Excerpt from “Of Clay and Iron: The Great American Apostasy” Originally posted on Ligia's website, here: https://ligiabrubaker.com/2021/07/05/book-preview-of-clay-and-iron-understanding-where-we-are/ ORIGINS, THEORY AND APPLICATION OF DESIGNED BEHAVIOR CHANGES IN OUR SOCIETY The Health Belief Model is one of the first theories developed around people’s habits regarding health and making choices regarding their health. This theory was developed by a group of U.S. Public Health Service social psychologists in the 1950’s, who wanted to explain why so few people were participating in programs that were meant to prevent diseases through early detection, especially since these programs were being offered at no cost to the participants. For instance, the Public Health Service was sending mobile X-ray units out to neighborhoods to offer free X-rays (tuberculosis screening), but most people would not get checked. The question was: “Why?” To find an answer, the psychologists examined the factors that encourage and the factors that discourage people from taking action or from participating in different programs. Eventually, they concluded that there are six factors that influence people’s decisions about whether to take action to prevent, screen for, and control illness – or not. They theorized that people will act if: 1. They believe that they are susceptible to the condition. 2. They believe the condition has serious consequences. 3. They believe that taking action would reduce their susceptibility to the condition or its severity. 4. They believe the costs of taking action are outweighed by the benefits. 5. They are exposed to factors that prompt action. 6. They are confident in their ability to successfully perform an action. Together, these six factors provide a useful framework for designing both short-term and long-term behavior change strategies.
THE NEED FOR DESIGNING AND MASTERING BEHAVIOR CHANGE STRATEGIES Dr. Luther Leonidas Terry was an American physician and respected public official. He is known as the ninth Surgeon General of the United States (1961 – 1965), and became famous due to his extensive research, compilation and interpretation of the scientific studies regarding the effects of tobacco use on health; his warnings against the dangers and the impact of tobacco use on health have been made public in the report he released in 1964. The report released by Dr. Terry’s office included reviews of more than 7000 research articles related to smoking, long term effects on health, disease and death caused by tobacco products. The report concluded that smoking was associated with higher all-cause mortality rates among men, was a cause for lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men, was a probable cause of lung cancer in women, and was the most important cause of bronchitis (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1964). The numbers were so alarming, that unless the population significantly reduced smoking, it was projected that in a few decades half the American population would have suffer health consequences due to first or second hand smoking, and the number of deaths caused by smoking would have been devastating. Little did Dr. Terry know that with the release of this complex study, he actually opened Pandora’s Box; once his office made available this vital information to the public, the officials were expecting to see a dramatic decrease in the numbers of those using tobacco products, but to everyone’s surprise, the decrease among men users was very slow and the number of female users actually increased in the following few years. Even though people were informed that smoking is directly linked to high death rates, the public attitude towards smoking was very slow to change. Within the next 15 years, smoking rates among men dropped shy over one quarter, and those rates were definitely not fast enough to prevent the dangerous outcome of the smoking epidemic spreading among the younger generations as well. So others were left to answer the question: “Why, knowing the dangers of smoking, the population still chooses to smoke?” The search for the answer to this question, and the Heath Belief Model understanding, led to the development of what we know today as “primary prevention” methods in regards to encouraging the population to make healthier choices – and in particular, it led to the development of the “Risk Avoidance” methodology when it comes to teaching students about avoiding the dangers of risky behaviors (drinking and driving, smoking, multiple sexual partners, use of mind altering chemicals, addictions, etc.). As a consequence of the smoking rates still causing alarmingly high numbers of deaths every year, the numbers of smokers not decreasing fast enough, and armed with the scientific evidence of the effects of tobacco products, multiple groups launched public health campaigns about the dangers of smoking. Obviously, the tobacco companies launched their own campaigns. Without any shame, the tobacco industry attempted to counter the scientifically-accurate, health-promoting campaigns by promoting their own advertising – which was, of course, abrasive, misleading and aggressive in nature. The pro-smoking campaign used a combination of multiple strategies to create doubt about the results of the Surgeon General’s report on smoking and its long term effects. The tobacco companies launched campaigns that minimalized, ridiculed or even obscured completely the truth about the dangers of smoking; one of the methods used was to suggest that certain tobacco products were safer than the already known ones. Due to the tobacco companies’ efforts to mislead the population, during the decades that followed the lawmakers started addressing the accuracy and methodologies of tobacco product advertising and marketing methods, labeling, packaging, youth access to tobacco, and exposure to second-hand smoke. A few key people understood the real danger of smoking and decided to stop the epidemic by taking action from the leadership positions they found themselves in. However, the social norms that once accepted smoking in public began to change when grassroots movements seeking to protect non-smokers emerged. These efforts were made by simple people, like you and I, who understand the true health consequences of non-smokers being exposed to second hand smoke. Today, the numbers of smoking adults in America is less than 50% of what it was in 1964, and also the rate of smokers among youth is less than 50% what it used to be. The interventions in the society (campaigns, grassroots movement for banning public use of tobacco, peer education and information) had such a great impact on the American society, that by 2011, Gallup reported that a majority of Americans supported a ban on smoking in all public places (Newport 2011). For the first time in the history of America, people understood the dangers of smoking and as a society, and as a society Americans wanted to change the raise the bar for life quality. The Surgeon General’s report is a work of brilliance not only because it examines smoking from a public health perspective, but because it caused us to figure how we accelerate change in a society and how we can influence social norms – which is what we are interested in in this chapter. The work in itself is worthy to be called foundational for understanding how society works – according to sociologists who had studied his work much more in depth than I did. As seen in the example above, even having access to the information regarding the dangers of tobacco use, the population was slow to implement the changes required to avoid unwanted outcomes; it actually took the intervention of those who understood and internalized the dangers of tobacco exposure to change the social norms. People who hear and understand the message and can foresee the high cost of not making a change – those are the people who change the world. One of the most famous Behavior Change Strategy developed in the US: A PLAN FOR ACCELERATING THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT TO REDUCE TOBACCO USE The U.S. Department of Health understood that merely because the information is available and accessible, it doesn’t mean that the population will act upon it. The population was sluggish in taking responsibility and taking action. So the Strategic Action Plan developed by the U.S. Department of Health (2010) was called: “Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services” (USDHHS 2010a), and this plan provided a critical framework to guide and coordinate efforts to reduce smoking rates. (The content of this plan is available to read online.) The plan’s goal was to reduce the number of smokers to less than 10% for both adults and teens in 10 years. In the last 50 years, the smoking rate in the United States has been cut by more than one half (from 42.7% in 1965 to 18% in 2012). This change didn’t happen by itself, in spite the fact that all the information about the dangers of smoking had been released to the public, this change was pushed. Merely the existence of that information out there caused a SLOW change; the “pushing” of the information caused a real change.
PANDORA’S BOX: A PLAN TO ACCELERATE CHANGE; ANY CHANGE DECIDED BY WHOEVER HAS THE POSITION OF UNCHECKED POWER. Once this plan had been developed, and once Behavior Change Strategies became known, people realized that these are the framework for any successful implementation of change in any sector.
Successful modern activism is based on the strategies that were developed in order to accelerate the national movement to reduce tobacco use, and on the theoretic frame of the Health Belief Model. The reason why political propagandas work is because they had always worked. The anti-smoking campaign was the platform that offered us the possibility to learn how to master the HBM, which is now considered to be socio-scientifically proved to be an effective method of changing the way the society thinks – or rather, accelerating change in one particular direction. It worked over and over again in health campaigns but also in political campaign – and lately, we witness it showing its head in socio-political movements in America. We just don’t know what it is, in order to recognize it and put a finger on it. What I would like to propose to you, is that the HMB works in health, and it works in politics. I believe that behavioral change strategies have been used for a long while now in our American society, and they will be used further; because they work. HBM is not limited, in my assessment, to health, but it can be extrapolated to politics, religion (cults) and other aspects of our lives. Let’s analyze one of the hottest topics in America today: racism. Until president Obama’s presidency, we have never heard about racism in America, in our generation. All of a sudden, during his first term, the talk about racism started and it’s still not over. (The same assessment can easily be made to how the HBM is applied to the LGBTQ+ movement, income gap, sexism, all hot topics in America.) Remember, people are more likely to act if: 1. They believe that they are susceptible to the condition. – Do you think there has been a massive movement that aimed to convince people that they are susceptible to racism in America lately? Doesn’t racism affect everyone, according to the propaganda? 2. They believe the condition has serious consequences. – Do you think we have been taught over and over again how today’s racism will affect the population generations to come, unless we fight against it? BLM offers kits for white parents to discuss with their white children at home how this imaginary racism “angers” the children and how it affects their day to day life. 3. They believe that taking action would reduce their susceptibility to the condition or its severity. – Have you been prompted, encouraged or maybe even forced at your work place or in any other social context, to give up your so-called racist ideas? Maybe even your racist ideas that you are unaware of, even those need to be fished out of your mind, and you can join the Woke movement by doing so. 4. They believe the costs of taking action are outweighed by the benefits. – Had the George Floyd case been presented at all as an outcome of people not taking action against racism? Doesn’t it seem like it is implied that it would be easier to teach police staff not to be racist, rather than having to bury a man who died due to racism? 5. They are exposed to factors that prompt action. – Are we not exposed enough to an anti-racist propaganda? 6. They are confident in their ability to successfully perform an action. – Are we not constantly encouraged that “we can do this together” – in reference to all of us getting vaccinated or adopting a new mentality or changing the so-called “racism” ideologies? You see, as an immigrant, I have never felt racism in America. I felt racism in other countries and I felt it strongly in some parts of the world, but not in America. However, this is irrelevant to the success of the Behavior Change Strategy, because in itself, the behavior change strategies are designed to produce or accelerate change; they are tools, social engineering tools that are have no moral component. Just like pencils can write truth or lies, the behavior change strategies can affect positive changes in the society, like the anti-smoking campaign, or they can produce negative changes in the society, like the vilification of white Americans. This tool has fallen into some sharp and unorthodox hands; the only problem is, the tool itself is effective not only in health choices, but in making choices in any sector of our lives. This is what our generation will be known for: the historical time when America was in a war between Marxist ideology and Western mentality. Marxists have the advantage that for a few years now, have learned how to use the HBM model and they became masters at designing and accelerating change in our American society. This is what defines our generation today: Marxists are trying to produce a strong enough wave in our society, in order to tip it over and then rebuild it, after it replaced its foundational values with alien ideologies. The anti-smoking campaign is a landmark in the history of American public health management because it demonstrates a few key factors: 1. In a smoking saturated culture, the importance of prioritizing a health risk avoidance message was essential in order for the death rates to decrease significantly. Likewise, politically speaking, in a Marxist saturated culture, it is vital that we prioritize a political risk avoidance message, in order to counterbalance the lies about the philosophies that animate the Western culture. 2. Individuals, not groups, have the final say over each individual’s personal choices. So the message needs to be personalized and targeted to individuals. The anti-smoking campaign had a really effective project, called “Tips from an Ex-Smoker”. These commercials were very effective in personalizing the message. We need to start personalizing our message, and start explaining the Constitution to each individual as an individual, rather than as a group of people. The Constitution is, by far, the document with the strongest case for personal responsibility, personal choice and consequences of breaking the law of the land – for big or small. 3. People in leadership positions can create a ripple effect that brings an amplification of the message in the society. It certainly did in the anti-smoking campaign. It certainly needs to start happening in the political sector of American life as well. 4. A risk avoidance campaign can positively influence social ethics and morals, attitudes and behaviors, and it can create a cultural shift surrounding the topic. In the anti-smoking campaign, the message was not: “Smoke only a few days a week.”, but “Stop smoking”. And it worked, because people understood the benefits of not smoking. Likewise, in a Marxist saturated culture, our message cannot be: “Leave only a few positions of power and give them to the few you trust.”, because sooner or later, the ones that cannot be trusted will crawl into those positions. Our message needs to be: “Stop creating the political context for someone (republicans or democrats) to have control over you.” 5. No matter how strong the other voice is, your voice matters. The anti-smoking campaign did not start when the tobacco companies were silent. The anti-smoking campaign started in a full pro-smoking society, where tobacco companies had more credibility than science. No matter how loud the Marxists are in America today, Constitutional Americans voices can make a change. The only problem we have is that we’re being silent in the one place that will make the difference: our homes. Battles are not won on podiums with microphones; the battle against Marxism is won by mothers and fathers, at home, teaching their little ones the ancient path of Western mentality. THE RISK AVOIDANCE MODEL vs. THE RISK REDUCTION MODEL Marxism had always promoted a type of society in which there is a group of people who is in charge of the wellbeing of the nation. This group of people would have unlimited power to decide over the economical, geographical, health, etc. aspects of the nation. Marxists always sell themselves as the guardians of the weak, poor, feeble minded ones, and in order to be able to protect them, they ask for power – unchecked power. Marxism is the pinnacle of what RISK REDUCTION applied to politics means: when positions of unchecked, unhindered, unlimited power are created in the leadership of the state, that state is Marxist. In the West, it is hard for people to understand that in some structures there’s no one to make an appeal to, if someone in a position of greater power than yours had been unjust. For the mind that had been educated and raised in the West, where the most dreaded words are “Let me talk to your manager.”, people don’t understand what life without a “manager” is. However, history has proven over and over again that whenever that position of unlimited power is created in whatever state, someone who is thirsty for power will crawl into that seat – sooner or later – and will become a tyrant. There has never been, in the history of the world, one position of unhindered political power that had not been abused at one point.
All countries that are built on a political risk reduction strategy first create the risk for tyranny by creating that position of power, and then try to reduce the risk by filling the position with someone who they believes has the best interest of the society at heart. The shift that we are witnessing Marxists trying to produce in the American society today is a shift from the political risk avoidance style of government to the political risk reduction style government.
What risk avoidance in politics means, is that the position of unchecked, unhindered and unlimited power are simply not created in the government system. This is not a random fact; America’s constitutive regulations were not random documents written on a summer evening, but very well thought through documents. These documents, in the form of the Constitution and its amendments, are the fruit of wise understanding of how the society functions, years of processing data, information, society norms and convictions. America, by the Constitution, is avoiding risk entirely by having produced a formula for the government that prohibits positions of unchecked power to be created.
If America turns from the political risk avoidance strategy (which it was built on by the Founding Fathers) towards the political risk reduction strategy (which the rest of the world is built on, and which is what American Marxists are pushing for), sooner or later America will become a totalitarian regime. All the perks that we all love about America, like freedom of speech, freedom of travel, freedom of assembly, freedom to protect ourselves, freedom to pursue our happiness, freedom to grow and develop, equality of opportunity, all these are a direct outcome of living in country built with a political risk avoidance mentality. The dramatic part in the taking of America by Marxists is that, observed from the outside – like I had the opportunity to observe the States as an adult immigrant – the official parties trying to run America are not identifiable with the currents of thinking. There are people who are for a greater involvement of the government in people’s daily life both in the Republican and in the Democratic Party. They are the true Marxists. Just because someone introduces themselves as Republican, that doesn’t mean that they are Constitutional or Western-spirited. Likewise, there are people both in the Republican and in the Democratic Party who are advocating for less involvement of the government in people’s lives. Those are the true Constitutional Americans, the ones whose voices we rarely hear. Marxists have infiltrated in both parties, and both parties enjoy power. The key to a free America is less power to be attributed to the government. As long as the parties are fixating of filling up the existing positions of power with their own people, the battle is won by Marxists. Marxists are all about positions of power existing – it doesn’t matter in the least who fills them. Marxism will be defeated when people in leadership will start reducing the number of bureaucrats and the number of positions of power that have been created for 40-50 years now. Also, the battle between Western American Mentality and Marxist ideology is won by the ones who teach their kids more astutely “the way”. When we abandon our children in the arms of the Marxists who had infiltrated to the core of the American Educational system, we abandon the fight against tyranny. If we don’t teach our children that they are free, and that this is how free people live, Marxists are going to teach them that freedom looks like tyranny, and our kids won’t know better. While we stopped talking about why we live the way we live, Marxists – both republicans and democrats – had learned how to talk efficiently into our kid’s ears and teach them. The void of authority that we left in our kid’s lives, generation after generation, is what we experience today. But all is not lost.