Constructing a Self-Regulated Dystopian Society Through Fear in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium (Purva M. and Ariana K.)

Usually in dystopian societies, the government establishes rules in order to control the targeted population with more ease. These rules and regulations are without much factual support or reasoning and thus are not difficult to question. The residents of District 12 from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for example, are “often manipulated and lied to in order to keep society running smoothly,” however, they are aware of the Capitol and are wary of its actions (Basu, Broad and Hintz, 4). In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, this is evidently not the case. Here, the government has “strict policies [that] manage personalities [and] choices” through their claims about amor deliria nervosa; claims which go unquestioned by the Verified Communities because they are told with facts, research, and supported scientific findings (Basu, Broad and Hintz, 4).  Through facts and scientific research, along with the cured adults in the community that reinforce these facts daily, fear and apprehension of amor deliria nervosa is instilled in the youth and children of the community.

Trustworthy sources of knowledge in Delirium, such as the Book of Shhh and formal education, use facts and scientific reasoning to establish a fear of amor deliria nervosa in the youth when they are at an impressionable age. The government initiated teachings of the disease amor deliria nervosa, “the deadliest of all deadly things,” through various ways (Oliver 53). The Book of Shhh, is a tool used to introduce the dangers of amor deliria nervosa in a format that parallels the Bible. However, the most prominent difference that sets it apart from such religious scriptures is that it is built upon scientific evidence and hard facts that are difficult to question. Through formal education, the citizens of Portland are taught that their new ‘religion’, that follows the Book of Shhh, is one “which teaches [about] the Holy Trinity of God, Science, and Order” (Oliver 183). Because the teachings of amor deliria nervosa are built on scientific research rather than tales, the evidence in the Book of Shhh erases the doubt that might be associated with religion in our world today. Even the symptoms for amor deliria nervosa that are stated within the Book of Shhh use clinical jargon rather than colloquial. This terminology used by the government creates fear in the children that are taught the book from a young age. Rather than romanticized forms of love, the Book explains symptoms such as, going through “reduced mental awareness, racing thoughts, and impaired reasoning skills,” to construct fear creating a normalized society (Oliver 147). It also constructs the disease in phases in much the same way that cancer progresses in stages. Not only does the factual method in which The Book of Shhh is written instill fear but also the number of times that the members of Portland are expected to have read it. The society has memorized the passages and the beliefs are permanently ingrained into their minds (Oliver 19). In addition to The Book of Shhh, the schools that they attend are also built on the fear of amor deliria nervosa. This is explained when Lena goes to her first party and claims that the party breaks many rules but the “breaking [of the] segregation laws is one of the worst offences there is” (Oliver 127). The segregation of gender in schools are used to further their beliefs that girls and boys need to be separated while ‘uncured’. Essentially, the government incorporated scientific research and facts with their ‘religion’ to instill fear into the youth at an impressionable age through sources of knowledge that are continuously present to society.

The cured adults in Portland are another source that present amor deliria nervosa as an unarguable fact, and in doing so they reinforce the fear that is already present in the uncured youth. The regulators are one such group of cured adults that maintain this fear. They are very forceful in their methods of ensuring that the rules of The Book of Shhh are followed and no signs of deliria are present in the residents of Portland. While majority of them are government people, quite a few of them are in fact volunteers from Portland themselves (Oliver 79). When Lena is stopped by a group of enforcers on her way to Back Cove, she “recognizes a few faces” that she sees often, like “Dev Howard, who owns the Quikmart” near her house (Oliver 82). These are people that Lena has grown up around who wholeheartedly believe the dangers about amor deliria nervosa. To have them walking around at night enforcing rules makes the restrictions more personal and serious. Lena’s Aunt Carol and her sister Rachel are another example of cured adults who reinforce the apprehension and fear associated with amor deliria nervosa. This is most evident when Lena is being confined to her room after the regulators discover her with Alex. Rachel tells Lena that all her feeling are “all part of the disease” and that “it’s a sickness” (Oliver 408). She continues on to say that after the procedure Lena will feel better and happier (Oliver 408). Similarly, Aunt Carol tells Lena that someday she will thank them and will understand why they made the decisions they did (Oliver 409). Both Rachel and Aunt Carol thus reinforce the apprehension and fear associated with contracting amor deliria nervosa. Through their reinforcing of the symptoms and dangers associated with amor deliria nervosa, the regulators, Aunt Carol, and Rachel are sources that instil fear in the uncured.

The residents within the society in Delirium by Lauren Oliver are taught, through fear, that amor deliria nervosa is a disease that will kill them.  Through that fear the belief is reproduced within the society and the cured individuals themselves ensure that everybody abides by the rules. The government is able to achieve this through self-regulation within the society because their sources of education are founded upon hard facts and scientific research. While the Book of Shhh has similarities to practiced religion present in our society, specifically Christianity, scientific fact is utilized to prove the beliefs of their social practice, thus making its preachings unarguable.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Even today, social media often lays claims supported by ‘scientific proof’ that aren’t necessarily true. Do you think this affects the integrity of the STEM fields and the scientific research and reasoning in them?
  2. If the Book of Shhh was written similarly to religious scriptures that are full of lessons and cautionary tales (such as that of Mary Magdeline, Adam and Eve etc.) rather than facts and scientific history, would people believe as blindly as they do? How exactly would their actions and beliefs differ?

 

Citation:

Basu, Broad, and Hintz. “Introduction.” Contemporary Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults: Brave New Teenagers. New York: Routledge, 2013.


Oliver, Lauren. Delirium. New York: Harper, 2011. Print.

17 thoughts on “Constructing a Self-Regulated Dystopian Society Through Fear in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium (Purva M. and Ariana K.)

  1. This was a really interesting analysis of regulation. While I was reading, I also noted some similar points about the role of The Book of Shhh and other texts in the novel—specifically the way both science and religion are used to create a discourse.
    In an English course I took last year (English 2017: Reading Popular Culture, for anyone interested), we discussed Foucault’s theory of discourse and the relationship between power and knowledge; how power designated to fields that are privy to certain knowledge (science, psychology, law, etc.) can be used to create “truths”. I immediately noticed this in the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. Many of them were excerpts from fictional texts written by characters with PhDs in their field, such as Steven Horace (Genesis: A Complete History of the World and the Known Universe) and E.D. Thompson (“Before the Border,” A Brief History of the United States of America). By exercising their power in these texts, they are able to create and reinforce the “truths” of Delirium’s society, ultimately shaping the social reality. This is interesting to note in terms of the authenticity of what they are being taught. Love as a disease and the religious origin stories are only deemed factual because they’re told it’s factual by those in positions of authority.
    Your post focuses on the importance of this education beginning at a young age, and I think it’s worth mentioning texts outside of The Book of Shhh. Many of the epigraphs are also from folk tales, children’s stories and rhymes. All of these work to essentially indoctrinate children into this belief system and educate them according to the approved discourse.

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    1. Thank you for leaving a comment!
      I completely agree with you in that it’s not only The Book of Shhh that focuses on establishing the apprehension and fear associated with amor deliria nervosa and that there are many other sources as well. One such rhyme that was in one of the epigraphs was very reminiscent to “Ringa Ringa Rosies” that children sang during the Black Plague! It’s incredibly interesting to see how well engrained the presence of this disease is in the culture of Portland.
      Another epigraph that caught my eye was one that was from Princeton Review for their Board Exams. In our blog post we only really touched upon early education that sets up fear in children and youth but I think it is interesting to note that courses were set up even for and by universities to continue enforcing the knowledge and apprehension to ensure that it remains within society.

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  2. I found the way you argued that fear is used to make Portland a self-regulated society in Delirium well thought out and well presented. I agree with you that it is the way that young children are taught to fear the deliria and the way that both the Book of Shhh and the ‘cured’ adults treat deliria as a major sickness and disease that thus makes the very idea of it anxiety provoking for the young uncured children leads them to grow up fearing. This fear teaches them to self-regulate and also regulate others to avoid contracting such a fatal disease. I think it is a smart tactic on the part of the government, they not only instil such a dramatic fear in everyone of the society from the day they are born but also put such strict regulations that they are told are for their own good. This makes them believe deliria must be something to fear if that’s how much caution is being put into preventing it. The way they present this cure and disease as such a logical option with scientific backing makes it a lot more persuasive, it makes the people believe it must be fact, after all, who are they to argue with these faceless scientists that cured the world of such a horrendous disease.
    This leads me to my answer to your second discussion question, I believe the reason that the majority of the people of Portland follow the Book of Shhh so firmly and blindly is because of how it is written with heavy emphasis on the medical effects of the disease. The disease and its symptoms are presented with so much fancy medical and scientific vocabulary that even someone not involved in this society – like myself – would think it is a serious disease that needs to be feared. The medical vocabulary in the way the Book of Shhh is presented is what makes it such a powerful tool to keep the people of Portland in check. If it said you get butterflies in your stomach rather than nausea, you would not take the book or the disease as a real issue. Furthermore, if the Book of Shhh was written with stories that have deep hidden meanings like most religious texts that we have now do, it would be a lot easier for people to either ignore the message or pick holes in what it is trying to say and digress from it. Furthermore, people would slowly start deviating from it by either making their own interpretations of what those stories are trying to say or by simply stating it is outdated. In our society when we read religious texts today, many people do argue that they are outdated and re-interpret it to fit into the lifestyles they want to live or just ignore some of the stories as just simple entertainment or myth. Therefore, I think for a government that is trying to control its people by presenting this idea of deliria as a serious medical disease, they made a cunning and well thought out decision when writing the Book of Shhh as a medical book rather than simply religious bible.

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    1. What you said about the “fancy medical and scientific vocabulary” convincing people of the threat the disease poses reminded me of the “Dihydrogen monoxide hoax”. It’s been used by many groups as April Fool’s jokes, but I’m familiar with it from the show Penn and Teller: Bullshit!. In the episode “Environmental Hysteria”, they have someone go an environmentalist rally to collect signatures for a petition banning dihydrogen monoxide (AKA water), simply by telling people the facts: “what water is and what it does with a vocabulary and tone of environmental hysteria”.
      In this video, a woman describes where water can be found, what it is, and what it is used for–but in very specific terms. She describes that it’s a chemical found in water supplies and in food, used by various companies we would consider unenvironmental (styrofoam, nuclear, pesticides), and the various symptoms is causes (frequent urination and sweating). The way she frames her descriptions lead people to believe that it is a dangerous substance and they willingly sign the petition–some without asking any questions or for any sources of proof.
      I think this Penn and Teller segment clearly parallels the methods of fear mongering and scientific discourse that are presented in Delirium and demonstrates a real-world example of how willingly people will believe something presented in a scientific (and therefore “factual”) way, especially when it’s something they’re meant to fear.

      Penn and Teller: Bullshit! segment (S01E13): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw

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      1. I remember when reading something about the do hydrogen monoxide hoax as well. You’re right that is the perfect way to describe how they describe deliria in the book. Even the naming thing, in the example you gave they said water was dihydrogen monoxide and that’s what they did in the book as well, they just gave something simple as love a scientific name that made is sound intimidating to people – amor deliria nervosa.

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  3. As our world has progressed and technology has become more prevalent, I believe that our society has also become more manipulative. Fabricated, fake news stories are often posted onto the web and marketers easily manipulate consumers using social media. A lot of people are aware of these manipulation tactics and therefore require scientific facts instead of blindly believing something that they are simply told to believe. Therefore, if the Book of Shhh was written similar to religious scriptures, with lessons and cautionary tales as opposed to scientific facts, I do not believe people would take it as seriously. Struggling to fit in can lead to people having issues determining what they like or what they believe in. The characters in Delirium may be confusing the mainstream beliefs of others with their true morals and opinions. Characters like Andrew go against the norm and express their true feelings by attending forbidden parties despite the consequences that may follow.

    As you mentioned in your post, instilling fear in children about contracting amor deliria nervosa at a young age is a smart tactic for the government to use. The Book of Shh can be related to fairy tales. Fairy tales are often called cautionary tales because they serve to caution a child not to do something. For example, the story of little red riding hood warns children to be carful who they trust and outlines the consequences of what can happen if one trusts too easily. Similarly, the Book of Shh outlines the negative symptoms of love. As you mentioned, the society has memorized the passages and the beliefs are permanently ingrained into their minds (Oliver 19). This can be related back to fairytales as I’m sure almost everyone can still recall their favourite fairy tales years later because they have been permanently engrained in our minds.

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    1. I really like the idea of viewing Delirium’s propaganda as scientific fairy tales. I think framing it like you have highlights how effective it is to merge moral tales and scientific language, especially for children. I often hear a lot of critique of religion in mainstream circles, but I don’t hear those same critiques applied to medicine and science. For instance, I only learned about the forced sterilization of Indigenous and black women in Canada and the United States in the past year, as well as how birth control was developed as a result of awful experiments done to women in Latin America. We don’t talk about Western medicine’s roots in white supremacy and misogyny, even while religion is often critiqued for being anti-woman (often legitimately, but also often as a disguise to purport racist and White Saviour-ey views of countries in the Global South). Because science seems to be elevated to a place of objectivity, it is far more effective to use science in propaganda because we are less likely to critique it. I agree that if Delirium had only drawn on religious rhetoric, it would be easier to poke holes in it. Until we learn what thorough and ethical scientific research looks like, most people are scientifically illiterate, and it’s easy to manipulate us into confusing moral teachings for objective science. I would imagine this would be especially true in a world like Delirium where children are indoctrinated early to believe love is a disease. I’d be curious to see what kind of education Gracie and Jenny get at their age about amor deliria nervosa and what else they learn about the society they are in.

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  4. I agree that the Book of Shhh is something that is enforced on the society by fear, and that the heavy patrolling and law enforcement could deter people from rebelling. You argued that Rachel was trying to convince Lena that she should be excited for the cure and that everything would be fixed after she got it, but when I was reading the novel, I found it to be more of a cautionary conversation. Whenever Rachel was mentioned, Lena talked about how much she had changed after receiving the cure; that her sister is barely recognizable to her. Due to this I am almost surprised that so many teenagers are relieved when the time comes for them to be cured, because they see how cold and almost emotionless it makes the adults around them. They may believe they are cured and saved from a terrible thing, but knowing myself, I think the teenagers would be more sceptical, even though they could get in trouble for it. Even Lena’s match seems as though he had doubts about taking the cure, shown when he comforts her and tells her after the cure her feelings will go away, and this almost makes it seem as though he had some (at least early) form of deliria himself. It’s an almost unavoidable thing, and with people getting the cure in their late teens, I’m surprised that the society is still up and running this way. The teenagers of various ages in this society are probably higher in number than the adults, and if comparing this novel to something like “The Hunger Games” I think that those kids would have already found a way around the rules before the time that they are forced to leave all of their emotions behind, even with the heavily enforced rules.

    If the book of Shhh was written without the many facts present in it that there are, I think some people would still believe its teachings, but I don’t think their society would be able to sustain itself for a long period of time. If learned anything from history class, it’s that certain religious beliefs only lasted a few years before someone though to disprove them and work to make sure people understood that they can’t be bound to them. Since the Book of Shhh is presented with scientific facts and people tried to disprove it, the people in charge could say “What do you know about science?” and easily make that person go away. You couldn’t get a rebellion going based on opposing science that has been tried, tested, and true for many years, and I’m sure that the people trained in the scientific field are people that are heavily checked and trusted by the government to keep the process of enforcing the cure for delirium going.

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  5. Really enjoyed your post. In response to your first discussion question:

    While social media may spread claims supported by “scientific proof” to the general public, there is a hierarchy of quality of evidence recognized within STEM fields and academia as a whole. An academic values a publication in a peer-reviewed journal more than a newspaper article and prefers to cite a randomized controlled trial over a case study, whereas the general public may not be as critical of an audience.

    In Oliver’s Delirium, while the government does employ scientific terms and clinical jargon in “The Book of Shhh”, these are often interwoven with rhetoric, for example:

    “Of all the systems of the body – neurological, cognitive, special, sensory – the cardiologic system is the most sensitive and easily disturbed […] Like a summer fruit that is protected from insect invasion, bruising, and rot by the whole mechanism of modern farming; so must we protect the heart.” (Oliver 87)

    This creates the effect of an evidence-based message, yet there is actually very little to support the claim being made. The reader is distracted from this by the clever imagery, focusing instead on a summer fruit. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that “The Safety, Health and Happiness Handbook” is abbreviated “The Book of Shhh”, as if to quiet the questioning reader.

    Hence, to answer your question, I don’t think social media posts backed by questionable scientific evidence affect the absolute integrity of STEM fields, but they do marginalize the relative value of “scientific” information being distributed to the public.

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    1. Hello Adam! Thank you for commenting on the post and answering the first discussion question! I was really hoping someone would answer it. Studying in the science field myself I always find it quite exasperating how the media often skews scientific research for click bate. I completely agree with you that while it doesn’t directly affect the integrity of STEM fields, it does marginalize the value of scientific information that is distributed to the public. As is shown in this novel, throwing in scientific jargon can often convince people that what is being told, is the truth. They often forget to be critical of the information they are being presented just because it is “scientific”. I still remember my biology professor telling our class in first year that as future scientists we must always be critical of the information we are presented before believing it wholeheartedly.

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  6. Thank you for your insightful blog post! With regards to your second question, I think that if the Book of Shhh was written similarly to religious scriptures that are full of lessons and cautionary tales rather than facts and scientific history people would have responded to its beliefs differently. Throughout history, different religions have been met with full-hearted devotees and supporters as well as many adversaries. It is not only individuals who do not believe in any religion at all that resist religious beliefs, but also those of different beliefs that further their own set ideas and faith. Although, in Canada, where the freedom to practice one’s own religion is deemed acceptable, across different times and space, there have been various wars fought under the name of religion. This means that, although there are many people who are accepting of other people’s belief systems, there are also many individuals and groups that actively combat other individuals or groups’ set of beliefs when they do not align with their own. In my lifetime, I do not recall ever learning about a war or huge disagreement breaking out on the basis of science and “scientific truths”. Religion has always been a ground for dispute. On the other hand, in the western world, scientific findings have generally always been approached as hard facts, despite the theoretical nature that such research is often based on. In Delirium, by presenting the Book of Shhh as based on science, it is more likely to be assumed as fact and as truth – religion is a matter of belief, whereas science is a matter of truth. In addition, as mentioned in your blog post, scientific studies often use scientific jargon and complicated language as a barrier to reduce individuals’ perceived ability to dispute ideologies brought forth. Although the Book of Shhh most likely upholds a set of beliefs that are probably not even scientifically proven, the individual or group of individuals who wrote it seemingly used their power, class or reputation to deem their own set of beliefs, based on fabrications, as scientific fact using jargon that is undecipherable by the average individual. If beliefs espoused by the Book of Shhh were presented as simply a set of beliefs or as a religion, then I think there would have been a lot more pushback coming from a variety of different individuals and groups, considering the lack of scientific evidence backing many religions.

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  7. I found your post regarding the self-regulated society of Delirium a significant topic and important to analyze. It is true that in The Hunger Games, for example, the rules and regulations were intensely questioned by the characters as the principles are absent of factual support and reasoning and instead are merely ordered by the government/ Capitol. In this dystopian novel, much of the plot is based around challenging the control of the government. Delirium differs from this through the ways their government is hardly questioned or challenged. There is an apparent fear that develops from this pattern that normalizes the citizens creating a space absent of queer identities, for example. The scientific facts and research that the government portrays is significant to this regulation. The sense of scientific research creates a space of knowledge. Knowledge commonly resembles power. Therefore, this sense of knowledge that these regulations appear to hold trickles down to the citizens in conforming and believing the ideas that the government presents to them because they see them as true, created by this space of “knowledge”. Similarly, in our society, people tend to believe a lot of what they read on the internet through sources such as social media. Even though these sources might not necessarily be true, the mere fact that they are saying they are scientifically proven leads many to play into this deception. To answer your first discussion question, I think this definitely affects the integrity of scientific research because the lines of what is true and what is not becomes deeply blurred and it is difficult to know how to distinguish one from the other, as seen in Delirium. This is the case especially for those with less accessibility, such as certain levels of education which creates a barrier for these individuals to know how to filter out false facts.

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  8. Dystopian societies are controlled with unquestionable government rules which inflict fear and apprehension to the society. In Delirium, the government manages choice of love, therefore, controlling personalities, this way the youth follow what is existing in society. The memorized Book of Shhh, engraved in the minds of Portland citizens is enormously profound as this book is taught and read throughout one’s life; just like children are taught to respect authority. The government in Delirium employs an intensively smart approach as they cure curious young minds with scientific facts and undoubtable knowledge. The rules of the Book of Shhh, are enforced by regulators and adults around the ‘uncured’ making the rules personal since the ‘cured’ represent the family members. In Lena’s life, the sister, Rachel, and the aunt, Carol, instilled fear and assured her it for her own protection from contracting Amor deliria nervosa. In comparison to our society, the Book of Shhh was more effective, because the Book of Shhh has “scientific research” to back up the rules making the rules unarguable.

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  9. The mentions of government propaganda being woven into children’s stories and songs that is mentioned in the post and in some of the previous comments reminded me of Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World. The attempted utopian society in Huxley’s novel parallels Delirium in many ways; one of which is the training of children to be orderly citizens. Government propaganda is sung to children in their sleep in Huxley’s novel, so that the messaging becomes subconsciously ingrained in them. When comparing the two failed utopias, I find it interesting that in Delirium, the parents still raise their children. In many supposedly utopian novels, children are taken to be raised by professionals who are dedicated to raising each child to become an orderly worker who is cohesive with the community. In Charlotte Perkin’s, Herland, and Aldous Huxley’s, Brave New World, children are raised by professional child rearers to make them as affective members of society as possible. It becomes curious to me why this has not happened in Delirium. The parents cannot love their children and it mentions how many parents do not really wish to have them. I then question why they are not raised in a system to prep them to be workers after they have the surgery. I feel that this will be the progression of the society as they ‘perfect’ the surgery. That eventually, children would be trained and educated in a system that is separate from any familial connection.
    I also enjoyed the mentions of how this society has become self-regulatory in the post. As Foucault wrote in “Docile Bodies,” from Discipline and Punishment, “Napoleon did not discover this world; but we know that he set out to organize it; and he wished to arrange around him a mechanism of power that would enable him to see the smallest event that occurred in the state he governed” (Foucault “Docile Bodies” 185). The best way to monitor all of the actions of a nation is through docility, have the people in the nation monitor themselves and those around them. The idea of a self-regulation to prevent civil disorder has been around for hundreds of years and attempted in many different ways. In Delirium, the volunteer regulators are monitoring their family and friends for any actions that the government deems unacceptable behaviour. This shows their society has achieved self-regulation and is therefore docile to the command of the government.

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  10. I found your post to be really interesting! To focus a bit more on your second discussion question, I think that had the Book of Shh been written as a religious text, it definitely would have been easier for citizens to question; both in the text and in our society, “scientific fact” is erroneously considered to be beyond critique, whereas religious beliefs and narratives can be investigated. I think it’s important to remember, then, that scientific knowledge can never be separated from the context that the knowledge is produced in, as much as STEM fields may strive for objectivity. The researcher is always coming at their research from an already situated knowledge; it is how they decide what they want to study in the first place, who the participants in the study will be, and how they will present their information. Researchers may not be conscious of their own implicit bias, but it impossible for anyone to be truly “neutral” on any given issue.
    In contrast to religion, then, science is often presented as objectively true, and therefore beyond question; we are asked to trust that the studies done are as unbiased as it is possible to be. I think this is why in Delirium, the Book of Shh is not questioned: there is the expectation that the researchers behind the information presented have no motive other than to disseminate the “truth.” Again, this is not to say that researchers are knowingly and purposefully creating a dystopia for citizens, but rather that they hold a sort of authority that religious authors may lack in this circumstance, and thus their situated knowledge and bias is not questioned in the same way a religious text may be.

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  11. In response to you’re second question, I do not believe that the Book of Shh would be as widely accepted if it had been written as a scripture. My reasoning behind this is that religion as always a platform for conflict. By this, I mean that there are always going to be people with conflicting thoughts. By having it as a religious text, it would be more ideological, rather than repressive. Ideologies and morals can differ from person to person, so it would be inevitable for someone to not believe in the book. Religion is supposed to be a choice, unlike the law. Since in the novel the Book of Shh is depicted as the law, people follow it blindly. This can relate back to the nature versus nurture debate. The people of that community have been following those laws for ages, so that stops people from debating it. They assume that it is the way things should be; their natural state. The truth is that the Book of Shh is just a book of claims and requests. It is up to the population to follow them. When autonomously obeyed as it has been, it prevents people from realizing that there can be another way of life beyond those specific rules and restrictions.

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  12. The last many years, users of social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have shared news stories constantly with seldom scientific proof. For example, a couple years ago there were many posts floating around claiming that vaccinating children would cause them to develop autism. These articles were supported by scientific proof, but the proof given obviously was either fabricated by the authors, or the researcher cited may have had their own agenda. Further, news sites spin stories using clever framing language to falsely angle news stories. For example, after the shooting in Las Vegas earlier this year, before the identity of the shooter was confirmed, news sites had publicized their assumption that the shooter had ties to Isis. In contrast, after the shooter was confirmed to be a white, American man, news platforms published articles humanizing the him. Articles were post deliberately empathizing with the shooter portraying him as a loving boyfriend and good boss. This manipulative narrative continuously happens, therefore proving that platforms that are meant to be reliable deceive their viewers. This very much does affect the integrity of the STEM fields and their scientific research, as although the information of cause and effect may be true, the report of the information may be false. For example, in October of this year, a nursing textbook published by Pearson, reported that every race and nationality had a specific manner as a hospital patient, as well as pain tolerance. The textbook introduced the chapter with, “A client’s culture influences their response to, and beliefs about pain.” (Sini 2017). The chapter had universalizing and othering instructions such as, “Chinese clients may not ask for medication because they do not want to take the nurse away from a more important task… Hispanics vary in their expression of pain. Some are stoic and some are expressive… [and,] Native Americans may pick a sacred number when asked to rate pain on a numerical pain scale” (Sini 2017). Therefore, although a recently published source by be written by reliable sources, such as scientists and doctors, it does not mean that the information presented is factual. Credible and reliable sources can be constructed by anyone with the education, but that does excuse bias and racism. This causes the general population to doubt STEM fields as it is difficult to decipher unbiased and factual information.

    Sini, Rozina. “Publisher Apologises for ‘Racist’ Text in Medical Book.” BBC News, BBC, 20 Oct. 2017,

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