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External Influences

February 28, 2011

I’m always fascinated by the Church of Scientology’s obsession with “external influences.” At the Int Base, any “bad attitude,” doubt or criticism was always blamed on some “eternal influence,” whether a family member, friend, news story or whatever. One had to be constantly on guard against these insidious, evil  external  influences.

In a broad, non-Scientology sense, an “external influence” would be anything outside of yourself that could influence your opinions or attitudes. Family, friends, TV programs, newspapers, internet sites, political or social groups and, yes, religious groups, could all be considered to act as “external influences” on a person.

So what the Church is really saying is “we want to be your only external influence.” “We want to be the only ones who influence your opinions or viewpoints.”

In other words, they want to isolate you.  In fact, one of the definitions of “isolate” in the American Heritage dictionary is “to render free of external influence.”


As Eric Hoffer points out in his book, The True Believer, “All active mass movements strive…to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth or certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ…To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy and treason.”

Steven Hassan says in Combatting Cult Mind Control:

“Information is the fuel we use to keep our minds working properly, Deny a person the information he requires to make sound judgments, and he will be incapable of doing so. People are trapped in destructive cults because they are not only denied access to critical information but also lack the properly functioning internal mechanisms to process it.”

He adds: “Most importantly, people are told to avoid contact with ex-members or critics. Those who could provide the most information are the ones to be especially shunned.”

Two things to remember:

1. If someone is trying to isolate you from certain sources of information, they are trying to control your information.

2. Information control is mind control.

  1. Cowboy Poet permalink
    March 1, 2011 12:19 am

    Nicely put. And I love the title illustration.
    Personally I don’t think mankind is up to having an organized religion that isn’t bonkers. I feel bad saying that because I know that many of the world’s religions have contributed greatly to society but it just seems that once men get a hold of the prophet/philosopher’s words, it goes to sh*t at lightspeed and becomes what was not intended.
    And along with the good, they’ve also ruined lives along the way.
    Most any of the world’s religions can benefit an individual provided the person retains his integirty, powers of observation. and keeps his own counsel. But no….

    I think the intelligent few find things out themselves.

  2. March 1, 2011 1:50 am

    Here’s the thing, data is mostly an extraneous factor. You have all this data, but the important thing is less the data than the capacity to analyze, evaluate and arrange the data. The evaluator is more important than what is evaluated.

    You can give all the best data that exists to an idiot and he will come up with idiotic conclusions and solutions. And, if we are so inclined, we can blame the data, or we can blame those who supplied the data or blame those who tried to control the flow of data. But, ultimately, each of us is responsible for our own evaluations and conclusions.

    “Data” is horribly misunderstood. We tend to view data as linguistic representations. What was said. What was described. What was written. To a large extent, our conclusions and observations are rooted in our “vocabulary.” Our vocabulary is based in the array of meanings we assign.

    And in psychology, perception is often defined as “assignment of meaning.” Our perception depends on the meaning we assign.

    However, the English language barely scratches the surface of all that exists in all possible universes. So, we come up short on being able to not only perceive, but to analyze and evaluate “data.” Our data pool is simply too limited. And that would include a theoretical someone who has mastered every word in English and thoroughly grasped every available bit of data in science, philosophy and religion as described by our language.

    Now, our vanity makes this idea unpalatable. So it’s easy to fall into the trap of assigning too much importance to our limited supply of data. Each datum, by default has more importance than it might deserve.

    And its easy to blame those who are providing us faulty data. But, it’s healthier to maintain a bit of skepticism about data and data sources (including self), being continuously willing to reevaluate as new information comes in.

    After all, we’re suffering from a relative paucity of understanding, so why not maintain a bit of humility?


  3. March 1, 2011 2:03 am

    Coming out of Scientology / the Sea Org, one of my biggest realizations was regarding INFORMATION CONTROL — I realized I ONLY KNEW what I was told as a staff member. And I was a staff member from age 14 to 42. That’s a long time to have certain “facts” ingrained.

    Leaving Scientology and learning WITHOUT the control placed on my life by them any longer, I found I was able to absorb information and make my own decisions based on my personal integrity, reality and observations. That alone is so much more freedom than I ever obtained from the “church”.

  4. lurker permalink
    March 1, 2011 2:20 am

    interesting, and relevent even when people come out of the cult into various groups. I have seen various freezone or indie groups, even some boards, call other groups , boards, websites various things like “natter board” or haters, or losers. Seems to me that this can be yet another way of isolating people to a particular point of view…

    Sad that people work so hard, and give up so much to leave this cult, and yet still have be on guard for the same games being run on them…

  5. March 1, 2011 3:51 am

    Eric Hoffer!!!


    That’s one of my favorite books: It described me right down to the little clinker of my soul.

    Great quote, Jeff. That book is filled with them!


  6. Ginger permalink
    March 1, 2011 4:05 am

    this is very true.. I have been reading alot on mind control and this is a key point! Thanks for the article!!

  7. Mickey permalink
    March 1, 2011 8:10 am

    Yet another succinct offering from Jeff to get one to think for themselves. This idea of “external influences” in Scn was begun long before, but has continued with the current regime. Miscavige is not the originator, but a harsh promulgator of it. I was always perplexed by this idea, especially as a staff member, because how in the hell can one NOT be “influenced” by something or someone externally?

    The policy myth of being “open minded” I think was designed (intentionally perhaps?) to reinforce because where else but externally would new, different and questioning ideas come. Creating a fear of outside influences is also designed to keep the masses (members) closed off and in the organized mental-loop of fixated ideas. Along with the silly idea of thinking “entheta” can ruin your day, it all adds up to a packaged deal of deluded thinking in support of a grand deception.

    Sheesh….but I guess we all had to go through this to realize such limiting concepts are not healthy in any way for anyone in the long run.

    That’s death to a being who yearns to be free. What a conundrum!

  8. Enturbulator permalink
    March 1, 2011 4:22 pm

    Let me second Alanzo and point out that Eric Hoffer is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how Scientology or any other totalitarian organization operates.

  9. Tony DePhillips permalink
    March 1, 2011 6:12 pm

    Another brilliant post Jeff.
    Thanks a bunch.
    You have a great ability to say things in such an easy to understand style that is much appreciated.
    Mind control can sound so evil and it is. But a person can conjure up all sorts of violent methods of doing it which in a lot of cases are false. But just the simple method of controlling information and thus controlling the mind is easy and very evil at the same time.

  10. March 1, 2011 10:10 pm

    It is amazing to see how hard Hubbard worked to ensure that Scientologists would isolate themselves from outside information. My favorite technique, and one I frequently talk about on my blog, is his insistence that anyone who attacks Scientology must have crimes they are trying to hide. His concept that “entheta” was dangerous is another great way of keeping people looking inward. Sadly ,the tradition continues – not only in the Church, but among some independent web sites.

    The lucky thing is that the truth almost always finds a way to seep in through the cracks. But you won’t find many organizations that plug the leaks as efficiently as Scientology.


  11. plainoldthetan permalink
    March 2, 2011 5:57 pm

    This is just more of “The Most Powerful Beings in the Universe”, isn’t it? If the CofS is making people more able, why aren’t they able to throw off the chains of external influences? If the CofS is making people free, why aren’t they able to live free from external influences? If the CofS is making beings more able to think for themselves, why aren’t they able to think uninfluenced?

    I actually resent the most overwhelming and insidious external influence of all: David Miscavige.

  12. marylee permalink
    March 5, 2011 6:00 pm

    Great article and so true.

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