suckers
June 23, 2003 6:54 AM   Subscribe

why americans will believe almost anything.
keys to effective spin control / public relations : "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; distract... 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 happened... when minimizing outrage, avoid moral issues."
posted by crunchland (43 comments total)
 
To counteract this: "act superior, condescend, offer yourself as the portal of true wisdom to the poor deluded shitheads. congratulate those who agree with you on being enlightened. speaking in naive platitudes is a plus."
posted by jonmc at 7:03 AM on June 23, 2003


If you take the time to read (OK, skim) the link, you will learn that 9/11 was a conspiracy and fluoridated water doesn't help your teeth...we've all been duped!
posted by kozad at 7:10 AM on June 23, 2003


In the author's list of illusions you'll find tucked in at the end:

An airliner can be flown into a 100-storey building and can cause that building to collapse on its own footprint. Twice.

Ummm, was he just trying to slip that in without anyone noticing?
posted by themadjuggler at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2003


I found a lot of things he listed as being "conventional wisdom" to be a bit dubious. Menopause as a disease condition? Since when? Ear tubes are good for children? Never even heard of the damn things.

This seem to be another example of a horrible belief that the internet breeds; If you have an opinion, it's worth sharing with others.

That is why we Yanks are so annoying. We simply don't know when to SHUT THE HELL UP.

And yes, I realize, I am shooting myself in the foot with this comment. Walking has always been overrated in my opinion...
posted by Dagobert at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2003


I think this article is bullshit. See? I don't beleive everything.
posted by BigPicnic at 7:15 AM on June 23, 2003


HIV is the cause of AIDS

Of course not! It's caused by evil magical spirits!
posted by moonbiter at 7:18 AM on June 23, 2003


The author sounds like a nut....but if you check the links at the bottom of the page he is also SELLING alternative medicine products, as well as books, seminars and related materials.
posted by Durwood at 7:23 AM on June 23, 2003


Isn't the guy writing this spinning a tale as well? When does it all end?
posted by girard31 at 7:30 AM on June 23, 2003


In my opinion, there is no difference between saying that 9-11 was a huge conspiracy and saying that Saddam had massive loads of WMDs ready to be deployed in 45 minutes. If this guy is a jacksass, then you tell me what are the guys who actually acted on their own demential musings instead of simply writing them on the internet.

Uh ... I forgot that we're not supposed to mention Iraq
posted by magullo at 7:32 AM on June 23, 2003


He also states that HIV does not cause AIDS, that vaccines do not immunize, Vitamin C is not just ascorbic acid etc.
This is a wacky "alternative medicine" guy, who quite obviously has no training in any science. Although some of the sources he uses are reasonable and some of the points he makes on this issue might be sound, anyone who is against vaccination is, in my humble opinion, singularly unconvincing when chastising others on their gullibility.
posted by talos at 7:32 AM on June 23, 2003


Scientists will believe almost anything. The man feeds them a load full of well researched evidence and they simply conduct thorough peer-reviewed studies and JUST ACCEPT IT AS TRUTH. Here's a list of some of the LIES these fools accept:

1. That so-called "medicines" work better than hugs.
2. That phyiscs are real and magic isn't simply because "facts" and "evidence" support such a "conclusion".
3. That there is some objective truth more valuable than my own imagination.
4. That gravity isn't caused by giant wind gods blowing down on the earth.
posted by BigPicnic at 7:46 AM on June 23, 2003


Just an updated medicine show.
posted by Jos Bleau at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2003


Interesting article, crunchland...I just started reading "the Father of Spin" about Edward Bernays, a remarkable man, I lay much of the blame for the Rove machine at his door. I had the chance to hear Bernays speak once some years back, he was 96 or 97 years old and quite brilliant and sharp still. He came to a cocktail reception after, and I have a pic of he and I chatting, cocktails in hand, we look like old friends. (...and I looked quite the ingenue standing next to a 97 year old.)

Speaking as an erstwhile PR practitioner (of course, I tried to use my craft for the forces of good and not evil), I think the author makes some good points here about digging deeper to learn the source of information - it's always good to "follow the money." We all need to be savvy about the way our news is shaped.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:57 AM on June 23, 2003


Dumbasses:

* Pharmaceuticals restore health - Usually
* Vaccination brings immunity - Usually
* The cure for cancer is just around the corner - No
* Menopause is a disease condition - No
* When a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics - Depends
* When a child has a fever he needs Tylenol - No, but it helps with the symptoms
* Hospitals are safe and clean - Sometimes
* America has the best health care in the world - No
* Americans have the best health in the world - No
* Milk is a good source of calcium - Yes, if you care to read the label.
* You never outgrow your need for milk - If anything, you need more in your later years.
* Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. Yes, apparently. Did I know that before? No. Good one, list.
* Aspirin prevents heart attacks. All the ads I've seen specifically say it may help reduce the chance of heart attacks. Unfair generalization.
* Heart drugs improve the heart. We're running out of items for a list, let's use confusing wording.
* Back and neck pain are the only reasons for spinal adjustment. If you EVER get your spine adjusted you're a moron. Chiropractors don't make things better, they just take your money.
* No child can get into school without being vaccinated - Unless you're part of some BS little anti-vaccination little cult.
* The FDA thoroughly tests all drugs before they go on the market - Not always.
* Pregnancy is a serious medical condition - Considering that it can lead to death and a whole lot of other complications, yes.
* Chemotherapy and radiation are effective cures for cancer - If they don't kill the patient first yes.
* When your child is diagnosed with an ear infection, antibiotics should be given immediately 'just in case' - Cool, let's decide between a little anti-biotic resistance and potential deafness... Hmm, I wonder which one to choose?
* Ear tubes are for the good of the child - Huh?
* Estrogen drugs prevent osteoporosis after menopause - No.
* Pediatricians are the most highly trained of all medical specialists. - I never knew that before.
* The purpose of the health care industry is health - No, to make money, like any other industry.
* HIV is the cause of AIDS - Depends. There are other immuno-deficency viruses that produce the same effect, but HIV does cause AIDS.
* AZT is the cure. - Never heard that one before.
* Without vaccines, infectious diseases will return - I had a friend almost die because he didn't get immunized for whooping cough. Did they ever go away?
* Fluoride in the city water protects your teeth - Fluoride's primary purpose is to be a disinfectant. The teeth part's just to make people feel better about it.
* Flu shots prevent the flu - Not always.
* Vaccines are thoroughly tested before being placed on the Mandated Schedule - Better than most drugs.
* Doctors are certain that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh any possible risks - Except for the lunatic vegans.
* There is a terrorist threat of smallpox - Slight.
* The NASDAQ is a natural market controlled only by supply and demand - Actually, it's controlled by the Knights Templar and the Vatican in a joint venture to oppress the poor American investor.
* Chronic pain is a natural consequence of aging - Chronic Pain is a natural consequence of living long enough to get repeatedly injured.
* Soy is your healthiest source of protein - Huh? Why would soy be inherently healthier than meat?
* Insulin shots cure diabetes - Insulin shots control the symptoms of diabetes.
* After we take out your gall bladder you can eat anything you want - I've always wanted to eat a bicycle.
* Allergy medicine will cure allergies - No, it cures the symptoms.
* An airliner can be flown into a 100-story building and can cause that building to collapse on its own footprint. Twice. - I'll admit that's a little dubious.

They're guilty of just as much as what they claim others are. They believe that they somehow know the "truth" and others are misguided. There's no such thing as truth - all goals are artificially created by chemicals in one's mind, and we take as truth what helps us achieve these artificial goals. Believing one set of "truth" over another, is irrelevant. Indeed, these people are trying to control others - note the espousment of "neck adjustment." Imbeciles.
posted by Veritron at 8:04 AM on June 23, 2003


I liked the article and thought it a well written cover on the quite substantial corporate PR/disinformation biz. Despite a little crankiness here and there, the overall picture is quite accurate and merely calling the author a "crank" without acknowledging this points towards a lack of knowledge of the subject in question - the orchestration of public awareness, opinion, and consent.

Then again, critics of orthodoxy have always been "cranks", right?

Resorts to name calling always set off my alarm bells and cause me to ask - "Why the invectives, the personal attacks? What's at stake?"

Madajujujive - Wow. Bernays himself, huh? One of the top 100 most influential men of the last century, I hear. Personally, I would put him in the top 10. He was quite charming too, I gather.
posted by troutfishing at 8:23 AM on June 23, 2003


"Pregnancy is a serious medical condition - Considering that it can lead to death and a whole lot of other complications, yes."

Good to know where are you coming from ... riding in a car must also be a serious medical condition.

The NASDAQ is a natural market controlled only by supply and demand - Actually, it's controlled by the Knights Templar and the Vatican in a joint venture to oppress the poor American investor.

Haha, that's funny. Indeed the internet bubble, for instance, can be easily explained in terms of supply and demand. Snake oil supply and demand, if need be.
posted by magullo at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2003


This guy is a total loon. Why is this an FPP, rather than an entry on Crank Dot Net?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:36 AM on June 23, 2003


He was charming indeed, troutfishing. Before his speech, I asked him a question (I forget exactly what now, duh!) but he was distracted and didn't answer. We then had a dinner, his speech, an awards ceremony, and then adjourned to this small cocktail party - where at least 4 hours after my question was posed, and after meeting scores of people, he remembered and responded to my query. Good memory for anyone, let alone someone of his advanced years. And me, I am lucky if I recall what I had for breakfast today.

I agree with your take on this article - the validity of the points that he makes about how we are influenced by spin is not negated by some of the opinions he expresses at the end that I may or may not agree with.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:37 AM on June 23, 2003


"Good to know where are you coming from ... riding in a car must also be a serious medical condition."

med·i·cal (md-kl)
adj.

1. Of or relating to the study or practice of medicine.
2. Requiring treatment by medicine.

... Meh, I'm being a little literal. Modern medicine may hurt in some instances, but I think it does help prevent a lot of deaths that would have been otherwise related to pregnancy. I mean, premies would die virtually instantly without medical care, and I couldn't have been delivered without a cesearian section because of the size of my body. A lot of times it's dangerous to both the fetus and the woman to be delivered naturally. Whereas, even if you wear a seatbelt and take all sorts of precautions you still are likely to die because of things out of your control. The difference is that there's a way to reduce the risk with pregnancy, whereas if you're driving a car you'll still get into an accident, occasionally - although ironically modern medicine can, in fact, help patch you together. If you get in a car accident would you like a bunch of Christian Scientists to pray for your leg to reattach to your body? Or would you prefer natural reattachment? I'm just saying that people died a lot more when bearing children before modern medicine than they do now, and even though a natural childbirth can be easier if you're lucky - sometimes it doesn't work that way.
posted by Veritron at 8:43 AM on June 23, 2003


* An airliner can be flown into a 100-story building and can cause that building to collapse on its own footprint. Twice. - I'll admit that's a little dubious.

Um, Veritron? You might not have heard, but I saw on tv how this happened. Nobody paid for PR or propaganda to this effect, it's simply a fact that it occurred.
posted by beth at 8:45 AM on June 23, 2003


(Actually I think the christian scientist way, the natural way, and the modern medicine way of reattaching a leg would probably work equally well. Just ignore that fallacy when crucifying my argument and pretend modern medicine can reattach legs)
posted by Veritron at 8:45 AM on June 23, 2003


I know I saw it on TV. I'm just really, really curious why it didn't tip over. You'd think if a plane crashed into the side of a building, it wouldn't just collapse in place. Especially twice. It strikes me as a little weird - I'd like to know why that happened.
posted by Veritron at 8:48 AM on June 23, 2003


Then again, critics of orthodoxy have always been "cranks", right?
Au contraire, critics of orthodoxy who have no evidence or basis for criticism will be taken lightly.

Critics of orthodoxy who have evidence and a valid basis for any criticism will always be taken seriously.
posted by PenDevil at 8:49 AM on June 23, 2003


You mean like Galileo?
posted by beth at 8:51 AM on June 23, 2003


Veritron: for one thing, the impact itself was NOT why the buildings collapsed -- they fell due to structural failure, caused by fire.
posted by aramaic at 8:59 AM on June 23, 2003


Veriton, unfortunately, there is the well-established fact that we humans were able to procreate quite all right without modern medicine for many centuries. Of course, I do know that medicine is hugely beneficial to child-bearing, but I do not think being pregnant is a serious medical condition per se. I think the insurance companies and the ability to sue the doctors has made it significantly simpler to consider it that way in many parts of the world ("hey, she was already in a serious medical condition when disaster struck").

The other option is even more bizarre: should we consider all fertile women a "high health risk group", like some banks do in certain countries when they ask for a mortgage?
posted by magullo at 8:59 AM on June 23, 2003


Beth: Well Galileo was agruing with the Church who at the time believed in a man who could walk on water, turn water into wine and the existence of eternal paradise, but only for their followers. In scientific terms they are definitely not orthodox.

Veritron: I'd like to know why that happened.
The plane's impact did not cause the towers to fall. It was the subsequent fire which weakened the steel support beams and caused them to buckle that did.

On preview: ditto aramaic.
posted by PenDevil at 9:03 AM on June 23, 2003


I'm just really, really curious why it didn't tip over.

Because it was designed by competent engineers. Sure, the builders didn't anticipate everything, and they could have done some things better, but it's damn hard to test what will happen when an airplane strikes your building without actually flying an airplane into your building. Given that constraint, they did a fine job.
posted by kindall at 9:38 AM on June 23, 2003


Umm ya know last time I looked Ascorbic acid was vitamin C by definition. I'm not sure how that is a "PR illusion"
posted by MrLint at 9:58 AM on June 23, 2003


that list was nuts. why would the towers tip over sideways?? It was a complete shock that they collapsed at all. It looked at first like it was gonna be a fire in the side of the building - that's why all those firemen ran up 70 flights of stairs...

and yes, pregnancy is a serious medical condition. Why do people find that discomfiting? It really strains your body. Just because people enter into it willingly and produce a positive result doesn't mean that it shouldn't be taken seriously. It's a major undertaking, and though the woman going through it is capable of most of the necessary monitoring, having additional experts involved is a good idea. what's wrong with that?

I don't get the ascorbic acid thing either. Is he trying to claim that one of those terms actually ought to refer to a different chemical? as it is, they are synonyms as far as I know.
posted by mdn at 10:04 AM on June 23, 2003


Since this topic seems to be new to some people: ear tubes.
posted by SPrintF at 10:23 AM on June 23, 2003


Critics of orthodoxy who have evidence and a valid basis for any criticism will always be taken seriously.

You mean like Galileo?


Galileo was threatened with torture and death. How much more serious can it get?
posted by spazzm at 10:36 AM on June 23, 2003


honest, in first grade all my classmates/friends got ear tubes but me.
(*phew* creepy looking things)
posted by dabitch at 10:42 AM on June 23, 2003


Fluoride's primary purpose is to be a disinfectant. The teeth part's just to make people feel better about it.
Fluoride makes your teeth stronger. It used to be quite controversial, and is less so now. It is not added for disinfectant.

Pregnancy is most certainly a medical condition. I recommend taking it seriously. That said, many people with money have over-medicalized pregnancies, while the poor are often under-served by prenatal care. Oh yeah, The purpose of the health care industry is health - No, to make money, like any other industry.
Agreed there, veritron.

The site seems pretty lunatic fringe to me, which is all well and good until people start refusing vaccinations, and saying that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. I got my child vacinnated, which helps protect everybody's kids. There's a small risk, but worthwhile against the value of, for instance, preventing whooping cough. If you don't vaccinate your kid, you get all the benefit, but don't share the risk. That's cheesy.
posted by theora55 at 11:10 AM on June 23, 2003


If you don't vaccinate your kid, you get all the benefit, but don't share the risk.

A bit off topic, but you refer to herd immunity, a concept which the anti-vaccine community does not appear to understand.

The FPP would be a lot more effective (and there is a lot of valid criticism of the PR industry out there) if it were not so lopsided in favor of alternative medicine, which is just as much of a scam as anything out there.
posted by TedW at 11:21 AM on June 23, 2003


Doesn't seem to be about the media as much as the anti-AMA axe this guy has to grind.
posted by skallas at 12:22 PM on June 23, 2003


Veritron: for one thing, the impact itself was NOT why the buildings collapsed -- they fell due to structural failure, caused by fire.

I don't buy this explanation for a second, sorry. Those towers fell straight down with little or no resistance (meaning that gravity was doing most of the work). To me it looked like a controlled demolition.
posted by GrooveJedi at 2:18 PM on June 23, 2003


That's because the towers were destroyed in a 'controlled' manner. Controlled demolition exploits gravity so that when key structural elements are weakened (usually by using explosives, but very hot fire would have the same effect) there is a 'controlled' collapsing effect. Straight down.
posted by jonathanbell at 2:31 PM on June 23, 2003


I don't buy this explanation for a second, sorry. Those towers fell straight down with little or no resistance (meaning that gravity was doing most of the work). To me it looked like a controlled demolition.

To elaborate on jonathanbell

The towers fell in two distinct stages. First the massive fire sustained by the load of fuel of the impacted airplane burned through the structural fire proofing of the floors in the immediate area of the impact. This caused the concrete and rebar to heat to around 1000F at which point the steel morphed from stiff as a board to limp as a noodle. Unsupported those floors collapsed onto the floor below.

At this point we transition to stage two: the floors collapsed by fire impart a live load on the floors below that is at least an order of magnitude greater than the designed dead+live load. This collapses that floor. Rinse, lather, repeat until penthouse is at ground level. The collapsing force in both cases being gravity pulling straight down. And because the initial collapse was caused by the central fire and not the impact there was no off axis force.

By the way, many engineers knew the towers were going to collapse, in just the way they did, within minutes. The WTC plans were in the public domain and, being interesting in many ways, were studied in depth by many engineering students. Also the design of the WTC allowed for a 707 to impact the building and burn up it's load of fuel without bring down the tower. Unfortunately planes got bigger. Plus asbestos was only used part way up, after which an inferior structural insulation was used.
posted by Mitheral at 2:59 PM on June 23, 2003


GrooveJedi: you got me. The towers were actually destroyed as part of an experiment being conducted by the Gnomes of Zurich. Contrary to their name, the Gnomes actually live in Melbourne Australia, not Zurich.

...but that's beside the point. The fact of the matter is that the Gnomes were attempting to control gravity, and thereby strip your body of the precious fluids it contains. Their experiment went haywire, and the gravity generator concealed in the secret caves below NYC pulled the planes off course, and into the Towers. Thus weakened, the Towers were unable to withstand the pull of the gravity machines, and collapsed.

It's a little-known fact that all of Australia will one day be outfitted with the perfected versions of these gravity machines, thus enabling the Gnomes of Zurich to finally break free of Earth and float away on their own private continent. You'd be wise to avoid Indonesia for the next thirty years or so, as when Australia flies away the ocean will rush in to fill the gap left behind, thoroughly ruining the Indonesian economy.

Don't say I never warned you.
posted by aramaic at 4:01 PM on June 23, 2003


That article is one step up from a bona fide Tin Foil Hat Site.

Veriton, unfortunately, there is the well-established fact that we humans were able to procreate quite all right without modern medicine for many centuries. Of course, I do know that medicine is hugely beneficial to child-bearing, but I do not think being pregnant is a serious medical condition per se. I think the insurance companies and the ability to sue the doctors has made it significantly simpler to consider it that way in many parts of the world

Well, I don't have access to tables of statistics on maternal mortality pre 20th century, but I can tell you off the top of my head that the life expectancy in Haworth, in Yorkshire, during the time the Brontes lived there (say 1820 - 1855) was something around age 30, and that infant mortality rates were above 50%. This was not unusual for the time. One of the major reasons for the short life expectancy for women (along with disease and polluted water) was the danger of labour and childbirth. Pregnancy is a natural process, but there are many things that can go (naturally) wrong. I personally know at least four women who would have most certainly died in labour if they had not had access to modern medical care, and had necessary C sections, one of whom is my sister in law; women still die every day in the world in childbirth, in countries where they cannot get medical care. I feel a bit the same way about vaccinations; only a society which has grown complacent about disease can afford to start refusing to vaccinate children. Those unvaccinated kids are okay for now, because all the children around them protect them by not transmitting illness; but I understand that pertussis is making a bit of a comeback, and that this is part of the reason why.

As far as maternal mortality goes, if you live in a part of the world where there is a cemetery with pre 20th century gravestones, do go and make a count some time of how many women are buried there with their infant children, after both died after labour. It's instructive.

Western medicine kept me confined to a hospital bed for most of my pregnancy, monitored my baby, and induced labour when it was apparent he was in distress. He was fine, and so was I. I *heart* western medicine.
posted by jokeefe at 9:18 PM on June 23, 2003


I think jokeefe said it best.
Nedless to say, my own mother and youngest sister would not be in the world today if it was not for modern medicine.
posted by spazzm at 10:04 PM on June 23, 2003


" ...The towers were actually destroyed as part of an experiment being conducted by the Gnomes of Zurich. Contrary to their name, the Gnomes actually live in Melbourne Australia, not Zurich."

: The most curious aspect, to me, about this discussion is the unwillingness of some commenting here to acknowledge the richly documented history of PR/Propaganda in the 20th century.

Resorts to name calling and absurdist ridicule tend to set off my alarm bells and cause me to ask - "Why the invectives, the personal attacks? What's at stake?"
posted by troutfishing at 9:38 PM on June 28, 2003


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