Blogpost # 911      THE SHELL GAME

[Precis: It would appear that education is the dividing line in American politics. The following essay will reveal our understanding as to how big business, anti-regulation interests induce the inadequately educated, poorly, informed, citizen to vote against their own, personal interest.]

As known, Evolution’s paramount species, Homo sapiens was generously gifted, with a brain of higher quality and more utility than that of other fauna, roaming Planet Earth, thus, affording to him the existential, capability to develop and exercise judgment. Reason, based upon learned, empirical experience, is the ubiquitous and dynamic mechanism with which he suitably, guides his life. However, all too often, actions are performed and decisions taken, not based upon reason, but upon extraneous stimuli (examples: passion, erroneous, or self-serving, influence of others, fixed routine or habit, associations derived from perceived similar, past experience with like stimuli (or similar person).

A diverse, plethora of interests, shrewdly aware of the common inclination of individuals to choose, or be persuaded to, facilely, “short circuit” decisions, for reasons, not founded in reason, will tactically, utilize various socially persuasive devices to influence the targeted individual or group, most impactful of which, may be that of “associative choice.”

Whether the context be commercial, political or personal, it should not take an in-depth analysis, to identify, the Terpsichorean performance, often aimed at the poorly, informed and vulnerable citizen. This dance of deception, subtly, eliciting the desired point of view, or, contextually, the desired political position, (and, hence, the vote) cunningly, utilizes the behavioral phenomenon, made famous by Dr. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). Such dynamic process is the conditioned (i.e., “Pavlovian”) predictably, engineered response, elicited by the repetitive application of previously associated, stimuli. In the most famous of the Russian scientist’s, classic experiments, dogs, mouths hungrily, watered,  at the recalled, repeated association of a ringing bell with being given food.

It is, far beyond the intended scope of this writing, or, indeed, our capacity, to undertake to relate the manifold instances of empirical applications of the ubiquitous, Pavlovian (conditioned) response, so vital in marketing, public relations, politics and human interaction in general.  At present, we are concerned, specifically, with the pernicious and demonstrably successful, impact of that, non-rational, associative technique, on the hordes of citizens, thereby induced to espouse rightward-tilting, dogma.

Such arrogant and tactically, manipulative, practice is indisputably, analogous in virtue, principle and dynamic technique, to the grift, popularly, identified as “Three Card Monte,” or the “Shell Game.” In the latter “games,” the player is the victim of a fool-proof, sleight-of-hand maneuver, consistently overcoming his hapless, confidence. In lieu of the utilized, three playing cards or three walnut-type shells and a pea, the political charlatan, tactically, evokes, by way of reflexive response, the desired, political response from the victim. In lieu of Pavlov’s associative bell sound, certain “buzz-words” have been instilled by repetitive, tactical propaganda, aimed at eliciting the desired “reflexive” (or “associative”) response; from their designated targets; typically, the large horde of ”underbelly,” populist American citizens. Constant bombardment by so-called,  ”News Media,” like the undemocratic, Fox News and a cadre of unprincipled radio commentators, cater to the uninformed populist, spew hatred, false accusations and MAGA’s specialty, “alternate reality,” to a highly, receptive, cohort of ignorant and discontented followers, who are effectively manipulated and tactically, convinced, that the official news reports, heard or read, are tactically false, and that the propagandist broadcaster, by contrast, is, exclusively and responsibly, revealing the authentic and truthful, facts, to his loyal audience. In fairness, the official patent for the promulgated concept, of “alternate facts,” must indisputably, be granted to its ingeniously egocentric creator, Donald J. Trump.

The political concept of the Pavlovian style, “shell game,” universally, features constant, repetitive, (like Pavlov’s bell)  right-wing, media messages, which, consistently, portray false and misleading versions of contemporary events, or purported objectionable inclinations or actions, taken by the demeaned subject, most often, encapsulated in a word, recalling their reality-skewed, often, defamatory, diatribes. In this regard, there appears to be a virtually, unlimited choice of tactical and manipulatively, uttered names and references, which, are, by their programmatic, repetitive association with tactically, chosen, negative or unwholesome references,  words, people, or concepts designed to create the intended, indisposition towards them.  For purposes of illustration, we will cite, and briefly comment on a few, instilled, “knee-jerk,” negative, buzzwords.

 [Word stimulus: “Socialism,” “Socialist”]

At the top of the motivational, or associative, knee-jerk, buzzwords is the word, “socialist.” It is our observation that proposed assistance to the economically, needy or affordable health care as a part of America’s exercise of compassionate capitalism, is predictably, awarded the inculcated, (faux) epithet, “socialist,” or awarded the presumably, obnoxious designation of “Socialism.” This Pavlovian installed negative attribution, to the government’s exercise of needed assistance, is tactically, installed in the mind of the unschooled citizen, despite the raw truth that all Americans, including the manipulative interests, happily avail themselves of its full benefits.

 The traditionally pernicious goal of the perpetrators of this absurd, tactical charge, typically, is the big business sociopathic ideation that profits are more important than the monetary expense of compliance with government regulations, protecting human life and health. The participation of the federal government in disaster control, protection of food, water and medicine, loans and financial assistance to business, apparently, do not enjoy the epithet of socialistic enterprise. As appears, the dreaded scourge of evil socialism only arrives, regarding matters of assistance to, or safety for, the needy citizen.

[Name stimulus: Nancy Pelosi, Hilary Clinton

The cynically, arrogant engineer of reflexive responses can confidently expect the desired result by the mere mention of the name, Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton on right-wing media. Rep. Pelosi, until her recent retirement, the talented, idealistic and much revered, Leader of the House Democrats, was, energetically, demonized by the disgraceful President Trump, making predictable a Pavlovian, visceral response of venal hatred, from any of the auspicious MAGA acolytes upon the mere mention of her name. The subject, conditioned response was especially articulated, by a MAGA madman, psychotically, fracturing her husband’s skull with a hammer.

The tactical mention of the name of the former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, reflexively, evoked the Trump demand, “Lock her up!” from the MAGA cultists. Clinton, a former, Secretary of State, inadvertently, had a few classified documents on her computer server, and upon their discovery, responsibly, cooperated in their removal. No such “Lock him up,” was angrily, demanded when it was revealed that Donald Trump intentionally, and illegally, removed cartons of secret government documents and attempted to refuse to return them.

[Word stimuli: various]

Shamefully and neurotically, it appears that any reference to any term relating to gender, such as “gay,” “transgender” and the like, evokes contempt and hatred from the biased and right-wing dodo, too ignorant to understand that no baby has the personal choice of configuration of genes and hormones. We are, additionally and competently, advised that the newborn child, additionally, has no choice of skin color, nor of the specific ethnos into which he is born.

 References to the term,” immigration” that, responsively, evoke predictable, bias, in some citizens, ironically, and selfishly, omit the inescapable, empirical fact, that our Nation, is entirely, composed of immigrants and their descendants.

In our considered metaphysical and empirical view, that a large population of inadequately educated and poorly informed, citizens, poses an existential danger to the existence of a Democratic Republic; one, conceivably, yet more existentially, hazardous, than the dangers of attempted sedition.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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