Watching a discussion between Dawkins and Krauss (please watch the video on my Fun Media page) and in the Q and A section they talked about how to 'spread the message' so to speak (message of science and rationality as opposed to irrationality). However, there is a problem. A true believer cannot be convinced that their belief is wrong OR that science is right. They talked about a lack of scientific knowledge in schools across America, which is a great tragedy. The United States has the most citizens that DENY Evolution and Natural Selection in favor of Religion and put that in science class! If anyone else is as shocked and appalled about this as me you'll understand my feeling on the topic.
Let me be clear about one thing, personal belief is not my issue. In the US it is a constitutional right to believe in whatever you want. I would not try to take away someone's personal beliefs BUT when that belief is asserted as true instead of scientific evidence and that is taught to children we as a society are less better off. What do we do about this?

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I watched the first Dennen Brown program. Wow. Highly recommended. Simple minds are so easy for trained individuals to manipulate. (And, believe me, I have a simple one.)

Is it fair to assume the other two Derren Brown programs are more of the same?

I watched myself get brainwashed, using the classic tools, knew it was happening, but it happened anyway. (USMC boot camp, if you're interested.)

Basically. In one of the other ones he goes through debunking psychics, and the like. In one of them he converts a whole room full of atheists (and anti-converts them by saying that he tricked them all). But it is very convincing. I would reccomend watching them

Well I ended up biting the bullet and investing the two hours to watch the other two programs. Worth it, but not to the extent of the first, Fear and Faith. I'm tempted to start up the old Movie Maker and extract the 15 or so minutes dedicated to the conversion of Natalie. 

Sam, thanks so much for passing my question (essentially, "How COULD intelligent people believe this shit") on to your professor a few weeks ago. Their reply was the double-talk I would have expected. The Conversion of Natalie ANSWERS my question - it's all psychological tricks - apparently understood for centuries, maybe millenia.

No problem, always willing to find answers to important question. I agree that there are many psychological tricks being played, but I think they are more recent. Although our brains have not really evolved much in (lets ballpark 10,000 years), we have evolved in our culture (which gives us out current intelligence). These tricks are better made for use of now rather than in early civilization because it is easy to scare, perplex, deceive primitive man. Solar eclipses scared primitive people, lightning, thunder, volcano eruptions, etc. Clarke's third law is any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. However, we know it is not magic (we could fool our great great grandparents if they could see, say an iPad). Think about how we will see our great great grandkids when they are our age. They may appear to be gods. In order to fool a modern person (such as Natalie) you have to use very carefully worded phrases. I like that Derren explain what he is doing as he goes along with the conversion. 

I don't agree that it's all modern. Brown demonstrated the psychological effects of body movements, hand expressions (joining different concepts, opening up to new ideas, all encompassing warm, protective love, etc.) all done, not with words but with manual manipulation of the space between speaker and listener.

About some conversations I've had with theists, I like to equate the experience to watching a magician, an absolutely astounding prestidigitator who just blows minds  with his skills. Then, after the show, he explains, step by step, exactly how he's done each trick. Akin to religious thinking, some in the audience will say, "no, I don't believe your explanations. I believe it really was magic".

What can one say? We can only look for a way to bridge the gap to reason.

Oh the psychological effects are ancient, but the intentional use of these tricks in advertising and evangelical sermons is more apparent now. I agree with what you are saying. No matter how well (sometimes extremely slowly so your fundamentalist religious friend can follow and doesn't get confused) you explain the facts I think that they will just forget about it, in one ear and out the other. I have thought about using hypnosis to experiment with belief. I think it would be interesting.

Mike I have to take issue with you on your 'brainwashing' comment.  Surely if you know you are being brainwashed then you cannot be being brainwashed can you?

I am ex-services, Royal Navy, and my new entry training was effectively 12 months.  I undoubtedly changed in those 12 months; I learned about trust, teamwork, camaraderie, duty and discomfort. I matured and learned what respect really means. My parents saw that I had grown up.  I had NOT been brainwashed, I was still me, I had just learned a new set of life skills that I still use every day.

I can't address Royal Navy procedures, Alan, but I know the policy of the US Army is to break you down and build you back they way they want you.

Now in many ways, that formula instills reactions in you that can save your life, and has mine, but of those so trained, some will never see combat, and of those who do, the duration is relatively short in terms of years, yet the conditioning that makes for good little followers and devotees of authority, lasts forever.

I think this actually comes close to the heart of this issue. I'll dance around it for a minute. 

What IS "brainwashing"? To start with it's a highly pejorative term. People tend to see it as producing zombie-like creatures with an unbroken stare, mumbling, "must kill president".

"Surely if you know you are being brainwashed then you cannot be being brainwashed can you?"

Short answer, yes! In fact in the Korean War these techniques were used on POWs and, although they understood that their captors were attempting major shifts in their entire belief systems, some were able to resist - some were not.

Like you and  Arch, my BW was based on military service. Although you both are describing the same process, note the difference in your perception of the outcome. Based upon that, it seems that your BW was somewhat more successful than Arch's. :-) MAJOR changes were made to your entire value set - and mine.

I don't know about the Royal Navy, but Marine Corps boot camp was very different from Army boot camp. We actually had two boot camps. The second boot camp was equivalent to army boot camp where you are taught how to be a soldier. The first, however, was almost nothing but drill and discipline. It was purely rebuilding civilians into Marines. Physically, at age 24, I gained 20 pounds and grew an inch and a half. Mentally the changes were far more profound.

Picture in the heat of battle with bullets whistling by, an Army sergeant gives an order, "take your bayonet and go chop down that tree." "What? Are you crazy? That would take hours. I'll never make it that long under this fire. If you want that tree down, let's get a big gun in here and blow it over with one shot." Meanwhile a Marine sergeant gives the same order and immediately the chips are flying.  UNQUESTIONED obedience engendered by Marine boot camp. If you don't think this is brainwashing, I'd have to question your definition of the word.

Remind you of anything? How about rational, intelligent people who, despite ALL evidence cannot even bring themselves even to question the existence of a magic, invisible daddy in the sky.

In answer to the original question, "What do we do about this?", I maintain that calm, logical, rational discussion of the situation has as much chance of major changes that are required as cutting a steel beam with a feather.

Somehow we need to fight fire with fire. We need to knowingly employ the same techniques to undo the worldwide damage that God has inflicted upon humanity..

RE: "it seems that your BW was somewhat more successful than Arch's. :-)" - well, in my defense Mike, I'm not very susceptible to suggestion, which is why I rarely do what I'm told.

RE: "in the Korean War these techniques were used on POWs" - If you can find the movie, "The Manchurian Candidate," watch it.

"the movie, "The Manchurian Candidate," watch it"

The 1962 version is more relevant to this discussion than the 2004 version.


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