19 November 2009

You're not as smart as you think...

I've wanted to follow up on my corollary to my previous post about brainwashing and propaganda.

That's brainwashing, mind control, thought reform, coercive persuasion, influence, manipulation or the subversion of an individual's control of his or her own thinking, behavior, emotions, or decision making.

Part of recognizing propaganda techniques is to know what they are and how they are used. Most people don't, which is why they are easily swayed.

Of course, the emotional techniques, especially those used by the "gun cretins" is highly effective and pretty much text book for being propaganda techniques.

I have a great example that I won't give, except in generalities, where a "gun cretin" is so oblivious of propaganda techniques that his argument shoots him in the foot. The premise of his argument is stated after something he wants to portray as false. Actually, it's buttressed by what he is trying to disprove. Fortunately, the way he states it, he ends up stating what he believes to be false.

I am being purposefully vague since I agree with what he believes is false. I have shared this with other people who agree with me that he is being unintentionally counterproductive to his cause. On the other hand, I don't want to publicly point out that he is supporting my point of view if this fucker is so clueless as to miss what he is doing!

Thank you for being a total dildo and not being able to spot that, guy! If only you knew what a dumbfuck you were being maybe you might get your shit together. Then again...

The problem goes to something I commented on in Man With the Muckrake's Gene change in cannibals reveals evolution in action post:
You can’t get through to them. They are contaminated. They are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a Pavlovian manner. You cannot change their mind even if you expose them to authentic information. Even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still can not change the basic perception and the logic of behavior.

Studies show the brain is wired to get a quick high from reading things that agree with our point of view. The same studies proved that, strangely, we also get a rush from intentionally dismissing information that disagrees, no matter how well supported it is.

Therefore, facts tell nothing to him, even if you shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents and pictures: he will refuse to believe it.

These people don't want to think. They don't want to challenge their beliefs. They restrict their reading and/or viewing material. The idea is to insulate people from any opposing points of view, to persuade them of a point of view. Any material that might be contradictory to the "line" is censored and taken out of context to change meaning.

We could hope that people discover critical thinking, although that seems highly unlikely given the strong anti-intellectual bias in the US. The ability to think critically involves three things:
1. An attitude of being disposed (state of mind regarding something) to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences,
2. Knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning,
3. Some skill in applying those methods.

Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends. It also generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent(relevant) information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions and generalizations, to put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives, to reconstruct one's patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and to render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life.

The problem is that one needs to challenge one's beliefs, especially in the light of contradictory evidence.