Understand the fact that humans are storytelling animals, and
whoever controls the stories controls the humans.
narrative dominates human consciousness; thought is essentially
one continuous, churning monologue about the self and what it
reckons is going on in its world, and that monologue is composed
entirely of mental stories.
These stories can and will be
manipulated, on an individual scale by people we encounter and
on a mass scale by skillful propagandists.
We base our actions
on our mental assessments of what's going on in the world, and
those mental assessments can be manipulated by narrative
2 - Be humble and open enough to know that you can be
Your cognitive wiring is susceptible to the same hacks
as everyone else, and manipulators of all sorts are always
looking to exploit those vulnerabilities.
It's not shameful to
be deceived, it's shameful to deceive people.
Don't let shame
and cognitive dissonance keep you compartmentalized away from
considering the possibility that you've been duped in some way.
3 - Watch people's behavior and ignore the stories they
tell about their behavior.
This applies to people in your life,
to politicians, and to governments. Narratives can be easily
manipulated and distorted in many different ways, while behavior
itself, when examined with as much objectivity as possible,
Pay attention to behavior in this way and eventually
you'll start noticing a large gap between what some people's
actions say and what their words say.
Those people are the
manipulators. Distrust them.
4 - Be suspicious of people who keep telling you what
they are and how they are, because they're trying to manipulate
your narrative about them.
Be doubly suspicious of people who
keep telling you what you are and how you are, because they're
trying to manipulate your narrative about you.
5 - Learn to see how trust and sympathy are used by
manipulators to trick people into subscribing to their
narratives about what's going on.
Every manipulator uses trust
and/or sympathy as a primer for their manipulations, because if
you don't have trust or sympathy for them, you're not going to
mentally subscribe to their stories.
This is true of mass media
outlets, it's true of State Department press releases which
implore you to have sympathy for the people of Nation X, and
it's true of family members and coworkers.
Once you've spotted a
manipulator, your task is to kill off all of your sympathy for
them and your trust in them, no matter how hard they start
playing the victim to suck you back in.
6 - Be suspicious of anyone who refuses to articulate
Word salading is a tactic
by abusive narcissists, because it keeps the victim confused and
unable to figure out what's going on.
If they can't get a clear
handle on what the manipulative abuser is saying, they can't
form their own solid position in relation to it, and the abuser
knows this. Insist on lucid communication, and if it's refused
to you, remove trust and sympathy.
Apply this to people in your
life, to government officials, and to
7 - Familiarize yourself with
cognitive biases, the
glitches in human cognition which cause us to perceive things in
a way that is not rational.
Pay special attention to
confirmation bias, the
backfire effect, and the
Humans have an annoying tendency to seek out
ease in their information-gathering and avoid
dissonance, rather than seeking out what's true regardless of
whether it brings us cognitive ease or dissonance.
This means we
tend to choose what we believe based on whether believing it is
psychologically comfortable, rather than whether it's solidly
backed by facts and evidence.
This is a weakness in our
cognitive wiring, and manipulators can and do exploit it
And, again, be humble enough to know that this means
8 - Trust your own understanding above anyone else's.
It might not be perfect, but it's a damn sight better than
letting your understanding be controlled by narrative managers
and dopey partisan groupthink, or by literally anyone else in a
narrative landscape that is saturated with propaganda and
You won't get everything right, but betting on
your own understanding is the very safest bet on the table.
can be intimidating to stand alone and sort out the true from
the false by yourself on an instance-by-instance basis, but the
alternative is giving someone else authority over your
understanding of the world.
Abdicating your responsibility to
come to a clear understanding of what's going on in your world
is a shameful, cowardly thing to do.
Be brave enough to insist
that you are right until such time as you yourself come to your
own understanding that you were wrong.
9 - Understand that propaganda is the single most
overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of our society.
Everyone's constantly talking about what's wrong with the world,
but hardly any of those discussions are centered around the fact
that the public been manipulated into supporting the creation
and continuation of those problems by mass media propaganda.
fact that powerful people are constantly manipulating the way we
think, act and vote should be at the forefront of everyone's
awareness, not relegated to occasional discussions in fringe
10 - Respect the fact that the science of modern
propaganda has been in
research and development for over a
Think of all the military advancements that have been
made in the last century to get an idea of how sophisticated
this science must now be.
They are far, far ahead of us in terms
of research and understanding of the methods of manipulating the
human psyche toward ends which benefit the powerful.
If you ever
doubt that the narrative managers could be advanced and cunning
enough to pull off a given manipulation, you can lay that
particular doubt to rest.
Don't underestimate them.
11 - Understand that western mass media propaganda
rarely consists of full, outright lies.
At most, such outlets
will credulously publish the things that are told to them by
government agencies which lie all the time. More often, the
deception comes in the form of distortions, half-truths, and
Pay more attention to discrepancies in things that
are covered versus things that aren't, and to what they're not
12 - Put effort into developing a good news-sense, a
sense for what's newsworthy and what's not.
This takes time and
practice, but it lets you see which newsworthy stories are going
unreported by the mass media and which non-stories are being
overblown to shape an establishment-friendly narrative.
you've got that nailed down, you'll notice,
"Why are they acting
like this is a news story?" and "Why is nobody reporting this??"
stories all the time.
13 - Be patient and compassionate with yourself when it
comes to developing your narrative navigating skills.
literally any skill set, you'll suck at it for a while. If you
learn you've been wrong about something, just take in the new
information, adjust appropriately, and keep plugging away.
expect to have mastered this thing before you've had time to
Like anything else, if you put in the hours you'll
get good at it.
14 - Find reliable news reporters who have a good sense
for navigating the narrative matrix, and keep track of them to
orient yourself and stay on top of what's going on.
individual reporters, not outlets; no outlet is 100 percent
solid, but some reporters are pretty close on some specific
Click this hyperlink for an article on one way to do
build a customized and reliable news stream.
hyperlink for a list of all my favorite news reporters on
Twitter right now.
15 - Don't let paranoia be your primary or only tool
for navigating the narrative matrix.
Some people's only means of
understanding the world is to become intensely suspicious of
everything and everyone, which is about as useful as a compass
which tells you that every direction is north.
Spend time in
conspiracy and media criticism circles and you'll run into many
such people. Rejecting everything as false leaves you with
nothing as true.
Find positive tools for learning what's true.
16 - Hold your worldview loosely enough that you can
change it at any time in the light of new information, but not
so loosely that it can be slapped out of your head by someone
telling you what to think in a confident, authoritative tone.
Carl Sagan once said,
"It pays to keep an open mind, but not so
open your brains fall out."
17 - Speaking of confident, authoritative tones, be
suspicious of confident, authoritative tones.
It's amazing how
much traction people can get with a narrative just by posturing
as though they know that what they're saying is true, whether
they're an MSNBC pundit or a popular conspiracy Youtuber.
many people are just plain faking it, because it works.
into this all the time in debates on online political forums;
people come at you with a supremely confident posture, but if
you push them to present their knowledge on the subject and the
strength of their arguments, there's not actually anything
They're just accustomed to people assuming they know what
they're talking about and leaving their claims unchallenged, and
it completely throws them off when someone doesn't buy their
feigned confidence schtick.
18 - Be aware that sociopaths exist.
There are people
who, to varying degrees, do not care what happens to others, and
these are the types of people who will use manipulation to get
their way whenever it serves them.
If you don't care about truth
or other people beyond the extent to which you can use them,
then there's no disincentive to manipulating.
19 - Be aware of projection, and be aware of the fact
that it cuts both ways:
unhealthy people tend to project their
wickedness onto others, while healthy people tend to project
Don't let your goodness trick you into thinking
there aren't monsters who will deceive and manipulate you, and
don't let sociopaths project their own sinister motives onto you
by telling you how rotten you are.
This mixes a lot of good
people up, especially in their personal lives. Not everyone is
good, and not everyone is truthful. See this clearly.
20 - Be suspicious of those who excessively advocate
civility, rules and politeness.
Manipulators thrive on rules and
civility, because they know how to manipulate them. Someone
who's willing to color outside the lines and get angry at
someone noxious even when they're acting within the rules makes
a manipulator very uncomfortable.
Often times those telling you
to calm down and behave yourself when you are rightfully upset
are manipulators who have a vested interest in getting you to
adhere to the rules set they've learned to operate within.
21 - Meditation, mindfulness, self-inquiry
practices are powerful tools which can help you understand your
own inner processes, which in turn helps you understand how
manipulators can manipulate you, and how they manipulate others.
Just be sure that you are using them for this purpose, not for
escapism as most "spiritual" types do. You're trying to become
fully aware of what makes you tick mentally, emotionally and
energetically; you're not trying to become some vapid spiritual
The goal isn't to feel better, the goal is to get
better at feeling.
Better at consciously experiencing your own
22 - Be relentlessly honest with yourself about your
own inner narratives and the various ways you engage in
You can't navigate your way through the narrative
control matrix if you aren't clear on your own role in it. Look
inside and consciously take an inventory.
23 - Understand that truth doesn't generally move in a
way that is pleasing to the ego, i.e. in a way Hollywood scripts
are written to appeal to.
Any narrative that points to a
Hollywood ending where the bad guy gets karate kicked into lava
and the hero gets the girl is manufactured.
are both perfect examples of an egoically pleasing narrative
with the promise of a Hollywood ending, either by Trump and his
cohorts being dragged off in chains or by the "white hats"
the Deep State and throwing all the Democrats and
Never-Trumpers in prison for pedophilia.
Ain't gonna happen,
24 - Try to view the world with fresh eyes rather than
with your tired old grown-up eyes which have taught you to see
all this as normal.
Hold an image in your mind of what a
perfectly healthy and harmonious world would look like.
sharp contrast between this image and the world we have now
allows you see through the campaign of the propagandists to
normalize things like,
...which keep seeing the same government behavior
regardless of who people vote for. None of this is normal.
25 - Know that the truth has no political party, and
neither do the social engineers.
All political parties are used
to manipulate the masses in various ways, and nuggets of truth
can and do emerge from any of them. Thinking along partisan
lines is guaranteed to give you a distorted view. Ignore the
imaginary lines between the parties.
You may be certain that
your rulers do.
26 - Remain always aware of this simple dynamic:
people who become billionaires are generally the ones who are
sociopathic enough to do whatever it takes to get ahead.
class has been able to buy up near-total narrative control via
media ownership/influence, corporate lobbying, think tank
funding, and campaign finance, and are thus able to manipulate
the public into consenting to agendas which benefit nobody but
plutocrats and their lackeys.
This explains pretty much every
major problem that we are facing right now.
27 - Understand that nations are pure narrative
constructs; they only exist to the extent that people agree to
pretend that they do.
The narrative managers know this, and they
exploit the fact that most of us don't.
Take Julian Assange,
he was pried out of the embassy and imprisoned
an extremely obvious collaboration between the US, UK,
Sweden, Ecuador, and Australia, yet they each pretended that
they were acting as separate, sovereign nations completely
independently of one another.
Sweden pretended it was deeply
concerned about rape allegations, the UK pretended it was deeply
concerned about a bail violation
Ecuador pretended it was
deeply concerned about skateboarding and embassy cat hygiene
the US pretended it was deeply concerned about the particulars
of the way Assange helped Chelsea Manning cover her tracks
Australia pretended it was too deeply concerned about honoring
the sovereign affairs of these other countries to intervene on
behalf of its citizen,
...and it all converged in a way that just
so happened to look exactly the same as imprisoning a journalist
for publishing facts.
You see this same dynamic constantly,
whether it's with military interventions, trade deals, or
narrative-shaping campaigns against non-aligned governments.
28 - Understand that war is the glue which holds the
US-centralized empire together.
Without the carrot of
military/economic alliance and the stick of military/economic
violence, the US-centralized empire would cease to exist.
is why war propaganda is constant and sometimes so forced that
glaring plot holes become exposed; it's so important that they
need to force it through, even if they can't get the narrative
matrix around it constructed just right.
If they ceased
manufacturing consent for the empire's relentless warmongering,
people would lose all trust in government and media
institutions, and those institutions would lose the ability to
propagandize the public effectively.
Without the ability to
propagandize the public effectively, our rulers cannot rule.
29 - Remember that when it comes to foreign policy, the
neocons are always wrong.
They've been so remarkably consistent
in this for so long that whenever there's a question about any
narrative involving hostilities between the US-centralized power
alliance and any other nation, you can just look at what,
...are saying about it and
believe the exact opposite.
They're actually a very helpful
navigation tool in this way.
30 - Notice how the manipulators like to split the
population in two and then get them arguing over how they should
serve the establishment.
Arguing over whether it's better to
vote Democrat or Republican, arguing over whether it's better to
increase hostilities with Iran and Venezuela or with Syria and
Russia, over whether you should support the US president or the
FBI, arguing over how internet censorship should happen and whom
should be censored rather than if censorship should happen in
the first place.
The longer they can keep us arguing over the
best way to lick the imperial boot, the longer they keep us from
talking about whether we want to lick it at all.
31 - Watch out for appeals to emotion.
It's much easier
to manipulate someone by appealing to their feely bits rather
than their capacity for rational analysis, which is why any time
they want to manufacture support for military interventionism
you see pictures of dead children on news screens everywhere
rather than a logical argument for the advantages of using
military violence based on a thorough presentation of facts and
You see the same strategy used in the guilt trips they
lay on third-party voters:
it's all emotional hyperbole that
crumbles under any fact-based analysis, but they use it because
They go after your heart strings to circumvent your
32 - Pay attention to how much propaganda goes into
maintaining the propaganda machine itself.
This is done this
because propaganda is just that central to the maintenance of
dominant power structures. Much effort is spent building trust
in establishment narrative management outlets while sowing
distrust in sources of dissent.
You'll see entire propaganda
campaigns built around accomplishing solely this.