- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 16, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192804960
- ISBN-13: 978-0192804969
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,512,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control 1st Edition
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"...a fascinating book whose content tends to linger long after you have put it down. Definitely a must-read for those in the social psychology field and all other psychologists interested in this area." --Doody's
About the Author
Kathleen Taylor is a research scientist in the physiology department, Oxford University. In 2003 she won first prize in both the THES/OUP Science Essay competition and the THES Humanities and Social Sciences Writing Prize.
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Top customer reviews
This book is excellent for pointing out techniques to recognize and evade persuasion. It encourages us to think before we act, to keep an open mind but not so open that we eagerly accept any concepts that we are told are great ideas. Politicians, salesmen, and charities clamor for our funds, and proselytizers offer us pie in the sky as they reach for our wallets. I heartily recommend this book for a fascinating read and some excellent advice to protect our assets and our faith in our own logical reasoning. I do not have sufficient scientific knowledge to judge the neurological sections of this book but am happy to give it four stars for its helpful information and recommend it for a job well done with a subject that affects all of us.
My introduction to her was through reading Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain, a terrific book about the neurological sources of cruelty as shaped by evolutionary pressures, and brain function and chemistry. Brainwashing was written two years earlier and is structured in much the same way: using a negative concept — in this case, the fear, processes and outcomes of brainwashing — to explore the neuroscience of how we think and why we respond in often predictable, similar ways to the external world. It’s a rewarding journey through the architecture and function of the brain and how people have tried — with varying levels of success — to brainwash others into changing or suppressing core beliefs.
Many of the examples come from politics (the Red Army, our CIA), religion (Christianity, Branch Davidians, the People’s Temple), cults (the Manson family) and culture (academia, the family unit, advertising and the news media).
Some of the standout a-ha moments include the concept of emotions as a contagion, domestic abuse as an especially effective, and heinous, form of brainwashing and the “thought terminating clichés” of ethereal concepts that hide lack of meaning or complexity (especially intriguing given the jargon-heavy corporate world I work in).
Had I read this book before Cruelty, it would have gotten 5 stars, but it suffers just a bit by comparison — mostly due to the “softer” final section that focuses on ways to prevent brainwashing and the effects of undue influence. The moralizing felt flat compared to the harder revelations of why we are who we are and how easily we succumb to “influence technicians.” It seems that section could have been distilled down into two simple concepts: we should be more accepting of others and we should reinforce the value of critical thinking.
It’s not a book for those who consider themselves, their community, their religion or their country exceptional in any way or who are unsettled by confronting the “scary fragility of that accreted concoction of ideas we call the self.”
Perhaps I’ve been brainwashed myself, but I am compelled to buy her newer book The Brain Supremacy.
I couldn't and it didn't. The book is simply very poorly written. Taylor belabors the tired explain-what-you're-going-to-say, say-it, explain-what-you've-said formula, constantly bringing up topics only to state that she will discuss them in a subsequent chapter and refering to what she discussed in previous chapters.
Simultaneously, Taylor's knowledge outside psychology, i.e. current events and global politics, is limited to the msm version (a form of brainwashing in itself), so her "examples" can be based on weak or faulty "evidence". ("Were the 19 terrorists brainwashed"? Ask them; several are still alive.)
She uses surprisingly few citations for a work of this kind, but quotes frequently from the bible (which many might term another form of brainwashing rather than a reliable historical text.) Her discussions of brain function do not lead to the anticipated chart, table, list or other synthesized guide one might expect from such a text. And, as other reviewers have stated, she claims that little experimental evidence is available due to the ethical question of conducting it. This is macabrely humorous given the plethora of internet and documentary information now available. Nowhere does she mention Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron (MKUltra), having evidently never heard of governments' experimentation in mind control. Throughout, she seems preoccupied with refining a definition of brainwashing rather than increasing awareness of the processes and techniques whereby mind control is achieved.
In fairness, the publication date is 2004. Taylor might well write the book differently now.
Just as a side note, while it might be inconsequential in a better text, the type size Oxford University Press chose for the paperback is quite small (9 pt). Quotes are even smaller. Combined with poor writing, the result is a headache.
I highly recommend Dr. Robert Hare's work on psychopathy and the numerous articles available online regarding brainwashing and mind control available, so long as net neutrality lasts, on the internet.