Doubt everything playbook


Incite emotions

BBC Radio 4 broadcast a series of fifteen-minute episodes. ‘How They Made Us Doubt Everything’ suggests vested interests subvert the truth. Reading some blog articles opposing the inference the series makes. They appear to utilise the same playbook tactics. This only goes to illustrate just how clever the playbook is. It really works even if you suspect you are being played.  

Stage one.

Persistently sow doubt. Disregard evidence-based facts. Incite emotions as to the validity of the those opposing your chosen viewpoint. It does not much matter if what you say is somewhat questionable. Your objective is to insight emotions. Humans are irrational. Emotions will override rational argument.

Examples of this is smoking is highly addictive and causes cancer. For decades, the evidence has been conclusive. Many people admitted to hospital with lung cancer, smoked. My grandfather was eminent doctor. He knew smoking caused cancer but continued to smoke. Shortly after discharge from hospital he crawled up the stairs. We were alone in the house. I was a small boy unable to help. However, the emotion of not being able to help ensured I never smoked.

Global warming the facts mount up. Forrest fires, floods, heat waves, melting ice sheets. Yet fossil fuel producers counter the research by financing those suggesting the opposite. Interestingly those opposing climate change are generally elderly. The young on the whole get it. They will face the consequences for example Greta Thunberg, school strikes.

UK, Brexit debate yet another example of inciting emotional arguments over facts. Vested interests ensured Brexit debate was emotional. As the outcome proved highly effective.

Stage two

Your product doubt

When the evidence mounts up. Reframe theory as not fact. The objective is to make change a non-issue. An example of that 'smoking is addictive.' Then regardless as to whether you have won the debate declare victory.

Pump money into scientific research and if necessary reframe findings.  Finance think tanks, PR machines, lobbyists, the media and make political donations. Manufacture and emphasis doubt

Above all employ others to do your bidding. Above all the public should not know who or why such campaigns are organised and managed. Remember your product is doubt.


At the end of the day change requires culture change and generally that only occurs from the bottom up. My generation grew up watching numerous marketing campaigns. As to the wonders of smoking. Most of us grew up in smoked filled rooms and then went on to see our peers go onto die from lung cancer.

Many of my generation chose to not smoke. That eventually forced government to implement no-smoking zones. Today many see smoking has anti-social habit. A bit like drinking and driving.

My generation also saw the change from drinking and driving as being an acceptable habit. To one that was not.

Having stated that with the rise of self-driving cars. It may once again become an acceptable habit to drink and then get into a car and have the car drive you home. Although you could probably still be charged as being drunk in charge of a conveyance.

About the author 

Christopher Bird

Building your own Power App, BI solution, or automated workflow can be a mind-blowing experience. It can also be a nightmare. Particularly when you begin with a blank screen. My advice, get professional help as and when you need it. That's what successful people do.

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