4 Ways to Spot Big Pharma’s Astroturfing and Media Manipulation
Studies show – that people are gullible enough to believe anything if it appears on TV and sounds authoritative. Really?
Giant corporations and any other entities that pretty much own the entire galaxy – or act as though they do – have a tendency toward the chameleon behavior of astroturfing because it works so well.
Astroturfing involves appearing just like a grassroots movement, but one that also hides the true wizardly sponsor and its intentions behind the curtain. It can get even more complicated with story layers – a carefully constructed narrative such as a made-up group “false flagging” itself, co-opting by mimicking or debunking myths that weren’t even myths in order to sway public opinion. Astroturfing can involve simply a deceptive or purposely-controversial way to sell products, all the way up to overthrowing governments with color revolutions. All of those goals can involve the use of online comments, blogs, studies and social media to give the appearance of an organic effort with tons of support or just plain confusion that lulls the audience into belief.
How far does it really go with Big Pharma?
Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson explains how to keep from getting duped by the newest in expertly deceptive propaganda techniques. She calls the prevalence of astroturfing and media manipulation a “Truman Show-esque alternate reality all around you.” With a probing, astute mind like hers, is it any wonder she was essentially shut down by CBS? Check out her new book: Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.
TEDx Talk description:
In this eye-opening talk, veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.
Remember to look for these four astroturfing techniques as you read online:
- Inflammatory and charged language – i.e., quacks, kooks, pseudo, conspiracy theorist
- Made up myths that are “debunked” which can wind up on Snopes (I call them Inception stories)
- Attacking or controversializing people’s character or organizations instead of addressing the facts
- And especially the ‘turfers that reserve all of their public skepticism and criticisms for those exposing the wrong doers instead of directing that skepticism to the wrongdoers themselves. Prime example: instead of questioning authority, they question those that question the authority
After watching this you will never again read Wikipedia, Snopes, the news, blogs, Facebook comments, or Google results without a major guard. With just ten minutes and the tips above you too will be better at researching, spotting hidden propaganda, bots and not falling for the appearance of skeptics which could actually be pharma-funded attackers on legitimate exposé.
Previous image Hypnotic eye: Flickr Commons: Image provided by Karl Birrane