Alternative Facts: Brainwashed in a Democracy

One of the universal strategies of a dictatorship is a tight control of information disseminated to its citizens. By blocking the flow of any outside information and dominating the media, an authoritarian state can create an alternative reality for its subjects in which the dictator and its cronies are portrayed as benevolent leaders. The transformation of the mind of the citizenry into a robotic acceptance of the “alternative facts” of the prevailing order is called brainwashing.

Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” in the news did not pop up into our political consciousness out of thin air. First, our social consciousness had to be molded into accepting other forms of alternative facts, aka pseudoscience. A prerequisite for this acceptance was the dissemination of unfounded information by individuals in whom the public had unquestionable trust.

The Oprah Effect refers to the impact that an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, or an endorsement by Oprah Winfrey, can have on a business. Those who follow pop culture have watched Oprah’s turn-to-gold touch for decades — on books and magazines, movies and television, fashion and lifestyle products, politics and political causes, and making stars out of nobodies she has embraced. Where would  psychologist Dr. Phil and health-expert Dr. Oz be if Oprah hadn’t reached out and touched them? Mind-body guru Deepak Chopra, financial adviser Suze Orman, and lifestyle designer Nate Berkus are all celebrities because of their appearances on Oprah. Not to mention Barack Obama: where would he be had Oprah not helped elect him president?

But there is a darker side to The Oprah Effect.

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