Everything In Our Civilization Is Stacked To Keep Us Believing The Propaganda

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readJun 19, 2024


Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

It’s not so much that people buy into the mainstream propaganda worldview because humans are dumb, or because humans are selfish. Primarily, people buy into the mainstream propaganda worldview because humans are lazy.

By this I don’t mean to say that people don’t work hard enough or don’t stay busy enough; humans sleep less than any other primate on earth, and if anything the world would probably be better off if our species chilled out a bit. When I say people are lazy, I mean we are lazy thinkers.

And we are lazy thinkers for reasons that aren’t really our fault. The human brain is wired to select for cognitive ease, which means we tend to favor pathways of thought which require less mental strain in order to conserve energy — probably because our evolutionary ancestors needed all their mental energy for important stuff like finding food and avoiding saber-toothed tigers.

If that wasn’t bad enough, our minds are also wired to preserve our existing worldview, so that the perspectives we form from our lazy preference for cognitive ease are held in place, and evidence which contradicts them will often be rejected. This is why facts don’t tend to change people’s minds.

This lazy tendency to select for cognitive ease and defend the worldviews we construct as a result of that tendency is what gives rise to confirmation bias, because believing things which confirm our preexisting ideas about the world is easier than believing things which would blow our worldview apart.

If you’re among those who’ve gone from fully believing the mainstream propaganda worldview to realizing that everything you’ve been trained to believe about the world is a lie, then you know how uncomfortable and disruptive this shift can be. Our psyches are stacked toward avoiding that work and discomfort, in the same way they’re stacked against exercising regularly even though we know it’s good for us — which by the way also happens because there was a time when conserving energy was beneficial for our species’ survival, causing an adapted preference for rest over exertion.

This glitch in our minds is exploited by propagandists, who serve up power-serving information for us in ways that is palatable and easy to digest. You can see this immediately by watching Fox News or MSNBC; both channels are a nonstop deluge of propaganda promoting the information interests of the US-centralized empire, differing only in the types of confirmation bias they’re meant to appeal to.

Silicon Valley reinforces this dynamic, with social media algorithms dividing people into self-reinforcing echo chambers where empire propaganda can be easily slid down their throats without the slightest twinge of gag reflex.

So consent is manufactured for a giant, globe-spanning power structure using propaganda which takes advantage of cognitive biases that emerged in our consciousness due to evolutionary conditioning which arose under circumstances that no longer apply to human life in the modern world. We no longer need to seek out cognitive ease and preserve our worldviews to conserve mental energy for more pressing matters like avoiding prehistoric predators and other now-obsolete existential perils.

In fact, in modern times our existence as a species is actually being threatened by those ancient adaptations. The fact that nowadays we find ourselves psychologically herded en masse into worldviews which consent to a status quo that is killing our biosphere while marching us toward nuclear armageddon means our very survival depends on our overcoming our mental inertia toward learning the truth about our world, so that we can stop being propagandized away from revolution and start using the power of our numbers to force an end to that status quo.

Everything in this dystopian civilization is stacked to prevent this from happening. Our news media. Our entertainment. Our mainstream culture. It’s all engineered to prevent us from understanding the truth about our nation, our government, our society and our world, because if we all had a lucid understanding of how badly the powerful have been screwing us over this whole time, there’s no way the powerful would be allowed to remain in power.

So our evolutionary conditioning is stacked against us on this front, and so is the entirety of our civilization. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just as we know it’s possible to lose weight and get fit even when our evolutionary conditioning tells us to eat as many calories as possible and spend as much time as we can resting, and even when every part of our society is telling us to consume, consume, consume, it’s also possible to overcome the obstacles toward forming a lucid worldview. We can move our bodies past the obstacles to our health because we are a clever species and we want what’s best for ourselves, and we can move our minds past the obstacles to our escape from the propaganda matrix in essentially the same way.

The coming years will decide whether humanity remains trapped in its ancient animal conditioning, or transcends its dysfunctionality and becomes a conscious species. Personally I believe we have the freedom to go either direction. It’s really up to us whether we want to keep this adventure going or not.


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Featured image via Picryl (Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication).