Our friend Chris Shelton talks with Jon Atack about undue influence, tackling the issue from many different angles: from the failure of certain sociologists in refusing to recognize the reality of thought control (and thus unwittingly giving credibility to destructive groups), to just how easily we are swayed by clever sales techniques; from why it is better to talk in terms of “predators”, focusing on the actions of the person and whether they mean to do us harm, rather than focusing on the diagnostic terms of “psychopath,” “sociopath” or “narcissist”; to why it’s much more important to focus on what makes a group harmful, rather than figuring out whether or not to call it a cult, a destructive cult, or any other name. Other topics include a lively discussion on teaching our children how to disagree agreeably and the shortcomings of a test-based, “one size fits all” model of education; the birth of the American institution of propaganda; how we shall never have an end to terrorism until the injustices used to feed the fervor of those radicalized are properly addressed, and the necessity of being the sovereign of one’s own life.

Chris also draws Jon out on our wide-ranging plans here at the Open Minds Foundation, from bringing experts together from various disciplines such as neurology, psychology, sociology, education and more; to our new board member, eminent psychologist Phil Zimbardo, and his message of the value of being a hero in your own life; and even our hopes to sponsor much-needed research in many fields relating to undue influence.

They even (very briefly) talk about Scientology.

Witty and thought-provoking, engaging and entertaining, Jon and Chris always deliver a satisfyingly informative discussion, and their third talk together is no exception.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Jon’s new book? We’d love to hear from you!