Thursday, January 11, 2007

Animal House, The Government, and Your Brain

Over the years government has evolved to reflect the realities of the people. Until now. The current embodiment of government is so energetically backward and wholly committed to flawed and narrow-minded thinking, that every day it operates it succeeds in devolving the nation further into a brutal imperialism which few support. With it's own stylized version of the truth it goes backward in a way that reminds me of the infamous food fight in the movie Animal House.

The togas have been replaced by suits and ties, the students by lobbyists and politicians, and the alcohol by narrow minded, 100 proof selfish greed. Lies and sophistry are hurled across the room and outrageous acts like cutting the legs off the ethics committee, refusing to participate in fair or honest debate, ignoring the will of the people, and having the clear intent to make a complete mind boggling mess out of everything are as obvious as getting a pie in the face. Only a seriously demented team spirit could make the conscious choice to destroy a perfectly good constitution and celebrate every step in the process. And only a seriously broken down group conscience could engage in multiple acts of self betterment at the expense of millions of others who will be directly harmed as a result.

Certain themes in Animal House bear mentioning for their similarity in practice to the operations of government. In the movie, people jostled, contrived and competed for acceptance into fraternity houses, with the goal of gaining entry into houses with the highest status. These offered highly desirable connections to wealth, power and future prosperity and it was clear that the more status a house had, the more benefit there was to gain. However the number of openings were limited, so the competition was fierce for those few open slots and people were willing to do an amazing assortment of very dubious things to up their chances of being invited into the fold.

Also note there were certain traits in the people who had the power to decide who would be welcomed in and who wouldn't. Many had subjective agendas that were hard to get behind and in the over all, few were anything close to the sober, scholastic places of common belief. Take for instance the group of clean cut, high status men who by all outside appearances were decent, respectable boys slated for lives of guaranteed success, privilege and wealth. Behind closed doors their behavior was nothing less than disturbing. They had a taste for the perverse and enjoyed demoralizing contenders with twisted demands that had no justification. They enjoyed the suffering they inflicted on others. That's an important concept which I encourage you to ponder on because there is abundant evidence that a taste for perversion in powerful people is not an invention of Hollywood creativity. Hollywood tends to reflect reality in it's films more often than it invents things out of thin air.

Which leads me to the subject of seeing and believing.

There is often a big difference between what we think we know and what reality actually is, and that is something as important as it is generally overlooked. In the classic Rumsfeld style, there are things we know, and things we don't know, and things we don't know we don't know. Just what do we know and how do we know it resembles reality?
Operating on assumption or belief in lieu of employing discernment often ends up causing us harm. It is guaranteed we don't know anything when we look no further than the surface to decide what we believe. Yet we rely almost exclusively on surface appearances to get information and in the end are not informed at all.

Take television commercials for example. Many people see a man in a white coat on a television commercial and when he tells them that Brand X pills will stop their headaches, they believe him. He looks like an authority figure who has a grasp on the subject, so if he says the pill works they will believe him. While the vast majority of people watching the commercial consciously know the man is not a doctor but an actor in a white coat pretending to be a doctor for the sole purpose of getting paid to help a company push their product, they will still receive the message as truth and believe it to be valid information.

This is an insidious quality of television advertising that is the main reason for it's success, and the very reason I stopped watching it. It is mass brainwashing of the most powerful order. Market research has shown time and again that what we see affects us more deeply than what we think about it. It's in the design of the human brain. The brain receives input from the eyes and ears and has no mechanism to detour nonsense back out the other ear. It's job is to take everything in and store it. Literally everything you see and hear goes into your brain and stays there for the rest of your life. It's left to you to use your conscious discernment and intellect when that data is served back up at the appropriate time, and this is the step that we are failing so miserably to remember.

The brain has evolved to work this way for good reason. We need to understand the world around us to be able to navigate it successfully and the brain's amazing ability to take in and file everything we see and hear is critically important. Historically human beings never had a situation of seeing something that wasn't real. If they saw or heard something, it was always real. But the invention of film, sound recording and photography have created a whole new kind of input that is not remotely real, and a lot of unreal messages come along with it. Our intellect may tell us that what we see isn't real in any way, and that it does not deserve to be given the time of day, but the brain receives the input and stores it exactly the same as valid information. Even when commercials are so stupid and unbelievable that they annoy us, the brain receives it all and stores it without regard to our opinion of it. Whether we think it's nonsense or reality makes no difference in the process, it all goes in for storage.

Marketers have found that intellect or belief does not have the ability to override incoming audio or visual data or block it. Your brain will write every commercial to your mental hard drive and archive it. When you do get a headache and go to the store looking for a pill, your hard drive automatically scans the database for all pertinent data on the subject and brings up anything it has that is relevant to the situation. Just the fact that your first response to a headache is to think about a pill shows how deeply our beliefs are rooted in the messages we get from ads. The pill response is so deeply believed in that you'll have trouble extricating yourself from the notion of it being "the" thing to do. There are other responses to getting a headache, and one of them could honestly be a much better way to go than knee-jerking a pill into your mouth. But it's a simple fact that the more heavily marketed anything is, the more it sells, and the more times you receive those commercials into your head, the more times they get written to your own hard drive; then the more you'll believe those messages to be truths and the harder you'll find it to make other choices for yourself. It's hardly mysterious that people then reach for a major brand pill at higher cost time and again and never have a thought about it being a rational decision in the first place. It's become an unshakable belief.

This is where we fail ourselves so often and why those giant corporations keep pounding us senseless with ever more advertising. They know that most people don't think about assertions in advertising at all anymore and in fact have become completely conditioned to take commercials as reality. They buy those products hand over fist and make corporations very rich, literally rewarding them for the brainwashing. Few people ask the obvious questions or doubt the veracity of those psychologically crafted messages at any level. They simply accept that it's so. The endless bombardment of ads achieves that, and the repetition takes up ever larger portions of our hard drives. They're literally taking possession of your head by filling it with things that they fully understand will make it impossible to resist their influence.

When we go to stores to fulfill a need we can often spend much more than we planned because of the tidal waves of feedback coming back up from inside our own minds. We fail to engage the very intellect that knew those commercials were completely contrived sales pitches that have no relation to fact or truth at the time we first saw them. It takes tremendous effort to disregard those deeply held implanted suggestions that something will make you happy, or sexier, or softer or whatever it is they used to implant themselves and hook in emotionally. Watching little kids having fits after being told they can't have some product or another is a visual version of what your adult mind is struggling with from the inside. Children haven't got the means to hide those outward expressions like adults do, but adults are feeling the same basic compulsions in exactly the same way.

When our database brings up whatever it has on anything, marketers know that we are infinitely more likely to believe it just because it's inside our own head, and then just go with it, almost helplessly depending on the person. Even when we get the feeling that a different choice might be better we default to what we "know"; or think we know. False information is very hard to over ride, even when we consciously doubt it. In fact it's almost impossible. That's why they're so rich. Advertising works.

This speaks to why it's important to be careful about what you let inside your head and take charge over what you'll allow to take up permanent space in there. Before I finally quit watching commercial TV altogether I was muting commercials for a long time. I refused to hear them and still do. Even if I am in another room when they come on I stop whatever I'm doing and hightail it over to the tube or the radio and hit the mute button. I will not allow any of it to penetrate my personal brain. I became staunchly opposed to giving marketers so much as one more brain cell after realizing how much of my brain they'd already permeated, and the amount of time and money it stole from my life. Broadcast advertising should be illegal, because it does control our minds, that's it's goal, and it affects our entire society down to the individual level. It changes lives in ways that only benefit corporations at incalculable cost and damage to our lives, and that's just unacceptable. The fact that we can't refuse to accept advertising along with our broadcasts is wrong. That is another subject for another time, but as long as it comes against my will I will block it no matter what I have to do. I'm the boss of my own brain and that's just the way it's going to be.

I have largely freed myself of further mental interference by outsiders via broadcasting, but only after becoming truly aware of the massive assault being waged on our minds and the danger in the nature of the beast. It required conscious effort to do whatever it takes to block them from having access to my mind, and influence over me. It takes constant and dedicated effort, but it has definitely paid off. Not taking the effort means choosing to let other people take control of your thoughts, and their goals have nothing to do with seeing to your best interests. Quite the contrary. Your best interests are the last thing they want you thinking about.

Knowing about the way the brain works is important if we care at all about being in charge of our own thoughts and beliefs; and being who we really are. If it matters to us to base our opinions on real facts instead of appearances, sales pitches or the urgings of people selling political agendas then getting our own information is the only reliable way to get to the truth about anything. That's the only way to make sure we're getting the whole picture, not some professionally crafted snapshot designed to influence our thoughts and behavior to the point of taking over our thoughts.

When we watch the government engaging in things that are wrong, very wrong and we know it, do we let them use their appearance of authority and the credibility attached to their positions to quiet our thoughts? Are we able to separate the man from the official sounding title and all of the directed propaganda that goes with it? Are we crediting him for the goodwill his predecessors earned? Is he cruising on the wake of other men's good work or his own? Does our need to continue supporting him and believe him come from a place in our brain that is there from broadcast messages, or there because we put it there ourselves? If our data is all one sided then it's obvious our information is being piped in. If we can't at least come up with some valid questions and have some doubts then it points to the serious possibility that our thoughts are not our own. No one is perfect, certainly not the high profile people in government, and we should always have questions about what they do. Even our friends, family and ourselves all have certain aspects we don't like or always agree with. If a politician strikes us as perfect, there's little doubt we're misinformed.

While listening to the president's state of the union address tonight I was overwhelmed by the laborious, unspontaneous canned feel of it. It was so heavily worked that every single word was obviously very carefully chosen to manipulate opinions, but not to inform. The speech writers were tasked with selling his hugely unpopular agenda and it did this with carefully constructed sentences that encouraged people to blame the media for the gore of war, not the war itself. It suggested that congress is stifling the president's ability to move but did not mention the fact that the public wants him stifled, or that his popularity, credibility, and agenda have gone down the bunny hole in a very big way. The address sounded more like a pathetic attempt to gain support in spite of the lack of any reason to do so. He didn't leave me feeling like I know the official view on the state of the union, but only disgusted by the repetition of the same rejected reasons to keep doing what he's doing. He only stated his refusal to be reigned in or prevented from staying his offensive and pointless course. The reason the speech was so hard to write is self evident, his positions are impossible to support. They're not justifiable, and as usual that won't stop him.

If ever there was a time to contact elected officials and give our own reiteration of last November 7th, this is it. This phony war must end, and he is leaving us little choice but to demand that he is stopped from making it worse than it already is.

For those who are torn between his plea for continued support, and their own nagging feeling that he's wrong, it is time to put your own take in first place. Don't allow manipulations of your mind to continue. Do not feel the slightest guilt over any doubt you feel. Any suggestion that it's wrong to feel doubt in government officials is unreasonable. They're as human as the rest of us and have the ability to do serious damage because of the power their positions give them. It's more than possible that any mere mortal can abuse that power for personal reasons, and the fact is it happens much more often than we know.

The media won't draw attention to government or corporate dirt anymore because they are media's bread and butter, and source for desired legislation. It is up to you to dig for the dirt and find out what's really going on. It's our job to think for ourselves and to scrutinize everything they do. There is nothing wrong about it. The wrong only comes in simply believing what we're told and never engaging our own brains. That's a guarantee you'll be manipulated and the simple proof is available in all of the expensive effort being taken to broadcast single minded versions of events, and to cover up anything that's contrary to them.

If we don't get self informed we are likely to observe the actions of government engaged in dubious behavior and not have the ability to see what is right in front of our own eyes. It will be overridden by the layers of consciously designed, incomplete, often dishonest, one sided data streams that have taken residence inside our heads, and that is feeding back out in a way that makes us doubt our own common sense, and perhaps drown it out completely. Then we are truly lost, quite literally, and are reduced to acting out a belief script that has been written for us. When it gets to the point we believe it without question we are not acting in our own best interest, but in the interest of those who write the script.

The only way to maintain authority over your own mind and life is to engage your discernment and put your trust in your own ability to interpret the facts, regardless of where they lead. It takes effort but it's effort worth taking. It's the only chance we have of reverting the Animal House back into a White House and make sure it is not controlling us, but that we are controlling it.

1 comment: