Sunday, November 25, 2018

Herbert Armstrong's Mind Conditioning Technique That Roped In the People

Today, I want to write a short bit into the Methodology that Herbert Armstrong used to brainwash - yes, brainwash - those who subscribed to the Ambassador College Correspondence Course into the way he was thinking. This will help for you to see how he did what he did, and how he conditioned the mind to accept his theology. 

The text below is from the Ambassador College Correspondence Course, lesson 2, from 1955. Let's take a look. 

Rewriting The Mind

Perhaps the most important thing that Herbert used was mind conditioning. He did this by causing you to rewire the mind to focus only on what he wanted you to focus on. By using specific, cherry-picked scriptures without context or background, he would ingrain the particular scripture he wanted you to look at into your mind. He would have you focus only on those particular scriptures - to read them, to re-read them, again, and again. This technique literally "burns" the scriptures that Herbert deemed important into your mind. 

Herbert admits that this technique is "intended to show you where to look" - to "help" you to "know" how to study the Bible. This focus on particular scriptures - called "cherry picking" - is used to bolster his way of belief and to support his doctrines. Notice that there is little in the way, if any, context whatsoever to the scriptures. Take a scripture, explain it the way you see it, and then have the individual re-read it, and re-read it over and over again, and then - importantly - writing it down. 

The principle here is to literally rewire your brain to accept the conclusions that Herbert Armstrong came to, by focusing on individual scriptures and not the context of the scripture, the chapter, the book, the timing, or anything at all. This, again is "mind conditioning", used to distort and change the true meaning of the scriptures which can be only understood by proper context and understanding of the entire message written. 

Writing It Down

Herbert said the writing is "EXTREMELY NECESSARY". This is also why note-taking in church services was emphasized so greatly. When you hear or read - AND you write - it ingrains it into your brain. 

From an article at, it says this: 

Writing things down happens on two levels: external storage and encoding. External storage is easy to explain: you’re storing the information contained in your goal in a location (e.g. a piece of paper) that is very easy to access and review at any time. You could post that paper in your office, on your refrigerator, etc. It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to know you will remember something much better if you’re staring at a visual cue (aka reminder) every single day.
But there’s another deeper phenomenon happening: encoding. Encoding is the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analyzed. From there, decisions are made about what gets stored in our long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded. Writing improves that encoding process. In other words, when you write it down it has a much greater chance of being remembered.

This technique was understood by Herbert as an advertiser. He knew that when we write it down it "encodes" into our long-term memory. From day one, from the Correspondence Courses to sermons - what would we write down? Individual scriptures - and sometimes, the pastor's explanation. This method of brain-washing, or mind-conditioning, caused us, in combination with other tactics, to accept one scripture and one explanation over context and correct biblical literacy. 

Half an Hour a Day

Herbert understood it wasn't just writing a scripture down and the explanation and stopping - he made sure it GOT INTO YOUR HEAD, by causing you to study his chosen scriptures with his personal explanation - and reread it - and write it - at LEAST half an hour a day. This combination of encoding and time will rewrite anyone's mind if they are open to it. And anyone who listened to Herbert Armstrong was well aware he was using the power of his authoritative voice to believe what he was saying. The more you read, wrote, and read and wrote again, the more you began to accept his beliefs as true beliefs. Again, completely ignoring other scriptures and context. 

Emphasis on Large-Type Words

Have you ever wondered why in the world Herbert Armstrong always typed in Large Type words? He was using advertising techniques. On this vein, check out the 20 most effective words in sales and see how Herbert implemented some of these. Read this article on creative print advertising to see techniques Herbert used as well. 

Yet Herbert admits here - in plain language - exactly why he uses bold, capital letters in his material, such as the Ambassador College Correspondence Course. HE says "pay no attention to the small type", but read the large type words. This is the method to read all of his literature to get to the core of what Herbert wanted you to get in your head - all of the Co-Worker letters, the Personals, the Pastor Generals - all of it - ignore the small type and read the large type to get what he wanted into your head. This is how he subliminally got to people, using the power of printed text. This was another aspect of mind conditioning he used to brainwash his people. This is how I have come to see exactly how Herbert was thinking, and coming to conclusions about his entire empire and mindset while reading his material. He knew exactly what he was doing. He also knew you'd forget in time this technique, but it would be in your head subconsciously. In short, he was training you how to read his material the way he wanted you to to get the results he wanted. 

Other certain splinter leaders continue to use this technique to brain-wash their followers as well. 

What was not used in this method? Context and Questions. This was classic: Here's a scripture. This is what the scripture says. Write it down. This is what it means. Next scripture. Rinse, and repeat. This was how they "proved" their doctrines. This is how they "proved" their understandings. People bought this for one reason: They were subliminally conditioned. 

I will write next time about the methodology he used as to "where to start" reading the Bible, and why he chose that particular method. It has to do with one word: Fear.


nck said...

Johann Gutenberg be damned!

HWA would have been a big shot at Facebook in this day and age.


TLA said...

The current crop of leaders lack the skills, the dynamism, and the magnetic personality. This EXPLAINS why the RESULTS are so poor.
Also taking notes does not work if the audience is struggling to stay awake.

Add to this, the bosses refuse to answer questions they do not like.

Dumbhead said...

"Refuse to answer questions they do not like" I would like to know if any of the splinters ever made a change in doctrine or policy based on what one of the members came up with. Anything,ever? Or is that against the leaderships policy?

Byker Bob said...

If HWA were alive today, I’d be selling rolls of toilet tissue with his face on each sheet. I’d be selling T-shirts with a picture of HWA asking Dorothy “Who’s yer Daddy?” There would be scary HWA Halloween masks, and imitation gold filled HWA flatware. Models of a G-6 named “The Flying Whorehouse”. Joke personalized license plates reading “HWA-666”. HWA commemorative spanking paddles that broke at the handle first time anyone actually tried to use them on a child.

Yeah, my merch would be quite prominent on Facebook and Amazon. HWA? Not so much. It’d be a full-time job just censoring and defriending.


Unknown said...

Dear Herbert W. Armstrong:

I have read, and re-read this scripture, as you have instructed.

I am bolding and highlighting the scripture below for emphasis. I have concluded, that I cannot allow you to take my crown.


Same applies to Pack , Flurry , Weinland, Thiel and the rest of the castaways on Gilligans COG Island!

Dennis said...

I think your hindsite is giving HWA too much credit for his alleged insights

Anonymous said...

Dumbhead asked:

"Refuse to answer questions they do not like" I would like to know if any of the splinters ever made a change in doctrine or policy based on what one of the members came up with. Anything,ever? Or is that against the leaderships policy?

Gerald Flurry has taken doctrinal suggestions from some wealthy members, and also from the widow (now deceased) of the other original PCG minister, John Amos. Helen Amos convinced Gerald that he was actually an apostle, after showing him some sermon notes from a WCG service sometime in the 1970s or 1980s. "That Prophet" was apparently a suggestion from a wealthy member.

Rod Meredith also took doctrinal ideas from wealthy members, not from ministers. The Scarborough family, back when they were in favor, almost convinced Meredith to implement a "New Moons" observance, a change that was only stopped after intense opposition from his Council of Elders, who warned that this would split the church and cost him a lot of tithe money.

So, Dumbhead, yes, if you are wealthy and have the ear of an ACOG leader, you can probably get your ideas listened to.

DPR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TLA said...

Dumbhead - apparently grow in grace and KNOWLEDGE - does not apply to members.

Anonymous said...

He was a media man.

Anonymous said...

Most members aren't intellectually inclined. Herb and his ministers knew this, and ruthlessly exploited this vulnerability. By contrast, a good Shepherd would teach his flock how to think, pointing to good books on this topic. Fat chance of that ever happening. Instead there's non stop attacks on thinking with expressions such as 'human reasoning,' 'intellectual vanity,' 'self will' etc.

In Herb culture, only the ministers have a right to think. If a member does choose to think, they are defrauding a minister of a responsibility that's his alone. Only AC educated ministers have a right to think!

nck said...

Perhaps that too.

Bigger chance is your alleged early insight through social media would have caused you to eject the fold at age 16 and then be another statistic in Vietnam.

WCG's IBM is nothing compared to the data facebook gathered on you, including the 10 apps on your phone you allowed to record your conversation in the mall.
Again, free for the asking, no obligation whatsoever, only the entire world hooked this time.


Anonymous said...

Here you go again with your Herb whitewashing. The government gathers information on us, but they do not, like the Herb ministers, approach us face to face with Gestapo questioning. They do not attack, name call, and even verbally tear members down if they don't give the 'right' answers. Why don't you join one of the splinters since you think so highly of HWA?
Why don't you practise what you preach rather than just posting here in your pyjamas?

Anonymous said...

The larger question is, how could a man who had incest with his own daughter be sincere about what he believed? Did he know that what he preached was nothing but a load of crap but preached it anyway for the power of control and to make himself wealthy? The most perplexing question I have is, how can thousands still hold on to what HWA preached even after they became aware of his perverse past? Would God use a pervert to reveal his truth? Please don't use David as an example because he repented but HWA still wanted to screw his daughter even after she was married. No repentence there!

nck said...

Hello 3:34

You often read Herb where I mention non.

It is very simple. It happened to you, not to me. I just report my take on things. In this instance I was talking about how YOU harp on Armstrongism while at the same time accepting 10 apps on your I phone that allow the owner to send extreme amounts of data about you for eternal storagee. Why don't you PRACTICE what you preach and adress CURRENT and REAL issues.

I feel the same about STUPID people who harp on slavery and its effects while ignoring and never helping the MILLIONS of Trafficked people and (sex) slaves around the world.

I regard them stupid self absorbed hypocrites.


nck said...

See 3:34

The topic at hand are "the methods." I am right at topic. I adress how people whine and complain and still give away rights as easy as ever! Like non of the photos on your social media is your property anymore. You are nothing but a whiny person with your tv remote in one hand complaining about injustices.


Anonymous said...

5.21 AM
I don't mean to be a party pooper, but please consider Daniel 4:7
"the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."

So "would God use a pervert to reveal His truth?" Well, it appears so. God did use a moral pervert call Balaam to reveal prophesys for his time, no? Which is why I call Herb, Herbert Balaam Armstrong.

Anonymous said...

9:20 AM, Revelation 2 describes the Pergamos church as the ones who "hold the doctrine of Balaam." If God used Balaam-HWA to reveal His truth, He used him to reveal the truth of Church eras. Thus, if HWA was telling the truth about Church eras, he was telling the truth and thus is not a Balaam-figure, and if he was not correct about Church eras he was a liar and thus is not a Balaam-figure.

Anonymous said...

9.30 AM
You got that ploy from the original Star Trek series. I recall them using it against their foe in two episodes.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to be a guardian Angel of all things Herb, you should be consistent by joining one of his splinters. Otherwise you are being a hypocrite.

nck said...


Thank you for your feedback. I'll try to explain more in the future instead of reliance on other peoples ability to interpret compact and concise sentences with worlds of knowledge and experience behind them or discern "the funnies from the serious", the scientific from the interpretation and appear hypocritical in the process. I would agree that my musings (at best) might appear as an eclectic gathering of thought.

btw I don't think the splinters have much to do with the pre 1985 period (perhaps extending into 1993), for better or worse.