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Prejudice is best understood as we study the principles of Cognitive Dissonance -- a paradigm that explains how people naturally identify with, and favor "In Groups," and distance themselves from "Out Groups." The Cognitive Dissonance Paradigm explains how people will change their prejudices when there is an Incentive (outer influence) or Investment (inner decision) that alters our orientation to In Groups and Out Groups.
A superior understanding of Prejudice is also attained when we explore the Nature of Language: how spoken and written words are general and categorical, yet the words used to describe the world are specific and particular; hence, words naturally cause human beings to think and speak in generalizations — which in turn facilitates and reinforces prejudicial perception and stereotyping.
Assumptions, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Values --
In a specific sense, the word "prejudice" is commonly associated with pejorative pre-judgments about race or religion. My exploration of the topic examines "prejudice" in its broadest sense — pre-judgments of every sort, every kind of prejudice held within the Human Mind.
People cannot NOT be prejudice; they cannot NOT pre-judge. Perceiving is a process by which we invoke unconsciously-acquired prejudices to interpret the activities of our World. Thus being prejudice is natural for all human beings: I don't mean good-natural, instead I mean common-natural — it IS the norm for people to be prejudice.
Human beings live life according to a built-in set of assumptions that are mostly unconsciously learned while growing up. Author of the world's most famous equation, E = mc2, and winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, said it this way:
"Common sense is actually nothing more than a collection of prejudices
Just as little children learn a language without study or frustration, so also do human beings absorb prejudices via social osmosis. For example, without conscious analytical effort, I learned this simple "positive" prejudice while growing up: "I can depend on my Mom to love me and support me."
Why do I call this a "prejudice"? Because with the dawning of a new day, and before anyone has said or done anything, I naturally Pre-Judge that my "Mom will love me and support me." Why? Because she's consistently behaved this way for many consecutive years. I can depend upon my Mom's love, like I can depend upon the rising Sun. This was one Prejudice I learned through social osmosis.
So from deeply-ingrained experiences with Mom, a child tends to assume that Moms in general, will be like "my Mom" — this is the natural budding of generalizations and stereotypes about all Moms. Of course narrow assumptions about Mom specifically, and Moms generally, will be adjusted as a child matures and gains more experience. Eventually a child will learn that some Moms are not like "my Mom."
For example, children who are raised in a home where "Mom" is an alcoholic, these children often learn that "Mom" cannot be consistently trusted — an assumption that will likely manifest as a generalized prejudice later in life. The Assumptions by which we perceive and order our World can correctly be called Prejudices, because every Assumption is a Pre-Judgment of the way we expect our World to happen.
The Assumptions we naturally and unconsciously form while growing up appear as Attitudes, Beliefs, and Values that guide daily living. It's important to note that Prejudices, as Pre-Judgments, come in both pejorative and positive forms. For example, some people (like me) learn the "prejudice" that people can be trusted and will honor their promises and keep their word. Such a positive prejudice is learned from a family, or community, where people are consistently good for their word.
An entire community of people who are good for their word, imagine that! Such was the very environment in which my Mother grew up in Oak City, Utah — and she passed this "prejudice" down to me. This meant that before I had any direct experience with a person, I pre-judged that each particular person would honor a promise, if a promise was given. When people gave their word to me, I fully expected them to keep their word. Of course, more experience and maturity has caused me to adjust this Prejudice. I have since discovered, indeed, that there are many people who cannot be trusted and are not good for their word.
Prejudices are a natural inheritance of growing up, that is why the father of American Psychology said:
"A great many people think they are thinking
Gordon Allport, author of the 1954 classic, "The Nature of Prejudice," maintains that people cannot even be "open-minded." Allport writes:
"Open-mindedness is considered to be a virtue. But, strictly speaking, it cannot occur. A new experience
The reason why prejudices are so deeply entrenched, is because the Assumptions we learn while growing up are NOT like flexible pieces of information that are easily adjusted; instead, for most people, Assumptions are fixed over many years, they become part of our Self-Identity and the foundation from which we perceive and order our World.
On being open-minded, philosopher Bertrand Russell said: "a mind perpetually open will be a mind perpetually vacant." This explains why human beings naturally close their minds upon lessons learned through consistent experience, lessons that teach people what to expect from their World — these "lessons" in turn shape sets of Generalizations and Assumptions within our Minds.
G. K. Chesterton describes the tendency to "close" our minds upon certain assumptions: "An open mind like an open mouth has a purpose: to close on something solid." Hence, people naturally close their minds upon Prejudices, aka, Assumptions, Attitudes, Values, and Beliefs.
Changing a particular prejudice involves more than merely rearranging thoughts intellectually and logically. Most of the time, changing a prejudice involves changing one's Core Personality; it involves a Change of Heart — which is a spiritual transformation, as opposed to an intellectual manipulation.
Because Prejudices are firmly set within Self-Identity, changing a Prejudice is not accomplished by simply rearranging flexible pieces of information intellectually and logically. For example, a person might reason: "In light of new and accurate information, I was wrong about all Mormons being sex-crazed polygamists as I previously assumed."
A Change in the Pre-Judgments we commonly called Attitudes and Assumptions, usually involves admitting a Mistake or a Misperception. Since most people are NOT inclined to such humble honesty, instead human beings tend to fiercely defend the Assumptions that naturally saturate Self-Identity — a typical defense of Self-Pride sounds like this: "I'm not stupid, I'm not wrong."
On the other hand, some fair-minded people can readily make intellectual and logical Changes, precisely because who they are IS fair-minded from the start. In other words, built-in to some people's Personalities are positive prejudices that value Evidence and Double-Checking of Assumptions, and not Judging a Book by its Cover. Fair-minded Standards are naturally reinforced when growing up in an environment of fair-minded people.
In contrast to the responses of a Fair-minded Person, the the Deeply Prejudiced Person will hunker down into a defensive stance when confronted with Evidence that goes against a prejudice. For the Prejudice-minded Person, the prospect that one of his Assumptions could be wrong, is taken personally — this is because the Assumption is not merely a flexible piece of intellectual data, instead Assumptions are an inseparable part of the Prejudiced Person's Self-Identity.
For prideful people with deeply-entrenched prejudices, if a Change in Attitude/Prejudice occurs it typically happens according to a paradigm called "Cognitive Dissonance." Dissonance, or DisHarmony, is experienced whenever two Cognitions are in conflict. For example:
Thought #1: Mormons are a cult of sex-craved polygamists.
Let's imagine that Thought #1 belongs to a person who has been preaching hate against Mormons for many years; this means he's highly invested in his Assumptions. Further, his hateful preaching has been openly shared with friends and family, which has deepened the Investment to hold to his Assumption.
According to Leon Festinger's Cognitive Dissonance Theory, people tend to resolve Dissonance in a way that is Self-Serving. Thus to resolve Dissonance between Thoughts #1 and #2, this prejudiced person will tend to defend his Ego and Self-Pride above all else — even above Truth! "I'm not stupid, I'm not wrong" is a natural stance for Self-Serving human beings. Thus here's one way that our Self-Serving person is likely to resolve Dissonance between Thoughts #1 and #2, he rationalizes:
"My favorite Actress isn't really as good as I first imagined — her characters are not that believable on closer examination. Damn Mormon!"
Now change the Intensity of Investment, and imagine that this same prejudiced person has admired Katherine Heigl for many years; he has seen all her movies, and his room is wall-papered with pictures of his Favorite Actress. Couple this with a sense of prejudice against Mormons that is personally held, as opposed to publicly announced; different from the first scenario, this means his Ego is NOT on display for others to Judge — Selfish Pride is less of a factor. So the Dissonance in this 2nd scenario might be resolved by rationalizing:
"My favorite Actress is a Mormon — who would have guessed? Maybe Mormons aren't so bad after all."
With pictures pasted all over his bedroom, pictures of Katherine Heigl, this guy is highly Invested in NOT having to redecorate. Thus rationalizing that "Mormons aren't so bad after all" keeps his worldview, and his bedroom, in Balance.
Striving to maintain Balance and Consistency is the goal of resolving Cognitions that are Dissonant. Whenever Evidence grinds against a deeply-ingrained Prejudice, human beings will seek to restore Balance. Balance is achieved in two basic ways:
One is Self-Serving, and
Again, t he Self-Serving way will typically rationalize to defend Pride and Ego — "I'm not stupid, I'm not wrong." Selfish people will tenaciously cling to their precious prejudices — even when pre-judgments do not accurately correspond with Truth.
People who are humble enough can admit that sometimes "I'm wrong." Such a humble confession is a sign of an emotionally stable person. Indeed, sometimes our prejudices need adjustment, they need to be aligned with Truth. So instead of Rationalizing and defending Selfish Pride, . . . the rare road-less-traveled and the best way to resolve Dissonance, is to Repent: An act of humility and honesty that leads to a fundamental change in one's Core Personality — hence, a change of Heart and a change of Prejudice.
The dynamics of Cognitive Dissonance explain why people are fiercely stubborn at the prospect of changing a misperception, why they resist changing a pre-judgment even when that prejudice does not accurately correspond to Reality
Maintaining Balance and Consistency
The motivation to constantly seek Mental Consistency and Balance is similar to seeking Physical Well-Being. When you feel bodily discomfort, you naturally try to relieve physical distress; in like manner, when you feel mental discomfort, you naturally seek to relieve mental distress.
Social Psychologist Leon Festinger calls such mental distress, “Cognitive Dissonance” — which is a conflict between two cognitions or thoughts. Mental distress appears for a myriad of reasons, but every reason is rooted in a mental conflict between two colliding cognitions. Here’s a few examples:
Thought #1 — I highly value my moral code, yet
Human beings will naturally try to relieve mental dissonance and strive to restore a state of consonance — harmony. Inner Harmony feels good. Inner Conflict feels bad. People inherently strive towards good outcomes and happiness, and naturally strive to eliminate bad outcomes and sadness.
So, given a scenario where a person has violated their own moral code, there are two basic ways of reducing dissonance:
1) Change the behavior, quit doing it, and live in harmony with your moral beliefs.
The way Leon Festinger would frame it is thus: You have two thoughts that are dissonant: One thought about your moral belief, and another thought about your behavior. To resolve the dissonance, one of these two thoughts must be changed. Let’s look at other scenario of cognitive dissonance — mental conflict:
A man finds a woman very attractive; he thinks about her constantly; he dreams about her. He finally finds the courage to approach her, and ask her on a date.
However, the attractive woman does not cooperate with the man’s “dream” and politely but firmly refuses the advance of the admiring man. So the man experiences mental conflict:
Thought #1 — He is deeply attracted to a woman
Two cognitions in conflict: For the man to restore mental harmony, one of these two thoughts needs adjustment — it needs to be changed.
The easy adjustment is a rationalizing pattern called “sour grapes” — because the grapes are out of reach and unattainable, the man lusting after these sweet, tasty grapes simply rationalizes: “the grapes were probably sour anyway.”
But in reality, the grapes are sweet; hence such a rationalizing pattern dishonestly distorts Reality in a Self-Serving Way. The other alternative is for the man to humbly acknowledge his inadequacy for reaching the grapes. But such humility and honesty is not what most people tend to do — Most people will defend there Self-Pride and Ego.
For our admiring man, his cognitive fix is equally simple: “She’s not as attractive as I first imagined, in fact, she’s down right ugly” — this is the story that admiring men tell themselves when their dream-women will not cooperate with the “dream.”
The alternative fix is to assure an adjustment in the woman: So the man sticks to the task of wooing, and proceeds with every manipulation conceivable: Chocolates, flowers, notes from a not-so-secret admirer. Instead of altering his attraction for the woman, to relieve the mental distress, the man seeks to change the woman’s attitude about him.
Why People are Fiercely Stubborn
Which one of the conflicting cognitions is changed, depends upon a these extenuating elements:
1) Investment of time, money, or possessions that a Person puts into an Idea
Why wouldn’t the admiring man simply cry “sour grapes” at the first rebuff from a dream woman (who will not cooperate with the dream)? Answer: Investment! This man has invested 5 years of his life into obsessing about this particular woman, and just like a slot-machine that has A LOT of your money placed into it, you don’t easily leave such a slot-machine — surely the next pull of the lever will win the jackpot!
To better understand how “incentive” plays into the resolution of cognitive dissonance, let’s look at a classic experiment conducted in 1959 by Leon Festinger.
One at a time, college students entered a room where they were asked to participate in a repetitive and mundane task: stacking spools and turning knobs for 60 minutes.
The task was specifically designed to create a dissonant cognition within the experiment subjects. Was the task actually boring? Yes, and a separate control group established this fact.
Introduced into the experimental group was two different incentives: a $1.00 reward and a $20.00 reward. The money was given to the subjects in the experimental group after they had completed 60 minutes of a repetitive and mundane task.
Festinger wanted to compare the difference in attitudes between the subjects given $1.00 to say that the task was interesting, versus the subjects given $20.00 to say that the task was interesting.
So here are the two conflicting cognitions:
1) I just spend 60 minutes of my life doing a boring task, and I did it for one measly dollar.
How will the cognitive dissonance be resolved, compared to
1) I just spend 60 minutes of my life doing a boring task, and I did it for 20 BIG ONES!
How will the cognitive dissonance be resolved in this scenario?
In the $1.00-reward scenario, the subjects did not see that $1.00 was not sufficient incentive to “lie” to the next subjects, so in a post-test of attitudes toward the task, the $1.00 subjects actually CHANGED their attitudes, and rated the task as interesting.
So within themselves they rationalized, I didn’t really “lie,” because I truly felt that the task was interesting — dissonance resolved.
In contrast, the group given the $20.00 incentive had no qualms admitting in the attitude post-test that, the boring task WAS indeed . . . boring! So why did they do it? For 20 BIG ONES!
$20.00 was sufficient justification certain subjects to do the boring task, and to lie to the next subjects about the nature of the task — dissonance resolved.
It is commonly assumed that every action is preceded by a premeditated thought — “a thought is the ancestor of every act.” Curiously, in scenarios of cognitive dissonance, unconscious, spontaneous action comes first and “rationalizing” thoughts come second. Said another way: Sometimes attitudes are the ancestors of our actions, but other times, sometimes our actions shape the formation of new attitudes.
Here’s another scenario of dissonance-resolution to illustrate:
A professional model has a deeply held moral belief that the clothing she models should be classy and modest. Then one day, she is offered an obscene amount of money to model in an outfit that is extremely skimpy.
The monetary incentive causes her to seriously consider modeling the skimpy outfit. Here are the conflicting cognitions:
1) I have a deeply held belief in being modest.
Some models simply say: “I won’t do it, and they honor their moral values.”
Other models construct a justifying story that modeling the skimpy-wear is OK.
“Well, it’s not THAT skimpy.”
“With the obscene amount of money, I could do this skimpy-shoot just once, and then pay for law school, and then fight for women’s rights against a modeling industry that exploits women.”
Here’s the POINT: The close confidant of this model is going to hear some kind of Justifying Story if the model decides to model in attire that does not meet her “former moral attitude.” And not only will the model tend to construct a self-justifying story, she will also tend to morph her moral attitude:
“After all, the body is God’s creation; it is beautiful, and I am simply modeling the natural beauty that God created.”
Human Being strive for inner harmony, and when actions are NOT in alignment with attitudes, THEN . . . one, or the other, must be changed in order to maintain balance, consistency, and harmony.
Consider this scenario: The neighborhood of households are approached by a political activist, and they are told ideas that are not factual about a particular candidate — now IF the ideas were true, it would be reasonable to take a position against the corrupt candidate (but the facts have been twisted).
Nevertheless, a number of households agree to place an Campaign Sign on their front lawn which openly opposed the alleged corrupt candidate.
Now the investment and intensity of the action (placing a political sign in front of their house) is deepened because the sign remains in place for a number of months leading up to an election. Just days before the election a News Story breaks that vindicates the supposedly corrupt candidate from any wrong-doing.
The people in the neighborhood have a situation of dissonance:
1) Neighbors placed political campaign signs in their front yard against a Candidate that they Assumed was corrupt.
Resolution #1: “How stupid was I to NOT thoroughly investigate this Candidate in the first place, I made a mistake, and am sorry for the malice I’ve been part of.”
This resolution requires an unusual person of humility and character.
Resolution #2: “I’m not Stupid, I wouldn't have done what I've done unless it was the Smart thing to do! Clearly the newspaper reporting the alleged vindication is in the tank for the corrupt candidate.”
Resolution #2 uses a common rationalizing tactic: Instead of confronting the validity of the Message, the credibility of the Messenger is attacked.
Currently, there is a presidential campaign proceeding where only two candidate are still officially running. In the most recent state primary Mitt Romney won all the states by a large margin, a second candidate who is not officially running, Rick Santorum, actually garnered more votes that another candidate who IS running, Ron Paul. Here’s a scenario of dissonance:
1) I support Ron Paul
“This is a matter of principle! I’m standing up for the Constitution! It’s Ron Paul . . . or not at all.”
The reason why some Ron Paul supporters continue to support him, even though mathematically, he CAN’T win the Republican Nomination is a matter of Investment and Intensity — some Ron Paul supporters have been with Congressman Paul through 3 presidential campaigns. There investment is so great, that they cannot resolve the conflict by supporting the Conservative Candidate that actually won the Republican Nomination.
In 2002, there were a few hundred votes that went to Ralph Nader, and if those same votes where cast for Al Gore, he would have been president.
The tendency to organize thoughts into Likes and Dislikes that are Balanced and Consistent can be innocuous as long as the pro-and-con sentiments concern Preferences like: I like red cars instead of green cars — no harm done here. But when a persons deeply-held Likes and Dislikes are about Moral Principles and Prejudices, it is then that bitter stereotyping occurs.
A Stereotype is a generalization that is vastly over-exaggerated or over-simplified, and often offensive — a gross generalization used to describe a person, or a group of persons.
A Stereotype is like a mask that others place upon someone, so they don’t have to deal with, or face, the real person.
To avoid thinking of the reality of violently abusing someone who is a father or mother, a brother or sister, a son or daughter, bitter stereotypes de-personalize those we hate — individuals we’ve never met and have no experience with.
The hated are called Japs, Jews, Commies, Niggers, Injuns, Spics, Rednecks, and White Trash — instead of seeing individuals as human beings who breath and feel and love like us, he or she is reduced to an insulting word: Towel Head, Kraut, Coon, Cracker, Honky, Hymie, Whore, Gook, Gringo, Oreo, Uncle-Tom, Wetback, Wop, etc.
In political campaigns it is common for rabid activists and ideologues to de-personalize candidates with an insulting label — it makes them easier to hate. And whenever we use that derogatory term, we quickly spread the message of hatred to others.
This is where the tendency toward Consistency and Balance turn into prejudice — we quickly conclude who is part of our In Group, and who is a member of the Out Group.
Resolving Inner Conflict: Preferences vs. Principles
When cognitive dissonance occurs, most people tend to resolve their inner conflict in a way that is self-serving, as opposed to resolving cognitive conflict in a way that is truth-serving.
Because people have an investment in maintaining a publicly-perceived image — a persona I call “The Self as Advertised” — people tend to resolve conflict in a way that maintains their projected image. Thus, Image Management is given priority over Truth Management.
When people think and act to protect and maintain the Self-Image they project, this is called the “self-serving bias.”
If a person is deeply invested into an image of being seen as intelligent, then that type of person will surely resolve inner conflict to protect that image. For example:
Self-Serving vs. Truth-Serving.
In the process of acquiring a language, Human Beings naturally learn to think and speak in terms of categories and generalizations. Because the world of our experience is particular in every detail, but the language used to describe that experience is general and categorical, this means the language we use to communicate and clarify, is the same language that distorts and obscures. Which explains why Frederich Nietzsche said this about language:
"Reality is captured in the categorical nets of language
Here’s how language is categorical: When a child learns the word “chair,” this word, at first, represents the specific “chair” with which the child has intimate experience. But later on in life as the child grows up, in everyday conversation, reference to a “chair” will not conjure up in the minds of others the specific “chair” that the child knew in youth — unless adjectives are used to narrow a reference to that chair.
describe In everyday conversation the word “chair” is a word to represent all other chairs — hence words represent general categories.
The word “dog” doesn’t point to a specific dog, rather any dog among all dogs. The word “rock” doesn’t point to a specific rock, rather any rock among all rocks. So when you use categorical terms, you must use adjectives to narrow down a description of WHICH ONE.
Human Beings tend to seek Consistency. Striving to maintain a consistent Balance is the primary reason for attitude change, as well as behavior change. Here’s a few examples:
A college track star is focused upon his first priority — running track. He has no time for sports like basketball or football. Then one day an attractive girl shows interest in him, and they date a few times — their relationship “clicks.” The college track star, who was solely interested in running track, eventually learns that his girlfriend is a collegiate basketball player.
Because human beings tend to seek consistency, this young man is motivated to bring his attitudes into Balance. So it isn’t surprising that the track star expands his interests to college basketball. Why? Because his girlfriend is a starting point-guard on the basketball team. Here’s the analysis:
Thought #1: I’m solely focused on track and not interested in other sports
These two thoughts conflict: they are NOT harmonious. Human beings like to have harmonious thoughts, and this explains why the college track star changed his attitude.
A big reason why corporations commonly hire a popular person to endorse their product is to change attitudes toward those products. This is how attitudes about products are changed:
Thought #1: I dislike Brand X
There are two ways in which conflicting thoughts can be resolved:
1) By adjusting one’s attitude toward Brand X “Maybe Brand X isn’t so bad, after all,” or
2) By adjusting one’s attitude toward the Movie Star: “She’s not the fine actress I initially imagined.”
Which one will be adjusted is a function of a few factors:
High vs. Low Emotional Intensity
Incentive to change Attitude or Behavior High Emotional Intensity tied to Incentive vs.
Investment into an Attitude or Behavior High Emotional Intensity tied to Investment vs.
Incentives are favorable influences coming from our social setting — enticements coming from other people.
For example, initially there was a bad attitude about Brand X, until a Favorite Movie Star became a spokesperson for Brand X — this created mental conflict.
The Favorite Movie Star is an influential Incentive for you to like Brand X. The “emotional intensity” might be manifest in how long a person has admired their Favorite Movie Star — for a long time versus a newly found attraction.
When the “emotional intensity” tied to the Incentive is High, then people tend to stick with their emotional ties, and continue liking their Favorite Movie Star.
In contrast, if the “emotional intensity” is Low in regard to the Favorite Movie Star, then the disdain for Brand X may continue, and the Movie Star no longer is admired — because she is the spokesperson for Brand X. This is done to keep thoughts in Balance.
Here’s another Incentive scenario: Imagine that a person’s Sister-in-law becomes the CEO of Brand X Company — such is a large Incentive to Like Brand X, and also continue liking the Movie Star that endorses Brand X.
While Incentive are supplied by the influence of Others, Investment is what You directly put into something. Here’s an example: On a tip from a savvy stock broker, a person purchases a substantial amount of Stock in the Brand X Company. This large Investment into Brand X, will surely reinforce one’s attitude about Brand X and the Move Star who endorses Brand X.
With a Large monetary investment into Brand X, a person had High Emotional Intensity to maintain a favorable attitude toward Brand X; and with a Low monetary investment into Brand X, a person’s emotions are not anchored into liking Brand X, as much.
Preference versus Prejudice.
A person is vulnerable to to prejudice when forming an opinion about a person, void of any experience with that person. Opinions based upon hearsay, instead of actual experience, are vulnerable to bias
Attitudes about Brand X and a Movie Star are simply preferences — the person who holds these attitudes prefers this or that for no special reason.
Prejudice appears, when a person strongly dislikes someone prior to any actual experience with that person. The dislike can also be based upon a tendency toward Balance and Consistency in thought. For example, growing up a child may have been taught that people with Green Skin are evil, and other than this deep-seeded hatred toward Green People, the parents are very nice, especially to their children. Thus to maintain Balance within the home, children tend to agree with the attitudes of their parents — especially parents who are kind and supportive.
Thought #1 — My parents are nice to me. I love them: They've taught me to hate Green People
Prejudice means that regardless of the individual behavior of one considerate and polite Green Person, others will hate the Green Person anyway, because that’s what they’ve been taught all their lives, AND Blood is thicker than water — a child will tend to be true to parents over strangers.
was For example, suppose this person is related to the Movie Star, that ups the intensity to continue liking her; thus, the attitude toward Republicans is adjusted.
Suppose that the same person just gave a very large campaign donation to the Democrat Party, and upon learning that his favorite Movie Star is a Republican, the Investment into Democrat politics is just too great. So the person adjust his attitude toward the Movie Star, “Upon closer analysis, her acting is second rate.”
Now suppose that the Movie Star and the Admirer are both single, and the Admirer is successful enough to be noticed in social circles. The Movie Star learns of that the man is a big fan, and also finds him appealing in terms of Chemistry and Cash. She arranges a meeting. Suddenly, the business man loves Republicans and everything they stand for!
God nurtures us "with milk, and not with meat" (1 Cor. 3:2); He helps us to walk before we run. Jesus taught that not all will live to God’s highest laws: “All men cannot receive this saying, ... he that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matt. 19:11-12).
Due to real limitations created by human "free will," there are numerous wants that you and I will never be able to create via feeling-filled visualizations.
With hearsay propaganda running rampant at Facebook (blogs and other social media), Wayne Dyer cautions of "mind viruses" — a mental malady that occurs when we hold an idea to be true, that is actually false. That's why Dr. Dyer advises: "Don't believe everything you think!" The father of American psychology, William James, asserts similar advice: "A great many people think they are thinking when they are really just rearranging their prejudices."
With the advent of the Internet, every critic who has a computer can pollute cyber-space with propaganda. Teddy Roosevelt reminds us of an important priority:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
Before the advent of the Internet, people would have to manually type letter and snail-mail it to a newspaper editor, for their voice to be heard publicly. Now, we have a nation of critics who are voicing careless criticism of those you strive valiantly in the area of action. And with little, if any, vetting of their ideas, "mind viruses" spread via the Internet in epidemic proportions.
Isaiah prophesy of our stone-throwing society, saying that in the last days there will be "scorners" who "watch for iniquity" and "make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him; and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice." (Isaiah 29:20-21) Prophecy fulfilled.
A century ago, the American culture included some people afflicted by the mind virus of racial prejudice — narrow minded bigots who were liable to lynch a man, just because of his skin color. Today, there are many Americans who are verbally lynching people they've never met, just because of their religious or political affiliations.
Here's an obvious clue for flushing-out propagandists who have covert motives, and are willing to twist the truth: Along with a slanted article about a person, they will post an uncomplimentary picture — an example is the Newsweek Cover of Michele Bachmann. Even the liberal-oriented National Organization for Women spoke out against the "sexist" photo and the headline "Queen of Rage." Curiously, Newsweek's ulterior motive was not even cleverly covert, but blatant.
Last week on the MSNBC show "Hardball," in reference to Mitt Romney's religion, democrat-strategist Steve McMahon said: "Mormons don't believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior." After Chris Matthews suggested that he ought to let Mitt Romney represent his own beliefs, McMahon retorted: "I'm just talking about the faith generally and not Mitt Romney specifically."
However, In Romney's 2007 "Faith Speech," the former Massachusetts Governor stated his personal beliefs: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”
I sent an e-mail to Steve McMahon informing him of this passage from The Book of Mormon: ". . . there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." (Mosiah 3:17). I also made McMahon aware of the book's complete title: The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
It is a myth to conclude that Mitt Romney, and Mormons in general, are not Christian. In sorting Fact from Fiction, Mark Twain offered this advice: "It ain't what you don't know that makes you a fool, but what you think you know . . . that ain't so!"
Pushing past prejudice is easy: If you want to know what Catholics believe: Ask a Catholic! And if you want to know what political Candidates stand for: Ask the Candidates (or get info directly from their websites). The worse source of valid information will come from antagonists who have covert motives for hiding or distorting the truth. Being Honest means conscientiously sorting credible info from piles of propaganda.
Vetting information takes time and effort; plus, some people don't really have a heartfelt commitment to being purely honest, in the first place. More than four decades ago in their song, "The Boxer," Simon and Garfunkel poetically pointed out this problem of prejudice: "All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."
"How is it that Jesus, a perfect man,
Knowing the Truth, in its highest sense, comes only by Living the Truth: The way we Live is inseparable from the way we See and Know. The Apostle Paul taught: "But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). Seeing and Knowing the Truth comes only by Living the Truth.
Gordon Allport, author of "The Nature of Prejudice," defined prejudice thus:
"A great many people think they are thinking, when they are
"Answering a matter before hearing it, is folly and shame" (Proverbs 18:13).
Allport gives an example of how easy and common it is to form attitudes of prejudice, and then express those pre-judgments into stereotypes that obscure the reality of individuals:
"In Rhodesia a white truck driver passed a group of idle natives and muttered, "They're lazy brutes." A few hours later he saw those same natives heaving two-hundred pound sacks of grain onto a truck, singing in rhythm to their work. "Savages," he grumbled. "What do you expect?"
In forming prejudices, there are two essential ingredients: Inward Attitudes & Outward Expressions.
Inward Attitude: I dislike liberals.
Inward Attitude: I dislike conservatives.
An attitude is a feeling of affect — a sentiment of like or dislike towards a person, place, or thing.
Attitudes and Expressions go hand in hand: As we observe one, we will also see the other. A distinction between the two becomes important as we try to break down, and change, prejudices:
For example, a bigoted person may strongly disdain Mormons (attitude) — "they're a bunch of carnally-minded polygamists (expression). It can be fairly easy to up-root an expression simply by vetting this outward judgment against credible evidence.
When a prejudiced person discovers "Oh really, Mormons don't practice polygamy, currently." that same bigot may still retain the prejudicial attitude: I still disdain Mormons, anyway! Why? Because a century ago some Mormons did practice polygamy? Bible believers need to realize that Abraham and Jacob were married to multiple wives — Abraham married Sariah, Bilhah, Zilpah; Jacob was married to Rachel and
As you question the bigot, a laundry list of assumptions may emerge. And even if each assumption were defeated by the facts, a bigot may still cling to the attitude — I disdain Mormons.
The key to this disdain is in pigeon-holing a person into the stereotypic category in the first place.
When prejudicial categories clash against evidence!
Prejudice is manifest by an over-generalizing language! General-Talk is the language of prejudice: All Irishmen are fighters; all Muslims are terrorists; all Mormons are polygamists; all Jews are bankers; all Rock Stars abuse drugs.
In casual conversation, generalizations are convenient. The government is spending 160 billion dollars a month more than it takes in. The "government" is a generalized term that represents hundreds of specific individual, some of which are firmly against deficit spending, and would like to change it if they could. Because it is convenient in talking, statements like these are common: Congress is a bunch of idiots! Republicans are buffoons! Democrats are crazy. The government doesn't care about me at all.
Truth is "the government" can't care about anyone! For "the government" does not have a single brain with which to think, or a a single heart with which to care. The government, is a general construct; it is a categorical idea that exist in language! When this general construct is translated into living, breathing reality, we discover that "the government" has a million dynamic moving parts called "people" and "buildings" and "laws" and "agreements" — these elements combine to create the mental construct called "social structure."
Efforts to erase prejudice center upon this principle: The more we learn about a person, we are less likely to hold hostility towards them. In the old testament the story of Ruth, she was inspired to without the fact that she was a Hebrew, for she knew that that would inhibit the King from choosing her as a wife. And as the King became acquainted with her, he learned to like her — the very sentiment essential to breaking down prejudicial attitudes.
Cognitive Dissonance! When a person hold two conflicting attitudes: 1) I love Ruth, but Ruth is a Hebrew 2) I hate Hebrews
Five Fallacies of Sound Reasoning:
1) Ad Hominem Attacks — we mistakenly imagine that attacking a person somehow diminishes ideas and issues expressed by that person. Propagandists use Ad Hominem Attacks when they have no facts to prove their points. Using Ad Hominem Attack typically ties to the persuasion: Consider the Source! The logic goes like this: Since this person is worthless-scum, then anything this person says must also be worthless and scummy! In the end, we can separate the messenger from the message, and simply examine evidence in support of the message — regardless of the character of the messenger.
2) Claiming Hypocrisy. As a good point in made by one person, instead of embracing the valid point, an opponent will turn the tables and declare: You do it too! As if one person's bad behavior can justify the misdeeds of another.
3) Pooh-Pooh. This is a variation of Sour Grape. To "pooh pooh" something means to down-play its importance. We don't need to waste time on this, it's a bunch of baloney anyway.
4) Straw Man. The fallacy of the straw man is committed when a position is distorted in a way so weak, that it is easily defeated — Straw men are easily blown over. A position is made more radical and extreme that it really is, making it easy to attack.
5) Loaded Words. (slanted words). When trying to write in a fair of objective manner, inevitably, our language makes it hard to eliminate judgmental implications.
Consider these two contrasting paragraphs describing the SAME PERSON:
"He had apparently not shaved for several days, and his face and hands were covered with grime. His shoes were to torn, and his coat, which was several sizes too small for him was spotted with dried clay."
Compare the image the previous words created to this description of the SAME PERSON:
"Although his face was bearded, his eyes were clear, and he looked straight ahead as he walked rapidly down the road. He seemed very tall; perhaps the fact that his coat was too small for him emphasized that impression. He was carrying a book under his arm, and a small terrier ran at his heels."
This point to selective memory, and selective description: When a person wants to slant a description towards an impression that fits one's agenda, they simply ignore the details that don't help the agenda, and only point out the details that do.
Rigid Judgements Halt Dialogue and Understanding
Conclusions like: Republican are stupid, tend to bring a discussion to a halt. For the only way to proceed from this rigid conclusion is to engage in an argument where one person will be right and the other, wrong — one person will win, and the other, lose. To avoid contention, people will skirt around rigid, over-generalizing judgments. And in this way, dialogue grinds to a halt:
In contrast, if a person offers a statement like, "CNN Polls found that 80% of Americans want the federal government to fix their habit of deficit-spending." There are many non-controversial comments that can be made in response to statements that avoid drawing rigid conclusions.
Convenience vs Condemnation:
So, General-Talk can be casual and non-controversial, and non-judgment — General-Talk is Convenient.
General-Talk is commonly use to Condemn — and this is where open dialogues are come to an end.
General descriptions of categories of people tend to foster prejudice; whereas specific descriptions of individuals can break down prejudice — when a person becomes real to us, it is harder to slander them. In contrast, prejudicial language can become more hostile to the same proportions that a person can be dehumanized.
Judging a person fresh, in every new day:
"The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor;
However, when you've been stung by a scorpion a few times, you learn NOT to be around scorpions — hence an attitude-category is created: Scorpions are BAD. And it is based upon experience: Scorpions will sting you!
But in prejudice, the basis for the attitude-category is NOT based upon experience, it is based upon assumption:
Attitude: I don't like Martians
But you've never experienced a Martian before, let alone a group of Martians. This is how prejudice is passed on, like a tradition: "Remember my son, Martians are Mean! Stay away from Martians"
Over-Generalizing: The Language of Prejudice
I watched a television show today. It's called "Hardball" on MSNBC. I'm listening to a segment about the war between Media Matters and Fox News. Chris Matthews is fielding comments from one of his guests, Ron Reagan, who made this statement:
The difference between Fox News and let's say MSNBC, which I think we can say has one of the more progressive points of view of any of the networks out there, is that you, and your fellow hosts and news people, actually stick to the facts. You don't go out and make things up. Fox makes things up!"
The language of prejudice is an over-generalizing language. Here's why Ron Reagan's statement cannot be true; in fact, it is impossible for his assertion to be true — impossible. Why?
Because "Fox News" does not have a single Mind or a single Mouth by which IT can "make things up" — only specific people can make things up, just like Ron Reagan "made up" the illusion that "Fox News" speaks with a one Mind and Mouth by which to "make things up."
General-Talk obscures all manner of details about reality — specific things that really happened. If certain assertions are "made up" at Fox News or at MSNBC, those lies will be concocted, one persons at a time, one lie at a time. So, the follow up question that cuts past General-Talk and gets to living-breathing reality, is simply this: "Can you give me an example of Fox News making things up?"
Now if the person asserting, responds with "they do it all the time," then you know that this assertive person is still living in an Over-Generalizing mindset. Follow up question: "specifically, who is making things up?"
Human life happens particularly, it never happens generally; general conceptions only exist through language, as human being use sounds and symbols to describe human experience. the language we use to describe our world is inescapably general and categorical, while the world in which we live is personal and particular.
Walking home from Church yesterday, a young girl (age 7) and her little brother (age 3) were playing on the sidewalk in front of me. I felt to be friendly and say "hi," as I passed by. Both greeted me with broad smiles, then to my surprise, the young boy stepped toward me and hugged my leg. He did not know me; I was a stranger. The innocence and love of a little child is beautiful — an ideal to emulate.
Clearly, the common connotation of the word "Politics" is pejorative, and the idea of an "Honest Politician" is an oxymoron, similar to the contradiction of an "Honest Lawyer."
"It's hard for Presidential Candidates to say what they mean, when, for motives of pride or propaganda, others will not perceive a candidate's true intent. Each candidate's meaning is at the mercy those who interpret, and this is why some say "elect" and others say "reject" — while many are merely expressing their preference, others are expressing their prejudice."
sweep aside the secondary spin of ideologues, name-callers, and haters, and solely rely upon Primary Sources.
A proverb states: "A wise man changes his mind sometimes, a fool never."
There are honest misunderstandings, and then there are malicious political motives that twist a candidate's true intent.
Live will class and character: Leave the name-calling to those who don't believe in Christian Values. Jesus taught: "From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; out of the evil treasure of the heart comes forth that which is evil."
"The greater part of most people's thinking is involuntary, automatic, and repetitive. It is no more than a kind of mental static and fulfills no real purpose. Strictly speaking, you don't think: Thinking happens to you. The statement "I think" implies volition. It implies that you have a say in the matter, that there is choice involved on your part. For most people, this is not the case. "I think" is just as false a statement as "I digest" or "I circulate my blood." Digestion happens, circulation happens, thinking happens." (A New Earth, p. 129)
Here's an article about why we cannot really choose NOT to be Stressed — when a provoking moment is upon us — because, it is not IN US to be otherwise? Along the same line of logic, we cannot choose NOT to think in terms of prejudicial categories: We cannot choose NOT to be ourselves.
Language and Prejudice
Prejudice because an inheritance from our upbringing as we learn a language: We learn loaded words in association with particular groups of people — the loaded words subtly teach us who to like and dislike.
The more we understand how Language works, the more we can break down prejudices.
The Symbol IS NOT the Thing Symbolized. The Map IS NOT the territory. The Word IS NOT the Thing.
S.I. Hayakawa states: "The habitual confusion of symbols with things symbolized, whether on the part of individuals or societies, is serious enough at all levels of culture to provide a perennial human problem."
We are constantly being talked at, by teachers, preachers, politicians, salesmen, pro athletes, pundits, experts, news anchors and each of them may over over-generalizing words that will feed our "likes" and "dislikes" toward categories of people, places, and things.
I hate Hawaii
I hate broccoli
I hate Martians
As we believe that WORDS are what WORDS-ARE-DESCRIBING, then we take too seriously such over-generalizing comments like: Politicians are liars. Millionaires don't care about the poor. Republicans want to throw granny off the cliff. Democrats want to destroy our economy.
I like to say, and so I do: All Generalization are always True! Except when they are not.
The proper use of Generalizations are thus:
1) In casual, non-accusing conversations where it is convenient to refer to something generally.
2) In political conversations when empirical research is cited, In which case generalization are always expressed as a percentage of people — 75% of Americans support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
When citing a research study, or a scientific poll, general statements describe only a portion of the population by percentage: 66% of American would like to Cut and Cap federal spending.
What we assert as True, neither creates Reality nor makes it disappear.
Persuasion. If a group of people were asked to say what associations are brought to mind by the term persuasion, a range of responses may include: manipulation, seduction, coaxing, influencing, selling, inducing, etc. Most conceptions of persuasion tend to be neutral, however some people think of persuasion as a deceitful and undesirable method for subtly playing on the emotions and feelings of others through unfair manipulation of information. From a positive perspective persuasion can be thought of as an interactive exchange where the people involved have mutual respect and self respect for the role that each plays in this communicative process (Andersen, 1978: 9). In this more favorable view of persuasion, people maintain a respect for the ability of the sender to "take his/her best shot" so to speak at convincing or influencing the receiver; as well as preserving a respect for the receiver's ability to make a choice. Different authors have conceptualized persuasion in various ways as follows:
"Power or quality to induce a person to believe or do something; to argue into an opinion or course of action."
"Persuasion is that activity in which speaker and listener are conjoined and in which the speaker consciously attempts to influence the behavior of the listener by transmitting audible and visible symbolic cues."
"Persuasion is a process whereby decision options are intentionally limited or extended through the interaction of messages, sources, and receivers, and through which attitudes, beliefs, opinions, or behaviors are changed by a cognitive restructuring of one's image of the world or of his frame of reference."
"Persuasion is a communicative activity that unites people — yet it also permits maximum individual choice. Persuasion is a key to maintaining a complex, voluntary society in which people have the right to their choices and responsibility for them."
"To be labeled as persuasive, a communication situation must involve a conscious attempt by one individual to change the attitudes, beliefs, or behavior of another individual or group of individuals through the transmission of some message."
"Persuasion is a complex, continuing, interactive process in which a sender and a receiver are linked by symbols, verbal and nonverbal, through which the persuader attempts to influence the persuadee to adopt a change in a given attitude or behavior because the persuadee has had perceptions enlarged or changed."
"Persuasion implies a process of winning over by an appeal, entreaty, or expostulation addressed as much to feelings as to reason; it usually implies that the one persuaded is more or less won over by the one that persuades."
". . . . a communication process the purpose of which is to influence. A persuasive message has a point of view or a desired behavior for the recipient to adopt in a voluntary fashion . . . . persuasion attempts to evoke a specific change in the attitude or behavior of an audience."
Seven Aspects of Persuasion. From the previous definitions the following elements of persuasion are identified:
1) Persuasion is an interactive process requiring two or more people; at minimum a sender and receiver are necessary (persuader & persuadee).
Distinguishing between communication and persuasion. Offering an interesting and all encompassing definition, Cooley (1909: 61) describes communication this way:
"By Communication is here meant the mechanism through which human relations exist and develop — all the symbols of the mind, together with the means of conveying them through space and preserving them in time. It includes the expression of the face, attitude and gesture, the tones of the voice, words, writing, printing, railways, telegraphs, telephones, and whatever else may be the latest achievement in the conquest of space and time."
Because they were not invented yet, Cooley does not mention television and radio in his definition; however, he does mention "the latest achievement in the conquest of space and time," which is a good 1909 definition for "technology." Cooley's insightful definition allows for and recognizes the potential advancement of future communicative inventions.
Communication is defined by Andersen (1978: 8) as "a process that is focused upon achieving a degree of shared understanding, of shared meanings for the symbols used in the transaction;" and is also conceptualized by Jowett & O'Donnell (1986: 21) as "a convergence process in which sender and receiver, either through mediated or non-mediated means, create and share information." If persuasion is not distinguished from accidental communications, it would be difficult to urge writer and speakers to some uniform standards or techniques for persuasion (Bettinghaus, 1980: 4). Simply by comparing the content of the definitions of communication and persuasion, one clearly gets the impression that the two are related, but each have there distinct connotations.
It can be argued that all communication is persuasive to some degree especially if the definition of persuasion includes subconscious intent of a message. Impromptu communications can be "persuasive" in the sense that the listener does change an outlook as a result of the communication, however, the purpose of this paper is concerned with persuasion as a specific process (as opposed to general) in which people deliberately and consciously construct messages designed to maximize the potential for inducing a specific behavior or attitude. If persuasion is not distinguished from accidental communications, it would be difficult to urge writer and speakers to some uniform standards or techniques for the persuasion process (Bettinghaus, 1980).
Therefore, it is useful to concentrate on the various consciously weighed efforts to persuade so the workings of this process can be most clearly analyzed and differentiated from general communicative exchanges. Along this line of reasoning, persuasion is a sub-set of communication that seeks to elicit specific responses. Jowett & O'Donnell (p. 25) delineate these persuasive responses into three categories:
1) Response shaping,
Message Manipulation. Manipulation is a word like propaganda, that is commonly thought of as having a "dark cloud hanging over it." One of the aspect of persuasion is the conscious and strategic manipulation of symbols to form the message of influence. The use of the word in this context implies an "ordering" of words in a neutral sense. Manipulate in the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (1963) means to: "to treat or work with the hands with skill" and "to manage skillfully; sometimes, to manage artfully or fraudulently." The root of the word is "manus," which in Latin means "hand;" it is the same root from which the word manual is derived — as in manual labor, or labor by hand. Manipulation as applied to our description of persuasion means a "handling" or "arranging" of the word symbols in the communicative.
The dictionary definition of manipulate offers a possible range of motives or means from skillful to fraudulent, or from ethical to non-ethical. Like the word propaganda, manipulation need not be thought in a negative sense; using a Jowett & O'Donnell (1986: 17-18) characterization, manipulation can also be viewed as a continuum concept varying from "white" to "black." The possibility that both ethical or unethical manipulations might be used in the influencing process becomes the final choice of the particular persuader/propagandist in question.
The Big Lie: "because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
Propaganda shares many of the same aspect as those found in persuasion. Jowett & O'Donnell (p. 15-16) define propaganda this way, "to disseminate or promote particular ideas. . . . a deliberate attempt to alter or maintain a balance of power that is advantageous to the propagandist. . . . the deliberate and systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulated cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist." This definition could easily pass as a definition of persuasion, the two process have many overlapping elements. Given the previous analysis of persuasion, the aspects of propaganda that seem common to both are:
* an exchange of communicative symbols,
Differences. It must be remembered that Jowett & O'Donnell did write a 200+ page book to explore the phenomenon of propaganda; therefore, the depth of its meaning cannot be captured in a mere definition. From their book, four important differences between propaganda and persuasion emerge:
* propaganda is a one-to-many communicative exchange,
Analysis of Comparative Aspects. The following detailed analysis between these two communicative processes of persuasion and propaganda is as follows:
1) Interactive process. While both persuasion and propaganda can be considered interactive processes requiring two or more people (persuader & persuadee), a useful distinction can be drawn in the type of interactions. Propaganda describes those persuasive interactions that involve a "one-to-many" ratio; in other words, propaganda is always a mass persuasion process, whereas persuasion can be conceptualized as "an individual psychological process" (p. 21). Hence, propaganda is simply a macro level phenomenon with persuasion operating at the micro level.
2) Exchange of communicative symbols. In persuasion, the interaction is characterized more by a two way exchange (the sender takes turns at being a receiver too); in contrast, propaganda has an element of detachment from his audience (Jowett & O'Donnell, 1986: 34) and his/her "exchanges" tend to be more one directional. Because the propagandist utilizes the some form of media to induce the audience towards his/her goals, the propagandist is physically separated from the group to be influenced. This notion of reciprocity in the persuasion process is illuminated by Bettinghaus (1980: 5), he asserts, "At the same time a source is sending a message, the source is being influenced by the actions of the receiver for whom the message is intended. Messages are not sent in vacuums, . . . . Both source and receiver are typically influenced by each other, . . . . when I am trying to persuade you to my point of view, I am also trying to understand your point of view, and am exposed to your message to me." Therefore, propaganda differs from persuasion in that it is more detached from its target, disseminating information one-way without an consistent dialogue with the audience.
3) Messages are manipulated. In both persuasion and propaganda the communicative symbols are arranged and ordered in a deliberate fashion to facilitate the desired goal. The means of communication is basically difference, with persuasion utilizing face to face and person to person exchanges as compared to propaganda's utilization of television, radio, and the print media, etc., as its mode of message sending and message manipulation.
4) Conscious intent. While both processes are defined as having definite conscious and pre-planned motives, the propaganda process may require and imply more premeditation and systematic calculation because propaganda campaigns tend to be executed on a long term basis (Barney, 1991), in contrast, persuasion can be generally characterized as a short term process which is consummated with the passing success or failure to elicit each intended response; therefore, the conscious intent is likely to be less intricate. While there may be persuasion efforts that as detailed and intricate as any propaganda scheme, relatively speaking, the claim made here should be generally valid.
5) Specific and definite goal. Given the previous argument that propaganda campaigns require more premeditation and conscious calculation, because of the long term nature as well as the magnitude of the "stakes," the same argument would contend that the goals of the propagandist are generally more specific and detailed than those of the persuader. This is a very slight distinction, for on this point as in the previous one, the two processes probably have more similarity than differences.
6) Influencing attitudes and/or behaviors. Both propaganda and persuasion seeks similar ends — a change in the receiver. On the topic of influence it is useful to refer to Jowett & O'Donnell's (1986: 17-18) descriptions of "means" of influence in degrees of accuracy — white to black. While the propagandist may not be as concerned with, or as respectful of, the individual choices of its audience, still the propagandist can find it useful to be accurate in his/her dissemination of information. When the disseminated information of mass persuasion campaign is basically accurate, this is referred to as "white propaganda". Black propaganda, on the other hand, occurs when "a false source is given and lies, fabrications, and deceptions are spread." Gray propaganda appropriately falls somewhere in the middle between accuracy and intentional error, where the source of propaganda "may or may not be correctly identified" and the overall "accuracy of information is uncertain. These same shades of accuracy are applicable to the persuasion process as well.
7) Respects voluntary choice. Just when you think Jowett & O'Donnell are making a case for a neutral definition of propaganda, they cite the following characteristic of propaganda, "the point is that the propagandist does not regard the well-being of the audience as a primary concern . . . not only does the propagandist not care about the audience, he or she may not believe in the message that is being sent" (p. 34). Therefore, the propaganda process according to Jowett & O'Donnell does not share the notion of respect for the interactive process and choices of the receiver as does persuasion.
Jesus taught "for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks,
Our eyes are like cameras, they process the pictures of Life — but it is the mind that brings "meaning" to those pictures. So, while the eyes "look" . . . it is the mind that "sees" and "assumes" — in a similar way, you and I don't really taste with our mouths, we really taste with our minds. That is why to some broccoli is bitter and to others broccoli is beautiful.
Your Way of Knowing is a direct function of your Way of Seeing, and our Way of Seeing is inseparable from your Way of Being.
Only a pure mind can conceive pure knowledge. Paul implies two kinds of minds in this verse: "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15). A mind that is "defiled" will see the world and know the world differently than a mind that is pure.
"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. . . . For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. . . . But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:5,11-14).
Pure Knowledge Flows to the Faithful
Because the carnal mind cannot understand pure knowledge, the carnal man casts aside plain and precious precepts as foolish and simple-minded. To the carnal mind, great knowledge is complex, intricate, esoteric, intellectual, and especially . . . empirical. In contrast, Pure Knowledge is plainly stated and understood by simple faith, and not primarily through empirical approaches:
"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost" (2 Nephi 28:31).
Two Possible Worlds to See and Know
While we live upon only one earth, yet two diametrically different kinds of minds perceive and experience two possible worlds: A world of Simplicity versus a world of Complexity. Within each world is a way of knowing that is also diametrically different. Isaiah taught of the higher way of knowing:
"And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures" (D&C 89:18-19).
Through the enlightened seeing and knowing that comes only to the humble and obedient, even the prophecies of Isaiah can be plainly understood:
"Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy. But I give unto you a prophecy, according to the spirit which is in me; wherefore I shall prophesy according to the plainness which hath been with me . . . for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn" (2 Nephi 25:4).
Of Truth, Light, and Love
Pure Knowledge is inseparably tied to the reality of Light and Truth. Of Truth, Christ gave this unflinching declaration: "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
Pure Knowing for a Purifying Purpose
In all human action, there is no act we can choose that does not carry with it impact upon others for either their betterment, . . . or their detriment. Mortal Life is an inescapable moral context where all human beings are accountable to the Creator for the influencing impact of all thoughts, words, and deeds (Mosiah 4:31).
Pure Heart, Pure Mind, Pure Knowing
"When people are being true to their own sense of truth,
Jesus taught that "the tree is known by his fruit" (Matthew 12:33); by observing the "fruit" of everyday doings, people reveal "who they are," . . . they expose the nature of their heart: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).
"If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light,
.* * * * *.
In Contrast to Pure Knowledge and Pure White. Visualize a canvas of pure white, the kind of canvas that an artist uses to paint a portrait. Think of your life as a collection of colors being painted upon this clean, clear canvas. With every word you think and every deed you do, the portrait of your life is painted, and in contrast to pure white, any tint or shade less than white is obvious and conspicuous. Against an immaculate backdrop, you are able to see, with perfect clarity, how some motives and emotions fall short of pure white.
In your mind's eye, imagine that all loving words and deeds possess the unsullied shine of bright white. The purity of love would have no hint of darkness, not even the slightest shade of gray. Every word, deed, thought, or emotion that is "less-than" pure white, is a shade of betrayal:
Pure Love Less-than-Love
calm approachable impetuous edgy
Shades of Betrayal: Less-than-Love. When we are being less-than-loving, the portrait we paint upon the white canvas is clouded by confusion; instead of vivid hues of red, blue, and green, a quarreling collision of colors makes the muddied shades of black and gray. Thus the portrait of our Life loses clarity . . . and beauty. Against the backdrop of bright white, even the subtlest shades of gray are easily exposed.
* * * * *
Look back on your life: Remember a time when you were crystal clear that something was wrong to do, . . . but you did it anyway. With your very first act that betrayed the Light of Innocence within, you were completely clear that a lesser way was being chosen. With each subsequent betrayal, this crystal sense of honesty became increasingly clouded; you became accustomed to the muddied shades of a dreary portrait. You became desensitized to the darkness, . . . deadened by the darkness.
* * * * *
The Light of Innocence will naturally lead you back to the complete purity you possessed as a child. Followed consistently over time, the Light of Innocence will lead you to recover and renew . . . the You that is True. Returning to pure white is how you began and is who you are from your core. When you recover and renew, euphoric feelings of Love fill you, and flow from you. As you choose Love, you also choose the peace that comes with Love. To follow these impressions of Inner Innocence . . . is to experience rebirth.
* * * * *
The Fallibility of Following Feelings. The words "feeling" and "emotion" are essentially synonymous. Emotional moments, feeling moments, are the exclamation points of life; they give emphasis to a particular experience. Through our "feelings" we are constrained to pay greater attention to things that likely need more attention—this is true whether the feelings are white, black, or gray.
When emotions flow from darkness, the discomfort of unsettled feelings is educational—it can teach us NOT to do "something like that again." The rule of thumb, "follow your feelings" became a common guide precisely because all emotional experience is instructive.
However "following your feelings" per se is an unreliable rule—because some feelings are fallible. The fact is that emotions flow from prior perceptions and choices; thus, any physiological feeling that arises in you, is actually following your lead. It makes no sense to follow something . . . that is following you! Because YOU author of your emotions, if your perceptions are skewed then the feelings that flow from you will be equally warped. Bottom Line: Emotions should not always be followed, but should always be listened to for what they might teach.
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Foul-Able Feelings: A Sign of Leaving the Light. Feelings are fundamentally of two types: feelings of Light and feelings of darkness; emotions of Bright White and emotions of black and gray. Again, emotions are Life's exclamations . . . that point to moments and matters that need attention—what to reinforce in Bright White moments, and what to avoid when black and gray emotions arise. Emotional feelings "kick in" as a function of how you perceive your world; thus, if your perceptions are incorrect or impure, you will generate body physiology in support of a "false alarm."
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The most important function that foulable feelings serve . . . is to let us know we have left the Light. Negative emotions can be useful exclamation points that help us correct our course; however, they are only helpful if we hear and heed their warning, otherwise the experience of feeling negative emotions is just one more useless, needless occurrence of Self-Inflicted Suffering. Listening to what anxious emotions are willing to teach is one way that Life is Self-Correcting.
Because foulable feelings let us know that we have strayed from the Light, the way to discern is clear: Feelings of Light lead to do good, . . . and when you do good, you feel good. In the very same way you recognize a good tree by its good fruit, you may also know that you are being true by the joyful feelings that fill you, and shine from you.
A thorough understanding of the tell-tale signs of betrayal can provide awareness sufficient to catch yourself and correct your course. The patterns are predictable and observable; they are signs central to the aim of Un-Doing! Seeing these signs in yourself will provide a huge clue . . . to what you need to Un-Do:
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When caught in the trap of betrayal, we encounter the connected consequence of diminished vision; betrayal and blindness always occur together. People will not even attempt to correct a problem if they don't think they have a problem — yet they do . . . and are blind to it! Thus, having an intellectual awareness of the tell-tale signs of betrayal is a good start in "seeing" beyond the blindness. Intellectually identifying the tell-tale signs can be quite easy; the harder task is "seeing" the full implications of these outward signs and humbly admitting one's betrayal. Even though there is intellectual acknowledgment of tell-tale signs, yet we will continue to be blind as long as we remain in betrayal. Clear Vision and Pure Knowledge only come with harmony of heart. (Changing Your Stripes, pages 194-200)
Changing Your Stripes is a