0 thoughts on “how cults rewire the brain

  1. Brief and to the point.

    She says, “… there is no evil force out there to get us.”

    She’s right, and for those of us who were raised in cultic environments, it is important that it be repeated. Often. We may know it, but it is far too easy to slip back into the old ways of thinking. “Us” and “them”; the “inside” vs. the “outside”, or even, “Us” against “the powers that be”, whether human or not.

    No. It’s just “Us”. All of us; we’re in this together.

    So, “… we can do this.” I don’t know if we can, yet, but at least it makes sense to try.

  2. However, the title of the post is misleading. She says nothing about “how”, beyond an assertion of a measurable difference in our brains, based on nothing.

  3. I haven’t read The Selfish Gene yet, another on my to-read list, but on a flight to Georgia last March (Jodi’s sister’s wedding), the lovely couple seated with me told me all about it (yet couldn’t remember the author — I was amused to find out afterward).

    The concept of memetics fascinates me. And it rings true. I can completely “get” how this can happen, even just watching how certain videos go viral on the intertubes knowing that its content is provided by other people’s brains, just like Benscoter can “get” how people infected by a particularly bad meme can do such horrible things. Or just look at how often you catch someone reciting quotes from their favorite TV show or commercial. Really, commercials! Advertising firms must know a good deal about memetics without really realizing it.

    I agree she makes a significant leap in suggesting that their brains would “look different”. I could imagine their brain scans might show different areas lit up while asked certain questions, but to sit someone down, put electrodes on their head, and ask them questions to determine whether or not they’re a cultist seems more like a way to hunt these people down.

    I’m considering studying memetics to greater depth, though I don’t really have any academic standing with which to do so. I know I’d be starting on an assumed premise, but maybe that premise rings true because it’s actually true.

  4. To me what is particularly interesting is the possibility (not mentioned here) of how we “innoculate” people against whacky memes. How do we put a meme in the brain that will examine later memes and examine them critically. Keeping in mind of course that memes are not just intellectual, but very largely emotional.

  5. Actually, we seem to be inoculating people against rational thinking.

    Think about the day to day aphorisms about truth, such as “the truth must be somewhere in between” or “there is a grain of truth behind every legend” and so on.

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