One of the most hysterical and unscientific beliefs of the Anti-Cult movement is that “brainwashing” and “Mind Control” is at work whenever anyone becomes a member of a “cult”.
These ideas are assumed and unquestioned by members of the anti-Cult Movement. They’re the basis of their anti-cult beliefs. But when asked for any study that has been conducted which shows evidence of the existence of cult mind control – including an objective definition for “cult mind control” itself – they come up with nothing.
You are then usually accused of being a cult member for asking such a question.
I’m not kidding.
So how can it be shown that anti-Scientologists, and other anti-cultists, reject science?
Here’s how – the Null Hypothesis:
“a general statement or default position that there is no relationship between two measured phenomena, or no association among groups. Rejecting or disproving the null hypothesis — and thus concluding that there are grounds for believing that there is a relationship between two phenomena (e.g. that a potential treatment has a measurable effect) — is a central task in the modern practice of science.”
Despite constantly asking for evidence which proves the relationship between ‘cult mind control’ and membership in a spiritual group, I’m still not aware of any reference to any study in the anti-cult movement which shows any relationship between them whatsoever. In fact, many studies have been conducted which show there is no evidence that mind control has any effect on ‘cult’ involvement, or that ‘cult mind control’ even exists.
This is the null Hypothesis – there is no relation to ‘mind control’ and ‘cult’ involvement. This null hypothesis has been proven by social scientists over and over again.
The following is an example of just one study where the null hypothesis has been proven. This seminal study was completed as far back as 1984 searching for evidence that proves that “mind control” actually exists.
Here’s what was found:
One of the most comprehensive and influential studies was The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? by Eileen Barker (1984). Barker could find no evidence that Moonie recruits were ever kidnapped, confined, or coerced.
“Participants at Moonie retreats were not deprived of sleep; the lectures were not “trance-inducing”; and there was not much chanting, no drugs or alcohol, and little that could be termed “frenzy” or “ecstatic” experience. People were free to leave, and leave they did.
Barker’s extensive enumerations showed that among the recruits who went so far as to attend two-day retreats (claimed to be Moonie’s most effective means of “brainwashing”), fewer than 25% joined the group for more than a week and only 5% remained full-time members one year later.
And, of course, most contacts dropped out before attending a retreat. Of all those who visited a Moonie centre at least once, not one in two-hundred remained in the movement two years later. With failure rates exceeding 99.5%, it comes as no surprise that full-time Moonie membership in the U.S. never exceeded a few thousand. And this was one of the most New Religious Movements of the era!”
So if mind control exists, then more people would have joined and remained in the Unification Church because that is exactly what the “brainwashing” was supposed to do, right? It was supposed to make these people do things as Moonies against their own self interests and better judgment.
Yet with a 99.5% drop out rate, that was obviously not happening.
So where is the actual scientific evidence that mind control exists?
There is no evidence for it. It is a hysterical claim with no basis in fact.
And yet anti-cultists keep making it.
From my position as course supervisor in 3 different parts of the United States, I saw a very similar drop out rate among new people coming in. Others with similar positions in Scientology organizations who I have spoken to report a similar drop out rate.
With regard to Scientology, in my experience, the fundamental reason that a person spends any money or time on Scientology is because it is helping them, and they are getting something of value out of it in their own estimation.
That’s kind of a bottom line truth – the Null Hypothesis – regarding participation in Scientology which disproves the theory that brainwashing, cult mind control, hypnosis and even social coercion is the main reason people participate in it.
All the hysteria surrounding these ideas tends to distract from the simple but fundamental fact that people – in general – participate in scientology because they like it, and they find it beneficial, not because they are brainwashed or coerced to do it. Although some coercion does exist on staff – especially at the highest levels – through draconian legal contracts and threats of expulsion – this does not apply to the vast majority of public and even staff who are scientologists.
Simple real world common sense gets lost in all these frenzied claims, and Ex-Scientologists just coming out of the Church can begin to give up their own power of choice and delude themselves by believing that the “the devil made them do it”, or “I was Hy-NO-TIZED!”
The non-dramatic and unhysterical fact is that lots of people got benefit from Scientology – until they didn’t.
Then they left.
Null Hypothesis Q.E.D.