What is it With Cults and Punctuation? Nxivm and Scientology Spelling Scams Revealed

I’ve been following with interest the implosion of the Nxivm cult, an Albany, New York-based group that saw its founder arrested for charges of sex slavery and brought back from hiding in Mexico.

There are some parallels between Nxivm and Scientology, in terms of a charismatic founder run amok, harnessing of celebrities to recruit, and an insatiable thirst for more money.  We’ve already covered one set of parallels between the two groups, in an earlier look at childhood education “breakthroughs” to solve common educational problems and instill super powers in the minds of the kids.  But there are also key differences.  The core purpose of Nxivm seemed to be to serve as the “babe farm” to supply sex partners to founder Keith Raniere, and while money was important, it was not the be-all for the group.  Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard appeared to be relatively if not completely faithful to his wife Mary Sue while he was involved in Scientology.  Scientology seems to be more about the cash, as has been extensively documented everywhere; they seem to leave few stones unturned in an attempt to exact every last penny possible from members.  But perhaps most of all, Scientology is about control of the minutiae of the lives of members and, especially, of staff, whose lives are controlled to the utmost degree.

Today, we’ll look at an amusing coincidence: how punctuation forms the basis of major money-raising campaigns in both Nxivm and Scientology.  Why is punctuation so fascinating to cults, especially in an era where punctuation skills seem to be in steep decline in the world at large?  Continue reading “What is it With Cults and Punctuation? Nxivm and Scientology Spelling Scams Revealed”

Lyndon LaRouche vs. L. Ron Hubbard: Why Two Paranoid Cults Tried to Redefine Music

Today, we’ll take a look at how paranoid, far-right fringe political cult leader Lyndon LaRouche attempted to intimidate the musical world into redefining one of the fundamental aspects of musical physics. In some sense, LaRouche’s efforts are similar to what Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard did when attempting to reinvent the sound recording process as part of his own aesthetic theory.

The two stories are good for a few laughs. But ultimately, the moral of the story is quite serious. First, cults behave like totalitarian states in their attempts to control artistic and creative expression.  Second, these examples remind us that cults are able to get their followers to believe strange things and to engage in quixotic quests that accomplish little save stroking the egos and lining the wallets of power-mad cult leaders. Scientology is far from alone in this regard, and combining our experience in Scientology’s ability to get members to do bizarre things with what we learn about similarities between cults can help the cult awareness community to help people more generally in the future. Continue reading “Lyndon LaRouche vs. L. Ron Hubbard: Why Two Paranoid Cults Tried to Redefine Music”

No Post Today

Due to an unforeseen circumstance, Dr. Jeff was unable to complete a column to appear today.  It’ll be ready to go at 7:00 am US Eastern time tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Incidentally, I should point out that this blog is intended to be a haven for any similarly inclined authors to express themselves. After all, we recently sprung for the princely sum of $1.99 ($48 in “Canadian” dollars) to register a new domain name to rename the blog to something about more than just my opinion, and we’d love to get our money’s worth.

If you’re interested in writing for us, consider getting in touch.

Scientology Ideal Orgs as Destroyers of Wealth, Part 1: The Strategy

In this series, we will finally collect what we have learned about the Ideal Org program and the strategy behind it in one place.  Here, we’ll take our best guess about why Scientology is so focused on building lots of expensive new churches that nobody visits.  There is a strategy behind it, and there are rational reasons why Scientology leader David Miscavige thinks this is a good use of cash, but the logic behind the strategy may surprise you.

Part 1 looks at what Hubbard thought made a Scientology org ideal, and we’ll look at why Miscavige took the idea and turned it into something very different.  There’s an underlying strategy as well as the usual cult needs to exploit both staff and members.   Continue reading “Scientology Ideal Orgs as Destroyers of Wealth, Part 1: The Strategy”

Hana Whitfield Guest Post: What Happened when Hubbard Used the Data Series Himself?

The Data Series is Hubbard’s “special sauce” for how to analyze an organization and either fix what’s broken or improve what’s working.  Today’s post features Hana Whitfield, who spent years working directly for L. Ron Hubbard in the 1960s and 1970s.  She recalls a story of Hubbard using the Data Series “tech” to fix a problem in the organization.

The ending of the story surprised me, and I’ll try to fit what happened into the overall context of the multi-part critique of the Data Series that Chris Shelton, Dr. Jeff Wasel and I have been doing.  There are already two videos on Chris’s YouTube channel. Click for Part 1 and here for Part 2.  We’ll have several more parts to go in the coming weeks.   Understanding the Data Series is key to understanding why the Scientology organization will ultimately fail.   Continue reading “Hana Whitfield Guest Post: What Happened when Hubbard Used the Data Series Himself?”

JohnPCapitalist.com Is Dead; Long Live Reasoned.Life!

Effective today, we’re retiring the brand identity of JohnPCapitalist.com in favor of a new site name.  We’re now posting at Reasoned.life.  Yeah, there really is such a thing as a “.life” domain name, and we thought that it sounded cooler than “reasonedlife.com.”  Cheaper, too: $1.99 to register the name for the first year instead of the ten bucks for a “.com” domain.

Continue reading “JohnPCapitalist.com Is Dead; Long Live Reasoned.Life!”

Nxivm’s Super Kids Program vs. Scientology Applied Scholastics

Two weeks ago, we wrote about the similarities between Scientology and its founder and the group Nxivm, whose founder, Keith Raniere, had been arrested in Mexico and extradited to the US on charges of running a bizarre sex slavery ring, where the women in the group were branded in their lower abdomen with Raniere’s initials.

Today, we follow up with another comparison, this time, focusing on the similarities between Nxivm’s “Rainbow Cultural Garden” program, designed to teach kids seven different languages at the same time and the Scientology “study tech” program pushed into often unwitting schools by its Applied Scholastics front group.

We look at how the similarities may portend a common feature of well-established personal development cults, pressured to come up with ever greater “super powers,” and ways to create second-generation members.  Continue reading “Nxivm’s Super Kids Program vs. Scientology Applied Scholastics”

Hubbard’s 1960’s Bizarre Vision for the Global Economy

In 1964, the Church of Scientology published a small document authored by L. Ron Hubbard called “Scientology Plan for World Peace,” which set forth a vision of a “one world government” headed by the UN, with all decision-making to be handled by diplomats and bureaucrats resident in a giant “International City” to be built in North Africa.  This document was only circulated for a few years, perhaps only until the early 1970s, when it apparently was allowed to fade quietly from sight.  While it’s been available on the web for a while, it hasn’t been the subject of much scrutiny.

We’ll give a general overview of the proposed structure of Hubbard’s world government but we’ll focus on the economic prescriptions Hubbard throws out to solve all the world’s ills.  Unsurprisingly, they’re the usual Hubbard stew of naively simplistic ideas presented with unwavering confidence in their brilliance.

The biggest conundrum is why Hubbard would propose something under his own name that’s so far left on the surface.  Hubbard’s political views, especially in the 1960s, were so rabidly anti-communist that they could have been lifted wholesale from the propaganda of the John Birch Society.  We take a guess at Hubbard’s real motivation.  In particular, the bland assurance in the introduction that “the following programme has no other purpose or interest than attaining these ends” is highly suspect.  Continue reading “Hubbard’s 1960’s Bizarre Vision for the Global Economy”

Opening an Inquiry: Do Cults Always Abuse Women?

News over the last week or so on the cult front has featured multiple cults who seem to focus on sexual abuse of women members.  We wrote extensively a week ago about the arrest of Keith Raniere, founder of Albany, New York-based Nxivm (pronounced “Nexium”).  The indictment alleges that Raniere headed a secret “master/slave” group where the all-female membership were branded with his initials in their pubic region.  Be Scofield, a journalist specializing in new-generation Internet gurus, recently published an article on yet another abusive group.  Scofield looks at the followers of Padma Aon Prakasha, who leads various workshops in the US; 15 women and 2 men have accused Prakasha of physical and emotional abuse and other things.  And the well-received Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country about the 1980s Rajneeshee cult in Oregon recounts stories of physical abuse aimed at women.

We are writing to start a discussion about treatment of women in cults, including in Scientology.  For those of you who are ex’s, we would be interested in understanding what happened to you, for both former staff/Sea Org and for rank-and-file members.  And we’re particularly interested in whether high-control groups always end up committing abuse of women (and, probably equally of children).  What general inferences can we draw and what can we do about it? Continue reading “Opening an Inquiry: Do Cults Always Abuse Women?”

NXIVM Cult Leader Arrested: Parallels with Scientology?

Earlier this week, Keith Raniere, the leader of Nexium (pronounced “Nexium”), a cultic group headquartered in Albany, New York, was arrested in Mexico after fleeing the US and swiftly extradited back to the US for trial. He’s accused of sex trafficking in conjunction with a secret “sorority” made up of Nxivm members who agreed to function as slaves for him, and who were branded in their pelvic region with his initials. There are other investigations pending that may result in further charges.

Though Nxivm never achieved the success of Scientology in its 20-year history, there are some interesting parallels between Nxivm’s modus operandi and Scientology’s as well as some parallels between Keith Raniere and L. Ron Hubbard’s claims about themselves. We look at some of these parallels and try to determine whether there’s any way to use the accelerating collapse of Nxivm to predict the endgame for Scientology, particularly in seeing how activists can target their efforts to hasten its demise. Continue reading “NXIVM Cult Leader Arrested: Parallels with Scientology?”