To paraphrase Mark Twain: if you don’t get your news from the corporate media, you’re uninformed. If you get your news from the corporate media, you’re misinformed.

Despite the rise of the internet, the primary tool of the corporate media is still the television. By 2013, four out of five homes on the planet contained at least one television. By comparison, in 2015 only about 46% of the planet was connected to the internet.

For most people, television is the most indispensable of 20th century artifacts. Entire living rooms are organized around them. Again this year on Black Friday, thousands of Americans queued all night in front of their big box retailer of choice, and in the spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, beat the crap out of each other to get their hands on a deeply discounted high-definition flat screen “idiot box.”

Despite its ubiquity, television hasn’t always been an essential part of our décor. In fact, it is a technology that is barely a century old. Initial experiments with television began in the 1920s. After WWII, television sets began colonizing living rooms in the U.S. and Britain, and by the 1950s, it was the main influence on public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic.

The “baby boomer” generation grew up with this technology as their primary source of information and entertainment. It has been such an integral part of their lives, and has so profoundly shaped the way they perceive reality, that for them, it simply is reality. The television is a trusted friend that informs, entertains and keeps them company. Many baby boomers don’t seem to understand that the news is just another show, bought and paid for by advertisers.

We detest door-to-door salesmen. Few of us feel comfortable inviting a stranger into our homes to discuss the finer points of owning an encyclopedia set, the latest edition of the Blue Jeans Bible or a fantastically overpriced vacuum cleaner. Yet this is what we do when we turn on the television. Every program on every channel costs money to produce—including the news. Even on ostensibly commercial-free public broadcasting stations (note the litany of corporate sponsor names invoked before the PBS series NOVA, for example). Television stations raise money to make programs by selling advertising space during a program’s time-slot. If a program is sponsored by Monsanto, for example, Monsanto owns that time-slot, and essentially can make the final call on a wide range of key production decisions. These include control over cast members, directors, producers, and even what content will or will not be allowed in the show. As you can imagine, GMOs would tend to be promoted and presented in a positive light in Monsanto’s time-slot.

It is important to note that this is also how radio, newspapers, magazines and the internet work. As in every other aspect of our world, the people with the money call the shots. Advertising expenses are allocated strategically to promote sales and bring in profits. This is the reason advertisers spend the big bucks to sponsor television programs in the first place—to bring a salesman into our living rooms. We are a captive audience. They keep us glued to the screen with a variety of programs, but these are simply bait. They are mere vehicles for delivering ads right into the privacy of our homes. But advertising may be the least of our worries.

Turn on local news in the U.S. and notice that the average news story runs about 30 seconds in length. An in-depth feature runs for maybe 90 seconds. This is barely enough time to explain how to make macaroni and cheese, much less provide the context, detail and nuance of an important “need to know” news story. Most viewers are unaware that the “stories” being covered are actually pre-packaged segments produced and supplied by public relations companies. They are mere advertisements thinly veiled as news. What passes for reporting today is nothing more than the regurgitation of press releases and official statements from police or other “authorities.”

The incorporation of Twitter comments and other social media content has further degraded the integrity and professionalism of television news. I assume this is supposed to give the news a more interactive feel, lending legitimacy and providing relevance to stories by interjecting the opinion of the man on the street. But how do we know these comments aren’t simply made up to sell the story? After all, Brian Williams was paid $10 million a year to put on a suit, blow dry his hair, muster up his best serious face, look right into the camera and lie to us—for years—and even after he finally got caught, did he disappear forever? Nope. He took six months off and now he is lying to us over on MSNBC.

The U.S. government also produces pre-packaged news. Until 2012, the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 had prevented the U.S. government from using propaganda against U.S. citizens through television, radio, print and online media for 70 years. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Obama and passed by Congress in May 2012 removed this restriction. Not that it was all that effective, since the CIA has been in violation of this law since it launched Project Mockingbird, which is aimed at infiltrating (and controlling) every major media organization on the planet. This activity was brought to light by the Church Committee in 1975:

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of Mockingbird. According to German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, Mockingbird is still very much in operation today.

Moreover, the line between reporting and opinion is increasingly blurred such that it has become difficult to distinguish between statements of fact and editorials. Media personalities like Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper and Bill O’Reilly are assumed to be journalists, when in fact they rarely write, much less investigate, any of what appears on their teleprompters. In England, these people are referred to as “news presenters,” which is much more accurate, and in my opinion, honest. Sadly, none of these individuals are engaged in anything even remotely resembling journalism. Many of these people, in particular Anderson Cooper, a former (current?) CIA employee, are more than likely government operatives positioned to control narratives, narrowly frame stories and spread disinformation to further the dissemination of government propaganda.

My baby boomer family members are addicted to television. Some turn on multiple sets in different rooms to the same channel so they won’t miss a second of programming no matter where they are. Others spend all day in front of the television, which stays on for up to 15 hours a day. The constant drone of inane babble and commercial jingles seem to provide them with a sense of comfort. I catch glimpses of them sitting in a stupor, mouth slightly open, a blank look on the face. It’s like a scene in an opium den. If they were actually drug addicts, I would want to do something to help them regain control of themselves so that they could spend their time engaged in more meaningful and rewarding pursuits. So, I have tried to warn them about the dangers of television and encourage them to be skeptical of the news. They look at me with blank stares of confusion. They nod their heads in patronizing agreement, but their eyes say “he’s crazy.” Apparently, the phony rhetoric of paid actors on the boob tube is more persuasive than a sincere family member motivated by genuine love and concern for their well-being.

But that’s how destructive addictions can be. It turns out television does, in fact, affect the brain like a drug. Consider this excerpt from Applied Neuro Technologies:

“In an experiment in 1969, Herbert Krugman monitored a person through many trials and found that in less than one minute of television viewing, the person’s brainwaves switched from Beta waves–brainwaves associated with active, logical thought–to primarily Alpha waves. When the subject stopped watching television and began reading a magazine, the brainwaves reverted to Beta waves.

“Research indicates that most parts of the brain, including parts responsible for logical thought, tune out during television viewing. The impact of television viewing on one person’s brain state is obviously not enough to conclude that the same consequences apply to everyone, but research has repeatedly shown that watching television produces brainwaves in the low Alpha range.

“Advertisers have known about this for a long time and they know how to take advantage of this passive, suggestible, brain state of the TV viewer. There is no need for an advertiser to use subliminal messages. The brain is already in a receptive state, ready to absorb suggestions, within just a few seconds of the television being turned on. All advertisers have to do is flash a brand across the screen, and then attempt to make the viewer associate the product with something positive.”

The human brain did not develop in an environment where it had to discern between physical reality and the hyper-reality on a television/movie/computer screen. As we get older, our memories become corrupted as what we lived and what we saw on television become intertwined and confused. Consider how many people claim to have seen the JFK assassination live on TV, even though it was not actually televised. Or how many of us suffer from post-traumatic stress after having viewed the 9/11 event on live television from the safety of our homes. Events viewed on television invoke an emotional response and can result in real stress and trauma, even if the events are fictional (e.g. horror movies) and even though we didn’t experience them first hand (e.g. war movies). Like a powerful drug, watching television changes your brain chemistry and damages your body.

In the 1990s, I first became aware of a trend on talk shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as local and cable news networks, toward a focus on emotions rather than objective statements of fact. At first, it seemed bizarre that a presenter or reporter would shove a microphone into someone’s face and ask, “How did you feel when you found out your child had been killed?” Or “What was going through your mind as the plane was crashing?” To me, it wasn’t difficult to imagine how anyone would feel in such situations. It seemed wildly inappropriate to essentially force people to relive a personal tragedy—it appeared as if they were trying to make people cry. Today, when we look at coverage of events that allegedly took place in Paris or San Bernardino, these kinds of questions and appeals to emotion make up the bulk of coverage. There is an overabundance of editorializing on the part of the news presenter. We are supposed to feel the victims’ pain. We are supposed to feel outrage and frustration. Most of all, we are supposed to feel fear. Fear is the common denominator on television, from news coverage to advertising. We are supposed to be afraid of terrorists and climate change during the news broadcasts, then be afraid of having bad breath or ring around the collar during the commercial break. Fear is the ultimate facilitator of programming and mind control.

It should be obvious by now why they are called television programs: Television actually “programs” our brain to believe in a false reality and shapes the way we perceive and understand the world. When we watch television, we are in a passive, non-critical state of mind, ideal for conditioning through techniques including subliminal messaging and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Both concepts are illustrated in this video by brilliant NLP master Derren Brown.

It should be clear how this kind of programming is effective at influencing purchases or brand choices. Unfortunately, the use of these techniques is not limited to advertising. They are also widely used in television news to shape the way viewers perceive and understand issues. Watch how Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes utilize NLP techniques to manipulate and control their guest, Professor Kevin Barrett, in this FOX NEWS “interview.”

When it comes to mind control, there is no better environment than the movie theater. The lights dim, everyone is silent and focused on the flickering lights and booming sound emanating from the massive screen in front of them. Studies show that the brain activity of people watching movies actually synchronize into one pattern. We can assume that television has a similar effect in terms of its influence on viewer brain activity. The advent of the home theater has transformed our living rooms into mind control chambers.

Television today is dominated by oxymoronic “reality TV” programs that seem designed to promote narcissism, immorality, materialism, anti-intellectualism and class/racial/gender divisions. Over the nearly 100 years since its inception, television has become more violent, sexually explicit, vacuous and infused with advertisements than anyone could have ever imagined in the 1950s. As author James Perloff noted, if television had started out this way, no one would have wanted one in the first place. Despite all this, people clamor over a chance to get a deal on a Wi-Fi enabled Orwellian spy portal, displayed proudly in a position of prominence in what used to be called the “family room.”

Of course, none of this is by chance. The people who developed and promoted television understood its psychological usefulness from the very start, and their manipulative techniques have become increasingly subtle, pervasive and effective over the past 75 years. Television is the most effective tool for mass manipulation ever created. Unlike the internet, television is by and large not interactive, and as I have tried to show above, the very act of viewing television puts us in a passive state of mind making us easily susceptible to programming and control.

Since the JFK assassination (and probably earlier), television has been used to spread disinformation, quash critical inquiry and shape history according to a predetermined narrative rather than reality. When television presents us with lies, we accept them without question because we are not in a mental state that enables us to think critically. This is how the U.S. government, no longer prohibited from propagandizing its own people, is able to use the medium of television to carry out psychological operations (PSY-OPS) such as false flag terrorist attacks and staged mass shootings to manipulate the American people into going along with agendas that are not in our best interests.

In this still dawning digital age, many predict the death of television, but I don’t think the internet is necessarily going to replace it just yet. For the time being, the internet offers more choice and freedom than television, and we have greater control over when, where and how we use it. For these reasons, the internet is dangerous to those who seek to control how we perceive the world. I’m not sure they can put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to the internet—but they will definitely try. Until that day, the television will continue to be TPTB’s most powerful weapon of mass delusion.