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  • Shane Caraway

The Indocile Effect

The normalcy of bias, fallacious reasoning, and historical revisionism has only intensified since the advent of new technologies. Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda, feared the potential of national radio as a tool of wide-scale public indoctrination. He likely would have retreated into the mountains had he been granted a glimpse into a future absorbed by instantaneous global communication and consistent Internet access.


Despite this unpralleled access to information, numerous pernicious ideas continue to dominate the public and academic town square. This phenomenon begs an explanation: how is it that, in an age where factual data is so easily attainable, massive groups of individuals are less receptive to new data? How is it that academicians and journalists pursue confirmation bias over genuine research when technology provides instanteous access to data?


I posit that the Indocile Effect is a comprehensive answer that illustrates numerous elements influencing the dangerous condition of language and logic at the present time. This effect is the synergistic and simultaneous existence of numerous psychological devices that become more impactful in their accumulation than they are with the mere sum of their parts. In particular, the devices in question are:


● Semmelweis Reflex

● Confirmation Bias

● Contagion heuristic

● Echo chamber Effect

● Shared Information Bias

● Bandwagon Effect

● Illusion of Truth

● Dunning-Kruger Effect


These devices work in tandem to destructive results, effectively rendering an individual immune to reason, and therefore also restricting education and especially the inclusion of new arguments and data. The following is a visual reprentation of the internal mechanisms of the Indocile Effect:



Individuals seek those who hold similar beliefs, politics, and values while rejecting other notions on the individual level, which then becomes a kind of group reflex throughout the echo chamber and shared information bias formed within that group. This ideological segregation develops into the bandwagon effect which reinforces a further uniformity of thought and a shared rejection of dissenting information.


Any independent thought is eliminated via the illusion of truth and a false sense of authority on the subject, such as historians and academicians, evidencing the additional influence of the Dunning-Kruger effect.


The individuals contained within this ideological bubble are not only uniformly rejective of differing data or ideas, but feed into a group notion of authority that arises from repetition and normalization. Various components of each device or effect strengthen others while reducing the probability of correction.


This effect helps to elucidate the observable prevalence of multiple such devices throughout academia, political entities and the society in general. It is due to these or similar circumstances that ideas that are demonstrably false or logically indefensible rise to level of accepted dogma.


This pattern is further confounded by the replacement of reason with deeply emotive language. Disagreements devole or are even premised without logic. This situation conditions entire populations to response emotionally to specific triggers. It is this mechanism that undergirds the "modern riot" archetype. More on that specific topic will be explored in a later Volume of the 1787 Project.


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