Exclusive: Government Program to Control Religious Thought?

Truth in Media: Government Program to Control Religious  Thought?

By: Ben Swann

Is the U.S. Government working on a program to…well…program the way you view  religion?

A whistleblower who has worked on that program says yes and he wants you to  know exactly what has been going on.

The first step towards truth is to be informed.

If I told you that the Defense Department was using taxpayer dollars to learn  how to influence people with religious beliefs in order to control those  beliefs, would it really surprise you?

Would you think that I am a tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist?

Would you care if I told you that the program was aimed at controlling  fundamentalist Muslims?

How about fundamentalist Christians?

Here’s the backstory. In 2012, Arizona State Universityʼs Center for  Strategic Communication or CSC was awarded a $6.1 million dollar research grant  by DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The goal of the project according to ASUʼs website is to “study the  neurobiology of narrative comprehension, validate narrative theories and explore  the connection between narrative and persuasion.”

A lot of technical talk there, so lets dig into the details.

The CSC program is actually about creating narratives. Using effective  communication, largely video, to control the thought process of groups of  people. And ultimately to be able to trigger narratives through magnetic  stimulation. At its core, the program is focused on how to win the narrative  against Muslim extremism. It’s a fairly interesting concept.

According to documents leaked to us, this project integrates insights from  three mutually-informing theoretical terrains. In short, the goal of the  program is to combat and change religious narratives because of their role in “extremist behavior.” The whistleblower who revealed this program to us, worked  for several years on the program. They asked not to be identified.

Ben: What were you told about the proposal as you began working through  it?

Whistleblower: Yeah, I thought that it was benign. They told me it was about  trying to figure outwhat parts of the brain are affected by narrative  persuasion. Just to figure it out just for academic reasons. So we looked at  narrative transportation which is basically how an individual is transported  into a narrative, how they understand it…kind of like when you read a good book  you get really enthralled with it.

At its core, the program attempts to map the brain to determine which  portions of the brain allow you to accept a narrative presented to you. It’s  called narrative theory.

Mapping this network will lead to a fuller understanding of the influence  narrative has on memory, emotion, theory of mind, identity and persuasion, which  in turn influence the decision to engage in political violence or join violent  groups or support groups ideologically or financially.

You see, the project is focused on the belief that the reason Muslims in the  Middle East are swayed to religious violence is not because of the reality of  what is going on around them per se, but because they are believing a local or a  regional narrative.

Ben: The local and regional narrative then is that the brain automatically  assumes things because of a narrative we’ve been taught since our childhood, is  that it?

Whistleblower: Right yeah that’s true. We call those master narratives. So in  America we have this “rags to riches” master narrative where if you work really  hard you can become successful and make a ton of money. So in the Middle East,  they always use the example of the Pharaoh. That’s the master narrative that’s  in the Qur’an, where there’s this corrupt leader that, you know, is really bad  for society. And they use the example of Sadat who was assassinated. When the  assassin killed him, he said, “I have killed the Pharaoh, I have killed the  Pharaoh.” So they assume that he was relying upon this Islamic master narrative  to fuel his actions.

So how does the program change this? Again a lot of technical speak here so  stay with me. But it’s broken into three phases.

Phase I is to map the Narrative Comprehension Network using a set of stimuli  designed from the point of view of two different religious cultures.

Phase II will test hypotheses generated in Phase I, adding two additional  manipulations of narrative validity and narrative transportation.

Phase III, it investigates possibilities for literally disrupting the  activity of the NCN through Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

Ben: Phase III is fairly interesting. I noticed in the documentation it  says lets not talk too much about this because who knows if we’ll ever get  there. But when you do read what Phase III is it is a little surprising, it’s  called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This is not something that’s science  fiction, it’s not something they’ve cooked up. This is a real technique that’s  already been used in the past, correct?

Whistleblower: Yes, it started out in the psychiatry field when people were  depressed and when you’re depressed certain parts of your brain are not  functioning correctly. So they created this technology, which is basically a big  magnet, and you put it on their brain and it turns off that part of the brain  that’s bad or wrong and it would help them with their depression for several  weeks to a month and they’d go back and do it again. So this technology has been  around for ten or fifteen years.

Ben: So it’s very high tech propaganda, what we’re talking about.

Whistleblower: High tech and validated propaganda, yes. So if they’re able to  turn off a part of the brain and get rid of that master narrative that will make  you not believe in a particular statement, they would have validated this  propaganda. So if they turn off portion X, they know that the propaganda is  going to work and the individual is going to believe whatever is being told to  them.

So why do all this? Because the project is based on the idea that despite the  good work of the U.S. in the Middle East, the message of the work is not being  received.

“The frequent rejection of US messaging by local populations in the Middle  East, despite US insistence on the objective truth of the US message,  illustrates the narrative paradigm at work. The well documented ‘say-do gap’ between US messages and US actions is seen by some as contributing to a lack of  narrative validity in stories produced by the US. Similarly, stories of US aid  do not ring true in a culture wherein Christian foreigners, since the 11th  Century, have been invaders and sought to destroy and rule.”

So how to fix this?

Ben: How do you move someone from simply watching a video or seeing a video  all the way down that line to behavior? It’s a pretty powerful tool if you’re  able to do that.

Whistleblower: Right, so they think that maybe an extremist statements or a  video like Al Qaeda puts out will lead to some individuals doing a suicide  bombing, for example. So they’re trying to look at this video or the statements  and take away a part of your brain that will think that it fits in with your  culture or master narrative and that will hopefully lead you to not do these  extremist, violent acts.

So what you need to know is that this program boils down to one central idea.  If people aren’t reaching the conclusions the U.S. government would like them to  reach, there must be a way to force them to accept these narratives.

Remember that the claim is that the U.S. despite giving aid is viewed in the  Middle East as invaders. That, according to the program research is the product  of embedded narrative, not a result of action.

So the view of the U.S. as invaders in countries where we have standing  armies, dozens of military bases, the U.S. paying off drug lords in Afghanistan  or regional warlords in Iraq or where we consistently bomb via drone strike in  Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia or where we fund dictators until those dictators are  overthrown and then attempt to fund the rebels, who end up becoming  dictators.

All of that has nothing to do with the U.S. view of Muslims in the Middle  East because clearly they are missing the fact that the U.S. gives aid.

The next step, control the narrative and if necessary, use magnetic  stimulation to force people to accept the view of the U.S. that we desire them  to have.

After all, aren’t extremist Muslims dangerous? Extremist Christians? See the  problem with the question is who gets to define extremist? Who decides if  religious beliefs are inherently dangerous?

And if we believe that government should have the power to control how the  extremist thinks… wouldn’t they have the authority to decide how and what we all  think?

Sources: We cannot post the leaked documents from program here because ASU  has claimed intellectual property infringement.

Note: I contacted Arizona State University’s CSC Department requesting an  interview about this program.  A spokesperson told me that the University  would not comment on the program. That all inquires should be sent to DARPA.


Contributed to TLB by: www.benswann.com
TLB Highly recommends you visit Ben’s website for more great articles, videos and information.

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