The Nature of Private Correspondence - The Sciabarra Smear


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Folks,

I'm going to take a breather on this controversy. I had written another long post about some more of the silly stuff the silly little people (the core group) on Solo Passion are doing, but I am giving them way too much free advertising.

All my projects got backed up talking about all this crap. What is up here on OL is damning enough already. If anybody can read through this stuff and still think that those crummy people are the pinnacle of rationality, be my guest. You are beyond the reach of reason.

As I did write a long post that I will not put up, there are a few items I want to summarize here. But then I want to get back to some productive work for a change.

1. Perigo announced loudly that there was going to be a shakedown in the Objectivist world. So far, I didn't see anything like that happen. No Branden toast. No people dropping off. Nada. A couple of more orthodox writers started posting on his site. That's about it.

Some shakedown.

2. A big fuss is being made about Chris claiming that Perigo set Barbara up by posting "Drooling Beast." I believe he did set her up, just like he did earlier by reprising an article by George Cordero (whom he can't stand, as he well told me in an e-mail). Barbara thought it was a new article and, glad to see George writing again, gushed. Then Perigo popped up to say that the article had been published in The Free Radical and that there was a photo published from one of the Solo encounters of Barbara holding the issue where it was printed. (This was handed to her as a prop at the time the photo was taken and Barbara had not read it.)

Pure set-up just to embarrass her.

About the "Drooling Beast" set-up, I mentioned in another post on this thread that backstage he was hating Barbara by then. So this was a perfect opportunity. I, who was close to it all, thoroughly believe that part of his motive was to bait her. It wasn't the whole motive, but it definitely was a part.

He also laid out strong bait for me once on citing Rand's Journal entries about Hickman (a child murderer who served as a role model for one of Rand's unpublished fictional heroes when she was in her 20's and Hickman was on trial). This happened right around the time Perigo and I were falling out during the aftermath of my turning the other cheek article. I had cited Michael Prescott in that article. Michael is a former Objectivist who is a best-selling suspense writer. He wrote a scathing, but extremely factual and well presented, set of articles on who Hickman really was and what Rand had seen in the news at that time. I didn't take Perigo's bait back then, but but sure went about it with proper fanfare.

(Sorry for not providing links. Dealing with these lowlifes is getting on my nerves and I am anxious to get back to my projects. If need be, I will look these affairs up and supply the links.)

The bottom line is that Perigo, as part of his audience manipulation, baits people with innocent-sounding posts, but he already has his attack strategy all laid out - even people waiting to pounce. He has done this for years. He learned it when he used to be an investigative journalist. (Now, professionally, he nothing but a has-been.)

3. There was some kind of insinuation in some of Valliant's recent posts that Sciabarra had been playing up to him. Hahahahahahahahahahahah...

Er...

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL....

Whew!

Enough!

On to real literature and real philosophy and real living.

Michael

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This is going to be a short one. If you haven't read the part about Argument by Repetition above, give it a read.

You can see a perfect example of Argument by Repetition happening on Solo Passion at this time in the anti-Sciabarra and anti-Branden threads where Phil Coates is participating. I like Phil a lot, but all I see him doing is being an essential component in promoting an irrational game.

What he is accomplishing is providing a token opposition for the core group to repeat their smears. Through repetition, hopefully for them, some of the venom will seep through to the audience. Notice that Phil's questions are never really answered, but the same smears and quotes are repeated over and over in response.

Notice that the questions are valid and intelligent and that the answers are voluminous (although without substance). This gives the impression that the issue is being discussed. It isn't, though. Questions are being asked and smears are being repeated.

There is no real rational convincing going on. Just theater.

Michael

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> the answers are voluminous (although without substance). This gives the impression that the issue is being discussed. It isn't, though.

Michael, I have more confidence in people's intelligence. From the reads count there are sometimes about a hundred people who read the thread every few hours. I'm posting some questions which can't be clearly answered...and that goes into the public record on this issue which people can refer to in the future. The people who aren't posting are listening and my goal is not to convince the small core of seven who are debating me.

Besides, misstatements would be made and repeated anyway. So how does having me puncture as many as I have time for hurt?

Remember that the uncontested absurdity becomes the conventional wisdom. Would you rather have Diana be able to say "well, I made a detailed case against Chris and no one came to debate it or deny, which thye would have if I was wrong."

Thats' what happened with Schwartz's Libertarianism. It became accepted because no one entered the arena to say that it was full of errors. I thought it would fall of its own weight so I didn't bother.

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Philip,

I'm beginning to see there is more than one right perspective on a given issue and more than one way to fight for a cause. It's no different to the variety of approaches Galt, Fransisco, Ragnar, et al had to fighting for their cause. No-one could understand why Ragnar chose to fight for their cause by direct confrontation of the looters, risking his life. You are just being Ragnar; not such a bad thing.

Paul

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Remember that the uncontested absurdity becomes the conventional wisdom.

Phil,

That is a point well taken. I believe that I have done my share in contesting these absurdities also. However, I have not engaged these nasty little people directly about Chris Sciabarra (except Maurone briefly on RoR). The problem I see is turf.

You mentioned that the non-posting people who read the threads at Solo Passion are reading your unanswered questions. I see them also reading oodles of smarm, repeated absurdities, rationalizations, tangents, accusatory questions, insults and so forth - on a 7 to 1 ratio, as you mentioned.

(I especially enjoy Perigo's "Let so-and-so come here and say that to my face." LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL... What a comedian!)

I commend you for your sentiment, and I even admit to a possibility of your tactic having some effect. However, many people don't have the time or the patience to wade through all that stuff and they start going out of focus when they read. That is when the venom seeps in.

Was there a venue around when Schwartz wrote his libertarian thing where you could directly interact with him? If there were such a venue under his control at that time, do you think questioning him ON HIS OWN TURF would have made any difference?

Still, short term, you might be on to something. Like I said, I did a lot of that kind of arguing about PARC. But I would like to make a suggestion.

In addition to your campaign over there, I suggest you draw up a list of your questions - especially the ones that have repeatedly gone unanswered - and post it here, maybe even on a new thread. This is for medium and long term considerations - or contesting the absurdities, if you will. As there will not be a litany of rhetorical overload following it, people can read a concise list, draw their own conclusions and get on with their other interests.

That kind of overview is what Rand said was the true mission of the intellectual (in For the New Intellectual).

How many people do you know reread all those long threads on other forums about PARC? They don't. I guess I did some good back then, but that information is now practically retired. That is why I have PARC Facts and PARC Fallacies threads up in the Library here on OL.

Michael

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Now I finally understand what Perigo really means by KASS: it is not "kick ass" but "kiss ass"! His recent behavior seems to indicate that he's preparing to return to the ARIan mother church. Observe how he now is fervently kissing Hsieh's ass, his disagreements are suddenly so polite and made unimportant, he's become a real compromiser! All the big words have disappeared like snow in summer, except for the usual safe ritual utterances against OL. What a pathetic spectacle - and how useless, I suspect that in Hsieh's eyes the suboptimal Perigo is just a useful idiot, who will be discarded as soon as he's no longer needed.

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KASS simply means unmitigated gall. Start with the premise "nobody loves Ayn Rand as much as I do", then "nobody understands objectivism like I do" then go to "If you disagree with me you don't love Ayn Rand, you don't understand objectivism, and you're probably EVIL".

These phony rages ["I simply can't be expected to control my temper when someone disrespects Ayn Rand so much!"] are simply a tool of social manipulation, the sign of the second hander. Notice he practiced using these rages, gauging the effect, with the subject of Mario Lanza.

I actually think Perigo left to himself would have understood and moderated his behaviour before it got out of hand, but he suffers from being a celebrity. He has a group of second handers that delight in his antics and won't allow him to change.

I'm annoyed at being taken in by this KASS crap for awhile, it won't happen again.

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I suggest you draw up a list of your questions - especially the ones that have repeatedly gone unanswered - and post it here, maybe even on a new thread. This is for medium and long term considerations - or contesting the absurdities, if you will.

I second that.

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Phil,

Michael's request for this list sounds great to me too, if you can devote enough of your copious free time to making the list.

Roger Donway used to joke that David Kelley should read the many books Roger suggested he read in his copious free time when we were undergraduates at Brown.

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I'm annoyed at being taken in by this KASS crap for awhile, it won't happen again.

Mike,

I hear that. I once wrote an essay called, "Kass or Bickering, That is the Question" for the old SoloHQ, but it was blocked from being put up. (I will post it on OL at a later date as part of a project I have in mind. If I post it now, it will be Solo Passion oriented and my sights are much higher than that.)

There is a word to describe the behavior you mentioned, including the phony rages and suck-ups:

CULT

Do you really think the behavior is the fault of the second-hander suck-ups? No one keeps a group of suck-ups around without seeking that. Just like no one gains a lot of power without seeking it.

Michael

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I'll refine your "cult" one-word description, MSK, which is accurate on its own.

It is a cult of personality. If you recall, I wrote into that on SOLO at one point, on the "Is Objectivism a Cult?" thread. I was saying at that time that it was not, although it often smelled like one. I maintain that position.

Now, the real question, the Cult of Personality question...

To my mind, the basic question in this is looking at the kind of person a follower gravitates to. That says something about them, maybe something they do not even know about themselves. Actually, that is the "A" game by which a con artist works. I am not calling Perigo a con artist, it is only a shared fact.

And, many of us took fascination with Linz. I even sent him nice email, although the reply was, to my mind, left-handed- I had not given him absolute worship, I suppose. Whatever.

Is he a charismatic leader? Um, no. He does have a bit of charisma, but he has traditionally corrupted it through his meanness. The leader part is the problem. He is no leader, at least not an informed, modern one.

He would never be able to grow and maintain an organization in the corporate world.

Read NB's essay "The High Self-Esteem Leader." Read Golman. All kinds of stuff to read in the Organizational Business Behavior world. The man simply does not have what it takes.

But, mediocrity and eccentricity are no obstacle to developing a cult of personality. Happens all the time. Consider Manson, he was a loser.

Charisma works, only to a point. And, it must not deteriorate.

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If Objectivism can be turned into a cult, then clearly any philosophy can be. It is mindboggling that the philosophy of reason, individualism, and achievement has large elements claiming to adhere to Objectivism who are cultists.

It is hard to believe that so many people view Objectivism as a weapon to cut down others and to give them superiority, rather than as a philosophy for living life.

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Ok, since y'all are dropping the C-word, I'll just cut and paste some of the stuff I've found out when I went into studying the psychology of cultism. I'm not going to comment on the material, as I'm sure everyone can just read, and take what they will. I do not think, however, that Objectivism is a cult. A cult is a group of people, it's not a philosophy.

Here goes [this might be a bit long]:

From Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Madeleine Tobias writes:

“In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David Burns outlines 10 common mistakes in thinking, which he calls cognitive distortions. These distortions are explained here in the context of post cult recovery.

1. All-or-nothing thinking: Cults teach black-and-white thinking, such as “Everyone outside the group is controlled by Satan or is evil,” “The leader is God and cannot make mistakes,” “You must always strive for perfection in order to reach the group’s goal.” Such thinking stifles personal growth and keeps a person pitted against the rest of the world.

2. Overgeneralization: Simply making one mistake can cause a person to leap to the conclusion that the group’s predictions about dire consequences for those who leave are indeed coming true. Former members often have difficulty allowing themselves to make mistakes without hearing criticisms in their head. Reviewing actions at the end of the day, no matter how simple, can help counterbalance the internal cult “chatter.”

3. Mental filter: cults teach people to dwell on their mistakes and weaknesses. In many cults each day’s activities are reviewed, with concentration placed on any “sins” or wrongdoing. All thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are cause for criticism, prayer, and repenting. After such training, a person may obsess about a small mistake and lose sight of the positive things that are happening. Anything negative becomes a focus that filters out everything else.

4. Disqualifying the positive: One means of cult control is to not allow members to take pride in their achievements. All that is good comes from the Master, while members are made to feel stupid and inadequate. Making lists of personal strengths and accomplishments may counteract this reaction.

5. Jumping to conclusions: There are two forms of coming to a negative conclusion, which are probably familiar to ex-members:

     (a) Mind reading: Those who were in New Age or Eastern cults may have been led to believe that mind reading is real. This belief is used to make assumptions about others. Doing the same now may be counterproductive. Don’t jump to conclusions about another person’s actions or attitudes. Don’t substitute assumptions for real communication.

     (B) Fortune telling: Cults predict the failure of their critics, dissenters, and those who leave. Former members sometimes believe that depression, worry, or illness is sure to hound them (and their family) forever. Remember, such phobias and distortions have nothing to do with reality but have been instilled by the cult.

6. Magnification (catastrophizing) and minimization: Magnifying the members’ faults and weaknesses while minimizing strengths, assets, and talents is common. The opposite holds true for the leader. This trend has to be reversed in order to rebuild self-esteem, although reaching a balanced perspective may take time. Feedback from trustworthy, nonjudgmental friends may be helpful here.

7. Emotional reasoning: In groups that place emphasis on feeling over thinking, members learn to make choices and judge reality solely based on what they feel. This is true of all New Age groups and many transformational and psychology cults. Interpreting reality through feelings is a form of wishful thinking. If it really worked, we would all be wealthy and the world would be a safe and happy place. When this type of thinking turns negative, it can be a shortcut to depression and withdrawal: “I feel bad, worthless, and so on, therefore I am bad, worthless, and so on.”

8. “Should” statements: Cult beliefs and standards often continue to influence behavior in the form of shoulds, musts, have tos, and oughts. These words may be directed at others or at oneself-for example, thinking, “I should get out of bed.” The result is feeling pressured and resentful. Try to identify the source of these internal commands. Do they come from the former cult leader? Do you really want to obey him anymore?

9. Labeling and mislabeling: Ex-members put all kinds of negative labels on themselves for having been involved in a cult: stupid, jerk, sinner, crazy, bad, whore, no good, fool. Labeling oneself a failure for making a mistake (in this case, joining the cult) is mental horsewhipping. It is an overgeneralization, inaccurate, cruel, and, like the other cognitive distortions, untrue and self-defeating. Labeling others in this way is equally inaccurate and judgmental. If there must be labels, how about some positive ones?

10. Personalization: Burns calls this distortion “the mother of guilt.” A primary weapon of mind control is training members to believe that everything bad that happens is their fault. The guilt that accompanies this sort of personalizing is crippling and controlling. You are out of the cult now, so it is important only to take responsibility for what is yours.

These 10 cognitive errors are all habits of thinking that are deeply ingrained by the thought-reform processes and cult indoctrination. Tendencies toward these distortions may have been in place even before a person’s cult involvement, which may have enhanced vulnerability to recruitment and increased susceptibility to the cult’s practices. Given the habit of these kinds of destructive thinking patterns, is it any wonder that former cult members sometimes feel depressed? The good news is, like any habit, these patterns of thinking can be broken and discarded through awareness and practice.”

Steve Hassan from freedomofmind.com writes:

Many of the individuals I have counseled left the cult or abusive relationship years ago, some as many as 30 years ago, but have suffered from programmed cult beliefs ever since. Ex-members who have not yet gotten effective counseling often experience a variety of psychological and relationship problems, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, sleep disorders, lack of trust, paranoia, feelings of alienation. Untreated, they often become especially vulnerable to the normal stresses of life, such as health problems, the deaths of friends and loved ones, divorce and, especially in recent years, economic pressures and the threat of terrorism. In addition, ex-members are often unconsciously triggered by environmental cues that are part of their left-over cult programming. Some ex-members get to the point that they actually think about returning to the cult, or feel they must seek out some new guru, leader, or group. It takes time and effort to get beyond the black and white, us-versus-them, elitist mentality that cults tend to program into their members.

The way to recover from destructive mind control is to learn to control your own mind. This statement underlies my entire approach… Cults actively work to short-circuit this internal locus of authority. Using a variety of mind control techniques, and especially by cultivating allegiance to a central authority figure, they can turn even the most independent-minded person into an obedient cult member.

Paul Martin, M.D. wrote an article called Pitfalls To Recovery:

The first step in recovery from floating is to identify these triggers and the loaded language that gives meaning to the visual trigger. For example, the visual trigger may be a book that has been forbidden by the cult. Seeing the book causes thoughts like, “This is the work of the devil.” Loaded language is any thought-stopping cliché that is used in manipulative groups to prevent critical thinking. For example, simple tiredness is reinterpreted as “running in the flesh” and is used to discourage people from claiming fatigue or stress. Not wanting to go to every scheduled meeting is labeled “rebellion” and as possessing an “independent spirit.” Such loaded language is not easily forgotten even after exiting a cult. It sidetracks critical analysis, disrupts communication, and may produce confusion, anxiety, terror, and guilt.

   Undoing the language of the cult requires a hard look at what words and phrases mean. The mind must be taught to rethink the meaning of language. Because cults misuse words and use loaded language, one ex-cultist recommends concentrating on crossword puzzles and other word games as an aid to regrounding one’s conception of the true sense of words. In addition, ...[ex-members] ...must learn to challenge the factual claims of loaded language phrases.

   Former cult members must …[learn to] ...identify such words and phrases that have a special or loaded meaning to them. One simple way for ex-cultists to help themselves is to look words up in a dictionary and then compare those meanings with what the cult taught. The member should be encouraged to spend a good bit of time reading in areas unrelated to the former cult.

   Such exercises are crucial for any …[former cult members] ...who feel powerless because they do not know how language was used to control them. Empowerment and control are essential ingredients to recovery from cultic involvement.

Dr. Margaret T. Singer’s 6 Conditions for Thought Reform:

* Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how she or he is being changed a step at a time.

   Potential new members are led, step by step, through a behavioral-change program without being aware of the final agenda or full content of the group. The goal may be to make them deployable agents for the leadership, to get them to buy more courses, or get them to make a deeper commitment, depending on the leader’s aim and desires.

   *Control the person’s social and/or physical environment; especially control the person’s time.

   Through various methods, newer members are kept busy and led to think about the group and its content during as much of their waking time as possible.

   *Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person.

   This is accomplished by getting members away from the normal social support group for a period of time and into an environment where the majority of people are already group members. The members serve as models of the attitudes and behaviors of the group and speak an in- group language. Strip members of their main occupation (quit jobs, drop out of school) or source of income or have them turn over their income (or the majority of) to the group. Once stripped of your usual support network, your confidence in your own perception erodes. As your sense of powerlessness increases, your good judgment and understanding of the world are diminished. (ordinary view of reality is destabilized). As group attacks your previous worldview, it causes you distress and inner confusion; yet you are not allowed to speak about this confusion or object to it—leadership suppresses questions and counters resistance. This process is speeded up if you are kept tired—the cult will keep you constantly busy.

   *Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person’s former social identity.

   Manipulation of experiences can be accomplished through various methods of trance induction, including leaders using such techniques as paced speaking patterns, guided imagery, chanting, long prayer sessions or lectures, and lengthy meditation sessions.

   Your old beliefs and patterns of behavior are defined as irrelevant or evil. Leadership wants these old patterns eliminated, so the member must suppress them

   Members get positive feedback for conforming to the group’s beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.

   *Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group’s ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors.

   Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group’s beliefs, and compliance are rewarded while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection. If one expresses a question, he or she is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to be questioning.

   The only feedback members get is from the group, they become totally dependent upon the rewards given by those who control the environment.

   Members must learn varying amounts of new information about the beliefs of the group and the behaviors expected by the group.

   The more complicated and filled with contradictions the new system in and the more difficult it is to learn, the more effective the conversion process will be.

   Esteem and affection from peers is very important to new recruits. Approval comes from having the new member’s behaviors and thought patterns conform to the models (members). Members’ relationship with peers is threatened whenever they fail to learn or display new behaviors. Over time, the easy solution to the insecurity generated by the difficulties of learning the new system is to inhibit any display of doubts—new recruits simply acquiesce, affirm and act as if they do understand and accept the new ideology.

   *Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order.

   The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leaders must have verbal ways of never losing.

   Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain—if they do, the leaders allege that the member is defective—not the organization or the beliefs.

   The individual is always wrong—the system, its leaders and its belief are always right.

   Conversion or remolding of the individual member happens in a closed system. As members learn to modify their behavior in order to be accepted in this closed system, they change—begin to speak the language—which serves to further isolate them from their prior beliefs and behaviors.

Nancy Miquelon writes on Boundaries:

Another very important consideration is to look at healthy and unhealthy boundaries. Mady Tobias and Janja Lalich outline this well in Captive Hearts, Captive Minds. In general, unhealthy boundaries have to do with lack of permission and respect. It might be that someone wants to be close when he or she hasn’t earned that privilege through the dance of friendship first. It might be to the severity of physical or sexual abuse. It might be giving too much to someone else at one’s own expense. Healthy boundaries would have to do with self respect and self knowledge. It takes time and practice! Healthy boundaries would be saying no to something you don’t want or don’t like. It would be checking to see if you feel safe with a person or situation. It would include giving if you have the energy to give, and if giving doesn’t deplete you. It would include trusting your perceptions and acting on them. It would include accepting another as different, and even accepting that someone else may not like you.

Probably one of the best signs our boundaries are being restored, oddly enough, is that we can tolerate ambiguity. We are secure enough in ourselves to accept others, and don’t need the world to be black and white anymore. Our boundaries become more like a picket fence, although at first they may have to be like a brick wall. Our ability to choose is restored. Our ability to be equal, not better than or less than, is in place.

There are many books on this subject in addition to Captive Hearts, Captive Minds. It is worth spending some time considering this to heal well from the cult experience.

Michael Lagone reviews the definition of Cult:

According to the “Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary”(1971) the term, “cult,” originally referred to “worship; reverential homage rendered to a divine being or beings…a particular form or system of religious worship; especially in reference to its external rites and ceremonies…devotion or homage to a particular person or thing.” More recently, the term has taken on additional connotations:

3 : A religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious…

4 : A system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator…

5 a. great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work…b. a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, 1994)

Robbins’s (1988) review of recent sociological contributions to the study of cults identifies four definitional perspectives:

(1) cults as dangerous, authoritarian groups;

(2) cults as culturally innovative or transcultural groups;

(3) cults as loosely structured protoreligions;

(4) Stark and Bainbridge’s (1985) subtypology that distinguishes among “audience cults” (members seek to receive information, e.g., through a lecture or tape series) “client cults” (members seek some specific benefit, e.g., psychotherapy, spiritual guidance), and “cult movements” (organizations that demand a high level of commitment from members). The Stark and Bainbridge typology relates to their finding that cult membership increases as church membership decreases.

Rutgers University professor Benjamin Zablocki (1997) says that sociologists often distinguish “cult” from “church,” “sect,” and “denomination.” Cults are innovative, fervent groups.

And one more, a personal story that cites Lifton, [added notes from personal experience]:

I rarely use the word, and then use it exclusively to refer to groups which meet the eight criteria of mind control first defined by Robert Lifton in his 1961 book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. These are:

Milieu Control

Control over a person’s ability to communicate with others, especially those outside the group, and control/limitation of the information available to him/her, especially information about the group. [i’d also say purposefully censored or selectively contextual information is included]

Mystical Manipulation/Planned Spontaneity

Systematic control and/or alteration of group and individual activities, such as group prayer, chanting, fasting, sleep deprivation, which appear to members to be accidental or spontaneous, and which reinforce group identity at the expense of individual personality. Many cults also teach that people outside the group need not be treated as fully human—it is permissible to lie to them and use them to further the group’s objectives. Planned group activities which are viewed as antisocial or socially objectionable by the outside world, such as begging or aggressive proselytizing, are often used as part of this process. [method of determining strength of group/authority over individual]

Demand for Purity

Perfectionism—the demand that all members live up to the groups standards perfectly on pain of punishment or expulsion, inducing guilt and shame and making members easier to manipulate. [also includes shunning, or “otherism”]

Cult of Confession

Requirement that all members of the group confess all sins or lapses to a leader, a group of leaders, or the group as a whole. The confidentiality of these confessions is rarely respected, which are used, not to free members from guilt, but to manipulate and control them. Confession is almost never two-way; leaders confess to other leaders, but not to rank-and-file members. [honesty is used against the person; words are often manipulated, blurred, or taken out of context]

Sacred Science

Special doctrines within the group which claim a scientific basis or to be founded on empirical research, but whose proofs do not stand up to independent scrutiny, and which members are expected to believe without question. [or rejection of scientific evidence due to religious or ideological doctrine]

Loading of the Language

Simplification and literalization of language, in which certain common words gain special meanings within the group, and which in its extreme form reduces thought by reducing the available words to express thought to a series of principles accepted as axioms and requiring no further consideration. George Orwell, in his book 1984, describes this phenomenon brilliantly in his description of “newspeak”.

Doctrine over Person

An environment in which a group member is not permitted to acknowledge, even to himself, that his experience contradicts a doctrine of the group. This leads to people rejecting their observations and experience as evil, adding to guilt and shame, and often leading them to blame Satan or some other outside agency for their own doubts and questions.

Dispensing of Existence

The belief that the group’s acceptance means salvation, life, and worth, while its rejection means damnation, death, and insignificance. Those who are fully indoctrinated literally feel that they have no right to exist if they ever leave the group or disagree with it on a fundamental issue. Lifton views this as the “most general and significant” of these characteristics.

It's all categorized at my webpage.

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> Michael's request for this list sounds great to me too, if you can devote enough of your copious free time to making the list.

Charles, I'm barely holding my head above water time-wise in the debate because it is often 8 against 1. And I sometimes feel I have to respond to a sophistry, but that takes me of course.

When you're fighting multiple opponents, time is the big issue.

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Phil,

I understand. The joke is that we never have any copious free time, especially if we are actually trying to live as an Objectivist.

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Jenna,

I agree that Objectivism is not a cult. It is amazing that some would try to make it one.

There is an interesting passage in Barbara Branden's The Passion of Ayn Rand,

Since the essence of the creator's power is the ability of independent rational judgment, and since this is precisely what the parasite is incapable of -- the key to every disaster in the story, to the whole disintegration of the world is, in each case (big or small), a situation where independent rational judgment is needed and cannot be produced (cannot -- in the case of the parasites involved: will not -- in the case of the creators).

This is Ayn Rand in her notes for Atlas Shrugged. How can anyone claiim to have read and understood Atlas Shrugged and think they are an Objectivist without benefit of making independent rational judgments? It is such a cop-out to go to the "Official" source on Objectivism for one's viewpoint.

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Jenna,

I'm with you and Charles. I don't think Objectivism is a cult at all. I do think there are some organized attempts by some individuals that use Objectivism and Rand-worship as bases, and that lean heavily in the cult direction.

Wherever you find constant and systematic excommunications and denunciations of individuals in philosophical or religious organizations, you find the cult mentality.

OK. I admit it. Perigo's not dangerous or even a threat. He's got a small-time half-assed cult thing going and that's about all. Still, cult mentality is the orientation.

btw - Those quotes are marvelous.

Michael

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I suggested earlier that Phil's actions might be causally parallel to Ragnar's. I wonder if, instead, they are more like Rearden's-- unintentionally supporting the values of a culture that is based on corrupt principles. Just passing thoughts.

Paul

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I think Phil's about the ideas. And, I have to say, he's got to have a pretty big set of boys to do what he's been doing. Very not easy.

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Rich,

So your vote is for a Ragnar parallel?

I think Phil's about the ideas. And, I have to say, he's got to have a pretty big set of boys to do what he's been doing. Very not easy.

I must admit to not following events on the other site. I am just seeing discussions from this end. From what I am gathering, I agree with your assessment. Being new to an Internet culture and to an Objectivism culture, I'm learning a lot from these discussions. I'm beginning to see the value in some amount of confronting a distortion of reality directly with a discussion that attempts to focus on identifying reality. I'm not a fan of stepping outside the simple identification of objective facts in such a context but it sounds like Phil is staying with the facts. Dealing in social perceptions and reactions goes nowhere.

Paul

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I'm now asking for help for only the next couple days from anyone who has carefully read Diana's "dialectical dishonesty" essay and so won't misstate it (or overstate the way she does) and can post one or two logical points, but not call people names.

Even one (or two) people who want to stand with me and -calmly- answer one or two sophistries or bits of illogic over the next day or two. And doesn't mind getting unfairly attacked. ("...or being lied about, don't deal in lies, or being hated, don't give way to hating", Rudyard Kipling).

See my post this afternoon on RoR under "Wrapping Up the Sciabarra Fight" for an explanation of what's needed and why I'm asking for help.

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I'm now asking for help for only the next couple days from anyone who has carefully read Diana's "dialectical dishonesty" essay and so won't misstate it (or overstate the way she does) and can post one or two logical points, but not call people names.

I added a comment under the title "Que Wankero! - La Sciabarra Lucha Libre" at SOLO. A sampler for those who don't venture into such arenas as Objectivist Death-Pit Lucha Libre Snack Bar, a snippet:

I don't find La Mertz has done her job. I would much rather read 12,500 words on philosophy. I believe she blundered badly in publishing the denunciation. She has hobbled her own reputation as she attempted to bring down Chris. It was unseemly and sad and a touch paranoid. She has gone on at massive length, and even dropped down out of the bleachers into an increasingly exasperated and mudslinging mexican wrestling match gone bad. She has ranted on at length while Sciabarra is serene and distant. She is all mucked up now. He is distant and clothed in white robes of silence. He can fairly claim in future to have been unaware of La Lucha Libre and La Cyclopa v. Diablo Dialecto.

That't the take home for me.

I look forward to Diana turning the frigging page and showing us some Real Work, turning the page back to her work, turning forward to her aims and goals, getting all one-eyed about Work, showing why some of us consider her near-genius, and a fine warrior princess of the Objectivist Movement. Even if she is the Temple Grandin of the O-world, there is no reason to deny her achievements, no reason not to cheer her on to further accomplishments. Sure, she stumbled, but she is a human of great promise, ever redeemable by any benevolent measure of humankind.

Let's clean up the arena now, spectators and combatants. Let's MOVE ON. To those Mysterious Strangers waaaay up in the nosebleeds, it's time to quit shrieking º '¡Que Hombre!' -- it makes you seem suboptimal and unfortunate in the extreme.

santohijaF.jpg

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Phil---

I've read your position and I understand where you are coming from.

But I've moved on from the "dialectical debate" and I am focusing on Chris's work as a positive impact on my life and on the world ultimately. I've borrowed about 10 JARSs from a friend, and have 2 of Chris's books. And honestly, I cannot find much interest in myself to enter into what I see as an obviously dead-end interaction. I find no happiness, growth, nor progress in dealing with folks who seem to have already written down the conclusion before anything else.

However, if you find it beneficial and ultimately a gain for you, go for it. And if you're tired, there's nothing wrong with resting and relaxing. Just be sure to laugh often and fully.

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Amen, Sister Jenna, amen.

Brother Phil, please look after your best interests. Objectivism exists to serve your life. It will continue to be able to serve your life even if lots of people get it wrong. And there will continue to be lots of people who get it right, and with whom you can commune without the judgmental power trips.

And keep the snakebite anti-venom handy. (I use rum and coke, sex, and long walks. :-)

REB

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Phil, although I have disagreed with you about the wisdom of your Solo "Questions for Diana" thread, I nevertheless have never had any doubt that you were doing what you believed to be valid and important. I also have no doubt that you have scored points with some of the many people who keep disappearing from Solo. And I congratulate you on the time, thought, and energy you have devoted to defending Chris.

It seems that the attacks on Chris are -- to coin a phrase -- the straw that broke the camel's back. There have simply been too many about-faces by both Perigo and Hseih.; they both operate revolving doors of friends and enemies; one needs a program to keep track from week to week of who suddenly is false friend and who suddenly is rehabilitated enemy. Perigo's list of "beloved friends" turned "evil" traitors is even longer than Hseih's, who was not easy to outdo. To those who remember his extravagant praise of almost every one of those he now attacks (he calls Joe Rowlands, for instance, a liar, a deceiver, a fraud and a thief -- but once, very recently: "He will have a place of honour in Objectivist history. He is living proof that the heroes in Ayn Rand’s novels not only can exist, but do exist.. . Joe Rowlands, I salute you!" ), his equally extravagant denunciations have become ludicrous. The satires that have been posted about his actions have been very funny, but no one can match the master: Lindsay has become a satire on himself.

Barbara

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