Narrative Shepherding: Rigging stories to force agreement is nothing new -- or helpful.

As an author, my job is to communicate.

But my specialty is writing about communication; so I am a meta-communicator: a communicator who explains communications; so I don't take the communicating for granted.

But in 2018, when we have communications technology that is advanced, our understanding of communications is very primative.


People in advertising and persuasive industries such as public relations and even propaganda have done far more research and have more insight than professors studying journalism and communications at the world's top universities.

We don't have a Creative Science that studies the mechanisms of these things at all.

But even people who research who to sell a message, are not as far advanced as they fancy themselves to be.

However, they know enough to get Middle Class people to buy into their likely stories, from what unhealthy sugary water to drink to which conniving stranger to vote for, to getting them to agree to enlist in a war they know nothing about and die for some tyrant to get more rich and powerful.

If they can amplify the message by convincing fiction writers constructing stories for books, movies, television shows, and video games to go along, they prime an audience for the message.

If they break through to traditional journalism and social media to buy their con games, it seems as if the idea is natural, moral, inevitable because we have an artificial consensus.

A reporter speaking to several people who have been primed to think a certain why will seem as if he or she did their homework.

If our Facebook feed has fifty friends sharing the same DIY propaganda poster, well then, who could possibly disagree with that sentiment?

Anyone with a working brain, that's who.

Because we have no regulations or formal education in the construction of communications, it is pure anarchy out there with an infected and corrupt information stream.

For all the conspiracy theories about how Russia is trolling the Middle Class delicates, it is bunk because we never had the discipline or inclination to take apart communications to examine it or both with things such as information verification to propaganda prevention.

That requires science from people who are political atheists who do not fall for the come ons from any side.

Because they see structure of communications and have some sort of intellectual immunity from falling for narratives.

I am a listener more than a talker. I can listen to someone talk without saying a word for hours. I do not have to inject myself, hijack a conversation with one-upmanship, meddle, offer advice, or do any of the sort of things people do to steer a conversation to themselves. I people watch. I also people listen.

I have heard a lot of people tell me their burdens and pet peeves over the years, but also their untested assumptions.

I know people on both the Left and the Right always say the same thing whenever a party they do not like is in office: they talked to a whole bunch of people who voted for the Bad Guy, yes sir, and they all said they weren't going to vote for that bum again. They smartened up and are going to vote for the party the storytelling believes is the only choice for governance.

And then comes the election, and the Bd Guy gets voted in again to their chagrin. They never consider their partisan lecturing is a turn off that prevents others from speaking honestly and hence, those people keep their cards close to their chest and to be polite, just say what the ideologue wants to hear.

What the person is trying to do on an amateur level is Narrative Shepherding: they are trying to make it seem inevitable that a rig in reality will work in their favour anyway; so everyone might as well walk lockstep to it. The world is binary: my way or no way at all.

In a world of 7.4 billion people, good luck with that one.

But there are kinds of narrative shepherding. I knew someone whose job entailed working with victims of sexual assault. The person was very nice and sensitive, but you wouldn't know it from the derogatory remarks about the various victims.

Somehow, every victim was somehow the architect of her own abuse.

I could have blown my stack, but I did what I did before: shut up and listen with an open mind, and soon a picture emerged.

This diatribe came from fear: if your job all day is working with victims, you never actually feel like you are solving a problem. It is like a doctor who deals with the terminally ill: your success if often measured by postponing the inevitable failure, or lessening its devastation. 

Doctors often treat it by trying to hasten the death to lessen the suffering, or by drugging the poor soul out of their wits. It's resignation as a form of treatment because the obstacle is too big for any one trained and educated person to contend with -- so we begin to take short cuts and then justify our cognitive dissonance by taking either a defeatist or judgmental approach.

Such as blaming victims for being victims. Every single day, there are more victims.

Suddenly, you have to behave like a complete flawless angel, or you deserve to be abused against your will.

Which is nonsense. It reminds me of an Law and Order episode with cerebral DA Ben Stone agonizing over a case, but putting it all in perspective. It is not thou shalt not kill nice people.

It's thou shalt not kill. 

As in, not even the jerks.

So when the victim-blaming came to a thirteen year old girl who found herself in an alleyway at the back of a bar, the worker asked, "What was she doing there?"

I finally had an answer with another question, "Where were this girl's parents?"

Thirteen year olds can be talked into anything. They lack savvy and life experience. They see stories on television and the movies where the heroes go in godforsaken hellholes and come up unscathed.

If a thirteen year old feels comfortable around predators, I begin to wonder if the reason is that she is surrounded by predators at home.

I could see the person's face change, and later I discovered why there was such a blind spot: because this was a person who grew up having to be a protector at a very young age because there were no protectors for this person growing up.

In this case, narrative shepherding wasn't there to convince others not to explore other paths that would take us to the truth, but to keep the teller of that story from going anywhere near painful memories.

It can be a defence mechanism, and as a journalist, I have had my fair share of sources who tried that gambit, but not for nefarious purposes: they had an ugly reality that they could neither face, and hence, did not have the wisdom or knowledge to explain it.

And so, they avoid the very thing they needed to face.

I often think about that worker and how easy it would be to exploit that narrative shepherding to do it for very bad purposes. Someone looking to make the argument that there is no such thing as sexual abuse could hear that perspective and say, A ha! If someone who works with these alleged "victims" doesn't see them as victims, then it must be because they are not victims!

Nice try. It doesn't mean anything like that at all.

That is someone's interpretation of reality. Not the actual truth. I have known victims who blamed themselves for the abuse they experienced because their exploiters and abusers set the narrative for them by blaming them for it. There wasn't someone coming in to beat the garbage out of the attacker and tell that person what a manipulative loser and coward they were for trying to groom a perpetual victim who will endure abuse because someone untrustworthy and who had a vested interest in filling a victim's head with propaganda had no one to challenge their toxic and deceptive decrees.

Because journalism always looks for narrative -- the strongest and most coherent, they always were attracted to the person who had the practice of spinning narratives.

And predators get an awful lot of practice telling persuasive narratives.

Narratives the suit their purposes and ones that are a pyramid of lies, but they have very compelling narratives.

Unless, of course, you know how to take apart a narrative to dig for facts.

The the narrative does not sound convincing at all.

If you are really good at it, you can even form workable hypotheses on whether the narrative is meant to shepherd people away from reality and truth -- and if you are really, really good at it, you can even make an accurate educated guess whether it is the audience who is to be kept away from the truth -- or the storyteller.

You still have to verify in order to confirm or refute your theory.

People buy lies in 2018 because society doesn't work from truths or reality: but fantasy, wishful thinking, and narrative.

F.R.E.E.D. is not journalism: it may collect various narratives, but it is looks for actual facts, not stories.

Wherever a narrative puts up a barrier, F.R.E.E.D. primers the information-gathering to knock that barrier down.

F.R.E.E.D. is not about being a sheep to be sent to slaughter. It is about becoming in tune with your inner wild and exotic animal who can dodge the hunter's traps to live out in the open to roam and prowl to see reality as it is in order to find the truth.

It doesn't try to rig the boards of combat, but turn them over.

It embraces Creative Science to find out more on how to be more alert and sensitive to the environment.

But it is not about living in the cage called Narrative, and then believing that's what life is all about: making excuses for living in a cage and becoming poisoned by the lies that keep you shackled in that wretched prison that steals you soul and your life...