concept: propaganda, mass compliance, manipulation

  • Le Bon, from His The Crowd; A Study of the Popular Mind, and the emergent technique of moving crowds “whose parts [Le Bon has] elsewhere shown: illusions, words and formulae, affirmation, repetition, prestige, and contagion […] Hypnotised more and more completely by the two or three formulae he [the zealot, or apostle of some brave new faith] incessantly repeats, the apostle experiences a burning desire to propagate the faith that is in him, and publish to the world the gospel which shall raise humanity from the error in which it has hitherto stagnated. Is not the torch he carries plain to see, and must not all, save hypocrites and sinners, be converted […] Prompted by their proselytising zeal,” writes M. Hamon, ” they spread their faith without fear of suffering for it. For it they break the ties of family and friendship ; for It they lose their place, their very means of existence. In their enthusiasm they run the risks of imprisonment and death ; they are determined to enforce their ideal, to effect the salvation of the populace despite itself. They are like the Terrorists of 1793, who slaughtered human beings for the love of humanity.”
  • Kuran and Sunstein, Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation. “An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that gives the perception of increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse. The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives: Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance” […]
  • Noelle-Neumann, Spiral of silence. “Spiral of silence theory stipulates that individuals have a fear of isolation, which results from the idea that a social group or the society in general might isolate, neglect, or exclude members due to the members’ opinions. This fear of isolation consequently leads to remaining silent instead of voicing opinions. Media is an important factor that relates to both the dominant idea and people’s perception of the dominant idea. The assessment of one’s social environment may not always correlate with reality” […]

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