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  • the anti vaccine movement continues to thrive in part due to online misinformation groups for some conspiracy theories are a way of life.

  • But as people go deeper down the rabbit hole, are they joining a cult?

  • We asked the sociologist to walk us through the similarities and the differences between these online communities and cults.

  • People do have this idea that all cults are religious, which absolutely isn't true.

  • There's every kind of cult therapy called Ufo cult Eastern cults, New age cults, you name it and of course there are political cults.

  • Political cults can thrive just like any other cult they can be from the left or the right.

  • I myself was in a left wing cult back in the seventies and eighties.

  • People are forming online communities and finding the same sense of belonging and purpose as they would have in a physical group.

  • They do have the same kind of closed mindset that we see in cult members, we will knock out without too evil.

  • We're americans, it's important to realize that it has nothing to do with religion.

  • It has to do with the behaviors of the group.

  • According to Dr.

  • Blalock's framework, cults share four behaviors or characteristics.

  • A transcendent belief systems, systems of control, systems of influence and a charismatic leader.

  • The transcendent belief system is the overarching ideology gives you the answers to the past, the present and future.

  • So it's a new way for you to understand the world and your role in the world and it's exclusive in that you're led to believe that it is the only way to think it is the only true belief system and it's inclusive in that when you are part of that, you feel like you're a member of the elite, you're special and those other people who aren't part of it.

  • Well, there's just something wrong with them.

  • A scroll through the messaging app telegram shows that online groups like sad make generate misinformation.

  • They also forbid their members from being vaccinated.

  • The Kunin movement, especially in its heyday, the anti vaccine movement, they basically generate that same kind of transcendent belief system.

  • And the anti vaccine movement in its anti science attitudes is saving us from this thing that's going to get injected into us and it's going to put a chip in us, you and on was saving us from the sadness and the evil Doers.

  • I'm sure people remember Pizza Gate and the idea that there are pedophiles running the government.

  • It got decent, honest people who cared about child abuse, who cared about sex trafficking latching onto this as though this were the answer.

  • Sometimes these groups will have rallies and demonstrations where they'll go out and be absolutely fervent, just roaring and raging and having the kind of exuberance for their own beliefs that can seem quite frightening to those of us who are watching from the outside.

  • What is the plan to save the world from the evils that are out there.

  • One of the things you might notice when we look at cults is that people are sometimes doing things that seem unbelievable to those of us on the outside, why would someone go rob a bank who never would have done something like that before?

  • And this is part of that re socialization process where your sense of morality that you brought into the group with you is being altered so that you're taking on the morality or the immorality of the cult leader and you'll end up doing things that in any other context you wouldn't have done the kind of us versus them mentality that's taken over has really generated this, this outward violence that we hadn't seen before.

  • So the systems of control are the sort of overt, obvious rules and regulations of the group that you must follow.

  • When some groups you may be told where to live or who to live with and some groups you may be told to divorce your spouse, who doesn't want to be part of the group, they may be telling you what to wear, what to eat.

  • It can be any of those kinds of things that is part of stripping away your individuality.

  • Is there a parallel in online political groups.

  • These online communities do have their own systems of control where people are expected to speak a certain way, behave a certain way.

  • There were t shirts that are expressing their belief or their love for a certain idea, or there's obviously the kind of paraphernalia that is familiar from those of us who've studied cults, those kinds of slogans are very useful.

  • You know, lock her up.

  • So systems of influence are the more subtle manipulations of your emotions.

  • You know, guilt, shame, fear, love.

  • And one big part of the systems of influence is the peer pressure.

  • The chanting of the slogans at the rallies is one of the systems of influence because it's what we call a high arousal technique.

  • It basically gets the believer or the follower pumped up, right?

  • And when you get pumped up your critical thinking shuts down.

  • When your critical thinking shuts down, you're not able to question what the hell am I doing right?

  • You're just going along with the crowd.

  • And this kind of, you know, mass hysteria sets in where everybody's chanting the same thing, sort of reaffirms your loyalty.

  • We know from our studies of cults that one thing that they are closed systems, I call themselves sealing systems, the sort of clever but also dangerous aspect of the online communities is the way the algorithms work and so that you click on something and before you know it you're something else pops up and then you click on that and you get led down these paths without maybe even realizing where you're going and without having time to think about it.

  • There is a risk in banning these groups from the more public social media which has happened with some of the groups and then they go to the more secretive social media platforms, it's like falling down the rabbit hole before you know it, you're like lost in a world of like minded thinkers and think you found a community that you feel part of and you're gone to the people who knew you before.

  • The charismatic leader is someone who has power over you.

  • It's a social relationship and it's based on this imbalance of power and it's actually not an attribute that someone is born with, but it's the fact that you attribute that quality to that person and that's what gives them the power and then you are obligated to honor and revere and worship that person and the charismatic leader is obligated to be that charismatic leader and do things that makes him or her seem special.

  • So who would fill that role in online communities?

  • We don't necessarily see one leader standing up to be the charismatic leader, but there may be different people who play that role at different times when Q was at its peak and he was sending out messages and I think people did actually see him as a mystical untouchable charismatic Messianic leader.

  • He had that kind of sway and power over people queue also was similar to the cult leaders who say they have the direct line to God Q.

  • Presented himself also as someone who was really an insider and knew exactly what was going on and that he was going to tell us and warn us about the deep state and things that were happening in the government.

  • That we're harming the american public just about everybody I know has somebody in their family or in their social network, who has been lost to them with political divisions in America at an all time high.

  • What advice does dr Lalique have for someone trying to reconnect with a loved one in an online group that feels cult like another parallel to what we see in cults is this concept of cognitive dissonance, which means When reality butts up against your belief system, 99% of the time people are going to stick with their belief system rather than go with reality because it's what they know, it's what their identity is wrapped up in and it's safe for everybody who's in one of these closed groups has doubts and they're never able to express those doubts.

  • We need to be compassionate to that person.

  • But I call it critical compassion because it's something you need to do very carefully.

  • So first you want to build rapport, you want to bring back good memories of things you did before.

  • Don't challenge the person.

  • Don't think, oh, I've got the best arguments are only going to drive that person deeper into whatever it is they believe in.

  • So you have to think about how to connect with that person again in a way that is going to just open up their eyes a little bit.

  • It may happen six months down the road and that's why I say, never give up.

  • Never give up hope.

  • Don't ever cut that person off being in a cult or being in one of these hateful groups.

  • And there's a lot of loneliness and stress.

  • If that person can see a way out, they'll take it one day and they'll thank you.

the anti vaccine movement continues to thrive in part due to online misinformation groups for some conspiracy theories are a way of life.

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元カルト信者が解説「人がネットのデマ・陰謀論を信じてしまう訳」WIRED.jp

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/11/04
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