Socrates begins his defense of his life in Athens with a survey of the prejudices against him, which, he says, dispose the jurors to believe the prosecutors’ charges. We all know that he is talking about something real: beliefs prepare the way for other, similar beliefs.
Law and medicine are aware of this phenomenon: juries can be poisoned by media coverage, and patients can be suggested into symptoms or into temporary relief from real symptoms – warning signs of real illness.
As the cable offerings get more and more repetitive, clustering as cop and forensic shows, medical shows, dating and relationship reality shows, central work for anyone concerned with the public mind is to track the specific and general prejudices being broadcast – as well as the information being disseminated.
One might safely presume that every jury is poisoned, that no patient is innocent of assumptions about a lump or a twitch, that every date knows how things should go.