of Medicine v 317 p 1383 26 Nov 1987
         Black, D PhD Health At the Crossroads Tapestry 1988.
         Trevanian Shibumi 1983.
         Crossen, C Tainted Truth: The Manipulation of Fact in America 1996.
         Robbins, J Reclaiming Our Health Kramer 1996.
         Jefferson, T Writings New York Library of America, p 493; 1984.
         O'Shea T The Magic Bean 2000 Alternative
         Medicine magazine May 2001.