December 24, 2014

Paranoia - Possibility Becomes Probability

The psychiatric literature describes paranoia as mental illness, but, unfortunately, everyone is paranoid to some degree some of the time. What is paranoia? This a cognitive bias, best described as the tendency to suspect others of conspiring against you and wanting to hurt you. You could argue that there is healthy kind of paranoia, useful whenever people are really out to get you. A sick version of paranoia exaggerates this possibility. Sick paranoia involves suspicion and projection of suspicions and fears unto others. The sick paranoid suspects and blames others too often, too intensely and may attack innocent others who are seen as hostile.

Where does suspicion fit in? We are all obligated to scan our environment in search of signs of danger. Often, we detect subtle clues that there may be danger lurking but we are not sure. Suspicion is the tendency to treat uncertainty as threatening. Suspicion triggers anxiety and fuels gossip and self-talk.

Underlying suspicion is subconscious evaluation of the danger potential of your environment. Correct evaluation of danger potential is difficult and is not always possible. You could argue the healthy aspect of aspect of paranoia is that by being wary and looking for clues of danger, you are protecting yourself from harm that might lurk behind every tree, in every alley, in every park, and on every busy street. For as long as life has existed on earth, more vigilant animals have survived longer than less vigilant animals.

However, vigilance need not turn into paranoia. Although many humans now enjoy relative safe environments, information about crime, accidents and natural disasters, raises the level of suspicion and fear. Some humans adapt better to safer environments and become less vigilant and more trusting. This is a “taming” process. Others remain wary and some are possessed by excessive suspicion.

Wild animals can be tamed. The essence of taming a wild animal or human is to replace wariness and suspicion with relaxation and trust. The result is that in safer environments, tamed humans are less likely to anticipate danger and perceive most events most days as impersonal, routine and safe.

One of the technical challenges in evaluating the meaning of events is to connect events that are likely related to one’s own activities and interests and to treat other events as more or less spontaneous and unrelated to oneself. Normal vigilance and appropriate suspicion are successful in sorting events into the relevant and non-relevant categories. Sick paranoia involves an exaggeration of event relevance and poor judgment in assessing the meaningful connections among events that are essentially unrelated.

The human tendency is to invent relationships that are non-existent, to be superstitions and to believe in magical connections that relate unrelated events.

What if you become overly sensitive to mild or even innocuous signals that you should ignore? You pass a nice man on your walk and he smiles. You could think:”… that’s nice; he’s a friendly guy who probably likes the way I look.” Or you could think: ”..that smile is suspicious – he must know something about me; he must be part of the conspiracy that is tracking my movement; he was probably reading my mind.” The latter style of thought is paranoid. The paranoid person exaggerates his or her importance and exaggerates the ability of others to sustain secret, well-focused conspiracies. We invent stories and talk with others to probe the meaning of clues about danger that may be lurking in the shadows. These stories blame others for any distress and misfortune.

Paranoid stories that focus on conspiracies and imminent danger might be true; however, they are usually improbable. When paranoid thinking takes over a person’s cognitive processes, even remote possibilities turn into probabilities. The self-centered nature of the human mind tends to go this way and can move into an absurd form of narcissism.  You become so important that it is entirely plausible that the CIA, FBI, your co-workers, your family, even creatures from outer space have nothing better to do but to watch you and conspire against you.

Psychiatrists tend to think of paranoia as personal – one isolated person with false beliefs, but paranoid thinking is characteristic of group activity. If you tell a friend: “I think they are out to get me.” Your friend agrees and says: “Yes, they are out to get me too.” You have moved from paranoia to consensus. With three people agreeing, you have a local reality system.

Conspiracy theories are common and almost everyone in conversation with friends will join in a conspiracy talk. This is distance paranoia. The mildest form is to refer to an anonymous but powerful group called “They”.They are distant or concealed and you know very little about them except they are up to no good.  A common subject for gossip is to speak about what “They” are doing. They are spying on us. They are incompetent. They are to blame.

If you look closely at any human group, large or small, you find constant disagreement and a tendency for all affiliations to fall apart. Agreements within and among groups are notoriously difficult to achieve and hard to maintain. Real conspiracies do exist, of course, and most human groups are busy creating and attacking enemies, but there is a reassuring, irregular and inconsistent incompetence in all this activity even among professional conspirators.  Coherent conspiracies are not long-lived and a single dominant conspiracy is not usually part of the enduring fabric of any society.

If paranoid thinking progresses towards a disabling mental illness, “They” take over NBC and sitcoms have cleverly disguised messages directed at you alone. You have to decipher the code since the true message is hidden in the dialogue.

In the good old days of science fiction, the plots were placed in a fictional spacetime zone – there was no confusion about fact or fiction. The paranoid drama of the 1990s and beyond was sicker, occurred in the suburbs and presented itself as almost true if not truly true. I am concerned that too many members of the audience were encouraged to develop their paranoid tendencies. If you practice paranoid thinking, you can get good at it. Television programming and movie scripts thrive in paranoid territory. Increasingly, scriptwriters hold large audiences with conspiracy plots, aliens, and all the weird stuff that plagues paranoid schizophrenics. The TV series, the X-files, was good example of psychotic material and, while I liked the look and calm demeanor of the actors that play FBI Agents, Mulder and Scully, the plots were demented and the success of the series spoke to a troubling receptivity to paranoid ideation. The actors put a more or less reasonable face on script content that was fundamentally insane.

Paranoia flourishes in larger organizations where people compete for power, money and prestige. Larger organizations generate more paranoia because each human can only know and understand a small number of co-workers and all the people who are out of close-range tend to blur into one large “conspiracy.” Large organizations do best when they inspire company loyalty and provide an abundance of common signals that reassure participants that they are safe and part of a cooperative family.

In complex societies such as the USA with enclaves of political and economic power and organizations that employ secrecy and engage in covert actions, a high level of suspicion is common. Suspicion is appropriate if you are involved in competitive and covert transactions. The history of covert CIA operations, for example, is not reassuring that things are as they seem. Professional conspirators, working in their “nation’s best interest” have a tendency to get it wrong and often to do more harm than good. One version of USA paranoia is the belief that the federal government and its military are conspiring to end the rights and freedoms of average Americans and must be opposed by internal revolution. There have been many versions of anti-government groups; some are militant and others form legitimate lobbies The White House administration of Bush and Cheney appeared to be successful in confirming the worst fears of the most extreme paranoiacs as well as confirming the fears of better informed, more rational critics of the government.

Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense for President, G.W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. His chief responsibility was starting the Iraq war. New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd described Wolfowitz as a “demented visionary” who helped Vice President Cheney get rid of anything cooperative and multi -- multilateral treaties, multilateral institutions, multilateral alliances, multiculturalism. Dowd reported: “Multi, to them, meant wobbly, caviling, bureaucratic and obstructionist. Why be multi when you could be uni?Wolfowitz mismanaged the world most powerful army. Shattered the system of international diplomacy that kept the peace for 50 years. Undermined the credibility of American intelligence operations. Needlessly brought humankind to the brink of nuclear war and destroyed Iraq.”After leaving his US government job, Wolfowitz became the President of World Bank: 2005-2007. In this job, Dowd suggested that he: “Paralyzed the international lending apparatus to the point where small countries had to max out their Visa cards to pay for malaria medicine. He learned the traditions of many cultures, including those of Turkey, where you apparently are not supposed to take off your shoes at mosques to reveal socks so full of holes that both big toes poke blasphemously through
Although American law forbids government agencies from engaging in illegal activity close to home, the evidence that leaks out or is declared by whistle-blowers reveals that the CIA and other secret organizations, including paramilitary groups sponsored by the CIA, routinely engaged in illegal and immoral activities at home and abroad. These revelations support paranoia in a regrettable way.

The idealist hopes that a free democratic society can achieve 100% honest and lawful activities even among its agencies that specialize in secrecy and deception. The idealist assumption is that an honest, right-thinking citizen should have confidence that his or her government is trustworthy and obeys its own laws. A desirable assumption? Yes. Realistic? No.

From Surviving Human Nature by Stephen Gislason MD

Human Belligerence is Here to Stay.

Many of us felt great relief and renewed hope when the Soviet Union fragmented and Russians met with Americans to reduce the insane stockpiles of nuclear weapons. At this writing, the relief and the hope has been cancelled. In my book, Surviving Human Nature, I wrote a brief summary of Russian alienation from the USA and European countries. My thesis is always that human nature involves inevitable belligerence and sustainable progress toward peaceful co-existence has never been achieved:

NATO and Russia

European countries have a long history of shifting alliances and wars. Most battles were fought because of territorial ambitions or disputes, conflicting religious beliefs, ethnic animosities and the petty quarrels among aristocrats. As Europe emerged damaged and confused after the second world war, it seemed like a good idea to maintain and expand the alliances that defeated Germany. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created from an alliance of 26 countries from North America and Europe in 1949. The stated role of NATO was to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means.

Regrettably, Russia was not included in NATO, but instead remained a principal adversary. The blind paranoia that developed in the US and the willingness of all parties to engage in nuclear insanity was the greatest accomplishment in human perversity. NATO was not off to a good start with mutually assured destruction. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia resigned as enemy number 1 and a rather weak alliance was formed between Russian and NATO, first with a reciprocal commitment “to work together to build a stable, secure and undivided continent on the basis of partnership and common interest” in 1997.

A NATO-Russia Council was established in 2002 with the idea that representatives from the 26 NATO countries and Russia would meet regularly “to pursue opportunities for joint action as 27 equal partners.The expansion of NATO into East Central Europe was alarming for Russia. Their concerns were increased when the US made deals with Poland and the Ukraine to build their radar and missile sites in the countries, formerly controlled by Russia. One can only guess what the Putin Russians really thought about the US, but the conspicuous aggression and delusions of grandeur displayed by the Bush administration could hardly be reassuring.

Among the discussions of the NATO-Russia Council in 2003, arms control and confidence-building measures were a priority. The assurance of NATO member states was that “decisions taken by the Alliance at its summit meeting in Prague are not directed against the security interests of Russia or any other Partner state.

Russia invaded its neighbor, Georgia, a recent NATO member and Russian/NATO collaboration began to disintegrate. Anti-government protests in the Ukraine in 2014 have led to Russia asserting its historical alliances with military might. Russia exploited unrest in the Ukraine and annexed Crimea. NATO woke up to the consequences of keeping Russia isolated and resumed referring to a new "Cold War". No NATO coalition could or should enter into battle with the Russians. For those of us who grew up with the cold war, a recurrence of US-Russian, aka NATO-Russian hostilities has been a dreaded possibility. But the law of Karma suggests if it happened before, it will happen again. It is hard to shake the conclusion that the reptilian brain remains in control of human affairs. People elected to office and diplomats are no exception. NATO is obsolete, but since perseveration is the major operating principle of human groups, some version of NATO will likely persist in a dysfunction manner, helping to create more conflicts than it can resolve.

From Surviving Human Nature by Stephen Gislason

The Belligerent Parent

Most parents become angry and punish children who make mistakes or who are disruptive and defiant. Anger is the dominant obstacle to human happiness and peace. All anger is destructive and the best parent will learn to control angry outbursts in favor of a more diplomatic approach to child management.
No-one is perfect and anger is a powerful innate program so that even the best parent will sometimes become angry and cause some harm to children. An average parent will become angry several times everyday and will shout, criticize and blame children for their own shortcomings. Children of average parents adapt to a level of disturbance and uncertainty. They copy and display their parents’ angry behavior and later will pass on the legacy of anger, criticism and blame to their own children. Belligerent parents are tyrants who routinely criticize, blame, punish and injure their children. They live beyond the boundaries of a civil society and create problems that extend well beyond the walls of their unhappy homes.

Some belligerent parents belong to groups who support child abuse and even proclaim old doctrines such as the absolute power of fathers over their children. Strict fathers set strict rules, demand complete obedience to their rules and beat their children with belts, sticks, and other weapons. Often male authority over children is linked to male authority over adult women who are abused in a similar manner. Children who suffer from rough treatment and abuse learn that that is the way you behave and treat others with the same hostility that their parents manifest for the rest of their lives.

Corporal punishment in schools is less common than it was. The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Steve Berman stated:” Schools have no business meting out punishments on children that society has deemed too barbaric for use in prisons or the military. Americans are striving to teach children not to use violence to solve problems, not to bully others, and to respect themselves and other people. I don't see how children can learn these lessons when the very people who give them guidance -- their teachers and principals -- are leaving them bruised and battered. “ *

Progress in the creation of a civil society involves a more enlightened approach to parenting and more intervention by social policy and law when parents abuse their children. I have no doubt that children do best when they have loving parents who sing, dance, hug and kiss. When a happy, loving parent becomes angry, a trusting child experiences a crisis in confidence which the excellent parent resolves with an apology, an explanation, and a promise to do better next time.

* Berman S .Spare the Child. Letter to the Editor. NYT. May 12, 2001

From Children and the Family by Stephen Gislason MD

December 13, 2014

The Common Good

One ethical argument is that group interests should have priority over selfish interests. An investigation of ethics must consider this argument and develop metrics for the common good. No-one should assume that it is easy to define the common good. In political battles, clearly divergent if not contradictory ideas of the common good prevail and efforts to achieve consensus are difficult to impossible. The ethical implications are profound.

Michael Sandel asks What’s the Right Thing to Do? He teaches political philosophy at Harvard and offers the most popular course on campus -- Justice One of his intellectual anchors is Jeremy Bentham who wrote Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation in 1780. Bentham proposed a utilitarian test to evaluate the morality of any action: ask the question will my action produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people? John Stuart Mill later argued that respect for individuals rights as "the most sacred and binding part of morality" is compatible with the idea that justice rests ultimately on utilitarian considerations In simple terms, the two arguments compare individual interests with group interests.

Sandel also reviewed the philosophy of Immanuel Kant who argued that reason tells us what we ought to do, and when we obey our own reason, only then are we truly free. Kant’s ideas seem oddly unrealistic in the 21st century. Reason is in short supply. Every person assumes that he or she is more reasonable than others who disagree There is no consensus about the “common good.” We know that some humans are bad and will harm others as a matter of course; their behavior will not be altered by rational argument or laws and must be constrained by force. Some of these bad people arrive in positions of authority and power. Some bad people are elected, even to the highest positions in government where they can do much harm without insight or remorse.
We know that the audience, the "public", is made up of different groups with vested interests that conflict. We know that everyone invents stories that support their own point of view. Everyone deceives others and there is no absolute truth. We know that the voting public contains individuals with different mental abilities and that most humans have distinct limitations on what they can and will understand.

Human destiny as a species still lies with the programs in the old brain that offer only limited empathy and understanding and insist on the priority of local group survival at any cost. Individuals can transcend the old programs by diligent learning and practice but individual effort and learning does not change the genome, so that there can be no enduring civility without the persistent and relentless initiation of new humans into a rational and compassionate world order. Whatever we value about civilized human existence - culture, knowledge, social justice, respect for human rights and dignity must be practiced anew and stored as modifications of each person's neocortex.

From the Good Person - Ethics and Morality by Stephen Gislason

December 8, 2014

Television and Dystopia

A.O. Scott, film reviewer for the New York Times summarized his view of television programming in the 20th century:" …much of what's on television, whatever its scale or country of origin is garbage…even as disparate cultures can sample and appreciate each other’s stupidity, each one remains stupid in its own way, and no one's stupidity is inherently superior to anybody else's… in the global village, we are all idiots watching our reflections in a box."

You might argue that television programming ranges from the sublime to the psychotic. The sublime presentation includes intelligent exploration of the planet earth, its animals, plants and people. Science can be accessible to everyone and even the most abstruse concepts, when creatively presented, can be understood by most viewers. Even sports news, weather reports and banal sitcoms have a reassuring aspect; their daily presence provides a sense of continuity, an image of a society that wakes up every morning and carries on regardless. You could argue that sports on TV are a healthier expression of otherwise destructive human tendencies.

The most sane and reassuring cable channels are devoted to exploration of the natural world, cuisine, gardening and golf. The most insane show homicides and other crimes, vampires, ghosts, horror movies, war and actions involving fast cars, fighting, guns and bombs. News reports and much TV journalism wobble between intelligently informative reporting and misleading commentary. Since TV is a mass media, there is implicit understanding that half the population has an IQ below 100 and has limited knowledge and limited ability to understand complex issues. Too many programs assume that viewer is semi-literate, uneducated and 9 years old. The whole point of commercial television is to make your mind available to be programmed by the sponsor and to implant key messages in the viewer. Sponsors track the audience’s behavior in their sales figures and they buy more TV time when viewers obediently buy their goods. The most watched television program in the world is a football game, the US Superbowl. An estimated 111 million people watched the game in 2014; advertisers paid $4 million for a 30 second commercial.

TV journalism is inherently deceptive since many programs appear to be informative but only provide brief introductions to subjects and inadequate information to properly understand any subject. Bias is common, if not inevitable. Big money corporations and lobby groups effectively manipulate TV journalism. In the worst case, there is an intention to control consensus using the blunt tools of propaganda. News reports contain enough bad news to make any viewer despair but not enough information to understand what has really happened and what relevance events have to the viewer's own life. News reporting assumes that the audience has an endless capacity for moral outrage, one of the innate features of the human mind. Real progress begins when we drop the moral outrage and get on with fixing whatever is broken, knowing that the job is ongoing and endless. Clearly, more discrimination and restraint are needed before viewing news reports.

Some TV programming is frankly demented and I worry that less discriminating viewers will take the weird stuff too seriously. If you examine network TV programming closely, you find short clips lasting seconds rather than minutes. Scenes shift recklessly in a most unnatural manner. Video story telling is remarkably convincing even though the image selection is biased, brief and always incomplete. Television storytelling and gossip is one of its more important features. With multi-channels and 24 hours of potential programming on each channel, the format of people talking spontaneously or answering questions has emerged as time fillers. Talk and interview shows express a range of interests, attitudes and beliefs. The desirable result is that any viewer will recognize a diversity of human expression and may, hopefully, develop more tolerance. Even when you dislike someone on TV and oppose their point of view, there is subtle shift toward more tolerance, especially when other people model for you polite and rational ways of expressing disagreement. Gossip, however, is seldom informative.

Stanely described the psychotic content in proliferating apocalyptic movies and TV Shows:" Dystopian parables like “The Walking Dead,” where zombies rule the earth, are an increasingly fashionable genre of entertainment, but the degree of apocalyptic pessimism is very different depending on the size of the screen. The dividing line between television and movies seems to be class conflict. Television shows posit a hideous future with a silver lining; survivors, good or bad, are more or less equals. Movies like “Divergent,” “Snowpiercer” and “Elysium” foresee societal divisions that last into Armageddon and beyond and that define a new, inevitably Orwellian world order that emerges from the ruins of civilization. There is something positive about the end of the world on shows like “The Walking Dead,” and “Z Nation” on Syfy and “The Last Ship,” on TNT. True, civilization as we know it is gone, but so is social stratification. Survivors don’t group into castes according to birth, race, income or religion. People of all kinds bond with whomever seems friendly, or at least unthreatening. In the third season of “The Walking Dead,” a charismatic leader known as the Governor did establish a totalitarian community, Woodbury, but even there, people weren’t divided into social subgroups. And happily, his cultlike dictatorship was eventually destroyed. The world is all but destroyed and almost unspeakably grim in movies like “Snowpiercer” and “Elysium” and “The Zero Theorem,” but that’s not even the half of it. There isn’t much left except the enmity of haves and have-nots: A tyrannical ruling class — or Big Brother — hoards precious resources and enslaves the mob."

See Surviving Human Nature by Stephen Gislason at  Alpha Online.

December 7, 2014


The term “civil” refers to strategies and devices use to regulate the interface between individual interests and community interests. A civil society is characterized by a multilayered system of organizations that meet, discuss, vote and contribute to the well-being of the community. In an ideal civil society, individual and civil interests are congruent and there is no conflict.

 The maintenance of civility requires the imposition of attitudes, expectations, beliefs, rules and the enforcement of codes of conduct. The main dynamic in a free society involves the defense of social civility by law and the defense of civil liberties by individuals and groups who champion personal freedom. Socialism refers to political movements based on the idea that citizens of a state should own and manage the means of production and distribution of life’s necessities.
In the best case, an ideal egalitarian society distributes resources equitably and provides safety and security for its citizens.

The basic problem with social idealism is that human nature cannot be changed. Humans naturally compete and distribute resources through hierarchical networks. To change a more or less spontaneous order, a revolutionary group needs to arbitrarily reconstruct a political and economic system. There have been many versions of imposed socialism and many revolutions that failed. A reasonable historian can conclude that communism introduced by revolution in Russia and China failed and is being replaced by hybrid economies that combine “free enterprise” with state-owned enterprise.

What is remarkable about socialist ideas in the US is the paranoid resistance that arises from advocates of capitalism, a resistance organized by dominant humans who will fight to maintain control of resources and wealth. Ideological battles are disguises for old battles to defend and expand territory, wealth and dominance.

Large aggregations of humans grew beyond reasonable limits in the 20th century. The tendency for the largest coalitions of nations to break up into smaller units is probably adaptive and represents an old primate tendency. The tendency in business for large companies to merge and form international conglomerates is driven by rational goals and means, but goes beyond human cognitive abilities. These large organizations are not likely to endure. Large assemblies become unfriendly and inefficient and eventually fail unless they are re-organized into subgroups that are small enough to allow individuals to work effectively together.

The Masses

From the viewpoint of a single person, only a small number of other humans can be recognized as individuals. Only individuals have thoughts, feelings, status and rights. All the rest turn into "the masses". As humans adapt to living in large groups, some peculiar attitudes emerge in an attempt to cope with a large number of other humans out there that you cannot know, cannot understand and cannot trust. While categories are inevitable, the human tendency is to rely on broad generalizations. A distinction has to be made between concepts, principles and axioms that reveal the essence of human tendencies and categories that lack cogent information.

Humans often lack a sense of appropriateness when they go beyond names and concepts that apply to a well-known, local community. Categories are improvised to collect faceless people of indeterminate numbers into imaginary groups. An American will tell about Europeans in a few sentences and a European will tell you about Americans. These broad categories have almost no informational value, but they do serve the cause of prejudice. Every human walks around with a collection of generalizations and categorical prejudices and generally feels comfortable with this "knowledge base."

The reader will be reassured to know that I have been on duty for many years, notebook in hand, studying the masses. One of my vantage points was a local café where I listened to conversations and studied human behavior as I read newspapers. One sunny afternoon on the café patio, a loud male speaker in his early 20's was holding forth about the "masses" and what the "masses want" and what the "masses don't know." There was a bit of conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure. This young man didn't score high on the impromptu coffee shop IQ test - he got 100- but his remarks epitomize an approach that is common "among the masses". Since identities blur as the distance increases, there is a tendency to use all inclusive, general and vague categories for everyone who does not belong to your inner circle. As you move further and further away from home, even these general categories blur.

The dangerous aspect of the young man's concern is the possibility that he, in all his wisdom, will figure out what the masses really need and, with a small band of trusted cronies, he will set out to save the world. Despots are people who know what the masses need and impose their will. As the distance from other humans increases, the other humans lose their humanity and may become victims of despots who treat them as tokens in the video game of life.

From Human Nature by Stephen Gislason

December 6, 2014



One way to control the public mind is to use mass media to persuade entire populations to think and behave in specific ways. You could argue that the knowledge and skills used by good advertising agencies are the same tools of used by political propagandists. In the best case, advertising is more benevolent, designed to entertain, inform and motivate you to purchase a product. In an even better case, the skills of advertising can be used to persuade citizens to behave in a more constructive manner, improve their heath and to treat others with more kindness and concern. In the worse case, advertising is intrusive, dishonest and devious. In any case, good advertising works to sell products, just as skillful propaganda can turn lies into public policy. Since most citizens of affluent countries are tuned into multimedia every day, advertising and propaganda are pervasive influences determining their beliefs and behavior.

Marketing consultant Jerry Bader stated:" Great advertising isn't real, it's hyper-real: hyperrealism is a communication approach that generates desire and motivates action by presenting a stylized version of reality through a focused perspective. Reality is messy and confused; hyper-reality is concentrated and clear, and when it comes to marketing messages, concentrated and clear is the goal." Bader described the human tendency to copy what others are doing and saying. He compared copying to cloning in US marketing practice. He stated:" somebody makes a profitable movie about vampires, and the next thing you know we're all inundated with movies, television shows, books, blogs, websites, and every form of blood-sucking permutation you can imagine." Every successful product, brand or advertising message is copying many times. Bader suggested:" Most of the copycats fail because the clone-masters behind them don't understand why the original worked, and as a consequence, they clone all the wrong elements. Clone marketing is just rote copying of technical elements without any reference to why the original worked, whereas Slipstream marketing takes a familiar idea and plays off it like a great jazz musician reinterprets an old standard.

"An example was Kimberly Clark's success at branding a commodity, facial tissue, as Kleenex. They recognized the need to transform their commodity product into something of higher value by showing an emotional connection between the product and the consumer. Their Let It Out video commercials featured an interviewer who asked people to sit down on a couch in the middle of a busy street to describe a meaningful moment in their lives. People cried, and people laughed, until tears came to their eyes, at which point, the interviewer handed each person a Kleenex along with a memorable music message. Kleenex became the most successful brand name and eventually became the generic name for all facial tissues."

In an ideal world, commercial advertising would not exist. In Canada, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation offered  advertising-free radio. I tuned into their programs for many years and grew used to commercial-free CBC FM broadcasts that featured classical music, jazz, radio plays and educational radio essays. To this day, I have little tolerance for commercial radio or television broadcasting. In an ideal world, marketing products and services would never intrude on a citizen’s privacy and never be pushed by media without the consent of the listener-viewer.

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Surviving Human Nature

Politics & Environment

Environmentalists There are host of well-known environment groups that an educated individual can support, join and contribute. Politica...