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Thursday, July 30, 2009

FDR as a cult? Some actual expert commentary

I am going to make a post describing some specific items relating to FDR as a cult. This post is designed to provide some resources and references to people who are curious. The actual word ‘cult’ does not really matter. What does matter is this. Molyneux sustains the default condition that all parents are bad and you should break with your family. He does this to cement the long term loyalty of donators. He actually isn’t very good at it since he is willing to engage in outright begging and transparent marketing tricks to get money. If his offering was a good one, he wouldn’t have to engage such sordid appeals for money.

The thing is this. Yes Molyneux is a low level huckster. Yes, he is an identified liar and hypocrite (See the other posts on this site or countless other examples throughout the Internet for all the proof you need on that front). But his relative smallness doesn’t matter to the families he has damaged. So here is some real material from real experts on what is and is not a cult.

Let’s start off with the easy proof of things:

Ian Haworth, of the Cult Information Centre, has been following Freedomain Radio. He says that one of the first signs of a cult is that it cuts people off from their families. . This is Moly's starting point for any FDR member. He has a series of 'how to' defoo podcasts. He takes almost every 'call in' show subject to the evil parents and why the health of the caller is in jeopardy if they don't DO SOMETHING to remedy the horror of their life.

But to be fair, the following three sites have Molyneux reciting his rejoinder as to why FDR is NOT a cult:

Molly himself carrying on about things
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUH5GfJKoDA

The written response from Moly:
http://www.freedomainradio.com/FDR_factnet_response.html


The originating factnet site with the measures of how to define a cult
http://www.factnet.org/headlines/destructive_cult_warning_signs.html


Since he turned to Factnet as his authority on these matters, by implication he accepts Factnet’s list of “experts” in the field of cult awareness. One of those experts is Joe Szinhart. http://www.factnet.org/cris_xpt.htm
Here is his bio: http://home.dejazzd.com/jszimhart/cultindex.htm

Here are some of Mr. Szinhart’s observations.

Checklists about what makes a cult are a dime a dozen and do not necessarily help in all situations. For example, here is another one that criticizes Molyneux:
http://catholicmarketanarchy.blogspot.com/2008/04/molyneux-and-his-cult-revisited.html

Now, if I had the inclination and time for it I might make comments on Stefan Molyneux’s self-defensive dismissal of the Factnet.org eight characteristics. But why bother. His choice was illogical and facile—not worth the effort. Also, he seems to have a rather distorted view of just what bothers people about so-called cults. Twice in his monolog he mentions that he does not kidnap and lock people in the basement or imprison anyone. I have studied over 100 controversial groups and movements and have had files on 400 others—rarely has any of these groups kidnapped anyone much less locked them up. Yet they all meet my criteria for cult behaviour and are troublesome enough for a family to hire someone like me to help intervene, sometimes flying me halfway around the world to do so. What Molyneux does here is appeal to an extremist view—a straw man argument—that he easily can dismiss thus demonstrating that what he’s doing is not forming a cult. To some extent this is his approach throughout his use of the Factnet checklist.

What I propose to anyone to look to for to determine whether Molyneux’s shtick qualifies as cult like or not are two other frames of reference.

A. Dr. Arthur Deikman, in his book, Them and Us proposes the following from a behavioral view:
http://www.deikman.com/wrong.html
He states that socially problematic cultic behaviors are:
1. Compliance with a group
2. Dependence on a leader
3. Avoiding dissent
4. Devaluing outsiders
Deikman first wrote about these behaviors in The Wrong Way Home, Deikman, 1990: Beacon Press. The more extreme these behaviors in concert, the more potential for constricted behavior in any group activity or relationship. http://www.deikman.com/
I use Deikman as a reference here:
http://home.dejazzd.com/jszimhart/cult101.htm

B. The other book I propose is Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults by Professor Janja Lalich (who I count among my friends)
http://www.janjalalich.com/

Professor Lalich proposes her four-part approach:
http://www.janjalalich.com/node/8
People in such cults tend to
1. Espouse an all-encompassing belief system
2. Exhibit excessive devotion to and dependency on their “perfect” leader
3. Avoid criticism of the group, its leader(s), and its practices
4. Have an attitude of disdain for non-members

If for any reason you are one of those folks who broke with Molyneux’s influence and yet have trouble adjusting or recovering from his ideas in your head, try reading Take Back Your Life:
http://www.janjalalich.com/node/19

I am not about to do your thinking for you but if you wish to study these two authors and apply what you learn to the Stefan Molyneux experience you should be able to determine for yourself if anything he is about approaches harmful cult behaviour or is merely another charismatic and controversial talking head on the Internet that captivates the attention and changes the behaviour of some people. Relying solely on Molyneux’s facile dismissal of cultic characteristics as your guide could be a huge mistake. It is your life.

You can contact me if you have any questions.
Joe Szimhart

jszimhart@dejazzd.com
19 July 2009

5 comments:

  1. To follow up on the post and my observations I want to add a couple of observations.

    Freedom appears to be a chief attraction of the Molyneux/FDR gospel. In and of it self 'freedom' [aka liberty] provides powerful triggers for the human psyche.
    "...give me liberty or give me death"
    "Know the truth and the truth shall make thee free."
    We can all hear Mel Gibson in 'Braveheart' shouting FREEDOM with his last breath.

    Any number of socailly acceptable religions and controversial cults and therapies offer ultimate freedom as bait for following the philosophy and/or techniques offered.

    Scientology calls their path the Bridge to Total Freedom.
    Eastern based sects that upload from the Sanatanadharma tout 'moksha' as the ultimate goal; moksha=freedom/liberation of the Atman or 'Self' from samsara or endless rounds of reincarnation.

    Gnostic sects for the past 1900+ years have succeeded with a harsh or radical dualism or an 'us/them' philosophy to attract clients. Gnosis means enlightened rejection of the impure and acceptance of the pneumatic [spiritually superior] way of life. iow, the Gnostic is freed from the confines of the fallen material world.

    An atheist or materialist monist who accepts Molyneux's world view might reject all notions of the metaphysical or mystical thus rejecting what Gnostics believe but this does not preclude that one can be the mirror of the other. Self-purification rituals of the Gnostic have uncanny parallels to the Molyneux approach to self-analysis and what appears to be therapy for 'deFOOing'. Gnostics tended to avoid the crowd so as not to be contaminated by hylic or pedestrian ideas and behaviors once the Gnostic gained 'gnosis' or enlightenment. This avoidance is more psychological than physical---one polices one's thoughts and emotions when around non-believers. (Think of a staunch Limbaugh dittohead 'freely' wandering around a hippie commune or surrounded by 50 Ted Kennedys--or vice versa).

    Once defooed the FDR/Molyneux devotee appears to avoid 'contamination' by avoiding family or anyone who might criticize the new-found gnosis.
    No one is literally trapped in a cage or chained to a leader here! It is all in thy head.

    Do people have a right under the Constitution to behave this way? Of course.

    People have a right to believe in Reverend Moon and his Unification Church also--one of the common sayings among the Moonies has been 'Satan works through the ones you love.'

    Demonizing parents is one of the oldest techniques used by controversial sect leaders.

    Any number of sects use this simple suggestion to keep members from contact with family and old friends who are not recruitable.

    The question here is, is it worth it to remain devoted?

    Good question.

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  2. I began to study SM and his cult after a failed conversion on me. I was sick with a virus (hep c) that also caused my IQ to drop 20 points after being cured of the virus I was free from the FDR influence. I was wondering if there might actually be a medicine which can cure the inner cult or if it might be possible?

    Also FDR is not the only cult out there recruiting, there is also Occupy, Anonymous, left wing MRM, faschi- feminists including Code Pink and many others. I see a lot of these popularized on TV regularly, even SM had a spokes person on RT (I believe he was fired for propping up FDR too much). Why is TV used to recruit for cults en masse especially news programs?

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  3. I began to study SM and his cult after a failed conversion on me. I was sick with a virus (hep c) that also caused my IQ to drop 20 points after being cured of the virus I was free from the FDR influence. I was wondering if there might actually be a medicine which can cure the inner cult or if it might be possible?

    Also FDR is not the only cult out there recruiting, there is also Occupy, Anonymous, left wing MRM, faschi- feminists including Code Pink and many others. I see a lot of these popularized on TV regularly, even SM had a spokes person on RT (I believe he was fired for propping up FDR too much). Why is TV used to recruit for cults en masse especially news programs?

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  4. I wonder if anyone has alerted Cult Watch. I'm going to look into it.

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  5. I have watched many of S/M videos on YouTube, not all but I have never seen anything about all parents are bad. He talks about not hitting your kids, but many people don't like that. Volunteerism is hardly a dangerous notion. Granted I have never had any communication with him and know nothing of his wife, but many of his ideas are well thought out, if a bit utopian. Non-violence, seems to be his obsession, don't really see anything wrong with that. If anyone idolizes ANY other human being, you are going to have problems. Look at all the morons who bought into the myth that is Barrack Obama. I think that cult is far more frightening than a guy pushing anarchy on you tube. Priorities people!!!

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