Thought Manipulation: The Use and Abuse of Psychological Trickery

Thought Manipulation: The Use and Abuse of Psychological Trickery

Thought Manipulation: The Use and Abuse of Psychological Trickery

Thought Manipulation: The Use and Abuse of Psychological Trickery

Synopsis

The truth, they say, is not half so important as what people believe to be true. Throughout history, men and women have been manipulated for ends both good and evil, practiced upon by the state, by business and industry, by employers, parents, children, friends, and lovers. Resistance to manipulation must begin with understanding.

Excerpt

Manipulation is a wide-ranging phenomenon, present in almost every dimension of our social life. It is a puzzling motivating action geared towards interference in the decision-making process of another person, usually without his approval. This kind of intrusion is done indirectly by employing morally questionable tricks, such as temptation, distraction, and misdirection.

The trickery quality associated with manipulation enables the phenomenon to appear in almost infinite variations and under many different guises, from a powerful weapon in the service of indecent propaganda to altruistic measures in psychotherapy and even education. Indeed, social scientists have pointed out that an effective change in human decision-making and behavior cannot be achieved without employing a certain degree of manipulation.

Manipulation is not exactly persuasion, not precisely coercion, and not merely similar to deception. This elusive phenomenon is located somewhere in the gray area between those motivating actions, and this gray place presents essential difficulties in characterizing manipulation and measuring its impact.

The skilled manipulator adopts strategies in a way that will obscure normative and legal judgment of his actions. His sophisticated and illusive methods of influence challenge the wisdom of leading proponents of the open society. The challenge appears in almost any dimension one can imagine, from politics to advertising to education and even to the most intimate relationships. For example, where is the . . .

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