Scientists Confirm the Effectiveness of The Big Lie - People Will Go To Extraordinary Lengths to Create False Justifications for Government Misdeeds → Washingtons Blog
Scientists Confirm the Effectiveness of The Big Lie - People Will Go To Extraordinary Lengths to Create False Justifications for Government Misdeeds - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scientists Confirm the Effectiveness of The Big Lie - People Will Go To Extraordinary Lengths to Create False Justifications for Government Misdeeds

Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:

All this was inspired by the principle--which is quite true in itself--that 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. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.

Similarly, Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, wrote:

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one's secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

Science has now helped to explain why the big lie is effective.

Specifically, sociologists from four major research institutions investigated why so many Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, years after it became obvious that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

The researchers found, as described in an article in the journal Sociological Inquiry (and re-printed by Newsweek):
  • Many Americans felt an urgent need to seek justification for a war already in progress
  • Rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.
  • "For the most part people completely ignore contrary information."
  • "The study demonstrates voters' ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information"
  • People get deeply attached to their beliefs, and form emotional attachments that get wrapped up in their personal identity and sense of morality, irrespective of the facts of the matter.
  • "We refer to this as 'inferred justification, because for these voters, the sheer fact that we were engaged in war led to a post-hoc search for a justification for that war.
  • "People were basically making up justifications for the fact that we were at war"
  • "They wanted to believe in the link [between 9/11 and Iraq] because it helped them make sense of a current reality. So voters' ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information, whether we think that is good or bad for democratic practice, does at least demonstrate an impressive form of creativity.
As the study notes, this tendency of many people to make up false stories to explain why we went to war and then to hold on to such false beliefs in the face of contrary evidence is "a serious challenge to democratic theory and practice". Until people learn to think more clearly and rationally, they are easily manipulated.

All a government has to do is tell a big enough lie, and many people will swallow it hook, line and sinker. Or the government can just do something big - like starting a war for no good reason (or giving trillions in bailouts to the wealthiest corporations instead of the "little people" who most need it?) - and many people will struggle mightily to themselves concoct false justifications for doing so.


  1. Ever really wondered why we are in Iraq and Afghanistan? Google Caspian Sea!

    Iraq has huge undeveloped oil reserves that Saddam wasn’t willing to invest to bring online so we had to change that. Afghanistan holds the critical key to accessing the bounty of the Caspian Sea via a pipeline. Do some research and you can break a very large story on the truth of the invasions.

  2. It's the natural over-kill. Over-kill is what keeps the populace so ignorant. It is our natural state, our human birthright.

    The source of the over-kill is the infinite complexity of reality.

    Think. Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11. We all know that.

    But linking Saddam with 9-11 became important to allow the other fall guys, -to look like the real culprits in the minds of all the self-deceived geniuses who figured out for themselves, that Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11.

    They all felt competently smart on the one hand, -that led them to a false sense of reassurance, and their being duped wholesale.

    Now consider. Not one U.S. Senator has stood up and said, 9-11 was an inside job. Barack Obama has never said 9-11 was an inside job. Ron Paul has never stood up and said 9-11 was an inside job.

    But, we all know 9-11 was an inside job.

    Pinch yourself. See? You are not dreaming.

    It's just like the WTC. Everyone assumes the people, the REAL instigators of 9-11 were -the evil bastards- we all should hate in this world.

    Bull-shit. Those schmoes were average knocker-downers.

    The people who knocked down the WTC (and popularly blamed Osama Bin Laden -because we all know Saddam didn't do it) -THOSE PEOPLE- are actually far exceeded in their vast immorality by the people who constructed the WTC in the first place.

    Reality is infinitely complex.

    That's why it is so easy to keep everyone in the dark, -and why- turning on the lights makes everyone wince so uncontrollably.

    When we turn on the lights, no one knows where they are any more.

    We cannot know the truth, is a philosophic axiom I can defend until the cows come home. I'm painfully right about this. Trust me. Trust me because it gets painful to keep having the rug pulled out from underneath your most cherished beliefs.


    And all these people are liars, because none of them knows what the real truth is anyway.

    Everyone is full of shit, UNLESS they preface their statements with an, "I may be wrong..." AND they only assert that they know -what is NOT the truth.

    Leave the truth out of the equation, because, folks, -the truth is entirely unknowable about almost everything.

  3. The allegation of Sweden about Israel and organs is like the Brits letting the Lockerbie terrorist loose. (I will bet he now has a spontaneous remission) Both the Swedes and the Brits need oil because the North Sea has hit peak oil and the price from the middle east is more than cash. Just a current big lie that people are quick to believe because Sunday schools still teach that the Jews killed Jesus and are going to hell...But, it is really all about oil and power. The big lie goes on. 911 was just a prelude. EQ

  4. I'm always baffled to hear people say that "our" government would never intentionally inflict mass casualties on it's own citizens (i.e. 9-11). Are they unable to comprehend that the entire Iraq war is a clear example of exactly that? "Our" government admitted lying about the presence of WMD's, which was the pretext for invading Iraq. This illegitimate war is still killing many more thousands of Americans than died on 9-11. Whether by false-flag inside jobs or phony, lie-induced wars, Americans die by the hand of "their" government all the time.

  5. Marijuana prohibition is an excellent example of Big Lie. A Big Lie that allowed the gradual onset of police state in US of A.

  6. I'm just now catching up on my reading of your blog from being out of town. I read the same research and wrote an article today linking it to Hitler's quote, but then attached it to David Swanson's developing indictment of George Bush for torture (click my name if interested). And yeah, there are dozens of such crimes; many larger in effect. To remind readers of your policy suggestion for Truth and Reconciliation because the corruption is so deep at the top of our political and economic structures:

  7. Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, 30 Tabernacle Street, London, UK

  8. "years after it became obvious..." it was obvious to me ON 9/11/01 that saddam hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 but then again i had a rudimentary understanding of arab-arab relations...fundamentalist muslims like bin laden would NEVER consort with ba'athists like would be like the fundamentalist southern baptist christians getting on board with richard dawkins atheists...NEVER gonna happen...

  9. I sometimes find myself slipping back into the MS world where O B Laden from a cave planned the whole thing. The MSM has an unbelievable power over us, it can put you back into your slumber, while you're not looking, just trying to get on with your life

  10. The biggest lie of all (at least in our time period) is 9/11 and what happened on that day.

    "Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."

    The evidence clearly points to government complicity at the very least and yet there has still been no proper investigation into the events of that day. It's sad really, how easily manipulated people are; Especially when they falsely believe they are free to do and think as they wish. So much for the great democratic experiment.

  11. Anyone who didn't know the reasons for the Iraq war were ALL LIES was ignorant to the extreme. I personally did not know anyone who didn't know it was all a lie.


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