raisinChris Shelton has a great take-down of J Gordon Melton’s pro-propaganda for Scientology in his latest video.

Chris shows exactly why J Gordon is not to be relied upon by anyone who seeks the truth about the life of L Ron Hubbard and his Church of Scientology. In fact, Chris shows exactly how this guy is not a valid researcher for Scientology, or for many of the new religious movements he has written about. And Chris demonstrates how J Gordon is much more of a propagandist than a “cult apologist”.

While I searched the web for some more information on him, I found Melton’s reasoning for caution regarding an ex-member’s stories about their time in the cult to be a potentially tasty raisin of truth inside the larger turd of J Gordon’s work.

So I’ve picked it out and washed it off for you.

Let’s inspect it before we go any further, shall we?

On the website called ApologeticsIndex.org there is a page devoted to Dr. Melton. As I picked through it, here’s where I found the raisin.

“DR. MELTON: When you are investigating groups such as this, you never rely upon the unverified testimony of ex-members.

MR. MORGAN: Why?

DR. MELTON: To put it bluntly, hostile ex-members invariably shade the truth. They invariably blow out of proportion minor incidents and turn them into major incidents, and over a period of time their testimony almost always changes because each time they tell it they get the feedback of acceptance or rejection from those to whom they tell it, and hence it will be developed and merged into a different world view that they are adopting.

Much of the fecal material surrounding this raisin is in the absolutist generalizations he uses with his words “never” and “invariably”.

Most Exes I know, myself included, hear this criticism and it makes our blood boil. To have suffered cultic abuse and then to be called a liar by your former cult when you expose them is to be expected. But when non-cult members also call you a liar, it can be too much. It seems like the same cultic abuse is happening to you all over again, and that isn’t something which is easy to take for any Ex, or for any human being, really.

But I believe if an Ex-cultist is to fully graduate from his former cultic thinking and keep evolving and growing in a constructive manner after the cult, he should teach himself to listen to criticism, and to carefully determine if there might be something true coming from it.

After all, if there is one thing we all learned from getting out of the sway of a charismatic cult leader, no one has a monopoly on the truth – including you.

So let’s wash off this raisin that has come out of J Gordon Melton and see if it might provide us with something nourishing.

What if we hosed down his absolutist terms, and inspected it without them?

“DR. MELTON: When you are investigating groups such as this, you never rely upon the unverified testimony of ex-members.

MR. MORGAN: Why?

DR. MELTON: To put it bluntly, hostile ex-members invariably sometimes shade the truth. They invariably sometimes blow out of proportion minor incidents and turn them into major incidents, and over a period of time their testimony almost always changes because each time they tell it they get the feedback of acceptance or rejection from those to whom they tell it, and hence it will be developed and merged into a different world view that they are adopting.

How many Ex-members do you know who have changed their minds about their own time in the cult from “It was the best thing I’ve ever experienced!” to “It was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced!” How many high profile blog owners, including myself, can you go back into their earlier posts and see them change their minds about things as they learn and grow after the cult?

Answer: Almost all of them.

Notice how he talks about taking minor incidents and turning them into major incidents. (See Magnification and Minimization)

Have you ever done this – even in your own mind and only to yourself?

And notice the process of feedback he mentions of acceptance and rejection from members of a new group of Exes, depending on what you say and how you say it. And what about how he says their stories “will be developed and merged into a different world view that they are adopting.”

Did this happen to you – even in the slightest bit?

It happened to me. And I have spent the last few years examining exactly how that happened to me. I think J Gordon Melton has identified a dynamic that exists for Ex-cult members and especially for ex-Scientologists who tell their stories to others in various fora on the Post-Scientology Internet. I’ve watched lots of Exes change their own experiences in Scientology, and their expressed attitudes about those experiences, in order to fit in and deliver what their new group wants.

So you know what? With some soap and water, I think this little raisin from J Gordon Melton just might be true.

Remember the lesson for why ad hom is a logical fallacy: even a fool can speak the truth. Even a liar doesn’t always lie. And some turds have actual raisins in them.

I know that what I am writing here is absolute blasphemy to Ex-Scientologists everywhere.

But I’m kinda into blasphemy lately.

I do know that if I tried to sell this raisin in a grocery store, the FDA would probably come down on me hard. But there is no law that says we can’t privately pick raisins from turds and wash them off for our own private nourishment, is there?

I’m swallowing this one from J Gordon Melton.

Won’t you join me?

Alanzo