by Marco Torres, originally posted April 8, 2015
The long anticipated cultural war over vaccines initiated by governments on behalf of the pharmaceutical industrial complex is steadily increasing in intensity. Contrary to innate human rights, mandatory initiatives to vaccinate the entire population have spawned well over one hundred bills across 36 states. How any sane person can still believe that the vaccination movement is one of benevolence or anything to do with advancing health is beyond logic. Since the false pandemic in 2009, the pharmaceutical industry has paid more than 2.5 billion to doctors and industry shills who have used their position of trust to push deadly drugs and the false science of vaccines to billions.
In the early 1970s, a group of medical researchers decided to study an unusual question. How would a medical audience respond to a lecture that was completely devoid of content, yet delivered with authority by a convincing phony? To find out, the authors hired a distinguished-looking actor and gave him the name Dr. Myron L. Fox. They fabricated an impressive CV for Dr. Fox and billed him as an expert in mathematics and human behavior. Finally, they provided him with a fake lecture composed largely of impressive-sounding gibberish, and had him deliver the lecture wearing a white coat to three medical audiences under the title “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education.” At the end of the lecture, the audience members filled out a questionnaire.
The responses were overwhelmingly positive. The audience members described Dr. Fox as “extremely articulate” and “captivating.” One said he delivered “a very dramatic presentation.” After one lecture, 90 percent of the audience members said they had found the lecture by Dr. Fox “stimulating.” Over all, almost every member of every audience loved Dr. Fox’s lecture, despite the fact that, as the authors write, it was delivered by an actor “programmed to teach charismatically and nonsubstantively on a topic about which he knew nothing.”
Examples of sophisticated disinformation are more difficult to identify because they are more effectively disguised, but they have been exposed more than once in the post cold war era.
Today, well-funded, highly-organized disinformation and misinformation operations are using similar tactics throughout government, academia and all facets of media. The only difference is that many of the players are credentialed propagandists, not actors, although many of them should win academy awards for the myths they are attempting to pass off as facts.
Bought and paid for propaganda is now masquerading as scientific progress. The pursuit of truth in modern scientific query is marred by greed, profit and only a concept of truth built on the assumption of an unexamined good.
The US Government and industries continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to promote propaganda (now called “social marketing”), assigning government- or industry-funded propagandists (also known as social marketers, social scientists, and thought leaders) who use their academic credentials and smiles to promote a product or idea that you don’t want. Websites like Wikipedia and CDC.gov are largely controlled by faceless and nameless industry and government propagandists who ensure that what’s posted does not challenge the industry or governmental dogma.
“It strokes your narcissism,” says Erick Turner, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University. There is the money, of course, which is no small matter. Some high-level KOLs (key opinion leaders) make more money consulting for the pharmaceutical industry than they get from their academic institutions. But the real appeal of being a KOL is that of being acknowledged as important. That feeling of importance comes not so much from the pharmaceutical companies themselves, but from associating with other academic luminaries that the companies have recruited. Academic physicians talk about the experience of being a KOL the way others might talk about being admitted to a selective fraternity or an exclusive New York dance club. No longer are you standing outside the rope trying to catch the doorman’s eye, waiting hungrily to be admitted. You are one of the chosen. “You get to hobnob with these mega-thought leaders and these aspiring thought leaders,” Turner says. “They make you feel like you’re special.”
Turner is a former drug reviewer for the Food and Drug Administration. He worked at the FDA for three years, after six years as a fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health. In 2003, after taking an academic position at Oregon, he began giving talks on behalf of pharmaceutical companies—Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. “I left the FDA, and I felt kind of frustrated that I had all this knowledge about how clinical trials work, and I felt there wasn’t much of anything I could do with it,” he says. “It felt like a demotion going from bossing big pharma around, where you tell them to jump and they ask how high, and then suddenly you are way on the other end of the food chain.”
The Evolution of Social Marketing
According to social marketing expert Nedra Kline Weinreich, propaganda in the health communications field has rapidly changed since 1970. It has evolved from a one-dimensional reliance on public service announcements to a more sophisticated approach which draws from successful techniques used by commercial marketers, termed “social marketing.” Rather than dictating the way that information is to be conveyed from the top-down, public health professionals now claim to listen to the needs and desires of the target audience themselves, and build the program from there. This focus on the “consumer” involves in-depth research and constant re-evaluation of every aspect of the program. In fact, “research” and evaluation together form the very cornerstone of the social marketing process.
Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, when Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors. As described in their report Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change (1971), social marketing ostensibly “seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” This technique has been used extensively in international health programs, especially for HIV and vaccine programs, and is used in the United States for such diverse topics as drug abuse, heart disease, organ donation, and global warming. Although drug companies generate billions of dollars in annual profits, vaccines remain so dangerous that pharmaceutical lobbyists convinced Congress to indemnify manufacturers when they kill, cripple, and maim thousands of Americans each year. So while manufacturers claim to make these products for the public good, there is little evidence that the vaccine industry benefits anyone but the industry itself.
Weinreich presents one example of a Marketing Mix Strategy for a breast cancer screening campaign for older women, where funding would come from governmental grants, such as from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), or the local health department, foundation grants or an organization like the American Cancer Society. Most Americans have no idea that all three of these organizations are funded directly or indirectly by the pharmaceutical industry, and social marketers have no responsibility to confirm the reliability and credibility of the products or services they promote.
So while Merck may have paid $4 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits related to drugs that kill, cripple, and injure thousands, social marketers are tasked with promoting these reckless campaigns, relying heavily on entrepreneurial researchers (i.e., “junk scientists”) and bearing no responsibility when their campaigns and products harm consumers.
It is an article of faith among pharmaceutical executives that KOL’s are a critical part of any marketing plan. According to a 2004 study of the 15 largest pharmaceutical companies, the industry spends just under a third of its total marketing expenditures on KOL’s. So important are KOL’s that new businesses have emerged solely to recruit, train, and manage them. The reason they are so important is their role in managing the discourse around a given product. Equal parts scientific study, commercial hype, and academic buzz, this discourse will begin years before a drug or device is brought onto the market, and will usually continue at least until the patent expires.
If a company can manage the discourse effectively, it can establish the desperate need for its drug, spin clinical-trial results to its advantage, downplay the side effects of a drug, neutralize its critics, and play up the drug’s off-label uses. (Drug companies are prohibited from promoting a drug for conditions other than the ones for which the FDA has approved it, but because these off-label uses are often highly profitable, many companies have found creative ways of getting around the prohibition.) Virtually all physicians are on the receiving end of this communication, but only a relatively few deliver it. If the industry can influence those few, then it can also influence the rest.
Organized & Professional Disinformation Operations
Well-funded and highly-organized disinformation operations are in full-swing throughout the Internet. From social media to forums and comment boards. Even professional websites that have only one purpose: defame, distract, and destroy the truth.
However organized, the tactics are very predictable in a world filled with lies and half-truths. This, sadly, includes every day news media, one of the worst offenders with respect to being a source of disinformation.
Disinformation campaigns are launched against those seeking to uncover and expose the truth and/or the conspiracy.
Websites such as Quackwatch.com, skeptic.org.uk, skepticblog.com, sciencebasedmedicine.org, skepticalraptor.com, debunkingdenialism.com and geneticliteracyproject.org, among many others, exist only to promote synthetic and organic disinformation on almost any topic that does not concur with mainstream thought.
They consist of media-savvy corporate propagandists and pseudo-journalists who front the opinions and positions of chemical corporations and pharmaceutical companies while they pretend to be independent journalists interested in science.
People can be bought, threatened, or blackmailed into providing disinformation, so even “good guys” can be suspect in many cases.
A rational person participating as one interested in the truth will evaluate that chain of evidence and conclude either that the links are solid and conclusive, that one or more links are weak and need further development before conclusion can be arrived at, or that one or more links can be broken, usually invalidating (but not necessarily so, if parallel links already exist or can be found, or if a particular link was merely supportive, but not in itself key) the argument.
The game is played by raising issues which either strengthen or weaken (preferably to the point of breaking) these links. It is the job of a disinfo artist to interfere with these evaluations … to at least make people think the links are weak or broken when, in truth, they are not … or to propose alternative solutions leading away from the truth. Often, by simply impeding and slowing down the process through disinformation tactics, a level of victory is assured because apathy increases with time and rhetoric.
It would seem true in almost every instance that if one cannot break the chain of evidence for a given solution, revelation of truth has won out. If the chain is broken either a new link must be forged, or a whole new chain developed, or the solution is invalid an a new one must be found … but truth still wins out. There is no shame in being the creator or supporter of a failed solution, chain, or link, if done with honesty in search of the truth. This is the rational approach. While it is understandable that a person can become emotionally involved with a particular side of a given issue, it is really unimportant who wins, as long as truth wins. But the disinfo artist will seek to emotionalize and chastise any failure (real or false claims thereof), and will seek by means of intimidation to prevent discussion in general.
It is the disinfo artist and those who may pull their strings (those who stand to suffer should the crime be solved) who MUST seek to prevent rational and complete examination of any chain of evidence which would hang them. Since fact and truth seldom fall on their own, they must be overcome with lies and deceit. Those who are professional in the art of lies and deceit, such as the intelligence community and the professional criminal (often the same people or at least working together), tend to apply fairly well defined and observable tools in this process. However, the public at large is not well armed against such weapons, and is often easily led astray by these time-proven tactics. Remarkably, not even media and law enforcement have been trained to deal with these issues. For the most part, only the players themselves understand the rules of the game.
Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation
1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it—especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.
2. Become incredulous and indignant.
Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used to show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.
3. Create rumor mongers.
Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method works especially well with a silent press because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such “arguable rumors.” If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a “wild rumor” from a “bunch of kids on the Internet” which can have no basis in fact.
4. Use a straw man.
Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule.
This is also known as the primary “attack the messenger” ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as “kooks,” “right-wing,” “liberal,” “left-wing,” “terrorists,” “conspiracy buffs,” “radicals,” “militia,” “racists,” “religious fanatics,” “sexual deviants,” and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
6. Hit and Run.
In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain critical reasoning—simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent’s viewpoint.
7. Question motives.
Twist or amplify any fact which could be taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
8. Invoke authority.
Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough “jargon” and “minutia” to illustrate you are “one who knows,” and simply say it isn’t so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
9. Play Dumb.
No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.
10. Associate opponent charges with old news.
A derivative of the straw man—usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with—serves as a kind of investment for the future should the matter not be so easily contained. Where such a scenario can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually then be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues—so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.
11. Establish and rely on fall-back positions.
Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the “high road” and “confess” with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made—but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which “just aren’t so.” Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later, and even publicly “call for an end to the nonsense” because you have already “done the right thing.” Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for “coming clean” and “owning up” to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.
12. Enigmas have no solution.
Drawing on the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to lose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.
13. Alice in Wonderland Logic.
Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards or with an apparent deductive logic which forbears any actual material fact.
14. Demand complete solutions.
Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best with issues qualifying for rule 10.
15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions.
This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.
16. Vanish evidence and witnesses.
If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won’t have to address the issue.
17. Change the subject.
Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to sidetrack the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can “argue” with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues.
18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents.
If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent. Not only will you avoid discussing the issues in the first instance, but even if their emotional response addresses the issue, you can further avoid the issues by then focusing on how “sensitive they are to criticism.”
19. Ignore facts presented, demand impossible proofs.
This is perhaps a variant of the “play dumb” rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by. (It may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld, such as a murder weapon.) In order to completely avoid discussing issues, it may be required that you to categorically deny and be critical of media or books as valid sources, deny that witnesses are acceptable, or even deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance.
20. False evidence.
Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations—as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution. This works best when the crime was designed with contingencies for the purpose, and the facts cannot be easily separated from the fabrications.
21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body.
Subvert the process to your benefit and effectively neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. Once an investigation is convened, the evidence and testimony are required to be secret when properly handled. For instance, if you own the prosecuting attorney, it can insure a Grand Jury hears no useful evidence and that the evidence is sealed an unavailable to subsequent investigators. Once a favorable verdict is achieved, the matter can be considered officially closed. Usually, this technique is applied to find the guilty innocent, but it can also be used to obtain charges when seeking to frame a victim.
22. Manufacture a new truth.
Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), and leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.
23. Create bigger distractions.
If the above does not seem to be working to distract from sensitive issues, or to prevent unwanted media coverage of unstoppable events such as trials, create bigger news stories (or treat them as such) to distract the multitudes.
24. Silence critics.
If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, or merely by destroying them financially or emotionally or severely damaging their health.
If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, to avoid the issues, vacate the kitchen.
The important point to the propagandist is that the relative value of the various instruments of propaganda and their relation to the masses are constantly changing. If he is to get full reach for his message, he must take advantage of these shifts of value the instant they occur. Today the focus is on social marketing.
Undoubtedly the public is becoming aware of the methods which are being used to mold its opinions and habits. If the public is better informed about the processes of its own life, it will be so much the more receptive to reasonable appeals to its own interests. No matter how sophisticated or how cynical the public may become about publicity methods, such methods must respond to the basic appeals, because the public will always need food, crave amusement, long for beauty, ad respond to leadership. If the public becomes more intelligent in its commercial demands, commercial firms will meet the new standards. If the public becomes weary of the old methods used to persuade it to accept a given idea or commodity, its leaders will present their appeals more intelligently.
Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent people must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help bring order out of chaos.
This article, which originally appeared here, is offered under Creative Commons license.
About the Author
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.