This is an excerpt from sociology professor Eileen Barker at the London School of Economics. A link to the full pdf is provided below. I post it because it is a different view of ‘cults’ than we are given in the standard anti-cult movement’s narrative. I think this different, more objective view is healthier for […]
Tag Archives | Social Science on ‘Cults’
There is a kind of war between psychology and social science on how to define, approach, and think about ‘cults’. Social science is that branch of science which studies the relationship between groups and individuals.
The subject of religion, especially other peoples’ religions, has always been a somewhat hysterical area for human beings, to say the least. Social science uses quantitative scientific techniques to attempt to objectively find out what’s going on with minority religions, to delete the hysteria, and to provide perspective on ‘cults’ vs. religions and the truth of their effects.
My main criticism of psychology with respect to cults is that practitioners have been extremely exploitative of the process of re-enculturalization of Exes. Psychologists since before Margaret Singer have used Ex-members in their own practice-building and marketing and, I believe, made up non-existent maladies that most Exes would not suffer from if they had not been convinced they had these maladies by psychologists.
Social scientists just write papers and books. They don’t really have a financial incentive to blow up the hysteria around other peoples’ religious beliefs like psychologists do, or to make up mental problems that they can charge to fix. This is only one reason I believe you get a much better perspective on the phenomena of ‘cults’ from social scientists.
There are many others.
‘Cults’ are primarily a social phenomenon, and not a psychological one. Where there has been abuse, just like anywhere else there has been abuse, then psychology has a role to play to help heal from that abuse. But being a member in a cult is not inherently abusive and having been a member of a cult is not some kind of a disease. The diseasification and catastrophication of cult membership by psychologists in the anti-cult movement is the most damaging thing that they have done to Ex-members. In most cases, the damage psychologists have done to Exes by far exceeds the damage any cult membership has caused them.
Whether you agree with social science on cults or not, I think it is vital that any Ex studies their work, and takes some time to think with their ideas after Scientology.
The human mind wants to think about things – especially important things – as either ALL GOOD, or ALL BAD. Not both. A mixture of good and bad in the mind gives you a feeling of dissonance – disharmony, conflict, chaos. Thinking about things as ALL GOOD, or ALL BAD, gives you a feeling of […]
People need simplistic explanations for Scientology because it’s too much work to understand it. They just want Scientology to be a cult & Hubbard to be a con man because it’s easier to think with that way. Even an Ex-Scientologist can go through a period where this is what they want. In the long run, […]
Social scientists who study minority religions have observed that the main activity of the anti-cult movement is to create a moral panic around a targeted minority religion strong enough to make governments react. Members of the anti-cult movement accomplished this in Waco in the 1990’s, and the resulting catastrophe woke up people in government to their responsibility […]
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 […]
A valued contributor to this blog, Richard, said something that made me realize a whole bunch of things about Tony Ortega and his Underground Bunker, ESMB, and all the other outlets of the Anti-Scientology Mafia Network (ASMN) Richard wrote: “Classifying all people participating on the Underground Bunker as cultists seemed to have a shock effect, […]
There are some very common ways that you can become a hypocrite as an anti-Scientologist. After being an anti-Scientologist myself for so long, I have identified a few of those ways of thinking so that you can avoid being a hypocrite as an Anti-Scientologist.
If you came upon an article on the Internet about psychiatry which made some of the same outrageous claims that the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights made, it would be an important critical thinking point to know whether the author was a Scientologist. Knowing whether the author was a Scientologist would allow you to know […]
There is a claim made by many anti-Scientologists, such as Tony Ortega, Mike Rinder, Chris Shelton and others, that the Church of Scientology paid social scientists and other academics in the field of religion to alter their research and to write articles favorable to Scientology. Since objective scientific research is important to critical thinking about […]
There is no substitute for being willing & able to see things from someone else’s perspective when you are in a disagreement or dispute with them.
Eileen Vartan Barker OBE, (born 21 April 1938, Edinburgh, UK) is a professor in sociology, an emeritus member of the London School of Economics (LSE), and a consultant to that institution’s Centre for the Study of Human Rights. She is the chairperson and founder of the Information Network Focus on Religious Movements (INFORM) and has […]
After calling it her religion for 34 years, Leah Remini now claims that Scientology is not a religion. Many anti-Scientologists promote the fact that the Church of Scientology went through a very intentional and detailed overhaul of all its missions and orgs to make Scientology look like more of what people expect a religion to […]
The “Father of Deprogramming” Ted Patrick was a devoted Christian who believed he was doing God’s work by kidnapping people & holding them in a room & browbeating them until they denounced their faith. In 1980, he served 1 year in prison and paid a $5000 fine for kidnapping and false imprisonment.
I’ll hand this to Tony, whenever it is to his own advantage, he does make stabs at being intellectually honest. In this case, he published a response to his criticism of professor Hugh Urban and his stereotyping of all social scientists who study religion as “religious studies types”. Here’s Hugh Urban’s response to Tony’s earlier […]
Place any Escape stories, Capture stories, or Atrocity stories you have heard or told yourself and others about Scientology in the comments below.
Emphasis on the irresistibility of subversive techniques is vital to apostates and their allies as a means of placing responsibility for participation on the organization rather than on the former member himself.
Apostasy: It’s not just for the Bitter Ones Sitting on the Porch of Infinity on the Fringes of the Internet any more. Don’t look now, but it could be you!
Reza Aslan’s episode of “Believer” on CNN regarding Independent Scientology changed my life for the better. It reminded me of an approach to belief and spiritual pursuits that is positive, constructive, and life-giving.
Could this righteous fight that we’ve all engaged in regarding Scientology, for all these years, have only been because we felt guilty and needed to re-establish our own moral identity after finding out how abusive Scientology had been?
A couple of months ago I was talking to a friend of mine, who is a forensic psychologist, and I was telling him about my path into and out of Scientology, and then into and out of Ex-Scientology. I told him that I got into Scientology and did everything I could to be a good […]
Atheists are really bad about understanding other human beings’ religious beliefs. They really don’t get the nature of belief at all, while being ruled by their own beliefs. All this is such giggily freaking fun for this TV show.
When the President of the United States gets most of his news and information from Brietbart and Fox, and not from the information gathering services that the US has to inform the president and other leaders in our government, then you have skewed and pitched ideas filling the heads of people who need the best […]
Your assumptions can be quite insidious. You must study the actual subjects that Hubbard “spun” for you – from sources completely independent from L Ron Hubbard – so as to challenge your own assumptions, separate out Hubbard’s installed ones, and inspect them for their weaknesses.
Once I’d spotted that my thinking was tribal, I was no longer consumed by my tribe’s survival. I resented that the tribe had taken over my thinking. I could finally see the eclipsed and thoughtless cruelty of my former tribe.
I used to think that as long as I was not in the cult of Scientology any more, I would never fall into the unquestioning, partisan mindset that I had adopted when I was a Scientologist.
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 carefully determine if there might be something true in it.
Jeff Hawkins wrote a post a few years ago detailing much of the basics behind Cognitive Dissonance Theory, and I am very grateful that he did, as this theory is fundamental to understanding not only how cult dynamics work, but how human beings work. I’m currently listening to free online lectures from a Social Psychology […]
Michael Shermer has written two books, “The Believing Brain” and “Why People Believe Weird Things”, which have been life-changing reads for me. There are several key points made in these books which can help a person understand Scientology, and Scientology-like experiences, in brand new ways. For me, a key point came early in “The Believing […]