In my view, what we are dealing with for the most part with corporate scientologists is denialism. I came across a very clear description of the phenomenon in a book by Michael Specter, Denialism, Penguin Books 2009:
We have all been in denial at some point in our lives; faced with truths too painful to accept, rejection often seems the only way to cope. Under those circumstances, facts, no matter how detailed or irrefutable, rarely make a difference. Denialism is denial writ large — when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie…
…Unless data fits neatly into an already formed theory, a denialist doesn’t really see it as data at all. That enables him to dismiss even the most compelling evidence as just another point of view.
It helps to understand the phenomena all of us have run up against – the shock of old friends and associates acting deaf, dumb and blind to hard, cold, documented facts. No need to fret about it when as you can see it is a phenomena so common that popular thinkers are writing about its prevalence in society at large.
Specter goes on to describe how in an ever increasingly complicated world with steadily declining educational standards, people are desperate for easy answers. The not-so-bright desire big labels that can easily ‘explain’ complexities that they don’t have the confront, or discipline or inclination to investigate and evaluate for themselves.
Denialism can lead to extremism, a subject well-treated with respect to current American politics in Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, by John Avlon, Beast Books 2010. Avlon writes that:
Wingnuts [defined as extremists to the far right or left] offer their fellow travelers the false comfort of rigid certainty in a changing world — dividing our country into good versus evil, us against them. Fundamentalism has a powerful appeal for people who feel powerless, especially when it gets dressed up as ideology or attaches itself to a party label.
But when you pull the curtain back on Wingnut politics, behind the all-or-nothing demands, apocalyptic warnings and the addicition to self righteous anger, you’ll see that fear is the motivating factor: fear of the other; fear wrapped up in the American flag; fear calling itself freedom.
I’m just sharing some food for thought. I think the parallels to the Scientology world are apparent. I think we can learn some lessons by understanding denialism and extremism or fundamentalism. They are isms that are systematically inculcated in corporate Scientology. I think it behooves us to recognize remnants of them in ourselves so that they are not perpetuated. I think it also helps to understand that when you are aggressively confronted with this mind set by corporate scientologists, you recognize that you are looking square in the eyes of fear. Something worth remembering given the tactics of aggression and threat corporate scientologists have become adept at covering their fear with.