What if there was an opinion cascade about pet rocks?

Availability cascade” is an academic term that basically has to do with manufacturing public opinion approval for a policy of some sort.  Any kind of policy at all.  In fact, think about how you might make an implausible idea seem plausible in public discourse, an idea no one ever even considered before.  Next, think about how to create a public opinion “cascade” in favor of that strange idea.  Availability cascades involve injecting a new idea into public discourse, which makes the idea more “available” to people to consider.  If you saturate the media with praises for the idea, and add just the right celebrity endorsements, you may well get a bandwagon effect and even get a majority to go along with it.  It can involve a lot of hype, but with political correctness it can also involve push back against those who don’t go along with the hype.

Let’s take an apolitical example of how an availability cascade might work.  In the 1970s there was a silly fad called “pet rocks.”  The pitch was that you didn’t have to feed or care for your rock, so it was the perfect pet!  Below is a youtube video that revisits the sort of narrative that would have gone with the sale of pet rocks.

Obviously, the pet rock was just a marketing gimmick and a passing fad.  The whole thing was tongue-in-cheek.  But just imagine what might have happened if anyone who called the idea of pet rocks “silly” was labelled and publicly smeared in the media as a “bigot.”  Repeatedly.  Imagine if Hollywood made films seriously praising the merits and the heroics of pet rocks and cast skeptics as villians.  Next, imagine if you could be fired from your job or socially shunned if you didn’t start talking respectfully about pet rocks and honoring them. My guess is that a lot of folks would start taking pet rocks very seriously, even if they privately found the whole thing ludicrous.  They would refrain from passing judgment.  They’d shut up about the silliness.  Or, to gain public approval, they might express great admiration, just as the crowds admired the Emperor’s non-existent New Clothes. And with a surging opinion cascade and great public acclaim for pet rocks, everyone would “ooohh and aahhh” before them, enthusiastically praising them, and giving them a special protected place in public policy.

Sure this idea seems far-fetched.  But we should consider how easy it is to get people to climb on board such a bandwagon.  Because with certain propaganda tools and insights into human behavior, it’s far too easy to do that.  Especially given a citizenry unaware of how propaganda affects them as individuals, which makes them even more vulnerable to psychological manipulation.  There are many social psychologists (virtually all on the political Left)  who study and measure the process of opinion cascades and how propaganda tactics can be used to tease out improbable trends.  (One such trend currently is the saturation of the media with agitation and propaganda to get the population on board with the transgender project.)

So an “availability cascade” is a bandwagon effect in public opinion that can be teased out through just the right propaganda and agitation techniques. More next time. . .

A Conversation with Robert Oscar Lopez on Campus Insanity

Please listen to a podcast I did with Robert Oscar Lopez, Professor of English at Cal State Northridge, by clicking here: https://soundcloud.com/militant-de-lenfant/cogwatch-13-morabito-on-the.

Professor Lopez and I discussed the current unrest on college campuses.  Why do so many students today seem unable or unwilling to engage other points of view?  Why do so many feel the need to retreat to “safe spaces” whenever they encounter a word or thought that “triggers” negative emotions?  Why are they so incoherent? So hostile? So blindly obedient to leftist agendas?  So divorced from reality?  To explore these questions, listen in!

Professor Lopez, author of Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Marriage ‘Equality’ has been targeted and harassed for the past several years by the LGBT lobby.  This is not only because of Lopez’s stance against same-sex marriage, but because he has a compelling story of his own:  He was raised by lesbians and identifies as bisexual.  (He may also be the object of their scorn because he has been faithfully married to the mother of his children for 15 years.)  The “diversity” bureaucrats at Cal State Northridge have worked tirelessly to concoct a case against Professor Lopez.  The video clip below will give you a brief summary of Professor Lopez’s insights:

You can also explore some of the related links on my site.  Here’s a post on the program “Bonds that Matter” that Professor Lopez hosted at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library last year. And here’s a previous podcast with Prof Lopez and me on the parallels between the LGBT lobby’s tactics and Bolshevism.  Also, here’s a brief review of mine of Jephthah’s Daughter’s.   Please order your copy from Amazon today!

 

 

A Reading List to Promote Sanity and Hack-Proof Your Mind

I offered “Ten Resources for Hack-Proofing Your Mind” in my Federalist article earlier this week, and I list them below. We need far more conversations about how political correctness – i.e., coercive thought reform – undermines our ability to think independently.  We also need to understand that when we lose the capacity to think freely, our minds become extremely vulnerable to being manipulated. On a mass scale, this is very bad for any society.

The resources below can help us inoculate ourselves against the process of extreme undue influence or brainwashing .  It’s a process that has no doubt affected the members of the death cult we call ISIS.  We can see the dangerous effects of undue influence in various other cults as well.  And we can also see that after decades of political correctness, coercive thought reform has become the order of the day on college campuses, coercing conformity among students.  In fact, any student who simply wishes to be left alone to pursue studies can end up harassed, like those who were hounded by protesters in the library at Dartmouth recently.  You can watch that incident here:

But I don’t believe those student agitators are really free agents. Their resentments have been so cultivated, and their access to diversity of thought has been so cut off, that they behave more like they have been mind-hacked by elites who have shamelessly recruited them for their own purposes.

The “safe spaces” that campus agitators demand really serve as little more than Pavlovian conditioning chambers that isolate them and guard them from exploring unofficial ideas. This way they are kept “safe” as fodder for  demagogues and propagandists.  What the students really need – what we all really need – are sane spaces where we can exchange ideas and develop friendships and goodwill.

A big part of the problem is that there has been precious little public understanding about the dynamics of coercive persuasion, and too little self-awareness about how vulnerable we all are to it.  So I’ve prepared a very select list of materials that I think are well worth exploring.  Ideally, people would consider these titles for book club discussions.  For a summary of each entry, you can go to my Federalist article:

  1. Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, ”by Doris Lessing (1986).
  2. The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashingby Joost A. M. Meerloo (1956)
  3. Cults in Our Midstby Margaret Thaler Singer (1995).
  4. The APA-Suppressed DIMPAC Report (1986)
  5. The Manipulated Mind:  Brainwashing, Conditioning, and Indoctrinationby Denise Winn (1983).
  6. Influenceby Robert B. Cialdini (1984).
  7. The Undiscovered Selfby Carl Jung (1957)
  8. We, by Yevgeniy Zamyatin (1922)
  9. NJ Safe and Sounda voluntary non-profit with the mission of educating the public about predatory alienation
  10. The Power of the Powerless,by Vaclav Havel (1978)

La Marseillaise and Defiance to Tyranny One Person at a Time

A while back, I posted a blog entry on the Marseillaise scene in the movie Casablanca.  I feel compelled to run this entry again as we contemplate yesterday’s terrorist attack on Paris.  Whenever we forget that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, we lose.  Let’s never forget that, as well as the fact that our little acts of resistance add up, even if they may seem in vain.  As Vaclav Havel pointed out in “The Power of the Powerless,” these acts of resistance have an illuminating effect. This is also very relevant as we contemplate the full frontal attacks on the First Amendment happening on college campuses these days.  Below is my post from February 28, 2014:

After entry of the US into WWII, Warner Brothers released the classic Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  One scene in Casablanca offers a magnificent juxtaposition with the Bavarian pub scene from The Mortal Storm (1940) discussed in the last post.  The place is similar:  another restaurant– Rick’s Cafe Americain.  Also similar is a cast of Nazi officers, stirring up song (this one “Die Wacht am Rhein.”)   But the similarities end there, when one man, Victor Laszlo, tells the orchestra to play the “La Marseillaise.”  A thrilled and grateful clientele all rise spontaneously and triumphantly, drowning out the Nazis’ song.

Watch here:

If Laszlo hadn’t done what he did, what then?  Chances are everyone would just sit around sulking.  The Nazis would then stir up enough folks to sing along with them to the point that the Nazi narrative would seem the majority view.  Morale would continue to plummet.

It’s the little acts of resistance that add up to make the biggest difference.  These acts plant seeds in others, creating a cascade effect.  Sad to say, it’s the power mongers of the world who seem to know this better than the rest of us do.  That’s why they insist on our silence as a way station on their road to total control.  So let’s not hide our light.

Don’t Yawn About Local Elections! They Can Result in Major Social Engineering

Last May the Fairfax County School Board — at the behest of the Obama Administration — forced a policy promoting transgenderism on parents and citizens who showed up in droves at the meeting to protest it.  This is the theme of my Federalist article today:  “Ask Not Who’s Running for President, Ask Who’s Running for School Board.” Since school boards are local and nonpartisan elections, they tend to have very low level interest and can therefore end up in the hands of organized insiders with their own agendas. In the video below, you can watch at the 1:13:50 mark as one true representative of the people, Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz speaks before the vote.  (She’s not the one pictured in the frame.  She was the sole vote against in the 10-1 “ruling” with one abstention.)

This school board meeting illustrates just how enormous the impact of local elections is on our lives.  It’s beyond belief how little consideration people give them.  So few of us know who our local representatives are.  And yet it’s so easy to find them because they’re our neighbors!  This feeds right into my blog’s theme about the power of personal relationships.  And if we don’t watch out, local officials easily become cronies of the federal government, instead of tending to the best interests of the citizens.

Your child’s school curricula, public transportation, zoning, and “gun free zones” are just a few of the areas of local impact.  So when citizens don’t engage — or if they’re totally preoccupied with the glitz of the national stage of the presidential elections — they end up allowing less responsive officials to take over locally.  And in a one-party system, corruption finds its way in very easily.

Next week, on November 3 there will be local elections held throughout the nation.  Will any take place in your community?  If you don’t know, please find out!  Learn about your candidates and get out to the polls and vote.  And spread the word so that neighbors also go out and vote for good candidates. If you need to gather information, you can start with ballotpedia.  Here’s a link for municipal elections:  http://ballotpedia.org/United_States_municipal_elections,_2015  To get you started on finding information for school boards, here’s their page for the school board election in Fairfax County, Virginia: http://ballotpedia.org/Fairfax_County_Public_Schools,_Virginia  One of the first things it notes is that there is currently a Democrat majority of 10-2 on that Board, based on endorsements. It doesn’t have to be that way.  Though Fairfax County has been trending leftward for the past few years, it is nowhere near that lopsided in reality.

For County information you may have to dig a big deeper – into the website for your local paper or local “Patch” at patch.com perhaps.  You can also learn more about your county leadership by going to the website for the National Association of Counties.  

Here’s an excerpt from my article today:

All too often our local officials are elected by default. There is high turnout by insiders, and particularly organized get-out-the-vote efforts by teachers’ unions and others with power stakes in the local machines.

Conversely—and ironically—there is much lower turnout by ordinary citizens whose lives the elections most affect. And turnout in local elections has actually been plummeting, according to some recent research. . .

We tend not to pay attention even though many of us may intuitively understand that the decisions of our local officials have a far more direct impact on our lives than those of a federal government that can keep its distance. The trick is to keep local power local, and that means paying attention to who’s minding the store locally.

 

My Daily Caller Interview with Ginni Thomas on PC Propaganda

You can watch my interview with Ginni Thomas at Daily Caller at this link:  “Political Correctness is a manipulative tool for Centralizing Power.

If I had one  key theme I hope listeners will come away with, it is this:  Our personal  relationships are the prime target of political correctness. Full control of one-on-one  relationships has always been the aim of tyrants, throughout history.  The outlets — media,academia and Hollywood — are basically just means for capturing the big prize of controlling personal relationships.  That is why we must not allow PC to silence us.

Here’s an excerpt of the text:

“If you push an agenda to centralize power, you need mass ignorance and effective propaganda.”

Morabito says political correctness provides “a semantic fog where manipulation can occur under the guise of being fair or non-discriminatory.”

She details three tactics of the manipulation she observes. These include being subtle enough that people are not aware of the manipulation, changing our language to achieve thought control and the leverage of social isolation being used to force conformity to the elite’s narratives.

As for those who dissent from the elite’s orthodoxy or narratives, Morabito praises their courage. She mentions three positive possibilities of people who have the courage to be politically incorrect against the dominant narratives in this culture.  First, such a neighbor or friend could embolden a like-minded person who is fearful, causing a positive “ripple effect.” Second, they could influence a “fence-sitter” by nudging deeper thinking, she says. And lastly, even if the listener disagrees and rejects your point of view, you may water down the stereotype or caricature made of those who hold core American principles.

Breaking the Deadly Spiral of Silence

Mary Cassatt. Young Mother and Two Children (1905)

I’ve added another mother-child painting by Mary Cassatt to accompany my post today because I find her work so beautiful and inspirational. It also serve to remind us that this is the most basic of all human relationships.  Without healthy family bonds — cultivated through the mother-child bond — a lot goes haywire in the world around us. With family breakdown we get community breakdown.  And now we’re dealing with whole scale communication breakdown.

This post is a re-cap of several pieces I wrote this week on how to break the PC-cultivated spiral of silence. Isn’t it crazy how much we are expected to police our speech — and therefore our thoughts — in everyday life?  One example is how the media schools us in how to use pronouns, assuming we are all draftees into its scam of transgenderism.  We also read about how millennials on college campuses have developed such delicate sensitivities to any non-PC expression that they get “triggered” into emotional meltdowns.  As we walk among the eggshells, we can all use a few pointers in navigation.

I’ve been trying to provide a little bit of a primer this week in my five-part series at the British web magazine The Conservative Woman.  We can not address the breakdown in communication until we understand the root causes of it.

On Monday I wrote about how little we seem to be aware of the power of traditional mothers.  Through their work behind the scenes they have the power to put communities of goodwill into motion:  “Traditional Mothers are the True Subversives: That’s Why the State Wants to Gag Them.”

Tuesday’s headline was:  “PC Propaganda is intended to Divide and Rule.”  The one critical fact to remember about political correctness is that separates people. The intended effect is to prevent you from having personal relationships and personal conversations that could get in the way of a PC agenda.  In fact people are excessively policing their own speech when talking to folks who could be their friends: neighbors, co-workers, classmates.  We need to push back hard against this sort of meddling.

On Wednesday I wrote “Fear Powers the PC Machine.”  Hollywood, Academia and the Media fuel it.  It’s so important to become self-aware, and recognize our weaknesses as human beings.  Our fear is ultimately about being separated from others if we step out of line.  How ironic then, that we actually perpetuate this cycle by feeding the PC Machine with our fear — separating ourselves even more from others.

Today’s headline is:  “Only Connect to Fight Back Against the PC Tyranny.”  This means, basically, what we must do in order to help unravel the tyranny is create the ripple effects of trust and openness in your daily life by connecting one on one with others.  Trust and friendship have a powerful effect in a age that’s becoming increasingly devoid of those things.  Friendship, in fact, is inextricably linked with freedom.

Tomorrow’s post will include a few rules of engagement as we go about breaking the ice with our neighbors, co-workers, and others we meet in daily life.  I hope you’ll check www.conservativewoman.co.uk to read up.  It’s critical that we engage.

To the Mass State, Traditional Mothers are the True Subversives

Mary Cassatt, Breakfast in Bed (1897)

What is it about traditional mothers that moderns find so offensive?  Is it really all about “submissiveness” to something they call “the Patriarchy?”  Do they really believe traditional mothers reinforce something so-called feminists call “gender roles?”  On the surface it may seem this way.  But I’ve been digging a little deeper and I think there’s something else at play here.  Because the elites who keep feeding us that hype are usually big promoters of political correctness.  And political correctness is nothing more than a silencing tool.  It’s used to prop up the power of elites who push self-serving agendas that would never withstand real scrutiny.

In a very real sense, traditional mothers are probably the ultimate barrier to the consolidation and centralization of power of the Mass State.  Think about it.  Mothers who cultivate virtue and a sense of uniqueness in their children are the ultimate de-centralizers and distributors of power in a society. They set virtuous communities in motion.   Behind the scenes.

I explore this idea in a series I recently wrote for the British web magazine, “The Conservative Woman.”  You can click here to read the first installment:  “Traditional Mothers are the True Subversives: That’s Why the State Wants to Gag Them.”   It’s part of a conversation Leslie Loftis started at that publication with her essay “Conservative Women are a Deadly Threat to Liberal Elites.”  Here’s a review of my series:

In this first part I’d like to give you the lay of the land as I see it: How and why the agents of political correctness target any independent thinker, but particularly conservative women.  And what happens when we give in to self-censorship.  In the second part, I’ll talk about something called “the spiral of silence.”  In Part three, I’ll dig a bit more into the mechanics of political correctness and how it works and why I believe the only way out is through the “Hidden Sphere.”  In Part Four, I explore a bit about the inextricable link between freedom and friendship.  Finally, in the final installment, I offer a few prescriptions on how conservative women can resist getting sucked into the PC machine – and make friends (and, sure, some frenemies) along the way.

Here’s another excerpt:

Statists are forever trying to coax us into giving up being the hand that rocks the cradle so that they can take control of the cradle for themselves. If there was so little power in what we do and what we believe, why ever would they seek to do such a thing?  Why would they even care?

They care not only because we have the power to express our views and values to the next generation, but that we are actually inclined do so.  Not only that, but if we are stay at home mothers with a steady source of income independent of the State, they see us as dangerously free agents in our private lives.”

In a previous post I discussed how Soviet era Czech dissident Vaclav Havel referred to our private lives as the all powerful “hidden sphere.”  I see the attack on the family, and mothers in particular, as an attempt to disrupt and destroy the power of the hidden sphere.

My Interview with Professor Lopez: Bolshevism and the LGBT Lobby

Obedience to political correctness leads to total conformity of expression. Here communists in East Berlin promote Stalin’s cult of personality (1951)

In my recent interview with Professor Robert Oscar Lopez, we discuss parallels between the tactics and motives of the LGBT Lobby and the Bolsheviks in Russia a hundred years ago.  Please listen by clicking here.

The modus operandi of the LGBT lobby and the Bolsheviks are strikingly similar.  But that’s the case with every power-grabbing scheme.  A hundred years ago the Bolsheviks pretended to be the champion of the “workers.”  Likewise, today statists call themselves the champions of gays and transgenders.  It’s basically the same dynamic.  The LGBT Lobby serves ultimately to consolidate power in the hands of the elite few.  So what else do these movements have in common?

  • The abolition of the autonomous family as the ultimate goal.
  • Propaganda tactics that rely heavily on smear campaigns and cultivate the fear of becoming a non-person.
  • Conformity of expression through obedience to political correctness.
  • Replacement of free exchange of commerce and ideas with ironclad regulations and censorship
  • Nomenklatura — an elite clique in power — rules over all and directs a mammoth bureaucracy
  • The takeover of the media at the outset in order to control the narrative and silent dissenters

That’s just for starters.  And if the “Equality Act” is passed by Congress, you can bet that compliance will be enforced and dissent will be punished.  That’s a censorship act window-dressed as non-discrimination.  It has nothing to do with protecting any minority demographic.  The minority demographic — in this case gays, lesbians, transgenders — are simply being used as pawns.  Their grievances are being used as a pretext to consolidate all power into the hands of an elite mob.  This is very much in keeping with the pattern of the Bolsheviks who cherry-picked winners and losers once they took on the mantle of “vanguard” — or protector — of the workers.  The Bolshevik mob never cared about the working class, except as a useful propaganda tool in their bid to grab power.  In the Soviet Union, those deemed “counter-revolutionary” would be labelled as “enemies of the people.”  We see the same pattern today with the LGBT lobby.  And it will get much worse if the “Equality Act” goes into effect, giving the government the power to punish those it deems “anti-gay.”

So, at the end of the day, what have you got?  Answer:  a society ruled by elites, or a “nomenklatura.”  Your currency is political connections that you “earn” through compliance with the mob.  That’s how mammoth bureaucracies lock in power for their rulers.  Instead of a society based upon the free exchange of goods, services, and ideas, you end up with gatekeepers — all up and down the bureaucratic ladder — who make sure the only kind of currency in use is political compliance and connections. In this sort of power structure all totalitarian societies poison personal relationships.  They cultivate scarcity, which creates a nasty dog-eat-dog mentality.  They cultivate ignorance so that free thought is dimmed. It’s a divide-and-conquer scheme in which people become separated as never before. As history has proven time and again in such cases, it is submission — and not resistance — that is truly futile.

 

Our Gordian Knot, Part VI “The Hidden Sphere”

Vaclav Havel, 1936-2011 author of “The Power of the Powerless”

I often write and talk about how power elites have pretty much taken over all of the outlets of communication.  I’ve assigned an acronym to the main three outlets: “HAM”– for Hollywood, Academia, and the Media.  Today I want to recommend to you a major essay that focuses on a vastlly more powerful outlet of communication:  the “hidden sphere.”  The hidden sphere is basically private life, which is outside the realm of HAM.  This means the activities and exchanges that happen in your personal relationships and your private conversations.  And it is these interactions which are actually considered the biggest prize of power elites.  If you think what you say as “just one person” is not important, think again.  The entire point of political correctness is to shut you up as “just one person.”  Being “just one person” makes you extremely powerful because what you freely say to others who like you and trust you — whether a neighbor, classmate, co-worker — has the power to shatter the fragile narratives of PC elites.

In the upper right hand corner of this blog, you can see a quote that’s been there from the beginning:

” . . . his action went beyond itself, because it illuminated its surroundings, and because of the incalculable consequences of that illumination.”

That’s from Vaclav Havel’s extraordinary essay “The Power of the Powerless.”  In it he speaks of the hidden sphere as the nucleus of freedom because it is that place in which people have one-on-one interactions that allow for the cultivation of trust and the cross pollination of ideas.  It might start very small, but as the ideas are pollinated by those who are influenced, there is a ripple effect of truth that becomes irresistible.  Here’s another excerpt:

The singular, explosive, incalculable political power of living within the truth resides in the fact that living openly within the truth has an ally, invisible to be sure, but omnipresent:  this hidden sphere.  It is from this sphere that life lived openly in the truth grows; it is to this sphere that it speaks, and in it that it finds understanding.  This is where the potential for communication exists.  But this place is hidden and therefore, from the perspective of power, very dangerous.”

Havel was an independent thinker and a lover of truth and freedom in communist Czechoslovakia.  This made him dangerous to the totalitarian regime.  Indeed, one could say he spearheaded the “Velvet Revolution” that ended communism in Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Havel then served as president of the Czech Republic.   His essay can be a bit difficult to plow through – and it’s very long — but it’s fascinating because it reveals to each of us our immense power as individuals.  Please get familiar with it, at least its basic premises.  From it we can learn how our decision to speak truth in love is an action that goes beyond itself.  It illuminates its surroundings and the consequences of that illumination are incalculable.   The Hidden Sphere is the sword that can slice through the Gordian Knot of totalitarianism.