Going through the lecture and listening the professor was such a great experience for me, I had never listened before to something that was so eye-opening, as a matter of fact, I found myself to be part of the people who had fallen into the propaganda that has been propagated by the media and the government for like the whole of my life. In general, the Professor begins the video by giving examples of advertisements in the 1950s. In one of those advertisements, we can see a doctor smoking a cigarette, the doctor seems to be making all the right decisions in his life, and given that he is a doctor, we expect him to be smoking something that would not be harmful to his health. At least he should be in control of his health. So most people in those days believed that because a doctor advertised that cigarette, it was not harmful to their health, and so most people who were smokers then were living in dilutions. The professor continues to say that the case has not changed, we may think that the people living then were delusional for believing in those advertisements, but we fall in a worse category. The professor says that people are living in a trance.
The professor continues to say that the media plays a big role in spreading propaganda and manipulation across the population. He gives an example of a study that was conducted where most of the kids in America could not identify who was the head and Germany in World War II. The media has played a big role in making our kids to be dam; they only know the things that are played on the television. For instance, most of them know who McDonald's is. The professor continues to give the five propaganda tools that have been used by the media and the government to keep us in the fog. He says that we live in a fantasy, not the reality, we live in a fog that has been created by the propaganda that we listen to in the news now and then. The first propaganda tool that the professor uses is known as reframing. He defines reframing as making a bad thing to sound very good and making garbage to smell like perfume. For instance, he gave an instance of the record that Gorge Bush had on the environment. Gorge Bush weakened rules on rivers from pollution; he also allowed mercury and nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere.
If today you were to be asked what you feel about the act that allows mercury into the atmosphere, you would say that it is the worst policy you ever had. Gorge Bush went ahead and called the legislation the clear skies act and the clean waters act. If today you are asked what you feel about the clear skies act, you will say that it is such a great act, because it sounds good. That is what the professor calls reframing - making something that is bad to sound good. The second way of propagating propaganda is repeated affirmations. He continues to define this as repeating something that is not true over and over again until people become delusional, to a point where it sounds true. He gives an example of how the Bush administration insisted that Sadam Hussein was involved in terrorist actions against the united states in the 9 11 attack. This was something that was repeated again and again by people who had authority is the government, every day you would hear in the media and in the news that Sadam Hussein was involved in terrorist attacks against the United States.
This continued repetition of propaganda made even the Congress to believe that Sadam Hussein was indeed the leader of the terrorist group that was attacking the United States, and when the time came, the Congress passed a bill to declare war against Iraq. All of that was based on a delusion. Three years after the United States had attacked Iraq, most people had believed that Sadam Hussein was indeed guilty, and almost everyone was in delusion. The professor also uses imitative learning as a propaganda tool. This is where most people tend to imitate what they see on the television. This imitation happens even without knowing. He gives an example of positive imitation and negative imitation. He says that the Cosby Show gave a positive impact on the African American community. The show was about a father who raised all their children and managed to go to college. The show had a positive impact on African American families. When it comes to genitive imitation, he gave an example of how Hip Hop artist have been presenting themselves negatively. For instance, Lil Wayne and 50 cents have hurt African America youngsters. When people imitate their behavior, they end up in prison and hardly perfume in class.
Another propaganda tool that the professor uses is known as distraction and denial. That means making people not to see the truth and showing them news that is just entertaining. For instance, when there was an earthquake in Haiti, it was only covered in the media for a few weeks, the amount of attention that went to Haiti cannot come close to the viewership that went to Whitney Houston drowning on a swimming pool. The people of Haiti are still living in tents today, but all that we can see on the television is a dog that has two heads, that is the kind of content that is aired on our media. So we do not live in reality, we live in a fantasy that has been created by the media. The last tool of propaganda that the media uses according to the professor is known as operant conditioning. According to sociologists, it is a situation where behavior is repeated if it is positively reinforced. He gives an example of the movie known as 60 seconds, where John Cage steals a car and ends up winning the heart of Angelina Jolie. One week after that movie was watched in Canada, car theft went up by 60%. This is because most people thought that stealing a car can be positively reinforced like in the case of John Cage. The professor says that we live in a fog, we are not in reality. What is aired in the news is just fantasy.
Reflection on the Lecture
I can say that I have never watched a video that so minds opening. Most of us feel like we are ahead of our forefathers; we feel like we have more freedom compared to them. But after going through the lecture, I have noticed that we might be in deeper problems than our forefathers. Given the rate of technology today, everyone has a smartphone; everyone has a computer, a television and access to the internet ("Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions," 2013). That means that most of us are living in the fog that the professor is talking about. When you look at the famous African American musicians, you would think that they are having a positive impact on the black communities, you would think that Hip Hop is something that the African Americans should be proud of, on the other hand, the truth of the matter is that Hip Hop is not owned by the African Americans, it is owned by rich white people who are behind the scenes, and they choose the kind of content that this hip hop artist will produce. You will notice that the kind of music that these people are producing is more toxic to young generation than it is helpful. Most young people imitate jay z, Kanye West, 50 cents and the rest of the famous music artist, and that is how you will get many people smoking marijuana because the famous musicians seem to be positively reinforced by the same.
When some behaviors are reinforced positively, whether they are good or bad behaviors, observant will imitate. That is what is happening in the modern world. You will find that Lil Wayne performed poorly in class, but here he is smoking marijuana, dancing with a whole bunch of ladies, living with guns and a reckless life, but he is still wealthy and famous, so many young people live the delusion thinking that it is real life, but according to the professor, they are living in a fog. The issue of Iraq is also quite touching; it is sad how the media can convince the people that lies are true repeatedly until the people are completely delusional. That kind of repetitive affirmation caused the death of more than 100,000 innocent people in Iraq. The media and the politicians propagate propaganda continuously to a point where we think that we are living in the perfect world, we live in a world where videos of a dog with two heads has more viewership than a video of a massacre.
The lecture had a very deep insight into how the world is run; the lecture gives a different perspective compared to what people see. For instance, the reason that led America to attack Iraq was all manipulated through propaganda, there was no substantial reason to attack Iraq because you cannot say that a whole country is made up of terrorists, so Congress was manipulated by the Bush administration into believing that Iraq was the enemy. Congress made the wrong call. From the lecture, it is quite clear that propaganda and manipulation are like part of our lives, the things that we watch on television are mostly not real, and they are there to distract us from focusing on the truth about the world that we are living in. The professor goes ahead to give examples from videos; he gives empirical evidence that we are living is a world that is far from being clear.
The professor also shows how our children are getting dumber by the day. Children today can only answer questions that have been on the television when it comes to McDonald's, they can even sing songs, but when you ask them about who the founding father of America is, they do not know. When you ask teenagers which city has the code 90210, they will know, and that is because they watched a program the name 90210. That argument gives us an insight into the world that we live in, our children are worse off than our grandparents were, and at least they used to read books.
In a nutshell, I think that the professor is trying to shed some light on what the world has become. The media is playing the role of distracting people from experiencing reality. It is quite contrary to what people expect, people go to watch news thinking that they know what is going on around them, but in a real sense, they are getting more blind and delusional. The politicians use the same propaganda to rule over us; they use the media to convince us what they want us to believe. Propaganda has been a significant tool in manipulating the masses.
Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions. (2013, October 20). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo5gPG72KM
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