Category Archives: Published articles/essays

“The ten most important ways of manipulating the public, as catalogued by Noam Chomsky”


“Noam Chomsky, a fearless critic of the wealthy elite that governs the United States, has compiled a list of the ten most common strategies for using the media to manipulate the people of America.

In the past our communications media have created or destroyed social movements, justified wars, tempered financial crises, and encouraged or destroyed some other ideological currents.

Chomsky has compiled a list of the ten most important tools for manipulating our media. Basically, they encourage stupidity, promote a sense of guilt, create distractions, or construct artificial problems and then magically solve them. Here are the ten most important techniques:”

…as excerpted and submitted by Harleigh Kyson Jr., 2/11/2010:


The strategy of distraction:

The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction diverting public attention from important issues and changes controlled by our political and economic elites using the techniques of overwhelming the public with continuous distractions and insignificant information.

Distraction strategy is also essential to kill off public interest in the essential knowledge of science, economics, psychology, neurobiology, and cybernetics.

This technique also diverts public attention away from our real social problems by emphasizing matters of no real importance. The idea is to keep the public very busy, with no time to think about the most important principles and the core facts behind our social problems.


The creation of problems, followed by the offer of solutions:

[see also the work of Former UK Green Party National Spokesman and author David Icke.]

This method essentially emphasizes symptons while hiding underlying causes. For example, it emphasizes urban violence or the details of bloody attacks without investigating the causes of these problems. It also creates and manipulates crises that involve economics or violence to encourage the public to accept as a necessary evil the reduction of social rights or the dismantling of public services.


The gradual strategy:

This basically involves gradually implementing destructive social policies which would be unacceptable if imposed suddenly on the public. That is how the the radical right’s new socioeconomic conditions were imposed during the 1980s and 1990s. They include the minimal state, privatization, precariousness, flexibility, massive unemployment, reductions in the purchasing power of wages and guarantees of a decent income. All these changes would provoke a generalized revolt if they had been applied all at once.


The strategy of deferring:

Another way gain public acceptance of unpopular decisions is to present them as “painful but necessary” to gain public acceptance for their future application. This is similar to the gradual strategy. It is easier to accept future sacrifices instead of immediate slaughter–first, because the effect is not felt right away.

Later on, the public is encouraged to believe that “everything will be better tomorrow” and that future sacrifice will be unnecessary. This gives the public more time to get used to the idea of changes to their disadvantage and and their acceptance of them with resignation when the time comes. This strategy was very popular in the Soviet Union in its five-year plans, for example.


Treating the public like little children:

A lot of advertising and propaganda uses childlike speech and children’s intonation, as if the viewer or listener were a little child or mentally deficient. The principle is that if people are treated as if they are twelve years old or younger, they tend to react without a critical sense the way children do.


The encouragement of emotional responses over reflective ones:

This is a classical technique for short-circuiting rational analysis and encouraging critical reflection. It also opens the door to the unconscious for implanting ideas, desires, fears, anxieties , compulsions and desired irrational behavior.


Bombarding the public with trivia to keep them ignorant:

It is important to make people incapable of understanding the technologies and methods used to enslave them. The quality of education given to the lower social classes is deliberately kept as poor and mediocre as possible so that they can be manipulated like sheep.


Encouraging the public to be happy with mediocrity:

This involves encouraging the public to believe that it is is fashionable to be stupid, vulgar and uneducated while encouraging everyone to believe that these characteristics are the essence of the wisdom of the ages.


Encouraging guilt and self blame:

This is an exceptionally perverse strategy. It involves constantly scolding people for their own misfortune because of the failure of their intelligence, their abilities, or their efforts so that they will not examine the structural defects of a social and economic system that enslaves them.

One of the most perverse controlling myths of American society is that if you work conscientiously and long enough, then you will be successful and grow rich. This does happen occasionally to some people, and their success is widely publicized in the media. The few times that this happens, all of us are constantly reminded that if these people can do this, then we can too.

Of course, if you work hard and don’t grow rich, then the problem, of course, is that you didn’t work hard enough or weren’t smart enough and ended up a loser. So no matter what happens to you, the myth remains intact, and America remains a land of opportunity and the greatest country in the world.


Getting to know individual people better than they know themselves:

Over the past fifty years, scientific advances have generated a growing gap between public what the public knows and the knowledge of dominant elites. Thanks to biology, neurobiology and applied psychology, the “system” has gained a sophisticated understanding the physical and psychololgical nature of people. This knowledge is cynically used to manipulate the public as if they were sheep.


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Philosopher Y.G.G. Drasil reviewed Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve (Free Press, 1994). Following the book’s premise that the Intelligence Quotient is overwhelmingly hereditary, Drasil states,

People with IQs above 130 process information differently from the rest of society. They care a lot less about status. They are self-taught. They will act upon ideas, regardless of what others think. They have far less patience with propaganda than people with IQs below 130. People with IQs between 110 and 120 are far more conscious of status, manners and place. They tend to be a powerful force for social stability.

Not a farfetched conclusion, though not one often arrived at by the mass-media-derived conventional wisdom.

– ^.^

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The Pope on the economy

screen cap from WSJ blog

from WSJ blog

Pope Benedict XVI issued his third “encyclical”, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, was aimed “mainly” at the G-8 leaders gathered in Italy this week. I thought it rang very true. Plus in the end he gives a shout-out to credit unions – which are a way better alternative to banks.

Here’s the transcript [from]:

The Church has always held that economic action is not to be regarded as something opposed to society. In and of itself, the market is not, and must not become, the place where the strong subdue the weak. Society does not have to protect itself from the market, as if the development of the latter were ipso facto to entail the death of authentically human relations. Admittedly, the market can be a negative force, not because it is so by nature, but because a certain ideology can make it so. It must be remembered that the market does not exist in the pure state. It is shaped by the cultural configurations which define it and give it direction. Economy and finance, as instruments, can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends. Instruments that are good in themselves can thereby be transformed into harmful ones. But it is man’s darkened reason that produces these consequences, not the instrument per se. Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.

The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centered. Today we hear much talk of ethics in the world of economy, finance and business.

When we consider the issues involved in the relationship between business and ethics, as well as the evolution currently taking place in methods of production, it would appear that the traditionally valid distinction between profit-based companies and non-profit organizations can no longer do full justice to reality, or offer practical direction for the future. In recent decades a broad intermediate area has emerged between the two types of enterprise. It is made up of traditional companies which nonetheless subscribe to social aid agreements in support of underdeveloped countries, charitable foundations associated with individual companies, groups of companies oriented towards social welfare, and the diversified world of the so-called “civil economy” and the “economy of communion”. This is not merely a matter of a “third sector”, but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends. Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society. It is to be hoped that these new kinds of enterprise will succeed in finding a suitable juridical and fiscal structure in every country. Without prejudice to the importance and the economic and social benefits of the more traditional forms of business, they steer the system towards a clearer and more complete assumption of duties on the part of economic subjects. And not only that. The very plurality of institutional forms of business gives rise to a market which is not only more civilized but also more competitive.

Finance, therefore — through the renewed structures and operating methods that have to be designed after its misuse, which wreaked such havoc on the real economy — now needs to go back to being an instrument directed towards improved wealth creation and development. Insofar as they are instruments, the entire economy and finance, not just certain sectors, must be used in an ethical way so as to create suitable conditions for human development and for the development of peoples. It is certainly useful, and in some circumstances imperative, to launch financial initiatives in which the humanitarian dimension predominates. However, this must not obscure the fact that the entire financial system has to be aimed at sustaining true development. Above all, the intention to do good must not be considered incompatible with the effective capacity to produce goods. Financiers must rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity, so as not to abuse the sophisticated instruments which can serve to betray the interests of savers. Right intention, transparency, and the search for positive results are mutually compatible and must never be detached from one another. If love is wise, it can find ways of working in accordance with provident and just expediency, as is illustrated in a significant way by much of the experience of credit unions.

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Google Chrome for Mac

As of January 9, 2009, Google’s new Chromium browser (Chrome for short), already in use for the Windows platform, is in late-stage development for Mac OS  and will be ready by the first-half of ’09 according to Brian Rakowski, Chrome‘s product manager, quoted in a article by Stephen Shankland: ‘The Mac and Linux versions are up to the level of a basic “test shell” that can show Web pages.’

I haven’t used the browser much at all since i don’t have a Windows machine, but I’m interested because  supposedly it is better suited to mobile devices: a simpler, more usable design scheme for small touch-screens like that of iPhone (and iPod Touch which I own) and has an amped-up javascript capability, which means that plug-ins and the various Web applications that are for better or worse a growing part of the Web, should work more smoothly. In their promo video trailer touting its release for Windows this fall, Google emphasized Chrome developers’ “sandbox” design approach, whereby each tab remains separate, and each extraneous app or plug-in runs quasi-independent of the browser.

This, the nerdy spokespersons in the mpg clip say, will increase speed and reduce the risk of crashes and cross-‘contamination’ between the multitude of crazy tangential web programs that the typical user comes across while surfing today’s Web.

The CNET article points users and developers to Chrome’s progress, including a weekly schedule/progress rundown, on Google’s “Mac Detailed Status” page at

– d.g.w.     1/24/09

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How to contact Congress and make yourself heard

June 26, 2005

How To Write Congress

From the web site of the “European American Unity and Rights Organization”

Filed under:

Writing your Representative

Most people choose to write their member of Congress. If you plan to write your Congressman, try these suggestions to help improve the effectiveness of our communication:

1. Use the first paragraph of your letter to state your purpose. If you are writing about a specific bill, identify it e.g., House bill: H. R. ____, Senate bill: S.____.

2. Be polite and to the point. Include all important information, and make use of examples to support your position.

3. For best results keep your letter to one page and address only one
issue per letter.

Addressing Correspondence:

To a Senator:

The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

To a Representative:

The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

Additional note: When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:

Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman:

or Dear Mr. Speaker:

E-mailing your Representative

When E-mailing your Representative, use the same guidelines offered above for writing letters to Congress.

Visiting Congress

The most effective way to make your voice heard regarding specific legislation or important issues is to meet with a member of Congress of their congressional staff. The following are a few suggestion to make our meeting as successful as possible.

1. Have a clear agenda. Know in advance who you need to meet with on the congressional staff and determine what is it that you want to achieve.

2. Contact the member of Congress’ appointment Secretary/Scheduler. Let
them know what you plan to speak about and what group you belong to.

3. Be on time and be prepared to wait. Members of Congress have busy schedules and it is common for them to be late or have to leave early. If this occurs, try to arrange another meeting or meet with a member of the congressional staff dealing with your issue.

4. Bring copies of material important to your issue. Though your member of Congress may have a position on an specific matter, many times theylack important information on that issue. Provide your member of Congress with documentation clearly showing the merits and benefits of your position.

5. As member of Congress represent a district or state, point out howyour issue effects his/her constituency. If you are a member of a group, explain how your group can work to assist in this matter. Be sure to ask them for a commitment, where appropriate.

6. Know your position and be prepared to answer question or provide additional information. Follow up your visit with a thank you letter outlining what was discussed and the points you made. Be sure to include any additional information requested.

Congressional Staff

Each member of Congress maintains a staff to assist them during their term. It is important when communicating with Congress, to know staff positions and their duties.

Most used titles:

Chief of Staff or Administrative Assistant:

This position reports directly to the member of Congress and is charged with evaluating legislative and constituent proposals and requests. Administrative Assistants are the legislative office managers are assign work to key staff members and supervise operations.

Legislative Director, Senior Legislative Assistant, or Legislative Coordinator:

This position is responsible for monitoring the legislative schedule and provides the member of Congress with pros and cons on issues. Many congressional offices a maintain several Legislative Coordinator or Directors each assigned to areas of expertise.

Press Secretary or Communications Director:

This position is responsible for dealing with media relations and
communications between the member and his/her constituency.

Appointment Secretary, Personal Secretary, or Scheduler:

This position is responsible for maintaining the member’s schedule.This is who you would contact when arranging appointments to meeting with a member of Congress. The Appointment Secretary also makes travel
arrangements for the member.


This position is responsible for writing and preparing replies to constituent requests. A Caseworker is sometimes charged with helping constituents with problems dealing with Social Security, Medicare and veterans and passport issues.

How the Legislative Process works

Drafting and introducing a bill.

Bills can be drafted by anyone, include you, but members of Congress must introduce the legislation. A member or members, who introduce a bill then become the bills sponsor or sponsors. There are four types of legislation: bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions. The actual legislative process begins when a bill or resolution receives a number. All House bills begin with H.R. then a number, Senate bill begin with S. then a number. When a bill is introduced, it is send to a committee and is then printed by the Government Printing Office.

Referral to Committee:

With few exceptions, bills are sent to standing House or Senate committees set up to deal with specific legislative issues.

Committee Action:

The committee first places the bill on the committee’s calendar. The
bill is then referred to a subcommittee or is considered by the whole committee. The committee examines the bill to determine the chances it has to be passed. The committee can kill the bill by not acting on it.

Review by the Subcommittee:

Many times bills are referred to a subcommittee for study and hearings.
A hearing allows the views of the executive branch, experts and other public officials, supporters and opponents of the bill, to be put on the record. Testimony is given in person or through a written statement.

Mark Up:

After hearings are complete, the subcommittee may “Mark Up” a bill, which means, make changes and amendments prior to referring the bill to the full committee. A bill does not receive enough votes to be referred to the full committee, the bill dies.

Committee Action to Report A Bill:

After the full committee receives the subcommittee report on the bill, the committee can conduct further hearings and study, or it can choose to vote on the subcommittee’s recommendations and proposed amendments. The committee then votes on its recommendations and proposed amendments. This is called “ordering a bill reported.”

Publishing a Written Report:

When a committee votes to have a bill reported to the House or Senate, the committee chairman has the staff prepare a written report on the bill. This report describes the intent and scope of the legislation, impact of this legislation on existing laws and programs, position of the executive branch, and additionally includes views of dissenting members of the committee.

Scheduling Floor Action:

After being reported back to the chamber where the legislation
originated, the bill is placed on the calender in chronological order. There are several different calendars in the House, and Speaker of the House and majority leader determine if, when, and in what order bills are scheduled for vote. The Senate has only one legislative calendar.


In the House or Senate there are rules and procedures governing the debate on legislation. These rules determine the conditions and allocated time for general discussion.


After debate on the bill, members vote to approve or defeat the legislation.

Referral to Other Chamber:

After a bill is passed by the House or Senate, it is then referred to the other chamber and follows the procedure listed above. After debate on the bill, this chamber then votes to approve the bill as is, reject the bill completely, ignore the bill, or amend the bill.

Conference Committee Action:

If the second chamber makes only minor changes to the legislation passed by the first chamber, it is common for the bill to be referred
back to the first chamber for agreement. If there are major differences between

If only minor changes are made to a bill by the other chamber, it is common for the legislation to go back to the first chamber for concurrence. However, when the actions of the other chamber significantly alter the bill, a conference committee is formed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions. If the conferees are unable to reach agreement, the legislation dies. If
agreement is reached, a conference report is prepared describing the committee members recommendations for changes. Both the House and the Senate must approve of the conference report.

– From the web site of the “European American Unity and Rights Organization”, white paper titled “How to Write Congress”.

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Vinnie Wilhelm; K. Vonnegut on Writing

Writer Vinnie Wilhelm wrote the following in a correspondence with me in Sept. 2008:

Vinnie and David Wilhelm at Bowling Alley in Ballard, WA

Vinnie and David Wilhelm at Bowling Alley in Ballard, WA

“But questions of identity are ultimately ancillary to the work: they go away in the end, and the work has to succeed or fail on its own terms.”

– Vinnie Wilhelm




On writing better–Kurt Vonnegut

This is an excerpt from his book of essays Palm Sunday. I think it pertained to science writing, but you can apply it generally.


1. Find a subject you care about. It’s hard to bring yourself to write if you don’t believe in what you’re writing. We procrastinate for any number of reasons (and perfectionism is one of them). But if you deeply suspect that a thesis chapter isn’t yet ready for prime time, get a reality check. Present it as a 10 minute talk to your lab group.

2. Do not ramble, though. Outline your argument. Boil it down to the essential points. Then use the outline to construct your topic and summary sentences for each paragraph. It ain’t necessary to point out every possible exception to every generalization.

3. Keep it simple. I was once told that the perfect paper in ecology was 10 pages long and had one good idea that was bolstered by a variety of evidence. Such a paper maximizes the possibility that it will be read and remembered.

4. Have guts to cut. Nearly everybody loves the sound of their own voice. Go through your first draft and ask, of every sentence, “Is this really necessary?”. This particularly applies to your Discussion. It is not a repository for every thought you have had on the topic. Relate your data to your hypotheses and to the current thinking in the field, honestly confront your limitations in a caveat paragraph, and propose one or two next steps.

5. Sound like yourself. Science writing is not supposed to be boring or flowery. Write as if you are explaining your study to a colleague.

6. Say what you mean. It is often easy to get lost in the thicket of sentences and paragraphs. Before you sit down for the day’s writing, spend a minute explaining to an imaginary officemate why this paper is worth writing, and what the data mean. Then make sure every sentence advances that message.

7. Pity the readers. The literature is huge and expanding. Clear, concise writing is needed now more than ever. Whenever you are tempted to leave one murky paragraph, imagine a reader some time in the future (or better yet, a reviewer or editor) wincing and shaking her head. Then buckle down and write what you mean.

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Presidential campaign 08: Follow the money trail (Article from Moment Magazine, July/Aug. 2008)

July/August 2008

“When Money Grows on Jewish Trees”, by Benjamin Schuman-Stoler, Moment Magazine, July/August 2008.

No matter how much they emphasize their differences from one another on the campaign trail, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain share a common denominator: Jewish fundraisers. Penny Pritzker serves as Obama’s national finance chair, and Elliott Broidy is the Republican National Committee finance committee chairman.

Through early June, Pritzker helped bring in more than $265 million for the Obama campaign; the Democratic National Committee collected an additional $80 million. Broidy amassed over $165 million for the RNC, while McCain’s campaign brought in $96 million. These amounts are nothing to scoff at, and they highlight the influence of Jews in American presidential races.

It is no secret that Jews are politically active: Up to 80 percent of eligible Jewish voters turned out to vote in the 2004 presidential election, compared to 50 percent of the electorate as a whole. But it is in the realm of campaign finance that Jews—who comprise less than two percent of the population—play a disproportionately prominent role. “Jewish fundraising has become so central to campaigns,” says retired University of Arizona Professor of History Leonard Dinnerstein, “that nobody renounces Jews and expects to be reelected.”

Jews long ago recognized that political influence improved their chances of survival—be it by campaigning, voting or contributing financially, says Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University. “The Jews learned from history to take advantage of the great opportunity America gives to participate in politics.”

Although wealthy Jews like August Belmont in the 19th century and Bernard Baruch in the 20th threw their substantial weight behind presidential candidates, the first example of a large-scale Jewish fundraising mobilization occurred around the partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel, Dinnerstein says. The success of that campaign established the small minority as an important—and organized—fundraising network.

Presidential campaigns became the money-raising behemoths they are today after World War II, with the introduction of televised political advertising in the 1950s. This was followed by the 1971 Federal Elections Campaign Act, which created the Federal Election Commission (FEC), to monitor and limit the amount that single donors can contribute. Candidates then had to shift their focus from a few massive donations to a large number of smaller ones, says former FEC Commissioner Michael Toner. “After the FEC Act, the role of fundraisers changed to laying the groundwork for a funding infrastructure, for a network.”

In the 2008 election cycle, the Jewish “network” has helped raise more money than any other cycle in history. Broidy, who previously raised more than $800 million to buoy private investment in Israel, recently hosted a major fundraising dinner for McCain at $2,300 a plate, the maximum campaign donation allowed. Fundraising events such as these have helped the RNC move ahead of the DNC in available funds—and point to Broidy’s considerable fundraising prowess—even though Obama leads McCain in campaign fundraising.

Another influential Jew in McCain’s campaign is Donald R. Diamond, a longtime friend of the senator and benefactor of the Tucson, Arizona, Jewish community. Known at times as “The Donald,” Diamond is chairman of Diamond Ventures, Inc. and a co-chair of McCain’s national finance committee. Wayne Berman, also a Jewish co-chair, is managing director of the influential Ogilvy Government Relations and raised money for George W. Bush in 2004.

On the Democratic side is Pritzker, Chicago-based Hyatt Hotel billionaire heiress and the chairwoman of Classic Residence by Hyatt. Besides the fundraising of so-called bundlers (fundraisers who assemble large donors to contribute), the campaign has used the Internet to great effect. In fact, National Jewish Democratic Council executive director Ira Forman says that because Obama’s Internet fundraising success has come substantially from small donors, large donors—Jewish and not—have become “less important.”

Among the Jewish bundlers is Alan D. Solomont, a longtime Bill Clinton fundraiser, who is currently Obama’s northeast finance director. Solomont, head of Solomont Bailis Ventures, led a group that raised $35 million for John Kerry in 2004. Obama is also supported by George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management, LLC, and a well-known financier of liberal causes. Soros has bankrolled and gave $18 million to support various Democratic groups opposing President Bush’s 2004 re-election.

Polls and voting studies show that the majority of Jews support the Democratic Party and its candidates. For example, the Solomon Project, a Democratic Jewish organization, concluded that 78 percent of Jews voted for Senator John Kerry in 2004.
It is a pattern that seems unlikely to change. According to a June 2008 CBS News poll, taken before Obama claimed the Democratic nomination, he led McCain 65 percent to 28 percent among Jewish registered voters. This lopsided support of a liberal candidate is reflected in the realm of fundraising.

Regardless of party affiliation, Jews are among the country’s most generous political supporters. Says Forman: “There is no doubt that part of what makes the Jewish community so good at fundraising is a certain philanthropic ethic.”

—Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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