Monday, April 12, 2010

Mind Control 2

Does this seem like a rash statement? Let's see.
When most think of the term "mind control," (or brain washing, coercive persuasion, thought control, or thought reform) they may think of the film "The Manchurian Candidate," or the novels "1984," or "A Clockwork Orange," where a subject is subjected to a process (either or all of the following: torture, hypnosis, drug therapy, sleep and sensory deprivation, psychological harassment, etc.) in order to coerce that subject to think or do things that the ones applying the process wish them to do. In the case of the "Manchurian Candidate," get the subject to assassinate a presidential candidate through something akin to hypnosis, and against that subject's own free will. In "1984," and "A Clockwork Orange," use of brutalization, selective shock treatment, and a form of hypnotic conditioning, respectively, are utilized to modify the subjects behavior toward a desired result not of the subjects choosing.
In these fictional accounts the process of mind control is successful to varying degrees. In reality this type of mind control doesn't seem to work very well at all.
During the Korean and Vietnam Wars the Chinese used coercive techniques on American POWs in order to disrupt the ability of the prisoners to organize and maintain morale and hence to escape, and then offering better living conditions and food, they were able to get some American soldiers to adopt communist ideals and make anti-American statements. But studies have shown that most of those soldiers adopted these positions not because of any mind control techniques the Chinese interrogators may have used, but rather just to avoid extreme physical abuse, and most individuals reverted to their previous conditions after they left the coercive environment.
Other examples of mind control stem from manipulation of converts into new religious movements, or cults, some psychologists suggesting that the use of, among other things, systematic deception, behavior modification, the withholding of information, and emotionally intense persuasion techniques to recruit and maintain members. However critics state that if these techniques were really effective one would expect these movements to be much larger in size than they typically are, and indoctrinated members would never leave these movements, which has not been the case.
Enhanced by a sense of religious fervor and belief in an afterlife, the techniques suggested above can have enormous effects on many people who are susceptible to them, hence the mass suicides we have seen as a result in membership in some of these "cults," such as at Jonestown in 1978.
Of course the most common form of mind control which has been utilized throughout recorded history is torture, or the threat of torture, to coerce victims into providing information, or to perform specific acts. There is no intention to sustain any long term lasting effects on the mind to influence future behavior, rather it is used to obtain short term results.
Okay, let's consider other more subtle forms of possible thought manipulation.
Propaganda. As opposed to impartially producing information in a balanced manner so individuals can have a chance to make up their own minds, propaganda is "information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause. (my Sage Thesaurus program)." Wikipedia tells us, "Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda."
We see the use of propaganda today everywhere. In politics both parties use it routinely to promote their own causes... candidates use it to get elected, some (notably George H.W. Bush) have openly admitted they will say anything to get elected.
The most common form of propaganda in use to today, the most prevalent, is advertising. Everyday, in most industrialized countries, there exists a constant barrage of one sided information attempting to push and prod us to buy one product over another, whether we need it or not, in an never ending crusade to separate us from our hard earned cash. Rarely is this information impartial. Rather lies, deception, false testimonials, humor, misinformation, attempts to stir up sentimentality or patriotism (such as in ads promoting recruitment into the armed services), and all types of persuasive strategies are employed to make us act in certain manner (buying, or doing things). This is blatant propaganda seen on a massive scale, and an obvious attempt to influence our thinking in such a way that may or not be beneficial to us, and thus a form of attempted mind control.
And then there is the act of learning. At the beginning of this post I said that your parents were the first, meaning they had the opportunity to influence your young mind before anyone else (independent of "instinct," or those behaviors that are hard wired into our brains from the instance of birth, such as the instinct to survive, or "fight or flight," motivations, those behaviors that are not taught to us externally, but from the history of our species as a whole, and that most other animals and insects share).
One of our species distinctive characteristics is our ability to learn from past generations, and thus advancing our base of knowledge to such a degree that human beings now can enjoy and be terrified by the technical advances we have made throughout our history.
The act of teaching our children is a long, difficult process, first begun by the parents, (behaviors and norms), and then conducted (in most instances in this country) by professional teachers that our society trusts to impartially provide the information and skills they will need to survive and prosper in the real world they will soon find themselves in. When the teaching process is deliberately manipulated toward providing only a biased point of view, rather than an impartial one, it becomes something less than teaching, it is a form of propaganda, and an attempt to influence the minds of our children when they are most susceptible, and thus this practice is despicable in its practice and implementation.
Last month the Texas Board of Education, headed a Don Mcleroy, a right wing ideologue and former dentist, is attempting to approve a social studies curriculum removing our third President and founding father, Thomas Jefferson, from "a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century," because he coined the term "separation of church and state, which Mcleroy and the 9 other Republican members of the board do not believe exist, and that it is not one of the bedrock structures of this country. They are attempting to get the publishers of textbooks (Texas is the second largest market for textbooks (California being the first), and when publishers bow to the pressures the Board imposes to edit their books in certain ways, it becomes a very powerful influence and might become the standard for textbooks issued to other states as well, therefore providing the opportunity to unduly influence the minds of children throughout the nation, and not limited to the 5 million school children in Texas alone, although that would constitute a horrendous act in itself) to extol the virtues of the NRA, Confederate leader Jefferson Davis and Joseph McCarthy, that Ronald Reagan was the greatest president in history (we're still paying for his tax cuts and spending, and the recent mining catastrophe in West Virginia where 29 people lost their lives is a direct result of Reagan's efforts to destroy labor in this country), and that black people and Hispanics hardly exist, and many other extremist right wing and religious right policies and standards.
Impartial historians and teachers should set the standards for what is taught to our children, not political and religious zealots of either side.
This is nothing but a clear attempt to rewrite history and influence the minds of millions of children to their detriment, to influence their future thought processes and behavior, the very definition of the act that titles this post.

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