Superstitions as weapons, 1950


31 Responses to “Superstitions as weapons, 1950”

  1. Anonymous says:

    …or the Panoplia Prophetica (BG)?

  2. Anonymous says:

    We got this far and no one made an “Orange Catholic Bible” comparison? What kind of geeks are you?

  3. oherrol says:

    Wikipedia has the author of Top Secret Magic and manipulator of the German’s minds during WWII as Jasper Maskelyne. Nevil Maskelyne was Jasper’s father.

  4. Cook!EMonstA says:

    Makes one wonder what superstitions they are scaring the peasants with these days…

  5. guillaume_remy says:

    Used in Vietnam with uge success apparently…

  6. urbanhick says:

    Boy, the Rand Corporation sure had a beautiful logo back in the day. Your tax dollars at work!

  7. Nathan says:

    This reminds me of Adam Curtis’ documentary series, ‘The Power of Nightmares’ –

  8. Anonymous says:

    Entertaining subject and comments. For some reason (perhaps the use of superstition), the Rand suggested shenanigans remind me of the New World Order Conspiracy Theory article I have been reading on Wikipedia.

  9. angusm says:

    “a gigantic scarecrow, about twelve feet high, and able to stagger forward under its own power and emit frightful flashes and bangs”

    The mental image this summons up is of Fezzik (Andre the Giant) in “The Princess Bride”, frightening the guards at the gate of Prince Humperdink’s castle.

    “I am the Dwead Piwate Woberts! … My men are here! I am here! But soon you will not be here!”

  10. Anonymous says:

    In USA v. Iraq part 1, we (US infantry)somehow got the reputation that we literally ate babies.
    I was never sure who started the idea.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Poor Jasper Maskelyne. All he wanted was praise and credit and by 1950 they’d already confused him with his dad.

  12. crowleyanity says:

    Thomas Perry wrote a kickass thriller in 1983 called “Metzger’s Dog” that uses as its central conceit the existence of a CIA study on just this topic: psyops based on rumors and culturally-tailored superstitions and fears.

    It’s still in print with an intro by Carl Hiaasen. It remains one of the best thrillers ever written, and it’s been ripped off by dozens of other books and movies, but remains superbly unique as a frequently comedic caper novel, In short: read it.

    Note: I am not Thomas Perry.

  13. Boba Fett Diop says:

    If someone wanted to do this to the US today, I suppose that underground lotteries or ponzi schemes would be a suitable vector, particularly if they were framed in ways that played on distrust of mainstream financial infrastructure.

  14. Don says:

    So, they’re deliberately targeting civilians. Anybody else have a moral problem with that?

  15. Prufrock451 says:


    David, I totally posted a link to that PDF in the comments on your last psy-war monsters post.

    • David Pescovitz says:

      Ha! I *knew* it looked very familiar and I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen it before. Thanks again!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    “…and the use of bogus fortune-tellers and false astrological data to dampen morale amongst both civilians and their leaders”

    be sure to wake us the moment non-bogus fortune-tellers and true astrological data are discovered.

  17. lasttide says:

    Wait, the British made a walking automaton in the 1940s? I want photos.

  18. burritoflats says:

    Nice! – This sort of superstition exploitation has also been accomplished in small time court cases and divorce proceedings – and of course, parents pull this kind of thing with their children all the time.

  19. Anonymous says:

    When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.

  20. Deidzoeb says:

    “…while in World War II the Germans projected imagery (though it doesn’t say what) onto ‘drifting clouds’.”

    That must be what Blackwolf projects on the battlefields in Ralph Bakshi’s WIZARDS, 1977.

  21. billstewart says:

    “The rumors about invisible blood-sucking ghosts are entirely not true – pass it on”

  22. Neural Kernel says:

    Sounds like “Special Circumstances” in action :)

  23. kevinsky says:

    Kind of like how an image that looks vaguely like Jesus on a piece of toast is eBay gold?

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