WAC: Brainwashing

November 9, 2021, Erin Juarez 

The LEAP Students traveled to Houston for another wonderful World Affairs Council event, this time to hear Dr. Joel Dimsdale speak on the subject of brainwashing.  When we arrived the staff greeted us with smiles and gave us the book, Dark Persuasion, written by Dr. Dimsdale, after which Samaria Herbert introduced the speaker.

Dr. Dimsdale began the conversation by talking about the evolution of brainwashing, from its beginning in the field of psychology to the current social media era. He explained how brainwashing began even before the Cold War, but pointed out that the Korean War really drew attention the concept.

Dr. Dimsdale also spoke on what research scientists have done on brainwashing, and they simply haven’t been able to reliably control subjects’ minds. Initial experiments, such as Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, may have been promising, but they haven’t been replicated on any large scale with actual humans.

After Dr. Dimsdale spoke about experiments that have been done on brainwashing, he dove further into the Stockholm Syndrome and how this sense of dependency has been used by cult leaders to build, incrementally, a following. After making followers dependent on them for basic resources, the followers become psychologically dependent as well.

Lastly, we focused on the brainwashing effect of social media in our modern society, which is, of course, its own fascinating phenomenon–and something everyone in the room had opinions on!

Following the event, we had a chance to speak more in-depth with Dr. Dimsdale, and we appreciated the time he spent with us.

As we have come to expect, it was another wonderful event at the World Affairs Council!

Grandma’s Noodles

November 9, 2021, Saara Maknojia

To connect our conversation with Dr. Dimsdale on the effects of brainwashing–which became most publicized in North Korea, we thought it would be appropriate to eat at a local Korean restaurant called Grandma Noodle

Upon arrival, we were met by a lady who sat us in our designated area and gave us a moment to order from a variety of authentic Korean recipes. 

For many of us, it was our first time to eat Korean, and it wasn’t easy to figure out what was what from the menu–or, considering the language barrier, with the restaurant staff.

We loved the quantity of the appetizers and entrees; they each had a delicious, distinct taste. The varieties allowed me to understand that the bases of most Korean food are commonly fermented chili paste or many steamed vegetables.

The flavors of the appetizers appealed greatly to the LEAP members, but we had to make room for the main entrees.

The favorite dishes of the LEAP members, were the Bibimbob which contained rice with a wide variety of vegetables and a sunny-side-up egg…

the spicy rice cake with cheese (tteokbokki),

the fish cakes, the buckwheat noodles with veggies and spicy chili paste, and the Korean sausage.

And, of course, the largest of the meals, tackled by Yvette Mendoza.

Overall, Grandma Noodle gave us a better insight into Korean food culture. We were even taught how to eat the food in a natural Korean manner by the lady who hosted us at our table!

The small local restaurant opened our minds to the differences of cultures as well as our taste buds! 

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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