You need to avoid being conned by spin-doctoring in the voc. ed. and training system



Spin is all about deception. Sometimes the spinners don’t bother with complex methods to cover-up deception. Outright lies and deliberate omissions can work on a gullible audience too.

“Spin” refers to the forms of marketing  and public relations that use trickery and psychological manipulation. It developed out of military propaganda techniques. It refers to deceptive methods used to create a desired impression upon people; or to create a desired action (or prevent an action) by a person, group of people or the general public. Spin is spun in response to, or in preparation for something. The focus of spin-doctors tends to be on either promoting or covering up the actions of their employers (or doing both of these).

Spinners of the “Spin” form of marketing and public relations are also referred to as “Spin-Doctors” (which sounds a bit better than spiders). George Orwell’s “Squealer Pig” in Animal Farm was a spin-doctor. Spin doctors commonly work behind the scenes – coaching politicians, managers of large organizations (including government) and big businesses; and they often deal with the media on their employer’s behalf.

Extracts from: Truth Lies Deception and Coverups –

The spinner’s of “spin” usually like to keep out of the limelight in order that their employer will appear to be acting honestly and spontaneously (rather than in a carefully orchestrated fashion). That’s a bit like spiders that tend to stay away from their web while they wait for it to catch a victim.  But sometimes spin-doctors do act as the “mouthpiece” for an individual or organization.


Spin-doctors are usually employed by others and what they do is usually on behalf of others. It’s a bit like a boss spider hiring another spider to spin or teach them to spin a web as a trap. While the spinning spider creates the trap, the boss spider consumes the prey. Individuals are also capable of spin-doctoring on their own behalf. Please keep this in mind when reading the rest of this post because I may refer to spin-doctors, spinners and the employers of spin-doctors in the same way because they employ the same techniques. Likewise, because spin arose from propaganda, these terms may be used interchangeably.

The objectives of spin-doctors most often involves  promotion. The audience is manipulated to:

  • Buy a product or service, or
  • Vote in a certain way, or
  • Support a policy such as a war, or an economic decision such as a tax measure, or a change in law; or,
  • Not support the competition; or,
  • Not take action that would prevent the spinner having something that he/she wants etc

Spin-doctors are also commonly involved in damage control or coverups. In these cases the purpose of the spin is to reduce the impact of the negative event, deny it or distract the public away from talking about the problem; and consequently reduce the negative consequences.

Spin is not limited to any one political party or type of business. Spin-doctors (and those who need spin) make extensive use of all forms of media. Consequently, we are exposed to “spin” on many matters in the media every day.

The lies that were spun to continuously lure people into investing in financial institutions – when their managers knew they were bust – is just one example of the negative consequences of spin.

Stephen Stockwell, in his article: “Spinning the fabric of reality” gives a short insight into spin-doctors in his review of a show from the cartoon serial – The Simpsons – where “Blinky” the three-eyed fish is found near a nuclear power plant. This is from his article:

“When a three-eyed fish is found near Mr Burns’s nuclear power plant, he becomes desperate to roll back health and safety regulation and decides to run for governor. His campaign team boasts not only a spin doctor, a joke writer and a make-up man but also a muck-raker, a character assassin, a mud-slinger and a garbologist. It is the politics of the bottom-feeders. In the end, despite the spin doctor naming the fish Blinky and coming up with a sterling defence of the creature as an evolutionary necessity, Marge Simpson out-spins them all by serving up the three-eyed fish for Mr Burns’s televised dinner the night before the election. It is a spin doctor’s nightmare when Mr Burns spits out the fish and destroys his credibility on live television.” 

Stockwell’s article also includes a summary of the modern history of spin – introducing some background on the father of public relations – Edward L Bernays. Bernays  worked as a military propagandist for Woodrow Wilson during the first world war. He started using propagandist techniques in advertising and political circles after the war.

Engineering of Consent

In the 1920s Bernays began to tutor politicians on the use of the media and the “Engineering of Consent.” It was the birth of the non-military use of propaganda (which subsequently became known as “spin”) on the general public. Owing to the negative connotations associated with the word propaganda, Bernays  introduced the term “Public Relations”. “Marketing” became a strong and powerful influence on the general public.

Bernays (like despots and authoritarian rulers) felt that the public’s democratic judgment was:

“not to be relied upon” and he feared that “they [the American public] could very easily vote for the wrong man or want the wrong thing, so that they had to be guided from above”

Bernays argued in Propaganda (1928), one of his first books.

“If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it”

Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. Born in Vienna of Jewish parents, it is ironical that Bernays believed that manipulation of the masses was necessary.

Propaganda campaigns

In his 1965 autobiography Bernays recalls a dinner at his home, where he learned that Goebbels (who  was in charge of propaganda in Nazi Germany) had been using Bernays work as a reference in designing his propaganda campaign against the Jews.

“Karl von Wiegand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Wiegand his propaganda library, the best Wiegand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Wiegand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. … Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.”

The Nazi views on propaganda focused on repetition of a simple message:

“But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and important requirement for success.”
Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. VI (1925)

Hitler was a believer in the power of the “Big Lie” (and believed that other politicians used this technique too.)

“…in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”  Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol I, ch. X (1925)

Joseph Goebbels was appointed Hitler’s propaganda minister in 1933. He also was a believer in the power of lying big and repeating the message:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”  Joseph Goebbels

Bernays also used “Freudian Theory” to deal with the public’s conception of communism. He believed that the American government should not be easing the public’s fear of communism, but rather promote that fear and play with the public’s emotions of it. This theory and his influence was so powerful that it became one of the weapons used during the cold war, and not just in the US.

Bernays coined the term “engineering of consent” to describe his technique for controlling the masses. The “Engineering of Consent” (which is just another name for the the propaganda processes involved in spin) and “Spin” are about manipulating how the public thinks and what they do.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,” Bernays argued. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. . . . In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons . . . who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

When consent is successfully “engineered” the audience/victims are tricked into agreeing to do something (or not do something) by means of deception and psychological manipulation. It is questionable whether or not the audience would have “consented” if they were aware of the fact that they were being deliberately manipulated and were aware of the whole truth.

In an age of of the right to “Informed Consent”, the hypocrisy of this is rather striking.

Consequence of marketing spin on consumerism

While the consequence of marketing spin on consumerism has been dramatic over the past 80 years – so has the consequence of financial and political spin. We are subject to staged “spin” in the news media on a regular basis, and it’s not just in the advertising. We have certainly seen spin implicated in the downfall of the banking system and financial institutions around the world – the victims hooked with lies hidden by spin.  We have also seen it used in the rationalization for actions related to wars, and the rapidly evolving oppressive practices of countries spying not only on the enemy, but upon their own people.

Politicians are manipulated to act on behalf of the wants of huge corporations

We are also seeing it today in so-called democratic countries where politicians are manipulated to act on behalf of the wants of huge corporations and politicians from other countries – rather than acting on behalf of the general public in their own country. Like the other farm animals in Animal Farm, “spin” is required to manipulate the general public to agree with the government carrying out policies that benefit big business rather than benefit ordinary people.

It may be argued that there is a war by stealth going on at present. Terrorism may be a symptom (and is also being used as an excuse to implement oppressive, intrusive and authoritarian measures.) The toppling of banks and financial institutions the world over is also a sign. The related dependence of affected nations on help from huge banks (share-holder owned by huge corporations) and dependence on other countries puts those countries at risk of losing control of their own economy; and following on that loss of job opportunities for it’s citizens and loss of control of natural resources.

When these things are lost; loss of independence, and eventually loss of democratic rights and freedoms can be expected to follow. Do not underestimate the importance of this. These matters are of global concern – and the consequences for ordinary citizens in democratic countries is great.

The public must be fooled to agree with these processes

The public must be fooled to agree with these processes (or tricked so they do not actively object to them.)

Spin (which is actually propaganda from a military perspective) is making us blind to what is happening. Being blind, we let our governments and big corporations get away with doing things that are unjust and to the detriment of the economy of the ordinary people and detrimental to democracy. Spin has been and continues to be used to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public. ,

The deceptive misinformation and misleading actions of spin-doctors (and their employers) are a major threat to democracy, justice and the economy the world over.

You need to avoid being conned by “Spin”

See previous Post:  Spin-doctoring revealed – fallacies of argument and dialogue,


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