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Indoctrination is instruction in the fundamentals of a science, or other system of belief (such as a philosophy or religion).

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." Set within the contexts of religion, this would serve perfectly as a definition of the preparation for receiving esoteric knowledge not generally available to the world-at-large, a preparation that is a prerequisite for initiation into a mystery religion. Compare entries for Gnosticism or Mormons or Catechism.

At Princeton the Cognitive Science Laboratory's "WordNet 2.0" defines "indoctrination" as "teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically." [1].


Noam Chomsky has been quoted saying, "For those who stubbornly seek freedom, 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 system of 'brainwashing under freedom' to which we are subjected and which all too often we serve as willing or unwitting instruments."

The subtle effects of a highly indoctrinated environment may rise unexpectedly to the surface in examining a culturally-freighted term such as "knee-jerk skeptic": the hearer recognizes immediately the cognate expression "knee-jerk liberal", describing a person considered to be thoughtlessly and inappropriately liberal, instinctively and on all occasions. Then the sub-text presents itself: it has been assumed.

Religious indoctrination

A recent study of child abuse in Samoa found that, "Religious indoctrination was significant in the promotion and prevention of abuse and family violence, depending on one's perspective," [2] thus suggesting that the effects of such indoctrination could vary from the positive to the negative.

Religious indoctrination is a subject of academic interest. An upcoming volume, The Costs of Autonomy: Personal Essays on the Morality of Religious Indoctrination is planned to analyze the effects of religious indoctrination on academics. [3]

See also

de:Indoktrination nl:indoctrinatie

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