Archives for posts with tag: Manipulation

The first reaction, for the ‘average person’, is to ‘love’ this post.

The ‘normal’ reaction, for the ‘fact-checkers’ among us, is to ask ourselves:

Is this actually true?

Heidegger has something really interesting to say about the subject.
I’m gonna put it succinctly and bluntly.

None of us knows everything about anything. Not even about the most trivial thing.
Because the very nature of our knowledge and of our manner of expressing it – language, none of us is able to ‘put together’ even the simplest ‘absolute’ truth.

Hence, according to Heidegger, we have as many truths as there are people interested on the subject.

‘Then the African Proverb is a ‘lie’?’

Nope.

The African Proverb pictured above is a meta-truth.
Heidegger’s truths, as well as those discussed by Popper, all converge towards the ‘absolute’ one.
As each of the ‘people interested on the subject’ dig deeper, each of them gets closer to the kernel. Probably none of them will ever get exactly ‘there’ but their respective positions will become ever closer.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing like a ‘meta-lie’. As we had ‘truth’ and ‘meta-truth’.
A lie, any lie, is also a meta-truth.

We know – we are under the impression, more exactly, that we’ll never reach ‘the absolute truth’. About any subject, let alone the ‘absolute-absolute’ one. But we can conceive that there is one. Somewhere. At least about individual points of interest.

Do we even have the concept of an absolute lie?
What would that be? How could that even be expressed?

This being the reason for some of us being able to come up with so ‘plausible’ lies.
They put so much truth into their words that it becomes harder and harder for us to notice that the ‘proposed conclusion’ is misleading.

That, in fact, they are lying through their teeth.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/#ObjeKnowThreWorlOnto

My late mother used to quote a co-worker:

After you get used to it, being hanged becomes bearable.

Let me give you some context.

I live in Romania. You know, that country which shot its dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, on the Christmas Day 1989.

I was drafted to the army in October 1980. When I left home, you could still find food to buy. Soap, chocolate, washing powder, toilet paper… you name it. Nothing fancy but life was ‘normal’.
Nine months later, in July 1981, food was already scarce.

In 1985, things were already bad. You had to queue up for anything you needed. For all of the above mentioned items.

By 1988, things had become even worse. On top of what I had already mentioned, rolling blackouts were common. Those of us who lived in apartments connected to central heating were ‘enjoying’ running hot water for only a few hours a day/a few days a week. And shivered during the entire winter.

I’m telling you all these because in December 1989 most of us were hugely surprised when communism had fallen. With a bang.

We’d become so accustomed with what was happening to us that we were convinced our lives were ‘normal’.

Compare that to what you see below.
Oh, I forgot to tell you that we had only 1 (one) TV channel. Which was on for 2 hours each working day from Monday to Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday. And 80% of what was churned out was pure propaganda.

1. Sow doubt.
2. Drop a loud fact. Or two… This will simultaneously ‘water’ the previously planted seed and act as a ‘foot in the door’ for your next move.
3. ‘Miss-interpret’ another fact.
4. Mention an universal human emotion, inviting your audience to identify itself with the ‘victim’.
5. Squarely state what you want your audience to believe.

1. ‘The Soviet Union didn’t crumple under its own weight. It was dissolved by Yeltsin so that Gorbachev’s position would disappear.
Leaving Yeltsin as the top dog of the day. Even if at the helm of a little smaller empire…’

2. ‘After the Cold War had ended, the West should have treated the ‘defeated’ as Germany, Italy and Japan had been treated after WWII. The West should have helped the Soviet Union to overcome the transition hurdles by extending to it an equivalent of the Marshall Plan.
Instead of that, the Americans had come up with the Wolfowitz – later Bush, Doctrine.’

3. ‘Gorbatchev was told by James Baker that NATO will not move an inch eastward’

4. “…1998, Yeltsin, late Yeltsin: ‘you promised not to do this! So, how do we trust you, if you make a promise?’ “

5.1. Vladimir Putin has been created by the United States.
5.2. The so called free media in general – and New York Times in particular, cannot be trusted to provide honest information.

Pozner’s discourse is far more ‘byzantine’ than the ‘stream-lined’ version I used to illustrate what skillful propaganda looks like. Skillful maskirovka, more likely?

This post has become long enough. Let me wrap it up.

The main question here being ‘did he actually say it? Did Baker actually promised Gorbachev that “NATO will not move an inch eastward” ‘?

Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.
Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”

‘So he actually said it!’…

the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”

The Soviet Union is long gone, all the states which have been admitted into NATO are ‘in’ because they had asked themselves to join – and are now extremely glad to be protected by the famous 5th article – … while the only (frustrated) ‘agent’ who ever cried foul was Putin.
Not only cried foul but eventualy acted out his frustrations!

But Putin is not exactly alone…

Putin’s Munich speech was the first explicit warning of serious trouble if the West did not abandon its increasingly aggressive posture toward Russia; the Kremlin’s latest demands for security guarantees and a NATO military pullback from Russia’s borders may be the last warning. The United States and its allies are backing Russia into a corner, and that is profoundly unwise if the goal is to avoid war with a heavily armed great power.

Ted Galen Carpenter, Senior Fellow, Cato.org January 24, 2022

Trump: “How smart is that?”
Pompeo: “I have an enormous respect for him!”

Pozner seems to be somewhat right, after all.
His arguments don’t stand – as he had framed them – but he does have an inkling…

And yes, you can – and actually should, analyze my post following the steps I already mentioned.
Then please read this:

Manipulation: useful tool, mortal sin or what?!? April 27, 2015
‘Causing’ Circumstances March 1, 2022

Somebody asked, on his wall, ‘what do you like/dislike most about how people behave on Facebook?

Here’s my answer.

“Facebook presents us with huge opportunities.
For getting in touch with great ideas/very interesting people.
For con-artists to bamboozle other people’s minds.
What I like most? When people contribute. Ideas, feelings, whatever.
What I dislike? When people allow themselves to be taken advantage of.
You see, I could have said ‘I dislike people taking advantage of other people’. That goes without saying. Only telling a con-artist to clean up their act would be akin to asking a lion to stop feeding itself. That’s not gonna happen.
But we could train our minds to avoid being fooled so easily…”

Any way you look at it, a human individual is a decision making machine.

When living in the bush, the decision making process was rather straightforward.
Information was available on a ‘what you see is what you get’ basis and bad decisions had the rather nasty habit of becoming obvious after a very short time.

Now, when living in a social context, things are a little more complicated.
Other people want from us.
Other people actually depend on convincing us to do various things and not to do other things.

‘Convincing us’ means influencing our decision making processes.
Which can be done using one, two or a combination of the following methods.

By ‘managing’ the information we have at our disposal when making a certain decision.
By altering the way in which we feel about the outcome of that decision being put in practice.

The A&B of the matter, for those familiar with the domain…

But there are two other things which are rarely discussed about these matters.

How ethical is it to manipulate other people?
Specially when the manipulated are not fully aware of what’s going on, which puts the manipulator in almost full control of the whole process.

What are the longer term consequences of the whole thing?
Is there any difference between manipulating people to ‘consume’ things which are more or less detrimental to their health and manipulating people into making far reaching political decisions?

As in ‘is there any difference between convincing people that smoking isn’t that bad for them (or at least pleasurable enough to balance the risk) and convincing them to vote for/against … (feel free to pick your own candidate/issue)?

“The researcher whose work is at the center of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data analysis and political advertising uproar has revealed that his method worked much like the one Netflix uses to recommend movies.”

Matthew Hindman,
https://theconversation.com/how-cambridge-analyticas-facebook-targeting-model-really-worked-according-to-the-person-who-built-it-94078

Language is the tool we use when we consciously transmit, receive or glean information.

While the ‘transmitting&receiving’ part is rather simple, ‘consciously and ‘glean’ might need some explaining.

You’ve all heard about ‘body language’.

Actors use it consciously to convey emotion and sometimes even meaning while profilers use it to glean information unconsciously distributed by their marks.

Artists use specific ‘modes of expression’ – language, actually – to convey emotion/subliminal meaning to sometimes unsuspecting audiences.

Skillful ‘communicators’ have learned how to chisel a message – using most common words, printed or spoken – to obtain ‘maximum impact’.

By now I’m sure you’ve already gleaned what I meant by “‘consciously’ and ‘glean'”.
Contrary to popular belief, only one half of those ‘immersed’ in communication need to be conscious of what is going on in order for language to be in use.

Actors can influence their audience without the audience being privy to acting tools.
All of us freely distribute a lot of information about ourselves – through walking, eating, manner of speaking, etc., etc. – which can be ‘deciphered’ with ease by those knowledgeable in this trade.
All of us are inundated by all kinds of advertisement – commercial, political, religious, you name it – but very few of us are aware of the full picture which is being played for us.

In a sense, those of us who can sense anything are like any device connected to the internet.

If it’s connected, it can be hacked‘.

But nothing’s as bad as it seems.
Devices can be plugged off or fire-walled while we can stop watching crap.
And, of course, we can put our brains to work, in earnest, before buying into anything which is hurled towards us.

Both are done ‘by hand’.

Apparently, any likeness between these two stops here.

But, if you pull back in earnest, the ugly thing becomes unraveled.
Not only that it is masturbatory, aka self-inflicted, (political) manipulation should also be classified as sado-masochistic.

Manipulation, as a process, can be examined from two perspectives.
A social one and an individual one.
Now, that everybody knows that ‘manipulation is bad for you‘, any individual who allows themselves to be manipulated into anything must suffer from a masochistic disorder while those who actively manipulate others must be cold blooded sadists.
On the social side, since time and time again manipulation has been proven to have had dangerous consequences, any community that sees any form of manipulation as an acceptable practice must have certain suicidal tendencies. Aka suffer from a ‘social form’ of masochistic disorder. While those who manipulate must be, themselves, cold blooded sadists.

As for being masturbatory, something which is brought upon one self by their own hand, that is almost as evident as Polichinelle’s secret:

Bona-fide politics, that made in earnest, involves open discussion between those who are going to be affected by the decisions and those who propose and support them. Discussions which take place before each major decision is made, during its implementation and after its consequences have started to be felt. The interaction between the politicians and the general public is direct, unmediated.
In Nassim Taleb’s terms, in this situation the politicians have their own ‘skin in the game‘.

Which results ‘risk management’ policy which is the complete opposite of the one adopted by those who believe themselves to be insulated from the consequences of their own actions.

The manipulators, on the other hand, window-dress themselves and the propositions they make. Their goal being not as much to contribute to the well being of their community as to ‘sell to the public’ whatever their minds have been focused on, at that moment. They consider manipulation to be a legitimate tool either because they are not fully aware of the great dangers involved or because they have convinced themselves that they will be forever exempt from contributing to the  the eventual price.
Meanwhile, those who allow themselves to be manipulated either do not realize they are being manipulated or have adopted ‘cynicism as a refuge’ in order to mitigate the cognitive dissonance that is eating away their self esteem.

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

Please note that in this situation the interaction is no longer direct. The manipulator and the manipulated do not ‘touch’ each-other. Therefore neither knows exactly what the other has in mind.
The interaction is mediated by symbols. Which are ‘photo-shopped’ by the manipulators and, sometimes ‘admiringly’, accepted by the manipulated.

It’s exactly this lack of direct contact between the manipulators and the manipulated which determines the whole thing.
The manipulators are, simultaneously, unaware of the true situation and growingly convinced of their ‘impunity’.
The manipulated have initial difficulties in determining that they are subjected to manipulation and, in a second stage, the impression that there is nothing left to be done about the whole thing.

When, eventually, the consequences catch up with both of them, it is usually too late for anything else but ‘damage control’.

People regret that they didn’t wise up earlier, promise themselves they’ll never let something like that happen to them… and forget. Until the next time.

Manipulation: useful tool, mortal sin or what?!?

Hannah Arendt Explains How Propaganda Uses Lies to Erode All Truth & Morality: Insights from The Origins of Totalitarianism

Masochistic Personality Disorder

Secret de Polichinelle

Cognitive dissonance

Karma

socialism-for-dummies-explained

What’s going on here has nothing to do with what the bona-fide socialists were about (long time ago they tried to reduce the imbalances produced by the ‘savage capitalism’ that was roaming freely in those days) and a lot to do with what’s currently going on in so many contemporary societies.

What’s left for us to do is to find out who is the ‘socialist’ here.

Those two bone headed morons who are fighting over who to be in control of that ladder?
And who are crying now because both halves have become useless?

Yes, that was what they were fighting for!
If all they wanted was to leave the pit it wouldn’t have mattered who did it first…

Or, maybe, the ‘serpent’ who offered to help those two divide the ladder amongst them?

And who, by doing precisely that, made sure that his control, over his ladder – which was not shown, remained unchallenged?

But what has any of this anything to do with socialism? At all?

Did anybody whisper ‘monopoly’?
Back there?

Anyone?

dolce-gabbana-gang-bang

Some 30 years ago I stumbled upon a book by Desmond Morris.

The Naked Ape.

I read it overnight because next day it had to be returned to its owner. Books published in their original languages were hard to come by in communist Romania…
Little did I know at that time that my interests will slowly shift from Mechanical Engineering to Sociology and then on to decision making… Anyway…
In that book Morris tries to convince us that women have so many periods because in this way they are a lot readier to receive their mates, thus ensuring a tighter bond inside the couple. In turn this is beneficial in an evolutionary sense because a tightly knit couple is better suited for raising the kind of slow growing children that is characteristic for the human species.
In short Morris proposes that monogamy was a step forward in human evolution.
I tend to agree with him and I even have a further argument. Imagine what would happen if a small number of alpha males would ‘corral’ – one way or another – most of the available nubile women, as it’s the case with the chimps or the gorillas. Do you think the rest of the males would be able to cooperate in any way towards the survival of the community they belong to or they’d be constantly obsessing about how to get laid?

Which brings me to my subject.

Emile Durkheim used suicide as a pretext to introduce us to his theory about social solidarity and the social function played by what we consider to be a crime.
Durkheim’s research had led him to see suicide as an individual decision but one which is heavily influenced by the cultural medium to which the decision maker belongs. More over, the same line of thinking produced his conclusion that a society must keep a fine balance between ‘solidarity/intolerance’ and ‘laisez-faire’. One that is too intolerant drastically reduces its own ability to adapt to changes that occur in its ‘environment’ while those that do not care about the fate of their members will eventually auto-dissolve.

What if incidence of rape was to be studied in the same light?

Bill Cosby – a man who, let’s face it, could have had legions of willing women – is accused  to have drugged and raped some 40 women in more than 30 years before anything came to public notice.
Jimmy Savile, a British “larger-than-life character”, used “his celebrity status and fund-raising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades” and to unabashedly rape them.
Rape not only occurs randomly in war time but has also been used as a weapon:
Sexual violence is also used to destabilize communities and sow terror”.
Meanwhile France – Durkheim’s own Motherland – has become the stage for some 7000 ‘tournantes’ every year. The English term for ‘tournant’ being gang rape.

As Durkheim said more than a hundred years ago suicide is indeed an individual act/decision but it’s incidence is heavily influenced by what happens around that person.
Same thing is valid for rape. A rape appears at the intersection between the history/experience/upbringing of the rapist, the social/cultural milieu in which he lives and his ‘on the spot’ decision.

Sex sells.
“It’s been said that as human beings, we have a lizard or reptilian brain that responds to certain primal urges. Food is one. Sex and reproduction is definitely another. This underlying, pre-programmed disposition to respond to sexual imagery is so strong, it has been used for over 100 years in advertising. And the industry, while abusing it more and more, would be foolish to ignore the draw of sexual and erotic messaging.”

How far are we willing to go in order to make a sale? As far as Dolce and Gabbana went when they published the picture above?

Morris said that our first step towards humanity was to change our very physiology in order to promote (at least an apparent) monogamy. It seems that we are now altering our culture in order to sell more…

Gang Rape taken to the next level… Manipulation went wild…

People glimpse fragments from the surrounding reality and then use their newly found understanding to gradually change it.
They do this in three, successive, steps.
The first has a lot to do with happenstance – the right man at the right place, the second involves a lot of ‘due diligence’ and the third depends very much on how those who end up in command of the new understating relate to the rest of the people.
Sometimes some of the people who ‘happen’ to ‘stumble’ on new information/experience something really new feel the urge to communicate to others what has happened to them.
Usually the information gleaned/sentiments experienced during this first step are so new that there are no socially sanctioned symbols that can represent them faithfully so the individual trying to communicate the entire experience has to find a novel way to make it understandable for those around him. This is art.
The second step has less to do with actual discovery and is more about systematization of information already at our disposal. Something like charting a newly discovered territory. Even if we have to adapt our existing tools to the new task – some of them had been discovered during the first step but that means they are already here when we start the second one, here the job to be done is more about reason than inspiration. This is science.
And now, that new information is available – even before it was widely disseminated – people start to use it. Some of it is used straight away/as it is/honestly while some other is used to keep ‘the others’ in the dark or to alter their perceptions in order to fit the goals of the ‘user’/’entrepreneur’/spin doctor.
Usually this last way of using newly found understanding has perverse consequences. The ‘user’ becomes arrogant and starts to believe he has somehow become a (demi)God while the people kept in the dark/unwittingly exploited sooner or later become aware of what is going on – and sometimes express that in artistic ways.
At some point the equilibrium is regained, either through  a  a series of oscillations that ’embrace’ it – a revolution – or through small steps in the right direction – evolution.
(Usually, as the distance between a given state of facts and the perceived point of equilibrium becomes wider then people gradually loose hope in evolution and start to consider more revolutionary methods.)

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