University Unmasked: 06 – Brainwashing

I had been anticipating some hardcore brainwashing in college, but I had yet to experience anything other than subtle social conditioning—that is until last week.
University State thinks Freshmen are stupid, and because of this assumed ignorance, we are required to attend seminars called “First Year Success Sessions.” These sessions cover a wide variety of topics: some practical, some propagandizing, and others are just wrong. Allow me to share some titles and descriptions of these sessions.
     Don’t Fumble Your Finances!

o   Interested in learning more about your financial aid? Come work with the Scarlet and Gray Team and staff from the Student Service Center to learn more about your loans, scholarships and how to maximize your money while in college! Students will complete a financial plan to help them plan for upcoming college expenses in this session.”

§  This one actually sounds practical (so I signed up for it) but knowing this University, and judging from past University functions I’ve been forced to go to…it will be a waste of time.

Spiritual Wellness: It’s Not Just For Hippies!

o   “In this session, students will participate in experiential games and interactive processes to first define spirituality, and then realize how it still applies to our world today. We’ll discuss how a spiritual approach can be used to cope with everything from roommate drama, to changing your major, to dealing with the stresses of everyday life! By the end of the session, participants will be aware of a variety of clubs, on-campus resources, and daily activities they can engage with to continue to develop their spiritual wellness throughout the course of the year.”

§  Ooo, it’s not just for hippies? Does that mean I actually do have a soul?
Building Self Esteem

o   “Learn how negative thinking can erode your self-esteem. This workshop will help students learn practical strategies to stop negative thinking, become more self-aware, and incorporate mental wellness.”

§  Self Esteem: what was once called pride.
Party Smart

o   “This interactive group discussion educates participants about [our state] and University State alcohol laws and policies as well as what it means to be a “responsible drinker.” Participants are introduced to various alcohol issues through real-life scenarios. The emphasis of this presentation is on education and dispelling common myths surrounding college students and alcohol.”

§  HELP! I’m a college student! I don’t know how to drink alcohol the right way!
Consent is Sexy!

o Learn about sexual consent, why you should get it, and how to make it hot. This interactive session will promote an honest discussion about consent and communication within relationships through a variety of activities.”

§  The scariest thing about this one is it’s an “interactive” session…
There are dozens of other categories, most of which are pointless if you have common sense. I’m required to attend four of these, and I’ve already attended two. The first one was just informing us about what other sessions we can take, but the second session I attended was pure brainwashing.

The title of this session was, “Controversial Topics, Community, and College Education: Why “Difficult” Conversations are Difficult and How They Help Us Learn Who We Are.”
When I signed up for this session (my only other options were pro-Islam sessions, correlating with the novel we all had to read over the summer) I was thinking it would probably be talking about how we should be accepting of homosexuals and Muslims and whatnot, and in a way this is just what it was, but the speaker took a very subtle approach.
The speaker explained that as we grow, our way of looking at the world changes. We start out in “Dualism.” There is a right and a wrong, a good and a bad. Then we move into “Multiplicity” and there are multiple rights and wrongs, and that eventually moves into “Relativism” where there really isn’t a right or a wrong.
Then he started trying to show how this was true, but he didn’t make much sense. He compared the “races” of “black” and “white” and posed the question, “How do you define black and white?” He presented a few facts and then concluded that white is just the opposite of black, and vice versa for black. Then he asked what is masculinity? People will say men like trucks or sports, but what if men don’t like those things, or what if women like them? He again concluded that all we can say about masculinity is that it’s the opposite of femininity.
Finally, he moved on to gender (which is distinctly different from masculinity and femininity in his mind) and made the same case. If I’m understanding him right, then masculinity and femininity are a set of actions (or likes and dislikes), whereas gender is a state of being.
“What is ‘male’ but the opposite of ‘female’?” He was saying that one’s gender cannot be objectively known.  Feeling compelled to say something, I raised my hand. He called on me, and I said, “What about chromosomes? Biology says if you have an ‘X’ and a ‘Y’ chromosome, you’re male, and if you have two ‘X’ chromosomes you’re female.”
Several laughs broke out in the auditorium. I wasn’t sure if I was being laughed at, or the ridiculousness I was drawing attention to was being laughed at, but I suspect it was probably the former.  
The speaker was quick to counter, and said I was describing a physical sex, not gender. This was a surprise to me, as I had never known someone to separate gender from sex. This perhaps would have made sense if he were talking about masculinity or femininity, but he was not. He was separating masculinity and femininity from being male or female. He was talking about gender, which apparently “isn’t something you can touch.” His idea of gender also seems to go against the dictionary definition:

3. The state of being male, female, or neuter
4. All the members of one sex: the female gender
According to these definitions, the state of being male or female is your gender. What determines your gender state of being? Chromosomes. There really isn’t any wiggle-room here. 1


A display at the Student Union celebrating LGBTQ month
The professor continued talking, making a few more points, and then began to summarize, restating how Relativism is better than Dualism. Again, I had to raise my hand, and he called on me.
“So you’re saying Relativism is better than Dualism?” I asked. I had laid my trap so obviously, I was sure he would find some way to avoid it, but he didn’t. He nodded and said, “Yes.” I continued:
“But then, isn’t that self-contradicting? Isn’t that a form of Dualism? You’re saying one thing is better than another?”
More laughs sprinkled through the auditorium. Again, I wasn’t sure if they were laughing at me or the professor…probably me. 2
The professor gave an awkward smile, realizing he had been caught.
“Well, it can seem that way, but like I said at the start, let’s not be Dualistic with Relativism. The guy who came up with this wrote a whole book on it, and there are actually 9 phases, not just the three I gave, so it’s actually a lot more complex than I’m making it out to be.”
He continued to ramble on, reiterating old points, trying to cover his tracks in complexity. But who am I but a lowly college student? He’s a professor who has studied at colleges for a long time, and he’s an expert on Gender & Sexuality studies and 19th and 20th Century American Literature and African American Literature and Southern Literature. He must know better than I. There’s a whole book about this. So there must be an explanation that explains away the logical contradiction, even though he actually couldn’t tell me what it was. 3
I later had to respond to an online reflection in order to get credit for attending the session. When asked what I learned, I said, “I learned about the Post-modern and relativistic worldview prevalent in academia, and how it is esteemed as the only correct way to think about and engage in discussions with people of opposing viewpoints. In other words, I learned that there is no right or wrong, and that’s right. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.”
All of you close-minded, sheltered, homeschoolers can now thank me for enlightening you.
1. I realize I am experiencing what I have previously only read about.  So, although I previously had knowledge of this kind of thinking in academic circles, I now have first-hand “knowledge by acquaintance” of that which I had previously known only propositionally. The implications of this relationship between different types of knowledge and how they can be mutually supporting are vast.  But back to the specific point of what is happening within our academic institutions – it is not just the students who are affected.

“A widely used harassment prevention program defines religion: “Religion is broadly defined as an individual’s moral or ethical system of belief.”  Then, of course there will be no non-religious persons.  This same program says: “Gender, though sometimes used interchangeably with sex, is best defined as an individual’s internal, personal sense of being a man, a woman, a transgender person or a different gender entirely.”  One of course understands, in today’s world, what this is all about, but with respect to reality (What’s that?), it is intellectually appalling.  “A different gender entirely” is put in just in case “we” decide to have yet another one.  Gender is to be a matter of how one thinks and feels about oneself.  One must be free to decide one’s gender. (The program is “Sexual Harassment Prevention Training with Unlawful Harassment Supplement,” required of all faculty and staff by the University of Southern California in 2007) (in Dallas Willard’s Knowing Christ Today [New York, NY :Harper Collins 2009 note 2 of Chapter 3: How Moral Knowledge Disappeared)

2. The laughter I experienced from my fellow students came as no surprise to me as this is typical behavior.  Very few people ever dare to ask questions, and if they do, they get a similar reaction.  Perhaps as a consequence, my questions were the only two asked during this session.

Dallas Willard describes the situation this way:
Aristotle, fairly viewed as the originator of the science of logic – though by no means the one who brought it to completion – understood that “an educated man should be able to form a fair off-hand judgment as to the goodness or badness of the method used by a professor in his exposition.  To be educated is in fact to be able to do this; and even the man of universal education we deem to be such in virtue of his having this ability.”
People in the contemporary world …. are prepared to accept, or at least not to question, whatever an “expert” or “professor” says, especially if it matches up with what they want to be true or with what is fashionable.  This is one of the effects of what is called “mass education” and especially at this point “mass higher education.”
(in Dallas Willard’s Knowing Christ Today [New York, NY :Harper Collins 2009 pp. 5-6)

3. Reason and logic leading to actual knowledge is in scarce supply at University State…

Today Christians and non-Christians alike stand within an intellectual atmosphere where politically dominated authority is the primary force at work, and almost no one any longer knows the meaning or application of Non sequitur, “It does not follow” (i.e., it is an unwarranted conclusion or assertion).  An understanding of ordinary logic is no longer a required part of university degree programs, as was almost universally the case sixty years ago. Now, as a result, our world is full of uneducated people with higher degrees.  They have no independent logical judgment and simply conform to what their circle takes to be the “best professional opinion.” (in Dallas Willard’s Knowing Christ Today [New York, NY :Harper Collins 2009 pp. 6-7)

Instead “politically dominated authority” rules the day.


  1. “But then, isn’t that self-contradicting? Isn’t that a form of Dualism? You’re saying one thing is better than another?”

    You were brilliant! The laughter you heard may have been nervous laughter – but you definitely won the debate! Great job! : )

  2. Those last two lines were the best.

    I don’t see how people with a mind can *not* see relativism as intellectual suicide. There must be at least one constant in order to say that everything is relative; otherwise that statement is relative and therefore can be untrue for other people. If, however, there is at least one constant, then everything *cannot* be relative.

    So if everything is indeed relative, then you cannot prove it to be so. Therefore you can’t even talk of relativism at all, because relativism is an all or nothing concept. The logical consequence, then, is that either there are absolutes, or you ought to shut up.

    I think people laughed because your trap was pretty much logically perfect. No way to squirm out of that one. 😛

  3. “The speaker explained that as we grow, our way of looking at the world changes. We start out in “Dualism.” There is a right and a wrong, a good and a bad. Then we move into “Multiplicity” and there are multiple rights and wrongs, and that eventually moves into “Relativism” where there really isn’t a right or a wrong.”

    So, what he seemed to be saying is that the “cool” people & the “wise” people would see things the way *he* sees them. Those who disagreed with him & believed in Truth were immature.

    Yeah, I’ve heard that argument before. The Emperor’s New Clothes was based on that premise, wasn’t it?

    Oh, yeah – and one other place. The Serpent in the Garden of Eden made that argument, didn’t he?

    I guess if the same old argument traps people so well, why think up a new one?

    I mean, I’m all in favor of recycling, but isn’t this going a bit far ? ; )

  4. I can’t believe he could teach something like relativism without his head exploding. It’s just so illogical. Nice trap/comeback. 😛

  5. Thanks for sharing this story. You are not alone.

  6. Ugh, this post makes me so mad (not at you, Reagan)! That my generation could be so easily brainwashed is just sickening! Don’t they know how stupid things like moral relativism and gender neutrality are? Sorry for ranting here, especially after just joining your blog, but I can’t help it.

    It is sad to say, but I can’t imagine America holding up under such wide-spread lies. What happens when pedophiles are accepted because “that’s just their sexual make-up”? Doesn’t anyone see that is what we will be dealing with if we allow homosexuality and moral relativism?

    “Oh no,” people are quick to blurt out, “sexually approaching young kids will never be accepted–it’s terribly wrong!”

    What makes it wrong? If everybody has a right to their own opinion thanks to moral relativism, what makes it wrong? In fact, why do we have enforcers of laws, or even laws at all? If we hold to moral relativism, shouldn’t anybody be allowed to do anything–as long as it is morally right in their eyes? Who are we to say their actions are wrong if so?

    Friends, we need to fulfill our calling and share God’s truth with the lost souls around us. They desperately need it. We can no longer sit back and live passive lives here in “Christian” America. Our beloved nation is being undermined by the teaching in every secular college it holds! Let’s take back the United States for Christ before it is too late!

  7. I am so glad that here are students like you, not intimidated by academia. You saw through the illogical argument and raised questions that hit the mark. I am visiting from Encourage One Another. God bless you and your critical thinking skills.

  8. Thank you for enlightening us. “The enlightened and educated of us know that there is no right and wrong and therefore you are wrong and we are right.” What a mess we are in… Lord Help us!
    ~Rosevine Cottage Girls

  9. Haha! Thanks!

  10. That’s because the importance of logic has been lost. I’ve even heard Christians say logic is meaningless “theories” and all that matters is their feelings and experience. It’s very sad because they’re not living in reality, and there are negative consequences for that.

    Perhaps. I’ve noticed a trend in college of people laughing at anyone who asks a question. But hopefully you’re right. 😛

  11. Thanks for the support!

  12. No need to apologize! It’s encouraging to hear the support/agreement of others.

    And yes, it is concerning because we are displaying all of the attributes of a modern-day Rome. Rome suffered from the same internal problems of political corruption, rampant immorality, and economic woes. I’m pretty convinced America is past the point where politics can save us. People have to turn back to God.

    I definitely agree with you. We as Christians need to be taking back the culture for Christ. It’s ironic that we still send missionaries out to other countries…when often the Christians in those countries are much more serious about their faith and advancing God’s kingdom than the Christians in America. America needs missionaries.

    Think of the difference some strong, Conservative, Christian professors could have in academia, and yet, you will be hard pressed to find any. I’ve only heard of one.

  13. Funny, I had just stumbled upon the whole “sex-gender disconnect” myself. I was told that “Gender is a social construct.”

    So sad, this brainwashing.

  14. Oh my word….i don’t even know what to say, I feel so enlightened. ;-P

  15. I’m a high school senior right now, and I plan to attend a non-christian worldview college.. do you have any recommendations to how to prepare myself for situations like this?

  16. Go to Summit Ministries worldview training seminar over the summer. Summit is specifically designed to prepare Christians for the anti-God environment of college. It’s expensive, but definitely worth it, by far.

    However, I’m convinced you already have the tools you need to do well in college. You have the Holy Spirit. To prepare yourself, I would say be prepared to encounter a lot of Post-modernism, Relativism, and Liberalism. If you’re not familiar with these ideologies, I suggest reading up on them a little bit, and understanding why they are false.

    Ultimately, just pursue the truth, wherever it leads. Pay close attention to the unspoken assumptions people make, and always evaluate what you are being told. Don’t just drink it in. Don’t do what everyone else is doing just because everyone else is doing it. Break down what is really being done and/or taught, and why. Then evaluate it, and see if it’s true, right, or good.

    I talked a little bit about this in a following blog post, which you might be interested in reading if you haven’t already:

    Hope that helps!

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