About this episode
Propaganda is the systemic use of language with the intent to brainwash rather than to persuade. Deceptive communication designed to mislead the masses is commonplace in the Information Age. Dr Robert Walsh of Sisseton Wahpeton College in South Dakota recently examined how propagandists bend language for mass deception. He argued that what makes propaganda insidious is a vestige of our prehistoric past – the Neolithic or Tribal Mind.
Dr Robert Walsh of Sisseton Wahpeton College in South Dakota recently examined how propagandists bend language for mass deception. He argued that what makes propaganda insidious is a vestige of our prehistoric past – the Neolithic or Tribal Mind.
Language and communication theorists describe the Tribal Mind as an evolutionary survival mechanism. It functions inside a ‘collective ego’ and assists groups to reduce internal dissent and conflict. The Tribal Mind, then, is an instinctual tendency to comply with the beliefs of the majority. It is deeply rooted in ignorance, superstition, and fear.
Herd-type thinking can improve a society’s security, promote social support, and encourage procreation. However, a hivemind dynamic within today’s societies – which are bombarded with information – increases the susceptibility to the tactics of mass manipulation. The Tribal Mind crushes individuality, encouraging members of a group to conform and follow specified norms.
Dr Walsh argues that although individuals now have access to a far wider fund of information and knowledge than ever before, the majority cling to this ‘herd mentality’. In addition, mass communication tends to reinforce mass deception and deflect critical thinking. As the tribal mind is impulsive, Dr Walsh contends that extricating ourselves is an onerous undertaking that requires determination and courage.
Finally, Dr Walsh recounts a ‘flaw’ of human language that is exploited by propagandists. This flaw is the din of incessant ‘chatter’ – a closed-circuit, mind’s-ear dialogue of ceaseless inner speech. Propagandists hijack and even weaponize this chatter. Societal norms are reconstituted and imposed on a massive scale, actuating the Tribal Mind and detracting people from expressing generative ideas.
Dr Walsh contends that to circumvent mass deception, individuals need to excavate their own authentic inner voice from the clattering intrapersonal noise. The need for courage comes when individuating contradicts entrenched collective beliefs.
He explains that the primary function of propaganda is to suppress one’s genuine voice by distorting evidence of reality and thwarting autonomous thought forms. He asserts that the propagandist skilfully diverts whole societies, exacting the Tribal Mind and distracting individual sovereignty.
Original Article Reference
Summary of the paper ‘An Inquisition for Propaganda and Mass Deception: Deposing the Neolithic Mind’ in Frontiers in Communication. doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2021.636292
For further information, you can connect with Dr Robert L. Walsh at email@example.com
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