Zombie Entertainment: A Lesson in Cognitive Dissonance and the Red Pill

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Top Tier Gear USA

Zombies are the new vampires in the entertainment world, but unlike pop culture vampires, they don’t sparkle, they aren’t sexy and brooding, and you don’t want to turn into one.

The most popular show in cable TV history is The Walking Dead. Dozens, if not hundreds, of zombies are slain in every episode.  Head shots are taken with no more compunction than swatting as mosquito before it lands on your arm. An axe to the skull, a pick through an eye socket, blunt objects, arrows, daggers – anything goes. What’s more, it doesn’t matter if the zombie is a man, woman or child – it must be killed immediately as it staggers hungrily towards you.

Even the US military is getting into the spirit of the Zombie Apocalypse, holding mock disaster drills with the shuffling horde as the enemy.

It’s all in the name of fun, right? Simply entertainment and anyone who says otherwise needs to lighten up, right?

Perhaps not – perhaps we need to take a look at psychological experiments undertaken in the last century to determine whether the Zombie craze is just a big psychological experiment being perpetrated on us.

In 1971, a 2 week experiment was funded by the US Office of Naval Research to study the effects of becoming a prisoner or a prison guard. A mock prison was set up at Stanford University, and 24 students took part in the experiment, half taking on the roles of prisoners and the other half, guards in the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment.

The situation escalated quickly into a cycle of abuse and torture. The psychological reactions were so dramatic that the study was suddenly halted on day 6. Out of more than 50 people who had observed the experiment, one graduate student finally objected to the abuse and torture. Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who was in charge of the experiment, wrote:

At this point it became clear that we had to end the study. We had created an overwhelmingly powerful situation — a situation in which prisoners were withdrawing and behaving in pathological ways, and in which some of the guards were behaving sadistically. Even the “good” guards felt helpless to intervene, and none of the guards quit while the study was in progress. Indeed, it should be noted that no guard ever came late for his shift, called in sick, left early, or demanded extra pay for overtime work.

I ended the study prematurely for two reasons. First, we had learned through videotapes that the guards were escalating their abuse of prisoners in the middle of the night when they thought no researchers were watching and the experiment was “off.” Their boredom had driven them to ever more pornographic and degrading abuse of the prisoners.

Second, Christina Maslach, a recent Stanford Ph.D. brought in to conduct interviews with the guards and prisoners, strongly objected when she saw our prisoners being marched on a toilet run, bags over their heads, legs chained together, hands on each other’s shoulders. Filled with outrage, she said, “It’s terrible what you are doing to these boys!” Out of 50 or more outsiders who had seen our prison, she was the only one who ever questioned its morality. Once she countered the power of the situation, however, it became clear that the study should be ended.

And so, after only six days, our planned two-week prison simulation was called off.

This experiment proved how fragile the human resistance is to wrong-doing under stressful sitatuations, and how quickly people who are normally considered to be “moral” and “mentally stable” can digress to behavior that is both sadistic and repugnant when that behavior is considered normal for the circumstances.

This occurs because of a behavioral theory called “cognitive dissonance.” Cognitive dissonance (a phrase coined in the book When Prophecy Fails, by Dr. Leon  Festinger) describes the mental discomfort that a person feels when faced with two diverse values – the reality of a situation and the moral belief system of the person collide. When this occurs, the person must make alterations to one or the other in order to regain his equilibrium. According to Dr. Festinger theory, “people engage in a process he termed “dissonance reduction”, which can be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior.”

So, using the theory of cognitive dissonance, we can understand that through popular culture, any mass of crazed, violent, hungry people may be considered no longer human. Members of the military, police forces and guards can distance themselves from violent actions by reprogramming their moral compasses and aligning them with the adjusted reality that it’s okay to kill women and children and the hungry, because they are sub-human. They are to be dispatched quickly and efficiently to quell chaos and return to a more comfortable situation.

We are being pre-conditioned by the entertainment industry to accept death on levels so massive that they make concentration camp videos look like a Disney movie. When you watch the following trailer, notice particularly at minutes 1:20, 1:56, and 2:10 – the cinematography itself dehumanizes the millions being slaughtered, making them look like little more than faceless insects to be destroyed as they seek to invade.

We are being pre-conditioned to accept the inevitable scenes of death that will be flooding our evening news, so that we won’t object when we watch these real-life incidents of mass extermination. We are being socially programmed to find the unacceptable to be a matter-of-fact, everyday occurrence when we watch an axe be delivered to the head of a dirty, hungry, feral child. Forget racism – we are being taught a new kind of bias – the categorization of someone terrified and hungry as something less human than us – a threat to be enthusiastically destroyed without remorse.

During the 1950s, Solomon Ashe conducted a series of experiments on conformity. The conclusion of the experiments was that

“Self-categorization theory suggests that our individual functioning at any given moment is dependent on whether or not we categorize ourselves as similar or different from groups. When we see ourselves as similar to a group, we engage in depersonalization, a key concept in self-categorization theory. Depersonalization is when individuals see themselves as embodying the social category of the group rather than their own personal identities. Therefore, from this perspective the Asch results are interpreted as an outcome of depersonalization processes whereby the participants expect to hold the same incorrect opinions as others in the “group”.”

It’s a lot harder to brainwash people who know they are subject to manipulation. By your very awareness of the motives behind entertainment and media patterns, you can protect yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be mindlessly “entertained” by death and violence – don’t allow this to become the social norm. When/if you watch things like this, do so with an engaged mind – don’t be a passive recipient.

Fight the cognitive dissonance by thinking critically and allowing yourself to be uncomfortable with the reality being forced upon you by the media. That’s what taking the red pill is all about.

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Morpheus – The Matrix

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  • SemperFido

    This sort of brutality has been going on since the Cro-Mangons massacred the Neanderthals. Humans have put each other to the sword for all of history. One tribe exterminating a different tribe. I fail to see how these shows are brainwashing the masses to accept murdering large groups of people. We already do these things to each other.

    • SKIP

      NOT on an appropriate scale at the moment, it is coming to that though.

  • KorHi

    Good article! Always step back to look and think about what your watching or doing. In other words dont fall into there trap of being a zombie.

  • Wolf

    It is called……Evil, a very real thing.

  • Don

    Great article, and just as important as any of the usual “Prepping” tutorials – if not more so. Just because human beings have acted like beasts in the past, doesn’t mean we must always do so. There have been compassionate, THINKING people throughout the ages, and the time is rapidly approaching when we will all need to maintain an unwavering sense of justice and morality. The fact that people enjoy watching pointlessly violent media like that described above, does not speak well for our odds of survival.

  • If you want to know what’s blowin’ in the wind… it’s a world war with China. Megadeath. And the real chance of nuclear war.

    Don’t believe me? Name me ONE ‘game changing’ weapon: Submarines, Machine Guns, Gas… that hasn’t seen widespread use.

    The Chinese have the population, and they’re not afraid to use them. Our leaders in the US are seen as corrupt, weak, and worst of all… soft. It’s only a matter of time.

    -Drunken Economist

    • Jean

      I would suggest, in this age of nanotech and viral and DNA knowledge, that retrovirals seeking specific DNA sequences will soon become a new uber-weapon. Devise the disease and cure together; innoculate “your” people, release the cloud on “their” people.
      Whether it’s targeting genes for Sickle-cell anemia (Predominantly in Blacks; Sickle-Cells actually combat Malaria by limiting the spread of the disease inside the body, making it easier to survive the illness) – or targeting “blue eyes” or “wavy hair” – if we are concerned about freedom and/or self-ownership, we’re facing a VERY bad situation.

      And BN, if it’s truly TARGETED, the creator may not CARE who gets hurt – Cleanse the world of the “lesser” creatures, the “Mud People” or “Jews” (Semitic peoples, I guess?) or Nordics or Blue-eyed girls, or… Whatever. Remember, Nazi Germany may have worshipped the Aryan ideal – but Hitler wasn’t Aryan…

      Lunatics are crazy, they may decide to do something completely insane just to see who’s left. After all, the US elected Barry for a second term…

    • SKIP

      That’s because our “leaders” ARE all of the above and worse.

    • Imawake

      Pure fear porn, you bankster sponsored troll. If you’ll notice, there is no war being perpetuated anywhere in the world anymore–it’s all forbidden in the future; Israel tried to use nukes recently, but they just won’t detonate; we’re getting a little extra help from the universe and company. All the PTB have left is flunkies like you left on their payroll and a few Manchurians in the wings for the occasional black-op shoot-em-up. China is actually saving the world right now as they clean up their own house. The future is so bright, but the MSM continues to peddle their tired old fear garbage for the mindless masses–and trolls like you are paid to drop these tasty messages for them to slurp up.

      • D Couger

        To Imawake; What proof do you offer on your statement that Israel tried nukes but they didn’t work?

      • Afshin Nejat

        Future is FAR from “bright”. At least, it is not bright for the lemmings who love this physical world of INNATE INJUSTICE and yet, for the life of the, can’t help complaining about it whenever their share of misfortune comes along (fair share, or perhaps NOT fair..). But you’ll say “who says life is fair” when it happens to someone else… But when it happens to you it is always “why ME”? or “Why, God? WHYYYYY?” Lemmings, with your “bright future” will have a hard reality to bite down on soon enough. The only ones with a bright future, or any future at all, are the immortal spirits who have been trapped int his physical plane and are soon to be liberated, and of course do not fear the death of the physical shell as ones like you no doubt do.

  • I enjoyed it, definitely worth sharing, thank you.

    I will have to respectively disagree with you, though; the general population doesn’t care about mass murder nor is American mass media likely to broadcast images of heaped bodies. We passed the point where that kind of stuff was more important than the latest Walmart sale a long time ago.

    People don’t want to watch zombie movies where the military is killing the hordes. One-on-one cap-in-the-head action, baby. Just more vicarious violence providing an outlet for a nation of frustrated, tamed animals. Most of the people who love the zombie stuff would be horrified to kill a chicken for dinner.

  • Sorry, what you ascribe to evil and malice, can be attributed to basic human behavior – the need to feel and feel more if possible. Drugs do this. Sex can do this. Giving birth can do this. Almost any action can give us more ‘life.’ But the return on investment needs to be high to keep our attention. So tv distills real life so we want to fall into the stories. No one wants to see “My horrible blah day that made me have an in-grown toenail.”

    Cognitive dissonance really relates to the state of doing one thing but believing another. Generally there is a force or situation making us choose the ‘evil’ thing. Stealing medicine to heal your child. Slapping a hysterical person. Shooting an intruder to defend your family. These are all things the average person doesn’t believe in doing to another person when things are ‘normal’ but in these situations we have to make sense of stealing or hitting or even killing.

    With Cognitive dissonance, there is something forcing us to do what we don’t want to do. It is handled by most people by doing one of two things: changing their beliefs, or changing our perception of the object of the belief. The former occurs rarely, a wholesale resetting of our basic beliefs is dangerous to our mental and physical health and could make us question everything about ourselves.

    Most often we change our perception of the subject to feel like we are doing what we believe is right. ‘Those grapes are sour’ ‘I didn’t want that job anyways, it’s probably really boring.’ ‘That girl I used to date must be really horrible since we are no longer dating.’ ‘We can’t just shoot people, even on tv, but we want to do this. Aha! We can shoot dead things.’

    Sure there are conspiracies, I just don’t see how this one holds water about zombies when other explanations of human behavior would just as easily explain zombie stories. I tend to think if anything, these shows are here to pacify us – keep us connected to the tv because they give us so bang for the buck. It works until you run out of borders to cross, then the technique no longer is useful.

  • Not a zombie

    I just checked out World War Z – clearly there are some race and ‘fear of the outsider’ issues there. A virus spreads to China and then Africa – and then they all come for the US! I’m surprised Brad Pitt is starring in a film with such obvious fear mongering of “outsiders”.

    Desensitizing the “other” through representing them as less human is age old propaganda – just think of the US incarceration of 200,000 Japanese “rats” (i.e Japanese US citizens) in World War 2.

    It’s not surprising that zombie culture is so popular. It doesn’t take much for humans to turn on each other.

    • W

      Ever read “The Camp of the Saints”?

  • House Of Rothschild: No One Can Understand What Has Happened To The Planet Without Reading This

  • Afshin Nejat

    But the ARE faceless insects!!! Look at the lemmings about you more carefully. You should feel one of either two things if you are a truly “grounded and centered being”. You should feel a warm fuzzy feeling of being surrounded by your “kind”, or you should feel a strong repugnance similar to the sort you might feel if you were served roadkill fresh off the pavement in stead of your usual at the local diner (unless THAT gives you a warm fuzzy, too). People in the middle a special kind of unfortunate in that they don’t readily fit into the “normal” primate reality since they are “losers”, and others are beings who don’t belong with these ants yet don’t know it well enough to realize it and feel strongly about it, and probably feel a lot of DISSONANCE about their “fellow man”.

  • I think the whole zombie genre if first and foremost an exercise in preparedness thinking that’s conducted in a ‘socially safe’ manner. It’s acceptable to talk about ‘what you’d do in a zombie apocalypse’ but if you try to discuss what you’d do following an EMP event, supervolcano or financial meltdown you are in danger of being thought of as a crazy person.