The Key to Success is Credibility. Once You Fake That, You’ve Got It Made.
Mirroring language establishes the rapport required to appear honest, credible, sincere, and trustworthy.
Cambridge Analytica harvested personal information on where users lived and what pages they liked. They used this information to build psychological profiles that analyzed cognitive biases. Political campaigns developed talking points and specific language using that kind of information.
Facebook proved its unparalleled ability to surveil the cognitive biases of its social media users and tell them exactly what they wanted to hear.
Belief systems are composed of cognitive biases.
Cognitive biases are systematic patterns of deviation from the norm and/or rationality in judgment that are often studied in psychology, sociology, and behavioral economics. Belief systems are composed of cognitive biases.
Data mining provides insight into the cognitive biases of targeted audiences to enable the psychological manipulation of large groups of people.
This psychological manipulation works because political parties and corporations understand the truth behind the acceptance of propaganda delivered through mainstream media and social media channels.
That truth is unfortunately inverted by many who do not understand how propaganda actually works.
Primarily, people seek out media that already agrees with their cognitive biases.
Too few ever seek out media that disagrees with those cognitive biases. Most people simply just do not want to hear it. Propaganda promoting issues or points of view different from the cognitive biases already held falls on deaf ears at best and often only engenders hostility.
The essential step for achieving success with a propaganda campaign is the initial establishment of rapport. In media, this rapport is often established by mirroring the language of the target audience. The language of the target audience is obtained by mining social media data.
Hypnotism works in a similar way.
A hypnotist usually begins by seeking agreement to facts already perceived by their subject. Often, the hypnotist will notice three things about the condition or environment of their subject and then propose their hypnotic suggestion. It’s a common hypnotism technique.
- “You are sitting in a chair.”
- “You are wearing shoes.”
- “You can feel a breeze on your face.”
And only then will the hypnotist suggest, “You are a chicken.”
This simple hypnotic progression is exactly what is used by successful propagandists.
Virtually all successful media channels, political campaigns, and corporate advertising programs deploy this strategy. They begin with research and then use data mining to identify the cognitive biases revealed by language and memes already in use amongst their target audience. Then they lead with what agrees with the cognitive biases their target audience holds.
Once rapport is established in this manner, the propagandist is free to further their own agenda because they appear honest, credible, sincere, and trustworthy in the minds of their target audience. Now, and only now, their target audience is open and receptive to the points the propagandist intends to advance.
“The key to success is sincerity. If you can fake that you’ve got it made.” ― Groucho Marx? George Burns? Celeste Holm? Ed Nelson? Samuel Goldwyn? Daniel Schorr? Joe Franklin? Jean Giraudoux is said to have been the originator.
Fortune-tellers regularly use a method known as cold reading.
A fortune-teller’s setup begins with meeting and greeting to establish rapport. Their initial intent is to create a calm, relaxed environment that both puts the client at ease and where empathy is easy to display.
Successful fortune-tellers then both read and employ universal facial expressions to increase their apparent empathy and useful understanding. They make the effort to project happiness, friendliness, and openness.
After establishing rapport, putting the client at ease, and creating an empathic environment fortune-tellers then encourage the client’s co-operation with a hypnotic suggestion following the pattern described above. First, the fortune-teller states three easy to agree with ideas.
- “I won’t necessarily always know exactly what the cards are trying to say.”
- “Sometimes it’s unclear, like looking through a mist, and…”
- “…the exact meaning will actually be clearer to you than it is to me.”
Then they inject the hypnotic suggestion.
“So bear that in mind, won’t you?”
Fortune-telling always depends upon a client willing and able to connect the dots and make sense out of most of what the fortune-teller brings up.
Clients make sense through subjective validation of words, symbols, signs, sounds, gestures, and the like which have no meaning in themselves outside of the client’s cognitive biases.
Clients give them meaning and often give them a personal meaning when none is explicit.
Three psychological phenomena conditioned by cognitive biases account for how clients give meaning when none is explicit.
- Pareidolia: An illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct.
- Apophenia: Spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena.
- Selective Memory: Incompletely understood and complex mental attribute involving emotional valence, reward value, false, and repressed memories.
Social engineering employs six common attack modes.
- Phishing: Fraudulent emails, claiming to be from a reputable and trusted source.
- Vishing and Smishing: Voice/phone phishing and SMS phishing/text messaging.
- Pretexting: False pretenses by impersonation of authoritative power or celebrity.
- Baiting: Something enticing or curious.
- Tailgating and Piggybacking: Closely following an unknowing authorized user and when the authorized user is aware and allows piggybacking.
- Quid Pro Quo: Bogus trade of service for information.
Notice how these attacks rely upon techniques used by hypnotists and fortune-tellers by leveraging rapport and cognitive biases.
Propagandists use these well-known techniques in media campaigns.
Propaganda never succeeds with a brute force deluge of its agenda. Without previously establishing rapport such an effort will only be met by increased resistance at the minimum and often escalating hostility at worst.
Many people invert this process by arguing that it was propaganda that created cognitive biases. But without rapport, propaganda is never accepted. Propaganda is only accepted once it appears honest, credible, sincere, and trustworthy.
The appearance of a supposed brute force deluge is often a mistaken perception of either the propagandist merely seeking a wider target audience or simple confirmation reinforcement by repeating the propaganda through multiple channels.
Even when a specific medium or channel is not fully in agreement with a target audience’s cognitive biases often a pundit or celebrity is found with a degree of rapport already established.
It doesn’t matter if the pundit or celebrity is contextualized by oppositional critical viewpoints.
It doesn’t even matter if the pundit or celebrity is ridiculed. In these cases, it will be the oppositional critical viewpoints and ridicule that will be dismissed with prejudice.
If anything, the target audience will rally to the side of the pundit or celebrity who has previously established rapport and their propaganda message becomes even more effective. The oppositional critical viewpoints and ridicule will only harden the resolve of the target audience to accept the propaganda.
Science, obvious facts, and rhetorical logic have no effect on the outcome in the minds of the target audience once rapport has been established by the propagandist.
Sometimes science, obvious facts, and rhetorical logic may be effective in establishing rapport when they agree with the cognitive biases of the target audience but that is the limit of their usefulness to propaganda efforts.
Once honesty, creditability, sincerity, and trustworthiness exist in the target audience's collective unconscious, and only then, will the target audience willingly accept whatever propaganda is then offered.
Gustave Le Bon is best known for his 1895 work “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”, which is considered one of the seminal works of crowd psychology. Gustave Le Bon’s works influenced Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and Vladimir Lenin.
It was Gustave Le Bon who first theorized that a new entity, the psychological crowd, emerges from a population and not only forms a new body but also creates a collective unconsciousness.
“When the structure of a civilisation is rotten, it is always the masses that bring about its downfall.” — Gustave Le Bon
It was this observation by Gustave Le Bon that struck fear into the hearts and minds of oligarchs after secular governments replaced the previous royal lineages, which maintained power by divine right and was overthrown by mass insurgencies and revolution.
Control over the masses became essential and leveraging the cognitive biases of the masses is the only proven way to control them.
The threat of violence alone does not allow oligarchs to maintain power over the people. It is only through psychological manipulation of the collective unconscious that enables oligarchs to maintain power over the people.
This psychological manipulation is most effectively accomplished by leveraging cognitive biases to establish the rapport required by successful propaganda campaigns.