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 […]
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.
If there’s one reason that I’m doing these videos, it’s because these ideas from the anti cult movement are destructive to an Ex-Scientologist, or an Ex-member of any minority religion that they call “cult”. And they’re just beliefs – they’re not facts.
“If I am correct about brainwashing ideology being a form of totalitarian influence, it would presumably serve the function of ministering to a polarized self-sense and curing identity confusion by enabling converts to it to shift responsibility for undesirable aspects of their personalities and former behaviour onto a scapegoated contrast category, in this case the […]
At one of the most prestigious universities in the English language for debate – The University Philosophical Society of Trinity College Dublin – Former head of the Office of Special Affairs for the Church of Scientology Mike Rinder lays out why Scientology is a religion. This speech was given 4 years after Rinder left the […]
In the United States at the end of the 1970s, brainwashing emerged as a popular theoretical construct around which to understand what appeared to be a sudden rise of new and unfamiliar religious movements during the previous decade, especially those associated with the hippie street-people phenomenon. Most of the new groups were of Asian origin […]
This is the level of thought that is acceptable by those who believe in the AntiCult Movement’s ideology about minority religions. This is not critical thinking – it’s the sociological equivalent of an AntiVaxer rant.
Adopting the beliefs of the anti-cult movement dramatically changes the views and attitudes of those who experience a loss of faith. Those changes have a profound effect on how Exes make sense of their own past. So we must ask: How helpful is the ideology of the anti cult movement in making sense of your […]
This is an excerpt from Benjamin Zablocki’s book “Misunderstanding Cults” which is one of the best representations of the 90’s era debate on Cults and Brainwashing. What’s funny is that all the players, such as Dick Anthony and others, who thoroughly debunked the ideas of “cult brainwashing” just rode off into the sunset – leaving […]
The following is a compilation of scientific studies which have thoroughly debunked the idea of ‘brainwashing’. This settled science has been completely ignored by members of the anti-cult movement who, for their own various self-interests, keep the superstition of “brainwashing” alive – no matter how many ex-members of minority religions it has harmed. The below […]
Social scientists like Eileen Barker traveled to Moonie recruitment seminars where brainwashing & mind control was claimed to be in use. They found that more than 90% of the people in those “brainwashing” seminars did not sign up to be a Moonie, and all were gone from the Moonies within 2 years.
Jon Atack and Steven Hassan have been the Jimmy Swaggart and Billy Graham of the Anti-Cult Movement for well neigh 40 years now, and I hear they’re just about ready to get some science to back up what they’ve been preaching to vulnerable Exes – real soon now! So it’s no wonder Jon and Steve […]
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.
The more power that you assign to subversive techniques such as “mind control” the easier it is for Ex-members to explain their membership and participation in minority religious groups after they’ve re-entered the mainstream.
Why do anti-cultists reject science so much? When they call a social scientist a “shill” or a “quack”, where is their quantitative data that disputes the work of that social scientist? I have never once seen them offer any scientific data to dispute the results of any of the scientists they wish to discredit with […]
The cult recovery paradigm of Ex-Scientology sets up a whole bunch of things you think you need to “recover” from because you were in Scientology. This is a dysfunctional view. Paradigms are insidious things. They can hide all the assumptions and viewpoints and framing you are using to “understand” something. It’s always a good critical […]
What if being a Scientologist was never a really a disease in the first place that you needed to “recover from”? What if it was just one part of your own much longer spiritual journey that taught you many important lessons, and from which you emerged stronger and wiser than ever? How would you know?
Sociologists who study the issues surrounding minority religions have identified 3 types of stories that form a socially-constructed narrative of a leave-taker’s experience inside their former group. These types of stories are not unique to Ex-Scientology. They have been found to occur as common coins passed around by those who leave, assuming a role which […]
When you look at the cosmology of Scientology from the viewpoint of social science – its rituals such as auditing, training, dissemination, and its clearly religious teachings on the thetan, the mind, and even Xenu – it is inescapable that Scientology is a religion.
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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”. Professor Hugh Urban is the Director of […]
In a recent article about ideological influences on wikipedia, Hassan writes: “The Unification Church page then disparages critics, such as myself, as incorrectly stating that the group brainwashes members. Yet, I was a member and experienced this firsthand. Sociologist Eileen Barker is a cult apologist and made her career stating the Moonies do not do […]
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!
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
“Brainwashing” Theories in European Parliamentary and Administrative Reports on “Cults” and “Sects” JAMES T. RICHARDSON MASSIMO INTROVIGNE This study examines the recent rash of official reports done by governmental agencies in Western Europe to guide policy development in those societies. Particular attention is given to reports in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and Italy, and […]
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.
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, […]
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.
A review of the major problems with the brainwashing theory of recruitment and maintaining membership in a minority religion. By James T Richardson – 2006
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 […]
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?
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 […]
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.
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.
This is a person who has studied minority religions all her life, and who does not take any crap from anyone. She had ‘entheta’ books on her shelf and Church of Scientologists wanted her to take them down. “No”, she told them. And while happy to have their books on her shelves, she runs her […]