We now explore the legacy of Edward Bernays, the father of modern public relations. PR firms have convinced the public to do everything from smoke a particular brand of cigarettes to wage war, often without the public ever knowing they're being manipulated.
Initially, Americans had little interest in the Iraq-Kuwait conflict. That is, until a young woman calling herself Nurse Nayirah testified in front of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She claimed that Iraqi forces were ripping premature Kuwaiti infants from incubators and killing them. The emotional effect of her testimony resonated with the American public, and the UN consequently approved the use of force against Iraq.
Except that her story was fake. False. Made up. She was not a nurse - she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador, and she was coached by a PR firm called Hill & Knowlton on what to say. H&K was paid $10 million by Citizens for a Free Kuwait to help them attract public sympathy and to their cause.
So, what does this mean for us today? Listen critically. Check sources. Be suspicious of appeals to your emotions that are not backed up by fact. Now that you know how easily (and dirtily) PR firms manipulate the public, you can start to see through their tactics and find the truth.