Why Politicians And Media Lie, And Why So Many Still Trust Them.
"As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles." Bertrand Russell
Even some of the more left-leaning people I know are exhausted with the whole conspiracy theory of "Russian influence" in our elections being packaged and repackaged by the mainstream media. Of course the media is not solely the blame; there are more than a few self-serving politicians from both parties more than willing to play with innuendo (lies) to further their own agendas. Yet while many peope can see through this there are many others, especially those who are politically less-informed, who will accept these allegations as true. So why is that? Why do people trust politicians and media pundits at face value rather than employ analysis and skepticism? Sadly, while many of the elite are inclined to twist the truth, or lie outright, to gain an objective a large percentage of the public are just as inclined to put trust in them when they do it.
In regards to politicians and media I have noted in prior articles and commentary on my weekly program "Unlock the Door" on UCY Network that two of the most popular occupations for attracting people with psychopathic traits are media and politics. Such people are practically born with the ability to manipulate. They often are blessed with high charisma, engaging personalities and no sense of guilt. They can look at you directly and lie, or employ half-truths and innuendo, in a most engaging manner. I illustrate this in my science fiction thriller "The Destiny of Our Past" (link: https://www.amazon.com/Destiny-Our-Past-Michael-Cross-ebook/dp/B01MY4WASN ) in which the ruling elite use media, sporting events and education to manipulate the masses with the end-desire to destroy them.
So why do so many people place trust in media and politicians? If you ask the hypothetical "man on the street" if they trust media they will generally say they don't. Yet that same man will go home and turn on the TV set for hours each day. It seems contradictory...unless you understand human psychology. You see, we are not only conditioned by education and media itself to believe what we see and hear, we may be biologically programmed to do so. Humans are tribal by nature; our ancestors survived, not by running off to the jungle or prairie and living on their own, but rather belonging to complex social groups. This gave both security from outside threats but also access to sexual partners to pass on their genes. Of course such structures are hierarchical by nature and only a few people wound up at the apex of the pyramid of command. It furthered one's ability to survive and reproduce to conform to what you were told by the leaders since challenging him/them might mean social exclusion (less chancing of mating), exile (even less chance of mating) or death (no chance of mating). Thus, compliance became a positive trait for survival and more compliant people passed on their genes (and inclinations) to future generations.
So what of today you ask? Well, combine this genetic inclination to follow the crowd with modern technology and you have those at the apex of the pyramid with the bulk of the masses in their living rooms 24/7. TV conveys authority no matter what people may wish to believe. People want to trust the pretty young woman or distinguished gentleman who gives the news. They must be trustworthy or they would not have such a position of power, right? And the institution that gave them this power must be even more powerful - just look at the size of such a multinational corporate entity...who are you and I to challenge it, right?
And then there are the politicians that get chosen to convey their views - again, people at the apex of the pyramid gaining even more legitimacy by being held up as experts by the media elite. Who dares challenge them? Everything from their titles to their attire say "I am authority, believe!"
And of course there is no reason for the experts in their studios, or guests from government or other powerful institutions, to actually lie. They can lead people on with innuendo or speculation and thanks to "gestalt theory" the listener will fill in the blanks, and come to the desired conclusion the politician wants. A perfect example is when certain politicians led people to believe Iraq was responsible for 9-11 or that they had weapons of mass destruction. They never actually said "Iraq took down the towers" but by speaking about 9-11 and then mentioning Saddam, they had to know people would see the two as related.
And yet this presents an irony. People at the cognitive level know they are being manipulated but at the sub-conscious level they want to trust those in power. This can create what is known as cognitive dissonance in which one can believe two contradictory things at once. This can therefore lead to people feeling anxious and even hostile if the authority figures of society are challenged. For example, you have a parent who says the media lies, but watches the news on TV and changes the conversation when you ask why she or he wastes time by having it on. The same is true of many religious folk if you bring up psychology employed to alter society. They do not want to believe they can be influenced by subtle manipulation so many will immediately dismiss your information as conspiratorial. Even if you have documentation straight from those who are doing the manipulation they will not accept it. Such is the nature of conformity to, and basic belief in, the foundations of the society a person lives in.
It is interesting that if you say people should "question authority" they will rarely recognize the term originates from Benjamin Franklin. It is hard to not put trust in those who have power but as history teaches us the story ends badly for societies when the questioning is at its lowest. So how do you help people to see this? Maybe skip cognitive reasoning and go straight for the sub conscious:
1) First actually dare to question authority. If a person's subconscious still has that trust then you need to bring it out. Say things that challenges their respect for media for instance like, "How would you change the media if you were in charge?" This lets them imagine the possibilities and how they would communicate their bias. Then ask if they believe people in charge today use their position to manipulate. This engages the sub conscious to where beliefs and values are truly expressed.
2) In regards to politicians ask them to think of a time they were caught doing something wrong and how they used creativity to get out of trouble. Now you have activated their "naughty" area of the psyche. Then ask them to think of a time when a politician did something similar. Once they have then ask what the politician would lose if he or she told the truth. This helps condition them to look for similar behavior when they watch an interview - especially if a politician they do not like is featured.
3) I had a conversation with someone over desirable family size a while back. I noted that we needed a rise in the birth rates for a variety of reasons and he contended that people have small families due to economics today. Okay, that was the cerebral cortex speaking, which rationalizes decisions in life, it does not make them. Emotions determine our decisions - take for example heroic behavior in which someone sacrifices themselves for someone else. Not a rational thing to do. So back to the issue, I then asked why the same family patterns are seen all over the USA with very little variation based on economic class. He had no clue. I then asked if he would marry a gorgeous woman who said she wanted four children. He hesitated with a reply but his sub conscious was at work sorting out the imagined situation. And once that thought process was going I was able to explain how people have been conditioned to believe it was their decision that small families, or no children, were desirable. If I had just started a conversation about economic advantages to promoting higher birth rates that is as far as it would have went, just another debate and nobody reconsiders their views.
To get people to think we have to engage them emotionally, and emotions are associated with the sub-conscious. It is not easy, as Nietzsche noted, to go against the tribe but in an era of mass communications which utilize advanced psychology to create consensus and conformity it is essential to encourage far more independent thinking.