Thursday, September 20, 2007

Words as weapons

People are always talking about how books can heal – those Chicken Soup for the Soul books are a good example. But the opposite is also true. Books are often used as tools of propaganda (Hitler’s Mein Kampf) or of more subtle manipulation where the writer’s objective may not be so clear. In this sense, books and words are weapons and can result in both perceived and real damage.

There is a way to defend yourself, and your “W” requirement is part of it. One of the aims of the written requirement is to get university students used to thinking about the written word. By examining books and articles to be used in essays, you can learn about bias, voice, logical progression of thought and tangential arguments. No one publishes anything without a reason and having the skills to decipher that reason means you will be less easily manipulated.

The important thing to remember is that the skills you learn plodding through some seemingly incomprehensible article can just as easily be applied to the newspaper, television, advertising or the internet. Those skills are continually relevant just as someone will continually try to convince you of something. Words are weapons, but education is your armour.


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