WFMH joint project was the ``Conferences on Problems of Health and Human Relationsin Germany,'' a series of high-level, 1950-51 meetings designed to convince Germansocial scientists and health care providers that the Frankfurt School's bogus``authoritarian personality'' profile should be relied upon in dealing with German patients.
- Cybernetics and `the Pill' -
This intense Anglo-American interest in the brainwashing possibilities of shock trauma,was the actual origin of the theory of the ``Information Age.''At the end of World War II, the Macy Foundation set up a project to create a theoreticalmodel of extreme stress, especially taking into account the psychosomatic ``feedback overload'' which appeared to cause many shell shock cases. To that end, the foundationorganized a conference group on ``Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms inBiological and Social Systems,'' putting clinicians together with mathematicians,sociologists, and economists. From the very first meeting in 1946, it was clear that thegroup was designed to accomplish great things: If one could create a model of a physiological system through which information is received from the environment, processed, and then fed back to change that environment, then, perhaps, it were possibleto model the human mind itself--especially if one used the computational machines then being developed. The group became devoted to the premise, later stated by one of thefounding members, John von Neumann, that the human nervous system is really just ``anefficiently organized, large natural automaton,'' which is therefore subject todeterministic, linear mathematical modelling.Here Macy and Tavistock saw the possibility of social control on a gigantic scale! Theability to make machines act like humans, and the ability to treat humans as machines--the final accomplishment of H.G. Wells's old Fabian goal of a ``scientific world order''where everything is as neat as a differential equation, and unpredictable things such ashuman creativity never mess things up. With this new and much broader mission, theMacy group changed its name; founder Norbert Wiener coined a new word,``cybernetics,'' from the Greek word for ``helmsman,'' and they became the Conferenceon Cybernetics.Incidentally, today's overused prefix ``cyber-,'' as in cyber-sex, cyber-banking, etc.
all comes from this original Macy Foundation usage
. Literally all of what we now know as``information theory'' has its roots in these Macy researches.It should be emphasized here, that the computer is not a bad thing in itself; indeed, it is awonderful tool; that's why America originally embraced the technology. The problem isthat these Macy theories so decisively shaped the development of computers andcomputerization, that computerized automation has never come close to achieving its potential for assisting human progress. Rather, the opposite occurred. Today's widespreadaddiction to the Internet and 64-bit games might help you understand what the Macygroup meant by ``Man-Machine interface'' back in the 1950s.