I can fool millions of people into believing a falsehood by writing a news article that follows a simple formula, like this:
"Did you know that sunscreen lotion contains toxic chemicals that are more likely to give you cancer than UV light ? Or that children's vitamins contain cyanide, in a chemical called cyanocobalamin (look for it on the bottle, it's there! ), which is a cheap form of vitamin B12 used by the vitamin industry to maximize profits at the expense of our health ? If you've been looking for the organics label in the supermarket, or considering natural and herbal remedies over the chemical junk they sell in the drugstore, then you are part of a new, longer-living social elite . By 'Liking' this article, you can help others discover the benefits of a Naturological lifestyle ."
Hook the reader, draw them in, set an adversarial context with the reader on your side, flatter them, then get them to commit to their new feelings.
These news products rarely contain outright fabrications; instead they serve a fact in a way that makes it taste completely different, like how salt can trick the tongue into tasting an ingredient that wasn't actually used. For example, commercial vitamin B12 actually does contain cyanide, but it's not in a form that can poison you, just like the iron in your diet won't give you heavy metal poisoning, nor will the cobalt in naturally occurring cobalamin. And yet a fact, presented selectively, can make an essential supplement look hazardous. It's not just "dumb" people who fall into the trap of believing nonsense, even smart people can believe in weird things.
Soon your audience will not only be ready to buy your line of "all-natural" lotions and supplements, but they'll also begin to proselytize them to their friends. At this point, you can begin to employ techniques that strengthen your grip on their minds and expand your reach:
Get your followers to make your brand part of their own identity, pull them into a tribal community, make them show it visibly, give them role-models to follow and celebrities to worship, and train them to defend the brand and community reflexively.
It doesn't matter if the improvements in people's lives weren't actually caused by your product or methods, as long as it coincides with when they began using them. In any large group there will always be someone who's runny nose was going to clear up anyway, and no way to conclusively prove that it wasn't your product that did it.
Once you have a community of followers who not only support you financially, but also voluntarily perform the hard work of evangelizing and defending the faith, you can move on to the advanced stages:
Control vocabulary to force the opposition to talk about their side in uncertain terms, give your followers a false sense of empowerment, dress them in the trappings of credibility, create a malleable focal-point for all discussion about your system, and remove the primary objection in a way that does not actually affect your wealth.
These all interfere with an individual's ability to judge you on their terms, so they are forced to treat both you and the opposition subjectively. The majority of your potential converts, as well as your critics, are not sufficiently educated to understand why your theory is junk, so they will turn to authority instead. You need to manufacture your own authority and make it superficially indistinguishable from the real thing.
Non-Profit status does not mean you have to give away all the money. With the right tax setup a foundation merely has to give away 5% of its endowment per year, which is nothing compared to the return on your investments and the steady income from your fans. Nor, for that matter, will it have any affect on the salary you choose to pay yourself and the houses, yachts and cars you have the foundation "loan" to you.
Now that you are in an unassailable position of power, you may-or-may-not wish to engage in the ultimate stages of junk science:
Force the unwilling to fund your empire, establish yourself as the lone voice against the mob, generously provide psychological comfort to those who slipped through the cracks, bend the culture's memory to your favor, and saddle future generations with unrealizable anticipation. You are now a God.
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