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{May 2007, originally an addendum for the article Creed and Cult: A Scientology Example, modified slightly}

Recently, my chiropractor went to a Singer business seminar (a front group for [[World Institute of Scientology Enterprises|WISE / Scientology]] targeting the chiropractic profession).  She mentioned the high incidence of people coming back and firing their staff because bad employees “sabotage” their business. She didn’t see anything wrong with this, as on one level it makes sense that one would not think to question (a “wurm”).

I had to “deprogram” her for a minute by bringing out the linguistic implications of the word “sabotage” as initial indoctrination into a intolerance-control mentality. When I detailed how cults use subtle (read “seemingly harmless”) ways of thinking of things, to groom you to act and respond in terms of heavier social control, the light bulb went on.

The scary thing is that she KNEW it was a Scientology front group and therefore WAS worried about blatant manipulations. She of course, didn’t find any — cults don’t come out an openly manipulate people because it doesn’t work on people not already conditioned. It’s the subtle implanted beliefs early on that are easily justifiable as making sense (“wurms”) — unless you explore the negative implications.

Detailed Explanation by Example

I’ve been looking at the possible cult aspects of [[Harry Palmer (author)|Avatar]] in addition to exploring its positive value, and came across this for comparison to the above concept {emphasis mine}:

“Anytime an individual, or especially a group, undertakes something, they must have a means of identifying and restraining the non-aligned person with a hidden agenda. Otherwise the enterprise is likely to be sabotaged. … [T]he wrong way to handle a person with a hidden agenda is to tolerate them.” – Harry Palmer, owner of Avatar, from the “Personal Integrity” Mini-Course 

I am hesitant to use this as an example, so putting aside any accusation of the author’s underlying purpose — I’ll let others decide — this is a too perfect example of what I’m talking about to not use. Let’s break it down. To control people in this way (if that is the intention) takes two components, to borrow words that I couldn’t have picked better myself: Identify and Restrain

(1) Identify: Create a framework for intolerance under the guise of the greater good. This means creating a black and white distinction that makes sense by itself, or rather, creating a vilified “they” that people can use as a more concrete label (such as “subversive individual”, “heretic”, “basher”, whatever). The use of the word “sabotage” misapplied creates the belief that different views are often or always intentionally harmful or suspicious at the least.

(2) Restrain: Using the authority of trust based on created positive experience, etc., create an environment where people who do not “align” (conform, agree) to a high level of loyalty are labelled in such a way that they can be placed into the “they” group of misguided or hateful “saboteurs”. The sanctions can range from excommunication to “rehabilitation” or “reeducation”, but even fear of being labeled can be strong enough to create conformity and compliance.

But how is the target shifted from someone who merely disagrees, questions or criticizes to someone with “an agenda”? That’s a component that is found here:

“When we are dishonest, we project onto those around us the actions, thoughts, feelings, and intentions that we are reluctant to express. They, the others, become the cheaters, swindlers, robbers, liars, or cowards that we will not admit in ourselves.

… Whenever you see someone engaging in unhelpful or unrequested criticism against anyone or anything, realize that they are engaging in a campaign to minimize their own sins.

– Harry Palmer, “Resurfacing” and “Personal Integrity” Mini-Course

This doesn’t sound unreasonable, but can be used illogically to mean “if someone finds fault, it’s because of the person finding it”. Worse yet, it means if you find fault in something or someone, it’s because of YOU, not them. But then the person finding fault is accused because the accuser has their own fault, and so on in circles. It all comes down to convenience of excuse for believing where the truth is based on something other than the truth itself. And this confusion is a great place to start for applying more control:

The usefully limited “consider the source” axiom (applied to others or internalized), paired with reinforcing ulterior motive assumptions as the norm, seals the deal, allowing the dangerous behavior of the [[Scientology controversies|”dead agent” tactic]] of attacking-the-alleged-attacker. This diversion may or may not be encouraged through mimicry of the authority in the group, but is another gauge to determine the degree of cultism in the group.

Disclaimer & Differentiation

This doesn’t mean all the people in a group buy this group dynamic “wisdom” — or misapply it in a cult-like way — but a cult can be measured by the degree you find members reflexively showing this unique alert reaction to criticism. I say unique because an individual who is not “under the spell” will take offense to being called brainwashed — we all have been called that at least once in some context, I’m sure — but those who are strongly conditioned will be offended in a much more emotional way — a gut reaction that is strong enough to avoid looking at the source of their own reactions.

In real life, the above wisdom about getting rid of the “bad apple” is folly. Who makes the call who is a bad apple, after all? Who determines the “warning signs” and more importantly, why?

Dissent and criticism — even if presented confrontationally — are necessary to avoid stagnation of ideas, monopolizing truth, and even if that wasn’t true, the alternative is authoritarianism, intellectual cloning, or the use of it as a sociological control technique (intentional or not) even in an “open” group.

“Brainwashing” is when these attitudes are successfully internalized in the individual.

The Last Safeguard

Elimination of doubt is the necessary goal of brainwashing, so belief about the dangers of doubt are necessary creations. The word itself is shifted through persuasion to mean the negative aspects of it, i.e. indecisiveness, fearfulness, etc.. This develops the belief that doubt is a personal fault to be ignored or cured, and the social group may enforce this belief by imposition of guilt, which of course is internalized to where they do not even consider outside pressure to conform as something negative. In fact, it is internalized to the point they do it to others with the intention of “helping” them.

For the rest of us, doubt is necessary for belief that is not blind — a safeguard of the sane — and never hindered any successful person unless you take doubt in only the most negative connotations mentioned above. If boldness of purpose and confidence is equated as absence of doubt, then for every successful person that made it (by luck of being right compared to the next guy), there are countless others you wont hear of who crashed and burned by not thinking twice or looking before they leaped.


The above understanding can be applied to any group. Sometimes it’s people who “brainwash” themselves while the authority doesn’t strive for such control or taken themselves so seriously that they need to poison their followers against others or against reason. Sometimes the cultism is policy, handed from the top down. Sometimes it just develops within a group naturally as an unwritten, yet just as dangerous creed.

Awareness of these patterns and their danger is common sense not practiced because it’s not known. And if you’re caught up in something like this, you may not see it, or worse yet, rebel against the idea as not worthy of consideration. Finding the truth means leaving the comfort zone of beliefs that there is no truth beyond persuasion, and that making up your mind is a choice of what you want instead of one of honesty. And groups dealing in neo-psychology such as [[Neuro-linguistic programming|NLP]] and [[Large Group Awareness Training|LGAT]] are all the more fertile for this kind of danger to be seeded, intentionally or not.

So the next time you are being “taught” to weed out sabatoging people, or even “self-sabotaging beliefs”, don’t “consider the source” as the target of concern, but seriously question the motives of the people training you to think this way.  And it is this doubt that will save you to believe of your own free will another day.