by the Sandwichman
The Sandwichman continues to ponder how the Big Lie works as a message. Exhibit "A" is "More Doctors Smoke Camels than any other Cigarette." Let's begin from the premise that the relative popularity of cigarette brands among medical professionals is not really the issue. I mean, who cares? But is the insinuation that "cigarettes are good for your health" at all believable? Was it ever? I suspect not.
The clue to how the Big Lie works may lie in the very unbelievability of the message.
Adolf Hitler had something revealing to say about this in Mein Kampf. He talked about how people eventually "submit" to the repeated propaganda message. They don't come to believe it. They simply give up.
But what form might such submission or surrender take?
Here's my hypothesis: when subjected to a repeated, patently unbelievable message people eventually come to discount and ignore the message. But they don't do so with a great deal of precision. Instead, they tend to put up a mental screen that blunts the propaganda message by indiscriminately also shutting out "similar" messages on the same general topic -- including the countervailing message that smoking is bad for you. Of course this filtering would be most effective if it also enabled people to ignore unwelcome information. Thus the take away from "more doctors smoke camels" would be "don't pay any attention to evidence that smoking is bad for you."