|Groups insist there is no
scientifically valid evidence to support allegations of brainwashing or
hypnosis. However, they contend evidence exists that members undergo true
conversions. Judah purported yo demonstrate this. He said the first
step in brainwashing, the breaking down of the recruit's beliefs and
identifications, was not a factor in conversions among members of several
major religious movements he surveyed. Converts had been dissatisfied with
their cultur and its religions and disaffected from former associations
before joining their movements. They were seeking alternatives and, Judah
argued, their entry into their movements must be considered religous
conversion. "Their most common testimony," said Judah, "was
concerning the lack of purpose and direction in their lives they had
experienced before their conversion, and how their conversion gave new
meaning to life."
Similarly, most members of various groups in Ontario interviewed by the study said they had come to their movements seeking answers to problems and a more satisfying life-style. About half of them were searching specifically for spiritual experiences.
Many observers and the groups themselves note that most movements, even those reputed to encapsulate members most effectively, have a constant flow of incoming recuits and outgoing drop outs. They say this would suggest that whatever the groups do, which might reflect elements of brainwashing, is not intense. Additionally, though, a significant proportion of those who initially attend a movement's meeting never end up joining. Dr. Glaser of the Addiction Research Foundation said he recalled a research report that suggest only four per cent of those who attended an international religious movement's weeken retreats continued with the group. "That's not very good brainwashing," he said.