Re: Words Hurt

Erik Moeller (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 14:02:12 +0200


>>You see, just that Extropy is a cult

>Frankly, Eric, I find your use of cult in describing extropy rather

This is obvious. Most Scientologists would probably also be annoyed when
Scientology was called a cult by others.

IAN: It's an easy cheap shot. Unfortunately
any group with a set of principles and unique
beliefs can be framed as "a cult." The more
unique the beliefs the more easily framed.

But, clearly, no honest person could ascribe
to the ExI any of the attributes of a cult,
such a brainwashing, unswerving obedience,
surrender of one's possessions... So the
charge is just a baseless and malicious
insult intended to inflame, don't let
it. It is a meme that feeds off the
energy of the inflammation caused.

Let's clear the definitions first.

cult n, often attrib [F & L; F culte, fr. L cultus care, adoration, fr.
colere to cultivate--more at wheel] (1617) 1:
formal religious veneration: worship 2: a system of religious beliefs and
ritual; also: its body of adherents 3: a religion
regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents 4: a system
for the cure of disease based on dogma set
forth by its promulgator <health ~s> 5 a: great devotion to a person, idea,
object, movement, or work (as a film or
book); esp: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b: a
usu. small group of people characterized by such
devotion -- cul.tic adj -- cult.ish adj -- adv -- cult.ish.ness
n -- cult.ism n -- n -- adj

(Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

I am referring to definition number 2: a system of religious beliefs and
ritual, its body of adherents.

A system

(the ExI)

of religous beliefs adj [ME, fr. OF religieus, fr. L religiosus, fr. religio] (13c)
1: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion
to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity <a ~ person> <~ attitudes> 2:
of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs
or observances 3 a: scrupulously and conscientiously faithful b: fervent,
zealous -- adv -- n

be.lief n [ME beleave, prob. alter. of OE geleafa, fr. ge-, associative
prefix + leafa; akin to OE lyfan] (12c) 1: a
state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person
or thing 2: something believed; esp: a tenet
or body of tenets held by a group 3: conviction of the truth of some
statement or the reality of some being or
phenomenon esp. when based on examination of evidence

the religous belief in a free will and individual freedom
the religous belief in extropy which is considered as an ultimate
the belief in the solution of today's problems through the use of
superior technology

and ritual,

ritual n (1649) 1: the established form for a ceremony; specif: the order of
words prescribed for a religious ceremony
2 a: ritual observance; specif: a system of rites b: a ceremonial act or
action c: a customarily repeated often formal act
or series of acts

Although it is not obvious, the regular meetings of Extropians could be
considered a ritual.

its body of adherents

Extropians, obviously.

It is not my fault that cults generally have such a negative image.
Certainly, "brainwashing, unswerving obedience,
surrender of one's possessions" are not the attributes that make up a cult,
although many cults have such features.

Erik Moeller