Physiology and psychology afford fields for scientific technique which
still await development. Two great men, Pavlov and Freud, have laid the
foundation. I do not accept the view that they are in any essential conflict, but
what structure will be built on their foundations is still in doubt. I think the
subject which will be of most importance politically is mass psychology…. Its
importance has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods
of propaganda. Of these the most influential is what is called “education.”
Religion plays a part, though a diminishing one; the press, the cinema, and
the radio play an increasing part…. It may be hoped that in time anybody will
be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and
is provided by the State with money and equipment.
…The subject will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under
a scientific dictatorship… The social psychologists of the future will have a
number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods
of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will
soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second,
that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of
ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective.
Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid
taste for eccentricity. But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these
maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make
children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make
them believe it is dark gray.
…Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined
to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its
convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every
government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able
to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.
from The Impact of Science on Society by Bertrand Russell (1951)