Brainwashing Quiz for Brainy People
Based on the book
by Dr. Kathleen Taylor, Neuroscientist.
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Question 1 of 21
1. Question1 points
Neuroscience is the study of the brain. It’s called neuroscience because the brain is made of neurons that send signals to each other.Correct
You’re off to a great start!Incorrect
Ooops. That’s ok, you’re just warming up.
Question 2 of 21
2. Question1 points
Brainwashing is a term that embodies a set of specific social psychological processes, some or all of which may be used when mindcraft and psychological abuse are used, without the victim’s knowledge or approval, to change a person’s mindset.Correct
Excellent! How did you know this one already?Incorrect
Nice try. Keep going.
Brainwashing is more ambitious and more coercive than simple persuasion, or even indoctrination. It is a systematic processing of non-compliant human beings which, if successful, refashions their entire identities. It is accomplished through the use of a series of known psychological processes. Brainwashing is essentially the result of psychological trauma that has been intentionally inflicted by the influence technician.
Brainwashing is characterized as a kind of mental rape: it is forced upon the victim by an attacker whose intention is to destroy the victim’s faith in former beliefs so that new beliefs can be adopted. Studies suggest that brainwashing, in its aspect as a process, is best regarded as a noun for various well-understood techniques of non-consensual mind-change. It is systematic processing of non-compliant human beings which, if successful, refashions their very identities.
The disconcerting thing about some victims of alleged brainwashing is the vehemence with which they claim to have free will, to have chosen their destiny rather than to have been coerced into it.
P. 9, P. 12, P. 23
Question 3 of 21
3. Question1 points
There are 3 categories of brainwashing: by force, by persuasion, and by stealth.Correct
Don’t feel bad, that one was tricky. The real answer is by force and by stealth. Read the HINT – there’s interesting info in there!
There are 2 categories of brainwashing: by force and by stealth. Persuasion in the context of brainwashing is coercive or manipulative, and can be used to accomplish both force and stealth types of brainwashing, but it is not a separate method. Brainwashing by force is what happened in the Korean war when the soldiers were tortured in a prison camp. Brainwashing by stealth is accomplished by the gradual increase of psychological abuse and control with changes so small, it is beneath the threshold of detectability. A victim may register an individual act of abuse, such as a put down, as trivial, marginalizing it as “Oh he didn’t mean it. He’s just tired.” Recall the urban legend of the boiling frog; if the heat is turned up slowly enough he will never notice it and boil to death. Likewise the abuser ratchets up control in small degrees of manipulation and abuse. Every time the victim does not react or object, the next slight will be a little more hurtful, slowly lowering the victim’s belief in her own competence while building up the perception of the abuser’s superiority. She may come to depend on the abuser for everything, especially if he has made her cut her ties to her friends and family in her rational world where she is valued.
If the victim does object, he will apologize, turn on the charm, and try again later, always seeking to push her tolerance until her sense of competence and independence is diminished. Or he will threaten her with desertion, humiliation, violence, loss of favor with God, damnation in the afterlife. Over time, an abuser can reduce his partner from a functioning individual to a trapped and terrified creature whose cognitive horizons have shrunk so much she cannot even comprehend the possibility of escaping her predicament.
Question 4 of 21
4. Question1 points
Schemas are learned patterns of thoughts and behaviour, or patterns of connections among neurons. The stronger the schema, the faster the brain says “I already know what this is. I don’t need to examine this more closely.”Correct
An example of a schema is when you use a stereotype to interpret someone, or how you respond when you hear a fire alarm. The priest at the pulpit is a good and caring man of God, the alarm means there is a fire and you must exit fast. Those are strong schemas. Your mind doesn’t have to reinterpret things you have already figured out. Now think of how much effort it took the first time you tried to ride a bike or drive a car in city traffic. Those tense and stressful situations, once learned, become automatic. You don’t have to spend any more brain resources on them. You got it. A manipulator knows how to create a strong schema in his subject using indoctrination, emotion, punishment, reinforcement and other psychological tools to ensure that when the subject encounters contradicting evidence which could lead to freedom, the subject’s brain will say “I already know what this is. I already know what to do in this situation. I don’t need to examine this more closely. If I even question this, it will cause me pain.”
A strong schema means that the organizational pattern for how the neurons fire in the brain are very difficult to change. Changing a strong schema in a person could change their identity, in which case you could suspect brainwashing.
Question 5 of 21
5. Question1 points
A cognitive web is when a group of people consciously conspire to form a web of deceit to reinforce the brainwashing of an individual.Correct
Good job! You are just rocking this quiz!Incorrect
Bummer. We really thought you’d get this one right.
A cognitive web, or cogweb, is a term for mental objects within the brain such as schemas, thoughts, concepts, beliefs, hopes, desires, action plans, and so on. The stronger and more practiced a cogweb, the more obstacles are removed and the easier the thoughts flow through it, like a creek that has rid itself of rocks and fallen trees. Neurons activated at the same time change the synapses between them so the signals flow smoothly from input to output.
Intense, simple stimuli are likely to evoke faster responses than weaker or more complicated stimuli. Intensity and simplicity mean speed, and the same is true of beliefs. Stronger and simpler beliefs are harder to challenge because their cogwebs are often activated without reaching cognitive awareness. In other words, it’s like a belief that shoots through the brain so fast it can’t even be perceived. However, given new information, I am more likely to change my beliefs in subject areas where I am not an expert (where my cogwebs are weak) and where the new information has to be processed slowly.
P. 93, 133
Question 6 of 21
6. Question1 points
The cognitive landscape has nothing to do with thoughts, it is simply the layout of the brain over which thoughts pass.Correct
Great thinking! Your friends should call you “The Thinker” from now on.Incorrect
Well, almost. You’re sure doing great though!
The cognitive landscape is the mental environment containing all the information stored in a person’s brain as well as ongoing mental activity. The denser the cognitive landscape, the better. Density is determined by the number of related beliefs or cognitive webs (cogwebs).
The more an area has interconnected beliefs, the denser that area is in the brain. Density is important because when input signals reach a cogweb they may also activate the neurons in the neighboring cogwebs in the brain. Neurons that are activated together are strengthened. The closer they are related, the more likely they are to be activated.
As water flows over the ground it wears away obstacles, creating a smoother flow. The equivalent is true for neuronal activity. Neurons activated at the same time change the synapses between them so that signals can flow smoothly from input to output. This process is known as automatization. It is how we acquire skills. The more a cogweb is used, the more easily and quickly signals will flow through its component pathways. Intensity and simplicity mean speed, and the same is true of beliefs. Stronger and simpler beliefs are harder to challenge because their cogwebs are activated often without reaching conscious awareness. They are like short, straight channels through which the water flows so fast that it is gone before it can be blocked.
Additional factors that strengthen beliefs include frequency of reaffirming input as well as the timing, and the distinctiveness, or contrast – also known as ‘salience.’
P. 131 P. 134
Question 7 of 21
7. Question1 points
When there are strong motives for believing in a spiritual concept, the brain filters all new information to support that concept.Correct
Oops. Don’t worry, there’s lots more questions.
When there are strong motivations for believing an ethereal idea, its cogweb can become so strong that it distorts the cognitive landscape, a warping effect analagous to that of a black hole in space-time. Since established cogwebs play a large role in filtering incoming stimuli, new information will tend to be interpreted in support of the ethereal idea; the stronger the cogweb, the more it affects how the world is perceived.
Question 8 of 21
8. Question1 points
A woman that is treated like a slave by her husband but is not locked in her home is obviously free to escape her abuser when he leaves.Correct
You got this one right, but you should read the HINT anyway if you haven’t.Incorrect
Sorry Charlie. Read the HINT!!
A skilled abuser in a couple relationship can use every trick in the the influence technician’s repertoire, from authority to commitment traps to sheer brute force, building up even an initially small inequality in power into an imbalance so huge the abused partner in effect becomes a slave. The abuser will take care to act as if he is superior in whatever domain she respects: if she is proud of her intelligence, he will be cleverer; if of her salary; his will be bigger. He will also ruthlessly exploit her tendency to compromise, minimizing the value of her contributions and exaggerating any concessions which he makes.
Abuse clearly illustrates the gradual nature of psychological control techniques. Brains are good novelty detectors but they have thresholds below which they cannot detect change. The abuser may exploit this weakness by testing his partner’s tolerance in small ways, perhaps with a snide remark for starters. The victim may trivialize it, not realizing it is part of an attack on her self-esteem. Every time his victim does not object, the next slight will be more hurtful, slowly lowering the victim’s belief in her own competence while building up her perception of her his abilities. Repetitive verbal abuse focusing on her weakness, worthlessness, and isolation will reinforce this behavior. Abusers create an environment where the victim’s only experience of herself is as a helpless being. The continued denigration of her abilities coming from someone she may have once loved, or still love, but has come to fear will change her self-image, reducing her from a functioning individual to a trapped and terrified creature whose cognitive horizons have so shrunk that she cannot even comprehend the possibility of escaping her predicament.
How can she escape when she can not even comprehend the thought? This is one example illustrating how brainwashing impedes free will.
Question 9 of 21
9. Question1 points
Brainwashing involves rational persuasion and seeks to free the victim.Correct
Uh oh. Try again.
Actually, brainwashing involves stealth or coercion rather than rational persuasion. It shares many similarities with torture. Both brainwashing and torture seek to dominate the victim and sees the victim as an instrument to be manipulated. Although torture can be a means to accomplish brainwashing, more common and more effective is “brainwashing by stealth.” This is where brainwashing takes place in manipulative or abusive steps so small, the victim does not realize he is being brainwashed.
Some consider it to be a violation of human rights.
Question 10 of 21
10. Question1 points
Brainwashing can inflict massive personality change and remove its victims’ freedom to act, but leave them still believing they are acting freely.Correct
Excellent! That’s what most people get wrong.Incorrect
Ooops! We gave you HINTS for a reason. Actually, the main point of this quiz is to encourage you to read the information in all the HINTS.
Brainwashing involves exerting power over victims that cause changes in thought and behaviour so profound, they effect the victim’s strongest belief – the core of self. Brainwashed people no longer have true free will; unbeknownst to them they have been gradually psychologically abused, deceived, rewarded, punished, manipulated, until their brains are literally reformed and they must act as the brainwasher commands. Successful brainwashing leaves victims unaware of their new-found slavery; they still regard themselves as free, responsible agents. Unless their brainwashing becomes a matter of public knowledge, society will make the same judgment.
Manipulating a person’s sense of freedom can increase that person’s susceptibility to influence techniques. This is why coercive influence approaches that emphasize personal choice can slip past our defenses. Cult leaders and dictators alike are notorious for speaking about freedom because it engages trust and disarms the people from having a reaction against the first steps towards the loss of their freedom. Cult leaders remind people the choice is theirs – using words like volunteer, donate, no pressure, free to choose, free to leave – at the very same time they are using stealth coercive thought-reform techniques – which means the people are not actually using their free will at all.
P. 106, 187
Question 11 of 21
11. Question1 points
Freedom is an emotion arising out of patterns of brain activity. Our sense of freedom is an emotional signal which gives us the wisdom to know what things we can and can not change.Correct
Wooo hooo!! That’s right, according to the book Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control by Kathleen Taylor. People don’t usually think of freedom as an emotion, but after you read page 207, you’ll start understanding freedom in a whole new way.Incorrect
That’s okay. No one usually gets them all right on their first try. (This IS your first try isn’t it?)
If our sense of freedom is an emotional signal which gives us the wisdom to know what things we can and can not change, then our sense of freedom can be manipulated just like other emotions. Our sense of freedom can be eliminated by the intentionally-introduced presence of a threat, a fear of a consequence that will come to us if we disobey, try to think for ourselves or leave.
Reactance warns of immediate threat to one’s freedom, and this is the greatest threat to the influence technician. No person would follow a cult leader if she knew from the beginning she would be required to break ties with her family, work 10 hours a day and contribute all her income, retirement money and assets to financially support a great humanitarian cause – that turned out to be a sham.
Sudden change can occur when energy from strong emotions pours into the cogweb encoding a concept, strengthening it from a mere idea to a deep conviction.
Slow change occurs by imperceptible degrees. Brains keep a record of what they can and cannot change in the world about them, and that changeability signal is the basis for the victim feeling free, or having a strong reaction which warns of an imminent threat to freedom. When we feel we are being manipulated, it triggers stop-and-think, the prefrontal basis for our resistance to influence attempts. Influencers can manipulate emotions to help the victim’s brain bypass its reactance triggered by stop-and-think.
Question 12 of 21
12. Question11 points
What are Robert Lifton’s 8 psychological themes characteristic of thought reform and totalitarian ideologies?Correct
Yes! That was hard! You must be a psychotherapist or cult expert or something.Incorrect
Wrong, but that was sort of a trick question.
Lifton describes in detail eight methods which he says are used to change people’s minds without their agreement:
- Milieu Control – The control of information and communication.
- Mystical Manipulation – The manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated.
- Demand for Purity – The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection.
- Confession – Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group.
- Sacred Science – The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute.
- Loading the Language – The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand.
- Doctrine over person – The member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.
- Dispensing of existence – The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not.
Question 13 of 21
13. Question1 points
Emotions do not impact thought control because emotions and decision-making lie in different parts of the brain.Correct
Good job! How in the heck did you know this one?Incorrect
Don’t worry. Hardly anyone got it right.
Emotions have the ability to flood the brain causing changes in interrelated areas of the cortex and subcortex because feelings linger where thoughts do not. This allows the feelings evoked by one thought to become associated with another, and master manipulators know how to exploit this.
For example, if the cult leader wants to prevent his targets from learning the truth about him from ex-cult members, he will declare the defectors to be enemies of the work, issue a mandate that no one is to communicate with enemies, give people an ultimatum to choose the enemy or choose the mission, and he will make a terrifying example out of someone who has defied the mandate. This example is designed to instill terror. The emotion of fear now floods the cortex and subcortex when the member even thinks about communicating with a banished member.
Emotions can serve as short cuts; they are emergency action plans that over-ride our stop-and-think functions. Stop-and-think functions in the brain need to be shut down in order for the brainwasher to keep a victim under his control. Influencers instill negative emotions like fear with concepts that might take a person toward truth, free thinking, and independence.
P. 221 P. 233
Question 14 of 21
14. Question1 points
Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.Correct
Way to go! You’re such a freaking genius!Incorrect
Aw shucks. You were close though.
Cognitive dissonance is a term from social psychology that refers to the stress of having two conflicting thoughts at the same time. Dissonance is most powerful when it is about our self-image, i.e. when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief. If I believe I am good but do something bad, then the anguish and confusion I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance.
When the target sees a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in his interpretation in order to eliminate the dissonance. Feelings of foolishness, immorality and so on are dissonance in action. If an action has been completed and cannot be undone, then the after-the-fact dissonance compels us to change our beliefs.
The term thought-terminating cliché, also known as thought-stoppers, originating from by Robert Lifton, are used to quell cognitive dissonance. An example of a thought-terminating cliché would be “you’ll understand in due time.”
Question 15 of 21
15. Question1 points
We can not be brainwashed into doing something that goes completely against our deepest beliefs. If we decide to take action according to a new set of beliefs, it is because we have become convinced that it is right.Correct
What a remarkable brain you have!Incorrect
Oh well. If your brain is tired by now that’s understandable.
Brainwashers try to get inside the target’s head so as to control both thought and deed, even manipulating the target into taking action against his own best interests. These actions, however, are not the result of using free will to act on new convictions, but rather they are the result of psychological abuse and coercive thought reform techniques designed to instill these new beliefs.
How is this done? New beliefs must be reinforced again and again until they become automatized so that their chance of being challenged is greatly reduced. Until they are safely below the threshold of consciousness, these new cogwebs will not fit comfortably into the rest of the target’s cognitive landscape. Until the new beliefs stop sticking out and causing discomfort, there is always the danger that the target may begin to doubt. By isolating the target or minimizing contact with friends, family, or former circumstances, the manipulator reduces the likelihood that the old self (prior cogwebs) will be activated and be inconsistent with the new thought program. Isolation reduces the power of the old self and allows intense emotional and psychological manipulation of the cult environment to operate to maximum effect. Isolation can be physical but it can also be created through the rules of communication: if you speak to your daughter you will be exiled, if you communicate with the enemy you will be shunned, if you read the books or go to the web sites created by enemies, it will be revealed to me and you will be punished.
Sophisticated coercion often alternates kindness with brutality. Love is the great antidote to torture and harm, so when the manipulator pretends to care, it can break a victim’s resistance more effectively than pain.
Question 16 of 21
16. Question1 points
When people experience destructive manipulation at the hands of an influence technician who seeks to dominate and control them, they are victims of psychological abuse and are likely to have damage to the prefrontal cortex.Correct
That’s absolutely right. People who have been brainwashed are not stupid. They are victims of psychological trauma.Incorrect
Wrong, but that’s okay. It gives you another chance to read the valuable information in the HINT. It’s amazing.
We have the capacity to stop-and-think, but a strong emotion can trigger an action before we can stop ourselves. The human brain is not a perfectly rational computing device, aware of its own best interest and choosing accordingly. The mismatch between emotional duration and the quicksilver precision of thought and language allows the feelings evoked by one thought (word, phrase, image) to become associated with another even unrelated concept, a mismatch often exploited by influence technicians.
Manipulators also make use of stress by arousing some kind of negative feeling in the target – guilt, fear, cognitive dissonance of some kind – so they can then present the behavior they want to evoke as the way to get rid of all this emotional pressure. This is abusive. Specifically, this creates a damaging impact on the prefrontal cortex (PFC) which is the area in the front part of the brain in charge of judgment, personality expression, mediating conflicting thoughts, consciousness, making choices between right and wrong, and predicting the probable outcomes of actions or events. Since the PFC controls intense emotions and impulses, it is sometimes referred to as the seat of good judgement. A damaged PFC can negatively impact a person’s ability to assess situations or perform tasks, particularly those of a moral or ethical nature. Since social judgments are made in this brain area, these people can also be caused to suffer from emotional distress, and rendered unable to discern red flags or react defensively and properly against the inappropriate behavior of the manipulator. An influence technician who intentionally plays mind games and psychologically abuses a victim not only damages the victim’s ability to make good decisions, but he can incapacitate the victim’s ability to stop-and-think.
Manipulating our sense of freedom can create pain and increase our susceptibility to influence techniques. Like any emotion, freedom/reactance does not exist in isolation from either brain or body. Reactance triggered by losing control like other negative emotions can induce disease and even sudden death in humans and animals.
Question 17 of 21
17. Question1 points
When one has committed to a belief it is easy to renounce it if there is no one preventing a person from making that decision.Correct
You got it! Have you ever thought of sharing your knowledge with others?Incorrect
That’s ok. Your heart was in the right place.
Well actually, when one has committed to a belief, renouncing it is distressing in any situation because it is renouncing one’s identity. Both beliefs and schemas are embedded in our patterns of connectivity between neurons, the totality of which make up our cognitive landscape. By coming to the realization that a core belief is wrong, the schemas in the cognitive landscape have to find new ways to connect. In other words, the deeply-entrenched and automatized flow patterns of the neurons are disrupted and must get reconfigured.
Core beliefs are strong because they have been reinforced on many occasions, or by very intense stimuli, or both. They tend to be deeply embedded in the cognitive landscape of the brain, enmeshed in a web of connections with other beliefs. A devout believer in God does not hold this conviction in isolation from all his other beliefs, but it is the foundation for his world view and the emotional bedrock for his existence. Such beliefs can be extremely hard to change. In extreme cases, believers may actively reject reality if it forces change upon them, retreating into psychosis, into new worlds woven from dreams.
Changing a strong belief is like cutting one of the main supporting strands: the entire structure of the web may be changed or even destroyed. This is why it is next to impossible for a brainwashed person to simply wake themselves up.
Question 18 of 21
18. Question1 points
Brainwashing scares us because it proposes the idea that our strongest beliefs–the guide ropes which hold our minds together–can be twisted or even destroyed by other people without our consent.Correct
Good job. A scary thought, isn’t it?Incorrect
Eee gads! You almost got it right though.
Although we would like to think so, the ‘self’ is not a solid thing. The sense of inner death, of emptiness where a self should be healthily growing, gives depression its particular horror. We fear anything likely to threaten our identity. The brainwasher’s claim is that our strongest beliefs, the thoughts and attitudes which we find most familiar, and most difficult to change, can be wrenched into strange new shapes.
The classic image of brainwashing is of a process which destroys a person’s sense of identity, and that is part of its horror.
P. 125, P. 145
Question 19 of 21
19. Question1 points
Highly-dogmatic individuals are more open to suggestibility and influence attempts because they display high creativity, openness to new ideas, and greater flexibility in thinking.Correct
Brilliant! So which kind of thinker are you?Incorrect
Aw phooey! Read the HINT!
Highly-dogmatic individuals are less open-minded and less susceptible, sometimes even hostile, to new ideas. They are more anxious about the future, less tolerant of ambiguity, more concrete in their thinking, and less flexible in their problem-solving than low-dogmatic individuals. However there are some people whose entire personalities seem highly-dogmatic but also seem predisposed to believe things more strongly than their neighbor. Dogmatism as no correlation with intelligence, but a strongly negative correlation with creativity. Highly-dogmatic individuals are often able to resist influence attempts because their own cogwebs are so deeply-entrenched.
Low-dogmatism individuals, by contrast, will display high creativity, openness to new ideas, an intuitive and flexible thinking style, and greater tolerance of others. Their faith should be more open to doubt and questioning. They should also exhibit increased suggestibility and open-mindedness to new ideas making them more susceptible to influence.
Question 20 of 21
20. Question1 points
Which of the following are things we can do to take a stand against malevolent weapons of influence?Correct
That’s extraordinary! Applause, applause! Woot! Woot! Woot! Now help us do something about this.Incorrect
Heavy sigh. Oh well. There’s still one more question.
Question 21 of 21
21. Question1 points
What does F.A.C.E.T. stand for and how can it help protect us?Correct
You did it! You did it! This was the last question and you GOT IT RIGHT!!!!!! Now share this quiz with others, reminding everyone to read the educational information in the HINTS.
Click the link below to purchase –Incorrect
That’s okay. You can always take the quiz over, and this time read all the hints first!
Now share this quiz with others, reminding everyone to read the educational information in the HINTS.
Click the link below to purchase –
“We should be trying to reduce the grip of totalist thinking by strengthening individuals basic rights so that no group has special privileges, We should be ensuring that groups are keep subordinate to law, so that no group doctrine can ignore an individual’s free choice, whether that individual is a group member or not. We should be demanding that any such doctrine is open to free debate, that every citizen’s vote counts equally, that the costs of leaving a group are not exorbitant, and that no group is allowed to impose its will on those who have not given–and maintained–informed consent. ”
“Finally, because we know that we can change ourselves and others by changing our beliefs, and because we know that ideas are best fought with other ideas, we should be publicly debating, teaching, and celebrating the virtues of antitotalitarianism ideologies, as well as warning against those which are demonstraly malign. We should be extolling freedom and the power of human agency, the notion that humans are ends in themselves and never just means, the value of learning to think, and analyse information effectively, and the irreducible, irrepressible complexity of both human experience and the ideas we value.”