Friday, April 2, 2010

The good, the bad and cognitive dissonance

WARNING: Exposure to cognitive dissonance may be harmful to your spiritual and mental health.

Let's snake a manwich

Product placement is a big part of the Telephone video. But can you believe that Miracle Whip would actually pay money to have their product featured in a video in which food poisoning plays a prominent part of the plot? Yeah, they did.
Another sequence, in which Gaga poisons a whole diner full of patrons, is interspersed with footage of the singer making sandwiches with Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip. Mr. Carter said Gaga wanted to juxtapose the poison sequence with all-American brands, and suggested Wonder Bread for an unpaid placement. Miracle Whip, meanwhile, made a paid appearance to appear in the clip. A Miracle Whip spokeswoman confirmed the brand's paid integration, but didn't comment further. The product shots feature new Miracle Whip packaging, and seem the latest in a series of Gen-Y outreach maneuvers, including a new campaign promising "we will not tone it down."
But what really got me is there new logo. It combines the M and the W in a rather unusual way. It's very "organic". It kind of looks like... a snake!

Good kitty! Kill the bad snake!

The snake in this case is Apep from Egyptian mythology which is a very bad snake indeed. Notice the resemblance in this Egyptian painting to the Garden of Eden, by the way. Maybe I'll get more into that in another post.

Meanwhile here are some marketing slogans from Miracle Whip's Facebook page.
Miracle Whip is all about adding spice – whether it be to your life or sandwich. Never boring. Never bland. Never blending in. Always on. Always spreading unique flavor. Always ready to bring the zing!

We are Miracle Whip. And we will not tone it down.
"Bring the zing"? "We will not tone it down"? Makes you wonder... what kind of whip they are talking about?

My friend LVB over at Vigilant Citizen pointed out the cognitive dissonance contained in the name Miracle Whip. Miracle is good, whip is bad. It creates a kind of tension in the mind that effectively imprints it deeper in the subconscious as the mind struggles to resolve the conflict between these two opposing terms.

Notice the same thing at work in Lady Gaga's name. Lady is sophisticated, gaga is infantile. Again this creates dissonance in the mind. A kind of clashing of two polar opposites which the mind wrestles with.

But it's not as if these are new tricks to the entertainment industry.

Why bother coming up with new tricks when the old ones work every time?

More on cog-diss

What is cognitive dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing them. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.
So how does cog-diss work and why is it so effective? I find that an example helps to explain this, and for this purpose I'll go back to the familiar example of Lady Gaga's Telephone song and video.

Let's say you are a big fan of Lady Gaga's. You have been listening to her latest song Telephone play on the radio for the last few weeks and you really like it. You look forward to the big unveiling of her new music video that features this song. You know you're going to like it. ('cause you're a big fan, right?)

You enthusiastically anticipate the premiere and watch it for the first time, and...
  • you don't like the images it portrays
  • it's weird
  • it disturbs you
Your mind goes busily to work trying to resolve this internal conflict.

You like the song, but you don't like the like the song, but you don't like the like the song, but you don't like the video...

Your mind seems to be saying, "Is there something wrong with me? Because I know I'm good. And I wouldn't like something that's bad. Or that goes against my principles and beliefs. And yet I like this song, but I don't like the video..."

And then, your mind plays a trick on you. It decides that there is nothing wrong with the video, because there is nothing wrong with the images portrayed in the video. Perhaps you were being judgmental and prejudiced in assigning a bad "label" to this video.

And in the end you reconcile this conflict by concluding that it is your principles and beliefs that are out of whack and must be adjusted. This is reinforced by the fact that this video is being broadcast through the mass media which is an authoritarian source of information. And your mind tells you that the government would never allow the mass media to broadcast this if it were not good.

And to further reinforce this, you look around and you see that all your friends and acquaintances have also seen this video and have come to similar conclusions to the one that you have. And so it must be OK to accept the principles that are implied through the imagery in this video.

Your mind is at peace. The conflict has been resolved by adjusting your core belief system to incorporate the moral principles implied by the series of images in the video.

Tigers in the bushes

And the fact that this video caused a certain amount of mental anguish means that it is deeply imprinted in your mind. Why is that? It comes down to survival instincts.

I can't remember where I heard this before, but we are hardwired to look out for "tigers in the bushes". Or something like that. The idea is that we are constantly flooded with images and information, so our minds must necessarily filter all this out. It has to focus on some things over others. And the key factor here is survival.

This survival factor is triggered by emotions such as fear or discomfort. So when we come across something that causes us fear or discomfort, our brains go to work remembering that in a high priority way. Why? So that we can avoid similar situations.

The end result is that cognitive dissonance not only leads us to change our values and beliefs, but it also deeply ingrains into one's psyche the circumstances surrounding these lessons. You can see why this would be valuable to advertisers. They want their products to stand out in the crowd. They want to make an impression on you so that when you are in the supermarket, surrounded by choices, you will be drawn to their products.

They will pop out at you - like tigers hiding in the bushes.


  1. Wow...this is a great piece of work, baba!

    You've really done a good job of encapsulating idea the cognitive dissonance into one nicely written article. There's a lot more one could say about it, but sometimes it's a very good thing to say more with less...a trait that I very much admire, probably because being too wordy and overwhelming in this way is one of my many flaws!!

    Just as we discussed with the term dissonance in music (the scary sounding stuff Danny Elfman is so adept at), cog-diss creates this tension in the mind, but at an unconscious level, which is so much more effective...and dangerous.

    Next time that scary music in a movie lets you know that something bad is going to happen soon,
    just think about the fact that images and words using cog-diss in music videos, advertising of all kinds, the news, etc. are doing this to your mind, unconsciously. So, they're not even nice enough to warn you about it, like the scary music does. It is a stealth bomber into your mind, more or less. :)

    Conscious mind/unconscious mind. Different tactics and weapons for different targets.

  2. LVB - I was going to call this article "an intro to cog-diss". There's certainly more I could say about it. But on the other hand I'm no expert on the subject. It just struck me as an important subject when I came across it. It's just one more mind control technique that the corporate media uses to hypnotize us without our being aware of it.

    I've started watching commercials differently now. Not all advertisements use cog-diss. A more common technique is to prey on some of our fears. Like "are you sure you're riding on the best tires? What if you had to stop suddenly?"

    It's the "hip" and quirky commercials that tend to use the cog-diss technique. They are the ones usually going after a younger and more sophisticated crowd. This type of commercial also tends to be more entertaining. Maybe I should go into marketing?

  3. baba

    I'm not saying you should or shouldn't go into marketing, but seem very nice and not evil, so I probably wouldn't recommend it. Might pay well in the short term, but might also eat your soul in the long run.

    Your choice entirely, though. lol

  4. This article is pretty good and simple.

    and this one is a little more technical...

  5. baba

    I have to just point something out here...over at VC you said to Valencia:

    "Along those lines I posted a new article about “cognitive dissonance”. While it doesn’t relate directly to the occult..."

    Stop right there. I know you meant that the article, itself, maybe doesn't go here, but just for the fun of hearing myself type...

    The occult IS cognitive-dissonance, my dears. It was so before the term cognitive-dissonance even existed...just as gravity was making stuff fall to the ground before the term gravity existed.

    The serpent in the Garden of Eden with the tree of knowledge, Eve and all that stuff, was THE original act of cognitive-dissonance; the original sin.

    This dissonance-based persuasion/temptation worked then, and it works better now than ever before. Nothing new under the sun, you might say.

    "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:4, 5)

    You won't die, silly. God was lying, you know, he just doesn't want you to have "wisdom" because then you would be gods too, and he would be jealous. But I'm cool and I just want you to have knowledge and stuff, so it's only fair that you know both sides of the story, right?

    OG cog-diss right there, honeybee.

  6. LVB - Thanks for the article links on cog-diss. It's a very interesting subject. In some ways it gets to the heart of human intelligence. A computer doesn't experience cog-diss. It always does exactly as it is told to do. There's no ambiguity. This all ties into how emotions affect our reasoning. At the same time cog-diss is tied into our survival instincts as I discussed in the article.

    I'd love it if you wrote an article on cog-diss. I really did not realize how closely this ties into the occult until you just stated it above. I really think this would be a good topic for an article for you. You have a much better grasp of the relationship than I do. For my part, I would like to get into the AI aspect of cog-diss, and conversely into how the fact that we experience cog-diss makes us human. (One of the articles you linked to gets into that, but I haven't read it yet.)

    Once again my dialogues with you stimulate me to branch out in new directions. Please refer to the "thanks LVB" article. LOL!

  7. very interesting and well written article. i saw ur link over at VC and decided to have a look, and i can say i am not disappointed. Please, continue with ur good work and i pray that God continues to help u in ur bid to expose these atrocities committed so blatantly in the name of "art", "entertainment" and all whats not!

  8. Thanks Tobz. We all need to stay informed in order to not allow ourselves to be manipulated. I first became aware of these trends through the Vigilant Citizen website. Once I started looking around and uncovering facts, I felt the need to expose these. That's the reason I set up this website.

    I don't have any ads on my site as you can see, so I'm not profiting in any way. My reward is just to open the eyes of a few people. Please share this information with others and continue to expose this agenda wherever you see it.

  9. keep up the good work

  10. Subliminal manipulation was proved in the 50`s when a frame or two was inserted into a movie.The pictures of hot buttered popcorn caused almost all the movie goers to run out to the snack bar and purchase popcorn as opposed to the far fewer people who did without the subliminal message.There are many ways to get the same job done.Good blog.Keep up the good work.

  11. Wow! Thanks for informing me about this. I like your blog and look forward to future articles.

  12. To anonymous, mountainseeker and Victoria. Thanks! Please spread the word. You can do this by posting links to this article on twitter, facebook, reddit, digg and other social networking sites. You can also email your friends with links. It's important to expose these types of techniques. Also I encourage you to do your own research and write your own articles. If we work together we can bring these issues to the attention of the mainstream.

  13. yeah the miracle whip & wonder bread thing creeped me out too. What about the comment they made about the burgers, when they are in the car?

  14. @Love Truth - I think you're right about the burger comment. It does seem to be cog-diss at work here. Gaga says, “You know what they say: once you kill a cow, you gotta make a burger.” We're expecting some familiar expression. Instead we get what seems like the obverse of some words of wisdom like, "sometimes in order to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs." The wisdom imparted here is that sometimes in order to create something beautiful, you have to destroy something equally beautiful. Gaga's statement on the other hand just involves destroying one thing (the cow's life) followed by another thing (the cow's body).

    This cog-diss statement puts the mind in a temporary state of confusion as it tries to make sense of the conflicting messages. While the mind is still in this state a tinny voice on the car radio announces, "This is Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce in Telephone". I think the purpose here is to make the mind more susceptible in order to imprint the names of Gaga, Beyonce and Telephone. This gives these words higher importance than they would normally have because of the association with the emotions of confusion from the cog-diss statement.

    In addition the radio voice is almost below the level of consciousness. It can easily be missed by the conscious brain while the mind is engaged in the high energy visuals of the video. By creating the message at this level the conscious mind does not have a chance to block it out or ignore it. It's message comes through unfiltered directly down to a more primitive level of the brain - like the reptilian brain. This is done subliminally, without conscious awareness of the victim. It is almost like a form of involuntary hypnotism.

    It seems to me this is an example of a formula for using cog-diss to deliver a subliminal message. First create a state of confusion in the mind through cog-diss. Then while the mind is engaged in processing the cog-diss message bombard it with words and images. One or more of those visual and audio messages is the one that is meant to be transmitted subliminally.

    Or I could be over analyzing the whole thing. :) What do you think? Or in psycho babble: How does that make you feel?

  15. Baba,

    I found this print ad for POM juice….

    The good: Promegrante juice is healthy for you! The bad: Reminds of slavery and lynching.

    Quick insert from Yahoo News: (

    = = =
    “The company recently pulled the ads after Chicagoans complained that it conjured up all sorts of unpleasant memories of lynchings and executions. But according to one advertising insider, POM is an old hand at death-themed come-ons, so don't be surprised if you see similar campaigns from them in the future.

    "POM has a history of shoving human mortality in consumers' faces via their advertising," the popular advertising blogger Copyranter told Yahoo! News. "I guess the scare tactics work on some people, but I doubt the claimed unregulated efficacy of pomegranate juice — it ain't bottled at the Fountain of Youth."
    = = =

    That last comment was funny…..Have a wonderful day!