Monday, July 10, 2006

You think you're thinking by yourself?!

I read an article recommended by an old friend titled
It's quite a long article but I learnt a lot from it. It discusses about how the mass media and our everyday life perception are largely products of PR-industry to create a public perception about some idea or product. I include some parts of the article that I found worth thinking seriously about:

The father of Spin -- Edward Bernays who described

the public is 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.

In 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."

It also talks about how scientific research are controlled by big corporations.


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


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. If a drug company is spending 10 million dollars on a research project to prove the viability of some new drug, and the preliminary results start coming back about the dangers of that drug, what happens? Right. No more funding. The well dries up. What is being promoted under such a system? Science? Or rather Entrenched Medical Error?"

It is shocking when Stauber shows how the vast majority of corporate PR today opposes any research that seeks to protect
* public health
* the environment

A lot of the claims are cited on
Stauber & Rampton, "Trust Us, We're Experts", Tarcher/Putnam 2001

It shall be a good enlightening read too.

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