Something to remember on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland.
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
~ United States Office of Strategic Services in describing Hitler’s psychological profile, via Wikipedia, “Big lie“
The above quote about the big lie is probably where the corollary often (mis)attributed to Goebbels “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself” is derived from.
Misattributed or not, we all know in our heart of hearts that it is true that the more a lie is told the more people begin to believe it. It’s what a lot of marketing banks on, in fact. It doesn’t matter whether or not something is really “better”. All that matters is that it’s supposed virtues are pushed and pushed often in the public eye.
I recently have been on a Babylon 5 binge. I’ve managed to get through season 4, and I’m going to push forward when some other things clear the way. Season 4, but particularly episode 8, “The Illusion of Truth“, really dealt with wartime propaganda issues. Propaganda, of course, is “information”, true or not, that is repeated over and over again, and it creates the psychological effect known as illusory truth or the illusion of truth effect.
If you can find this episode legally (it is available via paid download from iTunes or Amazon), I hope you watch it. It isn’t because it is the best episode in B5, and in fact IMO it is definitely not. I actually got a little annoyed that Captain Sheridan would have allowed the reporters on board to begin with. You have to know it is going to end bad.
When the final ISN news report aired, the slander was even worse than you could imagine. Phrases, actions and words were totally removed from context, and a couple of tantalizing conspiracy theories were put in to weave the half truths together.
It was then that I realized that I felt just like I very often do when I read a lot of anti-COG blogs. Take a piece of gossip, some half-truth, pad it with enough cynicism and conspiracy theories, and repeat as often as required.
Oh, and don’t forget to use capital letters to reinforce your unfounded speculations. After all, caps make it more true, don’t you know?
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.