The Hypodermic Needle Theory of Propaganda
This is Part II of a two part guest post by Dr Danny Weil. It’s a repost of an article Cornell University to Offer the “Hypodermic Needle Theory” of Education in an Attempt to Colonize Consciousness and Groom Future Elites originally published at Daily Censored
Cornell to use the hypodermic needle theory of propaganda
By Dr Danny Weil
As I wrote at Truthout.com in September of last year, the use of Hollywood to propagandize right wing, reactionary causes has a long history (http://truth-out.org/news/item/11225-film-wont-back-down-models-hollywood-propaganda-in-age-of-school-reform). The core assumption underlying the use of Hollywood and propaganda films during the 1940s and 1950s was known as the hypodermic needle theory and the theory can be seen in its shocking and marked nakedness today.
This theory suggested that corporate media could influence large groups of people directly and homogeneously by “shooting” or “injecting” them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. During the 1940s, several factors arose which contributed to this theory of propaganda, including:
- The fast rise and popularization of radio and television.
- The emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda.
- The Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children.
- Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during World War II to unify the German public behind the Nazi party.
- The assumption that people are passive and are seen as having a lot media material “shot” at them, and therefore end up thinking what they are told is true due to the fact that there is no other source of information (ibid).
The reactionary elites, like Gates and Walton and slew of others are one of the most class conscious reactionaries since the putrid monarchies under feudalism. To ‘inject’ propaganda into the minds of the population they are not limited to simply Hollywood, which they use to modify consciousness, but they are also busy building a core of elite cadre whom will carry out their rancid plans to corporatize and privatize all education. These elites must be trained and they must have pedigrees from elite colleges.
Cornell’s propaganda course, “Waiting for Superman”
Below is the course syllabus for the Cornell propaganda course. As you will see upon perusal, the course attempts to masquerade as a critical analysis of the “crisis” in education. However, don’t be fooled. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the construction of the William H. Gates Hall at Cornell to the tune of $25 million back in 2006. According to Cornell’s own website:
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $25 million to Cornell University to support the construction of the signature building for a planned information campus that will bring together the several units of the university’s Faculty of Computing and Information Science (CIS)”.
“The Gates Foundation’s grant will have a transformative effect on our academic and research programs by bringing together faculty members who are now scattered across the campus, enhancing opportunities for creative interaction, and serving as a focus for computing education and research within the university,” said Cornell President Hunter Rawlings. “It will make Cornell a model for education in the age of digital information by allowing every student, studying any subject, to understand the impact of computers on the development of that subject, and it will distinguish our graduates in every field” (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Jan06/GatesCIS.ws.html).
Power and money, the Powell memo and the hypodermic needle theory of propaganda have all come together in a perfect storm for purposes of inhabiting consciousness and creating the conditions for ideological control. Capitalizing on the financial economic “crisis”, the New Gilded Age philanthropic-pirates have indeed employed the reactionary methodologies laid out in the Powell memo that are needed to colonize college campuses and ‘breed’ needed administrative personnel (this, when they are not working to actually destroy working people’s campuses in the interest of privatization, corporatization and consolidated corporate power).
Does one really think that within the gated community of the William H. Gates Hall that critical thinking will be employed by teachers and students to study the so-called “education crisis”? One would have to be naïve to even entertain this in thought. No, teachers, their assistants and administrative personnel are all being employed as eager supplicants for the colonization of consciousness.
Below, readers can see the “advertisement” for the course:
PAM 2550: Waiting for Superman? Perspectives on the “Crisis” in American K12 Education Spring 2013T Th 2:55-4:10pm MVR G73
Professor: Teaching Assistants
Kristin Office: 133 MVR Hall OH: TBA
Office Hours: Tuesday 10–11:30am (& by appt.)
This course examines the widespread perception and the varied responses to the notion that the American K12 education system is failing to adequately prepare its students.
In this course we will examine the structure of the U.S. K12 education system, the role of and rationale for different levels in government in school finance and oversight, and its recent performance in producing student achievement overall, and for subgroups of the population in historical and international context. With this as background, we will discuss the large array of school reforms currently being pursued to improve student outcomes, including increases in funding, teacher training and recruitment, school autonomy (charter schools), student and teacher accountability, and improving incentives for teacher and student performance.
None. Courses in intermediate micro-economics and statistics are recommended. The latter part of the course will involve some reading of original research articles, requiring a modicum of literacy in statistical reasoning.
Your grade for the course will be based on your performance on 3 exams, and a short policy memo, with the following weights. Please note the dates below are tentative, and may be changed to accommodate guest speakers, etc.
Prelim 1: 20% February 21
Prelim 2: 20% April 4
Policy Memo: 20% due in class on May 3
Quizzes, Discussion posts 10% see below
Final Exam: 30% May 9, 2 4:30pm
Exams will emphasize material covered since the last exam, but will be cumulative in the core concepts of the class. The policy memo, due on the last day of class, will be capped at 1,000 words in length and will involve reacting to a current policy issue using knowledge from the course. Exams must be taken on schedule makeups will only be granted in exceptional circumstances in accordance with Cornell policies.
Our cumulative final exam is scheduled for Thursday, May 9, 2:00 4:30pm.
In addition to the exams and memos, there will be 4-5 pop quizzes and required participation in discussion forums on Blackboard following guest speakers. The pop quizzes will be straight forward multiple choice questions focused primarily on assigned readings. Throughout the semester we will have guest speakers from people involved in various aspects of education reform. After each speaker (expect between 5 and 10)
I will post a discussion forum for students to post reactions to the speaker and discuss issues arising in the conversation. Student posts will be graded as satisfactory/unsatisfactory or not participating
Grades for pop quizzes and discussion posts will be averaged to comprise 10% of the final grade. I will drop the two lowest grades. No makeups for quizzes or discussion posts will be allowed.
Students agree that by taking this course all required papers might be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of Turnitin.com service is subject to the Usage Policy posted on the Turnitin.com site.
There are no required books or texts for this course. All materials will be provided in pdf format via the Blackboard website. Readings will be available approximately 1 week before they are due.
The policy landscape in K12 education is changing rapidly. I highly recommend staying abreast of current developments through the news, and introducing such topics for discussion during the course. The ‘Education’ section of the New York Times, or websites such as ‘Education Week’ are popular sources.
Surveys and I will from time to time ask you to respond to brief web surveys about your educational experiences to gain information to provide more context for the course.
Your participation is mandatory, but I will never divulge your private information.
Please contact with me with any concerns you may have. Similarly, I may decide to require you to have an “i>clicker” to facilitate quizzes and in class polling to make the class more interactive. I will announce such a decision at least a week in advance.
Absolute integrity is expected of every Cornell student. A Cornell student’s submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the students’ own. Any and all outside assistance must be acknowledged. For the specifics of this code of conduct, see
Ignorance of its contents is not an acceptable excuse for any infractions.
Students with documented physical or learning disabilities or who anticipate needing accommodation should notify me at the beginning of the semester and 1 week before each exam.
Course Overview (note this schedule is approximate and will be changed)
Topics by week of the course
Part I: background
1.Introduction to the Course and Overview of U.S. Education System. What are Returns to/Goals of Education?
2.Why Should Government be Involved in Education? Education finance.
3.Government’s Oversight Role in Education and Introduction to the “Crisis”
4.U.S. Education in International Comparative Context
5. Inequality in student outcomes
6. History of School Reform Efforts
Part II: topics in reform
7. Quick primer on Casual Inference. Does Money Matter?
8. School and Student Level Accountability Policies
9. School Choice and Competition (vouchers and school choice etc.)
11. Charter schools and Teacher Unions
12. Teacher Quality: Importance and Measurement
13. Teacher Performance Evaluation and Workforce Development
14. Student and Teacher Incentive Programs
15. Technology in (and out of) the Classroom
Dr Danny Weil is an investigative journalist, author and public interest attorney who practiced public interest law for more than twenty years and has been published in a case of first impression in California. He now lives in Ecuador.