Spin – The Art of Political Lying

July 20, 2016

By Terence T. Gorski

Here is how Wilipedia defines and describes SPIN: 

Spin is propaganda or presenting lies to the public as the truth. The term, “plausible deniability” actual means to protect politicians from the consequences of getting caught in a lie. 

In public relations, Spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure. 

While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, “spin” often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics.[1]

Politicians are often accused by their opponents of claiming to be truthful and seek the truth while using spin tactics to manipulate public opinion. Large corporations with sophisticated public relations branches also engage in “spinning” information or events in their favor. 

Because of the frequent association between spin and press conferences (especially government press conferences), the room in which these take place is sometimes described as a spin room.

Public relations advisors, pollsters and media consultants who develop spin may be referred to as “spin doctors” or “spinmeisters” who manipulate the truth and create a biased interpretation of events for the person or group that hired them.
The term has its origin in the old American expression “to spin a yarn”. 

Sailors were known for using their spare time on board making thread or string (yarn) and also for telling incredible tales when they were on shore. 

When someone fooled you, it was said that “he spun me an amazing yarn”. Yarn also became a synonym for “tall tale” – “What a yarn!”, means “what a lie”. 

A coarser and more contemporary version of this expression is “bullshit”, and, for anyone who seeks to deceive, “bullshit artist”. 
History of Spin

Edward Bernays has been called the “Father of Public Relations”. As Larry Tye describes in his book The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations, Bernays was able to help tobacco and alcohol companies use techniques to make certain behaviors more socially acceptable in the 20th-century United States. Tye claims that Bernays was proud of his work as a propagandist. 

As information technology has increased dramatically since the end of the 20th century, commentators like Joe Trippi have advanced the theory that modern Internet activism spells the end for political spin. By providing immediate counterpoint to every point a “spin doctor” can come up with, this theory suggests, the omnipresence of the Internet in some societies will inevitably lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of spin.[4]
The techniques of spin include:
Selectively presenting facts and quotes that support one’s position (cherry picking). For example, a pharmaceutical company could pick and choose trials where their product shows a positive effect, ignoring the unsuccessful trials, or a politician’s staff could handpick speech quotations from past years which appear to show her support for a certain position)

  • Non-denial denial
  • Non-apology apology
  • Politically-correct deception
  • Making misinformation (deliberate lies) seem like the truth 

“Mistakes were made” is an expression that is commonly used as a rhetorical device, whereby a speaker acknowledges that a situation was managed by using low-quality or inappropriate handling but seeks to evade any direct admission or accusation of responsibility by not specifying the person who made the mistakes. The acknowledgement of “mistakes” is framed in an abstract sense, with no direct reference to who made the mistakes and what exactly the mistakes were. The ultimate mistake, of course, is to get caught in the lie. 

A less evasive construction might be along the lines of “I made mistakes” or “John Doe made mistakes.” The speaker neither accepts personal responsibility nor accuses anyone else. The word “mistakes” also does not imply intent.
Phrasing in a way that assumes unproven truths, or avoiding the question[5]

“Burying bad news”: announcing unpopular things at a time when it is believed that the media will focus on other news. In some cases, governments have released potentially controversial reports on summer long weekends, to avoid significant news coverage. Sometimes that other news is supplied by deliberately announcing popular items at the same time.

Spin includes the art of misdirection and diversion[6]

For years businesses have used fake or misleading customer testimonials by editing/spinning customers to reflect a much more satisfied experience than was actually the case. In 2009 the Federal Trade Commission updated their laws to include measures to prohibit this type of “spinning” and have been enforcing these laws as of late. 

Additionally, over the past 5 to 6 years several companies have arisen that verify the authenticity of the testimonials businesses present on the marketing materials in an effort to convince one to become a customer.


GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org


August 7, 2014

By Terence T. Gorski, Author

Peak Experiences and 12-Step Spirituality

Many recovering people have spiritual experiences that they believe are closely related to their recovery. Some of these spiritual experiences have classic religious elements such as visions of or actual communication with God, a saint, or a spiritual being.

Many other recovering people, however, have spiritual experiences that involve profoundly altered states of consciousness with no overt religious aspects. It can be difficult to make sense of these spiritual experiences. A concept that has helped me to understand the non-religious altered states of consciousness is the idea of peak experiences introduced by Abraham Maslow.

Abraham Maslow identified a unique psychological experience which he described as PEAK EXPERIENCES which have the same characteristics as non-religious spiritual experiences described to me by hundreds of recovering people over the course of my career.

These peak experiences are profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture. During peak experiences people feel whole, centered, integrated, fully alive, and profoundly important as a unique individual. Yet, at the same time, they feel as if they are an integrated part of or actually merging with the universe.

Many people describe the sense of having a peak experience as simultaneously feeling like the omnipotent center of the universe, while at the same time feeling totally humbled and insignificant in the face of the infinite face of the universe.

During peak experiences people feel more aware of truth, justice, harmony, and goodness than at other times in their life. There is a close connection between the frequency and intensity of peak experiences and the capacity for self-actualization.

Self-actualization is the ability to make one’s sense of self and creative ideas real through self-regulated action in the world. People who have high levels of self-actualization tend to have more frequent and intense peak experiences.

The combination of peak experiences and conscious efforts at developing the capacity for self-actualization moved people toward higher levels of awareness of their human potential.

As self-actualizing people reach high levels of growth and development, the peak experiences occur on deeper levels accompanied by more profound and meaningful altered states of consciousness.

Maslow’s conceptualization of peak experiences as a unique state of psychological consciousness began the continuing trend of integrating spiritual experiences into the main-stream of psychology.


On a personal level, here is how I define spirituality for myself:

Spirituality is measured by having a sense of meaning and purpose in life and a sense of deep connection with other people. It also involves the capacity to transcend or rise above pain a problems of life without lapsing into denial or delusions. It also involves a sense of detached awareness, profound peacefulness, and at times, a sense of awe or wonder. It is bodied in a sense of being one with God while at the same time being a rational human being with volitional consciousness, i.e. we have the capacity to make our own decisions following or defying God’s will.

My favorite prayer is: “God grant me the knowledge of your will for me and the courage to carry that out.

GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org

Change! It’s Not Easy For Anyone

May 25, 2014

20140525-210010-75610584.jpgBy Terence T. Gorski, Author
December 29, 2013

“Do you think it’s easy to change? Alas, it is very hard to change and
be different. It means passing through the waters of oblivion.” —

DH Lawrence

DH Lawrence, also know as Lawrence of Arabia, was an incredibly disciplined man. He was a soldier, a warrior, a writer, and a philosopher. Reviewing this brief biography of DH Lawrence will put the man in more perspective and add more meaning to this quote.

Yet even such a man, with years of military discipline, living for months at a time in the harsh desert, having to adapt to unknown cultures — yet even such a man tells us that “it is hard to change and to be different!”

There are two issues:

(1) It is difficult to change and maintain the changes; and

(2) It is difficult to be different from most other people.

The pressure of he crowd is difficult to resist. As human beings, we are social animals connected with a group mind or a collective unconscious. We feel strongly the united emotional play of any groups that we are in.

DH Lawrence had a conceptual ability that was more advanced than those around him. He viewed of the world and life through a different pair of classes. He could see complex relationships and cause-effect changes of events that few other noticed. He was a difficult man to trick, or con, or persuade.

He maintained his unique world view, but again, he reports that it was not easy to “be different.” It is not easy to stand on your own values and speak your own truth to authority or to an angry mob.”

How difficult did DH Lawrence find it to develop a rational philosophy of life and not surrender it for a mere sense of superficial belonging. How hard was it for him to maintain his own ideas in the face of the social pressure of the tribe and the threat of the mob (group mind)? He put it this way:

To change and to be different from your fellows
“means passing through the waters of oblivion.”

We can all learn to change and embrace a sober and responsible way of life. It will be much easier to maintain that change if we surround ourselves with like-minded people.



Intelligence and Kindness – A Good Combination

December 31, 2013
Black_or _White_Thinking

Let’s be reasonable and do it my way!”

By Terence T. Gorski, Author
December 31, 2013

The best people are both intelligence and kind.

I read a poster that said: “Sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right. We do not need an intelligent mind that speaks. but a patient heart that listens.” I agree with the first sentence. I strongly disagree with the second.

The need to be right is a never-ending journey. The truth is difficult to find and as we learn, more, new levels of the truth are always emerging to be discovered. We also, as human beings, have the infinite capacity for self-deception. We are also capable of sophisticated lies.  So being right is not my goal. THE PROCESS OF SEEKING THE TRUTH is my journey.

Intelligent minds that listen and respond and are embodied in people with kind hearts represents the best of all worlds. They are both intelligent and kind. Their knowledge is tempered with compassion. They encourage freedom of thought and expression. They don’t stifle it.

We should not settle for the false idea that we must trash intelligence in favor of emotion or the other way around. This is irrational thinking of the “black/white either/or thinking” variety. This way of thinking can harm us. We can do better than support it.

Kindness without intelligence is can be easily exploited and leads to ruin. Intelligence without kindness tends to divide, isolate, and dehumanize. Kindness plus intelligence must survive the test of time if we are to build a better future.

Here is an example. It takes thought to put on your own oxygen mask first in order to survive to help others. It is counter-intuitive, but it is the right thing to do. People with kind hearts need to make a commitment to rational thinking. This maximizes their chances of staying alive and of being able to help others.

Being compassionate takes thought. It is not as simple as just letting yourself feel. Don’t take my word on it. Read about Compassion-Focused Therapy By. Dr. John Gilbert. Dr. Gilbert believes that it takes rational thinking to figure out how to be truly compassionate .While on your quest for compassionate feelings, check out Rational Emotive Therapy f the Alcoholic by Albert Ellis, and see what he has to say on the subject of thoughts, feelings ,and addiction.

If you want to learn how to manage black-or-white thinking and
other forms of irrationality that can lead to relapse check out
Smart Recovery.

Think Rationally and Be Compassionate! 



Personality Styles: Top Dog, Underdog, Self-Protector

December 16, 2013

By Terence T. Gorski
February 11, 1992

Self-defeating personality styles are composed of habitual ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and relating to others that creates unnecessary pain and problems in our lives.

People who were raised in dysfunctional or addictive families tend to develop one of two general styles of self-defeating personality
– The Top Dog Style,
– The Under Dog Style.

These two styles can combine to create more complex styles:

Unable To Function (“I must freeze!”): Some of us have such severe trauma at the start of our recovery that we are unable to function normally or to maintain a consistent personality style. We are under so much stress that we feel like we are falling apart. With recovery, we begin to stabilize and one of the following personality styles will emerge.

Top Dog Personality Style – The Victimizer: The Victimizer is a person who exaggerates his or her strength. They want everyone to be afraid of them. They believe that they must fight every one in order to survive. The Top Dog personality style is based upon the belief “I must be strong and can never admit to or show weakness.”

Many of us develop this personality style as a result of our abuse. We have been so abused we decide “never again!” We make a commitment to ourselves that we will never let anyone abuse us ever again. Unfortunately many of us are locked into a mistaken belief system. We believe that we have only two choices – to be a victim or a victimizer: We can be a victim and get hurt, or we can defend ourselves by becoming a victimizer and hurting others. To keep from getting hurt we start hurting others and become a perpetrator and do to others exactly what was done to us.

The Under Dog Style – The Victim: Victim exaggerate weakness and by doing so set themselves up to be controlled and victimized by others. They believe that if they ever try to fight back they will be destroyed, so the only way to protect themselves in to lay down and play dead and pretend to be helpless whenever they feel threatened.

The Under Dog Style is based upon the belief that “I must be weak and can never show strength or directly assert myself or I will be attacked and victimized again!” Those of us who use this style have decided to protect ourselves from the abuse of others by convincing them that we are so weak and helpless that we won’t be a threat.

Under Dogs often attempt to find protection by aligning themselves with a strong powerful caregiver who will protect them from others. The problem is that this powerful protectors usually demands a payment for the protection they provide. This powerful protector usually demands the right to victimize the people they protect in exchange for protecting us from the victimization of others other more viscous victimizers.

Switching Styles: Some people switch between the Top Dog Style and the Under Dog style dependent upon who they are with and what they are doing. I have met many people who are vicious top dogs at work, and revert to a victimized Under Dog in their intimate relationships.

Which personality style they use depends upon who they are interacting with, the social role they are playing, and what they are doing or expected to do in the moment.

The Goal of Recovery – Becoming A Healthy Self-Protector

We become a healthy self-protector when we develop the skills to take care of ourselves and those that we love in a healthy and responsible way. We know that we can protect ourselves without hurting others! The personality of the healthy self-protector is based upon the belief that “I can take car of myself without hurting others!”.

When we use this personality style we can keep ourselves safe without victimizing someone else or setting ourselves up to be a victim. Learning to consistently use this personality style is the ultimate goal of recovery.


The model of using Top Dog – Under Dog personality styles is a starting point. As recovering people get more skilled in recognizing when the Top Dog Under Dog traits in themselves and others. Richer and more helpful ways of understanding can be brought into the process.

The next model that I often move to is The Carpman Triangle which has three roles:

The Persecutor, which is similar to the Top Dog;
The Victim, which is similar to the Under Dog; and
The Rescuer, a version of the Top Dog who protects Victims by attacking the Persecutor.

In a future blog, I will explain the Persecutor-Victim-Rescuer Triangle in more detail.

GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org

Obedience To Authority: The Milgram Experiment

October 27, 2013

Obedience_To Authority_Bk_CoverIf you were told by a legitimate authority figure to submit progressive electric shock to a test subject even, if you thought it was killing them — would you do it?

In controlled experiments, replicated many times over the last four decades, between 50% and 65% of normal people continued to administer electric shocks even when they believed it was killing the other person.

What did it take to get them to do it? Surprisingly not much at all.

All that was necessary was for the person administering the shocks to see they were part of a legitimate process, to have clear instructions to follow, and to have a person who appeared t be a legitimate authority figure telling them to continue.

The person administering the shocks didn’t like it. They obviously felt bad and struggled with internal conflict, but over half continued with the process even when the other person begged them to stop and they believed they were administering lethal levels of electric shock to a person who as unconscious.

All that was necessary was a calm and self-assured person with all the trappings of legitimate other calmly saying — the experiment must continue, please go on.

“All That Is Required For Evil To Triumph
Is For Good People To Do Nothing.” 
~ Edmund Burke ~

Watch the Video:

Read The Book:
Obedience To Authority by Stanley Milgram

THE CORE FEARS: Women, Men, and Personal Safety

October 23, 2013

FEAR_Men-Women“MEN fear that women will laugh at them. WOMEN fear that men will rape or kill them. Men may understand the nature of a woman’s fear, but will never truly know fear from the point of view of a woman.” These are the words of Gavin de Becker, in his book THE GIFT OF FEAR,  Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence  (Little Brown and Company, New York, 1997) put it this way:

De Becker went on to say:  “It is understandable that the perspectives of men and women on safety are so different — men and women live in different worlds. … There is a dramatic difference between the genders in regard to safety and fear.  At core, men are afraid that women will laugh at them; while at core, women are afraid that men will rape or kill them.”

He goes on to say: “I have a message for women who feel forced to defend their safety concerns: tell Mister I-Know-Everything-About Danger that he has nothing to contribute to the topic of your personal security. Tell him that your survival instinct is a gift from nature that knows a lot more about your safety than he does. TELL HIM THAT NATURE DOES NOT REQUIRE HIS APPROVAL “

Learn to trust the intuitive voice of fear and not talk yourself out of it.

Many women who are assaulted physically or sexually have an intuitive voice, a gut reaction – the gift of fear at work. Many women have trained themselves to ignore it or talk themselves out of it. “Don’t be silly,” say to themselves. “You don’t need to ask for help. You’ve parked your care here a million times and nothing has happened.”

They tell themselves the voice of intuitive fear is wrong. They turn off their survival instincts bred into humanity in general, and women specifically, since before the beginnings of recorded history.

They forget that fear is primal. It is an intuitive knowing. The complex end result of millions of neuronal calculations that give you an instantaneous judgment. This judgment churns in your gut as fear — the gift of fear. It can and will save your life.

Listen to your fear. Take yourself seriously. There is nothing wrong with protecting yourself in an often dangerous world. You are too valuable to take unnecessary risks. You are far too important to ignore or turn off your inner warning signal that danger may be lurking.

If your gut says “something is wrong here” listen to the self-protective gift of fear.

Be prepared. Have a personal security plan. Whenever alone in public go on yellow alert, scan the environment, and follow your gut.

There is no such thing as too safe or too cautious. There is no such thing as silly when it comes to your personal safety. Your are too valuable.

Be alert to the inner gift of fear. Be alert so you can avoid danger. Get trained so you can automatically respond to danger viciously and lethally if there is a threat.

Many women feel afraid of hurting the ego of a stalker or offending a predator about to attack. “What if I am wrong?” they ask themselves. “He is really just a nice guy!” Meanwhile, the local neighborhood psychopath begins an unwanted approach and tricks you into unwanted conversations. They learn to put you at ease to lure you into a more vulnerable position.

Many women, when they are attacked, feel guilty at the thought of hurting their assailant. “He wants to rape or kill me,” they say to themselves, “But I don’t want to fight back too hard because I might hurt him.”

Recognize this for what it is, — submissive gender programing. Don’t listen to it, because in the moment of threat it may automatically go off in your head. You need to practice assertion, bluntly saying “NO! Leave me alone.” A cell phone in your hand with 911 already dialed in waiting for the last keystroke is not being paranoid — it is being safe and prepared.

Prevention, however, is always preferable to the fight. Listen to your gut, be prepared by thinking through self-protection strategies. Know where the exits are and how to get to them. Carry yourself with confidence. Many predators are cowards at their core. They look for easy victims — don’t look like one.

Know where you are going. Go on yellow alert and scan for any threat. Get to where you are going quickly and confidently. If a strange man approaches you, he is just that, a strange and potentially dangerous man. A real good guy would never put you in that position. Predators learn how to do it and set up internet classes to teach it to other men. Make no doubt, this is formal training in psychopathy marketed under the how to pick up women genre. It is important to be familiar with the ploys and cons. When you see them in action, be extra careful. Know this person has a strategy that is learned a practiced. Be alert, be aware, and how you want to respond in advance.

Advanced planing is everything. Here are some simple tips:

Say clearly, firmly, and in a loud voice: “Leave me alone, I won’t talk with you. Don’t hesitate to hit the 911 button at the first unwanted contact. Most 911 call centers can locate your cell phones GPS. Don’t be afraid to call. Don’t ever lend your phone to a stranger.

Tell the 911 operator your situation and ask them to stay on the line. The police are your tax dollars at work. Police officers will get between you and the bad guy even if they get hurt or killed. They can only do this if you call.

Once the assault starts it is often too late. The first thing the attacker will do is separate you from your cell phone. Don’t ever threaten to do something, just do it. Hit the button on the phone. Learn and be prepared to launch a vicious and crippling attack against anyone who poses a real threat. The rule is this – disable and get out of dodge.

Forty years ago women were advised by law enforcement not to fight back. The statistics showed, in those days, that women who submitted passively were rarely killed. Those who fought back were more frequently killed. Today things are different. Anyone, man or women, who is taken by a perpetrator is at extreme risk of being killed. What does this mean?

It is important to have a plan. To know what you will do. This means making an informed decision, in advance, about whether to fight back or give in once a perpetrator attacks. The best chance a victim has is to fight immediately. Once the perpetrator establishes dominance and takes the victim to a secluded location the odds of successfully fighting back go way down. The best chance of fighting back successfully occur in the first moments of the encounter. If you are going to fight, it is best to be prepared to respond immediately, before the perpetrator establishes dominance, control and privacy.

If you plan t fight back, you need to know what to do. It will not usually be a long fight. You don’t need fancy martial arts training. You need to be a  vicious no-holds-barred one transaction fighter. This takes training. Don’t ask your boyfriend or husband for advice unless they are trained police or security professionals. If they know what they are doing and their male ego doesn’t get in the way they will get you to someone else they know and respect for training in all things prevention and response. Remember, a black belt in Tai Kwan Do doesn’t count. Nor do bulging muscles. Take your own security seriously and get trained by a professional.

Most importantly — honor your gift of fear. 

The world is both peaceful and violent — beautiful and ugly. This is real life. Preparation leads to higher confidence and less unnecessary anxiety and fear. When you take your safety seriously, you are more confident and your gift of fear becomes more accurate.  Preparation leads to peace of mind because you get in the habit of being safe and knowing what you will do if an assault occurs. This leads to a sense of confidence and the ability to recognize situations where caution is needed. You don’t startle easily. Yo don’t panic. You know you are prepared and confident you will face whatever comes your way. You know what the signals of high risk and immediate threat. You know how and when safety requires caution and vigilance, a level yellow alter. You know when you are at low risk, a level green. If the worst ever happened you are prepared to automatically fight back because you are trained to do that.

Be safe.


GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org

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