NPJ Book Review: Mindf*ck, Cambridge Analytica And The Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie

Reviewed by LJ Frank

A few personal thoughts: In the power player’s mind,  to enrich yourself you need to dominate people and their thoughts. And to dominate people through politics you need to modify their culture deliberately but slowly, like boiling a live lobster that becomes your dinner before he knows it. To change a culture, you need to apply a methodology that will slowly destabilize and confuse the people. In the case of Cambridge Analytica the goal was dominance over the individual and the mass by applying a military style methodology to social media and big data.

To obtain the ultimate aphrodisiac of power and dominance over the masses the mind fuck is designed to intentionally manipulate the person at critical junctures. In other words profile them and know what they read and how they use social media – to know their idiosyncrasies and to play into patterns of thought. The idea essentially is like an enhanced military strategic disinformation tactics game applied to real life.

The author, a former key component in Cambridge Analytica leads the reader through the creation/process of development and how they targeted people and groups to effectuate the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Did Trump collude with Russia?  Of course he did, but that’s just the tip of a machine designed for the primary purpose to enrich and empower through dividing, conquering and dominating. The philosophy is ancient – a high-tech version of tribal warfare. The ensuing chaos is purposeful. 

The role of the author appears seismic and afterwards he realizes the damage he’s done. In part  one objective was to profile all Americans…all 230 million. They were able to “harvest” the profile of Facebook and so much more. The desire to accumulate information and affect people’s thinking was and is a primary on how to dominate people’s minds and their emotions will follow.

This work reminds in an indirect way of the psychology of Propaganda by Jacques Ellul and Eric Hoffer’s True Believer in that it delineates ways how the human mind is so easily manipulated, regardless where you are at on the political spectrum.

The work is unsettling and though Cambridge Analytica no longer exists as a formal entity the tools of manipulation exist and are readily used even now as the consumer is a key ingredient in the product –  through disinformation campaigns that are becoming bolder in their deception.

Who are the players? Where does the money flow? Who is going to pay for the players deeds and misdeeds as they seek dominance? What are the ultimate downstream costs on human dignity, conscience and survival? The future of democracy?