Talk:True-believer syndrome/Archive 1

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The True-believer syndrome "is not a disorder that is accepted or treated by psychiatrists". Could someone please add why? <KF> 15:52, 4 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I think it is because the true believer syndrome is just a selective blindnedfss like most people have. It doesn't harm the functioning of the patient. I know, because I used to be a patient myself too. Andries 19:06, 4 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I have rearranged the material in this article because I believe its former sequence carried excessive pro-skeptical POV. This coined term cannot be presented as a generally-accepted objective psychological condition when it's not in the DSM and when psychiatrists generally don't treat it. It originates with Lamar and the skeptics' camp (there is no citation to any other group accepting or using it), and should be labeled as belonging to them. Now, I don't happen to think Jim Jones was doing miracles either, but an objectively-manifesting mental condition like schizophrenia, this thing is not.

By rearranging the article this way, we can also remove the one proffered reason why psychiatrists don't generally treat this suggested condition. This is beneficial because, based on the entries above, it appears we were only conjecturing about that reason, anyway. --Gary D 04:04, 18 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Removal of sentence

I want to remove the followin subsentence that I find very POV: "and remains a largely rhetorical device used by skeptics in the debate over the existence of certain sorts of paranormal phenomena." I mean, labelling an opionion as a rethorical device is just very POV. Andries 19:47, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

It remains a 'rhetorical device' because no empirical evidence has been presented for its link with any demonstrable cognitive or clinical impairment. However, I agree it sounds strong when the point is not explained, I've added the explanation in, rather than using the original phrase - Vaughan 20:24, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Vaughan, it is not true that there is no empirical evidence. Please read Robert T. Carroll's sekpdic Andries 20:45, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The evidence presented there is all anecdotal. I see no scientific studies supporting the assertion that true-believer syndrome is associated with any sort of cognitive pathology, although I would be happy to be corrected - Vaughan 21:00, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Vaughan, okay, I agree but why is it important that there it is correlated with any sort of cognitive pathology? I never believed it was, as I said above. Secondly, the experiment with the class indicates that it can be developed, almost without interaction with other classmates so the assertion that it is related to socal factors is not relevant. Andries 21:19, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
why is it important that there it is correlated with any sort of cognitive pathology? - because it is described as a cognitive disorder.
the experiment with the class indicates that it can be developed, almost without interaction with other classmates so the assertion that it is related to socal factors is not relevant - 'social factors' are not restricted to immediate social interaction, but to the assumptions and status that are associated with certain beliefs by society. A person could form a belief whilst entirely alone, but that belief will still be influenced by the person's social and cultural knowledge and experience. Anyway, this is just my two cents ! - Vaughan 21:41, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Vaughan, thhis article describes the POV of skeptics who think it is a pscychological phenonemon, not a social phenemenon. And then you add your theory that it is a social phenomenon, which I consider by the way very implausible in case of the class experiment. I think that you changed the POV in something that it was not meant to be. Andries 17:06, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Vaughan, Another thing, do you think that cognitive bias would be a better description than cognitive disorder?Andries 17:06, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I don't know about Vaughan, but I certainly do. It's less POV, and actually strengthens the article and defense of the term by getting away from the psychiatric-nontreatment and no-DSM problems. If you'll forgive an ironic observation, it reduces the pseudoscience of appearing to call believers mentally ill absent support from the psychiatric community. I strongly support such a change. --Gary D 18:28, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I wrote many articles on cognitive biases here, and I would not call it that. It's basically some term someone invented. I would call the similar belief perseverance a cognitive bias because people who study cognitive biases actually believe there is scientific evidence that it exists. Further, "cognitive disorder" appears to be a neurological term, and there is no reason to believe that it has anything to do with neurology. Finally I see no reason to classify this under Category:logical fallacies since it doesn't have anything to do with specific arguments (besides, it seems to violate the fallacy of ad hominem anyway). --Taak 00:10, 6 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Taak, I agree with you about the cognitive disorder and it is clearly stated as a disputed opinion of Robert T. Carroll. How would you classify it? Andries 16:43, 6 Sep 2004 (UTC)
If anywhere, a category for folk psychology theories. --Taak 21:40, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Shroud of Turin

I believe the link to this enmtry at Shroud of Turin was suppressed. Is this True-believer syndrome in operation? Wetman 21:55, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Edits by Sam Spade, the true believer syndrome refers to the paranormal

Oh, I see the True believer refers to this article. That may be wrong. The true believer syndrome refers only to belief in the paranormal as far as I know. Hence I think Sam's edits are not good. I have to admit that I haven't read Eric Hoffer's book The true believer: the psychology of mass movements. Does he use the term true believer syndrome or just true believer? Andries 07:10, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't think Hoffer ever said "true believer syndrome." --Gary D 20:12, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)

The term is widely used, and not just for situations involving belief in the paranormal. I understand the original intent of the term, and I understand how terms evolve. [[User:Sam Spade|Sam Spade Arb Com election]] 20:36, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Sam, Which term true believer syndrome or true believer? ? Personally I prefer to have this article confined to the paranormal but if this is in contrast to common usage then I have no choice, I guess. Andries 20:50, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Sam, I did a google search on true believer and true believer syndrome and the latter only refers to the paranormal. Andries 21:04, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Immunity to cognitive dissonance

Isn't immunity to cognitive dissonance pretty much synonymous with the True believer syndrome? -- 22:13, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Removal Pending

It is my intent to remove the following paragraph: "For example, skeptics generally agree there is sufficient proof to conclude that the alleged miracles of Uri Geller and Sathya Sai Baba are or were false; they therefore have often reasoned that believers who have been given the extant evidence of fraud in these cases, and yet continue to believe in these men, are described by this condition." Unless this paragraph can be referenced by reputable sources, it is going to be deleted. No original research allowed (a precedent set by Andries). SSS108 talk-email 21:25, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

You can re-word it using the original entry by Robert Todd Carroll. I wrote this when I was new to Wikipedia, so please forgive me for making generalizations unsupported by reputable sources. Andries 21:38, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Andries, you edited the article as recently as April 4th 2006 and you never removed the original research of Tony O'Clery and Paul Holbach Ref (even though this edit of yours was to remove unsupported references). So although you might not have known better when you first started the article, you should have known better 2 days ago. SSS108 talk-email 22:26, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Keene's Credentials

It is my intention to add the relevant information that Keene has no credentials or education in psychology or any other related field. Therefore, the definition of "True Believer's Syndrome" was coined by a layman. SSS108 talk-email 21:31, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

I do not agree with the term "layman". Keene was an expert in psychic fraud, so he was not a layman. Let's us simply confine the description of Keene of a reformed psychic. Andries 14:33, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Andries, unfortunately, there are no degrees in "psychic fraud". Unless you can tell me Keene's credentials, he is a layman. SSS108 talk-email 20:54, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I continue to disagree: let the reader decide if he is a layman. Some other people will think he is an expert by experience. Andries 12:22, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Keene's experience as a psychic fraud did not confer upon him, directly or indirectly, any degrees in psychology or the medical field. Keene coined a term that appears to be a medical term. He is a layman, not a professional, no matter how you look at it. SSS108 talk-email 19:36, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Reputable References Needed

Reputable references are needed for the following sections:

"Skeptics see this as a form of self-deception caused by wishful thinking in which a believer continues to accept paranormal explanations for phenomena or events, or denies the relevance of scientific findings, even after the believer has been confronted with abundant evidence that the phenomena or events have natural causes. The term is mainly used by skeptics in the debate over the existence of certain sorts of paranormal phenomena and the persistence of belief in these phenomena.
The key is the "true believer's" unwillingness to admit that he is gullible. As evidence of the fraud or fallacy mounts, the "true believer" will make wilder and wilder claims to defend his beliefs. As evidence against his beliefs becomes more compelling, his claims become less convincing. Even if he admits that some of the evidence has been hoaxed, he will claim that the evidence which hasn't been proven false must be true. UFO enthusiasts dismiss the tens of thousands of photographs that have been debunked and claim that the few which haven't yet been disproved are "proof" of extraterrestrial visitors. Dismissing skepticism, they search for supernatural or pseudo-scientific solutions to natural phenomena.
"Another tactic used by true believers is the appeal to authority. The true believer claims that his beliefs are beyond question because some alleged higher authority backs them. To wit: the Gospels say that Jesus had several brothers and sisters, but the doctrine of the Catholic Church is that Mary was allowed to keep her virginity. UFO believers frequently refer to alleged statements by American astronauts."

Where did all this information come from? SSS108 talk-email 23:18, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

The first paragraph is based on the original entry, but may be inaccurately worded. The other two paragraphs have sources unknown to me. Andries 05:06, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Keene says basically the same thing as the first part of second paragraph on page 151 of his book. Bubba73 (talk), 04:50, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Not A Psychologist

Andries, how is it "redundant" to say Carroll is not a psychologist? Where is this fact already stated? Carroll made a psychiatric assessment of true believers. He does not possess the credentials as a psychologist and this fact should be stated to maintain transparency. If a person said apostates suffered from blame and victim mentality and displayed characteristics comparable to neurotics, and this person did not possess credentials in psychology, I think it would become apparent why it is important to mention he does not possess the proper credentials to make psychological assessments of others. Why are you trying to withhold this fact? SSS108 talk-email 07:31, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

We normally write the credentials of a person. We usually do not write what credentials a person does not have. Andries 12:24, 22 April 2006 (UTC)


Andries, where are the reputable references for the following comment: "Carroll holds the opinion that the True Believer's Syndrome fits the psychiatric definition of a delusion." This comment is not on Carroll's entry for "True Believer Syndrome". SSS108 talk-email 06:28, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

You overlooked it. It is here " Such people are by definition deluded in the psychiatric sense of the term: they believe what is false and are incapable of being persuaded by evidence and argument that their notions are in error." Andries 18:40, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Andries, no where did Carroll state that True Believer Syndrome (TBS) fits the psychiatric definition of a delusion. You obviously failed to understand the context to Carroll's comments. When he said "by definition", he is referring to True Believer Syndrome, not the psychiatric definition of a delusion (as he does not provide the psychiatric definition for a delusion, but rather provided the definition for TBS). The entire text reads: "Since by definition those suffering from true-believer syndrome are irrationally committed to their beliefs, there is no point in arguing with them. Evidence and logical argument mean nothing to them. Such people are by definition deluded in the psychiatric sense of the term: they believe what is false and are incapable of being persuaded by evidence and argument that their notions are in error." You incorrectly paraphrased Carroll and attributed a comment to him that is not supported by the text in his book. SSS108 talk-email 19:44, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

May be I miss something, but I still think that I paraphrased it correctly. Andries 19:47, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Okay, back to square one: Where is it stated that: "Carroll holds the opinion that the True Believer's Syndrome fits the psychiatric definition of a delusion"? No matter how you look at his comment, he never said that. Substanitate your comments. SSS108 talk-email 20:04, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

As I said, I continue to hold the opinion tht Carroll did write this, but if there is a dispute about the interpretation of what somebody wrote then I think the best solution is to quote somebody completely without summaries and interpretations and then let the readers decide what Carroll wrote. Andries 12:10, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Does this mean... / Sacrilege/Blasphemy ?

Does this mean that people who have had strange experiences, paranormal experiences happening to them are nuts ? And this is a simple, honest question, no more, no less. Someone who has had these weird experiences, investigate paranormal matters may actually get the idea from this article that they are to be ridiculed, insulted as pursuant to the Robertson Panel protocol, Project Grudge if the encounter was a UFO, alien. This article may offend those that are religious, be they Christians (someone may E-mail a copy of this article to Pat Robertson, the famous TV/radio preacher who is on the 700 Club if they see it.), Moslem, Jewish, citing that this article is "The work of Satan". I am NOT accusing, etc. anyone here at all. Just stating some major concerns. Martial Law 06:15, 18 April 2006 (UTC) :)

I have seen Pat Robertson's TV show, and the 700 club sometimes sponsors religious themed movies that depict "The Last Days", and this sort of material is featured, as is other material, is featured as "Part of the Satanic New World Order" to destroy the Church, etc. until The Judgement happens. I have one of these tapes, called "Left Behind." It has material that is claimed to be from academia and famous skeptics that ridicules the religious people, saying they're mentally ill, are criminals, which turns out to be from Satan in the movie, as The Judgement commences. It is a obscure movie. Again, I am NOT accusing anyone,etc. at all, just stating some concerns, asking questions. Martial Law 06:27, 18 April 2006 (UTC) :)

MartialLaw, to answer your question, No. That is why there is a heavy emphasis on the fact that "True Believer Syndrome" is not a medical term. The term was coined by a person who has NO credentials in the medical or mental health related fields. According to Carroll (who similarly has no credentials in the medical or mental health fields), viewers of the 700 Club would also be suffering from "True Believer Sydrome". As a matter of fact, it appears everyone who is not a skeptic or atheist may be suffering from it, according to Carroll. It is a skeptic's term. SSS108 talk-email 13:52, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
The reason I asked is that I'm in "The Bible Belt", and you ought to hear some of these preachers. One Preacher says that Political Correctness is a tool of The Devil and is Satanic, another says that buying a Lotto ticket is a ticket to hell. I figured that if someone had seen this article, it'll get splashed all over the religious talk shows, like the 700 Club, and unlike me, would be extremely rude about asking similar questions. Some of the Preachers here are "Hellfire and Brimstone" Preachers. Martial Law 19:09, 18 April 2006 (UTC) :)
I think this article does a fairly good job describing the phrase in a neutral way. The person who coined the phrase may think your nuts. but this article never sais "Your nuts for thinking X" it said "Person Y sais your nuts for thinking X" and that is completely different. ---J.Smith 20:00, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Criticism of Article

This entry is ridiculous. It's more about my Skeptic's Dictionary entry on "true-believer syndrome" than it is on the alleged topic. It appears to be written by someone who does not like what I write. An informant tells me it is written by a follower of Sai Baba who does not like what I say about him. Articles like this will destroy whatever credibility Wikipedia has. The culprit, I'm told, is userid SSS108 who has the real name Gerald Joe Moreno. If so, Mr. Moreno should write his own book and not use Wikipedia to rag on mine.--Robert T. Carroll

Hello Mr. Carroll. Thank you for participating in Wikipedia. Vanity guidelines at Wikipedia suggest that you should not edit articles related to yourself, however, you are more than welcome to express your opinions on talk pages. Could you briefly describe some of the changes that could be made that you believe would improve this article? Thanks. --BostonMA 00:00, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
That's the point, Boston. This article shouldn't be about me. 00:54, 25 April 2006 (UTC) R.T. Carroll
I didn't write the article, and I am also quite open to alternative opinions, but I'd like to share mine. My "impression" of the term "true-believer syndrome" is that it is not a term that is used in the academic or clinical literature. Without intending to be derogatory, I think it is what may be called a "pop-psychology" term. If I am wrong about this, please correct me.
Lacking a broad acceptance and usage by experts in psychology, I think it is important for an encyclopedia article to explain who uses the term. We do not wish to present as accepted by the mainstream of experts in a field, an idea that is only used or accepted by a minority. Again, if I am wrong about this, please correct me. The authors of the article apparently believed that you have played a prominant role in popularizing the idea of "true believer syndrome" and that is no doubt why your name appears prominently in the article. If your role is overstated, or if other persons should be mentioned more prominently, please let us know. Otherwise, it seems to me that the article should at least mention you and explain who you are. (Just as our article on psychoanalysis mentions Sigmund Freud -- and would seem deficient without such mention).
However, perhaps you are not objecting so much to the article being about you in part, but objecting to the shortage of other material. We would be happy to include other material provided that material meets the No original research and Verifiability policies. Note that for Wikipedia, "verifiability" does not mean scientifically verifiable, but means something closer to "published by reputable sources".
Wikipedia also has a Neutral Point of View policy. This policy might be crudely summarized as saying that for an idea or theory to be voiced as fact rather than opinion, that idea or theory should be accepted by a majority of experts in the appropriate field. So, please understand that in the absense of evidence that True believer syndrome is a generally accepted term among psychology professionals, material in the article will be largely expressed as opinion.
I hope you are able to help us with this article and with Wikipedia in general. Sincerely, BostonMA 01:58, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
The article certainly needs to be more about Keene. There is some info on Keene at his own article, but almost all of this article is about Carroll. Carroll is just the messenger. Bubba73 (talk), 15:34, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

I happen to agree with Mr. Carroll. This entry is totally ridiculous. However, Mr. Carroll is placing the blame on the wrong person. The person who created this entry and added information about Carroll is none other than Andries Ref 1 & Ref 2. I simply provided additional, referenced information about Carroll that readers should be aware of, especially his self-professed bias.

On a sidenote, I suggest that you, Mr. Carroll, verify whatever information you have been sent about me with me. To accept the words of others without caring to contact the person in question and verifying that information first-hand is not (in my opinion) very scientific, wise or rational. Ironically, accepting "informant's" second-hand data and blindly believing it happens to be a characteristic of a "True Believer". SSS108 talk-email 15:56, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Bubba73, the problem with your proposal is that Keene (as far as I can see) only made two references to "True Believer Syndrome" in his book, The Psychic Mafia. The two references are: (1) "The true-believer syndrome merits study by science. What is it that compels a person, past all reason, to bleieve the unbelievable. How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it's exposed in the bright light of day he still clings to it — indeed clings to to all the harder?" and (2) "The true-believer syndrome is the greatest thing phony mediums have going for them. No amount of logic can shatter a faith consciously based on a lie." I have the book and am currently researching it for more references to "true believer syndrome". These are the only two references I have found so far. Without Carroll, this entry would be nothing. SSS108 talk-email 16:05, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
I think you are right about those being the only references in Keene's book. However, Carroll breaks people into five groups, and states that his book is not for true-believers, since (by definition) nothing is going to change their minds. Bubba73 (talk), 18:39, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Bubba73, well the question is about whom should be cited and referenced in regards to "True Believer Syndrome". It is clear that the term originated (from what can be assessed) from Keene, not Carroll. The reason why Carroll's entry was cited is because Andries wanted to have SSB's name in this entry so he could push his POV on the SSB article by referencing this page there. As long as Carroll is cited, the other facts about him need to be cited as well. Also, the topic in question has to do with skepticism and religious belief. Carroll's atheistic beliefs are relevant to this discussion and he even discusses them in the book that is being referenced (and it is even discussed on the entry for his name on Wikipedia). If this topic was not relevant to skepticism and religious beliefs, then I would agree that reference to his atheism would be irrelevant. Carroll is openly an atheist Reference (which I personally have no problems with, by the way). Readers need to know this fact because readers should be aware of any possible source of bias. If this was a discussion about a term deriding skeptics and it was being sourced to an openly critical Christian, there is little doubt that fact would be divulged. SSS108 talk-email 19:26, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

The reason why I cited Carroll was because that was the only reference that I had. I did not create this article to push my POV, but mainly to understand. Andries 19:36, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
I think it is enough for this article if we say that Carroll is a skeptic and a professor of philosophy. The rest can be treated in the article about Carroll in case people are interested in his bias. Andries 19:38, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
A agree. I don't see how anyone's atheism is relevant to this topic, since the TBS is about believers in disproven paranormal things, not religion. Bubba73 (talk), 19:39, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
With regards to understanding. It is quite mysterious how I and thousands of other Sathya Sai Baba followers could continue to have faith in him even after I heard from trustworthy testimonies from confused followers that he cheated with his materializations. Andries 19:53, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

And there are literally thousands of accounts that state that SSB's miracles are genuine and true. Especially the ones that occur away from his physical form. Andries, even your good friend, Robert Priddy (an Anti-Sai Activist), to this day still states that he believes that SSB has genuine paranormal powers and he does not regard him as an ordinary human being. When even ex-followers still believe that SSB has genuine powers, it is not difficult to understand why his devotees believe he can allegedly work miracles. SSS108 talk-email 19:22, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Listing the affiliation or bias of an author, is possible and encouraged, if that bias and affiliaton is verifiable, that is. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 02:07, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Interesting Stuff

Well, I finished the book, The Psychic Mafia, last night. The only references to "True Believer Syndrome" are the 2 cited earlier. I also found only one reference to "True Believers" on page 75: "Eventually he would become one of the true believers who felt a pride in belonging to such a church and - the name of the game - gave feely." That's it.

Strangely enough, the forward to The Psychic Mafia was written by the Rev. Canon William V. Rauscher who openly professed belief in mediums and paranormal manifestations even though The Psychic Mafia discussed "true believers" and how they persist in believing mediumship and other paranormal phenomena despite "overwhelming evidence" to the contrary! Here are some gems taken from the forward to "The Psychic Mafia", by Rauscher: "This may sound strange coming from one who accepts the reality of paranormal manifestations (as attested in my own book, The Spiritual Frontier, an account of my psychic exploration)...Now I believe that 'good mediums' exist. I believe I have met some of them. Not all mediums are dishonest, and this book is not intended to discredit those who are legitimate. Nor will it do so. The honest psychic or medium has nothing to fear from this book...The only medium threatened by this book is the fraudulent one." After reading this forward, and taking into consideration this discussion about "True Believer Syndrome", the entire book left me rolling my eyes. SSS108 talk-email 15:27, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Also, this entry for "True Believer Syndrome" needs to include the facts that Keene stated that he believes in God, life after death, psychic phenomena, ESP and even hinted at believing in communication with the dead! Even more reasons why this book left me rolling my eyes. The following quotes were taken from the conclusion, pages 162 + 163: "I believe in God. I believe that God is the sustaining power of the universe and that everything expresses this power. Even evil, I believe, is potential good - a learning experience...Life after death? I believe in it. I belive that human beings maintain their individuality after death. I believe that we go on to higher and better expressions of ourselves than those which we are now expressing. I believe that evolution, growth, is the whole thing: mankind evolves, it doesn't regress. I belive that, in spite of all I've seen and experienced...Extrasensory perception and psychic phenomena? I believe that the individual can have his or her own private psychic experience - that there is such a thing as ESP...Communication with the dead is something I would urge you to avoid - I mean even the idea of it, the possibility of it. At least through a professional medium...Find your own uncertainties of life. With God's help you can do it." Wow, who would have guessed? SSS108 talk-email 19:17, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't beleve that Keene's religious beliefs are relevant to this article. It is OK in the article about him. Bubba73 (talk), 20:40, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

True Believer Syndrome is specifically about psychic phenomena. It is amusing that Keene concedes belief in the same psychic phenomena that he attempts to expose. I do not object to the reference about Keene's belief in God being removed. But the other references are most certainly relevant to the entry. SSS108 talk-email 21:15, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Incorporating Additional Info

I think it is important to mention that the Rev. Canon William V. Rauscher, who wrote the forward to The Psychic Mafia, professed a belief in mediums and psychic phenomena even though he discussed true-believer syndrome. The relevant passages, from Rev. Canon William V. Rauscher, read: "This may sound strange coming from one who accepts the reality of paranormal manifestations (as attested in my own book, The Spiritual Frontier, an account of my psychic exploration). However, I have spent as much time arguing some people out of an overly credulous attitude toward the subject as arguing into being open-minded towards it. As Lamar's story devastatingly reveals, the greatest friend the fraudulent medium has is overbelief on the part of his victims. Lamar calls it 'true believer syndrome'. The need to believe in phony wonders sometimes exceeds not only logic, but seemingly, even sanity...Now I believe that 'good mediums' exist. I believe I have met some of them. Not all mediums are dishonest, and this book is not intended to discredit those who are legitimate. Nor will it do so. The honest psychic or medium has nothing to fear from this book...The only medium threatened by this book is the fraudulent one." It appears to me that there needs to be a clear distinction between the type of belief that true-believer syndrome embodies and general belief in paranormal events. There is a significant difference. Both Rauscher and Keene think it is perfectly acceptable to believe in mediums, psychic phenomena, ESP and life and after death and not suffer from true believer syndrome! It appears that true-believer syndrome specifically and exclusively applies to someone who believes in something that has been openly faked, with a full admission of fraud, and a person persists in believing the faked event. Of course, all of this information compromises its usage by Carroll (as there are no admissions of open fraud from any of the people he cites). The history behind this term gives the impression that many use it without knowing what it is. This is very important information. SSS108 talk-email 23:00, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Knowing the above information, is it fair to say that the following be included in the "Further Reading" section?
  • Harrier Hall, (2006). Teaching Pigs to Sing: An Experiment in Bringing Critical Thinking to the Masses, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 30, #3, May/June 2006, 36-39.
  • Barry Singer and Victor A. Benassi, (1980). Fooling some of the People All of the Time, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 5, #2, Winter 1980/81, 17-24.
As it turns out, the term is not truly a skeptics term, as it allows for the belief in mediums, psychic phenomena, life after death, God and ESP. SSS108 talk-email
Yes, they should be included. I recently read both of those articles and they are about the "true believers", even though "syndrome" is not mentioned (AFAIR). Bubba73 (talk), 17:25, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
quoting from above "It appears to me that there needs to be a clear distinction between the type of belief that true-believer syndrome embodies and general belief in paranormal events." I thought it was clear that the true believers are ones who believe in something after it has been revealed to be false. There are beleivers in falsehoods who simply don't know the facts. Carroll breaks people into five groups: hardened skeptics, soft skeptics, open-minded seeker, believing doubter, and true believers. Bubba73 (talk), 21:20, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Bubba, there is a difference between "true-believers" and "true-believer syndrome". The term "true-believers" is more defined by skeptics and refers to people who believe in paranormal phenomena, such as paranormal manifestations, mediums, ESP, life after death and psychic occurrences, etc. (which would qualify both Keene and Rauscher as being "true believers"). To equate "true-believers" with "true-believer syndrome" is misleading and the two should be separated and differentiated. Perhaps you can work on an article about "true-believers"? SSS108 talk-email 19:39, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Proposed Removal (1)

In light of the new information about this entry, and Carroll's objection about too much inclusion of his info in this entry, I propose the deletion for the following section:

Although not a psychologist, Carroll stated: "Since by definition those suffering from true-believer syndrome are irrationally committed to their beliefs, there is no point in arguing with them. Evidence and logical argument mean nothing to them. Such people are by definition deluded in the psychiatric sense of the term: they believe what is false and are incapable of being persuaded by evidence and argument that their notions are in error." [5] "Carroll also stated in his book that his opinions are not meant to present a balanced view on occult subjects and is not intended for "true believers". Carroll stated that when confronted with arguments or data critical of their beliefs, true believers will consider this information to be "insignificant, irrelevant, manipulative, deceptive, not authoritative, unscientific, unfair, biased, closed-minded, irrational and/or diabolical"

This information is redundant and irrelevant as it has already been described by Keene. It would make the article more direct and succint, in my opinion. I'll wait for consensus first. SSS108 talk-email 16:46, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree with removing at least the last part of it, and I have no objection to removing all of it. Bubba73 (talk), 17:29, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks Bubba. I will wait for Andries to weigh in. If the first section to the proposed removal is kept, I think it is only fair to keep the sentence and reference for: "Carroll also stated in his book that his opinions are not meant to present a balanced view on occult subjects." This self-professed bias is wholly relevant. Thanks. SSS108 talk-email 17:55, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

I object to removing the first part that I think is not redundant i.e. "Carroll stated: "Since by definition those suffering from true-believer syndrome are irrationally committed to their beliefs, there is no point in arguing with them. Evidence and logical argument mean nothing to them. Such people are by definition deluded in the psychiatric sense of the term: they believe what is false and are incapable of being persuaded by evidence and argument that their notions are in error." " Andries 20:31, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
I need to reread the whole article in context. Usually I just follow changes. Bubba73 (talk), 21:04, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Proposed Removal (2)

I propose the last two paragraphs be deleted. I have rewritten my Skeptic's Dictionary article on this topic and both quotes from me are no longer in the article cited. Also, the editorial comment that concludes this article is gratuitous and irrelevant to the article. I apologize to User:SSS108. I would have contacted you if I had known how. Andries, I think those who have moved this article in the direction to be about Keene are going the right way. He is the one who suggested that true believer syndrome be studied scientically. However, his religious views seem irrelevant. His concern was with people who use mediums to contact dead people and who, even when presented with clear evidence of fraud on the part of the medium, do not give up their belief that the medium really did contact the dead. Keene's concern was not with the paranormal as such but with spiritualism. 16:10, 9 May 2006 (UTC)R. Carroll

It is OK with me, especially the last paragraph. On another note, I don't see "true believer syndrome" used very often, in contrast to "true-beleiver", which I encounter fairly frequently. Bubba73 (talk), 17:20, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Chopped paragraph

I chopped out the following paragraph because the link seems tenuous and like Original Research. Could someone provide a 3rd party who has made the link including a WP:CITE before readding?

Similar belief processes were studied by Thomas Kuhn. In his study on the sociology of science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn demonstrates that scientists can hold onto beliefs in scientific theories despite overwhelming prevailing counter-evidence, and suggested that social forces, as much as ones purely concerned with rationality, are a strong influence on the beliefs we hold. This is an area studied by the sociology of knowledge where the social function of paranormal beliefs has been a focus of research. No clinical evidence has been provided for its links with demonstrable cognitive impairment or psychopathology.

Ashmoo 03:57, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Surely the whole paragraph cites Kuhn's book (which is incredibly well known). Simply describing similar phenomena in a well-regarded academic book hardly seems like origina research - Vaughan 08:04, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes there is a cite to Kuhn, but the link between TBS and Kuhn's work need a cite too, otherwise, making the link between psychic-believers and the scientific community is OR. Ashmoo 23:15, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
You're asking for a citation to justify the fact that two things are similar? Sounds bizarre to me. - Vaughan 11:32, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Proposed Removal (3)

The article states that 'true believer syndrome' "is not a scientific term and as such is not used by mainstream psychologists, psychiatrists or doctors." I propose the phrase "Although not a psychologist" when referring to me be removed. Since the term is not a medical or diagnostic term in psychology, noting that I am not a psychologist is irrelevant.

Also, the last sentence, while true, has nothing to do with "true believer syndrome" and should be removed. 16:10, 9 May 2006 (UTC)R. Carroll

Except the following sentence is a quote from you making a psychological claim, and suggesting that people with such beliefs fulfil the diagnostic criteria for the psychiatric definition of a delusion. The fact that you have have no professional experience as a psychologist or psychiatrist is probably good context for the fact that you are claiming make professional judgments in the area. - Vaughan 09:14, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
Applying a definition is not the same as making a diagnosis. One need not be making a professional judgment when one desribes another as "suffering from delusions," even if one adds "in the psychiatric sense of the word." Anyway, if you insist that the comment about me not being a psychologist is not gratuitous and you really believe I'm making a "professional judgment" about the follwers of Sai Baba, then you probably should use the term 'psychiatrist' rather than 'psychologist.' I'm not saying that I'm not a psychiatrist (and I'm not saying that I am) but I applied a psychiatric definition to a vaguely defined group of people. Anyway, how do you know I'm not a psychologist. Can you prove I'm not a psychologist? Or is this just your opinion? Also, I'm still waiting for a response regarding the last sentence in the section about me. What does it have to do with the entry? "In his book, Carroll also stated that his opinions are not meant to present a balanced view on occult subjects." Shouldn't this read, although not a cult expert nor a psychiatrist, Carroll stated etc. etc.? and therefore we should not pay him any mind etc. etc. It should also be noted that Carroll is prone to ridicule and violates Wiki etiquette and denies that neutrality is possible on many of the topics taken up by the WP community. - 16:10, 9 May 2006 (UTC)R. Carroll
Hi there,
I agree that applying the definition is not the same as making a diagnosis, but the fact that you're applying it wrongly in the quote (the DSM criteria specifically excludes a belief "that is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g. it is not an article of religious faith)") suggests that a caveat as to your professional status is informative.
Also, I do not know whether you're a psychologist or psychiatrist. In fact, I didn't add the original text, but I'm assuming that you would have corrected this if it was the case. Please provide evidence if you do have professional qualifications in the area.
BTW, I agree with your final point.
- Vaughan 17:24, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
The definition is applied perfectly well according to DSM. Belief in SSB's materialztions was not not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture." My colleagues have and would have ridiculed me for my belief. Andries 00:51, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
Discussing your individual case really has little relevance for the general point made in the article, particularly as such criteria need to be considered by a qualified mental health professional in possession of all the facts. - Vaughan 07:01, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
How many other definitions in WP include sections on people that an author thinks have misused or abused the term being defined? Also, if WP is interested in fairness and accuracy, why doesn't it also include reference to the fact that I have revised the statement about Sai Baba et. al from my book that is quoted in the article? An earlier version of the article made reference to my website article on "true believer syndrome," but after I noted that I had revised that article, an author changed the citation to the published book. I no longer claim that the followers of Sai Baba suffer from a delusion in the psychiatric sense of the word. In fact, in my revised entry on true-believer syndrome I make no mention of Sai Baba.
Furthermore, isn't the author who thinks reference to me is somehow relevant to this article doing original research and isn't that forbidden by you folks? Has the author investigated my credentials and posted the results of his research here? If so, isn't he breaking your rule against original research? - 16:10, 9 May 2006 (UTC)R. Carroll

NPOV issues with "Examples" section

Two of the examples listed have NPOV problems. They make implications not supported yet by available evidence or currently not provable one way or the other with current science. First, the example of crop circles is not written in an NPOV way. To me, it implies that all crop circles are hoaxes something that I believe is not yet proven. While this might be true, I believe that that possibility that aliens did indeed create some crop circles can't be completely ruled out based on lack of evidence as to how in fact they where created. Thus we need to rewrite the example to be clear that we are not talking about all crop circles but only those in which their is solid evidence of them being a hoax. Second, the example about The Heaven's Gate Cult implies that the cult leader's claim that suicide would have sent his soul to a passing comet is provenly false. While I don't believe this claim is likely true, I can't prove it to be false either. Thus the example needs to be rewritten so at imply such an unproven claim. One problem with trying to give examples of true believers syndrome within religion is that atheists would likely argue that many devout Christians, Jews, Muslims, Etc. are suffering true-believers syndrome as the atheist would hold such religious views to be irrational beliefs. --Cab88 16:06, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Good points. I think the cult example will not survive since deception has never been admitted or proven, so I've removed it. Also updated the crop circle example, improve at will. AvB ÷ talk 08:30, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
I've removed the npov section tag. OK? AvB ÷ talk 22:57, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

The Crop Circles example is very weak - so weak, in fact, that it seems rather out-of-place. As Cab88 has said, it's only really relevant in this context when someone fakes a circle, makes it clear that he made it, and tells everybody how he did it. If people continue to believe in a paranormal cause for that particular crop circle, then we have a clear example of true-believer syndrome, i.e. the person continues to believe despite what Doug and Dave, for example, might show. What's particularly interesting about the crop circle phenomenon today, however, is that not many of the circles are claimed by hoaxers, and neither do hoaxers seem to be making money out of it, or boosting their public profile, as was the case with fraudulent mediums. A great deal (maybe most?) circles are now extremely complex - not just simple circles - and so it doesn't seem at all surprising that people will attribute a paranormal explanation for them. I feel this example needs to be either narrowed down a good deal for it to be useful as an indication of true-believer syndrome - or even to be removed altogether. Any thoughts? Ottershrew 14:13, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

I think you're right. Feel free to remove it. Or perhaps it can still serve a purpose: as an illustration of the generic use described in the article as "belief that lacks evidence"? AvB ÷ talk 14:40, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
For the moment, at any rate, I've removed the Crop Circle example in its entirety, as I'm not sure exactly how it can be used properly to indicate "belief that lacks evidence". No doubt there are people who will believe that obviously fraudulent crop circles are of paranomal origin, and these are "true-believers" in the proper sense; but as the example stood in this article it portrayed all believers in a paranormal origin for any circle as "true-believers" - and is therefore not NPOV. Ottershrew 16:28, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
Merzul seems to have done a pretty good job of rewriting the Crop Circles example - as fas as I can see, there don't seem to be any non-NPOV issues here now. Ottershrew 10:33, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, I put it back because not all examples need to be perfectly supporting some viewpoint, we can use this example to demonstrate that it is a difficult and loaded term. --Merzul 12:35, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

What to do about the example section...

Looking at the South Park example, it seems to have the same problems as above. It seems editors will be interested in adding more and more examples here, which is of course nice, but considering that many people are sensitive on this issue, I'm thinking of maybe adding a warning to the top of the page, by the time you read this, it is probably already there :) Feel free to edit the warning or move it... --Merzul 14:20, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

I removed the warning. It suggests the point of view that certain (elite?) editors "own" this page, which of course couldn't be further from the truth. Please see Wikipedia is not censored; this doesn't mean only that WP is allowed to discus matters of sexuality, warn, and violence, but also that a limited few cannot act as gate-keepers of content on behalf of the masses. FireWeed 22:37, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
There is absolutely nothing elite about me or anybody else here; but what we have had here was the result of a long series of edit wars, and what seemed like WP:CONSENSUS; this of course includes your opinion too! Maybe I was stupid to act preemptively, because people might not feel so strongly about fictional examples as they did about crop circles. But if anyone of the above editors do object, you will have to provide some sources to back up this claim that this episode was about the "true believer syndrome". --Merzul 00:01, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
No, I'm not saying you were stupid to act pre-emptively ( or bold ) ... just giving my opinion for the groups' consideration. I think it's a bad idea, but without knowing the context behind the crop circle edit wars ... I can see why you would feel this way ... take my opinion with a grain of salt. The eating disorder page seemed for a while like it might need special protection; somebody kept vandalizing it, ranting about fat women. ( An IP block solved the problem. ) FireWeed 22:35, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
PS - I read a fascinating article yesterday about Nigerian "419" scams - the emails we all get about the $50 m somebody wants to share with us. The article centers on an American psychologist who was conned out of $80,000 of his own money, and tricked into passing about $600,000 of fake checks. In fact the guy is serving two years in prison for what he let the scammers convince him to do. At the very end of the article, while the man realizes what has happened, and called the people who conned him "You evil bastards" he also still believes the original story is true, and something got confused along the way. I'm not sure whether this qualifies as a real life example or not - is a confession from the hoax master part of the definition - but I'll dig up the URL and post it to the talk page for consideration when I get the chance. FireWeed 22:35, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

South park example

South Park has done an episode on True-believer syndrome in which Kyle is convinced of David Blane's psychic prowess having revealed his dead grandmother's wishes for him to attend a particular Jewish school, despite mounting evidence to the contrary presented by his best friend, Stan.

For your consideration. --Merzul 14:24, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

I don't understand why this was moved? Not only is the text accurate and relevant to the topic at hand, but it's a "pop-culture" example that many of today's readers are likely to be familiar with. This type of example helps "cement" an abstract concept for many readers. South Park is immensely popular, and while crude and not very serious, the precending example is Monty Python.
In the episode, Stan follows David Blane around, goes to his house, and finds a number of books called "How to be a psychic for dummies" and so on. He presents overwhelming evidence to Kyle, who is unable to believe that Blane's performance as a psychic medium is anything but an actual command from his grandmother, from beyond the grave. This is a good example of true believer syndrome. FireWeed 22:34, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I added a link to the episode (above), see if it is the right one, I'm still not sure this is entirely accurate, but feel free to add it again and if nobody else objects, then it's good to go! --Merzul 00:12, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
The new formulation is much better! Thank you! --Merzul 23:41, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Glad to be able to help. I had to go back and refresh my memory, but if I'd been more clear from the start, life probably would have been easier for all. I'm about to add a real-life example, or potential example, and would love feedback on whether it belongs. FireWeed 19:15, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

$150 m USD for you in Nigeria

For your consideration:

This is a bit of a long read, but a fascinating one nonetheless. We've all got the emails before: there's a fortune locked up in foreign banks, somebody needs our help rescuing it, and came to us because they've heard about our honesty and discretion. Most of us click the spam button and are done with it. This article is the story of a (very intelligent) man who fell for the trick. Ultimately, he was swindled for $80,000 (USD) of his own money, and into passing bad checks totalling more than half a million; today he's serving a two year sentance. And yet, the article ends with the man telling us he can't explain why, but he still believes in the story that fooled him.

Is a confession by the "believed" a defining part of the true believer syndrome? This is the one aspect lacking in the New Yorker story. If a person only has to be shown that things are what any reasonable person would consider false than this is a good example, but if an actual confession is required, then this doesn't exactly cut the mustard. FireWeed 19:22, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
In the crop circle example, this was exactly what was demanded, at least that is my interpretation... but this example is indeed interesting, you can simply add something like this to it "In this example there is no confession, but the contrary evidence is so indisputably overwhelming that it remain a mystery how belief can be sustained." or something like that, it's actually not so much about whether some example can be included, but how it is formulated, and any example can be expressed neutrally. So I was very wrong to put the sign up there and scare you from adding new stuff. Just go ahead, we can fix them afterwards! --Merzul 20:27, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Televangelists and religious people

How about mentioning televangelists in the list of scammers as well? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by MrHaney (talkcontribs) 05:58, 20 April 2007 (UTC).

True-believer syndrome, by Keene's definition, requires that the victim continue to believe in something despite being presented overwhelming evidence that it was fraudulently staged. Simply believing in something odd, skeezy, or snake-oily doesn't cut it... there must simply be no rational way for the beliefs in question to be true. --Aquillion 19:21, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
"False prophecies. Numerous televangelists have issued false prophecies, for example Benny Hinn’s claim that Fidel Castro would die in the 1990s. Many other televangelists have made false prophecies of the Second Coming." (copied from Televangelist) This is a good reason for citing.SuperElephant 13:33, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

What do you think about Marcial Maciel? We have solid evidence about his criminal and sinful life, but he is still revered as a saint among many of his followers. Many schools and universities are controled by "legionarios de cristo" and it seems there is no problem for many people.

Assessment comments

Article could stand a few more links. Solid Start-Class article. Improvement might entail adding a separate section on the cognitive disorder aspect, and how if at all it can be addressed to be overcome. Details of how it was contributed to the success of mediums would be welcome as well, as that is just mentioned in passing. Perhaps some sort of reference if appropriate to The True Believer could be added as well. John Carter 00:23, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Please, be bold. :-) —RuakhTALK 01:54, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

POV section

The crop circle section seems to have both accuracy and POV problems:

The creators of many crop circles have admitted they were a hoax, and many others have demonstrated how complex crop circles are created,[1][2] [3] yet many believers in crop circles continue to insist that they are made by aliens and UFOs.

Problems (my comments are in bold):

The creators of many crop circles have admitted rather, they bragged they were a hoax, and many others have demonstrated how complex crop circles are created,[1][4] [3] yet many believers in crop circles continue to insist that they are made by aliens and UFOs. this sentence is POV-pushing, because of the tone and the WP:WTAs.

Possible fix:

People have come forward claiming to have created crop circles as a hoax, we don't know if the claims are always true and others have demonstrated how complex crop circles are created,[1][5] [3]. Many people believe that some crop circles which have particular features could not have been created by humans, and must be of paranormal origin. If there is a source which says that believers in the paranormal origin of some crop circles reject the fact that some are created by people, then we can go back to the original claim. In fact, however, it is unlikely that believers think that those crop circles claimed by hoaxers are paranormal. At any rate, such a non-nuanced claim would need sources. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 22:14, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

  • The words "rather they have bragged" are not present in the original text. Are you suggesting they should be added? That does not seem NPOV to me.
  • "insist": yes, that is too strong. That is the only problem I see with the original text. I don't see any evidence of plural WTAs.
  • "we don't know if they are always true". Now we don't. We never knwo that about any claim -- that's why they are called "claims", not "facts" or "truths". The suggested addition looks like undue emphasis.
  • "Many people believe that some crop circles which have particular features could not have been created by humans, and must be of paranormal origin." The suggested addition obviously needs references for the "many people" and

the "special features"

  • "in fact, it is unlikely that". Says who? The suggested addition reads like personal opinion.1Z 22:59, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

The original text is supported by the references in the main crop circle article. 1Z 23:07, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Sorry. The bolded text is comments (see below for how I think the text ought to read).
The word "yet" may or may not be a WTA, but serves the function.
As far as claims vs. facts, the second version is a fix, the original version says "The creators of many crop circles have admitted they were a hoax," which indicates that all circles -"they"- were hoaxes. The fixed version says "claimed."
"Many people believe that some crop circles which have particular features could not have been created by humans, and must be of paranormal origin." Yes, this needs a source, but so does "yet many believers in crop circles continue to insist that they are made by aliens and UFOs."
"in fact, it is unlikely that" This isn't a suggested addition, but a comment. Here is how I think the text ought to read:

People have come forward claiming to have created crop circles as a hoax, and others have demonstrated how complex crop circles are created,[1][6] [3]. Many people believe that some crop circles which have particular features could not have been created by humans, and must be of paranormal origin.

But as you say, there may need to be a source for the last sentence. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 23:27, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
The suggested rewrite isn't an example of TBS, as it is worded to make the refusal to believe in a hoax origin look reasonable. The problem is that if you are going to put their case, you are also going to have to put the counter case, leading to a rambling discussions of crop circles, repeating the material on the main page. It might be better to have a general note to the effect that these are only possible examples of TBS, and believers have their reasons for continuing to believe. 1Z 07:02, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that might be the best solution. It's not that I'm a believer, it's just that this is not as obvious a case as the others. We can just take it out, or put a disclaimer. On the other hand, this is WP:OR, and the examples per policy should probably be taken out anyway, now that I think about it policy-wise. To not be OR, the cases would have had to have been mentioned specifically by sources as examples of TB syndrome. Thoughts? –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 08:17, 13 August 2007 (UTC)



Sketics' dictionary links TBS with Carlos. [1]

419-TBS link [2]

1Z 12:22, 13 August 2007 (UTC)


The following paragraph has been removed here for two reasons. I think the quotation is good, but a bit too much for the lead. However, we could keep it. The next sentence is POV (see suggested revision below).

According to James Randi, "No amount of evidence, no matter how good it is or how much there is of it, is ever going to convince the true believer to the contrary."[7] The term "true believer syndrome" is not used professionally by mainstream psychologists, psychiatrists or medical professionals and it is not recognised as a form of psychopathology or psychological impairment.

Suggested replacement:

Randi quotation if the general consensus requires it. Then:

The term "true believer syndrome" is not used professionally by mainstream psychologists, psychiatrists or medical professionals and it is not recognised as a form of psychopathology or psychological impairment.

I would also like to ask Fyslee not to edit war, as he has been doing. We can come to consensus on the talk page, and then insert material on the page, but edit warring over POV, inaccurate, or unsourced material is not appropriate. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 22:38, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Martin, you have already been in trouble for your attempts to circumvent NPOV policy here.[3][4] Please take your agenda elsewhere. If you want to discuss crop circles, do it on the main article, not here, and never, never, never, remove references without very good reason to do so. Your work here is essentially a form of vandalism by weakening, deleting references, making unnecessary changes and then deleting the result because it no longer works (thanks to your changes). The article was pretty stable and functioned fine. Leave well enough alone. -- Fyslee/talk 05:16, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
If that is your attitude, we have no choice but to request outside assistance. I've tried to resolve things, but you seem intent on defending POV edits, OR, and inaccuracy. You also seem willing to edit war to keep your version of the article. This doesn't mean that Wikipedia's rules can be circumvented, only that they will take a bit longer to apply.
However, I appeal again to you to strive for consensus and NPOV, and to stop edit warring. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 05:27, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Rundown for dispute resolution

The dispute is over whether aspects of the article are OR, and certain aspects of the article which I consider POV. The disputants are myself and fyslee. Here are some significant diffs:


I tried to resolve the issue by removing the section to the talk page [6], but Fyslee put it back without having achieved consensus on the talk page [7]

I then noticed that most of the sources used for several of the sections did not mention True-believer syndrome (making the sections WP:OR), and so I removed the sources and put in citation requests. Please see the edit summaries for other changes, and their reasons.

Fyslee has also been edit warring over part of the summary, and refusing to use the talk page to reach consensus. Because of this post on the talk page, I decided to seek outside opinion. Fyslee also just reverted all my edits [8]- an edit in which he uses the edit summary to also accuse me for the second time of vandalism [9].

For anyone who thinks there is any substance to Fyslee's reference to my having been in trouble before, the ArbCom result came out decisively in my -our- favor. Though I did do some things wrong, my understanding of NPOV and policy was very much confirmed. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 07:58, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Much better to get others involved

Martin, this method (finally done by you) is a much better way to do it. By placing tags you call other editors to come and look at things. Unilaterally deleting and totally revising an article that you don't like raises suspicions based on your past track record of attacking such articles and eliminating what you don't like. That violates many policies here, even if wikilawyering is used to justify it. It's much better to do this in cooperation with multiple editors, especially including those who hold opposing POV, IOW scientific skeptics. I am not interested in policing this or any of the multiple other articles which you regularly attack, so I'll let others participate and see what they will do while I back off. Good luck. -- Fyslee/talk 08:35, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

I do like the article, and I agree with everything it says- except a bit about crop circles, which I think is unfair. It's just that it violates policy. And I have perfect right -and duty as an editor- to do everything I did. You, on the other hand, edit warred, violated NPOV, and were highly uncivil. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 19:58, 14 August 2007 (UTC)


Alright. I did a little research.. It seems there is at least one website which talks about this extensively, so if mostly everything in this article can be sourced using that website, we won't have to worry about original research. I suggest everything that can't be, be removed (unless there's another source that talks DIRECTLY about true-believer syndrome). However, since the term isn't that widespread, some of this potential OR should be pruned off. I could even suggest merging it to the spiritual founder's article, but that's just a suggestion. Bulldog123 17:27, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Errr..what is the website? 1Z 19:46, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Sounds interesting... yes, what is the site? –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 19:59, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Here is a book on the subject too: [10]. The website (which I believe most of this article was written from) is here: [11]. So using these two sources should probably be enough to make a brief article (if you all agree to keep it as one). I highly suggest that the examples that can't be sourced precisely as an example of true-believer syndrome, such as (perhaps) the 419 scam, be pruned off. Using editor selected example make it feel more like an essay. Bulldog123 01:22, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. Why don't you go ahead and do some editing? –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 02:56, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
The source Faking UFOs, Roel Van der Meulen (Self Published, 1994) doesn't meet RS because of the self-publishing bit, and should probably be take out. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 03:18, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Going ahead

Having gotten your comments, I'm going to go ahead and get rid of the stuff which I don't know is sourced. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 21:39, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Why has this been removed?
The term "true believer syndrome" is not used professionally by mainstream psychologists, psychiatrists or medical professionals and it is not recognised as a form of psychopathology or psychological impairment.
A simple search of the medical literature shows it to be the case. - Vaughan 08:01, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
We can't say they don't use it. We can say they don't use it professionally. Fyslee, however, was edit warring this change out. In other words, the version you just quoted above is fine, but when I tried to insert it, it got reverted. Why don't you go ahead and put it back in? –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 19:37, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
To clarify, this term does not appear in the lexicon of psychology drawn from sources such as the APA Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms (2008 revised supplement); APA Dictionary of Psychology (2007), nor any edition of DSM. So, as far as the language and vocabulary of psychology is concerned, this term does not exist. Thanks for the discussion and the clarification. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:14, 1 March 2009 (UTC)


I'm putting a merge template on it, as suggested above. Discuss here. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 21:45, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

I moved the votes here to the link above, to keep them all together (: –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 04:34, 20 August 2007 (UTC)


The synthesis tag should be explained, so everyone knows what it's about. I'm assuming it's because the example doesn't mention the subject directly? Dreadstar 04:53, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

It's gone- I believe Bubba has fixed things. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 01:59, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
I didn't do anything with the synth tag - I don't even know what it is. I did add an important example. Also, making the main article "true believer" and "true-believer syndrome" a section in it is probably a good idea. Bubba73 (talk), 02:09, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm, well, I think you took care of the problem the synthesis tag was there to point out. We do need an article on true-believerism. I'm not sure if that would be a good title or not. Dreadstar said True believer (psychology). –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 02:14, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
There may be a problem with the True believer (psychology) title bacause I don't know if T.B. is a standard psychology term. Bubba73 (talk), 02:27, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I thought too- but don't know what to do. –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 02:34, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Merge to Keene?  :) Maybe get more opinions on it. RfC? Dreadstar 03:28, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Maybe just leave it as is. I'm not sure I understand the fascination with it, since it's a pretty limited-use syndrome. Maybe that's its unused non-syndrome. But should be a section under Keene. I keep coming around to that. Dreadstar 03:32, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Why was it dropped as a syndrome? Mebbe that's notable...Dreadstar 03:35, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

I think we really need an article on true-believerism. This could be merged into such an article. I mean, what is more notable than true-believerism? Don't you think we could come up with sources, if we could come up with a good title? –––Martinphi (Talk Ψ Contribs) 03:37, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Bring this up from the dead. Are there articles that directly discuss a relationship between true believer and True-believer syndrome or is it just the nomenclature that makes them similar? Right now the article seems to assume the relationship. Ward20 (talk) 00:34, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

The influence of the True-believer on Wikipedia

Much is made of the claim that Wikipedia is evidence based and has as its foundation reliance on cited reliable source material. This is of course a worthy ideal. However we live in the real world. So often in Wikipedia it is a case of a point of view winning out against citable evidence purely because of the greater numbers of "true-believers" who will stick to their viewpoint regardless of the fact that present knowledge does not support their stance. Call it compensated cognitive dissonance if you will. True-believers infest all spheres of society in science (pseudoscience, paranormal), healthcare (quackery), politics (fanaticism) and religion (I won't go there). Obviously Keene is an authority only in the stage craft of the paranormal, but little else. I have searched for other useful, citable uses of the term True-believer syndrome and have come up with fewer than a handful. This is a shame since I believe that the world sorely needs a fuller understanding of this phenomenon which has so much deleterious effect upon the state of human society and which is so well described as the True-believer syndrome. Anyway, enough of my ranting. As the perpetrator who created the category:True-believer syndrome, I concede that the term has not yet received the notability that I think it deserves and unless others can put forward some convincing support that I have failed to find, then I will remove the category in due course.--Kenneth Cooke (talk) 00:39, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

KC I don't think anyone thinks there is anything that is wrong in what you did, and I hope that "perpetrator" was in jest. Anyway a suggestion. Surely this topic must have a name in psychology and have been studied in a more rigorous fashion with better references. Maybe that is a different way to approach a similar article or category. Ward20 (talk) 01:40, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Just for fun, mostly: you may want to try this Google search. One gem it turns up is [12].

The ability to WP:AGF and indeed to collaborate harmoniously may depend in part on the degree to which one (1) sees and countermands the fundamental attribution error in one's own life, (2) sees it at work in other people's lives, and (3) takes all this into account when interacting with others. This may explain why so many true believers have great trouble trying to edit Wikipedia. But note that some learn to go through the motions of acceptable behavior as e.g. outlined at User:Raul654/Civil_POV_pushing (recommended). Avb 12:45, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

PS See also Group attribution error which may generate additional sobering thoughts on the WP community and its processes; e.g. how "we" (supposedly established NPOV-abiding editors) tend to look at "them" (supposed pov-pushers) - and, of course, vice versa. Avb 13:20, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Machen & Mons

A particularly good illustration of this phenomenon would be the story of the Angels of Mons, a legend of fairly recent vintage (1914) that has a very specific source authored by a man who made every effort to subsequently clarify its fanciful nature. The ever-growing resistance to his efforts must have astounded him. Asat (talk) 08:08, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Assessment comment

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:True-believer syndrome/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Article could stand a few more links. Solid Start-Class article. Improvement might entail adding a separate section on the cognitive disorder aspect, and how if at all it can be addressed to be overcome. Details of how it was contributed to the success of mediums would be welcome as well, as that is just mentioned in passing. Perhaps some sort of reference if appropriate to The True Believer could be added as well. John Carter 00:23, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Last edited at 00:23, 12 July 2007 (UTC).

Substituted at 16:01, 1 May 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ a b c d The Demon Haunted World, Carl Sagan (Random House, January 1996) pp. 73-77
  2. ^ Faking UFOs, Roel Van der Meulen (Self Published, 1994)
  3. ^ a b c d Circlemakers
  4. ^ Faking UFOs, Roel Van der Meulen (Self Published, 1994)
  5. ^ Faking UFOs, Roel Van der Meulen (Self Published, 1994)
  6. ^ Faking UFOs, Roel Van der Meulen (Self Published, 1994)
  7. ^ ABC News (1998-10-06) "The Power of Belief: How Our Beliefs Can Impact Our Minds", ABC News (2007-06-04)