1) Influence exists. 2) It can be good or bad. 3) We can be influenced without realizing it. And, 4) therefore, we are better off if we understand influence better, so we can sort out good and bad influences, and understand where things come from.
Below are some example questions to anchor the discussion. Anyone have other examples?
What is the impact of the audio message on the New York Subway, repeating at regular intervals the statement, “Ladies and Gentlemen, bags and packages are subject to random search by the police”?
What is the effect of gender neutral bathrooms on people psychologically? When was this new front in the culture war opened up? What does this suggest about the motives for selecting this particular front for activism?
What insight is there in the line from the BBC comedy, “Yes, Minister,” in which an associate minister suggests, “Never believe anything until it is officially denied”? How does this relate to examples such as the news stories that announce from the first moment of coverage that an atrocity doesn't seem to have any connection to terrorism?
College student activists hold protests against conservative speakers on campus. Many suggest this is a spontaneous uprising by the students. What influences acted upon those students beforehand, such as from their parents or schools, that would have grown in them such a motivation?
In today's media culture, when there is so much competition for attention, is it possible to have your message heard without being provocative or inflammatory? How does this relate to Milo's success or troubles? To the influence of libertarian economics professors?
How does it influence a conversation when someone uses the term “conspiracy”?
Why is the opening statement of a discussion important? Does the first speaker in a debate have an advantage?
Related question: Are free will and influence compatible? Can you both choose your actions and be influenced?