Political scholars and pundits have called the 2016 election cycle the most tumultuous and hostile in recent memory.
The divide between Democrats and Republicans is wider than ever, and the divisions within these parties have become increasingly vicious. People on opposite sides of an issue struggle mightily to find common ground due, in large part due to a lack of trust.
A common tactic used to discredit opposition viewpoints is a simple three-word phrase: “You’re being brainwashed.”
The concept of brainwashing and mental manipulation has been a key component in dystopian films and novels for decades. The Manchurian Candidate, A Clockwork Orange, 1984, and more recently, The Hunger Games, all explore the removal of our ability to think freely.
Scott Selisker, assistant professor of English at the University of Arizona, argues that these cultural and mass media influences have had unprecedented influence in shaping the current discourse surrounding terrorism, politics, and foreign relations.
His new book, Human Programming: Brainwashing, Automatons and American Unfreedom, dissects these literary, cinematic, and scientific representations of the programmed mind and connects them to uniquely American concepts of freedom versus unfreedom. He recently answered some questions about why we think the way we think.