The term ‘propaganda’ calls to mind Soviet Russia or China’s Communist Revolution — but the history of propaganda dates back much further and, sadly, it is still alive and well today.

The leaders of ancient Greece and Rome didn’t know the term ‘propaganda’, but they were masters at it. They excelled at shaping the minds of their subjects through finely honed techniques that were essential to maintaining control and reinforcing the values of the empire.

The term ‘propaganda’ originated centuries later when the growing Catholic church embarked on its own form of imperialism and formed the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, or the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. This department of the Vatican was established in the 17th century to institutionalize the dissemination of the Catholic faith globally.

Propaganda came into its own during the Second World War and after the war, a man named Edward Bernays rebranded it and turned it into a corporate tactic so ubiquitous today that we hardly notice it anymore.

The pharmaceutical industry represents the shining pinnacle of corporate propaganda, with insidious techniques that have drastic impacts on human health. Big Pharma masterfully uses propaganda to influence public perception and regulatory decisions, with outcomes that can literally mean life or death.

This underscores the importance of transparency, independent research, and robust regulatory oversight to ensure corporate interests do not compromise public health and safety. And, it might leave you wondering: “How do I know if I’m being played?”

READ MORE: From Ancient Greece to Corporate Boardrooms: A Brief History of Propaganda