Introuduction

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 25, 2017

Scientology And The Age Of Propaganda

Pulling Back The Curtain Part 1- Repetition And Variation In Scientology

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In attempting to influence people the idea that one must repeat a message as often as possible, with a degree of variation, has long been held to be the surest way to be effective . But Why ?

Whether through hypnosis or rhetoric or another school of persuasion this concept appears again  and again over hundreds of years , possibly thousands . It has been explored in social psychology with experiments as well. I have previously written about it being a method Ron Hubbard used in several earlier extensive posts on persuasion at this blog. Notably Insidious Enslavement: Study Technology, PISSED It's Not Your Fault !!!, Burning Down Hell and Basic Introduction To Hypnosis In Scientology.

Here I will examine ideas on this from social psychology and propaganda analysis. I will cite several quotes from the book Age Of  Propaganda by social psychologists ( both professors of psychology ) Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson .

If repetitive advertising is so irritating, why do advertisers continue to do it ? ( page 179 )

In surveys people consistently say repeated ads are annoying , but they have been found to be effective . This has a seeming contradiction that can be understood with close examination . For Ex Scientologists it is important because repetition was used upon them quite heavily in Scientology auditing and indoctrination and the cult environment . They should know how it affects people .

Robert Zajonc of the University of Michigan has demonstrated in a laboratory setting that, all other things being equal, the more a person is exposed to an item , the more attractive it is. In three separate studies, Zajonc presented nonsense words, Chinese ideographs, and photographs of students taken from a college yearbook. The items were repeated from zero to twenty-five times. The results showed the attraction to the item increased with the number of exposures. Much subsequent research has supported Zajonc's basic finding: More exposure results in increased liking.  ( page 181 )


This concept was stated by many others in many ways before Hubbard started Dianetics and Scientology. In fact several people Hubbard is well known as studying stated this . Here is a very relevant example :

The power of repetition was well understood by Joseph Goebbels, the head of the Nazi propaganda ministry. His propaganda crusades were based on a simple observation: What the masses term truth is that information which is most familiar. As Goebbels put it:

The rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious. In the long run only he will achieve basic results in influencing public opinion who is able to reduce problems to the simplest terms and who has the courage to keep forever repeating them in this simplified form despite the objections of intellectuals. ( page 182 )

Now , our disgust with the Nazis aside the point of this is to examine the concepts of repetition and influence and Hubbard's intent in using repetition in his cult doctrine and methodology.

According to Goebbels, the repetition of simple messages, images, and slogans creates our knowledge of the world, defining what is truth and specifying how we should live our lives .

A  set of  recent experiments illustrates Goebbels point-repetition of a piece of information increases its perceived  validity. In these experiments, participants were exposed to statements such as 'Leonardo Da Vinci had two wives at the same time"and "Tibet, with 1.2 million square kilometers, occupies one-eight China's total area." Some of the statements were repeated on multiple occasions. The results: The participants in these studies judged the repeated statements to be more "true" than those not repeated. ( page 183 )

The sited experiments are covered in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 27,
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 5 , Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 20 , Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 16 and American Journal of Psychology , 95.
For more exact information consult the bibliography of Age of Propaganda .


I may have found the source of feeling nostalgic for frequently repeated ideas from the past, even ones that at the time were found annoying. In describing a series of experiments with frequent exposure of symbols some interesting results were found .

Immediately after the repetitive presentation, subjects did not rate these ideographs as any more attractive than less familiar ones, presumably because the frequent exposures were boring and tedious. However after a week's delay, the repeatedly presented Chinese ideographs gained in attractiveness. Apparently the annoying effects of repetition wore off faster than the familiarity-induced attraction. ( page 183 )


So, in other words immediate frequent repetition can be so annoying or boring  enough that there is no increase in attraction BUT after the initial annoyance or boredom subsides , the attraction is INCREASED. And in Scientology the same ideas and slogans and images are drilled and repeated over and over day after day week after week for years ! Often on one course then you come back to the same idea again on a later course !

So you can have intense repetition with accompanying immediate boredom BUT increased attraction to an idea . Then lose the boredom and ONLY keep the attraction . Then be exposed to the idea again on another course and retain the attraction , again get bored and attracted MORE and again lose the boredom . So the boredom fades while the attraction builds and builds ! And the belief that the information is true builds and builds !

Even so, advertisers know that repeated exposure can lead to what is known as "wear-out"-when an ad loses its effectiveness because consumers find repeated exposures to be tedious and annoying. ( page 183 )

Advertisers attempt to eliminate wear-out by using a technique known as "repetition-with-variation." In this technique, the same information or theme is repeated many times, but the presentation format is varied. ( page 183)

I should point out that two researchers have examined whether we seriously consider information or don't when exposed to it. Richard Petty and John Cacioppa have done extensive examination of this issue.

We often respond to propaganda with little thought and in a meaningless fashion. (  page 34 )

People can be persuaded both when they are in a mindless state and when they are thoughtful, but exactly how they are influenced in either of these two states differs considerably. Richard Petty and John Cacioppa argue that there are two routes to persuasion-peripheral and central. In the peripheral route, a message recipient devotes little attention and effort to processing a communication.

In the central route, a message recipient engages in a careful and thoughtful consideration of the true merits of the information presented.( page 35 )

In other references you might find the term critical thinking, which is similar to the central route. In hypnotism one reduces independent and critical thinking by a variety of means. Critical thinking has many components as a subject but starts with questioning ideas, doubting, comparing and considering counter arguments and flaws in information presented to you, or even thought of by yourself.

In the central route critical thinking is in full force. In the peripheral it is greatly reduced, or almost absent.

There is a very important reason Ron Hubbard wanted, even needed, critical thinking aka the central route abandoned.

David Shumann has studied ads with repetition and variation extensively. He found ads without variation suffer from the wear out effect consistently. By adding variation to ads that use the peripheral route those ads avoid wear out. BUT ads that encourage the central rote aka critical thinking regarding the ads experience wear out whether variation occurs or not. In the central route repetition actually is annoying AND provides extra opportunities to judge and analyze the message !

That made inhibiting  critical and independent thinking crucial to Hubbard's methods. He needed the central route abandoned and only the peripheral route custom made for his indoctrination. I cannot possibly emphasize that enough.

Hubbard followed Goebbels example and sought to reduce complex problems to simple solutions-his solutions, and through repetition with variation to instill a reality with himself as the highest possible authority, an infallible authority. And through encouraging only the peripheral route to substitute his ideas for counter arguments and critical thinking regarding his doctrine. Unfortunately with thousands of Scientologists his methods were quite effective.

I hope this post has done several things: Brought light to the idea that there are many tools to dissect Scientology and reveal its true nature. Hypnotism, psychology and other subjects can pull back the curtain on Hubbard's complex con and free minds from the fraud.

Additionally, I hope that it shows concepts from hypnosis and psychology can compliment each other, and are not in conflict. I also hope it encourages people to look at studies and their results to uncover how our minds really work . Psychology is not a perfect science, hypnotism is not a thoroughly established scientifically validated practice.

BUT each is very useful for examining Scientology and psychology is much, much more a science than Scientology ever was or will be.

I hope this informs, and encourages much more exploration. Not to repeat myself too much.

Pulling Back The Curtain Part 2- Deception By Distraction

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To continue the theme from Pulling Back The Curtain part 1 Repetition and Variation in Scientology I want to add more information centered on the book Age Of Propaganda. The highlighted quotes are from this book.

The first thing I want to emphasize is the idea that social psychology has a lot of experiments and checking and testing of ideas by different people, even over generations. Many ideas from one time are falsified by later experiments and the experts of one day sometimes are the fools of a decade later. Freud went from an expert to largely, but not entirely, discredited over time as an example.

The social psychologist's knowledge of persuasion has not developed from idle, armchair speculation. Each little fact about persuasion is often the result of extensive study and research, often performed by many researchers over many years. Such research is a vital antidote to the propaganda of our times. ( page 195 )

I read another book that seemed it might be my speed, Social Psychology For Dummies, and in that book the author in great detail explained a long series of experiments on the US Southern honor culture. There were many experiments  ( which warrant a book in their own right ) and they showed how psychology is much more scientific than philosophy. He went to college for philosophy and found it is mainly a dead subject to memorize, while due to scientific methodology psychology is alive, changing and in many ways more accurate than philosophy.


If you want to know the difference between psychology and philosophy you can Google Southern Honor culture, or Cognitive Dissonance Theory, or any of several other theories and find mountains of information on experiments, and ideas evolving and changing. While philosophy functions quite differently. Philosophy sounds good , psychology has uncertainty as ideas are falsified.

But psychology is ultimately if pursued scientifically more true, in my opinion.

If I ever fail to describe the relevant experiments when referring to the book Age Of Propaganda, I apologize and want you to know the information is in the bibliography.

Now, that in mind , I want to point out another point on how Ron Hubbard covertly persuaded his slaves. Something he had to overcome. But he did.

When confronted with a persuasive communication, especially one that runs counter to important beliefs, we tend, whenever feasible, to invent counterarguments on the spot. This tendency serves us very well: It prevents our opinions from being unduly influenced. This resistance can serve to defeat the propagandist's purpose, especially when the arguments for the cause are weak and specious and therefore easily refuted. ( page 185 )

Counterarguing is the internal and often automatic process of creating and considering claims AGAINST information being taken in or considered. It happens most often when critical and careful analysis of information without bias occurs or the information is contrary to our own beliefs , identity or behavior. Disabling counterarguing is a primary requirement for a propagandist.

A mild distraction...can disrupt counterarguing and increase the effectiveness of a persuasive message.  ( page 185 )

Leon Festinger ( famed father of cognitive dissonance theory ) and Nathan Maccoby did a series of experiments on persuasion, counterarguing and distraction.

They had college fraternity members watch a film and hear arguments against fraternities. They found distracting the audience reduced the audiences ability to counterargue the message. A message they had a natural inclination to disagree with.

The trick for advertisers is to provide just enough of a distraction to disrupt counterarguing but not so much that it eliminates the reception of the message. ( page 187 )

This information is crucial in my opinion for understanding how Ron Hubbard developed his methods of persuasion. In Scientology "study technology" indoctrination at the most basic level distraction is quite plentiful. Hubbard gives three entirely false "barriers" to memorize, and be on constant lookout for. And they have a list of over a dozen "phenomena" to spot, and use as guides in thought and behavior.

That is a lot to keep track of. Intentionally too much to have distracting you while using your undivided attention to "study".

In Insidious Enslavement: Study Technology ( a post at this blog ) I described in detail how the "phenomena" functions to create and hide a form of persuasion consisting of covert hypnosis AND cognitive restructuring aka thought reform or mind control in the simplest terms.

That post took elements of hypnosis and basic psychology, particularly cognitive dissonance theory and took on study technology and tried to redefine what Hubbard actually achieved.

In an experiment social psychologists Richard Petty, Gary Wells, and Timothy Brock distracted students who received messages. They had one simple message in a video and another complex thought out message in another.

They concluded distraction INCREASED the effectiveness of the simple, weak message ( by disrupting counterarguing ) but DECREASED the influence of the complex message ( because it stopped the ability to think through the arguments for the message ).

This relates to the earlier information I posted:

We often respond to propaganda with little thought and in a meaningless fashion. ( page 34 )


People can be persuaded both when they are in a mindless state and when they are thoughtful, but exactly how they are influenced in either of these two states differs considerably. Richard Petty and John Cacioppa argue that there are two routes to persuasion-peripheral and central. In the peripheral route, a message recipient devotes little attention and effort to processing a communication.

In the central route, a message recipient engages in a careful and thoughtful consideration of the true merits of the information presented.( page 35 )


In other references you might find the term critical thinking, which is similar to the central route. In hypnotism one reduces independent and critical thinking by a variety of means. Critical thinking has many components as a subject but starts with questioning ideas, doubting, comparing and considering counter arguments and flaws in information presented to you, or even thought of by yourself.


In the central route critical thinking is in full force. In the peripheral it is greatly reduced, or almost absent.


There is a very important reason Ron Hubbard wanted, even needed, critical thinking aka the central route abandoned.

For Hubbard this actually helped him. He kept very simple ideas in some of his most successful and popular works. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health( DMSMH ) was a best seller and had very simple ideas repeated over and over . Primarily lies about the structure of the mind and the effectiveness of Dianetics. In the form of loaded language with terms that contain false ideas he pushed thinking in a reality which he entirely defined.

Through repetition of these terms hundreds of times and introducing new concepts at an overwhelmingly rapid pace Hubbard had individual simple ideas ( like engrams, chains, reactive mind, reducing incidents, charge, time track, tone levels, abberation ) that were received with immense distraction. The result was a boom for Hubbard to exploit. After Dianetics was thoroughly exposed as a fraud of pseudoscience it collapsed, nearly entirely.

At some of Hubbard's lectures in the early fifties only thirty to eighty people even showed up. He struggled mightily.In part due to his national negative press but also likely because he switched tactics. In Science of Survival he had incredibly long and excruciatingly complex intertwining  ideas. The chart of human evaluation and many chapters describing that in encyclopedic detail are absurdly difficult to try to understand. They are too complex to consider effectively while distracted.

 The successful methods in the propaganda techniques used in Dianetics relied on small simpler ideas being repeated over and over.  And having enough distraction to reduce counterarguing.

Several ideas that were historic flops in Scientology had lots of information and sold terribly. Science of Survival never sold well, even when required for many courses such as PTS/SP and heavily promoted as fundamental to understanding people.

Additionally History of Man flopped terribly and had attempted to create vivid images of hundreds of incidents in the far past that ALL people are described as experiencing. It seems simple in that each separate incident is understandable ( if not easily believable ) .

But there is a catch, Hubbard may not have quite realized. In examining History of Man a Scientologist sees himself or herself existing for billions of years, going through incidents and changing AND everyone ELSE having the same kind of existence simultaneously.

That involves extraordinarily complex ideas about space opera, being a God then a mighty spirit, then something else, then far down the line a human. And others being worked into this system too, with hundreds of kinds of incidents to compare and consider !

So, when Hubbard hit people with far too complex ideas they are too confused and overwhelmed to even be effectively indoctrinated.

His successful efforts have used simpler ideas. The book DMSMH versus Science of Survival, the smaller courses like Basic Study Manual and Division Six courses and introductory courses versus very long courses right off the bat.

A very detailed analysis of the types of courses and books offered and their popularity would be useful for seeing if this impression I have is borne out consistently.

I think Hubbard relied on what he called altitude, Gustave Le Bon termed prestige, aka authority. By reaching the crucial level of an infallible Godlike messiah in his victim's mind he could THEN request unquestioning acceptance.

That is an issue I have extensively covered in many posts on persuasion and hypnotism. Like Burning Down Hell, Basic Introduction to Hypnosis in Scientology and Humbling Simplicity.

I am covering the idea from the perspective of integrating social psychology concepts and propaganda analysis now in addition to earlier ideas from hypnotism and other ideas on the subject of influence. Because there is an advantage in looking at this through different valid subjects.

You can through different subjects find different language on similar topics. Language guides thought, and even emotion and behavior. By looking at Scientology with the language from different subjects it opens the potential to see aspects of it that otherwise would be unlikely, or impossible.

Some people are going to think " Dude, Mockingbird you have decided Hubbard lied and plagiarized everything in Scientology and it is one hundred percent a fraud. End of story !" and they are correct to a degree. But if I find a method or term from any source that helps myself or others  to understand the Scientology trap, to untangle from it or recover then to me then the effort is worthwhile.

I have found an idea labeled for example in the terms from hypnosis get rejected out of hand by a particular ex Scientologist ( several times with different exes ) , but the exact same idea presented in terms from critical thinking ( as a logical fallacy ) or rhetoric be not only accepted but celebrated as significantly helping the ex to recover. I don't deserve a ton of credit, since I primarily just pass along ideas from others and the ex could have found it without me.  I just choose to present the ideas, you choose to invest the time to examine them. And I hope to make your efforts worth the time.

Pulling Back The Curtain Part 3 Self Influence And Vividness

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In the earlier Pulling Back The Curtain posts I discussed counterarguing and attempts in persuasion to overcome this. Counterarguing is one natural, often highly effective defense against influence through propaganda.

Overcoming counterarguing is a primary goal of propagandists. Ron Hubbard was no exception to this; he included efforts to overcome and nullify counterarguing in Dianetics and Scientology extensively. And to keep counterarguing permanently neutralized regarding his character and methods.

I could write several books on all his efforts, but feel at least focusing on a few techniques is worth the time. He even used methods some schools of persuasion entirely overlook. And almost all Scientologists never dream of, unfortunately for them.

There is a very old way to avoid counterarguing, effectively direct attention while delivering a message and even negate future efforts to expose your influence. It is thousands of years old.

It has been said that the goal of mind control is to get a person to think what a group desires, in effect to self persuade, doing the thought reformer's work for him, and continuing to do it and resist efforts to undo it by others.

Self influence is so similar to genuine independent thought that it seems to be a state of free will making personal decisions and reaching unbiased conclusions. That helps to make it extremely resistant to exposure, since ideas we feel quite strongly are our own deeply held and personally held convictions are part of our identity and integrity.

These ideas feel like ourselves so thoroughly that attacking them is equivalent to attacking our egos, triggering psychological defense mechanisms to protect the ideas and to protect the certainty we formed them on our own. That certainty is crucial to our sense of self. After all, if you can't be sure what ideas are yours and what ones are others then how can you know which are to be believed or doubted ? The other possibilities are too gruesome to consider.

Advertisers have done research on how to persuade people through many methods. One that has been seen as particularly effective is to have a person say how a product could benefit someone or to imagine using the product.

As with earlier posts in this series ( Pulling Back The Curtain ) I will quote the book Age Of Propaganda ).

Persuasion research has shown that self-generated persuasion-whether induced by group discussion, by getting someone to role-play an opponent's position, or by asking a person to imagine adopting a course of action-is one of the most effective persuasion tactics ever identified. Indeed, one recent set of studies found that just thinking about how to transmit a persuasive message to others will result in changes in attitude that persist for at least twenty weeks. ( page 168)

The above refers to a study published in 1990 in Psychological Science, 1 page 268 - 271.

The resulting message will come to be a source that you almost always consider credible, trustworthy, respected, and liked-yourself. The act of  generating arguments is an act of commitment to the cause. After all they're your ideas, aren't they ? ( page 168 )

In studies Robert Cialdini found having people imagine how they would enjoy cable television increased sales from 19.5% to 47.4% . A very noticeable difference, merely from a few minutes of thinking about a product.

There is a key component to effective persuasion that self persuasion often uses which is tremendously effective in its own right. It is demonstrated when you read and get caught up in a book, enjoy a movie or retelling a story: vivid imagery.

Hubbard used imagery in his writings to try to evoke awe and positive associations with his methods and his enemies. And a sense of infallible certainty Hubbard was correct.

He also used self generated images in both Dianetics and Scientology auditing to have his victims persuade their own minds that his claims were true with vivid personal images, using their own imaginations to confirm his doctrine and sweep aside counterarguments.

Additionally, with his "study technology" he had his victims focus on demoing his concepts over and over so they imagined his ideas. And they were encouraged to redefine his ideas "in your own words", so they employ their own minds in imagining his terms and phrases as being true. And it's an easy step to agree with ideas you demonstrate and define over and over and then to "remember" the images you created, making it seem just like you "concluded" what you were encouraged, even required, to imagine thousands of times on course.

 You gain a lifetime worth of "evidence" in your mind with a few months worth of time in a Scientology course room. There is little wonder Scientologists often remain convinced to some degree no matter what contrary evidence presents itself. Their core beliefs have been profoundly covertly changed.

I want to focus on one more idea in this post: vivid appeals.

By vivid appeal, we mean a message that is (1) emotionally interesting (it attracts our feelings), (2) concrete and imagery-provoking, and (3) immediate (it discusses matters that are personally close to us). ( page 170 )

Why do vivid appeals work ? Vivid messages affect our cognitive responses in at least four possible ways. First, vivid information attracts attention. It helps the communication stand out in the message-dense environment. Second, vividness can make the information more concrete and personal. We saw earlier the persuasive power of self-generated arguments and images. Third, the effective vivid appeal directs and focuses thought on the issues and arguments that the communicator feels are most important. Finally, a vivid presentation can make the material more memorable. This is especially important if we do not reach an immediate conclusion but base our later judgements on information that comes readily to mind.  ( page 173 )

All other things being equal, most people are more deeply influenced by one clear, vivid, personal example than by an abundance of statistical data. ( page 174)

Many people rely on this. Ronald Reagan told  vivid stories of individuals achieving prosperity on their own in America to show its success. This did not address facts like when he took office one in nine ( about 11%) of American children lived in poverty and when he left one in four ( about 25% ) were in poverty. But rather than facing that Reagan cherry picked anecdotes to paint broad social issues.

Donald Trump unfortunately similarly hand picks stories to support his racist agenda and ideology. Despite numerous sources refuting his broad claims. The FBI has been reported to have repeatedly found 85% of crimes are committed in the US by members of the same race as the victim consistently. So out of twenty crimes against white victims,for example, seventeen on average are committed by white people. Not very conducive to racist ideology.

If he was concerned about protecting white people he would logically target white criminals. There is certainly no shortage of them, many are his friends on Wall Street.

Vivid appeals have historically been outstanding.

 Lincoln had his Gettysburg Address which evoked images of patriotism and noble character, Martin Luther King Jr had famous speeches that inspired imagery of a better America and many others who inspired people similarly used vivid appeals.

Unfortunately Hubbard used vivid imagery to his victims detriment. Between auditing and indoctrination they are flooded with them. It has been said that Freud abandoned abreactive therapy ( the basis of Dianetics ) because it did not benefit patients and created dependence on the therapist. It is a hypnotic technique that uses vivid self-generated images. Exactly what Hubbard wanted.

The auditing with an E-meter that Scientology used was taken from Creative Image Therapy and Volney Mathison warned it could be used with its hypnotic techniques and vivid images to defraud people.

The study technology uses multiple techniques to create trance states to increase suggestibility and vivid imagery to impart Hubbard's claims.

Together all his methods, and many of his writings and taped lectures, rely on self generated images in the mind to vividly produce compelling evidence that his claims must be the truth.  Conveniently he lacks scientific evidence, but like the politician who tells a story he doesn't need to include facts. And he doesn't need to tell the truth ,either.

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.

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.

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 a 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.

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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