brainwash brain

Brainwashed into Believing Things are Bad

This is a topic covered often by commenter Donald Christensen, who points out that repetition turns into belief. So when the media repeat the same type of stories day after day — murder! kidnapping! danger, danger, danger! — our brains soak it up and eventually incorporate it as “The way things are.”

This brilliant short video by a motivational guy named Rob Dial reminds us that this is nothing short of brainwashing by the media:

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27 Responses to Brainwashed into Believing Things are Bad

  1. BL August 8, 2017 at 9:00 am #

    ” Rob Dial reminds us that this is nothing short of brainwashing by the media:”

    Rob Dial was brainwashed into saying all those things.

  2. Workshop August 8, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    “We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle.

    I knew there was a reason I got rid of the television.

  3. mark August 8, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    i don’t doubt many, even most viewers may respond this way. i don’t, however, do you?
    nor did I as a child? my parents were terrific at providing me perspective.
    including that the media’s prime, commonly overriding, agenda — especially local news’, many tabloids’, etc — is to hook viewers/readers; keep them hooked: as many as possible. Even I figure any other agenda is typically secondary at best.

    Not necessarily inconsistent w/ the thesis here. Q, then, would be why people so many people crave scary, hysterical news to begin w/? Or horror flics?

    I can recognize this; yet can’t begin to relate, grasp why.

  4. James Pollock August 8, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    You’ve latched on to the part of this video that reinforces what you’d like to hear.

    But it’s thorough and well-crafted nonsense. Sorry.

    The message from motivational speaker Rob Dial is that you need to consume more motivational speaking, such as that by Rob Dial, in order to counteract the “brainwashing” of the media feeding.. the way your brain already (naturally) works, according to Rob Dial.

    A skilled manipulator can make statistics say anything.

    Apply skepticism to everything, and look for the source(s) of bias. That’s good advice. “You’re being brainwashed!” is hype. Be EXTRA skeptical of hype.

  5. Dee August 8, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    While I largely agree with what he is saying, I also think he is speaking from a place of privilege. I don’t know that some of the rougher neighborhoods are worse than they used to be, but they are certainly not better.

  6. dancing on thin ice August 8, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

    But what form of media are we brainwashed by?

    Advertising media and politicians often use fear or worst case scenarios to influence our buying habits into protecting us from scary sounding ailments or things.

    Some forms of media try to discredit others to sell a message.
    One antonym of the word mainstream is radical.
    Main Stream Media (MSM) by traditional journalists is often dismissed by Radical Conspiracy Media (RCM).

    “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us” when we repeat lies on social media without fact-checking.

  7. AmyP August 8, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    I don’t think it’s a matter of brainwashing so much as a matter of not using critical thinking skills. We all have our moments of not thinking critically, but these skills come from both practice and diversity. We have to expose ourselves to multiple people and viewpoints in order to practice considering all of our options. These days, we have a choice in our media options, but some people choose to not diversify their exposure and rely on their one source. In that case, you are not practicing your ability to approach a subject from a different angle because you’re only being exposed to the one. I choose to view the news from different sources and this helps with being able to think about things in different (and less hyperbolic!) ways.

  8. CK August 8, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

    I shared something similar with my Fox News loving uncle. His reply was, “Yeah, that’s all fine until it’s you getting kidnapped.”

  9. Donald August 8, 2017 at 9:30 pm #

    “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”
    ― Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner, Author, and well-regarded psychologist

    For those of you that think that this video is BS, I’m glad to hear that you know more than Daniel Kahneman

  10. Donald August 8, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    “I don’t think it’s a matter of brainwashing so much as a matter of not using critical thinking skills.”

    You may be right and that the word ‘Brainwashed’ may be a bit strong. However, the more we’re stressed, the more of a hindrance we have to use our critical thinking skills.

  11. Donald August 8, 2017 at 10:47 pm #

    I’ll be the first to admit that some self-help gurus are full of shit! I’m against anyone that targets a weakness within people and exploits it. I’ve even seen one advertised that will show you how to get rid of your financial worry and that you’ll make back the cost of the $30,000 seminars in no time! I also admit that Rob Dial wants you to listen to him. I fully understand why some people are on guard whenever a motivational speaker opens their mouth.

    However, that doesn’t mean that the constant bombardment of hate, outrage, and fear doesn’t influence us when we decide what’s real.

  12. James Pollock August 9, 2017 at 5:41 am #

    “For those of you that think that this video is BS, I’m glad to hear that you know more than Daniel Kahneman”

    “I’ll be the first to admit that some self-help gurus are full of shit!”

    Somewhere in there, in the space of a little less than an hour and half, you seem to have decided that you might know more than Daniel Kahneman. Interesting…

    I didn’t claim to know more than Daniel Kahnerman, although in my field rather than his, there’s a good chance that I do. (And yes, the video remains BS.)

    I obviously know a LOT more about constructing an argument than you do. You conflate two things, badly, and then attempt an “appeal to authority” fallacy, and didn’t even construct THAT right. I’d expect better from a reasonably-skilled high-school debater. You revised your position a bit over the following two comments.

    Let’s talk repetition a bit more.
    Repetition helps people to remember things. It’s why advertisers pay to run the same ads so darn many times, why musicians have to practice so darn much, and why your third-grade teacher made you keep repeating your multiplication tables. Repetition makes people remember things, but it doesn’t help them distinguish between things that are correct and accurate, and things that are not. TV cop shows have shown cops reading the Miranda rights to suspects for over 40 years now. A majority of Americans can list them off. But STILL a substantial number of them don’t know how to USE their rights, because recall is one of the lowest-level functions of human cognition, while analysis and synthesis are considerably higher (and exercised much less often).

    Repetition is a valid educational technique.
    –me

    The human brain operates several different processing subsystems, all running in parallel at the same time. One of those processing systems is a very powerful pattern-matching machine. The human brain wants very much to detect patterns it what it senses, and it WILL substitute the pattern it expects to see and reject information that does not fit the pattern. This is how optical illusions work, but also stereotypes and selection bias at higher cognition levels.
    The problem is that many of the “patterns” ingrained into our thinking processes come early, and are often built from very small amounts of observational data, and we may not even be aware that they are at work when they operate. This is why you cannot reason a racist out of their racism. It takes a long time for the patterns stored in the brains to correct for bad initial data.
    Now, fear can trigger the release of epinephrine into the bloodstream, which alters brain chemistry can causes some very significant changes in human cognition. Focus crystallizes, but transition from short-term memory to long-term memory is inhibited, permanently and completely in some cases. And the ability to perform higher-order thinking is impaired, often disastrously. People who are afraid make bad decisions.
    So, what of people who must function, effectively, in conditions where they may be expected to endure fear? Police officers, firemen, soldiers, pilots? Do they have some kind of magic immunity to epinephrine? No, they do not. What they do have, is repetition. They work out what the best solution is to a problem well in advance, and practice that solution, so that when they must make decisions in the face of intense fear… the repetition has set in their minds what the best solution to the problem is.

    Repetition is a tool, no more and no less good (or evil) than any other tool is. (Hint: It’s not the tool, it’s the hands and mind that wield it, that determines good or evil.)

  13. Edward Hafner August 9, 2017 at 11:32 am #

    https://www.theblogstarter.com/

    For those who need to get a clue.

  14. Donald August 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    You really outdid yourself this time. I thought that you couldn’t get more arrogant.

  15. James Pollock August 9, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    “For those who need to get a clue.”

    More specifically, for those who need to get this exact clue:
    “if you want to decide who gets to post comments on a blog, you have to start that blog yourself”.

    “I thought that you couldn’t get more arrogant.”

    Arrogant? Me? Sure you jest, kind sir.

    You’re still the guy who said
    “For those of you that think that this video is BS, I’m glad to hear that you know more than Daniel Kahneman”

  16. Donald August 9, 2017 at 11:12 pm #

    “Arrogant? Me? Sure you jest, kind sir.”

    You’re right. I’m only joking. You’re actually mild mannered and humble

    I actually don’t think that you intend to be arrogant. You just have the social skills of Sheldon Cooper. However, when he acts that way, it’s funny. When you act that way, not so funny.

  17. James Pollock August 10, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    So…

    What you’re saying is that you have trouble distinguishing real people from fictional characters, and it’s somehow my fault?

  18. Eric S August 10, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Even if media is “brainwashing” people. What’s even more disturbing, is that people are allowing themselves to be brainwashed. Many don’t think for themselves anymore. No one questions what they read and hear. They don’t do their research, they don’t educate themselves to the truths. Guess being ignorant, and lazy is much more easier. That’s also the other thing, more and more people just can’t be bothered. Truth is a lot of work and effort. Which many don’t want to bother with putting in the time. But they also don’t think about the consequences to their choices. Until it’s too late. Then they start pointing fingers at everything and everyone else, but themselves.

  19. Eric S August 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

    James Pollock understands how the human brain works. Many don’t unfortunately, or don’t want to.

    However, I don’t completely disagree with the video, and I can’t peg it as “b.s.”. Because much of what the guy says is true. Most of what media, companies, and government drill into our heads is for the benefit of the few. Which translates to $$$, and ultimately…control. In one form or another. Everything else is an intentional by-product of those primaries.

  20. James August 10, 2017 at 2:39 pm #

    “Many don’t think for themselves anymore.”

    I disagree with the premise that most people ever did. I’ve seen nothing in history to suggest there was ever a time when the majority of people were truly independent thinkers, or that the majority of the population was engaging in independent research. The message today is different, that’s all.

  21. Donald August 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

    I don’t know how you interpret that I said it was your fault. I simply quoted Daniel Kaneman and this is something that I agree with. Perhaps you’re not familiar with his work. Nevertheless, your arrogance surprised me when you stated that you probably know more than this Nobel Prize winner.
    I have been astonished for a while about how you’re not embarrassed by your behaviour. This is what first brought to me the idea that you have the social skills of Sheldon Cooper.

  22. James Pollock August 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    “I don’t know how you interpret that I said it was your fault”
    Really? No idea how I misinterpreted “You really outdid yourself this time. I thought that you couldn’t get more arrogant.”as you saying it was my fault? None at all?

    “I simply quoted Daniel Kaneman and this is something that I agree with.”

    You quoted Dr. Ka(h)neman, which is not what I objected to, and your agreement with him was not at issue. What was objected to was when you then said that anyone who thought this video was BS “knows more than” Dr. Ka(h)neman. So, um, what actually happened is that YOU are providing the arrogance on my behalf, and then complaining about it.

    “when you stated that you probably know more than this Nobel Prize winner”

    Ahem. Please allow me to quote myself here. What I wrote was “I didn’t claim to know more than Daniel Kahnerman” Who was it who said something about “knowing more than Dr. Ka(h)neman”? Oh, yeah, it was you. YOU said anyone who says this video is BS knows more than Dr. Ka(h)neman. And… then you started backing away from that claim, in the two subsequent comments.

    ” have been astonished for a while about how you’re not embarrassed by your behaviour.”
    Had I something to be embarrassed about, the results might be different.

    You made a really, really bad argument. Your response to having this pointed out is to A) complain about the person who noted the flaws in your argument, and B) there is no B. Are you not embarrassed by this behavior? I would be. (Yes, this particular paragraph consists of me complaining about the person who’s been complaining about me. Irony. But it comes at the end of a long comment which contains a full explanation of why you should stop what you’re doing and re-examine your choices.)

  23. Donald August 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    Another part of Daniel’s work is his concept of thinking fast and slow or system 1 and 2. When we’re continually bombarded with the sensationalism by the media, this erodes our ability to use system 2. As a result, we spend more time in system 1. This ‘shoot from the hip’ thinking style is great for survival but has consequences if used inappropriately.

    The central thesis is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: “System 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The book delineates cognitive biases associated with each type of thinking, starting with Kahneman’s own research on loss aversion. From framing choices to people’s tendency to replace a difficult question with one which is easy to answer, the book highlights several decades of academic research to suggest that people place too much confidence in human judgement.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

    Or you can disregard all of this and listen to James because he knows more.

  24. Donald August 10, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

    “For those of you that think that this video is BS, I’m glad to hear that you know more than Daniel Kahneman”

    It didn’t occur to me that you wouldn’t realise that this was sarcasm. That’s ok. Sheldon has trouble recognizing sarcasm as well.

  25. James Pollock August 10, 2017 at 8:39 pm #

    “Sheldon has trouble recognizing sarcasm as well.”

    Go have this argument with him, then.

  26. Donald August 10, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

    What I wrote was “I didn’t claim to know more than Daniel Kahnerman”

    I don’t blame you for leaving out this part. You may look quite stupid if you included it.

    “although in my field rather than his, there’s a good chance that I do.”

  27. James Pollock August 10, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

    Take it up with Sheldon.