Oh no, the Internet!

The Low Golden Willow (phoenix@ugcs.caltech.edu)
Sat, 29 Mar 1997 14:35:47 -0800 (PST)

This cult business might be a tad of evidence for the "how rational are
people" debate between Robin and others.

No, not the cult, silly. We can assume probabilistically that _some_
people will be a tad broken and will do weird things. Robin's problem
is to deal with all the 'normal' people who aren't seeming much saner in

Part of Eugene's article, with a bit of editing on my part:

} The deaths apparently end the odyssey of the little-known group that
} started as a desert commune in the 1970s and evolved
} into a literate cult whose bodies were found near shelves of books in
} a posh mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
} It is this evolution that troubles cult watchers.
} The group used the printing press for both its business, called Higher
} Source, and its magazine, Heaven's Gate, which
} was used to snag new recruits. It used buzzwords designed to catch
} browsers whose interest ranged from UFOs and
} conspiracies to the spiritual and religious.
} The Rancho Santa Fe group is not the only cult to publish books and
} "Cults are using the printing press for a number of different purposes - to
} recruit, to support themselves, and as apologists," says
} John Knapp, executive director of Cult Awareness Network, Burke, N.Y. group that
} follows exploitative psychological techniques that
} appear in books and meetings.
} Steve Hassan, a Boston-based cult expert who has counseled former members
} and their families for 20 years, says that
} New Age bookstores is a simmering cauldron of cult activity.
} "There are books about different cults, there are magazines put up by
} different cults. Aum Shinrikyo (the Japanese cult
} that attacked the Tokyo subway with poison gas in 1995) r

I didn't edit these bits:

} Arnold Chanon Bloch, a Los Angeles psychotherapist who has worked with
} scores of cult members and their families, says,
} "If the theology is carefully laid out in print, it's going to have an
} appeal to people who are experiencing a spiritual void or
} unresolved psychological pain."

} According to information garnered from the group's own leaflets,
} newspaper ads and its Heaven's Gate Web site, the cult

} On May 27, 1993, the group, calling itself Total Overcomers Anonymous,
} took out a $29,911 three-quarter-page ad on the

} "I think people in general are willing and eager to accept what they see
} on the World Wide Web," says Larry Rosen, a

Gee, how does the National Enquirer possibly sell all those copies?

} David Greenfield, a West Hartford, Conn. psychologist who works with
} computer addicts, says part of the Internet's power is
} that groups can present bizarre messages in a mainstream way.

Books get published too. Nice, sober, totally insane books.

} Recruiting followers on the Internet is more efficient because the cults
} "will reach a lot of disenfranchised people with it."

Cuts both ways, silly. Know how many web sites about, but not by,
Scientology there are?

} "I'm not saying that everybody that hangs out on the Net all day long is
} a loser, but I am saying that if you hang out on the
} Internet all day long, you will be a loser."


} "It saddens me that people are out there looking for something to fufill
} their lives and instead of finding that fufillment they find
} something that leads to their deaths," says Waldrep.

Puffing on his cigar.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*> http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix

"I've stood in sunlight on one side of the street watching the rain fill
rushing gutters on the other. When the forecasters say there's a 30% chance
of rain in Tucson, it generally means that 30% of the city will get rained