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The spaghetti-tree hoax: an 'innocent' experiment showed the overwhelming power of the mainstream media over the masses

When you have the monopoly of information you can literally transform people's minds. You can make them believe whatever you want. You can even reverse reality toward the narrative you have built to promote the desirable agenda for your bosses.


In 1957, BBC conducted a very interesting experiment. The spaghetti-tree hoax was a three-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fools' Day 1957 by the BBC current-affairs programme Panorama, purportedly showing a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the family "spaghetti tree". At the time spaghetti was relatively little known in the UK, so that many Britons were unaware that it is made from wheat flour and water; a number of viewers afterwards contacted the BBC for advice on growing their own spaghetti trees. Decades later, CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled".



This 'innocent' farce showed dramatically the unimaginable power of TV and the mainstream media to shape massively the minds of millions. Earlier, Freud's young nephew, Edward Bernays had set the foundations of modern propaganda.

During the post-WWII era, inside the Cold War, the mainstream media in the West had built a strong propaganda veil from which Western societies would be impossible to escape. Entire generations have grown with the perception of 'evil Communism' as a threat to the Western values and way of life. Dirty wars conducted mainly by the US as the emerged big power in the global scene, based on lies and deception manufactured by the mainstream media, in order to secure the consent of the majority, even after the collapse of Soviet Communism.

For decades, before the invention of the Internet and the rise of the alternative media, people had to rely solely on the mainstream media for their information about what's going on around the world. During previous decades, what was being broadcast by the big TV channels and printed by the biggest newspapers, was taken for granted by the vast majority of the people in Western societies.

The spaghetti-tree hoax showed that, in order to manipulate the public, all you needed was a good scenario, a persuasive narrative, and a few good film shots. Just think how easily you could be tricked with today's digital technology.

Yet, less than two decades ago, the beginning of the rapid expansion of the Internet brought eventually the first serious cracks on the mainstream media propaganda monopoly.

Still, there is a lot of hoax and propaganda on the Internet too, but there is also alternative information as counter-propaganda, which is not filtered by any certain hierarchy, as in the currently obsolete function of the mainstream media.

Internet, counter-propaganda networks, WikiLeaks, Whistleblowers, are some key factors due to which the mainstream media propaganda rapidly collapses. As we are currently inside that process, we don't know exactly the rate and degree of the collapse, but we can guess that the Western media have already lost much of their credibility.

However, it seems that, in many cases, governments or other systemic decision centers, exploit the Internet, guiding public opinion and independent judgement towards the "official interpretation" of the facts, and this is done not only through misinformation flow in the web, but also through other methods like, for example, trolling.

In that case, such an "official channel" may inject information inside the web, the information goes viral, and finally, people will start to get used to the idea of even the most terrifying scenarios, like those of a nuclear conflict, or, radical population control. Then, the system may benefit from the sincere willing of independent bloggers to whisper the truth.

But it is true that independent information has escaped from the control of the mainstream media and that's the reason for which the establishment proceeds in more drastic measures, especially in the United States, like, for example, the killing of Net Neutrality.

It is expected that the battle of information will become wilder in the following decades as the mainstream media will be losing more and more of their credibility, and people will turn massively to independent sources.

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