Piotr Nowakowski, Moderator
Foundation Principles of Critical Thinking
Human thinking, left to itself, is inevitably biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Sloppy or shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated. Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the elements inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. This talk will explore the fundamental skills and techniques for foraging through the plethora of “”fake news”” and information as a means of skillfully overcoming our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.
A cultic case-study illustrating the concept of “UNITY”: A seventh social influence process. Based on, PRE-SUASION: A revolutionary way to influence and persuade (2016, ROBERT CIALDINI), Chapters 11 and 12.
The six social influence processes described by Robert Cialdini in his book INFLUENCE (5th ed. 2009) are well known. He has now added a seventh: “unity” or “shared identity” to his earlier descriptions of: reciprocation, consistency, liking/similarity, social proof, authority and scarcity (both physical & emotional). The concept of UNITY however, seems to be of another order of importance – since it apparently includes all of the other six. Further, it is not only a social influence process, but also a GOAL of all these processes. Humans have survived by using the evolutionary advantage provided by social groups (see E.O. Wilson, The Social Conquest of Earth, 2012)- – and Cialdini’s seventh social process/goal of “shared identity”/”unity” focuses precisely on the group’s survival. “Shared Identity” is a major goal of cultic groups, and the speaker will illustrate this process with a case study of his own cultic group experience.
Everyday Cults – and the Art of Recognizing and Addressing Destructive Dynamics in Mainstream Groups, Businesses, Churches and in the Self-Help Movement
This presentation engages participants in recognizing how cultic dynamics can and do manifest in mainstream organizations of all kinds in every layer of society. It cultivates an atmosphere of active participation while developing tools to appropriately address these destructive practices. Everyday Cults are groups that are commonly considered socially acceptable – dismissed as harmless, alternative, or ‘weird’ – but are, in fact, slowly stripping members of their autonomy, potentially leading to mind control and emotional, financial and other abuses. Using examples of Everyday Cults in self-help, business, civic, and religious groups, Buglion will guide participants to recognize specific cultic traits and how they have morphed to appear more acceptable in current mainstream culture. A core tenant of the presentation is that destructive practices can exist in any group. Therefore, Buglion will also discuss the essential need for truly healthy leadership and the capacity for group members to be able to identify healthy leadership as well as the techniques used by cult leaders. Drawing from proven strategies of effectively confronting cultic abuse (from ICSA journals and books), Buglion will offer how one can adapt them to a mainstream environment in a non-confrontational and self-empowered manner. Buglion will offer precise and replicable strategies for addressing the prevalence of Everyday Cults. She encourages others to engage in community and education forums in a non-threatening way that promotes understanding, inspires compassion and motivates listeners to look more critically at their own lives and the groups around them. This presentation is part of a research project on Everyday Cults, being launched by Buglion.
Psychological Manipulation, How Cults Do It and How You Can Resist Them
The essence of the cultic experience is that we have all been manipulated. Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change a person’s behavior or perception through abusive, deceptive, or underhanded tactics. This talk will explain the manipulative process, including Paul Martin’s brilliant description of the characteristics of the manipulator. My current PhD research will show how one of the primary mechanisms for getting people to behave in ways that are not in their best interests is exploiting cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological conflict resulting from incompatible beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously. Cults create cognitive dissonance by getting people to commit to behavior which goes against their personal beliefs. Cults manipulate people with methods of undue influence to take advantage of the vulnerability and turmoil resulting from internal inconsistency. The presentation will include resources and solutions for ‘cult-proofing’ yourself and others against psychological manipulation.