Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Living with Indoctrination

Have you ever been mistaken? Have you ever been told something that later you discovered wasn't true?
How do you know that what you think now about something is correct, and not just another misconception?
I have been wrong in the past, am likely misled or mistaken now about some things, and will no doubt be wrong in the future.

There are many levels and factors that shape our world view and perceptions about reality. Some of them are benign or inconsequential,  while others are critical parts of our world view. Most of these overlap, and blend together to form our belief system.
  1. Incomplete information. We arrive at a conclusion, but it is based on partial knowledge. We either fill in the gaps of our data with assumptions, or we dismiss the importance of sometimes very critical building blocks in our knowledge base.
  2. Partial truth. Sometimes a nugget of truth is extrapolated to a flawed conclusion. A false equivalency or other faulty process is used to blend truth, assumptions, and lies to a plausible, but mistaken, conclusion.
  3. Flawed assumptions. We have a smattering of facts, but they are processed through assumptions we make. The resultant conclusion might be logical, but it is based on unproven assumptions.
  4. True facts. Most of our knowledge base is based on true facts. Most of what we learn is true, whether from personal experience or from others.
  5. Blatant lies. Some of what we believe to be factual is not, but is based on deliberate falsehoods. Most of that is from others, but at times we lie to ourselves.
  6. Assertions. At times 'truth' is merely declared, with no factual or logical basis.

The raw data that comprises our knowledge base comes from two main sources:
  • That which we learn and discover experientially, through our own senses and observation.
  • That which others have imparted to us.
Most of what we 'know' has been provided by others. Very little of our knowledge base is from self discovery.

There are also many reasons and motivations for those who dissiminate information to us. 
  1. Manipulation and control. Deliberate distortion of truth to extract money or action for the agenda of the manipulator.
  2. Sincere ideological belief. They truly believe their information to be factual, and are providing a useful service for humanity. They might be completely wrong, partially wrong, or completely right.
  3. It is their job. They have been hired by other parties to impart information, which might consist of truth, half truths, and lies, depending on the agendas of the other parties.
But regardless of the source or motivation, most of our individual knowledge base is filled with facts, beliefs, and assumptions from others before us.

So how do we verify the information imparted to us? 

  • Trust. We believe the information that really smart people have told us. Authority.
  • Skepticism. We doubt the information from sources we don't trust. Null hypothesis.
  • Verification. We research the information to see if it is credible. We discover that it is true, false, or unknown. Scientific methodology.
The default human position *should* be, 'i don't know.' But that is not satisfying, so we prefer flawed assumptions and falsehoods to an admission of ignorance.  I see a decline in the quest for Truth, for truth's sake, in this ever changing culture.  

“The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief” ~Jacques Ellul

Now we have a united front of propaganda.. a marxist/darwinist world view that has become the default pop religion of the day.  Is the basis for this view on absolutes?  Of course not.  It is based on indoctrination, propaganda, & constant pounding of the world view until it becomes the only plausible belief system.  There is no tolerance of other world views, in the pop religion of leftist ideology.  Their elitist, state-centered, truth-by-decree philosophy has overcome any past views of open inquiry, scientific methodology, & critical thinking.

So, how do you know if you have been indoctrinated?  How do you know whether some of the things you believe to be true are nothing more than propaganda from an agenda driven ideology?
  1. You live in modern western culture.
  2. You went to a public school.
  3. You have watched entertainment.
  4. You have watched the news media.
  5. You follow news feeds, and the selective information given by social media.
IOW, if you have been alive in America over the last 50 yrs or so, you are a victim of indoctrination.. some of what you believe is nothing more than lies that have been spun to appear plausible.
So how do you correct indoctrination?  How do you determine the actual truthfulness of the things you believe?  It is a never ending process, that requires skepticism over what we hear, a critical view of what we consider to be 'facts', & a gearing of the mind to pursue truth, whatever the cost to our belief system.

He that would seriously set upon the search of truth ought in the first place to prepare his mind with a love of it. For he that loves it not will not take much pains to get it; nor be much concerned when he misses it. ~John Locke

Of course, this all presupposes that truth can be known, & that the universe is not all relative, or filled with unknowable mysteries.  But that is another topic.

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