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Apparently I’ve Been Brainwashed

August 25, 2009

According to my family members, my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are merely the result of being brainwashed by higher education.

What is the best way to respond to this?

How can I respond without insulting them with the suggestion that they wouldn’t know, since they haven’t read any academic books or been a part of higher education, and, in fact, are pretty much entirely ignorant about the whole matter?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2009 1:12 pm

    Everyone is indoctrinated by something, like in the sense everyone has to use some kind of mental framework/ideology through which to sort the value and meaning of facts.

    So maybe they are right, but …what of it?

  2. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    August 25, 2009 1:23 pm

    Sophia, I resist the implication that our framework of understanding is beyond critique. We can turn back and evaluate our framework of understanding—and, in fact, people do so all the time.

  3. August 25, 2009 2:46 pm

    How about telling them that to the contrary, much of higher education is about learning HOW to think — how to think through things that most people take for granted? If they seem at all receptive, you could then give them an example or two.

  4. August 25, 2009 3:04 pm

    I never said it was beyond critique, but at the same time, pure objectivity (unless you happen to be God) is an unattainable ideal.

  5. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    August 25, 2009 3:11 pm

    macon, that’s a great idea, if I can get past my anger and frustration!

    Sophia: fair enough. I’ll agree to that (except that there are no gods).

  6. Deane Galbraith permalink
    August 25, 2009 3:22 pm

    A funny thing is that whole concept of ‘brainwashing’ of NRMs and, actually, of anybody has been completely discredited. The only people who talk about ‘brainwashing’ are those who have blindly accepted the term as though it describes something that regularly happens (I might call this ‘brainwashing’, but that would be naughty, and it’s really just lack of critical thought). Brainwashing doesn’t happen. We make decisions, some more reflective or rational than others.

  7. August 25, 2009 5:19 pm

    Reminds me of Malcolm X’s distinction between “education” and “training” most schools and universities provide “training”, very few provide “education”…

  8. bradcorban permalink
    August 28, 2009 3:44 pm

    I loathe the (all too prominent) idea that education somehow brainwashes those who are subjected to it.

    While working at the MS Dept. of Health, I told a man that I was majoring in Religious Studies, and he (kindly) warned me about studying philosophy, since that would somehow damage my faith in God.

    As if my job at the health department wasn’t mind-numbing enough, this made me want to bang my head against the desk.

  9. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    August 28, 2009 3:47 pm

    I forgot to mention to this particular family member that I lost my faith while I was studying at a Christian school and with a bunch of Christian scholars who tried to prevent me from losing my faith. The bill of sale they were offering just wasn’t adding up—I didn’t need any “brainwashers” to show me that; I figured it out on my own.

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