Knowing v. BelievingBy Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator/Co-Founder
Frauds, con artists, grifters, cults, and charlatans operate on the power of suggestion and make believe. And, depending on your particular vulnerability at any given moment, you too can be a victim. This is often as a result of multiple factors including exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, uncertainty, loneliness, despair, frustration, or as a result of being a victim of circumstance. There are many people who understand who is primed for exploitation in such a manner that deceive in order take advantage of those so primed. To understand the threat or risk along with the media's involvement in promoting or exposing such threats, see http://www.heal-online.org/breathless.htm.
If you are sentient enough to understand this article, you might be able to hone your critical thinking skills or have already done so to the point you keep your "thinking cap" on and can avoid the pitfalls of falling for a scam or being recruited by a cult. But, even the most well educated and sentient among the human race can become vulnerable as a result of environmental factors, life stresses, and similar circumstances or issues. And, that is why I'm writing this article and hope if you are on the verge of doing something foolish like joining a cult or falling for a scam, it will help remind you how to tell the difference between knowing and believing when those who seek to defraud you prefer you to believe there is no "knowing" only "believing".
I know I am a human being. I know English is my primary language. I know I speak and understand a little Spanish, French, and Italian too. And, I even know a little Japanese. I know I attended Springbrook Elementary School in Kent, WA and graduated from the University of Washington in 2005. I know I read and write. I know I can do math too. I know I am a woman. And, I know all of my empirical senses are in good working condition. I have faith that I have soul and intuitive capability. But, even with confirmation of that at times or seeming confirmation, I can't prove to know that even if I feel I do know it. I predicted Trump would win in 2016 when everyone said it wouldn't happen. But, he won. If intuited as so, does his winning prove to you I have a functional sixth sense? What if I showed you e-mails to friends where I predicted it before the election? Would you then feel you know I intuit the future accurately and ponder what other prognostications I might offer? Would you pay me to try to prognosticate for you even if I could show where repeatedly I've intuited or through logic given a well-reasoned guess through calculation and research where those predictions were often confirmed to be the outcome? I'd never ask you to and if we're friends, you know I volunteer information as well as my own point of view free of charge.
Regardless of whether you are of a particular religion of good faith or reject religion as having no empirical basis for support therefore at best believe it is possible, but, remain skeptical about philosophies that lack empirical evidence supporting the truth of any claims made, you likely have empirical evidence showing you and other human beings prefer when everyone is more virtuous than vicious. If you are uncertain regarding such evidence, please consider the following questions for self-examination to reveal experiential empirical data that proves the previous sentence is true:
1. Do I prefer when people are greedy or generous? If you prefer generous to greedy based on experience where a gift made you happy and a theft made you unhappy, then you know experientially that generosity is preferred to greed. If you are not a hypocrite then you understand treating others the way you like to be treated is preferable and if you are sadistic or masochistic, that is anomalous to the overall consensus, likely involves some form of deception where violation of laws are involved, and therefore ill-advised unless all participants are of legal age and have given informed consent understanding all risks and benefits involved.
2. Do I prefer when people are arrogant and exhibiting hubris or humble and open to honest discussion even where points of view may vary? If you prefer humble and honest conversation over one-sided self-righteous diatribes demanding absolute adherence without question or diverging perspectives, then you prefer virtue to vice in this example as well.
3. Do I prefer when people are honest or dishonest? If you prefer dishonesty then you likely are a fraud and expect everyone else is too since you are so myopic, vicious, and narcissistic you assume everyone is like you or wish they were so they'd understand why you choose dishonesty as a lifestyle. If you prefer honesty understanding that without the facts you can't make an informed decision which makes you vulnerable to many harms, including crimes such as fraud, then you must accept at some point that dishonest fraudsters exist and the US doesn't have a pre-crime unit stopping crimes before they occur so you have to exercise due diligence to investigate claims made by such frauds to avoid being taken advantage of and while HEAL exists to help with that, the onus is on the individual considering a product or service to look into it to protect themselves and any loved ones from scam artists and cults.
4. Do I prefer when people are patient or wrathful? If you prefer when you've made an error that people be patient with you and reason with you rather than judge and scold you angrily or even worse harm you physically as a result of the error, then you prefer virtue to vice in regards to how others treat you and should lead by example to avoid hypocrisy.
So, that should get you started in considering the benefits of practicing virtue over vice and why even without religious dogma promoting that, empirical evidence and life experience shows that to be true. I can reasonably know to be true or be quite certain that virtue is better than vice based on empirical evidence. And, I know I exist too whether anyone chooses to believe that or not.
I believe the soul is real and continues on in some way even after our corporeal/temporal finite material bodies cease to function. Fred Alan Wolf, PhD, is a physicist who has been a professor of Quantum Physics and postulated theories with some scientific evidence suggesting the existence of the soul. But, I understand the science isn't definitive at this point with enough empirical data to satisfy everyone who may remain skeptical on that point without more evidence. And, while I appreciate such philosophical inquiries, I personally believe virtuous people understand the difference between an emergency where human trafficking is a global crisis needing immediate eradication where everyone who can possibly help stop it should to avoid being a victim themselves if philanthropic reasons don't suffice, and, pondering philosophically or even making up complete bullshit to sell to others while exploiting their trust, ignorance, and/or vulnerability. See, deceiving people for greed makes everything worse and is part of the ugly spectrum of vicious conduct that includes human trafficking and modern slavery.
Now, when someone wants you to "forget everything you know" and "listen up" while charging you and unduly influencing you with what they claim to believe or want you to believe as part of their scam/cult, then that's when you know it's time to question more for your own safety and the public good. That's true even if the "listening" part is just about silence, with guided "meditation", or soothing music planned to act as triggers along with phrases used to result in resetting you back to being vulnerable in the event you've participated so long that works on you where you didn't question before becoming a victim.
So, while some narcissistic people, scam artists, and cults promote you should believe whatever you want to believe and then that belief is true for you regardless of whether it has any basis in fact (meaning something confirmed by abundant evidence/empirical data), that's simply not the case. You can believe something that isn't true and regardless of your own perspective or belief, it doesn't change whether or not the belief is true just because you believe it. The idea that what you as an individual believe, whether true or not, results in the belief being true for you, is narcissistic and delusional. Warren Jeffs may have believed raping children kept them humble and therefore was an act of God to promote virtue. But, that's not true because raping children or anyone often results in resentment which turns into impatience and even wrath when victims find strength to fight back. So, raping children results in wrathful responses or begets more vice rather than virtuous results. Exercising honest reason with a foundation in basic morality or ethics regardless of faith, would alert one to that fact. In addition, the fact that raping children is a crime should also alert one to the fact that it isn't acceptable conduct regardless of underlying motives.
Now, law enforcement has difficulty with scams and cults because of their deception and the fact that victims often believe the bullshit. So, even when HEAL finds all the elements of the crime of fraud and reports it, unless victims lose their delusions and come forward, law enforcement isn't investing resources to investigate a crime where the victims are unduly influenced, possibly suffering Stockholm Syndrome, or otherwise being misled or intimidated into denying their victim status.
We've had calls and e-mails from victims in cults or segregated congregate care reporting abuse and other violations that we've shared with law enforcement. A case in Arizona, the mother of the victim and a HEAL volunteer went to the compound to save the adult son of the mother. He had said he wanted to leave. The cult removed him to another room and denied the visit between mother and son. The cult called the police and accused the mother of trespassing while holding her son incommunicado in another room. The police said they talked to him in the other room with other members present and that he said he wanted to stay so the mother would have to leave. She and the HEAL volunteer came back later that night and saw the son walking towards the road or entrance alone. They got him in the car, found he had been drugged, and took him to a hospital where they said due to dehydration and an overdose had they not done so he would have died. That cult has been closed down and was operating as a faith-based "drug rehab". But, they claimed to offer drug treatment and wellness in the brochures which were so lovely.
So, while HEAL understands frauds know how to sell bullshit and use the power of suggestion with other marketing techniques to defraud people or recruit them to their cults, we hope you will be more diligent for the sake of yourself, your loved ones, and the public and avoid such scams/cults or report them to the proper authorities if you've become a victim. You can do so here: http://www.heal-online.org/report.htm.
Narcissism is like a fever where ignorance/willful blindness is the cold. You should starve a narcissist (they tend to fast anyway in this respect so just #WalkAway) and share brain-food (factual empirical data) with the ignorant which will hopefully cure any blindness they may be experiencing willfully or as a result of undue influence. Should someone catch such a fever or be around such fevered narcissists that it becomes normalized and they believe such illness is actually a sign of wellness, depending on how much you care or how great a risk their fever poses to you, you may want to offer them the informative cure as described while taking precautions to protect yourself if unable to effectively dispel their delusion.