When I conducted focus group sessions – which was a specialty of mine for over 40 years – sometimes, when explaining how the sessions worked, I would intentionally toss in a word that most people know but few use – just to see how often it would then be played back during the session itself.
One of my personal favorites was “mock”. I would tell group members something like “Remember, these are just our opinions. There are no right and wrong answers. If we disagree no one should be upset, or intimidated. No one is going to mock you….”
I then would count up how many times the word “mock” was used in the session itself – which it almost always was, multiple times.
Doing this gave me a lot of insight into how easily people can be manipulated/swayed.
Well, here is another example – a really telling one – relating to politics.
Watch Cabot Phillips, on the campus of Georgetown University, asking students their opinion of a quote about illegal immigration which, they assumed, came from Donald Trump…but, in reality, came from Barack Obama:
Fascinating, isn’t it? All that negativity toward Donald Trump when they thought it was him…but not so much as one bad word about Barack Obama when they find out he was the one who said it. Same words.
Any doubt these students have been pre-programmed? That they are on-auto-pilot? That a mindset has been implanted into their heads, much as I implanted the word “mock”?
The difference, however, is that I was doing it as an innocuous social experiment. But these students have been programmed to play back political dialogue from one side of the aisle.
And don’t doubt for a second that this same pre-programming is occurring on many, many other campuses around the country…from exactly the same side of that political aisle.
It’s something to think about. And to worry about.