Adolph and the Free Sh*t Model


I really don’t like invoking Adolph, and I don’t like “swear words,” especially in headlines. But today I’m hard pressed to avoid either, and so I’ll just go with it.

I can’t avoid Adolph because he said something more clearly than anyone else I’m able to quote. Here’s the passage:

I have not come into this world to make men better, but to make use of their weaknesses.

And that’s precisely what he did. It’s also what Google, Facebook, and other “free sh*t” providers are doing. They are amassing power by using human weaknesses… and the bosses know it quite well.

The Foundation of the Problem

A friend recently sent me an article by Nathan McDonald of “Sprott Money News.” In it, Mr. McDonald complains that people “are blissfully ignoring the ensnaring net that is slowly being drawn around them.” And he’s right of course. He goes on to say,

The digital dark age is here, and the elite few tech giants that are ushering it in are beginning their attack on anyone, anything that does not agree with their echo chamber of thought.

A small handful of companies, you know their names well, virtually control a massive part of our society now. They have near complete control over many aspects of your lives, and don’t for a second think that they don’t.

And again, Mr. McDonald is not wrong, although it goes even farther than he notes; all of this is tied into the Western spy agencies. Consider: If you were a spymaster, is there any chance you’d ignore the ability to deeply surveil a couple of billion people at once? Especially if it was all automated and maintained at the expense of others? You’d be the worst spymaster in history if you didn’t.

And so Facebook, and especially Google, have been brought into the security complex. (You can see some damning emails in our report.)

The thing is, people could opt out of it all (well, nearly all of it) in a single day, if they weren’t trapped by their own weaknesses. The company I manage (Cryptohippie) has been doing just that for more than a decade, and there are now others providing similar services. Plus, there are functional dark nets. Throwing sand in Sauron’s eye isn’t beyond people’s technical or monetary abilities… it’s just beyond their emotional abilities.

Which Weaknesses?

Okay, let’s get specific.

First are the social instincts: getting your esteem from others, feeling like part of a group and feeling unable (or afraid) to leave it. Becoming dependent upon their approval, building your life around them, and feeling a deep void at the thought of losing them. Humans are susceptible to these things, and Facebook plays them to the hilt. They even design programs to keep people addicted.

The second weakness is the one that brings people into the trap. It’s the one that Google especially uses. And it is this: Humans have a deep fear of scarcity.

Here’s what I replied to the friend who sent me Mr. McDonald’s article:

Most people live in perpetual fear of scarcity (even though they experience no actual privation) and are abject suckers for free stuff. The entire system rests upon that weakness.

I think we’ve all felt the overly strong impulse to grab at anything free. We may understand very well that we’re accepting the proverbial “candy from the man in the car.” We adults understand on some level that we’re being lied to – no one provides long-term services that are actually free – but we jump at the offer just the same.

On top of that, nearly none of us in the West are suffering from lack of material resources. We’d have no problem paying a couple of dollars per month for email and search services. And yet we feel compelled to grasp at free stuff… even though we know that the offer comes from liars with hidden motives.

Yeah, something’s wrong in us. And it links back to a fear of scarcity. Not only is it an old fear (it had some factual basis in the old days), but it is stoked in us day by day.

Try, if you dare, to count the number of ads you are confronted with every day, and see if you can locate the obscure “you’re insufficient without this” message in them.

They say that some of the American Indians used to fear having their photos taken, as the photo might capture their souls. But this is precisely what Google, Facebook, et al., are doing: They’re taking your digital soul, handing it to the world’s most intrusive spy agencies, manipulating you based upon it, and now are playing truth police at the behest of behind-the-scene elites. And it all rests upon our weaknesses.

It’s time to straighten up and walk away.

* * * * *


The 20th century, for better or worse, is over. This book was written from the trenches of the new data wars. It offers a raw, apolitical view of what is happening and where the practice of intelligence is headed.

Comments from readers:

“Be warned; this book is not rainbows and butterflies. This book is a hard look at a future that can be avoided only through vigilance and dedication. At only 55 pages, I read it in one sitting and agree with every word. If I had the resources I would buy hundreds of these books and distribute them to people freely.”

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If you have a glimpse of the whole picture of history and where we can head (or are heading) as a civilization, you should come away from this read with new insights.”

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

6 thoughts on “Adolph and the Free Sh*t Model”

  1. “Try, if you dare, to count the number of ads you are confronted with every day…”
    I just deleted the Chrome and Firefox/Waterfox browsers I had on my PC earlier this week. In their place, I installed Brave. Within a few days of normal browsing, it has blocked nearly 700 trackers and 4,000 ads. That’s unbelievable! And I certainly do not miss them.
    I understand your anger and appreciate all you’ve done, and continue to do, to wake people up.

    1. Love Brave, been using it for about 3 years. FF really screwed their Founder, Brendan Eich, just because he gave a small donation to a normal marriage group, 10 years ago. Talk about totalitarians. So Brave is Eich’s creation. Problem is, that you can pay for certain advertisers that have signed up with them, but they aren’t people I normally buy from.
      I also use Protonmail for many sensitive communications, as it is encrypted, but I can’t use it with my bank, because they have firewalls against encrypted mail, and yet they have no secure channel through which to send messages. Weird.
      I am an older woman, and try to help seniors with security on their cookies, etc, especially teaching your browser to restrict them, as their browser “learns”. They dont want to bother, so I have given up!
      It’s all weird.

  2. Great post Paul, great angle.
    I find it fascinating and disturbing how wide the gulf is between people who understand this problem (you, me, and a few dozen others), and the masses.
    What is it about us that makes us get it? An understanding of history? IQ(1)? Meyers-Briggs type(2)?
    If we could understand that, perhaps we could persuade people better. I’m the only person I know in real life that cares about encryption, privacy, etc. Whenever I talk about it, I get painted with the ‘paranoid weirdo’ brush. And boy would I like to be surrounded by more people who are concerned so we could get on with fixing it.
    I had that reaction once, about people like me. But I can’t remember what I read, saw, thought, or heard that caused me to transition to the type of person who blocks JavaScript in his browser, doesn’t use Facebook, and encrypts his email.
    (1) Anecdotally unlikely as I know a heap of smart people who also don’t give a rat’s butt.
    (2) This has actually been looked at by Peak Prosperity folks and the Do The Math physicist, who write about hard issues of today and the future.

    1. Thanks, Greg! And I know just what you mean about people using crypto. But it really is getting better. Really. 🙂

  3. “we feel compelled to grasp at free stuff… even though we know that the offer comes from liars with hidden motives.”
    What disturbs me most are the conservative and libertarian groups that grabbed for the free stuff handed out by their enemies in Silicon Valley; made themselves DEPENDENT on it for their organizational livelihoods, and now that their enemies have moved to cut off their supply lines, rush to betray their own principles by demanding that the government regulate these private concerns (as if they aren’t already doing precisely what the government really wants them to do). Making your organization dependent on the largesse of its enemies is the height of insanity, but too many of us did exactly that.

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