Tuesday, February 17, 2009

CoS Behind Schedule on New Montreal Building

The CoS bought the building "La Patrie" in Montreal, Canada, for $CAN 4.25 million in the summer 2007. Initially foreseen to be ready for 2008, the restoration works are still nowhere. They need $CAN 10 million to restore it and are currently still far from this target. The CoS says the current economy crisis is partly to blame. Anonymous claims the failure is due to decreasing and less motivated membership.

In French below.

Violaine Ballivy : Église de scientologie au centre-ville: le projet bat de l'aile | National

Le projet d'expansion de l'Église de scientologie à Montréal a du plomb dans l'aile. Son déménagement au centre-ville, prévu initialement pour 2008, n'aura pas lieu avant la fin de l'année 2010, a appris La Presse.

L'Église de scientologie a vu très gros en se portant acquéreur de l'immeuble La Patrie au coût de 4,25 millions de dollars à l'été 2007. Près de deux ans plus tard, le mouvement n'a pas toujours pas amassé les fonds nécessaires pour lancer les travaux d'aménagement de ce vaste local situé rue Sainte-Catherine Est, en plein centre-ville de Montréal. Les plans de transformation ne sont même pas encore prêts.

«On en est encore aux étapes préliminaires et à la collecte de fonds», confirme le directeur des affaires publiques de l'Église de scientologie de Montréal, Jean Larivière.

«Le projet va nous coûter cher, très cher. On était conscients qu'il y avait beaucoup de travaux à faire, mais l'enthousiasme nous a un peu aveuglés et on fait maintenant face à la réalité», explique M. Larivière.

La transformation de l'édifice La Patrie, ancienne propriété de l'UQAM, en un lieu de culte au goût de l'Église de scientologie nécessiterait des investissements de quelque 10 millions de dollars. Sans préciser la somme amassée à ce jour, M. Larivière note néanmoins qu'il est «très loin du compte».

Le mouvement compte un millier d'adeptes à Montréal. Selon M. Larivière, plusieurs auraient décidé de consacrer cette année leurs contributions à un projet d'expansion semblable qui est en cours à Québec. Il associe aussi ces difficultés financières au ralentissement économique mondial. «Nos membres sont des gens comme les autres. En période d'incertitude, ils veulent garder plus de sous dans leur compte en banque», dit-il.

[...] Mais selon un porte-parole d'Anonymous, une organisation qui manifeste chaque mois devant les locaux actuels de l'Église de scientologie, rue Papineau, ce retard d'au moins deux ans dans les travaux révèle un recul de la ferveur de ses membres. «Ils investissent moins dans le mouvement soit parce qu'ils sont moins nombreux, soit parce qu'ils sont moins convaincus», dit Gaius Baltar.

En plus d'améliorer la visibilité de l'Église de scientologie dans la métropole, son déménagement rue Sainte-Catherine lui permettra de se doter d'une salle d'exposition de 45 000 pieds carrés entièrement dédiée au fondateur du mouvement, en plus d'une chapelle, d'une bibliothèque et de plusieurs salles de cours réservées aux adeptes. La superficie totale de ses locaux triplera.

Beware of Symptom Lists

Anti-Cult Controversies: "Symptom Lists can be Powerful Things":
As one self-proclaimed cult expert's website states, "symptom lists can be powerful things". Indeed they can, although not in the sense that particular website author means it. Symptom checklists such as the one presented on that website are notorious for leading people into believing they have syndromes that lack good research support. A well-known example of this were the checklists published that supposedly indicated people had repressed memories of sexual abuse, which were laundry lists of symptoms that just about anybody could be experiencing for a variety of reasons. For example, people with weight problems were told that this meant they had repressed memories of sexual abuse, ignoring the many other reasons a person might have a weight problem. People who had such symptoms were then subjected to years and years of therapy that may have ended up doing them more harm than good.

Something similar is occurring with the alleged "post-cult syndrome" where a wide variety of symptoms that could have a number of possible causes are attributed to an ex-cult member's past cult experience. There is no solid evidence for such a "syndrome" and I would highly recommend that the therapy consumer beware of websites claiming such and posting lists of symptoms, repeatedly offering an icon for people to click on, claiming that help starts by contacting the therapist.

[...] The problem now is that people who are walking out of groups on their own and surfing the web could be influenced by the websites suggesting all these symptoms and I am concerned that these checklists could become self-fulfilling prophecies, just as the checklists for repressed memories of sexual abuse were for so many people in the 1990s.

The other possibility is that people could be actually experiencing those symptoms for reasons that have nothing to do with the cult experience.

[...] Also beware of people claiming their practice is "evidence-based" who then refer to studies that are published by organizations with a vested interest in the form of therapy, rather than an independent peer-reviewed journal (the blooming cottage industry of "e-therapy" appears to be doing this, hyping benefits that have yet to be independently established by researchers who have nothing to gain financially).

Tom Cuise Back on Thunder Road

Nicole Kidman's New and Old Husbands Meet at the Racetrack

Tom Cruise, ex of Kidman, went back to Thunder Road this weekend, together with Keith Urban, current of Kidman. The Valkyrie actor was racing cars at a NASCAR Auto Race in Daytona Beach on Sunday, while Keith Urban provided musical entertainment.

Xenus Is for Real

In his latest article, he admits that the "Xenu" story, which anti-Scientologists claim is a "hidden teaching" of Scientology, is actually just an unpublished science fiction manuscript which has been taken out of context in order to ridicule the Church of Scientology.
That's not what he says. He says that the manuscript was used by Hubbard to make up the level, which does not mean that the content of that level is not taught as part of OT III. It is, and it does contain Xenu.

Actually , nobody knows exactly what Excalibur contains, if such a manuscript exists at all. To claim without proof that it was used to create the OT III level reflects very badly on Duigan and brings a suspicion towards anything else he may be writing.
So when Anonymous members tell me that Scientologists "actually believe" this stuff, I have to ask myself, who is it here that is really inclined to believe strange things without evidence?
Scientologists don't necessarily believe in the story itself, and much less "in Xenu", but they do believe in the supposed consequences of it, the body thetans - at least those who reached that level, of course.
Here are a couple more facts to consider:

1) No Scientologist has yet gone on record admitting to a belief in the "Xenu" the galactic space overlord.
Scientologists are not allowed to speak about that level. Even if they would, see above, believing in Xenu is not the point. The point is to run the process that goes with the story.
2) Every Anonymous member unquestioningly believes that "Xenu" is a teaching of Scientology.

Who do you believe? Is it more likely that there is a "hidden teaching" known only to a handful of Scientologists or that this is just a hoax, analogous to the "Taxil Hoax" which is used to smear Freemasons--or even along the same vein as "blood libel", which is used to defame Jews?

All three of these instances involve "hidden teachings" which are notoriously undisprovable, yet extremely convenient for enemy propagandists.
Unlike most of the other stupid claims promoted by Shallonymous, this one is actually fairly well documented and attested. Not that "Scientologists believe in Xenu". That's non sense to say. But that the story of Xenu is indeed taught at the OT III confidential level in Scientology, whether Scientologists believe in the story or not.

Anonymous in Anti-Anti-Gay Protest?

At last putting Anonymous' power to a good use. Maybe...

The question is: will they actually push through with it?

Westboro Baptist Church announces first anti-homosexuality picket in Britain - Telegraph:
"Followers of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church have threatened to picket a sixth form college in Basingstoke, Hampshire during a staging of The Laramie Project, a play about an American youth murdered because of his sexuality.

[...] Members of Anonymous, the nebulous online community that has previously organised protests against the Church of Scientology, are alreading planning counter-demonstrations outside the college on Friday, posts on internet message boards indicate."

CoS Groups Returning Slakin Ponzi's Money

As I wrote on Dec. 20, 2008, I have never heard anybody who victim of in a pyramid scam agreeing to return money gained in such a scheme once it was discovered to be a scam money, and so far groups affiliated with the Church of Scientology are the only ones to do so in my knowledge. Here is recent mention of this:

Alleged Madoff victims may be vulnerable to other victims' claims - Los Angeles Times:
"In another case, groups affiliated with the Church of Scientology agreed in 2006 to pay back $3.5 million they received from former Santa Barbara money manager Reed Slatkin and others who invested with him. Slatkin is set for release in 2014 from the U.S. penitentiary at Lompac, where he has been serving time in connection with a $593-million operation in which money from some investors was used to pay off others -- the classic definition of a Ponzi scheme."
Related blog entries: R-Slatkin-

Summit of the Drunks


What is really happening at these top G meetings?

At the G8, it was Sarkozy who was drunk (made for an hilarious video):

YouTube - French president Nicolas Sarkozy drunk at G8

And now it is the turn of a Japanese minister at the G7... Maybe even more hilarious if possible...

YouTube - 'Drunk' Japanese minister apologises for G7 press conference

Scientology Banned in Karangada, Kazakhstan

Scientology has been banned in a province of Kazakhstan, though the decision is still under appeal.

This obvious act of discrimination follows in the wake of a wave of recent cases of human-rights violation by Kazakhstan's government against its religious minorities (see second article below).

In the words of Evgeniy Zotis, one of the few in Kazakhstan who oppose these acts, "You could hardly imagine a better way to discredit our country".

"Karaganda, February 16, Interfax - The Economic Inter-District Court of Karaganda, the administrative center of the Karaganda region in Kazakhstan, has banned the Church of Scientology in the Karaganda region."

[...] Meanwhile, the scientologists said they intend to appeal the verdict.

"We will not put up with attempts to violate our right to the freedom of religion in Kazakhstan," President of the Karaganda-based Church of Scientology Vadim Vitushkin said in a statement.
Washington Times - FEFFERMAN: What values are shared?:
[...] Recent human-rights violations by Kazakhstan's government against its religious minorities, however, cause some in the United States and Europe to doubt whether Kazakhstan has earned the right to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as it is scheduled to do in 2010.

The act of Kazakstan's Constitutional Council in overturning parts of a repressive new religious law on Feb. 11 is a step in the right direction. However, the political climate in the country continues to bode ill for religious minorities, and human-rights experts fear the parliament may still pass other new repressive measures.

Even without the new religious law, Kazakhstan has recently taken actions against its religious minorities that cause serious concerns.

The recent jailing of Unification Church missionary Elizaveta Drenicheva for teaching her church's doctrine on original sin is only one example of how Kazakhstan's view of religious freedom diverges from the mainstream of the community of nations.

[...] Article 18 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that everyone has the right to express their religious views both privately and in community. Yet the judge sentenced Mrs. Drenicheva to a two-year prison term merely for sharing her religion with people who had come voluntarily to the church's center in Almaty to hear her lectures.

The clampdown on smaller religious groups in Kazakhstan has been attracting the attention of human-rights groups for some time. The Forum 18 News Service reports Kazakhstan has resumed jailing Baptists who refuse to register their worship services with the government. Khrishna devotees have witnessed their properties bulldozed and their leader banned from the country. The Church of Scientology reports that its centers and members' homes have been illegally raided by the secret police (KNB).

Coupled with government and police actions, a wave of negative media reports against minority religious groups has targeted Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Ahmadi Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as the newer groups. "All these articles have one source," claims Almaty Helsinki Committee head Ninel Fokina, "the KNB secret police."

In the early years after the demise of the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was often seen as a model of human rights and religious pluralism. Its majority Muslim population seemed willing enough to live in peace with its substantial Russian Orthodox Christian minority, together with a growing segment of Western religions. The recent shift toward repression reflects growing pressure from the two mainstream groups and old-guard secularists of the communist era that there are now "too many religions" in Kazakhstan.

[...] Some voices within Kazakhstan have spoken out against the repression. Commenting on the Drenicheva case, Evgeniy Zhovtis, chief of the Kazakhstan International Bureau of Human Rights, stated: "You could hardly imagine a better way to discredit our country."

Mrs. Drenicheva's case is now on appeal, but the 30-year old Russian missionary remains in prison. She is considered in the human-rights community to be a prisoner of conscience. Freedom House, the oldest human-rights group in the United States, said it "strongly urges the court of appeals to throw out Ms. Drenicheva's conviction on the grounds that it is a clear miscarriage of justice and the continuation of a worrisome campaign in Kazakhstan against minority religious groups."

Positive Mind-Control?

AntiCultControversies : Message: Can Mind Control Be Good?:
In his website, Hassan states that mind control is not always bad (http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/faq/#1 ):

""Mind control" techniques are not necessarily bad. Although I typically use the term "mind control" when describing unethical and abusive social influence, many of the techniques can be used ethically to promote positive spiritual and personal growth."

I think his statement that mind control techniques are not always bad is very confusing.

Then he goes on to say that spiritual practices can be ethical or unethical:

"For example, prayer can be used ethically or it can be used destructively as a tool of manipulation and coercion. Praying with a person aloud, and asking "God's blessing to help direct and guide him" (in an "open-ended" way) is just fine. Praying with a person, and asking God to "keep this person from making the mistake of leaving the group's workshop and returning to Satan's world" is unethical.
There may be some idea there. saying, for example, "You have to follow God's voice" would be OK. But saying in substance "You have to follow God's voice and I am that voice" would already be objectionable, even if we don't label it mind-control.
Meditation techniques can be used to build awareness and self control, or it can be used as a way of "thought-stopping"-undermining independent thinking and reality-testing. For example, if a person is having doubts and questions about a leader's behavior, and meditates to get rid of "negativity", it might stop the person from taking necessary action.

There are thousands of different "mind control" techniques which can be used for positive benefit. Some these techniques include: prayer, meditation, chants, singing songs, visualizations, affirmations, positive self-talk, breathing techniques, hypnosis, "speaking in tongues", ecstatic dancing, music."

So, as far as I understand, he considers all the spiritual practices to be mind-controlling, but sometimes this "mind control" is "ethical." I think it is another example of his stretching the term "mind control."
I agree. Why call it mind-control at all? It isn't really useful to understand the cult phenomenon, or at least it is questionable, and it isn't useful to understand spiritual practices. Not only Hassan stretches what he includes under cults and mind-control to the point it loses its meaning, if it ever had any, but to use it to designe something else in addition really just make it totally meaningless.
I think that between real freedom of mind (not Hassan's "freedom of mind") and mind control there is a big "gray zone." It is somewhat like in black and white television. Even though it was called "black and white," there were many gradations of the gray color there. The standard testing table for TV sets, used in the USSR and Russia, had 10 gradations. It means that a TV set was expected to display not only black and white, but also 8 shades of the gray color. Mind control is "black." Freedom of mind is "white." And there are many things between them.

Probably, Hassan considers that mind control and freedom of mind are the two alternatives. And probably, he includes the whole "gray zone" into "mind control." I do not think this is correct.
I think that what he means to say is that the same technique could be either beneficial or detrimental depending on the context. I would agree with that. I just don't see indeed why refer to both as "mind-control". It already is dubious a term when used in relation to cults, and it becomes even weaker when used to refer to any spiritual technique.

Or is there really something like "positive mind-control" vs. "negative mind-control"? Positive mind-control being me controling my mind, and negative mind-control being others controling it?

Scientologists Move in to Nashville

News briefs - News/Features:
"The church of Scientology has purchased a building right off campus – and a group called Anonymous really doesn’t like it. Donning “V for Vendetta” masks and offering cake to passers-by, the group (a national anti-scientology organization) gathered in front of the scientology center to protest this Valentine’s Day, donning masks to prevent retaliation from what they view as a shady, secretive cult. The center is located in the old Falls School business center, a historical building purchased by Scientologists last June for $6 million, which will probably become an “ideal org” – that is, the place from which Nashville scientology will form a “New Civilazation (sic) in Nashville,” to quote their website, nashvilleideal.org. Whatever the Scientologists are up to in there, at least they aren’t the ones standing on street corners, wearing creepy masks and offering cake to strangers."

Related blog entries: -NashvilleOrg-

Operation Chaniversary Monumental Flop

On Feb. 14 I read and blogged about an article that seemed to indicate that the last Feb. 7 was not the date of the one year anniversary of 2008 but that this fabulous event would take place on Valentine day, Feb. 14.

Yesterday, there wasn't a single peep in the news about that formidable event. I thought, it's Monday, let's wait another day. Today - the same. If there is something fabulous about that event it that it is fabulously ignored by the press at large. Except for one mention, and even that article ends by the quote of the day:
"Whatever the Scientologists are up to in there, at least they aren’t the ones standing on street corners, wearing creepy masks and offering cake to strangers."
Well done Shallonymous. You have made tremendous progress in the way the press perceives your action in just one year!

News briefs - News/Features

Quote of the Day: Creepy Masks and Caek

News briefs - News/Features:
"Whatever the Scientologists are up to in there, at least they aren’t the ones standing on street corners, wearing creepy masks and offering cake to strangers."

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.

Honest Abe Tops New Presidential Survey


I have read some time ago articles about striking historical and even mathematical similarities between Lincoln and Kennedy. I guess these can be found nowadays on the net too. Like most people I have a deep admiration for Kennedy's unique charisma. A similar article trying to draw parallels between Lincoln and Obama didn't quite convince me, though.

W. Bush ended near the bottom of the ranking, of course, where he belongs. The criminal idiot was recorded saying ""There is no such thing as short-term history. I don't think you can possibly get the full breadth of an administration until time has passed.""

He is right - over time I believe he'll be ranked very last.

Lincoln wins: Honest Abe tops new presidential survey - CNN.com

Pakistan Agrees to Enforce Islamic Law in Swat Valley

This is something I am of two minds about.

One the one hand the crimes of Bush have led me to have some sympathy for the opposition, and thus for Muslims fighting that form of abject "civilized" violence (although I object to violence in doing that too). On the other hand I really am not discontent to see things like the Taliban society, and its barbaric practices, being removed from power (albeit my beef with Bush is really Iraq, not so much Afghanistan).

Now Pakistan is making concessions to some areas who wish to apply the Sharia. On the one hand, I have some sympathy for that position, for the reason above, and think it is smart and somewhat fair to let people choose their own way of life. On the other hand, I have to agree that such a concession is going to feed the motivation of those who use violence to impose their Muslim (or otherwise) societies.

Pakistan Agrees to Enforce Islamic Law in Swat Valley - washingtonpost.com
The Pakistani government, desperate to restore peace to a Taliban-infested valley once known as the "Switzerland of Pakistan," agreed Monday to enforce strict Islamic law in the surrounding district near the Afghan border, conceding to a long-standing demand by local Islamist leaders who in turn pledged to ask the fighters to lay down their arms.

In announcing the agreement, Pakistani officials asserted that the adoption of Sharia law would bring swift and fair justice to the Swat Valley, where people have long complained of legal corruption and delays. They said the new system would have "nothing in common" with the draconian rule of the Taliban militia that ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, during which thieves' hands were amputated and adulterers were stoned to death.

"There was a vacuum . . . in the legal system. The people demanded this and they deserve it," said Amir Haider Khan Hoti, chief minister of the North-West Frontier Province. The new system will include an appeals process, something the Afghan Taliban justice system did not allow for.

[...] But Pakistani critics blasted the deal as a dangerous concession to extremist insurgents who have terrified inhabitants of the valley for months, sending thousands fleeing to safer areas. They have bombed girls' schools, beheaded policemen, whipped criminals in public squares and assassinated activists from the secular Awami National Party that governs the North-West Frontier Province.

The critics expressed fear that this victory might spur the insurgents to push harder for the imposition of Islamic law in other areas, taking advantage of a promise by the Pakistani army to pull back from the surrounding area if peace is restored.

[...] Leaders of the Awami National Party here said they also supported the agreement even though their own views are more secular and they have been targeted by insurgent attacks. They said the government does not have sufficient force to defeat the Taliban and foreign fighters based in the autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan border. So, they said, it needs to negotiate with local militant groups in nearby areas like Swat to isolate the renegade hard-liners in the tribal sanctuaries.

"I have agreed to put my personal hardships behind me for the sake of peace," said Wajid Ali Khan, a provincial official from Swat who said he was put on a Taliban hit list, and whose brother was assassinated because of his Awami affiliation. "We have addressed the core issue, which was Nizam-e-Adl [Sharia law system], so now the fighting and other activities should stop."[...]

The Associated Press: Pakistan inks truce deal with militants in NW area:

Monday's peace agreement applies to the Malakand region, which includes the former tourist destination of the Swat Valley, where extremists have gained sway by beheading people, burning girls schools and attacking security forces since a similar agreement broke down in August.

U.S. officials complained the earlier accord allowed militants to regroup and rearm and urged Pakistan's government to concentrate on military solutions to the insurgency in the rugged frontier region, where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.

[...] "It is hard to view this as anything other than a negative development," a senior Defense Department official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of relations with Pakistan and because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

[...] Speaking in India, President Barack Obama's special envoy for the region, Richard Holbrooke, did not directly address Pakistan's peace effort in Malakand. But he said the rise of the Taliban in Swat was a reminder that the U.S., Pakistan and India face an "an enemy which poses direct threats to our leadership, our capitals and our people."

[...]"This is simply a great surrender, a surrender to a handful of forces who work through rough justice and brute force," said Athar Minallah, a lawyer and civil rights activist. "Who will be accountable for those hundreds of people who have been massacred in Swat? And they go and recognize these forces as a political force. This is pathetic.

[...] Several war-weary residents interviewed in the Swat area welcomed the announcement.

"We just want to see an end to this bloody fighting," said Fazal Wadood, a teacher. "We do not mind what way it comes. It is no problem if it comes through the Islamic system."

[...] Hoti said the laws, which allow for Muslim clerics to advise judges when hearing cases and the setting up of an Islamic appeals court, would ensure a much speedier and fairer justice system than the current system, which dates back to British colonial times.

The rules do not ban female education or contain other strict interpretations of Shariah that have been demanded by many members of the Taliban in Pakistan — restrictions imposed by Afghanistan's Taliban regime that was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.

Note: knowing that the insurgents bombed and burned girls' school, it is a bit hard to believe that no ban on female education will actually be implemented...

The accord does not involve the tribally ruled regions adjacent to the Afghan border, where the United States has been targeting suspected militants with missile strikes fired from drones believed launched from neighboring Afghanistan.

[...] The Obama administration has signaled it will continue such attacks, which U.S. officials say have killed several top al-Qaida leaders. Pakistani leaders have voiced strong objections, saying the strikes undercut support for their own war against militants.

Muslim Cults

AntiCultControversies : Message: Muslim Cults:
"Recently, I met two people who left Sufi cults in an Internet group for ex-members of cults. As far as I understand, both are Western people. Both complain that they are unable to find any information about Sufi cults in Internet."
There's something I find rather disturbing with Islam in general. Initially Mohamed promoted a soft Islam. It did not take root very well. It's only when he started to promote the hardcore Islam, that actually used violence, that it started to spread.

Isn't that somewhat disturbing? Today, we see still see much of that happening, and not just through terrorism. Under the Sharia, leaving the Muslim faith is punished by death. How's that for a rather drastic form of disconnection? And many of the rules and penalties under the Sharia would make all the alleged "crimes" of Scientology mere child play...

I do not mean to say that Islam should be condemned as such. I have met and read from many peaceful and bright individuals who were using it as a path to God, sometimes in more peaceful and moderate ways than some Buddhist monks. Nevertheless, I find the condoning of violence in an Islam context disturbing - and sadly, it often seems to work... I guess anons would need more than just masks to protect themselves if they were to protest a Muslim cult. Much easier to just attack soft targets...

Un-Hypnosing Oneself

AntiCultControversies : Message: Re: Debunking Hypnosis Myths
[...] For a long time, I thought that the cult where I was involved, used hypnosis because the way how Hassan writes about hypnotic techniques in cults makes an impression that all the cults use hypnosis.
People in cults just believe things, for whatever reason. The above is an example, even if applied to the anti-cult cult.
[...] However, I could not understand why sermons in benign Christian churches are not hypnotic and how to find the difference between hypnotic sermons and non-hypnotic sermons.
That's where the cognitive dissonance kicks in, and people starts to question their belief.

If... then... why?...
Probably, the answer was very simple - in the cult where I was, there were no hypnotic methods used in sermons.
Occam razor - the more one questions, the more those who still cling to their belief have to resort to increasingly complicated and conspiracy-like theories. Until one gets back to the very simple explanation: it just wasn't true to start with. It was just a myth...
Probably, the most "mysterious" among spiritual practices used in Bible-based groups is speaking in tongues. Even though I have a personal experience of speaking in tongues, I cannot fully explain it
in the terms of psychology. I can just say that it is a special kind of prayer to God. By the way, my experience of speaking in tongues has nothing to do with the Bible-based cult where I was involved and I do not think it was mind-controlling.
What speaking in tongue does is to disconnect one with his usual thinking pattern. It's actually a good thing, used in context. It's a bit Zen-like, except Zen uses a softer technique: questions that have no answers, to try and achieve the same thing. It short-circuit our thinking pattern and makes room for something else to enter our cluttered mind.

I would not say that speaking in tongue is my kind of thing, but I experienced something similar in Osho meditations. There's dancing, then lecturing, then for a few minutes you just speak gibberish, after that there's a gong and absolute silence. The speaking gibberish does improve the silent meditation that follows, in that it disconnects the habitual thought- pattern. That's the idea... and I would agree with Lema Nal that it isn't "mind-control" in the anti-cult sense of the term. Nor is it "hypnosis". Even that extreme isn't mind-control...

Resistance to Indoctrination

AntiCultControversies : Message: RE: [AntiCultControversies] Re: Debunking Hypnosis Myths:
"Do they become indoctrinated? Recent evidence says no, college students are rarely influenced by theirprofessors to change their position on important issues. This is contrary to what was previously thought where accusations were being made that 'liberal' professors were converting conservative students."
You would be surprised at how resistant people are to indoctrination and their ability to retain critical thinking skill in the mid of heavy propaganda. That's what happened in the Soviet Union, and more particularly in its satellite countries. People basically knew that the TV propaganda and other propaganda outlet were basically bogus. They just feared speaking about it, that's all. There was a joke in Hungary back in Communist time that went like "There is only one Communist in the whole country - it's just that nobody know who it is...".

Many Entries

Yesterday I was lucky enough to have only one blog entry. Today there will be a deluge of them :-( Not that there are many news. On the contrary it's rather quiet on the news front, but I went through my daily reading routine and just marked plenty for comments. Comments will therefore be very short for most of them.