Jim Jones was just talking. Skillfully applied methods of thought reform can create drastically different beliefs while group members are under the control of a cult-like organization. One is reminded of 'white nights' at the People's Temple, which were rehearsals of the options (such as mass suicide) selected by Jim Jones to respond to a confrontation with the government.
Let's consider the multiple targets and desired effects that can be
achieved with covert delivery, just at the primary target's hearing
threshold. The cultists added the Milton Model of Neuro Linguistic
Programming to the mix. This model defines various forms of deliberate
ambiguity. NLP might be yet another sign that law enforcement has been involved, as it is often derided as pseudo-science academically, but has widespread support as it can be applied to interrogations.
In this case we have the phrase pair "Hey Tom, I killed
Abby." and "Hey Tom, I killed a beast." The former is designed to cause
hatred and fear in the target, while the latter has no emotional
payload. At first, I'm unsure if I really hear anything, the
extreme nature of the main message makes belief more difficult.
The fallback phrase, and the low volume, allows the group to back away if I am able to hear the message. In January of 2010, all the other smokers on
the floor began smoking elsewhere. At first I thought everyone quit,
but I overheard two saying "They'll think we're helping him" as they
switched side of the building to avoid me. All internal conversations
are carefully controlled. So we see social isolation tactics at work
here. Milieu control is important to thought reform. These tactics also prevent reality testing.
All secondary targets are allowed to think
that someone else can tell me, or that I already know. Thus, secondary targets are repeatedly told, in an indirect way,
that causing a parent to fear for the life of a child is OK. One is
again reminded of the mock suicide undertaken by People's Temple members
before the final, deadly one. By going through the motions in a dry
run, inhibitions are broken down.
In the final phase, I finally jump
offsides after an attempt to discover the source of these statements is
met with a provocative response. Pressure is ratcheted
down before calling the police, and the have plenty of time to get their stories straight, and to lie to me until I'm unsure of myself. The leaders repeatedly deny the reality
of the messages and state Michelle is very scared. Just hours prior, Michelle Tan coolly lied to the police about prior communication with me.
Bob Edwards' duplicity is another symptom, a common technique to coercive influence is to show exaggerated affection or concern. The Unification Church used this tactic to develop a bond with the subject, and also to dig up weakness or embarrassments. This then serves two purposes, as false kindness loses its luster, the leaders can try to break down a resistor or ex-member through information gained via this duplicity.
Isolation from ex-members is common in a cult situation. While I was at SelectQuote, it was actually written in the employee handbook to not maintain contact. The repeated
harsh breaks with former employees are a warning sign that something is
Multiple parents of young children have left IT, often they were very evasive about where they were going. I've come to suspect that at least one former employee was set-up. There was missing source code, but this may have been arranged, in order to prevent questioning of the departure.
In other groups, departures could be even worse. A knife was pulled prior to one termination in 2010. Large peep holes were put into the doors, and we were admonished to check before letting anyone in.
The group cannot withstand diversity of thought. Ex-members
hold societal norms but are aware of the groups norms and methods, which
make them particularly dangerous to the leaders' control of members.
As this series continues, we shall see other method of psychological manipulation employed. For example, at SelectQuote they may take away what is yours, then expect thanks to see it returned. Not only can this tactic be employed to destabilize the target, it is an abuse of the reciprocity principle.
Another example of such false gifts would be the confessions of Korean War POWs. The POW may have written a confession just to get some benefit which was his right to begin with, but then the captors will make him edit it to make 'corrections' or 'admit' more. This causes the captive to own the confession document.