The brave new world of media and manipulation


We are seeing a lot of media about the media, but hardly any of it addresses a core issue of our time: the sophisticated brave new world of mind control. The key words here are “big data.” Big data means all the information about an individual that is traceable in the digital age. Every click. Every swipe. Every purchase. Every search. Every like. Every move you make, we’ll be watching. 

For all this information to be useful, it has to be organized. That is where data analytics comes into play. This evolving field has now merged with behavioral psychology models that predict how various personality types react to triggers. Data culled from Facebook, for example, including from those psychological quizzes people love to take, produces profiles that are useful for persuading people to do things. 

And that is exactly what the Trump campaign did and is planning to continue doing. Through the influence of Steve Bannon and funded by hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a contract was given to Cambridge Analytica, a British data analysis firm that also played a role in the Brexit referendum. Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, also a major money player, were the connection to Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Lots of money flowed from their super PAC Make America Number One.

When Paul Manafort was fired and the Conway-Bannon team took over, the campaign shifted its emphasis to social media, using Cambridge Analytica technologies. Individually targeted and emotionally charged information was fed back to likely Trump supporters via Twitter or links on Facebook feeds. Distorted and vicious anti-Hillary stories and any other fear-mongering misinformation that served their purposes became the Trump campaign. Trump rallies restated key words and phrases and the hypnotic trance was sealed.

These tactics have solidified a Trump base of voters who are immune to truth, objectivity or facts. As disagreeable as it is to watch a Trump rally or Sean Hannity interviewing Kellyanne Conway, if you take a look at these events, you can see the hypnotic trance that his fans are locked in. An interesting Facebook account from a local evangelical pastor named Joel Tooley who attended the recent Florida rally described it as “demonic.” (You can search for this on the internet; I republished it on my Facebook page.)

The long-term significance of these tactics is now playing out with the President and his team. The blatant attack on the respectable media, now labeled “the enemy of the American people,” may seem laughable, but it is also a very calculated phase of the overall Trump mind control plan. He gave his followers a bulwark against any critical analysis of his reckless plans, political business intrigues and compromising Russian alliances. Truth is fake news; fake news is truth. Welcome to 1984.

It is a grim time to be a warrior for truth. We’ve been blindsided by sophisticated artificial intelligence technology that harvests voters’ fears and discontents and repackages them as hypnotic chants. In the campaign, this same technology had us in constant reactionary mode, overly obsessed by the emperor in his new clothes and oblivious to the dark machinations that got him there. While we watched the Punch and Judy show, the election was being stolen.

Now we need to wake up, pay attention and refine our strategies. For those of you so inclined, start researching the topics mentioned here. Get to know this cast of characters and how they penetrate Trump’s team. 

All is not in harmony behind the scenes, so we can expect some interesting back-stabbing. With a few possible exceptions, they are all opportunists with self-serving agendas. Some, like Bannon and the Mercers, are ideologues with grand theories they want to implement. Trump is their populist vehicle—it’s a creepy alliance, to say the least. 

Meanwhile, outside of that toxic environment, there are decent political people who are trying to preserve selfless goals on behalf of humanity and the planet. We need to reinforce the goodness that shows up, wherever it shows up. We also need to realize that big data is not all the data there is, by a long shot. The intelligence of the universe is a real phenomenon. The intelligence of the heart is stronger than programmed behavior based on fear. 

The worldwide Women’s March of Jan. 21 was a natural uprising from the heart. The signs, like the hats, were soulfully handmade outside the reach of digital technology. The human interactions were natural and peaceable and buoyant. 

The humor that co-exists with the trauma is a sign of health in the body politic. To be effective spiritual warriors, we have to feed the goodness while we commit to the valor of resistance. We are not destroying an enemy; we are birthing a new age of healing and freedom. We have destiny on our side and we will succeed.


Elizabeth Whitney is a West Marin journalist and researcher.