Dan Popp
The nothing-thumpers
By Dan Popp
March 19, 2010

By the pricking of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes.
— Shakespeare (Macbeth)

I saw something disturbing today. It's a short video designed for the web. It uses no spoken language, just graphics and pulsating music. You can take a look at it here if you like — but you probably won't have the same reaction I did. The clip itself is about as harmless as it could be. Yet I feel somehow as if I've witnessed the forging of a new tool for screwing up the world.

We've seen these elements before — graphics, music, moving pictures — but the combination is something original. It's not what's there; it's what's missing. You may assume you're viewing a message, but there is no narrative, no argument, no "there" there. We're bombarded with statistics and examples to give us the impression that a case is being made, but that impression is an illusion.



We have no time to take in the information, to weigh it and form objections. Like passengers on a Disneyland boat (but going much faster) we're just along for the ride.

This is nothing more or less than propaganda. The aim is to bypass your sales resistance and to remove any opportunity for disbelief. One viewer called it "thought-provoking," but I believe a better description would be, "thought-preventing."

This video is not unique. I think it represents a new kind of new-media presentation: one targeted to a willing audience who, because of their youth and inexperience, have little discernment; and which works by assuming viewer assent in order to avoid having to earn their agreement.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.

We'll go around your mental defenses. We won't try to persuade you with logic, with that old-fashioned "features and benefits" song-and-dance. We won't even appeal to your emotions. We'll just mesmerize you. You'll never know how you came to be one of us. Why, you've just always believed this.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump,

Believe, Believe, Believe, Believe.

We're just like you.

Exactly like you.

We are you.

And we believe.

Is this video a harmless piece of fluff, or an attack on reason? Doesn't it ambush the presumption that we are rational people who make rational decisions? Do its creators believe that you're nothing but an animal, and that your primeval limbic system will respond so powerfully to the beat and the flashing lights that it will render your more-evolved brain a quivering blob of goo?

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.

I could be wrong. It could be that I'm just old, and I don't get it.

Regardless, we have to face the fact that a growing number of people in our culture don't believe in the existence of reason. If man is a machine, if "mind" is merely the name we've given to certain chemical interactions in our brains, then we are not thinking; there's no such thing as thought. We're just reacting according to our pointless programming. In this view not only is there no God, but there is no objective truth — not one that we could discover, anyway. If we are merely soulless brutes who've become uppity among our fellow brutes, rationality is the most irrational concept of all.

I confess that sometimes upside-downers seem to be living on another planet as regards truth, facts and logic. But it could be that they're not irrational, but arational. They've evolved higher than us. They have freed themselves from thought. They get it.

Don't think — just do it.

Let go. Feel. Believe. Live.

I've been called a "Bible-thumper." These enlightened beings are nothing-thumpers.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.

How does that make you feel?

© Dan Popp


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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