Hello , I am an ex Scientologist , this blog is primarily about that but I may address other topics as the mood hits me to . I was in Scientology for 25 years and spent about 10,000 hours using the indoctrination and thought reform method "study tech " . I also spent time on staff and met hundreds of Scientologists and did hundreds of the cult practices . Many were the "ethics cycles and OW writeups " that really are an attempt to suppress or remove a person's identity and replace it with a mental pseudo clone of Ron Hubbard . To make a fanatical slave for the cult .

I looked outside the cult for answers in about January 2014 and left the cult in about March of 2014 . While in about 99% of members have no idea of the truth .

We are told we are in a mental therapy or spiritual enhancement or religion or science for helping people unlock potential . Or any of several other fronts that all pretend kind and humanitarian goals .

The truth is Scientology is a terrorist mind control cult and this blog is my attempt to understand and expose that . And try to state as clearly as possible the tools that I have found helpful in dealing with this .

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ron Hubbard's Twisted Mind Part 1 Pathological Lying

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 Image result for ron hubbard the only way to control people is to lie to them

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One of the very first things anyone who studies Dianetics, Scientology or Ron Hubbard should understand is the inner core of all three: Hubbard's mind and the mental conditions he was exhibiting for much of his life.

In examining him and his choices, information on cult leaders from Robert Jay Lifton, Margaret Singer, Daniel Shaw and information on narcissists, sociopaths, malignant narcissists I have begun to form an opinion.

I obviously after being in Scientology for twenty five years and having spent thousands of hours being indoctrinated in the cult environment had a large amount of information on Hubbard to examine. In the exit counseling process a very simple fact was the first and most obvious aspect of his mind and behavior to understand: his pathological lying.

Pathological lying is not the same as normal lying. I cannot stress that enough, it can't be overstated. Pathological liars lie quite differently than normal people. Even other personality disordered individuals don't use lying in the same way as pathological liars.

First off there are two major issues to examine - how pathological liars lie and how it affects their victims, selves and society.

Both are different from normal lying. For most of us we have automatic responses to the revelation that we have been lied to, particularly if we are certain it occurred. We become angry and resentful toward the liar, decide to throw away everything they convinced us of and swear off ever believing them in the future. Then shun them, unless we are bound to them by social, familial or other bonds.

That has pluses and minuses for normal people but is less than adequate for pathological liars for several important reasons. Many pathological liars create subtle and layered effects that cannot be simply dismissed all at once.

Many ex Scientologists for examples decades after leaving the cult still wonder at issues such as "Do I have an overt ?", "Am I PTS or an SP ?", and "Did those incidents in auditing really occur?".

Part of that is due to a lack of understanding how the tools Hubbard plagiarized work such as hypnotism, thought reform and propaganda techniques. But a significant part is simply due to not understanding how he lied.

Much literature on malignant narcissists discusses how they have two defining features - a lack of empathy and humility, both in the extreme. I believe Hubbard fit this concept quite well. He wanted to be seen as superior to God and cared nothing for others. He saw others as only a tool, like a mirror, to fashion a beautiful reflection of himself in to reflect back to give him the admiration he insatiably craved. He cared nothing for their happiness, sanity, freedom, human rights or very lives.

The key aspects to understand about pathological lying are that it is a driven behavior. It is not like normal lying done out of desperation or for convenience or avoidance of negative consequences.

Most people, possibly nearly all, occasionally lie. Honestly, I believe that. But crucially most of us do it rarely or only on certain aspects of our lives or subjects where we have fallen into hiding or altering something habitually.

But there are several key differences in our lying and Hubbard's. We just don't do it constantly and don't get anywhere near as good at it as Hubbard was.

PLs ( pathological liars ) have to get much better at it through trial and error, and find aspects we never do. They learn to satisfy their need to appear to be good and simultaneously discredit anyone who would or could expose them with a series of tactics. Hubbard actually used them for decades and incorporated them into his plagiarized doctrine. When he found others' ideas that mirrored his natural inclinations he focused on those methods and adopted them as his own.

To effectively paint himself as innocent, honest, helpful and altruistic and his potential threats via exposure as untrustworthy, guilty, harmful and self serving he consistently told complex lies interwoven into all his doctrine that asserted him as being the role his opponent held and simultaneously stated his opponents were as absolute fact doing what he himself did.

By stating the one hundred eighty degree lie he made the degree, audacity and perseverance of his lying so extreme they are difficult to comprehend, let alone accept.

There is a simple reason for this: most of us would never dream of decades of constantly lying as first nature, really only nature, as a permanent survival mechanism. It literally was as natural to Hubbard as breathing. He did it all the time without even considering stopping. Just as we breathe.

He found out how lying to people like this ultimately confuses them and that if he changed his lies, but kept authority over his slaves rather than revolt many became confused and more obedient. Why ? Because once you see someone as infallible and unquestionably superior you second guess yourself instead of them when their claims seem contradicted by evidence. It goes back to childhood when you learn usually that mommy and daddy know more than you and are right about things that seemingly don't make sense. They are proven right time and again.

We are to a degree designed to conform to authority and replace reason with blind obedience. Hubbard exploited that relentlessly and ruthlessly.

So picture a person constantly motivated, really driven, to assert his authority, then his great benevolent nature while knowing all of it is lies. And to protect those lies he projects his own undesirable, abominable qualities onto those who do or could expose his other lies. Then on top of that he realized changing his lies so they cannot be pinned down further increases their effectiveness. Things like changing the definition of fundamental concepts such as clear, auditing, OT, Scientology and many other terms over time are redefined over and over so his victims are never quite sure what Hubbard meant. By not knowing what he meant you can't dispute or disprove it.

And finally Hubbard learned from studying propaganda that taking a term and applying it to its opposite he could hide it. The auditing he defined as removing mental content added hypnotic commands. The clear state instead of removing an undesirable mind was intended to add a hypnotic identity, entirely subservient to Hubbard. The bridge to total freedom in truth is a route intended to lead to permanent slavery. Study technology actually destroys the ability to use critical, independent, logical, rational and linear reasoning as an attempt to turn students into slaves whose ability to study is obliterated. Ethics technology is meant to knock out morals that prohibit Hubbard's absolute control. People who do or could expose Hubbard's lies or resist his authority, which is essential to his lies working, are labeled suppressive persons. In truth he was suppressive and they failed to submit to his authority. They are resistant or heroic in the face of his suppression.

There are many, many other examples. His purification rundown relies on poisoning people to fool them. The OT levels switch delusion and truth and one is called truth revealed . He knew the method of switching places, one hundred eighty degree lies and reversals of meaning could effectively enslave some people, often temporarily.

As they say he fooled some of the people some of the time but never all. But unfortunately the consequences were and are unfortunate and all too often tragic for his mentally enslaved victims.

That is the first thing to understand about Ron Hubbard's mind in my opinion.

Scientology's Influence Part 1 Contrast, Concession, Reciprocity

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I am basing a series of posts on information from the book Influence The Psychology of persuasion, by Robert Cialdini.

This book is considered an authoritative reference on persuasion and essential in social psychology by many academics.  I am going to try to break it down into small bits and compare aspects of my twenty five years in Scientology with the ideas presented by Robert Cialdini.

I will highlight quotes from his book for reference. In this first installment I want to address three concepts Cialdini describes, contrast, concession and reciprocity.

There is a principle in human perception, the contrast principle, that affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another ( page 12 )

This idea is often demonstrated to students by having them put one hand in cold water, and the other in hot water, then both in medium temperature water in one bucket.
The water simultaneously feels hot to one hand and cold to another. The hand that was in cold water before now feels warm and the one that was in hot water earlier feels cool.

Many experiments have supported this. If men see very attractive women just before seeing unattractive women they see the unattractive women as more unattractive than if they had not just seen the attractive woman.

Many sales people know to sell the most expensive of a group of items if possible first. For example sell a five hundred dollar suit before selling a seventy five dollar sweater, as the customer will more easily accept the lesser cost in contrast to the higher price he already paid.

Another example is a tactic some real estate sales people employ, have a few smaller, more run down houses to show. First show one of these and ask for a much higher price than one should. Next take the prospective customer to a nicer, bigger house with a lower price. Then watch their eyes light up and know they feel like the second house is a great deal. In contrast it looks far better than it is.

This perceptual distortion is routine and commonplace. It is natural to think something is better or worse, but the contrast distorts our judgement to look at things relative to each other, rather than objectively.

It is a fundamental weakness in perception that is especially vulnerable to persuasion because we usually have no awareness it even exists.

Next is the principle of reciprocity. We tend to feel obligated to people who do something for us. To quote the archaeologist Richard Leakey:

We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food and their skills in an honored network of obligation. ( page 18 )

There was a famous experiment by Professor Dennis Regan of Cornell University in which a student was paired with an assistant posing as another student. The students were rating paintings together. The assistant, Joe would try to sell the student raffle tickets after they finished their work.

With some students Joe would take a break, go out and come back with a Coke and another he would give the student.  The students who received the Coke bought far more raffle tickets than the students who received nothing.

Additionally the students were asked to rate how much they liked Joe. Surprisingly if Joe bought them a Coke , whether the student liked Joe or not, they still bought raffle tickets based on if he gave them a Coke or not - NOT if they liked him or didn't ! The sense of obligation is more important than if they liked him for predicting behavior.

Other experiments have supported this . For manipulators there is an additional trick. They can induce the feeling of obligation by giving an uninvited favor. The act doesn't need to be wanted.

French anthropologist Marcel Mauss said :
There is an obligation to give, an obligation to receive, and an obligation to repay. ( page 31 )

The obligation to repay is important, but the obligation to receive makes manipulation easy. If you refuse a gift or favor you seem antisocial. Or stuck up.

In the experiment Joe got to decide the favor of giving a Coke, then the request for buying a raffle ticket as the opportunity for the student to return the favor.

As a more obvious example Hare Krishna cult members take advantage of this at airports. They walk up and hand strangers a flower. If the stranger tries to return the flower the cultist declines. Then the cultist asks for a dollar or two , many people give in and donate a few dollars. The Krishnas go around the airport and gather  the flowers from the garbage, then recycle them for other travelers. They have made millions of dollars this way. They used to seek donations and largely be rejected due to their unusual dress and customs . but their dress and customs were required , so rather than abandon that they used the social obligation to accept the small gift of a flower ( a kind of concession to manners )  , then the immediate request for money to invoke reciprocity , but it was entirely unequal since a few dollars for a flower you don't have any want or need for is not truly equal . But you don't think of it at the time .

Additionally a person often feels an overwhelming obligation to return favors and this can be exploited by controlling what favors are given and what are acceptable to accept.  If you ask a person to volunteer for a billion years as a Sea Org member and leave their family behind often that makes joining staff seem not too bad in comparison and so a person concedes and joins staff. Or a person gets some help on course and asked to donate a hundred thousand dollars to an org and then feels merely giving a few thousand and volunteering to help out is not that bad .

When one understands that people feel obligated to accept favors and to repay them and can give very inexpensive favors but present them as invaluable miracles and then only accept either immense amounts of labor or money in return in a capitalistic money driven society you come out way ahead , in the short term.

That was one of Hubbard's biggest secrets: he knew Dianetics and Scientology were recycled failed hypnotic techniques that produced temporary euphoria but long term dependence on the therapist and tremendous vulnerability to exploitation . But could be presented to the uninformed as miracles , and through increased suggestibility sold as such . The happy victims felt obligated and rewarded Hubbard far out of proportion to any benefit gained, if being fooled by lies for a short time is any benefit at all.

These three principles are borne out by many experiments and you are welcome to Google the ideas for further evidence which is abundant .

Hubbard and his cult use all three to influence people covertly to progressively surrender to his cult. They contrast the "win" of auditing which is in truth a temporary euphoric high from hypnosis against not having wins to make auditing seem life changing and miraculous . They contrast the claimed salvation of Scientology against the denigrated state of being a normal human to make Scientology seem wonderful.

You give a concession every time you do a check-sheet item on a course requiring "a major stable win " , in that you concede that whatever happened - you had a win . And you concede gains every time you write and a success story and answer the key question " would you like others to have gains similar to the ones you experienced ?" you are acknowledging gains did occur , even if they did not !

And as you get more convinced Hubbard bravely sacrificed everything to save humanity , you feel obligated to reciprocate - and see giving all your money , or a fortune if wealthy or joining staff or ultimately signing your billion year contract for the Sea Org as the only adequate return on his investment in you !

All three ideas are ruthlessly and relentlessly exploited in Scientology.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Exiting The Echo Chamber

I am going address a situation I realized can severely affect people in many situations. The echo chamber effect.

Below is a quote from Wikipedia:

Echo chamber (media)

In media, an echo chamber is a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an "enclosed" system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed or otherwise underrepresented.

How it worksEdit

Observers of journalism in the mass media describe an echo chamber effect in media discourse. One purveyor of information will make a claim, which many like-minded people then repeat, overhear, and repeat again (often in an exaggerated or otherwise distorted form) until most people assume that some extreme variation of the story is true.
Participants in online communities may find their own opinions constantly echoed back to them, which reinforces their individual belief systems. This can create significant barriers to critical discourse within an online medium. Due to forming friendships and communities with like-minded people, this effect can also occur in real life. The echo chamber effect may also prevent individuals from noticing changes in language and culture involving groups other than their own. Regardless, the echo chamber effect reinforces one's own present world view, making it seem more correct and more universally accepted than it really is. Another emerging term for this echoing and homogenizing effect on the Internet within social communities is cultural tribalism. End Quote
Now, obviously in Scientology the censorship of opposing views and information control creates the ideal environment for the same ideas to be amplified and repeated back, gaining strength through repetition and social proof. For many of us who leave Scientology merely finding some of the many, many individual pieces of contradictory evidence, if and when we do, tremendously alters our longstanding convictions. 
I have found terms like stunning, shocking, and life changing to be severe understatements of the magnitude of effect that a serious in depth examination of the information critical of Scientology can, and for me  did, have for a Scientologist. 
I have entirely rejected the doctrine of Scientology after several hundred hours of examination of critical information. Hubbard had thousands of hours of his doctrine being presented to state his case. With just a few dozen hours of the other side, I knew Scientology is a fraud and Hubbard's house of lies. 
But only hearing his side might never have have ever given me that opportunity. I will hopefully always have a measure of appreciation and gratitude for the work Tony Ortega, Jon Atack, Arnie Lerma and Tory Magoo have done that was truly vital in helping me to find my way out of Scientology. Without their efforts I might never have escaped. 

I recently had a real live in person conversation with someone and an amazing thing happened. I was speaking with a fellow named Willie and he is an unusual guy. He has opinions on issues and examines lots of relevant information. We are to some degree on different sides on some things. But unlike sound bites from the other side or in depth arguments for my side he had well reasoned and in depth information to support his side. 
My politics are what I call twenty miles to the left of Noam Chomsky, and he is a moderate. He is not as far out as Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. But unlike the online sources I find reinforcing my own views or just presenting the most extreme and easily refuted strawman arguments for the other side, over and over, he actually has relevant information that I otherwise would never get. I told him this should be brought up so actual critical thinking on the issue can happen rather than just reinforcement of existing opinions, demonization of opposing voices and oversimplification of complex ideas. 
The Scientology cult is intended to be an echo chamber for one voice Hubbard's, and now Miscavige's. That is an unfortunate situation, actually criminal and often tragic. If I hadn't overcome my own prejudice to examine Tony Ortega's, Jon Atack's and Arnie Lerma's ideas and listen to Tory Maggoo's claims then I might never have escaped. 
Now if I just talk to people with the same political beliefs and interests I will never discover anything else and can become polarized regarding other beliefs. 
I have spent a tremendous amount of time at ESMB and the Underground Bunker and certainly benefited from that. But I don't want to only be a blogger who tells the same stories to the same few people over and over, and never learns anything else. 
I still plan on reading and writing more regarding Scientology. But at a slower pace with more exploration of other issues and means of acquiring information in my life. 
If someone is happy with just going to ESMB or the Underground Bunker I am not telling them to change at all. I am a different person with different interests. I just want people to know that if they don't hear from me for a while it's not personal. 
We all can exit an echo chamber if we find ourselves trapped in one from time to time. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pulling Back The Curtain Part 7 How To Become A Cult Leader

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Like all other posts in the Pulling Back The Curtain series this post addresses ideas from the book Age Of Propaganda.Many of the ideas here are paraphrased or interpreted from that book. Many are aspects of persuasion that I have written on in terms from hypnosis or rhetoric or critical thinking. This book explores these concepts in terms and ideas from social psychology.

Hypnotism is sort of the black sheep of a family of subjects including rhetoric , psychology, social psychology and ultimately cognitive neuroscience. Hypnotism is partly held back by the same thing that makes psychology a step up at times, social psychology a huge step up on its best day and neuroscience king of the mountain: scientific methodology or its absence. Hypnotism has a combination of superstition and poor man's psychology combined.

Rhetoric has fewer false assumptions but similarly was not scientifically validated or falsified.

Some of psychology was quite unproven early on, but by the time you get to social psychology and the decades of experiments and peer review and hypothesis and scientific scrutiny we now have it is very far removed from hypnotism.

That doesn't mean Scientologists and exes and students trying to understand cults shouldn't study hypnotism. They all definitely should study hypnotism and the methods cults use. In Scientology hypnotism was the method Hubbard studied and discussed, it therefore is the method his victims need to thoroughly understand in my opinion.

Social psychology is the marriage of ideas from psychology and scientific method to get much better ideas on how people think, feel and behave. It compliments the information hypnotism provides quite well.

In the book Age Of Propaganda many other useful ideas are present. I have decided to cover just one more concept from this - the chapter perhaps most obviously related to Scientology: How to Become a Cult Leader.

I will quote a few ideas from this book to show the perspective social psychologists may have on cults.

The term cult is used to describe a pattern of social relations within a group. At the core of these relations is dependency. ( page 306 )

This dependency results in a specific pattern of relations. ( page 306 )

The authors go on to list seven successful techniques cults routinely use. They note that cults use persuasion techniques in a more systematic and complete manner than other groups.

1. Create your own social reality. The first step in creating a cult is to construct your own social reality by eliminating all sources of information other than that provided by the cult.

Repeat your message over and over again. Repetition makes the heart grow fonder, and fiction, if heard frequently enough, can come to sound like fact.

2. Create a granfalloon. The granfalloon technique requires the creation of an in-group and an out-group of the unredeemed.  

The reverse side of the granfalloon tactic is the creation of an out-group to hate.

3. Create commitment through a rationalization trap. Cults can insure members' obedience by establishing a spiral of escalating commitment; the cult member, at first agrees to simple requests that become increasingly more demanding.

4. Establish the cult leader's credibility and attractiveness.

5. Send cult members out to proselytize the unredeemed and to fund-raise for the cult.

6. Distract cult members from thinking undesirable thoughts.

7. Fixate members' vision on a phantom. The successful cult leader is always dangling a notion of the promised land and a vision of a better world before the faithful.

In L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology, members are working for a state of "clear". ( chapter 36 Age Of Propaganda )

I feel Scientology completely fulfills all seven steps .
It has a highly censored reality with tremendous repetition of Hubbard's ideas. It creates the in-group of Scientologists and undesirable groups like wogs, degraded beings and suppressive persons for everyone else. And defectors and critics are utterly loathed. The commitment routinely is gradually increased until it is total, fanatical and zealous.

Though many don't see Hubbard as good looking his authority is constantly stressed and once accepted never denied. Cult members constantly try to fund raise. It may be Scientology's primary activity now. Despite horrible public relations gaffes and being ridiculed and detested by millions, Scientology still tries to recruit and bring back members. Though it is shrinking despite all efforts. Many methods are used in the cult to prevent the thinking of undesirable thoughts. Now many ethics officers act as thought police to squash dissent. The cult members chase many phantoms, quite generous empty promises of counterfeit dreams. They chase Godhood if wealthy whales to be fleeced, or a cleared planet as a far off utopia if staff or Sea Org slaves. They chase an illusion that can never be and sacrifice the very real lives they could enjoy.

I hope the entire Pulling Back The Curtain series has broadened the perspective on how Scientology uses propaganda and how exploring new and forbidden ideas can bring additional understanding of , and hopefully recovery from Scientology.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pulling Back The Curtain Part 6 The Granfalloon Technique

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This post is like the others in the Pulling Back The Curtain series about Scientology and the book Age Of Propaganda. I will highlight and quote excerpts from that book. It is on propaganda as seen through social psychology. And in my opinion very good at deciphering Scientology.

There is s concept called the minimum group paradigm. It involves the reality that people often will form bonds based on the slightest and most temporary of associations.

Kurt Vonnegut created the term granfalloon to mean proud and meaningless associations of human beings. In research people linked by such things as a coin toss show preference for each other. In tests people showed a greater liking for members of groups they were placed in, even if they had never met before and would never see each other again.

Granfalloons gain power by dividing people into in groups and out groups. Us and others. Differences are exaggerated, often irrationally.

A terrible result is out group members become dehumanized. They are seen as fitting a label.

In Scientology the out group labels wog, degraded being, suppressive person and low tone are used for any out group members that are not favored. These labels include severe negative prejudice, even disgust.

In the book the Sociopath Next Door Martha Stout noted that getting most people to kill other human beings requires two prerequisites: a recognized authority in immediate proximity issuing the order to kill and the dehumanizing of the people to be killed. Multiple studies have confirmed this. If the enemy is seen as an individual human being just like you, most people will be very reluctant to kill them. Additionally if the order to kill them comes from a remote source compliance declines. If the authority is not recognized as proper, and it is remote and the victims are not dehumanized compliance drops to almost nothing.

Scientology is particularly dangerous because the black and white severe Scientologist - SP false dichotomy effectively dehumanizes out group members. Scientologists are indoctrinated routinely with Hubbard's claims that Suppressive Persons are the cause of society's ills. And that they deserve no  rights of any kind whatsoever and can be lied to, deprived property, and destroyed utterly. He famously in his 1951 book  Science of Survival said suppressive persons should be removed quietly and without sorrow. They are effectively dehumanized.

Granfalloons encourage liking of other members, even otherwise unlikable members. Similar to the old idea of siblings who bicker but if any one is attacked by a person outside the family, they often cease and team up to counterattack the threat from an out group source. We make allowances for in group members and are more critical of out group members.

In Age Of Propaganda in chapter 25, five rules for handling granfalloons are suggested. I will paraphrase them.

First, be careful about being put into a category and look closely at anyone putting you in one. Ask why you are being put into a group and given a label. Second, try linking your self-esteem to a goal rather than keeping a self-image. Third, don't put all your self-esteem into one granfalloon, it may lead to fanaticism. Fourth, look for common ground like goals that are acceptable to both sides as a way to reduce the importance of group boundaries. Fifth, try to think of an out group member as an individual, someone you may have more in common with than you previously thought.

In Scientology the cult is emphasized over all other groups, as thousands of families are broken apart through disconnection. The black and white good evil view prohibits acceptance and finding trust or common ground. Scientologists are taught to never question the decision to make the in and out groups as they are. In the cult as goals are increasingly vague and unattainable the preservation of self image becomes increasingly crucial. The out group members are not seen as individuals, once they are labeled suppressive persons having anything in common with them is repugnant and unthinkable.

The Scientology granfalloon is designed to be the opposite of rational and without prejudices. But by knowing about this you can do something about it, for real.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pulling Back The Curtain Part 5 Fear Appeals

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Ron Hubbard used fear to persuade and control his victims. By making them experience fear he created several effects that made persuasion much easier for him.

Others have written about Hubbard using fear to focus attention and direct emotions and behavior. Some even see Scientology as entirely fear dependent. The new Scientologist is made to find a ruin usually and fear it might be real. Then to fear the fictional horror the reactive mind and eternal blindness, pain, amnesia, if they fail to transcend humanity via Hubbard's fraud - the bridge to total freedom.

 And once deep into the cult a Scientologist is often ruled by a secret terror: Scientology might be a fraud. Think about it as you ascend the bridge or are in the cult for years you must lower your expectations of the miracles promised by Hubbard. You don't get any of the releases promised. Then you never become clear. No perfect memory, no genius level intelligence. And certainly no OT powers.

Telekinesis ? Sadly no. Telepathy ? Nada. Exteriorization ? Never, not once. Healing yourself and others ? No, no and no.

Hubbard kept none of his very generous empty promises, and the long term Scientologist should know that. As should the staff member or Sea Org member.

The lingering fear leads to denial as a routine coping mechanism. Just like an abuse victim may deny it to survive dependence on someone that will never be safe.
This isn't cowardice though. It's a natural survival method.

Hubbard whether on purpose or accident found an interesting combination of effects. First he created fear of the boogeymen of Scientology, the reactive mind and the dwindling spiral. Then he made the fear scare the hell out of them.

Then , over time as commitment and sacrifices for the cult increase, the fear Scientology might not deliver increases too. But researchers on psychology have reached an interesting conclusion: if a person has an intense, overwhelming fear how they react has one guiding factor.

They need a knowable and doable solution. The more easily known the better. If there is no solution or way to know one the fear is ignored and denied.

So, for a veteran Scientologist they have two great fears simultaneously. The fear Scientology doesn't work and Hubbard was not a messiah is one.  Once deeply invested the Scientologist has no solution to the possibility Scientology is entirely without merit. So, with no known doable solution the cult member tries desperately to deny any evidence that would confirm this dread.

The other fear is failing to succeed as a Scientologist. It may be as an individual or as the group failing to clear earth.
But unlike the other fear this has a known and doable solution: devotion to Scientology.

So the devoted fanatical zealot has a terrible conflict of fears and denials. And by giving a means to face one fear and no way to deal with the other Hubbard leaves the Scientologist one apparent choice. Submission.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pulling Back The Curtain Part 4 Ethos And Obedience

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Ron Hubbard studied rhetoric in college. In classic rhetoric several methods of influence are described. Ethos is attempts to persuade by claiming to be an authority. Whether the claim is true or exaggerated or completely false. Ethos is a method of persuasion, not the morality of doing it with or without honesty.

It is accompanied by pathos, attempts to persuade with  emotional appeals or to have emotions drive thought and behavior in the ways you desire. Often this means to have emotions replace judgment and reduce critical thinking to persuade without encountering counterarguing. Or to form associations with simple ideas and symbols or phrases and to have the emotions associated with these ideas replace examination of situations and information.

And additionally rhetoric has logos, attempts to appeal to logic and appear rational , logical or scientific. It can be genuine logic or false or just an effort to persuade with no regard for truth. Appealing to the mind's admiration for logic is the heart of logos.

Hubbard used all three methods and tried to link all three in virtually all of his works. In the language from hypnotism he loved ethos is called altitude. Hubbard acknowledged it as prestige , which is what Gustave Le Bon called it in his 1895 book,  The Crowd.

It was studied by hypnotists like Hubbard in the course of their work. He is said to have studied it in books from the twenties and thirties on hypnosis. He recommended Hypnotism Comes of Age which certainly covers it.

How authority affects influence has been studied in social psychology experiments with interesting results. The subject of conformity is relevant and the desire to conform and the desire, perhaps instinct, to obey authority is extraordinarily powerful. Each separately is strong enough but together they can seem unstoppable. And Hubbard via ethos and his cult combined both.

As with the other posts in the Pulling Back The Curtain series , I will highlight quotes from the book Age Of Propaganda. 

Most of us have a strong desire to be correct-to have "the right" opinions and to perform reasonable actions. When someone disagrees with us, it makes us feel uncomfortable because it suggests our opinions or actions may be wrong or based on misinformation. The greater the disagreement, the greater our discomfort. ( page 189 )

How can we reduce this discomfort ? One way is by simply changing our opinions and actions. The greater the disagreement the greater our opinion change would have to be. ( page 189 )

Now for the scientific part of this: Experiments by Philip Zimbardo suggested great disagreement encouraged a great change in opinion to reconcile this. In 1960 they were covered in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 60  86-94.

But, here is where psychology exceeds philosophy - other experiments were conducted by Carl Hovland, O.J.Harvey, and Muzafer Sherifhmmconducted an experiment and found too extreme a disagreement caused the opinion change to be small or even fail. This was in 1957 in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 55,  244 - 252.

They concluded the greatest opinion changes occurred when there was a moderate difference of opinion between a message and the audiences opinion.

Now this is where the difference between social psychology and philosophy really shows . Even hypnotism gets exposed as far less scientific. When huge contradictions in findings occur psychologists go over the experiments with a fine toothed comb to see why or how. To see if they made a mistake or failed to see a relevant factor.

Several psychologists did just that and tried to form a hypothesis and then develop an experiment to test that hypothesis. The authors of Age Of Propaganda, Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson considered several ideas they described.

There are at least four ways in which members of an audience can reduce their discomfort: (1) They can change their opinion; (2) they can induce the communicator to change his or her opinion; (3) they can seek support for their views, in spite of what the communicator says; or (4) they can derogate the communicator-convince themselves the communicator is stupid or immoral-and thereby invalidate that person's position. ( page 192 )

They found inducing communicators to often be impossible if through many media and if the communication is received without opportunity for discussion to support their opinions. So that left derogating the communicator or changing their opinion as options.

They considered how messages are received and from whom. They speculated on who would be hard to derogate. Perhaps a respected friend or respected authority would be hard to derogate. And someone with low credibility would be easy to derogate.

Most people seek or naturally have a balance between humility and pride. Part of humility is knowing you could be wrong or have more to learn. Part of pride is knowing you may be right and not need to change your views.

We may tend to bend for others we see as friends or respected authorities, while we may be defensive and counterargue more readily for those we don't like or know and definitely for those we find disgusting and dishonest and dishonorable. Those people we don't know may get our "benefit of the doubt" assumption they are right, merely by claiming to be authorities. We may trust their claim if it seems authentic and no contradictory information is present.

People will consider an extremely discrepant communication to be outside their latitude of acceptance-but only if the communicator is not highly credible. ( page 193 )

The authors then along with two students-Judith Turner and J. Merrill Carlsmith- looked at experiments and focused on how the communicator was seen regarding credibility. They felt that strongly affected the degree of opinion change in the audience and how severe a change could be brought on. They constructed an experiment to test this idea. The experiment focused on the credibility of the source and the discrepancy of the information, in other words how much the communicator was trusted and admired and how big a change in opinion the message was from the audience members. This was in 1963 Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67,  31-36.

The conflicting results are accounted for: When a communicator has high credibility, the greater the discrepancy between the view he or she advocates and the view of the audience, the more the audience will be persuaded; on the other hand, when a communicator's credibility is doubtful or slim, he or she will produce maximum opinion change at moderate discrepancies. ( page 194 )

This information is particularly important for Scientologists. Hubbard starts very often with doctrine that seems acceptable, like The Way To Happiness or Scientology front groups pretending to do social betterment. Or basic books that don't seem as outlandish as later doctrine. Hubbard was building trust and the opinion that he is an authority on the mind and life before expressing his more extreme ideas. This is quite often the way the introductory routes into Scientology are designed.

This is a fundamental part of the intentional design of the cult. You are if recruited as an adult encouraged to do something that sounds like it may take a small change, perhaps read a book or take a short inexpensive seminar. Consider that a self help class, positive attitude or mild therapy could help people. Not too big a change.

You get told you can believe any religion and participate, seems easy to try. Then very gradually, over small increments you are told more extreme ideas and asked, then demanded to give more time and money to the cult. Finally for most Scientologists all or nearly all of  your decision making is required to be under the cult's control.

Hubbard understood from hypnotism the value of authority. He knew attaining and building it was crucial for influencing his followers. He knew a bait and switch of small requests that seem reasonable could become a totalitarian organization and abusive relationship if he built the prestige of an infallible uniquely qualified genius in the minds of his victims. He could by drawing people in with sweet sounding words, gain the opportunity to become indispensable and even sacred to people. Then , and only then, he could entirely enslave them as no counterarguing would be seen as rational.

He gave people the impression of being a humanitarian with authority over a multitude of subjects. Then built the illusion of benefit from his indoctrination and therapy via hypnosis. The euphoria of hypnosis was relabeled as mental and spiritual improvements. This bolstered his claims. Loaded language also reinforces this.

He then achieves even more reinforcement as most cult members are immersed in the cult environment and have peer pressure help to use the bandwagon effect to act as social proof Scientology is correct. And people who counterargue in the cult are ruthlessly oppressed and censored, even shunned. People outside the cult who are friends or family and counterargue are silenced or disconnected from and declared suppressive persons, effectively acting as character assassination.

To overcome Hubbard's influence the willingness to counterargue within the individual cult member must be reactivated. Obviously the longer they are in and the more committed the more forbidden this will feel. But it can and does happen.

Hubbard's perceived authority, the fraudulent results he "proves", and the desires to be consistent, accepted, and obedient to a recognized expert all are the bars and walls in the prison of belief. I hope this information helps to tear them down, and to see them as well. I want people to be helped in their recovery, but also to have compassion for Scientologists.

 They are people with blind faith, but cult expert Rick Ross has said "Who blinded them ?".  Any of us can be lied to and deceived. It doesn't make us stupid or evil, just human. After twenty five years in Scientology I may have some authority on this. Not to influence you too much with it.