Beware the Thought-Stopping Cliché

Thinking friends, please be informed about the “Thought-Stopping Cliché”. It is an essential tool of totalitarians and would-be brainwashers. Be aware of it, and guard against it. A very large amount of both everyday and politically-oriented (and at times, religious oriented as well) rhetoric consists of these.

Obviously, there are some aphorisms that might be called “thought-stopping clichés” and still hold valuable wisdom…. even “that (what you said) is a thought-stopping cliché” can be used to squelch dialogue and suppress thought. Be wise, and don’t over-identify. But at the same time — this is here. It happens, and while it may not be intentional, there’s something of a history of the engineering of such terms among totalitarians of the past.

I don’t want to get all sinister and sound like I’m implying that there’s some conspiracy to keep us from thinking, but … if you hear someone use this type of language, and even more so if you find yourself using it, take a moment. Consider whether your aphorism is an equitable treatment of the depth of the subject at hand. And if it’s not … see what you can to keep the doors of thought open there.

Key excerpt from Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “brainwashing” in China