Do advertisers and political strategists choose the agenda for the public?
They certainly try to, if they don’t then all the marketing research and polling that they do is a total waste. However if you ask most people whether their decisions are influenced by advertising I suspect a large percentage will say no. Most of these people probably don’t understand advertising and manipulation tactics therefore I suspect they are actually the ones most likely to be influenced by the Mass Media. The ones who are the least likely to be influenced by the Mass Media are those that are more accustomed to search for information on their own. This isn’t a guarantee since some people may be predisposed to search for information that supports their own beliefs. The best way to avoid this is to review how you developed your own beliefs and recognize whether they start with the right basics or not. It also helps if you understand the tactics often used by the Mass Media to manipulate the public.
Politicians often have agendas that they want to accomplish and it isn’t always what they tell the public. The reason for this is that they are often more concerned with there own agenda than what the public wants to accomplish. When this happens they try to figure out the most effective way to convince the public they are looking out for the best interest of the public without interfering with their true agenda. This often involves telling the public what they want to hear and manipulating their emotions. That is what political research is all about. If the public wants the politicians to look out for their best interest they have to do a better job understanding how they have been manipulated in the past and avoid it. The most effective way to do this is to learn the basics of any given subject and make sure that they are never forgotten. Many complicated political plans often contradict the most obvious basics. Political advertisers often repeat catch phrases over and over again to get their point across and when the public hears it often enough they start to believe it even though they may contradict the basics.
Advertisers do the same thing when they want to sell stuff. Justice shows get their financing from advertiser and they are based on ratings. The most effective way to get high ratings is to use demagoguery. This also attracts a segment of the public that is less savvy about recognizing manipulation tactics. Advertisers like this kind of customer since the demagoguery that Nancy Grace uses attracts the same type of people that are most receptive to advertising.
When it comes to violence the public often acts based on emotions. Demagogues have recognized this for thousands of years and used this to manipulate the public.
"A group is extraordinarily credulous," wrote Sigmund Freud, "and open to influences, it has no critical faculty, and the improbable does not exist for it. The feelings of a group are always very simple and very exaggerated, so that it knows neither doubt nor uncertainty."
The orator who wishes to sway a crowd "must exaggerate, and he must repeat the same thing again and again."
Freud pointed out that the mass was "intolerant but obedient to authority...What it demands of its heroes is strength or even violence. It wants to be ruled and oppressed and to fear its masters."
He wrote this more than 80 years ago when the public was less educated and they still hadn't learned from WWII. Similar quotes have coming from demagogues like Hitler and Lenin and this one from Charles Manson: "You can convince anybody of anything if you just push it at them all of the time. They may not believe it 100%, but they will still draw opinions from it, especially if they have no other information to draw their opinions from."
Information like this could be used for at least 2 purposes.
First if the demagogue wants to use an understanding of manipulation tactics they can do so to manipulate the public. This is often done by many people including Hitler, Lenin and many more moderate demagogues. Right now the more moderate demagogues are causing a bigger problem because the public doesn't recognize them as demagogues. However some of them aren't quite so moderate if you look at them closely. Including Nancy Grace, Jean Valez Mitchell, Geraldo Rivera etc. Demagogues generally pray on the emotions of the public and the easiest emotions to pray on is anger and hate. This is important when it comes to preventing school violence or any other type of violence. This explains why so many people are quick to seek vengeance but very slow to try to find out what the real cause of problems are. Some researchers have made an exception and have investigated the true causes of violence and it is clear that early abuse is one of the biggest contributing causes if not the biggest. However when they try to point this out to the public it often sounds like they are trying to excuse the Behavior of violent predators.
Demagogues often start screaming loud and clear and more qualified researchers often back off and do more research. The advantage is that more research is being done but it isn't getting through to the public and it isn’t achieving the desired goal. James Garbarino has argued that we need to get away from the idea that researching the cause of violence means excusing it. Vincent Bugliosi has also made a similar argument if you look closely at his book Helter Skelter. He has stated that "both (Hitler and Manson) suffered deep wounds in their youth, the psychological scars at least contributing to if not causing, their deep hatred for society." He has not attempted to say this is justification quite the opposite he continued arguing for the death penalty in Mansons case anyway. This doesn't mean he didn't recognize Manson’s abusive childhood as a contributing cause. He has also appeared in at least one commercial promoting help for troubled youths that were not what he considered beyond salvation. In Helter Skelter he cited several of the Manson family members that he thought were capable of rehabilitation and advocated that they received the help they need.
Second it can be taught to the public so that they can understand when they are being manipulated. They can teach the public how to get a rational education and avoid being manipulated by demagogues. Unfortunately this is rarely done although it may have been what Freud intended. Freud was neither the first or the last to understand these principles many people including Hitler, Lenin, Twain, Machiavelli etc., have demonstrated that they understand this but unfortunately there has been little if any effort to educate the public about this.
First Posted on Tripod on 08/31/09
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