In my old age, this seems obvious to me – and I wonder why I never noticed it before.
The assumption that people were basically rational was something I learned in my childhood – and I am sure it was a common belief at the time – and is still a common belief for many people.
The alternative – that people have strong irrational beliefs (mostly unconscious) that are largely immune to logic – is surely the case.
This is even true in the Computer World – where I slaved for 20 years – where various forms of insanity were rampant – and still are. The Computer itself is rational, but computer people are not.
The belief in rationality was built in to the Modern World – which began only 500 years ago. But it intensified with the advent of the Reformation, Science, and the Industrial Revolution – that all started at about the same time. (I have not included the Enlightenment in this discussion, to make it simpler – but it was part of the mix also.)
Recently, beginning in the middle of the last Century, with Television and the Computer – there has been a strong reaction to these advances. And a desire, it seems to me – to turn the clock all the way back to the Middle Ages – and start over. This observation, I am obliged to say – is my own.
What everyone can agree on – is that people have their beliefs – and these beliefs can be used to manipulate them – to make them better or worse.
You may object that better or worse is culturally dependent – and should not be used. But I disagree – it is not hard to see where any culture can be improved – and that possibility should be recognized. If they do not want to be improved – they cannot be improved anyway.