Ron Hubbard on the Confusion Technique: Something Raniere can or did learn

L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of Scientology. He was a teacher and he may have helped Keith Raniere learn a thing or two. There is no record of Raniere ever meeting Hubbard but it has been reported that he read some of Hubbard’s works.

L. Ron Hubbard said, “Now, if it comes to a pass where it’s very important whether or not this person acts or inacts as you wish, in interpersonal relations one of the dirtier tricks is to hang the person up on a maybe and create a confusion. And then create the confusion to the degree that your decision actually is implanted hypnotically.

The way you do this is very simple. When the person advances an argument against your decision, you never confront his argument but confront the premise on which his argument is based. That is the rule.

He says, “But my professor always said that water boiled at 212 degrees.”

You say, “Your professor of what?”

“My professor of physics.”

“What school? How did he know?”

Completely off track! You’re no longer arguing about whether or not water boils at 212 degrees, but you’re arguing about professors. And he will become very annoyed, but he won’t know quite what he is annoyed about. You can do this so adroitly and so artfully that you can actually produce a confusion of the depth of hypnosis. The person simply goes down tone scale to a point where they’re not sure of their own name.

And at that point you say, “Now, you do agree to go out and draw the water out of the well, don’t you?”


And he’ll go out and draw the water out of the well.

Ron Hubbard Lecture, 20 May 1952 “Decision.”

Also, even earlier, L. Ron Hubbard had this to teach [1950]:

One error, however, must be remarked upon. The examination system employed is not much different from a certain hypnotic technique. One induces a state of confusion in the subject by raising his anxieties of what may happen if he does not pass. One then “teaches” at a mind which is anxious and confused. That mind does not then rationalize, it merely records and makes a pattern. If the pattern is sufficiently strong to be regurgitated verbatim on an examination paper, the student is then given a good grade and passed.

Ron Hubbard lecture 29 August 1950, “Educational Dianetics.”


That L. Ron Hubbard, he sure could teach. 

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • From the beginning, Keith positioned ESP as “not a cult”. He had the “What is a cult?” module and hit the “are you a cult?” question straight on. One day at the end of 1998, Keith actually showed up to teach a class and ended up taking some questions from the attendees. He was asked a direct question – “What do you think of Scientology and do you think they are being unfairly labeled as a cult?” The only reason I remember his answer is because he was so obviously lying. He said, ” I don’t know anything about Scientology. But if I had to guess, I’d say there are some good things that they do.” Here is the “smartest man in the world” who is teaching about cults. Yet he doesn’t know anything about Scientology? Didn’t add up. Even more so than that, his body language was weird and uncomfortable as he answered. Funny this is coming up now. I never would have remembered his answer if it wasn’t for how bizarre the response was and for his blatantly incongruent body language.

    • parse this back to noun phrases and verb phrases and you have:

      “Scientology…unfairly labeled…..cult?”
      “Scientology….good things….they do.”

      the rest of the statement is reassuring waffle-y rhetoric : “What do you think?” “Do you think?” “I don’t know..”
      “I guess..” “I would say” …the target message embedded in modalities of uncertainty…

      if you don’t know any better, by the time you get over the physical symptoms of cognitive dissonance, you’ll swear your new revised view of scientology, is your very own epiphany. A lot of the magic’s over the minute you understand the workings of language. In the same way the power of a card trick ends when you figure it out.

  • And THAT, my friends, is an EM.
    Confuse you about what you are upset about / trying to change, drive you even to the point of panic attack (or psychotic breakdown for some), and then give you relief.
    And the more often you do it, the more sucked in you are.

  • Elizabeth Vargas will produce a series and specials for the newly announced “A&;E Investigates” banner, a collection of nonfiction, journalistic content airing in primetime. It will serve as her follow-up to a 14-year run as co-host of ABC’s “20/20.”
    The first planned series under the A&;E Investigates label, “Cults and Extreme Belief,” launches on May 28 and will see Vargas examine the self-help organization NXIVM, which has been accused of being a sex cult.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

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