A recent experimental paper* reported: "Three-year-old children are
promiscuous normativists. In other words, they spontaneously inferred the
presence of social norms even when an adult had done nothing to indicate
such a norm in either language or behavior."  The human capacity for to
create and respond to norms as if they were empirical facts about the word
brought a new level of cooperation, between individuals and across space
and time, that has allowed a single species of ape to take over the
planet.  For most of us, most of the time, this process is essentially
transparent, apart from odd bewildering moments of culture clash like when
Trump gets elected president. :)

In this sense, the aide spoke a truth: if you can create the norms, you can
control human activity.  However, as Karl said, this process can run of the
rails perilously, imagining that this control is complete. It ain't.

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public
relations, for nature cannot be fooled."
— Richard Feynman

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27634004
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