We are built to rationalize. That is, our minds often unfairly defend our most deeply held beliefs; when we sense such beliefs being threatened, our minds distract us, refuse to comprehend alternatives, and grab onto weak excuses as if they were timber. La-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you.
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I'm going to be homeschooling my daughter and am looking for some sort of history curriculum / textbooks that don't have the propaganda and politically correct junk. Where would you recommend me looking? I've found alot of history curriculum for homeschooling but it's hard to tell whether its truth or not even with those... Help? Any ideas? And how would I verify whether it's true or not? My only clue is to compare it to documents/literature/logic that I KNOW to be true and proven etc... Not that I'm really all too sure what to compare it to. As in all things, some of it is just going to have to be discernment on my part. Any answers please email me if you can or just reply to this post. Thanks...
With high such religiosity in the US -- as compared to other nations of comparable standards of living -- this hypothesis could actually be testable. How do European and American school systems differ, and which of these differences has a plausible connection to religiosity?
Having been schooled in Canada, my experience contained absolutely no negative statement or innuendo about any major religion. I recall finding it funny at the time that we would learn so much about Greek and Roman mythology, as well as native American heritage, while leaving out any mention of Christianity, Islam or Hinduism, especially as they relate to politics.
"Many say such confrontation is dangerous and harmful, that we gain important advantages from our self-deceptive acceptance of inaccurate propaganda. But what evidence do we have that we are better off believing the lies we were told as kids?"
Being better off from believing them comes from the fact that we stay in sync with those around us. By confronting our self-deceptions we become out of sync with those around us and become vulnerable to social censure. The person who finally breaks down his self-deceptions will very likely become bitter about the fact that he was taught false things, confused about who to trust, lose the sense of sureness and rightness of his own judgment, and all this is only the beginning! As he interacts with others, unless he is very careful to conceal his new perspective (a path which has its own dangers - ie. "living a lie"), he will also likely be jarring to those who are still deceived, create conflict and have negative judgments cast upon him. The pains of these social pressures can be overwhelming, and this in turn could cause him to become even more embittered, getting into a negative feedback loop from which escape is difficult. This is the why it is dangerous and harmful to confront the deep lies at our cores.
Now I’m very curious: does anyone here think there aren’t [any beliefs that are both true and extremely disreputable nowadays]?
Which beliefs qualify as "extremely disreputable" is a somewhat subjective judgment, but the relative disreputability of different beliefs would be relatively easy to agree upon at least in broad terms. Thus, a more precise alternative to the above question would be: what are the most disreputable beliefs that you think are true or at least could be true with a significant probability? Now that would be an awkward question for many people! On the other hand, imagine the peace of mind of someone who can answer this question honestly in a way that wouldn't raise any eyebrows in polite company.
Propaganda is consistently used as a term to denote involuntary acculturation. I cannot think of any use of the term in which it is a neutral description of the natural process of transferring values intergenerationaly.
I presume as Robin has used this very precise word in the title of this post and the one previous that it was not without a fair amount of thought. He is an intelligent man and hopefully expects us to read at least that much into his words. Else we must dismiss with a great deal of this.
The use of the term 'propaganda' is itself a normative assessment of the educational system. I'm all for exploring the subtle and likely unconscious modes of acculturation in elementary education. But that's not what is intended with this exercise. This exercise seeks to see how a pupil is subjugated by state run education.
Exploring 'propaganda' presupposes a conscious effort of disseminating some set of values. Not necessarily secretive or nefarious, but by definition and common use of the word with intent. I'm suggesting that the system is far too chaotic for intent and that no mechanism has been presented that might overcome that.
The lessons of any one teacher reflect such a great diversity of influences, and the differences between any two teachers likely being infinite, to call their common product 'propaganda' is reductionist.
What's more, the use of the word 'propaganda' speaks of it's own bias: as an irrational description of the state (irrational because it does not seek truth in complex causes) it reveals the speaker's opposition to government (good or bad).
I think you're reading too much into the use of the word "propaganda."
An objective study on the history of public schooling in the US shows a very clear and obvious effort to shape the minds of school children so that they would be good citizens.
This doesn't mean that there have ever been "secretive" teams of nefarious writers composing a standardized message of "propaganda" and I don't believe Robin is trying to imply that this is the case.
Read up on John Dewey, his views on public education and how very influential he was. Then look at the current state of our public school system and you'll see that Mr. Dewey (among others) has been wildly successful.
What immediately comes to mind is the government run schools emphasis on serving the state, and the efforts they go to paint established religion in a negative light. Umberto Eco has a nice essay pointing out the myth of Columbus' trip to the Orient being withstood by a Church who believed he would sail off a planetary cliff. The wise men of Salamanca also believed in a round Earth, but warned Columbus against the length of the trip. (Not knowing about the New World of course.) Religion is taught to be mythology itself, and it is replaced - or attempted to be replaced - by the state. The Left's version is a more collective vision of serving the state, and the Right's is more patriotic, but both sides really are anti-faith.
To claim that the teacher is the mechanism of propaganda is even more problematic than claiming textbooks are: though written by a team of writers, the textbook is a static product at the very least. It is what it is. A single teacher is unpredictable. A school of teachers? What principal could keep teachers on message to sufficiently control the 'propaganda'. What board or supervisor could keep principals on message?
There is no reasonable causal link between the source of the purported 'propaganda' and the ultimate means of conveyance: the texts and the teachers.
I don't think there is sufficient evidence of a mechanism for propaganda in public schools.
Where is the concerted effort to bias the information being transmitted?
Textbook selection alone is a complicated process that involves many stakeholders, including professional educators from the state to the local level, principals, curriculum guides, teachers, parents and community representatives (the Board). To call the product of such a varied group 'propaganda' is to abuse the word.
Yet the acculturation does not come from the textbook, and as a teacher, Hanson should realize this. The teacher, whether competent or not, imparts more interpretive analysis to the material than the text alone could. To claim that the teacher is the mechanism of propaganda is even more problematic.
His bias: that markets are a better solution to any problem. Correcting it? It's normative. There's no 'correction'.
My point is merely that 'propaganda' is not what's occurring in public education, and a Hayekian free-marketer should understand this first and foremost. Why is it presumed spontaneous order doesn't occur in public schools? These are complicated systems. To think that public school systems are susceptible to the machinations of a single group is ahistorical.
Of course, it is a non-trivial question whether there actually are any beliefs that are both true and extremely disreputable nowadays.
Now I'm very curious: does anyone here think there aren't?
I agree, what about Grand Theft Auto?Or this http://www.youtube.com/watc...
When it comes to me personally, the platitudes I learned in grade school have lost relevance, because the country and the political regime they were praising have fallen apart. (As you might surmise from my name.) Subsequently, I never really synchronized with the present Western respectable ideological mainstream, so as far as I'm concerned, the damage has already been done and I might as well enjoy it. However, when I see people who live happy and productive lives in tacit agreement with all the major respectable beliefs that are (to the best of my honest knowledge) false, I do think that most of them would be on the net harmed if they were convinced of highly disreputable opinions that are closer to reality.
As for this blog, I wouldn't say that it's dangerous by itself, for the following reason. Your approach based on identifying biases and signaling is indeed a powerful dissolvent of all sorts of false beliefs, but I expect that most of your readers, even the smartest and most knowledgeable ones, won't apply it to their respectable beliefs that it would be dangerous to discard. People do have a certain natural instinct for what Orwell called "crimestop"; it may well be the most pervasive and most powerful of all human biases, and we are all subject to it to at least some extent. (One could even argue that organized human society would be impossible without the mechanisms of social cohesion that are critically guarded by this instinct.) To make people actually rethink issues beyond their crimestop limits, they usually must be guided through it explicitly by someone highly trusted. (Which is of course difficult in a catch-22 way, since disreputable beliefs signal untrustworthiness.)
Of course, it is a non-trivial question whether there actually are any beliefs that are both true and extremely disreputable nowadays. I'm intentionally avoiding concrete examples because they tend to derail discussion, but, again, to the best of my honest knowledge and insight, it seems to me that there are in fact quite a few of them. Others might disagree, in which case my points would obviously have no relevance.
I think most adults try to examine what they were taught and how it helped or failed them and to adjust their lives as best they can. We probably wouldn't call it overcoming our biases as much as learning to live satisfying lives. We learn from our mistakes and we learn from what was mistaken in our educations as well as what was correct.
We learn from schools, churches, family, friends, community, the street, the marine corp, the corporation, the baseball team. We learn, over time, that each has positives; each has negatives.
Where is the learning in public schools most suspect? Probably history. English (reading and writing), math(through calculus), basic science (biology, physics, chemistry) is not suspect. The propaganda we get in the public schools through history studies is on a par with the same propaganda we get through other public institutions -- you know the rockets red glare...gave truth through the night that our flag was still there. This propaganda is part of our culture. Why should schools not teach it?
So why single out public schools as an example? I suspect that it is not so much what is taught, as just the fact that public schools exist. Their existence, and their success for over half a century, provides an example of government working. That's what probably really galls.
Sorry for missing the point, I quite agree with it...
Eric Fromm: "Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is."