How To: Convince Others To Do Your Bidding

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Method #1: By Remote Control
It's every despot's dream: Tiny electrodes, implanted into the brains of your subjects, compelling them to follow your command. Priceless. Of course, the technology has more "ethical" applications as well. Currently, scientists are experimenting with electrodes that can make several different species of animals perform useful work, including protecting humans. At the State University of New York Health Science Center, microchip-enhanced rats have been trained to identify plastic explosives. Researchers get the rats to turn left or right through a rubble maze by stimulating a part of the brain that makes the rats think their whiskers have been tickled on one side. When the rats smell the chemicals used in plastic explosives, they pause for 10 seconds. Their reward for a successful ID: Remote stimulation of their pleasure centers. The Pentagon is also researching remote-controlled animals, in this case sharks, with the hopes that the military may someday be able to use the creatures as covert spies—taking advantage of the shark's natural ability to swim silently, sense electrical gradients, and follow chemical trails.
Pros: Tracking down bombs and enemy ships is useful to any budding totalitarian.
Cons: Unless you have a lot of dissident dogfish on your hands, it won't help quell rebellion.

Method #2: By Parasite
Toxoplasma gondii is a small creature, but it wields enormous power.

Mice ingest this parasite from eating cat feces and, once in their brains, toxoplasma prompts the mice into risky behavior that, yes, makes the more likely to be eaten by the cats. What can we say, it's a mutually beneficial cycle. Of course, people also come into frequent contact with cat feces via the dread litterbox. Scientists estimate that nearly 40 percent of humans worldwide carry toxoplasma gondii but, other than being a potential danger to unborn babies, we always thought the parasite was no problem for us. Turns out, we were wrong. In 2006, a researcher at Australia's Sydney Institute of Technology discovered that toxoplasma can control human behavior as well. In men, this control manifests similarly to mice, causing guys to be more reckless, more violent, and less intelligent. For women, however, toxoplasma has a different effect, leading them to be more friendly, more outgoing, and"¦more promiscuous. Why sexy women and dumb men help the toxoplasma, nobody knows—yet. But humans beware, a different study showed that toxoplasma victims of both sexes are more likely to be cause a car crash and have higher rates of schizophrenia than the unaffected population.
Pros: With half the people in the world already infested, it saves billions on implementation costs!
Cons: Parasite only controls people to do certain things. Some of those things sound like fun"¦but still, there's limited practical application.

Method #3: By Psychological Mind Control

Put on your tin hats and get ready to be shocked. From 1950 to 1965, the CIA and the Canadian government funded mind control experiments run by Dr. Ewan Cameron, the first president of the World Psychiatric Association. No, really. Cameron's research centered on a technique he called "psychic driving," which involved breaking down a mentally ill patient's damaged personality. In exchange for the equivalent of $500,000 US, he agreed to apply the same techniques to mind control. Unwitting patients at Montreal's Allen Memorial Institute (many suffering from nothing more than mild depression) were subjected to such "treatments" as months-long drug induced sleep, surprise LSD trips, and extra-strength electroshock—all while a series of statements played over and over in their headphones. The effects were profound. One woman, who had been a college honors student, spent the rest of her life suffering from recurring bouts of incontinence and thumb sucking. In the 1970s, many victims got together to seek legal action. In 1994, the CIA and the Canadian government settled out of court, paying the defendants thousands of dollars in damages. A few people, whose psychological damage was less severe, had to wait even longer. In 2004, the Canadian government agreed to pay reparations to them as well, in one case as much as $100,000.
Pros: Actually works on humans!
Cons: lf the CIA couldn't win the ensuing legal case, what makes you think you would?

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February 27, 2007 - 5:42am
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