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July 13, 2008


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victor ceric

When Prophecy Fails isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Kelly Youngberg

Victor, can you you tell me why you think that?

victor ceric

For a start I don't like the way Festinger et al did their study- they infiltrated the 'cult' silently - what changes to the 'cult' did it make, what dynamics were created by the 'study group'.

Secondly, there are occurrences when the 'cult' had really quite inexplicable events happening that:

a. point to manipulations from some 'outside' organisation or group that must have deeply affected what was going on - the obvious implied source being Festinger, but at any rate

b.)Festinger made no attempt to understand these events by investigating further.

SO the 'study' is at best incomplete and at worst corrupted.

How would a study like that be conducted these days?

Romeo  Vitelli

I agree that there are ethical issues involved in the use of deception to infiltrate the group although it is likely that an open approach would have influenced the group even more than it did. The idea behind Festinger's study was to observe the events as they unfolded and the participants would probably not been as candid if they had known they were being observed. There is always a tradeoff in these field experiments. I agree that Festinger terminated the study prematurely though.

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