“I reserve the right to read, watch, listen, observe, and reflect upon all ideas and concepts.”

Other people’s opinions on the validity, credulity, outrageousness, insensitivity, accuracy, believability, worthiness, merit, and so forth of what I explore never precludes my further exploration.

When others foam at the mouth, stomp their feet, and yell “fire” in a crowded theater at anything  read or watched, it makes this author all the more resolute to continue exploration into the content of the offending material.

“What is it that gets you so worked up? What stirs your soul to move you to pass such angry judgment upon my desire to explore? Well, now I must know,” this author concludes and moves forward.

What interest is there in exploring topics that no one cares to raise an eyebrow about? Who is passionate about exploring a landscape of mediocrity that is nothing more than a sidewalk to travel upon moving from one spot to the next?

If an opinion, discovery, or philosophy inspires nothing more than a yawn, and minimal emotional reactions, truly what interest is it?

Any sense of dogmatic danger can provide spice for the soul. The strange and different should beckon us at the boundaries of our limited understanding of the universe. Why choose to wallow in the stew of our own dogmatic comfort, and slow cook into blandness along with the herd surrounding us? Rail against dogmatic comfort.

The amusement park of the mind should be filled with roller coasters that toss our little worldviews about. Who cares to board a roller coaster that is flat, with no curves, and no drops?

Being at the center of a herd is comforting, for a moment. But being pushed and pulled along with the flow of the masses leads to complicity, flaccid intellect, and sloth of mind.

There are many pervasive strategies deployed by the wolves that desire to move the herd hither and thither. The wolves are greatly fewer in number than the herds they steer. Yet the tiny number of wolves are extremely adept at steering large herds, even off of cliffs.

Following are just two effective and pervasive practices employed by the wolves to keep the herd on a desired, myopic trajectory.

Guilty By Association

Guilt by association is an effective scare tactic that discourages herd members from exploring a variety of intellectual pastures.

“I can’t believe you read that book. Don’t you know the author is an extremist?” The unspoken message, “you are a spawn of the author’s dogma!”

“I can’t believe you watch that show, don’t you know it’s a leftist/rightist broadcast company?” The unspoken message, “you are a spawn of their target marketing audience.”

“You are one of THEM! You are not one of US! Traitor!”

The underlying assumption here is that if one gets caught perusing topics other than those approved or prescribed by fellow herd members, then the offender is in complete collusion with the enemy.

“You read a counter opinion on ‘their’ forum! You are socializing with the enemy. So, henceforth we label you guilty by association!”

Regretfully, even the sciences suffer such collective pressure and repercussions for so-labeled heretical dissenters.

The fear of association judgment is stitched into the fabric of most herd-minded individuals. It is one reason news and blog site articles are often peppered with bizarre comments from the most outrageously extreme positions; this is often a purposeful propaganda technique of the 21st century to make people shrink from reading opposing commentary. The fear of being associated with the ‘crazies’ that appear to buzz around a particular site or article is enough to prevent reading or viewing.

If an article or topic on a news or blog site effectively challenges a herds approved collective dogma, one  can expect paid agents of to land like buzzards next to carrion to deploy their  guilt-by-association craft. The goal is the discouraging of others from reading or watching.

“You are judged by the company you keep! Look at the extremists hanging out here!”

We must learn to ignore such bogus charges. Read on!

The more controversial or distracting a topic, the greater the exerted effort may become to frighten away readers through guilt by association. One only needs to watch for the absolute lunatic fringe to arrive if a message strongly challenges some centralized dogma.

Do not be discouraged and thwarted from reading all flavors of opinions. It is a healthy intellectual diet, a good mental exercise, and as beneficial as learning about different cultures by talking to greatly different people.

All or Nothing Fallacy (aka – With Us or Against Us)

“You read it, watched it, or attended it, so you must wholly believe, accept, or support it!”

A herd inoculates its members against exploring non-party messages with the all-or-nothing indoctrination.  Herd members are also conditioned to deploy this tactic on others with little understanding of its purpose. The wolves train us to bleat aspersions at each other.

The faulty logic underpinning all-or-nothing is that when we consume something, we accept it as wholly true or even become what we read or watch. Herd members tend to reject unapproved content as wholly false, and thus choose not to approach the ‘unholy’ relic. The premise such foolishness encourages is the belief that all information resides in the bogus reality of either true or false.

We all enjoy a good tale, fable, myth, legend, exaggeration, fictional account, and imaginary romp to fantasy locations. The all-or-nothing judgment is not as harsh among the herd when fellow creatures are enjoying a tale of pure fiction, if so-labeled.

As soon as a club member wanders into entertainment, news, or commentary that neglects to stamp “fiction” boldly across its cover and does not follow official party doctrine, a dichotomous-driven lashing from the herd arrives.

“You read that stuff? Then you are obviously a (insert opposition club affiliation here).”

“You watch that show? Then you believe (insert dogma stereotype here), and your wrong and evil.”

Good or evil. Right or wrong. Us or them. Herd members are forced to pick a camp, swear allegiance, or confess.

Does anyone believe that anyone consuming season after television season of “Walking Dead” episodes, believes zombies are real? Or perhaps the viewers of such fare are actually zombies? Hmmm, there may be some truth to this assumption.

Do Washington Redskins fans believe that Dallas Cowboys fans are truly evil? Well, some do funny enough, at least they act like it. Never underestimate the herd mentality of sports fanatics.

When one strays or ventures from party approved platforms the label police congeal, and busy-bodies prepare to push potential offenders into the opposition camp labeling.

“It’s all or nothing. Accept or reject. Confess heretic,” herd members accuse in unison.

We should all practice resisting such fallacy. Read on! And read on with great resolve! Challenging our paradigms is a healthy practice.

In fact, if the label police pounce, their target is likely reviewing a piece of information that may contain just a tiny nugget of accuracy or enlightenment beneficial for expanding knowledge. Be curious as to what is truly the threat. Pursue the detective work.

Anyone accused of being a “cult” or particular club member as a result of  reading, watching, or listening to a particular message, should ask any accusers to share their written list of approved books, websites, TV shows, public speakers, and venues. If they actually produce such a list, post it to a website, blog, or Facebook page, and we can all share a good laugh.

Be bold! Read on! Challenge all paradigms regularly.

Boldly go where no herd member cares to stroll!

Yours truly,

“Doc” Dad

Copyright © 23JUL17 by Steven A. Schwab