Is there evidence that individuals consistently prefer entities according to their animacy?

Is there evidence that individuals consistently prefer entities according to their animacy?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

It is evident from language that everyone can distinguish the living entities from the otherwise, or, rather, that there is a scale between two poles that is widely agreed upon. This observation is paralleled by hard research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

Is there research that confirms (or refutes) that individuals vary in their preference for animacy?

Another way to state this question is that I am asking whether "animacy preference" is a dimension on which individuals vary.

Talia Konkle and Alfonso Caramazza - "Tripartite Organization of the Ventral Stream by Animacy and Object Size"
Rosa Salva U.Mayer G.Vallortigara - "Roots of a social brain: Developmental models of emerging animacy-detection mechanisms"
Tao Gao George E. Newman Brian J. Scholl - "The psychophysics of chasing: A case study in the perception of animacy"

Rational Choice Theory FAQs

What is rational choice theory?

The key premise of rational choice theory is that people don’t randomly select products off the shelf. Rather, they use a logical decision-making process that takes into account the costs and benefits of various options, weighing the options against each other.

Who founded rational choice theory?

Adam Smith, who proposed the idea of an "invisible hand" moving free-market economies in the mid-1770s, is usually credited as the father of rational choice theory. Smith discusses the invisible hand theory in his book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” which was published in 1776.

What are the main goals of rational choice theory?

The main goal of rational choice theory is to explain why individuals and larger groups make certain choices, based on specific costs and rewards. According to rational choice theory, individuals use their self-interests to make choices that will provide them with the greatest benefit. People weigh their options and make the choice they think will serve them best.

What is rational choice theory in international relations?

States, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and multinational corporations are all made up of human beings. In order to understand the actions of these entities, we must understand the behavior of the humans running them. Rational choice theory helps to explain how leaders and other important decision-makers of organizations and institutions make decisions. Rational choice theory can also attempt to predict the future actions of these actors.

What are the strengths of rational choice theory?

One of the strengths of rational choice theory is the versatility of its application. It can be applied to many different disciplines and areas of study. It also makes reasonable assumptions and compelling logic. The theory also encourages individuals to make sound economic decisions. By making sound economic decisions, it is possible for an individual to acquire more tools that will allow them to further maximize their preferences in the future.


We present an event-related potentials (ERP) study that addresses the question of how pieces of information pertaining to semantic roles and event structure interact with each other and with the verb’s meaning. Specifically, our study investigates German verb-final clauses with verbs of motion such as fliegen 𠆏ly’ and schweben 𠆏loat, hover,’ which are indeterminate with respect to agentivity and event structure. Agentivity was tested by manipulating the animacy of the subject noun phrase and event structure by selecting a goal adverbial, which makes the event telic, or a locative adverbial, which leads to an atelic reading. On the clause-initial subject, inanimates evoked an N400 effect vis-à-vis animates. On the adverbial phrase in the atelic (locative) condition, inanimates showed an N400 in comparison to animates. The telic (goal) condition exhibited a similar amplitude like the inanimate-atelic condition. Finally, at the verbal lexeme, the inanimate condition elicited an N400 effect against the animate condition in the telic (goal) contexts. In the atelic (locative) condition, items with animates evoked an N400 effect compared to inanimates. The combined set of findings suggest that clause-initial animacy is not sufficient for agent identification in German, which seems to be completed only at the verbal lexeme in our experiment. Here non-agents (inanimates) changing their location in a goal-directed way and agents (animates) lacking this property are dispreferred and this challenges the assumption that change of (locational) state is generally a defining characteristic of the patient role. Besides this main finding that sheds new light on role prototypicality, our data seem to indicate effects that, in our view, are related to complexity, i.e., minimality. Inanimate subjects or goal arguments increase processing costs since they have role or event structure restrictions that animate subjects or locative modifiers lack.

7. Blame Everything Apart From Oneself

By accepting the role of victim, engaging in paranoid elaborations of threats, and believing other people&aposs success is undeserved, the conspiracy theorist is effectively blaming the world for causing his or her own failures. They are inflating the cost of the conspiracy because the cost of personal responsibility it too unpleasant.

When their failures are brought to their attention, the conspiracy theorist becomes more paranoid. This is because paranoia is a way to highlight or elaborate on the liability of their chosen target for blame. It is a defense mechanism that prevents them from overcoming their failures because the root cause (themselves) is not addressed.

Sometimes we need a scapegoat to blame our failures on.


This review has demonstrated that social robots are starting to become more common in our society and can benefit us by providing companionship, increasing communication, and reducing costs, especially in healthcare settings. Engineers are attempting to make robots look and behave like humans and animals so that we feel more comfortable with them. However, robots can also make us feel uncomfortable, especially when their appearance is inconsistently humanlike and thus threatening or when their behavior violates expectations. Interacting with robots can make us question who we are, and we can project our desires onto them. Theories suggest we are wired through a combination of nature and nurture to perceive robots through human filters. We mindlessly interact with robots and other technologies as if they were human and we perceive humanlike characteristics in them, including thoughts and emotions. However, we do not see them as having as much mind as humans do, nor do we ascribe to them the same moral rights and responsibilities as humans. We can experience empathy for and attachment to robot pets but to a lesser degree than live pets. In addition, we feel closer to actual robots than virtual robots or computers, suggesting that physical embodiment is important in our relationships with artificial technologies.

What does this mean for the future? David Levy (2007) argues in his book Love and Sex with Robots that people (men in particular) often have few close friends yet crave affection. He argues that people may prefer relationships with robots that are programmed to always be social, smart, and loyal over relationships with unpredictable humans who do not always behave as desired and get upset when we behave badly. Ethicists even argue that the creation of such beings may lead to the breakdown of society because people will prefer to interact with robots rather than each other (Whitby 2008). In some ways, this aligns with Turkle's (2005) comments that the first visitors to Disney's Animal Kingdom were disappointed that the real animals were not as realistic as their animatronic versions at Disney World and had less lifelike behavior. In her work, Turkle (2010) questions the advantages that real animals have over simulated ones and outlines the child's perspective that simulated animals can be better in some situations. She suggests that our relationships with robots make us question the purpose of life itself.

A biddable designer human with none of the bad features of real humans and all of the good features is a tempting promise. But is it possible? It would require an incredible feat of engineering and is not possible with today's technology—battery power, materials, language comprehension, actuators, sensors, etc.—let alone the gaps in our understanding of the human cognition, emotion, and behavior on which the robot needs to be modelled. If we could create superior versions of humans, how would we feel toward these beings? With this question, we come full circle back to the arena of science fiction movies, in which humans and robots live together in strange, tension-filled dramas or in which humans are fighting for their lives.

This discussion opens up the question of what we want to achieve and why. Why are we going beyond building useful robots that can help in difficult environments? We have found that companion robots can provide benefits in contexts in which people have restricted opportunities to socially interact with human companions, animals, or doctors, but how far do we want to go in terms of humanlikeness? Are we building robots because we want to build a perfect human? Yet how can a robot be a perfect human when it is not even human? What is humanness?

Humans have a fundamental tendency to create, and the ultimate creation is another human. Engineers know that they need to understand more about human beings to make humanlike robots, and they are looking to psychology for several reasons: Psychology can help engineers understand and model humans better, perform experiments with appropriate methods, and develop therapeutic robots.

Although the field of HRI is still dominated by engineers and computer scientists, psychologists are beginning to become involved, and the field has rapidly expanded in the past few years. Most research has focused on the technical side of robotics, and more research is needed on the ways humans respond to and work with robots. The research is still in its exploratory phase, and the rapid expansion feels a bit like a runaway train. There is enormous potential for psychologists to contribute to this strangely compelling field. This can be a win-win situation, with the study of human behavior informing the construction of robots and tests with robots informing us about human cognition, emotion, and behavior. What will be the consequences of the human quest to make copies of ourselves? Psychologists have a role to play in helping shape our future and that of our robot companions.

Why the World is the Way It Is: Cultural Relativism and Its Descendents

Relativism, the idea that truth is a historically conditioned notion that does not transcend cultural boundaries, has existed since the Greek era, some 2400 years ago. Relativism contends that all truth is relative except for the claim that “truth is relative.”

Cultural relativism wrongly claims that each culture has its own distinct but equally valid mode of perception, thought, and choice. Cultural relativism, the opposite of the idea that moral truth is universal and objective, contends there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong. There is only right and wrong as specified by the moral code of each society. Within a particular society, a standard of right and wrong can be inviolate. Cultural relativism maintains that man’s opinion within a given culture defines what is right and wrong.

Cultural relativism is the mistaken idea that there are no objective standards by which our society can be judged because each culture is entitled to its own beliefs and accepted practices. No one can object to any society’s intolerance that reflects its indigenous worldview. Because there is no objective moral truth that pertains to all people and for all times, one moral code is no better or no worse than any other (i.e., the moral equivalence doctrine). Thus, we should not impose our values on other societies. It follows that, according to cultural relativism, we cannot object to Hitler and Nazism, Mayan infant sacrifice, China’s massacre of students in Tiananmen Square, South Africa’s apartheid, genital mutilation (i.e., female circumcision) of young girls in Africa, and so on, because each of these practices is justified by the worldview within which it exists. Nor could we contend that one culture is superior to another culture. In addition, we would also be prevented from criticizing our own culture’s practices such as slavery. Further-more, within the perspective of cultural relativism, there would be no need for, or argument for, social progress. Toward what objective goal would we progress?

Multiculturalism, racism, postmodernism, deconstructionism, political correctness, and social engineering are among cultural relativism’s “intellectual” descendents. The remainder of the chapter addresses the philosophical underpinnings of these movements, analyzes each of them, and explains why Western culture is objectively superior to other cultures.

Philosophical Roots and Development of Cultural Relativism and Its Descendents

Relativism, the view that truth is different for each individual, social group, or historic period, had its beginnings during the ancient Greek period. However, it was David Hume (1711-1776) whose clear and rigorous formulation of this worldview made it an important idea in the Modern period. Hume argued for moral relativism because no one can know anything for certain. Consequently, a person is unable to pass judgment on alternative moral systems. Hume’s skepticism claims that neither reason nor the senses can supply reliable knowledge and that, consequently, man is a helpless being in an unintelligible universe.

Hume attempted to destroy the concept of causality in the objective world. He argued that because all of our knowledge comes from experience, we couldn’t have any knowledge of causality because we do not experience causality. According to Hume, what we refer to as causality is simply our habit of associating events because of experiencing them together, but this does not mean that the events have any necessary connection. Experiences of contiguity, priority, and constant conjunction do not imply a necessary connection between objects.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) agreed with Hume regarding the inability to see or prove causality in the objective (i.e., noumenal) world, but said that people will always experience the world in causal networks because causality is a feature of the subjective (i.e., phenomenal) world. Kant believed that men are cut off from the objective world and can never know the world in itself (i.e., as it is). However, the human mind has fundamental concepts, categories, or filters built into it through which man cognizes the world. Men structure the world that they experience so that it conforms to the human mind. Therefore, men never know things in themselves (i.e., as they really are) only as they appear given the method of man’s cognitive operations. Reality as perceived by man’s mind is distorted according to the nature of man’s conceptual faculty.

Man’s basic concepts (e.g., causality, time, space, entity, quality, quantity, etc.) do not stem from experience or reality but from an automatic system of concepts, categories, and filters in his consciousness which impose their own design on his perceptions of external reality and render him unable of perceiving it in any way other than the way in which he does perceive it.

Imagine that every human is born with red organic lenses in his eyes through which he sees the world. The world would appear red even though red is not a feature of the objective world in itself. Red is a feature of the subjective world. The functions of the mind’s filters are analogous to that of such lenses.

Kant said that we see the world in terms of entities because we have an entity category built into our minds. For that same reason, we experience the world in terms of a system of causal networks. We can’t know what is really out there in the objective world.

Kant’s epistemological dualism states that there is an object in itself and the same object as it appears to us (i.e., as filtered through our epistemological apparatus). Kant holds that the mind is concurrently both helpless and creatively powerful. It is helpless with respect to knowing the objective world but it is omnipotent regarding the social world (i.e., the world as created by the human mind). Reality becomes social because people create reality.

According to Kant, there is only one type of human mind that is universally the same (except for individual idiosyncrasies that occur because of our humanity and hence imperfection). Each person has the same categories and thus constructs the world in the same way. As members of the same species, we each have the same processing apparatus.

Kant contended that reality (as far as we can know it) depends on the cognitive functioning of the human mind in total. Society sets the norms of truth and falsity and right and wrong. This is the essence of Kant’s social primacy of consciousness theory in metaphysics. Man’s ideas are essentially a collective delusion from which no person has the power to escape. If a man sees things differently than the majority, then he must be mistaken due to some defect in his own information processing mechanism. Since and because of Kant, “objectivity” is generally thought to mean collective subjectivism. Truth, to the extent that it can be known in the phenomenal world, is to be determined by means of public polls.

Kant believed that man’s categories were unchangeable. Contrariwise, Hegel (1770-1831) argued that they evolve and change and that evolution is essential to understanding consciousness, history, and mankind. Marx (1818-1883) claimed that they changed differentially according to economic subgroups. This fragmentation or pluralization of Kant’s social subjectivism has ultimately developed to the point where today’s multiculturalists claim that groups create their own reality based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, etc.

Each multicultural subgroup has its own reality, its own logic, its own truth and falsity, and its own right and wrong. It is therefore impossible to discuss, argue, or judge any one group’s truth as better than any other. With no way to reason among the groups, the only alternatives are either isolationism or group warfare through which political power is used to slug out group differences.

Rousseau (1712-1778) held that reason had its opportunity but had failed, claiming that the act of reflection is contrary to nature. Rousseau asserts that man’s natural goodness has been depraved by the progress he has made and the knowledge he has acquired. He proceeded to attack the Age of Reason by emphasizing feeling, the opposite of reason, as the key to reality and the future. His thought thereby foreshadowed and gave impetus to the Romantic Movement.

Following Kant and Rousseau, the romanticists believed that reason is limited to the surface world of appearance, and that man’s true source of knowledge is feeling, intuition, passion, or faith. In their view, man is essentially an emotional being and therefore must seek the truth and act accordingly. The virtuous individual was a “man of feeling” who was sensitive to the plights of others and who spontaneously exhibited sympathy, pity, and benevolence to them.

Godwin (1756-1836) had a profound sense of egalitarianism. He believed that it was desirable and just for the output of society, to which all contribute, to be shared among all with some degree of equalization. He viewed the differences among individuals as being the product of different social circumstances, not in inherent differences in people’s abilities. Although he realized that some differences were the results of inheritance, he firmly believed that proper environmental structuring could overcome any inherent inequalities.

Nietzsche (1844-1900) contended that feeling and intuition are actually forms of reason and viewed the universe as a realm of colliding wills and violent conflict. He also held the view that a few superbeings (supermen or overmen) who were “beyond good and evil” had the right to rule the masses for their own higher purposes. These exceptional individuals, possessing the highest level of development of intellectual, physical, and emotional strength, would possess the courage to revalue all values and act with freedom to their internal Will to Power. As a result, the lowest levels of society would believe themselves to be exploited and oppressed and would experience a deep-rooted resentment. The result would be a negative psychic attitude, a will to the denial of life, and revenge in the form of translating the virtues of the superior into vices.

Kierkegaard (1813-1855) said that truth is subjectivity and that authentic existence is a matter of faith and commitment. In turn, Heidegger (1899-1976) maintained that (1) man is “thrown into the world” (2) existence is unintelligible (3) reason is invalid (4) man is a creature in fear of the primary fact of his life—death and (5) man is destined by his nature to “angst,” estrangement, and futility. Heidegger’s oftentimes-unintelligible writings can be described as the intellectual counterpart of modern art.

This brief review of philosophy has identified the roots of many of today’s prevalent concepts, including relativism, social subjectivism, collectivism, determinism, pluralism, economic egalitarianism, irrationalism, elitism, and the will to power, resentment, and historical victimization. These are the concepts that underlie, in varying proportions, the various intellectual descendents of cultural relativism.


The main idea of multiculturalism is the equal value of all cultures (i.e., cultural relativism). However, multiculturalism does not mean cultures as normally understood but rather as biologically defined (i.e., ethnically, racially, or sexually defined) groups. Multiculturalism, a politicized form of cultural relativism, rejects the idea that there are general truths, norms, or rules with respect to both knowledge and morals. Gone are the Enlightenment beliefs in objectivity, reason and evidence, and principles of freedom and justice that apply equally to all individuals. Unlike cultural relativism, multiculturalism excludes one worldview from the realm of equally valid worldviews—the Eurocentric Western perspective based on the contributions of dead white males. Multiculturalists dismiss the significance of Western civilization by claiming that Western traditions of elitism, racism, and sexism are the cause of most of our current problems. They accept a Romantic view of human nature as beneficent and benign until it was corrupted by flawed Western ideology and culture.

Multiculturalism implies that race, ethnicity, and sex (or sexual preference) have an inescapable effect on the way people think and/or the values they hold or are capable of holding. There are many closed systems of perception, thought, and feeling each affiliated with some biologically defined group. Rational dialogue among individuals from different groups is precluded because each group has its own “truth” and standards for its attainment. The multiculturalist maintains that each person is simply a representative of a particular biologically defined perspective who must agree with his own group’s worldview (unless he wants to be ostracized) and thus be unable to rationally discuss and meaningfully evaluate and critique ideas with representatives of other groups. Multiculturalism thus destroys an individual’s confidence in his own mind—this occurs when a person allows his group to tell him what to believe.

At one time, truth was viewed as transcendent, fixed, and unchanging. Epistemological egalitarianism has accompanied the loss of transcendence. Each group of persons now is thought to have an equal right to make truth claims. Think of the absurdity in which unreflected upon opinions are weighted equally with well-thought-out opinions in today’s numerous opinion polls that tend to be tabulated according to biologically defined categories. Truth is now thought to be a constructed cultural product that is immanent in each individual culture or subgroup. For the multiculturalist, truth only exists by consensus within each biologically defined group.

Multiculturalism is anti-individualistic in the sense that it expects each person to agree with the perceptions, thoughts, and judgments of his group in order for his own perceptions, thoughts, and judgments to be legitimate. The multiculturalist believes that a person’s thoughts are either the collectively constructed thoughts of his racial, ethnic, or sexual group or are the thoughts foisted upon him by the dominant white male worldview. A ruling premise of multiculturalism is that ethnic origin carries with it irrevocable attributes—if a person has a certain name and physical features, then he must have a particular perspective on life and the world. Multiculturalists assign each rational and autonomous individual into a group based on the group’s specific, absolute, and nondebatable dissemblances from other groups.

Multiculturalism attempts to replace individual rights with collectivism by assuming that a man’s identity and value are derived solely from biology, and that what is important is not what a person does as an individual, but rather what some members of his biological group currently do or did years ago. It follows that collective guilt replaces individual responsibility—a person must assume the responsibility for acts committed by his ancestors and pay for these acts ad infinitum.

The victim mentality is both a cause and effect of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism promotes a culture of victims who have a perpetual claim on society and the government. The result is the division of society into political interest groups with conflicting demands that cannot all be met.

Educational proposals from multiculturalists attempt to inculcate in students the idea that Western classical liberal order is, in fact, the most oppressive order of all times. As a result, people are taught to view themselves as victims. This perspective is based on the relativistic assumption that because all cultures are inherently equal, differences in wealth, power, and accomplishments between cultures are, for the most part, due to oppression. Thus, in order to establish cultural equality, multiculturalists emphasizing non-Western virtues and Western oppression dismiss the illiberal traditions of other cultures and attack the ideas of a common culture based on an intellectual, moral, and artistic legacy derived from the Greeks and the Bible.

There would be no harm in multiculturalism if the term simply meant that we should acknowledge and teach truths about many cultures. It is admirable to teach students both the noblest aspects of various cultures and of their failings. Unfortunately, multiculturalism’s pluralism and relativism has engendered a reluctance to acknowledge anything positive about Western culture while concurrently maintaining a nonreflective and approving position toward non-Western and minority ideas. Students are taught that no “properly educated” person would be willing to pass judgment on another culture. If a student should deny the equality of all cultures he would be told he was guilty of “ethnocentrism.”

Multicultural educational policies are based on the mistaken notion that cultures consist of mostly benign characteristics. In actual fact, there are both laudable and condemnable aspects of all cultures. Once it is recognized that different cultures exhibit varying degrees of good and evil, it becomes appropriate to inquire which culture exhibits the best characteristics on an overall basis. Some cultures are better than others: reason is better than force a free society is superior to slavery and productivity is better than stagnation.

Multiculturalists argue that education can build the self-esteem of minority students by presenting non-Western cultures in a favorable light in order to compensate for historical and curricular injustices, thereby restoring cultural parity between ethnic groups. Replacing education with therapy, the multiculturalist attempts to enhance self-esteem by teaching the students of oppressed cultures to be proud of their particular ancestry or race. This will only work if there are laudable truths that can be taught about a student’s ethnic heritage. When education is turned into therapy, the likely result is to teach history not to ascertain truth but to empower (i.e., enhance the self-esteem) of various factions. The result is the introduction of distortions, half-truths, fabrications, and myths into the curriculum in order to make students from certain groups feel good. In addition, multiculturalists denounce the emphasis in American schools on American history and culture and western civilization. Some even portray western civilization and Americans as evil and ideas such as reason and objective truth as Eurocentric (and patriarchal for the feminist) biases with the purpose of exploiting oppressed cultures.

Academic standards of excellence are of no use to the multiculturalist because they are simply means through which the dominant culture oppresses minority cultures. Not only are objective tests denounced as racist, multiculturalists demand that students be graded only within their cultural or racial group and/or that tests be redesigned so that minority students perform on the average as well as those in the dominant cultural group.

Students are instructed that there are no objective merits or failings of theories, arguments, policies, works of art, and literature, etc. Instead, they are only valorizations of power that require deconstruction in order to reveal their true nature as devices of repression. It is Marxism that has provided multiculturalism with its rationale and concepts (e.g., oppression, imperialism, inequality, revolutionary change) that are used to devalue and destroy American culture.

The goal of the multiculturalist is to change the United States from a culturally assimilated society to an unassimilated multicultural society with a wide range of cultures and subcultures accorded equal status. Multiculturalism promotes quotas rather than competition, allocating resources rather than earning them, and a cabinet that looks like America instead of one that has an adequate background to do the required job. Multiculturalists fail to see that the diversity methods they use to find and create diversity will, in fact, divide the country. The result will be a widespread, societal tendency toward hatred, revenge, or belief in the innate superiority of one’s group and a feeling of solidarity and self-righteousness.


Racism, a type of multiculturalism, is the erroneous idea that a person’s race determines his identity. It is the belief that one’s values, beliefs, and character are determined by one’s ancestry rather than by the judgments of one’s mind. In the name of diversity and multiculturalism many Americans are taught to base their sense of self in their racial or ethnic identity. In fact, “critical race theory” contends that there is no reality independent of a person’s ethnicity, no universal rules of logic, and no objective facts. Accordingly, each person is destined to interpret events according to the sentiments of his racial group. Such an attack on reason creates a herd mentality by which people thoughtlessly follow those who proclaim themselves to be the leaders.

Racial preference is the common ingredient of the diversity movement (i.e., diversity awareness, training, hiring, admissions, accommodations, etc.). Proponents do not realize that racism cannot be cured with more racism. When people are taught to think in racial terms instead of according to individual merit and character, and groups are identified as having special status (e.g., affirmative action programs), the logical result is likely to be warranted resentment and indignation.

Obviously, the rational and proper approach is to evaluate candidates based on individual merit. This simply means appraising candidates based on their possession of relevant knowledge and skills, their willingness to exert the requisite effort, and their possession of a good moral character.

The diversity movement states that its purpose is to eradicate racism and produce tolerance of differences. This is a pretense. A person cannot teach that identity is determined by race and then expect people to view each other as individuals. The idea of deriving one’s identity from one’s race is depraved. People have competent minds, efficacious intellects, and free wills that enable them to be judged as individuals.

A person cannot inherit moral virtue or moral vice. Think of the absurdity of recent proposals for apologies and compensation on behalf of America and the U.S. government to Afro-Americans whose ancestors suffered as slaves. This proposal assumes that whites today, who have never owned slaves, are almost universally against racism, and who bear no individual responsibility for slavery, somehow hold a “collective responsibility” solely by being members of the same race as the slave owners of the Old South. A person who is a member of a certain race cannot legitimately be blamed for the deeds of other members of that race unless people are simply interchangeable cogs within a racial collective. Compensation for slavery means randomly chastising today’s whites by taxing them and denying them jobs, promotions, and admissions to schools through welfare and affirmative action programs, in order to reward chance blacks. Individuals should be judged based on their own actions. They should be rewarded on their own merits and should not be compelled to apologize or pay for acts committed by others, simply because those others are of the same race.

Individualism is the only acceptable alternative to racism. It is essential to recognize that each person is a sovereign entity with the power of independent judgment and choice.

Political Correctness

Multiculturalism leads to politically correct language. Such language must be consistent with multiculturalist principles. This means that language should: (1) not favor one group over another (2) not infringe on any group’s right to sovereignty (3) not interfere with the peaceful relationship of any minority group with those from other groups (4) not hinder society (i.e., the state) in its attempts to protect cultural groups (i.e., social, economic, and ethnic minorities) whose views are declared to be equally valid and who have the “right” to equal opportunity, integrity, and point of view and (5) not promote stereotypes of any kind.

The obsession of the morally superior, sensitive, and conspicuously compassionate elite with the subjective feelings of people is part of today’s prevailing therapeutic vision of man. This infatuation with sensitivity has spread throughout the media and academia, leading to the creation of feel-good euphemisms which part with accuracy and unambiguity in the interest of feeling and sympathy. Unfortunately, these “linguistic smile buttons” simply camouflage reality rather than change it.

Advocates of political correctness attempt to homogenize our language and thought not only to enhance the self-esteem of minorities, women, and beneficiaries of the welfare state but also to preserve the moral image of the welfare state itself. One approach to reaching this goal is to eliminate disparaging, discriminatory, or offensive words and phrases and the substitutions of harmless vocabulary at the expense of economy, clarity, and logic. Another approach is to deconstruct a word or phrase into its component parts, treat the component parts as wholes, and focus on secondary meanings of the component parts. For example, the term mankind is said to be exclusive, misleading, and biased when it is employed to refer to both men and women.

The politically correct fail to understand that language is the result of an evolved social process that results in a systemic order achieved without the use of a deliberate overall plan. Language simply arises out of accidents, experiences, and historical borrowings and corruptions of other languages. No one intended to exclude women when generic terms like he or mankind were used. With respect to human beings, the male gender was used to denote the species. On the other hand, both countries and ships are referred to as she. Using he or she or him or her simply clutters the language and conveys no further information. However, such use does imply that those who use the masculine terms hold hostile or exclusionary thoughts toward women! This leads people to believe that every use of generic male terms is evidence of male antagonism toward women when, in fact, such usage merely avoids awkward phrases and cluttered language.

Political correctness supplies a language through which it is easy to be a victim and always someone or something that can be blamed. Think of terms like culturally deprived, developmentally challenged, etc. Political correctness involves a lot of people attempting to explain the reasons for their lack of great success. These victim-type explanations or excuses generally include the idea that a person is having a rough time because of his particular race or gender. Essentially, political correctness is a way to rationalize who you are and why you are not better than what or who you are.

Victims are taught that their failures and suffering are invariably the result of some unfair and rectifiable condition that social engineers could remedy if the insensitive would simply let them. This reinforces the erroneous views that human life is perfectible and that all suffering is a deviation that can be corrected. People are led to believe that the world should be a place where they never suffer disappointment or failure. Of course, the tragic truth is that people can fail and that individuals are unequal in talents and achievements.

On some campuses seeking higher standards of human accomplishments is no longer valued as highly as politically correct thinking. Academic freedom through free speech is accompanied by high social costs on campuses, where truth is viewed as nothing more than different perspectives being offered by different groups in order to promote their own interests. Education-imposed biases restrict students’ thinking when curricula are developed to be nonsexist, peace centered, antibiased, and politically correct.

Political correctness (and multiculturalism) threatens free speech in both the academic sphere and the nonacademic workplace and ultimately the very foundation of American society. The government has, in essence, eliminated most free speech protection in the workplace. Free speech, which is an economic good to academics through which they make their living, has fared somewhat better in the educational world.

Broadly conceived, political correctness includes a number of initiatives such as: altering vocabularies in order not to offend particular groups, affirmative action in admissions and hiring, multicultural education, and broadening the scope of classical texts to include those written by minority authors and women. Then there are the workshops in which people are taught by “experts” how to be attuned to others’ feelings and how to avoid being found guilty of “sexual harassment,” “racial insensitivity,” and so on.


Deconstruction denotes a political practice of trying to devalue and dismantle the logic by which a specific system of thought preserves its integrity. Deconstructionists claim that words are inadequate for defining reality. They argue that language, particularly in written form, intercedes between the reader and the ideas.

According to deconstructionists, everything is simply perspectival appearance and there is not a fixed way of discerning linguistic meaning. It follows that when critics analyze a work of literature, they do not analyze what the writer originally meant but rather what the reader interprets from the work.

Deconstructionists, as critics of text and language, try to understand how the media and vocabulary used to represent ideas fail to mean the same thing to all people. As the idea of author has lost its significance, there is no longer a need to determine what the meaning was in its original context. Instead, the reader’s context becomes paramount.

After the idea of objective and attainable truth has been discredited as myth, there is no longer confidence in truth that is obtainable through reason. Deconstructionists argue that reason is simply an attempt at “metanarrative” (i.e., an attempt to control societal values). Literature and language become means of promoting ideology as each group represents its own worldview. They become means for enforcing a specific ideology on others for the purpose of exploitation.


According to postmodernism, reality is socially constructed and pluralism is a fact of life. Postmodernists exhibit disbelief in metanarratives in a myriad of areas such as literary criticism, political theory, music, architecture, etc. They display disdain for the modern ideas of rationality, linear progress, and one right way to do things. Postmodernists find fault with systems of thought that try to explain the world, its social and natural laws, its true morality, the path of history, and the nature of the human person, in universal terms that apply equally to all people in all times and places.

Postmodernism tends to revolve around the following themes: (1) the attainment of universal truth is impossible (2) no ideas or truths are transcendent (3) all ideas are culturally or socially constructed (4) historical facts are unimportant and irrelevant and (5) ideas are true only if they benefit the oppressed. Postmodernists generally use Marxist rationale and concepts (e.g., oppression, inequality, revolution, and imperialism) to attack and discredit American culture.

Postmodernism brings metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, and ethics to an end because these types of study assume a fixed, universal reality. Postmodernism denies the basis for knowing anything except itself. Consequently, postmodernists proclaim a universal tolerance of all ideas. Ironically, the result is a philosophy that accepts only local truths (rather than universal truths), thereby dividing people according to race, gender, locality, etc. The result of this division is an intolerance that is exhibited in racism, sexism, nationalism, etc. When various peoples’ truths are different depending upon the differences between them, then the differences between them cannot be overlooked—they are too important.

Postmodernism encompasses the idea that people tell stories in order to explain the world. None of these stories is reality but are simply representations of reality based on incomplete and often inaccurate information. There are a variety of socially constructed realities, belief systems, and stories that attempt to explain the world. People construct stories that seem to fit the information at their disposal. This is analogous to Thomas Kuhn’s idea of paradigm shifts in science. When experiments yield evidence that does not fit the reigning paradigm, then eventually a new paradigm that better explains the evidence at hand is adopted.

Postmodernism can be evidenced in the following instances. Some scientists believe that there is no one self rather the self is a changing socially constructed reality. Other scientists now contend that one of the brain’s functions is to tell stories (even with only few facts and frequently without the use of logic) in an effort to make sense of the world. Literary criticism is thought by many to find meaning in the reader’s experience—the reader creates the book’s reality. In turn, literary deconstructionists debate the idea of representing anything with words. Postmodernists tend to view the world as theater in which we are all competing spin-meisters. For example, political leaders try to get their story told by the media and believed by the people. In law, many scholars dismiss the idea of permanent legal principles. In psychology, a method for treating people involves the creation of a new life story for them (i.e., putting a different spin on their circumstances).

Postmodernists are unified in their repudiation of universal truths. They then depart from their commonality to join various factions in order to participate in the debate. The deconstructionists were discussed earlier in this chapter. Constructionists, realizing that we can’t universally know objective reality, contend that we can construct or define it in any manner we choose. Then there are the pragmatists who contend that the lack of universal truths is sufficient reason to retreat to one’s own local community—people should stay with the beliefs and concepts that they are capable of knowing, those natural to their own cultural group.

Postmodernists are constantly redefining themselves and are searching for new meaning. As problem finders and problem solvers, they tend to reduce life (and especially political and social issues) to problems and solutions. They also like to engage in zero-base thinking, dismissing the systemically evolved knowledge of the ages.

The Philosophy of Social Engineering: A Recent Descendent of Cultural Relativism

The philosophy of social engineering, as reflected in contemporary civil rights policies and agendas, is primarily based on five concepts: collectivism, determinism, economic egalitarianism, elitism, and historical victimization. Multiculturalism, a merger of collectivism and determinism, asserts that no person can avoid the forces imposed by race, ethnicity, gender, etc. Fortunately, according to the proponents of social engineering, there exists an elite able to remedy historical victimization. Undergirding the philosophy of social engineering is the idea that all individuals should be economically equal. When equality does not exist, it must be due to exploitation and discriminatory exclusion. Consequently, the elite needs to act through the legal and educational systems in order to establish the economic equality that would have existed in the absence of exploitation and domination.

The elite includes individuals and groups who far exceed the general population in intellect, morality, and dedication to the “common good.” Their general superiority enables them to use their articulated rationality to function as surrogate decision makers in governmental economic and social planning. Their special wisdom, knowledge, virtue, compassion, commitment, and intentions qualify them to guide the actions of the many either through articulation or force. Because the elite tend to assume that human nature is infinitely malleable, they attempt to mold the nature of the people according to their superior judgments and advanced views.

Unfortunately for its advocates, the philosophy of social engineering is irrational and inconsistent. Collectivism represents nothing that exists in reality. Only individuals, with countless differences and experiences, can think and act. Although persons can share biological characteristics, they will differ in numerous other ways that are necessary to their identities as individual persons. If determinism is valid, then elitism is infeasible because elites would be affected by causal factors just like everyone else. To propose that they would be exempt from such control would contradict the idea of determinism. In addition, economic egalitarianism is inconsistent with determinism. If determinism is true, then the nonegalitarian status of today’s world is simply unavoidable. It is purely the consequence of historical determinants whose effects could not be different from what they are. Egalitarianism is also denied by the notion of elitism that acknowledges the existence of a caste of individuals who are more intelligent and possesses superior moral understanding. Finally, the idea of victimization loses its plausibility if both collectivism and determinism have been dismissed as irrational.

In his Tyranny of Reason, Yuval Levin explains that the social scientific outlook holds that society and man can be understood through scientific study and that truth in the social world is essentially no different than truth found by science in nature. This failure to recognize that human beings are fundamentally different from the physical objects examined by science and the inappropriate application of scientific reasoning by arrogant social engineers and technocrats can have devastating consequences, including the limitation of man’s freedom in thought and action and the devaluation of a man’s search for meaning in his life.

Confused students of politics and society have attempted to apply the same rules and standards to both the natural world and the social world and have searched for a precise rational formula behind the social behavior of men. So-called experts fail to realize that scientific thinking seeks meaning in causes existing in the past, whereas human beings make decisions based on purposes reaching toward the future. Because the world of science is a world of causes, not of purposes, it cannot answer the “why” question. The human world cannot be adequately described in terms of causes without purposes and means without ends.

Approaching the human world from the perspective of scientific certainty constrains man’s freedom, robs people of a sense of control, and encourages people to hand over their fates to social engineers who believe in the inevitable progress of mankind and in their own superior ability to discover, comprehend, and predict the proper arrangement of society and the underlying truths of the human world. Of course, the knowledge needed by these social architects and constructivists is unattainable––the best we can achieve is partial knowledge of the human world.

Determinism arises naturally from the social scientific outlook. The belief in determinism leads people to think that they have no active role to play in controlling their own futures. Utopian social scientists tend to have contempt for deliberative politics and participatory democracy and to prefer the neutral scientific manager, central planning, social engineering, and government control of the economy.

Western Culture Is Objectively Superior

Today, many intellectuals claim that Western culture is not any better (some say it is worse) than other cultures. In addition, they argue that there are no objective standards that can be used to evaluate the moral merit or demerit of various cultures.

In reality, the superiority of Western culture can be objectively demonstrated when cultures are appraised based on the only befitting standard for judging a society or culture—the extent to which its core values are life affirming or antilife. Prolife culture recognizes and honors man’s nature as a rational being who needs to discern and produce the circumstances that his survival and flourishing require. Such a culture would promote reason, man’s natural rights, productivity, science, and technology. Western culture, the prime example of this type of culture, exhibits levels of freedom, opportunity, health, wealth, productivity, innovation, satisfaction, comfort, and life expectancy unprecedented in history.

Western civilization represents man at his best. It embodies the values that make life as a man possible—freedom, reason, individualism, and man’s natural rights capitalism, self-reliance, and self-responsibility based on free will and achievement the need for limited, republican representative government and the rule of law language, art, and literature depicting man as efficacious in the world and science and technology, the rules of logic, and the idea of causality in a universe governed by natural laws intelligible to man. These values, the values of Western civilization, are values for all men cutting across ethnicity, geography, and gender.

This article was originally published in September, 2000, at Le Québécois Libre , it is reproduced with permission from the author.

Pro-Environmental, Pro-Animal Attitudes, and Ecological Behavior

As described above, the present study is intended to examine the relations between CN and CH and their common personality bases. An additional aim of this research is to investigate how CN and CH influence specific behaviors and attitudes toward environment and non-human animals (hereafter animals). We hypothesize that CN and CH could be proximally related to pro-environmental/pro-animal attitudes and behavior, mediating the links between personality traits and those variables.

With regards to CN, we suggest that people who believe that they are part of the natural world are inclined to protect it. Consistent with this view, previous studies have consistently reported moderately strong correlations of CN with beliefs about pro-environmental attitudes and with ecological behaviors (Schultz, 2000 Nisbet et al., 2009 Markowitz et al., 2012). In addition, people’s attitudes toward animals are likely to be influenced by the extent to which one identifies with nature more broadly. Nisbet et al. (2009) reported a correlation of 0.34 between the Nature Relatedness scale and the love of animal scale (adapted from Ray, 1982). We therefore expect CN to be significantly associated with pro-environmental and pro-animal attitudes and behaviors, and to play an important mediating role in the relations between personality characteristics (i.e., Openness to Experience and Honesty–Humility) and the attitudinal and behavioral variables.

Regarding the link between CH and variables related to pro-environmental/pro-animal attitudes, some theorists have considered altruistic values (akin to CH) as an important basis of environmental attitudes in addition to biospheric values (Stern and Dietz, 1994 for a review). According to this view, environmental attitudes and behaviors are based on altruistic concerns about other people, and engaging in environmentally protecting behaviors stems from one’s motives to benefit (or not to harm) other people (Heberlein, 1972 Stern, 2000). As previously mentioned, some studies have measured constructs very similar to CH, and the results from these studies generally support the notion that CH is positively related to pro-environmental variables. For example, Der-Karabetian et al. (2014) reported correlations in the 0.20 and 0.30 s between “Global Belonging” and sustainable behaviors in three samples from the US, China, and Taiwan. Similarly, Devine-Wright et al. (2015) found that persons with stronger global attachment (relative to national attachment) showed more concern about climate change than did persons with stronger national attachment (relative to global attachment). As such, we expect that CH partly mediates the relations of Honesty–Humility/Openness to Experience to pro-environmental/animal attitudes and ecological behaviors.

To evaluate the research questions outlined above, we tested a latent variable model in which Honesty–Humility and Openness to Experience are exogenous variables that influence CN and CH, which in turn influence one of the three specific variables, namely pro-environmental attitudes, pro-animal attitudes, and ecological behaviors.

Robert Cialdini, PhD, has been the go-to psychology expert in marketing since his best-selling book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” was first published in 1984. He is a regents’ professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University as well as CEO and president of the consulting company Influence at Work, which focuses on ethical influence training. He is also author of the book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.”

Audrey Hamilton: Hello and welcome to Speaking of Psychology, a podcast produced by the American Psychological Association. I'm your host, Audrey Hamilton. In this episode I talk with a psychologist about how marketers and even job seekers can use the six universal principles of persuasion to be successful without being manipulative.

Robert Cialdini: So you see, very small changes in the way we communicate can produce big differences because those small changes harness powerful psychological motivations inside us.

Audrey Hamilton: While psychologists have been able to uncover the subtle mechanics of persuasion, we also discuss how influencers can use the principles ethically -- a tactic that will lead to more effective and longer-lasting behaviors.

Robert Cialdini has been the go-to psychology expert in marketing since his best-selling book “Influenced, The Psychology of Persuasion,” was first published in 1984. He is a Regents professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University as well as CEO and president of the consulting company Influence at Work, which focuses on ethical influence training. He recently published a new book called “Presuasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Welcome, Dr. Cialdini.

Robert Cialdini: Thank you. Good to be with you and your listeners.

Audrey Hamilton: Alright well let's first talk about the theory you're most associated with, which is the six principles of persuasion. First of all, what are these six principles, if some of our listeners may not be familiar with them and can you give them a brief description of what they are?

Robert Cialdini: Surely. The first is reciprocation, the idea that in all human societies we are trained from childhood that we must give back to those who have given to us first. And we have very nasty names for people who don't play by those rules. We call them mortars or takers or ingrates. Nobody wants to be labeled like that. So, we will go to great lengths to give back to those who have given to us. There was a study done in a candy store in which half of the visitors were greeted by the manager who gave them a gift piece of chocolate upon entry. They were 42 percent more likely to buy candy and not all of them bought chocolate. It wasn't that they learned that the chocolate there was good. It's that they had been given something and they felt an obligation to give back.

A second principle is the principle of liking. No one will be surprised to know that we prefer to say yes to those we like. That's not a surprise, but the research suggests that there's a small thing we can do to get people to like us more. For example, waiters in a restaurant -- after the order is taken, if they say to a customer “good choice,” their tip goes up 13 percent.

Audrey Hamilton: I've heard no heard that quite a bit.

Robert Cialdini: In a hair salon, if the stylist says “Oh, that hairstyle looks great on you,” her tip goes up 37 percent. So simply giving genuine compliments where they're warranted can be successful for all concerned.

Another principle is the principle of what we call “social proof,” the idea that one way we can make good decisions is to see what those around us, like us, are doing in that situation. There was a study done in Beijing, China. It shows you the cross-cultural reach of this principle. What they did was to go to restaurants and put on the menu a little asterisk next to certain dishes -- purchasing if those dishes immediately jumped by 13 to 20 percent. Now what did the asterisk stand the stand for? It didn't say this is the chef's special for tonight or this is the specialty of the house. It said this is one of our most popular items and it immediately became more popular because it was popular, right?

So social proof -- another principle is the principle of authority. We prefer to say yes to people who can give us evidence that experts on a topic have recommended this, the particular steps that they are asking us to take. So for example, in one study that my team did in hospitals with stroke patients who were sent home with exercise regimens to do while they were at home -- they were 30 percent more likely to live up to those exercise regimens if the person who gave them the exercise regimen had his credentials and diplomas on the wall when he did so. So this was an expert and people were more likely to follow the recommendations because we typically are safe in following the lead of legitimate authorities.

A fifth principle is the principle of scarcity. People want more of those things they can have less of. So there was one study in supermarkets that showed that of all the promotions that they did for the various brands on their stores, the one that outdistanced all the others by double was one that said only X number of items per customer.

Audrey Hamilton: Okay.

Robert Cialdini: So, if it's scarce -- if it's rare -- if it's dwindling and availability, we want more.

And then the final principle is commitment and consistency. People want to say yes to those requests that are consistent with the commitments they've already made. So, for example, in a Chicago restaurant a big problem was no-shows -- people who would call, make a reservation and then not show for it. The owner of the restaurant tried a small technique that dramatically reduced no-shows. His receptionist used to say “Thank you for calling Gordon's restaurant. Please call if you have to change or cancel your reservation.”

Instead, he asked her to say “Will you please call if you have to change or cancel your reservation?” And then to pause and let the person say “Yes, of course.” That produced the 67 percent drop in no-shows. So you see, very small changes in the way we communicate can produce big differences because those small changes harness powerful psychological motivations inside us.

Audrey Hamilton: As I recently mentioned in the introduction you recently published your latest book on something you called presuasion -- this is the idea you say of setting up a message before you send it to get the result you want. Can you explain more about what presuasion is and what sort of research was conducted to demonstrate that this, that this works?

Robert Cialdini: Surely. So, where the book influence said asked the question -- what can a communicator put into a message to get people to say yes to it? These six principles -- presuasion asked the question what can a communicator put into the moment before delivering the message? That makes people more open and receptive to it. To make them agree with the message before they've encountered it. Well, that sounds like some kind of magic.

They agree with something they don't know if they haven't heard yet. Well it's not magic, it's establish science and the key is if the communicator gets an individual to focus on a particular concept or idea that is the central aspect of the message that's yet to occur, people will now focus on that central aspect when they encounter it. They will have been sensitized to that kind of information. I'll give you an example -- a research example. A study was done with an online furniture store -- they specialized in sofas. Half of the visitors to their website encountered a landing page with fluffy clouds as the background wallpaper of that site. Those individuals then rated comfort of sofas as more important to them. They searched the site for comfort-related features of the sofas and they preferred to purchase more comfortable furniture because the first thing they were focused on was softness in those clouds.

Now, the other half of the visitors, when were sent to a site with small coins, pennies in the background wallpaper. They then rated price as a more important feature for them in buying a sofa. They searched the site for cost- related information and they preferred to purchase more inexpensive furniture. So wherever they were sent first -- now they prioritized that idea, that concept in what they encountered next.

The interesting thing was that when they were asked afterwards -- by the way did that background on the landing page make any difference to you and how you chose? They laughed. He said “Of course not. I'm a free-standing entity. I make my decisions based on my internal preferences.”

They never recognized that their internal preferences had been shaped by what they saw first.

Audrey Hamilton: Well, let's take this idea persuasion. Let's say I'm going for a job interview or maybe I'm asking my boss for her promotion or raise. How do I set it up to get what I want?

Robert Cialdini: Let's take the job interview, that's a classic one. We typically go into a situation -- there's an evaluator sitting across a table, sometimes more than one. And what we are typically trained to say is “Thank you for inviting me. I want to be sure to answer all of the questions you have of me.” Here's what I would recommend based on pre, presuasion.

We should say one more thing before the interview begins. “But you know, I'm, I'm curious, I have a question for you. Why did you invite me here today? What was it about my candidacy that attracted you to me?”

Now what you will find is these individuals will go into your resume focusing themselves on your strengths -- all of the most positive things about your resume, your qualifications and the interview will begin with that as the, as the fundament. That's the frame of the interview -- your strengths.

Now, I have an acquaintance who claims he's gotten three straight better jobs in a row using this strategy, this presuasion strategy.

Audrey Hamilton: It makes sense when you think about it. Yeah, why not right?

Robert Cialdini: Why not?

Audrey Hamilton: How can it hurt?

Robert Cialdini: How can it hurt? You're focusing people on your strengths. And also, when you hear them describe your strengths, you know what their values are. For those are the reasons they brought you in and you can now embellish on those features of your, your background credentials.

Audrey Hamilton: Another thing I want to address is the idea of ethics in persuasion. You know, as a psychologist who instructs companies on how to persuade others, people, consumers -- how do you convince them to do so without stepping over that ethical line into manipulation, let's say?

Robert Cialdini: Yes, well we've -- my team has recently completed a piece of research on what happens to organizations that don't apply ethical rules to the way that they treat their customers, their clients, their prospects and who are deceptive, dishonest and the presentation of that information. What happens is some people inside the organization, inside the company feel uncomfortable with this kind of duplicity, this requirement that they be dishonest as part of their job. It creates emotional distress in them. They're agitated. They're upset by having to do this and our research shows as a consequence, they perform their jobs less well because they're upset. They are more likely to leave the organization, which creates big turnover costs for any company that, that chooses an unethical approach, right? But thirdly, when those people who are uncomfortable with cheating leave and what's left is a precipitate of employees who are comfortable with cheating, we find they will cheat the company. The company has selected for dishonest people. Those people who lie for you will lie to you. These will be the people who pad their expense accounts, who run under the table deals with vendors and suppliers, who steal equipment and so on.

Audrey Hamilton: So, it's against their own best interest and bottom line.

Robert Cialdini: That's exactly right, Audrey. That it's, it's, this is the reason why when I speak to leaders of various organizations, I tell them that they should be scrupulously honest -- right -- anything less is going anything less is going to drive away their most honest employees and give them the headache of having to manage dishonest employees inside their organizational envelope.

Audrey Hamilton: So, circling back to the original six principles that we talked about at the beginning. How can people recognize when someone is using them unethically or being manipulative?

Robert Cialdini: Yes, sometimes you can't tell until the transaction is over and you realize that you've been, you've been fooled or duped or not fully informed. You know, we in my company we sometimes have technological issues that need to be solved and we need to contract somebody who comes in to solve them and people will claim expertise – “Oh yes, we can do this we have a long history of being able to solve this particular problem,” and then we find out that was just to get us to sign the contract. They claim to have authority when they didn't and, as a consequence our only redress is to say we will never do business with you again. We will never testify. We will never give a testimonial in your behalf. In fact, we'll tell all our friends not to do business with you. That's the long-term consequence of the unethical use of these strategies.

Now, that's not to say that people who use these strategies always use them dishonestly. The last time I bought a television set I was in an appliance store. I wasn't looking for a new TV but I saw a great deal on a big-screen TV that I knew had been rated very well by Consumer Reports and a salesman came up to me – said, “I see you're interested in this set here. I can understand why. That's a great price for that model, but I should tell you that's our last one. And I just got a call from a woman to say that she might be in today to get it.”

Audrey, 20 minutes later I'm wheeling out of the store with that set in my cart and I'm the guy who wrote the book. I'm still susceptible to it. Right?

Audrey Hamilton: Right?

Robert Cialdini: Now, here's what I did the following day. I went back to that store to see if that set was still an empty space on the shelf. Was it really the last one or had they just gone to the storeroom and replaced it more than other and that scarcity principle was being exploited to get me to comply? It wasn't a genuine piece of information that I could use to improve my outcomes in the situation. It turns out there was an empty space. It was true.

So, here's what I did. I went back to my office. I went online and I provided a customer review that praised that store and that sales person because in that situation he was not my -- he was he was not my, my enemy. He was my ally in the process of getting something good -- by giving me honest information about true scarcity. Under those circumstances, I was happy to partner with him.

Audrey Hamilton: Well, thank you Dr. Cialdini for joining us. It was a pleasure to have you.

Robert Cialdini: Well, I enjoyed the opportunity as well.

Audrey Hamilton: Thanks for listening to our podcast. Make sure you check out our other episodes of Speaking of Psychology - and please subscribe if you haven’t already. We are a proud member of the APA Podcast Network, which includes other great podcasts. Please check out APA Journals Dialogue, If you want to hear about the latest and most exciting psychology research. And if you are interested in the practice of psychology, be sure to listen to Progress Notes. Topics include how health care policy and social media affect practicing psychologists. You can find those podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also go to our website, to listen to even more episodes and gather more resources on the topics we discussed.

Thanks for joining us. I’m Audrey Hamilton with the American Psychological Association and this is Speaking of Psychology.

Is there evidence that individuals consistently prefer entities according to their animacy? - Psychology

Editor’s Note: Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C., has performed an in-depth analysis addressing a key issue of our time: “Why Do Good People Become Silent — or Worse — About 9/11?” The resulting essay, being presented here as a series, is a synthesis of both academic research and clinical observations.

Please note that because Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth is dedicated to researching and disseminating scientific information about the destruction of three World Trade Center skyscrapers on September 11, 2001, and does not speculate as to the identity or motives of the perpetrators, any reference to names or motives of the attackers in this series of articles, made by either the author or the individuals she quotes, is a personal opinion and not the viewpoint of AE911Truth.

“The primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time.” 1 — Statement of Principles by the American Society of Newspaper Editors

What is wrong with the Western media? Why have they not jumped at the opportunity to cover the scoop of the century — the wealth of crystal-clear evidence that proves the government has been lying about the attacks of September 11, 2001, for the past sixteen years?

That’s a question many of us in the 9/11 Truth community have wrestled with — even agonized over — ever since that world-changing, tragic day.

Consider, then, how much more investigative journalists, who are trained to delve for truth and adhere to the above-cited principles of their profession, have been agonizing — not just since 9/11, but for decades — over the disastrous breakdown of the press. Some of them have written volumes about their frustration and disillusionment, and in those volumes they have analyzed the causes of that breakdown.

Now that I’ve read their plethora of analyses probing what has gone wrong with the Western press, how can I possibly summarize these investigative journalists’ conclusions so that my readers will understand the enormity of the problem?

British journalist and media critic Nick Davies sums up my dilemma with this astute observation:

. . . there is a deeper difficulty that, since we are talking about the failure of the media on a global scale, the problem is simply too big to be measured with any accuracy. It is like an ant trying to measure an elephant. 2

Nonetheless, because the role of the media is arguably the most powerful reason why good people become silent — or worse — about 9/11, I will do my best to measure and describe this elephant.

I will approach the subject as if we — my readers and I — are attending a courtroom hearing, listening to the testimony of one witness after another. In this courtroom, all of our witnesses are award-winning journalists and/or whistleblowers-turned-journalists. Each of them has a distinguished track record of truth-telling. After we listen to them present their evidence, which they have laid out in numerous books, articles, and interviews, I will attempt to distill this testimony into a simple summary of the key reasons for the media censorship we observe today.

Then, based on this summary, I will explain why there has been no serious truth-seeking in the mainstream media’s coverage of the September 11, 2001, events. The same case can be made, unfortunately, for the absence of truth-telling in much of the alternative media. My focus will be on the American media, but there will be occasional references to the international media, which likewise have refused to violate the taboo against questioning the official account of 9/11.

The next four installments — or “acts” — of this series will focus on the media. (The terms “media” and “press” will be used interchangeably throughout.) I will explore such topics as:

    Who and what are the obstacles to reporting on the most critical story of the 21 st century?

To illustrate the depth of the problem, I will tell a story about my encounter with a well-socialized American who holds a firm faith in the unfettered freedom of this country’s press.

An urbane American on the patio

It was a gorgeous summer day in 2005. I was at a housewarming party in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Denver, Colorado, chatting amicably with an urbane man I had just met on the red-flagstone patio of my friend’s lovely home. Between bites of appetizers and sips of drinks, we inadvertently found ourselves on the sensitive subject of 9/11. So I mentioned that I was reading an article indicating that elements within our government may have at least cooperated with those who attacked us.

His eyes widened as he retorted without hesitation: “I’ve never heard of this and I read The New York Times! Surely if there were anything to this accusation, we would have heard of it from our liberal media. The Times is constantly Bush-bashing, so that liberal rag would have certainly reported such evidence, if it were credible.”

At the time I was fairly naïve about our media but was at least aware that it was anything but “liberal.” 3 Had it been, we would have seen political pundits at least questioning the sanity of bombing and invading Iraq. Instead, columnists and reporters had militantly cheered the upcoming invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

I responded to his remark by describing the stunning evidence of air defense failure that I had learned from watching Barrie Zwicker’s DVD, The Great Conspiracy: The 9/11 News Special You Never Saw. 4 I also mentioned the intelligence breakdown described in Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed’s book, The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001. 5 Then I concluded, in a matter-of-fact tone, that there seemed to be a media blackout on evidence that contradicted the official story.

Hearing me question the media's integrity, my acquaintance’s eyes now narrowed with suspicion. His body language let me know that he was unwilling to give me any more of his precious time on this beautiful, sunny afternoon. He abruptly headed toward the snack tray on the far side of the patio, leaving me standing there quite alone. Clearly, his faith in America’s “free press” was unshakeable.

We skeptics of the official story of 9/11 are painfully aware of the mythological nature of our “free and liberal press.” This awareness, however, is not unique to us. Nor do we have the distinction of being the lone recipients of silent treatment and ridicule by the mainstream — as well as much of the so-called alternative — media, as will be seen by the following accounts from our “witnesses.” Similar censorship was imposed on the early opponents of slavery and on the suffragettes. By studying these historical examples, we can be encouraged that the media’s mockery cannot prevent the ultimate success of those who endeavor to reverse egregious policies and practices. 6

Stepping back

But let’s step back for a moment. A reader brand new to this subject may be wondering if journalists should publish material that contradicts the official 9/11 narrative. After all, is there really strong enough evidence to warrant their deviating from the authorized version of these catastrophic events?

My answer is an unqualified “yes.” For one thing, many of the 9/11 victims’ relatives posed questions that were never answered by the 9/11 Commission, despite its promise to these grieving families. For another, a plethora of books, DVDs, and websites have already addressed the contradictory evidence, which is voluminous. One book that ably refutes the party line on 9/11 is Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11, written by Canadian journalist and media critic Barrie Zwicker. He devotes a full chapter to listing 26 “exhibits” from 9/11 that he contends warranted articles by investigative journalists. Had these articles been allowed to be penned and published, Zwicker observes, the newspapers in which they appeared would have sold like hotcakes. 7 I’ll refer readers to several handy “cliff-notes” studies in the endnotes. 8

The most powerful reason good people become silent

To reiterate, the role of the media is the primary reason why good people become silent — or worse — about 9/11. The media’s prominence is so embedded in our culture that its influence must not be underestimated. As noted in Part 2, the “early adopters” in any society influence the population to consider — or not consider — the reality of a new idea. In ours, it is neither the shaman, nor the tribal chieftain, nor the wise elder whose edicts, opinions, and ideas we hold in such high regard.

Rather, in modern Western societies, if a new idea is covered in a serious way on television or in the newspaper, then, and only then, is it considered “real.” Well, at least it becomes discussable in polite company.

But, at the time of this writing, 16 years after 9/11, the idea that elements within the United States government could pull off such a massive false flag operation as 9/11 is still not discussable in polite company. For many Americans, the very notion is shocking and disgusting, or at least discomfiting. It brings a pall to any party.

Let’s imagine that, soon after 9/11, some of the mainstream media had even begun to research and carefully question aspects of the official account of the day’s events. It’s fair to say that readers and listeners would have realized that they, too, had permission to question the government-sanctioned narrative — even in polite company. The official story would not have garnered such a unified consensus.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, the media became loyal stenographers of the government’s account, resulting in the official story becoming solidly anchored in the public mind. 9

In other words, if, early on, the media had honestly investigated and questioned the official pronouncements about 9/11, and had continued being honest, many of us would not have been as thoroughly caught in the trap of the psychological dynamics that are explained in the earlier installments of this series.

Polls and third rails

For a wider perspective, let’s explore for a moment two institutions Americans are trained to trust: the media and our leaders whom we’ve elected to be our protectors. Both are authority figures, and in Part 3 of this series, we learned that fully two-thirds of us believe and obey authorities, even when doing so betrays some of our most sacred values.

But in recent years the edges of that trust have been fraying. The Gallup Poll has been assessing respondents’ feelings about the media since 1972. In 2016, pollsters found that “Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ [had] . . . dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.” 10 That nadir compares to a 1976 peak of 72% in the wake of news coverage of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, when Americans clearly appreciated the media’s honest reporting and high professional standards. 11

Dissecting the 2016 poll results, we learn that trust in the media plummeted among younger voters and Republicans — likely spurred by the contentious presidential election. In the same polls, there was only a marginal decline in trust in the media among older voters and Democrats. That gap should not be surprising, considering that for the past 20 years, Democrats’ confidence in the fourth estate has consistently exceeded that of Republicans. 12

According to Gallup, “Before 2004, it was common for a majority of Americans to profess at least some trust in the mass media, but since then, less than half of Americans feel that way. Now, only about a third of the U.S. has any trust in the Fourth Estate, a stunning development for an institution designed to inform the public.” 13

In 2016 the print media fared even worse than the overall media. As Gallup put it: “The 20% of Americans who are confident in newspapers as a U.S. institution hit an all-time low this year, marking the 10 th consecutive year that more Americans express little or no, rather than high, confidence in the institution.” 14

Gallup has been checking on Americans’ confidence level in 14 institutions for more than three decades. It found that between 2006 and 2016, trust in banks, organized religion, media, and Congress dropped more precipitously than in the other 10 institutions — and more than in the previous two decades. Winning the trust of only 9% of the public in 2016, “Congress has the ignominious distinction of being the only institution sparking little or no confidence in a majority of Americans,” declared Gallup. In fact, the polling firm asserted, “Even as Americans regain confidence in the economy . . . they remain reluctant to put much faith in [most of these 14] institutions at the core of American society.” 15

Confidence in the executive branch of the federal government fluctuates greatly, depending on circumstances. In times of war, the Commander in Chief generally receives high ratings. For example, in March 1991, shortly after Iraq was pushed out of Kuwait in the Gulf War, George H. W. Bush enjoyed the highest confidence rating any president has ever received — 72%. Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in 2001, George W. Bush’s ratings increased — to 58% — before diving to 25% in his seventh year of office — an all-time record low for any U.S. president. 16 Weekly “job-approval” polls indicate, however, that by the end of his tenure in office, President Donald Trump might set a new low for Americans’ trust in the executive branch. 17

So, which institutions do Americans trust the most? Well, the mass media and Congress both rate at the bottom of the barrel, but the real answer depends upon circumstances as well as upon which Americans are being asked. For example, an older person who votes the Democratic ticket when a Republican is president will likely trust the media more during those years. A Republican who supports Donald Trump, on the other hand, likely has a very low view of the media, which have scorned him, but a high degree of trust in the president. 18

Like citizens of other countries, citizens of the United States want to believe that their leaders are trustworthy. After all, they are ostensibly there to protect and represent us. This could be one reason why, in wartime, a majority of Americans across the board rally around the Commander in Chief.

Despite their paltry confidence in the media, consumers of news still seem to be swayed by that institution’s monolithic decision to air or not to air. Have you ever noticed that only when a recognizable news source publishes a story on an issue do you feel you have, in a sense, been given permission to safely discuss the topic? If, on the other hand, a story is suppressed by the mainstream media, are you reluctant to discuss it for fear of being shunned? And if that story is also suppressed by the alternative media, are you even more reluctant to share it — except with like-minded colleagues?

I see first-hand evidence of that phenomenon when I participate in street actions in Colorado. When the subject of 9/11 comes up with visitors at our People’s Fair booth, for example, it’s no surprise to hear them exclaim, “Oh, yes, I saw something about that on TV!” The reference they’re making is to one of the several programs aired in recent years on Colorado Public Television’s Channel 12 (CPT12) — perhaps 9/11: Blueprint for Truth or 9/11: Explosive Evidence — Experts Speak Out. My point: The topic had become discussible thanks to the station’s courageous decision to touch the highly charged “third rail” topic of 9/11.

Cynthia McKinney

The term “third rail” is a metaphor referring to the high-voltage third rail in some electric railway systems. Stepping on this rail would usually result in electrocution. 19 Thus, political third rail issues are those that are considered “charged” and “untouchable,” promising that any public official or media outlet that dares seriously broach these topics will suffer. This is a lesson the courageous former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) learned the hard way when she questioned the official 9/11 narrative in Congress. Her outspokenness on the sensitive subject was political suicide. 20 Theoretically, a dedicated group of politicians could nonetheless escape “electrocution” if they worked together, especially if they were to receive even minimal serious reporting from the press.

Returning to and wrapping up our discussion of the Gallup Poll results, confidence in media is steadily declining, yet one-third of Americans continue to hold the mainstream media in esteem, despite the painfully obvious deterioration in journalism’s standards in recent decades. They cling to the traditional notion that the media are training their ever-watchful eyes on — and directing their ever-skeptical questions to — all branches and layers of government in order to keep our leaders in line. Such sacred myths and outworn beliefs have enormous inertia, as we witnessed with the urbane man at the housewarming party. They die a protracted death, as we discovered in Part 8 on brain research. But at least they do eventually die, as the Gallup polls confirm — sometimes when people change their views to fit new facts, and other times, unfortunately, by the death of members of the current older generation. Younger people are not as calcified in their worldview, so change can often occur when they take their place as adults in society — a fact also reflected by these surveys.

The foregoing goes to show that if the media were to expose government shenanigans, stand on the side of truth, and thus regain the admiration it earned in the mid-1970s, the public would once again trust investigations conducted by respected journalists at prestigious publications. Why, the public would even trust news stories that actually challenge presidential pronouncements — were any investigative reporter bold enough to write them.

Some of us remember the days when gumshoe journalists were once allowed by their bosses to seek, find, and share truth, no matter how inconvenient. They wore the mantle of this terrible and wonderful responsibility with pride. What has happened to those esteemed members of the fourth estate?

Warriors for truth

They are still in our midst, though they must remain silent to keep their jobs. Despite the prima facie evidence that today’s media are censoring truth, there are in fact reporters who are chomping at the bit to expose the mounds of evidence that clearly contradict the official tale of 9/11. They are eager to interview insiders and whistleblowers, to follow the evidence trail, to connect the dots, and to provide the context. 21

The truth about 9/11 — and the chance to tell it to an audience that hungers for honesty — would be the blockbuster story of the 21 st century. It would far surpass in substance, scope, and significance the 20 th century’s publicly perceived iconic journalism — Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s exposé of the Watergate burglary.

What’s that? “Publicly perceived” iconic journalism? Meaning not actually iconic? Yes, I am afraid so. For many years I was as fooled as the average citizen about this so-called epitome of investigative journalism. Then I read about a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) document that was released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in July 2016. 22

Well before that FOIA request was granted, though, several journalists were painstakingly researching and writing books about the deeper politics of Watergate. Russ Baker is one such muckraker. His page-turner, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, 23 chronicles the convoluted intrigue that wormed its way through the halls of power during the Nixon years. According to Baker’s analysis of the conspiracy, the Watergate debacle was an elaborate clandestine affair orchestrated by the CIA, in which Nixon was the target of a plot rather than the planner of the break-in. It appears that the CIA's goal was to rout President Nixon out of the White House. In other words, Watergate was a soft coup, and one that could not succeed without the CIA having its tentacles deeply embedded in The Washington Post, the employer of Woodward and Bernstein. To keep Woodward off the trail of the agency, CIA agents fed him only the information they wanted him to know.

The reason for the soft coup? As Baker tells it, Nixon was playing fast and loose with the oil depletion allowance, a tax break for investors in exhaustible mineral deposits 24 that costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. In so doing, the President was seen as disloyal by those who brought him into power — the Bush family and other oil-baron elites.

Russ Baker's Family of Secrets

Here we have two perfect examples of deep state actions: (1) the CIA illegally embedding itself within media organizations and (2) the CIA illegally and deceptively meddling in U.S. political affairs. Both are indicative of a corrupt agency responsive to wealthy individuals who operate behind the scenes in Washington politics — that is, outside normal democratic processes — for the purpose of shaping public policy to benefit themselves. 25 (For further reading on the deep state, see Part 13 of this series.)

Later, we shall learn that Watergate was not an isolated deception by the CIA involving the press — but that, in fact, the CIA has long been secretly embedded in the media for the purpose of doing the bidding of behind-the-scenes powerful individuals.

Idealistic investigative journalists enter their profession because they are attracted to the heroic job of delving into and exposing crimes. Their motivation appears to be a desire to make the world a better place to live. I am in awe of these warriors for truth.

So why haven’t even a handful of our journalist watchdogs — especially those who still work for establishment media outlets — reported on the story of the 21 st century? A story that would likely reverse the United States’ inexorable march toward a closed society. 26 A story that could halt the misdirected, perpetually warring course upon which our country is dangerously careening in its imperialistic pursuit of the planet’s resources. A story that could stop the murder and devastation of the lives of millions of the men, women, and children who just happen to reside in oil-rich nations.

For an answer, we need look no further than the “Great Game for Oil,” which investigative reporter Charlotte Dennett calls “the missing context” so essential to a comprehensive discussion of 9/11. 27 She observes that in their coverage of the seemingly endless Middle East wars sparked by 9/11, the mainstream media — and even much of the alternative press — avoid mentioning oil as a key reason for the fighting.

Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty (October 1911)

Why the reluctance? Because oil, which the military of each country relies upon to transport troops and weapons, is deemed a national security issue. Very succinctly, here’s the background: In 1911, Winston Churchill concluded, in his role as First Lord of the Admiralty, that if the British Empire were to retain its position as a preeminent world power, its Navy would need to be modernized by converting its fuel source from coal (of which Britain had plentiful supplies) to cheaper and more efficient oil (of which Britain had none). Quoting Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Churchill declared that if the Empire were to “take arms against a sea of troubles,” oil was required to maintain economic might and military mastery. Thus, by the time World War I started in 1914, the “Great Game for Oil” was off and running, with every world power scouring the globe to locate — then gain access to and control over — this prize resource. But if a journalist were to explain this race for oil and link it to wars, such honest reporting would be deemed a threat to national security and would thus cost him his job. 28

Below, we shall delve into the miserable mismatch of journalist detectives and the corporate entities for which they work — or for which they once worked. We shall also discover how investigations crucial to an open and democratic society are, across the board, being thoroughly censored by editors, by media’s corporate owners, and by intelligence agencies. And we shall see that this censorship is not unique to the topic of 9/11 — not by a long shot.

In former CBS reporter and freelance journalist Kristina Borjesson’s award-winning anthology, Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myths of a Free Press, 29 highly acclaimed journalists tell their stories — how their well-researched, well-documented exposés of high crimes by officials were thwarted from making it into print or broadcast news. They explain how, even if their stories did make the news, editors had rendered them into watered-down, impotent versions, unrecognizable to the authors.

With four case histories — three from Borjesson’s remarkable anthology and one from a 9/11 whistleblower — I will demonstrate the extent to which the holders of power and the owners of media institutions will go to censor stories that, by any rational standard of truth-telling, should have been reported.

Michael Levine

Take, for example, Michael Levine’s story, “Mainstream Media: The Drug War’s Shills.” 30

A “shill,” according to Merriam-Webster, is a person who is paid to describe someone or something in a favorable light. Levine describes a shill as a con man who entices suckers (that’s most of us) into a phony game to convince those watching the game that it is being played fair and square. In this way, the mainstream media shill for the official line of the “War on Drugs” — a war first declared in 1971 by President Nixon — yet they remain dead silent about CIA drug trafficking.

Michael Levine

A twenty-five-year veteran of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and now a whistleblower and journalist, Levine narrates, in what reads like a murder mystery novel, his personal experiences with the mainstream media — a media that became strangely silent about the CIA’s drug running. Not once, but time after time.

Composed of undercover DEA agents who were honestly trying to prevent illegal drugs from entering America’s streets, Levine’s unit was charged with investigating all heroin and cocaine smuggling through the Port of New York. This meant scrutinizing every major smuggling operation known to law enforcement.

Witnessing CIA protection of major drug traffickers around the world, therefore, became unavoidable.

These traffickers, writes Levine, included “the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, the Bolivian cocaine cartels, the top levels of the Mexican government, top Panama-based money launderers, the Nicaraguan Contras, right-wing Colombian drug dealers and politicians, and others.” 31

In every case, just as a sting was about to succeed, the CIA stopped Levine and his DEA agents! On those occasions when the CIA did not manage to stop the bust and the cases warranted investigation, the media cooperated with the con game, presenting the CIA in a favorable light. Levine explains:

It was also clear to us that CIA protection of international narcotics traffickers depended heavily on the active collaboration of the mainstream media as shills. Media’s shill duties, as I experienced them firsthand, were twofold: first, to keep quiet about the gush of drugs that was allowed to flow unimpeded into the United States second, to divert the public’s attention by shilling them into believing the drug war was legitimate by falsely presenting the few trickles we were permitted to interdict as though they were major “victories” when in fact we were doing nothing more than getting rid of the inefficient competitors of CIA assets. 32 [Emphasis added.]

What Levine came to realize is that the mainstream media and the CIA are not entirely separate entities.

He also learned that the CIA, to avoid having to account to the U.S. Congress for its every action and expenditure, has made drug trafficking a major source of funding for covert operations. This is the realpolitik, the underlying reality, Levine tells us. The con game is the illusion propagated by the media that the “War on Drugs” is a reality and that it is succeeding. 33

Similarly, those of us who are suspicious of the official 9/11 account are sorely aware that the mainstream media and many of the alternative news outlets shill for the government’s version of the events surrounding 9/11. When we credibly question this official version, we are met with silence or scorn. It’s fair to observe that, except for a few independent news sources, the “War on Terror,” designed to rise from the ashes of 9/11, is presented unanimously by media outlets as a necessary response to a real attack by dangerous outside enemies.

It is worth noting that, in a court of law, shills are considered co-conspirators of the con men. 34

Michael Levine surely must be one of those warriors for truth who would love to expose the crime of the 21 st century. Why do I say that? Listen to Levine’s parting missive in his superb exposé:

If you go back to the beginning of this chapter and substitute “World Trade Center” for “Drug War,” perhaps you’ll come to realize how very dangerous a shill game is being run on us right now. 35

So the longer “we the people” buy into the con games and the shilling, the more emboldened become the cons and shills. Doubters of the official line on 9/11 intuit that we have come to a crossroads. We still have a choice to return to our roots — a constitutional republic, or what I call a “constitutional democratic republic” 36 — rather than remain the imperialistic, relatively closed society our country has become. If we do not act now, at this 9/11 crossroads, will the con men and con women in power up the ante of violence, domination, and deception in the near future — to a point of no return?

Kristina Borjesson

On July 17, 1996, twelve minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, TWA Flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 230 people aboard.

Investigative journalist and news producer Kristina Borjesson was assigned to look into the story by the executive director of CBS television.

After months of probing and analysis by the FBI, the CIA, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the official investigation ended with the NTSB’s final report determining that the “probable” cause of the accident was an explosion inside the center wing fuel tank, sparked by faulty wiring.

One of the problems with this account is that many of the eyewitnesses reported seeing a streak of light that shot up and exploded upon intersecting with the plane. “For instance, 94 percent of the witnesses who saw the streak early enough to note its origin, said it rose from the ocean’s surface,” writes Borjesson. “Of the 134 witnesses who provided information related to the rising streak’s trajectory, 116 are inconsistent with the official (CIA video) explanation for the streak.” 37

Kristina Borjesson/Gore Vidal

The CIA became involved in this case because the eyewitness reports suggested that TWA Flight 800 may have been downed by a terrorist missile. 38 What’s interesting, though, is that the same intelligence agency then put together a team that produced a patently false, invalid animation designed to debunk the eyewitness accounts. How so? The narrator in the video tells the witnesses that the surface-to-air streak they saw was simply an optical illusion — that what they actually saw was “jet fuel streaming down from the crippled craft after it had exploded.” 39

Needless to say, the CIA’s video did not go over well with the eyewitnesses. Yet because the media, including The New York Times, unquestioningly accept the CIA as a credible official source, they regurgitated its bogus analysis and assessment without even talking to the witnesses. 40 Is it possible that the elaborately contrived video was really meant for the media? That is, did the CIA intend for the media to buy into its concocted theory and then churn out a tale that would persuade the public it was true? I strongly suspect so.

But this contradiction of the witnesses was only one of many problems with the official account, as Borjesson discovered.

Within her anthology Into the Buzzsaw, Kristina Borjesson’s article of the same name 41 describes her punishing ordeal as she tried to report evidence contrary to the official assertions about the demise of Flight 800.

She opens her account with:

I had no idea that my life would be turned upside down and inside out — that I’d been assigned to walk into what I now call “the buzzsaw.” The buzzsaw is what can rip through you when you try to investigate or expose anything this country’s large institutions — be they corporate or government — want kept under wraps. The system fights back with official lies, disinformation, and stonewalling. 42

Those of us who have innocently walked into the 9/11 Truth buzzsaw can easily relate to her chilling description, which continues:

You feel like you’re being followed everywhere you go. You feel like you’ve been sucked into a game of Dungeons and Dragons. It gets harder and harder to distinguish truth and reality from falsehood and fiction. The sense of fear and paranoia is, at times, overwhelming. Walk into the buzzsaw and you’ll cut right to this layer of reality. You will feel a deep sense of loss and betrayal. A shocking shift in paradigm. Anyone who hasn’t experienced it will call you crazy. Those who don’t know the truth, or are covering it up, will call you a conspiracy nut. 43

Borjesson’s page-turner reveals what happened to her as she followed the evidence trail that strongly suggested TWA Flight 800 was destroyed by a missile. The extent that officials went to conceal this forbidden trail and the extent to which the media went in faithfully parroting the official account will remind those readers who’ve seen the impossibilities of the official 9/11 account of their own frustrating, futile efforts to interest politicians and journalists in the evidence and facts that clearly contradict the government’s explanation of what happened before, during, and after September 11, 2001 — the ill-fated day that changed the world.

As a seasoned investigative journalist, Kristina Borjesson understood that on sensitive stories such as the demise of TWA 800, she would need to be especially leery of official government sources. She knew she could inch closer to the truth by asking questions of the people who were not allowed to talk to the press — those, for example, who worked at the crash site recovering the debris. “One of my rules of investigative reporting is: The more sensitive the investigation, the more you avoid ‘official’ sources and the harder you try to get to the firsthand people.” 44

The plethora of parallels between the evidence undermining the official account of the TWA explosion and the evidence undermining the official account of the 9/11 attacks five years later is uncanny. A few examples will suffice to make the point:

1. Flight 800 : Metal from the plane recrystallized, indicating the existence of higher temperatures than jet fuel could have delivered.
9/11 : Huge steel beams from the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers were bent smoothly, without cracks molten metal was seen flowing from the South Tower and running beneath the debris pile and meteorite-like fusion of concrete and other debris all indicated higher temperatures than jet fuel could have delivered.

2. Flight 800 : Traces of PETN and RDX (explosives used in missiles) were found in the wreckage.
9/11 : Red/gray chips were found in the WTC dust, determined by independent researchers to be nano-thermite, but explained away by officials as primer paint chips. 45 Also, iron-rich microspheres, which are a byproduct of thermitic reactions, were found in the WTC dust.

3. Flight 800 : The NTSB ordered NASA to test red residue found on the top surface of the fuel tank, but NASA was prohibited from doing the very tests that would have discovered if the red material contained explosives.
9/11 : The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) refused to test for explosives in the WTC dust.

4. Flight 800 : Based on a report that included a provably false story about how weeks before Flight 800 blew up in the sky, explosive residue had been left inside the plane after a bomb-sniffing dog training exercise, the FBI explained away evidence of explosive residue found both inside and outside the aircraft.
9/11 : NIST has no explanation for the red/gray chips or the iron-rich microspheres found in the WTC dust — and apparently does not acknowledge their existence. 46

5. Flight 800 : Attempts were made to shame independent investigators for their efforts to uncover the truth. They were accused of preventing the victims’ families from finding peace of mind and closure.
9/11 : Ditto.

6. Flight 800 : Data concerning the investigation into the demise of the carrier was falsified by officials.
9/11 : Analyses show NIST’s report on the destruction of WTC 7 to be fraudulent, leading to the suspicion that its omissions and distortions served a political purpose rather than a scientific one. 47

7. Flight 800 : Physical evidence from the wreckage was confiscated by officials.
9/11 : The physical evidence at both the WTC and the Pentagon was illegally removed by officials.

8. Flight 800 : Independent investigators and even the NTSB’s own crash investigators, who said that the physical evidence did not support government conclusions, wanted access to physical evidence and information that the CIA, FBI, and other government agencies refused share.
9/11 : To this day, NIST refuses to release the input data for its computer models of WTC 7’s collapse. NIST explained, not facetiously, that release of the data might jeopardize public safety. 48

9. Flight 800 : Independent journalists — as well as film director Oliver Stone, who attempted to do an episode on the TV series Declassified about the TWA tragedy — were disparaged as “conspiracy theorists,” “conspiracists,” or “bottomfeeders” by official government sources and other journalists.
9/11 : Activists and researchers for 9/11 Truth are commonly referred to as “conspiracy theorists,” among other derogatory terms.

10. Flight 800 : Initial news coverage about the plane’s demise reported observable evidence that pointed to a bomb or a missile, but later reports conformed to the government line, no questions asked.
9/11 : Initial news coverage of the demise of the three WTC buildings and Flight 93 reported observable evidence, such as:

  • secondary explosions
  • the destruction of the three WTC buildings appearing to be controlled demolitions and
  • the absence of any evidence of an airliner at the alleged crash site in the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, field.

Later reports avoided all of these initial observations and adhered closely to the official line about these events, no questions asked.

11. Flight 800 : Ad hominem hit pieces were published by mainstream media about reporters who dared question the official account.
9/11 : When Colorado Public Television’s Channel 12 (CPT12) aired 9/11 documentaries featuring evidence that exposed the lies of officialdom, The Denver Post printed two hit pieces smearing the station. 49

Since there is an unwritten code among media outlets not to criticize each other, such attacks as the one leveled at CPT12 are rare, except when one media competitor is determined to silence the dissenting voice of another — or when powerful entities such as the CIA are part of the investigation, as in Michael Levine’s narrative. Additionally, journalists who step outside the echo chamber of an official account tend to be shunned by their peers at social or work functions. As I mentioned in the Introduction to this series, humans’ greatest fear may be social ostracism or even physical banishment. At a primal level, we’re aware of our dependence upon one another for survival as well as our strong need to belong and to connect with our fellow beings. Thus, there can be devastating psychological effects on reporters who are shunned or avoided in social or business functions.

Why did Kristina Borjesson’s investigative work not air on CBS — or any other mainstream station, for that matter? Her own employer plus other media giants turned a blind eye to the documented facts and physical evidence she had unearthed, and instead faithfully bolstered the statements emanating from the FBI and NTSB. After a heroic struggle, Borjesson finally realized that “there was no way CBS was going to air a story that would rile the Pentagon. Silly me.” 50

So, my dear, “silly” 9/11 Truth activists, one of my reasons for providing lengthy summaries of these accounts by Michael Levine and Kristina Borjesson is to demonstrate that idealistic journalists with integrity do exist. In order that humanity may benefit from their commitment to transparency, these two have answered the clarion call to expose high crimes — also known as State Crimes Against Democracy. 51

This commitment to truth can be seen as one manifestation of the “hero’s journey” 52 popularized by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. When individuals accept the call of the hero’s journey, no matter its nature, they tread an arduous path of personal growth that transforms them in unpredictable but positive ways. As difficult as these journeys can be, they take us in the direction of increased integrity and to a meaningful life in which one's destiny is fulfilled. Refusing to accept the hero’s mantle tends to take us in the opposite direction — toward becoming a villain or else a victim in need of rescue or even a bored person living a life devoid of enthusiasm and meaning.

My other reason for summarizing these stories is to inspire fellow 9/11 skeptics to hang in there. We are in very good company indeed — the company of these dedicated detectives who did not throw in the towel, despite unrelenting and daunting obstacles. When higher-ups rejected their stories, they wrote books and articles, gave lectures and interviews, and/or made documentaries. In other words, they themselves became the media so they could share their hard-won, immensely valuable information with the public.

Soul-tired from the ripping of the “buzzsaw,” at one point Kristina wanted to throw in the towel, to abort this unborn story. She tried to do just that, but perhaps fate did not want to cooperate with her longing for respite. Indeed, one step led to another, and she found herself writing and directing a documentary, TWA Flight 800, 53 with scientific help from physicist Tom Stalcup. The film features six former members of the official crash investigation breaking their silence to refute the official account and expose how the investigation was systematically undermined.

Thus, on June 20, 2013 — 17 years, nearly to the day, after the explosion of Flight 800 — the production of the film was completed and promoted on Democracy Now!, with Borjesson and Stalcup as guests. 54

I am reminded of the locust that emerges from underground, after metamorphosing for 17 long years in the dark, to finally fly.

Monika Jensen-Stevenson

Another powerfully moving account in Borjesson’s anthology is “Verdict First, Evidence Later: The Case for Bobby Garwood,” 55 by former Emmy-winning 60 Minutes producer Monika Jensen-Stevenson.

Jensen-Stevenson trod where other journalists refused to tread when she exposed the U.S. government’s pitiless persecution of Marine Private First Class (Pfc.) Robert R. (Bobby) Garwood and the cover-up of 3,500 prisoners of war (POWs) left behind in Vietnam and Laos.

The forsaken Garwood cunningly transmitted word of his status to a Finnish diplomat, who was savvy enough to take Bobby’s note to the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) rather than to U.S. authorities. As a result, after 14 years in the brutal Vietnamese penal system, Garwood was finally released in 1979.

But why would his release be problematic for U.S. authorities?

Monika Jensen-Stevenson

When the Vietnam War ended in 1973, the government had declared that all troops missing in action (MIA) had been accounted for and that all POWs had been returned. Garwood’s sudden appearance was a glaring and embarrassing exposure of this lie. How would the U.S. government cover for itself?

Thinking he was returning a free man in 1979, the Marine was instead summarily met on his home soil with charges of desertion.

At the time, Garwood estimated that there were still 200 POWs still left in Vietnam. Yet, the media sat on this statement and continued to regurgitate the government’s assertions that he was a deserter and traitor, not a prisoner.

Why did both the U.S. and Vietnamese governments, former enemies, cooperate in creating this monstrous deception? The North Vietnamese communists initially held the POWs to ensure that the U.S. would fulfill its secret promise, made by Nixon, to pay more than $3 billion in reparation monies. But the U.S. did not pay and had no intention of paying. Therefore, by 1979 the American POWs had become worthless pawns. Washington convinced the poverty-stricken Vietnamese not to reveal the existence of the prisoners if they wanted to exchange ambassadors and establish trade relations. 56

After all, abandonment of war prisoners was the kind of mistake that could destroy not only careers, but entire political administrations. No amount of effort or money was spared in preventing that from happening . . . . Garwood’s court-martial ended up being the longest in U.S. history. 57

Although Garwood was cleared of desertion charges, he was found guilty of collaborating with the enemy. The media ignored the lack of evidence backing up this charge.

Then, to add horrific insult to injury, early in the court-martial, “headlines shrieked from every supermarket tabloid: ‘Garwood Accused of Child Molestation.’” 58 Even though he was thoroughly cleared of this specious charge in a separate trial, the original tabloid slur “festered on.” Obviously, character assassination was the strategy of both the military and the cooperating media against Garwood, thus to ensure that in the public mind he was crucified, one way or another.

As Jensen-Stevenson continued to follow the Bobby Garwood story, she was also working on a 60 Minutes program, “Dead or Alive?” on the general issue of POWs and MIAs. Despite continuing pressure and threats that Jensen-Stevenson received from intelligence agencies — particularly the National Security Council and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) — and despite pressure put on CBS’s news correspondents and the CBS president by the head of Pentagon covert operations, urging the station to drop the story due to “sensitive matters of national security,” 60 Minutes nevertheless aired Jensen-Stevenson’s “Dead or Alive?” in December 1985. 59

Yet despite her best efforts, CBS would not allow Jensen-Stevenson to do a full story on television about Pfc. Garwood, not even after she got film footage of him in Vietnam that proved his prisoner status. His court-martial conviction, coupled with the ongoing government propaganda against him, made networks unwilling to tell his story. 60

Jensen-Stevenson’s book, Spite House: The Last Secret of the War in Vietnam, 61 was published in 1997, exposing the full story of Bobby Garwood’s ordeal. Learning of his story, veterans invited Garwood to speak to more than 200,000 Vietnam veterans near the Vietnam Memorial. When he came to the stage, they erupted into wild cheers of “Welcome home,” and “We love you, Bobby!” 62

Filled with emotion, Garwood could not speak. One highly decorated soldier and then two more jumped to the stage to prop him up. In this soldier’s embrace, he finally began to speak. A hush settled over the crowd as Bobby spoke only of the country he loved and of the darkness he felt in his heart, knowing that his brothers, both dead and alive, were left behind. 63

Garwood suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which could only have been exacerbated by his government's and its puppet media's brutal betrayal. So it was an especially touching moment when his stateside military mates finally gave him the welcome home and tribute he so richly deserved.

Due to the participation in “Dead or Alive?” by Lieutenant General Eugene F. Tighe, Jr., who headed the DIA from 1978 to 1981 and who had a worldwide reputation as one of the finest intelligence professionals ever in the U.S., Congress screened this program several times. These screenings resulted in the formation of a DIA commission on MIAs and POWs chaired by General Tighe. The Tighe Commission concluded in 1986 that prisoners had been left behind and that there was strong evidence many were still alive. Nevertheless, the report was immediately classified, without public explanation. 64

From 1991 to 1993, U.S. Senator John Kerry chaired a Senate select committee on POWs, which exposed explosive scandals on the issue. The “committee established one indisputable fact: American prisoners were left behind in Vietnam and other countries where we fought secret wars.” 65 Yet the media provided no coverage of this shocking finding.

From these three examples, as well as from most of the other stories in Buzzsaw, emerges an obvious pattern: A story screams to be told in the mainstream media, yet the media do nothing but avoid the evidence and bolster the official account received from intelligence agencies, the military, and the White House. It’s a media that, except for the 60 Minutes “Dead or Alive?” exposé, feed the American public whatever story line the military and government want us to believe.

I am unavoidably reminded of the words of former CIA Director William Casey, who remarked in early February 1981 to then-incoming President Ronald Reagan: “We’ll know our disinformation program is a success when everything the American public believes is false.” 66

So, once again, we see that big media, the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and big business are all tightly intertwined.

Sibel Edmonds: A 9/11 story offered on a silver platter

The stories investigated by Levine, Borjesson, and Jensen-Stevenson are highly sensitive issues — issues that, had the truth about them been laid bare, would have seriously threatened key figures in the U.S. power structure during those years. As sensitive as they are, however, the evidence that disproves the official 9/11 story surely surpasses them as an intolerable threat to those in power.

The forensic facts of 9/11 are a peril to the powerful, in part because they are being kept alive by an international truth movement. That movement has persevered and grown over the past 16 years. Its researchers, analysts, and activists continue to exert pressure on the media to report the facts that question the official proclamation.

Will 9/11, therefore, eventually be treated seriously by the media? Health sciences librarian and author Elizabeth Woodworth has written a three-part series, “The Media Response to the Growing Influence of the 9 /11 Truth Movement,” 67 in which she surveyed media coverage of 9/11 from 2009 through 2014. She found that recent reporting, especially in Europe and Canada, has been more balanced than was the news coverage in the years closer to the tragedy. We may hope this trend will persist, but there are further facts about the media that we should also take into consideration.

It makes sense that on the heels of the devastating 9/11 attacks, journalistic questioning of the official account would have been sparse. After the initial shock was over, however, when family members of the 9/11 victims and independent researchers were digging for answers to anomalies, the press should have begun seriously scrutinizing the official story — and would have, if it had been open-minded, inquisitive, and functioning as a true fourth-estate force to check government assertions.

No such response, however, was forthcoming. And to this day, mainstream media and the “foundation-funded alternative media” 68 have still refused to treat this subject with any seriousness or depth — even when an explosive story was offered to them on a silver platter.

Sibel Edmonds blew the whistle when, as a translator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), she discovered and reported malfeasance by the department. Some of these allegations include information that could blow wide open the official 9/11 story.

Dubbed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America,” Edmonds was subject to the rarely applied “State Secrets Privilege” law. Violating it would mean facing prison. Nevertheless, she argues, this privilege cannot be used to cover up illegal activities that have consequences to public health, security, safety, and welfare.

So in spite of the gag orders, Edmonds offered to go public on any mainstream media outlet — print or broadcast — that would fully cover her story. 69 “This is criminal activity. That’s why I went to Congress, to the Courts, to the IG [Inspector General of the FBI]. I am obligated to do so. And that’s what I’ve been doing since 2002.” 70

But is Edmonds credible? Let’s see: Her allegations have been confirmed by none other than the “FBI Inspector General, several sitting Senators, both Republican and Democratic, several senior FBI agents, the 9/11 Commission, and dozens of national security and whistleblower advocacy groups.” 71 One might conclude, therefore, that any rational media owner would consider her information a safe topic for coverage.

What’s going on, then? In an interview on the subject, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg put the situation in perspective:

I’d say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers . . . . in that it deals directly with criminal activity that may involve impeachable offenses . . . . There will be phone calls going out to the media saying “don’t even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security.” 72

Ellsberg further explained that Edmonds’ story will stay off the radar without mainstream corporate media attention. Thus, her damaging contentions will never be allowed to do harm to the powers that be. Besides, Ellsberg reasoned, Bush, Congress, and the media are all incapable of shame. In his words:

She’s not going to shame the media, unless the public are aware that there is a conflict going on. And only the blog-reading public is aware of that. It’s a fairly large audience, but it’s a small segment of the populace at large. As long as they [the media] hold a united front on this, they don’t run the risk of being shamed. 73

Even more perplexing, Sibel Edmonds claims that many of the major publications already have in their hands the information she would reveal. How does she know this?

I know they have it because people from the FBI have come in and given it to them. They’ve given them the documents and specific case-numbers on my case. These are agents that have said to me, “if you can get Congress to subpoena me I'll come in and tell it under oath.” 74

Apparently, there are honest employees in the FBI who would very much like this evidence to see the light of day.

Power and structure

So, who and what has censored the truth about crucial stories that we need to know in order to make better decisions in open societies?

What we know from Michael Levine’s experiences is that the infamous CIA itself thwarted his story of high crimes from being reported to the public. From Kristina Borjesson, we learn that the FBI, NTSB, and the Pentagon did everything possible to stop her investigation and to cover up the probable accidental shoot down of TWA 800. Monika Jensen-Stevenson’s investigation of Bobby Garwood’s ordeal was blocked by the intelligence community and the Pentagon. As for the gagging of Sibel Edmonds, we find the FBI and the Department of Justice at the top of the culprit list. 75

As though in a legal hearing, these four journalists and whistleblowers are our witnesses, testifying to us of their experiences — experiences that patently demonstrate how our corporate-owned media and much of the alternative media have become controlled. Unlike the officially managed media in closed societies, such as the state-operated radio, television, and print press in the former Soviet Union, media control in relatively open Western societies is invisible to ordinary citizens. Ironically, then, the Western media, covertly directed from behind the scenes, has become an even more effective tool for disseminating propaganda.

Award-winning Australian journalist John Pilger pungently observes:

Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. “In our country,” said one of them, “to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison people. We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What's the secret?”

The secret is a form of censorship more insidious than a totalitarian state could ever hope to achieve. The myth is the opposite. Constitutional freedoms unmatched anywhere else guard against censorship the press is a “fourth estate,” a watchdog on democracy. The journalism schools boast this reputation, the influential East Coast press is especially proud of it, epitomised by the liberal paper of record, The New York Times, with its masthead slogan: “All the news that's fit to print.”

It takes only a day or two back in the US to be reminded of how deep state censorship runs. It is censorship by omission, and voluntary. 76

Of course, in each of the four cases presented, the corporate-owned media and the foundation-funded alternative media became the shills, enabling the cover-ups of these State Crimes Against Democracy by loyally reporting only what those in charge wanted them to report. 77

When one analyzes all of the 19 stories in Buzzsaw, a more complete list emerges of the entities that censor information from being given to or shared by the broadcast or print media. When the curtain is pulled back, we discover powerful puppeteers such as the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, military intelligence, media owners with conflicting political agendas, the White House, advertisers, powerful family dynasties, and extremely wealthy individuals pulling the strings of the marionette media.

To summarize: The press, an institution that should be the preeminent truth-teller in a democratic society, is thoroughly corrupt because of the inordinate influence wielded by hidden heavy-hitters. We can call this the “influence of the powerful.”

But that’s not the full picture.

Further analysis of Buzzsaw narratives — as well as accounts in many other books and films by media critics 78 — reveals that the rest of the story of news suppression and journalist co-option involves the corporate structure itself. Our global media have become subsidiaries of massive corporate conglomerates that do business in many other industries, including the manufacture of weapons for the military. These mega-corporations, in turn, contribute huge sums of money to members of Congress as well as enormous research grants to universities. In his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex. 79 But he surely knew that, in reality, the U.S. is saddled with the military-industrial-congressional-academic-media complex that is working overtime to achieve its own narrow goals, not for the benefit for the majority of citizens, not for the country as a whole.

But why is there an inherent conflict of interest between the corporate structure of the news media and truth-telling? In a nutshell, corporations must meet stringent requirements to be publicly traded on a stock exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ. With their financial and reporting requirements, stock exchanges — and the institutional investors that own the stocks traded on them — pressure these mega-conglomerates to grow profits from one quarter to the next, one year to the next. Moreover, the news portion of the conglomerate is expected to generate the same financial results as its non-news counterparts. Therefore, profit-making, not truth-telling, necessarily becomes the bottom line for a publicly traded corporation. The primary aim of earning profits, accomplished through both cutting costs and boosting revenues, exerts tremendous pressure on news budgets. The effect of this facet of Wall Street on media conglomerates will be fleshed out in Part 22.

This media corporate structure is, of course, tightly tied to the previously discussed influence of the powerful. Just as bones and muscles seamlessly work together as a unit to control our physical actions, these two aspects of media — its structure and the influence of the powerful — seamlessly work together to control media’s actions. But in this case, regrettably, they cooperate for the exclusive benefit of the mega-conglomerates and the special interests of individuals holding positions of undue power. Obviously, this structure stunts the media's ability and willingness to tell the truth — a key requirement for a healthy nation.

Pressure on the media to conform to a “consensus” 80 view of the world, therefore, comes from both powerful entities and from the corporate structure itself. Pressure produces fear, and, not surprisingly, fears abound in the “news factories”: 81

    Fear of not meeting financial analysts’ expectations for the next quarter’s increase in profits.

And so on. The stress resulting from those fears is enormous. Fear and stress, as we know, are anathema to truth-telling. 82


At this point, we may be wondering: “Where are the truth-warrior journalists whose bread is not buttered by the media mega-corporations and who could therefore bring the 9/11 issue to the public’s attention?”

More specifically, we may be asking: Why do Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges, John Nichols, Matt Taibbi, Greg Palast, Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald, Bill Moyers (one of my heroes), Robert Parry, 83 Seymour Hersh, and others who speak up courageously and cogently on controversial issues — even Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — become strangely silent or else erupt in defensive anger or ridicule when questioned about 9/11 evidence that refutes the official account? There appears to be a 9/11 threshold over which none of them dare cross. They don’t need a degree in structural engineering to understand the obvious signature of controlled demolition of the three World Trade Center buildings — and, more importantly, the dire implications of that evidence. Nor do they need to be aerospace experts to understand 9/11’s air defense failures or spooks to grasp the intelligence agency failures. In short, each of them is intelligent enough to reach the conclusion that there’s something terribly amiss with the story we have been told by authorities.

Along with hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of other 9/11 skeptics, I’m dying to know, but can only speculate. I seriously doubt that any of these journalists, who are surely educated about the dark side of U.S. history — including the fact that false flag operations are routinely staged as pretexts for wars — are prone to denial as a means of avoiding cognitive dissonance. But I could be wrong.

Obviously, though, they’re savvy enough to realize that the subject is taboo. Several of my friends and I have speculated more than once about their motives. Are they worried about being blacklisted from reporting on the issues that are especially important to them? Afraid of relinquishing their bully pulpit? Dreading loss of funding from foundations that support them? 84 Anxious at the thought of imperiling their lives or the lives of family members? Distrustful that telling the truth about 9/11 — a conspiracy that implies unprecedented perfidy by elements within our government — could eventually result in a healthier nation and world?

I finally decided to reach out to Kristina Borjesson with this question. After all, she’s been deeply entrenched in the profession, is well-known and respected as a truth-teller, and has suffered the consequences of attempting to report the facts about the controversial TWA 800 story. Her insider analysis certainly holds more weight than my outsider surmisings, so I share her answer with you:

They are talented journalists and have worked hard to navigate between reporting that goes right up to the line of what is acceptable to the powers-that-be and reporting that goes over the line and would cost them everything. It took Parry years to get over being blackballed for his Newsweek reporting on Iran-Contra. When he was at The New York Times, Hedges was reprimanded by his bosses after he criticized what was happening in Iraq while giving a commencement address in 2003. These individuals would immediately become targets for marginalization, loss of funding, and/or outlets for their work, or even worse forms of retaliation if they crossed the line, because they have achieved a “critical mass” audience — i.e., a big enough audience to create problems for the powers-that-be if used to counter official narratives on third rail issues. If they did that they would attract dangerous if not fatal attention from powers-that-be. The fact that they are widely viewed as good journalists not beholden to the powers-that-be makes them dangerous, but not too dangerous. They would only become dispensable if they invested that credibility in scrutinizing the ultimate third rail issue — 9/11. They’re doing a lot of good carefully hoeing the rows they’re hoeing now, and that would all go down the tubes if they turned their attention to looking into whether or not the official narrative about 9/11 is true. [My emphasis.]

Another exemplary investigative journalist — one who wishes to remain anonymous — had this to say:

Brave reporters know just how far they can go before risking their lives. Some have taken risks regardless, perhaps naïvely, perhaps not, and their “suicides” [or “accidents”] have sent a clear message. Gary Webb and Michael Hastings come to mind. 85

Before I cease speculating, let me for one moment assume that I’m wrong — that at least some of these journalists are literally incapable of conceiving that criminal elements are embedded in our government. Were that the case, it is understandable that they would be in deep denial. For, as Graeme MacQueen writes in an article whose title includes the words “beyond their wildest dreams,” one must first be able to imagine — to conceive — that officials could have orchestrated the attacks of 9/11. “Once the imagination stops filtering out a hypothesis and allows it into the realm of the possible,” then the hypothesis, the Canadian 9/11 researcher explains, “can be put to the test. Evidence and reason must now do the job.” 86

Alternatively, it is possible that some of these relatively independent journalists are not in denial at all, but rather that their clear grasp of the implications of the 9/11 evidence has them shaking in their boots at the thought of challenging fundamental beliefs about their own country. Gary Sick, President Carter’s National Security Council liaison, elucidates this phenomenon in his book, The October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan:

We in Washington are accustomed to the petty scandals of Washington politics. However, there is another category of offenses, described by the French poet Andre Chenier as “les crimes puissants qui font trembler les lois,” crimes so great that they make the laws themselves tremble. . . . For example, when the Iran-Contra scandal exploded in 1986, both the Congress and the national mainstream media pulled up short. . . . The laws trembled at the prospect of a political trial that threatened to shatter the compact of trust between the rulers and the ruled, a compact that was the foundation upon which the very law itself rested. . . . . The lesson was clear: accountability declines as the magnitude of the crime and the power of those charged increase. 87

Similar to Sick’s description is this revelation by former Pentagon official and retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski of what journalists have confided to her:

I have been told by reporters that they will not report their own insights or contrary evaluations of the official 9/11 story, because to question the government story about 9/11 is to question the very foundations of our entire modern belief system regarding our government, our country, and our way of life. To be charged with questioning these foundations is far more serious than being labeled a disgruntled conspiracy nut or anti-government traitor, or even being sidelined or marginalized within an academic, government service, or literary career. To question the official 9/11 story is simply and fundamentally revolutionary. In this way, of course, questioning the official story is also simply and fundamentally American. 88

Whatever the reason each of the aforementioned journalists — and their other brave and gifted colleagues — have for their tomb-like silence about 9/11, I hold out the hope that one day we will hear their confessions — genuine, penitent confessions, not simply face-saving excuses.

Gary Sick/October Surprise

Some Americans may fear that a real investigation into the events surrounding 9/11 could challenge our entire political system to the point of paralysis. But this is fear of fear itself and is a ruse of the mind. A real investigation would actually put our system to work as the framers of this country’s founding documents intended — preventing the further encroachment of tyranny.

Think of the alternative: If 9/11 is never officially uncovered as the cruel false flag that it was, more such monstrosities will surely be perpetrated by such conscience-less criminals. The results would include millions more deaths, many millions more refugees, even more extensive pollution and the ensuing illnesses engendered by massive military conflicts, and the exponential expansion of worldwide chaos. Which option would you choose: more false flags and other treacherous deceptions — with their accompanying fallout — or the righting of our government so it will operate by the people and for the people?

If we decided, as a nation, to shine light into the cave of corruption underlying 9/11, what would be required to expose the wrongdoing and the wrongdoers? Congress would have to find within itself the fortitude to commence an unbiased investigation or, better yet, to authorize an independent investigation with subpoena power and a mandate to grant immunity to insiders who tell all they know. These subpoena and immunity provisions would enable the independent prosecutor to convict and sentence 9/11’s key perpetrators.

That’s what would happen in a corruption-free system. And that’s what the 9/11 Truth Movement is demanding. In theory, our political system should already have brought us that official, impartial investigation. In practice, though, we find a different political reality.

A massive unearthing of the facts of this shockingly treacherous deed — a deed almost certainly planned and executed by U.S. political figures, military brass, intelligence operatives, corporate elites, and others (including foreign parties) — would allow us to peer into the inner workings of the minds, the values, and the system that have spawned and sustained our currently corrupted institutions. One would hope that, as part of this unearthing, the names of complicit members of the media who shilled for, ignored, or concealed the corruption would also be dredged up and exposed to the light. Perhaps this excavation of 9/11 will one day come to pass, as most of us believe was the case with World War II by way of the Nuremburg Trials, 89 so that humanity can move beyond the inhumane, unjust, unsustainable conditions in which we now live, and toward the peaceful and sustainable world most of us can envision.

In the meantime, let’s be clear that our mainstream media and much of the so-called alternative media are simply extensions of our corporatized, crooked political system.

Yet to some, such as my urbane acquaintance on the patio in the foothills above Denver, The New York Times appears liberal and independent. Why?

One reason is that there are two types of political issues — with overlap, of course. On social issues such as abortion, race, gender, and immigration, the media have been given leeway to be liberal, even when this stance contradicts a conservative president or Congress. But with third rail issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict, big-business profits, war, or the false flag nature of 9/11, mainstream media march in lockstep with their government and corporate news sources, repeating their narratives ad nauseam. Official suppression of the truth, journalists’ self-censorship, and prosecution of whistleblowers regularly accompany these third rail issues. 90 As a journalist friend tersely remarked, “It’s okay to be liberal with domestic issues, but don’t mess with the empire.”

A side note: Occasionally, reports on third rail issues unexpectedly pop up in the corporate-owned press, but these online reports can be “disappeared” in a flash, since many mainstream media outlets do not allow their articles to be archived on the Internet. One example of this censorship is The New York Times’ threat in 2006 to sue for posting a December 25, 2001, Times article that actually questioned the collapses of the Twin Towers on 9/11! 91

Fortunately, some of the alternative media push boundaries and cross into these third rail territories. But, unfortunately, few of them dare cross the threshold of acceptability into the 9/11 issue. 92

The preponderance of evidence we gathered from our exploration of the cases of Michael Levine, Kristina Borjesson, Monika Jensen-Stevenson, and Sibel Edmonds demonstrates that the corporate-owned media, by and large, remain loyal stenographers of those in power. Thus, I won’t hold my breath that they will address 9/11 seriously, honestly, or with any profundity. Rather, I predict they will not attempt to connect dots and draw a picture of reality — not as long as that reality differs from the contrived news that the holders of power insist we swallow. Nor will they report on the context of the 9/11 wars — though they ought to follow up on Charlotte Dennett’s marvelous, must-read article, “The Global War on Terror and the Great Game for Oil: How the Media Missed the Context.” 93 They most likely will do none of these things, at least not in my lifetime.

In summary, my study of the modern-day media has revealed that the active censoring parties are powerful institutions and individuals working seamlessly with the corporate media structure. But a critical, as-yet-unexamined piece of the puzzle is the self-censorship that naturally arises from the culture within the media monoliths. Indeed, it doesn’t take long for an astute journalist to learn to self-censor if he or she hopes to remain employed.

Former Federal Communications commissioner Nicholas Johnson (1966 – 1973) succinctly describes the process of self-censorship:

A reporter . . . first comes up with an investigative story idea, writes it up and submits it to the editor and is told the story is not going to run. He wonders why, but the next time he is cautious enough to check with the editor first. He is told by the editor that it would be better not to write that story. The third time he thinks of an investigative story idea but doesn’t bother the editor with it because he knows it’s silly. The fourth time he doesn’t even think of the idea anymore. 94

“One might add a fifth time,” writes historian Michael Parenti, “when the reporter bristles with indignation at the suggestion that he is on an ideological leash and is not part of a free and democratic press.” 95

As for the question I posed, “Whatever happened to investigative journalists?”: If my conclusion seems too conspiratorial, I urge you to examine the nineteen accounts of insider journalists in Buzzsaw. They are essential reading for anyone seeking to understand what happens to journalists when they attempt to report on issues inconvenient to power brokers or various elements within the corporate structure. From these accounts we learn how investigative reporters are ground up by the system that controls, suppresses, manipulates, and distorts the very facts we require to be informed and functioning citizens of a free society.

I trust you’ll also read the works of other insider journalists whom I will be citing in these four segments. Plus, you’ll probably find still other sources on your own. If you come to a conclusion that differs from mine, I hope you will contact me in the spirit of continuing this crucial conversation.

On a positive note, let me say that we 9/11 Truth activists have done exactly what Michael Levine, Kristina Borjesson, Monika Jensen-Stevenson, and Sibel Edmonds have done: We’ve become the media. Observe the research being undertaken the books and films and articles and online blogs being written the array of videos, from pithy to lengthy, that are being produced. Witness the perseverance and passion of 9/11 victims' family members, who are intent on winning a real investigation into the greatest crime of the 21 st century. All around me, I see warriors for truth who are refusing to let information be stifled and are mounting vigorous grassroots media efforts that, according to many polls, 96 have successfully challenged the mainstream media’s repetition of the official 9/11 account.

My curiosity now takes me in a different direction and wonders, “Was the press always so intertwined with those in power? Were the media always such efficient transcribers of the “leaks” and press releases from the Pentagon, from the so-called intelligence community, and from the executive branch? How exactly does the organizational structure of the mainstream media promote censorship? What happened to the laudable goal of reporting the truth? In sum, what happened to our “free press”?

The next two installments will answer these questions. In Part 22, I will provide an in-depth look at how and when the CIA and the news media became entangled, and whether we are still subjected to the resulting censorship and propaganda. In Part 23, I will address the history of the news media and how the corporate structure itself contributes to the loss of our cherished fourth estate.

Part 22 will begin with a dramatic demonstration of the depth of denial — or perhaps “vehement avoidance” — that journalists are apt to display when confronted with questions about the significant outside influences (notably the CIA) that dominate today’s news organizations. Hint: I’ll be telling a personal story about a public altercation I had with a 50-year distinguished journalist who reported on national and international issues in his more than two decades with The New York Times.

Editor’s note: To be continued in the next issue with Part 22: The Role of the Media: Act II — The Special Role of the CIA. Electronic sources in the footnotes have been archived. If they can no longer be found by a search on the Internet, readers desiring a copy may contact Frances Shure [ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ].


2 Nick Davies, Flat Earth News: An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media (Vintage, 2009), 32.

3 Edward S. Herman, The Myth of the Liberal Media: An Edward S. Herman Reader (Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers, November 1999).

Also, see the documentary “The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News.” For a summary of the points made in this documentary, see

4 This DVD can be found within the covers of Canadian journalist and media-critic Barrie Zwicker’s seminal book Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11 (New Society Publishers, 2006). Towers of Deception remains at the time of this writing the only book dedicated to analyzing the media cover-up of evidence that challenges the official 9/11 account. Find more information about this DVD at or at

5 Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked on September 11, 2001 (Tree of Life Publications, 2002).

6 For an example, see J. R. Thorpe, “How Were Suffragettes Treated by the Media?” at

7 Barrie Zwicker, Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11 (New Society Publishers, 2006), chap. 2.

8 Be aware that there are many websites, books, and DVDs that, while glitzy in their appearance and seductive in their allure, appear to be misinformation or disinformation, disseminated perhaps malevolently, perhaps innocently. The following are a few of the credible resources for your perusal and further study. The information contained in them is accessible to a wide range of readers, from the layperson to the scientifically minded:

    For journalists, researchers, or other individuals researching the events of 9/11, the points made by a panel of experts at this site are clear statements on the best evidence opposing the official narrative:

9 The “anchoring effect” refers to the common human proclivity to rely heavily on the first piece of information offered (“the anchor”) when making a decision or judgment. There is a cognitive bias toward interpreting other information in relation to the anchor.

21 This eagerness has been reported to me by key 9/11 activists who have told me of their conversations with reporters working for mainstream news corporations. These journalists are keenly aware that any story they might write that contradicts the official 9/11 account would not be published. Furthermore, they would likely be terminated from their jobs or at least sidelined into meaningless positions within the company. So this situation is a “Catch-22,” in that if they were to slip the bonds of silence imposed on them and run with a verboten story, they would be silenced!

23 Russ Baker, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years (Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2009) chapters 9–11. Note: Speculation on the motivation for ousting President Nixon from the White House varies from author to author.

25 Peter Dale Scott, in The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (University of California Press, 2007). Scott defines the term “deep state” as the covert parts of government that respond to wealthy private influences as those influences shape government policy outside of normal democratic processes

26 A “closed society” is synonymous with a totalitarian one, in which there is no freedom of thought and expression without punishment by the state apparatus. For descriptions of both open and closed societies, see

Naomi Wolf, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007). Wolf shows ten steps that dictators or would-be dictators always take when they wish to close down an open society. She describes how each of those steps is being implemented in the U.S. today.

27 Charlotte Dennett, “The War on Terror and the Great Game for Oil: How the Media Missed the Context,” Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, ed. Kristina Borjesson (Promethius Books, 2004).

28 Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (Simon & Schuster 1 st edition, January 1991).

29 Kristina Borjesson, ed., Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press (Promethius Books, 2004).

For short summaries of some Buzzaw stories, see

30 Michael Levine, “Mainstream Media: The Drug War’s Shills,” Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, ed. Kristina Borjesson (Promethius Books, 2004).

31 Levine, “Mainstream Media,” 166.

32 Levine, “Mainstream Media,” 167.

33 A few exceptions appear to prove the rule that CIA involvement in drug running receives a stunning silence from the media.

An early exception to the media silence was a Frontline program first aired May 17, 1988. See transcript:

A later one was this 1993 New York Times article: “The CIA Drug Connection is as Old as the Agency”:

More recently, on October 10, 2014, The Huffington Post broached this topic. See “Key Figures in CIA-Crack Cocaine Scandal Begin to Come Forward” at This article vindicates Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The San Jose Mercury News, the paper that published his 1996 “Dark Alliance” series on the CIA/crack cocaine/Contra alliance, an exposé for which Webb was smeared by the mainstream media (via the hidden hand of the CIA) and for which he lost his job and perhaps his life. Webb’s story, featured in Into the Buzzsaw, and his supposed “suicide” are told in the 2014 movie Kill the Messenger.

Even more recently, in June 2017, to my astonishment, A&E Networks, via its History channel, aired “America’s War on Drugs,” an eight-hour series in four episodes, which actually tells the truth about the CIA’s overarching control of the worldwide drug trade. I say “actually” because let’s not forget that in these last 16 years, the History channel has played a major role in supporting the official 9/11 story and obfuscating facts that contradict that narrative. Since the drug war was declared 44 years ago by Nixon, does this mean that we will have to wait until 2045 — 44 years from September 11, 2001 — for the History channel to tell us the real story about 9/11? Maybe. But let’s hope that revelations of truth — on all fronts — will come at a much faster pace in today’s world.

Toward the end of the first episode of “America’s War on Drugs,” there is a taped conversation between John Ehrlichman, counsel and chief domestic advisor under President Nixon, and a Harper’s Magazine journalist, which took place decades after the “war on drugs” was declared. Here is Ehrlichman’s chilling admission of deep politics at play:

“The Nixon campaign had two enemies, the antiwar left and Black people,” Ehrlichman said. “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or Black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and the Blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

34 In Britain, the Serious Crime Act is a law that designates enablers of crime (such as solicitors, accountants, and other professionals) to be as guilty as those who actively commit the crime. See and

35 Levine, “Mainstream Media,” 192.

36 Some people call our system of government a democracy, but this is not technically correct. According to the founders, we have a republic (“if you can keep it,” quipped Benjamin Franklin). I prefer to use the term “constitutional democratic republic” because while our republican system of government is based in the U.S. Constitution, we use democratic processes for choosing our representatives.

37 Kristina Borjesson, “Into the Buzzsaw,” Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, ed. Kristina Borjesson (Promethius Books, 2004), 318.

Watch this video to see how the CIA team built a false narrative to discredit the eyewitnesses:

41 Kristina Borjesson, “Into the Buzzsaw,” Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, ed. Kristina Borjesson (Promethius Books, 2004).

47 David Ray Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (Olive Branch Press, 2010) chapters 7–10.

See the response by Colorado 9/11 Truth and friends to these two hit pieces:

51 See Lance deHaven-Smith, “Frequently Asked Questions about State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs)”:

55 Monika Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First, Evidence Later: The Case for Bobby Garwood,” Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, ed. Kristina Borjesson (Promethius Books, 2004).

56 Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First,” 263 and 278.

57 Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First,” 263–264.

58 Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First,” 271.

59 Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First,” 260.

61 Monika Jensen-Stevenson, Spite House: The Last Secret of the War in Vietnam (W W Norton & Co Inc 1 st ed. edition, March 1997).

62 Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First,” 275–276.

64 Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First,” 260.

65 Jensen-Stevenson, “Verdict First,” 277.

66 In a personal e-mail to me, Barbara Honegger confirmed that she was the source of this quote, having been in attendance as the then-White House Policy Analyst at the February 1981 meeting in the White House Roosevelt Room with President Reagan and his new cabinet secretaries and agency heads. New CIA Director William Casey spoke these words in response to a question the President put to all of the cabinet secretaries and agency heads: “What are your main goals for your department or agency?” Having worked with radio show host Mae Brussell upon returning to California from the White House, Honegger was also the source for Brussell’s second-hand report about Casey’s words. Honegger also said she recalls Casey saying “. . . program is a success . . .,” rather than “. . . program is complete.” For further detail on Honegger's account of this quote, see

68 I have borrowed this term from Dr. Kevin Barrett, who has observed that the alternative media that receive major funding from foundations are the ones that refuse to report on evidence that contradicts the official 9/11 narrative, implying that they would lose their funding if they step over the 9/11 threshold. I cannot say with any certainty why these particular alternative media will not address 9/11 with any seriousness or depth, but I suspect his analysis is largely correct.

69 “Exclusive: Daniel Ellsberg Says Sibel Edmonds Case ‘Far More Explosive Than Pentagon Papers,’”

70 “Exclusive: FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds is Ready to Talk!” This article contains a general list of Edmonds' allegations.

76 John Pilger, “In the freest press on earth, humanity is reported in terms of its usefulness to US power,” February 20, 2001. See

77 For a thumbnail sketch of why the true events of 9/11 — as well as other issues that threaten powerful interests, our political system, or U.S. foreign policy — are not covered in the media, see Washington’s Blog, “7 Reasons that the Corporate Media Is Pro-War”:

78 Here are a few books (besides Kristina Borjesson’s Into the Buzzsaw) illuminating how press censorship occurs, via both the influence of the powerful and the corporate structure:

    Ben H. Bagdikian, The New Media Monopoly (Beacon Press, 2004).

Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don't affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a "disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others." But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as "moral outrage"—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one's own status as a Very Good Person.

Outrage expressed "on behalf of the victim of [a perceived] moral violation" is often thought of as "a prosocial emotion" rooted in "a desire to restore justice by fighting on behalf of the victimized," explain Bowdoin psychology professor Zachary Rothschild and University of Southern Mississippi psychology professor Lucas A. Keefer in the latest edition of Motivation and Emotion. Yet this conventional construction—moral outrage as the purview of the especially righteous—is "called into question" by research on guilt, they say.

Feelings of guilt are a direct threat to one's sense that they are a moral person and, accordingly, research on guilt ?nds that this emotion elicits strategies aimed at alleviating guilt that do not always involve undoing one's actions. Furthermore, research shows that individuals respond to reminders of their group's moral culpability with feelings of outrage at third-party harm-doing. These findings suggest that feelings of moral outrage, long thought to be grounded solely in concerns with maintaining justice, may sometimes reflect efforts to maintain a moral identity.

To test this guilt-to-outrage-to-moral-reaffirmation premise, Rothschild and Keefer conducted five separate studies assessing the relationships between anger, empathy, identity, individual and collective guilt, self perception, and the expression of moral outrage.

For each study, a new group of respondents (solicited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk program) were presented with a fabricated news article about either labor exploitation in developing countries or climate change. For studies using the climate-change article, half of participants read that the biggest driver of man-made climate change was American consumers, while the others read that Chinese consumers were most to blame. With the labor exploitation article, participants in one study were primed to think about small ways in which they might be contributing to child labor, labor trafficking, and poor working conditions in "sweatshops" in another, they learned about poor conditions in factories making Apple products and the company's failure to stop this. After exposure to their respective articles, study participants were given a series of short surveys and exercises to assess their levels of things like personal guilt, collective guilt, anger at third parties ("multinational corporations," "international oil companies") involved in the environmental destruction/labor exploitation, desire to see someone punished, and belief in personal moral standing, as well as baseline beliefs about the topics in question and positive or negative affect. Here's the gist of Rothschild and Keefer's findings:

  1. Triggering feelings of personal culpability for a problem increases moral outrage at a third-party target. For instance, respondents who read that Americans are the biggest consumer drivers of climate change "reported significantly higher levels of outrage at the environmental destruction" caused by "multinational oil corporations" than did the respondents who read that Chinese consumers were most to blame.
  2. The more guilt over one's own potential complicity, the more desire "to punish a third-party through increased moral outrage at that target." For instance, participants in study one read about sweatshop labor exploitation, rated their own identification with common consumer practices that allegedly contribute, then rated their level of anger at "international corporations" who perpetuate the exploitative system and desire to punish these entities. The results showed that increased guilt "predicted increased punitiveness toward a third-party harm-doer due to increased moral outrage at the target."
  3. Having the opportunity to express outrage at a third-party decreased guilt in people threatened through "ingroup immorality." Study participants who read that Americans were the biggest drivers of man-made climate change showed significantly higher guilt scores than those who read the blame-China article when they weren't given an opportunity to express anger at or assign blame to a third-party. However, having this opportunity to rage against hypothetical corporations led respondents who read the blame-America story to express significantly lower levels of guilt than the China group. Respondents who read that Chinese consumers were to blame had similar guilt levels regardless of whether they had the opportunity to express moral outrage.
  4. "The opportunity to express moral outrage at corporate harm-doers" inflated participants perception of personal morality. Asked to rate their own moral character after reading the article blaming Americans for climate change, respondents saw themselves as having "significantly lower personal moral character" than those who read the blame-China article—that is, when they weren't given an out in the form of third-party blame. Respondents in the America-shaming group wound up with similar levels of moral pride as the China control group when they were first asked to rate the level of blame deserved by various corporate actors and their personal level of anger at these groups. In both this and a similar study using the labor-exploitation article, "the opportunity to express moral outrage at corporate harm-doing (vs. not) led to significantly higher personal moral character ratings," the authors found.
  5. Guilt-induced moral outrage was lessened when people could assert their goodness through alternative means, "even in an unrelated context." Study five used the labor exploitation article, asked all participants questions to assess their level of "collective guilt" (i.e., "feelings of guilt for the harm caused by one's own group") about the situation, then gave them an article about horrific conditions at Apple product factories. After that, a control group was given a neutral exercise, while others were asked to briefly describe what made them a good and decent person both exercises were followed by an assessment of empathy and moral outrage. The researchers found that for those with high collective-guilt levels, having the chance to assert their moral goodness first led to less moral outrage at corporations. But when the high-collective-guilt folks were given the neutral exercise and couldn't assert they were good people, they wound up with more moral outrage at third parties. Meanwhile, for those low in collective guilt, affirming their own moral goodness first led to marginally more moral outrage at corporations.

These findings held true even accounting for things such as respondents political ideology, general affect, and background feelings about the issues.

Ultimately, the results of Rothschild and Keefer's five studies were "consistent with recent research showing that outgroup-directed moral outrage can be elicited in response to perceived threats to the ingroup's moral status," write the authors. The findings also suggest that "outrage driven by moral identity concerns serves to compensate for the threat of personal or collective immorality" and the cognitive dissonance that it might elicit, and expose a "link between guilt and self-serving expressions of outrage that reflect a kind of 'moral hypocrisy,' or at least a non-moral form of anger with a moral facade."


Alter, A. L., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2009). Uniting the tribes of fluency to form a metacognitive nation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 13, 219–235.

Ariel, R., Hines, J. C., & Hertzog, C. (2014). Test framing generates a stability bias for predictions of learning by causing people to discount their learning beliefs. Journal of Memory and Language, 75, 181–198.

Bonin, P., Gelin, M., Laroche, B., & Méot, A. (2015). The “how” of animacy effects in episodic memory animacy effects in memory. Experimental Psychology, 62, 371–384.

Briñol, P., Petty, R. E., & Tormala, Z. L. (2006). The malleable meaning of subjective ease. Psychological Science, 17, 200–206.

Double, K. S., Birney, D. P., & Walker, S. A. (2018). A meta-analysis and systematic review of reactivity to judgements of learning. Memory, 26, 741–750.

Dougherty, M. R., Robey, A. M., & Buttaccio, D. (2018). Do metacognitive judgments alter memory performance beyond the benefits of retrieval practice? A comment on and replication attempt of Dougherty, Scheck, Nelson, and Narens (2005). Memory & Cognition, 46, 558–565.

Dunlosky, J., & Metcalfe, J. (2009). Metacognition. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc..

Dunlosky, J., Serra, M. J., & Baker, J. M. C. (2007). Metamemory. In F. T. Durso., R. S. Nickerson, S. T. Dumais, S. Lewandowsky, & T. J. Perfect (Eds.), Handbook of Applied Cognition, 137-161.

Dunlosky, J., & Tauber, S. K. (2013). Understanding people’s metacognitive judgments: An isomechanism framework and its implications for applied and theoretical research. In T. J. Perfect & D. S. Lindsay (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of applied memory (pp. 444–464). Los Angeles: SAGE.

England, B. D., & Serra, M. J. (2012). The contributions of anchoring and past-test performance to the underconfidence-with-practice effect. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 19, 715–722.

England, B. D., Ortegren, F. R., & Serra, M. J. (2017). Framing affects scale usage for judgments of learning, not confidence in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 1898–1908.

Félix, S. B., Pandeirada, J. N., & Nairne, J. S. (2019). Adaptive memory: Longevity and learning intentionality of the animacy effect. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 31, 251–260.

Frank, D. J., & Kuhlmann, B. G. (2017). More than just beliefs: Experience and beliefs jointly contribute to volume effects on metacognitive judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 680–693.

Ganea, P. A., Canfield, C. F., Simons-Ghafari, K., & Chou, T. (2014). Do cavies talk? The effect of anthropomorphic books on children's knowledge about animals. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 283.

Gelin, M., Bugaiska, A., Méot, A., & Bonin, P. (2017). Are animacy effects in episodic memory independent of encoding instructions? Memory, 25, 2–18.

Gelin, M., Bugaiska, A., Méot, A., Vinter, A., & Bonin, P. (2019). Animacy effects in episodic memory: Do imagery processes really play a role? Memory, 27, 209–223.

Hu, X., Li, T., Zheng, J., Su, N., Liu, Z., & Luo, L. (2015). How much do metamemory beliefs contribute to the font-size effect in judgments of learning? PLoS One, 10(11), e0142351.

Janes, J. L., Rivers, M. L., & Dunlosky, J. (2018). The influence of making judgments of learning on memory performance: Positive, negative, or both? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25, 2356–2364.

Jemstedt, A., Schwartz, B. L., & Jonsson, F. U. (2018). Ease-of-learning judgments are based on both processing fluency and beliefs. Memory, 26, 807–815.

Jia, X., Li, P., Li, X., Zhang, Y., Cao, W., Cao, L., & Li, W. (2016). The effect of word frequency on judgments of learning: Contributions of beliefs and processing fluency. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1–10.

Kazanas, S. A., Altarriba, J., & O’Brien, E. G. (2020). Paired-associate learning, animacy, and imageability effects in the survival advantage. Memory & Cognition, 48, 244–225.

Koriat, A. (1997). Monitoring one's own knowledge during study: A cue-utilization approach to judgments of learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 126, 349–370.

Koriat, A., & Ackerman, R. (2010). Metacognition and mindreading: Judgments of learning for self and other during self-paced study. Consciousness and Cognition, 19, 251–264.

Koriat, A., & Bjork, R. A. (2005). Illusions of competence in monitoring one's knowledge during study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 187–194.

Koriat, A., Bjork, R. A., Sheffer, L., & Bar, S. K. (2004). Predicting one's own forgetting: The role of experience-based and theory-based processes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 643–656.

Koriat, A., Nussinson, R., Bless, H., & Shaked, N. (2008). Information-based and experience- based metacognitive judgments: Evidence from subjective confidence. In J. Dunlosky & R. A. Bjork (Eds.), Handbook of memory and metamemory (pp. 117–135). New York: Psychology Press.

Kornell, N., & Bjork, R. A. (2009). A stability bias in human memory: Overestimating remembering and underestimating learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138, 449–468.

Leding, J. K. (2018). The animacy advantage in memory: Manipulations of levels of processing and survival processing. The American Journal of Psychology, 131, 273–281.

Leding, J. K. (2019). Adaptive memory: Animacy, threat, and attention in free recall. Memory & Cognition, 47, 383–394.

Leding, J. K. (2020). Animacy and threat in recognition memory. Memory & Cognition, 48, 788–799.

Li, P., Jia, X., Li, X., & Li, W. (2016). The effect of animacy on metamemory. Memory & Cognition, 44, 696–705.

Mah, E., Campbell, A., Tamburri, C., Grannon, K., & Lindsay, S. (2020). A direct replication of Popp and Serra (2016, Experiment 1): Better free recall and worse cued recall of animal names than object names. Poster presented at the 61st annual meeting of the Psychonomic society, virtual meeting.

McCabe, S., & Nekaris, K. A. I. (2019). The impact of subtle anthropomorphism on gender differences in learning conservation ecology in Indonesian school children. Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 18, 13–24.

Meinhardt, M. J., Bell, R., Buchner, A., & Röer, J. P. (2018). Adaptive memory: Is the animacy effect on memory due to emotional arousal? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25, 1399–1404.

Meinhardt, M. J., Bell, R., Buchner, A., & Röer, J. P. (2020). Adaptive memory: Is the animacy effect on memory due to richness of encoding? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46, 416–426.

Mitchum, A. L., Kelley, C. M., & Fox, M. C. (2016). When asking the question changes the ultimate answer: Metamemory judgments change memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 200–219.

Mueller, M. L., & Dunlosky, J. (2017). How beliefs can impact judgments of learning: Evaluating analytic processing theory with beliefs about fluency. Journal of Memory and Language, 93, 245–258.

Mueller, M. L., Dunlosky, J., & Tauber, S. K. (2016). The effect of identical word pairs on people's metamemory judgments: What are the contributions of processing fluency and beliefs about memory? The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69, 781–799.

Mueller, M. L., Dunlosky, J., Tauber, S. K., & Rhodes, M. G. (2014). The font-size effect on judgments of learning: Does it exemplify fluency effects or reflect people’s beliefs about memory? Journal of Memory and Language, 70, 1–12.

Mueller, M. L., Tauber, S. K., & Dunlosky, J. (2013). Contributions of beliefs and processing fluency to the effect of relatedness on judgments of learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20, 378–384.

Nairne, J. S., VanArsdall, J. E., & Cogdill, M. (2017). Remembering the living: Episodic memory is tuned to animacy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 22–27.

Nairne, J. S., VanArsdall, J. E., Pandeirada, J. N. S., Cogdill, M., & LeBreton, J. M. (2013). Adaptive memory. Psychological Science, 24, 2099–2105.

Popp, E. Y., & Serra, M. J. (2016). Adaptive memory: Animacy enhances free recall but impairs cued recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 186–201.

Popp, E. Y., & Serra, M. J. (2018). The animacy advantage for free-recall performance is not attributable to greater mental arousal. Memory, 26, 89–95.

Rawson, K. A., Dunlosky, J., & McDonald, S. L. (2002). Influences of metamemory on performance predictions for text. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A, 55, 505–524.

Rhodes, M. G., & Castel, A. D. (2008). Memory predictions are influenced by perceptual information: Evidence for metacognitive illusions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137, 615–625.

Schneider, S., Häßler, A., Habermeyer, T., Beege, M., & Rey, G. D. (2019). The more human, the higher the performance? Examining the effects of anthropomorphism on learning with media. Journal of Educational Psychology, 111, 57–72.

Schneider, S., Nebel, S., Beege, M., & Rey, G. D. (2018). Anthropomorphism in decorative pictures: Benefit or harm for learning? Journal of Educational Psychology, 110, 218–232.

Serra, M. J., & Ariel, R. (2014). People use the memory for past-test heuristic as an explicit cue for judgments of learning. Memory and Cognition, 42, 1260–1272.

Serra, M. J., & Dunlosky, J. (2005). Does retrieval fluency contribute to the Underconfidence- with-practice effect? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 1258–1266.

Serra, M. J., & Dunlosky, J. (2010). Metacomprehension judgements reflect the belief that diagrams improve learning from text. Memory, 18, 698–711.

Serra, M. J., & England, B. D. (2012). Magnitude and accuracy differences between judgements of remembering and forgetting. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65, 2231–2257.

Serra, M. J., & England, B. D. (2020). Forget framing might involve the assumption of mastery, but probably does not activate the notion of forgetting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46, 2384–2396.

Serra, M. J., & Magreehan, D. A. (2016). Instructor fluency correlates with students’ ratings of their learning and their instructor in an actual course. Creative Education, 07, 1154–1165.

Serra, M. J., & McNeely, D. A. (2020). The most fluent instructors might choreograph for Beyoncé or secretly be batman: Commentary on carpenter, Witherby, and Tauber. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 9, 175–180.

Serra, M. J., & Metcalfe, J. (2009). Effective implementation of metacognition. Handbook of Metacognition in Education, 278-298.

Shanks, L. L., & Serra, M. J. (2014). Domain familiarity as a cue for judgments of learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 445–453.

Su, N., Li, T., Zheng, J., Hu, X., Fan, T., & Luo, L. (2018). How font size affects judgments of learning: Simultaneous mediating effect of item-specific beliefs about fluency and moderating effect of beliefs about font size and memory. PLoS One, 13, e0200888.

Susser, J. A., Jin, A., & Mulligan, N. W. (2016). Identity priming consistently affects perceptual fluency but only affects metamemory when primes are obvious. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 657–662.

Tauber, S. K., & Rhodes, M. G. (2012). Multiple bases for young and older adults’ judgments-of- learning (JOLs) in multitrial learning. Psychology and Aging, 27, 474–483.

Tauber, S. K., Witherby, A. E., & Dunlosky, J. (2019). Beliefs about memory decline in aging do not impact judgments of learning (JOLs): A challenge for belief-based explanations of JOLs. Memory & Cognition, 47, 1102–1119.

VanArsdall, J. E., Nairne, J. S., Pandeirada, J. N. S., & Blunt, J. R. (2013). Adaptive memory: Animacy processing produces mnemonic advantages. Experimental Psychology, 60, 172–178.

VanArsdall, J. E., Nairne, J. S., Pandeirada, J. N. S., & Cogdill, M. (2017). A categorical recall strategy does not explain animacy effects in episodic memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 761–771.

VanArsdall, J. E., Nairne, J. S., Pandeirada, J. N., & Cogdill, M. (2015). Adaptive memory: Animacy effects persist in paired-associate learning. Memory, 23, 657–663.

Wang, J., & Xing, Q. (2019). Metacognitive illusion in category learning: Contributions of processing fluency and beliefs. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 15, 100–110.

Winkielman, P., & Schwarz, N. (2001). How pleasant was your childhood? Beliefs about memory shape inferences from experienced difficulty of recall. Psychological Science, 12, 176–179.

Witherby, A. E., & Tauber, S. K. (2017). The influence of judgments of learning on long-term learning and short-term performance. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 6, 496–503.

Yan, V. X., Bjork, E. L., & Bjork, R. A. (2016). On the difficulty of mending metacognitive illusions: A priori theories, fluency effects, and misattributions of the interleaving benefit. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 918–933.