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 .

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Alternatives To Scientology 5 Subliminal 4

The Alternatives To Scientology series Subliminal is based on the chapters in the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow and should definitely be read in order from number 2 to number 11. If read out of order they definitely won't make sense.
In the fourth chapter of his book Subliminal - The Importance Of Being Social - Leonard Mlodinow takes on the social nature of human beings.

Mlodinow wrote, "Social connection is such a basic feature of human experience that when we are deprived of it, we suffer." (Page 82)

Mlodinow in this chapter gathered a good cross section of bits of evidence to explain this in a scientific way. Here I will briefly recap a tiny bit.

Mlodinow wrote, "Scientists have discovered that the social pain is also associated with a brain structure called the anterior cingulate cortex--the same structure involved in the emotional component of physical pain."(Page 83)

I have seen a lot of evidence the ACC is active when a person experiences emotional pain from exclusion or rejection and when that person experiences real physical pain from an injury. I am not going to overly explain that here. In other places like many long studies this is explored.

I will recap a bit from one study, without giving every detail, to support this claim. In one experiment twenty five healthy people volunteered to take two extra strength Tylenol (acetaminophen) tablets twice per day and half received a placebo. They took these for three weeks. On the final day they played a computer game in which they were told two other people played and it was like passing a ball back and forth between three people, with each taking turns catching and passing the ball.

In the experiment the participant was excluded by the two other people intentionally, like being ignored by two people playing catch. Afterwards they filled out a questionnaire on social distress and the subjects that took the Tylenol reported less hurt feelings.

Additionally the subjects were placed in fMRI scans and the area of the ACC is more active when people are subject to social exclusion and people who took Tylenol had less activity than people who didn't.

I am not a doctor, don't know all the adverse effects of using Tylenol or anything else to lessen emotional or physical pain, and so won't recommend or condemn people taking painkillers for emotional pain. I will say strictly regarding the question, "Does that reduce emotional pain ?" I think the evidence supports that it does to some degree.

There was a survey of 4,775 adults in Alameda county, near San Francisco in California. Subjects were asked about issues like marriage, friends, group membership and social participation. They were tracked over nine years. The results strongly supported the idea that good health is proportional to some degree to having social connections.

Mlodinow wrote, "SOME SCIENTISTS BELIEVE that the need for social interaction is the driving force behind the evolution of superior human intelligence." (Page 84)

Mlodinow described how it's strongly believed that humans about fifty thousand years ago went through a significant change and began doing things like hunting animals that were more dangerous to catch and started fishing, building structures for living, complex burial sites and more developed art. They could team up to catch or kill big animals in a way that hadn't before then.

A higher degree of social interaction and teamwork emerged and transformed human survival into a new range. Mlodinow raised the development of Theory Of Mind. In psychology Theory Of Mind is the capacity to understand that you or I have intentions, thoughts, understanding, individual existence and emotions and behaviors.

TOM (Theory Of Mind) has been extensively studied in children. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist that has a superb book The Brain and a PBS television series in which he demonstrates in fine detail how human children usually develop understanding of this in stages.

The stages are sometimes called orders, meaning how many steps of awareness someone or something has. Many organisms are aware of first order - that they themselves have desires.

Children develop understanding that others can hold ideas and emotions as they get older. They don't understand that mommy or anyone else is separate from them when they are only a few weeks old but by several months old awareness that other people are separate begins developing. Experiments with primates have demonstrated that some primates can understand another primate with a blindfold can't see while blindfolded and that without the blindfold they can see.

That's second order intentionality. Normal humans past early childhood can understand others have independent thoughts. Third order is understanding that another person can think about the thoughts of a third party. Joe is thinking about Sam's thoughts of Sheila.

Fourth order is described by Mlodinow as required for literature. I have to understand or try to comprehend that writing a certain way will tell the audience that I believe Mlodinow thinks people behave and think certain ways. I as the first order think the audience as the second order will think Mlodinow as the third order thinks certain things about other people as the fourth order - and all these orders involve understanding thought at each level occurs. Seems complicated, but if you think through different examples it makes sense and is a natural way for people dealing with politics and running large groups to think. If you can't think this way you will have serious difficulties in certain social positions, especially of high authority or complexity.

It's been theorized humans can perform sixth order TOM thinking. I know that Sam is thinking about how Sarah feels about Joan thinking Pete feels Joe is upset about Tony loving Tina.

Huh. It's a bit complicated, but understanding people at this level is possible. But only for people and not animals.

Even a chimp can understand another chimp wants a banana or won't know things it can't sense, but it won't know another chimp knows it wants a banana. We're the only ones who can do this.

So, the point is we have the third and fourth order Theory Of Mind and no one else does. Without that capacity we wouldn't be able to have cities or well developed groups or communication that we to rely on every day.

TOM and high levels take a lot of brainpower to maintain. It's an expensive venture in terms of energy and brain capacity. It's been found the larger size of the neocortex proportional to whole brain size that corresponds to larger social groups for primates.  If you look at primate groups sizes you get  Gorillas under ten, Spider Monkeys twenty and Macaques at forty or so. Consistent ratio of neocortex size to whole brain size. For humans it been calculated to be 150 and called our Dunbar number. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar is credited with finding this number. It's not universally accepted as completely confirmed that 150 is absolutely right but our capacity to form complex groups with individual members understanding others and relationships of others through TOM is well demonstrated.

Two substances called oxytocin and vassopresin are related to bonding and monogamous behavior in many mammals. Some mammals that normally are unfriendly to young offspring of their own species upon becoming pregnant release oxytocin if female and change their behavior to be loving and bond as a mother.

Similarly several variations of voles, a rodent that resembles a mouse, are either monogamous or what is called a tournament species, meaning males mate with any female available, practically whenever possible.

In research one type of vole was monogamous - the Prairie vole - and another a tournament species - the  Meadow vole - and in manipulating the levels of  oxytocin and vassopresin received by what are called receptors the behavior of the voles can be adjusted to be more social in the loner Meadow voles.

Substances like the neuropeptides  are simple proteins or protein like molecules that are two things. When they act to send messages for neurons they are neurotransmitters, they send messages between neurons and certain neurotransmitters send different messages depending on context, genes activated and environment. They are hormones when released by glands and send messages, again dependent on the genes activated and environment and genes expressed. That's a complicated way to say they do different things based on the genes expressed, what exact organism they are in on the level of species and what traits that has genetically and even the individual specimen as that will have different genes present and active than others and have experienced a different environment than other organisms and that will result in differences from other organisms.

Basically all that means is substances like oxytocin and vassopresin do different jobs in different circumstances or are more or less effective in different situations. And you have to have receptors to receive them active and working efficiently for them to be effective as neurotransmitters, or they are wasted or ineffective. And you have to have the right interactions for them to be effective as hormones and they don't create behavior that is impossible for a species. They also interact with people of different temperaments in different ways.

Other studies have produced evidence oxytocin heightens trust of in group members but heightens hostility towards out group members. It helps people to like and be more loyal to their family, friends, groups and race but helps them oppose outsiders at every level. A double edged effect if ever there was one. Sometimes good, sometimes terrible.

Obviously, all the hormones, neurotransmitters and receptors at work are beneath the awareness of the conscious mind. Entirely subliminal but extremely important.

Two subjects that tried to take on the subject of human thought, emotions and behavior were cognitive psychology and social psychology. They have each made important contributions to the overall subject of human beings but didn't focus on the unconscious. These subjects emerged in the fifties and evidence of the unconscious emerged again in the eighties.

Numerous studies of behavior found people followed similar patterns at similar rates in similar situations.  Mlodinow wrote, "Throughout the 1980s, study after study seemed to show that, because of the influence of the unconscious, people did not realize the reasons for their feelings, behavior, and judgments of other people, or how they communicated nonverbally with others. Eventually psychologists had to rethink the role of conscious thought in social interactions." (Page 99)

Being able to observe the functions of the human brain in living subjects was revolutionized by the development of fMRI scans in the 1990s. With an FMRI the different regions of the brain and how active they are could be safely observed without intrusion or harm. Since the 1990s thousands of studies, experiments and research papers have been created regarding understanding the brain using fMRI scans and noting which regions are active when people worry or are happy, are confused or relaxing, and in thousands of other situations.

It's made it possible to learn, support and falsify hundreds of ideas regarding the functions, relationships and tendencies of regions of the brain.

Any serious examination of the brain includes grouping the regions into a three sections grouping. Various theories on this have emerged and one called the Triune brain theory has been discredited as a fine understanding of the exact details of human evolution, but it has a useful classification for a high school level understanding in some details. At a higher level of education it's transcended by more nuanced information.

In the most basic details it's accurate enough for our purposes here. There's a reptile brain section that does jobs like regulating breathing, eating, heart rate and primitive emotions regarding fear and aggression. It's the fight or flight associated section. All vertebrate animals have this brain structure.

Second is the limbic system, this is more complex and the source of social perception. It's seen as instrumental in the formation of social emotions. In humans it's often defined as including the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (associated with very emotional decisions), dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala (associated with fear and aggression), hippocampus, hypothalamus, components of the basal ganglia and the orbitofrontal cortex. You don't have to memorize all those regions. Some are described in study after study and their association with primitive emotions becomes obvious. Others are described less often.

Many structures in the limbic system are often grouped together and called the old mammalian brain. All mammals have these structures on top of the reptile brain.

On top of this is the neocortex or new cortex is in the new mammalian brain. We as humans even have the prefrontal cortex and regions no other creatures have. Our social complexity, ability to recognize things like emotions via facial expressions and understand Theory Of Mind greatly transcend all other living creatures and our highly developed new mammalian brains and unique prefrontal cortex give us the edge in these aptitudes and others unique to our species. It's debatable whether there's intelligent life out there but the closest thing we have found yet on earth is ourselves, immodest as that sounds.

I have to stress the reptile brain, old mammalian brain and new mammalian brain is something of an oversimplification at the level of education you would seek for a college level understanding of the brain, but a useful metaphor for our level of education.

The fMRI scans made a meeting of several subjects possible to occur thanks to technology and evidence regarding the brain. Social psychologists, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists all could better understand their all fields by consulting each other. Cognitive psychologists studied mental states and social psychologists form theories regarding behavior and both can benefit from understanding the anatomy of the brain and which regions are active in which circumstances. Similarly, neuroscientists benefit from understanding the mental states and processes that accompany the physical phenomena they observe.

So social cognitive neuroscience or social neuroscience emerged. By the 2000s tens of thousands of articles and papers and research projects on social cognitive neuroscience had been created. The subject hit the ground running and went from nonexistent to researched, researched and researched thousands of times in a few decades. It went from something most of us never heard of in school to a well established subject today.

It's rapid development in no way diminishes the evidence supporting it. It's a lot of evidence and many points and ideas in the subject have hundreds or thousands of experiments to support them. I can't emphasize that enough. No subject is perfect or infallible, but this one's progress has been amazing.

Mlodinow closed the chapter with, "Vague concepts like the id and the ego have now given way to maps of brain structure, connectivity, and function. What we've learned is that much of our social perception--like our vision, hearing, and memory--appears to proceed along pathways that are not associated with awareness, intention or conscious effort." (Page 104)

I have to stress that the information above has tremendous importance. For everyone there's the startling revelation that we often believe we have emotions, behavior, beliefs and thoughts for certain reasons and much evidence supports the idea that we are terrible at estimating why we do those things, but great at believing we know why, especially in ourselves. We think "I understand my own mind, and am not irrational or superstitious or overly emotional or just plain wrong about myself as much as other people" as a matter of course.

It's like the surveys that reveal 94% of people consider themselves above average as drivers or in other categories when asked. Only 50% of people can be above average by definition but we are making up in confidence whatever we lack in modesty and humility.

Scientology teaches that certainty is knowledge but the truth is certainty is how we pursue confirmation and escape dissonance (mental discomfort from contradictions or confusion). We do, feel and believe what feels right or comfortable often and avoid, try to not feel and try especially hard to not believe what feels uncertain or uncomfortable. It's human nature to pursue comfort in many circumstances, not truth. Obviously we can to some degree on occasion overcome bias (towards certainty and comfort and away from doubt or discomfort) , but it's not always easy or usual.

For Scientologists and ex Scientologists this is particularly poignant. They, well we, were taught "intention is cause"  and similar ideas in Scientology. We were taught that we were responsible for everything that ever happened to us making it go right was the supreme test of a thetan. These concepts are entirely contrary to the nuanced subtleties of the brain in reality.

I can't stress enough that you really should look at the ideas in Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow and the simpler book The Brain by David Eagleman if you are or ever were a Scientologist so you can at least consider the different perspective from Hubbard's on these topics. Not everyone will wholeheartedly embrace these subjects, but to at least look at the reality of the subjects instead of Hubbard's frankly dishonest portrayal of these subjects you should at least read a couple books. It's a service for yourself, not me or anyone else.

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