The Mind Managers – manipuladores da informação

Em 1979 eu li um livro que aborda um tema muito atual no Brasil. O título deste livro, escrito em 1973, por Herbert I. Schiller, é The Mind Managers. O livro analisa os meios pelos quais a informação é controlada e manipulada nos Estados Unidos. Publico, em seguida, resumo dos principais pontos publicado em 9 de maio de 2013 , por Ronald R. Rodgers, no blog, da turma de MMC6660 – Mass Communication & Society, da Faculdade de Jornalismo, da Universidade da Flórida.

Há no texto um link para a entrevista do autor Dr. Schiller concedida em 1997 a Ronald Rodgers.

Segundo Schiller, os profissionais da comunicação dos Estados Unidos estruturam o conteúdo com base em cinco mitos:

1 – O mito do individualismo e da escolha pessoal

2- O mito da neutralidade 

3- O  mito da natureza humana imutável

4- O mito da inexistência de conflito social (luta de classes)

5- O mito do pluralismo da midia

Para formatar as consciências são usadas duas técnicas:

1- fragmentação (ou focalização) como forma de comunicação

2- imediatismo da informação

Nestes tempos de manipulação midiática sem pudor, o livro está muito atual e sua releitura faz-se necessária, nos Estados Unidos e aqui.

Excerpts from The Mind Managers by Herbert I. Schiller
Posted on May 9, 2013 by Ronald R. Rodgers

“In their passion to dominate, to mold others to their patterns and their way of life, the invaders desire to know how those they have invaded apprehend reality – but only so they can dominate the latter more effectively.” – Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1971

Mind managers

Excerpts from The Mind Managers by Herbert I. Schiller – a book that analyzes the ways in which information is controlled and manipulated in the United States.

1997 Interview with Dr. Schiller:

Five Myths That Structure Content.

1. The Myth of Individualism and Personal Choice

Manipulation’s  greatest triumph, most observable in the United States, is to have taken advantage of the special historical circumstances of Western development to perpetrate as truth a definition of freedom cast in individualistic term.

This enables the concept to serve a double function. It protects the ownership of productive private property while simultaneously offering itself as the guardian of the individual’s well-being, suggesting, if not insisting, that the latter is unattainable without the existence of the former.

  1. Upon this central construct an entire scaffolding of manipulation is erected.

There is evidence enough to argue that the sovereign individual’s rights are a myth, and that society and the individual are inseparable.

 2. The Myth of Neutrality

For manipulation to be most effective, evidence of its presence should be nonexistent.
When the manipulated believe things are the way they are naturally and inevitably, manipulation is successful.
In short, manipulation requires a false reality that is a continuous denial of its existence.
It is essential, therefore, that people who are being manipulated believe in the neutrality of their key social institutions.
They must believe that government, the media, education, and science are
beyond the clash of conflicting social interests.


3. The Myth of Unchanging Humane Nature

Human expectations can be the lubricant of social change.
When human expectations are low, passivity prevails.
There can, of course, be various kinds of images in anyone’s mind concerning political, social, economic, and personal realities
The common denominator of all such imagery, however, is the view people have of human nature. What human nature is seen to be ultimately affects the way human beings behave, not because they must act as they do but because they believe they are expected to act that way.

It is to prevent social action (and it is immaterial whether the intent is articulated or not) that so much publicity and attention are devoted to every pessimistic appraisal of human potential.
If we are doomed forever by our inheritance, there is not much to be done about it.
But there is a good reason and a good market for undervaluing human capability. An entrenched social system depends on keeping the popular and, especially, the ‘enlightened’ mind unsure and doubtful about its human prospects.
Among the mind manipulators, human nature doesn’t change and neither does the world.

4. The Myth of the Absence of Social Conflict

Concentrating on the blemishes of revolutionary societies is but one side – the international side – of mind management’s undertakings to veil from the public the realities of domination and exploitation.
Consciousness controllers, in their presentation of the domestic scene, deny absolutely the presence of social conflict. On the face of it, this seems an impossible task. After all, violence is ‘as American as apple pie.’ Not only in fact but in fantasy: in films, on TV, and over the radio, the daily quota of violent scenarios offered the public is staggering. How is this carnival of conflict reconcilable with the media managers’ intent to present an image of social harmony?
The contradiction is easily resolved. As presented by the national message-making apparatus, conflict is almost always an individual matter, in its manifestations and in its origin.
The social roots of conflict just do not exist for the cultural-information managers. True, there are ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, but, except for such ritualized situations as westerns, which are recognized as scenarios of the past, role identification is divorced from significant social categories.

Elite control requires omission or distortion of social reality.

5. The Myth of Media Pluralism

Personal choice exercised in an environment of cultural-informational diversity is the image, circulated worldwide, of the condition of life in America.
This view is also internalized in the belief structure of a large majority of Americans, which makes them particularly susceptible to thoroughgoing manipulation.
It is, therefore, one of the central myths upon which mind management flourishes.
Choice and diversity, though separate concepts, are in fact inseparable; choice is unattainable in any real sense without diversity. If real options are nonexistent, choosing is either meaningless or manipulative. It is manipulative when accompanied by the illusion that choice is meaningful.


Two Techniques That Shape Consciousness

  1. Fragmentation as a Form of Communication

Myths are used to dominate people.
When they are inserted unobtrusively into popular consciousness, as they are by the cultural-informational apparatus, their strength is great because most individuals remain unaware that they have been manipulated.
The process of control is made still more effective by the special form in which the myth is transmitted. The technique of transmission can in itself add an extra dimension to the manipulative process.
What we find, in fact, is that the form of the communication, as developed in market economies, and in the United States in particular, is an actual embodiment of consciousness control. This is most readily observed in the technique of information dissemination, used pervasively in America, which we shall term fragmentation.

Fragmentation, or focalization, is the dominant – indeed, the exclusive – format for information and news distribution in North America. Radio and television news is characterized by the machine-gun-like recitation of numerous unrelated items.
Newspapers are multipaged assemblages of materials set down almost randomly, or in keeping with arcane rules of journalism. Magazines deliberately break up articles, running the bulk of the text in the back of the issue, so that readers must turn several pages of advertising copy to continue reading.

One of the methods of science that is validly transferable to human affairs is the ecological imperative of recognizing inter-relatedness. When the totality of a social issue is deliberately evaded, and random bits pertaining to it are offered as ‘information’, the results are guaranteed: at best, incomprehension; ignorance, apathy, and indifference for the most part.

  1. Immediacy of Information

Closely associated with fragmentation and, in fact, a necessary element in its operation, is “immediacy.”
This here-and-now quality helps increase the manipulatory power of the informational system.
That the information is evanescent, with hardly any enduring structure, also
undermines understanding.
Still, instantaneousness – the reporting of events as soon after their occurrence as possible – is one of the most revered principles of American journalism.
Those social systems that do not provide instantaneous information are regarded either as hopelessly backward and inefficient or – a much more serious charge – as socially delinquent.

The technology that permits and facilitates immediacy of information is not at issue. It exists and could, under different conditions, be useful.
What is of concern is the present social system’s utilization of the techniques of rapid communications delivery to blur or eradicate meaning while claiming that such speed enables understanding and enlightenment.

It is easy to imagine electronic formats that would use instantaneousness as a supplement to the construction of meaningful contexts.
It is not so easy to believe that immediacy, as a manipulative device, will be abandoned while it serves mind managers by effectively preventing popular comprehension and understanding.
Passivity: The Ultimate Objective of Mind Management

The content and form of American communications – the myths and means of transmitting them – are devoted to manipulation.
When successfully employed, as they invariably are, the result is individual passivity, a state of inertia that precludes action.
This, indeed, is the condition for which the media and the system-at-large energetically strive, because passivity assures the maintenance of the status quo.
Passivity feeds upon itself, destroying the capacity for social action that might change the conditions that presently limit human fulfillment.

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