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Judy Stein


"It's not so much a matter of whether anticultists are any more deficient in critical thinking than the average person. It's that anticultists who are deficient in critical thinking pose more of a danger to society than the average person, because  their thinking has the potential to have a negative impact on a constitutional right."


Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Deductive Reasoning

jstein@ziplink.net

Sun, 14 Dec 1997 03:22:57 -0600 (as quoted)

Subject: Re: Deductive Reasoning
Message-ID: <SULYqq2Bbk7B079yn@panix.com>

[snip]

You say you "agree" that anticultists are likely to have the power of critical thinking, but what I'm saying is that they are likely to be *deficient* in critical thinking.

They may not be controlled by what they *define* as a cult, but I maintain their definition of cult is faulty *because of this deficiency in critical thinking*. Moreover, they often tend to be controlled by what I'd call the *anticult cult*, again because of this deficiency.

The "anticult cult" is more difficult to identify because it isn't a specific group with a prominent leader; it's more a way of thinking, a "doctrine," as it were, that is held in common by most anticultists; the control is exercised by mutual reinforcement rather than by a leader.

In any case, my thesis is that former members of cults turned anticultists haven't become anticultists because they've suddenly discovered the power of critical thinking; rather, they've just switched the *object* of their *noncritical* thinking from the cult to the anticult cult. The same deficiency that made them vulnerable to control by the cult makes them vulnerable to control by the anticult cult, in other words.

 

jstein@panix.com (Judy Stein)

15 Dec 1997 13:04:39 -0500

Newsgroups: alt.meditation.transcendental,alt.meditation
Subject: Re: Deductive Reasoning
Message-ID: <

>

[snip]

Judy Stein:
> > In any case, my thesis is that former members of cults turned anticultists haven't become anticultists because they've suddenly discovered the power of critical thinking; rather, they've just switched the *object* of their *noncritical* thinking from the cult to the anticult cult. The same deficiency that made them vulnerable to control by the cult makes them vulnerable to control by the anticult cult, in other words.

mabel@clear.net.nz
> I disagree that "anticultists" are likely to be deficient in critical thinking, although this is what cult leaders try and convince their members is the case.

Just for the record, my remarks are based on my observation of what anticultists say, not what anybody else may have said.

>There are large numbers of people who are concerned about the potentially destructive effects of certain cults, who have never ever been members of cults. These people could be labelled as anticultists, but they are able to see through the motives and operations of certain cults and their use of meditation as one of their mind controlling techniques. Such people are certainly not vulnerable to mind control by organised groups of either pro cult or anti cult people.

Well, I don't know that this is *necessarily* the case. It has certainly been my observation that at least *some* anticultists who have never been in a cult do not think critically about their opposition to cults. And anyone who is deficient in critical thinking is vulnerable to mind control, whether it be deliberate or simply a function of group dynamics.

However, if you'll reread what I said in the fourth paragraph from my post quoted above, I was referring there to anticultists who *had* belonged to a cult.

With regard to anticultists who were never cult members, their attitudes may be due to just plain bigotry, an inability to tolerate the existence of belief systems significantly different from their own. I'd suggest that bigotry *in general* is a function of lack of critical thinking.

One of the most glaring examples of such a lack is the contradiction between the insistence that the anticult movement espouses freedom of belief, on the one hand, and on the other the rejection of the beliefs of groups the movement deems to be cults. This translates into "freedom to believe whatever you want as long as it's what *I* believe."

Another example is the inability or unwillingness to provide a definition of "cult" that clearly distinguishes the kinds of groups anticultists consider cults from other groups that nobody would think of as cults. A group is a cult because anticultists call it a cult, in other words. Anticultists tend to be unable to see the need for safeguards to ensure the right to freedom of belief is not abrogated as a consequence of efforts to remedy the effects of what they consider to be mind control. It's a fine line, granted, but it's a fundamentally *subjective* line, and anticultists, in my observation, have difficulty perceiving how important it is to think very critically about where and on what basis that line should be drawn.

Yet another example is the tendency of anticultists to attribute any criticism of their efforts to the effects of mind control. (Above, for instance, you suggested the charge of deficient critical thinking against anticultists emanated from cult leaders.) There seems to be an inability to accept the possibility that there can be any *objective* criticism of the anticult movement--which is, ironically, mirrored by the cult position that criticism of the cult is made on the basis of prejudice. Just as criticism of a cult may be objective, so may criticism of the anticult group.

Indeed, many of the characteristics attributed to cults that are decried by anticultists are mirrored in the doctrine and activities of their own movement. I'd suggest the inability to recognize this is a function of deficiencies in critical thinking.

[snip]

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Deductive Reasoning

jstein@panix.com (Judy Stein)

18 Dec 1997 21:06:39 -0500

Newsgroups: alt.meditation.transcendental,alt.meditation
Subject: Re: Deductive Reasoning
Message-ID: <$yHcqq2BbkYP079yn@panix.com>

mabel@clear.net.nz
> I have experienced situations where the victims will maintain a contact with outsiders only on the grounds that none of the new-found beliefs of the victim are discussed.

In some cases this may be entirely justified, i.e., if contact tends to involve endless challenges to the cult member. Who wants to have to be continually defending their beliefs?

Note also that you use the term "victim" in a blanket fashion to refer to cult members. In your mind, it seems the two terms are synonymous. This demonstrates the tendency of anticultists I've been pointing out, the unwillingness to engage in the difficult task of making distinctions. It also demonstrates the use of the "thought stopper" technique anticultists claim cults use as a form of mind control.

> Alternatively, the victims will direct parents and friends to the cultís hierarchy for answers to the various questions, without trying to think through the issues in the same way the outsiders have.

This doesn't apply to TMers, just for the record. One of the newsgroups this thread is posted to is alt.meditation.transcendental, almost all of whose pro-TM participants are just ordinary TMers responding to challenges and questions concerning TM.

> If sects and cults encouraged all members to openly debate the groupís philosophy with outsiders, then some of the friction that exists today between cult members and outsiders  might be avoided.

Such debate could prove useful in many cases, but in others it could lead to a situation in which the only interaction between cult members and outsiders consisted of endless challenges, as I suggested above, especially if the outsiders have already bought into the anticult doctrine.

> I think that Judy and Bernie have gone a bit overboard with all their questions. To deal with these in the researched and detailed manner they seem to be demanding, would result in a dissertation acceptable for a Ph.D!

When a situation involves potential abrogation of constitutional rights, it deserves *at least* this much consideration.

> I wish that Judy and Bernie would do themselves what they seem to want from others, that is, back up every assertion with solid verifiable research.

Judy and Bernie are individuals reporting their personal observations. We aren't a *movement*, institutionalized into well-funded organizations with specific agendas and programs. And we aren't advocating for actions that might result in abrogating the right to freedom of belief.

> However, because I have run out of time and am about to go on holiday for a few days (to a place thankfully where there are no computers), I suggest that readers who are following this debate should spend some time visiting Professor David Laneís excellent "Neural Surfer" website.

I spent a couple hours there this afternoon. It *is* an excellent site, representing a wide range of perspectives. I particularly liked the response of Pierre de Villiers to a lengthy negative profile of his teacher, Suma Ching Hai.

Very little of the material I read reflects knee-jerk anticultist doctrine of the type I've been complaining about. Most of the anti- pieces I was able to have a look at were thoughtful and analytical, going to considerable lengths to make appropriate distinctions. In many cases they were supportive of some groups even when they were critical of others.

> Some of the material on this site may serve to illustrate why thousands of people all around the world have very legitimate concerns about certain sects and cults. The siteís address is:

Note that I have *never* suggested (nor has Bernie, that I've seen) that there weren't any legitimate concerns about certain sects and cults. What we've been pointing out is that the anticult movement generally is not as careful as it should be about defining what it considers legitimate concerns.

[snip]

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Deductive Reasoning

jstein@panix.com (Judy Stein)

18 Dec 1997 21:06:39 -0500

Newsgroups: alt.meditation.transcendental,alt.meditation
Subject: Re: Deductive Reasoning
Message-ID: <$yHcqq2BbkYP079yn@panix.com>

mabel@clear.net.nz
> I have experienced situations where the victims will maintain a contact with outsiders only on the grounds that none of the new-found beliefs of the victim are discussed.

In some cases this may be entirely justified, i.e., if contact tends to involve endless challenges to the cult member. Who wants to have to be continually defending their beliefs?

Note also that you use the term "victim" in a blanket fashion to refer to cult members. In your mind, it seems the two terms are synonymous. This demonstrates the tendency of anticultists I've been pointing out, the unwillingness to engage in the difficult task of making distinctions. It also demonstrates the use of the "thought stopper" technique anticultists claim cults use as a form of mind control.

> Alternatively, the victims will direct parents and friends to the cultís hierarchy for answers to the various questions, without trying to think through the issues in the same way the outsiders have.

This doesn't apply to TMers, just for the record. One of the newsgroups this thread is posted to is alt.meditation.transcendental, almost all of whose pro-TM participants are just ordinary TMers responding to challenges and questions concerning TM.

> If sects and cults encouraged all members to openly debate the groupís philosophy with outsiders, then some of the friction that exists today between cult members and outsiders might be avoided.

Such debate could prove useful in many cases, but in others it could lead to a situation in which the only interaction between cult members and outsiders consisted of endless challenges, as I suggested above, especially if the outsiders have already bought into the anticult doctrine.

> I think that Judy and Bernie have gone a bit overboard with all their questions. To deal with these in the researched and detailed manner they seem to be demanding, would result in a dissertation acceptable for a Ph.D!

When a situation involves potential abrogation of constitutional rights, it deserves *at least* this much consideration.

> I wish that Judy and Bernie would do themselves what they seem to want from others, that is, back up every assertion with solid verifiable research.

Judy and Bernie are individuals reporting their personal observations. We aren't a *movement*, institutionalized into well-funded organizations with specific agendas and programs. And we aren't advocating for actions that might result in abrogating the right to freedom of belief.

> However, because I have run out of time and am about to go on holiday for a few days (to a place thankfully where there are no computers), I suggest that readers who are following this debate should spend some time visiting Professor David Laneís excellent "Neural Surfer" website.

I spent a couple hours there this afternoon. It *is* an excellent site, representing a wide range of perspectives. I particularly liked the response of Pierre de Villiers to a lengthy negative profile of his teacher, Suma Ching Hai.

Very little of the material I read reflects knee-jerk anticultist doctrine of the type I've been complaining about. Most of the anti- pieces I was able to have a look at were thoughtful and analytical, going to considerable lengths to make appropriate distinctions. In many cases they were supportive of some groups even when they were critical of others.

> Some of the material on this site may serve to illustrate why thousands of people all around the world have very legitimate concerns about certain sects and cults. The siteís address is:

Note that I have *never* suggested (nor has Bernie, that I've seen) that there weren't any legitimate concerns about certain sects and cults. What we've been pointing out is that the anticult movement generally is not as careful as it should be about defining what it considers legitimate concerns.

[snip]

 

Usenet post from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Source: Deductive Reasoning

jstein@panix.com (Judy Stein)

18 Dec 1997 21:06:03 -0500

Newsgroups: alt.meditation.transcendental,alt.meditation
Subject: Re: Deductive Reasoning
Message-ID: <FWrbqq2BbM$0079yn@panix.com>

kar@neosoft.com (Kurt Arbuckle):
> I am no fan of the typical anticultist. I have yet to agree with very much of what any one of them has said. However, I think that it is their ideas that are bs, and it is very easy for all of us to have bs ideas. I have run accross anticultists on the net who were, IMO, very dishonest amoral people with secondary gain agendas. But I have also run accross many anticultists who just live by reaction just like most of the population does. I don't find anticultists to be any more out of it in general than we all can be at times. Humans have not survived on critical thinking as much as good reflexes.

That may be the case. But if it is, what sort of position is the typical anticultist in to claim purported cultists are unable to think critically?

If you're going to charge the other guy (or group) with deficiencies in critical thinking, you'd darn well better make sure your own critical thinking is in order.

I don't think the phrase is used with much of a sense of what it means. It's a "thought stopper." In my observation, anticultists tend to use "lack of critical thinking" as a synonym for "belief in something I think is nutty."

In Mabel's post, we saw that her criterion for the ability to think critically was the ability to reject the supposed cult one had belonged to.

It's not so much a matter of whether anticultists are any more deficient in critical thinking than the average person. It's that anticultists who are deficient in critical thinking pose more of a danger to society than the average person, because their thinking has the potential to have a negative impact on a constitutional right.

It's a similar situation to those who would impose censorship on the Internet.

What's of concern is that the anticult movement institutionalizes the thinking of its members. If that thinking is insufficiently critical, while it may at first have a negative impact only on cultists, the institutionalization of a threat to *anyone's* freedom of belief poses dangers to the freedom of society as a whole.

When a right guaranteed by the Constitution may potentially be jeopardized, even if that jeopardy appears to be legitimized because it rights other wrongs, it's absolutely essential that the situation be subjected to the most rigorous critical thinking.

> While I would be among the first to point out to a specific person the folly of his/her thought processes, I would like to think it is at least in part a desire to give them constructive imput

If rigorous critical thinking does not come from within the anticult movement, it's incumbent on those outside the movement to provide it.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+ Judy Stein * The Author's Friend * jstein@ziplink.net +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 



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