Saturday, January 15, 2011

Edward Bernays: How To Regiment the Public Mind. The Unspoken Guide to Think Tanks.

Manipulation of the Mind for Politics and Market. 
All Sales.

Is there a need to educate for anti-manipulation?

I. Edward Bernays

A.  Background 

Edward Bernays is an advertising genius who dates from the early twentieth century, 1920's. Public Relations (read: public salesmanship) Genius.  He is a brilliant contributor to a field that virtually governs our political process, but few know his name despite access to the information. Are we distracted from researching, his name underplayed, lest people read his material, and perhaps the think tanks will be neutralized.

If people know what methods manipulate them, they may (?) choose not to be manipulated, but to require facts before committing to a position.  Edward Bernays.  He is known as the father of spin.  See

There is even a museum about him. See  He is the sales-opinion-changing savante, from whom all propaganda analysis springs (not a bad word in the 1920's, just a word for selling ideas and things, the sales talk techniques). Is that so? See his book, Propaganda, at As a nephew of Sigmund Freud, he no doubt bumped into psychological and psychiatric concepts early.

B.  Message.  

1. Any one can be sold any thing.  To that end, the public mind must be regimented.
Those with and in power must regiment the public mind in order to retain their position, just as the military regiments bodies.  Bernays lays out just how to do it.  His analyses are in use against us all today.  See Timeline of Edward Bernays' Events and Work, Google. The science of ballyhoo, see Natural Pragmatism, Edward Bernays and the Science of Ballyhoo

Regiment the public mind.  It is going on.  See politicos and talk-jockeys use his advice. News columnists, email bombers, article-planters, tares among the wheat, is that so. One group of political operatives leaves the stage, another enters, does the same thing, and Bernays goes on forever. Consumers can be sold anyything, sellers' delight:  Repeat, deny, repeat, never debate, repeat, repeat.

2011 Update:  Governor Jerry Brown of California also notes the mantra, the regimentation of the mind, there the Republican mind, see

2.  Any transmission of an idea or position is propaganda. Enjoy your evening "news".

Transmission of ideas and positions is, as Bernays says, propaganda.  Listen to and watch the master, at

There is a publisher-owner's choice in media, of what to put out there, and how to put it. Media can transmit ideas and positions that in themselves constitute persuasion, not information: propaganda.
He who owns the media owns the people, is that so? The only defense of the people is to spot it, and that takes education, independent sources of information immediately available, update to

C. Relevance today.

The techniques he spearheaded are now running our airwaves, is that so?  Someone from the 1920's was so potent in his insights in commercial and ideological sales, into how our minds work, that his name seems to be suppressed.  He was so influential that current users may well fear that ordinary people might read about him and learn to defend.   Put a WikiSnoop into the political think tanks, the talking points bunkers, and up pops Bernays.  Boo.
His approach is echoed in modern military-socio-economic persuasion lore:  technologies of social control, see the Tactical Reality Dictionary at Edward Bernays himself is credited by name at, I believe it is, the detailed Introduction. Go to the home page and begin. 

II.  Technique Variation Today: 
How to Regiment the Public Mind

Rhetorical Flypaper 
The question or association context itself is a tactic,
a planting of a seed, so it stays put; not a request for information
The Rhetorical Flypaper is a technique of association, where asking the question, or making the association, suggests a position, a persuasive "yes" to that assocation.  It blurs lines between what is descriptive, neutral, demonstrable or not;  and what is directive, believe this about that. 

Associations that mislead. By the way a question is asked, or a statement made, the responder is put in a box -- the mere asking the question or making the association suggests its truth:  and those in hearing distance are, by the form of the question, steered to the impression that the asker wants. "Will no one rid me of this _________________?"
Bernays would applaud concept associations that mislead: Rhetorical Flypaper. Glenn Beck used it himself against others; then it was used against him. 

Beck himself had extended a tribute to Edward Bernays, see  FN 1

News is full of associations made with agenda.  Shootings of politicians, masses. Arizona. Did Obama's rhetoric cause the shootings? Of course. The question is asked, the association is made, Obama does not go on TV to deny, so it must be true. Rhetorical Flypaper.

III.  Read Bernays' Propaganda

The word then meant merely "marketing" or "sales" tactic

The Chapters in Propaganda

These are laid out online: Learn how to organize chaos, who are the new propagandists (tuck them in unawares), what is the psychology involved in persuading the public of something, a big one -- business and the public -- we have to get into that one; and propaganda combined with political leadership and women (!); uses of propaganda for education, and remember that propaganda was not a bad word, as it became after Germany's use of it; it meant just how to sell;   propaganda in arts and science and for education, and the bottom line:  propaganda's methods, its mechanics.

Effectiveness of Bernays' methods.
  • Bernays got women to smoke, because of his ads. Soon everybody was doing it.
  • Think tanks today use his tactics. Make claims as to an actor's motives. Study the group mind. Do focus groups. Attach electrodes to see what people like and don't like in proposed advertising, whether products or ideas.
  • Modify how it is presented to fit the group mind. Ah-h. The "people" relax and absorb.

Bernays died in 1995, at age 103.  Regiment the public mind.  He says smoke, and you smoke. Find his obituary at


FN 1 
  • Rhetorical Flypaper straight out of Bernays' ideas on how to regiment the public mind:  Death panels.  Job-killing health care. As to that, just think: Whose jobs are out, and should they be; whose will open up with new opportunities? No matter. Distract from the real issues, and damn it all by a misleading and likely false association.  If it were true, "job-killing", wouldn't people be given facts to support it? And the counterarguments? Make up an association, dare the other side to refute it, then declare it true because the other side did not provide its negative proofs. A twisted Rhetorical Flypaper.

We have tools for defense today, but they take time and research. And meanwhile, the impression is made and the position struck.  Can ordinary people differentiate without immediate access to fact-checks, comparisons. Who will pay to educate the people, when an ignorant people serve the needs of the marketers. Bernays relied on people not differentiating.

Can any of us differentiate fast between rhetorical descriptive, rhetorical hyperbole to show conviction; as opposed to rhetorica; directive, rhetorical hyperbole suggesting specific action against specific people in specific ways, to an audience known to contain the vulnerable. Meanwhile, the imprint is made.

Technologies of social control are so sophisticated that ordinary people can have no effective defense.  Antimanipulation should be a first choice in school curricula, and adult awareness.

FN 2  Edward Bernays and his sales techniques that move populations has morphed into Psy Ops.  See lecture series, this one on Propaganda, PR and PsyOps, at The Battle for Your Mind, presented by Kenneth Warren and John Guscott 2000, at  See Studying Wars: Wars for the Mind. Technologies for Control

Then, uses of fake information leaflets, now the equivalent of leaflet bomblets on the net, see past uses of this venerable strategy of ballyoo in war, at

Lest one get depressed at the extremes now engulfing us, with the three-fold political-military-industrial complex loosed against ourselves, lighten up:

Ballyhoo may call you: *
Net by night, TV by day
Your head, it will not warn you:
Think this way; think this way.

Ballyhoo will whisper.
Non-logic guides. Desensitized.
Here am I, no will for thinking,
I follow thee. Thee thinks for me-e-e.

Think for me-e-e-e

                ...   Think for me-e-e-e

                              ...     Think for  me-e-e-e e-e-e-e



(with thanks to South Pacific)
 Hey! Who's there?  Anybody home?  

    No comments: