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Post Info TOPIC: Overcoming the Trickster(Disinformation): Media Wars of the 21st Century

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Overcoming the Trickster(Disinformation): Media Wars of the 21st Century

[1] Overcoming the Trickster: media wars of the 21st

After the last issue of Herbalist Review ("Health
fads from hell: margarine, canola oil, soy foods,
green and black tea"), the RMHI staff debated the
reasons that people are so easily fooled by
erroneous and deceptive information in advertising,
television, newspapers, and magazines, not only
regarding health and medical issues, but generally.
We decided that the next issue of this newsletter
should describe the basic tactics and strategies of
disinformation and deception, with the hope that if
one recognizes these techniques, these will loosen
their grip on one's mind.

The seriousness of the media credibility problem is
highlighted by the following pithy quote (of
debatable origin, often attributed to John Swinton,
a former editor of the New York Times):
    "There is no such thing, at this date of the
world's history, in America, as an independent
press. The business of the journalist is to destroy
the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify,
to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his
country and his people for his daily bread. We are the
tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We
are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we
dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives
are all the property of other men. We are
intellectual prostitutes."

The "New Age" movement, in its attempts to avoid or
ignore this web of deceit and negativity, has
frequently prevented people from using common sense,
logic, and healthy intuition by substituting these
necessary human abilities with pseudo-religious
flummery under the guise of "right-brained"
thinking. (I prefer using both sides of my brain,
thank you very much.) Rather than help to make sense
of the confusion in the world, the New Age has often
provided its victims with no more than an extra
layer of gullibility. For example, not all herbs are
safe to use just because they are "all-natural" and
sold in health food stores. And do you really
believe that all the world's problems will simply
solve themselves after we magically ascend into the
5th dimension and the bad people go to Never-Never
Land? (If so, I have some quality beach-front
property in the 5th dimension I'd like to sell you.)

In the spirit of "The Art of War", by ancient
Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, if one wishes to know
the truth, one must first examine one's own
weaknesses and shortcomings to discover how these
might impede one from discovering the truth and
attaining honorable goals. Indians of the North
American Plains honored the role of an entity they
called the Trickster, whose purpose is to keep us
alert and wise, so that we may avoid falling prey to
deception, and to force us to overcome our
weaknesses if we occasionally succumb to the
Trickster's clever deceptions. To do this
successfully in the realm of truth-finding, we must
know the tactics and strategies of our opponents in
the great media wars of the 20th and 21st centuries;
then, we must change our own behaviors and
strategies so that we are no longer susceptible to
these techniques.


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[2] Prejudice and associative thinking

The simplest types of animal central nervous systems
rely on associative response mechanisms to react to
their environment and to choose what to eat and what
to avoid. This is the basis of the conditioned
response that Russian physiologist Pavlov studied.
[ref. 3] To create a conditioned response, an animal
is regularly presented with food (unconditioned
stimulus), which naturally causes salivation
(unconditioned response); a ringing bell
(conditioned stimulus) is then consistently paired
with the delivery of food. After a while, the animal
learns to expect both the food and the ringing bell
at the same time, and will react to the ringing bell
(conditioned stimulus) by itself, without any food,
by salivating (conditioned response).

Salivating whenever a bell rings serves no purpose
and may seem absurd, but we must recognize that many
situations in nature are well served by such a
mechanism. If one is chased by a roaring lion and
lives to tell the tale, one will understandably
react in fear to similar roaring sounds; moreover,
many animal species instinctively react in fear to
such sounds and do not require Pavlovian-type
stimulus-response conditioning.

Associative reasoning has severe limitations,
however. It forms the basis of social prejudice, and
develops as follows: people, being naturally
cautious of new and strange situations, are more
careful around people who speak different languages
and are physically different from themselves; if an
individual has a negative experience with someone of
a different ethnic background, associative
reasoning, or generalization, may lead the
individual to form prejudices against others of that
ethnic background. Advertising producers also take
advantage of associative reasoning by inducing male
viewers to covet (the economic equivalent of
salivation) and eventually buy in response to images
of a sports car accompanied by a scantily clad woman
seductively eating a bowl of cherries. Both types of
associative reactions, ethnic prejudice and reactive
buying habits, may transform normal people into
dysfunctional, neurotic, and obsessive-compulsive
individuals, leading to needless warfare and
burdensome credit card debts.

Just as Pavlov's dogs were tricked into salivating
to a ringing bell, scientists have developed
increasingly efficient ways to manipulate reactive
human behavior to serve the demands of their
corporate masters. We must learn to use our capacity
of reason to rise above the simplistic type of
associative thinking and reactive behavior that
allows this type of social manipulation to remain


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[3] Social shortcuts for determining the truth

The next level above associative reasoning involves
adaptation to persistent and debilitating trickery.
After all, it's tiresome to salivate each time the
bell rings, for when the real meal arrives, the
digestive juices are depleted, the appetite has been
replaced by suspicion and anxiety, tension in the
epigastrium, and headaches. Welcome to life in the
"civilized" world.

To avoid being continual victims of associative,
reactive thinking, we must develop some guidelines
for deciding when it is important to ferret out the
truth ourselves, and when it is OK to relinquish
this responsibility to others. If our powers of
reasoning are impaired or undeveloped, due to an
educational system designed by our corporate masters
who require a majority of the population to be
easily programmed by associative thinking, most of
us use certain shortcuts. The most common is to rely
on authority figures in whom we trust: religious
leaders, university professors, political leaders.
Unfortunately, this leads to the next level of
escalation in the information war: corporate
infiltration and buyout of religious, academic, and
political power. By the late 20th century, the media
wars have progressed to a point where almost all of
these pawns in the game have been compromised or
captured by corporate interests, but many people
have not yet recognized the magnitude of this
strategic shift.

Another shortcut of growing importance is to develop
networks of individuals with whom we share interests
to help us develop our individual strategies and
ideas. As people increasingly recognize that
conventional authority figures have been largely
compromised and captured by corporate powers,
networking has become a popular tool to gather
information and ideas, circumventing the
hierarchical, bureaucratic structures that are
characteristic of institutional authority. Support
groups for personal psychological, social, health,
and career issues have appeared everywhere, and the
Internet now allows people to network at light

Networking has created a need for each of us to
develop skills in evaluating the reliability and
accuracy of others. Judging integrity and honesty
has never been more important, yet even this is not
enough, for even the most cautious of us has at some
time been guilty of spreading misinformation
(unintentional or careless mistakes) and
disinformation (intentionally deceptive information)
from others. Networking creates quicker access to
information, but it also provides the path for
misinformation and disinformation to spread and
multiply faster than ever.

This newsletter is a form of networking that each of
you chooses to receive. How much of what we say do
you choose to believe and why? Most of you have
never met us, and must make these decisions based
solely upon the words on the page and what your
fellow networkers think of these words.


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[4] Disinformation tactics outlined

We cannot loosen the grip of disinformation upon our
minds without first understanding how disinformation
tactics work. Simply by recognizing and describing
specific instances of these tactics, we deny them
their power over us.

The following disinformation tactics are listed in
approximate order of escalating aggressiveness and
complexity. The rules of engagement are stated from
the perspective of the disinformation artist; to
best understand one's opponents, it is helpful to
imagine jumping inside their minds. [For other
discussions of disinformation tactics, see refs.

    [4.1] Ignorance is bliss -- "hear no evil, see
no evil, speak no evil"

If possible, ignore the issue entirely. Do not give
it credibility by even mentioning its existence.
Only if a critical portion of the public begins to
arrive at the truth must active disinformation be

For example, scientific reports of weather
modification technology appeared regularly in
academic science journals until the early 1970's,
during which period there were scientific debates,
Congressional reports, and international treaties
restricting its use. However, after this, such
publicly available information all but disappeared,
and people who commented on this were labeled
"conspiracy buffs". Is has only been recently that
public discussion of HAARP (High Altitude Auroral
Research Project) has made it necessary for public
officials to make declarations of ignorance or
denial and to use disinformation tactics listed in
the remainder of this report.

A variation of this tactic involves creating a news
or information source that purports to exhaustively
cover all important aspects of a topic, but, in
reality, selectively ignores one or more crucial
viewpoints. This tactic has been used against
retrovirus researcher Peter Duesberg regarding the
AIDS/HIV debate. As more people have become aware of
his arguments that HIV is not the cause of AIDS,
selective silence is no longer adequate to discredit
his views, and increasingly aggressive
disinformation tactics described below have been

    [4.2] The "how dare you" gambit

If it becomes impossible to ignore the issue, become
indignant, focus on side-issues, and accuse your
opponents of attacking some sacred cow or
politically correct idea. Regardless of evidence or
logical arguments offered, deny that your opponents'
arguments have any credibility. This tactic works
especially well when combined with the "Invoke
authority" rule (see below).

Even though there are almost no double-blind studies
of vaccination efficacy in humans, the official
hierarchies of the medical and pharmaceutical
industries continue to dismiss the huge volume of
scientific research that provides evidence of
ineffectiveness and serious side effects for
specific vaccines, refusing to even discuss the
evidence. Critics of vaccination are accused of
endangering the public safety (sacred cow) and of
contradicting decades of authoritative medical
opinions and tradition.

    [4.3] Invoke authority

Side-step any discussion of the issues, and remind
your audience and your opponents of your impeccable
credentials. If you represent a government agency or
prestigious university, simply claim authoritative
knowledge of the subject without offering any
justification. If you are lower in the perceived
hierarchy, back up your authority with other
official-sounding citations, such as legal,
academic, or scientific journal references.
Fabricate or imply such citations if they don't
exist, since few will check them, or select only
those citations that support your argument. Use
plenty of jargon and technical details you know will
be beyond the capacity or training of your audience,
and avoid explaining or defining key words and ideas
to keep them ignorant. It is the appearance of
expertise you must cultivate, not the enlightenment
of your audience.

Many medical information websites use this tactic to
influence public behavior; medical recommendations
are given without any justification other than "we
know better, we are the doctors" -- no references,
scant explanations, and no mention of other opinions
or options. Frequent use of vague phrases such as "top
scientists agree that..." and "the evidence is
overwhelming..." should alert one that the invoke
authority gambit has been played. As a particularly
egregious example of this, when South African
President Thabo Mbeki publicly announced his desire
to air the debate between defenders and skeptics
of the "HIV causes AIDS" hypothesis, 5000 scientists
rushed to sign a declaration saying that HIV does
cause AIDS, as if scientific issues were now to be
decided not by reasoned debate, but by mob rule and
by fiat. [refs. 10a-10b]

Henry Kissinger was a master at invoking authority.
His confident style of speaking, together with his
ponderous German accent, employment of polysyllabic
vocabulary, and reputation as an eminent Harvard
professor provided him the tactical capability of
extirpating his critics' strategies with rhetorical
finesse, in the interest of preserving the hegemony
of Western democratic institutions for the
enforcement of genocidal, but utilitarian, policies
necessary to maximize international stability and
detente. Following Kissinger's rhetorical assaults,
his audience would have fallen asleep, comforted by
his reassurances that even the most dastardly
actions had reasonable, erudite explanations.

    [4.4] Create a straw man, and knock it down

Ignore the main points of your critics and
exaggerate the weakest aspects of their arguments,
magnifying their significance such that these
weaknesses seemingly destroy the credibility of all
criticisms they have made against you. Hold up the
weakest of their weak arguments for public display,
and show how masterfully you can demolish them,
while avoiding any discussion of your critics' main

This tactic is easiest to use when technical or
scientific subjects or matters of weighty
international politics are in debate. The general
public often lacks the logical skills or the
technical understanding to evaluate each point on
its own merit, and, instead, tends to focus on the
rhetorical skills of the contenders.

Critics of scientist Peter Duesberg, who has
questioned the role of HIV in causing AIDS, often
refuse to address his main point that HIV has never
been shown to satisfy the basic requirements of
Koch's postulates, which have been the standard of
proof of infectious disease causation for over a
century. Instead, they focus on supposed mistakes
and assumptions he makes unrelated to the central
issue of Koch's postulates. (See references under
"AIDS" in section [7] below.)


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[4.5] Fabricate arguments using pseudo-logic

Create arguments to reinforce your position by false
yet plausible chains of logic. Only one step in the
chain need be faulty to create the desired illusion.
Since public education no longer trains students in
formal logic, most citizens are incapable of
rational thought, and can be fooled by even the most
blatantly flawed logic. Common mistakes include:
    (1) confusing statistical correlation with proof
of cause-and-effect relationship;
    (2) "proof" by analogy;
    (3) implicit or unstated assumptions which are
invalid or not applicable;
    (4) failing to distinguish between a priori and
a posteriori probabilities in the application of
    (5) inadequate or excessively vague definition
of the class of objects or phenomenon under

This topic is much too large to discuss here. See
the "Reference" section [refs. 6a-6d] for articles
and textbooks on scientific research design and
interpretation, and statistics.

One special type of faulty argument appears
frequently in nutritional and herbal literature:
focusing on the presence (or absence) of one or a
few chemical constituents, and then attributing all
health effects and pharmacologic actions to these
chemicals. For example, much commercial literature
promoting the use of canola oil focuses on the omega-3
fatty acid content, yet ignores other potentially
harmful constituents. One theory for why
Mediterranean-type diets may provide significant
health benefits is that these diets are high in olive
oil and fish, which together provide a relatively
greater amount of omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6
fatty acids. Such a balance results in the body
producing relatively greater amount of
anti-inflammatory eicosanoids than pro-inflammatory
eicosanoids. [ref. 11] Even if we assume that this
theory is correct, it is still a leap of faulty logic
to conclude that all foods containing high amounts of
omega-3 fats, including canola oil, will be healthy
to consume. Foods and herbs consist of thousands of
natural chemical compounds, and the total effect on
the body is often difficult to predict based on only
a few chemical constituents. If this type of reasoning
were acceptable, it would lead us to conclude that a
daily dose of rubber tires for breakfast would be
healthy because they are low in cholesterol, or that
pulverized wood chips would be healthy merely because
they are high in natural fibre.

    [4.6] Name-calling, ad hominem attacks, guilt by

Inflame your opponents by ridiculing them, attacking
their character and integrity, and accusing them of
having hidden agendas and biases. Imply that they
are affiliated with other individuals or groups that
are politically incorrect ("right-wing",
"bleeding-heart liberal", "communist", "anarchist",
"conspiracy buffs", "racist", "religious fanatic").
If such associations cannot be uncovered,
manufacture them by planting such persons into the
target individual's circle of associates. These
tactics will force your opponent to go on the
defensive and will temporarily deflect from the
central issues.

Guilt by association is a powerful media tool,
because the overwhelming majority of people are
still victims of Pavlovian conditioning from public
education, advertising, and television, and will
react as programmed by the media and their corporate
masters. Since most people are afraid of being
associated with anything politically incorrect, even
if they agree with the person being attacked, they
will be cowed into silence.

    [4.7] Hit-and-run attacks

This tactic works best in public forums, where, as a
member of the audience, one can hurl vicious and
irrational invective at the speaker and then
disappear, avoiding any need to justify one's attack
with a rational reply. The speaker will often be
thrown off balance emotionally. In our era of
glorified "democracy", the ignorant majority often
interprets the sheer number of these attacks as a
vote of no confidence, and the ugly dynamics of mob
violence may overwhelm any ability to debate and
reason logically.

Verbal hit-and-run artists and hecklers appeal to
the lowest common denominator of the public, who
increasingly represent an anti-intellectual element
of our society. These hit-and-run agents,
having been deceived for too long by manipulative
authority figures (see "Invoke authority" rule
above), may feel that they are being
anti-authoritarian, but in reality, are only playing
into the hands of their puppet-masters who
manipulate them like pawns in a chess game.

Journalists have increasingly adopted these tactics
in public forums, leading public figures, especially
politicians, to limit their speeches to nebulous
sound bites and politically correct platitudes, as
anything of substance will invite noisy debate and
verbal hit-and-run attacks.

Internet forums and public newsgroups are also prone
to hit-and-run attacks, facilitated by the anonymity
that the Internet provides. As a consequence, many
of the most useful and informative Internet forums
have evolved to limit their membership to
individuals approved by the group or by the
sponsors, providing for expulsion if a member
engages in hit-and-run behavior or "flaming".
However, this trend has not solved the problem
entirely, as it has led, instead, to a
compartmentalization of interest groups, each of
which decides which ideas are politically correct
within its domain, and which ideas are subject to
open season for ridicule and hit-and-run attacks by

    [4.8] Crank up the rumor mill to create
complexity, enigmas

Create an atmosphere of rumor-mongering. Assign your
agents, who will pretend to be sympathetic to the
opposition group, to generate unfounded rumors so
that you can criticize their lack of credibility.
Embellish the plain truth with exaggeration and a
few well chosen lies; later, expose these
embellishments as lies to discredit the original
truth by association.

If certain facts are in danger of being publicly
revealed, the media powers may arrange for doctored
variations of the facts to appear first in
supermarket tabloids and other disreputable sources,
surrounded by outrageous and preposterous lies.
College-educated people have been well trained to
reflexively reject such information, which will have
been permanently tainted by its sleazy debut. "Oh,
so you read it in the National Kibitzer? And was it
on the same page as the article about the imminent
alien invasion from Andromeda?" (Smirk, smirk. We
college graduates know that only the credulous
masses believe such nonsense.) With the advent of
the Internet, another variation would be: "Oh, so
you read it on the Internet did you? We know how
reliable that is, don't we? Did you find it on the
Scuzzoids Konspiracy website?"

Another common example of this tactic is to create
so many differing versions and variations of the
alleged facts that most people will give up trying
to sift through the mountains of alleged facts and
disinformation. The only people with sufficient
dedication and persistence to pursue the truth will
become known as fanatics. Classic 20th century
examples of this tactic include studies of the JFK
assassination and the UFO phenomenon. As a testament
to the effectiveness of disinformation by rumor
mill, one can no longer even say the words "UFO" or
"JFK assassination" without eliciting smug and
knowing looks among middle-class,
college-indoctrinated robotoids.

    [4.9] Establish fall-back positions

To protect important secrets from the public,
establish multiple layers of plausible fall-back
positions. If superficial facts are exposed, have
plausible but relatively simple stories to explain
these. If deeper secrets are exposed, have
progressively more detailed fall-back scenarios
ready to "confess" to the public, based on
"discoveries" of "oversights and misunderstandings".
Such "confessions" may add to one's public
credibility, as the public always enjoys
well-enacted displays of penitence and remorse for
one's mistakes, especially if accompanied by piety,
somber tears, and a display of the American flag in
the background.

Revelations of horrific medical experiments on U.S.
citizens by universities and military research
departments following World War II were accompanied
by solemn declarations that such atrocities were
merely due to lack of stringent regulatory controls,
and that efforts would be made thereafter to enforce
informed consent rules in medical experimentation.
In reality, there is much evidence that such
research continues to this day, only under greater
secrecy. [Refs. 4a-4j. One must remember to apply
all the rules of disinformation to these references,
as the truth rarely pops out so cleanly or easily.]

    [4.10] Betrayal by trusted source

Establish a reliable source of daily news that can
occasionally be used to propagate strategically
important lies (usually those lies that help
maintain billion-dollar corporate profit streams).
People inevitably use shortcuts to determine their
own truths, and after having decided that a source
is reliable after an initial evaluation period, will
be less likely to question its authority.

This tactic is common, though it requires a massive
investment in time and resources; once a source has
been used as a conduit for too many falsehoods and
disinformation campaigns, it loses its credibility.
In this event, the organizational resources may be
dismantled and reorganized under a new name and

Upon experiencing multiple and continual betrayals
by trusted news and information sources, citizens
usually choose one of two options:
    (1) The majority gives up trying to figure out
the truth and retreats into mindless diversions
(sitcoms, soap operas, game shows, gambling, TV
football, etc.), dismissing the quest for truth as
the ravings of conspiracy fanatics;
    (2) A small minority becomes motivated by
annoyance and frustration to pursue the truth with
great tenacity.

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