Since watching "Going Clear" a few weeks ago, I've been trying to decide if reading Lawrence Wright's bestseller about Scientology - the source material for this unsettling documentary - is a good idea. Given the somber tone of many of my recent non-fiction choices, I'll probably wait a bit.
And though I'm still processing the film, one thing really stands out - the shame and regret felt by Scientologists who left the fold and spoke to filmmaker Alex Gibney. The naked vulnerability and bravery of these witnesses - considering the retaliation frequently aimed at folks like this - is painful and riveting to watch.
In the movie, when Academy Award winning Director Paul Haggis ("Crash") - a Scientologist for over thirty years - says "... you see only what you choose to see ... ", I was reminded - again - of the power of confirmation bias. Each of us routinely overlooks information that contradicts our beliefs and narrow our focus to what supports those beliefs. It's impossible to escape the filter through which we see the world. The best we can do is to know the filter is there and then work at seeking out information that expands our viewpoint.
How gullible can you be? Where is your common sense? Can't you see this is a cult? Doubting the judgment of people who swallow Scientology's Kool-Aid and expecting answers to these questions is easy. Much harder - but more likely to help me grow - is taking a closer look at myself to see what Kool-Aid I swallow without thinking.