Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deluded and Manipulative People

In the past, I've pointed to examples of rabbis whose revisionism indicates that they must fall into the population of people who are either deluded in regards to a particular issue or must be lying. I've seen some people completely misinterpret what I write and even completely misinterpret what they write, saying they clearly meant things that they never implied when just about everybody I've seen (including former friends of theirs) understood them as writing something else -- because that is what they wrote (despite any intentions to the contrary). Then they tell you you're just ignorant and don't understand; it reminds me of the end of the Religulous trailer wherein all of the religious figures just rebuke Bill Maher ("no," "no," "no." "No! I'm wrong about everything!").

Most of the time it is impossible to tell if they're deluded or lying, so I like to assume the former option. Sometimes, when somebody has written how it is permissible to lie about others' hashkafas (you know, to promote True Torah!), I hypothesize that they're lying to manipulate the worldview of others. Occasionally, one can know somebody is lying. A certain somebody who offers to buy Jewish souls from apokorsim who don't deserve them is lying. I know, I emailed, facebooked, and filled out the contact box on his website (and I happen to know he continues to use at least the first two mediums). And I could really use the cash.

Whatever the case, it can be frustrating that these people have often managed to position themselves in places of authority from where they can evangelize children and teenagers. The good news though is that they can't browbeat the world into their positions. No matter how intimidating, mean, or cynically manipulative, they can't control thinking people in the modern and open world. I can blog to let out my frustrations and a thousand comments distorting my point of view won't prevent these people from looking into matters for themselves and figuring out that their worldviews may indeed be wrong (not to say my worldview is right and correct -- I'm always learning -- but just that I have figured out that some are wrong).

In other words, people can look into stuff for themselves. Hence, as much as I point out haredi revisionism and consider that hobby to be enjoyable and healthy, I've always had trouble excessively sympathizing with those caught up in it. The Aish Discovery seminar may be manipulative, but a person who walks into it and isn't skeptical makes his own future, it isn't Aish's fault if he decides to be frum. Those who trust in authority should know better. It's our duty to look into things. I decided to be frum because I thought it was the most logical worldview due to my own logic; I never completely bought the Aish proofs and was skeptical. But my logic eventually lead me to understand that I was wrong in thinking Orthodox Judaism was correct and it was my duty to myself to admit that. It's all of our duties to look into things and admit when we're wrong.

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  1. I'm not entirely sure its fair to lay the final responsibility on the inductees of places like Aish. The teenage mind, particularly the minds of targets for "kiruv kerovim," is conditioned to depend on authority for knowledge. They may rebel against parents and teachers, but those looking for truth or something "real" will seek it out from others with more experience. Most rebellious teens turn towards older young adults for advice. Many turn towards magazine, books or the internet. They can be easily torn and confused about where their lives are headed and what the truth is, and their brains are still developing until nearly 25. The influence of manipulative people in positions of authority or "expertise" is very powerful, almost to the point of overwhelming any inclination to independent inquiry.

    As for adults, the ongoing political campaigns in this country prove that the masses are pretty helpless, but I would agree that they should be responsible enough to think for themselves.

    Also, has anyone else noticed that Oliver & Company borrowed a lot of dog sketches from Lady & the Tramp? Easter Eggs or laziness on the part of the animators (like in Disney's Robin Hood, which is mostly taken from The Jungle Book)?

  2. good points. I was going to post a comment to this but it was a little lengthy so I will just post it on my blog.

    I think adults, even late teens early twenties, are responsible for the life decisions they make and so if they flip out or go BT or convert they should not blame the kiruv orginizations for it.

    However I can and do blame many for their intellectual dishonesty and shameful tactics.

  3. Thursday, October 27, 2011?

  4. don't you know that Baruch is from the future? The current Baruch is actually still frum interestingly enough.

  5. Lulz, long story with the 2011 thing.

    I appreciate your comments and very much liked Skeptitcher's post (can always use some surprise Kafka) :)