Govt. Nudge Units Find the “BEST” Ways to Manipulate the Public
Freedom of speech means a lot to us at the OP. However, that’s been fading fast, as Daisy has documented, and as though speech restrictions aren’t bad enough, most of us have been lab rats for central planners’ behavioral experiments longer than we probably care to realize. And now there are Nudge Units.
Huge amounts of money have been poured into “nudge research,” determining the best ways to get populations to change their behaviors without passing laws or using force.
What are Nudge Units?
Let’s look at how these “Nudge Units” got started, what they’ve been used for most recently, and what they’re likely to focus on next.
The concept of “nudging” people into making better choices became popular with the book Nudge—Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, authored by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, and published in 2008. Their book defines a nudge as:
. . .any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not. (p.6)
(You may be interested to note that author Sunstein is married to Samantha Power, the administrator of Biden’s US Agency for International Development and previously Obama’s ambassador to the UN. Forbes listed Ms. Power as the 63rd most powerful woman in the world in 2014. Do you think she’s Nudging? ~ Daisy )
Individuals in government and industry quickly realized that the authors’ insights into the decision-making process could be used to manipulate that process in the minds of the general public, many of whom don’t have the time or mental energy for NYT bestsellers.
The British government established its first Behavioural Insights Team in 2010. It began as a seven-person team within a Cabinet Office nicknamed the “Nudge Unit” then became an independent social purpose company in 2014 before being purchased by Nesta, a larger social purpose company, in 2021.
These social purpose companies employ experts in promoting desirable behaviors. So in Britain, for example, they want to cut obesity rates in half and reduce household carbon emissions by 28% by 2030.
INSIDE THE PENTAGON’S NEW “PERCEPTION MANAGEMENT” OFFICE TO COUNTER DISINFORMATION
NOT LONG AFTER the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration launched what it called the Office of Strategic Influence, which would seek to “counter the enemy’s perception management” in the so-called war on terror. But it quickly became clear that the office, operating under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, would be managing those perceptions with its own disinformation.
As the New York Times reported at the time, its work was to “provide news items, possibly including false ones, to foreign journalists in an effort to influence overseas opinion.” In the nascent Internet age, observers worried the propaganda could boomerang back on Americans.
“The question is whether the Pentagon and military should undertake an official program that uses disinformation to shape perceptions abroad,” the Times reported in 2004. “But in a modern world wired by satellite television and the Internet, any misleading information and falsehoods could easily be repeated by American news outlets.”
Now, two decades later, “perception management” is once again becoming a central focus for the national security state. On March 1, 2022, the Pentagon established a new office with similar goals to the one once deemed too controversial to remain open. Very little has been made public about the effort, which The Intercept learned about through a review of budget documents and an internal memo we obtained. This iteration is called the Influence and Perception Management Office, or IPMO, according to the memo, which was produced by the office for an academic institution, and its responsibilities include overseeing and coordinating the various counter-disinformation efforts being conducted by the military, which can include the U.S.’s own propaganda abroad.
Psyops Are Not New, Just More Dangerous
Since the international insanity began three years ago in the Spring of 2020, several compelling theories have emerged regarding those who have used this time to suppress freedoms and control the population.
For example, Debbie Lerman has effectively argued that lockdowns in the US were not about health, but about counter-terrorism. The state response is to control the population, and not let go of those controls once they are in place.
Aaron Kheriaty has effectively argued that we have entered a new realm of the Security State, all our actions monitored, tracked, and controlled.
Most disturbing of all, Jeffrey Tucker has effectively argued that scientific consensus has overwritten individual choice, giving us a vaccine which we all would be required to take, and which naturally leads to eugenics.
In reading these kinds of well-positioned articles, and the reactions to them on social media, it’s easy to get the impression that we have entered a truly Brave New World, one which did not formerly exist, and is an entirely new phenomenon.
The simple fact is that they are not new ideas. Man desires power over man. But even the parts of the recent attacks on humanity that may seem new are not entirely new. As outlined in the articles above, one such idea is that the government and companies have been performing psyops against us, to control our emotions and dictate our actions.
But how do you convince the population that this mode of existence is desirable? You have to change the way they think. Is that new?
In his brilliant documentary, The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis describes how companies and governments used the psychological ideas of Sigmund Freud to manipulate people’s emotions for their own purposes and ends throughout the 1900s.
Edward Bernays, the nephew of Freud, was chiefly responsible for bringing these ideas of mass manipulation to large corporations and the US government. In one example explored in Curtis’ documentary, the taboo against women smoking in public was preventing the large tobacco companies from selling to half of their potential market.
Bernays hired a group of debutantes to appear in the Easter Sunday parade of 1929 in New York, under the guise that they represented the women’s suffrage movement. During the parade all the women smoked cigarettes, referencing the phrase “Torches of Freedom.” Cigarette sales to women began to take off.
What’s key here is that Bernays did not just get the women in the parade, he also alerted the press that it was happening. The press happily took photos and repeated “Torches of Freedom” in articles written for papers around the country. So the press unwittingly (or complicitly) aided Bernays in his campaign to encourage more women to smoke. Sound familiar?
Even as doctors became increasingly aware that cigarettes not only did not promote freedom, but could easily kill you, the song and dance continued. Cigarette campaigns used the medical establishment to give consumers the idea that cigarettes are safe. Again, sound familiar?
Bernays’ work with the US government included what now would be called a color revolution in Guatemala. Guatemala had a dictator who worked well with the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita), procuring bananas for sale in the US. The problem was that the workers were essentially slaves, and they revolted, electing a new leader, Dr. Juan Jose Arévalo, who installed a constitution modeling the US.
He was followed by Jacobo Arbenz, who took the lands away from the banana company. They didn’t like that and went crying to Uncle Sam. Bernays came to the rescue, and staged anti-American pro-Communist rallies, including of course, a healthy dose of violence. No matter that Arbenz did not call himself a Communist or had any ties to Moscow. It didn’t take long for the American people to be frightened of a new Communist threat to the south, and get behind the idea that this new leader was a threat and must go.
Bernays even came up with a new phrase for how he had manipulated the minds of Americans; he called it the Engineering of Consent. And this wasn’t the first time Bernays added a phrase to the lexicon. When he started with big business in the 1920s he thought the word propaganda was so negative, so he came up with a new one: public relations.
US Uses UFO Psyop to Hide Crimes and Advance Military Agenda
The strategies used by the US to distract public opinion seem increasingly stupid. Now, Washington is resorting to science fiction mechanisms, promoting the narrative of “UFO attacks”. The reasons seem quite simple: to prevent the media from paying attention to the recent chemical disasters in the country and at the same time generate concern among citizens about alleged “unknown threats”, which may enable the advancement of military agendas.
A few days after shooting down a Chinese weather balloon claiming “risks to national security”, Washington decided to deepen its conspiracy theories. Now, the US government claims to be monitoring the activities of alleged UFOs in its territory. According to American and Canadian authorities, some of these UFOs would have been shot down in the border region between both countries – however, very suspiciously, the debris of the unknown objects have not been found yet.
The American government has refrained from accusing any country of launching the alleged UFOs, although some propagandists have suggested Chinese involvement, linking the episode to the case of the weather balloon. More than that, the Americans even resorted to bizarre and unrealistic speculations about a possible “alien visit”. For example, when asked about the “possibility” that the incidents were an actual contact with extraterrestrial beings, General Glen Van Herck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), stated that he does “not rule out anything”.
“I’ll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out (…) I haven’t ruled out anything (…) At this point, we continue to assess every threat or potential threat unknown that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it”, he said during a press conference.
Why Does Humanity Still Tolerate the Tragedy of Wars in the 21st Century?
Since the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), there have been many civil wars and several important regional military conflicts between two or more countries, but none has evolved into a general world war involving all the most heavily armed countries. The most serious regional wars were the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the Iraq War (2003-2011), the Syria War (2011- ), and the Ukraine War (2022- ).
Indeed, with no sign yet of peace in Ukraine, nine years after the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government, in February 2014, and nearly one year after the Russian military invasion, last February 24—and with a real danger that such a prolonged proxy conflict between great powers could escalate into a nuclear world war—it may be appropriate to search for reasons why, in this 21st Century, the world is still threatened with murderous and destructive wars.
There are basic tendencies in human nature, structural institutional failures and geopolitical factors for why this is the case.
Let us identify the most important causes, which can explain why wars of aggression and proxy wars are still taking place today.
How E-girl influencers are trying to get Gen Z into the military
“I’m not the American dream, I’m more like the American nightmare,” beams the influencer known as Haylujan in a video to her 363k TikTok followers. With full-face E-girl make-up, drawn-on freckles and a rosy nose, the 20-year-old is the face of an unsettling new breed of E-girl garnering millions of views online. She posts thirst traps inside choppers and pouty selfies with assault rifles, with hashtags like #pewpew and #militarycurves. She shares cutesy unboxing compilations and make-up tutorials, Get Ready With Me videos and lip syncs. She jokes about war bunkers and plays with remote control tanks, which she overlays with sparkly filters and heart emojis.
Known in esoteric meme circles as the psy-op girl, Haylujan, also known simply as Lujan, is a self-described “psychological operations specialist” for the US Army, whose online presence has led to countless memes speculating that she is a post-ironic psy-op meant to recruit people into the US army. Lujan, who’s actually employed by the US army psy-ops division, posts countless TikToks and memes that play into this (her official website is called sikeops). “My own taxes used to psy-op me,” says one commenter. “Definitely a fed (I’m signing up for the army now)” writes another.
But Haylujan isn’t the only E-girl using Sanrio sex appeal to lure the internet’s SIMPs into the armed forces. There’s Bailey Crespo and Kayla Salinas, not to mention countless #miltok gunfluencers cropping up online. While she didn’t document her military career, influencer Bella Porch also served in the US Navy for four years before going viral on TikTok in 2020, and is arguably the blueprint for this kind of kawaii commodified fetishism in the military. An adjacent figure, Natalia Fadeev, also known as Gun Waifu, is an Israeli influencer and IDF soldier who uses waifu aesthetics and catgirl cosplay to pedal pro-Israel propaganda to her 756k followers. She poses to camera, ahegao-style, with freshly manicured nails wrapped neatly around a glock, the uWu-ification of military functioning as a cutesy distraction from the shadowy colonial context: “when they try and destroy your nation,” she writes in one caption.
We’ve entered an era of military-funded E-girl warfare. In what would’ve felt unimaginable only a few years back, influencers are the hottest new weapon in the government’s arsenal. Here, cosplay commandos post nationalist thirst traps to mobilise the SIMPs, attracting the sort of impressionable reply guys and 4chan lostbois who message “OMG DM me🔥” on every post. Sanitising the harsh realities of US imperialism with cute E-girl-isms, it promotes the sort of hypersexualised militarism that reframes violence as something cute, goofy and unthreatening – a subversion of the beefy special forces stereotype in the mainstream. Arguably far more unsettling than any 20th-century CIA covert ops, there’s no hush-hush to this operation. Rather it hides in plain sight, capitalising on online irony to lull you into a false sense of security with #relatable content and the sort of tapped-in memery that can only come from years of being terminally online (she’s just like me, fr).
These Doctors Pushed Masking, Covid Lockdowns on Twitter. Turns Out, They Don’t Exist
Last month, Dr. Robert Honeyman lost their sister to Covid. They wrote about it on Twitter and received dozens of condolences, over 4,000 retweets and 43,000 likes.
Exactly one month later, on Dec. 12, Honeyman wrote that another tragedy had befallen their family.
“Sad to announce that my husband has entered a coma after being in hospital with Covid. The doctor is unsure if he will come out,” they tweeted. “This year has been the toughest of my life losing my sister to this virus. This is the first time in my life I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Again, the condolences and well-wishes rolled in. But there was a problem: Honeyman wasn’t real.
The transgender “Doctor of Sociology and Feminist studies” with a “keen interest in poetry” who used they/them pronouns was, in fact, a stock photo described on DepositPhotos, a royalty-free image site, as “Smiling happy, handsome latino man outside—headshot portrait.”
Their supposedly comatose husband, Dr. Patrick C. Honeyman, was also fake. His Twitter photo had been stolen from an insurance professional in Wayne, Indiana.
The Flat Earth Psyops
Never in my wildest dreams before joining the Freedom Movement, did I think I would be debating with people who sincerely believe the Earth is a motionless flat disc, floating in space. Discussing this topic is uncomfortable for many people in the movement, and understandably, they distance themselves from it, claiming it does not matter if the Earth is round or flat.
Yet, we call ourselves truthers. The truth about 9/11 is very important to our community; the truth about the pandemic, the PCR test, and the mRNA injections are also critically important. Should we waste time fighting over issues that only divide us?
Yet, the fervent and repeated promotion of the Flat Earth theory is a constant on social media, especially on Facebook. The Flat Earth followers are aggressive and generally derogatory towards the “globies” — who in their view are brainwashed by NASA and the media. The secondary conspiracy theory, (and let’s call a spade a spade, it is a conspiracy theory), that NASA faked the Apollo missions, is always part of the Flat Earth theory. In fact, the two theories can be said to be one.
‘Mind Dominance’: The CCP’s Disinformation War on US Social Media
Clusters of new social media profiles emerge and interact with long-dormant accounts, seemingly exchanging viewpoints from across the American political spectrum.
Some sport American flags for profile pictures; others have images of beautiful women. Almost all are anonymous, though some impersonate real people.
In tweets and posts and messages they spread their views. Some stridently defend a woman’s right to have an abortion, others the right to life. Some defend the second amendment, others vehemently champion Black Lives Matter. Some claim that the United States is descending into a leftist tyranny. Still more say it’s headed toward fascism.
Above all, they post memes disparaging the United States’ political parties and governmental institutions. Here one finds a meme of President Joe Biden with a caption excoriating the Build Back Better slogan. Here one finds a meme of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) insinuating that the lawmaker has financial ties with Putin’s Russia.
It would be easy to conclude that these clusters of accounts are a perfect representation of the political polarization that has seized the United States in recent years. But it would be wrong.
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