CIA-developed influence strategies kept showing up in the last 18 months

There are three types of “science” -- good science, bad science, and political science. Perhaps some of the recent confusion and conflict occurs when rational, ethical, and honest people assume others use good science when, instead, dishonest and nefarious people often use bad science or political science.

During the recent COVID outbreak we have repeatedly been told to follow their “science” and trust the experts even though their science changes at a rapid pace. COVID came from bat soup. COVID may have leaked from a lab. “Classified report with early support for lab leak theory.Wear masks. Masks are not effective. Reports and revisions; more reports and more revisions ad nauseam.

If we ignore bad science and political science, perhaps we can see how the gullible are deceived about COVID and many things associated with it. But how could so many Americans be so gullible? We know that, as Lincoln reputedly said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” But are there tactics that allow you to fool most of the people most of the time?

What if there were a well-established body of science for brainwashing and well-established techniques to achieve predictable results? The CIA believed it was possible, when it developed Project MKUltra in the 1960s, to discover ways to brainwash people. Merely mentioning MKUltra sounds like a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory but the fact is that the project did exist.

Taxpayers funded the research as a national security issue. As the Smithsonian Magazine explained, in 1950, journalist Edward Hunter coined the term “brainwashing” to describe the way in which Chinese people were turned into mindless Communist Party members. The term became common currency in 1953 as the American military men held captive in Korea began confessing to all sorts of crimes against humanity, and “5,000 of the 7,200 POWs either petitioned the U.S. government to end the war or signed confessions of their alleged crimes. The final blow came when 21 American soldiers refused repatriation.”

Brainwashing was now seen as a national security priority. Indeed, the same Edward Hunter who coined the phrase, was a propaganda specialist working for the CIA, as he admitted in congressional testimony:

MR. HUNTER: Yes; as a propaganda specialist. I call that my sabbatical year -- really 2 years – away from journalism.

The same testimony revealed that “brainwashing” was a large component of the “Red Scare” in the 1950s and 1960s. Many feared that our enemies could take over our country without using kinetic weapons but by using softer and more subtle techniques like brainwashing instead.

Responding to this fear, the CIA took the lead in researching how to prevent brainwashing. To figure that out, they first had to understand how people could be brainwashed. That investigation marked the start of the CIA’s Project MKUltra and various sub-programs in the 1950s. Later, in the 1970s, when the political spotlight was on the CIA, it came out that a top CIA scientist, Frank Olson, died under mysterious circumstances.

Olson’s death brought Project MKUltra to light in the form of a lengthy 1977 congressional report. Perhaps incidentally, Joe Biden’s name shows up on the third page (Roman Number II), as one of the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. One can only wonder what Joe Biden learned from his participation in this investigation.

The same Senate report claims on the seventh page (Arabic Number 3) that all the MKUltra documents were destroyed. However, US Patent 8,095,492, issued in 2012, claims “a set of MKUltra documents were discovered, which had escaped destruction by the CIA” and were used to develop the seemingly anodyne “influencing strategies” that are the patent’s subject.

That re-naming is significant because many consider the word “brainwashing” a pejorative. For those trying to disguise their nefarious activities, “influencing strategies” sounds much nicer and more respectful, softer, and gentler. Still, using subliminal tactics to change people’s minds to advance political agendas is despicable, no matter the label.

Reading patents can be boring and time-consuming. However, you do not have to read all of the document’s “influencing strategies” to find a tremendous amount of disturbing information. After you pull up the patent, use the find feature on your computer (CTRL+F), and then search for the following words and phrases:

  • CIA’s “manual on trickery”
  • psychological and social distortion of information
  • deceive
  • deceptive statistics
  • manipulate
  • false choices
  • all the clever tricks, must be concealed
  • brainwashing
  • the best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice
  • influencing an actor using expertise

The patent is filled with many more examples of brainwashing techniques.

US Patent 8,095,492 also makes frequent mention of expert opinions, expert interviews, expertise, etc. as means by which to influence people. (NB: Textual errors are in the original quotations):

  • “Expert opinions are also used to impact the advice provided.”
  • “Influencing groups and individuals by applying results of social science.”
  • “Social projection and most people think that most other people agree with them about their views on the false consensus effect, things.”
  • “Exaggerated impressions of social support.”
  • “The `historical movies` that come out of Hollywood are examples of how telling a good story often distorts facts.”
  • “Asking an actor to advocate for the your position as an expert.”
  • “When someone believes you are an expert, they will tend to defer to your more than others opinions regardless of the sensibility of those opinions.”

Don’t those sound remarkably like some of the talking points repeated so often in the news media and social media? Believe the scientists. Trust the experts. Believe the expert opinions. Yada, yada, yada.

This patent also indicates that a person or organization can create a system that tracks people as individuals and continually monitors the success of the influencing strategies on the targeted individual. A computer system can then automatically recommend influence actions to further influence the behavior of the targeted individual towards a “desired outcome.” Artificial intelligence is also mentioned in this patent.

According to a former CIA insider, “‘Everything you have in that cellphone,’ she says, pointing to an iPhone, ‘is what we were working on for our whole careers.’” It’s an interesting coincidence, to say the least, that the same smartphones that constantly pump information into us through social media and news apps came from the same CIA that created the original “influencing strategies.”

There is absolutely no way of knowing whether Democrats across America – in the government, the social media arena, the mainstream media, etc. – know a single thing about MKUltra. It is, though, noteworthy that they’ve inundated America with “influencing strategies” that have succeeded in turning the gullible among us into fanatics. These fanatics often rage at others who dare to disagree with the information they’ve internalized – even when much of that information reliably proves to be wrong and the remainder can be intelligently and reasonably rebutted.

As I noted at the top of this essay, Lincoln was right about one thing: You can’t fool all of the people all of the time, no matter what you do. That may explain why, after a year of “message,” many Americans don’t trust, the mainstream media, sports figures, or Hollywood actors. Likewise, few people trust what they read on social media. Maybe if more people understand that they’re on the receiving end of very sophisticated influencing tactics, some of which the government developed, they’ll be more cynical and suspicious about the information bubble that surrounds them.

Jack Wedam is the author of Cunningly Smart Phones: Deceit, Manipulation, and Private Thoughts Revealed and Is Your Smartphone Your Possession - Or Your Obsession, These books use patents, Congressional investigations, and many other government documents to explain how taxpayer-funded science led to the development of the Internet, smartphones and manipulative techniques that can facilitate widespread brainwashing (or influencing if you like that term better).

IMAGE: Don’t worry, we’re from the internet (cropped) by Anonymous9000. CC BY 2.0.

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