Indoctrination: Exploring the Pros, Cons, and Controversies


Questioning the Authenticity of Our Perceptions

Indoctrination is the process of inculcating a person with ideasattitudescognitive strategies or professional methodologies (see doctrine).[1] . Wikipedia

To understand this topic, let’s start with a question. If two men are arguing and one guy has data to back up his stance, and the other does not have data to back up his stance but irrefutably believes his view is the right one.  Who is right?

Both individuals might firmly stick to their own opinions, but it’s wise to think about the possibility that there might be some truth to the other’s words. After all, a fair-minded person thinks about all aspects of an argument before making a decision.

Nowadays, it’s common to see people who are quick to show their emotions, and this often leads to a lack of respectful behaviour during discussions. Polarized opinions have become a norm, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change soon. When opposing groups don’t listen to each other and instead try to force their own views, it creates a harmful and toxic atmosphere.

However, we should keep in mind that our beliefs and perspectives are shaped by many factors, such as our upbringing, education, and the people we surround ourselves with. The media, schools, and other institutions can affect our thoughts, but ultimately, we control our minds.

As Michel de Montaigne said, “The clearest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.”

Here is the answer to the question posed above:

The response may seem clear-cut, as the man presents data to support his argument. However, it’s essential to delve deeper and assess the reliability of this data, examining if it has been independently verified and the legitimacy of its sources. Nonetheless, it appears that both individuals will hold steadfast to their positions, regardless of any evidence presented. Hence the conclusion is that they are both right, for nothing will shift their opinion.

You think the way you do because of your parents, your school, your friends, your religious bent, and so on. Sol Paha 


Indoctrination of the Masses: The Perception of Expert Omniscience

Taking things even further, one can state that the liberals are not wrong for the way they see the world because they believe in that line of thinking, and the same applies to the conservatives. Alt-right and Alt-left are nothing but forms of indoctrination, and the extreme right and left have just received a super dose of brainwashing.

This is the main reason we have stated over and over again that one should not wear their emotions on their sleeves, for no good can come from it.  What has made things worse today is that very few people agree to disagree and move on to a new topic. Today opposing groups want to beat their views into the other group, regardless of whether they agree or not.

This is how the trend of polarisation started. Once you start telling a group that does not agree with you that they are wrong, that they are stupid, and start calling them names, a dangerous sequence of events is triggered. Nothing the other camp says or no matter what evidence is provided, the opposing camp will refuse to budge. Look around today, for that is where we are, and the trend is still in its infancy.

An Insightful Overview of Indoctrination by Noam Chomsky

This is a long topic; thankfully, Noam Chomsky provides an excellent overview of this subject. We will cover this topic in more detail, but if you are interested in understanding more about the inner working of the mindset, then this is a topic one should familiarise themselves with, and this video provides a good starting point.

Brainwashing vs Indoctrination: Mass Psychology vs Philosophy

Brainwashing is a term that has gained notoriety in recent times due to its association with cults and totalitarian regimes. It is a form of psychological manipulation that is used to alter an individual’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. Brainwashing techniques are often used covertly and are designed to exploit an individual’s vulnerabilities and emotions.

The role of the media in brainwashing is significant. The media often creates a false reality and misleads the masses by presenting skewed information. This misdirection is achieved through techniques such as sensationalizing stories, distorting facts, and presenting false information as truth. The ultimate goal of this manipulation is to create a false sense of reality and alter an individual’s perceptions and beliefs.

Indoctrination: The Impact of Philosophy

Indoctrination, conversely, is a more overt form of manipulation used to instil specific beliefs, attitudes, and values in individuals. It is often associated with religious, political, and ideological groups. The indoctrination process involves repeated exposure to specific ideas, beliefs, and values, which the individual then internalizes.

The indoctrination process has been discussed in detail by Michel de Montaigne, a French philosopher and essayist, who believed that people are easily susceptible to the ideas and beliefs they are exposed to. He argued that people are more likely to accept and internalize concepts they are repeatedly exposed to, even if they do not necessarily agree with them.

Final thoughts

Certain religious sects and cults have gained notoriety for employing traditional brainwashing methods. In Lawrence Wright’s book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief,” he explores several of these techniques. Wright discusses policies within the church that forbid members from reading critical articles, essays, or blogs about Scientology. He recounts instances of violence, threats, and systematic punishments imposed by church leaders to prevent members from expressing negative thoughts or criticisms about Scientology. Patheos

Brainwashing and indoctrination are two forms of psychological manipulation used to alter an individual’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. Brainwashing is often associated with cults and totalitarian regimes and involves the use of covert techniques to exploit an individual’s vulnerabilities and emotions. Indoctrination, on the other hand, is a more overt form of manipulation that involves repeated exposure to specific ideas, beliefs, and values. Both concepts have a significant impact on mass psychology and the manipulation of public opinion.



Influence of media on beliefs and opinions: A study published in the Journal of Communication (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996) found that the media play a significant role in shaping public opinion. The study showed that people who relied more on mass media for their political information had lower levels of political knowledge and were more likely to hold conventional views.

Polarization and difficulty changing opinions: Research has shown that people tend to become more entrenched in their beliefs when they are challenged (Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979). A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Baker & Cryder, 2016) found that people who felt their values were under attack were more likely to reject evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

The role of public education in shaping beliefs and values: A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002) found that schools can have a lasting impact on individuals’ beliefs, values, and goals. The study showed that students who felt their schools supported their goals and aspirations had higher self-esteem and motivation levels.


  • Delli Carpini, M. X., & Keeter, S. (1996). What Americans know about politics and why it matters. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Lord, C. G., Ross, L., & Lepper, M. R. (1979). Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(11), 2098-2109.
  • Baker, J. P., & Cryder, C. E. (2016). When choices feel like attacks: Identity threat and polarization in consumer behaviour. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26(2), 246-257.
  • Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 109-1

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