Confirmation Bias - Can and Must


Silver Meritorious Patron
In the book The Righteous Mind author Jonathan Haidt outlined the essential experience of confirmation bias. He described how he has studied confirmation bias in people for many years (He has a PhD in psychology) and didn't really grasp it fully until his wife told him she has asked him to not put dishes in a certain place and he answered her then realized he had made an excuse that required combining bits and pieces from different events to create an exaggerated version of reality to justify his excuse.

Haidt described talking to his young son and realizing that if his son wants something he asks CAN it be done ? And tries to find any way possible that something CAN be how he wants it to be.

If he finds something he doesn't want he asks MUST it be this way ? Meaning is it absolutely necessary and unavoidable ?

We all tend to do this. If something fits what we want and is in agreement with our chosen behavior, thoughts and emotions we are eager to find and accept it and present a very low bar for considering information as correct and valid.

If something contradicts what we want and is In conflict with our chosen behavior, thoughts and emotions we are uncomfortable with it, it triggers cognitive dissonance and we become guarded and defensive and great the disconfirming evidence as a threat and week to negate, minimize or refute it as strongly and quickly as possible. It is treated as if it must be false and great efforts are made to find any way it could be wrong.

I am going to use a few simple examples to highlight this. In Scientology Scientologists are told Scientology is huge and expanding in the world. Outside of Scientology most critics (like myself) claim Scientology is dwindling and that it has perhaps twenty thousand members or less. We claim that the ideal orgs are almost all nearly empty with just a few dozen staff and a similar number of public Scientologists and that only Flag, the L.A. area and a very few orgs exceed this diminutive size.

We claim the ideal orgs are really a con to prop up Scientology and fool people about Scientology.

Okay, now if I was still a Scientologist eager to believe that Scientology is doing great I would probably do something like this - I would consider the claims by David Miscavige that orgs are booming. I would look at the dozens and dozens of ideal orgs being constructed. I would look at all the money being raised by the IAS. I would look at the Super Bowl commercials and other advertisements Scientology is buying and the Scientology television channel and see these efforts at costing millions of dollars.

If I was a Scientologist I would consider all the claims above as rock solid evidence that Scientology CAN be doing great and expanding as claimed, feel great about believing this and feel there is no reason to listen to any claims that Scientology is declining or small or that orgs are empty. I would see the above as far more than enough to settle the issue and not even look at the evidence or arguments for the other side, and I would be WRONG.

See, with just three or four BELIEVED claims to support an argument I - and probably most people - consider my (our) desired argument supported and fully settled.

Those claims themselves were not thoroughly investigated because they CAN support my preference for reality. So on a very weak foundation a faulty structure is built.

Here is another example. A harder example. Some people claim study technology is beneficial or harmless. Okay.

I have claimed it is harmful, was always meant to be harmful and constructed by Ron Hubbard to covertly enslave people.

Now, I have run into people who were supervisors in Scientology who find this incomprehensible.

They may not even still be Scientologists at all. They simply say "there is evidence Hubbard plagiarized study technology, so it might have been good."

I will quote something Chris Shelton wrote:

Now there’s one more aspect to this I want to cover. L. Ron Hubbard credits himself as the sole source of every important discovery and technique of Dianetics and Scientology. Yet, the truth is actually quite different from that. Hubbard was a pathological liar when it came to the events of his own life and his accomplishments. Despite his gradiose claims of having succeeded in every endeavor he set his mind to, he actually flunked out of college, was a sub-standard naval officer who never saw a single day of actual combat during World War II and therefore lied about being crippled and blinded by enemy fire, and he even lied to his own wives, marrying two different women at the same time who didn’t even know of each other’s existence for almost a year. It should be no surprise that a man of such low character would blatantly steal other people’s ideas and claim them as his own, and that is exactly what Hubbard did.

After leaving the Church, former Scientologist Alan Walters wrote at length of Hubbard’s plagiarism and idea theft, explaining that almost all of the basic principles and techniques of Scientology came from people other than L. Ron Hubbard. One of these ideas, he claimed, was the principle ideas of Study Tech. He said:
“I and several other [Scientologists] had dinner with Chuck and Ava Berner at the Forrest Row Hotel, it was June 1964, the night before Chuck and Ava were to meet with LRH to go over this new discovery they made to do with study.
“We were all enthralled with what they had discovered.
“Imagine the shock we had when LRH told us in a the lecture that night that he had made a momentous discovery in the field of study.
“The data he gave was almost word for word with what the Berners had discussed with us the previous night.
“There was no mention of the Berners who were in the audience.”
Walters later wrote:
“I know they had discovered the misunderstood word concept and the indicators of them, also study and intention, how fixed ideas block study, the importance of familiarization and how misunderstoods causes separation from the subject.”
Over the years, Walters has been quoted in various sources about this, but no one has ever contacted Chuck or Ava Berner directly. So I took it upon myself to track them down. I discovered that Charles Berner had died in 2007 and that he and Ava had divorced many years earlier but had remained in communication. Ava was happy to discuss the events of 1964 with me and here is what she had to say:
[quotes from Ava Berner interview]
In looking all of this over, it’s clear that there is certainly nothing wrong with clearing up definitions of words in dictionaries or even making models or demonstrations of things that are not easy to grasp in just spoken words. What L. Ron Hubbard did was elevate the importance of this to a level of absurdity, claiming that his plagiarized and re-packaged ideas were the only thing of any importance in all of education and learning. He so convinced his followers of this that they started an international organization to espouse and disseminate Study Tech to teachers and educators around the world. Tom Cruise even did a presentation on this to the Department of Education back in the mid-2000s. Fortunately, real educators can see that while there’s nothing wrong with the fundamental ideas, there is a lot more to the difficulties that students have with learning than just the definitions of words. End Quote
From The Basics of Scientology Study Tech
July 27, 2017

So, someone could say words definitions SHOULD be learned and if a couple of teachers developed study technology independently of Scientology then it is just a benign creation and if they were a student in Scientology or especially a supervisor they can add that Scientology has made students BRIGHT in their experience over and over.

If someone is more comfortable with the claim study technology is beneficial or at least that it is not an attempt at covertly mentally enslaving people they can simply say "Hubbard plagiarized the ideas and I don't think learning words is bad and that I cannot believe that study can be persuasion. " And simply NOT even look at the huge amount of information and evidence I have presented in several blog posts such as Insidious Enslavement: Study Technology, Basic Introduction to Hypnosis in Scientology, The Critical Factor, The Secret Of Scientology Part 1 Control Via Contradiction, Burning Down Hell - How Commands Are Hidden , Varied And Repeated In Scientology To Control You As Hypnotic Implants, Why Hubbard Never Claimed OT Feats And The Rock Bottom Basis Of Scientology, Propaganda By Reversal Of Meaning In Scientology, Hypnotism: Science Or Pseudoscience ? Not So fast, A Psychiatric View With Comments On The Admissions By Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1947), Scientology Was Ron Hubbard's Private Game.

There is also the fact Hubbard reportedly ALTERED the ideas and methods he took from those two teachers to end up with a product SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT from the original ideas they presented. There is also the fact that Hubbard had combined methods from different sources to create his own hybrid that he presented as his original creation. He read and recommended the book Hypnotism Comes of Age. In Hypnotism Comes of Age the method of combining hypnosis and psychoanalysis to create hypnoanalysis is described in detail.

Hubbard combined Freudian abreactive therapy and hypnosis to create Dianetics but put tremendous efforts in denying the hypnotic origins and nature of Dianetics and later Scientology auditing and made great efforts to assure people that auditing doesn't hypnotize people but occasionally let slip the fact that auditing does indeed hypnotize people. Remember Hubbard gave thousands of lectures and on many occasions used various drugs and alcohol to get through the day, so occasionally letting the cat out of the bag despite his best efforts to lie is understandable.

I imagine I would occasionally let some secrets out too if I was smashed out of my mind and gave lectures thousands of times that were taped and had to remember hundreds of lies and kept piling on tons of new ones. I can't remember everything I say and while I am no saint I am fairly confident I have told several thousand fewer lies than Ron Hubbard. To say nothing about my far greater sobriety.

I have several examples of these contradictory statements on hypnosis by Hubbard and Jon Atack have perhaps the best outline of these in his essential article Never Believe A Hypnotist and Arnie Lerma has more evidence compiled at

You can also find messages in online groups about the hypnotic nature of Scientology indoctrination and auditing.

Now, the point of all this is not that everyone should have identical beliefs to me. Not by far. The point is to TRY to objectively evaluate something a person should attempt to hold the evidence for and against their beliefs to the same standards AND they should week out the BEST arguments both FOR and AGAINST their beliefs. Little tricks like finding one flaw or weak claim in a pile and dismissing all of them or finding one or two or even a few claims that support your beliefs then not examining the other side or deciding that the people making claims you disagree with lack the credibility to be listened to or that the people who have claims that you support have expertise and authority that supports their claims are ALL shortcuts to not examine disconfirming evidence and to blindly accept confirming evidence without examination and evaluation.

I think that serious students of psychology can learn more regarding this from the books A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger, Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow, Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman and most of all On Liberty by John Stuart Mill.

I will close with something from John Stuart Mill:

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”
― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

“the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner.”
― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

“There must be discussion to show how experience is to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument; but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it. Very few facts are able to tell their own story, without comments to bring out their meaning. The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment depending on the one property, that it can be set right when it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only when the means of setting it right are kept constantly at hand. In the case of any person whose judgement is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct.”John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, published in 1859


Do you realize you are preaching to the choir? Do you realize that you are trying to explain to people ideas they already figured out and that is why they are here?

Hubbard redesigned Study Tech to make it so people would not compare notes, so they wouldn't ask each other if they thought what Hubbard was saying made sense, because if they did, the cat would be out of the bag quickly. That's why he didn't allow anyone to ask questions from another Scientologist because they would find they were not the only ones who thought what he wrote was crazy.

He said if you didn't get it it was your fault and a misunderstood word was why you didn't understand which was only right if you did have one but it was wrong when it really came down to Hubbard's crazy imagination mixed with fantasy to make a technology that never was one.

He saw the threat of Study tech and commandeered it, changed it so people could not compare notes without being out tech. It worked too because people were afraid to be sent to ethics for verbal data, squirreling tech and bad results. So, in truth, it was a stroke of genius on his part to separate the Indians before they wised up.

It's really that simple, he had no technology and he had to keep people from finding that out. He compartmentalized everyone each to himself to keep his secret safe.

It isn't DM's fancy orgs and ridiculous stats that kept people in Scientology, it's because Hubbard cut them off from each other with rules of Study so they wouldn't blow his cover, and for that, he was a genius, a genius liar. The weed you are looking for is right in front of you, it isn't really all that difficult, if you can keep people from discussing your lies then your secret is safe. Hubbard successfully pulled that off by adding rules to study that kept you from learning the truth. Just accept that he successfully lied to you and get over it.