This book provides a detailed description of developments in the science of animal and human behavior and applications of this science for attempts to control this behavior. First, the book briefly discusses pre-scientific methods of controlling people via forced religious conversion, torture, and other crude tools. Then it looks at the most famous examples such as the works of Pavlov, Cold War experimentation with drugs and environmental/ideological brainwashing, Stockholm syndrome, and the latest development in the use of social media. The conclusion is that despite or maybe with the extensive help of contemporary science, brainwashing or, more precisely, coercive persuasion continues to exist everywhere and perhaps becomes even more effective than it used to be.
MY TAKE ON IT:
Coercive persuasion is the core characteristic of human existence and probably relates to non-coercive persuasion at a ratio of 10 to 1. One only needs to look a bit wider when to see the coercion applied softly via approval/disapproval of behavior and even thoughts by surrounding people. It is very seldom when an individual can go against generally accepted beliefs and behavior norms. This coercive persuasion is a historical norm and has existed in all societies until recently. The interesting process began when the new, scientific method of thinking was invented just a few centuries ago. Suddenly, some societies in which the new way of thinking obtained a foothold began rapid technological progress, which made these societies dominant due to the military advantages of high technology. The other side of the picture was that the population’s well-being was also greatly improved. The current paradox is that the advancement of science made coercive persuasion much more effective, consequently limiting or even eliminating the progress of science. Moreover, anti-freedom societies like China and Russia got access to technology, including military technology developed in pro-freedom societies. Internal anti-freedom forces such as leftist movements are currently on the offensive, trying to move the world to the new dark age of communism and fascism. The catch is that only when individuals have absolute freedom to think and experiment outside of some paradigm – the area where real solutions reside, does the scientific way of thinking work. This fundamental freedom drives technological or social progress if combined with sufficient resources. I would hope that enough people appreciate the value of freedom enough to fight for it by limiting the elite’s power to produce fakes and deceptions. Coercive persuasion becomes impossible if a sufficient share of the active population supports freedom, but it becomes inevitable if liberty is rejected.