Group mentality can be a useful tool in a healthy and happily cohesive society. However, it can also mean having to turn yourself into a social contortionist, especially in situations where adhering to socially acceptable behavioural patterns or ideas means putting aside our conscience or better judgements in order to conform to the will of the majority. Individual behaviour can be easily swept away under the influence of a group who hold an opposing view-point. Human psychology is greatly effected and influenced by such social issues and however much we are guided by our own personalities and act instinctively based on our genetic make-up, social-conditioning is a hugely important variable when considering human behaviour.
“Pressure is on to change the Roman Catholic Church in America, but it’s not coming from the usual liberal suspects. A new breed of theological conservatives has taken to blogs and YouTube to say the church isn’t Catholic enough.”-Catholic bloggers aim to purge dissenters – Yahoo News
The power of social-conditioning should never be underestimated. It has played a huge part in human history and will continue to do so but what is important is realising and recognising when it is in play and then deciding, individually whether to allow ourselves to be subject to it.
An Obsession with Obedience.
“Enraged by dissent that they believe has gone unchecked for decades, and unafraid to say so in the starkest language, these activists are naming names and unsettling the church.”
Even the idea of obedience to the Pope and any recognition of that authority is an aspect of behaviour that must be kept in constant check through reinforcement but individuals only have the authority over our lives that we allow them to have. Once the reinforcement of a particular behaviour is removed, that same conditioned behavioural pattern will decrease and eventually disappear entirely. With religion the reinforcement is built into the system of beliefs. Hope of reward and fear of an eternity of punishment and torture for finite sins as minor as doubt or disbelief, rules their lives. Not only that but they are conditioned to accept this same interference as ‘right’, without question. As a method of control this is highly effective. With the Church’s continued theocratic demands on, and intrusions into, the lives of followers and non-Catholics alike, what the church has always been is a bully and well on its way to re-emerging as the dictatorship it was in the days of the Inquisition.
One of the best Pat Condell videos I have ever seen.
Obedience is one of the strongest forms of conformity and it often involves betraying one’s own sense of right and wrong in order to go along with what one is told to believe or how to behave. In 1965, Stanley Milgram orchestrated an experiment in which subjects were required to administer electric shocks to someone they believed to be wired to a machine on the other side of a divide. The shocks would increase in strength (from 75 volts up to 450) after each subsequent wrong answer. At a designated point the person who was believed to be being shocked was yelling for it to stop but the real subject was told by someone in a lab coat with a clipboard to ignore it and continue. This shows a distinct human inclination to administer torture and cruelty ‘under orders’. Nazi Germany is probably the most cogent example of the dangers of this form of conformity. Even a degree of individual forethought and diversity, therefore, is an essential defence against complete conformity to arbitrary conformity.
This cruelty needn’t be physical either. The psychological and physical damage inflicted on children by members of the clergy will have lasting, if not permanent effects, but the victims were often mentally and emotionally tormented by their abusers as well; being told they were at fault for what had been done to them. The church not only covered it up, but reinforced the problem by insisting on silence from all parties and a threat of the excommunication of the victim if silence was broken or the abuse was not reported within a certain time frame. The more a group feels it is bound together or tightly organised, the more power it has over its members. Unity is also increased by shared beliefs, particularly when they are directed against another group (See Stereotyping and Dehumanising Opponents).
The emotional distance (or physical) one individual has from their victim, makes it easier to act and think without compassion or empathy. It is on record that those who had the power to rectify the problem of predatory clergy, refused to acknowledge the complaints, dismissed the complaints as an ‘American cultural issue‘, and denied all accountability to the victims. The distance was deliberately maintained in-line with the culture of secrecy, perpetuated since the second century in order to protect the reputation of the church. Church leaders, in the face of all the evidence, still refuse to admit any responsibility and claim that the stream of abuse and cover-ups is a total surprise to them. This is born out of their own belief that they are immune to ‘earthly’ authority. (See Illusion of invulnerability).
The proximity to the authority is also affected by the legitimacy of the figure wielding it. A close proximity to authority makes obedience more likely but that depends on whether the authority is accepted or not. We do NOT have to accept the church’s authority no matter how much they would like us to, or tell you how we’ll be better off if we would only step aside and allow them to run our lives. Institutional authority only works as long as it is recognised by those at which it is directed, but when it is recognised, it can have an enormous effect on obedience. A public response against certain behaviours can be an immensely powerful social tool. The church found it easier to bully the victims of abuse and cover cases up by throwing money at the problems while their secrecy directives were taken seriously. Since the Guathe case in 1983, and the public attention it earned the church it has recently had a huge amount of difficulty keeping their activities quiet. It speaks volumes that they still speak out more against the publicity that their actions have attracted than against the abusers. They have shown no remorse and no real compassion toward those who have suffered for decades at the hands of their minions.
“Critics of the bloggers contend the activists are motivated mostly by politics, not theology. The blogs feature nearly as many attacks on President Barack Obama as church leaders. McKinley’s site, until recently, was called “Throwthebumsoutin2010,” in anticipation of the midterm elections.”
A delusion is an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary. The church is forever complaining of anti-catholic discrimination (the recent UK visit by the Pope to name but a single example) but in actual fact what they mean is that people are no longer afraid to stand up to this institutional-bully. This is coupled with a grandiose delusion in which they are, as a group, experiencing an exaggerated sense of worth, importance, power, right of authority, knowledge and ‘personal relationship’ with a higher being.
“There’s a general sense among many faithful Catholics that no matter how much they write their bishops, no matter how much they go to the pastors, all of these unfaithful things keep getting taught,” Voris said. “I think enough Catholics are saying, ‘That’s it. I’ve had it.'”
Constructionist Views and Illusions.
“Constructionist learning is inspired by the constructivist theory that individual learners construct mental models to understand the world around them.”
Our perceptions are not merely a reaction to our sensory reactions, but we also partly construct our perceptions from what we expect to sense. It is prevalent in the church to justify their responsibility in atrocities and will go to great lengths in order to either shift blame or take credit. When the Pope spoke of ‘aggressive secularism‘ and ‘imposed atheism‘ in his opening speech in September, he set off a domino effect of fatuous comments across the church. This included laying the blame of the Holocaust on these two entirely imagined phenomena, regardless of the historical evidence of the Vatican’s involvement and commendation. Priests, lay people, and ordinary parishioners have taken the bait and now those phrases are trotted out as they now look for, and find, instances of persecution and discrimination, where there are none. The New Archbishop of Westminster, has also fallen into the Pope’s pit and has recently been on the war-path against secularism and bleating against what he sees as a ‘marginalisation of faith’.
“The files show what the diocese knew about abusive priests, starting decades before any allegations became public, and that some church leaders moved priests around or overseas despite credible complaints against them.”
Confirmation bias is a form of cognitive error based on the tendency to seek only information which supports one’s beliefs, and ignore contradictory information;
Illusion of Invulnerability.
“These documents demonstrate years and years and decades of concerted action that has allowed this community’s children to be victimised, and it is not until the community looks at these documents that this cycle is ever going to be ended.”
An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. While illusions distort reality, they are generally shared. They are often built by our unconscious perceptions, such as a magician performing a trick on a stage, making us think we see things disappear or, appear defy natural physical laws. As much as something might seem real, the way our brains have evolved to organise sensory information – to unconsciously look for patterns – leaves us highly susceptible to illusions. Cues from context and experience guide our understanding of given circumstances and can adversely affect our judgement.
“When the Pope visited Britain last month some said that everything had changed for good. That is not true in the sense of the nation being converted to the paths of righteousness. And there was also something which changed for the time being. That was the easy ride enjoyed by a small number of atheist zealots, the usual suspects, who had mocked him in the much the way that alternative comedians once mocked Mrs Thatcher.” What the Pope’s Visit Changed – The Daily Telegraph.
Our culture and everyday surroundings can have an incredible effect on the way we perceive our surroundings an the way a given course of action may seem completely rational despite all evidence to the contrary. For centuries the Church has believed itself to be above man-made laws and codes of behaviour. It has consistently resisted changes in everything from accepted scientific knowledge to public social opinion and has gone to great lengths to prevent those changes where they can. In 1971 it was discovered that social-cohesion and group-participation can have adverse effects as groups are likely to work to squash dissent and disagreement in the name of ‘group-harmony‘. This phenomena was referred to as groupthink. When expressed views are contrary to the majority, they can evoke a very negative reaction. Possibly one of the most famous victims of this was Galileo, who was jailed as a heretic in order to maintain their illusion, for the terrible crime of disagreeing with the church and posing a threat to their authority.
Belief in Group’s Moral Superiority.
“Nearly 10,000 pages of previously sealed Catholic church documents have been made public and showed that the Diocese of San Diego long knew about abusive priests, some of whom were shuffled from parish to parish despite credible complaints against them.”
When a large group, particularly a religious organisation, believes itself to be the epitome of morality, it will even go so far as to ignore or deny instances of its own immorality;
This video has been reposted by another YouTuber so may be commented on. The self-righteous bigot, Micheal Voris has blocked all legitimate comments from their videos. Their confirmation bias has been made loud and clear. They do not want to be criticised. Well, I say to them, that if fear of questioning is preventing you from listening to true objections then your faith cannot be as strong as you claim it to be. On Saturday, I sent a challenge to the producers of RealCatholicTV to allow comments and ratings. Not only have they not allowed this, but my message has gone ignored too. So, Mr Voris, I again challenge you to open your channel to un-biased debate.
“We’re no more engaged in a witch hunt than a doctor excising a cancer is engaged in a witch hunt,” said Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV.com and St. Michael’s Media. “We’re just shining a spotlight on people who are Catholics who do not live the faith.”
Worth mentioning in this section is the Church’s prevalent preoccupation with outside ‘evils’ in a bogus and pathetic attempt to distract the world from their own misdeeds. They have failed in this attempt and yet they still keep digging. I will not stop them because I am just one person, but as a group WE can make it very clear that we are not fooled by their tactics or diversions. We are lucky to have a tool at our disposal, capable of countering any of the ridiculous claims they make ten-fold so lets use it. It’s called reason and free thought. If religion bore any real weight at all, it would not need to demand ‘blasphemy’ laws to protect the oh-so-sensitive feelings of its followers. Their freedom of religion is a personal one; stops at them. They have no RIGHT over anybody else’s life, and certainly have no right to decide who gets to take part in the democratic process.
“They are still murdering children, and that must stop,” said Zastrow. “Anybody can plan their family anyway they want to, but if they use surgery or drugs…then those are innocent children who need to be protected.”
This is a process by which an individual or group will create an incorrect explanation for their actions and beliefs. The Church’s moves and public condemnation against contraception and AIDS prevention, abortion, LGBT rights, and the secularisation of western society is a prime example of this. Their information is deliberately erroneous and despite all of their huffing and puffing against the evils of secular society, what they are trying to disguise (ineffectively) is really their own displeasure and concern that the church is being outgrown by society and is slowly ceasing to be the center of most people’s lives. As a group, it will become even more close-minded (and secretive) as it collectively tries to justify their actions; both past and present.
Stereotyping and Dehumanising of Opponents.
“The Archbishop recalled the murder of James Bulger and said: “Catholic teaching is that every single human being is marked by original sin.”
“There is this fault line within us which we call original sin and sometimes it just breaks out.
“Sometimes people get furious and angry in response to that evil partly because they secretly know there’s a bit of it within themselves.”
When the opponent is viewed in an exaggerated and biased manner, any and all statements they (or we) make which contradict the group ethos are dismissed, ignored and denied. RealCatholicTV’s videos could be used to demonstrate pretty much every section of this post but their vitriol is more of a symptom of their conditioning than a cause. The presenter, Michael Voris, has been brainwashed with falsehoods and misconceptions about what it means to be anything other than a Catholic and he means to spread those views. They are designed to provoke a reaction of hatred and persecution against non-Catholics while putting the onus of ‘hate-speech’ on anyone who disputes his claims and argues openly. It is a tactic commonly used in the absence of real thought along with the accusation of being ‘angry‘ or ‘militant‘ atheists.
Yes, I am angry, but that is because I, and others are expected to sit back and take silently what they say about us , while attempting to lend (borrowed) weight to their fabricated claims. WE have been conditioned to refrain from arguing their claims or even objecting to the Church’s constant attempts to interfere with the running of secular society.. Failure to observe this social taboo means that we are considered rude and pushy, regardless of the circumstances. It goes back to the Church’s obsession with obedience. Any reference they make to dialogue does not mean open discourse, it means yet more of the ‘we talk and you listen‘ which has forever permeated from religious ‘authority’. We are up against a wall, Comrades, and it’s time to start fighting back. No violence is ever justified but this does not mean we cannot be very vocal against people like Voris and those higher-up. This man is probably not even on the Vatican’s radar yet he assumes he speaks for ALL Catholics. I know he does not but he does make them ALL look like mindless bigots to anyone who doesn’t know better. This is another reason to be out and proud about being an Atheist. We have nothing to be ashamed of and it’s well beyond time we ceased allowing the church to make atheism and secularism, their doormats and scapegoats.
- Psychology for Dummies
- Beyond Belief – David Yallop