Beware: Powerful Hypnotists are Trying to Trick You!

Last month, I signed up for Mike Lindell’s emails.  I kinda wanted a MyPillow, but not really, and so thought, ‘eh, just get on the e-mail list’. 

Guess what I was doing three weeks later on when he ran a flash sale? That’s right.  Pulling out my credit card to buy something I didn’t need with money I don’t have. 

What does this little anecdote have to do with the title of this post?  As it turns out, a whole lot.  Stay with me.

Fake News Feast

We all know politicians and media lie to us, constantly.  The left knows, the right knows, the inbetweeners know, heck even our pets know.  Spin, smoke and mirrors, gaslight, fake news, even hypnosis and magic are some of the words we use to describe this phenomenon.

You could say it was always thus: in the 50s the general population in America believed Alger Hiss was totally innocent, and Chambers a nut job; yet evidence reveals the opposite.  And in his book Homage to Catalonia, with boots on the ground in Barcelona, George Orwell delineates various spins English periodicals gave to the unfolding events in the Spanish Civil War.

But I’d propose that today, what’s passing as news and political rhetoric is fundamentally spin.  They dabble in empirical information, but the singular aim of politicians and the media is to persuade. 

And they’re very effective at it.

How does it work, exactly?  How do they spin narratives and downright lie and get away with it?  Wouldn’t the public be outraged and call them out by now? 

Trump’s impeachment trial, and specifically one tweet presented, encapsulated an instance of this persuasive propaganda.  In breaking it down; the circumstances preceding the lie, what the lie consisted of, how the public reacted; helps in part to answer these questions.

A 'This. Is. What. Happened.' Campaign

In the immediate aftermath of confounding event at the capitol on January 6th, the media (and in one instance, before the event even occurred) ran a focused “This is What Happened” campaign. 

Here’s how this campaign works: push pre-determined Narrative, HARD.  Repeat Narrative repeatedly, tell lies that support Narrative and disappear evidence that contradicts Narrative. 

In this instance, the Narrative was: Trump incited his MAGA base to violence and they stormed the Capitol with insurrectionist aims, and so he should be impeached. 

The headlines printed this Narrative and the talking heads, pundits, experts and visages discussed it. 

Dozens of outlets pounded the story that police officer Brian Sicknick, “was bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher” by right wing extremists, firmly etching the bloody fatality in the public’s mind.  Until they quietly suggested, several weeks later, that he wasn’t. 

Antifa activist John Sullivan got the word out on social media that “we need numbers to show up” at the Capitol on January 6th.  Less than a week after the incident, all of his Twitter and Instagram accounts (@realjaydenx, @insurgenceusa & more) were deactivated.  (However, they couldn’t remove this C-span video, which records Sullivan (1:37) as one of the first “insurrectionists” to “rampage” the Capitol.  Note, also from this video, that the “insurrectionists”, Antifa and otherwise, walked inside the corded rope; hardly the behavior of crazed terrorists.) 

The media bludgeoned the public with their Narrative until a plurality were committed--remember that word--to a belief that yes, the Narrative is indeed what happened.

Smoke and Mirrors Swalwell

On day two of the impeachment trial, CA Representative Swalwell presented the following image, while speaking the following words:

Kremer tweeted, “The cavalry is coming, Mr. President,” referring to the cavalry showing up on January 6.  She also added a website for supporters to RSVP and made clear what the message was. #StopTheSteal.  And what did President Trump say in response to hearing that the cavalry was coming?  A great honor, he wrote back.

Let’s play Hocus Focus: what’s different about Swalwell’s statement and the tweet he presented?  That’s right, Swalwell incorrectly read “Calvary”, falsely stating that it read “cavalry”. (Additionally, Kremer did not tweet this--but more on that later.) 

A meaningless error?  Well, hm, let’s define these two words:

Cavalry: an army component mounted on horseback 

Calvary: an open-air representation of the crucifixion of Jesus 

Wow, these words don’t mean the same thing at all.  In fact, they almost have OPPOSITE meanings.  Swalwell’s false reading (cavalry) communicates militant action, while the actual tweet (Calvary)  references Christ’s Crucifixion. 

No, definitely not meaningless errors.  

Swalwell didn’t simply distort the meaning of the text; he completely inverted it

As David Schoen, Trump's Lawyer spells out so clearly (2:06): 

House manager Swalwell showed you this tweet….and said this tweet reflected a call to arms!  Call in the cavalry for January 6th.  He expressly led you to believe that President Trump’s supporter believed that the president wanted armed supporters at the January 6th speech; paramilitary groups, the cavalry, ready for physical combat.  The problem is, the actual text is the exact opposite: tweeter promised to bring the Calvary, a public display of Christ’s crucifixion, a central symbol of her Christian faith, with her to the president’s speech; a symbol of faith, love and peace. 

Swalwell presented this egregious perversion of evidence on a massive stage, with millions of Americans tuned in.  Given the enormity of the platform, you have to ask how the error came about. 

There are two possible explanations:

1. Swalwell and the rest of the Impeachment team made a foolish, yet honest mistake.  While analyzing this tweet, they genuinely didn’t realize it read “Calvary” and not “cavalry”. 

2. They knew the tweet didn’t read as they’d present it, but they ran with it anyway, as the “cavalry” mis-reading perfectly suited the Narrative they were pushing. 

Except, wait—that’s right—we’re talking about at least a dozen reasonably intelligent, educated, grown-ass men; i.e. in possession of a rudimentary grasp of English vocabulary; examining this tweet.  So that rules out the first explanation. 

Leaving us with only one possible explanation: they knew damn well what they were doing.

A First Down

You’d think a flagrant misrepresentation on a huge platform would be an embarrassment, a faux pas of epic proportions.  However, given they knew they were making it, Swalwell et. al. clearly didn’t think so.

What kind of response did Swalwell’s presentation receive? 

Here's what Vox had to say

Schoen also quibbled with the prosecution over the significance of misspellings in tweets...To be clear, the discrepancies on the tweets are legitimate errors, but they had absolutely no bearing on the actual content of the posts in question or the substance of the House managers’ case. 

 And here's two responses on twitter: 

Not exactly throwing mud into Swalwell’s face.  Not at all.  Instead, they’re citing Swalwell's false statement as fact, and discrediting the actual evidence. 

Wow!  The Impeachment Team certainly advanced their Narrative to a segment of the public; this play secured them a first down.

Not Exactly the High Road

Not only did Swalwell mis-read the text of @jenlawrence21's tweet, he also incorrectly attributed the text to Amy Kremer.  Additionally, the image he presented added a blue check mark to the @jenlawrence21 account, which would be an indication she’s a “high profile influencer”.  To finish of the caricature they wanted to present to the public, they also changed her profile picture: rather than the headshot of her smiling, they put up an image of a woman holding a gun!  You can’t make this stuff up. 

At this point I’ll point out that altering evidence is illegal under both state and federal law, with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison

Trump’s lawyers were quick to point this out both during the trial and afterwards.  In an after-trial interview on CBS News with Lana Zak, Trump Impeachment Lawyer Michael van der Veen said the following: 

The prosecutors doctored evidence.  It was absolutely shocking.  Somebody should look at the conduct of these house managers.  It's unconscionable.  When they were caught, they didn't say anything about it.  They didn't even try to come up with an excuse about it.  That's not the way our prosecutors or our government officials should be conducting themselves.  The media shouldn't be letting them get away with it either. 

The Impeachment team flagrantly broke the law during an impeachment proceeding in which they accuse the president of instigating insurrection.  They hardly justify their outrage at Trump.           

More importantly, the Impeachment Team made it abundantly clear this ordeal has nothing to do with the law at all--rather it's sheer showmanship.  They're trying Trump in the court of public opinion; i.e. it's entirely about persuading you and me.    

Dust off Cialdini

At first glance, this play of the Impeachment team solicits a “Say what?” response.  How could they break the law and tell a flagrant lie — yet have it serve to advance their narrative to the public?

Leonardo da Vinci tells us:  

It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.

In 1980, Robert Cialdini published Influence, in which he explains seven distinct methods that marketers and politicians, and anyone really, use to persuade.  One of these methods he calls “Commitment and Consistency.”

Once a person makes a commitment to something, even a very small one, it’s more likely they'll make a larger commitment later on. When I committed myself to receiving Mike Lindell’s e-mails, it opened the door for me to make the larger commitment of forking over cash. 

Generally, our inclination to commit and be consistent is a desirable personality trait.  'Honestly' and 'stability' are some words we use to describe individuals who make steady commitment to families, careers, and beliefs. 

However, Cialdini points out, this desire to be consistent can make us impervious to reason and so vulnerable to exploitation. 

Have you ever went through a lugubrious online order, advancing through screen after screen, only to arrive at the “final” screen and be hit with an additional expense?  Trust me, the arduous process was by design.  After clicking through so many screens, most people become so committed to the purchase they go ahead and pay the added fee.   

In an example from the book, Cialdini cites a study where a group of Californians who’ve been previously asked “how committed are you to keeping California beautiful” were WAY more likely to put an enormous “drive carefully” billboard onto their lawn than those who hadn’t been asked.  

Unbelievable--simply answering a question greatly increases the likelihood of agreeing to an enormous sign in your front yard!  The desire to be committed to our convictions is that strong.    

Which brings us to the Impeachment trial.  

A portion of the public had been so committed to the Narrative the media pushed, that when presented with another piece of “evidence” that supposedly supported the Narrative, they were able to gloss over the fact that:

a) the Impeachment team had broken the law by presenting doctored evidence, and

b) the evidence contradicted the argument the Impeachment team was making. 

It’s scary, really, what a commitment can drive you to think or do.

Journalists, Politicians, or...Hypnotists?!?

Just how far will the media and politicians go to advance their narrative?  Well as demonstrated last week, they’ll not only lie, but will also break the law. 

This is to say, these politicians and journalists aren’t invested in the fabric the binds the country; i.e. rule of law and the Constitution; but rather are adherents to the tools of persuasion and hypnosis. 

In Chapter 10 of Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn writes that the propaganda arm of the Soviet Union employed a team of hypnotists:

In the 20s some leading hypnotists gave up their careers and entered the service of the OGPU.  It is also reliably known that in the 30s a school for hypnotists existed in the NKVD. 

It's not at all a stretch to conclude we have a few hypnotists working within our system as well.  Very good ones.  They may well be running the show.

Who are the objects of their trickery?  YOU.  ME.  The everyday public.

The Stakes are High

The actions and beliefs of the unwashed masses shape the future of the country.  Even more critically, our actions and beliefs determine the relationship we have with our Creator.

In order to be engaged in reality, then, and not manipulated by a group of hypnotists, it’s crucial we understand their methods of persuasion and how they’re used on us. 

To this end, I highly recommend Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence.  It was published over thirty years ago but the message rings true today. Believe it or not, we’re still humans and wired the same as we were back in the dark ages of the 1980s. 

What’s you take?  How do you view persuasion and manipulation in the media? 


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