The ideologies that governments have tried to force on their citizens have come in many different versions. Communism, nazism, dictatorships, etc. But what they all have in common are the propaganda tactics that they have used to manipulate the population into believing, or at least complying with their ideologies. These tactics are as old as time and work on some of the most basic principles of human nature. They work on our emotions, infiltrate our minds, and they do all this while we don’t even realize we’re being manipulated.
This is even happening at this very moment in time. Every government wants their people to get on board with the climate change agenda, and they know they can’t do this without persuading people and using certain propaganda tactics. Below we will discuss the four most prominent propaganda tactics that are being used, and with each, we’re going to explore how they are used in the climate crisis. Whether you believe in the ideas of climate change or not is not even relevant. These tactics are being used either way, and I believe it is important that you become aware of them, so that you are not easily manipulated by them and can base your opinion on this and other issues on the facts. Even if everything they’re saying is true, these are still the strategies that are being used. Here they are:
We’ve all seen or heard of the book 1984, but most people don’t know what the book is actually about. It’s not about a tyrannical state, it is not necessarily about Big Brother watching everything you do. It’s about censorship. It’s about people censoring your speech, so that if you don’t say it, you won’t think it, and that these censored ideas will disappear over time. That is exactly what censorship does, it’s the suppression and eventual destruction of ideas and it has been used by every tyrannical society in human history mainly because it is so effective in suppressing unwanted ideas.
If we take the example of climate change, we can see how ideas and viewpoints are suppressed and censored in multiple ways. Scientists who go against the grain, do studies and conclude that man-made climate change is not what they say it is and that it is not speeding up as they say, get silenced, don’t get funded, and don’t get a platform.
This censorship was also used very effectively in the Soviet Union, where no one was allowed to criticize those in power in any way. In our Western society today, people just don’t get given a platform, but in the Soviet Union, simply speaking your mind could cost you your life. Different societies go to different extremes when it comes to censorship, and although our censoring is ramping up, it’s definitely not as bad as that of the Soviet Union was.
Another important aspect of censoring is that it is self-reinforcing because it causes self-censoring. You get told you don’t get to speak your mind about certain issues, so you get cautious about saying anything even remotely related to it. This eventually results in ideas just not being discussed in society and leads to the death of those ideas.
Another trick propagandists use which is very visible today is labeling. They apply a label to you that should strip you of all credibility. They call scientists who don’t fully agree with the agenda and with its implementation ‘climate change deniers’, 'crazy', or even 'anti-science', whereas the whole idea of science is that it should be questioned. The labels are almost always factually wrong, but they work because they stick, and they have the effect of immediately making someone unbelievable. Saying someone is a 'climate change denier' puts them in a box of extremists and he/she is therefore not worth listening to at all. By putting this label on you, they make sure that others don’t even want to listen to what you have to say, thus in effect silencing you and your opinions for a large part of the population except for the ones that see through the labels, which aren’t that many. It’s the same nowadays with racists or misogynists. Just because you make one joke about black people doesn’t mean you hate their entire race, just as saying women are better at raising kids doesn’t immediately make you hate all women. Labels are ridiculous, but the messed up thing is that they stick. Once you’re called a racist, you’re now a racist forever, you can deny and show proof all you want that you're not, but you are now a racist. Once a climate change denier, always a climate change denier.
After a while, people will see through this labeling, and they will understand that certain ideas can’t be discussed because of political reasons. When this censorship gets too extreme, people are going to rise up against it. When the censorship goes so far as that you can’t name certain facts anymore, we’ve gone too far. We’ve started to arrive there, so this is a time when we should be very careful about how far we push this censorship.
Censorship and labeling strip you of having credibility and sharing your ideas with other people, and ideas that are not discussed, die. Just like in 1984.
Fear is an emotion that everyone experiences. It’s also one of the most powerful of the negative emotions when it comes to its effectiveness at manipulating others. What makes it so effective as a propaganda tool is that it is a very negative emotion, and people don’t like to feel negative emotions. When you are afraid, the only thing you can think of is that fear, and the only thing you want to do is to get rid of that emotion. This means that you're not able to think rationally or think about other problems, because you need to get rid of that feeling of fear first.
What studies have revealed is that there are two ways to use fear effectively to manipulate people.
Firstly, you can provide a little fear and no clear solution. This can make people roughly go in the direction you want to go into, but won't make them take major actions.
The second and most effective, but also most difficult version, is to provide them with a large amount of fear and provide people with a detailed step-by-step process to get rid of that fear.
If you give little fear and a large step-by-step process, people won’t care, and if you give them lots of fear but no clear way to get rid of it, people will just freeze up or ignore the fear.
Most marketing uses some of the first way, where they provide you with a little fear and a simple solution. What countries do is a whole other piece of cake. They provide you with tons of fear, in the case of climate change, fear of destroying the earth, which is one of the biggest fears you can imagine, and they provide you, the people, with a simple step-by-step solution to solving this problem. Even though the solution is based on a lot of uncertainties, they convey it like they know for sure that this will work (confidence bias).
The incredible amounts of fear they give us by projecting the issue in such a way that we become afraid of what they say could happen makes us willing to comply with any solution they provide us to possibly get rid of that fear. The funny thing about it all, and also the scary thing, is that they not only provide the solution, they deliberately agitate the fear itself. The fear was only the means needed to implement their plans. There is no goodwill about this, only manipulation and planning. They are providing a solution for climate change, but they will trojan horse it with measures that you would never agree with if it wasn’t because of that fear, and they know this. That’s why they do it this way.
What often happens is that the propagandist deliberately agitates or even creates fear in order to make someone do what they want. They make you fear something, and then they give you the solution to get rid of that fear, where often the solution is an action they wanted you to take in the first place. Most of the time this is used with the Trojan Horse method. Here the propagandist agitates a real fear and a genuine concern and provides us with a solution. This solution sounds logical, and because the fear is so bad we’ll do anything to relieve it. But what happens is that next to the reasonable measures, they slip in some unreasonable ones that benefit them in some way. Because people are too busy with their fears, they won’t even notice it. A clear example of this is climate change, whether you believe in man-made climate change or not.
Climate change propaganda is mostly based on fear. They say that the world is going to end if we don’t do something about it, that we are destroying our world, and what about our kids that we leave with a post-apocalyptic world? These are all arguments based on fear, the fear of the end of the world, the fear of chaos, and the fear of not being able to provide a good life for our children. But then they use the Trojan Horse method when it comes to the solution. They provide you with a solution that sounds reasonable, or at least in line with the amount of fear that they have created. Then, they slide in some extra measures that directly benefit all the people in power who promote the agenda. What they don’t tell you is that you have to pay for the transition to durable energy, while the rich people who started all this only get richer.
While the people who have caused the problem benefit from it, the people who have suffered from it will only suffer more to solve it.
Fear is a very effective tool for influencing others. Be careful when you become afraid of something because someone tells you to be afraid. When they do this, there is often a hidden motive, a Trojan Horse.