8/19/2005

Book: When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study - on neocons ?

The point of this book is that it takes "three disconfirmations" to kill a movement of true believers, and even then, some still hang on to the discredited "theology" by grasping at excuses...The basic data shown in this study can apply to religious or political groups as well. [3 strikes yer out ? Doesn't seem that way with Bushianity, they are still grasping at excuses -- law]


This work first saw print in 1956. It is the story of a UFO cult in a large city in the Midwest...how it developed, how the leaders recruited followers, how predictions about the coming end of the world started flowing from the psychic members who allegedly channeled messages from the spacemen/pilots. The cult members were told they would be saved, picked up by saucers on an appointed date. The members quit jobs, sold possessions, and gathered, only to be disappointed. Did they all quit in a huff? No way. The first failure only made them more determined they were right, more anxious to be ready for the next announced departure date. Then a second failure. A few members fell away, a few suffered doubts, a few challenged for leadership themselves. The point of this book is that it takes "three disconfirmations" to kill a movement of true believers, and even then, some still hang on to the discredited "theology" by grasping at excuses...The basic data shown in this study can apply to religious or political groups as well.

For anyone interested in the psychology and group dynamics of millenarian/prophetic groups, this book is essential reading. Sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s the authors stumbled upon and infiltrated a group based on a prediction of imminent world destruction. When the prediction failed (after all, we are all still here in the late 1990s), the group underwent a severe crisis. This study details how that crisis developed and was resolved, drawing from it some general ideas about how groups based on prophecies survive the failure of those prophecies.


Amazon.com: Books: When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study

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