As we all know, terrorism, by its very nature is difficult to combat.

A certain famous stage hypnotist uses the following trick when performing. He puts the whole audience in a trance at the start of the show. He hypnotises them to believe they have had a wonderful time and to tell their friends how great it was. In fact there is no show. He eats his dinner, reads the newspaper and watches a bit of TV. Finally he wakes them up and they go home talking excitedly about what they've seen.

There is a war on terror and the government want to use the hypnotist to help them win.

How can our hypnotist modify/refactor his skills to successfully wage war on the terrorists?

EDIT in response to answers and comments

The vital part is that the hypnotist is working for the government. He must therefore work within the laws of the country he is operating in. At least, he must appear to work within them. So for example he can't just hypnotise someone to commit suicide. Even if he did it covertly, the suicide would cause police and press attention.

He must always appear to be squeaky clean. Nothing must be traceable back to him or any authorities. A government enquiry must find not even the slightest evidence of anything that violates human rights legislation. If he can successfully fake this then all well and good.

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    $\begingroup$ So, this is an a universe where a stage hypnotist can hypnotize an entire audience. (In reality they cannot.) In this universe can they hypnotize viewers of TV and videos too? $\endgroup$ – Avon Aug 5 '15 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ This is the normal universe but the hypnotist is exceptional. He has found a way to hypnotise anyone he meets in person. He does need a certain amount of willingness to stay around while he does it. The audience have paid to see him and aren't going to leave. If anyone leaves during the process (which takes about 10 minutes) there are bouncers to prevent them coming back in. In general he cannot hypnotise people via electronic media. There are exceptions. Some people are particularly susceptible to being hypnotised and they can be put in a trance even via the media. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 5 '15 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with terrorists is they don't don uniform, today's friend is tomorrow enemy. Our enemy is neither based on difference in skin colors nor language spoken but an ideal, your performer can certainly fool everybody but he/she will never ever crush an ideal see for yourself are you really safe? $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 5 '15 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK I thought you said he was famous? $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Aug 5 '15 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ Do you want to draw a line between hypnosis and propaganda, or would you rather we have good fun twisting and contorting that line? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 5 '15 at 15:14

Your best bet? To find people who are known terrorist, capture them, hypnotize them and send them back to their cell with the directive for the cell to be the target, not innocent people on the street. Thus they blow up themselves and their fellow conspirators reducing the number of terrorists out there and making the rest much more skittish, giving them a taste of their own medicine.

Edt: With the edit to the question, the Hypnotist needs to be a 'counselor' that will counsel the disturbed individuals. Taking notes of their 'sessions' while really sending them off to do his bidding (what ever that is).

  • $\begingroup$ The problem, in Britain at least, is that the government and their agents they can't just go around capturing people. They have to go through the due process of law. Also I can't imagine the (British) government sanctioning incitement to blowing up of other unknown people. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 5 '15 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Well you mentioned using a hypnotist to fight terrorism, I think you are already crossing legal boundaries right there. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 5 '15 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ Persuasion is allowed in politics - even strongly worded persuasion. Kidnapping and blowing up random strangers is not. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 5 '15 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK According to this, a person in the UK can be detained for 24 hours before being charged. The hypnotist can do his work during that time period and the terrorist released to blow himself up later. Kidnapping not performed and he wasn't blown up except by his own volition. Problem solved. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 5 '15 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK hypnosis is not persuasion, it is subliminal manipulation. Like getting a girl drunk or worse given a Micky so she won't resist. If you're being 'nice' you convince them to give up their compatriots and change their ways... $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 5 '15 at 13:59

Your hypnotist could become a trusted leader by working his way up the chain, so hypnotize higher and higher elements of the terrorist organizational hierarchy, using each tier to talk to the next and work your way between groups.

Once you're a trusted leader, use that access to talk to the terrorists in person and hypnotize them into taking different actions.

Note that making them simply stop might not be effective, as it will disincentivize other groups to meet with you. Instead, it might be better to hypnotize them into continuing to be terrorists, but ineffectual ones that make mistakes, are easy to catch and give up intelligence on other terrorists cells.

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    $\begingroup$ Infiltrator indeed could be very effective, but I would have concerns about putting this person in that much danger considering how valuable his talents could be in other [money making/power keeping] fields. $\endgroup$ – Avon Aug 5 '15 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ On your final paragraph, what about a sort of delayed reaction command, like "On 1st June 2016, the war is over. Go home ." And hope that by then you'll have penetrated the entire leadership and network? Not sure if that fits in with the hypnotist's ability though... $\endgroup$ – colmde Sep 25 '15 at 10:02

I don't think this could help with defeating the terrorists directly: they just will not be hypnotized (in many cases the hypnotist won't speak their language but in all cases they just won't listen).

How seriously governments regard 'defeating terrorism', is debatable: there are many advantages to keeping a terrorist enemy as an excuse to spy on political rivals and other troublemakers and to divert money to your friends.

This 'weapon' could be particularly useful in ways that could conveniently come under the banner of "defeating terrorism". Politicians, journalists and other influential people can easily be hypnotized to support their methods. These people can and will then influence the public to support them too.

With this in place, they can behave with much greater impunity. That might be quite useful in the ostensible objective of "defeating terrorism" ('necessary' 'legal' invasions would be far less controversial for example) but only if their methods are actually effective to that end. (e.g. Would boots on the ground in Syria reduce terrorism or increase it?). Its usefulness to the powers-that-be would be far greater than that and in far more important areas (such as getting reelected).

Expect to see this great hypnotist, in disguise, giving speeches to press briefings, parliaments, senates, rallies, etc. I doubt he/she would have time for much else.

If only we could find a way to use this to influence the markets...


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