Some 23% of Americans live in HOA-Land, that collection of fragmented independent principalities known, in general, as HOAs. HOAs are separate, local private governments not subject to the constitution, and collectively constitute a nation within a defined geographical region known as the United States.
“A nation consists of a distinct population of people that are bound together by a common culture, history, and tradition who are typically concentrated within a specific geographic region.”
Jonathan Chait (Nymag.com, Jan. 3, 2022), wrote last week, “You can’t stop authoritarianism unless you understand it.” Consequently, my continued effort to reorient and reeducate HOA BODS and its followers.
“A totalitarian democracy . . . retains full power of . . . the right of control over everything and everyone. Maintenance of such power, in the absence of full support of the citizenry, requires the forceful suppression of any dissenting element except what the government purposely permits or organizes.”
The authoritarianism of HOA-Land is masked by a thorough indoctrination that the real estate subdivision is a democratic community because the members are allowed to vote, as meaningless as it is. It seems that the more predisposed to authoritarian control the more the member acts as a diehard, dogmatic, true-believer in the BOD.
My concern, since I was a teenager, was how do people make decisions and important choices, and why. It should be generally accepted today that we are facing a lot of harmful irrationality in many aspects of our society. It would seem, addressing the conduct, behavior and choices made by members of HOAs with respect to their HOA, and to the institution of HOAs in general, that the adage “My rationality is your irrationality and vice versa” is at play. (What you consider rational I consider irrational, and what you consider irrational I consider rational).
My many years of activism in HOA reform legislation and research into this issue led me to the strong belief that the forces and dynamics of cult behavior and authoritarianism were the chief factors in the behavior of HOA members; the majority of whom seem to act in a highly irrational manner that was harmful to their own self-interests – the HOA can do no wrong.
Well, thank goodness Steven Pinker makes some sense of rationality by delving into the functioning of the mind from a cognitive psychologists point of view. (It’s like trying to explain why the chicken crossed the road). Having a minor in psychology, I describe Pinker’s presentation as rather deep being directed more to Rationality 201 or even higher, Rationality 301, using college level course structure. The “meat” of his book, for my purposes, comes in Chapter 10, What’s Wrong With People, when he comes down to the level of the average person.
From the very start Pinker makes it clear that the average person does not understand scientific investigation, the mathematics of probability, formal logic analysis, syllogisms, forecasting, etc.. He simply uses his gut feelings, his intuition, which has always been mankind’s way of thinking.
Summarizing the author’s views, using annotations to simplify his learned arguments,
“To be sure, many superstitions originate in overinterpreting coincidences, failing to calibrate evidence against priors, overgeneralizing from anecdotes, and leaping from correlation to causation. [In more common terms, failing to vet the claims or to conduct due diligence].
“Social media may indeed be accelerating their spread, but the [appeal] lies deep in human nature: people . . . compose these stories, and it’s people they appeal to.
“The mustering of [reasons] to drive an argument toward a favorable conclusion is called motivated reasoning. The motive may be to [support] a favorable conclusion, but [also to] flaunt the [other sides] wisdom, knowledge, or virtue.
“People seek out arguments that ratify their beliefs and shield themselves from those that might disconfirm them.[Emphasis added].
“A large majority of Americans consider themselves less susceptible to . . . biases than the average American, and virtually none consider themselves more biased.”
Study the above statements by the author carefully. It should become apparent that they describe the why and how the bulk of HOA members blindly obey their HOA board of directors. They also explain the cult mentality of and the authoritarian appeal by the members (see Notes below). It demonstrates that the mindset of the majority of members is believing that their HOA is heaven on earth and the next best thing to Mom’s apple pie; they do not want that belief disturbed and— unconsciously — naturally adopt motivated reasoning to preserve their image of a better community, a better world.
Please understand the difference between a real estate condominium and planned subdivision with its desirable amenities, landscaping, and oversight on contractual violations from the association that is the authoritarian, governing body also commonly referred as the HOA. The former can be retained under the protection of Constitution now denied to the HOA members.
Applying Pinker’s findings, did the Arizona Supreme Court act irrationally in its denial to review the Tarter v. Bendt Petition filed by the homeowner?
 Steven Pinker, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, Viking (2021).
 Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of the mind as an information processor. Information processing in humans resembles that in computers, and is based on based on transforming information, storing information and retrieving information from memory. Cognitive Psychology.
There is a mass psychology present in HOA-Land — a cult environment. Everyone is vulnerable to cult recruitment. The followers cannot be held to blame because of their deceptive recruitment. There is a lack of awareness and information in regard to how the cult truly works and how it motives people.
Escaping the conditioning and indoctrination that creates the cult mentality can be accomplished through debriefing techniques. The goal of debriefing is to get the cult member to think for himself and re-evaluate his situation. Debriefing methods can include:
educating the cult member on thought-reform techniques and helping him to recognize those methods in his own cult experience
asking questions that encourage the cult member to think in a critical, independent way, helping him to recognize that type of thinking and praising him for it
attempting to produce an emotional connection to his former life by introducing objects from his past and having family members share their memories of his pre-cult existence
There is a mass psychology present in HOA-Land. Mass psychology is a study of how your behavior is influenced by large groups of people — “birds of the same feather flock together.” It is the result of the longtime conditioning and indoctrination into identifying with the principles and beliefs promoted by the CAI School of HOA Governance. Following the advice and guidelines of cult experts to focus on the need to reeducate cult followers, my Plan to restructure HOAs begins with the need to reorient the BOD and the members away from the CAI School doctrine. This is a critical first step toward substantive HOA reforms!
Everyone is vulnerable to cult recruitment. The followers cannot be held to blame because of their deceptive recruitment. There is a lack of awareness and information in regard to how the cult truly works and how it motives people.
This morning on CNN Michael Smerconish discussed the question of free speech with respect to disagreeing with a position. In this highly sensitive environment too often a disagreement with a position evokes an angry demand to remove or not publish the statement. That is not free speech but, as Smerconish said, “my-speech.” It is not asking for agreement but free speech – let the other person have his say. Let a dialogue ensue which is a must for a healthy democracy.
In the culture of the HOA-Land Nation, any opposition to, or criticism of, the HOA or its board of directors is too often met with angry condemnation, character assassination, ostracization, and the non-publishing of the opposition voice. Some HOAs give the appearance of concern but only provide token Q & A dialogues with no real exchange of the issues. This open opposition to free speech is endemic to the HOA-Land culture and reflects an undemocratic, authoritarian cult-like environment.
Problems with HOAs, as we are all aware of, cannot be resolved when member criticism and opposition is squelched as a matter of policy. Until the members say, “enough is enough” and demand constitutional reforms the problems will continue unresolved.