Undue influence in action

The human mind is naturally predisposed to influence. Our ancestors' survival on the African plains meant that those who acted without hesitation were more likely to survive. So we tend to choose the path of least resistance and behave spontaneously, without considering our every move. Indeed, we would be immobilised, if we had to carefully consider our every thought and movement. 

However, this leaves us open to subtle manipulations that can turn even the most intelligent critical thinker into an unthinking follower or, at worst, an extremists with an agenda to maim and murder innocents. 

Undue influence is a well-established legal term, coined to explain the control that an individual or group can exert over another. It occurs naturally as 'social compliance', but a developed methodology exists that can be used to achieve specific, unscrupulous aims. Bear in mind that even the manipulators may not fully understand the methods they employ.

This wide-reaching and dangerous issue is prevalent in modern society, in large part because of our inborn psychological predisposition. Until now, we have lacked proactive education that encourages individuals to question, research, debate and decide for themselves; Open Minds came into being to address this problem. Undue Influence contributes nothing to the welfare of humanity.

Examples of undue influence include:

In personal relationships, where physical or mental abuse occurs, the victim is manipulated through undue influence. The abuser creates a belief hierarchy to imply the victim is ‘worthless’, ‘deserving of abuse’ or ‘at fault’, which results in victims being unwilling or unable to defend themselves or withdraw from the abuser. No one deserves to be abused.
Some people have an innate trust in ‘authority figures’, such as the police, church leaders, doctors or even celebrities, and will take their word as gospel. This can result in opportunities for exploitation, from financial ‘donations’ and legacies, to inappropriate or ill-conceived actions. For instance, until such advertisements were banned, many tobacco companies used doctors to ‘recommend’ their product as ‘healthy’, Valid authority allows doubt. 
At the extreme end of the spectrum, destructive cults (totalists) and pseudo-religious groups use the full array of undue influence techniques to recruit and retain members. For example, several well-known cults have been identified as using hypnotic techniques, thought reform or exploitative persuasion to ensure the continued devotion of their followers. All techniques should be open to scrutiny. 
It is impossible to ignore the radicalisation of individuals in recent years: idealistic and bright people worldwide are being seduced to enter active war zones, or perform suicide terrorism with contempt for their own safety and a terrifying willingness to harm innocents. Undue influence, in the form of emotional manipulation, quickly radicalizes individuals, turning them into human weapons and rallying them to fight, die and kill - all for a false ideal. Violence will not bring peace.
These are just four examples of undue influence in action, but they are by no means an exhaustive list. Parental alienation (the encouragement of a child to estrange a parent), domestic violence, extreme religious beliefs, in many cases racism and much more can all be linked to undue influence and its consequences. Famous examples include Nazi Germany, Operation Yewtree in the UK, the KKK, and the domestic violence case in the UK which triggered Clare's Law. 
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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