Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology (see doctrine). It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned. As such the term may be used pejoratively, often in the context of education, political opinions, theology or religious dogma. The term is closely linked to socialization; in common discourse, indoctrination is often associated with negative connotations, while socialization refers to cultural or educational learning.
Religious indoctrination, the original sense of indoctrination, refers to a process of imparting doctrine in an authoritative way, as in catechism. Most religious groups among the revealed religions instruct new members in the principles of the religion; this is now not usually referred to as indoctrination by the religions themselves, in part because of the negative connotations the word has acquired. Mystery religions require a period of indoctrination before granting access to esoteric knowledge. (cf. Information security)
As a pejorative term, indoctrination implies forcibly or coercively causing people to act and think on the basis of a certain ideology. Some secular critics[who?] believe that all religions indoctrinate their adherents, as children, and the accusation is made in the case of religious extremism. Sects such as Scientology use personality tests and peer pressures to indoctrinate new members. Some religions have commitment ceremonies for children 13 years and younger, such as Bar Mitzvah, Confirmation, and Shichi-Go-San. In Buddhism, temple boys are encouraged to follow the faith while young. Critics of religion, such as Richard Dawkins, maintain that the children of religious parents are often unfairly indoctrinated.
The initial psychological preparation of soldiers during training is referred to (non-pejoratively) as indoctrination.
Criticism of indoctrination
Noam Chomsky remarks, "For those who stubbornly seek freedom around the world, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the propaganda system to which we are subjected and in which all too often we serve as unwilling or unwitting instruments."
- Funk and Wagnalls: "To instruct in doctrines; esp., to teach partisan or sectarian dogmas"; I.A. Snook, ed. 1972. Concepts of Indoctrination (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul).
- Wilson, J., 1964. "Education and indoctrination", in T.H.B. Hollins, ed. Aims in Education: the philosophic approach(Manchester University Press).
- See OED, indoctrination.
- See Scientology beliefs and practices.
- Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. New York: Bantam Books, 2006. Print. Pp. 25, 28, 206, 367.
- The National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual defines indoctrination as "the initial security instructions/briefing given a person prior to granting access to classified information."
- Chomsky, Noam. "Propaganda, American Style". Retrieved 2007-06-29.
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- Habermas and the Problem of Indoctrination Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Education
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