From the February 2005 Idaho Observer:

The art of effective counterpropagandizing

How do you feel when someone shames you into taking a piece of literature compared to finding one on your own? In one instance you resist reading what was forced upon you and in the other you are intrigued to read what you found. It’s simple human psychology. Reflecting on how we respond to information that comes our way can help us be more effective in encouraging people to think differently about something we feel is important for them to know.

by Don Harkins

As a barely-above-minimum-wage janitor when I was 19 years old, I became a homeowner. Not having the money to pay for electricians and plumbers, carpenters or painters, gardeners or landscapers, I had to learn how to plumb, wire, build, landscape and garden. With each project came experience that prepared me for the next one...and so on.

What a lesson: God gives us challenges and, when we meet them, we have just gained the experience needed to face the greater challenges which inevitably follow. By going into these challenges willingly, milking the current adventure for the benefits that will be realized in future adventures, I was able to grow, learn and gain competence—and confidence—in a variety of extremely useful skills.

With the exception of auto mechanics, this has become my pattern in life: Take on a project with all the passion, energy and optimism I have and gain from it everything there is to be gained so I can do it better and faster the next time.

Since becoming a dissident reporter/publisher a decade ago (June, 1995 to be exact) I have been applying my lessons as a poor homeowner (which are still ongoing) to effective delivery of complex and controversial material. Though a detailed discussion of this subject could be a two-day seminar, the following points should really help you to overcome the difficulties we face in our attempts to change people’s minds on key subjects.

The basics of learning

Learning is a process initiated with interest. If we find something interesting, we learn and desire to learn more; if we are badgered into watching, reading or listening to something that does not interest us, resentment, not learning, is the result.

So, to teach people something new, we must speak to their listening, write to their reading and; teach to their learning

The competition

Look at what we are competing with: Children grow up with parents who believe a certain way and they send them to schools that, for the next 13 years of their life, orchestrate a comprehensive social conditioning scheme called "education."

Aside from "educating" children with what they need to be dependent tools of the authoritarian state, modern editing techniques in the mass media can blast them with hundreds of psychologically-potent images per minute for hours each day. These images from TV, movies, video games, books and magazines are designed to plant thoughts and ideas in the heads of our children so they will grow up to be mindless consumers and malleable, complacent citizens.

Just telling people the documented truth is not sufficient to bypass this intensive social engineering.

Everyone has different interests and, therefore, each person represents a unique educational challenge. Where broaching issues on health or local corruption may cause one person to begin changing his entire worldview, another may be offended and refuse to learn. To effectively change the way a person thinks about important issues, you must know them well enough to identify their area of interest (or need) and service that area.

Giving people the tools to make discoveries on their own and allowing them the dignity to ask you questions is the best policy.

Ideas form in specific ways and follow paths that we can predict. By providing an outline of an issue of interest to someone, then discussing its historical implications (when decisions were made before they were responsible for anything that created problems), you can bypass people’s defenses and conditioning long enough to peak their interest.

We must also take into consideration that some beliefs are adopted out of convenience or preference and others are the result of lifelong conditioning or addiction.

It generally takes more sophisticated techniques to deprogram conditioned norms (paying income taxes, vaccinating children, believing government-approved understanding of history, for example) than it does to convince people they must stop eating, drinking or smoking poisonous substances—but you never know because we all hold onto our beliefs and behaviors for different reasons.

Respect is a critical issue. Again, it is easiest to illustrate this point by how we react when someone who does not respect us, our views or behaviors, is trying to teach us something. The tendency is to resent them and reject what they are saying.


Audio/visual (AV) media (videos and DVDs) are the way most modern people prefer to receive information. Unfortunately, we associate AV programming with entertainment and, therefore, left to our own devices, the most important information has a tendency to register in our subconscious like a movie or a TV show.

But people are generally willing to "watch" something (good training, I guess), so this does create an educational opportunity. We must, however, be there with them for discussion, to answer their questions and to inspire them to conduct further investigation.

We are conditioned to learn from reading. Pamphlets and booklets that are clean, organized and powerfully suggestive while being sensitive to the comprehension level of the reader can be extremely effective. The material must be placed in people’s paths in a way they will appreciate rather than resent.

Papering cars in grocery store parking lots; handing flyers to shoppers as they walk by in the mall or leaving pamphlets on their doorstep is irritating—so don’t waste your time or risk poisoning people’s minds against your material by delivering it to them in ways that you know, from your own experiences, are of no counterpropaganda value.

Making personal contact with people who have expressed interest through letters to the editor; finding openings for conversation by helping people to talk about subjects important to them creates an environment that makes people more open to new information.

Encourage people to contact you by posting flyers to community bulletin boards with contact information or placing an ad in your local advertiser.

Seeking out clubs and associations that may have an interest in your material can be an excellent way to get into groups of people and groups are often more open to changing than individuals.

Dropping materials in surprising locations can really intrigue people. For instance, we like slipping the AS Times (see promo this page) between half-cases of diet sodas; giving vaccine literature to pregnant moms; leaving the People’s Income Tax Guide wherever IRS forms are available and leaving Dan Pilla’s clever and disarming "tracts" wherever people will be surprised to find them.


Though many well-intended activists prefer to purchase literature and hand it out for free, people place more value on what they buy—even if it costs them a nickel. Plus, we should not shoulder the entire financial burden of educating our countrymen.

With a little work, we can find merchants willing to take literature on consignment. Do not be afraid to ask store managers where you prefer to do business if they will consign or purchase outright copies of our literature.

The point of the exercise

We no longer have the luxury of time nor can we afford to blame the people we are trying to teach for our inability to teach them. We are at crisis level—you know what the real state of the union is and that it is our responsibility to teach our people.

The Idaho Observer is our publication—it is how we communicate with one another. It takes a certain level of socio/political sophistication to appreciate its content. For most Americans it would be more effective as a teaching aid to roll a copy up and beat them over the head with it because they don’t carry with them enough background information to understand its content.

Understanding that we will not expand the choir fast enough by mass distribution of The IO, we have produced The Artificially Sweetened Times to teach people about aspartame and; The People’s Income Tax Guide to teach them to understand the historical difference between wages and income and how that difference applies to the original intent of taxing "incomes."

Most importantly, we have now produced The Report of the Citizens Commission on 9/11 (See page 24) to show people the mechanics of what happened that day so they can see, with their own eyes, that their government is lying about the events of 9/11.

Coincidentally, Popular Mechanics magazine just published in its March, 2005 edition a 12-page report allegedly debunking the "9/11 conspiracy theories." I encourage you to get a copy and read what they had to say. The "facts" countering our "theories" are so weak I can tell you with absolute certainty that we WILL expose 9/11—it is only a matter of time. I think "they" know that and want the revelation to come on their terms. We must make it happen on our terms because we brought the issue to critical mass with our abilities to disseminate vital information.

We produce these documents in large quantity to sell them to you as inexpensively as possible so you will buy them and help us deliver their carefully-crafted messages out beyond us and into the mainstream.

Bless you all. Let’s get to work. We have a rebirth for which we must prepare our people. I vow to continue improving my Tom Paine skills of persuasion; help us deliver his spirit into the hearts and minds of our people.

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