Why Propaganda Trumps Truth

Paul Craig Roberts was a prominent member of the Reagan administration.  

He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the “Father of Reaganomics”. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. He is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He was a post-graduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College.

In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists in the United States.[1]

Smart guy, right?  Smarter still that he turned on his masters and now speaks his mind, and the truth (as he knows it) to anyone who will listen.

Check out what he’s saying about 9/11, and propaganda.

An article in the journal, Sociological Inquiry, casts light on the effectiveness of propaganda. Researchers examined why big lies succeed where little lies fail. Governments can get away with mass deceptions, but politicians cannot get away with sexual affairs.

The researchers explain why so many Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, years after it has become obvious that Iraq had nothing to do with the event. Americans developed elaborate rationalizations based on Bush administration propaganda that alleged Iraqi involvement and became deeply attached to their beliefs. Their emotional involvement became wrapped up in their personal identity and sense of morality. They looked for information that supported their beliefs and avoided information that challenged them, regardless of the facts of the matter.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler explained the believability of the Big Lie as compared to the small lie: “In the simplicity of their minds, people more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have such impudence. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and continue to think that there may be some other explanation.”

What the sociologists and Hitler are telling us is that by the time facts become clear, people are emotionally wedded to the beliefs planted by the propaganda and find it a wrenching experience to free themselves. It is more comfortable, instead, to denounce the truth-tellers than the liars whom the truth-tellers expose.

This is why we see the extreme emotions displayed at a place such as Dailykos, where people get absolutely hysterical when anyone brings up the facts of 9/11.  That is the power of good PSYOPS, and it is why the military has a PSYOPS division.  

9/11 was a trauma for everyone.  We were all wedded to what we thought happened that day, and our minds and our brains adjusted, as best they could, to what we thought was the reality of it.  When we start to learn that what happened that day may have been completely different than what we not only believed, but what we mourned and grieved, we get angry.  

They’re like the emotions you’d experience if you found out someone you loved, who you thought was dead, who you had mourned and grieved, had actually staged their death.  You’d be pretty pissed.

The psychology of belief retention even when those beliefs are wrong is a pillar of social cohesion and stability. It explains why, once change is effected, even revolutionary governments become conservative. The downside of belief retention is its prevention of the recognition of facts. Belief retention in the Soviet Union made the system unable to adjust to economic reality, and the Soviet Union collapsed. Today in the United States millions find it easier to chant “USA, USA, USA” than to accept facts that indicate the need for change.

Or to change “Obama!  Obama!  Obama!” than to recognize that Obama is just another one of “them”.  

The staying power of the Big Lie is the barrier through which the 9/11 Truth Movement is finding it difficult to break. The assertion that the 9/11 Truth Movement consists of conspiracy theorists and crackpots is obviously untrue. The leaders of the movement are highly qualified professionals, such as demolition experts, physicists, structural architects, engineers, pilots, and former high officials in the government. Unlike their critics parroting the government’s line, they know what they are talking about.

Here is a link to a presentation by the architect, Richard Gage, to a Canadian university audience.  The video of the presentation is two hours long and seems to have been edited to shorten it down to two hours. Gage is low-key, but not a dazzling personality or a very articulate presenter. Perhaps that is because he is speaking to a university audience and takes for granted their familiarity with terms and concepts.

Those who believe the official 9/11 story and dismiss skeptics as kooks can test the validity of the sociologists’ findings and Hitler’s observation by watching the video and experiencing their reaction to evidence that challenges their beliefs. Are you able to watch the presentation without scoffing at someone who knows far more about it than you do? What is your response when you find that you cannot defend your beliefs against the evidence presented? Scoff some more? Become enraged?

Another problem that the 9/11 Truth Movement faces is that few people have the education to follow the technical and scientific aspects. The side that they believe tells them one thing; the side that they don’t believe tells them another. Most Americans have no basis to judge the relative merits of the arguments.

Now he brings up something I’ve written about here, more than once:  The Lockerbie bomber case.

For example, consider the case of the Lockerbie bomber. One piece of “evidence” that was used to convict Magrahi was a piece of circuit board from a device that allegedly contained the Semtex that exploded the airliner. None of the people, who have very firm beliefs in Magrahi’s and Libya’s guilt and in the offense of the Scottish authorities in releasing Magrahi on allegedly humanitarian grounds, know that circuit boards of those days have very low combustion temperatures and go up in flames easily. Semtex produces very high temperatures. There would be nothing whatsoever left of a device that contained Semtex. It is obvious to an expert that the piece of circuit board was planted after the event.

The Lockerbie case was similar to 9/11 in that people swallowed the government story, digested it, integrated it with their horror and grief at the tragedy, and now what they believe about the case is part of their actual belief system.  To throw evidence at them that their belief system is actually flawed makes them angry.  They feel insulted.

And now he gets to something that has confounded me for quite some time:

What I find puzzling is the people I know who do not believe a word the government says about anything except 9/11. For reasons that escape me, they believe that the government that lies to them about everything else tells them the truth about 9/11. How can this be, I ask them. Did the government slip up once and tell the truth? My question does not cause them to rethink their belief in the government’s 9/11 story. Instead, they get angry with me for doubting their intelligence or their integrity or some such hallowed trait.

The problem faced by truth is the emotional needs of people. With 9/11 many Americans feel that they must believe their government so that they don’t feel like they are being unsupportive or unpatriotic, and they are very fearful of being called “terrorist sympathizers.” Others on the left-wing have emotional needs to believe that peoples oppressed by the US have delivered “blowbacks.” Some leftists think that America deserves these blowbacks and thus believe the government’s propaganda that Muslims attacked the US.

I think he’s right about the emotional needs of people being a part of this, but he stops far short of the emotional truth of it.  Like I said above, people mourned the event, they grieved it, they emotionally digested it until what they thought was the truth about it became a part of them.  

To hear something that suggests that your very reality, that which you think is literally “the world that exists around you” is actually not true, is going to be met with fierce emotional resistance.  There’s going to be a knee-jerk emotional response of “no!”  To use the word “denial” to describe this would be somewhat accurate, but this is actually something far more powerful than simple garden variety denial.

And this is what the propagandists understand.

And that is why they have power over us.

It is, perhaps, the greatest power you can have over people.  It is greater than the power of force, because people will fight force.  Force is obvious.  Using force against people results in a similar knee-jerk emotional reaction, but against you.  Good propaganda results in them cheering for you, as I saw somewhere else (here?) it’s like the chickens rooting for Colonel Sanders.  

Now THAT’S power.

In the next section he talks about this power, but he attributes it to the power of the government.  I attribute it to the power of the media.  For most people, their window to the world, quite literally, is their television set.  Their sense of reality beyond their little tiny slice of the world is the television.  If they don’t see it on television, it’s not “real” and it didn’t really happen.  We all know what I’m talking about because almost all of us, whether we care to admit it or not, experience this to some degree or another.  I know I do, still, to this day (conditioning is hard to lose).   People simply do not question the media.

As far as I can tell, most Americans have far greater confidence in the government than they do in the truth. During the Great Depression the liberals with their New Deal succeeded in teaching Americans to trust the government as their protector. This took with the left and the right. Neither end of the political spectrum is capable of fundamental questioning of the government. This explains the ease with which our government routinely deceives the people.

Democracy is based on the assumption that people are rational beings who factually examine arguments and are not easily manipulated. Studies are not finding this to be the case. In my own experience in scholarship, public policy, and journalism, I have learned that everyone from professors to high school dropouts has difficulty with facts and analyses that do not fit with what they already believe. The notion that “we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead” is an extremely romantic and idealistic notion. I have seldom experienced open minds even in academic discourse or in the highest levels of government. Among the public at large, the ability to follow the truth wherever it may lead is almost non-existent.

The US government’s response to 9/11, regardless of who is responsible, has altered our country forever. Our civil liberties will never again be as safe as they were. America’s financial capability and living standards are forever lower. Our country’s prestige and world leadership are forever damaged. The first decade of the 21st century has been squandered in pointless wars, and it appears the second decade will also be squandered in the same pointless and bankrupting pursuit.

We are victims of our own emotional shortcomings, and these have been capitalized upon, beautifully, diabolically, by those who control us.


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    • Inky99 on November 2, 2009 at 8:31 am

    and psyops.

    I’ve always known about it, perhaps because I grew up in the military, and my father was a career officer, and in the late 60’s he worked at the Lawrence Livermore Radiation Laboratory.  I saw the battles between two versions of reality, my Dad’s, where he was “fighting Communism” for the good of America and mankind (I think he really believed that shit), and the protestors and hippies, who were fighting the Military Industrial Complex, and state-sponsored war crimes.  

    Which was the truth?  I was there in the middle, a little kid watching Walter Cronkite every night, student riots, tear gas, Vietnam, dead soldiers, Mai Lai.  

    Which was the truth?   I was six.   I didn’t know.  But I knew there were two versions to the reality, that were at violent odds with each other.  

  1. I’m glad someone else reads Paul Craig Roberts, I’ve been reading him for years. He used to be a staunch republican, now considers himself libertarian, but many of his views are left of progressives, and he never hesitated slamming the Bush administration back when just about everyone else was kowtowed. He used to write almost exclusively for lewrockwell.com but now has syndicated to many sites. I’m one of those few you speak of that tries to keep an open mind, I’ve been known to visit lewrockwell, freeperland and redstate occasionally, to keep up with the enemy more than anything, but also to get a good chuckle, but every once in a great while one of the chowderheads will make a valid point. Dailykos and freerepublic are very much the same sites, only polar opposites.

    I was about to step out for work on the morning of 9/11 when the coverage started on CNN, I was a CNN junkie back then, and as soon as the second plane hit I immediately thought Al Qaeda, but it was only a few hours later I started thinking, false flag. I have always been an avid reader of history, especially WWII, and was well versed in false flag operations throughout the centuries so it wasn’t much of a leap for me to think the worst about 9/11 and right away my mind went to the Reichstag incident in Nazi Germany. I didn’t express this view to anyone but my wife at the time for obvious reasons.

    The weekend after 9/11 I fished in a bass tournament with a close friend from Chicago who was a well educated architect who had liberal tendencies and I thought if anyone would understand what I was thinking, it would be him. It was only a few days after 9/11 and everyone was still in shock but we had scheduled to fish in the tourney weeks before and decided to go ahead and do it anyway. As we were fishing I delicately led up to my false flag theory. I explained my extensive reading habits about historical events and how I thought that 9/11 could be used for the perfect excuse to take over the world, that’s exactly how I put it to him. His response was that that idea was crazy, so I internalized that whole idea and it was years before I brought it up with anyone again.

    I agree with you that it’s the media that’s the cutting edge of the propaganda machine. I believe it was the incessant coverage of the 9/11 events for days and days that burned it into everyone’s memories, the media was relentless in its efforts to not let us forget. And I also believe it was the short adages that were hard wired into our brains that allowed people to just shut off rational thought. The big one was,”9/11 changed everything”, every talking head for a couple of subsequent years threw that out in every conversation. In reality 9/11 was a sad and tragic event, but it was our government and media that had “changed” everything, not 9/11. It only changed everything because people allowed it to in their own minds. Hitler was right, the big lie, repeated enough, works. “A new world order” was another adage that we heard all the time, now 8 years after the event, it’s obvious why that was used.

    I also believe that 9/11 caused traumatic psychological events to resurface. Many people who had experienced trauma in their past, myself included, revisited those repressed feelings triggered by the horrible sights and stories we were subjected to. They came boiling back to the surface and are still affecting many people to this day. I think, to a certain degree, the USA lost their collective minds that day.

    So yeah, I agree with yourself and Roberts that things may not be as they appear, I’m still not 100% sure it was an inside job, I need a little more evidence one way or another, but I’m about 90% in that respect. But one thing is for sure, the event was used to advantage by certain segments of our government and society, all you have to do is take a look at who benefited from the whole debacle. The propaganda machine has become a well-oiled instrument.

  2. excellent article……

    if people embraced the truth of 911…

    we would be in the streets……

    it would be all over……

  3. oh wait … we are not at the big orange.

    Ok… great look into psychology.

    I’m guessing the big lie is much easier to swallow when it revolves around such a tragic or emotional event. Look at Kennedy for instance. People needed to believe in the lone gunman because it was easier than a conspiracy. Same with 9-11 … 18 terrorists hi-jacked planes to crash them into the towers. Never mind the evidence

    Since there is no tragedy or emotional tie to a “blow job” in the oval office those “small lies” are quickly trounced by staged indignation.

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