Monday, August 3, 2015

The Insidious Manipulation of Perception and Reason

As I was browsing through YouTube I discovered a series of videos with titles that began 'Everything that is wrong with...' and whatever movie they were reviewing. These reviewers find holes in movie plots and there are so many in practically every plot that I became concerned about what kind of effect the media has on the public's ability to solve problems by understanding real cause and effect.

It's one thing to say "God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance" and assume that education and science is progressing, but there are forces out there that seek to exploit ignorant people for profit. These forces are threatened by science and education.

They tried book-burning, they tried overt censorship and they now have taken over state and local boards of education and college boards of trustees. They choose and edit your child's textbooks. They choose your child's college professors. However, this is manipulation on the surface. In the field of Communication we call this "Information Gate-keeping," or more appropriately "Knowledge Gate-keeping."

There may be another, more subliminal form of altering someone's critical thinking skills, by distorting the perception of cause and effect in popular media. Communication students recognize this as framing or contextual manipulation. In Journalism and Cinema they use techniques called Montage (a sequence of images or events that suggests cause and effect) and Juxtaposition (two or more images or objects appearing side-by-side to suggest a relationship). Some of the best examples are the front pages of newspapers. Some of the shocking stories on the front page have a halo effect on how some readers feel about other stories juxtaposed on the same page.

Still deeper down the rabbit hole is recurring combinations of events in cinema and television that literally train our brains to make false assumptions and expectations about our real outside world. I'm struggling here to understand why so many people who don't even have any investments in denying climate change, still insist that it's not caused by people. Maybe they are the most vulnerable victims of exposure to years of contextual manipulation in the mass media that broke their critical thinking skills. Or, as I suggested in previous posts, they just may not have the genes for critical thinking.

Is accreditation arbitrary? How can we find out if allegedly accredited organizations are legitimately accredited?
Can we develop an open accreditation system?