Democracy, Education and Indoctrination

There are many challenges to a democracy, but education has to be one of the most important. Everything begins with education, specifically as it relates to enculturation and indoctrination. Here is an article from The Guardian that touches upon one aspect of this, although it isn’t as thorough as I’d prefer:

 The dark side of home schooling: creating soldiers for the culture war
The Christian home school subculture isn’t a children-first movement. Some former students are bravely speaking out
By Katherine Stewart

The point of the article is in the conclusion:

“The fundamentalist home schooling world also advocates an extraordinarily authoritarian view of the parental role. Corporal punishment is frequently encouraged. The effects are, again, often quite devastating. “People who experienced authoritarian parents tend to turn into adults with poor boundaries,” writes one pseudonymous HA blogger. “It’s an extremely unsatisfying and unsustainable way to live.”

“In America, we often take for granted that parents have an absolute right to decide how their children will be educated, but this leads us to overlook the fact that children have rights, too, and that we as a modern society are obligated to make sure that they get an education. Families should be allowed to pursue sensible homeschooling options, but current arrangements have allowed some families to replace education with fundamentalist indoctrination.

“As the appearance of HA reminds us, the damage done by this kind of false education falls not just on our society as a whole, but on the children who are pumped through the ideology machine. They are the traumatized veterans of our culture wars. We should listen to their stories, and support them as they find their way forward.”

This is put into context with a comment to the article and another comment responding to it:

StVitusGerulaitis  08 May 2013 12:16pm

the consequences of putting ideology over children include anxiety, depression, distrust of authority, and issues around sexuality.

“This is bad, but it’s not really necessary for a condemnation of the religious home schooling movement. After all, mainstream education can produce these effects too. It is enough that children are being lied to and deliberately manipulated for the purpose of engineering society.

“Should attendance at state approved schools be mandatory? It may be the only way to prevent this kind of brainwashing.

“Incidentally, why is the piece illustrated with a picture of a house in Cleveland?”

Paulson84  08 May 2013 3:21pm

“@LorddMUCK –

“Yeah, it’s those damn lefties in Kansas that are trying to get creationism pushed into science classes at public schools. And those lefties in Texas that are trying to rewrite the historical record to suggest the Founding Fathers didn’t envision a secular society. Oh, wait, it’s actually right wing lunatics trying to re-shape the educational curriculum in this country. That’s right.”

The problem isn’t homeschooling or any particular activity, rather particular tendencies that can undermine society in an infinite areas and in infinite ways. The same people who want to use homeschooling for indoctrination also want to use public schools for indoctrination. These are dangerous people. They are dangerous to democracy when they gain power and influence.

The danger with fundamentalism is complex. I don’t want to blame conservatives, but conservatives have become complicit with this problem by aligning themselves with fundamentalists and hence aligning themselves with right-wing authoritarians and social dominance types. This wasn’t inevitable. It was a choice made by movement conservatives and Republican elites. They made this Devil’s Bargain because it gained them immense power.

The bigger issue is that now we all have to deal with this problem. Indoctrination is a dangerous road to go down. It only takes a small group of well indoctrinated children to grow up to create a movement that could destroy democracy and take over the country. Before the masses can be indoctrinated, first a small vanguard must be indoctrinated. Indoctrination can never be taken lightly. It was a small movement in the beginning that took over Italy, Germany, Russia and China. Is our democracy strong enough to resist a totalitarian takeover? I doubt it.

I’m fine with homeschooling, but we better think twice before we let children be brainwashed. It doesn’t matter who is doing the brainwashing and for what purpose. It doesn’t matter if it is right-wing or left-wing, although we shouldn’t ignore the fact that this danger is at the moment coming from right-wing fundamentalists. We should consider carefully why this is the case.

GOP Busted On Talking Points!

In the past, I’ve noticed various talking points being repeated using very similar and sometimes exact phrasing (). I was frustrated because most people don’t seem to notice this form of propaganda/brainwashing. Even the liberal media in the past seemed oblivious to this technique used by conservatives. But it seems the liberal media is finally catching onto this game.

An extensive review of GOP campaign literature, floor speeches and public statements reveals that Republican candidates and officeholders routinely use GOP talking points verbatim in their speeches and campaign literature, while passing off the language as their own personal views.

Using the plagiarism detection software program iThenticate as well as Google and the Library of Congress, HuffPost found that more than 30 members of the House and Senate eschew originality when it comes to making their case.

A search for Democratic violations turned up far fewer instances. But if Democrats show less of a penchant for blatant copying, it may reflect their traditional unwillingness to follow the party line more than any higher ethical standards. Will Rogers’s oft-quoted declaration — “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat” — has worn well over time.

– – –

State of Confusion by Dr. Bryant Welch


Advertising succeeds on the basis of repetition. Assert the reality you want over and over again. Be absolute and never tentative. Tentativeness encourages independent thinking. The more people think independently, the less malleable they are. If there is a gap between your position and common sense, simply rewire the connection with “associational logic” that obscures the gap. Associational logic… creates the illusion of logical connections where there are none.

pp. 143-4:

While the ostensible joke is that these people are all ike puppets articulating a canned message…, there is much more than that at play. If the same language is used, the words can be transformed from language into symbols. University of California at Berkley linguist George Lakoff writes:

When a word or phrase is repeated over and over for a long period of time the neural circuits that compute its meaning are activated repeatedly in the brain. As the neurons in those circuits fire, the synapses connecting the neurons in the circuits get stronger and the circuits may eventually become permanent, which happens when you learn the meaning of any word in your fixed vocabulary. Learning a word physically changes your brain, and the meaning of that word becomes physically instantiated in your brain.

Repeating over and over does not simply persuade someone that what is being said is true; it actually makes it true in the inner workings of the mind. The target audience may not even be aware that they have adopted the particular point of view in question, but a space that was once filled with uncertainty is now filled with an idea. Further, it is an idea shared by a very self-confident and powerful other person. If that idea is repeated over and over, it begins to play a symbolic role in the mind.

pp. 134-5:

Symbols, primitive emotional states, and repetition are not the only vulnerable aspects of the mind. Associational thinking also plays a key role in current political gaslighting. Sometimes it is very humbling to recognize the true nature of the mind. It is made out of symbols that are connected to one another by associations of emotional connections. What we think of as logical connectiosn play a much more limited role in mental functioning. This has tremendous implications not just for advertising, but also for political reality formation. Gaslighers can build emotional connections between symbols without their target audience really even knowing what is being done. In 2000, the Republican Party spent over two and a half million dollars running an advertisement attacking the Gore prescription plan that ahd the word rats written across it but that flashed with such speed that it was invisible to the naked eye. With today’s technology, people can literally build a connection in the mind between rats and an opponent’s policy position.

These same associational connections once established can also create a pseudologic in which associations create the illusion of logical connections used to support policies and positions that simply have no logic behind them. The fact that two items are in some way associated in the mind serves as a substitute for the formal logical connections that people associate with cause and effect and rational thought. The mind is tricked just as our eyes are tricked in a shell game. For an undiscerning audience, this can be very effective. People frequently do not appreciate, or even notice the role that highly subjective emotional states play in formulating what they take to be rational and logically constructed “thoughts.” Psychologist William James said, “People often think they are thinking when in fact they are just rearranging their prejudices.”

If these associational forms of “logic” lead to a pleasant emotional state such as a simplistic and self-gratifying conclusion about a difficult and complex problem, people are even less likely to challenge the faulty reasoning behind it. If one’s mind is saturated with images that are the psychological equivalent of a trademark that brands Fox News as fair and balanced, it will for many people completely override any assessment of whether Fox News is actually fair and balanced.