"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." from lecture "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society", given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy (1964) Richard Feynman American theoretical physicist “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard I was in Scientology for twenty five years and left about five years ago. In the process of leaving Scientology I discovered that virtually every important idea I had come to accept and believe from Scientology was false. EVERY. Now, if you have never been in a group like Scientology that might not explain to you how extreme a change that is. It just so happens that a group like Scientology in the recruitment and indoctrination process undermines and destabilizes your earlier beliefs and identity to have it be rejected and devalued so a new set of beliefs and values and even a new identity can replace it. This new identity is a sort of copy or clone of the leader or founder in a cult and in Scientology it was Ron Hubbard. The process has greatly varying degrees of success and is never exactly the same. In my case it was successful enough that in discovering that Hubbard was a pathological liar and Scientology itself a harmful fraud I ended up with very little left I believed in. Scientology serves as religion, philosophy, science, and many other subjects to those who embrace it wholeheartedly as I did. Suffice to say there was very little it didn't cover. So, when I rejected it and realized just how wrong I was it left me with the obvious question - how could I or anyone be so thoroughly fooled ? Especially regarding something I thought I had carefully and thoroughly looked at for literally thousands of hours over decades ? Kind of an important question. So, among other things I tried to learn about and understand in the years since I left Scientology I looked for knowledge about how we come to believe things, how we can make errors in our reasoning that makes it possible for us to be "oh so wrong" but very certain we are "oh so right." I tried to learn what I did that contributed to my ending up "about as wrong as a person can be" for decades and steadfast in my confidence that I was "without a doubt" right. I want to look at how any of us can be on the wrong side of an issue, believe in something that we shouldn't and how we can keep on believing in something when we really should be using better reason. I have examined things like logical fallacies and cognitive biases in the past and recommend everyone dig into those. I also have looked at rhetoric and propaganda techniques and feel the same way about them. They are essential to understand influence and human behavior. Here I want to focus on some specific ideas and look at how they help to get and keep us on the wrong track, how they get and keep us using poor reason when better thinking is possible and needed. If I had thoroughly understood these ideas and many others I learned since leaving Scientology I am confident that I wouldn't have been a candidate for recruitment by Scientology as it would have been obvious to me it was not anything like the group it claims to be. Scientology really encourages adopting certain ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. It encourages a mindset and attitude that is not conducive to independent and critical thinking. The flaws that Scientology lays down as bad habits for members serve as examples of how these same habits are equally bad reason when used in other contexts. What makes Scientologists into deluded dupes serves to make people in other situations into people using poor judgement and reason and frankly open to creating, holding and defending and retaining ideas that are not well thought out. Sometimes the ideas will be correct and sometimes they will be wrong but the reason behind them will be poor and the confidence for them may be high. Not a good combination. What exactly am I talking about ? Habits in thought, speech and behavior. Let me start with some examples. I found a great list at Philosophy Courses Website: Professor Matt McCormick > Biases, Fallacies, and Errors in Reasoning "Going Nuclear is the mistake of artificially elevating the standards of proof against an opposing position and arguing that it is unjustified unless it is known with absolute, deductive, or excessive levels of certainty, particularly when one cannot meet those standards oneself, or those standards are not met for many other claims that we take to be justified. A Congressman is skeptical about the evidence for global warming. He hears many highly qualified scientists review the evidence. They explain that there is a widespread consensus among the best experts in the scientific field that global warming is happening. But the Congressman resists, saying, “Well, perhaps, but in the end is it really possible to prove it? I mean, can you prove with absolute certainty that it is happening? Especially when you might possibly be wrong?” Meanwhile, the Congressman’s doctor tells him that the test results indicate a good chance that he has a bacterial infection, so the Congressman agrees to take antibiotics, even though the evidence for the diagnosis is preliminary. Specifically, the Going Nuclear mistake is elevating the standards of proof to a level that cannot be satisfied by any amount of evidence. It invokes global or extreme skepticism in order to refuse a conclusion. Motivated Reasoning, as we have explained in here, is applying different standards of proof to evidence that is for or against a view you already hold. " This is one of my favorites. It is easy to see. No evidence is good enough for a position you oppose. Video, studies by experts, scientific consensus, eyewitnesses, mountains of physical evidence, none of it matters. Someone says a politician you support is a sex criminal. Numerous women making accusations, video and audio tape of the politician bragging about being a sexual predator and assaulting women, numerous supporting witnesses and incidents of infidelity and affairs and hundreds of incidents of insulting women do not matter. Scientology encourages, even demands it via many methods, you either see Scientology doctrine as infallible and sacred and Scientology founder Ron Hubbard as impeccable in character and accomplishment or there is no place for you in Scientology. When someone is online and they say "prove it to me" regarding an idea that they are adamantly rejecting it is an example of going nuclear. If they won't examine or consider any evidence or arguments or ideas that could disagree with the idea they are defending then there is no proving anything to them, except what they already know. If they won't listen and know they don't need to read anything that disagrees with them because it is wrong because it disagrees so they have already closed their mind, whether they know it or not. Another quote from Matt McCormick is useful: "Non-disconfirmable hypotheses: A thinker is advocating a non-disconfirmable hypothesis when there are no circumstances, no evidence, no arguments, or no scenarios, even hypothetically, under which she would acknowledge that it has been disconfirmed or that it is false." End quote You need to recognize this. Sometimes you can say "what would convince you your idea is wrong" and if they say "nothing" then you know what is going on. Sometimes they will act like a standard that is not always right is the only standard. They might act like you need a behavior or admission from someone that is almost impossible for them to consider something that is quite possible without that exact and difficult to get proof. We all can be guilty of this. Scientology has no monopoly on poor reason. But it is hard to realize that I am close minded but pretending to be reasonable and open minded. Scientology successfully instilled that attitude and approach in me and a series of fortunate events over decades led to me being incrementally freed up enough to reconsider the underlying assumptions I had been following routinely. ( I described the whole process in extreme detail in the blog post Getting Into and Getting Out of Scientology - The Lies That Bind also available at Mockingbird's Nest blog on Scientology) It is a great exercise to think of times that real people have "gone nuclear." They can be famous or not, just as long as they actually did this. They can be any political type or any religion or non-religous, they can be smart or dumb even rude or polite and they can be right or wrong. The approach and mindset is the key, not anything else. I have found with trying to understand fallacies and biases that finding any examples is the best way to start and then if you find people who you disagree with easily, as most people do when thinking of errors in reason, moving to people you agree with is harder and finding times I myself used the error are hardest to find but crucial for dealing with it. You cannot deal with errors in reason by just acknowledging them in other people. Everyone can see it as the other person's problem and then no one will do anything but finger pointing. Scientology gave me the gift of realizing that I had made tremendous, unimaginable, errors in reasoning and had done it for decades and had supreme confidence I was totally right. Many people never get to realize they followed a false prophet and a fraudulent prophecy. I did. I want to stick with the errors and expand on them. More from Matt McCormick: "Motivated Reasoning: People criticize preference inconsistent information with excessive skepticism, while lowering those critical standards for information that would corroborate favored beliefs. That is, they are more critical and demand a higher level of evidence concerning conclusions that conflict with things they already believe, and they are less thoughtful or skeptical when evidence supports their favored views. A prior held belief steers the search for and analysis of information rather than an unbiased gathering and evaluation of evidence leading to the most reasonable conclusion. Motivated reasoning may or may not commit confirmation bias as well. Motivated reasoning is reasoning that is directed at achieving a particular conclusion, no matter what the truth or the evidence indicates. Confirmation bias is a particular kind of filtering of the evidence that leads to a conclusion." "Confirmation Bias is the mistake of looking for evidence that confirms a favored conclusion while neglecting or ignoring evidence that would disprove it. Susan reads her horoscope and it tells her that Virgos are outgoing. She believes in astrology, and she searches her memory for times when she’s been outgoing. She thinks of a few cases where it seemed to be accurate and concludes that astrology works. Juan thinks that he has prescient dreams, or dreams that tell the future. Out of the thousands and thousands of dreams he’s had over the years, he easily recalls the one or two times that he dreamt about some event and then the next day it seemed to happen. He fails to notice that the vast majority of his dreams did not work out like this. Those thousands of other dreams are easily forgotten and neglected." "The Umpire Effect is a particular form of motivated reasoning. Enthusiastic fans of sports teams tend to find fault in referee calls that go against their team and accuse the umpire of bias, but they will be more satisfied with referee calls that favor their team. Conservatives often argue that the news media is too liberal, while liberals insist that the news media is too conservative." "The Sliding Scale Fallacy: Motivated reasoners will apply a more skeptical, critical set of standards against the evidence for views that they oppose, while letting mistakes, sloppiness, or a failure to meet those same standards go in cases where evidence or arguments are being presented in for of conclusions they favor. See Motivated reasoning." The last few items correspond well to cognitive dissonance theory. Cognitive dissonance theory is a subject in its own right, it is far more than a definition or paragraph or even a book could fully describe. I recommend the book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger for anyone who really wants to understand human thought and behavior. I also wrote the series on cognitive dissonance theory here at Mockingbird's Nest blog on Scientology entitled Scientology And Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Motivated reasoning is a huge factor in being biased, applying unfair standards to evidence and thinking that you are being reasonable and logical. How many times have we accepted as true an article or meme that agrees with what we already believe or want to believe ? And how many times have we doubted or outright dismissed the articles and memes we find that disagree with our beliefs or preferences ? It is human nature. It takes a lot of hard work, practice and persistence to even spot this in ourselves a little bit. We usually are carried along following deeply held unexamined assumptions and seeking to feel good or at least content as we find evidence that our beliefs are correct and we often are uncomfortable, confused or disoriented when we find evidence against our beliefs and preferences. It is like being a ball that bounces along and is pleased by and comfortable bouncing on things that agree with our beliefs and desires and being upset and ill at ease with things that disagree with our beliefs and desires, so we try to desperately to steer ourselves to land on the desirable things. I have seen the sliding scale fallacy a lot, even in people who are not Scientologists and people who have studied critical thinking. Sometimes people who have studied science make the error of thinking they have transcended these errors. At best, at the very best, we might just might able to spot them in ourselves some of the time, not even most of the time, and just might be able to slightly reduce them in ourselves. That might not sound like it is worthwhile but think about this: if you reduce your error rate and it stops you from committing one really huge error - or makes it so you can spot it and change what you are doing - that can save you a lot of trouble. It can save a marriage, a job, a friendship and more. It can save a life. With the sliding scale fallacy I have a lot of examples, a lot. One that keeps coming up is worth describing. Scientology has a tremendous amount of doctrine, perhaps tens of millions of words on tapes and written in numerous orders, policies, bulletins and books. In that Hubbard wrote hundreds and hundreds of statements on hypnosis. He studied hypnosis for decades and numerous sources outside of Scientology have confirmed this. Many of his contemporaries who were not Scientologists support this claim. Scientology has extensive claims on not using hypnosis in any way. Almost every Scientologist will say this. Okay. In leaving Scientology I did several things. I looked at the article Never Believe a Hypnotist by Jon Atack and his Scientology Mythbusting articles that are all available free at The Underground Bunker blog on Scientology. I read books on hypnosis such as Trances People Live and Hypnotism Comes of Age, I watched numerous videos by hypnotists and read many articles. I gathered and presented evidence that Hubbard tried to covertly hypnotize people first through Dianetics and later with Scientology. I won't present it all here now as it includes dozens of quotes by Hubbard to demonstrate his knowledge of hypnosis and in particular his knowledge of how he was using it in Scientology and his intent to use it to covertly enslave people. I presented definitions and explanations and examples from hypnosis to untangle what hypnosis is, the basic techniques that it is built on and the effects and phenomena these techniques create, so people, especially Scientologists and ex Scientologists, could know that the effects and phenomena Hubbard described in one way when discussing hypnosis were the same things he described in a completely different way when they are created in Scientology indoctrination and another in Scientology auditing and another in Scientology ethics technology and another in Scientology administrative technology. I also collected extensive evidence from studies and experiments in psychology and neuroscience to give scientific support to the claims that particular techniques like confusion via contradiction, attention fixation, vivid imagery, repetition, mimicry and repetitive leading questions can influence people. Imagine a blackboard with a line down the middle. On one side is the evidence I gathered and presented. It is grouped into broad categories and the ideas are summed up into little phrases. On the side for my claim is a very, very full page with lots and lots of evidence for each of my main ideas. On the other side ? Sometimes I have presented some of my evidence to a Scientologist or ex Scientologist and they present one or two statements like "I just can't believe it" or "but the indoctrination technology was from someone else originally !" A couple things, just because we cannot believe something doesn't make it false. Reality doesn't care about our opinion. Lots of unbelievable things have turned out to be true. Scientology has hundreds of contradictory statements on hypnosis so most people just give up and accept that Hubbard said Scientology is not hypnosis in some of them. Scientology study technology has been described as being taken in part from a couple who came up with some of the concepts in Scientology Study Technology indoctrination procedures. Here is a quote from The Underground Bunker blog by Tony Ortega: More proof that Scientology used the ‘R2-45’ method to intimidate enemies By Tony Ortega | March 17, 2015 "Charles Berner had been one of L. Ron Hubbard’s most enthusiastic early followers. From 1954 to 1957, he was even president of the Church of Scientology of California, the “mother church” of the organization. According to some oldtimers, Berner and his wife, Ava, were responsible for coming up with the concepts of “Study Tech” which Hubbard later co-opted as his own. By 1965, Hubbard “declared” Berner, and made him the church’s first “enemy number one.” End quote Now, Chris Shelton was able to conduct an interview with Ava Berner on his YouTube channel entitled The Basics of Scientology: Study Tech. I do not dispute the claim that Hubbard stole some ideas from this couple. I also do not dispute the claim that they sincerely thought they had found some beneficial ideas. Hubbard took a handful of ideas that others found believable and altered both the ideas and the techniques that these ideas are implemented with to such an extreme degree as to fundamentally change what is being done with them. And Hubbard in several references I quoted laid out how this could be done but he needed the crucial elements of a believable explanation for the indoctrination methods he came up with to fool people. So, someone could put the story of the Berners on the other side if they felt it was evidence against my claims. Fine. Here is where we really get to see motivated reasoning and the sliding scale fallacy. Imagine you are an ex Scientologist and you have rejected Scientology, you think...but oddly still are firm in your conviction that Scientology indoctrination is not based on covert hypnosis because you just KNOW it cannot be, despite admitting you know nothing about hypnosis...except Hubbard told you Scientology isn't hypnosis... You have one anecdote, the taking of some basic terms and a handful of ideas from the Berners but then Hubbard by all accounts dramatically changed many aspects of study technology and added many techniques, ideas and drills and procedures resulting in something far more than what the Berners brought him, something far different. Isn't the fact that Hubbard ended up with something far different enough to consider that he made it into something that does something else ? I propose that the ex Scientologist in this position should carefully examine my claims and evidence, but have found all too often that some will not. Their personal incredulity (a logical fallacy, believing something cannot be because you find it hard to believe) and a handy way to PARTIALLY explain the origin of Scientology indoctrination methods is more than enough for some ex Scientologists to reject any evidence and claims WITHOUT EXAMINATION OR CONSIDERATION. Some people I will admit do examine my claims and evidence and find them persuasive. Some examine them and are shocked. Some remain skeptical. But if you do not at least examine them, especially if you were in Scientology, how good is your reasoning on this matter ? Let me be even more clear. As we receive information we are prone to have feelings in response to the information. If the information contradicts our beliefs and behaviors, especially our deeply held values, we can experience confusion, disorientation, anxiety and discomfort, perhaps even frustration, impatience and anger. So, in an unthinking effort to alleviate these unpleasant sensations we can reject the information, we can discredit the source and double down on our own beliefs and use all the logical fallacies I posted here to see ourselves as right and the information we disagree with as wrong due to an emotional motivation. It is a motivation to escape escape unpleasant emotion and return to more pleasant emotions. This is entirely consistent with cognitive dissonance theory. In A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance Leon Festinger gave some relevant ideas: When there is a clear and unequivocal reality corresponding to some cognitive element, the possibilities of change are almost nil. (Page 27) It would still be possible to reduce the dissonance by what also amounts to adding a new cognitive element, but of a different kind. He can admit to himself, and to others, that he was wrong. (Page 29) Sometimes, however, the resistances against this are quite strong.(Page 29) A person would expose himself to sources of information which he expected would increase consonance but would certainly avoid sources which would increase dissonance. (Page 30) This just seems like human nature. It is a terrible bias toward information that fits what you want to find, with avoidance of contrary evidence. This is terrible for objective analysis or critical thinking or scientific method. It is also bad for relationships. It exists to greatly varying degrees in people and even varies regarding different subjects within an individual. So in a person considered reasonable and level headed this may be less than in a black and white thinker who is polarized, with unshakeable certainty on everything with no doubt or personal reflection. Unfortunately, Scientology makes many members into extremely close minded and blindly obedient mental slaves. In this abusive relationship the victim tries to pretend the abuse and anything that could expose it are not true. The operation of a fear of dissonance may also lead to a reluctance to commit oneself behaviorally. (Page 30) Hence, it is possible for dissonances to arise and to mount in intensity. A fear of dissonance would lead to a reluctance to take action-a reluctance to commit oneself. (Page 31) There are several areas of opinion where it is notoriously difficult to change people. (Page 120) Now an important thing to be aware of is the tendency people have to try to avoid or minimize dissonance most of the time. One might also expect, however, that at the initial moment of impact of the new dissonant cognition, effective processes could be initiated which would prevent the dissonant elements from ever being firmly established cognitively. One might expect to observe such things as attempts to escape or avoid further exposure, erroneous interpretation or perception of the material, or any other technique or maneuver which will help to abolish the newly introduced dissonance and to prevent the further introduction of dissonance. (Page 134) That is a way to say that if you realize or suspect information will be against your beliefs automatic responses are switched on that can counterargue against the information. Counterarguing is thinking of claims against the information or reasons to not accept it or using fallacies to avoid the information. There are other psychological defense mechanisms that are triggered including denial that all can have dissonance inspiring information set as triggers. And emotional reactions that prevent even accepting the information. This is the anatomy of being close minded and stubborn. Festinger describes several processes including intentional misunderstanding, thereby avoiding the dissonance, this can occur if the message is open to multiple interpretations or vague. Also if the message is clear and not capable of alternative conclusions then other methods are utilized. A person may accept a message on the surface but see exceptions or that a particular example is true but that the general principle in question is not. This is strikingly similar to Hubbard's claim that "suppressive generalities" exist. Many Scientologists and exes embrace this technique to reject without analysis virtually any concepts they wish to avoid. Festinger quotes the conclusions of others regarding a study. "...the prejudiced person's perception is so colored by his prejudices that issues presented in a frame of reference different from his own are transformed so as to become compatible with his own views. Quite unaware of the violation of facts he commits, he imposes on the propaganda item his own frame of reference." (Page 136) Festinger goes on: Denial of Reality It sometimes happens that a large group of people is able to maintain an opinion or belief even in the face of continual definitive evidence to the contrary. Such instances may range all the way from rather inconsequential occurrences of short duration to phenomena which may almost be termed mass delusions. (Page 198) Let us imagine a person who has some cognition which is both highly important to him and highly resistant to change. This might be a belief system which pervades an appreciable part of his life and which is so consonant with many other cognitions that changing the belief system would introduce enormous dissonance. (Page 198) These two ideas are extremely relevant to Scientology. They almost cannot be stressed enough. Regarding maintaining mass delusions an entire series of books could be written detailing the delusional belief system Scientology requires continuously and the encyclopedias Hubbard assembled detailing how to install and maintain these delusions to enslave his victims mentally. For my example I want to focus on two of the many things Festinger wrote: When there is a clear and unequivocal reality corresponding to some cognitive element, the possibilities of change are almost nil. (Page 27) Sometimes, however, the resistances against this are quite strong.(Page 29) In my example an ex Scientologist may say "well, Hubbard stole study tech from the Berners, that is undisputed, so case closed." But what if instead of using good critical thinking to carefully examines the relevant evidence for the claims of both sides the ex Scientologist was in fact using motivated reasoning, and the rest of the fallacy parade to avoid unpleasant emotions and return as quickly as possible to pleasant ones ? Not every person who examines my claims and evidence will agree with me. But there is a world of difference between making a good effort to really understand the case for and against ideas and to try to as objectively as possible consider and carefully weigh the facts. Scientology sets people up to habitually think in fallacies, to have deeply held emotionally charged assumptions and to not examine those assumptions and instead to fiercely defend them. Scientology uses emotions to make doubting ideas from Scientology incredibly uncomfortable and to make hanging onto those ideas comfortable. Those ideas usually include believing study tech and the concepts, phenomena, interpretation of phenomena and techniques are valid and true and that any other view, including the idea that Hubbard used hypnosis and covert persuasion in Scientology indoctrination, is inconceivable and ludicrous. But just because Hubbard put a lot of work into getting people to believe something doesn't make it true, even if it feels like it must be true. I have written a lot on the evidence for Hubbard having tried to covertly hypnotize people through study technology and Scientology auditing. Here are a couple quotes I found relatively recently: "If you can produce enough chaos — it says in a textbook on this subject — if you can produce enough chaos you can assume the total management of a psyche — if you can produce enough chaos. The way you hypnotize people is to misalign them in their own control and realign them under your control, which necessitates a certain amount of chaos, don’t you see? Now, the way to win through all of this is simply to let the guy have his stable data, if they are stable data and if they aren’t, let him have some more that are stable data and he’ll win and you’ll win. In other words, you can take any sphere — any sphere which is relatively chaotic and throw almost any stable datum into it with enough of a statement and you will get an alignment of data on that stable datum. You see this clearly? The whole society is liable to seize upon some stupid stable datum and thereafter this becomes a custom of some sort and you have the whole field of morals and mores and so forth stretching out before your view." Hubbard, L. R. (1955, 23 August). Axiom 53: The Axiom Of The Stable Datum. Academy Lecture Series/Conquest of Chaos, (CofC-2). Lecture conducted from Washington, DC. "Another way to hypnotize somebody would be to put him in the middle of chaos, everything going in all directions, everybody shooting at him and suddenly throw him a stable datum, and make it a successful stable datum so that it’s all called off once — the moment he grabs this. And this gives you the entire formula of brainwashing: interrogate, question, lights, pain, upset, accusation, duress, fear, privation and we throw him the stable datum. We say, “If you’ll just adopt ‘Ughism’ which is the most wonderful thing in the world, all this will cease,” and finally the fellow says, “All right, I’m an ‘Ugh.’ ” Immediately you stop torturing him and pat him on the head and he’s all set.Ever after he would believe that the moment he deserted “Ughism,” he would be drowned in chaos and that “Ughism” alone was the thing which kept the world stable; and he would sell his life or his grandmother to keep “Ughism” going. And there we have to do with the whole subject of loyalty, except — except that we haven’t dealt with loyalty at all on an analytical level but the whole subject of loyalty is a reactive subject we have dealt with. " Author: Hubbard, L. R. Document date: 1955, 21 September, 1955, 21 September Document title: Postulates 1,2,3,4 In Processing - New Understanding of Axiom 36, Postulates 1,2,3,4 In Processing - New Understanding of Axiom 36 In the blog posts 1) Insidious Enslavement: Study Technology and 2) Basic Introduction to Hypnosis in Scientology and 3) Burning Down Hell - How Commands Are Hidden, Varied And Repeated In Scientology To Control You As Hypnotic Implants and 4) Why Hubbard Never Claimed OT Feats And The Rock Bottom Basis Of Scientology I took on laying out the foundation of Scientology relying upon cognitive dissonance and hypnosis. I elaborated on the book A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger in a series of blog posts. I combined all eleven of them together in one long post Scientology And Cognitive Dissonance Theory. The point of this post is not for EVERYONE to read everything I put out and have identical beliefs to my own. Or even to just read everything I put out. Taking on that much is really just for the most serious students regarding cults, Scientology and persuasion and people with a strong personal stake in understanding or recovering from Scientology. The point is is that the same human nature - including psychology with cognitive dissonance and biases and logical fallacies - what makes being and staying duped by Scientology possible is present in ALL of us. We all can be fooled and manipulated. And we all have the potential to STAY wrong if we are not meticulously scrutinous regarding the things we don't want to examine, the things that clash with our worldview, that contradict out most cherished beliefs. We should look at our unexamined assumptions and see are they valid ? Are they well supported by facts and solid evidence ? What is the best evidence and the best arguments against them ? Is there new information we have not considered that is relevant to them ? I am going to be frank. Critical thinking is HARD. It goes against many habits we usually have as first nature. Leonard Mlodinow wrote in the book Subliminal on how our minds are very good as lawyers, selecting and manipulating information for our benefit and very poor as scientists, carefully using scientific standards and gathering evidence objectively both for and against out desires and letting the quest for knowledge and truth guide us. Jonathan Haidt in his book The Righteous Mind uses a metaphor of the intellect as a rider and emotion as an elephant. Imagine if you as a man or woman try to get an elephant you are riding to go somewhere. Imagine if the elephant is determined to go towards something. I have to agree with the critical thinking expert Richard Paul who wrote Critical Thinking with his wife Linda Elder, critical thinking is a way of doing things, an approach that takes a lot of work, it is something you have to carefully keep working at and trying to return to and improve upon. You have to challenge yourself and keep getting more and more knowledge on multiple subjects related to critical thinking or you are not really doing it. I highly recommend the book Critical Thinking and the YouTube videos by Richard Paul. I wrote the blog post Cornerstones of Critical Thinking 1 - 8 Introduction to Critical Thinking here at Mockingbird's Nest. Scientology gives many of us a gift when we reject it. We know we are gullible, we know we can be wrong, protection of that knowledge takes work. It takes learning about the ways we can be wrong and the ways we fool ourselves and keep ourselves fooled. Probably nothing short of the miraculous can remove all of the flaws and errors in human thought, to be human is to err as Alexander Pope wrote. Scientology in many ways is a a kind of warped mirror. It shows aspects of life that exist but has some exaggerated and turned way up and others are almost absent. It is a surreal experience to be in Scientology and a surreal experience to honestly examine it in depth. I hope that in examining Scientology for whatever reasons we have, no matter what background we start at, we can understand ourselves better and understand each other better. I tried to pick the particular errors in reason I did to start this with because they are ones most likely to generate resistance to even considering that you or I can be wrong in ourselves.