Hello , I am an ex Scientologist , this blog is primarily about that but I may address other topics as the mood hits me to . I was in Scientology for 25 years and spent about 10,000 hours using the indoctrination and thought reform method "study tech " . I also spent time on staff and met hundreds of Scientologists and did hundreds of the cult practices . Many were the "ethics cycles and OW writeups " that really are an attempt to suppress or remove a person's identity and replace it with a mental pseudo clone of Ron Hubbard . To make a fanatical slave for the cult .

I looked outside the cult for answers in about January 2014 and left the cult in about March of 2014 . While in about 99% of members have no idea of the truth .

We are told we are in a mental therapy or spiritual enhancement or religion or science for helping people unlock potential . Or any of several other fronts that all pretend kind and humanitarian goals .

The truth is Scientology is a terrorist mind control cult and this blog is my attempt to understand and expose that . And try to state as clearly as possible the tools that I have found helpful in dealing with this .

Friday, December 1, 2017

Ignorance Enthusiasts

A year or so after I got out of Scientology I ran into an interesting behavior that I have seen more than a couple times from ex Scientologists. I was perhaps naively approaching the issue of reluctance in others.

I thought that if someone put forth a question the simple thing to do was tell them what subjects and sources address their questions. Lots of subjects outside Scientology exist and are far more developed than Hubbard ever portrayed them as in Scientology.

Hubbard's doctrine is packed with statements degrading psychology, psychiatry, logic, neuroscience, medical science, physics, chemistry and mathematics and other subjects. He portrays them as primitive and backwards and loaded with false ideas and harmful lies.

So, when I ran into ex Scientologists that frequently asked questions about themes addressed by subjects I discovered outside Scientology I foolishly answered several questions.

One occurrence is a strong example of several things and I will recount it as best I can recall and change the name of the person involved to protect her privacy. If she sees this she will probably know it's about her.

I ran into a second generation Scientologist who spent significant time, perhaps hours, many days on Facebook wondering about issues regarding her mother and what being in Scientology did to her mother and how it affected their relationship and how the treatment she received from Scientology organizations affected her. I will call the questioning daughter Sara and her mother Marg. Sara rejected Scientology and Marg had some admiration for Hubbard and belief in the methods or experiences she found in Scientology.

Sara spent time almost every day wondering about the nature of Scientology, how being in affected her and her mother and similar questions. She was quite adamant that she had unresolved issues regarding Scientology.

I saw this for several weeks and simply told Sara she could read a few books. I think I recommended True Believer by Eric Hoffer, Cults In Our Midst by Margaret Singer, Freedom Of Mind by Steve Hassan, Take Back Your Life by Janja Lalich, A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger, Age Of Propaganda and perhaps a couple more.

I think I described the subjects each book addresses and what answers they may provide.

Okay, she blew up at me and said, "No one has time for all that", now bear in mind that Sara is a grown woman who has found the time to spend hours online going over her personal life again and again and in Scientology likely spent dozens or hundreds of hours in Scientology indoctrination and auditing.

It struck me as strange that someone would be upset or even perhaps tortured over questions about the years they spent in Scientology and completely unwilling to even try reading books at all to understand the possible answers to what happened to them.

I have since learned some ex Scientologists after hundreds of hours spent in Scientology indoctrination never want to pick up a book again or the ideas that Hubbard repeatedly expressed about other subjects being overly complex, confusing and ultimately useless may have stuck with some ex Scientologists more than they realize.

And people in general don't know how much subjects like psychology and neuroscience have progressed over the last few decades and that subjects like propaganda analysis, rhetoric and logical fallacies even exist, let alone their level of development.

In reading books on these subjects I discovered hundreds of ideas with strong scientific evidence that are contrary to folk psychology, assumptions about the mind many of us hold and pass along.

So, if someone has those assumptions it is easy to see why they won't read any books on the mind because they feel they already understand it.

I have also run into people that feel reading books on things like the mind, hypnosis, logic. Cults, rhetoric and so on is looking into rabbit holes and missing out on life. Hmm. So, all the writers like Stephen King that read many books and write are acceptable as are academics who often read hundreds of books and keep studying in their fields for years are, but somehow someone trying to understand Scientology is not right.

Odd, judgment. I think it's odd that ultimately some people are not just choosing to not read anything to learn but go on and on claiming to wonder about issues with plenty of books available on but see anyone pursuing knowledge as somehow doing something wrong.

Ultimately Sara chose to shower me with insults and I was not insulting her at all. She peppered comments with insults and stretched her remarks to the point of saying untrue things about me.

When I was talking to someone else she chimed in to call me a worshipper of academia. Interesting insult.

It reminded me how comedian Chris Rock has remarked on asking some folks if they read and getting the response "no, I keep it real" proudly. Chris Rock responded "yeah, real dumb" in disgust.

He saw the liability in celebrating a lack of learning and abandonment of reading. He realized glorifying a life without education is inviting not just ignorance but disaster. If you don't read you are just as limited as if you can't read and people that can't read are extremely limited in life. And regarding recovery from Scientology or learning hundreds of subjects you are practically crippled.

I don't think everyone else has to pursue reading to the degree I have or even close. But I would be lying if I said that most people wouldn't benefit from reading some books to understand the world and themselves better. We all have different degrees of literary and intelligence and will get varying degrees of benefits from different books but you certainly get zero benefit from the books you never read.

I just want you to understand that the ignorance enthusiasts in encouraging people to not even try to understand things ensures they won't to the degree they listen. Don't listen to them. If you know you have a genuine interest or even mild interest in a subject or a need a subject could potentially help I encourage you to find out the terms or concepts or even the name of the subject or subjects that could be right for you and pursue them. It may change your life, it's certainly changed mine.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Why Should Alternatives To Scientology Exist ?

I recently posted the first long blog post on Alternatives To Scientology regarding the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow.

I got an immediate response from someone who wrote that "the only alternative anyone needs to Scientology is to leave Scientology, you crazy cultist." Okay, how they know me well enough to call me a crazy cultist is an interesting question in itself.

If they think that by merely saying there are alternatives to Scientology I must be a crazy cultist that is an interesting question of how they judge crazy cultists and alternatives.

I left Scientology after twenty five years. Perhaps he didn't understand what Scientology entails. It provides beliefs and behavior and even feelings for members. It has definite directions regarding all these things for Scientologists.

It includes thousands of attitudes, and answers regarding psychology, history, morals, politics, marriage, family and thousands of other topics.

To say we  don't need any alternatives to Scientology besides leaving is saying we don't need any morals, any jobs, any family, any understanding of the past, any understanding of nature or anything. It's absurd.

People who were in Scientology and reject the doctrine and practices of Scientology entirely and effectively will find a couple things out quickly. They discover that they tend to discover, rediscover or develop other beliefs. They also learn that they get hung up both in a philosophical and practical manner regarding the ideas that guided them in Scientology which they feel a need to find replacements for that they have trouble getting straightened out. Sometimes they hang onto Scientology doctrine despite wanting to reject it. Sometimes they can't see how something from Scientology could not be true or they can't work out an acceptable alternative for themselves to something Scientology contained as it is tough to on the fly replace an entire philosophy of life, including answers on virtually everything they knew.

I think I have made it clear that some alternatives to Scientology are necessary. Now, some people have said things like once someone leaves Scientology or starts reading critical information on Scientology online the whole job of helping them is done or now theirs. To me that is like saying once a person unjustly sent to prison is released they need no further help or even once a person unjustly imprisoned reads information critical of their imprisonment, without being released, then they should be abandoned to work their way out of their situation on their own.

Now, some people have suggested everyone who leaves Scientology should just work out what to pursue on their own. I certainly believe the final decision should be up to each individual and what works for one might not always work for everyone else.

But I also think certain things are extremely helpful for lots of people and have found them to specifically resolve issues related to both answering questions Scientology raised with more scientifically validated answers and to show how Scientology or any pseudoscience differs from a more scientific approach.

Some ideas and subjects are ones Hubbard portrayed as either poorly developed or entirely incorrect in Scientology and so ex Scientologists often don't consider looking at them, unknowingly still following Hubbard's suggestions and commands they received in their cult indoctrination. He persuaded them so effectively and insidiously that the majority of his influence is often undetected by them, even decades after they leave.

So, I wanted to highlight some of the areas he claimed were poorly understood and show his understanding of many of them is actually decades behind their actual development and that development is often significant for trying to understand far more likely answers for many of the topics Hubbard claimed expert knowledge in.

I started with Leonard Mlodinow and his book Subliminal to give an easy book on the mind and subconscious with strong supporting evidence in scientific studies and experiments that a person with a high school education can easily understand.

The subconscious or unconscious mind as it is sometimes called has a definition in Dianetics and Scientology which is extremely different from the actual picture real scientific evidence presents. That's extremely relevant as how we think of ourselves and others is largely shaped by our impressions of the mind. By having a language of lies in Scientology shape beliefs and behavior Scientologists live a life of illusions and delusions more complex and difficult than other people, and it's difficult enough for everyone else.

I hope that article helps people to see my point and to pursue reading books like Subliminal in full and to form their own opinions on it and to share those opinions.

I also hope that future articles help to show Hubbard's ideas are not justified by sound reason or legitimate scientific research or evidence. I hope people that have been struggling to recover from Scientology get some assistance by looking at these topics and realizing which of Hubbard's ideas have been hanging around, unseen as his influence, and work out for themselves what they choose to believe, and to not just hang onto his ideas out of habit.

I hope now people can see why I believe that there's a need for alternatives to Scientology.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Alternatives To Scientology 11 Subliminal 10

The Alternatives To Scientology series Subliminal is based on the chapters in the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow and should definitely be read in order from number 2 to number 11. If read out of order they definitely won't make sense.

The final chapter of the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow was titled Self. He ended his examination of the unconscious mind with this.

He started with this quote: "The secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one's own infallibility with the power to learn from past mistakes." George Orwell (Page 196)

Mlodinow pointed out how several people have admitted no error or wrongdoing, even if admitting that might lessen punishment or penalties.

Mlodinow wrote, "The stronger the threat to feeling good about yourself, it seems, the greater the tendency to view reality through a distortion lens."  (Page 197)

As compelling examples Mlodinow wrote on how folks like notorious gangsters of the 1930s like Dutch Schultz, Al Capone and notorious murderer "Two Gun" Crowley all saw themselves as public benefactors or hunted men or innocent despite having killed many people.

Mlodinow gave descriptions of how we see ourselves as doing good work even if our business fails when following our plans, we think we did a good job as an attorney even when our client got the death penalty, we preserve an image of competence and good character for ourselves often despite any evidence otherwise.

Mlodinow wrote, "Consider a survey of nearly one million high school high school seniors. When asked to judge their ability to get along with others, 100 percent rated themselves as at least average, 60 percent rated themselves in the top 10 percent, and 25 percent considered themselves in the top 1 percent. And when asked about their leadership skills, only 2 percent rate themselves as below average. Teachers aren't any more realistic: 94 percent of college professors say they do above average work." (Page 198)

Psychologists call this tendency for optimism in self evaluation " the above average effect." Mlodinow gave numerous examples of other professions and surveys that show this is a universal human trait.

He also noted how people can recognize this trait, but of course only in other people. We resist seeing our own overestimating of our abilities. It's called the bias blind spot. One author said biases are like foreheads - it's far easier to see someone else's than my own. If I could see my bias it wouldn't bias me, because it has to be outside conscious direct thought to function as a bias.

Mlodinow wrote, "Normal and healthy individuals-students, professors, engineers, lieutenant colonels, doctors, business executives-tend to think of themselves as not just competent but proficient, even if they aren't." (Page 200)

"As the psychologist Jonathan Haidt put it, there are two ways to get at the truth: the way of the scientist and the way of the lawyer. Scientists gather evidence, look for regularities, form theories explaining their observations, and test them. Attorneys begin with a conclusion they want to convince others of and then seek evidence that supports it, while also attempting to discredit evidence that doesn't. The human mind is designed to be both a scientist and an attorney, both a conscious seeker of objective truth and an unconscious, impassioned advocate for what we want to believe. Together these approaches vie to create our worldview." (Page 200)

Mlodinow went on, "As it turns out, the brain is a decent scientist but an absolutely outstanding lawyer. The result is that in the struggle to fashion a coherent, convincing view of ourselves and the rest of the world, it is the impassioned advocate that usually wins over the truth seeker." (Page 201)

Mlodinow described how we combine parts of perception and filling in blanks with self approving illusions. We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt unconsciously and do it over and over in hundreds of tiny ways without conscious awareness. Then, our conscious mind innocently looks at the distorted final product and sees a seemingly perfect, consistent and logical representation of reality as memories with no clue it's not anything but a pure recording of the past.

Mlodinow described how psychologists call this kind of thought "motivated reasoning." He explained how the way we easily get this is due to ambiguity. Lots of things that we sense aren't perfectly and absolutely clear. We can acknowledge some degree of reality but somewhat reasonably see unclear things in ways that give ourselves every benefit of the doubt. We can do it for allies, particularly in comparison to our enemies. We can see in-group members as good, if it's unclear and out-group members as bad if it's unclear. We can set standards extremely high to accept negative evidence against ourselves and our groups or set standards extremely low to accept negative evidence against out-groups. We can act reasonable about it, but really are using how we feel about beliefs to determine our acceptance of those beliefs, substituting comfort with acceptance for proof being established.

Mlodinow described how ambiguity helps us to understand stereotypes for people we don't know well and be overly positive in looking at ourselves. He described studies and experiments that strongly support the idea we are incorporating bias in our decisions unknowingly.

Crucially Mlodinow added, "Because motivated reasoning is unconscious, people's claims that they are unaffected by bias or self-interest can be sincere, even as they make decisions that are in reality self-serving." (Page 205)

Mlodinow described how recent brain scans show our emotions are tied up in motivated reasoning. The parts of the brain that are active in emotional decisions are used when motivated reasoning occurs, and we can't in any easy way divorce ourselves from that human nature.

Numerous studies have shown we set impossibly high standards to disconfirm our beliefs, particularly deeply held emotional beliefs like religious and political beliefs. We set impossibly low standards for evidence to confirm our beliefs.

We also find fallacies or weaknesses in arguments, claims and sources of information we disagree with while dropping those standards if the information supports our positions. It's so natural we often don't see it in ourselves but sharply see it in people with opposite beliefs. They look biased and frankly dimwitted. But they aren't alone in this.

We see ourselves as being rational and forming conclusions based on patterns of evidence and sound reason, like scientists but really have more lawyer in us as we start with conclusions that favor us and our current beliefs, feelings, attitudes and behaviors and work to find a rational and coherent story to support it.

Mlodinow described research that has shown people who are unrealistically optimistic about themselves tend to be happy, have high hopes for their careers and accomplishments and start companies, create inventions and expect to be treated well and so inspire positive treatment often for themselves and treat others well in turn. More realistic views lead to higher depression and lower lifespan.

In human evolution if a person thousands of years ago was realistic they would have seen a life with lots of suffering, probable losses of children before they grew up and a struggle to simply have a decent life with modest chances of success. But the people that persisted with life and saw their chances optimistically succeeded over generations and so evolution has selected these traits over tens of thousands of years. Modern humans have probably had this behavior selected for at least a hundred thousand years.  Perhaps much longer.

So, it is truly human nature to be overly optimistic about yourself. Life is hard and has lots of suffering but evolution has largely solved the depressing reality of this challenge by ignoring it or having people see themselves as up to the challenge, whatever it may be.

Mlodinow ended his book, "We choose the facts that we want to believe. We also choose our friends, lovers, and spouses not just because of the way we perceive them but because of the way they perceive us. Unlike phenomena in physics, in life, events can often obey one theory or another, and what actually happens can depend largely upon which theory we choose to believe. It is a gift of the human mind to be extraordinarily open to accepting the theory of ourselves that pushes us in the direction of survival, and even happiness." (Page 218)

I want to emphasize that regarding Scientology this chapter is like this entire book extremely relevant. It spotlights the weaknesses and vulnerabilities Scientology or any false doctrine exploits but also answered questions Hubbard claimed to answer in Dianetics and Scientology with far more scientific and in my opinion accurate information.

I also wanted to emphasize that I think the information in alternatives to Scientology is chosen to provide information everyone should have an opportunity to examine. We all won't agree with everything in these books but should at least get to see these ideas so we can form educated opinions on these important subjects.

Alternatives To Scientology 10 Subliminal 9

The Alternatives To Scientology series Subliminal is based on the chapters in the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow and should definitely be read in order from number 2 to number 11. If read out of order they definitely won't make sense.

In chapter 9 of his book Subliminal Leonard Mlodinow takes on Feelings.

He started with the case of a twenty five year old woman in the 1950s who displayed convincing evidence she had different identities with different names and distinct personalities. She was found to have one personality that was passive, weak, and bad in her own opinion. She had another with a different name who saw herself as active, strong and good. She reportedly took eighteen years of therapy to be cured.

Mlodinow described how we all have many identities. We are different at fifty than thirty and even change throughout the day. We have been shown to behave differently when in a good mood from a bad one, Mlodinow described how studies have shown people make different decisions after seeing a happy film. Women behave differently when ovulating and men behave differently around women when they are ovulating.

Mlodinow wrote, "Our character is not indelibly stamped on us but is dynamic and changing."
(Page 177)

Mlodinow pointed out how implicit bias tests strongly support the hypothesis that we can hold unconscious racial and religious and gender bias while consciously abhoring prejudice. It's the humbling truth.

Mlodinow pointed out that no matter how introspective we are we can't directly access the information in the physical structures of our brains and nervous systems and related systems in our bodies and interview them for answers as to what they do and how they do it. They aren't talking.

Mlodinow described how we need to understand the reasons for our decisions and actions and more fundamentally our feelings and where they come from.

A simple feeling to examine is pain. It's easy to understand when you are in pain and when you aren't. We know Tylenol (acetaminophen) and a placebo will provide relief to some people in some circumstances equally well. Not all, but a significant and consistent number of people.

A more extreme example is available than a headache. In the 1950s doctors tried to treat chest pain pain from angina pectoris, which causes severe pain in your heart, by tying off arteries to cause new arteries to grow. They discovered the surgery reportedly relieved pain, but upon examining the patients after death the doctors realized no new arteries grew. But how were patients relieved with no improvement to their hearts ?

Several patients had an operation and five were unknowingly experimental subjects. They had two groups, people who actually received the surgery and five who were cut open and sewed shut with no operation at all, but told they had received the operation.

76% of the people that received the genuine operation reported less pain and all five patients with the bogus operation claimed relief. They had a suggestion of relief and apparently that was enough to prompt a lessening or removal of excruciating pain. Wow.

William James came up with many aspects of the view of emotions that we embrace today. Mlodinow spoke of neuroscientists and psychologists and people like myself who read lots of books on the current and past theories of the mind tend to see these ideas and hypotheses as plausible and likely true.

William James was born in New York city in 1842 and completed a medical degree in 1869 at twenty seven years old from Harvard. By 1872 he ended up teaching at Harvard. In 1884 his crucial ideas for understanding emotions where presented in the article "What Is an Emotion ?"

Mlodinow explained James' perspective, "we don't tremble because we're angry or cry because we feel sad; rather, we are aware of feeling angry because we tremble, and we feel sad because we cry. James was proposing a physiological basis for emotion, an idea that has gained currency today-thanks in part to the brain-imaging technology that allows us to watch the physical processes involved in emotion as they are actually occurring in the brain.
    Emotions, in today's neo-Jamesian view, are like perceptions and memories-they are reconstructed from the data at hand. Much of that data comes from your unconscious mind, as it processes environmental stimuli picked up by your senses and creates a physiological response. The brain also employs other data, such as your preexisting beliefs and expectations, and information about the current circumstances. All of that information is processed, and a conscious feeling of emotion is produced. " (Page 182)

James wrote the Principles of Psychology which became a classic and is considered one of the most influential books in the history of psychology.

But I can't overstate the importance of Mlodinow's description, that is why I recreated the long quote in full.

Our emotions and even physical experiences are shaped by our internal world. Our beliefs and expectations contribute to our feelings and perception. That's stunning.

In Scientology the implications are incredible. Scientology is packed with suggestions from Hubbard that he expressed with repetition and variation to load the minds, including the unconscious mind with preexisting beliefs and expectations. So, they were ready to interpret the experience of life as consistent with Scientology doctrine. And to feel the emotions they saw as consistent with Scientology as well.

James himself wasn't thrilled with his book nor were many of his contemporaries who focused on experiments with measurable components. Since James didn't share their focus in that way his ideas faced obstacles. His ideas got some consideration but eventually fell out of style and other ideas were popular.

In the 1960s James' ideas found new life. A famous experiment by Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer explored an intriguing idea. If we create memory and perception from limited information and fill in the blanks and smooth over rough edges as an active internal process of the unconscious that is usually completely hidden then perhaps we create emotions in a similar way.

 Mlodinow described that perhaps the mind fills the gaps in information and sometimes gets emotions wrong, just as we mistakenly remember details as incorrect memories and interviews of witnesses who sincerely believe they are being honest supports this. Numerous experiments support the idea that we construct our perceptions from a combination of sensory information and internal contributions by the unconscious. We sometimes mistake seeing or hearing one thing for another, so "emotional illusions" can be created as well.

Schachter and Singer created an experiment to see if emotional illusions could be induced. They wanted to see if people could be tricked into experiencing emotions. They dreamed up an experiment for using physiological phenomena and suggestions to influence people.

They told experimental subjects they were using an injection of a vitamin called "Suproxin" which may affect their visual skills. They used adrenaline and it produces increased heart rate and blood pressure, flushing, and accelerated breathing which all accompany emotional arousal.

They had three groups, one was the informed who were told the actual effects of the injection. The second, the ignorant, were told nothing and given the adrenaline. The third, a control group, was given an inert saline solution which did nothing and they were told nothing.

The experiment, like many psychology experiments used deception. The research subject was given an injection, the researcher left the subject with another researcher posing as another test subject. In a happy condition the covert researcher acted euphoric and happy. They used an anger condition in which the covert researcher when left with some people acted angry.

The researchers supposed people that knew why the other person was angry or happy would observe that but not feel that way themselves and that the ignorant subjects would interpret their reactions as the same as the emotions that the person before them displayed. They were watched by hidden observers to judge emotions and answered questions about their emotions after the experiment.

The predicted results occurred, informed and control subjects observed the emotions in the other person but didn't display or report them in themselves and in the ignorant group who received adrenaline and felt the effects similar to emotional arousal while watching another person they thought was undergoing the same treatment. When the covert researcher faked anger the subjects thought they were angry while the ones who saw happiness thought they became happy. An "emotional illusion" was successfully created of either anger or happiness. Many other experiments have used gentler methods to create physiological phenomena and see if people would mistake them for emotional or even sexual arousal. Mlodinow wrote on a few and it's well established that we can react to emotional illusions or arousal priming and be completely unaware.

We like to think of ourselves as consistent in temperament and as above bias and variation in mood based on hidden or unrelated influences. But sadly it's just not true. I might be angry at a coworker or family member because of an emotional leftover from a different person or experience or overly impatient because I am tired or hungry or just feel poorly. It's important to consider when you look at professions with power that need to make sound and just decisions like police officers, judges and political leaders.

Mlodinow wrote, "The examples I've talked about so far imply that we often don't understand our feelings. Despite that, we usually think that we do. Moreover, when asked to explain why we feel a certain way, most of us, after giving it some thought, have no trouble supplying reasons. Where do we find those reasons, for feelings that may not even be what we think they are? We make them up." (Page 188)

Numerous experiments and patients with memory issues have demonstrated that people will create explanations for situations and emotions with no evidence. Mlodinow described several examples and I will include one.

Oliver Sacks had a patient named Mr Thompson who had Korsakoff's syndrome which created a kind of amnesia in which generating new memories is knocked out. The poor patients forget what is said and done in seconds or minutes.

They however make up explanations for the experiences they have. Mr Thompson would see Oliver Sacks and not remember him, no matter how many times they met. He would see a white apron and say Sacks was a grocer or forget that a few minutes later and remember him a few minutes later as a butcher or later as a customer he knew. He made up the information he lacked.

Mlodinow wrote, "The term "confabulation" often signifies the replacement of a gap in one's memory by a falsification that one believes to be true. But we also confabulate to fill in gaps in our knowledge about our feelings. We all have these tendencies." (Page 190)

Mlodinow went on, "When you come up with an explanation for your feelings and behavior, your brain performs an action that would probably surprise you: it searches your mental database of cultural norms and picks something plausible"  (Page 191)

And, "That might sound like the lazy way, but studies suggest we take it: when asked how we felt, or will feel, we tend to reply with descriptions or predictions that conform to a set of standard reasons, expectations and cultural and societal explanations for a given feeling." (Page 191)

This has amazing implications regarding cults. In a cult like Scientology your cultural norms are set by Scientology doctrine. You rapidly are given explanations for hundreds of behaviors and feelings in Scientology. As someone entering Scientology as an adult student  you are routinely in the initial indoctrination for example informed about Hubbard's study technology in which being exasperated, confused, feeling blank, doping off, wanting to leave Scientology or stop studying Scientology or feeling bored are ALL explained as being due to barriers to study which of course are all handled by Scientology and never stopping or leaving. It's the cultural norm in Scientology indoctrination. Similarly in Scientology auditing the norm is to see doping off as being caused by running off past hypnosis and recovering, despite it being caused on course by barriers to study in the form of misunderstood words. And wanting to leave auditing is described as being caused by hidden acts that weren't revealed. And wanting to leave staff is seen as being caused by hidden evil acts too.

So the norm in Scientology is to see the same phenomena or behavior as being magically caused by different reasons depending on if you are on course or in auditing or on staff (as if walking from one room to another changes the nature of your mind) ...but the cultural norm is accepted, because it is enforced as the only plausible explanation in Scientology culture.

The explanation being illogical and to people outside Scientology unscientific and ludicrous and frankly possibly insane is irrelevant. When you have adopted the culture of Scientology the explanations in Scientology from Hubbard's doctrine are your explanations.

This is sadly not limited to Scientology or even cults. Often people simply support actions and people because they feel it's normal for members of their group to do it or condemn people and actions because they see the condemnation as normal in their group. The power of obedience to authority and conformity to group norms is astounding.

It's enough to give one pause and carefully consider the effects of our decisions. Mlodinow listed very plausible evidence from other experiments that strongly supports the idea that we act for reasons we are unaware of and confidently believe the explanations we dream up for our behavior. We don't say "I do what someone in my culture would usually do in my situation as much as I can, and don't deviate from that much." It's counterintuitive but true for me and you.

But this pinpoints how you get the radical transformation in cults. The cult recruit is uncertain and slowly learns the cultural norms of the group. They learn that Scientologists believe Dianetics is a legitimate science of the mind and has helped millions of people to be saner and happier because it's a valid subject. They learn that in Scientology Hubbard's ideas are seen as uniquely brilliant and validated by millions of people getting life changing results. They learn all disagreements and confusion or emotional upsets regarding Scientology materials are seen as never due to flaws in Scientology or Hubbard's ideas, but always, always, always due to misunderstood words in the student or other barriers to study or deficiencies in the student.

That's reinforced literally thousands and thousands of times in even a short period in Scientology. Within months a Scientologist experiences this personally and witnesses it done routinely to others. It's absolutely the cultural norm in Scientology. It's a defining characteristic of being a Scientologist.

So, as a Scientologist learns the cultural norms of both behavior and explanations of behavior in Scientology they face a dilemma - either be an outsider or heretic in Scientology or leave or be an orthodox Scientologist and step into obedience to Hubbard's authority and conform to the group norms. Unfortunately those norms are a hidden trap and forge a prison of the mind rapidly and effectively for many people, especially the people that are indoctrinated for hundreds of hours and stay for many years or decades. I hope this chapter has illuminated some of the human tendencies that make being persuaded by Scientology or other lies possible. Our minds evolved to help us survive as Mlodinow pointed out. They aren't supposed to be perfect truth finders and couldn't be, we need to process far too much information far too rapidly and to somehow store enough information to make sense but not overwhelm our minds. It's an imperfect compromise but nature doesn't make perfect products. It makes what survives until it doesn't survive anymore. I have to accept that my feelings and behavior get influenced and my explanation for it is often wrong. I also have to accept that everyone else has these biases and obstacles. We are all imperfect and get a lot of things wrong. It's unavoidable.

I hope to have a bit more patience and empathy for other people. They truly bear burdens I will never see, they often won't see them either.


Alternatives To Scientology 9 Subliminal 8

The Alternatives To Scientology series Subliminal is based on the chapters in the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow and should definitely be read in order from number 2 to number 11. If read out of order they definitely won't make sense.

In chapter 8 (In-Groups and Out-Groups) of the book Subliminal Leonard Mlodinow took on the subject of in-group bias and out-group bias.

It's a subject that we all need to understand to function in society and be able to make ethical decisions regarding how to treat people and what traps are easy to fall into in relationships.

Mlodinow described the Robber's cave experiments. These are very famous in social psychology and in fact this book is the fifth one I have read that references the Robber's cave experiments.

In the 1950s twenty two eleven year old boys went to camp. They were in two separate camps and formed teams and chose the names Rattlers and Eagles, they designed their own flags and competed fiercely in sports against each other.

They were kept separate the first week and didn't even know of each other's existence. The second week they met and engaged in a sports tournament featuring baseball, tug of war, tent pitching contests a treasure hunt. Awards were given including trophies, medals and prizes for winners.

On the first day of competition the Eagles lost a tug of war contest and two chose to take the Rattlers flag and burn it then raise it back up. The Rattlers saw this the next morning and plotted revenge.

A mass brawl broke out when the Eagles arrived. At ten thirty the next night the Rattlers raided the Eagles cabins. They rushed in ripping down mosquito nets, yelling insults, and grabbing a pair of jeans. The researchers devised situations that required cooperation like moving a "stalled" truck by working together and several other rigged situations.

Several boys from the two sides became friendly with each other, and hostilities lessened. It's an experiment that is still discussed in social psychology today.

Mlodinow wrote, "Humans have always lived in bands. If competing in a tug-of-war contest generated intergroup hostility, imagine the hostility between bands of humans with too many mouths to feed and too few elephant carcasses to dine on. Today we think of war as being at least in part based on ideology. Long before communism, democracy, or theories of racial superiority were invented, neighboring groups of people regularly fought with and even massacred each other, inspired by the competition for resources. In such an environment, a highly evolved sense of "us versus them" would have been crucial to survival.
   There was also a sense of "us versus them" within bands, for, as in other hominid species, prehistoric humans formed alliances and coalitions within groups"..."So if the ability to pick up cues that signal political allegiances is important in contemporary work, in prehistoric times it was vital, for the equivalent of being fired was being dead." (Page 164)

Mlodinow went on to describe how in-group and out-group are defined in science. In-group means any group a person considers themself a part of and out-group means any group a person considers themself to not belong to. It's not about what is popular as in sometimes means.

What groups we put others in determines how we view them and how we treat them as does what groups we put ourselves in does as well.

Mlodinow described something I have seen strong evidence for in other places. An individual usually sees themself as belonging to many groups based on gender, education, race, religion, philosophy family, immediate family, class or favorite sports teams or hobbies.

Something very interesting that Mlodinow and others have pointed out is a tendency humans have. We like to have a positive self-image usually.

We have different opinions on the groups we are in and our status in them that change over time. We pick the group that gives us the highest or best self-image in our opinion at the moment.

I have met guys that identity by political affiliation or education level or status of military veteran or talk about having played football years ago. Some people talk about the bands that they saw and see themselves as music fans and not their education level or profession.

Of course in Scientology virtually anyone can be an executive or post with a fancy title. They might not get any pay or benefits, but they can claim high status in Scientology very often by simply giving their mind, time, labor and life to Scientology.

It's worth noting that cults use a false high status to keep members in. After all, leaving and becoming a nobody or worse a failure is almost unbearable.

Mlodinow wrote, "Both experimental and field studies have found, in fact, that people will make large financial sacrifices to help establish a feeling of belonging to an in-group they aspire to feel part of." (Page 165)

There are country clubs people pay huge amounts to be members at, in which they never go to the club, but are known as a member.

It's worth noting that many Scientologists pay money to be a high status member of the IAS or other groups that give huge donations.

The man behind the Robber's Cave experiment, Muzafer Sherif, came up with an experiment in which he demonstrated that people in groups will agree to having seen the same thing.

He knew that if a person is in a room that is completely dark except for a dot of light that is still the brain will play a kind of trick that makes the dot seem to move to a person.

Sherif came up with an experiment in which people were put in groups and asked how much the dot moved. The results varied greatly between groups but within groups who were together spoke in response to the perception of motion in front of each other. They settled on agreement within a narrow range of the movement. Then if group members came back to look again individually they stuck with the group agreement on the range. Agreement colored perception.

Mlodinow wrote, "The perception of the subjects' in-group had become their perception." (Page 166)

Studies have found people tend to like people in their own profession more than people in other professions quite often. People also in surveys find people in their in-group to have variation and different individual qualities. It's been supported by studies on race, religion and other qualities.

We see us as a bunch of individuals with great variety and them as pretty much the same, or awfully close to it.

Our emphasis on which in-group we consider as identifying us can have a profound effect on our behavior.

A fascinating study on unconscious priming (getting someone to think about something and be focused on it is priming) demonstrated the reality of priming as powerful and the impact of in-group orientation.

Three Harvard researchers came up with a clever experiment. They had Asian American women take a difficult math test. The subjects belonged to two groups. Asian Americans are thought of as proficient at math and woman are thought of as bad at math.

Before they took the test one group of participants answered a questionnaire about their parents, grandparents and topics related to their identity as Asian Americans and another group of participants answered questions about gender related issues.

The questions were designed to trigger either the identity of being Asian Americans or women, for each group.

A third group was asked questions about their cable service, designed as neutral and a control group.

The women saw no conscious effects of the questions. The women that focused on being Asian Americans did best, the control group did second best and the women that focused on being women did worst. Being unconsciously primed to either be confident or not affected their performance.

We belong to many in-groups and they have conflicting norms. This gives us as individuals contradictions in thought, feelings and behavior.

It's a very worthwhile subject to consider at length and books like Leon Festinger's A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance cover this in fine detail. I wrote an extensive eleven part series on that book and Scientology here.

Mlodinow described an interesting phenomenon that to me highlighted our tendency to conform with our in-group.

Mlodinow described a study done on public service announcements. One ad denounced littering according to Mlodinow and resulted in less littering and another ad with the phrase "Americans will produce more litter than ever!" resulted in increased litter.

In a related study researchers made a sign discouraging visitors from stealing wood at Petrified Fire Forest National Park. The sign was on a popular path with secretly marked pieces of wood.

They found with no sign about 3 percent of wood was taken in a ten hour period. With the warning it jumped to 8 percent of the wood.

The effect on human beings of telling them a behavior is frequent or normal or what their peers do is to increase their participation in that behavior, even if a warning comes with that information.

This has stunning implications for a variety of history and communication. I could go on at length about the impact but won't take that on in full here. I will say there have been times in places like England in which members of the government said warning the public about Scientology would result in increased membership in Scientology and they were correct. Giving publicity to Scientology when most people never heard of Scientology resulted in some buying Scientology books or services to understand Scientology. Even when that publicity was a warning.

Mlodinow wrote, "It is the simple act of knowing that you belong to a group that triggers your in-group affinity."

Mlodinow described how a lot of research supports the fact that any group membership is sufficient to trigger the bias for an in-group and against an out-group. People in research who have the same color rubber bands display it as do people who like the same paintings or bands or sports teams or are cat people or dog people or prefer Pepsi or Coke.

Significant research by hundreds of researchers has supported this. The book Age Of Propaganda covers this in detail and I similarly wrote a long series of blog posts on this here as well.

Mlodinow described a study that shows a couple things that are extremely important in understanding human behavior. There was a long and complex experiment with over a dozen stages. Members were divided into an in-group and out-group. They were allowed to pick between different options that awarded points. Sometimes they could do different things and sometimes they could pick between different results.

If they had no bias the most logical thing to do would be to award the most points possible for both people. They however showed in-group bias.

When awarding two in-group members people chose to award the most points possible. When awarding out-group members they chose to award far fewer points.

Mlodinow wrote, "And what is really extraordinary is that when the options required awarders to divide points between one in-group member and one out-group, they tended to make choices that maximized the difference between the rewards they gave to the group members, even if that action resulted in a lesser reward for their own group member." (Page 173)

"That's right: as a trend, over dozens of individual reward decisions, subjects sought not to maximize their own group's reward but the difference between the reward their group would receive and that which the other group would be awarded. Remember, this experiment has been replicated many times, with subject pools of all ages and many different nationalities, and all have reached the same conclusion: we are highly invested in feeling different from one another--and superior--no matter how flimsy the grounds for our sense of superiority, and no matter how self-sabotaging that may end up being." (Page 174)

This shows we will accept a penalty to punish the out-group. It's reminding me of the joke about the man who bitterly hated his ex wife who found a magic lamp. He rubbed it and out popped a genie.

The genie informed the man he would grant him three wishes but give his ex wife double whatever the man wished for. The man wished for a million dollars. Poof - a million dollars appears and his ex wife has two million dollars appear. The man wished for a beautiful house. Poof - a beautiful house appears for him and two are there for his ex wife. The man finally made his third wish "I want you to beat me half to death !" He told the genie with grim determination.

He could have asked for more benefits but needed his enemy to suffer more than he wanted to prosper. This is an aspect of human behavior that may damn us. We now have weapons that can certainly destroy the human race completely.

If a group leader feels that not striking can leave too much of a benefit to an enemy he may launch a nuclear strike, despite the inevitable retaliation leading to extinction. That's not hyperbole.

Obviously massive nuclear weapons reduction to a much, much lower quantity - perhaps less than even one or two hundred nuclear weapons worldwide may be the only certain protection against this threat. That's a huge challenge but honestly it won't happen unless it's pointed out as necessary and why first.

A lot of economists and philosophers and psychologists have assumed human beings are rational actors that act for maximum personal or social benefit and this evidence shows that is simply not true. We are not purely rational, not by a long shot.

Back in the Robber's Cave experiment the boys were put in artificially created situations to encourage teamwork. The water for camp was shut off and blocked and the boys had to work together and a truck of supplies was "stalled" and the boys had to work together to pull the truck to free it.

Several other situations were created to require cooperation and they found that the relationships between them had a tremendous change. Some of the boys from the two groups even exchanged souvenirs and became friends.

Similarly when 911 came New Yorkers who never normally would associate banded together to help each other and other people.

Several T.V. shows, comic books and novels have dreamed of the potential of using one huge threat to mankind to end our wars and unite us as one.

It's an interesting and unfortunately in my opinion real situation today. I believe nuclear weapons present such a threat. It may take a unified effort by millions or billions of people to eliminate this threat. Arguably climate change is a threat of the same order of magnitude, or even higher, and similarly requires a huge effort by an equally large number of people.

Other threats to our survival may inspire overcoming in-group and out-group bias not out of pure compassion but cold blooded survival.

Einstein had remarked on humanity overcoming nationality and it's necessity. He was likely correct.

The implications of this information for Scientology is tremendous and vital. Scientology absolutely promotes bias for Scientology and against enemies.

I could pull up dozens of Scientology references from Hubbard that repeat and vary this theme. Both from promoting Scientology and stating Scientologists are saner, smarter and more ethical than everyone else, by a lot and also condemning everyone not in Scientology as degraded, not even trying in life and blinded by a number of factors that renders them dumb animals sleep walking through life in a dim fog of delusions.

The full effects of these biases are difficult to fully understand or communicate. I don't think I or anyone will totally get it. But I can try to understand them and myself as well.

Alternatives To Scientology 8 Subliminal 7

The Alternatives To Scientology series Subliminal is based on the chapters in the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow and should definitely be read in order from number 2 to number 11. If read out of order they definitely won't make sense.

In chapter 7 (Sorting People and Things) of his book Subliminal, Leonard Mlodinow took on the human tendency to place people and things in categories. He started with the example of a list of twenty groceries being difficult to remember just from hearing them said aloud. But if they are sorted into categories like vegetables, cereals, meats, snacks etc then it's easier to remember them.

Mlodinow wrote, "categorization is a strategy our brains use to more efficiently store information." (Page 145)

"Every object and person we encounter in the world is unique, but we wouldn't function very well if we perceived them that way. We don't have the time or the mental bandwidth to observe and consider each detail of every item in our environment." (Page 146)

Mlodinow made the example of a hypothetical situation - if one encountered a bear and took the time to evaluate every detail of sensory information in full we would likely be eaten before we got through deciding what is going on, never reaching a decision to leave.

 In every day life for most of the last fifty thousand years human beings have needed to get a thousand to three thousand calories of food and some water and protect themselves from predators, the weather and other people. To be efficient and fast enough in decision making people must take a shortcut, so we use categories as shortcuts to survive.

Even young children can tell a tiny chihuahua, a medium pit bull and a huge Saint Bernard are all dogs while a tiny kitten is a cat which is different from a dog despite there being many differences in the broad category of "dog."

Mlodinow described the focus we have on specific details in categories to distinguish between items in categories. The difference between a "b" and d" is the direction the curve goes in and we instinctively key on this to see which we are dealing with.

Similarly we key on other differences in categories. I look at the air and ground to see if it's raining, if I am not sure due to darkness I look at puddles to see if they are responding to falling rain by moving or if they are still. I may assume that indicates no rain or light rain. These are subtle differences in otherwise identical environments.

Mlodinow wrote, "If we conclude that a certain set of objects belongs to one group and a second set of objects to another, we may then perceive those in different groups as less similar than they really are. Merely placing objects in groups can affect our judgment of those objects. So while categorization is a natural and crucial shortcut, like our brain's other survival-oriented tricks, it has its drawbacks." (Page 147)

Mlodinow described an experiment in which people were asked to judge the length of lines. Researchers put several lines in a group A and others in a group B.  Researchers found people thought lines that are in a group together are closer in length than they actually are and the difference in length between lines from different groups is different than it really is. Similar experiments with color differences and groups and guessing temperature changes in a thirty day period within one month or from the middle of a month to the middle of the next month is seen as more extreme. Same number of days but just saying it's a different month increases the estimate of change.

The implications are stunning. If people can be placed in categories and thought of as fundamentally defined by those categories we easily can misjudge people.

This reminds me of a terrible quote:
“The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category. ” ―Adolf Hitler

That's a reminder of a terrible problem with human behavior and categorization.

Mlodinow wrote, "In all these examples, when we categorize, we polarize. Things that for one arbitrary reason or another are identified as belonging to the same category seem more similar to each other than they really are, while those in different categories seem more different than they really are. The unconscious mind transforms fuzzy differences and subtle nuances into clear-cut distinctions. Its goal is to erase irrelevant detail while maintaining information on what is important. When that's done successfully, we simplify our environment and make it easier and faster to navigate. When it's done inappropriately, we distort our perceptions, sometimes with results harmful to ourselves and others. That's especially true when our tendency to categorize affects our view of other humans--when we view the doctors in a given practice, the attorneys in a given law firm, the fans of a certain sports team, or the people in a given race or ethnic group as more alike than they really are." (Page 148)

Mlodinow wrote on how the term "stereotype" was created by French printer Firmin Didot in 1794. It was a printing process that created duplicate plates for printing. With these plates mass production via printing was possible.

It got its modern use by Walter Lippmann in his 1922 book Public Opinion. Lippmann is perhaps best known nowadays as a person frequently quoted by noted intellectual and American dissident Noam Chomsky. Chomsky has criticized the use of propaganda to manage populations by the government, wealthy individuals, corporations and media.

From Subliminal Mlodinow quoted Lippmann,  "The real environment is altogether too big, too complex, and too fleeting for direct acquaintance...And although we have to act in that environment, we have to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage with it." (Page 149) Lippmann called that model stereotype.

Lippmann in Mlodinow's estimation correctly recognized the source of stereotypes as cultural exposure. In his time newspapers, magazines and the new medium of film communicated in simplified characters and easily understood concepts for audiences. Lippmann noted stock characters were used to be easily understood and character actors were recruited to fill stereotypes.

Darell J. Steffensmeier and H.T. Himmelweit , two social psychologists performed an experiment in a large department store in Iowa city. A person in either fine clothes, like a nice suit with a tie or modest clothes like dirty, patched jeans and a workman's shirt would walk down an aisle and place a small item of clothing in his pocket in front of a customer. The thief then walked out of hearing range but stayed within sight of the customer. A store employee then came near the witness and began rearranging shelves. The thief remained within sight and the witness could report the crime, unheard or ignore it. This was repeated over a hundred and fifty times at stores throughout the area. Both the thieves and employees that rearranged shelves were actors, and everything was done with the permission of the stores.

The witnesses reported the well dressed thieves less often and in their descriptions the scruffy looking thieves were described in far harsher terms. This is the accumulation of results of our vision missing elements we fill in and our hearing filling in sounds we don't hear and our memories fill in gaps with details that seem appropriate and consistent with our knowledge and our brains fill in details on faces which we only remember a few general features of.

Mlodinow wrote, "In each of these cases our subliminal minds take incomplete data, use context or other cues to complete the picture, make educated guesses, and produce a result that is sometimes accurate, sometimes not, but always convincing. Our minds also fill in the blanks when we judge people, and a person's category membership is part of the data we use to do that." (Page 152)

Mlodinow described how psychologist Henri Tajfel was behind the realization that perceptual biases of categorization lie at the root of prejudice. Tajfel was behind the line length studies that support his hypothesis. Tajfel was a Polish Jew captured in France in World War II. He knew a Frenchman would be treated as an enemy by the Nazis while a French Jew would be treated as an animal and a Polish Jew would be killed.

He knew how he would be treated was entirely limited by the category he was placed in. Being a Polish Jew was a guarantee of death and so he impersonated a French Jew and was liberated in 1945. Mlodinow wrote, "According to the  psychologist William Peter Robinson, today's theoretical understanding of those subjects "can almost without exception be traced back to Tajfel's theorizing and direct research intervention." (Page 153)

Mlodinow wrote, "Unfortunately, as was the case with other pioneers, it took the field many years to catch up with Tajfel's insights. Even well into the 1980s, many psychologists viewed discrimination as a conscious and intentional behavior, rather than one commonly arising from normal and avoidable cognitive processes related to the brain's vital propensity to categorize." (Page 153)

In 1998 Tajfel was vindicated. Researchers at the University of Washington published a paper on the Implicit Association Test.

In the test a person is presented words like "brother" or "aunt" and respond with "hello" to male terms and "goodbye" to female ones. You proceed as quickly as possible and try to avoid errors.

Next you are given names of unambiguous gender to respond to like "Dick" and "Jane.

Finally the real test begins in the third part of the exercise. You get names and relatives to respond to:

Joan, John, granddaughter, Beth, daughter, Mike, niece, Richard, Leonard, son, aunt, grandfather, Brian, Donna, father, mother, Gary, Kathy.

In another phase you are asked to say "hello" to a male name or female relative and "goodbye" to a female name or male relative.

The time it takes to do the answering in this phase consistently is longer than the earlier phases. You have to sort by four categories now where before it was simply two categories of male or female.

Mlodinow wrote, "That is the crux of the IAT: when the labeling you asked to do follows your mental associations, it speeds you up, but when it mixes across associations, it slows you down. As a result, by examining the difference in speed between the two ways you are asked to label, researchers can probe how strongly a person associates traits with a social category." (Page 155)

As an example Mlodinow described lists with male and female names and terms from science and art. He said if you had no association between men and science or women and art the time it would take to respond to male names and art terms with "hello" and female names and science terms with "goodbye" would be identical to the time to respond to female names and art terms with "hello" and male names and science terms with goodbye."

Many people associate women with art and associate men with science. The times to respond for the counterintuitive associations of men with art and women with science are longer for many people than the time for men with science and women with art, even among people that exhibit low gender bias via self reporting.

The test has also been performed with black faces, white faces and positive terms (peace, joy, love, happy, etc) or negative terms (awful, failure, evil, nasty etc) if you have pro white and anti black bias it will be counterintuitive for you to associate positive terms with black faces and negative terms with white faces. According to Mlodinow about 70% of  white people tested show significant time increases when matching black faces to positive terms and negative terms to white faces over the time it takes to associate white faces and positive terms and black faces to negative terms. This stuns some people who report not consciously holding racial bias.

It even shows up for some black people. They are exposed to stereotypes via media and it has some effect. I have seen evidence that the media over represents black and Hispanic folks as criminal, lazy, dishonest, drug addicts and prostitutes. The New Jim Crow and Age Of Propaganda both go into detail on this far more.

Even some Jewish people display antisemitism immersed in a culture with antisemitism as a component.

There's a portion of the brain that professor Robert Sapolsky associates with very emotional reactions and decisions, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex or VMPC. It's got a counterpart called the DLPC. Sapolsky describes the VMPC as very emotional and the DLPC as deliberate. It's associated with careful and logical decisions.

Mlodinow wrote, "Though your evaluation of another person may feel rational and deliberate, it is heavily informed by automatic, unconscious processes--the kind of emotion-regulating processes carried out within the prefrontal cortex." (Page 156)

It's been found that damage to the VMPC eliminates unconscious gender stereotypes and other associations in a variety of situations.

Lippmann was correct that the culture through movies, T.V. shows, magazines, newspapers and now memes online creates and reinforces categories we absorb and retain. Significant research described in Robert Cialdini's book Influence and Age Of Propaganda establishes that repetition of messages strengthens their impact and media specifically heightens belief in stereotypes the media present and that includes inaccurate stereotypes used often.

Mlodinow wrote, "The challenge is not how to stop categorizing but how to become aware of when we do it in ways that prevent us from being able to see individual people for who they really are." (Page 157)

He described how psychology pioneer Gordon Allport wrote that categories saturate all they contain with the same "ideational and emotional flavor." (Page 157) He cited a 1948 experiment. A Canadian social scientist wrote letters to a hundred resorts that advertised in papers around the holidays. The resorts each got two identical letters asking for accommodations - with one difference. One letter was from Mr. Lockwood and the other from Mr. Greenberg. 95% of the resorts offered Mr. Lockwood a room and 36% offered Mr. Greenberg a room. The perceived religion of Christian or Jewish obviously explains the discrepancy.

Mlodinow listed quotes that show extreme racist attitudes by historical champions of the oppressed Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara and even Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is noteworthy for giving a variety of statements on race and not all were free of bias and discrimination.

Hopefully we have made some progress regarding conscious discrimination for much of the population but unconscious bias is just beginning to acknowledged. We have to recognize our tendency to use categories and work to find differences within categories.

Mlodinow is optimistic about reducing bias and uses the fact that for minor crimes more attractive people get far less severe punishments but for serious crimes the punishment is more even. For murder you typically get a longer trial and more of a chance to look closely at details.

I think we may never eliminate unconscious racial and gender bias completely, certainly not in my lifetime. But acknowledging that reality and honestly facing scientific evidence that supports the fact that we are biased and social and historical evidence like that described in The New Jim Crow is a beginning. I think the best way to deal with unpleasant realities is to start with honesty about them and speak out. Complacency is the first enemy to overcome in society and ourselves.

I have been lucky enough to know women that have been much smarter than me, overcoming gender stereotypes and black folks that are also much smarter and harder working than me and of honest and admirable character, also overcoming racial stereotypes and Muslims that are just interested in the same things as anyone else like having a decent job, taking care of their families and enjoying time off. I could go on but the point is that despite bias evidence that it's inaccurate on every level is available.

I think the human race now with nuclear weapons needs to overcome bias in a way that is more dire and urgent than ever before. In earlier times even a Hitler or Stalin or other leader couldn't kill the human race if they devoted all their resources to it for their entire lives. Now several countries could exterminate the entire human race if they used their nuclear arsenals. Certainly Russia and the United States with over three or four thousand powerful nuclear weapons each could do that. In a few hours either one could unleash enough destruction to render earth uninhabitable for humans and destroy hundreds of millions immediately and billions in the aftermath of one day of attack.

We can't afford the immaturity of racial and religious discrimination at the levels we have displayed in the past or we guarantee ourselves no future. Curbing our genocidal tendencies is now a matter of species survival.

I have to comment here on the implications this chapter has on Scientology. In Scientology Hubbard tried to use categories to control the thoughts and behavior of his followers.

Here are a few of Hubbard's quotes to show his intention:

"Psychiatry" and "psychiatrist" are easily redefined to mean "an anti-social enemy of the people". This takes the kill crazy psychiatrist off the preferred list of professions … The redefinition of words is done by associating different emotions and symbols with the word than were intended...Scientologists are redefining "doctor", "Psychiatry" and "psychology" to mean "undesirable antisocial elements"...The way to redefine a word is to get the new definition repeated as often as possible. Thus it is necessary to redefine medicine, psychiatry and psychology downward and define Dianetics and Scientology upwards. This, so far as words are concerned, is the public opinion battle for belief in your definitions, and not those of the opposition. A consistent, repeated effort is the key to any success with this technique of propaganda. "Propaganda by Redefinition of Words" (5 October 1971) L Ron Hubbard 

The only safe public opinion to head for is they love us and are in a frenzy of hate against the enemy, this means standard wartime propaganda is what one is doing, complete with atrocity, war crimes trials, the lot. Know the mores of your public opinion, what they hate. That’s the enemy. What they love. That’s you. You preserve the image or increase it of your own troops and degrade the image of the enemy to beast level. February 16, 1969 policy letter Battle Tactics L Ron Hubbard

In any event, any person from 2.0 down on the tone scale should not have, in any thinking society, any civil rights of any kind, because by abusing those rights he brings into being arduous and strenuous laws which are oppressive to those who need no such restraints." Science of Survival L Ron Hubbard

"There are only two answers for the handling of people from 2.0 down on the tone scale, neither one of which has anything to do with reasoning with them or listening to their justification of their acts. The first is to raise them on the tone scale by un-enturbulating some of their theta by any one of the three valid processes. The other is to dispose of them quietly and without sorrow." 
Science of Survival L Ron Hubbard

Unfortunately, the person who does not want you to study Scientology is your enemy as well as ours.
When he harangues against us to you as a “cult,” as a “hoax,” as a very bad thing done by very bad people, he or she is only saying, “Please, please, please don’t try to find me out.”Thousands of such protesting people carefully investigated by us have been found to have unsavory pasts and sordid motives they did not dare (they felt) permit to come to light. The wife or mother who rails against a family member who takes up Scientology is, we regret to have to say, guided by very impure motives, generated in the morass of dread secrets long withheld. The father, husband or friend who frowns upon one knowing more about the mind is hiding something that he feels would damage him.“You had better leave Scientology alone!” is an instinctive defense, prompted in all cases investigated by a guilty conscience. CERTAINTY
The Official Publication of DIANETICS and SCIENTOLOGY in the British Isles
Vol. 7 No. 2 1960 L Ron Hubbard

Degraded beings are about eighteen to one over Big Beings in the human race (minimum ratio). So those who keep things going are few. HCO POLICY LETTER OF 22 MARCH 1967 Alter-Is and Degraded Beings LRon Hubbard

Some thetans are bigger than others. None are truly equal Degraded beings, taking a cue from SP associates, instinctively resent, hate and seek to obstruct any person in charge of anything or any Big Being.
 HCO POLICY LETTER OF 22 MARCH 1967 Alter-Is and Degraded Beings LRon Hubbard

Hubbard in hundreds of references put his enemies and critics in broad categories of evil. His critics are all portrayed as liars and criminals without exception.

This ends up permeating the thinking of Scientologists. He also portrays all confusion and disagreements in indoctrination as being due to misunderstood words and all desires to leave as always being motivated by hidden evil acts and misunderstood words. No valid reason for wishing to leave Scientology is recognized.

Hubbard in one set of references defines social personalities as helping constructive groups and hurting destructive groups and antisocial personalities as helping destructive groups and hurting constructive groups. He shifts this in his definition of suppressive persons to people that otherwise are identical but hurt Scientology and don't help it. He calls the antisocial personality the suppressive person and the anti Scientologist.

He praises Scientologists in comparison to all others and proclaimed there is no more ethical group on the planet than Scientologists. He stresses the broad categories and denies nuances within categories.

His view of pure good and evil is reinforced in hundreds of references on crimes and ethics and the tone scale and numerous other topics.

Scientologists increasingly see cult members in good standing as acceptable and outsiders as evil, degraded, criminal and unaware.

In the elite Sea Org a recruitment poster had a line that I will paraphrase. It said for every Sea Org member working to make it go right there are a million people that don't even know what right is. Outsiders are seen as completely incompetent and unethical, like children that refuse to grow up and have to be led to even survive.

Overcoming the negative aspects of bias regarding categorization is a tremendous challenge for each individual and society. It's a much, much more extreme challenge for members of the Scientology cult, proportional to their fanatical zealotry and degree of indoctrination. Children raised in Scientology face particularly unique and difficult challenges compared to adults that became cult members.

I hope this helps some people move from the category of unaware about prejudice and helps some ex Scientologists move towards recovery.

Alternatives To Scientology 7 Subliminal 6

The Alternatives To Scientology series Subliminal is based on the chapters in the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow and should definitely be read in order from number 2 to number 11. If read out of order they definitely won't make sense.

In the sixth chapter (Judging People by Their Covers) Leonard Mlodinow took on aspects of how our unconscious mind guides reactions in ways we don't usually perceive or understand and further we even don't believe in ourselves, even when presented evidence. We don't feel like we are biased or primed in an unconscious manner but a lot of evidence supports this idea.

Mlodinow discussed how we react automatically to nonverbal social cues.

He gave some great examples of studies that show we are not the rational actors we usually presume. A Stanford communications professor Clifford Nass had a couple hundred computer students work on computers that used prerecorded voices.

The students were told that they were preparing for a test with computer tutors. The tests were on topics like mass media and love and relationships.

After the training the students took a test and evaluated the course and computer.

Nass was interested in if people reacted unconsciously and automatically. In one experiment half the students had computers with female voices and half had male voices. They presented the same information.

The students knew these were computers and not people. They displayed gender stereotypes in their evaluation of the computers, despite knowing the computers had no gender and were not people.

They saw the female voiced computer as more knowledgeable about relationships, a common stereotype, and that forcefulness is more desirable in men and is seen as being bossy in women, a common stereotype. This was not likely to be a conscious decision.

Nass also did an experiment in which he saw if students would spare the feelings of their computers. In this one half the students entered an evaluation of the computer tutor on the same computer and half entered the evaluation on a different computer. They actually were harsher in their evaluation on the other computer.

It's like having to say something to a person's face, we usually have social politeness and lessen direct criticism, but let it out more about people who aren't around. And the students spared the "feelings" of their computer tutors. Not likely to be a knowing and conscious decision.

Mlodinow wrote about research that supports the idea that our voices translate into impressions of us. The speed we speak with and how low or high our voices are and other features influence impressions.

It's been found slow speakers with many pauses are not trusted or believed as fast talkers with loud voices and few pauses. Of interest to ex Scientologists is the fact that Scientology training routines and indoctrination emphasize eliminating pauses and hesitations and having communication that reaches the audience. That includes hours of training to be heard well, be loud enough and speak clearly so an audience will receive your communication.

It helps Scientologists to appear confident. And a reoccurring theme with all the conditioned behavior of Scientologists is that it reduces normal human body language and eye contact, and looking away and normal voice changes due to emotions are all altered, reduced, inhibited or removed to some degree in Scientology. So, Scientologists are less expressive through normal means and often become less receptive to normal people, particularly if isolated from normal people in the cult for extended periods of months, years or even decades.

People that spend decades in Scientology as staff or Sea Org members, or in the most extreme cases get raised in the cult separate from normal people entirely, are likely to have difficulties in relationships and communication due to the conditioned behavior in Scientology and lack of social cues, or diminished or suppressed social cues, and their impaired ability to read cues from others even on an unconscious level. For normal people reading the cues and reacting is automatic and routine.

Mlodinow wrote on research that supports the hypothesis that social touching increases cooperation. Examples of sports teams actually performing better when teammates touch each other, with high fives or chest bumps as in basketball were found.

We even have nerve endings in our faces and hands and arms that are particularly sensitive to social touching and we find it pleasurable.

Of relevance regarding Scientology is the fact that Scientologists touch in ways that increase cooperation and trust between them.

In certain training drills Scientologists lead each other around and practice controlling a person. They use auditing methods like assists in which they touch one another. The Scientology culture includes touching and it is often touching a person is only used to in close relationships. I am not saying anything improper of a sexual nature occurs, I am saying we usually don't have people we are not very familiar with and trusting of touch us as closely as Scientologists touch each other in auditing and training unless we are very close and comfortable with them.

The touching during auditing and indoctrination in my opinion helps to build trust in an uninspected manner. If we are comfortable and trusting of someone, we usually don't say "I trust you because I am used to letting you touch my hand and back in training." We just think of people and go with our feelings, without inspecting the origin of those feelings.

Many of us feel like we are rational, take all the facts into consideration and make a wise and informed decision when voting. Um-hmm.

The debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon in the US presidential campaign is famous for the fact that people that listened to the radio overwhelmingly felt Nixon won while people that saw the debate on television saw the healthy and tan Kennedy as the winner and the pale and sick Nixon as the loser.

Research has shown people generally prefer more attractive candidates when voting. If a more attractive candidate gets 59% of the vote, on average, that wins the election.

Students in one experiment were asked to predict the winners of elections with no knowledge of issues or who the candidates are. These were children and not political experts. They picked the winners of elections around seventy percent of the time. They merely picked the more attractive candidate.

Mlodinow described a 2005 study at Princeton in which volunteers judged black and white head shots of candidates and chose the more competent looking candidate. These were candidates that had competed for ninety five senate seats and six hundred congressional seats in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The more competent looking candidates in the volunteers opinions won 72 percent of senate seats and 67 percent of congressional seats.

In 2006 an experiment was done with candidates before the election and the more competent looking candidates won 69 percent of gubernatorial races and 72 percent of senate races. Our politics sadly are only skin deep.

We are sadly biased towards favoring more attractive people and letting them be our leaders.

The Scientology culture is not immune to this. I have heard of Sea Org members being assigned positions based on being attractive. I have seen that Sea Org members can be told to change their appearance or lose weight to properly represent the Sea Org.

I have seen staff being assigned more visible positions based on being attractive. Scientology places strong emphasis on projecting an image of healthy, happy and attractive people being Scientologists and downplaying the average looking or heaven forbid unattractive members of their group.

We can get to know people as individuals very closely and understand their character. This takes time and communication and occurs rarely. Most people we meet are ones we will judge rapidly, and often inaccurately, and never get to know well.

Our unconscious minds instantly forms impressions of people. They are guided by the slightest of cues and primed by details so subtle we aren't aware on a conscious level. We may know how we feel about someone, but not why. The origins of our thoughts and feelings are often hidden and guessed incorrectly.

If a person is attractive and acts confident, touches us in a way inspiring ease or even liking it's easy to relax, let your guard down and want to trust them.

And that is all exploited in Scientology.