THE TRUE BELIEVER: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
by Eric Hoffer
(from a review by Dr. Mark Skousen at MSkousen.com ):
“All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and singlehearted allegiance.” (Preface)
Hoffer defines a “true believer” as “the man of fanatical faith who is ready to sacrifice his life for a holy cause.” Leaders of the mass movement “must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope”—for Islamic fanatics, death is the key to instant heaven. “If they join the movement as full converts they are reborn to a new life in its close-knit collective body, or if attracted as sympathizers they find elements of pride, confidence and purpose….” (p. 13)
The true believer is “without wonder and hesitation.” “An active mass movement rejects the present and centers its interest on the future.” (p. 82) The mass movement hates independence and individualism. The focus is on “obedience” and “one mindedness.” “Uniformity” must be developed. (p. 101) Members must be “deindividualized” and “incorporated” into the mass movement. “When we lose our individual independence in the incorporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom—freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse.” (p. 100)
Violence is essential to fanatical mass movements. “Violence breeds fanaticism….and fanaticism begets violence.” Regarding Islam: “Islam imposed its faith by force, yet the coerced Muslims displayed a devotion to the new faith more ardent than that of the first Arabs engaged in the movement.” (p. 107)
Members of the fanatic group are taught to have a common hatred, a single foe, a devil. “The ideal devil is a foreigner….Hitler—the foremost authority on devils—found it easy to brand the German Jews as foreigners.” (pp. 92-93) Hatred becomes a habit. (p. 146) Interestingly, Hoffer points out that “The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners….Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.” (p. 96)
The need to believe in phony wonders sometimes exceeds not only logic but, seemingly, even sanity.
--The Rev. Canon William V. Rauscher
The true-believer syndrome merits study by science. What is it that compels a person, past all reason, to believe the unbelievable. How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it's exposed in the bright light of day he still clings to it--indeed, clings to it all the harder?
--M. Lamar Keene
True-believer syndrome is an expression coined by M. Lamar Keene to describe an apparent cognitive disorder characterized by believing in the reality of paranormal or supernatural events after one has been presented overwhelming evidence that the event was fraudulently staged. Keene is a reformed phony psychic who exposed religious racketeering--to little effect, apparently. Phony faith healers, psychics, channelers, televangelist miracle workers, etc., are as abundant as ever.
Keene believes that "the true-believer syndrome is the greatest thing phony mediums have going for them" because "no amount of logic can shatter a faith consciously based on a lie." That those suffering from true-believer syndrome are consciously lying to themselves hardly seems likely, however. Perhaps from the viewpoint of a fraud and hoaxer, the mark who is told the truth but who continues to have faith in you must seem to believe what he knows is a lie. Yet, this type of self-deception need not involve lying to oneself. To lie to oneself would require admission that one believes what one knows is false. This does not seem logically possible. One can't believe or disbelieve what one knows. (Belief is distinct from belief in, which is a matter of trust rather than belief.) Belief and disbelief entail the possibility of error; knowledge implies that error is beyond reasonable probability. I may have overwhelming evidence that a "psychic" is a phony, yet still believe that paranormal events occur. I may be deceiving myself in such a case, but I don't think it is correct to say I am lying to myself. It is possible that those suffering from true-believer syndrome simply do not believe that the weight of the evidence before them revealing fraud is sufficient to overpower the weight of all those many cases of supportive evidence from the past. The fact that the supportive evidence was largely supplied by the same person exposed as a fraud is suppressed. There is always the hope that no matter how many frauds are exposed, at least one of the experiences might have been genuine. No one can prove that all psychic "miracles" have been frauds; therefore, the true believer may well reason that he or she is justified in keeping hope alive. Such thinking is not completely illogical, though it may seem pathological to the one admitting the fraud.
It does not seem as easy to explain why the true-believer continues to believe in, that is, trust the psychic once he has admitted his deception. Trusting someone who reveals he is a liar and a fraud is irrational and such a person must appear crazy to the hoaxer. Some of them may well be mad, but some may be deceiving themselves by assuming that it is possible that a person can have psychic powers without knowing it. Thus, one could disbelieve in one's psychic ability, yet still actually possess paranormal powers. Just as there are people who think they have psychic powers but don't really have any such powers, there are people who have psychic powers but think they don't.
You reposted this:
"Rushdoony taught that every aspect of society should be based upon Biblical law, which includes death by stoning for practicing homosexuals. His work greatly influenced the political agenda of the Religious Right."
Are you also a practicing homosexual truebeLIEver
or just a non-practicing homosexual?
Don't worry, neither Rushdoony nor rushdoony
really believes what others incorrectly say about
Fundamentalist Atheists like yourself
truebeLIEver are really not that smart.
I have found 1001 lies and deceptions in your posts. Like the one I saw today about
criticizing "suits" yet look at that
annoying mug ( photo ) of yours.
You are not the dictator of this site
truebeLIEver determining what is truth
and what is falsehood. Get that smug
look off your photo. I *art in your
general direction. Your self-conceit
needs to be brought down many notches
so your self-esteem matches your much lower
IQ and lack of common sense.
By the way I don't think you would be too hard
to find so if some smart intellectual
wanted to come down there and give you
a verbal, non-violent attitude adjustment
he/she could do so. The verbal scolding
would probably leave truebeLIEver in tears
because my analysis of the liars writings
has concluded that he is an intellectual wet rag. I called you "he" and apologise if you are
transsexual, transvestite or a crossdresser.
In that case I should use "she" instead!
All homosexuals thank you for defending them.
Also truebeLIEver, stop being like
a bull in a china shop, and learn the
simple lesson of minding your own
business and staying out of other people's
affairs. This one annoying trait of yours clearly
shows your bad moral character and bad faith.