While reading a review of Nine Inch Nail's new album, Year Zero, on IGN, I came across this very pessimistic statement by reviewer Chris Carle: "Starting with Pretty Hate Machine, [Trent Reznor] set forth a world view that is fractured and flawed, but very human in the face of a culture that is ever becoming more robotic and unfeeling by the moment."

I paused after I read that sentence. A culture that is becoming more robotic and unfeeling by the moment? Really? Does he have anything to support that opinion? Any evidence? Even anecdotal? I wonder.

Especially because these types of opinions, presented as impregnable truths, are strewn throughout everyday conversation. They are often opening statements, rails laid down on the track to some more important, or at least more debatable, topic. The problem is a lot of them are wrong. Two groups of people (known to me) are especially guilty of these "axioms": Mormons and the talk radio community.

In the Mormon community (and perhaps in other religious groups) it's seen as a given that the world is getting worse in every conceivable way. Crime, dishonesty, infidelity, cruelty - they're always increasing, and always will be. But a lot of times, especially when talking about a specific timeframe or group of people, that isn't the case. There's also the belief that the majority of people they interact with are nonbelievers in some way or another. This "axiom" is especially egregious, considering the truth of the matter is that about 80 percent of Americans say they have no doubt that God exists.

In the talk radio community, the most prominent "axiom" is that America is getting worse. Listen to any conservative talk radio (or liberal, for that matter) and you'll hear sentence after sentence begin with "What's wrong with America is..." , or end with "This is why the country is going down the toilet." The assumed truth, which is never questioned, is that something is wrong with America.

What's interesting about these types of statements is that they have a very powerful effect on those who repeatedly hear them. Over time these assumptions are ingrained into the listener's world view, to the point that he will go to great lengths to defend them. They are, in effect, propaganda. Actually, according to some, the most powerful propaganda possible.

And just for the record, no, I don't have any evidence on hand that "these types of statements ... have a very powerful effect on those who repeatedly hear them."

Maybe you should question that.