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Suzy Amis Cameron’s ‘MUSE School’: Are They Taking Things Too Far With Kids?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A parent of a child formerly enrolled in the MUSE school in California sent us an email detailing the school's use of the Process Communications Model (PCM), while observing that the school is not as inspiring as their promotional materials suggests.

  • Reflect On:

    How do you know when a fundamentally good idea is going too far?

A cursory glance at the ‘MUSE School,’ co-founded by James Cameron’s wife, and you see an educational institution that aspires to be inclusive, inspiring, and liberating for children of all ages. The motto on their school’s website is “Inspiring and Preparing Young People to Live Consciously with ThemselvesOne Another, and the Planet.”

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There is much to admire about the goals of this school. It started off as a small group of kids whose parents were celebrities, including James Cameron’s own. The focus was a personalized curriculum based on learning through passion projects while being exposed to the practices of environmental sustainability. Since the program has grown, in-house vegan meals have been included in the annual tuition, which ranges from about $22,000 for pre-K children (2.3-4.9 years old) to about $33,000 for high school kids (grades 9-12).

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The school was also founded by Suzy Amis Cameron’s sister Rebecca Amis, who was the first head of the school. Rebecca Amis had previously tried to start an early childhood education center called ‘childspot!’ in Witchita, Kansas, which Amis’ then-husband Scott Taylor was to be the business manager for. Surprisingly, there is no searchable information on the internet for childspot!, although our reader did provide this article from 1998 in which plans to start their early childhood education center were mentioned.

Introducing PCM To Students

A little while after co-founding the MUSE school in California, Rebecca Amis installed her new husband Jeff King as head of the school. He brought on board a new ‘communication’ methodology into the classroom. The introduction of this method to children as young as 2 years old is the main subject I will cover here. Instead of describing this methodology myself I will start off with testimony that was emailed to me from the parent of a former student to provide some background and reveal her feelings and experiences around the use of PCM in an academic setting:

“Jeff King is the one who introduced the ‘Process Communication Model’ (PCM) to the school, having himself obtained a master trainer title. Many families at this point left the school, not being comfortable with the idea of their kids being the subject of what was clearly an experiment. The school turned plant-based at the same time so they blamed the drop in numbers to people not being happy with the new menu  (which is completely false).

Now let me give you some background on PCM.

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Created by Dr Taibi Kahler, a psychologist from Arkansas, it was designed mainly for the corporate world. According to Kahler, there are six distinct personality types: HARMONIZER, THINKER, PERSISTER, IMAGINER, REBEL, AND PROMOTER. Each of us develops a predominant personality type early in life, and that does not change. It is our basic Personality Type all our lives. Each type has specific Motivators characterized by differences in Character Strengths, Psychological Needs and Perceptions.

Each personality comes with a set of psychological needs and specific communication ‘channels’ which include specific words, tone and facial expressions. Although it was never intended for children, Mr. King decided to make it the innovative tool that would differentiate his school from others.

This sounds all wonderful from the outside. What parent wouldn’t want their kids to have tools that will help them communicate better with one another and the world?

Unfortunately  the truth is far from that.

Since the personality test cannot be officially administered to the student until high school, they teach the lower grade students PCM through play and activities. The teachers (some brand new to PCM) use their own judgment to asses the kids’ personality so they can start using their appropriate channels with them. (I have plenty of pictures I can send you giving you examples of how they teach PCM to the kids).

The teachers are constantly applying PCM to the students and using what they believe is their specific channel. In return they expect the kids to respond in the teachers’ own channel. Some are pretty rude and direct and yet the kids are expected to learn to use such language. For example, if the teacher’s channel is “tell”, she expects the students to communicate in sentences that are “tell”. So instead of “may I please have a pencil”, the tell channel will be “give me that pencil”.

I have myself seen teachers snapping at students or at colleagues because they weren’t using the correct channels.

Last year the high school students voted to stop practicing PCM in the high school campus. Unfortunately, the younger children are subjected to this on a daily basis. Each child is labeled a personality type and their behavior is almost always excused to their personality label. The parents take the official PCM personality test and the results are then shared with all the faculty members (the parents are unaware of this and never were asked to sign a release form for that). The staff will then go out of their way to address you in the designated channel as they believe that’s what’s needed to keep you a happy customer.

Issues brought up by the students or their families are disregarded as they are seen as a sign of distress. Once that happens the main focus of the faculty is to get the parent or the child out of the system by using manipulation techniques mixed with PCM jargon.

Kids that are being bullied are made to believe that they are just as much at fault as the bully. Parents are constantly told that there are absolutely no issues to worry about and the ones that dare to protest end up always getting kicked out of school or forced to leave.

Discrimination is obvious based on your personality type, whether it’s a student or parent. There are a couple of personalities that are viewed as more troublesome and risky, and the school is keen to identify those individuals. PCM was born as a tool for the corporate world, not for a school and this is the only school in the world that uses it. It is very much a “cultish” atmosphere. The staff is so concentrated on listening carefully to your words and observing your body language in order to figure out what channel to use and if by any chance you have ‘phased’ to another personality then it becomes impossible to have a real honest conversation. And they do the same with the kids depriving them of an authentic connection or the tools to learn to connect with others.

By third grade kids and parents are in full mode PCM. The kids are robotic and set into their ‘personality’. They have a set language and manners which unfortunately the outside world does not always understand.

I wish you could meet some of the students. Some are like robots, they just seem to repeat scripts. There is no talk of consciousness or free thinking which I guess is ’normal’ in many schools, but PCM is close to brainwashing. It’s like an instruction manual on how you should behave, think and speak.

I watched our own child going through the struggle of mentally detoxing from it once we were out of the school. For a while my child was confused, lost in a way especially when the world didn’t respond to my child’s PCM channel, unable to relate. And we are talking about a healthy bright child with no social or personal issues.  And now my child doesn’t even want to hear the word PCM.

In my experience Mr. King (as per the book he published – Beyond Drama) enforces the belief that everyone is okay and there are no issues. In order to stay out of drama, individuals must believe that they are okay and everyone else is okay. So basically there are never any issues. They believe and support that philosophy to an extreme and therefore refuse to really acknowledge any real serious issue brought to them. So they hide the problems hoping time will make them go away without having to act on them.

Naturally when real issues are brought up to him by parents, the concerns are dismissed and seen as a sign of distress of the parent. At this point all effort are made to PCM the parent out of the distress and pretend all is good.

Same for students. He doesn’t for example seem to believe in bullying and I have personally watched a 5th grader who had just been repeatedly teased to tears by a classmate being told that he must have had a part in it to deserve it. Through what appeared in my opinion as clever manipulation, the kid and the parents left the meeting believing that there was no bullying in the first place.

Global Expansion. This year, coinciding with Suzy Cameron’s new book launch (One Meal a day) the school decided to create a new for-profit corporation, MUSE Global. Mr. King is their CEO (while retaining his position of Head of the School at MUSE, which is a non-profit). The company focuses on the expansion of the MUSE School’s model globally. Despite the original school being far from successful (people keep leaving, they are unable to raise funds and students score very poorly academically), they seem to be on a mission to convince the world that their module is the best a child can get. They have already signed an agreement with some investors in China and working on more.

Power, Manipulation and Scare Tactics. Numerous families are not happy but they are too scared to say anything for fear of their kids being kicked out (it has happened to many families that dared to challenge the system, 5 in the past school year alone). Some of those families tried to appeal to the school’s board of directors (a few of the members were MUSE parents themselves). The ones that tried to help those families were forced to leave the school, their kids included. The ones who refused to intervene explained, ‘Nothing we can do, they have us by the balls.”

Unfortunately they know how powerful they are and they appear to be using that power to keep families in a state of fear. Many of the students come from families that are in the show business and nobody wants to be on the wrong side of the Camerons, no matter what their children were put through.”–parent of a former MUSE School student

My Take

We must be careful in discerning one person’s testimony. We must look for signs of an inner consistency, and a plausibility that links facts and observations with the opinions this person holds. For me, this testimony has a high level of consistency, especially around the potential dangers of introducing a fully integrated system of labeling and classifying students and teachers in an academic setting.

“Once you label me, you negate me.”–Soren Kierkegaard

When I was doing my life-coaching training, many of the coaches who had already been working in the corporate world spoke highly of the Myers-Briggs type indicator and other tools that categorized a person’s personality type. As a life coach, I always had a resistance to any form of ‘typing’ of a client into a category. I felt it would limit my perception of a person, affect the ways I would challenge them to see things differently, and, most importantly, could limit the person’s belief in what they were capable of. Even when clients would give me their Myers-Briggs ‘identity,’ (i.e. “I’m an INTJ and that’s why I see things this way…”), I would not seek to capitalize on the information behind the client’s self-classification and would remain present to the identity being revealed through the person words, tone, expressions, and so on. Categorizing oneself as the fundamental guideline of one’s sense of identity is, in my opinion, very limiting.

I understand that these personality-typing tools can have some benefits for allowing managers in the corporate world to understand better what makes each individual employee tick. It can help them accept that people have different strengths and weaknesses, learn in different ways, and get satisfaction in different ways. These insights can lead a manager to work with greater compassion, patience, and flexibility. If the information is used to benefit the employee and enable them to get more satisfaction and fulfillment from their job, leading them to become more productive, then it is a win-win proposition.

However, these tools can very easily be used as means of manipulation in the hands of those who lack maturity or have a hidden agenda to control people rather than act in service to the people they are using these tools on. In a classroom setting with children as young as two, where the foundations of a child’s perception of reality are still in their formative stages, it is reasonable to fear that PCM has the potential to cause harm to a child, perhaps in ways even worse than described above by our parent.

These are subtle matters, but certainly worth thinking about. Below is a clip from a video from the MUSE school which promotes the use of PCM techniques in elementary classrooms.

 

Does this video leave you with the feeling that empowering communication is going on here, or manipulation? And if this is what is being touted as proof that the methodology works and is beneficial, can we see the potential for this methodology to go too far and lead to discrimination and some forms of mind programming?

To some extent, good teachers naturally learn to communicate with students in different ways based on their personalities. While I applaud MUSE’s philosophy of attempting to communicate with children in the ways that they respond to best and most comfortably, it is the formalization of this process that scares me. And certainly, when we hear that young children are truly being trained to see the world through the filter of PCM, and potentially can be rebuked if they don’t respond to teachers according to each teacher’s ‘channel,’ then we can understand why parents like our reader above have had serious concerns about PCM in an academic setting.

The reader who emailed us is not alone in their criticism of PCM and its implementation in the school. If you take a look at answers to the question ‘How would you rate your experience at this school?’ on greatschools.org from other parents whose children are/were in MUSE, you will see an interesting pattern: 55 top ‘5 star’ reviews, 16 bottom ‘1 star’ reviews, and only 7 in the 2,3,4 star category. Many of the 5-star reviews are cookie-cutter ‘agree’ comments on pre-written bullet points. Our reader told us, “During the PCM training new parents are asked to submit their reviews which at that point are generally amazing.”

The 1 star reviews tend to be long, thoughtful criticisms of many of the same points made by our reader. Some even bring into question the authenticity of many of the positive reviews: “Notice how the last 7 positive reviews were all posted on the same day, December 18, really??” If you are interested, I would highly recommend going through some of these reviews, both the good and the bad, to help you discern what you think is really going on inside the MUSE school.

The Takeaway

As I mentioned earlier, the stated goals of the MUSE school evoke hope and inspiration. Where the education of our young has long been criticized as a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach, the MUSE school has stepped boldly towards an approach to respect individual students’ differences and preferences. The only question is whether or not they are stepping too far.

If the high school students at MUSE voted to stop practicing PCM last spring, then one would suspect that this would cause school leaders to strongly question the use of PCM in earlier grades, especially Pre-K, where students obviously don’t have a voice in the matter themselves. Certainly, the MUSE philosophy speaks to a willingness to change and evolve based on the information at hand:

MUSE is ever-evolving. The MUSE community includes creative and critical thinkers who know that flexibility and adaptability are critical keys to our success. We enthusiastically embrace change and consistently challenge ourselves in our ongoing efforts to learn, grow, and improve.

However, our reader’s testimony gives the impression that rather than being listened to and incorporated, dissenting views and criticisms of the current system are shut down and dissenters are shut out of the process. Is the school’s ongoing evolution simply being fostered within an echo chamber? Do we see fear-based control mechanisms reminiscent of the operating structures of a cult?

With the development of the for-profit MUSE Global and the inclusion of PCM as one of the five pillars of the Global schools they are franchising out, we will need to keep our eyes and ears open to determine if the MUSE project is solely about “Inspiring and Preparing Young People to Live Consciously with Themselves, One Another, and the Planet,” or if there is another agenda afoot.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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COVID Vaccine Hesitancy Widespread, Even Among Medical Professionals

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Public health groups, including the World Health Organization, are making a concerted effort to reduce COVID vaccine hesitancy, as many medical professionals and minority groups remain doubtful about safety and efficacy.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is information about vaccines sometimes labeled by the mainstream as an "anti-vax conspiracy theory?" Why are concerns never really addressed properly and constantly ridiculed or unacknowledged?

It’s no secret that vaccine hesitancy is at an all time high, even among many physicians and scientists. This has actually been observed for a while. For example, one study published in the journal EbioMedicine  in 2013 outlines this point, stating in the introduction:

Over the past two decades several vaccine controversies have emerged in various countries, including France, inducing worries about severe adverse effects and eroding confidence in health authorities, experts and science. These two dimensions are at the core of vaccine hesitancy (VH) observed in the general population. VH is defined as delay in acceptance of vaccination, or refusal, or even acceptance with doubts about its safety and benefits, with all these behaviours and attitudes varying according to context , vaccine and personal profile, despite the availability of vaccine services VH presents a challenge to physicians who must address their patients’ concerns about vaccines and ensure satisfactory vaccination coverage.

At a 2019 conference on vaccines put on by the World Health Organization this fact was emphasized by Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project. She is referenced, as you can see, by the authors in the study above. At the conference, she emphasized that safety concerns among people and health professionals seem to be the biggest issue regarding vaccine hesitancy.

She also stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…

We have to ask ourselves the question, why? Vaccines are not a one size fits all product, in the US alone nearly $4 billion has been paid out to families of vaccine injured children, and a number of studies are calling into question their safety. Aluminum, for example, seems to be a concern. You can and read about why here, but that’s just one of multiple examples.

Here’s an example of a vaccine injury I recently wrote about regarding the HPV vaccine.

Below is an article that was recently published Jeremy Loffredo, a reporter for The Defender. It goes into details about vaccine hesitancy among health professionals when it comes to the new COVID vaccines that are about to hit the market. 

As details on the latest COVID vaccine contenders flood the news cycle on a daily basis, reports of concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine are widespread among many demographics, even including the professional medical community.

As vaccine hesitancy grows agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), are stepping up efforts to build vaccine confidence through public relations and communications campaigns.

Surveys reveal vaccine hesitancy

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles’ Karin Fielding School of Public Health surveyed healthcare personnel working in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. As the Washington Post reported, they found that two thirds (66.5%) of healthcare workers “intend to delay vaccination,” meaning they do not intend to get the COVID vaccine when it becomes available. They plan instead on reviewing the data once it’s widely administered and proven safe.

Seventy-six percent of the vaccine-hesitant healthcare workers cited the “fast-tracked vaccine development” as a primary reason for their concerns. Typically, vaccines take between eight to 10 years to develop, Dr. Emily Erbelding, an infectious disease expert at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an article titled, “The timetable for a coronavirus vaccine is 18 months. Experts say that’s risky.”

The coronavirus vaccine frontrunners — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — are expected to make their debut in January. The pharmaceutical giants have exponentially accelerated the average safety and review timeline for vaccine development and production, to get the vaccines to market in under a year. Erbelding admitted that the accelerated pace will involve “not looking at all the data.”

Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, said in a video that the number of physicians expressing hesitancy was “unprecedented” and “posed a real risk” to public confidence in vaccines.

A recent Gallup poll showed that only 58% of Americans plan on getting the COVID vaccine when it’s available. An October poll conducted by Zogby found that nearly 50% of Americans have concerns about the safety of the coming COVID vaccines.

A new collaborative survey project by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Langer Research found that Black and Latinx Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about the coming COVID vaccine.

The survey, as reported in the Washington post, claims to be “one of the largest and most rigorous conducted on this topic to date.” It found that only 14% of Black Americans trust that a vaccine will be safe, while only 34% of Latinx Americans trust it will be safe.

The survey also found, in the context of COVID, only 19% percent of Black Americans trust drug companies, while less than a third trust the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “look after their interests.”

According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fears surrounding the painful or harmful side-effects of the COVID vaccine are rooted in reality.

According to CNBC, during a virtual Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ meeting on Nov. 23, Dr. Sandra Fryhofer told fellow CDC officials that patients need to be aware that the side effects from the COVID vaccines “will not be a walk in the park.” Fryhofer acknowledged that side effects from the vaccines have been reported to mimic symptoms of a mild case of COVID, including muscle pain, fever, chills and headache.

Fryhofer, who explained that both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID vaccines require two doses, worries that her patients might not come back for a second dose after experiencing potentially unpleasant side effects after the first shot.

As a participant of the Moderna vaccine trials noted “it was the sickest I’ve ever been.”

Health officials try to combat vaccine hesitancy

Despite this, officials at the forefront of the COVID response plan to combat vaccine safety concerns and hesitancy using, what some are calling, questionable psychological techniques.

For example, the WHO, which named “vaccine hesitancy” as the top global public health threat, has hired the PR firm Hill + Knowlton to identify micro-influencers, macro-influencers and “hidden heroes” on social media who could covertly promote the organization’s image as a COVID authority in order to “ensure WHO’s advice and guidance is followed.”

Cass Sunstein, the chairman of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Behavioral Insights, recently wrote an article in Bloomberg in which he promoted the use of popular celebrities, athletes and actors as tools for vaccine persuasion against those who “lack vaccine confidence.”

“Trusted politicians, athletes or actors — thought to be ‘one of us’ rather than ‘one of them’ — might explicitly endorse vaccination and report that they themselves have gotten the vaccine,” Sunstein wrote.

Then there’s the “Guide to COVID-19 Vaccine Communications,” developed by the University of Florida and the United Nations that aims to help governments improve COVID vaccine uptake. The authors of the guide promote the tactic of covertly using trusted community leaders to help with pro-vaccine information.

Citing vaccine hesitancy among the African American community, the guide suggests that barber shops and hair salons in predominantly black neighborhoods might be tapped to help disseminate approved vaccine messaging.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Senator Questions Mark Zuckerberg On Censorship After Facebook Whistleblower Comes Forward

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In a recent Judiciary Committee Hearing, Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled by Sen. Josh Hawley about whether or not Facebook collaborates with Google and Twitter to censor information. Hawley also mentions he was contacted by a Facebook Whistleblower.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are some "experts" given the limelight and mainstream media air time, while others are censored and ridiculed? Why is there such a battle to control human perception on a variety of different topics today?

The amount of censorship of information taking place on the internet today is truly staggering. It may not seem that way to your everyday person, but here at Collective Evolution, which has been operating for nearly twelve years now, we’ve experienced it first hand. Some of our articles have been wrongfully “fact-checked” despite the fact that there is no misinformation or misinterpretation, and we’ve also been subjected to constant Facebook/Youtube algorithm changes and demonetization. As a result of this censorship, we had to create CETV, this is the only thing that’s sustaining us and allowing us to continue to do what we do.

It seems that any type of information which threatens the status quo or any information exposing wrong-doings of or threatens the interests of governments and big corporations is subjected to censorship. When it comes to COVID-19, for example, we’ve seen a large majority of doctors and scientists all over the world being censored by social media giants simply because their information and opinion opposes the World Health Organization and recommendations that governments are making. Not only are these voices silenced and completely unacknowledged by mainstream media, they are also heavily ridiculed.

In our opinion what’s taken place and happened to not only us, but to other platforms as well, has been very illegal, unethical and immoral.  It’s happened on an even larger scale with Julian Assange, for example. To think that someone who has exposed war crimes and other wrongdoings of multiple governments and big corporations is currently fighting for his life is very disheartening. What does this say about the world we live in, when those who expose crimes, immoral and unethical actions by powerful entities are locked up? It’s easy to feel quite powerless in the face of Big Tech censorship, they can basically censor any piece of content they please and not only that, they can provide a new “fact-checked” article that tells a completely different story, and then spread it as if it were truth.

In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour… – Edward Snowden (source) (More on Snowden’s thoughts here)

Below is a clip from a recent Judiciary Committee Hearing, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled by Sen. Josh Hawley about whether or not his company collaborates with Google and Twitter to censor information. Hawley brings up the fact that he was contacted by a Facebook whistleblower, and goes into more detail about questions about censorship that Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to have an answer for.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day, censorship of information only seems to have more people questioning what’s going on. If information is clearly false, why does it need to be “fact-checked” and censored? Why is there, as I’ve said before, a digital authoritarian Orwellian fact checker going around the internet telling people what is and what isn’t? Should people not have the right to examine information for themselves and determine what they wish to believe? Why are Big Tech companies working so closely with governments to control the narrative and shape our perception about what’s really going on?

Why do we hold on to ideas even when new evidence tells us it’s time to question them? What state of being identified so strongly with ideas of the mind that we think those ideas are our identity, and that there is no other possibility? Why do we become so polarized in our beliefs, be it about COVID or even politics? Why can’t we all come together and have appropriate discussions instead of having Big Tech companies regulate information in the way they do, and literally have us on one side or the other?

Ultimately, it’s time to ask the bigger questions, which is why I’m sharing the video below from CE founder, Joe Martino.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading

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Edward Snowden On Big Tech Companies, Like Facebook, Censoring & Controlling Information

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Glenn Greenwald interviews NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about Big Tech censorship of information, and the muzzling of journalists who go against the grain.

  • Reflect On:

    f your perception is built by mainstream media, do you truly know what is going on in the world if they are often working to hide or censor stories that would dramatically change your perception?

Glenn Greenwald is no stranger to censorship, he’s the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden (NSA mass surveillance whistleblower)  to put together his story and release it to the world while working for the Guardian. He eventually left the Guardian and co-founded his own media company, The Intercept, an organization that would be free from censorship and free to report on government corruption and wrong-doings of powerful people and corporations. He recently resigned from The Intercept as well due to the fact that they’ve now censored him, and is now completely independent. You can find his work here.

Anybody who reports on or sheds a bright light onto immoral and unethical actions taken by governments and the powerful corporations they work with has been subjected to extreme censorship. In the case of Edward Snowden, he’s been exiled, and Julian Assange of Wikileaks is currently clinging to his life for exposing war crimes and other unethical actions by multiple governments and corporations. There are many other examples. What does it say about our civilization when we prosecute those who expose harm, corruption, immoral/unethical actions by governments and war crimes?

Greenwald recently interviewed Snowden about internet censorship and the role big tech companies and governments are playing. Greenwald explains that in one of his earliest meetings with Snowden, he (Snowden) explained that he was driven in large part by the vital role the early internet played in his life, “one that was free of corporate and state control, that permitted anonymity and exploration free of monitoring, and, most of all, fostered unrestrained communication and dissemination of information by and among citizens of the world without corporate and state overlords regulating and controlling what they were saying.

This is what he and Snowden go into in the interview posted below. Prior to that I provide a brief summary of Snowden’s key thoughts.

Snowden starts off by mentioning government surveillance programs and the companies they contracted to do this work and compares them to modern day Big Tech giants censoring information on a wide range of topics. We see this today with elections/politics, to medical information dealing with coronavirus and vaccines, for example.

“In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour… – Snowden

So basically, these Big Tech companies have become slaves, if you will, to the governments will, or at least powerful people situated in high places within the government. Snowden brings up the fact that many of these companies are hiring people from the CIA, who come from the Pentagon, who come from the NSA, who have top secret clearances…The government is a customer of all the major cloud service providers. They are also a major regulator of these companies, which gives these companies the incentive to do whatever they want.

This is quite clear if you look at Facebook, Google and Amazon employees. There are many who have come from very high positions within the Department of Defense.

In no case is this more clear than Amazon – Snowden

Amazon appointed Keith Alexander, director of the NSA under Barack Obama.

He was one of the senior architects of the mass surveillance program that courts have repeatedly now declared to be unlawful and unconstitutional….When you have this kind of incentive from a private industry to maintain the warmest possible relationship with the people in government, who not just buy from you but also have the possibility to end your business or change the way you do business…You now see this kind of soft corruption that happens in a constant way. – Snowden

Snowden goes on to explain how people get upset when government, especially the Trump government, tries to set the boundaries of what appropriate speech is by attempting to stop big tech censorship, he then says,

If you’re not comfortable letting the government determine the boundaries of appropriate political speech, why are you begging Mark Zuckerberg to do it?

I think the reality here is…it’s not really about freedom of speech, and it’s not really about protecting people from harm…I think what you see is the internet has become the de facto means of mass communication. That represents influence which represents power, and what we see is we see a whole number of different tribes basically squabbling to try to gain control over this instrument of power.

What we see is an increasing tendency to silence journalists who say things that are in the minority.

You can watch the full conversation between Greenwald and Snowden below, the conversation is about 40 minutes long.

 

Closing Comments: This kind of information almost begs the question, are we ready as a society to truly create and disseminate journalism that is honest, integral and bi-partisan? Why is it that these types of organizations fail or struggle? How do some media companies fail? Well, they no longer stay true to their mission. They fall to the pressure of politics and fall into ideology. How many other times did ideology change what media outlets reported? Yes, it’s almost impossible to have zero bias, but how close can we get to zero? How can we achieve this when media outlets who do not fit within the accepted framework and disseminate information that challenges the popular opinion are constantly being punished for simply putting out information?

As Snowden mentioned above, these Big Tech companies in collusion with governments are literally attempting to not only censor information, but change the behaviour of people as well, especially journalists. When you take away one’s business or livelihood as a result of non-compliance, you are in a way forcing them to comply and do/say things you they way you want them done/said. We’ve experienced massive amounts of censorship and demonetization here at Collective Evolution, but we haven’t changed as a results of it. We simply created CETV, a platform that helps support our work as a result of censorship.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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