In order to understand this subject it is important to first understand what perception actually is.
Perception- Definition 1- the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
Perception- Definition 2- the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.
Consider both definitions for a minute, as both are relevant to this subject. Now based on each definition ask yourself these questions.
Is it possible that our senses could deceive us or could be deceived through deliberate manipulation tactics?
Could the information we receive actually be false and furthermore, could this information actually be designed to influence our thinking and shape our behavior?
Finally ask yourself this question- what causes you to behave in the manner in which you do every single day and what influences the way in which you make decisions?
Introduction- Perception in basic terms is the process of deciphering the information we receive through our senses. As human beings we are primarily focused on our sense of sight and hearing. These senses dominate almost completely in the realm of learning and the absorption of general information, which is precisely why these two senses are the focus of the forces of manipulation and influence. But how can we know if the information we are receiving is objective and factual and what if much of the information we have already received and integrated into our thinking was tainted or misleading?
As we absorb information we interpret this information as it makes its way through our internal filter. If the interpretation is one of fear and danger, then the body will take over instinctively causing the individual to react. If it is not related to fear and danger, then it will enter our conditioned unconscious mind and after that our conscious thinking mind. The problem lies in the fact that most of what we do and think is conditioned into us throughout life and this conditioning expresses automatically based on our unconscious mind. Now imagine your unconscious mind has been manipulated over time to think in a certain way and believe certain things. What if this conditioning was also tethered to feelings and emotions that promote a state of fear and anxiety? What if the information was deliberately designed to elicit fear and beyond that trigger feelings of moral incompatibility, what would occur?
When information and sensory input is imposed in such a way, the result is the development of an unstable and anxious mind, vulnerable to further influence of a similar nature. It creates a state of ignorance and false morality based on lies and misleading information. As these components fuse together what emerges is an ignorant mind, conditioned to be anxious, fearful and doubtful; a weak mind that struggles to accept other versions of reality and furthermore, a mind that justifies any behavior to free itself from the very thing it has become. This level of perception manipulation is common and is prevalent within the systems and structures governing a society, such as the economic, social and educational systems, as well as the systems of governance. But why deliberately work to shape and influence the decisions and behavior of the masses?
Behind the manipulation of perception are core motivations. These motivations include power, control, influence and dominance. All of these motivations are intertwined, as it is difficult to have one without the other.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
This is so much truth to this particular quote. Although most people cannot relate having never experienced any great degree of power, an analysis of powerful people throughout history would quickly demonstrate the true realty.
If people who have power desperately desire more, then we have to wonder how far they are willing to go to acquire this power. Powerful people are not beyond the reach of misguided ideas and ideals, leading them to encourage and participate in immoral acts and atrocities in the pursuit of such ideals. One way of achieving absolute power is to exploit the biological weaknesses programmed into the human mind. Powerful people have access to intelligent people, intelligent people who know how the influence and manipulate the minds of the vulnerable masses.
How is perception control achieved?
There are many different levels to perception control and many associated methods of manipulation. From impulsive lies common to children trying to avoid punishment for bad behavior, to misleading marketing designed to influence buyer choice and up to altering an entire worldview. Before we have a look at some common examples at the societal level, remember priming is also a preliminary phase of mass manipulation. Lets take a look at some of the most common methods of mass manipulation that relate to perception control.
1. Flooding- Flooding is when a particular narrative is developed and that narrative is then reinforced constantly over a long period of time. This builds the idea that something, whether it is an idea, concept, reputation, story or something of a similar nature is real and true. The more times people hear this narrative the more credible and believable it becomes even if it is based on lies.
2. Saturation- This strategy involves reinforcing a particular perception from multiple sources. If everywhere people look they see the same thing, then it builds integrity and makes it more believable, after all, surely every source of information isn’t lying……
3. Misdirection- When a truth is revealed that wasn’t meant to be, the powers that be look to create a diversion or distraction to make everyone look in another direction. This often occurs in politics, when a particular party makes a major error, supporting media outlets will focus public attention somewhere else to minimize the damage.
4. Position of authority- This is a common method of manipulation both at the individual and collective level. Certain authority figures carry an inherent level of integrity. A scientist is meant to be intelligent and factual, a journalist honest, a doctor knowledgeable and accurate and a teacher truthful and supportive, but this is not always the case. We cannot and should not believe someone simply because they are in a position of authority, they are still human beings and humans are easily corrupted especially in the pursuit of power and wealth. They are also easily controlled by more powerful entities that have the ability to destroy their career and reputation and therefore their life. Objectivity is relative to the forces of influence imposed upon it.
5. Context- Context can completely shift a narrative and change an outcome dramatically. When words are taken out of context, stories changed, images cropped, videos cut and information cherry picked, the effect on perception is significant. If you cannot see the whole picture you will only see what you are ‘meant to see’.
6. Omission- Similar to context, omission is the method of leaving out relevant information to paint a different picture and influence the narrative. It is common for people to omit information for the purpose of altering perception and influencing behavior.
7. Lies- Blatant lies are one of the most obvious and simple methods, but they are also quite effective. When someone is lied to, how do they know? They often can’t know so they rely heavily on the integrity of the source of the information and integrity itself can be an illusion.
These are just some of the methods of mass manipulation. Each will be broken down into greater detail in subsequent articles. Reflect on each and consider whether you are being influenced and manipulated by forces well beyond your current level of awareness.