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.
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.
1981 | The Wave (Film)