I’ve written a lot about hypnosis.
But I haven’t written a lot about MKULTRA – the (partially) declassified mind control research program run by the CIA during the Cold War.
It’s one of those topics that puts a bad taste in my mouth.
There’s not many nice things you can say about it. Even taking a generous viewpoint, you still find yourself scratching your head.
Sure, war – even the threat of it – makes us do terrible things. We built enormous nuclear arsenals capable of erasing civilisation with a glitch.
And if mind control were possible, better us than the Reds cracking the code first, right?
Even if you believe that and take the broadest interpretation of “all’s fair in love and war”, MKULTRA still didn’t make sense.
It explored a number of methods, from drugs to hypnosis to, well, anything, to test what was possible with mind control.
Could you take a US soldier and brainwash them into thinking they’re a communist, making them the ultimate infiltrator?
Could you take an enemy combatant and switch their loyalty from them to you?
What could you do with ordinary citizens – could you turn one into a sleeper assassin?
All valid, if horrifying, questions.
And if they stuck to asking those, maybe they could’ve hidden behind the “that’s war for you!” excuse.
But it turned into a farce involving dangerous and pointless experiments, conducted illegally on US and Canadian citizens. Many of the experiments could be summed up as, “what happens when we torture people a lot?”
It’s a dark and sad story.
I won’t go into any of the details, mostly because I don’t like thinking about them. Remember the lesson but forget the horror, or something like that. Besides, a fraction of the files are out there if you search for them.
Instead, I like to think about the big picture.
What does this mean?
It means ‘mind control’ as most people think about it probably isn’t a thing. Sure, using hypnosis or other tools you can drastically change some people, but for wide-scale changes to society, propaganda seems to be the best tool still.
Don’t get me wrong, propaganda can do incredible damage.
Less than literal mind control, though.
But how would I know I’m being mind controlled? Maybe I wouldn’t, but the world looks too polarised for that.
Certain countries, corporations and organisations would be willing to use mind control. None of them can act uncontested though. No one has conquered the world… or even their region, really.
Who knows, maybe I’m wrong.
It doesn’t matter either way, because here’s my point:
If someone tried creating mind control once, someone will try it again.
And they don’t have to succeed to harm you.
Don’t fear the government turning you into a mind-controlled super assassin. That probably won’t happen.
But do fear anyone who thinks it’s a good idea.