The Doors Of Perception: Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything
by Dr. Tim O’Shea
We are the most conditioned, programmed beings the
world has ever known. Not only are our thoughts and
attitudes continually being shaped and molded; our
very awareness of the whole design seems like it is
being subtly and inexorably erased.
The doors of our perception are carefully and
precisely regulated. Who cares, right?
It is an exhausting and endless task to keep
explaining to people how most issues of conventional
wisdom are scientifically implanted in the public
consciousness by a thousand media clips per day. In an
effort to save time, I would like to provide just a
little background on the handling of information in
Once the basic principles are illustrated about how
our current system of media control arose
historically, the reader might be more apt to question
any given story in today’s news.
If everybody believes something, it’s probably wrong.
We call that Conventional Wisdom.
In America, conventional wisdom that has mass
acceptance is usually contrived: somebody paid for it.
Pharmaceuticals restore health
Vaccination brings immunity
The cure for cancer is just around the corner
When a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics
When a child has a fever he needs Tylenol
Hospitals are safe and clean.
America has the best health care in the world.
And many many more
This is a list of illusions, that have cost billions
and billions to conjure up. Did you ever wonder why
you never see the President speaking publicly unless
he is reading? Or why most people in this country
think generally the same about most of the above
How This Set-Up Got Started
In Trust Us We’re Experts, Stauber and Rampton pull
together some compelling data describing the science
of creating public opinion in America.
They trace modern public influence back to the early
part of the last century, highlighting the work of
guys like Edward L. Bernays, the Father of Spin. From
his own amazing chronicle Propaganda, we learn how
Edward L. Bernays took the ideas of his famous uncle
Sigmund Freud himself, and applied them to the
emerging science of mass persuasion.
The only difference was that instead of using these
principles to uncover hidden themes in the human
unconscious, the way Freudian psychology does, Bernays
used these same ideas to mask agendas and to create
illusions that deceive and misrepresent, for marketing
The Father Of Spin
Bernays dominated the PR industry until the 1940s, and
was a significant force for another 40 years after
that. (Tye) During all that time, Bernays took on
hundreds of diverse assignments to create a public
perception about some idea or product. A few examples:
As a neophyte with the Committee on Public
Information, one of Bernays’ first assignments was to
help sell the First World War to the American public
with the idea to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.”
A few years later, Bernays set up a stunt to
popularize the notion of women smoking cigarettes. In
organizing the 1929 Easter Parade in New York City,
Bernays showed himself as a force to be reckoned with.
He organized the Torches of Liberty Brigade in which
suffragettes marched in the parade smoking cigarettes
as a mark of women’s liberation. Such publicity
followed from that one event that from then on women
have felt secure about destroying their own lungs in
public, the same way that men have always done.
Bernays popularized the idea of bacon for breakfast.
Not one to turn down a challenge, he set up the
advertising format along with the AMA that lasted for
nearly 50 years proving that cigarettes are beneficial
to health. Just look at ads in issues of Life or Time
from the 40s and 50s.
Smoke And Mirrors
Bernay’s job was to reframe an issue; to create a
desired image that would put a particular product or
concept in a desirable light. Bernays described the
public as a ‘herd that needed to be led.’ And this
herdlike thinking makes people “susceptible to
Bernays never deviated from his fundamental axiom to
“control the masses without their knowing it.” The
best PR happens with the people unaware that they are
Stauber describes Bernays’ rationale like this:
“the scientific manipulation of public opinion was
necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in a
democratic society.” Trust Us p 42
These early mass persuaders postured themselves as
performing a moral service for humanity in general –
democracy was too good for people; they needed to be
told what to think, because they were incapable of
rational thought by themselves. Here’s a paragraph
from Bernays’ Propaganda:
“Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society
constitute an invisible government which is the true
ruling power of our country. We are governed, our
minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested
largely by men we have never heard of.
This is a logical result of the way in which our
democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human
beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to
live together as a smoothly functioning society.
In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere
of politics or business in our social conduct or our
ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively
small number of persons who understand the mental
processes and social patterns of the masses. It is
they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”
Here Comes The Money
Once the possibilities of applying Freudian psychology
to mass media were glimpsed, Bernays soon had more
corporate clients than he could handle. Global
corporations fell all over themselves courting the new
Image Makers. There were dozens of goods and services
and ideas to be sold to a susceptible public. Over the
years, these players have had the money to make their
images happen. A few examples:
Philip Morris Pfizer Union Carbide Allstate
Monsanto Eli Lilly tobacco industry Ciba Geigy
lead industry Coors DuPont Chlorox
Shell Oil Standard Oil Procter & Gamble Boeing
General Motors Dow Chemical General Mills Goodyear
Though world-famous within the PR industry, the
companies have names we don’t know, and for good
The best PR goes unnoticed.
For decades they have created the opinions that most
of us were raised with, on virtually any issue which
has the remotest commercial value, including:
pharmaceutical drugs vaccines
medicine as a profession alternative medicine
fluoridation of city water chlorine
household cleaning products tobacco
dioxin global warming
leaded gasoline cancer research and treatment
pollution of the oceans forests and lumber
images of celebrities, including damage control
crisis and disaster management
genetically modified foods aspartame
food additives; processed foods dental amalgams
Bernays learned early on that the most effective way
to create credibility for a product or an image was by
“independent third-party” endorsement.
For example, if General Motors were to come out and
say that global warming is a hoax thought up by some
liberal tree-huggers, people would suspect GM’s
motives, since GM’s fortune is made by selling
If however some independent research institute with a
very credible sounding name like the Global Climate
Coalition comes out with a scientific report that says
global warming is really a fiction, people begin to
get confused and to have doubts about the original
So that’s exactly what Bernays did. With a policy
inspired by genius, he set up “more institutes and
foundations than Rockefeller and Carnegie combined.”
(Stauber p 45)
Quietly financed by the industries whose products were
being evaluated, these “independent” research agencies
would churn out “scientific” studies and press
materials that could create any image their handlers
wanted. Such front groups are given high-sounding
Temperature Research Foundation Manhattan Institute
International Food Information Council Center for
Consumer Alert Tobacco Institute Research Council
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition Air
American Council on Science and Health Industrial
Global Climate Coalition International Food
Alliance for Better Foods
Sound pretty legit don’t they?
Canned News Releases
As Stauber explains, these organizations and hundreds
of others like them are front groups whose sole
mission is to advance the image of the global
corporations who fund them, like those listed on page
This is accomplished in part by an endless stream of
‘press releases’ announcing “breakthrough” research to
every radio station and newspaper in the country.
(Robbins) Many of these canned reports read like
straight news, and indeed are purposely molded in the
This saves journalists the trouble of researching the
subjects on their own, especially on topics about
which they know very little. Entire sections of the
release or in the case of video news releases, the
whole thing can be just lifted intact, with no
editing, given the byline of the reporter or newspaper
or TV station – and voil?! Instant news – copy and
paste. Written by corporate PR firms.
Does this really happen? Every single day, since the
1920s when the idea of the News Release was first
invented by Ivy Lee. (Stauber, p 22) Sometimes as many
as half the stories appearing in an issue of the Wall
St. Journal are based solely on such PR press
These types of stories are mixed right in with
legitimately researched stories. Unless you have done
the research yourself, you won’t be able to tell the
The Language Of Spin
As 1920s spin pioneers like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays
gained more experience, they began to formulate rules
and guidelines for creating public opinion. They
learned quickly that mob psychology must focus on
emotion, not facts. Since the mob is incapable of
rational thought, motivation must be based not on
logic but on presentation. Here are some of the axioms
of the new science of PR:
technology is a religion unto itself
if people are incapable of rational thought, real
democracy is dangerous
important decisions should be left to experts
when reframing issues, stay away from substance;
never state a clearly demonstrable lie
Words are very carefully chosen for their emotional
impact. Here’s an example. A front group called the
International Food Information Council handles the
public’s natural aversion to genetically modified
Trigger words are repeated all through the text. Now
in the case of GM foods, the public is instinctively
afraid of these experimental new creations which have
suddenly popped up on our grocery shelves which are
said to have DNA alterations. The IFIC wants to
reassure the public of the safety of GM foods, so it
avoids words like:
Frankenfoods Hitler biotech
chemical DNA experiments
manipulate money safety
scientists radiation roulette
gene-splicing gene gun random
Instead, good PR for GM foods contains words like:
hybrids natural order beauty
choice bounty cross-breeding
diversity earth farmer
It’s basic Freudian/Tony Robbins word association. The
fact that GM foods are not hybrids that have been
subjected to the slow and careful scientific methods
of real crossbreeding doesn’t really matter. This is
pseudoscience, not science. Form is everything and
substance just a passing myth. (Trevanian)
Who do you think funds the International Food
Information Council? Take a wild guess. Right –
Monsanto, DuPont, Frito-Lay, Coca Cola, Nutrasweet –
those in a position to make fortunes from GM foods.
(Stauber p 20)
Characteristics Of Good Propaganda
As the science of mass control evolved, PR firms
developed further guidelines for effective copy. Here
are some of the gems:
dehumanize the attacked party by labeling and name
speak in glittering generalities using emotionally
when covering something up, don’t use plain English;
stall for time; distract
get endorsements from celebrities, churches, sports
figures, street people – anyone who has no expertise
in the subject at hand
the ‘plain folks’ ruse: us billionaires are just like
when minimizing outrage, don’t say anything memorable,
point out the benefits of what just happened, and
avoid moral issues
Keep this list. Start watching for these techniques.
Not hard to find – look at today’s paper or tonight’s
TV news. See what they’re doing; these guys are good!
Science For Hire
PR firms have become very sophisticated in the
preparation of news releases. They have learned how to
attach the names of famous scientists to research that
those scientists have not even looked at. (Stauber, p
This is a common occurrence. In this way the editors
of newspapers and TV news shows are often not even
aware that an individual release is a total PR
fabrication. Or at least they have “deniability,”
Stauber tells the amazing story of how leaded gas came
into the picture. In 1922, General Motors discovered
that adding lead to gasoline gave cars more
When there was some concern about safety, GM paid the
Bureau of Mines to do some fake “testing” and publish
spurious research that ‘proved’ that inhalation of
lead was harmless. Enter Charles Kettering.
Founder of the world famous Sloan-Kettering Memorial
Institute for medical research, Charles Kettering also
happened to be an executive with General Motors.
By some strange coincidence, we soon have the Sloan
Kettering institute issuing reports stating that lead
occurs naturally in the body and that the body has a
way of eliminating low level exposure.
Through its association with The Industrial Hygiene
Foundation and PR giant Hill & Knowlton, Sloane
Kettering opposed all anti-lead research for years.
(Stauber p 92). Without organized scientific
opposition, for the next 60 years more and more
gasoline became leaded, until by the 1970s, 90% of our
gasoline was leaded.
Finally it became too obvious to hide that lead was a
major carcinogen, and leaded gas was phased out in the
late 1980s. But during those 60 years, it is estimated
that some 30 million tons of lead were released in
vapor form onto American streets and highways. 30
That is PR, my friends.
In 1993 a guy named Peter Huber wrote a new book and
coined a new term. The book was Galileo’s Revenge and
the term was junk science. Huber’s shallow thesis was
that real science supports technology, industry, and
Anything else was suddenly junk science. Not
surprisingly, Stauber explains how Huber’s book was
supported by the industry-backed Manhattan Institute.
Huber’s book was generally dismissed not only because
it was so poorly written, but because it failed to
realize one fact: true scientific research begins with
no conclusions. Real scientists are seeking the truth
because they do not yet know what the truth is.
True scientific method goes like this:
Form a hypothesis
Make predictions for that hypothesis
Test the predictions
Reject or revise the hypothesis based on the research
Boston University scientist Dr. David Ozonoff explains
that ideas in science are themselves like “living
organisms, that must be nourished, supported, and
cultivated with resources for making them grow and
flourish.” (Stauber p 205)
Great ideas that don’t get this financial support
because the commercial angles are not immediately
obvious – these ideas wither and die.
Another way you can often distinguish real science
from phony is that real science points out flaws in
its own research. Phony science pretends there were no
The Real Junk Science
Contrast this with modern PR and its constant
pretensions to sound science. Corporate sponsored
research, whether it’s in the area of drugs, GM foods,
or chemistry begins with predetermined conclusions.
It is the job of the scientists then to prove that
these conclusions are true, because of the economic
upside that proof will bring to the industries paying
for that research. This invidious approach to science
has shifted the entire focus of research in America
during the past 50 years, as any true scientist is
likely to admit.
Stauber documents the increasing amount of corporate
sponsorship of university research. (206) This has
nothing to do with the pursuit of knowledge.
Scientists lament that research has become just
another commodity, something bought and sold.
The Two Main Targets Of “Sound Science”
It is shocking when Stauber shows how the vast
majority of corporate PR today opposes any research
that seeks to protect
It’s a funny thing that most of the time when we see
the phrase “junk science,” it is in a context of
defending something that may threaten either the
environment or our health.
This makes sense when one realizes that money changes
hands only by selling the illusion of health and the
illusion of environmental protection. True public
health and real preservation of the earth’s
environment have very low market value.
Stauber thinks it ironic that industry’s
self-proclaimed debunkers of junk science are usually
non-scientists themselves. (255) Here again they can
do this because the issue is not science, but the
creation of images.
The Language Of Attack
When PR firms attack legitimate environmental groups
and alternative medicine people, they again use
special words which will carry an emotional punch:
outraged sound science
junk science sensible
The next time you are reading a newspaper article
about an environmental or health issue, note how the
author shows bias by using the above terms. This is
the result of very specialized training.
Another standard PR tactic is to use the rhetoric of
the environmentalists themselves to defend a dangerous
and untested product that poses an actual threat to
the environment. This we see constantly in the PR
smokescreen that surrounds genetically modified foods.
They talk about how GM foods are necessary to grow
more food and to end world hunger, when the reality is
that GM foods actually have lower yields per acre than
natural crops. (Stauber p 173)
The grand design sort of comes into focus once you
realize that almost all GM foods have been created by
the sellers of herbicides and pesticides so that those
plants can withstand greater amounts of herbicides and
pesticides. (The Magic Bean)
Kill Your TV?
Hope this chapter has given you a hint to start
reading newspaper and magazine articles a little
differently, and perhaps start watching TV news shows
with a slightly different attitude than you had
Always ask, what are they selling here, and who’s
selling it? And if you actually follow up on Stauber &
Rampton’s book and check out some of the other
resources below, you might even glimpse the
possibility of advancing your life one quantum simply
by ceasing to subject your brain to mass media.
That’s right – no more newspapers, no more TV news, no
more Time magazine or Newsweek. You could actually do
that. Just think what you could do with the extra time
Really feel like you need to “relax” or find out
“what’s going on in the world” for a few hours every
day? Think about the news of the past couple of years
for a minute.
Do you really suppose the major stories that have
dominated headlines and TV news have been “what is
going on in the world?” Do you actually think there’s
been nothing going on besides the contrived tech
slump, the contrived power shortages, the re-filtered
accounts of foreign violence and disaster, and all the
other non-stories that the puppeteers dangle before us
What about when they get a big one, like with OJ or
Monica Lewinsky or the Oklahoma city bombing? Do we
really need to know all that detail, day after day? Do
we have any way of verifying all that detail, even if
we wanted to? What is the purpose of news?
To inform the public? Hardly. The sole purpose of news
is to keep the public in a state of fear and
uncertainty so that they’ll watch again tomorrow and
be subjected to the same advertising.
Oversimplification? Of course. That’s the mark of mass
media mastery – simplicity. The invisible hand. Like
Edward Bernays said, the people must be controlled
without them knowing it.
Consider this: what was really going on in the world
all that time they were distracting us with all that
stupid vexatious daily smokescreen? Fear and
uncertainty — that’s what keeps people coming back
If this seems like a radical outlook, let’s take it
one step further:
What would you lose from your life if you stopped
watching TV and stopped reading newspapers altogether?
Would your life really suffer any financial, moral,
intellectual or academic loss from such a decision?
Do you really need to have your family continually
absorbing the illiterate, amoral, phony, uncultivated,
desperately brainless values of the people featured in
the average nightly TV program? Are these fake,
programmed robots “normal”?
Do you need to have your life values constantly
spoon-fed to you?
Are those shows really amusing, or just a necessary
distraction to keep you from looking at reality, or
trying to figure things out yourself by doing a little
Name one example of how your life is improved by
watching TV news and reading the evening paper.
What measurable gain is there for you?
Planet of the Apes?
There’s no question that as a nation, we’re getting
dumber year by year. Look at the presidents we’ve been
choosing lately. Ever notice the blatant grammar
mistakes so ubiquitous in today’s advertising and
Literacy is marginal in most American secondary
schools. Three fourths of California high school
seniors can’t read well enough to pass their exit
exams. (SJ Mercury 20 Jul 01)
If you think other parts of the country are smarter,
try this one: hand any high school senior a book by
Dumas or Jane Austen, and ask them to open to any
random page and just read one paragraph out loud. Go
ahead, do it. SAT scales are arbitrarily shifted lower
and lower to disguise how dumb kids are getting year
At least 10% have documented “learning disabilities,”
which are reinforced and rewarded by special treatment
and special drugs. Ever hear of anyone failing a grade
Or observe the intellectual level of the average movie
which these days may only last one or two weeks in the
theatres, especially if it has insufficient
explosions, chase scenes, silicone, fake martial arts,
and cretinesque dialogue.
Radio? Consider the low mental qualifications of the
falsely animated corporate simians they hire as DJs –
they’re only allowed to have 50 thoughts, which they
just repeat at random.
And at what point did popular music cease to require
the study of any musical instrument or theory
whatsoever, not to mention lyric? Perhaps we just
don’t understand this emerging art form, right? The
Darwinism of MTV – apes descended from man.
Ever notice how most articles in any of the glossy
magazines sound like they were all written by the same
guy? And this guy just graduated from junior college?
And yet he has all the correct opinions on social
issues, no original ideas, and that shallow, smug,
homogenized corporate omniscience, which enables him
to assure us that everything is going to be fine…
All this is great news for the PR industry – makes
their job that much easier. Not only are very few
paying attention to the process of conditioning; fewer
are capable of understanding it even if somebody
explained it to them.
Tea In the Cafeteria
Let’s say you’re in a crowded cafeteria, and you buy a
cup of tea. And as you’re about to sit down you see
your friend way across the room. So you put the tea
down and walk across the room and talk to your friend
for a few minutes.
Now, coming back to your tea, are you just going to
pick it up and drink it? Remember, this is a crowded
place and you’ve just left your tea unattended for
several minutes. You’ve given anybody in that room
access to your tea.
Why should your mind be any different? Turning on the
TV, or uncritically absorbing mass publications every
day – these activities allow access to our minds by
“just anyone” – anyone who has an agenda, anyone with
the resources to create a public image via popular
As we’ve seen above, just because we read something or
see something on TV doesn’t mean it’s true or worth
knowing. So the idea here is, like the tea, the mind
is also worth guarding, worth limiting access to it.
This is the only life we get. Time is our total
capital. Why waste it allowing our potential, our
personality, our values to be shaped, crafted, and
limited according to the whims of the mass panderers?
There are many important issues that are crucial to
our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. If
it’s an issue where money is involved, objective data
won’t be so easy to obtain. Remember, if everybody
knows something, that image has been bought and paid
Real knowledge takes a little effort, a little
excavation down at least one level below what
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Robbins, J Reclaiming Our Health Kramer 1996.
O’Shea T The Magic Bean 2000 www.thedoctorwithin.com.
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linoleic acid and beta-carotene on the in vitro growth
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Copyright 1997-2001 by Joseph M. Mercola, DO. All
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