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Day to Day Politics: Being Conned with Bullshit

Wednesday 8 November 2017

For most of my working life I worked in marketing and advertising so I know how people are influenced, persuaded or swayed by such things as branding and repetitive advertising. Companies spend millions of dollars to subtly brainwash you.

To align you with a certain brand or product, they will use all manner of persuasive techniques including sex and deceptive packaging to solicit your goodwill and loyalty.

They even measure the eye blink rate of women from hidden cameras in supermarkets to test colour reaction. Yes, it’s that sophisticated. And brand loyalty is what they want. There are more psychologists employed in advertising in America than in 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 it’s way of thinking. It uses similar techniques to the advertising industry and the main ingredients are untruth and the creation of perceptions with subliminal messages.

In the media it is easy to apply. It can be a headline, a one-liner (“stop the boats”) or a photo-shopped photograph, and on television the way you lead a story or conduct an interview. We are almost manipulated beyond our free will. But of course 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. Now of course they have another tool, “Opinion Journalism”.

Now let me add that there is nothing wrong with opinions so long as there is a diversity of them. But the fact is we don’t have a diversity and we would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self interest groups.

An observation

“Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity.”

The less-informed voters unfortunately greatly outnumber the more politically aware and therefore are the obvious victims of mainstream media deception where everything is reduced to simplistic slogans.

Where the opinion makers use all manner of tantalising, seductive and provocative words and imagery to win you to what they want you to believe, then media is no longer about reporting news. It is about persuasion by opinion.

An observation

“It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated.”

Many newspaper articles are written in a manner to suggest objectivity, but subjective words are scattered throughout together with carefully phrased unsupported statements. In essence manufacturing news without reference to fact or substance. Like creating meaningless stories around fortnightly polls that do absolutely nothing for social political discourse.

We can no longer count on “The Fourth Estate” as the custodians of the public’s right to know to act responsibly and report fact and not just express biased opinion. Now they just think that finding the truth and reporting is less important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more’.

An observation

“We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and some self interest groups.”

So is it any wonder a recent Essential Poll found that newspapers were trusted by only 30 per cent, television news the same and online news media by just 27 per cent of respondents? (The ABC was a standout exception, trusted by 70 per cent of respondents, an 11 percentage point increase on last year).

The strange thing is that mainstream media never opens itself to self examination. Instead it just self-righteously assumes that it can continue on its merry way with all the crap their dirty little minds can create, and expect us to get sucked in. One day they might come to the conclusion that facts and truth do actually matter.

Are you being conned with bullshit?

My thought for the day

“Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.”


  1. Möbius Ecko

    The commercial MSM doesn’t worry about its low trust as they now invest in a public institution of high trust, the ABC. Without fail, the ABC now reports the commercial media’s pieces unadulterated, even going so far as having the commercial MSM mouth-pieces on ABC TV and ABC online to propagate the bullshit unchallenged.

  2. Keith

    Energy costs is a good example of promoting messages that are not true; or lying by omission.
    The LNP continually highlighted the plight of South Australia through continuing to push the message about the high cost of energy stating that renewable energy is more expensive than other forms.

    Except, now the cost of energy in South Australia has come down to below that of coal fired power stations.

    The LNP have conveniently not commented on powerlines being bowled over by storms in Queensland or NSW.–ross-garnaut-20171106-gzfqaf

    Also, “clean coal” is promoted; yet, the cost of energy from such power sources is far higher than from older coal fired power stations.
    Renewable energy is not to be subsidised per LNP; though, energy from fossil fuels is; with the extra burden of causing death and illness, and damage to the climate (hidden subsidies).

    We keep being sold privatisation; but, when services are privatised costs to consumers go up and services decline; post secondary school education, and private employment agencies being examples.

    Some forms of employment are sold to young people where they are paid by commission with suggestions being made they can earn reasonable incomes for the work completed; except, they do not have a chance to earn a reasonable income through how the level of commission is planned.

  3. Terry2

    Today Scott Morrison did a drop to News Corp and we are being told that the planned corporate tax cuts which he is about to launch in the parliament are not only essential to keep our economy competitive but will generate a revenue boost of $30 billion to the budget (over ten tears – he wasn’t to clear on this).

    So giving large corporations income tax cuts is not only good for them but we are told it is also good for us : it’s win win again, folks.

    I’m not sure why this nursery rhyme comes to mind :

    Little Jack Horner
    Sat in the corner,
    Eating a Christmas pie;
    He put in his thumb,
    And pulled out a plum*,
    And said ‘What a good boy am I.

    *I would be having a very close look at that plumb !

  4. Jagger

    “I’m not angry because you lied to me, I’m angry because I can never believe you again” Friedrich Nietzsche.

  5. wam

    So glad, Lord, that you seem to be saying opinions must differ. Do you accept given the same evidence, the same scene, the truth can be different?

    In debating is it legitimate to omit any part of an opinion that doesn’t support your side of the question?
    Is it right to give a negative heading then, because people don’t read the text, show the heading to be wrong?

    Why question that which you believe to be true? Even if t is an illusion what you believe is the truth. I have no problem with the amoral politicians like hanson, the rabbott or pollies like shy and hinch speaking their truths

    What drivel. Jagger, even nietzsche, didn’t believe such tripe.

    Whilst I cannot have any claim to reading or understanding much of his texts, he is irrelevant to the Lord’s advertising dissertation, in that TV, radio and the net was unimaginable to him. (Although the morality question of science and religions are still unresolved and the struggle ebbs and flows even in major topics like man made global warming which is replaced by climate change as natural godly process.
    He is reflective of the Lord wanting his truth not that of the media and politicians:

    ‘A healthy mind is flexible and recognizes that there are many different ways of considering a matter. There is no single truth but rather many.’ ‘an ant’s truth of an aardvark?

    ‘truth is simply the name given to the point of view of the people who have the power to enforce their point of view. The only reality is the will to power, and truth, like morality, is just another fig leaf placed on top of this reality’

    source: Spark notes on nihilism

  6. etnorb

    You are right John, with so many under educated, red neck types here in Australia, is it any wonder that ALL Mudrakes rags always seem so “believable” (?) to them? The Fairfax press usually does a reasonable job in trying to print the truth, & of course,the ABC/SBS can usually be relied on to report the truth. We just have this huge problem with ALL of Mudrakes rags, on a daily basis, but especially bad in the lead up to Federal elections, & any time they can crap on the Labor party!

  7. Ellen

    Thanks John, this quote by Nietze that might serve us better:
    “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.
    Day in, day out, our ‘dog-ate-my-lunch govt’ tries to bury us under various distractions with the MSM either leading or following the story according to what suits them best. Twin stupids at the top of their game.
    Terry2 questions why nursery rhymes are springing to his mind. No mystery really, the feudal LNP and MSM are out to infantilise voters by treating them like children. It’s the vibe of the age. The last thing govt wants is more independent, mature thinkers in the audience as they might somehow initiate change not to the liking of the ruling classes. Waiting for pollies or MSM to get their thinking straight is an exercise in futility. Over them.

  8. Keith


    You brought a Philosophical approach to the question, here is my attempt at the same.

    There are some matters where the truth can be checked; opinion is different to truth. In my previous set of comments I chose matters that can be Fact Checked. Opinion can be right or wrong, but from a rational point of view hold little sway if there is no underlying evidence.

    Everybody would believe that 1+1 = 2 under all circumstances; it is a truth we all hold, it is not a relativist view point that might change.

    People can view the same information and draw an opinion from it; but, in my mind the truth is immutable.

    In logic, where A + B = C that will always be the case. An example, being A being an ice block, B being warmth, C being the result which is melting. We know that will always happen in many different situations (rain, wind, sun).

    Where something is being investigated there may be several apparent solutions, the bedrock circumstance is that there is a solution or truth to be found. For example, Criminal Courts are set up to weigh evidence in a case; samples of finger prints and DNA being used in evidence against a suspect provides compelling evidence in a random situation; that is, the culprit of a crime has been correctly apprehended, the truth has been found.

    A healthy mind would employ insight and critical thinking to come to a conclusion, which does not preclude flexibility in my opinion.

  9. Kyran

    “Are you being conned with bullshit?”
    Wasn’t the first rule of marketing never to believe your own bullshit? Once upon a time, it was fair and reasonable to use a ‘BullShit Meter’, particularly when listening to politicians. Nowadays, it is far more appropriate to simply use ‘BullShit Repellent’. Otherwise known as an ‘off’ switch.
    Speaking of BullShit in the media sphere, the trials and tribulations of the Murdoch’s are become a fascination.

    In Australia, notwithstanding a compliant government with generous compensation for hard done by multinational media corporations, young Lachlan got pipped at the post when CBS snatched Channel 10.

    In England, young James is being thwarted on Fox’s bid for Sky by its referral to the Competition Markets Authority. The CMA is due to publish the provisional findings of its investigation in December. Back on the 13th October, young James narrowly survived a rebellion by independent Sky shareholders to be re-elected as chair of the British satellite broadcaster. Conflict of interest?

    And, just today, “One of Rupert Murdoch’s key business allies, who was arrested in last week’s corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia, has quietly sold off his $1.5 billion stake in 21st Century Fox.”
    “”If they’ve gone into the open market then it is more likely that the shares would be hostile to the poor governance arrangements at News Corp with the undemocratic voting structure, but we just don’t know,” Mr Mayne said.”

    Ah well, we find out next week when old Rupert has his AGM as to whether he still has control of Fox.
    Notwithstanding the apparent realignment of the Saudi empire, it looks like an awful lot of things are happening in the Murdoch world. We should know in the next two months how it pans out. Here’s hoping there’s a change a coming.
    The demise of the House of Murdoch would be the best BullShit Repellent.
    Thank you Mr Lord and commenters. Take care

  10. Matters Not

    Everybody would believe that 1+1 = 2 under all circumstances

    Not sure about under all circumstances? Sometimes 1+ 1 = 10. (Using Base 2.)

    But yes mathematics and logic are used to establish truth (given certain assumptions).

    As for: can view the same information and draw an opinion from it. No doubt people can look at the same facts and develop different interpretations. Or as I prefer to say – give different meanings.

    It’s what the writing of history is all about. People can agree on all the facts but differ on what is the best meaning to give.

  11. diannaart


    Am hoping and praying the Murdoch empire will suffer at the next AGM, but not holding my breath – all depends upon whom received the Saudi Prince’s shares.

  12. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Colourful political personalities come and go but the structures of power and communication are deeply entrenched.

    Modern politics certainly offers new plums as Terry2 tells us.

    These plums are just cast-offs from the dominant species of economy and power. I am no fan of the LNP but it has been the dominant forest species since the 1940s.

    Labor must learn to understand the Power Forest Ecosystem if it is to achieve permanent dominance within an alternative canopy. Chifley tried to cultivate an alternative form of democratic socialism but it was soundly contained in the Cold War era.

    Globalization offers new possibilities for changes in the Power Forest Ecosystem both in the USA and here as market ideology produces elite winners and lots of losers in the dominant forest.

    Thanks John for your interpretation of political chattering in the dominant forest where the LNP strives to shade out debate and discussion by
    strategic appointment in public broadcasting.

  13. Nearly Normal Frederick

    As far as I know most of the “news” items and certainly most/all of the opinion pieces published in the “news”-papers are planted by the hugely enormous “public relations” industry, and/ or “think” (stink) tanks, mostly right-wing of course. One excellent source on this topic is Global Spin by Sharon Beder.

    She also wrote a book describing how babies, toddlers, infants etc etc are propagandized (really brain washed) into being “faithful” consumers from day one or the moment they are placed in front of a screen – TV and now I-pads. Check out This Little Kiddy Went To Market
    I have just finished reading another on this topic. It is Buy, Buy Baby – How Big Business Captures The Ultimate Consumer – Your Baby Or Toddler by Susan Gregory Thomas.

  14. jim

    Australian “news” must go through the PMs office, all News clips are the same with the same opinions on all stories on every News channel . The “Australian” news always favors the LNP over Labor this is plain to see.
    Also the interviewer almost always embeds a statement along with their question like “will your government be better than the ALP of 2011 were you were spending like drunken sailors”?.(this would be an objection in a court of law.
    We have a NewsLtd/IPA COALition regime in power in Australia as intended by the religious right wing fundamentalists and their masters in the corporate world including our media .
    Action is needed to bring these culprits who are actively distorting Australia’s democracy to a court of law.

  15. wam

    keith to liquid nitrogen -100 degrees is warmth if b=warmth c is not melt.

    I just cannot understand why what I think is true has to be the same as the Lord’s version of truth. Truth is only what you believe and is transient to memory, reflection and further information?

    The Aust or the SMH can have a different version of the words of a small car’s announcement on tax and both can be the truth to readers

  16. Continuous

    The media talking about how deceitful it is….something’s not quite right here.

    With all due respect John, I work in Logic and have been for all my life, and its difficult for me to answer the obvious question that occurs to me, why would you not be trying to con me with this article?

    Jaggers’ reference to Nietzsche is so appropriate! “I’m not angry because you lied to me, I’m angry because I can never believe you again”

  17. jimhaz

    [With all due respect John, I work in Logic and have been for all my life]

    For me, I now never believe anyone who makes statements like this. Blame Malcolm Roberts when he spoke about “empirical evidence”

  18. Harquebus

    John Lord
    Could it be your expertise in marketing that gives you your unique insight into politics which, is really marketing by another name? Perhaps, knowing all the tricks of the trade as you would, we can use some of your skills to undo the damage that marketing has done. Fight fire with fire.
    Maybe just exposing the techniques that we are exposed to would be enough.

    “Borrowing from the insights of Freud, the new advertising focused less on the product itself than on the vanity and insecurities of potential customers. As historian Stuart Ewen points out, advertising helped to replace long-standing American values stressing thrift with new norms based on conspicuous consumption.”
    “Through increasingly sophisticated and effective marketing techniques, Ewen says, “excessiveness replaced thrift as a social value”, and entire populations were invested with “a psychic desire to consume.”
    In other words, the modern consumer culture was born – not as a response to innate human greed or customer demand, but to the needs of industrial capital.”
    “The global consumer culture is not only the engine of climate change, species die-off, ocean dead zones, and many other assaults on the biosphere, it ultimately fails to meet real human needs.”
    “It’s time to envision – and take steps to create – an economy that doesn’t destroy people and the planet just to satisfy the growth imperatives of global capital.”

    I have posted this video before about propaganda and marketing. I recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

    Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions

  19. Mark Needham

    The world is round, but we are on the inside bit.
    Someone, somewhere, will look at this and understand it to be true.

    Fair Dinkum,
    Mark Needham

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