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Peter McDermott on Mind-Control


 

Peter shares the viewpoint of a a couple of other reasonable critics  about mind-control: while there is an influence, that could be called cultic and that could be quite strong, mind-control as defined by anti-cultists simply does not exist and is an illusion all by itself. Like Diane Richardson, Rebecca Hartong, TarlaStar, and myself, he challenges arsers on that point. Once again, arsers irrational reactions do as much to debunk the concept as do the Peter's arguments themselves. For a lead on that subject, check the page Diane Richardson on Mind-Control.


Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done! (was ARS

news@petermc.demon.co.uk (Peter McDermott)

Tue, 29 Jul 1997 20:21:00 +0100

Newsgroups: alt.support.ex-cult,alt.religion.scientology,alt.cult.maharaji
Subject: Re: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done! (was ARS going downhill, etc...)
Message-ID: <B004012C96681C5642@petermc.demon.co.uk>

"Bob S" bobohead@cryogen.com:
>If you boil down a person's motivation for a particular choice, there are many possible roots. In the case of cult influence, the memetic structures are so complex that life and death decisions may be given no real consideration. When encountering a cult, one small concession can support leading reasoning, invoking targeted emotions, supporting the next small concession, etc. The result is a many-point bind that will eventually lead a person to do anything the cult has in mind.

But surely this is an argument that totally does away with the possibility for all free will? All of us have undergone this process to reach the point that we're currently at - the difference being that scientologists chose to enter the cult at some point.

How is that any different from someone who chooses to be, say, a born-again Christian?

>If you could unravel that cult indoctrination process and backtrack in someone's mind, you'll find that for that person their whole believe system is probably based on a shockingly simple premise. Something like "No one has ever been this nice to me, there must be something to this", or "Wow, God's name really is Jehovah", or "Seeing the scientific explanation has opened my eyes". The effect is the same - a poorly monitored docking point for the programming that follows.

>Any subsequent decision made by this person is suspect, and could very well be "proof that he is ... under *cult mind control* " as you put it.

I don't think so. Poor decision making skills *aren't* the sole prerogative of cultists. Either we apply these tests of irrationality to everyone, or we apply them to no one. How is a cultist any different to someone who has been poorly programmed by their parents? By their peer group? OK, cults are more systematic about their programming, but then the state is pretty systematic as well. Should we decide that all those patriots who support their country during an irrational conflict with other nations is also under the influence of mind control and thus their thoughts are 'not their own'?

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done! (was ARS going

news@petermc.demon.co.uk (Peter McDermott)

Wed, 30 Jul 1997 16:06:17 +0100

Newsgroups: alt.support.ex-cult,alt.religion.scientology,alt.cult.maharaji
Subject: Re: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done! (was ARS going downhill, etc...)
Message-ID: <B00516F99668360B8@0.0.0.0>

Peter:
>> I don't think so. Poor decision making skills *aren't* the sole prerogative of cultists. Either we apply these tests of irrationality to everyone, or we apply them to no one. How is a cultist any different to someone who has been poorly programmed by their parents? By their peer group? OK, cults are more systematic about their programming, but then the state is pretty systematic as well. Should we decide that all those patriots who support their country during an irrational conflict with other nations is also under the influence of mind control and thus their thoughts are 'not their own'?

Bob S:
>I think I agree with you, but . . .

>Decision making skills weren't in question; anyone can be caught unaware of the path they are following - sometimes too late to make an easy change. As for the rest, you got my point. There IS no difference between the different forms of programming, other than the INTENT. Governments,

I take your point here. I think it's also largely the same one Dennis is making with regard to his 'bait and switch' argument.

>advertisers, parents, and children regularly spew propaganda, half-truths, misleading statements, and outright lies hoping that it will improve their position. Cults simply take it one step further, building one mental block on top of another until the unwary victim can't see over the top. It is thus possible for someone to become a Scientoligist without ever making a clearcut decision to do so.

The problem that I have with such arguments is similar to the problem that I have with the use of the very term 'mind control', and that is that enough people seem to leave the cult of their own free will when they come up against circumstances or a decision that tips the balance.

This suggests to me that the process *isn't* simply a passive thing, with the member operating as a metaphoric 'mug' having ideas poured into him or her by the Scientology 'jug', but actively participates in defining and redefining their identity in relation to Scientology, and it's only when the contradictions between what remains of their original sense of self comes up against what the cult is asking.

I have a question here. Is anyone aware of anybody who held a position of authority in the cult who left solely because they came to recognize that it was a scam, rather than because they were fucked over or mistreated in some way?

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done! (was ARS going

news@petermc.demon.co.uk (Peter McDermott)

Sat, 02 Aug 1997 14:49:30 +0100

Newsgroups: alt.support.ex-cult,alt.religion.scientology,alt.cult.maharaji
Subject: Re: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done! (was ARS going downhill, etc...)
Message-ID: <B008F97A9668F302B@0.0.0.0>

Peter:
>>I have a question here. Is anyone aware of anybody who held a position of authority in the cult who left solely because they came to recognize that it was a scam, rather than because they were fucked over or mistreated in some way?

Dennis Erlich:
> I left mainly because of the former, but it occurred after the mistreatment occurred and was not dealt with according to scieno policy.

> That's when I knew it was a scam.

OK, but my point in asking this was if you *were* capable of working out that it was a scam, and of recognizing that your mistreatment was mistreatment, is it really accurate to call it 'mind control'.

I'm *not* trying to argue that they aren't liars, that the organization isn't corrupt, and that they don't spend a phenomenal amount of time and energy in attempting to shape the way that you think. I know that they do. I also believe that their primary reason for doing this is to gain more money and more power for themselves, and this is unquestionably a 'bad thing(tm)'

But I do think the term mind control is misleading in the sense that it implies that they somehow have control over your mind, and if this were the case, you (Dennis) would surely still be in there, eating beans and rice and praying for the deprogrammers to come get you?

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source:  The vague possibility of mind control was: Re: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done!

news@petermc.demon.co.uk (Peter McDermott)

Sat, 02 Aug 1997 00:24:15 +0100

Newsgroups: alt.support.ex-cult,alt.religion.scientology,alt.religion.scientology.xenu,alt.cult.maharaji
Subject: Re: The vague possibility of mind control was: Re: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done!
Message-ID: <B0082EAF96682CBFA8@0.0.0.0>

perry@fc.hp.com (Perry Scott):
>"Mind control", borrowing from meme theory, is a forced infection of contrary (or even self-destructive) ideas into the victim. In the case of Scientology, the Hubbard-ese is inserted into the victim's mind under various guises - self-improvement, spiritual gains, etc. This bait-and-switch, while not unique to Scn, is a form of uninFormed consent. I oppose it.

Not only is it not unique to $cientology, I can't think of many ideologies that actually *do* deliver what they promise.

Christianity? How do you *know* whether you'll get into the kingdom of heaven? The American Dream? Tell it to the folks in Harlem or Compton.

It seems perfectly reasonable to argue that Scientology is a scam that dupes those foolish enough to buy into its crap, and yes, it does exploit and coerce those who have bought into the cult, but I don't see how you can logically argue that that constitutes coerced mind control.

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source:  Hypnosis as Coercion (Was Re: The vague possibility of mind control was: Re: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done

news@petermc.demon.co.uk (Peter McDermott)

Sun, 10 Aug 1997 18:41:53 +0100

Newsgroups: alt.cult.maharaji,alt.support.ex-cult,alt.religion.scientology,alt.religion.scientology.xenu
Subject: Re: Hypnosis as Coercion (Was Re: The vague possibility of mind control was: Re: Recovery Without the "Anticult"--It Can Be Done!)
Message-ID: <B013BBF196681D6AA0@petermc.demon.co.uk>

Peter:
>>How does the CoS use hypnosis to destroy personalities? What is it about the TR-0 that destroys a personality?

drink@yourown.risk.com (bc):
>Diane, have you ever experienced the TR's? Roland has. I have. Many of us have. Why do you continue to deny our experience?

Because the experiences of a limited number of people isn't necessarily the best way to get an accurate picture of what's true.

Go talk to some active scienos. They'll tell you that they objectively *know* that body thetans exist. Your refusal to accept such claims would also be 'denying somebody's experience'.

Are you prepared to attest to body thetans as an objective fact, simply because some scieno says that failure to do so would be 'denying his experience'?

If not, why do you believe that your own experiences should be similarly privileged?

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Diane: Mind Control?

news@petermc.demon.co.uk (Peter McDermott)

Wed, 10 Sep 1997 14:28:38 +0100

Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Re: Diane: Mind Control?
Message-ID: <B03C5F16966811433A@0.0.0.0>

Peter:
>>She ignores it because you're making the same *type* of argument as those who argued for the belief that the sun rotates around the earth. You're basing your argument on the subjective experience of yourself and others, and choosing to ignore evidence based on the scientific method.

drink@yourown.risk.com (bc)
>Obviously you didn't read the post, or my response to Rebecca.

I read your response after I posted this, but I don't see how that invalidates my point.

bc:
>>>What is now "subjectively" accepted as true by the aforementioned "authorities"--the non-existence of mind control--is not "objective". The facts are not all in.

>>You don't accept the APA as authorities on matters concerning the human psyche? Is this a left-over from your days as a clam, or did you have these concerns before you joined in the first place?

>I said I don't accept the APA as the *final* authority. Geez, Peter, I don't even know why I bother responding to you. Other than the fact that I don't like to see your bullshit left unrebutted.

I'm still waiting for your rebuttal to start. Whining about the odd choice of word here or there does not constitute a rebuttal (though I wouldn't expect you to appreciate that given the quality of your argument.)

>>The facts are not all in on *anything*. That's the nature of science. At any given point, we work on the basis of the best available explanation. Is it coherent? Is it consistent? Does it fit the available data.

>Uh, Peter, that was the point that *I* was trying to make. Thank you.

So why didn't you make it?

>>The US courts and the APA reject the arguments in favour of mind-control by reviewing the available evidence and finding that the holes in the mind control theory are just too large to accept. While there *is* a measure of subjectivity about that process, it's beauty is that it isn't usually carried out by a lone individual but represents a consensus view of the evidence. You'll always have some individuals who, for various reasons, refuse to accept that, but more often than not, those reasons will be subjective rather than objective, ie, they tend to be wedded to a theory of their own.

>Like the one that says mind control doesn't exist, for instance. The US Courts and the APA are made up of people just like you and me, Peter. All of them making *subjective* decisions based on * subjective* interpretations of *subjective* data.

Sure, but that's the thing about science. It works on consensus. The more people you have, the more likely they are to pick up on the flaws in the arguments or the data, and the more likely they are to point that out.

As a consequence, they aren't likely to suffer from the same sort of prejudices as those whose agenda is shaped by either their experience of cults, or their goals as anti-cult activists. Of course, they'll suffer other prejudices, but I'm at something of a loss to understand what they could be with regard to an issue like this.

>BTW, the US Courts and the APA also have political motivations, Peter.

So what do you suggest their political motivations are for denying the reality of cult mind control?

>I believe I have already made my point elsewhere as to why I don't accept the US Court system as an arbiter of any reliability. The APA is in the same boat. In my *subjective* opinion.

Your choice, of course. However, I don't think you can compare the findings of a jury, with the process of scholarship and peer review. You obviously choose to regard all information as subjective. I'd suggest to you that it's *precisely* that sort of thinking that led you to be suckered by a nut-cult in the first place. Just *my* opinion, of course.

>>You choose to disagree with their findings on the basis that your subjective experience (and the subjective experience of others) leads you to believe something different, yet as you've pointed out with your sun/earth example, subjective experience is *not* the best test of a theory in such matters.

>I don't believe that the court or the APA is the *best* test of the theory either, Peter.

Forget about the court for a moment. You're saying that despite the fact that the APA have based their findings on the aggregate of all of the available research, as published in the scientific journals of a range of disciplines and so scrutinized by many people in the field, you don't believe that that's the best test?

What exactly *do* you believe the best test is then?

>I don't believe politically motivated organizations are really reliable for scientific study.

The APA don't actually *do* the study. They are simply basing their findings on the available evidence *from* the scientific studies.

Is your antipathy towards psyches a leftover from your days in the cult? What do you believe is the basis of their political agenda in this area?

Or is it that you simply choose to ignore any and all evidence that doesn't fit in with your world-view? Again, that's a tendency that *I* see as typifying cult membership, though I'd accept that it isn't just limited to them.

>>Yet when people point out to you that there your beliefs are at odds with the dominant scientific opinion, you accuse them of 'preaching at' or 'invalidating' you. which is precisely *why* people draw parallels between your response and that of the cult. They respond in exactly the same way when faced with scientific refutation of their beliefs.

>Perhaps if you'd read the threads between Bernie and myself, you'd have a vague idea of what the fuck you're talking about, Peter. Go back and hit Deja News. Look up some of the threads between myself and Bernie. Please. I'm anxious to see what your response might be after you have actually availed yourself of a clue.

But you're doing exactly the same thing to me, here. I present you with arguments that you don't seem to feel comfortable with, and you start whining about how your patience is wearing thin, and you're only doing it to rebut my bullshit.

>>>There is no final authority on the human mind--most especially not the US Courts or the APA.

>>There doesn't need to be a "final authority". That isn't how science works. It works on the basis of the best available explanation at any given moment, and it appears that those scientists who have studied *this* particular issue have found that the mind control explanation has been found seriously wanting.

>You know, Peter, that IS the beauty of it. I think *all* the theories are at least somewhat wanting. And eventually, there will be one or two or three hundred put forth that come a little closer to the "truth" (whatever THAT is). And until someone can come up with a better explanation of what I experienced, I'm sticking with mine--which has been corroborated by lots of different people. Including *professionals*. Sorry if you don't choose to accept them. That's really not my problem

Says it all, really. If it's true for you, and you can get a bunch of other people to agree with you, then it *must* be true, mustn't it?

Sorry, but that just isn't how science works, and your anger in the face of people questioning your beliefs *does* seem to me to typify cultic behaviour whether you like it or not.

Some of this is my opinion. The rest is fact. Those with a clue will know which is which.

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Diane: Mind Control?

news@petermc.demon.co.uk (Peter McDermott)

Mon, 15 Sep 1997 01:05:25 +0100

Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Re: Diane: Mind Control?
Message-ID: <B0423A5596682B679E@0.0.0.0>

Peter:
>>What does that have to do with "cult mind control." I certainly agree that the Sea Org is an authoritarian organization. What does that have to do with proving the existence of "cult mind control"?

drink@yourown.risk.com (bc)
>That has to do with demonstrating how it comes about. You start by relinquishing independent thought and will. Because you have accepted the *authority* of someone who you have been given some reason to trust or believe. Then the mindfuck starts.

See, it seems to me that this statement says a lot about what *your* role in all this, and very little about what the cult does.

As you say, *you* relinquish your critical faculties, *you* invest somebody with power as an authority, and then go on to do what they say. They can't just hook up anyone and determine how they'll think, which is what the term 'mind control' implies.

>>But Milgram's experiments don't demonstrate the existence of "cult mind control." They demonstrate the existence of a tendency among humans to obey authority figures. Cults certainly aren't the only or even the major authoritarian organizations in society. Or are you claiming that *all* authoritarian organizations are cults?

>No, you're making sweeping generalizations based on assumptions again. It appears to me that Milgram wasn't *trying* to demonstrate the existence of mind control. The experiments, if I understand correctly, were on responses to authority figures. But if you look at the results of the experiment, I think what you see is a strong argument for the existence of undue influence exerted by those same authority figures--which sounds one hell of a lot like mind control, to this author.

Well, if you want to believe the two things are the same, I guess you're free to do so. However, they aren't. Most people obey authority figures at some time in their lives. You aren't suggesting they are all under the influence of mind control are you?

>>Let's try this one more time. How do you define "cult mind control"?

>Cult Mind Control (n.): Where a cult attempts to control your mind. Your thought patterns. Your responses to external stimuli--people, places, things. Mindfuckery. (source: bc dictionary, somewhere between my ears) (hey, is this deep, or what?)

>Is that succinct enough?

Uh, mind control equals the *attempt* to control your mind? Surely mind control *should* refer to the *ability* to control your mind, not just the attempt to control it.

>What did I do that I wouldn't have done otherwise? I sat there in the org. I kept coming BACK to the org. I brought OTHER PEOPLE into the org. Being raised a good baptist, these are things I never would have imagined doing. (And I'm not getting into baptist- bashing either--don't go there. Then I'd REALLY have to break out the flamethrower--I can *really* get rolling on baptist-bashing...)

My guess is that these issues aren't completely unrelated. After all, if you teach a child that one bunch of ludicrous propositions might be true, you shouldn't be surprised when you get an adult who'll believe another set of ludicrous propositions might be true as well.

>I did the TR's. I sat and stared for HOURS. For DAYS.

>I thought, talked, and acted like a good Rondroid. Because my mind had been manipulated into doing so. Yes, I took the courses voluntarily. I voluntarily opened my mind up for Elrong to fuck with. And that's exactly what happened.

Well, Elrong himself wasn't actually there. What you're saying is that *you* elected to allow someone to fuck with your mind. And I'm happy to accept that that's what the TR's do. But fucking with your mind isn't controlling it, is it?

>Is the can of worms opened up far enough for ya yet?

>Are we gonna go back through the same tired procedure of "where is the evidence?" "Ask an ex-$cieno--the stories are all so similar" "But that's all subjective" "everything is subjective, only an object can be objective!"

No, nobody is denying that you were exposed to the process that you describe. What we *are* arguing about is that it constitutes mind control. You *still* haven't told us exactly was it about it that makes you believe that the cult had control of your mind, and how you square that belief that you still had sufficient control to get out?

Either someone controls something, or they don't. It's not a half-way thing.

FWIW, I'd accept that the cult *attempts* to control it's members via various forms of persuasion, etc. But it can only succeed as long as people allow it to do so. You got a clue and chose to stop allowing to do so, so I don't see how you square that with the idea that they somehow had control of you.

>You know, sometimes I wonder why I even bother. This is all so telegraphed. I hope I've saved everyone several weeks worth of posts here.

>When we cover the same ground over and over, we get nowhere. Diane, I'm never going to change your mind, or Bernie's, or Peter's, or anyone else's.

Look, I really dislike $cientology. I'd love to believe that they have the power to control minds so I could dislike them even more. But it just doesn't make any sense to me. I'd be happy to be convinced if someone could give me a plausible argument that illustrates *how* their mind was controlled, but I still haven't heard one.

Let me summarize what I think you've said and you tell me where I'm going wrong. You go in voluntarily. You like what you see or what you get, so you take more courses. You become part of the group so you start acting like the group, saying positive things about Ron, bringing friends to the org, etc. Still all voluntarily, because you still like what you're getting.

You do the TR's and that makes you feel a bit strange. You realize that your work and your music is suffering. You decide to stop taking courses. The clams don't like this, and put huge amounts of pressure on for you to take more courses, but *despite* the fact that you believe you are under the influence of mind control, you *don't* take the courses, you disconnect from the org and leave scientology altogether.

Where exactly does the mind control come in here?

>Conversely, you and Bernie and Peter are never going to change mine. Quoting studies and statistics is not going to change my perception of what I experienced--unless someone can do a study that resonates more clearly with me than my own perceptions have for seventeen years. I'm wide open for that--but I haven't seen it yet. Why is it so important to you to belittle the experiences of so many of us? Is it possible that there is a basic, fundamental difference of perception here that cannot be surmounted by throwing reams of paper at us?

I think there *is* a fundamental difference of perception here. I think it's become an article of faith for you to explain your experiences in $cientology by saying that you were under the influence of mind control. Imagine, just for a moment, somebody *did* come up with something that conclusively demonstrated that 'cult mind control' does not exist.

How would that change your beliefs about yourself or about Scientology?

 

Peter McDermott on ARS On Mind-Control On Bernie



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