Facts are Irrelevant to Fundamentalists and some Managers

Mercury Records, Mercury Records. All rights reserved

When I was a child I was told that the world had been created 6000 years ago and fossils were an example of the “miracle” of God’s Creation. Even when there are no scientific grounds for such religious fantasy, to be a member of the club you must “have faith” — which obviously requires significant belief change manipulation using all the cognitive dissonance tools in the religious fundamentalists’ armoury.

Social media and religion have provided ample reinforcement for this and other “Flat Earth” like beliefs — and you are free to believe anything you choose to believe — but not to impose this belief on others without any facts to support your belief.

State sponsored terrorism and propaganda does the same — you can force people to comply with any instruction and to confess to any crime if you waterboard them appropriately.

I always find it amazing that some managers — but not leaders — do the same. They use bullying and intimidation, to force employees to comply with directions that will obviously not produce the stated outcome.

Sometimes when a company is so big it becomes almost impossible to believe it can fail — Digital Equipment Corporation and Gateway Computers are proof otherwise.

This malevolent manipulation, gaslighting, and bullying can be resisted by calling it out for what it is — but requires collective strength and cultural maturity in an organisation. We as employees can be left psychologically damaged and even doubting who we are.

In his 1970 song The Man who Sold the World , David Bowie reflects on his own conflicts of identity — perhaps sensitive to this because his brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The song is based on Antigonish a poem in Hughes Mearnes 1899 play The Psych-ed. Personally I prefer the Nirvana version but the lyrics still send a chill down my spine, I see perception and reality blurred. Is this is how we can fail to resist being manipulated?

We passed upon the stair
We spoke of was and when
Although I wasn’t there
He said I was his friend
Which came as a surprise
I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone
A long long time ago

Oh no, not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

I laughed and shook his hand
And made my way back home
I searched for form and land
For years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazeless stare
We walked a million hills
I must have died alone
A long, long time ago

To resist being so manipulated, I always look at the motivation of the speaker , whether it is for their good or the good of the business and customers. A manager will often take credit for success, and blame his subordinates for failure, a leader will do the opposite.

To recover from the psychological damage wreaked by purveyors of falsehoods takes time — the diagnosis of suffering from PTSD from those liberated from cults is well known.

What is often undiagnosed, is the pain and suffering caused by a bad manager, which, if untreated can be fatal. I remember a comment when my company Westinghouse restructured, that they considered it to be a success, since they had “only” 12 suicides.

When your friends and colleagues lose their job — they will lack faith in themselves and their world. You can be their limited support, you may be able to save them from themselves.

Regardless you definitely will, and should call out the manipulative and malevolent creatures who caused their implosion.

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Ian Beckett MSc

Ian Beckett MSc

Ian is a digital transformation expert who has saved companies over $200m by integrating technologies and diverse global teams effectively— he is a CEO and poet