Monday, June 18, 2012

PR, Fake Boobs, And The "Big" Lie


Is public relations just fakery? Exaggeration?  Making some things bigger.  Like fake boobs -- the "big" lie.  Beauty as booty.



Sometimes it seems that  TV advertising, online dating, the world of entertainment --  our entire culture -- just spin? -- a palimpsest of lies?

In that case, if you have something meaningful to say -- how do you get anyone to listen?
   
 Adolph Hitler thought he knew....

The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out.
   
 Thus we see that propaganda must follow a simple line and correspondingly the basic tactics must be psychologically sound.
      
What, for example, would we say about a poster that was supposed to advertise a new soap and that described other soaps as 'good'?

We would only shake our heads  …. 

(Mein Kampf)
This is one approach, which you might call the Tea Party concept.   Simple ideas for simple minds, repeated over and over again, with contrary points of view dismissed or vilified.  It is the perfect approach for the conservative, authoritarian personality.   Evolution and climate change?  Only scientists could belief that kind of shit.  Who needs teachers or firemen or nurses?  

Hitler was just born in the wrong age.
     
By and large, liberals and progressives like a more nuanced approach, weighing pros andcons.  The authoritarian mind, however,is not at all subtle – so, it reduces things to black/white; either/or dichotomies.
     
So Hitler accused liberals and progressives (Marxists and Jews) --and of course Britain and France in WWI -- for  perpetrating “big lies” which were accepted by the German people.  Nasty stuff about Ludendorff and democracy  and so on (he said).

…in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they 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 the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
  
 Hitler got it wrong about why people accept “big lies”.  It is not because they are stupid or because they tell little lies themselves.  After all, Hitler got a lot of really, really smart people to believe his lies and those who believed him mostly believed honestly.

  A recent study has shown that people with high levels of “EQ” – “emotional intelligence”, for those of you who have not been to MBA school are poor at detecting deception.  What you discover when you look at this study is that “EQ” has nothing to do with intelligence of emotional sensitivity at all – rather it is a measure of the degree to which an individual can “fit in” or conform to social groups – which is also a measure of your ability to accept things ta face value and to view social norms and values uncritically.

In other words, if you have an high EQ you are a good social robot.  You can’t identify lies or liars because your programming is to accept the individual “spin” or each member of your group and all the bigger lies that constitute your group belief system.

Every society has its narrative – a mythology – forced upon the young.  In prewar Japan, it was the Tenno as the living God.  In the US, we start off with “I pledge allegiance to the flag”.  In Britain, it used to be the King and the Empire.  

All these mythologies are “big lies”.  If not deceit -- elaborate conceit.

Hitler argued that since ordinary people are ashamed of their small lies, they can be persuaded to buy into bigger ones because they assume no one would have the balls to go on the record about something really significant.    Maybe.... But  all people are born into enormous illusions -- children's belief systems -- Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and My Country Right or Wrong and the like -- are part of a starter kit for the full scale madness of adult culture.   How else do you explain Americans electing George Bush twice?    Or the current acceptance of austerity as the prescription for our economic ills? 

Again, this is not because people are stupid.  Intellectually lazy perhaps.  And junk ideas, like junk food are addictive.  Or is it just that our imaginations must ever resist the pressure of reality, which is full of unpleasant things like sickness and death?  

 Ultimately, however, junk food is bland; and as Dr. Johnson said, nothing composes the mind as much as the threat of death.  It is reality that has the greatest impact. Because it is...um.... real.

One way to make your spin stand out. Just tell the truth. 

 Hitler didn't get that. But then he really wasn't too much into facts. Or reality. If he had been, he might have actually won. 

He would rather lie.  And then lie again and again.  And lie to himself.   Because.....
   
For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down.   

Honesty is still the best policy.   Try it sometime.  It gets attention.