1. Jopel_100
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    Jopel_100 New Member

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    How to make an individual/community believe in a certain idea?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Jopel_100, Jun 29, 2016.

    Hi everyone! I'm kind of new here, so forgive me for any eventual mistakes I might commit. Also, English isn't my main language, so... :p

    Anyways, I'm starting a story of mine that is heavily based on religion, and one of the major plot bases are for a "government" to have some certain ideas they need to infuse on the people's minds, like the belief in a certain god, that person X or group Y has evil/good intentions, or something like it. I'm a major sucker for dystopic tales, like Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and Psycho Pass, and we usually see these kinds of stuff on them. One example is to make the people believe wholeheartedly on the Party's ideals, like Goldstein or the Wars, or to believe that their way of living is actually the best way possible of living. My story isn't a dystopia, but I need some core ideas from it...

    I've come with some ideas as to the "set conditions" we need to have for an idea to stick, for example:

    - Having a great benefit for believing in it (e.g. believing in heaven allows you to enter it)
    - Having a great punishment for disbelieving (e.g. going to hell)
    - Infusing constant fear on someone
    - Having them being monitored 24/7, or making them believe they are (like Foucault's Discipline and Punish mentions)
    - Using the media and every means of political propaganda to disseminate those ideas
    - Having the majority of the population believing the ideas, so as to conquer the few disbelievers
    - Having relatives and friends believing it to convince their loved ones
    - Making it a "tradition", as something so rooted on a certain community it's almost sinful to do otherwise

    But I'm kind of stumped now. Also, I'm seeing those things as separate issues, and can't visualize them all fitting together without looking like a handbook guide, but being coherent with one another.

    Can anyone give their matter or opinion here, please? Thank you so much. :)
     
  2. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    One way of encouraging people to follow your beliefs is for it to have some tangible, real world benefits. For example, having taxes reduced or an unemployment crisis reduced and saying that their God made it so would be more persuasive than saying 'believe in my God or you'll go to hell.' It's sort of like the writing advice of show, don't tell: if people see something actually happening (for better or worse), they're more likely to react to it than just being told something will happen.

    Here are a few other suggestions:

    Mass belief in an idea can also be caused by having an adversary used as a scapegoat. Hitler did this with the Jews in the 1930s-1940s, for example. Some of the most radical/long lasting ideologies have stemmed from groups that have taken advantages of feelings of antagonism and unrest.

    Starting off as being beneficial and loving is a lot easier to spread than starting off as paranoia fueled and hateful. For example, Stalin's rule didn't start off straight away with the gulags and paranoia; it slowly built up in size and scale as people trusted and supported him more.

    One way that Scientology became so widespread was through not immediately identifying as a new religion. They put advertisements in newspapers for people to come and get mental counseling, IQ and personality tests, and confessionals. Once people arrived, they brought up the topic of Scientology slowly.

    Another point to consider is how isolated the population is from the rest of the world. An isolated population will be easier to convert than one that has a lot of external influences: some cults have/had isolated areas for followers to worship and live away from the outside world, and on a much smaller scale abusive partners will often try to isolate their victims from their families. This is designed to make people reliant on those in control and more susceptible to believing and doing as they say.

    Repetition also helps to make ideas stick. Think about how many times you repeated the alphabet or months or times tables in school. Those ideas stuck with you, right? The longer you hear something and more often you hear it, the more it sticks with you.
     
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  3. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Repeat something loudly enough for a long enough period of time, and either people will start to believe, or they will believe it is the majority of opinion, and peer pressure is one hell of a motive. Then there's the standard use of playing on people's fears. Or, engineer a miracle.
     
  4. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Have a small group of fanatics martyr themselves. The more The Romans persecuted the christians, the faster christianity grew.
     
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  5. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Blocked access to the Internet, and other mass-information systems that would provide the means to de-bunk the religion's claims.

    Faked miracles, i.e. someone connected to the higher-ups has a horrible disease, and they cure it behind closed doors with science but then give the credit to "God," and set it up in a way that will lead uneducated people to believe it.
     
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  6. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    It doesn't necessarily even have to be a conspiracy like that, simply attributing something natural to Go tends to be enough. During the bubonic plague in Europe, the pope locked himself away and preyed endlessly to end the suffering. He himself, and all of the other top leaders who were with him, did not catch the plague and the people saw it as having god's favor. This was a time before we understood what sicknesses were. In reality, they didn't get sick because they simply isolated themselves.

    Cultural norms can also sometimes be dangerous in unexpected ways. In Egypt, in was customary for the first born son to sleep on the floor and for them to build right along the banks of the Nile. They didn't know that if an earthquake caused the Nile to shake too much, toxic gas would seep up. Being heavier than air, the gas would stay along the banks and only affect people in the bottom few feet of the house. The Jews were not farmers so they didn't settled right on the banks, so were out of reach of the gas. In a time of political unrest in the empire, such apparently selective processes could only be the work of gods.

    Individual miracles may attract some people, but you also need a time of crisis in order to draw masses of desperate people. In Rome: the empire was collapsing. In Europe, the plague was killing huge patches of the population, in Egypt, the jews were being persecuted and oppressed.
     
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  7. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Especially if a lot of people are vulnerable in the sense of little-or-no financial stability, education, mental prowess, etc. If people feel like they have no control over their life, they'll be more likely to place hope in religion. Kind of like how the religious system in India castes caused the low-caste people of the time to be more complacent, because they believed they'd be reborn into a higher caste in the next life. (Ditto with Christianity condoning slavery)
     
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  8. Jopel_100
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    Jopel_100 New Member

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    Thanks a bunch, guys. Really, thank you. It'll help me a lot!
     
  9. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    People are always looking for a sense of worth, but we have no idea how that sense works. It's what makes humans explore, build wierd stone monuments, and stick pieces of fabric on the moon. If you can hijack that drive, if you can understand it and subvert it, you can subconsciously persuade millions of people to just sort of conform. They won't even notice. It'll just be normal.
     
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  10. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    That's true. It's a lot harder to believe that 10 million Germans were bad in the 1940s as opposed to 10 million Germans mindlessly followed a few bad men who were good manipulators.
     
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  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm curious - when did this happen? I'm wondering if it might coincide with the timing of Moses and the 10 plagues, where the final plague as recorded in the Bible was, of course, the death all of Egypt's first born sons.
     
  12. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    That's why I mentioned the Jews. Evidence suggests that Mount Vesuvius exploded around 1800BC, which is the same time that both Jews and Egyptologists suggest is around the time of Moses. It would have caused Earthquakes through the region, which would agitate the silt in the Nile, both turning it bright red like blood and causing the gases to seep up. The gas and silt would have been toxic to both man and livestock, killing some and making others sick. I don't see how frogs could rain from the sky, but they'd certainly try to get out of the water and swarm the valley. It also would have put a huge ash cloud over the area causing darkness, what would sound like thunder, and wildfires. Those would have disrupted animal behavior, burning plants further east would push animals, in particular locust west into the Nile valley. I call it coincidence, but there is no reason a theist couldn't interpret the explosion as divine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's amazing! As a Christian, yes I'd interpret this as evidence outside of the Bible that confirms what is said in the Bible to be true (y'know, therefore reinforcing how true the Bible is) :rofl: but this is very interesting info. Thank you!
     
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  14. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    I wish I could add something more helpful, but something I'd point out would be peer-pressure, or societal acceptance. If your entire family will disown you if you don't prove you firmly believe the propaganda/brainwashing. Kind of like how if you dissent and your family is part of the Westboro Baptist Church, your family will literally denounce and disown you.

    Imagine having to lie to placate people just because you want to be accepted into a group. Lying and saying you believe the idea will force you to repeat that lie everyday, and in order to keep the lie from becoming known, you'd have to prove constantly that it isn't a lie to continue to placate them. Eventually, you may totally forget it was a lie in the first place, because your words and actions have been conditioned to treat it as a truth. Someday you may even totally stop thinking about it, and just react instead.
     
  15. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Scientology is supposed to be a great way to make connections in Hollywood. If joining a religion smooths out some of the bumps in your life, it can be much easier to buy into. Likewise with X Party memberships in those sorts of regimes.
     
  16. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Scientology is supposed to be a great way to make connections in Hollywood. If joining a religion smooths out some of the bumps in your life, it can be much easier to buy into. Likewise with X Party memberships in those sorts of regimes.
     
  17. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it is truly said that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church, but the Christians did not martyr themselves. The imperial state took quite good care of that off their own bat. In fact, the practice of deliberately making a pest of oneself to get oneself martyred was condemned by the leaders of the orthodox church.
     
  18. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Probably already mentioned, but to quote Bellweather in Zootopia:
    "Fear always works."
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A volcanic eruption only causes local earthquakes. The mechanism is the magma pushing to the surface which itself results in harmonic tremors. Additional quakes occur locally as the rocks fracture in the process of the moving lava.

    While plate tectonics cause earthquakes in Egypt, any quakes would be unrelated to Vesuvius. Ancient Egypt Cities Leveled by Massive Volcano, Lava Find Suggests. You can read the details and the hypotheses in the article.

    As for lethal gases released by quakes, there are two mechanisms for that which I am aware of. One is a direct release of volcanic gasses which is a hazard near some volcanoes. We monitor such gases in a number of volcanoes because increased gas release is an indicator of magma movement.

    Another type of lethal event such at that which occurred at Lake Nyos in Cameroon results when seeping volcanic gases result in super-saturated concentrations of CO2 in the cold water at the bottom of the lake. The water in the lake essentially turns over releasing a deadly amount of CO2 which hugs the valleys as it flows from the lake.
    The deadly gases in both cases are caused by direct volcanic activity, not by disturbed sediments. I don't see any mechanism for a build up of lethal gases in the Nile sediments.
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    Getting back to the thread topic, control of information is the key. In North Korea's totalitarian government like in Orwell's 1984, control of information is key to controlling beliefs.

    If you look at men like Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, what you have is a population suffering under a hardship, usually economic, ready to hear a message and follow a leader who convinces people he can fix it. That also requires the population be fed information which suits the needs of the dictator. Repetition and saturation are going to be elements of such a message, as well as discrediting competing messages. Add a big dose of fear and the unbelievers will follow regardless of what they believe.
     
  21. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a secret school dedicated to this study. The 'muggles' haven't got a clue about it lol :)
     
  22. theamorset
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    I think it's incredibly easy to get people to believe things.

    1. Be friendly to them. That's the first step.

    2. Create a source of anxiety, worry, fear.

    3. Be the solution to that anxiety, worry or fear

    Example, first, be friendly. Give them something they like. Hold friendly social events. Be there any time to listen to their troubles. Attribute all their troubles to one simple-to-understand source. A group of disbelievers, malcontents, or rebels. Offer the solution to the problems created by the malcontents.
     
  23. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    This reminds me of a certain news channel. ;)
     
  24. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Super interesting. Is this where the Biblical myths about the deaths of all the firstborn sons (in Exodus) came from?
     
  25. theamorset
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    I was once in India, learning about the society of holy men. One of the funniest things that happened was this. One of the holy men was complaining about another man who was kind of a shyster. The first guy was a little less of a shyster than the second.

    At one point the slightly less shyster guy said with great frustration, ''I keep telling him, be nice, THEN ask for stuff! And he NEVER gets it right!"
     

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