Chapter 3

Planting Ideas in Your Head: The Sociology of Thinking

In This Chapter

arrow Shaping views through social forces

arrow Controlling people through propaganda

arrow Using emotions to persuade

arrow Recognising the language of persuasion

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.

JK Galbraith (Economics, Peace and Laughter, 1971)

Most people offering their views on something think that they're presenting ‘just the facts, Sir’, helping others to avoid errors and ‘see the light’, so to speak. But plenty of others — such as experts in public relations (PR), marketing and political campaigning — see their jobs as — planting new ideas in the public mind.

Now, of course, some ideas are good and socially beneficial (for example, that we need to keep rivers unpolluted and help sick children get the necessary treatment) and many others are harmless, but certain ideas are dangerous and harmful. Unfortunately, history indicates fairly convincingly that the nastiest ideas seem to be the easiest to plant! They spread ...

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