How to brainwash someone in 4 easy steps from Professor Richard Wiseman’s chapter on mind control in Paranormality.
- Get your foot in the door.
- Use the power of conformity.
- Make miracles.
This way you have some ‘evidence’ to support your claims and people will genuinely fear you and your ‘god-given’ authority. Jim Jones would pray for food from heaven to feed the multitudes and right on cue, pizza would be walked into the sanctuary. This was enough to convince many people that the other things he said would come true too. (Those who had seen the pizza delivery service waiting out in the parking lot were silenced as per the power of conformity techniques.) Jones had a team of devoted followers who felt that fabricating such marvels were justified, but for others, Google, placebo-effects, suggestibility and cold-reading are common tools for ‘making miracles’.
Miracles were a large reason why I couldn’t be objective about my church’s claims. I had seen and heard things and the explanations given did make some sense. This had weight because of the argument from ignorance: I could not explain what I had seen and heard scientifically.
I thought my only other option was to deny that I or others had seen anything but were suffering from extreme mental illnesses. You can imagine that doubting my perception of reality was less appealing than the explanation of a supernatural father-figure.
4. Make them suffer.