I have a friend who is always posting videos from a man named ZDogg. I don't really care for the videos. While he does a good job of convincing people to follow the science, he does misrepresent things - a lot too.
But I understand why his approach has value for a specific fan base. His fan base is awash in misinformation and is trying to figure out what is true and what isn't. And good for them for caring enough to try and sort that out!
And good for him for compassionately trying to help them stay reality based when the media bubble they are in is encouraging them to NOT be.
He recently shared a letter he got from someone who got covid because he wasn't vaccinated. He was mad, not just the people who lied to him and fed him the disinformation that caused him to go to the hospital and nearly die, but also to the people who were judgemental towards him for believing the lies.
The attitude of the letter writer was F the right, but also F the left for being so – judgy that he couldn't and wouldn't listen to them.
Personal responsibility, cults and compassion
On one hand – it’s silly for people like this to not take responsibility for the fact – they believed people who were lying to them. And it's silly to blame the people telling them they were being lied to for being – too judgy.
On the other hand – this does validate the science of HOW people get out of cults. And that is what is ultimately important here.
As hard as it is for people in the reality based crowd dealing with people who appear to have joined a cult of misinformation, we need to understand that if someone is in a misinformation rabbit hole and being an ass about their complete denial of reality – the way to help them out is not to shame them.
First, they won’t listen. Second, it doesn’t work.
What works is – encouraging them – supporting them – helping them to ask questions and find answers without being judged for asking – what may seem like insanely stupid questions.
The key is to understand – they are coming from a place of disinformation and lies. And they don’t know what is true and what isn’t. And the fact they are asking any questions at all is wonderful.
So – if you can find the compassion in you to not take your anger at the cult out on the person asking questions – that would be great.
What ZDogg does – is he speaks to cult members in their language so he comes off as one of them. He’s safe for them. Are the people that they’ve been told are the enemy and scary – really bad? Of course not, but they don’t know that and they are only just beginning to question the tenets of the cult.
Is this easy to do? No, many of us have compassion fatigue and are angry at the harm the cult is doing to people we care about. People are dying because of this misinformation! The emotions we have at the evil people killing our neighbors through cult tactics – is valid because what has happened is horrifying.
But to help people get out of the cult and to help them get and seek and accept factual information – we have to treat people asking questions – with kindness, and compassion and remember, there are no stupid questions even if the question seems insanely stupid. Why? Because anyone who has the courage to question the ideas of a cult they’ve been indoctrinated in – is showing a tremendous amount of courage – and yes – FREETHOUGHT!
So be kind to everyone. If you are frustrated, reframe the situation so that you feel compassion. And - ask questions and praise people for asking questions. And help them find accurate sources of information.
Sometimes that means, not challenging all the lies at once and just focusing on one thing at a time. Cult deprogramming is a process that takes time. Never in the entire history of humanity has anyone left a cult because someone told them it was a cult. Encourage questions. Be kind when answering them. Good luck.
One of the topics I teach is Socratic Jujitsu - the art of asking questions. If you are interested in doing your part to help us - bridge our divides and help people, get more reality based - asking questions is a great way to do this. Here is a link. The program comes as an online course, or as a book. https://humanistlearning.com/book-how-to-win-arguments-without-arguing/