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Mainstream - Hank Green
Derision - Propaganda

Robert Earll, who I called Bobby, like everyone else we hung out with, was one of the writers for Ironsides, and then Starsky & Hutch. You know the episode where Starsky's wife dies of cancer? The one that got all those awards? He wrote that -- after his wife died of cancer. That's how writers deal with things like that, we write about them. 

So, anyway, Bobby never felt like he really belonged in Hollywood, making a ton of money and writing for a living. He didn't have a degree. Hell, his only serious schooling was through a correspondence course while he lived in Las Vegas. Nope, not joking at all. It was sort of a strange assemblage of accidents that got one of his assignments into the hands of the producer of Ironsides as well. 

About ten years into a solid career he took a young man to work with him, who wanted to get into to writing TV shows as well. 

Bobby told me that this guy was absolutely insatiable the whole day. 

"He just wouldn't stop! He talked to all the stars, the directors, he even spent more than an hour bugging the stunts guys, asking how they did things. I was so frustrated I could have screamed and whacked him with something blunt!"  Then Bobby looked at me sideways, "You know why I was really mad though?"

"I'll bite, why?" 

"Because that kid had more fun at my job in an afternoon, than I've had there in the last ten years." 

Hank Green, my son tells me, is still getting razed by the mainstream news media about his visit to the Whitehouse. When my son told me about this I thought of that story Bobby told me. I would be willing to bet a royalty check that not one of those CNN reporters has a selfie with the president. 

That and they're scared shitless. 

I notice propaganda like one of those crazed conspiracy guys, only I don't care much about it when I see it. That sounds kind of weird, I know. We're suppose to react or be disgusted or cry the alarm, but honestly, it is all over the place. There is so much of it now that it is almost culturally normal. Alot of it is watered down and used as Marketing techniques, which is what most people point at because they aren't aware of the differences. 

The difference, in case you aren't sure either, and don't feel bad because they are damn close, is that -- propaganda is designed and composed to pass through your field of awareness without raising flags or feeling like anything except legitimate information

Marketing and sales, on the other hand always uses a "Call To Action" so that you'll buy something, or do something or sign
something. But the tactics, the tools (what I've come to call the Modus Operandi)  are becoming so well known now that marketing people are using them more frequently. 

I'm hoping that those same marketing people are aware that using those tactics and getting caught is a felony in this country. 

Most of those are old tactics. Military level propaganda was given a huge shot of steroids during WWII on all sides. Those tactics are older than that, nearly a century older -- but in the last 30 years, Sociology,  Psychology  and  Neuroscience has been discovering why and how those tactics actually work. They haven't been doing this on purpose, or at least I don't think they have. Science has just been working its way into the landscape of what makes us... us. The basics, on the braincell level. 

An example is that propagandist and grifters have known since just after the reformation of the church about the Call of the Loss, but now studies are being done that are telling us exactly why it is that -- if I word a question in a way that says you are going to lose your house -- as opposed to wording it in away that says you're going to pay it off 20 years early -- the first message is 10 times more likely to motivate you. 

Two guys in 1979 (Kahneman & Tversky)  took that from our  WWII playbooks and tested it out. Then they tested it again. The results were so bizarre to them, they continue to investigate this phenomena in stranger, and stranger ways. Ways, when they are described to you, you're certain that this time the subjects of the test are definitely going to go for the "positive - I am going to get something" side, instead of the "oh no -- I'm going to lose something" side.


We have lots of names for this effect:Confusion of Beliefs with Facts, Affirmation of the Consequent, Hidden Assumptions, Argue from Adverse Consequences, It's Too Terrible To Tell
Argue Inevitability, Chicken Little's Pessimism,
Use the Passive Voice. 

Some of those are more like Troupes than tactics really. But they all focus the message on the fear of loss, or the uncertainty of the future, the "reality of the world," or the futility of preparation.

The psychologists call it "Prospect Theory", which contends that the prospect of a loss has a greater impact on decision making than the prospect of equivalent gain. 

Common knowledge suggests that "gain" would be a greater motivation, or at least a contender, but reality says otherwise. The idea of losing something  -- even things we don't really need or want that much -- is a major motivator for the human mind to drive us to action.

My favorite study on this topic was done by Dr. Dan Ariely, who wrote the 2008 book "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions It is the subject of Chapter 8. Even knowing the science behind it, I was surprised that he could take it that far, and still produce the same results. Losing things, scares the crap out of us. 

Now, if you take that level of reaction at the "prospect" of losing something -- and then envision the reaction to being "shown you have lost something", the mainstream news reaction to Hank Green getting a selfie and a "hang out" with the President of the United States, who the rest of us call - The Most Powerful Man In The World, you can sort of get the idea that this is going to hurt them for a while. When people are hurt, they lash out. 

There is another factor going on here as well... and that is the legitimacy factor. This is the Message from the guy in charge of the FCC last February.

Remarks of Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn
The Media Institute
February 26, 2014


In the cable world, obviously, big things are ahead. We just don’t quite know how big.

Looking at the cable ecosystem, there are six basic categories of programming that provide the bulk of the content:

  1. Sports programming, including League specific channels;
  2. General Entertainment, including Movie Channels and niche programming;
  3. News, including business news and weather;
  4. Non-Fiction, including affinity channels;
  5. Children, and
  6. Lifestyle Channels

All of these categories, I am told, are poised for growth, as the American audience becomes not only more fragmented, but also increasingly more loyal to their chosen niches.

Social Media
As you read through this next part of his speach, keep in mind that Fox, CNN and MSNBCs demographics are 55 and up, and they are losing them -- with no connection to the millennial generation
And then there is social media, which is an increasingly essential part of many of our lives. A few reported statistics to ponder:

1. The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year age bracket.

  • Growth is up 79%, since 2012
  • The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+
  • Facebook jumped 46%, and Google + jumped 56%
  • No longer is social media "just for teenagers." 
2. 189 million of Facebook’s users are “mobile only”

  • Not only does Facebook have millions of users who don't access it from a desktop or laptop, but mobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This represents a  7% increase from the end of 2012.

3. YOUTUBE reaches more U.S. adults aged 18-34 than any cable network

  • If you think TV was the best way to reach the masses, you may be out of luck reaching  this age bracket. Of course, one video won't necessarily reach more viewers than a cable network could, but utilizing a platform with such a wide user base over time, does.

4. Every second, two new members join LINKEDIN

  • The social network for professionals continues to grow every second. From groups to blogs to job listings, this platform is a rich source of information and conversation for professionals, who want to connect to others in their industry.

5. Social media has overtaken that other explicit pastime, as the No. 1 activity on the web

  • We all knew social media was popular, but this popular? Apparently it’s now the most common thing we do online. So next time you find yourself watching silly videos on Facebook, you can rest assured that many other people online are doing something similar.
6. LINKEDIN has a lower percentage of active users than PINTEREST, GOOGLE+, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
  • Although LinkedIn is gathering new users at a fast rate, the number of active users is lower than most of the biggest social networks around. 
7. 93% of marketers use social media for business
  • That means there are lots of people out there getting involved and managing a social media strategy. It’s becoming more common to include social media as part of an overall marketing budget or strategy, as opposed to when it was the outlier that no one wanted to spend time or money on.
8. 25% of smartphone owners ages 18-44 say they cannot recall the last time their smartphone was not next to them
  • It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space. And we've all heard the cliché of smartphone owners who don’t want to let go of their phones, even for five minutes. 
9. Even though 62% of marketers blog or plan to blog this year, only 9% of companies employ a full time blogger
  • Blogging is clearly a big focus for companies, who want to take advantage of social media and content marketing. 

You got-ta love the way he used that Linkedin stat of Every 2 Seconds, someone joins up with Linkedin. -- and then drops the "they are the slowest out there." 

So, Hank, these guys are a little scared right now... and there isnt' a damn thing telling them that they shouldn't be.

This situation helps understand the puzzle I've been seeing over the last year as well. I think it is unique in our history -- but I haven't done any research to confirm these events are "historic". I should probably send an email to Noam Chomsky and see if he agrees.  I mean, yes, the news media -- whether as volunteer of the government or duped by corporations to do so -- has always been the choice medium to spread real honest to god propaganda to the masses... so that's not new at all. But I think this is the first time in our history ("our" being the collective human race) that the News Industry has run and disseminated propaganda campaigns for themselves.

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