Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Power of Words and Ideas

Words alone are able to make us believe the most incredible things. Is that mind-control? In an literal sense, maybe. In the anti-cult sense, of course not. Monica is right to point out that context is important too (feedback from the outside world), and this is where Freedom of Speech really kicks in and why ban of any form is ultimately detrimental. Words and ideas are best fought through more words and ideas, not by less. In the increasing debunking of myths like cult mind-control and hypnosis, we ought to realize the mere power of words and ideas on their own.

AntiCultControversies : Message: RE: [AntiCultControversies] Re: Debunking Hypnosis Myths:
[...] I can remember the first time I began to question that was back in the 1990s when I was working with some people who were in a small no-name cult where seven people were living in a house with a woman who claimed to be an alien "walk-in" and had gained complete control over her followers. She had them believing that they were destined to save the world and also had them believing that they were all sexually abused as children and had murdered people (this was proven false when one of the people allegedly "murdered" turned up in town alive and well a few days later not having had any contact with group members). I had in-depth conversations with two of the members and she didn't seem to be using any form of hypnosis with them. The more credible explanation was that they spent all their time together with little feedback from the outside world and lost all perspective on other points of view. If the assertion is made that all cults use mind control, it only takes one exception to refute it, but there seem to be many more than just one.

The possibility that gets ignored is that maybe people can become suggestible in situations that do not use hypnosis and that no special "trance state" is necessary. There are more ordinary social influence factors that could be going on that could be having much more powerful effects than hypnosis.

[...] I doubt anyone would then conclude that books in and of themselves are dangerous and keep people away from them. There are clearly many different variables operating in these situations. Hypnosis might be one variable, but it doesn't seem to be a necessary one for even a dramatic conversion.

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