Are American minds drowning in the sludgy by-product of society’s manipulative culture?
Gebelein (Re-Educating Myself, 1985), a Harvard-educated computer programmer, worries that our minds are at the constant mercy of polluting elements like â€œthe constant chatter of cultural ideas,” influential judgments and persuasive hypnotic suggestion. â€œSocial manipulations” and the tribe mentality play a great part in the societal structures of behavior, Gebelein opines, and it is up to the last remaining free-thinkers to set themselves apart and to lead others away from destructive behavioral patterning. The author rehashes many of the themes explored in his previous book, in which he utilized psychotherapy, cultural withdrawal and dream analysis to downshift himself from the harmful cultural ideas infused by the turbulent era of the 1950s and ’60s. Gebelein dissects three of the most â€œfundamental belief systems” known today (religious, academic and New Age), scrupulously examining their origins, their worth and their blatant inaccuracies. The author goes on to describe, in great detail, the ways in which the human mind may be poisoned (i.e., polluted) by specific sets of circumstances or stimuli. In one of the more entertaining sections, Gebelein incorporates verbatim dialogue extracted from Internet discussion groups to support his thought processes as he endlessly defends his opinions against a tide of derogatory online detractors. These verbal volleys would make great entertainment all on their own. Gebelein’s strengths lie within the sections where he makes simple sense rather than drumming up conspiracy theory about subliminal manipulation, social coercion, mental warfare, spirituality and sorcery. He smartly argues that government officials are more effective when focused on serving the public rather than exerting dominance over it and that religion fills our â€œsocial need” for authoritarian figures. He challenges the validity of television news, calls out the â€œbad logic” of the insurance industry, amusingly dismisses laws on the use of seatbelts and concludes that mind pollution is ultimately caused by the social pressures exerted by those closest to us rather than the â€œobvious lies and manipulations of politics and advertising.” His book unveils itself as a challenge to readers to unclog their minds and become open to the truths lying just beneath the propaganda.
Intelligent and penetrating.