We've all heard the old saying, "flattery will get
you nowhere." Sometimes I wonder; did the first person who made this
statement do it in jest? For you see, flattery works, and it works remarkably
well. More than that, in a peculiar sort of way, flattery is connected to the
From a strictly marketing perspective, flattery has to be
one of the most overused techniques in the arsenal of the advertising industry.
"You deserve it!" intones the radio and television ads. Really? You
think so? In the course of an average day, how many times do you hear, see, or
read an advertisement that caters to this line of thinking? It's a subtle yet
flirtatious psychological bomb-shell, and it gets results.
On a personal level the use of flattery is all too evident.
People love to be praised, held in high-esteem, and have their egos stroked.
Face it, we've all succumbed to this temptation at one time or another. But in
the hands of someone who knows how to use this character flaw, its an open door
Anton LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible and founder of the Church of Satan, openly mocked man's gullibility through the vice of flattery in his book, Satan Speaks.
"I would have made a good PR man, because my most flagrant lies are to other people, about themselves. If the Devil is a flatterer, I do my job well...
"I am the worst kind of rascal, for I flatter up like nobody's business. I am an unwilling, habitual practitioner of what Gypsies call 'lavengro.' It is the art of telling people what they most want to hear, and the fortune teller's stock and trade. A therapist would call it 'supportive' and note that it reinforces another's self-esteem. The lower one's self-esteem, the more valuable and effective it is.
"Oh, how I lie! If a fellow be a churlish lout, I tell him how sensitive and discriminating he is. If a girl is so ugly that she must sneak up on a glass of water, I allude to her great beauty. If one's performance is mediocre at best, I applaud his great talent. I praise the skinflint on his generosity and the hysteric on his levelheaded judiciousness. And it makes them all feel good." (Satan Speaks, pp.101-102)
While LaVey's admission is couched in a somewhat comical
approach, the use of flattery in terms of mind manipulation is anything but
humorous. In the May-June 1997 issue of Military Review, an article
titled "The Age of the New Persuaders" detailed the geopolitical uses
of persuasion techniques. Whether it's called "psychological
operations" or "perception management," the ultimate aim is to
modify the thinking of the intended target by influencing "emotions,
motives, and objective reasoning."
Speaking specifically of psychological tools, the author of
the Military Review article, Timothy Thomas, explained that this type of
mind-game exploitation seeks to turn "personality weaknesses to one's
advantage." And flattery, as a manipulation tool, was recognized as an
effective technique. According to Thomas, "One can use an object's vanity
and conceit to advantage. This can be done by flattery..."
The New Age Movement too uses a form of flattery as a
tool for mind manipulation. Unlike the typically understood idea of flattery -
which usually emphasizes someone's outer qualities, talents, or expertise -
this particular type of flattery reaches deep within the soul and works to
rearrange the foundational basis of reality.
"You are God...you are a god in the making" - the Big Lie of Genesis, where the Serpent approaches Eve and offers her the chance to "be as gods" (3:5, KJV) - becomes the ultimate form of subtle flattery manipulation within the teachings of the New Age Movement.
Consider the following statements as found in the World Core Curriculum, a New Age philosophy of education produced by long-time United Nations official Robert Muller,
- "...as it is vividly described in the story of the
Tree of Knowledge, having decided to become like God through knowledge and our
attempt to understand the heavens and the Earth, we have also become masters in
deciding between good and evil..."
- "...we were always meant to be: universal, total beings. The time for this vast synthesis, for a new encyclopedia of all our knowledge and the formulation of the agenda for our cosmic future, has struck. It is becoming increasingly clear that in this vast evolutionary quantum change the individual remains the alpha and the omega of all our efforts...It is to make each child feel like a king or queen in the universe, an expanded being aggrandized by the vastness of our knowledge. It is to make each human being feel proud to be a member of a transformed species."
This is flattery at its highest: you are the master in
deciding good and evil...you are the alpha and omega...you are royalty - an
aggrandized member of a transformed species.
In the spring of 1997, Muller was the keynote speaker at the Global Citizenship 2000 Youth Congress, a meeting of students, teachers, and education officials from across Vancouver and the lower mainland of British Columbia. The purpose of this event was to enlarge the World Core Curriculum idea and thrust it into the framework of Canadian public education. As Muller explained to the gathering,
"You are not children of Canada, you are really living units of the cosmos because the Earth is a cosmic phenomena...we are all cosmic units. This is why religions tell you, you are divine. We are divine energy..."
His words struck a visible cord, and the atmosphere was charged with the excitement of social transformation (see Hope For The World Update, Fall 1997, for a first-hand report on this event).
J.D. Buck, a mystic and author of repute within esoteric circles, eagerly shared this same occult philosophy in his 1925 work, Mystic Masonry. "It is far more important that men should strive to become Christs than that they should believe that Jesus was Christ...Jesus is no less Divine because all men may reach the same Divine perfection" (p.62).
Early leaders in what has become known today as the New Age Movement, individuals such as Madame Blavatsky, Annie Besant and Alice Bailey, delved heavily into this realm of thought. And today's New Age writers repeat this spiritual flattery. Consider the words of John Davis and Naomi Rice, "It is time to reveal our divine glory, summon our courage, and demonstrate our wisdom. It is not only necessary to worship the Christ, WE MUST BECOME THE VERY CHRIST (capitals in original - Messiah and the Second Coming, p.69.)
The flattery continues: not only are you a god in the making, but your salvation depends on yourself. As Muller's curriculum states, you are the "alpha and omega" - that's how important you are. Salvation, the New Age teaches, is a process that you hold within you.
Anton LaVey candidly encouraged the spiritual adventurer to proclaim, "Say unto thine own heart, 'I am my own redeemer'." (The Satanic Bible, p.33). Blavatsky wrote that "mankind will become freed from its false gods, and find itself finally - SELF-REDEEMED." (capitals and italics in original - The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, p.420). And Henry C. Clausen, while holding the title of Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council 33° of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, wrote that "We must find the answers ourselves. The path to personal enlightenment is introspective." (Emergence of the Mystical, p.62).
And just in case you didn't catch the insinuating flattery found within Clausen's statement, he gives it to his fellow Masons in a more neatly wrapped package; "Your are a towering example of man's ability to burst out of an animalistic state and go forth bravely upon the road toward freedom and enlightened living, ascending ever upward onto a higher spiritual plane" (p.67).
Whoever said that "flattery will get you nowhere" didn't know what he was talking about. Flattery as a religious mind-manipulative technique works remarkably well. Droves of men and women are rushing to embrace the esoteric doctrines of the New Age Movement, complete with its flattering messages of self-deification, self-redemption, and self-enlightenment.
But why would humanity embrace this obvious grand illusion of self-deification? After all, even a casual observation of human nature - with all its corruption, evil-intent, and degradation - completely blows the idea of self-deification out of the water.
Anton LaVey's earlier statement gives us a clue; "…it makes them all feel good."
William Glasser, an internationally known psychiatrist who's work advanced an idea called "control theory," reinforced this concept of "feeling good" in his book "Stations of the Mind".
"To control people successfully we have to guess what it is they desire (what their reference levels are) or in general what gives them pleasure (what causes them pain). Then, well aware of the ancient force of reward and punishment, all a good controller or operant conditioner has to do is to fine-tune his control so that it focuses on specifics. What causes the most pain or the most pleasure with the least effort to me? To be most effective, however, a good controller must discover how to apply these forces in such a way that does not cause conflict, that makes the controlled person happy to be controlled." (p.144).
LaVey's "makes them feel good" statement, and Glasser's idea of making the controlled person "happy to be controlled" follows an age-old concept that is found in the Bible; that sin produces pleasures - it makes you feel good - even if it is only for a short time (Hebrews 11:25). But the Bible also tells you something that this "controlled pleasure" line of thinking does not: that in the end, this "feel good...happy to be controlled" condition has its conclusion in pain, heartache, and death.
All of this brings us around to an interesting observation. Humanity, with its ears tickled by the flattery of the Big Lie, would rather choose to follow an illogical philosophy of self-godhood with its encumbered pride, than humbly face the reality that we cannot redeem ourselves.
By Carl Teichrib