The wide scale US acceptance of fluoride-related compounds in drinking water and a wide variety of consumer products over the past half century is a textbook case of social engineering orchestrated by Sigmund Freud’s nephew and the “father of public relations” Edward L. Bernays. The episode is instructive, for it suggests the tremendous capacity of powerful interests to reshape the social environment, thereby prompting individuals to unwarily think and act in ways that are often harmful to themselves and their loved ones. The example is especially pertinent today as Western governments withhold data and utilize propaganda techniques to suppress knowledge of new technologies and life-threatening disasters such as the still-unfolding nuclear breakdown in Fukushima.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is directing $1.1 million to fit students in seven US pubic school districts with “galvanic skin response” bracelets. The devices are designed to measure students’ receptivity to teachers’ lessons through biometric technology that reads and records “skin conductance, a form of electrodermal activity that grows higher during states such as boredom or relaxation.” [1, 2].
In 1964 Harper‘s magazine published the now famous essay, “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” by historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter. Appearing in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s Republican presidential nomination, the tract remains emblematic of liberal anxiety toward serious and in many cases unresolved questions regarding the forces behind American governance. “The Paranoid Style” overall helped establish the term “conspiracy theory” as perhaps the most powerful epithet in the American political lexicon. “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds,” Hofstadter wrote.