Watch this Clip on the Asch Conformity Experiment to see Groupthink in Action

Let’s take a clinical look at how group pressure works.  Everyone should know about the Asch conformity experiments.   In the 1950’s social psychologist  Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments on how social pressure could cause people to deny the evidence of their own eyes.  The four-minute clip below is from experiments conducted a couple of decades later.

Notice how group pressure can change how one expresses an opinion, or even a statement of an obvious and simple fact, such as the length of a line!  How about that moment at about 1:45 where all of the confederates (non-subjects) look askance at the subject when he gives a different answer? Then, notice the subject’s concessionary tone at about 2:01 when he later knowingly gives an incorrect answer in order to avoid the discomfort of disagreeing.  Wow!  This is America 2014, isn’t it? This is exactly how political correctness is meant to work: to extract compliance with PC agendas.

The main points to take away from this clip are:

  1. Unanimity of the group is what bears the greatest pressure on a person to express a conforming opinion.
  2. Unanimity can be punctured and one can be emboldened to speak up if someone else speaks up first.
  3.  Access to secret ballot greatly relieves the tyranny of the group.

Watching this reinforces the fact that a secret ballot is essential to preserving freedom of conscience. But unless more of us are willing to express our opinions,  we can’t influence anyone.  We end up instead cultivating a spiral of silence.   This kind of silence quickly erodes our freedom of expression and, with it, our freedom of association. It serves to separate us and isolate us further. Unfortunately, when we are conflicted and confronted by group pressures, the herd instinct for survival — and the utter terror of isolation — definitely seem to kick in for many of us.  So let’s build an awareness of this reality. It’s the first step to resisting groupthink and avoiding the dire consequences of silencing ourselves.

A Fascinating Read: “Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism”

Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism” is an amazing article by Brendan O’Neill in the British online magazine Spiked.  It was published over a year ago, but its content is timeless.  I haven’t yet figured out what to make of O’Neill since he seems to have connected himself with the label of Marxism. Perhaps its a “brand” that would draw some unlikely folks in to consider and accept what he writes. Provides some cognitive dissonance, perhaps. I don’t know.  But Marxism is a philosophy so conducive to terror and conformity that I personally don’t think O’Neill should mess with it if he believes what he writes.  “Broadly libertarian” is a more suitable description.  In any event,  “Gay Marriage:  A Case Study in Conformism” is truly worth reading.  It’s passionate and compelling and contains so much truth about the squashing of independent thought. The subtitle reads as follows:

“Anyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying.”

Indeed, whenever there is a “seismic shift” in public opinion, particularly about a deeply embedded tradition such as marriage, our antennae should go up.   This is even truer when an agenda is pushed and engineered primarily by an elite that has a virtual monopoly on most outlets of communication — the media, Hollywood, academia.  The clincher in identifying a fake, manufactured opinion cascade is to look at the treatment of those who are opposed to the agenda.  To what extent are they allowed to speak freely?  During the period of “debate” have they been allowed to speak without being ostracized or fear losing their livelihood?  Are dissenters allowed to express an opinion without being routinely and summarily smeared and cast out of society?  If the answer to these questions is no, then you certainly have a mass scale push for tyranny on your hands.  All along, the agenda was just a front for a power grab.

Below are two excerpts from O’Neill’s essay, which you can read in full by clicking the link above:

In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one’s mind or sticking with one’s beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them. This is a campaign that is elitist in nature, in the sense that, in direct contrast to those civil-rights agitators of old, it came from the top of society down; and it is a campaign which is extremely unforgiving of dissent or disagreement, implicitly, softly demanding acquiescence to its agenda.

With gay marriage turned into ‘a kind of common sense’, opposing it became more difficult, potentially even threatening one’s social and moral standing. The ‘common sense’ of gay marriage has been turned into something like a dogma of gay marriage, in a very subtle way. So the very act of debating gay marriage has been implicitly demonised, since in the words of one observer, ‘The fact that there is a debate over whether to deny a group of people their civil rights is unacceptable’. Here, through further linking gay marriage to the old civil-rights movement, even discussion itself can be branded ‘unacceptable’.

My Presentation on Political Correctness

Below in SlideShare  format, you’ll find the first section of a multimedia Power Point that I’ve presented in various forms to different groups of people.  I’ve been trying to raise awareness about what exactly happens inside each of us when we succumb to political correctness.  How are we manipulated?  Why? By whom?  And what can we do about it?

As you go through the slides, you won’t have my running commentary.  But the basic idea is that political correctness is not just the hard sell of an agenda.  It’s a deceptive and highly manipulative method of coercive persuasion. It forces compliance by exploiting the universal human fear of being cast out of society.   But this compliance — usually through self-censorship — actually isolates us even more.  It’s important for us to recognize that we only dig ourselves in deeper when we cave in to it, because we cut ourselves off from like-minded people and only build an illusion that we are all alone in our beliefs. That, of course, is the main purpose of political correctness: to get us to paint ourselves into a corner and isolate ourselves from others. So the big question is how best to speak out and reach out.

Also, here’s the Steve Martin clip from Slide 9 (which doesn’t seem to run in the slideshare):


We often hear the words “group think” and “peer pressure”tossed about.  But it’s really important to go deeper into the meaning of those terms.  We begin by taking a hard, clinical look at what exactly happens to us as human beings when we are subjected to this method of coercive persuasion.  The term “emotional blackmail” sums it up well.

 

Was Enforced Silence the ACLU’s Agenda all along?

After reading Charlotte Allen’s blog on “The Left’s War on Free Speech,” it’s difficult to conclude that the so-called progressives at the American Civil Liberties Union were ever much dedicated to free speech.   More likely, they’ve been committed to squashing it.   And now it seems the time is ripe for them to do so.  Allen quotes several advocates for curbing the right to think out loud.  In part, she writes:

The watchword was that of one of the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), who wrote: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is…enforced silence.-  

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is …enforced silence. Here is author William D. Cohan, writing in the Huffington Post to wonder “if there should be limits to saying or writing whatever you please in online forums that can sully someone’s reputation with impunity and impair his or her ability to make a living.”

This sort of thing should make us all shudder.  Allen continues:

Cohan’s Huffington Post piece is titled “How Much Free Speech Is Too Much?” His answer:

 “What’s clear is that we’re are at a crucial moment where the ability of technology to permit instant, unvetted and unfiltered commentary is running head-first into the justified concerns of those whose reputations can be torn asunder unfairly by it. It’s a conundrum for sure and one that needs some serious sorting out.”

He’s not the only liberal to complain that America’s 1st Amendment allows just plain too much free speech.

Cohan echoes the voice of tyranny  quoted in The Singing Revolution: “Whenever you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.”

In fact, free speech is a use it or lose it proposition. Keep talking!

 

 

 

Follow up on Maya Angelou’s “Why I kept my Baby”

My last post on the recently deceased Maya Angelou produced some interesting feedback, and I’d like to address it.  Despite Angelou’s personal pro-life story, a lot of the eulogizing over her can seem unsettling because she lent her voice to fundraising for Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion promoter out there.  Even though I was aware of Angelou’s political leanings, I was not tuned into her support for Planned Parenthood, and certainly not the extent of it.

But Angelou’s personal story of a crisis pregnancy and the nurturing of her child still captures my imagination.  And I think it ought to be better known publicly, especially in light of this irony.

I was also drawn to Angelou’s story because it connects two underlying themes of my blog:  Relationships and Influence.

Angelou’s joyful relationship with the son she may never have known had an enormous and positive impact on the trajectory of her life – and therefore also on the lives and relationships of all those around her.  It’s a shame that she didn’t preach more about what she practiced then – about her openness to the humanity of the unborn and our innate relationship with them. Given her influence, doing so could have spared the lives of many children and prevented the brokenness of many would-be mothers. As a supporter for Planned Parenthood, she, sadly encouraged the opposite.

Influence has many facets.  Whether we have influence ourselves, or whether we cede influence to someone, what we do with influence is a huge responsibility.  It’s a shame that Maya Angelou chose to lend her influence and her name to an organization that stood against all of her best instincts.  After all, she told Family Circle Magazine that she kept her baby because “I knew there was somebody inside me.”  Somebody.

The fact is that support for abortion was de rigueur in Angelou’s political sphere.  The tragedy is if there was room for different views there, she very well may have kept to her instincts and promoted life instead. 

So, one can only wonder:  Why?  Why did she go on to support an organization that certainly would not have recognized her unborn son as “somebody?”  And if she had been a pregnant teen under the circumstances today, would she have kept her baby?

I don’t know the answers, but I think it lies somewhere in the intersection of relationships and power.  Was she pressured?  Was she simply asked to headline PP fundraisers?   Would she have ever initiated such a thing on her own? Or, is it possible that in the end, she simply lent her influence in order to preserve her influence and to avoid alienating those around her?  I can’t help but suspect it’s the latter.  The effects of influence coupled with the innate human fear of isolation — being cast out — cause people to morph all the time.

I think paying close attention to these dynamics in ourselves and others is the key to helping turn things around for a more open and life-affirming society.

Excuse me for speaking (Silly me, I thought I had a “right”)

Your right to think out loud is officially up for debate.   Last night the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia held a “panel discussion” on the topic “The Future of Free Speech.”  In it we were treated to the pros and cons of allowing human beings to speak their minds.  That’s what we’ve come to, and it’s appalling.

What next?  A panel discussion on the pros and cons of allowing human beings to breathe?

As with all such discussions, an elitist few take it upon themselves to tell the unwashed masses what they may and may not say — or by logical extension, what they may or may not think.  These self-appointed arbiters of speech and thought are nothing more than a clique or a mob that’s set itself up to control others.  It’s a power grab, and their thinly veiled guise is to claim to protect us all from “hate speech.”  In other words, it’s a protection racket.  There’s no way around this.

Everything about last night’s C-SPAN panel was disturbing:  the arrogance of the plaintiffs, the willingness of the defendants to play nice and even seem jovial about negotiating the rights of everyone else, and the venue itself, the Constitution Center, which seemed happy to give tyranny a day in court.  (No doubt there will be more to come.)   If you care to check it out, here’s the link:  http://www.c-span.org/video/?318476-1/free-speech-us

Political Correctness and the Cult Mindset

My essay in the Federalist today is about Americans’ woeful ignorance of the techniques of brainwashing.  Click here to read:  “Cults in Our Midst:  Patty Hearst and the Brainwashing of America.”  My take is that it’s been exactly 40 years since Patty Hearst stunned the nation by robbing a bank with her radical comrades from “The Symbionese Liberation Army,” two months after they kidnapped and brainwashed her.

They started the way any bully or cult leader pushes an agenda:  by isolating the individual and separating the person from all relationships the aggressor can’t control.   Political correctness depends on this sort of thing.  It’s a program of behavior modification through language control.  It seeks to impose language that vilifies people who don’t conform so that they are separated and isolated from others. (You know the drill:  “bigot,” etc.)

Interestingly, the term “brainwashing” has become politically incorrect.  We should ask ourselves: Why?  The term simply comes from the Chinese/Maoist expression “hse nao” which means to “wash the brain” so that other thoughts can be programmed into it. Is the word politically incorrect because it’s a false concept?  No.  It’s politically incorrect because it is  true.  It’s very real.

If Americans understood the processes and techniques of coercive persuasion, they’d become more immune to them.  Political correctness would lose its hold, just as a magician’s tricks lose their appeal when you see them exposed.

Here are some brief excerpts from my essay, which I hope you’ll read:

In a sense, political correctness, though more subtle, is analogous to the dark closet in which Patty Hearst was isolated, blindfolded, and incessantly propagandized. It serves to silence us and create the conditions in which the arbiters of correctness can tear down the old world view and rebuild it in their image. We’re told being one of them is to be morally superior, on the right side of history. Those who oppose it are labeled, repeatedly and loudly: bigot, racist, homophobe.

In Cults in our Midst, Singer warned that cult techniques “should be studied and revealed so that citizens can be taught countermeasures in order to avoid being exploited by such groups.” She also cautioned: “The psychotechnology of thought reform is not going to go away… Education, information and vigilance are constantly needed if we are to keep us, and our minds, free.”