Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id WAA07887 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Mon, 18 Feb 2002 22:41:13 GMT X-Originating-IP: [126.96.36.199] User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.02.2022 Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 22:33:40 +0000 Subject: RE: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or meme From: Steve Drew <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Message-ID: <B8971D77.14Eemail@example.com> Content-type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII" Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit X-OriginalArrivalTime: 18 Feb 2002 22:35:43.0020 (UTC) FILETIME=[997056C0:01C1B8CC] Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 09:23:13 -0500
From: Keith Henson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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.
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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