Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekly Geeks 4: Social Issues

This week’s Weekly Geeks theme prompts Geeks to think about a social issue that interests them. I had a difficult time with this one, actually, because I wanted to pick a topic that I didn't really know anything at all about.

I ended up researching more and more about social psychology and psychological manipulation, especially fear-mongering and the like. (I know this isn't a traditional social issue, but it is a matter that directly or indirectly affects many members of society, so I'd say it counts.)

Anyway, the point is to find books that address the issue. The following are all books that I haven't read but want to read.

Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control, by Dominic Streatfeild Product Description: What would it take to turn you into a suicide bomber? How would you interrogate a member of Al Qaeda? With access to formerly classified documentation and interviews from the CIA, the U.S. Army, MI5, MI6, and the British Intelligence Corps, acclaimed journalist Dominic Streatfeild traces the history of the world's most secret psychological procedure. From the cold war to the height of today's war on terror, groups as dissimilar as armies, religious cults, and advertising agencies have been accused of brainwashing. But what does this mean?

Is it possible to erase memories or to implant them artificially? Do heavy-metal records contain subliminal messages? Do religious cults brainwash recruits? What were the CIA and MI6 doing with LSD in the 1950s? How far have the world’s militaries really gone?

From the author of the definitive history of cocaine, Brainwash is required reading in an era of cutting-edge and often controversial interrogation practices. More than just an examination of the techniques used by the CIA, the KGB, and the Taliban, it is also a gripping, full history of the heated efforts to master the elusive, secret techniques of mind control.

You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific Product Description: A startling omission from the extensive literature on the Pacific events of World War II is an analysis of Allied psychological operations. Allison B. Gilmore makes a strong case for the importance of psychological warfare in this theater, countering the usual view of fanatical resistance by Japanese units. Gilmore marshals evidence that Japanese military indoctrination did not produce soldiers who were invulnerable to demoralization and the survival instinct.

War, Lies & Videotape: How Media Monopoly Stifles Truth, by Lenora Foerstel Product Description: Newly emerging global media systems, censorship, and media ownership are examined in this collection of essays. The growing concentration of media ownership, the links between the government, the media, and the military, and the media's role in disseminating war propaganda are discussed and illustrate the need for new, alternative channels of communications to help activists break through the media monopoly. Contributors include Scott Armstrong, Ramsey Clark, and Nawal El Saadawi.

Terrorists, Victims and Society: Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and its Consequences, by Andrew Silke Product Description: In today's climate, these is a powerful need for a balanced, expert and accessible account of the psychology of terrorists and terrorism. Written by an expert team of psychologists and psychiatrists, these contributors have direct experience of working with terrorists, victims and those tasked with the enormous responsibility of attempting to combat terrorism. The first section focuses on terrorists as individuals and as groups and provides a balanced and objective insight into the psychology of terrorists; what their motivations are and what keeps them involved in terrorist groups. The second section explores the huge question of the impact of terrorism; the direct and indirect affect on victims; how societies respond and how political leaders handle the threat and consequences of terrorism. The final section focuses on the question of how to respond to terrorist threat.

The Psychology of Good and Evil: Why Children, Adults, and Groups Help and Harm Others, by Ervin Staub Product Description: This book explores the roots of goodness and evil by gathering together the knowledge gained in a lifelong study of harmful or altruistic behavior. Ervin Staub has studied what leads children and adults to help others in need and how caring, helping, and altruism develop in children; bullying and youth violence and their prevention; the roots of genocide, mass killing, and other harmful behavior between groups of people; the prevention of violence; healing victimized groups and reconciliation between groups. He presents a broad panorama of the roots of violence and caring and how we create societies and a world that is caring, peaceful, and harmonious.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini Product Description: Arguably the best book ever on what is increasingly becoming the science of persuasion. Whether you're a mere consumer or someone weaving the web of persuasion to urge others to buy or vote for your product, this is an essential book for understanding the psychological foundations of marketing.


Anonymous said...

wow - fascinating topic. Thank you. (I'm really digging this week's GEEK)

cj said...

I agree. You picked a fascinating topic. Some of the books look very interesting.