Understanding the Scientology Mindset Pt 10 – The Third Wave

Lesson_Plan_poster2011| Lesson Plan: The Story of the Third Wave


We have already discussed the power of social conformity as revealed by the Asch experiment (back in part 2) and Stanley Milgram’s classic experiment into obedience to authority  in part 3.

I have tried to use these ideas to explain why good people who join Scientology find themselves behaving in ways that go against their basic nature, and conforming to beliefs so bizarre that those who leave the Church look back on their career with astonishment.

In a Scientology ‘Org’ authority figures are constantly present, and members are constantly under pressure to conform to the value of the group. Where else can we find this kind of social situation? In a school, perhaps?

In 1967 a US teacher called Ron Jones was frustrated that he could not give a satisfactory answer to a student’s question – how could so many German people claim to have been unaware of the abuses of the Nazi regime? He decided to demonstrate instead, by creating a neo-fascist organisation within the school, reminiscent of the Hitler Youth – “The Third Wave“.

This ‘movement’ was such a runaway success that Jones was forced to end it after the forth day. The following day, he explained the experiment to his students.

He had not only answered the original question, but also demonstrated the astonishing power of any Isolated  social situation which is prepared to exploit both authority and social pressure to conform. His experiment is still being run – in Scientology Orgs worldwide.

Further Reading

There  a ‘young adult’ book (recommended for an age range from 12 upwards) and a film which offers a fictionalised account of this informal experiment.

the wave book1981 | The Wave | Todd Strasser (AKA Morton Rhue)


ISBN-10: 0440993717
ISBN-13: 978-0440993711


the wave1981 | The Wave (Film)

View Online | Download


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