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The Only Way to Fight Disinformation Is to Fight Political Censorship


REPORTED BY: STELLA MORABITO | APRIL 18, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/04/18/the-only-way-to-fight-disinformation-is-to-fight-political-censorship/

Chicago Disinformation Conference

The surest way to kill a democracy is to practice political censorship under the guise of protecting society from disinformation.

Author Stella Morabito profile

STELLA MORABITO

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If outfits like the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder,” along with Big Tech’s faceless “fact-checkers,” ever get a total monopoly on dictating reality, the result will be a 24/7 mix of falsehoods with the occasional limited hangout to cover up their lies. The icing on this fake cake is the use of conferences about disinformation, such as the recent stunt at the University of Chicago that served as cover for justifying political censorship. There former President Obama presented the perfect picture of psychological projection: a panel of propagandists accusing others of wrongthink.

The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum, for example, sought to censor the reality of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal by announcing she didn’t find it “interesting.” See how that works? Truth depends upon how our elites personally feel about what should be true. But it gets much worse, because political censorship creates deep dysfunction in society. In fact, the surest way to kill a democracy is to practice political censorship under the guise of protecting society from disinformation.

Censorship causes disinformation. It’s the grandaddy of disinformation, not a solution to it. The sooner everyone recognizes this obvious fact, the better off we’ll be. Whenever a self-anointed elite sets up a Ministry of Truth, the link between censorship and disinformation becomes clear. Before long, they invent reality and punish anyone who expresses a different viewpoint.

So, it’s no small irony that those who claim to be protecting “democracy” from disinformation are the biggest promoters of disinformation and greatest destroyers of real democracy. Their dependence on censorship obstructs the circulation of facts. It prevents any worthwhile exchange of ideas.

Unchecked Censorship Isolates People

Consider what happens if a society is only permitted one propagandistic narrative while all other ideas and information are silenced. People start self-censoring to avoid social rejection. The result is a form of imposed mental isolation. Severely isolated people tend to lose touch with reality. The resulting conformity also perpetuates the censorship. This is unnatural and dangerous because human beings depend on others to verify what’s real. People weren’t able to verify reality in Nazi Germany, during Joseph Stalin’s Reign of Terror, or during Mao Zedong’s brutal Cultural Revolution. All were societies in the grip of mass hysteria because of ruthless censorship to protect a narrative.

As psychiatrist Joost Meerloo noted in his book “The Rape of the Mind,” no matter how well-meaning political censorship might be, it creates dangerous conformity of thought: “the presence of minority ideas, acceptable or not, is one of the ways in which we protect ourselves against the creeping growth of conformist majority thinking.”

The only way we can strengthen ourselves against such contagion is through real freedom of speech that allows fully open discussion and debate. However, if we’re confined by Big Tech to a relentless echo chamber and punished for expressing different thoughts, we’ll just keep getting more and more disinformation. In fact, we are now drowning in the distortions produced by “fact-checkers.” Take, for example, narratives that promote the gender confusion and sexualization of children. Public school teachers routinely post TikTok videos of themselves spewing forth their gender confusion. And if someone calls out Disney for its open grooming of children, Twitter suspends them.

If we never push back against such absurdities, we ultimately end up in a state of mass delusion, each of us a cell in a deluded hive mind, obedient to commands about what to say, how to act, and what to think. To get an idea of what that looks like in a population, check out this clip from North Korea:

Censorship-Invoked Social Contagion Is Real

One of the most telling incidents of censorship over the past year was YouTube and Twitter’s take-down of virologist and vaccine inventor Dr. Robert Malone, claiming he was “spreading misinformation”—i.e., spreading a second opinion—about Covid vaccines and treatments. But big tech saw an even bigger threat in Malone’s discussion of Mattias Desmet’s study of Mass Formation Psychosis (MFP) on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast. This is a big reason Spotify was under pressure to de-platform Rogan entirely. Open discussion of such things would erode the illusions big media and big tech so doggedly prop up.

Malone explained how a propaganda-saturated population can end up in a state of mass hypnosis that renders people incapable of seeing reality. He described Desmet’s theory about how social isolation, a high level of discontent, and a strong sense of free-floating anxiety are keys to the development of this psychosis.

The anxiety is so painful that it causes people to cling, trancelike, to any narrative that seems to offer stability. Once all other views are censored, people become so invested in the narrative that they cannot consider any alternative views. They will even mob anyone who endangers the narrative. This phenomenon was prevalent in the German population under Nazism. Their obedience to the propaganda rendered them incapable of understanding any opposing narrative.

Mass psychosis should not sound farfetched. There’s nothing new about it. Hundreds of instances of mass hysteria are documented. In the 19th century, Scottish journalist Charles MacKay wrote up a whole catalog of them. In 2015 medical sociologist Robert Bartholomew co-authored a compendium of popular delusions or “mass sociogenic illness.”

Most past incidents of mass hysteria have been confined to geographic regions, such as the witch trials in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts. But with the internet accessible and addictive in the 2020s, the possibility of mass delusion on a global scale is upon us. Censorship—in the name of protecting “democracy” from disinformation—is the key to creating it.

Propagandists Guard Their Illusions Like Magicians

By definition, propaganda aims to psychologically affect people and change their attitudes. So, our social survival depends upon becoming aware of such phenomena. Building self-awareness about our vulnerability to crowd psychology would serve as a sort of psychological vaccine. Of course, elites do not want us even entertaining the possibility that we can be manipulated or vulnerable to social and psychological pressures. Propagandists are illusionists by nature. If their illusion falls apart, then the game is over for them. This is why they depend so heavily on the slur “conspiracy theorist” to distract us from the truth and from their use of censorship to cut us off from other ideas.

The late Nobel laureate Doris Lessing spoke against the dangers of social conformity and censorship in 1986. She noted there was a great body of knowledge that was continuing to be built about the laws of crowd psychology and social contagion. It was odd that we weren’t applying this knowledge to improve our lives. Lessing concluded that no government in the world would willingly help its citizens resist group pressures and learn to think independently. We have to do it ourselves. Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and it sure looks like the keepers of this secret knowledge use it as a means of social control.

No sane person would want to live inside the boxes that the censors who claim to be fighting disinformation are building around us. If we want to escape this Twilight Zone existence, we must destroy that canard and insist on real freedom of speech everywhere.


Stella Morabito is a senior contributor at The Federalist. Her essays have also appeared in the Washington Examiner, American Thinker, Public Discourse, Human Life Review, New Oxford Review. In her previous work as an intelligence analyst, she focused on various aspects of Russian and Soviet politics, including communist media and propaganda. She has also raised three children, served as a public school substitute teacher, and homeschooled for several years as well. She has a B.A. in journalism and international relations from the University of Southern California and a Master’s degree in Russian and Soviet history, also from USC. Follow Stella on Twitter.

CENSORSHIP: How Compulsive Conformity Can Get People Killed


REPORTED BY: STELLA MORABITO | MARCH 30, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/03/30/how-compulsive-conformity-can-get-people-killed/

shock therapy

Two dynamics are at work: the conformity impulse and the manipulation of that impulse by power brokers to promote the illusion that their view is the majority opinion.

Author Stella Morabito profile

STELLA MORABITO

VISIT ON TWITTER@STELLA_MORABITO

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Our survival instincts are going to get us all killed.

I’m specifically referring to our hard-wired conformity impulse. That’s what causes us to go along with politically correct absurdities like pronoun protocols. It also causes people to join mobs, and to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid at the command of a cult leader. In primitive environments, the herd instinct serves as a means of survival. If some sense danger and rush to safety, all follow. But how does such a conformity impulse work in a high-tech society like ours? It doesn’t really.

Sure, a certain level of conformity is normal for a society to function. But an unchecked conformity impulse in a technological society like ours acts more like slow-motion suicide than a survival mechanism. We think we’re saving ourselves by conforming, but in the long run the opposite is true. In fact, our instinct to conform has become a weapon tyrants use to control us by threatening social isolation for those who don’t obey. This is especially the case when a monopoly of tech overlords can broadcast propaganda to the herd, instantly and globally. In such cases there is no “wisdom of crowds.” When the masses obey the propaganda to avoid social punishment, they only prop up propaganda and thereby spread social turmoil.

Propagandists Manipulate our Conformity Impulse

We should be aghast at the high level of American conformity to the demands of propagandists: Mask your toddler! He’s a girl and she’s a guy! Mind your pronouns! He’s a white supremacist! And so on. Nobody is safe if we can’t challenge the truth of what the elites who presume to rule us are saying.

Meanwhile, they keep pushing the envelope to get us to say things we know are false and to do things against our own interests. Demonizing those who hesitate to comply fosters a mob mindset that protects their narratives. Hence, people with different views feel alone and tend to be intimidated into silence. This is how resistance to tyranny is eroded.

Demonization campaigns are key to this process. Suddenly, you’re a bigot if you don’t celebrate men invading women’s sports. Or you’re an “insurrectionist” if you don’t applaud punishing people with 24/7 solitary confinement (without a trial date) for “parading” around the Capitol for a few hours on January 6, 2021.

Or you’re selfish if your toddler isn’t wearing a mask. Or you should be expelled as a Yale law student if you don’t take part in shouting down a conversation about free speech at Yale Law School and then sign a statement intended to abolish freedom of speech.

The Conformity Impulse Is Juvenile and Deadly

Teenage girls provide an especially clear-cut example of how the conformity dynamic works. Too many of them are notorious for engaging in relational aggression, a type of bullying that damages someone’s social status, causing others to shun and isolate the victim. This type of aggression is inherent to mob behavior.

For example, pundit Kathleen Parker’s recent hit job on Ginni Thomas in The Washington Post is infused with a smug little middle school flavor. It includes a huge dose of projection, such as Parker’s hallucination that Thomas has a sense of self-importance, when it’s obviously the Parker girl who’s infected with egotism.

Hillary Clinton is perhaps the ultimate case of the “I’m important and you’re not” mentality. The subtext of Clinton’s 2021 wistful reading of her 2016 acceptance speech is that Americans were obligated to elect her because she wanted to be president ever since she was a little girl. Men with a similar mentality include MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and humorless late-night “comics” like Stephen Colbert.

Their followers imitate and repeat what they’re told by the approved talking heads. They laugh at unfunny lines on cue, regurgitate the assigned opinions, and label the non-compliant with the “eewww” factor. Many are eager to become influencers so they too can dictate what others must say and do on pain of being socially rejected.

The Secret Laws of Social Psychology

Far too many have been marching in lockstep with media-pushed narratives, and too few seem to be speaking out. Two dynamics are at work: the conformity impulse and the manipulation of that impulse by power brokers to promote the illusion that their view is the majority opinion.

To resist this absurd state of affairs, we must first learn about the dynamics and understand our vulnerabilities. The information is out there, but it doesn’t get much circulation.

Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing once observed that people are dangerously ignorant of the laws of mob psychology. In 1987 she recommended everyone be schooled in them, especially children. She speculated that power elites are invested in such ignorance. If such knowledge were widely understood, people would be insulated from the manipulations of propagandists.

A lot of the research on conformity was the result of scholars asking how small groups of fanatics could take over whole societies — e.g., Bolsheviks in Russia and Nazis in Germany — resulting in millions killed while the vast majority of the population sat back in silence and fear.

In the 1950s psychologist Solomon Asch conducted his famous experiments on the conformity impulse. At least 37 percent of the time people would deny the evidence of their own eyes — about the obvious fact of a line’s length — if everyone else gave an incorrect answer. The experiment has been replicated thousands of times with the same or worse results. Here’s a video of that experiment conducted in the 1970s:

Stanley Milgram later took that study to a new level with his famous “shock machine” experiments. When Adolf Eichmann said he was “just following orders” while on trial for his leading role in the Holocaust, Milgram wondered how often ordinary people would inflict harm if told to do so by an authority figure.

Participants in that experiment were told it was a study about how punishment affected learning. If the “learner” gave an incorrect answer, the “teacher” was supposed to shock him in increments. The learners were actors who could not be seen but, although not really shocked, would scream in “pain” from the next room. The “teacher” was the subject.

Sixty-five percent of the subjects gave the highest voltage shock when asked to “please continue” by the administrator. For more background, watch “The Experimenter,” a 2015 film about Milgram. Other related research includes the Robbers Cave Experiment; Robert J. Lifton’s research on thought reform and totalitarianism; and Margaret Thaler Singer’s research on cults. All illustrate how elites can manipulate our urge to conform.

Everybody needs to learn about the dynamics of conformity. Blatant censorship, hostility to free speech, and campaigns to demonize mainstream American views were all unthinkable scenarios for most Americans just a few years ago.

But here we are. When we start self-censoring because we’re afraid of not fitting in, we open the door to oppression and social chaos. That unchecked urge to “fit in” can kill us all, and we need to stop.


Stella Morabito is a senior contributor at The Federalist. Her essays have also appeared in the Washington Examiner, American Thinker, Public Discourse, Human Life Review, New Oxford Review. In her previous work as an intelligence analyst, she focused on various aspects of Russian and Soviet politics, including communist media and propaganda. She has also raised three children, served as a public school substitute teacher, and homeschooled for several years as well. She has a B.A. in journalism and international relations from the University of Southern California and a Master’s degree in Russian and Soviet history, also from USC. Follow Stella on Twitter.

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