Friday, July 26, 2013

How to Prevent Youself from Being Brainwashed

Since it is the nature of people to understand stories more easily than most anything else, I will tell one. Let's call it a fairytale.

Once upon a time, not so long ago and not so far away, there was a large, prosperous village than unfortunately had an idiot for a king. Unfortunately, his advisors were idiots, too.

Down the road a bit was another village, one that was tiny and poor and not a threat at all to our large, prosperous village. Somehow, the Idiot King, along with his idiot advisors, got it in their heads the poor, tiny village had a insane homicidal maniac for a king. Along with that, many of the people in the village were also supposed to be insane homicidal maniacs.

"They are evil and are going to attack us for our goodness," exclaimed the Idiot King. "We have to attack them first in self-defense. How do we get the public to march off to war?"

"We will use propaganda," said one of his idiot advisors. "The techniques have been around for a long time and even an idiot could use them."

"Really?" asked the Idiot King, who was generally quite incurious about most everything. "Then it should be easy for us."

"There are four main techniques for successful propaganda," his advisor explained. "First, we have to stress emotion over logic, but convince people they are being logical."

"Works for me," said the Idiot King.

"Then," the advisor continued, "we have to demonize the enemy, but convince people the enemy really is evil."

"That's because they are!" frowned the Idiot King.

"Third," said the advisor, "tell people that by destroying the enemy the world will be safer, and will lead to a better world for us and them."

"It certainly will!" exclaimed the Idiot King joyfully.

"Fourth," the advisor continued, "idealize yourself, your country, your government, your military. By idealizing yourself and devaluing the enemy they can be transformed into evil monsters attacking us for our goodness."

"The things you can learn just by listening," the Idiot King said admiringly.

So the Idiot King and his idiot advisors told the people of the village (many of whom were idiots themselves) that the tiny poor village down the road was inhabited by monsters!! Evil, insane homicidal monsters who would go to any extreme to attack our large prosperous village and destroy it.

So of course many of the people of our large prosperous village grabbed their pitchforks and clubs and axes and marched down the road, attacked the poor tiny village, killed the King and many of the inhabitants.

Many of the inhabitants of the poor tiny village fled into woods, and when they caught one of the invaders of their village they killed him.

"This is really surprising," commented the Idiot King, puzzled. "I thought they would welcome us as liberators, throwing flowers at us and maybe even the women showing us their boobs."

"You'd think so," said his advisors, just as puzzled.

One of the inhabitants of our large prosperous village was a four-year-child who had no home so he slept with the village dogs to keep warm. Though this child was poor and homeless, an idiot this child was not.

"If the Idiot King has asked me," the child told his dogs, who listened attentively, "I could have told him his attack wouldn't work. For one thing, you can conquer a country on horseback, but you have to dismount to rule."

His dogs nodded their approval.

"If people weren't sleep-walkers," the child said to the dogs, who looked impressed, "they'd never believe anything their government says."

"Uh huh," chorused the dogs.

The child thought for a while, then said, "If people want to prevent being brainwashed and falling for propaganda, perhaps they should use logic over hysterical emotion. Perhaps knowing some logical fallacies might help."

"Post hoc, ergo propter hoc," said one of the dogs.

"'Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one.'" said the child. "You must analyze the situation and discover what the true causes are."

"Yep," commented a dog.

"Perhaps," the child said pensively, "we should never allow ourselves to demonize anyone. There is no one in the world who is pure good or pure evil. Unfortunately, in politics, everything is with good or evil, with no shades of grey."

The dogs smirked, knowing they were better than humans in that way.

"And never believe in Utopia," the child said thoughtfully. "It's always based on the belief in getting rid of those evil people. 'The butcher is held in great esteem in Harmony,' I read somewhere."

The dogs listened in awe.

"Never idealize your government, your country, or your military," pondered the child. "All such idealizations are hubris, and hubris is always followed by nemesis—destruction."

"Pride goes before destruction," one of the dogs added. "And a haughty spirit before a fall. That's in the Bible somewhere."

"Someday people will smirk at people who in the past believed in witches, monsters, dragons, and so on," the child finished. "But they'll be no different than we are, because, if brainwashing and propaganda can be defined in one sentence, it's convincing people monsters are attacking our village, so we have to kill them."

"You're pretty smart for a human," one dog said.

"Like anyone's going to listen to a four-year-old child," the child observed.

"Or a dog, for that matter," said one of the dogs sadly.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well argued.

"“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” - Goebbels

Anonymous said...

Best regards from a fellow INTJ.

Anonymous said...

Do you know of an effective strategy to convince people who use more emotions than logic during their decision making process?

Bob Wallace said...

That's what propaganda is based upon: appealing to their emotions. I know of no way around it. Even Aristotle noticed it. It's why he wrote about rhetoric vs. dialectic: appealing to the emotions as opposed to reasonable discussion.