Site Loader

, Research Paper

Everything Old Is New Again

Detecting Persuasion in the New Age


Thesis: The temptingness of the New Age can be attributed in portion to an overall deficiency of understanding its nature ; when its history is taken into consideration and its persuasive component is exposed, we see that, contrary to the premise that the New Age is a freer option to mainstream faith, persuasion is a really present portion of the New Age.

I. Foreword

II. What is new about it?

A. The New Age is non new.

B. If there is anything truly new about it, it is its credence in the West.

C. Its version to the Western civilization is besides new.

III. Persuasive elements defined

A. Reactance

B. InGroup

C. Foot-in-the-door phenomena

D. Low-ball technique

E. Effectss of the Communicator

1. Trustworthiness

2. Credibility

3. Talking confidently

F. Range of acceptableness

G. Fear of looking foolish

H. Behaviour altering attitude

I. Internalization

IV. Persuasive elements observed

V. Conclusion


The automatic and first context of an appraisal of the New Age, as a ministerial pupil, is spiritual. For the intent of this paper, nevertheless, I shall endeavor to restrict the appraisal of the New Age to the primary context of societal psychological science.

As this paper is an expounding of the presence of persuasion in the New Age ( contrary to its assumed freedom ) , it is besides necessary, in the involvement of equity, to do some cardinal differentiations, with regard to the possibility of illusive correlativities being formed from the decisions of this paper:

1. if the New Age does so use elements of persuasion, it is non needfully cult-like, any more than is the mean Christian denomination, whether evangelical or mainstream. Persuasion is fundamentally a human phenomena, and therefore it necessarily appears to some degree wherever two or more people interact ;

2. the visibly tragic consequences of some cults do non go to the mean New Age participant. Persuasion is non about terminals, its about agencies. Some use persuasion to a tragic terminal, some do non.

In add-on to assorted real-life cases where these factors have be observed, I shall be pulling extensively from the peculiar instance of Will Baron, who has become a cardinal talker on the dangers of the New Age. It is of value for its contextual, in-depth scrutiny of the continuance of his full experience with the New Age, from the earliest phases of engagement, to his entire committedness of life and agencies, to his ultimate rejection of the doctrine of the New Age, as he was taught to understand it.

The clip spent in contemplation of this subject was of more value to me than simply the partial fulfilling of a class demand. Although many grounds could be cited as to why, suffice it to state that, as I consider prosecuting societal psychological science in post-graduate surveies to incorporate with ministry as a Seventh-day Adventist, it has reinforced my strong belief that, beyond understanding the relationship between divinity and psychological science, and doing the appropriate integrating of the two subjects, the following measure in the ceaseless pursuit to maintain ministry relevant to the times must be to better understand the relationship between divinity and societal psychological science, and do the appropriate integrating thereof every bit good.

What Is New About It?

Surely by now every reader has heard something about the new Age. It has been the topic of talk shows, headlines, and whole new shelf subdivisions in libraries and bookshops. In fact, harmonizing to Peter C. Newman ( 1994 ) , the universe is on the brink of a monolithic return to spiritualty ( p. 38 ) . Unfortunately, few are cognizant of the nature of this New Age, its roots, its methods, its doctrines, and the possibility that it may hold one finish. The limited range of this paper will non suit an rating of the doctrines or possible finishs of the New Age, but will analyze its roots and methods. The temptingness of the New Age can be attributed in portion to an overall deficiency of understanding its nature ; when its history is taken into consideration and its persuasive component is exposed, we see that, contrary to the premise that the New Age is a freer option to mainstream faith, persuasion is a really present portion of the New Age.

In that first quotation mark by Newman, we must concentrate on the peculiar word return. While the New Age is called new, in fact, it is non new at all. Groothius ( 1985, as cited by Clark and Geisler, 1990 ) keenly observes that the strands of the ancient wisdom are now all aswirl, one virtually identical from the following, and all pulling on one another ( 11 ) . They conclude that many new age subjects are improvisations on ancient subjects ( 12 ) . Teri McLuhan, writer of The Way of the Earth, is quoted in MacLean s Magazine ( 1994 ) as acknowledging that the new spiritualty is the old spiritualty. It is the aureate yarn that you can follow and associate with the Vedic tradition in India which is 5,000 old ages old ( 48 ) .

If there is small new about it, why is it called the New Age? What is new is its credence in the West. It seems that the new is in mention non to its being, but to its rise in the American consciousness within the last 35 or so old ages ( Clark and Geisler, 1990 ) . In add-on, although the New Age consists of a odds and ends of idealistic analogues with the supernatural, Gnostic, heathen and even native American faiths, ( Clark and Geisler, 1990, p. 11 ) , its version to the American life style and the version of the American life style to it is besides new. One may compare the comparative velocity of its wash over society to that of the early Christian church of the first century AD, or any important spiritual rebellion since.

This background consciousness of the deep-running roots of the New Age demonstrates at the beginning that, without even a casual scrutiny of footings that are taken for granted, our apprehension, and ability to cover with it, must be limited.

It is indispensable now to set up the context of our scrutiny, by familiarising ourselves with some elements of persuasion.

Persuasive Elementss Defined

When we ve accumulated a short list of some elements of persuasion, we will so see if such elements can be observed in the experience of those who ve been involved with the New Age, whether in cults or otherwise.

Reactance. A individual may be motivated to arise slightly to keep one s sense of independency. In fact, surveies show that efforts to curtail a individual s freedom frequently produce a throwing stick consequence, ( Brehm & A ; Brehm, 1981, as cited by Myers, 1996, 265 ) .

Ingroupism. The development of a distinction between we and they, us and them, ( Myers, 1996 ) . Ingroup bias rapidly consequences, where the members of the Ingroup will be given to presume that their group is better than any other group. The two feed each other in a circle.

Foot-in-the Door Phenomena. When people agree to something little, they are more likely to hold subsequently to a larger petition ( Myers, 1996 ) . It technically got its name from the imagination of the mid-20th century American door-to-door salesman literally stepping one gait into the front door so that the homemaker he was fliping wouldn T close it in his face. Every minute of excess clip he had to speak increased his opportunities of a sale.

Low-ball Technique. Aware of the behavioral phenomena above, one may writhe it a spot to pull strings another, as studied by Robert Cialdini et Al ( as cited by Myers, 137 ) . If I request of another 10x all at one time, they will be more likely to state no than if I merely request possibly 2x, and so, after they agree, reveal to them that more, the staying 8x, is involved. Further, they are more likely non to alter their head as I reveal the staying heretofore unbeknownst 8x.

Effectss of the Communicator. A communicator who is perceived as an expert in a topic relevant to the treatment, or is esteemed in a sector that is considered important or respected, or speaks with an air of assurance, or makes statements that appear defendable and therefore believable, is one who will be considered magnetic, and influence people more successfully than one without a balance of the above factors ( Myers, 1996 ) . A

Scope of Acceptability. Peoples are more unfastened to decisions within their scope of acceptableness ( Myers, 1996, 284 ) . Although this seems undistinguished, it really has huge deductions for the beguiling nature of the New Age, as we shall detect.

Fear of Looking Foolish. Although it sounds foolish, this is a scarily powerful incentive. Experiments of Latane & A ; Darley ( 1968, cited by Dworetzky, 564 ) revealed lurid truths about human response to state of affairss in which the fright of looking foolish made them move or non move even more foolishly. Peoples will really put on the line their lives in the attempt non to look foolish.

Behaviour Changes Attitude. While it is normally assumed that attitude forms behaviour, a wealth of surveies continue to show that it is every bit a world of human nature that behavior forms attitude, so that the thought that we don t merely attention for the 1s we love, we love the 1s for whom we care can be observed.

Internalization. We are more likely to make something if we decide to make it, instead than if we are told to make it by person who assumes authorization over us. This, nevertheless, is non to be confused with reactance. Internalization is the phenomena of making something because one believes that it is the merchandise of their ain fashioning. If a leader wishes his topics to follow his way, to command them might make the throwing stick consequence, reactance, that might do them disobey. If he lowers the bid to a sensible suggestion, his followings might believe about it, and make up one’s mind within their ain head that it is sensible. In make up one’s minding, so, to obey, the visual aspect is that the topic made up his/her ain head, the determination was internalized. For all purposes and intents of the leader, nevertheless, the consequence is still the same they did what was required.

Persuasive Elementss Observed

Will Baron was determined non to acquire involved in another denomination ( Baron, 1990 ) . Newman ( 1994 ) non merely observed that organized faith is deceasing, but that people are as spiritually inclined as of all time. Contradictory? No, non when it is recognized that people are rejecting the confines of pre-digested philosophy ( p. 38 ) . For such, the New Age is the perfect option for person seeking for religious fulfilment, without bigotry, dry formalism, or any of the other sensed drawbacks associated with traditional faith ( Aubin, 1995, p. 19 ) .

Whether organized faith is or is non any of these things is non the issue. What is of issue is that, if people perceive the church as such, they might respond against it by looking for an alternate. Therefore, in carrying people to fall in the ranks of the New Age, gurus will stress those aspects that are opposing what people assume are descriptive of mainstream faith. As one member of the Heaven s Gate said, during an interview, Anyone who wanted to go forth were free to travel ( Newsweek, p. 22 ) . Again, non that this implies that organized faiths revoke one s freedom, but the message being sent was that one was free to look into the thoughts of Heaven s Gate, and could go forth anytime they so chose, relieving frights and giving Heaven s Gate more clip to learn the topics.

In more ill-famed state of affairss like the People s Temple of Jim Jones or the Branch Davidians of David Koresh, reactance against society in general precipitated isolation from society, leting the leader to be free to physically reenforce the clique outlook in the privateness and apprehension of his people. While the mean New Ager doesn Ts leave everything and travel sit on a hill for good, nature weekends, hikings in the mountains, and other such religious retreats are a normal portion of a devoted New Ager s life style, for family with like-minded others, for speculation, and such common New Age activities.

For about a twelvemonth, Will Baron was sent to the alleged Mecca of the New Age, in Scotland, a privately-run retreat for upwardly-mobile protagonists of the New Age ( Baron, 1990 ) . Away from mainstream society, all the factors of persuasion have a greater ingraining factor. Again, isolation is used, to some extent, by any figure of organisations of good and impersonal intent, from authorities and corporate preparation Sessionss, to leading workshops, to church field daies, to academic nine weekend retreats and the Biblical come out of her, my people, who are called out of darkness into His fantastic visible radiation, isolation itself is non needfully evil, but it can be used for intents of both good and evil.

We may inquire, how do these guru nuts get people to kill themselves? or we may asseverate that could ne’er go on to me, but it could. Grace Stone is quoted by many ( Conway & A ; Seigelman, 1979, cited by Myers 1996, p. 300 ) , stating Nothing was of all time done drastically. That s how Jim Jones got off with so much. You easy gave up things and easy had to set up with more, but it was ever done really bit by bit. He was able to acquire away with so much ( and what a ghastly understatement ) because of the foot-in-the-door phenomena, and his apprehension of the low-ball technique. Will Baron observed the same thing. In fact, he recalls, it appears to be one of the chief methods of enlisting used by the New Age devotees. Many of them offer therapy and reding to people in demand and so involvement the clients in the doctrines associated with their patterns ( 28 ) .

In fact, for the continuance of his experience, the demands on his Acts of the Apostless of submi

ssion increased as his willingness to subject was demonstrated continually. He ended up go forthing his occupation, going half-way around the universe, stoping a relationship that was traveling good, and financially back uping the small group with which he was affiliated by consuming his bank history, borrowing on his two recognition cards until they were over the bound, and even widening the bound to borrow more ( Baron, 1990 ) . Indeed, one time he had cast his batch with the small group, as the demands increased, he merely went along with it.

During one of Baron s foremost interview s with a New Age fan, the adult female made a statement to the consequence that Will was profiting someway from experience he had in a former life. He wrote Because Marcus married woman was a well-thought-of professional psychologist, I felt rather unfastened to earnestly accepting her disclosure statement. You know how it is ; one tends to swear qualified people ( 27 ) . The linguistic communication Baron uses here so parallels what we read in the text edition, this writer tends to believe that, in fixing to compose his book, he had done some prep to seek and understand what had happened to him. Whatever the instance, he likely did non consciously say to himself that twenty-four hours while sitting with the twosome, she s respected in this field, I d better believe her. Few of us would it is a slightly subconscious factor. The intent of this paper is to uncover what factors are at work, whether we are cognizant or non, and, one time cognizant, take more control of our beliefs and actions.

In add-on to the above visual aspect of credibleness as an consequence of a communicator, expression at how sensed expertness helps. Baron says I had ne’er met anyone who had spoken about past lives with such candor ( 27 ) . Even if she was the Queen of England, had she lost oculus contact with him, or stuttered slightly, or muttered under her breath, the consequence it had on Will would about surely have been less than it was. Her bringing was forthright and level-eyed, and it sent the message that she, a qualified individual, took the construct earnestly.

The New Age makes good usage of the factors of the effectual communicator. One of the more popular advocates is the Oscar-winning actress, Shirley MacLaine. She commanded $ 300-per-person at a meeting in New York City ( as portion of a fifteen-city circuit that earned $ 1.5 million ) , ( Friedrich, 1987, cited by Clark and Geisler, p. 9 ) . It is non unreasonable to presume that those who can afford $ 300 to hear a invitee talker are people in taking places in society. Dionne Warwick, a innovator of the Motown epoch, is the Queen of the psychic telecasting and telephone web. Top-billing Actors like Richard Gere and Steven Segal offer on a regular basis that they are Buddhists, a faith non typically American, but deriving credence siting the moving ridge of and lending to the New Age. Like acquiring famous persons to patronize soft drinks and athletic places, the New Age is surely following the societal psychological constructs to act upon people..

See besides that among the taking gurus of the New Age is Stephen Covey, writer of the best-selling The 7 Stairss of Highly Effective People. Time Magazine rates him among the 25 Most Influential Peoples in America today ( Lucayo, 1996 ) . US President Bill Clinton is the first Democrat to win a 2nd term since Roosevelt, yet he is non on the list at all. ( Time distinguished between most influential, and most powerful, and Clinton tops that list ) . Harmonizing to thought leader Amitai Etzioni ( cited by Lacayo, p. 45 ) , when I exercise power, I instantly generate bitterness and resistance. When I influence you, you love what I ask you to make. ( Note good this quotation mark, it will come up once more ) . Whether he is studied, or non, he evidently grasps the constructs of reactance and internalisation. Obviously, so do those who find themselves on the influence list, including Stephen Covey.

How is Stephen Covey distributing his influence? As the laminitis of the Covey Leadership Centre in Provo, Utah, he has led his company to turn from 2 employees to over 700 in 13 old ages, grossing about $ 78 million in 1995. He has attracted and trained employees from over half the Fortune 500 companies, which in bend all have great influence in their communities and local political scenes ( since we re speaking about Fortune 500 companies, the political clout can moderately be expected to widen far beyond the local political scene ) , and in the concern universe in which they operate. In add-on, Steve Helmich, President of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, says ( cited by Lacayo, 1996 ) the Covey regimen made the whole town better. Indeed, his influence, on behalf of the New Age, is extended, and powerful.

As we observe the effectual, magnetic talker, in the aftermath of the calamity of the mass self-destruction of member s of Heaven s Gate, see eventually the idea that the most of import cause of decease may hold been the cult s guru. His personality has been compared to Mr. Rogers, but Herff Applewhite was a maestro operator ( Newsweek, 1997, p. 21 ) .

Is the New Age coercing unusual thoughts upon us? Not at wholly. As we recall the roots of the New Age, we remember that much of what is go oning is coming about once more. C. S. Lewis suggested that pantheism gimmicks on exactly because, like an old shoe, it is so comfy ( Clark and Geisler, 1990, p. 9-10 ) . While ancient spiritual doctrines may non be so familiar to us in the modern West, retrieve that the New Age is a assortment of Eastern and metaphysical beliefs, ( MacLean s, p. 460 ) . As Will Baron discovered, the more involved he became in the small group with which he was chew overing, the more they gravitated towards a signifier of Christianity ( Baron, 1990 ) . At one point, the leader, who had led them up to that point to analyze the instructions of many religious leaders, including but non limited to Jesus Christ, all of a sudden told the group that, from henceforth, they d merely be analyzing the instructions of Jesus from the Holy Bible no lupus erythematosus. It appears that this was the purpose, but they did non get down at that place, they wended their manner at that place. The leap from where they started to where they ended up was non a large one, because where they started was still within the scope of acceptableness of most people, ( non limited to, but including the instructions of Jesus, from the Bible ) doing it easier for people to accept what was being offered up front, ( many of whom were reactants from organized faiths, but didn T want to blow excessively far to the extreme ) showing understanding, and effectual usage, of this construct.

Reasonably early in Baron s experience with the small speculation group, they had a channeling session, wherein they would stand in a circle, meditating, and the spirit of some instructor would talk through each individual in the circle, so that all could hear, ( Baron, 1990 ) . He d ne’er done such a thing before, and did non anticipate that he would make it right. Rather than step out of the circle, though, he stayed until his bend came up. Unsure of what would go on, and slightly disbelieving, he preferred to remain than measure back, because, in his words, I didn t want to be embarrassed in forepart of a group, ( p. 44 ) . Motivated by the fright of looking foolish, he participated in something in which he did non at the clip believe. As we noted briefly, in add-on to acknowledging that beliefs form behavior, we now have come to understand that behavior forms beliefs. It is non unreasonable to reason that those who are taking the New Age are cognizant of this aspect of human behavior, and puting up the acquisition environment to take advantage of the aid afforded by the group moral force of the fright of looking foolish. Changing the belief need non be sought foremost ; merely acquiring people involved and take parting in the activities will work upon their attitudes to convey about the alterations desired.

The consideration of this concluding construct is rather challenging to me. While we continue to read that at that place seems to be reactance against the impression that organized faith is someway dogmatic, and the New Age, with its freedoms, makes a worthy option, a closer expression is necessary. Detecting the natural order of society, one must admit the primacy and value of order, of regulations. Driving on the manner to work, at work, among grownups, among kids, among jocks, there are ever regulations. What would a typical forenoon haste be like if there were no regulations? No regulations to restrict velocity of drivers, or upon which side of the route we must drive, no regulations to protect kids traversing the route to make school. We even have regulations to regulate how we play, and kids do nil in a game before they set up the regulations of the game Is the recoil truly against regulations?

No, this writer believes. The job is, whose regulations? Even when New Agers stare at the Sun and state, there is my God, ( MacLean s, p. 46 ) , it was observed that we may bow to statues, and other things, but they are still merchandises of ain devising, and therefore indirect graven images of our ain deification ; we want to idolize our ain thing ( Aubin, 23 ) . Clark and Geisler have observed the same thought. Zen, they wrote, ( p. 34 ) ,

propounds a doctrine of life that fits these times. For illustration, without the moral restraints of Bodhisattva vows or the subject of the maestro in the temple, Zen can devolve into a rationalisation for egoistic life.All of us should make our ain thing and acquire in touch with ourselves.

And, why get in touch with ourselves? Why, because we are Gods! That s the message that people were paying $ 300 to hear from Shirley MacLaine ( Friedrich, 1987, cited by Clark and Geisler, p. 9-10 ) . Swami Muktananda, the guru who got former California governor Jerry Brown, among others, into yoga, put it this manner: Kneel to your ain ego. Honor and idolize your ain being. God dwells in you as you ( Minnery, 1987, cited by Clark and Geisler, p. 9 ) .

How does this confirm the observation of internalisation as a factor in New Age persuasion? As Baron observed, the categories invariably stressed that obeisance to the higher ego is a really of import demand for advancement to be made on the way to God-consciousness, ( 59-60 ) .

Obedience? ! Requirement? ! How is it that these words, which have been rejected as the dogmatic downside of organized faith, dad in the fantastic New Age? Baron found that acquiring in touch with ego was a affair of doing the interior ego available to the instructors of the spirit universe. He believes that it was non his inner ego who told him to interrupt off his relationship, discontinue his occupation, and direct himself about into bankruptcy to financially back up the cause, but his inner head, emptied of ego, being commanded to obey. And, what took him, and so many others so long to respond against it? They had internalized the thoughts. The bids were non coming from the power that instantly generates bitterness and resistance, the bids were coming from the influence that made him love what [ he ] was asked to make.

The New Age gives the feeling that you are merely obeying yourself, and for most, it may ne’er amount to more than that. But for a tragic few, demands for obeisance to demands increase to the ultimate slaying ( i.e. Charles Manson and his household ) and suicide ( People s Temple, Branch Davidians, Solar Temple, Heaven s Gate ) . And, even if we of all time remain no more than a slave to self, we are precisely that still slaves, and no more.


The New Age is non so new. It is a mixture of old thoughts wrapped up in new apparels, as it were, yesterday s left-overs zapped in the microwave and served on clean home bases.

It is non being peddled in ways that are so fresh. The church has its sermonizers, the New Age has its gurus. For all those who reject mainstream faith in hunt of spiritualty without regulations, they unluckily will run into some of what they left, and more, for better, or for worse.

Obviously, the gurus of the New Age are either knowing plenty, or keenly perceptive plenty, to hold grasped human nature to the extent that they can carry people to make most indefinable things, even take lives, even their ain. The Torahs of human nature are evidently powerful, and people are utilizing those Torahs in such a manner that their followings are aching.

In footings of societal psychological science, it is really of import to appreciate the field that has organized thought on the issues and constructs and observations of human behavior in a group context, as so much of our lives are in group contexts ; the household, the workplace, the school, the vicinity, etc. Furthermore, the power that the gurus have recognized and sought can besides be directed for good. In developing our apprehension, we are fiting ourselves to better trade with the temptingness of the New Age, particularly that component that is as unwanted, if non moreso, than the old clip faith in the mean local mainstream fold.

We besides see how denominations can be accused of being cults, justly or wrongly, by perceivers who don Ts know a great trade of the denomination, but do acknowledge cult-like methods for demanding obeisance. Indeed, Jesus said the truth shall put you free. & # 8221 ;

Reference List

Aubin, Duane G. ( 1995 ) . TTC: Take the Christ. Toronto, Ontario: Our Father s Business Inc.

Baron, Will. ( 1990 ) . Deceived by the New Age. Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association.

Clark, David K. , and Norman L. Geisler. ( 1990 ) . Apologetics in the New Age: A Christian review of Pantheism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Dworetzky, John P. ( 1988 ) . Psychology. St. Paul: West Printing Company.

Lacayo, Richard. ( 1996 ) . The 25 Most Influential Peoples in America today. Time Magazine. New York: Time-Warner Communicationss.

Myers, David G. ( 1996 ) . Social Psychology ( 5th ed. ) . New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Newman, Peter C. ( 1994 ) . New Age dreams in difficult times. MacLean s Magazine, October 10, Vol. 107, No. 41. Toronto: MacLean Hunter.

( 1997 ) The following degree. Newsweek Magazine, April 7.

Post Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *