A Fool’s Guide to Hope, Part 2: “If You listen to Foules, the Mob Rules….”

I, ii Thunder and lightning. Enter the three WYRDES. WYRD1 stirs cauldron. A vision arises in the mists produced by the boiling liquid. A book falls open. Plato’s Republic, Book VI. Pages begin to turn rapidly. Book fades to men in togas talking:

SOCRATES: …And our philosopher follows the same analogy–he is like a plant which, having proper nurture, must necessarily grow and mature into all virtue, but, if sown and planted in an alien soil, becomes the most noxious of all weeds, unless he be preserved by some divine power. Do you really think, as people so often say, that our youth are corrupted by Sophists, or that private teachers of the art corrupt them in any degree worth speaking of? Are not the public who say these things the greatest of all Sophists? And do they not educate to perfection young and old, men and women alike, and fashion them after their own hearts?

ADEIMANTUS: When is this accomplished?

SOCRATES: When they meet together, and the world sits down at an assembly, or in a court of law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any other popular resort, and there is a great uproar, and they praise some things which are being said or done, and blame other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clapping their hands, and the echo of the rocks and the place in which they are assembled redoubles the sound of the praise or blame–at such times will not a young man’s heart, as they say, leap within him? Will any private training enable him to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popular opinion? or will he be carried away by the stream? Will he not have the notions of good and evil which the public in general have–he will do as they do, and as they are, such will he be?

ADEIMANTUS: Yes, Socrates; necessity will compel him.

SOCRATES: And yet, there is still necessity which has not been mentioned…The gentle force of attainder or confiscation or death, which, as you are aware, these new Sophists and educators, who are the public, apply when their words are powerless….

The Dialogues of Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett, published by William Benton, Encyclopedia Britannica, University of Chicago Press, the Great Books, 1952

[Vision fades as WRITER and READERS Enter. Exuent Wyrdes.]

–Rule from the Shadows – The Psychology of Power, Part 1.

WRITER: Ronnie James Dio as a lyricist was strangely prophetic. Check out the lyrics to the 1981 title track of the classic Dio-era Black Sabbath album Mob Rules.

Close the city and tell the people that something’s coming to call
Death and darkness are rushing forward to take a bite from the wall, oh

You’ve nothing to say
They’re breaking away
If you listen to fools
The mob rules

–Black Sabbath, The Mob Rules, from the album Mob Rules

READER1: Wasn’t that song used in that HEAVY METAL cartoon from the 80’s?

WRITER: Yes it was! Hey, what’s the most important meal of the day?

READER2: WTF! What’s that have to do with anything?

READER1: I’ll bite. Breakfast!

WRITER: Do you think all these wars the United States of America has been executing across the world has made “the world safe for democracy”?

READER1: Of course not. We’ve been pissing people off all over the place.

WRITER: Do you think the women’s lib movement was a good thing?

READER2: Clearly, it gave women the right to vote!

WRITER: And do you think cigarette smoking is good for your health?

READER1: Of course not. It’s been proven to cause cancer and other ill health effects.

WRITER: Do you know where your thoughts come from?

READER2: What?

WRITER: Remember the fellow I wrote about in a post entitled Because Words are Wyrd: What’s in a name? I also posted to my IG account about him while giving a brief examination of the etymology of the word propaganda:

#mesmerizedmonday Since we’re all stuck at home bored we might as well fix some gaps in our knowledge of history, and, yes, #etymology Today’s word is Propaganda, which comes to us from Modern Latin and is short for “congregatio de propaganda fide” = ‘congregation for propagating the faith.” To propagate means to get an animal or plant to reproduce itself. What we’re concerned with here is the process of ideas propagating themselves and how that well-known tendency of certain bits of information or ideologies to self-replicate has been scientifically studied and applied.  Meet Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, largely considered the modern father of “Public Relations;” i.e., Propaganda. The lovely lady you see here was an image produced by Bernays and cohorts at the behest of the cigerette industry, who in the early 20th Century were really sad that they only had 50 percent of market share; i.e., only men. Bernays came up with the brilliant strategy of hijacking the nascent feminist movement and wedding it to the idea of cigarettes as “freedom torches.” It’s worth noting that, Goebbels, the chief propagandist for the third Reich, was a great admirer of his and had his book in his personal library.  Wanna learn more? Type this into boobtubr and have your sense of how scientifically this stuff is done expanded… https://youtu.be/p8ERfxWouXs
#wordsarewyrd #wordorigins #history #publicrelations #thisshitisscience #psychology #sigmundfreud #edwardbernays

“Girl in Red” advertisement for Lucky Strike; shot by Nickolas Muray, a photographer enlisted by Bernays to help popularize feminine thinness and cigarette smoking.[40]

READER2: You have an Instagram account?

WRITER: Yes, @wordsarewyrd

READER1: Wow, a “congregation for propagating the faith,” huh? Kinda gives propaganda a religious feel doesn’t it?

READER2: Dude, that video is, like, 40 minutes long! You really want us to watch it?

WRITER: Yes, there is a certain religious flavoring to propaganda, isn’t there! And yes, in my view, you must watch that video. Because, it’s paramount we see how social conformity is scientifically studied and used, if we are to have any hope of countering it. HERE it is one more time.

I know it’s longish but I personally found it riveting! I’ve watched it about 6 or 7 times now. Every time I watch it, a stunning new revelation hits me!

READER1&2: [Disappear from screen and return a short while later.]

WRITER: Be honest. Did you actually watch it?


WRITER: [Laughs out loud.] Right. Thank you, for watching that video. I like it because it’s an excellent walk through of the method by which we find ourselves in the present situation. The relevant part is the section that discusses the psychological studies, beginning with the Social Conformity Experiments carried out by Solomon Asch. To quote:

“The goal was to ascertain how many people would conform to the perception of those around them when the group’s position contradicted their own senses. The results surprised Asch. He had believed that the majority of participants would not conform when given an answer that was obviously wrong. However, results show that 37% of people had conformed to the crowd consistently and 75% conformed at least some of the time. Asch was uncertain as to whether this conformity was limited to social compliance or whether it was actually influencing perception on a neurological level. In 2005 neuroscientist Gregory Berns sought to answer this question. Berns created a variation of Asch’s experiment, this time measuring brain wave activity during a test to determine at what level of the brain this conformity was taking place. The results showed very clearly that the occipital and parital lobes were the most active when the participants were answering incorrectly. This meant that conformity was actually altering the perception of the test subjects at the neurological level. Take a moment and register what that means — social conformity literally causes the brain to rewrite our reality.”

–Rule from the Shadows – The Psychology of Power, Part 1. (9:48 – 11:45)

READER1: Wow. 37% of people all of the time?

READER2: Huh, gives new meaning to the expression:

“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

–often attributed to Abraham Lincoln

WRITER: In deed, it does! It also provides another potential example of how often erroneous ideas can propagate themselves. If what we read at Quote Investigator can be trusted it seems “…there is no solid evidence that Lincoln actually used this adage.”

At any rate here’s a screen shot of the abstract for Bern’s neurological study of Asch’s experiment.

WRITER: And just so we’re clear what the occpital-parietal network does, here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

“The parieto-occipital lobe has been found in various neuroimaging studies, including PET (positron-emission-tomography) studies,[1][2][3][4] and SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) studies,[5][6] to be involved along with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during planning.”


Isn’t it interesting that the parts of your brain that rewire and rewrite reality are the parts that are “involved…during planning?”

READER2: Damn. Wait, so basically, if I am in a group and they say 2+2 = 5, but I know the answer is 4, yet I give in to peer pressure and end up going with what the group says, and I say the answer is 5 even though I know it is 4, does that mean I’m going to start believing that 2+2 does equal 5?

WRITER: I don’t know if the effect is that extreme. Possibly? However, since the overwriting affects areas of the brain involved in planning, the implication is that your action of social conformity affects how you plan for the future. Might one make plans more in line with what “the crowd” expects instead of what one knows is actually better for you?

READER2: Wow. I still think you’re taking this a little far.

WRITER: You wouldn’t agree those experimental results are something to digest and think about?

READER2: I mean, sure, they’re interesting. Maybe a little concerning…

WRITER: Remember the Bernays quote we started with: “…the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses…” That sounds like “planning” to me.

READER1&2: Hmmmm.

WRITER: Okay, well moving on. The narrator summarizes the infamous Milgram Shock Experiment:

“Under the influence of an apparent authority figure 50 – 65% of subjects continued administering the shocks even up to the maximum 450 volt shock. They even continued after the person in the other room had stopped screaming, which indicated that they were unconscious or dead…The aura of authority exercises an almost irresistible force over the human mind, easily overriding core morals and ethics. Even more shocking is that no legitimate authority is necessary. Appearances suffice.”

–Rule from the Shadows – The Psychology of Power, Part 1. (13:34 & 14:51)

READER1&2: …

WRITER: Think about that. If only apparent authority is necessary, think about how amplified that effect can be when someone has a megaphone such as TIME magazine, or a widely televised press conference and some credentials behind their names: MDs, Ph.Ds, JDs., SOBs, DD., DDiv., etc.–all of whom are fallible, all of whom can make errors, all of whom can be bought off, bullied, blackmailed or otherwise compromised.

READER1: Oh, or perhaps have bad motives themselves? Is that what you’re getting at?


READER1: Okay, this is a lot to take in, so just let us have it–what are you thinking?

WRITER: Well, once again, Plato appears to have figured out about 2300 years ago that crowds, the mob, the group, society, the public, whatever you want to call it can have a–how shall we say it?–an adverse effect on the critical thinking of individuals.

READER1: “When he has an original thought he forgets it right away.”

WRITER: Bad Religion, nice!

READER1: Okay, so back to the point: the Rulers or mis-Leaders or whatever you want to call them were aware of this stuff a long time ago, and have been using this knowledge against us for at least that long?

WRITER: Yes, and this stuff has been scientifically studied, confirmed and improved; therefore applied in earnest in the 20th and 21st Centuries with ever-increasing technological and methodological efficiency.

I think these techniques of propaganda are what we need to keep in mind moving forward through this series of posts:

The 3 principles upon which the art and science of propaganda are based –Rule from the Shadows – The Psychology of Power, Part 1.

READER1: Huh. “Initiating the contagion of behaviors and ideas through social conformity.”

READER2: Again, what does all this have to do with the title of your post? You’re always being deliberately obscure.

WRITER: I’m deliberately trying to get people to exercise their discernment muscles.

Recall that Bernays based his ideas on the French psychologist Gustav Le Bon’s book Psychologie des foules. That word, foules, translates into English as ‘crowd,’ but etymologically is related to the English word FOOL.

I don’t have a French etymology dictionary unfortunately, so we’ll have to use wiktionary this time.

From Middle French foule (“group of men, people collectively”), alteration (due to Middle French foule (“act of treading”)) of Old French foulc (“people, multitude, crowd, troop”), from Vulgar Latin, from Frankish *folc*fulc (“crowd, multitude, people”), from Proto-Germanic *fulką (“collection or class of people, multitude; host of warriors”), perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *pleh₁- (“to fill”). Cognate with Old High German folc (“people collectively, nation”), Old English folc (“common people, troop, multitude”). More at folk.


Let’s take a look at the word folk

folk n. [ME. < OE. folc, akin to G. volk < IE. base *pel-, to fill, crowd, whence L. plebs, the common people & FULL] 1. a) a people, tribe, or nation; ethnic group b) the large body of the common people or ethnic group: with the.

–Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, (c) 1980

And now the English word FOOL

fool n. [ME. fol < OFr. (Fr. fou) < LL. follis < L. follis, windbag, bellows: see FOLLICLE] 1. a) a person with little or no judgment, common sense, wisdom, etc.; silly or stupid person; simpleton… 2. a man formerly kept in the household of a nobleman or king to entertain by joking or clowning; professional jester. 3. a victim of a joke or trick; dupe 4. [Slang] a person especially devoted to or skilled in some activity [a dancing fool]

–Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, (c) 1980

Just to follow the trail to its end:

follicle n. [ModL. folliculus < L. a small bag, husk, pod. dim. of follis, bellows < IE. base *bhel-, to blow up, swell; whence BALL1, BULL1]

–Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, (c) 1980

So the French foule ‘crowd’ and English fool, ultimately spring from the same Indo European root *plehi-/*bhel-, ‘to fill up, to blow up, swell.’ Was Le Bon making a deliberate double entendre when he named his book on mass psychology Psychologie des foules?

READER1: Who knows if he was, but you are, aren’t you? The foules are the masses, and the masses are fools?

READER2: Oh! [Sings.] “If you listen to fools–

READER1: [Sings.] “–the mob rules!

WRITER: What is the crowd presently demanding we conform to? because it’s “good for society?”

Is what the crowd telling you actually good for society? Is it good for you and your family? your health? your sanity? your livelihood? Or does it only SEEM good because some authority figure somewhere made that assertion? which the crowd then picked up on and propagated?

READER1: Oh, and that quote from Plato!

The gentle force of attainder or confiscation or death, which, as you are aware, these new Sophists and educators, who are the public, apply when their words are powerless….”

The Dialogues of Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett, published by William Benton, Encyclopedia Britannica, University of Chicago Press, the Great Books, 1952

WRITER: Right! He was being a little ironic there. But, yes, “when their words are powerless…” fines, arrests, public shaming, etc. Yes.

And just to reiterate what you said above: what if the “initiator of the contagion” had less than honorable intentions, or was just plain wrong? who, exactly, initiated the contagion?

Contemplate this on the Tree of whoa…

[Thunder and lightning, the three WYRDES reenter, begin stirring cauldron again. The vision of Socrates and Adeimantus talking returns:

SOCRATES: …No, my friend, and they have seldom, if ever, heard free and noble sentiments; such as men utter when they are earnestly and by every means in their power seeking after truth for the sake of knowledge, while they look coldly on the subtleties of controversy, of which the end is opinion and strife, whether they meet with them in the courts of law or in society.

ADEIMANTUS: They are strangers to the words which you speak.

SOCRATES: And this is what we foresaw, and this was the reason why truth forced us to admit, not without fear and hesitation, that neither cities nor States nor individuals will ever attain perfection until the small class of philosophers whom we termed useless but not corrupt are providentially compelled, whether they will or not, to take care of the State, and until a like necessity be laid on the State to obey them…

…we are ready to assert to the death, that this our constitution has been, and is–yea, and will be whenever the Muse of Philosophy is queen. There is no impossibility in all this; that there is a difficulty we acknowledge ourselves.

ADEIMANTUS: My opinion agrees with yours.

SOCRATES: But do you mean to say that this is not the opinion of the multitude?

ADEIMANTUS: I should imagine not.

SOCRATES: O my friend, do not attack the multitude: they will change their minds, if, not in an aggressive spirit, but gently and with the view of removing their dislike of over-education, you show them your philosophers as they really are and describe as you were just now doing their character and profession, and then mankind will see that he of whom you are speaking is not such as they supposed–if they view him in this new light, they will surely change their notion of him, and answer in another strain. Who can be at enmity with one who loves them, who is himself gentle and free from envy will be jealous of one in whom there is no jealousy?

Nay, let me answer for you, that in a few this harsh temper may be found but not in the majority of mankind.

The Dialogues of Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett, published by William Benton, Encyclopedia Britannica, University of Chicago Press, the Great Books, 1952

WYRD1: [Stirs cauldron. Socrates and Adeimantus fade, like Dust in the Wind. Close up on the pages of Plato’s Republic, Book VI. Pages turn rapidly. Book closes.

[Close up on Wyrdes.]

WYRD1: [Stirring cauldron.] By the mixing of my grue churning broth these words come true! This link click, Do it quick!

WYRD2: If this project seems joyous to you, make sure you subscribe to social media, too. Below, you will find it, so don’t miss anything!

WYRD0: Like, share, subscribe to a platform or two, so the Words are Wyrd blog’s known the whole world through!

ALL: We live to take flights of fancy with you and explore the idea that Words are Wryd too!

[Exuent, All]

If you listen to fools links in order list

  1. What is a Sophist? And we believe Plato means this in sense 3 of the definition. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sophist
  2. What does Attainder mean? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_of_attainder
  3. The Mob Rules, by Black Sabbath, from the album Mob Rules Lyrics https://genius.com/Black-sabbath-the-mob-rules-lyrics
  4. Short clip from movie Heavy Metal where the song is used. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIQouGy_B08
  5. Stanford Medicine video on the history of the tobacco industry’s advertising campaigns to hide the hazards of smoking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c25mqFtg6AA
  6. Previous post where I discuss hypnotics words of the sales industy and Bernays, among other things.  https://wordsarewyrd.com/because-words-are-wyrd-whats-in-a-name/
  7. Rule from the Shadows – the Psychology of Power – Part 1. Just watch it already, lol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8ERfxWouXs&feature=youtu.be
  8. Brief article outlining the Asch Social Conformity Experiment https://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html
  9. Who was Solomon Asch? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Asch
  10. Who is Gregory Berns https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Berns
  11. Abstract of Berns’ experiment on the NIH website https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15978553
  12. Article on Quote Investigator, looking into whether Lincoln  actually said that thing about fooling some people all the time. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/12/11/cannot-fool/
  13. Wikipedia description of the Occipito-Parietal thingy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parieto-occipital_sulcus
  14. Brief article outlining the Milgram Shock Experiment https://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html
  15. Time magazine is a megaphone for certain messages. https://time.com/5818134/anthony-fauci-never-shake-hands-coronavirus/
  16. Interesting claims made by an HIV/AIDS researcher that deserve looking into. https://truepundit.com/exclusive-top-scientist-disturbing-details-of-threats-research-theft-tainted-vaccines-fraud-cover-ups-pay-to-play/
  17. The Automatic Man, by Bad Religion, from the album No Control Lyrics https://genius.com/15382095
  18. The Automatic Man, by Bad Religion, from the album No Control https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5i0ocA8IXg
  19. Wiktionary etymology of the French word foule https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/foule
  20. Various definitions of double entendre https://www.google.com/search?q=double+entendre&rlz=1C1ASUT_enUS467&oq=doub&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j69i59j0j46j0l3.2574j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
  21. The Mob Rules, Live Version, by Black…errr…I mean Heaven & Hell. That is, Black Sabbath minus Bill Ward, plus Ronnie James Dio, and Vinnie Apice on drums https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTxSNosJrDo
  22. Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.  Get it?  “Tree of woe…” “Tree of whoa…” No? Okay, Lol http://www.wavsource.com/snds_2020-03-30_7102365145747638/movies/misc/bill_ted_whoa.wav
  23. Also couldn’t resist this one, since we’re talking about Socrates and all. “Bill and Ted philosophize with Socrates” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0czxSi53jI
  24. Couldn’t resist this either!  Since we watched that Bill and Ted clip.  Dust in the Wind, by Kansas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH2w6Oxx0kQ