Holy Hell

If you want to see a great documentary on a cult, Holy Hell is hard to beat. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5278464/

It was filmed by a member while inside the cult. He had a degree in film making and all the equipment. He quit the cult later and then made the film. The cult is still going, although smaller and he confronts the leader at the end of the film. They guy is cryptic and does not offer much.

The climax though, is when they show a ritual where the leader goes off in the woods and invites the members to come to him one at a time and he will give the secrets to the universe. Each one comes back glowing with happiness. Of course they can’t explain it. A few don’t get to go, so really it was a way of controlling the group. But still, I would love to know what the hell the guy did.

Wikipedia gives a few more details, like how the cult leader was a porn star at one time. What it showed me is, if a small group of people want to do something, like build a mansion in California and put on hippie plays (to no audience), they will figure out a way to do it. As cult leaders go, this guy is pretty smart. He got to where he had a following that did whatever he wanted, and he didn’t push it too far, so the group never completely collapsed.

I watched that on Netflix. It’s yet another example of how people in a first world country, with every advantage society has to offer, can still be brainwashed and turned into unthinking drones.

That is what makes it interesting to me, being someone with all those advantages. Jonestown is a better case if you look at the early years because Jim had actual racial problems to play on. He adopted black kids and appeared to have some ideas about improving racial inequities. We’ll never know his mind, but he obviously put his own love of power above any high minded ideals of love and justice.

I see the roots of this type of thinking in just about any counter culture, like rap music or Occupy Wall Street. I get that they have beefs, but they take them and decide the whole system is corrupt and needs to be torn down. They don’t look at how change actually happens, except maybe the violent revolution parts. They don’t even look at how they were taught that there is corruption by the very system that they say is corrupt. They don’t want to read books or learn how to debate or how to demonstrate the truth of what they say. They just want it fixed by some magic words.

Maybe it’s something as simple as being dissatisfied with some aspect of life that makes a person susceptible to falling for cults. Wealthy and famous people are surprisingly the ones who fall for some of the most blatant cons. It might be their emotionally empty lives that causes them to look for fulfilment wherever they can find it.

As for Occupy Wall Street, radical environmentalists, or other extreme social idealists, I think they have an idea of what is best for society (or the entire planet) and know they’re powerless to do anything through standard methods, so they take the only route available.

Q-Anon, flat-earthers, 911 conspiracy theorists and other nutters of that sort, are a mixed bag of the uneducated, mentally disturbed, rebellious kids, and any other type of brain-deficient group you can imagine. I don’t even try to understand people that crazy.

The mind is a wonderful and terrible thing. Why some people do what they do is a mystery.

I watched that on Netflix. It’s yet another example of how people in a first world country, with every advantage society has to offer, can still be brainwashed and turned into unthinking drones.
“First World” people are the most likely to behave that way

Cults are rare outside of the developed world. Probably due to a combination of stronger social ties, less money to waste and less tolerance for deviancy.

… and too busy scrambling to meet the necessities of life and keep their families afloat.

What can we expect from a nation weened and sustained on the BoobTube, adrift and lost in the universe. Their “Gods” give them superficial solace, specially within their community, but in the end leaving them empty and lost, with only day dreams to cling to.

Rationalists and children of the enlightenment for their part have done a lousy job of defining who they are and what they stand for so that hasn’t help much either.

(from my humble perspective)

Cults are rare outside of the developed world. Probably due to a combination of stronger social ties, less money to waste and less tolerance for deviancy.
I think that’s true only in the sense that people have choices in technologically advanced countries. I was just reading Richard Carriers essay on the science of morality. Humans came out of instinctual behavior and immediately started developing religions and superstitions to control those behaviors. That’s the tribal behavior you mention. Some are workable, but rarely are they logical and certainly not transferable to any broad moral theory. Everybody who lives somewhere that they are aware of these kinds of systems knows this, but most don’t know what else to do. Anthropology tells us they exist but psychology and neuroscience are just beginning to offer us anything we can build upon. So we’re in the wild west of morality where hucksters take a couple simple facts and combine them with something from Buddhism and say they have all the answers.

The real basis of morality