Credibility vs. Mind Control
What is Credibility?
Credibility comes in degrees and provides one reason to be either extremely suspicious of what one hears, extremely quick to believe it, or any strength of acceptance in between. “Cred” is the latin root for “I believe”. In many instances, a claim may lack evidence or any proof to support it—requiring the assessment to be based on the grounds of credibility. If a claim is not credible, it is not believable. In addition, both the claim and its source require credibility.
Credibility, is more often than not, based on the amount of expertise and experience an individual making a statement holds. For instance, a brain surgeon would have much more knowledge on an aneurism than a police officer. And all of this expertise and experience is measured by the background information and knowledge a person holds. Knowledge is simply the most credible source of all and it is measured by education, experience, accomplishments and reputation.
However, the knowledge of an individual can be compromised by our own personal observations and background information; sometimes requiring us to suspend our judgement. For example, the same brain surgeon discussed above could be dressed in a police uniform and could easily be misjudged as an individual that is not a brain surgeon, and instead a police officer. First impressions rarely equate to a person’s credibility. Additionally, one must assess the source of a claim. Even if a source is an interested party (employers, news sources or any personnel receiving compensation) for instance, in a court case, we must stay suspicious on the grounds of accuracy and truthfulness among other factors. These all play into an individuals’ and/or sources’ credibility.
Knowledge is simply the most credible source of all and it is measured by education, experience, accomplishments and reputation.
Mind Controllers in Indonesia
An article called "In Indonesia, Controlling The Weather Is Just Another Job" uses various types of slanters (a term I will discuss later) to justify its claims. First off, the first claim asserted in this article is that humans possess supernatural powers. The article is about the high demand of shamans or pawang hujan, “rain shamans”, during the cold seasons in Indonesia when rain is a likely occurrence. According to the sorcerer, Aryo Hanindyojati, humans have the ability to control the weather. This claim seems wildly unlikely considering occurrences like hurricanes and storms that have wrecked and damaged cities throughout the world.
If humans could control the weather, massive devastations by destructive weather would have been controlled. Secondly, the grounds of expertise do not seem to stand so well. In the article, Hanindyojati is quoted saying his friend learned to “control the universe” in about an hour. Yes, it is true that if we put our minds to it, we can move matter and manipulate certain properties of our Earth physically. However, based on simple math and physics, it is improbable that someone could control the elements using only their mind (perhaps in a George Lucas movie, but not in reality). Also, learning to do something in “about an hour” does not hold any grounds of knowledge by way of education, experience, accomplishments, and reputation. How is it possible to learn something so extreme in as little as an hour?
The only reasonable explanation would be that this person has supernatural powers, which, unfortunately, is not quite so reasonable.
Slanters and Fallacies of Mind Control
While credibility plays a big part in assuring a claim is valid, a common strategy for persuasion is through rhetoric. Slanters are a type of rhetoric that affects an audience’s beliefs without the use of reason or logic. Sometimes, slanters can strengthen or weaken a claim; it depends on the type of language. There can be positive slanters or negative slanters, but generally they are used to excuse extreme or illogical circumstances.
There are a few uses of slanters and fallacies being used in the previously mentioned article. The first and foremost fallacy is wishful thinking. The article makes it seem true that shamans in Indonesia can control the weather because they want it to be true. We have yet to explain things like telepathy and mind-control, simply because we have no logical basis behind such questionable practices.
A second fallacy that is not as apparent, is the “argument” from common practice. The reason behind shamans continuing to practice their mind control is because another shaman taught them, and so on, and so on. It could also be an “argument” from tradition in this sense. In order for a shaman to justify their so-called powers, they either prove it, or say something about how another shaman showed them. It simply does not line up, which leads us to the line-drawing fallacy. Because controlling the weather is a vague concept, the argument has no clear line. Each of these fallacies are used in this article and generally by anyone who claims they can control the weather.
Although many of us want it to be true, that does not make the idea of mind-control a valid concept. One can argue for hours, but in all seriousness, mind control is not widely known or proved to be an actuality or common practice.
Is Mind Control Real?
It is hypothesis such as mind-control that can only be proven using slanters or fallacies. Luckily, this news source is credible and this article was mostly unbiased and objective (despite the last paragraph implying the shaman may have been so convincing, he may have mind controlled the author himself). At any rate, mind control is certainly a fun concept to think about, and some wishful thinking in moderation is acceptable.
As far as inconclusive concepts such as mind control goes, hard evidence and a substantial amount of empirical data is required to prove anything true. Until then, people will have to rely on the use of fallacies. This is why credibility outweighs almost everything when trusting the news, hiring teachers, science journals, and in a job application for becoming a brain surgeon.
With all things considered, it’s best to say at the very least that mind control is a fun pop-culture concept, but it holds no merit in reality. The only person that controls your thoughts? You.