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one of my theories is that's one of the great, but un-mentioned scientific discoveries of the 20th century..

How to use adverts/propaganda to manipulate opinion ...

While the 20th century is notable for many examples ("Birth of a Nation", Leni Riefenstahl and Joseph Goebbels, the Mad Men era rise of Madison Avenue advertising, and Fox News, the idea of propaganda is as old as human history.

You can find examples of it from ancient Greece and Rome to - most obviously - those who convinced great numbers of people to believe in preacher born of a virgin who died on a cross with common criminals, but who was somehow the son of god, who had no apparent history except birth and a year or two before death, whose physical body was flown into heaven, and who magically turns church wine into blood and crackers into flesh and who has already come back from the dead once, but will do it again at the "end times", which is probably coming any minute now.

Now that's propaganda.
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