The use of propaganda here is subtle and indirect. As a result of this study, a new type of influence was developed. When standard techniques of persuasion failed, then a team would try to identify what was the motivation behind the behavior that would change (example: picking up kids late.) The team would then create a strategy for redefining that motivation (fines=pay to pick kids up late.) The goal being to reshape the motivation into one that could be influenced.


After the Council of Nicaea declared usury a Christian sin, it redefined how banks and loans functioned across all Christendom. Now the interest on a loan was no longer a business decision, but a moral one. Banks across Rome began to collapse when their interest rates didn’t bring enough revenue to sustain their business. This allowed for powerful religious leaders to enter the banking business with few competitors. Redefining interest and loans as a moral principle made people more likely to seek out loans from religious leaders and churches.

 Notes on the heading:

 The connection between the moral laws laid down at Nicaea and church running banks is a thin one. Throughout most of human history, churches and temples functioned as banks, providing loans for those that needed them.

I wanted to use the example of the Council of Nicaea as it was referenced in an earlier chapter heading and therefore readers would be familiar with it.

I think my biggest worry is not that I have seen this tactic used often, but rather that it might be.

A school was having trouble with mothers picking up their children late after school. It made the teachers have to stay late, waiting for parents to arrive. They introduced a fine system for every time a mother was late.

The original motivator for picking up a child on time was guilt. If you picked up your kids late, you were not a good parent.

The fine established a new way to evaluate that decision. You could simply pay if you need more time at the grocery store, or to finish a conversation with a good friend, or even need a nap.

The fine system was disastrous, and more mothers were late picking up their children than ever before, and they were late more often. The system was removed, but the behavior didn’t change back. You see the fine system introduced a new way of making decisions for the mothers, and even when it was gone, their new way of making choices wasn’t.