--- In FairfieldLife@yahoogroups.com, "curtisdeltablues" 
> Thanks for the reply.  Lifton and Singer established 8
> principles from their work with Korean war vets.  I
> don't know Lifton but did know the late Margret Singer.
> She was fascinated by how some modern groups had refined
> the techniques to become less obvious and more subtle.

Note that the Korean war vets in question had been
prisoners of war in Korea and China; that's Lifton's
and Singer's model, which they then (especially Singer)
extrapolated to new religious groups (or "cults").

(Curtis believes, incidentally, or did back in 1997
when he was posting to alt.m.t, that the same methods
used on the Korean war vets to alter their thinking
about communism were used on him in the context of the
TMO--in their "more subtle form," of course.  He was
quoted as claiming in the Washington, DC, City Paper,
7/13/90, that the TM "thought reform" techniques are 
"the most sophisticated techniques for mind control
that have ever been used.")

Not surprisingly, Singer found the "techniques" used
by the Koreans and Chinese to brainwash prisoners of
war had been "refined" to "become less obvious and
more subtle" in the new religious groups.

The problem is that if you posit a sufficient degree
of "subtlety," you can make all *kinds* of things fit
these principles, and you can find them, in their
"less obvious, more subtle" form, in any number of
groups and organizations that nobody would consider

The problem with anticults (especially lay ones like
Curtis) is that they never draw the necessary lines.
At what point does the "subtlety" of these "techniques"
mean that they aren't "techniques" at all but simply
the normal, accepted way of doing things in a
particular context, with no sinister motivations, and
perhaps even a well-founded practical basis?

If the range of "subtlety" of these "techniques" can
be extended indefinitely, it becomes possible to pick
virtually any group and find enough of its procedures
in their "subtle" forms among Lifton's and Singer's
list of "thought-reform techniques."

But if these "techniques" can be found in virtually
any group by the simple expedient of claiming they
are used in such a highly "refined" form that they
aren't obvious (or even evident), it no longer
becomes possible to make valid distinctions between
groups that are cults and groups that are not on
the basis of the "techniques" criterion.

Instead, what happens is that groups are placed 
under suspicion of being cults on other grounds,
which typically boil down to the fact that they
have beliefs one does not oneself hold, or that
one does not care for the personality of the
leader, or other irrelevancies (including that
one has left a particular group and needs to find
justification for doing so).

Only then are the "technique" criteria applied, and
lo and behold, these suspect groups are all found to
utilize very "subtle" forms of these "techniques."

>From court testimony in a Hare Krishna case by cult
expert G. Gordon Melton: 

   More recently, several people have espoused the idea of 
   brainwashing (also termed thought control, coercive persuasion, 
   or mind control). Proponents suggested that cults had discovered 
   a new psychological technology, a technology which has somehow 
   escaped the rest of the psychological world.  With this 
   technology it "brainwashed" young recruits and held them with 
   such force that they are unable to break the spell of attachment 
   to the group. 

   These ideas which seemed to actually have a body of evidence 
   behind them, provoked a heated debate among social scientists in 
   the early 1980s.  In the mid 1980s, the whole brainwashing 
   perspective was thoroughly evaluated by the American 
   Psychological Association. 

   After looking at a detailed report prepared by the major 
   advocates of this perspective [including Singer--JS], the 
   American Psychological Association concluded that the idea of 
   brainwashing and mind control as popularly applied to the new 
   religious movements was scientifically unacceptable.  It had been 
   arrived at through a sloppy metholology and poor scientific work. 

   Subsequently the American Sociological Association and the 
   Society for the Scientific Study of Religion reached a similar 
   conclusion.  As a result, testimony concerning brainwashing and 
   mind control have properly been banished from consideration by 
   American courts as an idea lacking any scientific credibility. 

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