bernays

The Opinion Algorithm

The Opinion Algorithm

The Opinion Algorithm

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” – The Wizard of Oz

“Trotter and Le Bon concluded that the group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emotions. In making up its mind its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. This is one of the most firmly established principles of mass psychology. It operates in establishing the rising or diminishing prestige of a summer resort, in causing a run on a bank, or a panic on the stock exchange, in creating a best seller, or a box-office success.”

– Edward Bernays. Propaganda. 1928. Page 50.

Algorithm is defined as “a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps”. The existence of a pubic opinion shifting algorithm is not officially recognized, but it exists. The algorithm is sometimes referred to as the Hegelian Dialectic, and is made up of three components.

1) The existing public opinion (thesis).

2) A fabricated opposing opinion (antithesis).

3) The desired final public opinion (synthesis).

An organization wanting to influence, control and guide public opinion to a pre-determined conclusion must control the thesis and the antithesis. If this is done properly the public can be directed to accept almost any opinion as their own given enough time.

This works in the following manner. There are, within society, cultural norms accepted by most people, we will refer to them as  “established norms.”  In this example the established norm is the thesis. If an organization with the ability to disseminate information en masse desires to change this norm they can bring to the attention of the public a debate of the established norm (thesis) versus the fabricated opposing norm (antithesis), perhaps allowing a celebrity to speak on behalf of the antithesis. A public debate ensues in the media. Television shows and movies are produced with the antithesis as the backdrop, books are written arguing for and against it.

The public gets caught up in the debate and decides they stand on the issue. The organization in charge of placing this debate in public view understands that the decision reached by most people will be a compromise somewhere in between the thesis and the antithesis. And this compromise eventually becomes the new norm, the synthesis, which was the goal to begin with. The norms have now shifted from the original thesis to the synthesis, which now becomes the new thesis and a new starting point. Using this algorithm public opinion can be shifted over time to almost anything desired by anyone capable of disseminating information en masse.