In doing research on Cults in America, and specifically those that re-form themselves as schools for troubled teens, I found this handy chart (see below), taken from Dr. Margaret Singer’s book, Cults in Our Midst (at Factnet.org ) outlining some of the differences between education and thought reform (also called “brain-washing”), and some of the stops along the way – advertising, indoctrination and propaganda.
Which of these processes best describe your school days? Your grade school? High school? College?
Your work environment? A corporate work environment?
Where does television news fit in this array? National Public Radio? AM talk radio?
Where do the current Presidential candidates fit on the chart?
Where does the Bird Flu scare fit?
The HPV “Cervical Cancer” Vaccine campaign? Education or Advertising? Or Propaganda?
Aids Education? (See the previous exchange with Dr. Nick Bennett for one example).
The Public debates on Evolution? Global Warming? Abortion?
- Many bodies of knowledge, based on scientific findings in various fields.
- Two way pupil-teacher exchange encouraged.
- Change occurs as science advances; as students and other scholars offer criticisms; as students and citizens evaluate programs.
- Uses teacher-pupil structure; logical thinking encouraged.
- Instruction is time-limited: consensual.
- Is not deceptive.
- Respects differences.
- The body of knowledge concerns product, competitors; how to sell and influence via legal persuasion.
- Exchange can occur but communication generally one-sided.
- Consumer/buyer can accept or ignore communication.
- Can be deceptive, selecting only positive views.
- Puts down competition.
- Takes authoritarian stance to persuade masses.
- Learner support and engrossment expected.
- Can be deceptive, often exaggerated.
- Targets large political masses to make them believe a specific view or circumstance is good.
- Wants to lessen opposition.
- Overt persuasion sometimes unethical.
Thought Reform Demands:
- Body of knowledge centers on changing people without their knowledge.
- No exchange occurs, communication is one-sided.
- Change occurs rarely; organization remains fairly rigid; change occurs primarily to improve thought-reform effectiveness.
- Takes authoritarian and hierarchical stance; No full awareness on part of learner.
- Group attempts to retain people forever.
- Is deceptive.
- Individualized target; hidden agenda (you will be changed one step at a time to become deployable to serve leaders).
- No respect for differences.
- Uses Improper and unethical techniques.
I think it’s a great tool, to evaluate the method that’s being used to present information in the public sphere. Thanks Factnet.org, and Dr. Margaret Singer (author of Cults in Our Midst). (Click HERE for a PDF Version of the chart).