The River

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Television and the Hive Mind

By Mack White

(excerpt)

Experiments conducted by researcher Herbert Krugman reveal that, when a person watches television, brain activity switches from the left to the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is the seat of logical thought. Here, information is broken down into its component parts and critically analyzed. The right brain, however, treats incoming data uncritically, processing information in wholes, leading to emotional, rather than logical, responses. The shift from left to right brain activity also causes the release of endorphins, the body's own natural opiates--thus, it is possible to become physically addicted to watching television, a hypothesis borne out by numerous studies which have shown that very few people are able to kick the television habit.

This numbing of the brain's cognitive function is compounded by another shift which occurs in the brain when we watch television. Activity in the higher brain regions (such as the neo-cortex) is diminished, while activity in the lower brain regions (such as the limbic system) increases. The latter, commonly referred to as the reptile brain, is associated with more primitive mental functions, such as the "fight or flight" response. The reptile brain is unable to distinguish between reality and the simulated reality of television. To the reptile brain, if it looks real, it is real. Thus, though we know on a conscious level it is "only a film," on a conscious level we do not--the heart beats faster, for instance, while we watch a suspenseful scene. Similarly, we know the commercial is trying to manipulate us, but on an unconscious level the commercial nonetheless succeeds in, say, making us feel inadequate until we buy whatever thing is being advertised--and the effect is all the more powerful because it is unconscious, operating on the deepest level of human response. The reptile brain makes it possible for us to survive as biological beings, but it also leaves us vulnerable to the manipulations of television programmers.

It is not just commercials that manipulate us. On television news as well, image and sound are as carefully selected and edited to influence human thought and behavior as in any commercial. The news anchors and reporters themselves are chosen for their physical attractiveness--a factor which, as numerous psychological studies have shown, contributes to our perception of a person's trustworthiness. Under these conditions, then, the viewer easily forgets--if, indeed, the viewer ever knew in the first place--that the worldview presented on the evening news is a contrivance of the network owners--owners such as General Electric (NBC) and Westinghouse (CBS), both major defense contractors. By molding our perception of the world, they mold our opinions. This distortion of reality is determined as much by what is left out of the evening news as what is included--as a glance at Project Censored's yearly list of top 25 censored news stories will reveal. If it's not on television, it never happened. Out of sight, out of mind.

Under the guise of journalistic objectivity, news programs subtly play on our emotions--chiefly fear. Network news divisions, for instance, frequently congratulate themselves on the great service they provide humanity by bringing such spectacles as the September 11 terror attacks into our living rooms. We have heard this falsehood so often, we have come to accept it as self-evident truth. However, the motivation for live coverage of traumatic news events is not altruistic, but rather to be found in the central focus of Cantril's War of the Worlds research--the manipulation of the public through fear.

There is another way in which we are manipulated by television news. Human beings are prone to model the behaviors they see around them, and avoid those which might invite ridicule or censure, and in the hypnotic state induced by television, this effect is particularly pronounced. For instance, a lift of the eyebrow from Peter Jennings tells us precisely what he is thinking--and by extension what we should think. In this way, opinions not sanctioned by the corporate media can be made to seem disreputable, while sanctioned opinions are made to seem the very essence of civilized thought. And should your thinking stray into unsanctioned territory despite the trusted anchor's example, a poll can be produced which shows that most persons do not think that way--and you don't want to be different do you? Thus, the mental wanderer is brought back into the fold.

...more

Comments:
I never had the gumption to link to Mack White, despite having reached many of the same conclusions. Whenever I go on about the Eye Of Hell (pant, pant), the soliticious offers of tin foil make me sob with frustration :'-(

The tendency to groupthink is bad enough as it is.
 
Although the piece linked is the extent of my exposure to White, I guess he is pretty out there, as he does finally get down to UFOs, NWO, etc. etc.

But hey, I'll take good writing and alternative views where I can get them, especially anything that exposes the perniciousness of TV. I don't have to agree with everything. I suppose too, it's a measure of my online wonderings through the weird in places like Rigorous Intuition and its offshoots, that it doesn't really seem so strange anymore. "The truth is out there..." These guys must have really been pissed when X Files came out -- damn, co-opted again. Or maybe they just shook their head ruefully. "yeah, saw that comin'..."

Thanks for the excellent link.
 
When you're fairly smart and have collected a bunch of little "t" truths, it's tempting to weave them into a whole. This can lead to stunning misperceptions, but in no way invalidates the insights or truth of the separate parts. You have to be a little bit out there to get a good picture. That's risky. Some people can't find their way home. I try to stay balanced, with one foot off the cliff and the other stuck in my mouth.
 
Interesting blog on jewelry television I have read a related blog herejewelry television
 
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