If you thought TV game shows had taken JimandJamie.com off the beaten track, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
You know that phenomenon where you learn something new, let’s say it’s a word you’ve just seen for the first time ever, and then it suddenly starts popping up everywhere?
It has a name. For reasons I won’t bother getting into here, it is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
ScienceAlert.com explains the psychology behind it:
…because the information is new, you suddenly force yourself to believe that it’s new to everyone and has suddenly popped up, when in reality, you’ve just stopped ignoring it.
I bring this up because I just had a Baader-Meinhof experience thanks to our Aussie psychologist friend Mark. You’re about to have one, too.
I had never heard of Armenian mystic George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff until earlier this week when I attempted to plow through Mark’s doctoral thesis. And then I stumbled across his name again today in this online article:
Pacific Bell Was Accused of Brainwashing Employees With The Teachings of A Mystical Guru
In 1984, executives at Pacific Bell decided that the company needed a little shakeup. Naturally, they turned to the ideas of early 20th century Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff, who returned from travels in the East claiming to have synthesized the teachings of the “monk, yogi, and fakir” into a “fourth way” of transcending our mental limits. The company decided to spend $140 million training its employees in Gurdjieff’s mystical techniques for attaining a higher level of consciousness.
This was not some optional little side course. The company’s employees could literally be fired for not fully embracing the pathway to a higher state of being, via such concepts as “the Law of Three” and “end-state visions.” Baffled engineers suddenly found themselves sitting through seminars on Gurdjieff’s impenetrable writings, informing them that “only he will deserve the name of man who has acquired data for being able to preserve intact both the sheep and the wolf entrusted to his care.” Can you imagine calling your phone company and hearing “Thanks for calling Pacific Bell, how many I preserve your inner wolf today?”
Standard corporate press releases were suddenly replaced with impenetrable tracts declaring the company’s intent to pursue “the continuous ability to engage with the connectedness and relatedness that exists and potentially exists, which is essential for the creations necessary to maintain and enhance viability of ourselves and the organization of which we are a part.” It’s probably not a great sign when your PR department appears to be communing with the Architect from The Matrix.
Employees quickly started to complain about brainwashing and several went to the press with concerns over “thought restructuring” and “mind control.” The ensuing scandal forced Pacific Bell to shut the program down after spending a mere $40 million. As a bonus, the creator of Dilbert was actually working at Pacific Bell when all this happened. And not having the wacky office from the comic strip slowly devolve into the Heaven’s Gate cult is probably that guy’s worst decision yet.
It’s the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon in action. I swear I’d never heard of Gurdjieff until four days ago and suddenly this obscure Armenian mystic popped up again this morning.
The only thing that could possibly make it stranger is that it lead directly to the Dilbert comic strip.
How weird is that?