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Conservatives are masters of scare because they have experience in it

For most of my working life, I worked in marketing and advertising, so I know how people are influenced, persuaded or swayed by branding and repetitive advertising. Companies spend millions of dollars to brainwash you subtly, to align you with a specific brand, product or belief.

The book Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard was written in 1957 and provided us with revealing insights into how we are exploited with all sorts of manipulative techniques. Updated versions of his book are available.

“It accounts for the research people, the advertising agency psychologists who analyse consumer desires and discover how to make people buy the things the agencies are paid to promote. Personalities, techniques, symbols, and approaches are discussed, and some leading advertising psychologists are interviewed.”

All manner of persuasive techniques, including sex and deceptive packaging, to solicit your goodwill, loyalty and outrageous lying are explained. They even measure the eye blink rate of women from hidden cameras in supermarkets to test colour reactions. Yes, it’s that sophisticated. And brand loyalty is what they want. (Ask yourself why Australia doesn’t have a sugar tax).

In the United States, the advertising industry employs more psychologists than the health industry. It is all calculated to take power over your decision-making. And it works.

The same can be said for Australian mainstream media; it also wants your brand loyalty and the power to coerce you into its way of thinking. It uses techniques similar to the advertising industry; the main ingredients are untruth and creating perceptions with subliminal messages.

In the media, it is easy to apply. It can be a distorted headline, a one-liner slogan like “stop the boats“, a photoshopped photograph, and, on television, how you lead a story or conduct an interview.

The industry manipulates us beyond free will. The often-repeated blatant lie takes precedence and is the best tool to use for an audience that is uninformed and, in a malaise, and thus susceptible to this sort of propaganda.

Of course, they have another tool: “Opinion journalism.”

Now let me add that there is nothing wrong with opinions so (we all have them) long as they are diverse and truthful. But we don’t have diversity, and we would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served by a media that controls a large percentage of news in our major cities. We can add self-interest groups and lobbyists.

Unfortunately, less-informed voters vastly outnumber the more politically aware and are the apparent victims of mainstream media deception, where everything is stripped down to simplistic slogans. The No case in the upcoming referendum is a case in point.

The opinion makers on the right of this issue use all manner of tantalising, seductive and provocative words and imagery to win you over to what they want you to believe. Media is no longer about reporting the facts. It is about persuasion by opinion.

It must have occurred to you whilst reading that it would seem unremarkable with a background like mine if I didn’t use some of my learnt techniques to persuade you.

I don’t. The nearest I come is with the use of my fiction writing skills. But then it is only to make an article more attractive to the enquiring minds who appreciate my work and those who let me know when I get the slightest fact wrong.

Unlike people like Andrew Bolt, who has to write for an average age of 13 to suit the demographic of the publication he writes for, I, as do the other writers for citizen journalism, seem to attract people of a higher level of thinking with a greater sensitivity of inquiry for things that matter.

As is often the case, I get responses to my writing from many people. 99% are interested in what I have to say about matters of public interest or why they agree or disagree or fall somewhere in the middle.

Others use the platform to let off steam, express anger, look for a fight, want to be sarcastic, change the subject to suit their argument and many more.

In the main, most have something important to say. The last cohort, however, for all their buffoonery, requires patience because they are, in this case, being skilfully manipulated by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and his equally skilful acolytes.

With all that said, I hope to have explained that the origin of my writing on the referendum stems from a long-held interest in social justice and inequality. And to improve the standard of governance our politicians are expected to deliver.

Despite the laboriousness of writing at my age, I am grateful that I have a megaphone by which I can express my opinions and await the comments that will adjudicate their worth. Being independent of mainstream media makes this possible.

The No case outlined in a recently published pamphlet is so full of ambiguous ravings that if the AEC could, it would burn the lot of them based on false advertising.

Read these Clayton’s arguments against the Voice:

“This Voice specifically covers all areas of “Executive Government.”

“This means no issue is beyond its reach. The High Court would ultimately determine its powers, not the Parliament.”

It risks legal challenges, delays, and dysfunctional government, says the No.

Eminent jurists and constitutional experts have said that this could not happen. In any case, the Parliament can knock back anything placed before it by the advisory council – the ultimate veto.

My thought for the day

Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.

PS: My writing is the glue that keeps my days together.


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  1. Terence Mills


    Thanks for your insights.

    Just a bit worried about the captioned photograph. Is that an example of subliminal persuasion to use a photo of a very youthful person, Spud Dutton in this case, to convey an impression of a wholesome human being ?

  2. New England Cocky

    With Australia beoming a third world export economy like Africa under all political parties, thank goodness there is Lord’s view available to “keep the faith”.

  3. John Lord

    Terence. I thought the editors subliminal selection was a brilliant case in point.

  4. Steve Davis

    Great article John.

    You said “Australian mainstream media; it also wants your brand loyalty and the power to coerce you into its way of thinking…It can be a distorted headline, a one-liner slogan like “stop the boats”, a photoshopped photograph, and, on television, how you lead a story or conduct an interview.”

    That fits in perfectly with some thoughts I’ve been having about the propaganda system.
    In the entirety of Western philosophy there is one item that stands head and shoulders above the rest. One item that gives an accurate and readable account of reality as experienced by the many, in contrast to Reality as it actually exists.

    At the beginning of Book VII of The Republic, Plato recounts Socrates’ allegory of The Cave, describing how in our ordinary lives we live as if tethered in a cave, unable to see the reality of the world outside the cave. So powerful and insidious are the bonds that keep us focused on cave realities that we develop a fondness and regard for these realities to such an extent that we treat with suspicion, fear, and anger, those who alert us to the Reality of the outside world of light and freedom.

    The purpose and intent of the propaganda system to which we are exposed all day, every day, is to prevent us from wandering outside the cave. To prevent us from seeing that there are alternative economic models to the present system that entrenches poverty. To prevent us from considering the possibility that political systems superior to representative democracy might exist. To prevent us from seeing that a global power reliant on a perpetual-war economy is a danger to all, including its allies. To prevent us from identifying what it is that has the Earth hurtling towards disaster.

    To prevent us from awakening to the fact that we are capable of independent thought and that by casting off our mental chains we can reach our full potential as thinking, feeling, beings.

    Here’s an explanation of that prevention program, attributed to (but denied by) former White House Senior Adviser Karl Rove —
    “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    Another beauty attributed to Rove; “All politicians operate within an Orwellian nimbus where words don’t mean what they normally mean, but Rovism posits that there is no objective, verifiable reality at all. Reality is what you say it is.”

    It’s our choice. We can passively accept manufactured realities, or we can just walk out of the cave to freedom and light.

  5. wam

    Thanks for a good warming giggle, lord.
    The CFMEU super profit and frankers tax and not the tax cuts would be great.
    Love your ‘the truth’ as usual. Sadly, there is no THE truth, Simply your truth being what you believe. All opinions are based on truth which could easily be a lie. Therefore yours, mine or a loonie’s opinion needs no facts and is true. Once formed, an opinion is unlikely to be changed by somebody else’s opinion or any facts. You are spot on with your opinion that the courts cannot be accessed by the voice: “AICD” “Unlike a board of directors, the members of an advisory board are not authorised to act or make binding decisions on behalf of the organisation and they do not have any fiduciary responsibility.” Therefore no grounds to access the courts. I had a friend high in the Queensland nationals who used to send me right wing propaganda which I, in an attempt to show labor the shit her supporters were getting that labor should be countering, used to onsend to plibersek. Sadly plibersek or more likely her minions thought I was a right wing nutter and I was blocked. Then I made the mistake of pointing out the stupidity of the propaganda to my friend. He could not stand my left wings opinion and I got blocked. Seems to me opinions do not want to read or even see facts. Certainly not anything designed to change opinions. ps Tlob et al cannot believe the ‘hottest’ july on recorded history. I cannot understand why they can ignore global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. (but I can understand why the can ignore climate change.) pps if any loonie tells you about voters supporting them, you might point out they are elected by liberal preferences and labor errants, many of whom are not supporters.
    Keep strong, old fellow, I don’t support the silvertails but the pies luck may have dissipated. Let’s hope it has disappeared with last week 34 frees to ports 14, this week 20 to 19.

  6. Clakka

    John Lord, well put.

    Regarding your ‘Clayton’s arguments’ example, and the many others in the ‘NO’ pamphlet, the bleating deceivers (all alleged politicians) would of course fail to say anything about the doctrine of ‘parliamentary supremacy’ nor that it is further reinforced in the wording of ‘the Voice’ clause.

    That this referendum provides the feckless losers of the opposition in parliament an unchecked chance to glaringly blindside the citizens, is a sad indictment of the failure of our laws, of parliamentary supremacy, and the proper functioning of democracy.

    Even the Competition and Consumer Act and its penalties against misleading and deceptive conduct by corporations does not dissuade the guile of news and opinion media, advertisers, boardrooms, executives, auditors, sellers and their teams of word-salad flunkies. Live and let live with caring supported by science is corrupted by monetised faith-bending. Via the internet of everything, any notions of noblesse oblige are made risible and altruism challenged as a myth. It’s just catch and kill yer own – everyone and everything is deemed for sale.

    No wonder citizen’s beliefs are saturated in a vested interest’s post-truth world – low-lying fog and fug.

  7. The AIM Network

    Terry, that tweet from Dutton is relatively recent, even though the photo is dated. Besides, the Liberals have always been masters of scare – long before Dutton was bald. 😉

  8. Kathryn

    It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to even imagine a worse, more corrupt and callously inhumane pack of condescendingly contemptuous miscreants, malignant misogynistic predators, totally corrupt self-serving rorters and pathological liars than the diabolical and thoroughly detested political psychopaths: John Howard, Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton!

    Let’s start with that insignificant and thoroughly malevolent little sociopath, John Howard, who – like most of the war mongers in the LNP – was so willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of Australians in order to look for a DISTRACTIONARY war to take public attention AWAY from his own ineptitude, corruption and appalling mismanagement of our nation! Howard was prepared to enter Australia into yet ANOTHER LNP-diversionary war (in Iraq and Syria) that cost the lives of countless millions of innocent civilians in those countries and accomplished NOTHING but the destabilisation of the whole middle east! EVERY single war Australia has been involved in since WW2 has been because the LNP were looking for a distraction: Korea, the Malayan Emergency, the Indonesian Confrontation, the notorious slaughter of the Vietnamese War and the latest chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria!

    It ALWAYS takes a thoroughly dangerous pack of divisive, war-loving right-wing extremists in the LNP to get Australia involved in yet ANOTHER war and a Labor government to get us OUT of it!

    NEXT we had the LNP vomit up the stuttering, muttering, totally incoherent intellectual midget, Tony Abbott. A rusted-on, ultra-conservative, racist right-wing extremist who failed to achieve a single thing that provided any type of benefit whatsoever to ordinary working- and middle-class Australians! The ONLY thing the lying Abbott will be remembered for was that he was an internationally-condemned, notorious misogynist who’s rigid sexism and medieval, regressive views were stuck in the worst days of the mid-1950’s; a regressive Neanderthal who truly believed that women should remain barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen! Abbott’s alpha-male cabinet contained 19 people but, shockingly, only contained ONE woman: Julie Bishop who correctly and astutely described the rest of the appalling misogynists in the Abbott regime as a pack of “swinging d*cks”!

    Like most wasteful, totally corrupt, absolutely inept LNP political psychopaths, the ONLY thing BIG about Abbott was his ENORMOUS ego. His skewed sense of self-importance and condescending contempt for anything else with a pulse was totally undeserved, absolutely delusional and defied the reality that this insignificant little non-achiever was anything but a world-wide laughing stock who embarrassed our nation on the world stage and did untold damage to our nation’s international reputation!

    Right after Abbott’s colleagues in the LNP finally realised that Phony Tony was a proven liability, they quickly dumped him only to take on the Mother and Father of ALL pathological liars: Scott Morrison. WOW! What a toxic, thoroughly depraved monster the bone-idle Sloth Morrison turned out to be! If we all thought the LNP couldn’t do worse than the catastrophic Howard and Abbott regimes, they reached down into the depths of hell and dragged up this nauseating bible-thumping hypocrite – a signed-up member of the paedophile-protecting CULT of Hillsong. Instead of following the teachings of the Bible in relation to the charitable treatment of vulnerable people, Morrison chose not to spend ONE cent on struggling Australians but, instead, handed over more than $42 MILLION to Brian Houston’s Hillsong which was once run by Brian’s father, Frank Houston, a convicted and recidivist paedophile. Of course, as soon as Morrison discovered that Brian Houston was going to be charged for attempting to conceal his father’s criminal history, Morrison stayed true to form and dumped his (only) friend like a hot cake and switched to ANOTHER lunatic Pentecostal cult known as Horizon.

    It wasn’t sufficient for the undemocratic megalomaniac, Morrison, to stab his friend and colleagues in the back in order to rise to the top of the sewer pit (known as the LNP) like faecal matter in a polluted pond, he went on to parachute the worst, most biased, rusted-on LNP supporting Z-rated hacks (like Ita Buttrose, David Speers, the shrieking right-wing harridan Fauziah Ibrahim et al) into OUR taxpayer-funded ABC (and onto other Murdoch-manipulated TV stations) in order to undemocratically vet and control EVERYTHING Australians see and hear. There is a WORD for this type of manipulation and total control over our media and it’s called fascism!

    Morrison has proven himself to be a callously inhumane misfit who held up the bible in one hand whilst, in the background, set in motion his plans for the long-term vilification, non-stop persecution and traumatisation of the poorest, most vulnerable citizens in our community, ie the cashless welfare card and, worst of all, that diabolical witch hunt known as ROBODEBT. We now know that the bullying thug, Morrison and the rest of the sociopaths in the LNP were warned by their lawyers NOT to go ahead with ROBODEBT; we now know that Morrison and his inhumane colleagues already KNEW that the whole system of ROBODEBT was irrational and ILLEGAL, but they went ahead with it anyway and to hell with the tragic consequences! The fact that it caused the preventable suicidal deaths of more than 2,000+ vulnerable Australians should NEVER be forgotten nor forgiven! Abbott, Morrison, Roberts and the rest of the unspeakably evil miscreants in the LNP should now be responsible for the MANSLAUGHTER of so many hapless victims of the cashless welfare card and ROBODEBT.

    Australians MUST see justice done and the ONLY fair and equitable justice for this level of misanthropic criminal behaviour is a long JAIL SENTENCE!

    What now? Just when you think the LNP couldn’t possibly get worse than the Abbott and Morrison fiasco, they have decided to prove that there is just NO DEPTHS they wouldn’t stoop to and have dragged up DUTTON from the rank sewer pit we now know to be the LNP! Can it get worse? You bet! Dutton, a repugnant member of both the misogynistic alpha male bullies in the Abbott regime which was then re-hashed into a pack of corrupt, pathological liars in the Morrison cabinet, is an arrogant, condescending sociopath without a drop of compassion, zero integrity and not one iota of credibility or insight! Dutton is a power-obsessed, avaricious, self-serving parasite who has managed to acquire a “dubious” personal wealth exceeding $300 MILLION ever since he left his dodgy career as an unpopular racist cop in the backwoods of Queensland to become one of the worst, most despised and totally self-serving political psychopaths this nation has ever seen! Now this appalling, unspeakably cruel psychopath has risen like a deranged Behemoth to be at the helm of the LNP, truly the worst, most corrupt POLITICAL CRIMINAL ORGANISATION in living memory overflowing with like-minded sociopaths, malignant misogynistic predators and pathological liars.

    After experiencing what can only be described as the worst years in our political history under the jackboot of the most depraved pack of morally bankrupt politicians on record, it is OVERTIME that Australians DEMAND the total DEREGISTRATION of the LNP before this monstrous aberration (Dutton) manages to lie his way across the electoral line and finish off the damage, destruction, environmental vandalism and defundment of EVERYTHING we value that the depraved Howard, Abbott and Morrison regimes didn’t have TIME to damage, destroy and defund when their wretched regimes were in autocratic, fascist power! Totally deluded, Murdoch-manipulated working- or middle-class people who choose to continue supporting or voting for the malignant elitists and corrupt sociopaths in the LNP are like TURKEYS VOTING FOR CHRISTMAS! FFS, wake up!

  9. Phil Pryor

    Ah, Kathryn, tremendous typing, pungent prosecution, acid accusations, accurate aim, excellent exposure, pointed purity…from an old classmate, repulsive Jack Howard, on to a pustular politically perverted peanut in Morrison the Failure, the whole shameful careering of conservative Australian disgraceful grovelling distorted misbehaviour is here…

  10. wam

    Kathryn the election can change in an instant little billy’s lunacy with franking was a birthday cake level error and the repeat of the 2016 loss to a new lib leader being preferable to shortin.
    When I think of 2013, when we preferred albo, how shorten is still a pollie is amazing he must have no shame.

  11. leefe


    Shorten was right. People being sucked in by a number of scare campaigns doesn’t make him wrong.
    Politics should be about more thann bloody marketing campaigns.

  12. Canguro

    US rejects Australia’s calls to end pursuit of WikiLeaks founder.

    Says it all, really. Blinken is a pathetic toady, devoid of any principles that would characterise him as a fine person; he’s just another apparatchik within the machine, a man out of his depth, a lap-dog doing what he’s told, blithely assuming that Australia will continue down the path of behaving as an accommodating and servile ally, confident that the sales of enormous dollar’s worth of military hardware will proceed, smug in his assumption that this country will continue to provide land-based facilities – Pine Gap, Exmouth, Tindal, Robertson Barracks – for American use, and dismissive of Assange as anyone of significance other than just another schmuck who had the gall to poke the dragon that he, himself, so willingly serves, feeding it and wiping its bottom. He sees none of the cruelty, the lack of compassion, or the inhumanity involved in his master’s pursuit of Assange, nor does he acknowledge the relativity of Assange’s actions when compared to those of his masters. And similarly, and so unfortunately and sadly, the Australian politicians with whom he is dealing have yet to demonstrate the necessary spine and moral strength to stand up to this piece of insignificance in a suit and tell him to go fuck himself and that all cooperation with the USA is off the table until Julian is released.

  13. Clakka

    Indeed Leefe,

    Although I’m aware of Shorten’s well founded charisma problems, his release of policy via a budgetary list was an appropriate act of transparency. The big problem was the brutal but proper elimination of the franking credit double-dip and over-baked negative gearing, but without a significant grandfathering scheme. Little rat Johnny Howard’s economy wrecking vote buying, pumped-up the silent generation and boomers turning them and subsequent opportunists into greedy usurers and rent seekers – despite Morriscum’s useless and corrupt LNP, they wouldn’t have a bar of those two policies. And it cows Labor to today – yet another LNP filth Labor has to tackle. It’s really bitten the economy hard post-peak-pandemic.

  14. wam

    Good thinking, Leefe, Read murdoch paper or hear sky there is always plenty of
    but almost no did.
    Labor, always a review never an evaluation. and more of the same (h2o tanya get busy and reveal the rorts)
    Shorten ‘did’ in beaconsfield but ‘didn’t’ for his 6 years as leader nor in 2016(not helped by (clp bullshit in solomon and a stupid mouth in nth queensland) when the libs changed from a certain loser to a dubious winner for a second term and in 2019 another successful change from a loser to another show pony for a third.
    Nice man, hard worker but his day has gone and he should retire.
    ps similarly with hinkley no plan B

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