Edward Bernays - how we became consumers - not citizens

Submitted by Susan Miller on Sun, 05/17/2009 - 07:59.

With so much trendwise, associated content, spying, spamming, paranoia, writing of the sort that is so hastily posted as to be unintelligible (punctuation and sentence structure is there for a reason), and because Max posted Annie Leonard's Story of Stuff video again to RealNEO, I thought I would share this series of documentaries from BBCTwo:

Edward Bernays and Mass Manipulation:
The Century of the Self: The Untold History Of Controlling The Masses Through The Manipulation Of Unconscious Desires

Here is another way to view the four part series by Adam Curtis for BBCTwo. It takes four hours to view all four parts (each is an hour), but the first two episodes are pretty revealing considering that most of us were born of parents whose lives were changed by these major shifts from citizen to consumer. I dare say we have not been exempt by any stretch of imagination.


Yes, Bernays, Freud's nephew, was the first ever Public Relations professional and he got off to a big start. I discovered this by way of the Flouride Conspiracy.

"American ‘education and research’ was funded by the Aluminum Manufacturing, Fertilizer and Weapons Industry looking for an outlet for the increasingly mounting fluoride industrial waste while attaining positive profit increase. The ‘discovery’ that fluoride benefited teeth, was paid for by industry that needed to be able to defend "lawsuits from workers and communities poisoned by industrial fluoride emissions" (Bryson 1995) and turn a liability into an asset. Fluoride, a waste constituent in the manufacturing processes of explosives, fertilizers and other ‘necessities’, was expensive to dispose of properly and until a ‘use’ was found for it in America’s water supplies, the substance was only considered a toxic, hazardous waste. Through sly public re-education, fluoride, once a waste product, became the active ingredient in fluorinated pesticides, fungicides, rodenticides, anesthetics, tranquilizers, fluorinated pharmaceuticals, and a number of industrial and domestic products, fluorinated dental gels, rinses and toothpastes. Fluoride is so much a part of a multibillion-dollar industrial and pharmaceutical income, that any withdrawal of support from pro-fluoridationists is financially impossible, legally unthinkable and potentially devastating for their career and reputation.

Funded by US industrialists, in an attempt to encourage public acceptance of fluoride, Edward Bernays, known also as the father of PR, or the original spin doctor, began a campaign of deception to persuade public opinion. Barnays explained "you can get practically any idea accepted if doctors are in favour. The public is willing to accept it because a doctor is an authority to most people, regardless of how much he knows or doesn’t know"(Bryson 2004). Doctors who endorsed fluoridation didn’t know that research discrediting fluoride’s safety was either suppressed or not conducted in the first place. Fluoride became equated with scientific progress and since it was introduced to the public as a health-enhancing substance, added to the environment for the children’s sake, those opposing fluoride were dismissed as cranks, quacks and lunatics. Fluoride became impervious to criticism because of a relentless PR offensive, but also because of it’s overall toxicity. Unlike chemicals that have a signature effect, fluoride, a systemic poison, produces a range of health problems, so it’s effects are more difficult to diagnose."

I chose not to repost the video here on the realNEO not because I don't know how to post a video, but because you can click through to the video on informationliberation without fear of massive assaults of advertising. There are three innocuous Google ads on a densely informative page. Oh yes, and this:

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened..." - Winston Churchill

Now maybe I am just naive and there really is a bigger conspiracy with every click... You tell me.

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Thanks for this

Thanks for this post.

Bernays can also be credited (blamed, of course) for increased smoking by women. He convinced women marching in N. Y. for women's rights to walk on the picket line smoking Lucky Strikes.

"PR! - A Social History of Spin" by Stuart Ewen is a good book on the  subject as is "Land of Desire - Merchants, Power and the Rise of a New American Culture"  by William Leach.

Buy, Buy, Buy!

Life Inc.

 "In Life Inc., award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker, and scholar Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from a convenient legal fiction to the dominant fact of contemporary life. Indeed as Rushkoff shows, most Americans have so willingly adopted the values of corporations that theyre no longer even aware of it."

Hat tip to Cliff Berns for posting this to Facebook so I could see it. I guess we were both on the same page in the last couple days.

today's Bernays - Dr. Miller

Message in What We Buy, but Nobody’s Listening

If you ask market researchers or advertising executives, you might hear about the difference between “rational” and “emotional” buying decisions, or about products falling into categories like “hedonic” or “utilitarian” or “positional.” But Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, says that even the slickest minds on Madison Avenue are still in the prescientific dark ages.

Instead of running focus groups and spinning theories, he says, marketers could learn more by administering scientifically calibrated tests of intelligence and personality traits. If marketers (or their customers) understood biologists’ new calculations about animals’ “costly signaling,” Dr. Miller says, they’d see that Harvard diplomas and iPhones send the same kind of signal as the ornate tail of a peacock.

I had to laugh, because I immediately recalled a song by Laurie Anderson from United States Live (1991); it is titled Dr. Miller.

Nobody's listening. Probably too much cacophony. I wonder how Bernays would navigate today's consumer.


Definition of Disease,

Definition of Disease, hydroxyapatite crystal

Calcium hydroxyapatite crystal deposition disease


"Fluoride is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine. Once in the blood stream it rapidly enters mineralized tissue (bones and developing teeth). At usual intake levels, fluoride does not accumulate in soft tissue. The predominant mineral elements in bone are crystals of calcium and phosphate, known as hydroxyapatite crystals. Fluoride's high chemical reactivity and small radius allow it to either displace the larger hydroxyl (-OH) ion in the hydroxyapatite crystal, forming fluoroapatite, or to increase crystal density by entering spaces within the hydroxyapatite crystal. Fluoroapatite hardens tooth enamel and stabilizes bone mineral."


Fluoride poisoning    It could be causing acid reflux?  "Ingested fluoride initially acts locally on the intestinal mucosa, where forms hydrofluoric acid in the stomach"    

Fibromyalgia: A Likely Cause and Some Possible Actions 

Fluoride Content in Tea  

It never stops, tea has over the limit of fluoride allowed in drinking water. I do not drink tap water, and I have real good natural filter in my body and my brain as well. Ever meet a 65 year old marathon runner? They would likely be in wheel chair.

Life kills us, in attempts to prevent that we sometimes rush it along?

so much we don't know

Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards

published by the National Academies Press

I don't know about flouride, but it was docility and lower IQs that were of interest to me when I looked it up. Decide for yourself.

Yeah mass manipulation of


Yeah mass manipulation of people “for their own good” ? It is not that education is not being offered it is not being taken. I really like or enjoy that one very bright person that can show up just about anywhere.

The fluoride issue is “near-heisenbergian” that analogy speaks volumes to me.

So who started the manipulations Abraham….Mosses…? We know what is best and why? You really get an oomph when you add and God told me so.

You can fool some of the people some of the time? When in doubt leave it out?

Primary information is best and it really has to be from those that are not being contracted by others to provide it.

Should we all be monitoring our pee? Should our toilets become complex analysis equipment, that link to our food intake? How smart do we want to be?


We have had trouble finding non-flouride toothpaste--Some Tom's of Maine is in local groceries and drugstores, but not all is flouride-free.

Are there any local stores where you can get toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, food, and so forth that has honest, old-time ingredients?

I've made an on-line collection of vendors offering these sorts of things, and I'm thinking it will be more cost-effective to send for them in multiple quantities and pay shipping than it is to traipse all over town after them.