RE: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or meme

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Mon Feb 18 2002 - 22:33:40 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or meme"

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    Subject: RE: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or meme
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    Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 09:23:13 -0500
    From: Keith Henson <>
    Subject: RE: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or meme

    At 01:10 PM 17/02/02 -0500, Lawrence DeBivort wrote:

    >Keith, I don't view this as 'bypassing' a person's judgment-making
    >mechanisms: rather, the cult has simply managed to find the right 'fit' for
    >its memes, and so it sailed through the person's mechanisms.

    There may be such cults/cult memes, but my knowledge of them indicates that
    cult memes generally *do* bypass rational defense mechanisms. Take the SLA
    as a cult and what they did to Patty Hearst. That is a clear case of
    capture-bonding, an evolved mechanism to cope with intertribal capture. Or
    take love bombing, by the Moonies.

    Scientology uses high pressure salesman tactics, to the point they would
    sometimes physically restrain people from leaving until they had signed up
    for a "course." Another fact is that the cults I know about don't
    accurately represent themselves but engage in "bait and switch." For
    example, scientology does not present the central (and barking mad) Xenu
    story until a person has spent about $160,000. Those joining the
    Unification church are not told that Rev Moon will be presented as the
    second coming of Christ.

    Most people pick up religious class beliefs when they are young and more
    receptive to learning.

    >Others will have differing mechanisms, and so will be impervious to the

    There are papers by Zimbardo from Stanford (now president of the American
    Psychological Association) that are directly on this topic. It looks like
    the mechanism is more one of resistance to social pressure than learned. I
    am trying to remember the name associated with that test of resistance to
    social pressure where most of the group acts a shills and one person is
    given the choice of going against the group which insists the longer line
    on a slide is shorter or the other way around.

    >The Court, of course, must make pronouncements of principles that will guide
    >the law, regardless of these differing judgment-making mechanisms...
    >In the same way, Christianity and Islam (of whatever brands) will fit the
    >filters of some and not of others.
    >What does, IMHO, separate cults and religions from other belief systems, is
    >that they install meta-beliefs that make it particularly hard for their
    >targets to re-think their initial acceptance and leave the belief system.
    >Doubt that and adherent may begin to experience is characterized, for
    >example, as the temptation of the devil.

    You are correct about the normal resistance people have to changing
    'religious' class beliefs. I have commented before on why people have
    a part of their mental structure which is normally very resistant to
    change. My argument is that the function of religious class beliefs is to
    "explain the unexplainable." As such, one of these beliefs is about as
    good as another and changing one out for another has much in common with
    changing tribes. I.e., in the past this was a very risky thing to do.

    Keith Henson


    Further evidence for this may be that of Terry Waite, who if i remember
    correctly was not subject to the relentless pressure to change his views
    during his captivity, and emerged with them (largely) intact.



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