Propaganda and Critical Thought

Updated 01/09/17 Propaganda, indoctrination, and self-deception vs. critical thought.
Three storms of propaganda are  growing exponentially.
First, propaganda is currently touted by Vladimir Putin and other Russians as their pivotal weapon in a war against the West. Explicitly they propose that propaganda and indoctrination are the most effective means for crushing those whom they perceive as adversaries. Control opponents by controlling their thoughts!

In a gale which blows from a second direction, ultra-conservative ideologists are shown to be twice as likely to visit sources which are already ideologically congenial to them, like Fox News. Chances for expanding thought are minimized. The seeming comfort found in unchanging views spreads as rapidly as viruses.

From a third direction, terrorists in the Middle East and elsewhere robotize the thought of their victims. Ingeniously, terrorists also seduce global media into spreading their messages for them. With maximal efficiency they co-opt the media into spreading fear and distrust among the masses. “PROPAGANDA,” they insist explicitly is the major tool through which they intend to win their wars.

Even specialists in the scientific community seduce themselves and others by repetition and appeal to “authorities” in lieu of critical thought. More about these and other creators/victims of propaganda and indoctrination is stated in blog-posts below.

FRESH INSIGHTS about these and other ethical issues which divide us urgently need to be re-visited from the perspective of what distinguishes latent viruses of propaganda and ideology in these areas from critical thought and feeling.

Propaganda and self-deception exist among both extreme and moderate liberals and conservatives, as well as among some mainstream thinking, entertainment, and music which is intended not simply to move but to manipulate feelings.

Papers, articles, and posts in this short website search for clues to the often hidden presence of indoctrination. They invite readers to add their own creative ideas about self- and other-deception.

TWO STYLES of thinking face each other across a growing chasm. Authoritarians and ideologists, both conservative and liberal, function more emotionally than they realize. Authoritarians work from unexamined assumptions and sources more than from reason or direct evidence. They include well meaning fundamentalists or “literalists” who prefer “orderly error to complex truth.” They do not perceive how indoctrinated they have become.
Critical thinkers< by contrast, question and test the certitude of their assumptions. They engage in competent reflection and non-manipulative appeals to emotion. They examine opposing positions fairly. Integrating their heads with their hearts, they have the courage to think for themselves and challenge the paradigms of those who control different fields and movements. They strive to distinguish reflections whose logic and evidence are critical from those which derive from ideology, indoctrination, and self-deception..

In this context a series of blog-posts will revisit controversial issues like abortion, euthanasia, etc.

Roderick Hindery, retired professor in Comparative Religious and Social Ethics, Temple University,pictured with his wife and primary editor Sheila Ingoldsby Hindery, invites you to join the dialogue on which style of thinking you prefer and what kind of world you want to live in.

A photograph of Sheila and Roderick pictured outdoors in front of a steep mountainside

Sheila Ingoldsby Hindery
Roderick Hindery


Visit my blog for further dialogue on these and related topics.
The first paper listed, “Comparative Ethics, Ideologies, and Critical Thought,” appeared in the Journal of Religious Ethics, 36,2, pp. 215-231.The other papers were published in the Humanist, CSSR Bulletin, and the Journal of Religious Ethics; delivered at ASU, SCE at LMU; or written for this website.

Again, each of these articles and papers imply that many other social and ethical issues can be fruitfully revisited in the context of what distinguishes propaganda and self-deception from critical thought. These papers are shared to invite exchanges about issues seen anew in the context of propaganda and self-deception as opposed to thinking critically for one’s self.

The issues in this website are so critical for readers in general, as well as for specialists, that some changes have been implemented to guide readers to the most important details.