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Rahul Venkat WASHBURN REVIEW To this day the Nazi regime's rise to power baffles scholars and observers,

even nearly 70 years after its fall. People are astonished how one nation, in a human lifetime, could transform from a thriving center of sciences and humanities into a regime of war and genocide. This disturbing transformation has been the sub ect of numerous articles, essays, studies, and retrospective analyses. !eslie "eynard, a #ashburn professor of communications, has ta$en interest in how social ideas begin as minority views, gather momentum, and finally cross a 'tipping point' at which the ideas become ma ority views. !i$ewise, social ideas can begin as ma ority views then reverse course and regress toward the same tipping point going the other way before they fade into the minority. '%piral of %ilence' describes this phenomenon. !ast month, "eynard was the featured spea$er at the home of &r. 'erry (arley, #ashburn's president who hosted a gathering of )* students en oying dinner and intellectual discussion. (arley's roundtable dinners are held once a month, and students are chosen at random. (or the honor, a #ashburn professor of distinction is as$ed to lead and to moderate the discussion, and past topics have included the national debt, healthcare policy, and gun control. #ith the )0+) elections, "eynard stated this would be the first presidential election for many college students. ,- spea$ to groups about democracy, civil discourse, and deception. #ith the election coming up, - wanted to tie in my tal$ with the %piral of %ilence and encourage students to discover their intentions and feelings about the election and to determine whether students would be either actively participating in the process or avoiding it,, said "eynard. %piral of %ilence emerged from the pioneering wor$ of .erman political scientist /lisabeth Noelle Neumann. 0fter #orld #ar --, Neumann pondered the rise of the Third "eich, and she as$ed, ,1ow could this all have happened, and why did the .erman people allow this to happen2, "eynard said Neumann's %piral of %ilence theory e3plains how human beings, ,do not want to be part of a perceived minority,, regardless of whether or not they're in the minority. ,People fear re ection and social isolation, so the more they perceive they're in the minority on social issues, the more silent they will be on those issues,, said "eynard. %urprisingly, this fear isn't limited to oppressive governments and heated political issues. -t also happens in low4sta$es, benign situations. "eynard cited a classic study in which a human sub ect was grouped with five to seven 'conspirators' who were presumed by the sub ect to be na5ve volunteers for the same e3periment. #hen group members were shown a drawing of lines and as$ed to pic$ out the longest line, the na5ve sub ect selected the true longest line, but the conspirators voiced their selections for the shortest line. The na5ve sub ect, after a few rounds of discussion with and peer pressure from the conspirators, changed his pic$ and selected the true shortest line as representing the longest line. ,#e're very, very susceptible as human beings to social control,, said "eynard. ,#e have an internal monitor for embarrassment, fear of re ection, and punishment by authority,, which causes us to ta$e a particular stance or action, ,if we feel we are accepted, or to shrin$ bac$ from it if we feel that we are not accepted.,

"eynard believes the 6.%. has conditions which ma$e it susceptible to %pirals of %ilence. %he challenged students to identify views which might be ma ority views but appear to be minority views because so few people voice their opinions. %tudents named government surveillance as one area in which 0mericans may be perpetuating a %piral of %ilence. %tudents agreed that surveillance was value4laden and pertinent to many 0mericans. 7ut they also believed that the issue was not very well publicized and that people weren't raising the issue out of fear that their views were in the minority. %tudents also identified 0merica's treatment of prisoners of war, and how this treatment has brushed aside 8* years of the 6.%.'s commitment to agreements at the .eneva 9onvention. :ne student voiced her opinion that, ,to be held indefinitely in those types of conditions, and to have an entire country loo$ the other way when not every captive was found to be a terrorist,, was a$in to the 9ommunist "ed %care of the early +;*0s. "eynard concurred, saying, ,#e seem to be ta$ing everyone who's a follower of -slam and labeling them a terrorist., "eynard said that most research on the %piral of %ilence has been focused on television and print, which were two mass mediums of the )0th 9entury. "eynard would li$e to see the theory tested on social media because, ,social media has become so vast so <uic$ly. =iewpoints are diverse, and social media allow opinions to be distributed and e3pressed anonymously., %tudents interviewed after the event came away with favorable impressions of the evening and of Professor "eynard's tal$. >aggie %igler, a senior ma oring in legal studies, said, ,- appreciated the opportunity to have intelligent conversation for an evening. - li$ed hearing about the %piral of %ilence. -t wasn't anything - had heard of in any of my classes. - didn't $now what to e3pect when they invited us here for dinner, and it turned out to be a stimulating conversation., ?elsey (owler, a second4year law student, was encouraged in her belief that peers of her generation thin$ about political and social issues. ,- got out of this many different perspectives, and a showing that our generation is engaged. #e have different perspectives, but people still care. -t may not be party politics that we care about, but we care about the issues because these are issues we're going to have to live with,, said (owler. (or 9assandra 7lac$well, a senior ma oring in history, her $nowledge of social issues was deepened by attending the roundtable discussion. ,- $new some of the issues from my courses in communication. 7ut one area which amazed me was the magnitude of surveillance and privacy issues. They are not considered issues, because they lac$ publicity. 0nd - thin$ they should be discussed more. 7ut it never ceases to amaze me how much everyone is willing to engage in an intellectual discussion, especially in the presence of #ashburn's president, in his home., Rahul Venkat is a senior computer science major. Reach him at RahulVenkat@outlook.com