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Have You Been Brainwashed?

a brainwashed brainLet me cut to the chase and answer the question posed in the title of this post, just so you’re under no illusion.

Yes you have, and so have I.

Pretty much everybody (at least in first world countries) is brainwashed to a certain extent.

Unfortunately the word is frequently misunderstood and usually applied to cults or people who have gone through major belief changes that make no sense to most people.

The Media perpetuates this misunderstanding by only using the word in such circumstances.

No mainstream newspaper screams that the Democratic or Republican Party are trying to brainwash you.

But they are.

What Does It Mean To Have Been Brainwashed?

Look at the Oxford English Dictionary definition of brainwashing and then try and tell me political parties the world over aren’t trying to do this.

“Pressurize (someone) into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means”

Of course political parties don’t use physical force per se (not in the US anyway), but they will go to great lengths to mentally force you to support them.

Telling you the other party will increase tax, go easy on crime or make life tougher for retired people is attempted brainwashing, or as it’s also known, mind control.

Mind Control Is At The Heart of Politics

They may say that a political campaign is a fight for the hearts and minds of the voting public and that doesn’t sound too bad.

But what they are really saying is, “we want to brainwash you, we don’t want you to doubt us, we want loyalty without question.”

You may call it persuasion or offering a point of view and hoping people will get on board with your ideology, but really it’s just a group of people hoping to control and dictate your thoughts.

Advertisers and marketers use brainwashing on a regular basis.

Every religion I have ever read about or seen up close uses brainwashing tactics both on an individual and a group basis (some even use hypnosis, but that’s another matter for maybe another day).

As does every Military organization the world over.

To blindly obey or to use ‘Faith’ as the reason for doing something means you have been brainwashed.

Not that that is always a bad thing at all. You really don’t want soldiers on a battle field questioning every order and doing their own thing.

I Was Brainwashed By Apple

I was brainwashed into thinking Apple products were untouchable.

However I have had so many problems with my, iPhone, iMac, the new iWork suits of apps and Mac Mail recently that I have been forced into reconsidering because overwhelming contrary evidence.

That’s not a huge deal, but on reflection I have to now question whether Apple ever deserved my loyalty and faith that they would always deliver stellar products.

The fact that brainwashing exists is not the problem, the problem is people have been brainwashed into thinking they could never be brainwashed.

Most people think only the weak minded can be brainwashed.

That they see things clearly and could never be duped in such a manner, but they already have been.

You Have To Question Your Own Beliefs

You can of course reverse the trend, if that is you want to badly enough and you have the courage to question your own beliefs.

But few people like questioning their own beliefs because it creates cognitive dissonance.

Your brain hates to be wrong and as such will fight tooth and nail to support what it already believes.

In other words it takes courage to deeply question your own beliefs by actively looking for contrary evidence and employing critical thinking skills.

And then it takes even more courage to admit to yourself that you have been brainwashed.

So are you courageous? Are you willing to admit in the comments that you’ve been brainwashed? Or do you think that you’re too wise for that to ever happen to you?

19 comments to Have You Been Brainwashed?

  • I’m courageous like a motherfucker. :-)

  • Yes I have been brain washed by society and by myself to a large degree, the tricky bit is reversing all those wasted years of negative brain washing.

  • I brainwashed myself to be oppositional. ;)

  • Still waiting for the rinse cycle…

  • A good post indeed. Yes, we are brainwashed right from our birth onwards by parents, society, politicians etc. A time comes when we grow-up and become mature enough to understand the trick and take charge of our lives. It is from this mature mind that we are able to defend brainwashing and ride our own bus.

  • “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” – Keyzer Soze, The Usual Suspects.

    Apologies if you work in marketing, but I HATE 90%+ of marketing. It may *seem* pretty innocuous, but effectively it’s brainwashing.

    I actively avoid as much advertising as possible now. I don’t watch the news, in fact I watch very little TV. I also run the “Ad Blocker Plus” app in Google Chrome – it’s brilliant.

    I hate that the type of women I was most attracted to as a teen was dominated by the media’s sick and warped ideas of beauty.

    Women are casually objectified so regularly these days that it’s just considered the norm – without thinking many of us judge a woman almost totally on her looks, rarely stopping to review our assumptions. It’s not right.

    IMHO, the advertising industry and the media in general are largely to blame for the spiralling epidemics of anorexia and bulimia, and in some cases, bullying and even suicide.

    But don’t worry about all that – here’s a sexy lady on the telly to stare at while we sell you sh*t you don’t need.

    I may be slightly passionate about this subject. ;)

  • Robert

    I was listening to a lecture by Eugene Peterson, a pastor and author. He told a story about standing behind some young women in a grocery line. They were going gaga over a Vouge magazine cover and wishing they could look like the models on the cover. He felt bad for them because, as he said, “it’s all a lie.” I’ve come to the conclusion that the marketing idea of beauty is someone with bland facial features. If you look closely at the faces of fashion magazine models they have no features that stand out. Of corse, they’re photoshopped or whatever. I wonder what they would look like in a picture taken the first two seconds after they woke up in the morning. Except for some of the evening news and ESPN, I’ve almost totally given up on commercial tv. I don’t want to subject myself to any more brainwashing techniques if I don’t have to.

    • I agree. Talking of bland facial features, I think I know what you mean. Did you see an article a few years ago about what makes faces attractive? Scientists blended lots of faces together to create an “average” face and they actually found it correlated very strongly with people’s ideas of beauty. In other words, the most beautiful faces are the ones that are the most average, or normal of us.

      This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective – humans will want to avoid mating with people who have clear significantly physical differentiators away from the norm – these are often (sadly) taken as signs of genetic problems or otherwise taken as proxies for physical defects.

      At least, that’s how I remember it. I might be wrong.

      But in essence, your point still stands – images of women in adverts and magazines have nearly always been heavily manipulated and are actually totally unachievable and unrealistic. It’s a bit sick when you think about it!

      Interesting, isn’t it! Cheers.

    • Anybody who regularly watches local TV news much be brainwashed into thinking they’re 5 minutes away from being murdered because every time I catch bits of it (usually at the gym) that’s all they ever talk about.

      Local TV news is not just worthless, but positively harmful.

  • Re the news – At the risk of being obvious; It’s the ‘Give us your liberty so we can protect you’ angle as most TV news is controlled by big money & governments. There’s plenty of good news about but it’s not in their interest to make us feel nice & secure. My brother has got sucked into the world of conspiracy theories so far that no-one takes him seriously any more, and I suspect this is the case with a lot of people who started off with a chance of changing things, some have a point but some have definitely installed the worst scenarios as a belief, & as you know when we keep looking for things to support beliefs then we find them, right or wrong, so whether the population toe the line or not, either way we’re stitched.

  • We all believe in something, hen I realized I had the choice to believe in something in particular or believe something contrary to what was being communicated, that was a great day of personal freedom for me.

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