bias

Media Bias – Part 3: Sociology

29 March 2023

10.6 MINS

Welcome to part 3 of this three-part essay on media bias. In part 1 we traced the innovations of media technology and concluded that while the technology can’t be biased the operators always are and always have been. In part 2 we considered how we as individuals respond to media bias based on our psychological make-up and personality traits. Finally, here in part 3, we will look at sociology, how our various communities and societies have been and are being influenced by media bias.

Let’s consider, in this final piece on media bias, how society as a whole, in our various regional or national cultures, can be manipulated on a far grander scale than at a technological or personal level. As humans, groupthink seems to be the easiest place for us to find our peace:

groupthink, a mode of thinking in which individual members of small cohesive groups tend to accept a viewpoint or conclusion that represents a perceived group consensus, whether or not the group members believe it to be valid, correct, or optimal.

1. Nudge Theory

Nudge Theory Explained with Examples (2022) (12 mins):

 

Freddie Sayers talking with ‘Nudge’ author Richard H. Thaler: Is the Government manipulating us? (2022) (45 mins):

 

The term Nudge Theory was coined in Richard Thaler’s and Cass Sunstein’s book, Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008). It is a fascinating branch of behavioural science that has spawned thousands of Behavioural Insight Units (BIU) around the world with businesses seeking to increase their sales of their products and governments seeking to encourage the adoption of their policies.

Thaler loudly proclaims the virtues of successful nudges while saying that one of the key ingredients in any nudge is full transparency with the participants, the nudged needing to be fully aware that they are being nudged!

But are we? Are we aware, for example, that how something is described influences our behaviour towards that thing. For example, if vaccines are always described with the tagline safe and effective, and any adverse side effects or deaths are suppressed in the description, it’s not surprising that the take up rate of vaccination will continue to rise. This is a clear example of Nudge Theory in action without the nudged being aware.

An additional concern with the government’s utilisation of Nudge Theory is the tools they have used to drive their desired nudges. They have systematically manipulated the narrative that the media have regurgitated by censoring any opposing perspectives and vilifying the perpetrators. This intentional media bias has been so easy for governments to deliver because of the disappearance of the ‘free press’ over the last few decades. Now the mainstream media obediently deliver their government’s narrative without ever daring to raise an eyebrow or ask a question.

2. Stockholm Syndrome

The story behind Stockholm syndrome:

The syndrome is derived from a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. In August 1973, four Sveriges Kreditbank employees were held hostage in the bank vault for six days. During the confrontation, a seemingly incongruous link developed between captive and captor, a hostage, during a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, stated that he fully trusted his captors but feared he would be killed in a police attack on the building.

How interesting! It’s as if the situation of being in captivity, subconsciously makes us look for ways to deescalate the tension to the extent that, for self-preservation, we even praise our captors and will seek to do anything to support them, by being as submissive and obedient as we can.

Some specific behaviours associated with Stockholm syndrome are worth reviewing. For example, Medical News Today lists the adoption of the same goals, worldviews, and ideologies as the captors or abusers; refusal to leave their captors, even when given the opportunity to escape; the development of negative perceptions towards police, family, friends, and anyone else who may try to help them escape their situation; and the refusal to assist police and government authorities in prosecuting perpetrators of abuse or kidnapping.

I hear you ask, what has this to do with media bias? Bear with me, back to Nudge Theory. It seems self-evident that governments around the world have manipulated their people to the extent that governments have become the captors and the people have increasingly become their captives. We are now far less personally responsible for our lives and livelihoods, we are increasingly dependent on the protection, provision and permissions of our governments. Groupthink has certainly shifted towards the view that governments should have a greater and greater control of their people for the common good. We have become accustomed to take personal hardships and loss of freedoms, for the good of others. I argue that this is because we have been government nudged and because of Stockholm syndrome.

We now have the situation that the majority of the population refuse to rise up in outrage against the abuses of power perpetrated by the police in the covid era, particularly in Victoria. The vast majority took the lockdowns lying down and never tried to protest or escape. In fact, the peoples’ worldview became identical with the governments’ to the extent that polling simply reinforced the governments’ position in a circular argument. This is exactly the Stockholm syndrome in action. But this time, we were not locked up behind physical walls with bars on the windows but nudged, nonetheless into compliance and subservience by media bias.

3. Mass Formation Psychosis

Let’s start with a quote from a synopsis of Professor Mattias Desmet’s 2022 book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism:

The world is in the grips of mass formation ― a dangerous, collective type of hypnosis ― as we bear witness to loneliness, free-floating anxiety, and fear giving way to censorship, loss of privacy, and surrendered freedoms. It is all spurred by a singular, focused crisis narrative that forbids dissident views and relies on destructive groupthink.

Totalitarianism is not a coincidence and does not form in a vacuum. It arises from a collective psychosis that has followed a predictable script throughout history, its formation gaining strength and speed with each generation―from the Jacobins to the Nazis and Stalinists―as technology advances. Governments, mass media, and other mechanized forces use fear, loneliness, and isolation to demoralize populations and exert control, persuading large groups of people to act against their own interests, always with destructive results.

Yes, Mattias’ work suggests the ultimate result of the destructive groupthink that the world has been subjected to during the covid era can result in totalitarianism. I believe we did reach totalitarianism in some parts of the world and at some points in time during covidia; but could we see it, did we recognise it as totalitarianism? Almost certainly the majority of us did not.

Last year I recorded a review of a long interview by Dan Astin-Gregory with Mattias about his new book. Have a listen for a further perspective on these ideas:

 

Mattias argues that society at large was put under a type of collective hypnosis during covidia, after the preconditioning of fear and anxiety created by the mainstream media’s description of the perceived threat of the pandemic. In other words, governments had to first establish the threat that they could then defeat with their novel antidote, the experimental injection of their new drug. And note, it was all under state control from start to finish, the medical profession was simply a tool in their hands.

So, what is mass formation psychosis? In my analysis, Western nations in particular, lulled into a life of increasing luxury and ease but bedevilled by increasing loneliness and anxiety with no obvious cause, were primmed and ready to receive the existential threat of an invisible enemy, the virus from Wuhan.

The single source of truth was the daily media pronouncements by government, which hypnotised the people with their persistent, unrelenting narrative of wave upon wave of doom. And just as in conventional hypnosis, the hypnotised only respond to the directives of the hypnotist, the government, via their mass media, whose mission was solely, to communicate the government narrative.

The master stroke was now ready to be played. I would argue that covidia was much more about fear and control than about any virus or vaccine. They were simply the tools in the governments’ hands as they employed nudge theory and Stockholm syndrome to control and manipulate people for their own ends.

Now that covidia is, to all intents and purposes, over, does this mean that we can all now wake up from our hypnosis, shake off our mass formation psychosis and free ourselves from totalitarian rule? I don’t think so. I think the main thing for us now is to recognise the phenomena we were all exposed to and secondly to watch like hawks, for the next weapon of mass formation coming down the pipe.

4. Ellsberg Paradox

Finally, in this survey of the ways society might respond to media bias, I propose the Ellsberg Paradox. Mark Ratchord describes the Ellsberg Paradox this way:

In 1961, Daniel Ellsberg (who is perhaps best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret study of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam war) considered a thought experiment involving two urns, each containing 100 balls. The first urn contained exactly 50 black balls and 50 red balls, while the second contained 100 black and red balls in an unknown ratio. Ellsberg suggested that, if asked to bet money on a colour being drawn from one urn or the other, people would tend to choose the “known” bet in the first urn and avoid the “ambiguity” of not knowing the winning odds in the second urn. He labelled this “behaviour ambiguity aversion”…

It is interesting that Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the first well known whistle blower for truth, and arguably one the inspirations for Australian, Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. Well, Ellsberg was intrigued by our apparent risk aversion, shying away from ambiguity while rushing for the security of the known. What would you do, would you pick from the known ratio jar, knowing you had at least a 50:50 chance?

During covidia all of us were exposed to an invisible enemy, being hunted down by scientists in white coats and recounted to us by the mass media without question or discussion. It was seen as totally inappropriate to raise any uncertainty about the narrative, because we had to follow the science.

The majority of us have an extremely superficial grasp of the principles of science so we had to fall back to the known and to trust the media, and to trust the government who was trusting the science. Risk aversion was in full swing.

I am not characterising media bias as a deliberate, premediated twisting of the truth on their part. No, I am proposing that as the mass media, now in the ownership of a very small number of international conglomerates, directed by their government with the result that we are actually talking about government bias rather than media bias. The mass media were simply performing their duty to report what they were directed to report. The days of Daniel Ellsberg are long gone; the days when the people could look to the media to break the real truth and nothing but the truth.

Our Responsibility in the Light of Media Bias

I will now attempt to pull my three-part essay on media bias to a conclusion. The various technologies we have seen so far, and no doubt the new ones to come, are never intrinsically biased but all technologies are employed by people who have vested interests and that means we are bound to get bias as soon as we have media.

All of us have varying susceptibilities to media bias depending on our personal circumstances at specific times and upon the characteristics of our personality. For me, awareness of this is critical, because this can be the gateway for the bias to enter our thinking without us knowing, or it can be the gate we close to unwanted bias when we exercise our critical thinking skills.

However, the most dangerous of all circumstances emerges when we see global entities control and coordinate puppet like national governments to manipulate their mass media to nudge their people into their desired way of thinking. I am sure that Nudge Theory can and has been used for good. For example, in the encouraging of people to wear seatbelts in their cars and to quit smoking. And I am sure there will be a new campaign one day encouraging us to quit using mobile phones while driving.

I am sure that nearly all rational people would agree and applaud these three examples. But what if the nudge were to be used to drive an agenda we do not agree with and that we did not vote for. The greatest danger is if we are not aware of the nudge and we find ourselves applauding a stance that we would never have approved, while rational and un-nudged.

Then comes the application of Stockholm syndrome where whole societies end up protecting their captors while eagerly craving more and more care and control from the very ones who have kidnapped their minds. Perhaps this is why we may never see any prosecution of the peddlers of experimental drugs over the last few years that have resulted in a huge spike in unexplained and unexpected deaths and thousands of adverse reactions resulting in loss of livelihood and changes in personality.

It seems to me that whole societies were hypnotised by media bias at the hands of their government as mass formation psychosis took hold. This is why so many have now slotted back into their pre-covidia lifestyles, as if nothing ever happened. The media bias has temporarily lifted the hypnosis but the hypnotised can’t remember anything about the time they were under their spell.

Prior to covidia I never knew anything of this, for me, the realisation of Nudge Theory, Stockholm syndrome and mass formation psychosis with the prospect totalitarianism, was a huge shock. It was as if I was arrested on the Damascus Road with a blinding light and flung to the ground, but at least I was no longer being carried forward by the risk averse crowd.

While I was lying there, I was so blessed to bring to mind how I used to approach world events in my youth, how I used to applaud the media for their critical analysis and the government’s opposition who regularly held a gas-light to the government’s agenda. In those days the media were our friends, giving voice to the voiceless and clarifying our thinking and holding perpetrators of atrocities to account. They truly used to act for the common good.

Those days are long gone. I know of very few western nations with effective oppositions, though their numbers are growing slowly. I think our reaction might be one of resignation, whatever will be will be, Que Sera, Sera. But I would rather, we take this opportunity to take back control, to simply cease to look to our captors for care and protection, to take back our personal responsibility for our lives and the lives of our loved one.

I see the days ahead as certainly daunting and dangerous waters; but I am energised, encouraged and empowered as I take my stand against the tide. It is in fact most exhilarating to stand against the majority! Jesus said there always will be a narrow way:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13–14).

It seems to me that all of us must consider carefully how we should walk (Ephesians 5:15). It has become too easy to keep on trusting our favourite news outlet we have supported for as long as we can remember. But sadly, they are unlikely to be playing a narrative not of their own making and not to our liking if we examine their content carefully.

Three questions I regularly ask of any media outlet are:

  1. Does this item admit an alternative viewpoint or is it unipolar?
  2. If the government is increasing spending for a project, where’s the cash coming from?
  3. What items of news are not being covered?

Where can we get unbiased media? Perhaps this could be the topic for a further essay! Suffice it to say for now, I think it’s extremely hard and getting harder as the cancel culture and the tentacles of censorship grow longer. It needs a lot of work!

___

Photo by Danya Gutan.

We need your help. The continued existence of the Daily Declaration depends on the generosity of readers like you. Donate now. The Daily Declaration is committed to keeping our site free of advertising so we can stay independent and continue to stand for the truth.

Fake news and censorship make the work of the Canberra Declaration and our Christian news site the Daily Declaration more important than ever. Take a stand for family, faith, freedom, life, and truth. Support us as we shine a light in the darkness. Donate now.

11 Comments

  1. Kaylene Emery 29 March 2023 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    You have really done your research here Jim and thank you.
    As for where can we get unbiased media ? It seems we must create our own just as C.D. are doing and your own contribution is substantial.
    God willing as more awaken they too will join us as we pick up our cross daily never allowing the fear inspired by the enemy and it’s minions to gain control over us.

    • Jim Twelves 29 March 2023 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Kaylene, thank you! I think you have found the nail to hit, “fear”. Perfect “love” casts out fear (1 John 4:18), so if we keep this front and centre, we should have the perfect antidote.
      Regarding our source of truth, I am certain CD is on to something here; if we keep Jesus at the centre and his Word to guide, which we are, the team may well have given us a great foundation for building upon.

  2. Kim Beazley 30 March 2023 at 9:11 am - Reply

    It’s hard to take your examination of bias seriously when you parade your own so clearly.

    For example, “if vaccines are always described with the tagline safe and effective, and any adverse side effects or deaths are suppressed in the description.”

    Except that their safety and effectiveness has been clearly proven right from the start, with the largest Phase 3 clinical trials in history prior to their approval. And as there is a mountain of research post approval on the rate of adverse effects and death, which show overwhelmingly that they are all incredibly rare, ranging between 1 in 10,000 to less than 1 in 1,000,000, the notion that anything has been suppressed is patently absurd.

    Then there’s your notion of “Stockholm Syndrome” to explain why the population in general abided by government restrictions and lockdowns, which could only be true if you have evidence that the leaders involved were colluding to become an undemocratic authoritarian government. But that would require a complete overthrow of whatever constitutional rule within that state or nation – a purely fantastical notion which proves the charge of “Stockholm Syndrome” only comes from your own biased view.

    Then there’s the reference to “Mass Formation Psychosis”, a term which is found nowhere in the psychiatric literature, and has no basis in fact.

    In relation to that, and your accusation of media bias, I found a report by Reuters, one of the “fact checkers I’m sure would be at the top of your list of biased sources, but at least they made enquiries of leading specialists in the field (https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-coronavirus-psychology-idUSL1N2TN1RE). Here are some:

    “I have never heard of this concept,” John Drury, Professor of Social Psychology and Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Sussex, wrote in an email to Reuters.

    Jay Van Bavel, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, said the term “doesn’t exist as a real academic concept”, adding: “I’ve been studying group identity and collective behaviour for nearly two decades and just published a book on the topic (www.powerofus.online/) and not once have I come across this term.

    “It seems to have been made up recently. There are similar-sounding concepts, like ‘mass psychogenic illness,’ but the scope of these is relatively narrow compared to what is being proposed here.”

    Reuters also spoke to Steven Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology at the University of St Andrews, who has studied crowd psychology for more than 40 years. He described the concept of a “mass psychosis” as “more metaphor than science, more ideology than fact…telling people who disagree with you that they are deluded and in a state of psychosis is essentially a device to silence them and a form of disrespect. It alienates and hence undermines an attempt at dialogue. It isn’t an explanation of the problem; it is part of the problem.”

    And the Reuters article quoted Dr Robert Malone, who is also pushing this false notion. According to Malone, the condition occurs when a society “becomes decoupled from each other and has a free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don’t make sense… And then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point, just like hypnosis.”

    He added: “They literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere… They will follow that person – it doesn’t matter whether they lie to them or whatever, the data are irrelevant.”

    That sounds exactly like the response of those who, like you, have been suckered by grifters like Malone and Desmet.

    In short, we all know there are biases within the media. We see them all the time. But you lose any traction you may have when you’re blind to your own.

  3. Jim Twelves 31 March 2023 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Dear Kim, thank you for response, it is most helpful. I think it is nice illustration that we all need to read, think and keep an open mind. For now though, lets agree to differ. Shalom,

    • Kim Beazley 1 April 2023 at 6:58 am - Reply

      I’m pleased that you see the value in keeping an open mind, Jim. But agreeing to disagree doesn’t work when the issue is truth itself. Either your assertions are true or mine are. To agree to disagree would be a negation of any responsibility to determine which is true.

      On a personal level, after the time and effort I took to do the research necessary to write what I have, such a waving of the hand dismissal is disrespectful of that effort.

      • Jim Twelves 3 April 2023 at 1:15 pm - Reply

        Kim, an interesting reply. I strongly refute your assertion that my ‘brief’ response was ‘dismissal and disrespectful’. Here, I believe, we have fallen into the trap of words alone seeking to convey meaning and understanding. I don’t believe that we have ever met, I don’t know you and you don’t know me. The fact is, my ‘brief response’ to you was from a heart of deep respect for you and our readers.
        Yes I can see, and I did see, that you put a great deal of work into your reply. I have put a great deal of work into my piece, over three years. So lets respect each other’s perspective!
        As for the searching after truth. I think we shall both have to ‘wait and see’. I think time will tell, which of us is ‘closer’ to ‘the truth about media’. I don’t think either of us can claim to have landed on ‘the truth and nothing but the truth’. And being human, 1 Corinthians 13:12, is most apt. As I said, I think we can, and should, agree to disagree.

        • Kim Beazley 3 April 2023 at 5:56 pm - Reply

          My reference to your “dismissal” was in reference to your “lets agree to differ”, which, when the nature of my comment is not merely as an alternate personal opinion, but a clear rebuttal on those points. That means I am saying that on those points you are clearly mistaken in your claims. And that’s why I go to great lengths to provide proof for my claims.

          And by being so forthcoming with copious information backing up my claims, then logically they are open to challenge. But this you have not done.

          So please don’t tell me that I am required to respect such misinformation as I have identified here. We all, as Christians, and especially as writers here, have an obligation to be better than that! And if you truly had a “deep respect” for me, then you would engage with the facts I’ve presented to you instead of waving them away with a trite “let’s agree to disagree”. And a similar respect for our readers requires that we free ourselves from blind dogma and prejudice.

          And I’m sorry, but it’s just not good enough to publish information that is wholly reliant on anti-vax propaganda from charlatans like Desmet and Malone and then plead 1 Corinthians 12:13.

  4. Jim Twelves 18 April 2023 at 7:37 am - Reply

    You may think, I am harping on about media bias, well today, I read from Tom Woods that a ‘whistleblower’ has reviled that mainstream media in the US has been lying on behalf of their government relating to the war in Ukraine. It is now reveled that this is in fact a ‘hot war’ between the US and Russia, with American Troops on the ground in Ukraine and plans to attack deep into Russia. https://mailchi.mp/tomwoods/npr?e=92d7239b6f
    It is so so hard to ‘know the truth’ these days.
    What I find extraordinary about this ‘revelation’ is that the media are going after the whist blower like they do against Julian Assange rather than the government for lying to the American people.

    • Kim Beazley 19 April 2023 at 11:10 am - Reply

      Think about it, Jim. Do you really imagine that there wouldn’t be a Russian claim backed up by video evidence of troop movements, etc.? I don’t think it’s THAT hard to know the truth these days. Harder? Yes. But it just means that we are required to use reason and logic where in the past we trusted media on issues like this.

      And this applies as much to people who put themselves out there as “whistle-blowers”. In this case, comparisons to Assange, Snowden and Ellsberg border on the absurd. These three are all men who produced solid evidence from actual government information, whether documents or video. What has Woods got? Merely a claim that the government is lying about the role of the troops they have there, which rings hollow when you see the reason given by the government.

      https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/ukraine-situation-report-u-s-troops-for-embassy-support-only-pentagon-says

      After all, even a squadron of combat troops is hard to hide, and more to the point, of little value in a war such as this. If you’re going to go into a “hot war” with Russia over Ukraine, you’d be sending in thousands. And these thousands come from particular locations in the US where they’re headquartered, and their absence would certainly be noticed, at least locally.

      But when all is said and done, this issue merely serves to deflect from my initial criticisms regarding your own biases in relation to pandemic issues, all of which are proven false.

      • Jim Twelves 20 April 2023 at 8:23 am - Reply

        Kim, thank you for this. Your link is very interesting and helpful background. Your response has caused me to ‘reassess’ my view of the various sources I listen to. So, your rebuttal has been extremely valuable. Thank you.
        Nevertheless, my overall view of the Ukraine war has not changed much. I still remain skeptical of both sides’ stories as I don’t know of any war in history that wasn’t accompanied by a propaganda war. I get very tired of mainstream media’s single minded narrative that never seems to admit they are part of a propaganda machine. This point was my main reason for posting the Tom Woods story in my latest comment. Perhaps he is wrong, perhaps he is right, time will tell.

        • Kim Beazley 20 April 2023 at 2:31 pm - Reply

          Just a further thought I had on “whistle blowers” yesterday. One distinctive shared by Ellsberg, Assange and Snowden is that the actions they took were at great personal cost. What cost does Woods pay?

          And in relation to your article the same question could be asked of Mattias Desmet, as well as others like Peter McCullough and Pierre Kory, who were recently out here on a financially lucrative speaking tour, on top of their monetised online presences and book deals.

          In fact, where is there a single identity making the kind of claims against the actions of governments during the pandemic who has done so with any kind of personal risk?

          In short, to label people like these as “whistle blowers” would be an insult to the REAL “whistle blowers” like Ellsberg, Assange and Snowden.

Leave A Comment

Recent Articles

Use your voice today to protect

Faith · Family · Freedom · Life

MOST POPULAR

ABOUT

The Daily Declaration is an Australian Christian news site dedicated to providing a voice for Christian values in the public square. Our vision is to see the revitalisation of our Judeo-Christian values for the common good. We are non-profit, independent, crowdfunded, and provide Christian news for a growing audience across Australia, Asia, and the South Pacific. The opinions of our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily Declaration.
Read More.

MOST COMMENTS

HALL OF FAME

BROWSE TOPICS

BROWSE GENRES