On the manipulation of subjective reality

I realize that the concepts of objective and subjective reality have been debated to death, but here I am presenting these concepts in a different light. I am concerned with how subjective reality can, and is, manipulated by those that control the dissemination of information for their own benefit, and for the guidance of culture, or cultures, towards a definite end. When the word reality is used in this essay it is not meant to refer to some abstract conception of the universe or different dimensions, or even whether or not what one sees through ones eyes actually exists or is simply their minds interpretation of light particles. Here reality means the truth and totality of world events, history, motives, etc. Objective reality means all data, subjective reality means the data contained in ones mind and ones interpretation of said data.

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The first thing that will addressed here is what is meant by reality. It’s ones perception of the world that shapes ones subjective reality, and the absence of certain facts from ones consciousness can only result in an incomplete perception of reality. There are at least two types of reality, objective and subjective. Objective reality is concrete, a set of facts outside of any one person’s perception, that encompasses all data. Theoretically, objective reality is the absolute truth (the question of whether or not it exists is outside the scope of this essay). Subjective reality is an individuals interpretation, or perception, of a small selection of the facts that exist outside the mind. It is impossible to have a complete knowledge of objective reality. In order to do so one would have to know everything. This means one can only have a subjective view of reality, shaped by the bits and pieces of objective reality that one has gathered.

Culture is “the behavior and beliefs characteristic of a certain group”. Culture can be said to be a common illusion of objective reality, a common set of myths or mythos. It is a force that works to shape a common subjective interpretation of a selection of the data that make up objective reality. This mythos determines what a group of people within a given culture consider to be normal, which means “conforming to the standard or common type”. Ones subjective reality, usually similar to the mythos of ones culture, then defines normal for this person. The mythos is constantly evolving and is guided by the most widely known information present within the culture.

Those within, or above, the culture who have the ability to disseminate information en masse determine the current mythos. Therefore, those with the ability to disseminate information en masse determine what individuals within the culture consider to be normal. In this way the subjective reality of large groups of people, collectively the culture or mythos, can be manipulated quite easily given modern technology’s amazing capacity for reaching billions of people, and given the fact that a large percentage of the tools for disseminating information en masse are in the hands of a rather small group of people. So if ones sources of information are strictly authorized outlets then one can be led to believe that their subjective reality, which has been manipulated, is indeed objective reality, especially if one does not understand this concept, the thought may never even occur.

We’ve all been given this common subjective reality (if you are reading this you are most likely a member of the same culture as the author) by our culture and by those who can manipulate culture. We share a common set of ideas, concepts, language, etc., that allows our society to function. This we generally accept as objective reality. Although one cannot completely know objective reality, one can be led to believe that they do those who regulate what bits of information make their way into our perception. If one does not understand this concept, and if ones subjective reality matches that of most others, then one might think that it is objective reality, simply because so many agree that it is.

By independent study of pieces of objective reality (replicable scientific experiments for example) or by independent study of a multitude of other people’s subjective reality (investigative reports, books, etc), and ones own observations, one can piece together a picture of what may be a small portion of objective reality. But one is always left with their unique perception of data, subjective reality. Since subjective reality is no more than ones interpretation of the bits and pieces of objective reality that one has gathered, if another person, or group of people, can regulate which bits and pieces one receives, then this person, or group of people, can manipulate subjective reality and one might believe it to be objective reality.

To date, observation and compilation of gathered data have led some to the understanding that there exists a concerted effort to manipulate exactly which bits and pieces we all get. In this way the regulators of information are free to create whatever pseudo-objective reality they choose, which will most likely benefit its creators. By design it keeps us prisoners, physically and mentally.

Since there are trillions of bits of data and we are given only a small percentage of them, what reason do we have to believe that the mythos is indeed objective reality? So much is left out. The more facts one can gather, the easier it becomes to see that the common illusion is simply a mass, meshed, consensual subjective reality. A real life cave, a la Plato’s Republic.

How does one know what’s real and what’s fake or misrepresented? There isn’t a satisfactory answer for that question, ultimately it’s up to you to decide. But one thing is certain, the reality that has been created for us by our culture is not objective reality. It’s simply our perception, our interpretation, of the information that has been selectively presented to us. A good deal of information has intentionally been left out, or skewed towards one outlook or another, leaving us with a provably false perception of reality.


Imagine that a human being is a computer. The various input and output devices, the video card, sound card, modem, etc., correlate to the senses, allowing us to interact with the outside world. The hard drive is the brain, where data is stored. Imagine culture as the operating system (Windows, Linux, etc.), installed on the hard drive. Each bit of information in the brain is a separate file, the operating system being what determines how files are to be combined and accessed, how each bit of data is to be interpreted.

An actual computer can only operate within the parameters set by the operating system and it is only possible for this system to work with the data that is given to it. Therefore, the programer, the one in charge of the available data and the operating system, has ultimate control of what the computer knows and what the computer “thinks.” The computer is programmed with a programming language, a set of rules which define how it interprets the data. The rules are built into the operating system, different operating systems use different rules. Given a set of facts, using its programmed rules this machine can reach conclusions. The programmer, knowing how his operating system’s programming language is designed, and knowing what data is available to the computer, knows what conclusion will be reached on any given topic. For instance, if the computer is programmed with the rule that 1 + 2 = 5, the computer will always calculate five as the sum of one plus two. True or false is irrelevant because the computer does not have the ability to operate outside of its program, it only knows what has been programmed into it.

If culture is the operating system, determining how each human interprets each bit of data, and the computer-human cannot operate outside of the operating system, then culture, and those with the ability to manipulate it, are ultimately in charge of what most people think and the conclusions they will reach on any given subject. If the culture is programmed with rules the programmer knows to be false, then the conclusion that will be reached by any computer-human programmed with that operating system will be false, but will be understood as truth to the computer-human. Any person reaching a different conclusion will be thought of as being incorrect, as having faulty logic, regardless of what the truth is.

Fortunately humans are not actually computers, so we do have the ability to break free of our operating system to create our own program. First, the operating system must be uninstalled, the hard drive wiped clean. In order to do this correctly we must understand how the operating system is constructed and how it functions. We must begin to learn what information that has been left out of our program and some of the tools necessary to de-program ourselves. This will allow us to understand how our perception of reality has been manipulated and how to begin to de-construct the false reality that has been built around us.

The reality that we have been programmed with is false, it is a collective myth, a shared program bound by a false programming language, necessary to the smooth functioning of our current operating system. If we de-program ourselves and remove the barriers placed to hold us back from exploring reality outside of the system, we can knock the bricks out of the wall and see what’s on the other side.


This is a work in progress, has been for years. I realize that the last section is similar to something Terrence McKenna once said, but I give you my internet oath that this was thought up before I knew about it.

I think my concept comes across clearly and I have more to add to it, but I’m not yet sure how to fit in. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

You and I are on similar wavelengths. Keep going.

Revision of, and addition to, the original post.

[i]“Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.” - Albert Einstein

“Culture is not your friend.” - Terrence McKenna[/i]

The Duality of Reality

It’s ones perception of the world that shapes ones reality, and the absence of certain facts from ones consciousness can only result in an incomplete perception of reality. There are at least two types of reality, objective and subjective. Objective reality is concrete, a set of facts outside of any one person’s perception, that encompasses all data. Theoretically, objective reality is the absolute truth. Subjective reality is an individuals interpretation, or perception, of a small cross section of the data that constitute objective reality. It is impossible to have a complete knowledge of objective reality. In order to do so one would have to know everything. This means one can only have a subjective view of reality, shaped by the bits and pieces of objective reality that one has gathered.

Culture Is Not Your Friend

Culture is “the behavior and beliefs characteristic of a certain group”. Culture can be said to be a common illusion of objective reality, a common set of myths or mythos, a common subjective reality. It is a force that works to shape a common subjective interpretation of a selection of the data that make up objective reality, and individuals within the group each have a more refined subjective reality, generally held within the boundaries of their culture. This may be why each culture is different from the others, having developed isolated from other cultures, they have each developed a different interpretation of the data. And having at their disposal different pieces of objective reality, they have had different data to interpret.

The [i]mythos[/i], defined as [i]“the complex of beliefs, values, attitudes, etc., characteristic of a specific group or society”,[/i] determines what a group of people within a given culture consider to be normal, which means[i] "conforming to the standard or common type"[/i]. Ones subjective reality, usually similar to the [i]mythos[/i] of ones culture, then defines normal for this person. The [i]mythos[/i] is constantly evolving and is guided by the most widely known data present within the culture.    

Those within, or above, the culture who have the ability to disseminate information [i]en masse[/i] determine the current [i]mythos[/i]. Therefore, those with the ability to disseminate information [i]en masse[/i] can determine what individuals within the culture consider to be normal by regulating which bits of information make their way into our perception. In this way the subjective reality of large groups of people, (culture or [i]mythos[/i]), can be manipulated quite easily given modern technology's amazing capacity for reaching billions of people, and given the fact that a large percentage of the tools for disseminating information [i]en masse[/i] are in the hands of a rather small group of people. The Department of Defense and many public relations firms call this technique [i]perception management[/i].

We’ve all been given [i]this[/i] common subjective reality (if you are reading this you are most likely a member of the same culture as the author) by our culture and by those who can manipulate culture. We share a common set of ideas, concepts, language, etc., that allows our society to function. This we generally accept as objective reality.  So if ones sources of information are strictly authorized outlets, i.e. those capable of disseminating information [i]en masse[/i], then one can be led to believe that their subjective reality is indeed objective reality, especially if one does not understand this concept.  In fact, in that case the thought may never even occur and most within the culture might believe that it is objective reality, simply because most people agree that it is.  

The Search For Truth aka Objective Reality

By independent study of pieces of objective reality (replicable scientific experiments for example) or by independent study of a multitude of other people’s subjective reality (investigative reports, books, etc), and ones own observations, one can piece together a picture of what may be a small portion of objective reality. But one is always left with their unique perception of data, subjective reality. 

How does one know what’s real and what’s fake or misrepresented? There isn’t a satisfactory answer for that question, ultimately it’s up to you to decide. However the mainstream version of reality that has been created for us by our culture is not objective reality. It’s simply our perception, our interpretation, of the information that has been [i][b]selectively presented[/b][/i] to us. A good deal of data have intentionally been left out, leaving us with a provably false perception of reality. 

To date, observation and compilation of gathered data have led some to the understanding that there exists a concerted effort to manipulate exactly which bits and pieces we all get. In this way the regulators of information are free to create whatever pseudo-objective reality they choose, which will most likely benefit its creators. By design it keeps us prisoners, physically and mentally.

Since there are trillions of bits of data and we are given only a small percentage of them, what reason do we have to believe that the mythos is indeed objective reality? So much is left out. The more facts one can gather, the easier it becomes to see that the common illusion is simply a mass, meshed, consensual subjective reality. A real life cave, [i]a la[/i] Plato’s  [i]Republic[/i]. 

[i]“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”[/i]  - Lawrence Fishburne as Morpheus in [i]The Matrix[/i]

Red Pill

Imagine that a human being is a computer.  The various input and output devices, the video card, sound card, modem, etc., correlate to the senses, allowing us to interact with the outside world.  The hard drive is the brain, where data is stored.  Imagine culture as the operating system (Windows,  Linux, etc.), installed on the hard drive.  Each bit of information in the brain is a separate file, the operating system being what determines how files are to be combined and accessed, how each bit of data is to be interpreted.

    An actual computer can only operate within the parameters set by the operating system and it is only possible for this system to work with the data that is given to it.  Therefore, the programer, the one in charge of the available data and the operating system, has ultimate control of what the computer knows and what the computer “thinks.”  The computer is programmed with a programming language, a set of rules which define how it interprets the data.  The rules are built into the operating system, different operating systems use different rules.  Given a set of facts, using its programmed rules this machine can reach conclusions.  The programmer, knowing how his operating system’s programming language is designed, and knowing what data is available to the computer, knows what conclusion will be reached on any given topic.  For instance, if the computer is programmed with the rule that 1 + 2 = 5, the computer will always calculate five as the sum of one plus two.  True or false is irrelevant because the computer does not have the ability to operate outside of its program, it only knows what has been programmed into it.

    If culture is the operating system, determining how each human interprets each bit of data, and the computer-human cannot operate outside of the operating system, then culture, and those with the ability to manipulate it, are ultimately in charge of what most people think and the conclusions they will reach on any given subject.  If the culture is programmed with rules the programmer knows to be false, then the conclusion that will be reached by any computer-human programmed with that operating system will be false, but will be understood as truth to the computer-human.  Any person reaching a different conclusion will be thought of as being incorrect, as having faulty logic, regardless of what the truth is. 

Fortunately humans are not actually computers, so we do have the ability to break free of our operating system to create our own program. First, the operating system must be uninstalled, the hard drive wiped clean. In order to do this correctly we must understand how the operating system is constructed and how it functions.

    The reality that we have been programmed with is false, it is a collective myth, a shared program bound by a false programming language, necessary to the smooth functioning of our current operating system.  If we de-program ourselves and remove the barriers placed to hold us back from exploring reality outside of the system, we can knock the bricks out of the wall and see what’s on the other side.

"You’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Led astray. Run amok!” - Malcolm X

If your programming were actual computer software the most recent revision might be named [i]Expert v.4.2[/i]. Through popular media it is possible that you have been conditioned to accept as objective reality almost whatever you are told.  On the surface of things you seem to be presented with multiple possible viewpoints for to choose from, depending on your political leaning.  These viewpoints need not vary to a great degree because your political leaning is almost certainly without the bounds of your culture and its common subjective reality.  For instance, the philosophy of complete liberty is probably unappealing to you because it is outside of this cultures bounds.  

Regardless of which viewpoint you choose to accept as your own you will still be safely within the bounds of your program. This mode of presentation gives you the illusion of a making a decision about which expert opinion to accept as your own.  However, the fact is that all of your choices of expert opinions to accept are bound by a larger concept, the bounds of the culture.  As long as you are accepting one of the opinions presented to you you are not thinking for yourself about possible alternatives, or the motives behind the opinions being presented to you.  

You have been conditioned out of  your self confidence and the ability to decide for yourself what you think is correct by a constant inundation of information from authorized outlets.  When presented with information about certain topics, events, people, institutions, etc, from unauthorized sources that does not match the story from the official outlets, or perhaps even does not exist from authorized outlets, you might deny it.  You might disregard them  because you haven't been told it's so by an expert.  That’s part of the program.  But your self confidence hasn’t vanished.  It has only been suppressed. It lurks, and it quietly calls “Bullshit!” when it hears bullshit, but you silence it.

Programmers

Way back in 1928, while Expert v1.0 was being designed, Edward L. Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, and world renowned public relations expert, in his book Propaganda had this to say:

[i]“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country...

We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of...

...To-day, however, a reaction has set in.  The minority has discovered a powerful help in influencing majorities.  It has been found possible so to mold the mind of the masses that they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction.  In the present structure of society, this practice is inevitable.  Whatever of social importance is done to-day, whether in politics, finance, manufacture, agriculture, charity, education, or other fields, must be done with the help of propaganda.  Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.”[/i]

In 1999 Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century by Time magazine.  He put into practice the theory  that humans have unconscious desires that control conscious behavior, but that they are generally unaware of this process.  He understood that emotions strongly influence the decisions people make and manipulation of those emotions could be a very powerful tool.  Bernays knew that media could, and did, direct the and regulate the people.

 He applied this to advertising.  In the 1920's the American Tobacco  Company hired him to come up with a campaign encourage women to buy more cigarettes.  The [i]mythos[/i] of that time in the US generally discouraged women from smoking, at least in public, thereby effectively halving the possible market for tobacco products.  Bernays came up with the idea to put a group of female models in the front of New Yorks Easter parade and have them smoking Lucky Strike cigarettes, which they called “Torches of Freedom.”  

In April 1929 the New York Times printed a photo of these girls with the headline "Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of 'Freedom.'"  Bernays successfully  related female smoking to female liberation and succeeded in changing the culture just a little bit. He understood that women had a desire to be free, and that if he could equate something which has no rational connection to freedom, like smoking,  with womens liberation, then subconsciously women might equate smoking with a sense of new power and so buy more cigarettes, which Adam Curtis more closely examines in his documentary [i]The Century of the Self.[/i]

Bernays, the “father of PR”, is just one in a long line of program directors for the Expert series of software.

Opinion Algorithms

How do you form your opinions?  Have you ever considered that question?  Think about where your opinions come from.  It's quite likely that you have an opinion, either positive, negative or neutral, about the country of Iran.  Have you ever been there?  Do you know anyone who has?  Have you ever studied Iran’s culture or government? If you've answered no to these questions then how can you have any opinion about Iran?  If you’ve never directly educated yourself about it then where has the data used to form your opinion come from?  Has the [i]mythos[/i]  of your culture informed your opinion, or has [i]Expert v4.2 [/i]had any influence in shaping your conception of Iran?

The March 1995 issue of USA Today ran an article entitled [i]Do Movies Shape Your Opinions?[/i]  It cited studies by Purdue University English professor William J. Palmer from the 1970's and 1980's.  Palmer posited during those studies that during the 1990's and beyond movies will have a powerful  influence on popular opinions about topical and historical issues.  He said, [i]“People in mass society get their sense of history from the way it's portrayed in movies...

"How do Americans interpret history? Do they get it from historians? Some do. Do they get if from the news? Some do. Do they get if from movies? Certainly they do. I think one of the main sources of history is movies. I'm not certain it's the best source, but certainly it is a main source.”“	[/i]

Fiction has a very strong influence on the culture of a society.  It is perhaps the main source of data which informs the mythos of the culture.  This type programming is a subtle form of psychological conditioning provided by the media to acquaint the public with planned societal changes and with revisions of history. If and when these changes are put through, the public will already be familiarized with them and will accept them as natural progressions.  Events or ideas which would otherwise be seen as bizarre, outrageous, or undesirable are inserted into films and television shows in the realm of fantasy. When the viewer watches these programs, often in a trance state, his or her mind is left open to suggestion and the conditioning process begins.	

This is your brain

The beta wave is is the term used to designate the frequency range of human brain activity  between 12 and 30 hertz (Hz, cycles per second).  Beta states, split  into three sections, low beta, beta and high beta, are the states associated with normal waking consciousness, and like all brain states, can be recorded with an electroencephalogram (EEG).  The alpha wave state is a range of 8 to 13 Hz.  This is a lower state and associated with relaxation and drowsiness.  There is are two deeper states, the theta wave, which is associated with light sleep (4-7 Hz) and the delta state associated with deep sleep (below 4 Hz).  

This is your brain on TV

Alpha states can be induced by hypnosis and meditation, among other techniques.  Television, movies and computer screens can create alpha states in the human brain.  In this state the brain is very receptive to suggestions.  Hypnotherapist Krys Call says this of brain states: [i]“While you are in the theta state, your hypnotherapist can have a conversation with the part of the mind that is controlling unwanted habits or creating blocks or psychosomatic symptoms. In a spirit of collaboration, agreements that are pleasing to all levels of consciousness can be reached.  However, this same type of work, including substantive interaction with the subconscious, can also be achieved in the alpha state...”[/i]

Phraseology Algorithms

If a person is exposed to repetitions of phrases, words or opinions, these phrases, words or opinions can cause actual changes in the brain.  The repetitions, similar to the effective frequency concept in advertising, cause the brain to create permanent neural pathways that get more difficult to erase with each repetition.  George Lakoff,  cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, in his essay [i]What Orwell Didn’t Know About the Brain, Mind and Language[/i] states: [i]“A few words in the political language can activate large portions of the brain: War on Terror, tax relief, illegal immigration, entitlements, death tax, property rights, abortion on demand, cut and run, flip-flop, school choice, intelligent design, spending programs, partial birth abortion, surge, spreading freedom, private accounts, individual responsibility, energy independence.”[/i]

These words carry emotional connotations and this technique of repetition of emotional phrases or words operates on the same principle as Bernays' propaganda.   By activating certain phrases within the program the programmers can activate certain emotions within the people, which words to use are determined by which sub-program is being run at the moment (conservative television might choose to use the term 'abortion on demand' to activate anti-abortion emotions in its audience in preparation for an upcoming election in which a pro-choice candidate is running).

Lakoff continues, [i]“When they are repeated every day, extensive areas of the brain are activated over and over, and his leads to brain change. Unerasable brain change. Once learned, the new neural structure cannot just be erased: War on Terror be gone! It doesn't work. And every time the words are repeated, all the frames and metaphors and worldview structures are activated again and strengthened--because recurring activation strengthens neural connections. Negation doesn't help. "I'm against the War on Terror" just activates the War on Terror metaphor and strengthens what you're against. Accepting the language of issue and arguing the other side just hurts your own cause.”[/i]  By continued use of the terminology of the programmers you are strengthening the program.

Moved from Essays & Theses

George Costanza, those are some seriously excellent posts.
I would love to add even more detail and discuss the “so what do we do about it” issues, but maybe another time.

Thank you. I’m constantly adding to and revising it, have been for years. As far as what to do about it, well, that’s a bit more difficult. Unfortunately, if you are unaware that this even happens there is almost no defense. Being immersed in mainstream culture, or even “alternative” culture for that matter, will have a definite effect, it cannot be avoided. It seems that the only way way to avoid this type of thing is to A) be aware of it, subconscious manipulation is much less effective is the person receiving the information is aware there is an attempt to manipulate them. B) Filter everything that goes into your mind through a process of critical thinking and logic so you can disregard false or misleading information and so you can recognize logical fallacies as attempts to sway you away from truth. Unfortunately this is very difficult to do even if you actively do it, and if you don’t, and aren’t even aware that you should, well then I’m afraid there’s not much hope of escaping this,