Carla Mardell | How to run a fear-based Health campaign in Australia

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How we were programmed and gas-lit by health messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic

Rumble | The COVID Inquiry 2.0 is a cross-party, non-parliamentary inquiry held on the 17th August 2022

Carla Mardell, who has a Bachelor of Education, is an EFT practitioner, Postgraduate Certificate of Digital and Collaborative Technology, NLP Coach Practitioner. She discusses how we have been programmed in our beliefs with conditioning.

Senator Malcolm Roberts:
We now welcome Carla Mardell, who has a Bachelor of Education, is an EFT practitioner, Postgraduate Certificate of Digital and Collaborative Technology, NLP Coach Practitioner. More importantly, she’s got an inquisitive mind. Carla started her working life training as a dispensary technician in pharmacy and quickly switched career pathway to education. She was introduced to psychology and sociology, which underpins both her undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications and personal interests. Carla has a strong interest in learning behaviour and motivation. She’s a mother who recently worked in the education arena for 19 years in multiple countries. Carla examined intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors through the use of digital media tools and platforms in educational settings. Recently, she pursued her own interest in NLP, a system of connecting the neurological system with the conscious and unconscious mind to examine the blockages that are holding back individuals from achieving behavioural excellence and success. She’s also gone into… Well, I’ll let her tell her story in recent times with what’s happened in this mismanagement of our country’s response to COVID. And she’s starting to see how we have been programmed in our beliefs with conditioning. So over to you, Ms. Mardell.

Carla Mardell:
Thank you, Malcolm. I’m going to start that teachers are never given magic wands. Knowledge in the behaviour sciences is necessary to maximise learning impact in the classroom. Thus, sociology and psychology aspects are part of teacher education. This is what sparked my interest. The thing is that this knowledge of how to manipulate or change behaviours is transferable into other areas of life. I’ve been fortunate enough to research and study from the perspective of educational psychology in my undergraduate and postgraduate studies and learn neuro-linguistic programming techniques or NLP for short. And NLP conditioning is defined as the effect that perceived or earlier real beliefs have to influence behaviours and actions. This is slightly different to traditional psychology. However, the end result is the same, manipulation or change of behaviour. I’m first going to discuss how belief system operates as this has a huge impact on the behaviours we choose or feel we have to choose from. Our beliefs are very powerful.

When we have knowledge, experiences or beliefs, our brain adjusts its filtering mechanisms or reticular activating system to identify and accept new ideas that match those we hold. Filtering from the onslaught of information we receive through all our senses, this filter acts as a camera lens. It focuses on the subjects we are aware of and blurs the rest into the background. Let me give an example most people will relate to. You buy a new car, a sparkling silver Toyota Hilux for some. Before purchase or making that decision to purchase, you did not notice how many of these vehicles there were. They were blurred into the background. But now you own one, you see them everywhere. This is your reticular activating system at work. And this filter system reinforces our beliefs, regardless of if they are positive or negative, true or untrue. It allows data through the filter that feeds our beliefs to validate them.

It reinforces subconscious or conscious beliefs. Subconscious beliefs are often beliefs that we acquire in childhood and we are not aware that we even have them and that they shape our life. And this is why there is such a divide between those that have decided to take the COVID-19 injectables and those that did not. Everyone has varying experiences setting their RAS filters and therefore allowing information through to authenticate their beliefs. Those who sought to positively reinforce their belief that COVID would cause harm to them and their loved ones did not have to go far to validate this belief. Their reticular activating system found a myriad of information in many forms from the 10 o’clock news briefings to traffic signs, to posters, to news and print and TV form, to masks reminding them that the world was not okay, to science, to social distance and audio messaging on repeat at the mall. All of it encouraged and validated their belief or worldview of COVID.

Those that questioned or sought factual information to validate their beliefs had to dig past fact-checkers and social media bans, touts and claims of misinformation and societal pressure ridiculing them and labelling them as conspiracy theorists or applying the negative label, anti-vaxxers. These people have also had to ignore psychological processes and tools such as gaslighting, fear of missing out and herd mentality, all being while they were vilified, bullied and cancelled with the label, misinformation.

Now, misinformation is an interesting concept and a Canadian judge put it as this in February as:

Is misinformation even a real word? Or has it become a crass, self-serving tool to pre-empt scrutiny and discredit your opponent? To de-legitimise questions and strategically avoid giving answers. Blanket denials are almost never acceptable in our adversarial system. Each party always has the onus to prove their case and yet misinformation has crept into the court lexicon. A childish but sinister way of saying “You’re so wrong. I don’t even have to explain why you’re wrong.”

The phrase misinformation led to omitting or cancelling any scientific debate and presents only one set of information in this COVID narrative. In all my study, I’ve been able to prove or disprove my argument by omitting or cancelling conflicting arguments. To prove that blogging has a positive influence on boys’ motivation to write, I simply found the studies that supported my argument and omitted or ignored those journal articles that say the opposite, A plus.

In COVID, this set of valid knowledge was labelled misinformation and hidden behind fact checks and warning labels, and it still is. People trusted blindly that everyone operates from truth. The belief and trust and misinformation labels forms a major part in the effect on conditioning people and therefore their behaviour. Omitting information from the public domain was instrumental in manipulating people’s beliefs. Let me explain. From early on in the COVID saga, it was denied by media and health officials that there were any treatments for COVID-19 infections.

However, doctors frequently used drugs off label to treat symptoms when they arise. While we were told there were no treatments available other than an injectable labelled a vaccine, doctors around the globe were actually investigating treatments and performing rigorous scientific studies. A database on studies of treatments for COVID-19 does exist and always has. This database lists all drugs trial for COVID-19 treatments. It overviews, summarise and keeps a running tally of study results. These studies are mostly peer-reviewed journal published studies, quality rigorous data.

To protect myself as I am not a doctor, I’ve flunked out this drug’s name. However, it is one of many in this database that is meticulously studied by multiple teams of trusted health experts globally, and denied. This database resource is available for all. It does not come up in searches easily. And I know that CHO’s and health departments that have been made aware of this database’s existence.

I question, how many people, including medical professionals would’ve felt differently about COVID-19 had they seen there was rigorous research on COVID-19 treatments? How many would have different belief systems and responded or behaved differently?

And this is not the only information omitted. While Australian institutions were busy rolling out modelling for COVID-19 infections, there were studies showing real time and using real time, showing contradictions to this modelling. The European Journal of Epidemiology clearly shows that increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries, 2,947 counties in the United States. (01) Please note, the date is September 30, 2021. The Lancet and British Medical Journal also published similar articles.

If we had seen this information in the news, would people have the same beliefs? Would they have made the same choices? Would people have supported vaccine passports? Would employers have sacked employees for not undertaking a medical procedure? Would judges ruled cases differently because their beliefs were different?

When humans are immersed in an environment that constantly reinforces a belief day after day, it is difficult for them to believe anything else. Motivation comes from consistency and repetition of messaging in the environment. The marketing publication, Mumbrella, reported that in June 2021, an average study shows COVID dominated up to 80% of all news coverage in 2020. That is a whopping 2.5 million news items that were on COVID in some form or another.

The report itself discusses the role of journalists in COVID reporting and how much of their content came from politicians and health departments as the journalists deemed this information as most current. I have this referenced. I’ve already mentioned that these departments were not viewing a wide range of current journal published research and data. So where did the global messaging come from? We’ve already heard where some of it came from, and it’s been stated that who drove centralised messaging and nudge teams, also contributed to the messaging.

A nudge team I would like to explore is The Behavioural Insights Team, The BI Team. Nudge teams sell solutions on how to influence people and the BI Team reports some of what they do in blogs and podcasts. Their other topics and their ownership model is very interesting if you care to look. On their website, they list having worked with Victoria Health and the New South Wales Cabinet and Premier’s office. And I must make clear, I do not know what they worked on. I do not know that they worked on COVID, but I have included this example because BI Team specifically made a commitment to communicating their results from their US study on vaccine uptake to policymakers and stakeholders around the world. So we have all seen this messaging.

Now, BI Team forms this messaging. And I was going to run through it, but I’ll run over time. So have a look at the slide. They formed this messaging, developing, refining and testing vaccine messages by scanning the existing behavioural science literature on vaccine uptake by running five randomised controlled trials and by hosting 15 focus groups in English and Spanish.

This was before they tested their messages on 20,000 participants in the US. If it sounds coordinated, expensive and precise, it probably is. Examining the BI Team messages and rationale behind them with an NLP lens, these messages use highly presumptive language, which NLP acknowledges bypasses critical thinking. This is a technique to instigate behaviour change.

I’ve put up the results from BI Team just to run through. We’ll have to just pause if anyone wants to have a look at that. Okay. Doctors are instructed to use presumptuous language, assuming acceptance. Instead of saying, what do you want to do about shots? Practitioners are instructed to say, your child needs three shots today. And this is listed in a paper on the NIH website. Those who did not choose to take the COVID-19 injectable were sent frequent messages from their state employers to upload vaccination status. No asking if they would take the injectable, just a presumption they would. There are so many of these short, sharp statements that were parroted with meanings that can only be made when we make presumptions. Let’s explore some of them. Two doses gives protection. Protection from what? I would have to presume, protection is from death. But is this even true given I have no comorbidities and I’m not on of an age where death is recorded as being a factor for COVID death?

Oxford University’s calculator informs me my chance of dying due to Delta is one in 66,000. So what does protection actually mean? When questions have been asked to dispel any presumptions and clarify questions, answers have not been forthcoming. I know multiple people that have a stack of letters from Melinda at Queensland Health that dodged questions requesting or acquiring fact-based answers. It’s interesting to note that when Queensland Health have been wrong, Melinda is not listed on the internal staff directory in the department stated on the return documentation. When transferred to the department, Melinda is not known by any staff and cannot be located. So invalidating individual’s questions and prioritising only a single set of truth or so-called scientific facts has definitely shaped people’s behaviours and it is also a form of gaslighting.

Due to our pre-stipulations and decades of study, the psychologist I consulted wishes not to be named to protect their career. So I will touch on what gaslighting is and how it has been used to change or influence people’s behaviour.

These are signs of gaslighting in any relationship, and included in relationships is that with authority and media.

Signs of gaslighting: sense of impending doom, questioning your own judgement and perception, feeling alone and powerless, second guessing yourself, feeling vulnerable and insecure, beginning to assume you are what you are told you are, assuming others are disappointed in you, doubting feelings and reality, disappointment in yourself, struggle to make decisions and distrusting yourself, doubting feelings and reality, confusion, feelings of being too sensitive, and spending time apologising.

These signs were amplified by those that declined or could not consent to taking the COVID-19 injectables. The gaslighting followed by discrimination and subsequent bullying and vilification tactics is not only obvious, but it is encouraged.

The charge was led by our then premiere, Gladys B. by commenting in a press conference what’s the effect that she herself would be weary of associating with anyone unvaccinated. And let’s not forget the channel seven Christmas special, How to deal with unvaccinated family at Christmas?

People declining the injectables were openly told others were disappointed in them, that they faced a sense of impending doom or death, that they were letting others down, that their opinions were fictional, that they would be a burden on everyone’s healthcare system and workers. The politicians and officials set the tone that it was okay to name-call and vilify.

Human rights groups turned a blind eye to the blatant discrimination because it wasn’t one of the attributes of discrimination on their list. Replace anti-vaxxer with any term used to describe sexuality or race, and this type of behaviour would’ve attracted front page news.

A CHO stated that the group who did not consent took up a disproportionate amount of oxygen, despite the fact that they could have once been hard working, law abiding medical staff on his team, teachers at his children’s schools, baristas at his cafe, or police that helped his own mother in a car crash.

The Health Ombudsman decided it was okay for a medical professional to make the statement despite it being against our Press Code of Conduct and having multiple complaints. I’m sure this is not ethical and there seem to be a lot of offices and institutions disqualifying those refusing vaccination.

Used almost as much as gaslighting was a conditioning method and classical psychology called shaping. Shaping is where we stipulate a desired behaviour. Then we break it up into steps and praise or reward each step to positively reinforce the leap of progress until the desired behaviour is achieved.

I will demonstrate using the Queensland roadmap to show the four textbook conditions used in this operant conditioning method as described by Martin and peer best.

The first step, it is essential to specify the final behaviour. And as you can see, using this roadmap, the final behaviour is 90% vaccination rate.

Second, you need to select a starting behaviour. The starting behaviour is to get vaccinated.

Three, then you must establish shaping steps. As vaccination rates go up, restrictions are removed, therefore positively reinforcing vaccination behaviour. These are the shaping steps.

Targeting a group to a behaviour outcome is effective as it applies social pressure. Remember those maps with vaccination rates comparing regions? They appeal to the competitive and team players in society. Fourth, or the fourth step of shaping is you must move at the correct pace when shaping behaviour. The rewards at every step are mentioned on a timeline until the final behaviour is reached and borders are open.

For me, seeing classical psychology used has been an unnerving process. I’ve saved, however, the two big guns that will shape beliefs and motivate behaviour to last, fear and punishment.

Fear is a top motivator for behaviour, and it’s actually classified as a prime motivator because it is the base of many other motivators and is often the strongest driver of our behaviour. This is because it is rooted in our childhood experiences and beliefs, which move us subconsciously that is in ways that we are not aware.

Fear of missing out or FOMO is highly effective with younger populations. Hence, the vaccine passports appeal to the younger populations as to not miss out as to virtue signal that they had followed instructions, just like they were rewarded at school.

Vaccine passports also served as a motivator to this group by being a novelty on a device. As soon as cases got to triple numbers, contact tracing was unable to be done. So was this money well spent? Standard fear, however, is well researched to achieve control. In fact, Michael Crichton writes in his book, State of Fear, that social control is best managed through fear. And indeed, public health know very well the effect fear has on instigating behavioural change.

A meta analysis on using fear-based messages conclude that fear appeals best work when they are… Well, sorry. Fear appeals best work when there is a high severity of threat and an accompanying highly effective message to avert the threat. This means we must perceive the threat as a real danger.

An efficacy message must make us believe that we are able to perform recommended responses to avert the threat. The action people could confidently perform to avert or lessen the level of danger was vaccination, and it was marketed as such. Intensity of fear can be achieved using vivid language and pictures that describe the threat.

This occurred where nudge teams and marketing companies were paid large sums of money to advertise in moving pictures to instigate the fear. In other words, videos. Search Mumbrella’s articles to find this evidence.

A textbook public health campaign is detailed in the 1998 study that gives us a roadmap to the last two years. See if you recognise the similarities as I detail how to run a textbook public health campaign based on fear.

  • One, fear onset should occur before this desired behaviour is offered.
  • Two, the event upon which fear is based should appear to be likely.
  • Three, a specific desired behaviour should be offered as part of the campaign.
    • This was vaccination.
  • The level of fear elicited should only be such that the desired behaviour offered is sufficient to substantially reduce the fear.
  • And five, the fear offset should occur as a reinforcer for the desired behaviour confirming its effectiveness.

However, someone forgot to tell the public health officials that fear as a motivator is often short-lived. This is because fear levels must be maintained, and that is difficult. People also become desensitised to fear levels the longer they’re exposed to fear. And you cannot talk up fear once people have seen otherwise. When people’s experiences are not matching the initial messaging, distrust of authorities creates a fear-based campaign, which does not match reality. Hence, why I believe we are not seeing the uptake of boosters.

Another note on fear. Campaigns which attempt to use fear as part of the punishment procedure are unlikely to succeed in persuading anyone, unless that, as we have seen choices on bodily integrity become an ultimatum to be able to perform and provide for your family, otherwise known as mandates for work. Take the vaccination or starve.

So when all the positive motivators or carrots had been played, then the stick or punishment comes into play. Get the vaccine to take part in society or be punished.

And punishment came in the form of being banned from taking part in activities enjoyed and essentially segregated from society. Punishment in the form of segregation and isolation from social groups is often the most extreme punishment. Isolation is a super powerful motivator and only used as a final resort. Think of the detention system at school, putting someone into the prison system. And within that prison system, isolation cells. Isolation messes with mental health, and this too is well documented.

This was dealt at the time as the other cruel punishment, mandating vaccinations in order to work and therefore feed your family. I want to make clear to everyone. When percentages of vaccinated people are discussed, it is not the number of willing members of the population that walked in on their own free will.

These numbers include a significant number of law abiding and once trusting members of the population that put the COVID-19 injectables into their body as they were coerced. They did so against their will to feed their families. It includes a large proportion of people who know that their beliefs were manipulated or might even see it that they were lied to.

Okay. Every single person had a choice to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. Many lost houses, many lost careers, many lost friends, all built communities and friendships that run deep.

These were law abiding and trusting individuals.

In marketing, they say, one unhappy customer tells 12 others with the population’s beliefs changing as their experience does not match the hype they’re now seeing that they indeed are the knowledgeable. And once trust is lost, it is difficult to build back.

So my message is to know you are influenced. We live in a world where we make our own knowledge from information and emotions. Often that information targets us by algorithms invented by search engines and social media companies, but also news websites and shopping platforms. We are displayed news articles based on what our browsing history states. Thus, we all get a personalised experience, but we also have our belief systems reinforced and not challenged.

I suggest as a solution, challenge your belief systems, read the books, follow the money, know bias exists and know history.

Malcolm Roberts:
Wow. Thank you very much. That’s comprehensive. I’ve just checked with Craig and Senator Babet, and we haven’t got any questions, but we’ve got plenty to think about.

Senator Ralph Babet:
I just got a statement to make. That is so true, fear is a great motivator to get people to do what you want. And it’s not just COVID fear, it’s all sorts of fear. Fear of climate change.

Carla Mardell: Yes.

Fear of an external enemy. Whatever it is, it is a great motivator. Well said.

And whether it’s true or not.


Malcolm Roberts:
I would just add, though, I think you touched on this. You alluded to it. I once took over a business with about 300 people employed. And the previous manager who had been atrocious had repeatedly threatened that they’d have to shut the business. And when I got there, I had a previous experience there in a lower and middle management role and they knew that I could be trusted. And people just walked up to me and said, if you’re going to shut the damn joint, shut it. And we turn it around. That people after a while, they just get conditioned. And fear doesn’t work after a while.

That’s right. And beliefs can be changed.


Beliefs can be changed.

So thank you so much.

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Penny (

Truth-seeker, ever-questioning, ever-learning, ever-researching, ever delving further and deeper, ever trying to 'figure it out'. This site is a legacy of sorts, a place to collect thoughts, notes, book summaries, & random points of interests.