19 October, 1994
Number of articles: 2
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Patrick Powers)
Subject: SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY
Date: 19 Oct 1994 15:05:13 GMT
From newsgroup alt.psychology.help
Jason T. Congdon (email@example.com) wrote:
I hope someone might be able to help me with this:
I've recently become good friends with some people who, since birth, have
been involved with what i will for now call a "philosophical society."
It isn't really a cult in the hard-core sense of the word, but they're
a pretty tight in-group with a set of beliefs which they consider to be
Essentially, what this group believes in is a pretty typical form of
numerology, derivative of pythagoras': the qualities of one's mind comes
from name, destiny from birthdate, etc, and it is only by having a
"balanced name" that you can have a balanced mind + life, etc. They also
claim their positions to be universal, absolute truth, based on logic and
reason. They advertise themselves as being scientific.
These friends of mine were taught from birth that this is true. However,
it seems now that they may be having an inkling of uncertainty.
But it seems an impossible task for them to step outside of everything
that they've been taught and to see things objectively. Why? Because
like most things of this nature, it "works." The methodology for
knowing the truth of this philosophy (which differs from religion, they
say, because you can prove it to yourself...(!)) in a nutshell consists of
the manipulation of people's biases into a self-fulfilling prophecy which
makes everything appear to fit the paradigm. Now, if someone has a
reasonably skeptical or critical perspective, they can see right through
it. The problem, as w/ most things, exists where people haven't
developed this immunity and credulously tend to see everything as truthful,
especially if they're looking for something or, whats worse, when an
innocent child is raised in accordance with the "philosophy" and thus is
indoctrinated through basically no fault of their own.
I want to help my friends; they're good people who aren't
responsible for the position they're in. Recent events have them
feeling uncertain over the validity of their entire belief systems, and this
causing them a great deal of distress, confusion, uncertainty... Yet in
discussing the matter with them, or trying to point out the logic of the
situation, well, i've realized thats the wrong approach, for it just
polarizes them into falling back on what they've been taught, and it
causes them a great deal of stress. They usually merely point out that i
"just don't know." I feel that they probably need some type of
professional assistance, but presently, they're afraid to stray far enough
from what they've been taught to consider it.
I would be _extremely_ grateful for any suggestions as to what i might be
able to recommend to these folks. Also, can anyone suggest any texts that
address this matter? Most books on cults, etc. focus more on the
hard-core, David Koresh type of thing, whereas this employs a much more
"soft-sell" form of persuasion which relies upon the exploitation of human
bias and subjective perception of reality.
Anyway sorry to have taken so much time. Thanks in advance for any
assistance; also, anyone who's interested in more info, let me know.
--> Jason Congdon
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (K. Cearley)
Subject: Re: SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 09:51:58
I don't really have much to share about assisting your friends, other than
what may obliquely derived from the observation below:
>say, because you can prove it to yourself...(!)) in a nutshell consists of
>the manipulation of people's biases into a self-fulfilling prophecy which
>makes everything appear to fit the paradigm. Now, if someone has a
>reasonably skeptical or critical perspective, they can see right through
This meme, Skepticus Objectivitus, or SO for short, is one of the most
insidiously self-fulfilling memes in the history of human thought. It meets
all your criteria for 'cult' typography you've described, but, in addition has
the full support of a much larger consensus.
I think there is some stuff in DeBono's work on lateral thinking that may be
useful in indentifying critical characteristics of memes, something with
anchors or pivot points if I remember. But in lieu of an established
metaphysics, the most important paradigm for evaluating memes seems to be the
pan-perspectivism approach, and its assumption that truth is not singular. Or
the postmodern tact, that truth may not, in fact, be even desirable/useful.
Sorry, probably nothing of concrete benefit, but I don't think memetics is
(only) the technology of persuasion.