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Aug-26-2010 09:29printcomments

Op Ed: Historic U.S. Facts Reflect Continued Writer-Camouflage

Pundit-Palaver Illuminated by Detailed National Record.

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(SEASIDE, Ore.) - Introduction & Content: For many readers, much if not most of the blog-work on Internet channels comes in quasi-understandable form, due in large part to unfamiliarity with some of the many techniques used in persuasion and message-manipulation.

This three-part Op Ed series is meant to explore, outline, define and summarize a few of the multiplicies of such techniques, used ever since early research in World War I showed their devastating, destructive impacts. (See Part Two upcoming; One mainly sets the stage.)

The challenge to write thus was motivated by the intense, deeply-researched, competent professional reporting by Daniel Johnson, recently featured in S-N columns for some months now. Appearance now of this additional view in no way discredits his work nor assumes any intentional or other manipulation of the language used in that report --only to supply information to those serious readers seeking further understandings of a widespread trend in all of our communications channels.

The intent here is to call attention to the multiple techniques themselves, often occurring in many current published reports simply due to process and procedures clearly demanded, thus creating the necessity for full understandings on the part of our many serious readers.


“What are your intentions, sir ?” demanded the traditional Victorian virgin when confronted by her canny and contriving seducer. In a second “joke” often used in psychiatry, the judge demands a “Yes or No” answer from an accused: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

These both demonstrate language --intentionally or NOT-- cutting off the known strong rational, reasonable functions of the left-hemisphere within our two-hemi brain-- often by professional intent; sometimes by sheer ignorance and intensities of other writers. The consequence is now seen --by both critics and cognitive scientists-- as among major causes for the confusion and contradictions NOW found so massively in Internet responses directly defying public interests -- whether “intentional” or simple process-deflections.

The intent --by canny skilled writers well-paid for the purpose--is to force unaware reader reliance on the right-hemisphere of our two-hemi brain. The right-side is well-known as far more vulnerable to both manipulative language and even to its strongly “suggested” action --OR lack of it-- than is the left hemisphere.

This phenomenon is physical/psychiatric fact, well verified by tons of research; and long-known to many psychiatrists of all schools; but far too often either unknown or ignored --at peril of reader understanding-- by many would/be “persuasive” writers.

It is “heart-of-the-matter” psychological/approach within and across the entire advertising and “public relations” world, one of the major tools used to create their massive impacts --both “positive” and “malign”-- on our culture, society, and even our economy. That’s the domain of those well-paid “persuaders” putting this treasury of communications knowledge to what many consider “malign” and “political” purposes.

NOW, increasingly, the trends is directed to our governance system, as massive main-story involvement via many published pundits surely makes wholesomely clear. It is this widely-observed trend, deeply concerning many serious citizens enmeshed in community action driven by fear for our faltering American“experiment in democracy”, that occasions this report --perhaps as help to identify and understand subtle and not-so/subtle impacts from any and all channels encountered.

Recent research has verified and strengthened this particular, “not-really-peculiar” characteristic of some print-and-verbal propaganda/attacks on various ongoing political and governance issues.

Some “peculiarized pundits” make very strong usage of the phenomenon by distorted/perverted presentation of ostensible “fact” --both for this affect and because it provides a very comfortable saddle and huge dollar return when they ride that perverted hobby-horse hard. Familiar names will spring to mind, unmentioned here since mine may not be same-image as yours !! --With all good reasons for both, too...

But we can share proven process-and-techniques to both identify and offset the damage/done by intentional distortion/perversion --common component of them all. These “persuasive” writers wrap their stuff in oneor- more of many well-known psychiatric understandings on HOW to shape, influence, and pervert “the change process” itself.

That basic language-shaping techniques-treatment has accumulated from decades of dialog directed to producing therapeutic change in the dire denigration of patient lives and livelihood --in both psychiatry itself and its language-specializing hypnotherapy outgrowth.

Most of these techniques are but little understood among too many writers, especially if their world-view has not demanded close relation to effectively strong generation-of-change in broad public discursive and “development”-producing action; OR if they themselves have been able to avoid the necessity of personalized experience with them. Even well-experienced professionals fall into this trap needlessly, by ignorance or by over/eager intent since honest intent is the other driver of all manipulative actions.

BOTH demonstrate decisively the close relation to psychiatric impacts of skilled persuasion sometimes found in the strongly-structured “intentions” of writers, where language cannily so employed can have similar consequences to that professionally applied clinically, across the entire broad fields of psychotherapy. Ethical (and other !) producers of language-driven formats have been making skilled use of incontrovertible fact, carefully and cannily presented, for centuries -as the worldwide advertising industry and ostensibly-”free trade” advocates, among many others, surely does demonstrate.

Decades of research show clearly that, for far too many persons, intense use of such contrived language can affect which side of the brain takes charge for any and all responses, either via language or other actions. That consequence can, does and will continue to occur whether “intentional” or simply happenstance -- which is WHY it is of such immediately pressing concern to “persuasive” writers today, at any level, producing copy for any legitimate purpose.

Most professional writers soon learn to avoid those traps tending towards this well-known psychic brainaffect --OR they no longer continue professionally, since inevitably some sharp reader will question their true “intent”, with background and examples. (Disclosure: My own interests stem from work begun 50 years ago, starting continuing explorations in broad based communications research and its always-demanded application to produce measurable “positive” (!) change.)

The first example (our “virgin”) was cited by the acknowledged mastermind of full-bore persuasion principles, George N. Gordon: The Theory and Practice of Manipulative Communication; Hastings, 1971. (ISBN: 8038-5774-8; or LCCCN 78-163-184, helpful since this is “classic” now difficult to locate;try nearest university sporting School of Journalism !)

Its reputation (the book, NOT the example !) has grown steadily ever since pubication among those who purport use of “persuasive writing” as a professional product. It anchors the famous Studies in Communications from Syracuse University, edited by Dr. A. William Bluem, a series seen as foundation by many journalists.

His example makes massive and conclusive the intimately close relation between “intention” --stated or covert !-- and almost all possible persuasive palaver further-produced to accomplish manipulative purpose, whatever it may truly be.

Its probing examination (of “intention”) rapidly explodes a whole series of too-familiar articles and many books publiished for many decades, attacking the United States, from both “established” and new pundits.

Most are published to provide the writers an easyriding, rapidly dollar/padded hobby/horse, all too easily acceptable for those too-many American ignorant of our real history. That’s especially true for those paid-”persuasive’ writers refusing to consult serious historians, “on the record” with literally tons of published pages reviewing deeply-detailed “telling incidents”; and ignoring the many contemporary sources distilling the experience and the events-involved NOW.

Even some others, whose facts-on-hand from easily-accessed secondary sources present a truly devastating image of this nation, sometimes err by their actions in avoiding both historic and current dissenting primary sources --both historic and timely NOW. Current works like THE PRODUCER (2010), popular biography of famed Henry Luce, originating publisher of TIME, LIFE, and FORTUNE; and the 2005-published THE GREAT UNRAVELLING, by noted economist Paul Krugman, make easily available the many offsetting facts demnded for ethical and cogitative study of both realities and current actualities.

The professional pundit-works mentioned previously cite scads of scandalous --but mainly accurate-- single, multiple and massive declarations of despicable and democracy/damaging depredations, fiscal/financial and other economic and fully cultural components, all so conceived and considered as to provide a potential very frightening formulation of the American nation.

Since these many so-described nationally-committed despotic deprivations and demeaning actions are shown committed by some few potently and peculiarly powerful American classes, groups --and even some cabals and canny political groups-- these contrived accusations tend to pile up precariously around well-known and widely recognized situations and trends underway in this nation over many decades. That lends them a seeming substance and certifies, for some unthinking recipients, their ostensible accuracy and authority of interpretation --when any true-test reading against recorded history will simply drop them into proper perspective regarding clearly ongoing trend and historic events.

Reader’s Note: Second and Third Parts will specify in some detail these manipuative techniques used by paid-”persuasive” writers, and outline some of many situations in which they contribute to public misunderstandings, multiplied by the massive --sometimes malign-- “intents” of their perpetrators and those procuring their work. Perhaps such identifying detail can assist our many serious readers in their essential citizen responsibilities to be well-informed when building bases for any opinion.

At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.

Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.

He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 560 written since then.

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Hank Ruark January 12, 2011 11:31 am (Pacific time)

Apologies to all for continuing delay in getting on with series commented on so well above...unavoidable meds,computer and printer problems have forced it. For friend Dan, good word is your fine work brought on strong interest in issues involved even though reaching erroreous conclusion due to narrow angle of vision. America today is far more complex and overwhelming developing world leader than even your depth/analysis of faults/found (well documented !) can possibly show. YES there IS "American exceptionalsm" now more strongly demonstrated than ever, both positively/negatively. Will return to dialog soon; for any to whom e-mail goes, the replacement computer insists on label "Mac" to all-sent....please reply to same emailer address: moresoon and hang onto hat for real dialog yet-to-come !! jrfriendhank

Hank Ruark December 24, 2010 11:10 am (Pacific time)

Friends All: Warning: Return to OpEd dialog underway after unavoidable delays due to medical, support and other problems here, including collapse of computer. See my note under Dan Johnson's latest contribution.

Hank Ruark August 30, 2010 1:47 pm (Pacific time)

Friends et al: Now follows short hiatus due to preparations for heart-pacer replacement surgery... Parts Two and Three well along --stay tuned ! See you as soon as 5th-wheel restored...

Hank Ruark August 29, 2010 2:02 pm (Pacific time)

Re Hayakawa book it is classic in its excellent interpretations. BUT it covers an entirely different spectrum of the big area of communications research, which is where te Gordon book is outstanding,as well as being the beginning Bible in this field. Serious students need also to see comprehensive materials on Cognitive Behavior Therapy, for which refs. also are given here.

Hank Ruark August 27, 2010 11:31 am (Pacific time)

Dr. Paul: Your insightful professional (and authoritative) comments here highly appreciated, sir. The article ref. is right on the money (!) for moretocome in Parts Two and Three, as are some of your own productions, esp. that classic on anger. How's the weather in NH ? Was once editor (in VT) for notorious Bill Loeb, of Manchester-daily past Demo- damaging

Hank Ruark August 29, 2010 1:54 pm (Pacific time)

"It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.": Sally Kempton "I think the subject which will be of most importance politically is Mass Psychology. ...It's importance has been enormously Increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda ... Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated.": Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) Philosopher, educator "The most absolute authority is that which penetrates into a man's innermost being and concerns itself no less with his will than with his actions.": Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) Political philosopher, educationist and essayist Source: The Social Contract, 1762

Hank Ruark August 29, 2010 1:50 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Several S-N threads now deal with issues in ways involving understandings of the leading cognitive behaviour therapy. This started with Aaron Beck in Chicago in late '70s; I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar by him, resulting in an interview, ending with his gift of autographed copy of his originating book which I immediately applied for self-improvement and a basic understanding heavily used ever since. This note simply to clue serious readers to Google Cognitive Beavour Therapy or Dr. Aaron Beck for intriguing details, helpful here on some very serious ongoing issues.

Kevin August 27, 2010 6:36 pm (Pacific time)

To assume that America is perfect is (to say the least) very naive. We are loved, hated and respected by the rest of the world for our success, freedom and strength. The shame is for those who whittle away at the important documents that made us a great nation, defiling the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with misinterpretations, fabrications and to tell us they stand in the way of governing the people (that is what the documents were meant to do). Shame on those who choose to lead and do it for power to rule and not to "preserve and protect," but to conive, fabricate and deceive behind closed doors. Shame on those who expect tolerance and only give intolerance. Shame on those who change our history and paint us only as bad, not acknowledging the many sacrifices and good deeds around the world by American people. Shame on those who say they love our country but want to change everything in it. As for me, give me back America the way it was, when a handshake was a binding contract, a promise is what we did and a helping hand was a way of life. God, bless America. Please vote in November.

Hank Ruark August 27, 2010 11:12 am (Pacific time)

Doug B.: I share your appreciation of Dan and his digging...great and accurate source. Which is why I try further encouragement intended to help improve both his product and its acceptance by informed and very knowing readers...your own appreciations reflect the wit, wisdom, will of "the people", for which I have full reverence and respect, since that's what motivates most of my stuff...verbose as it may sometimes get !! Peace to you, too, sir --and keep on keepin' on with both your comments and your life.

Douglas Benson August 27, 2010 8:12 am (Pacific time)

I like Dan ,he doesnt play drive by provocation [much ].He is probably still trying to figure me out .You dont need a degree in phsycology to tell when someone is digging . Thank you Dan for your participation [even if I cant spell] . Peace

Roger von Bütow August 27, 2010 7:45 am (Pacific time)

Hank: Thanks for the kind words....I truly believe that word-mongering anarchists now abound, but to tear down existing structures (i.e. nations) without options is crazy. Some of my friends believe that Bush invaded regions to intentionally create instability, kind of rolling the dice, cross your fingers hoping/praying and basically gambling that something, anything better comes out of it. This way lies madness. That sucking sound you hear is the vacuum left behind when you irrevocably destroy structure. I leave you with a pith quote that has some relevance herein: “The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” — Nikola Tesla

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. August 27, 2010 12:22 am (Pacific time)

Henry You might appreciate this piece by John Grant.

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. August 26, 2010 11:34 pm (Pacific time)

I eagerly await the companion parts to your offering. The rapid growth and promotion of single-source "news" and of both the blogosphere and "infotainment" has, for so many, blurred the distinction between what is factual reportage and what is opinion and/or propaganda. In all areas of communication, the "product" now takes precedence over stimulation of thought. The "verdict" is implanted before the investigation has begun. As a Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner for a good many years, and having learned these skills from some of the most proficient and knowledgeable in the field, I know all too well the power of words, phrasing and execution in leading the individual mind up or down an intentioned path. I might disagree, in some respect, with the contention of some that writers have a responsibility to their readers in bringing resolution to a stated negative. I believe the true obligation of the writer is stimulation of thought toward either disproving the negative through individual investigation of available sources and/or potential experience or, having failed in that regard, brainstorming and investigating possible resolutions. I believe that TV has conditioned many, if not most, to expect the dilemma AND the resolution neatly packaged in a single sitting. No work, just entertainment and instant gratification. For me, growing up, the best writings were those that left me wondering.

Hank Ruark August 26, 2010 4:25 pm (Pacific time)

Dan: Re Hayakawa, first ed. reposes on my work shelf, bit tattered from constant use but honored by autograph after an interview... He it was who told college audience: "Write what the message demands of you AND your readers." (My emphasis). He then detailed responsible actions by both sender and any recipient, in any format, if for other than entertainment. Roger: Your experienced wisdom honors my Op Ed; and you've said it best in that last sentence !! Do believe we agree there is no point in any pusillanimous pile-on of "perilous !" fact unless/until real intention is to initiate remediation in some pragmatic way. To do so without pointing way to consequential remedy is to manipulate recipient simply for effect/gained/affect/lost, which multiplies massive mess we now wallowing within via its cumulation, while allowing callous, insensitive sender the toy-sized"satisfaction" of transmission by technology. Writer-and-reader BOTH have realistic responsibilities in this 21st Century, with a true Internet protected-capability as tremendous tool demanding protection from selfish abuse while assuring wise users of wonderful sharing-audience. "Anon": Must understand there are some whose brain-pair will never, ever, admit of anything but what wearer permits to be inserted, from whatever source and via defy-deny tactic re what history always holds for anyone willing to accept its role in remaking the world by sharing past experiences. We can skip your political- pander, sir, and still find agreement on fact that help lies where it always does: Within-and-among thinking, responsible, accountable and sharing fellow human beings, practically so taught by their own life experiences. As ou note, faith in any possible variety may be most helpful...

Anonymous August 26, 2010 1:29 pm (Pacific time)

Not bad Henry. I just finished reading Rules for Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky. His plans to go into a community, especially low income communities and manipulate their every move for whatever your agenda is. On a lighter note, ever see the movie "the music man"..:-) In my opinion, the elite, the same people who convinced woodrow wilson to sign the federal reserve act of 1913, have put together think tanks that control this society more than people would believe. This is why I DO give daniel a hard time. He just doesnt get it. What is the answer though Henry? I often ask myself, why did I not get hypnotized by their efforts? Why me? I sometimes think its because of my love and belief in Jesus Christ. Awhile back, I became a fan of glenn beck. Finally, someone telling some truth, I thought. Until, shortly after I could see his tactics. Tell some truth, gain trust, then guide you off a cliff. It was easy for me to spot how perfectly obama was groomed to control, I did not fall for that either. In fact, I dont fall for the left/right hoax that came from their think tanks also. How do people protect themselves from this? and, is it too late?

Roger von Bütow August 26, 2010 1:19 pm (Pacific time)

Good start. Intent can be the most critical element/feature and measuring tool for many of life's conundrums. If one's sole intention is to create chaos, to derivatively pile on to a subject to induce, to progress more destructive chaos and ill-will, then it's more akin to the Glen Beck/Rush Limbaugh logos than Socratic dialogue.
People like that have no constructive motivation, just destructive. To blindly destroy or incite with no intention of providing a nexus or at minimum focal point for resolution or reconstruction is abusive and deserves derision. I was primarily a builder by trade for almost 40 years, I'd tear down to remodel or rebuild something entirely (hopefully) better for both the client, the neighborhood and the city---Being controversial, getting attention is NOT an end all or be all objective unless you have an under-nourished ego. If anger is a writer or journalist's only goal, then that is a pitifully small mind provoking no positive change. Yes, get your audience's attention, but one shouldn't use their viewers/readers as disposable waste, as a venue for unresolved childhood (or adult) trauma.
EX.: Parroting (and hence fomenting) known anti-American sentiment right now along with venomous rhetoric prevailing around the world constitutes little more than autistic or sociopathic "echolalia." Which to me means the repetition of words over and over doesn't make them necessarily true nor lead to improvements. I think we, as Americans, know that yes, Houston, we have a problem(s). Who in their right mind doesn't?
I'm not being xenophobic or nationalistic by writing that, there just needs to be higher standards because the internet is so powerful and some of we Americans accept that challenge, convert outrage to outreach. Accountability and Responsibility have even more meaning now than ever because of that......We in cyberspace are becoming a world of ALL hanging judges, no compassionate juries. The Medium is the Message. Now we seem inundated with merciless, anonymous snipers at times in our blogs/comment sections, as I've criticized in this paperless paper before. Lead, follow or get the Hell outta the way isn't a bad mantra. ALWAYS taking the negative, ALWAYS manipulating and yes, abusing the interactive nature of modern media is morally reprehensible and doesn't deserve a voice because readers may be swayed by this---The Nazis certainly understood the merits of such propaganda, they blurred lines never blurred before.
Tell a child over and over that he/she is bad, worthless, contemptable and eventually they'll not only believe you, they'll EMBRACE, they'll pursue their dark side----And wasn't that really the bottom line for the STAR WARS series, that Darth Vader was manipulated towards the dark aspect of his own yin/yang force?
In my community-oriented NGOs we say "Bringing a problem? Then bring a few potential solutions."
In fact, I try to give that problem-bringer the responsibility of heading up a committee to remedy or rectify the gripe. We need leaders, guides to help us out of the wilderness, not screechy parental types who beat us to death over our shortcomings.
If the reading or viewing public is told over and over how vile they are, how despised they are, how they should loathe and hate their own country, then what? Once they're convinced, all you have is low esteem, fear, and dysfunctional, disengaged bodies.
Hunter (Gonzo) Thompson, along with Thurber, Mencken, Dorothy Parker, Beirce, Hiaasen, Wolfe, Didion, et al took this country to task for its shortcomings------But they also provided beacons of hope, encouraged us (like Ghandi) to be the change we wished to see.
In Hinduism, they profoundly exhibit and embrace this duality: Lord Shiva is both the destroyer AND restorer of worlds.
I leave you with the supposed words of the Patriarch of Taoism, Lao-Tzu circa 500 BC: "Until you are one with the Tao, what right do you have with the doings of evil men?"
I'd say that staying on the problem side of the equation, doting on it and refusing to acknowledge goodness is not oneness, but divisive twoness, or even threeness! :+) :+) :+)

Daniel Johnson August 26, 2010 11:31 am (Pacific time)

The author recommends George N. Gordon's book. There are so many good books available. My own recommendation would be S.I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action (1990 edition updated with his son)--probably easier to find and certainly easier to read (As a linguist, he endeavored to write clearly and to the point).

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