Mind Control 101: The Basics

Remember this? Youre still doing it wrong.

Remember this guy? He's still doing it wrong.

by Luna Flesher

We have explored what thought reform is not in Mind Control 101: Myths of Brainwashing.  But what is it? What force can shut down people’s minds and get them to do things they otherwise would never consent to?

Cult Conversion Walkthrough (Storytime!)

No one is immune from mind control.  And contrariwise, mind control doesn’t always work. It takes the right combination of factors; specifically trust, common ideals, and receptivity.

Cults are a good place to study mind control because the changes they effect on people’s lives are extremely obvious.

Pretend for a moment you are having a difficult time in your life: a recent tragedy or major transition.  Maybe you’ve just gone through divorce, lost a loved one, you’ve moved to a new town, or have recently been fired.  You’re feeling alone, scared, depressed, ashamed, or desperate.

One day you encounter someone who is nice to you.  Either it’s a friend or associate, or even a complete stranger.  Maybe it is someone handing out pamphlets, or speaking to a crowd.  Who ever it is, he has kind eyes, and you feel a little better when you’re around him.  He also seems to share your values.  Maybe he wants to help the poor, or he talks about the power of love, or God, or protecting animals.  Imagine your greatest value, and he also shares that value with a level of passion you admire.

He invites you to a meeting or a party.  Once there, you find a room full of people who say nice things to you, lifting your spirits.  They are involved in a cause you wholeheartedly endorse.  They take care of the sick or collect food for the poor, or educate kids about capitalism, or share the message of God to the world.

Being around these people makes you feel good.  You feel as if you belong.  You quickly forget your personal problems and begin spending more time with this group, working towards making the world a better place.

They have won your trust.

Now you are fairly receptive to what the leader may tell you.  He will use this time to win more of your trust and make you more receptive.  If you’ve had niggling doubts about your new friends or their beliefs, they are easily explained away.

Slowly, you are introduced to new ideas you may not have accepted at first.  Over time, more is required of you.  More money, more time, more sacrifices.  Your behavior is slowly restricted.  Maybe you are required to dress a special way, eat or not eat certain foods, show up at a certain number of meetings, be so busy you don’t get proper sleep or nutrition.

Now the grip tightens.  The leader teaches you doctrines to instill phobias about the outside world.  You learn that your group has many enemies to fear.  Those enemies are not to be listened to because you will be unable to resist when they try to lead you away from the love of the group.  You are given thought-terminating cliche’s, phrases or words that help you easily dismiss criticism.  You are elite, one of the chosen to help save the world from political error, or one of the blessed of God.  Your very language is altered, as your words become “loaded”. This prevents you from properly thinking about certain concepts, and from properly communicating with people outside the group.  You have become dependent upon the group for your emotional well-being, and you are possibly even physically or financially dependent.  You are isolated, if not physically, then mentally, because there are many sources of information you are taught to distrust.

When you think about the group and its teachings, you are filled with a sense of euphoria.  Thinking about outsiders or criticisms makes you feel anger or confusion.  The thought of leaving the group or “switching sides” makes you feel guilty, ashamed, or afraid.  If something is not going as promised, you blame yourself, not the group.  There are no gray areas left in your world view — things are either good or evil, left or right, pure or tainted, full of life or death.

You now automatically reject any criticism, no matter how valid it is.  You reject any fact that goes contrary to your beliefs, because your beliefs have become more important than reality.  Certain words are now triggers that cause you to reject specific ideas before you even have a chance to hear them out.

You feel yourself to be perfectly rational, far more enlightened or intelligent than those with opposing views.  Yet instead, your brain has been crippled from the mind viruses you voluntarily made part of you.

What Just Happened?

Here is the process:

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Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 2:50 am  Comments (12)  
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Mind Control 101: Myths of Brainwashing

Mind Control - ur doing it rong

Mind catrol - ur doing it rong akshully

by Luna Flesher

I’ve studied a lot about mind control over the years.  My interest piqued shortly after I left a rigorous and restrictive religion.  I wanted to better understand how I had willingly allowed myself to be controlled, all the while believing and protesting loudly that I was free.

These methods are deceptive and unethical, tricking the mind rather than persuading through honesty and reason. Knowing this, I now have a very unique perspective on American politics.  I can see these techniques used all the time, by politicians, media, and regular people.

This is not owing to a vast conspiracy. It doesn’t take an evil mastermind to notice certain approaches work better to persuade. These methods have always worked and will always continue to work, and so they perpetuate through society.  Some who study memetics might even say they self-replicate.

This post begins a series called “Mind Control 101”, which precedes its non-evil step-twin, “Logical Fallacies 101”.

Please do not use this as a How To!  I address this topic not with the intent that you try to take over the world. In instead wish to make you better able to defend yourself when your mind comes under assault.

Let’s begin with the myths.  The entire subject of brainwashing is “loaded”.  Loading a word is itself, fittingly, a mind control technique that limits thought by giving you preconceived and highly incorrect notions. I’ll start “deprogramming” you by showing where your existing understanding of the topic is probably far from reality.

When I say these words, “Thought Control” or “Brainwashing”, you no doubt envision a wild-haired hypnotist swinging a silver watch, while a stern doctor injects your arm with a strange serum.  In the background, hooded figures chant, and soon your eyes begin to glaze over.  All the while you are helpless to resist because you are strapped to a chair.

This is all complete fantasy.  The great secret is that while being brainwashed you feel in complete control of yourself.  A much more accurate term is “coercive persuasion“, because you are persuaded to want the same thing the manipulator wants, to believe as he wants you to believe.

Those who have been thusly persuaded never know they have been brainwashed.  Conversely if you think you’ve been brainwashed, you probably haven’t been.

So let’s dispel some myths, shall we?

Thought reform does not require physical restraint.

Scientists used to think this, back in the 1950s, when American POWs returned from Korea singing the praises of their captors.  But coercive persuasion in our free society requires a little more skill.  No force is required.  All it takes is listening to someone who is talking.  It also requires that you trust them, at least a little bit.  If they do their job right, you will go willingly.

This picture is totally photoshopped

It does not involve hypnotic disks.

Hypnosis is a broad word that means any varying state of consciousness other than the one you’re probably experiencing now.  Various levels of hypnosis, trance, and meditation are sometimes used by cult groups, but this is never, ever a requirement.

No drugs, truth serums, elixirs, or magical incantations are used in brainwashing.

Other than a few 60’s cults that were using drugs anyway, I’ve never come across any thought reform involving chemicals.  Nor does it have anything to do with Satan.  No demonic possession, summoning of evil spirits, or worshiping pagan gods is required.

Brainwashed people are not glassy-eyed, drooling zombies.

Most actually appear quite normal.  In fact, I would venture to say everyone ends up brainwashed to one degree or another, at some point in their lives. Our brains seem wired to accept manipulation and deception. It seems logical that humankind would have better survived those very dangerous first 100,000 years of pre-history by following a leader without question. Thought control merely capitalizes on those build-in survival skills we are all born with.

There is absolutely no way to know that you’ve been brainwashed.

That’s exactly the point. If you knew you were being controlled, you wouldn’t like it very much, and you wouldn’t stand for it.  The manipulated fully believe they are making their own choices, that they are completely free to act in any way they choose.

A good deal of brainwashing involves setting up trigger thoughts, little tricks and traps that help you deflect any incoming facts, beliefs, thoughts, or feelings that would make you suddenly stop believing the lies you’ve been duped into.  Part of this series is going to be identifying those traps, so you can avoid them in the first place.

(I could say “…and so you can escape if you’re already brainwashed.”  But you see, if I were to accuse you of being controlled, you would immediately become defensive and protest, thinking, “There is no possible way!” That is exactly what I’m talking about.)

There is no “one size fits all” method of mind control.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can control some of the people all of the time, or all the people some of the time, but you can’t control all the people all the time.  Manipulators throw out a line with some bait to see what bites.  Sometimes it’s you, but usually you will laugh at their crazy ideas.  Everyone is ripe for being manipulated at some point in their lives.  Someone has something to say that will appeal specifically to you. You will always be able to see how other people are being brainwashed, but you won’t necessarily notice when it’s happening to you, because you will like it.

There are a lot of mind control tricks, but not all are required.

There isn’t a checklist that says, “Must meet all 50 requirements to be considered mind control”.  To control, you only need to do what works.

Brainwashing is not total.

It is possible to be partly brainwashed.  You can be brainwashed about certain topics but not others.  You can be brainwashed to the point of doing or believing almost everything the leader wants, but not quite. Victims of mind control can eventually be freed.

This image is actually pretty accurate.  NOT!

A completely staged, totally unrealistic depiction of a typical brainwasher. (Note the evil eyebrows.)

Brainwashers are not creepy, bizarre, crazy, mean-spirited men who ooze evil and darkness from every pore.

Images of cackling, sneering, British-accept-wielding villains were created for the drama of movie fiction, not to reflect reality.

If you’re going to be good at manipulation, you’ve got to be likable. To persuade, you must be charismatic. To convince, you must be, well… convincing. I listened to old recordings of Jim Jones recorded just before the infamous Jonestown kool-aid mass-suicides and he sounded sincere, kind, loving, and wise.

Furthermore, controlling groups or ideologies work best when believers are taught to use brainwashing techniques themselves.  That’s right. In almost every case, the controlled end up controlling.

No one is immune from mind control.

Not even me, not even after all I’ve learned about it. I can build up defenses, but even then I will be susceptible to it at some point.

Conclusion

Now you know what mind control is not, which gives you an advantage over most people.  In the next post I will, in the most basic of terms, describe what it is. Later on, I will delve into the details each technique so you can learn to recognize these methods in the wild.

Published in: on August 29, 2009 at 4:25 am  Comments (11)  
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Even If CO2 Doesn’t Kill Mankind, Climate Change Will

by Luna Flesher

I am a global warming agnostic.  I stick my toe in the water every year or so check the temperature on both sides of the debate.  I tend to waffle around somewhere just barely on either side of the fence.  There’s a lot of convincing data on both sides, and I really think science hasn’t come far enough to know either way.  It’s as if two astrologers have gazed into the same crystal ball and come up with completely different futures.

First you have a majority of scientists who firmly believe global anthropogenic (man-made) climate change (warming) is occurring due to carbon dioxide emissions.  In fact, some now say it is inevitable, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  I can’t believe this is due to a sinister, anti-capitalist conspiracy here because far too many smart scientists have made this conclusion.  They might be mistaken, but they are not all “in on it”.

There is an overwhelming amount of data to indicate global temperatures are on the rise.  You have atmospheric and oceanic measurements of temperatures.  You have massive local weather fluctuations.  You have the melting ice caps.  You have plants that bloom at all the wrong times.

To confuse matters, scientists are actually noting a more recent cooling trend in very recent years.  Scientists retain existing warming theories, blaming various  conditions such as regular oceanic current cycles.

Some fringe scientists claim warming now will actually trigger an ice age.

Whether it’s cooling or warming, something certainly seems to be going on with the climate, even if it seems no one can be entirely sure what.

Then you have the debate on what is causing climate change.  Obviously the prevailing theory it that it’s caused by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, due of course to fossil fuel consumption.

There is certainly a historical correlation between CO2 conditions and average global temperatures.  However, I have one small doubt: the classical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for “After this, therefore because of this”. Just because Event B happens after Event A, does not mean Event A was the cause.  This is also known in statistics as correlation does not imply causation. It’s an easy one to fall for, even for scientists.

Here is an example of why we might have a CO2 to temperature correlation where Co2 is not the cause.

We all know that decaying vegetable matter releases CO2. The more plants, the more CO2 can decay once that plant dies.  Increased global temperature increases the percentage of landmass viable for plant growth, and increases vegetation densities all over.  The Keeling Curve shows how plant decay produces sharp ups and downs of CO2 each year as things die off the fall and grow in the spring.  We have no way of knowing how increased vegetation over entire landmasses would increase CO2 levels for us to find in the ice eons later.

To further my point on cause vs. effect, we have been recently told the current trend of warming will thaw now-frozen plant matter, which will increase CO2 even further.  How do we know the spikes in CO2 in our distant past weren’t caused by some arbitrary warming factor thawing once-frozen tundra, suddenly releasing ages-old carbon as is now happening?

Global warming could just as possibly cause CO2.

CO2 greenhouse theory itself becomes shaky in light of saturation theory. Greenhouse theory states gases absorb sunlight as energy as it bounces off the earth’s surface and back into space.  However, CO2 can only absorb certain bandwidths of light.  Other greenhouses gases also absorb light, each with its own bands.  Water vapor absorbs the most energy from the highest number of frequencies, and is responsible for 90% of atmospheric heat absorption. There is some crossover, for example water absorbs some of the same frequencies of light as carbon, methane, and so on.  Once a gas has absorbed 100% of the bandwidths of light that it can, it can no longer retain any further energy.  All the other frequencies of light pass through.

Saturation theory concludes that carbon will increase temperatures only so much, until its entire range of light has been absorbed, and then it will stop.

To add one more little push as I lean over the fence, there is a new study showing how global warming models are not following their predicted paths. The paper is out of MIT, and is written by a highly respected atmospheric scientist.

The Little Ice Age showed us the earth can suddenly change climates for geologically short periods of time.  History records, and geological records corroborate, that the earth plunged into a period of cold starting as early as 1350 and ending possibly in the 1850’s, with many decades-long ups and downs interspersed.  1816 was known as the Year Without Summer.  Europe and the Americas suffered off-and-on periods of mass starvation.

This was not caused by man. It was caused by the whims of nature, and proves to me just how much at the mercy of the environment we are.

My conclusion, for now, is that the climate is probably changing, and this could very likely have a devastating effect on sea levels, food supply, weather, and ecological habitats.

I doubt it is caused by man, but I remain agnostic on this point as well.

Either way, I absolutely think we should place less effort into building computer models of CO2 effects, which is like counting angels on the head of a pin, and more towards preparing ourselves for the coming disasters.

Maybe there is some crazy idea that could cool the earth no matter what its cause, like David Keith’s proposal to use sulfate particulates in the stratosphere.

The Little Ice Age caused starvation because it took so many years to discover which crops grew well in colder conditions.  We need to get scientists like Normal Borlaug to recommend plants and agricultural methods for various scenarios, and then we need to stock up on the right seeds.

How can we apply ingenuity to save our coastal cities should sea levels rise? How can we protect our water supply if all the glaciers melt? Where will be buy swimsuits in January if stores won’t stock them until May?

In seriousness, perhaps we’re spending a lot of time and money on trying to answer the wrong question — not “Is climate change happening”, nor even, “How can we prevent it?”, but “Now that it’s happening, how can we keep humanity safe and living with a high quality of life?”

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 6:14 am  Comments (7)  
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Defcon Recap 2009: Adventures of a Hacker Groupie

by Luna Flesher

As I so enthusiastically tweeted, Defcon 2009 was the best con I’ve been to since Radcon 1997. Here are a few highlights.

Getting There

The fun began at Sea-Tac airport, where we barely caught our flight by a thin margin. Getting to the airport 1.5 hours early only leaves room for one mistake, mishap, or other difficulty. We encountered several:

First, my iPhone fell out of my pocket and was back in the car. At the parking facility. To compound the issue, I hopped the wrong shuttle to fetch it. A shuttle that was going the wrong way. However a couple of helpful shuttle drivers got me to the right place, and I was back at the airport — just in time to make the flight assuming no other mishaps occurred. I’ve just got to say: Thrifty car rental, FTW.

Back at the airport, I breathlessly found my two traveling companions waiting at the agent. Apparently, two of our tickets have been canceled with no notice. And one of our bags was over 50 lbs.

After waiting forever, repacking the bags, rushing through security, running down halls, finding out there was no room for us on the plane, then finding out there was, we boarded the plane with -5 minutes to spare.
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Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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