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Edward Bernays (wikipedia.org)
14 points by markmassie on Feb 10, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

PR, especially deciphering it, and understanding how it works, should be one of the mandatory subjects every student should take alongside, science, math, and personal finance. There are "Logic", "Marketing" and "Critical Thinking" but those don't quite cut it. It needs to be something like "Influencing Public Mind" and it should be chock full of examples of propaganda campaigns, how they worked and effects they had.

I say this because it is one of the subjects that will have a direct impact on everyone's life. Every day on TV corporations, government officials, other governments, basically anyone who wields power and resources will vie for people's mind and support. And while doing that they will employ sometimes basic and sometimes sophisticated propaganda techniques. It can thought of a "practical Critical Thinking" or "Practical Logic". Propaganda determines who will be the next president, the next Congressperson, the next State Supreme Court judge.

Great work at a propaganda campaign is what put Obama in power. Ad Age didn't give him Marketing Campaign of the year in 2008 for nothing. He was ahead of Apple and Coke.


A good Rhetoric program teaches what you're asking for (and much more), but I don't know how many schools have one at this point. Of those that do, certainly it isn't a mandatory subject. Outlines of the material are instead punted to English 1A-type classes, where there's no time to tackle them with any degree of rigor. It's a shame.

I used to think it an astonishing coincidence that Bernays was Freud's nephew. But then I learned that Bernays was involved in making Freud's reputation so high in the US while it lasted (a reputation which was odd in the extreme if you think of, say, Dale Carnegie as a native species of American popular psychology). So the two variables weren't independent; Bernays helped make Freud Freud in the first place.

Oddly enough, just last week I finally got around to watching the Adam Curtis documentary about him: http://vimeo.com/67977038

I suggest you also check out Bernay's book propaganda. It's not an easy read (simply, because you have read through bullshit), but it's fairly important that people understand the media that targets them. Quick Google shows a freely available copy.

Here's an interesting quote from Bernay's Propaganda: "Different men rule us in the various departments of our lives. There may be one power behind the throne in politics, another in the manipulation of the Federal discount rate..." Chapter III

I find a lot of people complain about the gap between the rich and the poor, but they never take a second to think about the easily accessible and 0% - 1% interest rate loans that the rich enjoy from governments. Governments creating poverty?!? Nah :)

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