After posting this comment, I thought a little deeper about how companies use these tools.
Marketing in the US seems to use the lowest common denominator in an attempt to appeal to the largest subset of the population, as well as create an emotional reaction ("I MUST have that; it will fix all my problems!"). This is fairly common knowledge. There was a very interesting "course" on marketing on a local public tv station a few months ago that went over some of the basics of the topic (I could not find a link, unfortunately).
- Marketing: "Product A is the best!" - since this is a subjective statement, it is not required to comply with the law regarding truth in advertising.
- FUD: "On September the 11th, 2001, our nation was confronted by a new kind of war. See, we're at war. This is a war. This isn't a single isolated incident. We are now in the first war of the 21st century. And it's a different kind of war than we're used to. I explained part of the difference is the fact that the battlefield is now here at home. It's also a war where the enemy doesn't show up with airplanes that they own, or tanks or ships. These are suiciders." (GWB) - invoking 9/11 creates images in people's minds (airplanes into buildings, people jumping, etc...). FEAR is a bigger motivator than sex (lowest common denominator again). The fact is that more people die in this country due to illness|old age|car accidents than by terrorism. Fear felt by the American people translates into profits for friends of The Family, through justification for invading and "rebuilding" Iraq, and possibly other countries.
- Spin: "There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist." (Rummy) - Translates to "prove it!"
- BS: "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." (GWB, Rummy, several pundits and "analysts") - 2 1/2 years later, we're still waiting....
There are countless examples of how these tactics are used everyday by politicians, corporations, zealots (of all kinds), and the average person. This appears to have become ingrained in our society.
From the beginning of this country, greed has slowly been overtaking common sense, rationality, morality (not in the "religious" sense of the word), and ethics. Through the fairly recent dumbing-down and reduction of the attention span of the average American, the prevalence of greed has been increasing exponentially.
This needs to stop before it's too late (see? Even I can do "FUD").