How, Exactly, is Fake News Fake?

Over the last 4 years the term “fake news” has been used – some say overused – to disparage the mainstream media and its message. Some say it’s just an insult designed to distract from negative but accurate reporting. Others say the term correctly describes how the mainstream media are no longer trying to present news accurately. Instead, they are attempting to shape the narrative by biased and hostile stories. As a hypnotist, I agree with the second group because I know what techniques the media are using and how they work. In fact, I don’t think the statement goes far enough: I would say that ALL news reporting is fake news.

Let’s start with the well-documented bias of mainstream media. 90% of the mainstream media vote and donate to liberal candidates. This is a major issue because humans are highly advanced primates. That means humans are subject to the same largely involuntary responses to threats as any other animal. And there’s no question that the current president threatens the media – he attacks their credibility at every opportunity, points out their mistakes and bias, and insults key figures in their camp. It appears that he would end their messaging hegemony if he could, destroying their livelihoods, careers, and mission. So the media react to these threats the same way other primates do – by defending their territory and attempting to assert their dominance. They simply are not able to prevent those perceived threats from affecting their coverage, in some ways drastically.

So, given that the majority of the media are biased, how does this manifest in their stories? How does this bias warp the news coverage to the point where the label “fake news” is appropriate?

The first major way the media spreads disinformation is by story selection. Certain media outlets simply won’t cover major stories that negatively affect the narrative they promote. The site Ground News does a good job exposing this. It lists each major story along with which side’s media outlets covered it. There are many blind spots in coverage according to the political stance of the outlet.

So why don’t people just read outlets from different sides of the spectrum? The news industry has realized that they get more attention, clicks, and revenue by pushing outrage. They push and frame stories that emphasize how bad the other side is and how threatened their own (good) side is. The more anger or threat that people experience this way, the more they return to the same site later to seek reassurance that the “bad guys” aren’t winning. It is, in effect, an addiction protocol.

“Here’s how you are being threatened by the bad guys about X. Oh and since you came back for reassurance on how we are winning the war about X, here is another story about feeling threatened about Y. And when you come back to find out how we are winning the war over Y…”

The combination of these two methods is even more powerful. CNN has ignored the media stories about Joe Biden’s son Hunter was given an enormous monthly payment ($83,333 per month) to be on the board of a Ukrainian energy company and photographed smoking crack and falling asleep with a crack pipe in his mouth.

CNN and MSNBC ignored these stories entirely, except to mention in passing that the Republicans were attacking Joe Biden’s family. That means that those viewers stuck in the outrage addiction cycle for those two networks were denied relevant information about the election. Tens of millions of Americans never even knew that the son of a presidential candidate was a crack addict who had been given huge amounts of money by Ukraine for no apparent reason other than his father was Joe Biden.

That’s relevant information for voters, is it not?

So story selection combined with outrage addiction create silos or bubbles in which no external context can penetrate. This is destructive to the unity of the country. It allows for propagandized stories to be perceived as real by those within the bubble. But it’s not the only tool the media has to fake the news.

The second aspect is selective editing to change the context. This can be omission of relevant information, inappropriate comparisons, labeling based on a biased subset of information, or any number of other techniques. The prime example of this is the “fine people hoax,” which Steve Cortes, Joel Pollak, and Scott Adams have all done great work exposing.

Here’s how the hoax was perpetrated. There was a protest march in Charlottesville, VA, that was somewhat ambiguously billed as a “Unite the Right” rally. It was actually a neo-nazi march, although some attendees apparently didn’t realize that until they got there, and didn’t participate in the march once they arrived. A few were there to defend the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and the renaming of a park named after him. In a speech after the event, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the debate on whether or not to remove statues of founders or other historical figures. In other words, he was saying good people can disagree about keeping or removing statues. However, the media claimed Trump was referring to both the neo-nazis and anti-nazi protestors as fine people. The outrage-inducing implication of this was that the president of the United States said Nazis were fine people.

But, of course, that didn’t happen. Because less than a minute later Trump said “And I’m not talking about the neo-nazis and white supremacists, because they should be condemned totally.” So this wasn’t a case where the media were simply misinterpreting an ambiguous statement – it was a case where the media deliberately spread a malicious lie that wasn’t even slightly ambiguous. Once that narrative took hold early on in Trump’s presidency, it became a defining reference point. Millions interpreted genuinely ambiguous events that happened later in light of that fake story. The hoax became a setup for confirmation bias – it became the background context for his entire presidency. And all because of the media’s deliberate spread of falsehood.

More examples of deliberate media hoaxing include:

  • The ludicrous claim that Trump said to inject bleach to stop COVID
    Reality: the statement was about injecting light into people’s veins, not bleach
  • The claim that Trump is responsible for all 200k+ US COVID deaths
    Reality: Every other country had many COVID deaths too, so how many would another leader have had? The original estimate was more than 2,000,000 deaths for the US. Compared to that he is doing a lot better.
  • The claim that Trump is a Russian puppet
    Reality: A team of Democrat-donating lawyers with the highest levels of funding and access spent two years on it and found nothing actionable
  • The claim that Russia hacked the election in 2016 but the 2020 elections were perfectly secure
    Reality: If Russia was able to do it in 2016 than others could have done it in 2020

Unfortunately, the use of these techniques has become the norm for media outlets. But once you have read this and understood how the techniques work – story selection, outrage addiction, and context manipulation – you will begin to see them everywhere in the media. You’ll be able to check Ground News or a similar site to see what stories are being swept under the rug. You may begin to assume that context is always being withheld, and look for what is missing before judging a story. And you might even get in the habit of catching the outrage cycle right as it starts, and move things in a more emotionally balanced direction instead. And as you do those going forward, it will help you see through the media’s fake news.

Nothing “Is” A Thing, Or How You Can Benefit From Turning Things Into Processes

Nothing “is” anything.

What?

There is no such thing as a thing.

Come back when the drugs wear off.

Things don’t exist; all is process and flow.

What are you, some kind of nihilistic Postmodernist?

The exact opposite.

Explain.

What do you feel right now?

I am confused.

You ARE confused? Or do you currently experience confusion?

Both.

But they ARE not the same.

Keep up the semantic games and I’m going to be angry.

Will you BE angry? Or will you experience anger?

OK, now I AM angry.

You not ARE angry. You FEEL anger.

Why does this matter?

Words function as labels or containers to “pour” thoughts and meanings into. How we employ words changes our experience.

Give me an example.

Which do you prefer to confront: a problem or a challenge?

< Goes inside and considers this > A challenge because it seems to inspire. A problem seems more permanent.

Now, what is easier to change: being angry or feeling angry?

< Goes inside and considers this > Feeling angry.

Do you understand why yet?

BEING angry seems… solid. Locked in. But feelings seem to change on their own, by their very nature.

That’s a good start, because feelings are processes, not things.

Feelings are things! I can feel anger!

For how long?

Usually not all that long.

Let’s take another example. Are you in a relationship?

Yes.

Can you feel things about your relationship?

Certainly.

Can you think about your relationship and experience feelings about those thoughts?

I do that all the time.

What if we consider that your relationship is not a “thing,” but instead consider it as two people who RELATE?

I… that’s…

Can you experience feelings ABOUT relating?

It’s harder. I can’t pin it down to think about it, because it seems like it’s undefined.

Can you think ABOUT relating, and experience feelings ABOUT those thoughts?

< Goes inside and evaluates this >  Not really. It seems too undefined, like it doesn’t exist.

Are you sure that it does exist as a thing?

Not as sure as I was before.

Can you enjoy the moment while you relate?

Yes, but somehow I don’t think I would realize it at the time.

You would just enjoy being in the moment?

Yes, I think so.

How would your experience with your significant other change if you related to them instead of were in a relationship with them?

I wouldn’t overanalyze or have so many meta-thoughts. Less fear and anxiety. Less angst.

The mind can easily think about things or nouns. It has difficulty thinking about flows or verbs.

I can think about verbs. I can think about running.

Only when you reduce it to a specific example or “snapshot,” which turns the verb into a thing/noun. A pure flow cannot be analyzed, only experienced in the moment.

That’s… hard to know.

Exactly.

Again, why does this matter?

 What would happen if you turned all the “things” in your mind back into processes or flows?

I wouldn’t think about them.

What would that mean?

Well, I couldn’t feel bad about anything.

Because?

Because I couldn’t feel anything about anything, because there wouldn’t be a “thing” to feel about.

Would that be an improvement?

Are you kidding? It would remove anxiety and depression because those are feelings about mental “things.”

Well done. More in the next session.

 

 

 

Trump Explained (And It’s Not Just His Persuasion Skill)

As a hypnotist, I knew from the start that Donald Trump has incredible persuasion skills. I can identify the techniques and watch the effect they have on people. So that part has always made sense to me. I watched with amusement and some frustration as most of the rest of the world fumed and sputtered incomprehensibly at Trump’s words. “They don’t understand, and they likely never will,” I thought. “This will be interesting.”

Then I saw Scott Adams talk about this very thing on Twitter. I was thrilled that someone with a large reach also recognized this. He explained this to his audience, reaching hundreds of thousands with his Twitter and periscope videos, and possibly millions more with his book Win Bigly, which explained the foundations of how persuasion works. This made Trump more understandable to millions of people.

But there was something more. Why didn’t Trump address the hoaxes used to attack him? Why did he so often seem to have overly optimistic talking points, that sometimes seemed directly delusional?

In 2017 I read a book called Dark Star Rising, wherein an esotericist named Gary Lachman described Trump on the esoteric level. He explained that Trump, through his associations with Norman Vincent Peale, was a student of New Thought, an early-1900s Westernization of exceedingly ancient energy techniques regarding manifestation of thoughts into reality.

Let me explain.

New Thought came about partially as a result of British interactions with India in the last 1800s and early 1900s. They adapted many of the Eastern Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist techniques and beliefs through a more Western frame. New Thought goes like this:

The universe (or Simulation, or whatever you want to call All That Exists) is super sensitive to your thoughts, and takes ALL your thoughts and emotions as direct commands for what to make happen.

There are many versions of this of this idea in many different practices and religions, but most of them have specific protocols or rituals to use to perform manifestation or “simulation programming” or making things happen. New Thought says ALL your thoughts and feelings are a continuous flow of manifestation commands.

There are some major ramifications of this idea.

  1. There is no such thing as true or false regarding commands. If I tell you “Pay attention to this” is that true or false? That dimension doesn’t even apply. So when Trump says things that don’t pass the fact checkers, does that bother him? Not in the least, because they aren’t statements of fact, they are commands to the universe.

    So when Trump says the earth’s temperature will cool, or a vaccine will be available in 6 months instead of the usual 15, or any of the hundreds of other similar statements, he isn’t describing what has happened, he is giving commands to the universe for that to become true.
  2. If all your thoughts are commands to the universe, you won’t spend any time on problems. You won’t analyze and slice and dice problems or talk about how something or someone is wrong. You will only focus on solutions and the result you want to have happen. This may be why Trump doesn’t address the content of hoaxes, even in the presidential debate when he could have put the Fine People Hoax to rest for good: Because he doesn’t want to give the universe any commands to make it real.

Now, there is another component of this that I only recently have understood well enough to put it all together: the concept of alchemy. In the West, alchemy was an encoded way of passing on the energy techniques of the East without letting fools or malicious people understand, and without attracting the anger of religious authorities (Islamic, Catholic, and Jewish). It overtly talks about turning “lead” into “gold” but that’s actually a metaphor for turning negative energy into useful, positive, and beneficial energy, energy that can be used for manifestation of thoughts. The East has been doing this for thousands of years in Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

So the second component of this is that Donald Trump is a world-class alchemist, perhaps one of the greatest the world has ever known.

He is quite possibly the most hated person on the planet, yet he seems to actually thrive on the negative attention. How? He has mastered the ability to take ownership of negative energy, strip out the intentions, and re-purpose that energy for his own uses. And his uses are revealed by those commands he gives to the universe, as described above. He is channeling the world’s hate into good outcomes for America and for the world, through himself and through his office as the President of the United States.

I’ll say that again because it is important: Donald Trump is channeling the world’s hate into good outcomes for America and for the world, through himself and through his office as the President of the United States.

Once you understand both aspects, it becomes clear what Donald Trump is doing and why. The energy-direction / alchemy model fits much better than any other model I’ve tried to fit to the situation – egotism, narcissism, insanity, fascism, racism, self-aggrandizement, greed – none of those predict. This does. And when you look back on the last 4 years (or more) with this in mind you start to see Trump in an entirely new light.