Blog: Waking Up from Scientology - 2014-12-01

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F0.png Waking Up from Scientology December 1, 2014, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large

I was able to contribute to a presentation about the dangers of Scientology which I'd like to share here.

There's a bit of back-story about this which starts with studies on the subject of cognitive dissonance. This is a psychological term which is often used to describe what Scientologists and many other members of mass movements do when confronted with opposing information about their beliefs. Cognitive dissonance simply means "the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values." (Leon Festinger from A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance)

It's very difficult to hold contradictory beliefs. People want consistency in how they understand the world. They want things to make sense. When someone has a closely cherished belief which is suddenly threatened by a new piece of information, that person has to figure out what to do with that new information. It takes mental effort to digest the new information. If the person does not want to change their existing beliefs, they have to either ignore, invalidate or change this new information so they have internal consistency. The stress or discomfort a person experiences when doing this is called cognitive dissonance.