Diagram of the bullshit beliefs, practices, and pop psychology that influenced NXIVM

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/15/diagram-of-the-bullshit-belief.html

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I am interested to watch this documentary about NXIVM, but I don’t know if I am interested to watch 9 hours of a documentary about NXIVM. (That’s how long this documentary is.)

I remember that people used to make jokes about how long Shoah was (also 9 hours), and that is about the Holocaust - where tens of millions of people died.


It really is a panoply of woo. I like that they tie in that whole U.S. Navy culture aspect, which always struck me as interesting. In addition to the cult of Elron, a connection could also be made with Heinlein’s libertine Libertarianism, for example.

I found this podcast last year. A good way to hear the story on the go.

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I’ve been watching this docuseries, and it is astounding how seemingly smart people can be so susceptible to psychobabble. Raniere is an exceptional con-man, in that he seems to zero in easily on each persons individual weak point, convincing the listener that he has exceptional insight and ability to help them gain the personal growth that they seek. He knows how to repackage exactly what they want to hear, and then take credit for his exceptional insight. The sexual weirdness is just icing on the poisonous cake.

There is NOTHING that people won’t do after they turn over responsibility for themselves to someone who is willing to exploit them.


It is still amusing me after 3 episodes that the ‘what the bleep do we know’ guy is one of the main marks. Turns out the answer to that question is ‘not very much, even tho it should be obvious’. I keep wanting to text QED mothafuckers! to everyone who ever tried to make me watch that nonsense.


I’m guessing that the Rebel Wisdom/Sensemaking boys are not unacquainted with the material in that chart…


He had a cell phone? Because that’s all, really. The appifucked internet is made for even the laziest and most incompetent cult leaders, not the other way around.

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Judo, acting, sci-fi (space opera is part of sci-fi), and the Navy are “bullshit beliefs, practices and pop psychology”?

Huh? I think you need to sit down a moment and think before you type.

The items in circles seem to be cultural milieux which, for whatever reasons, foster some of their members’ belief and the BS and woo, rather than delinating the BS and woo themselves. The diagram could be better, but I’m sure Pesco makes the distinction.


6 million not tens of. 6 million people is enough to be the worst historical crime in the 20th century. Using the holocaust as a term of reference which you get wrong invalidates any credibility to an argument. As Public Enemy say “Get your shit correct”. Sorry, I’m not wanting to invalidate your idea but give it strength by not using the holocaust without due thought:

It depends if you count non-Jewish victims. If you do then it is 17 million+.


Wikipedia provides a referenced estimate of a total of 11 million people dying during the Holocaust. Six million jewish people died. Jewish people were not the only people who died during the Holocaust.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum puts the death toll estimate at roughly 19 million.


In Scientology, that’s called “finding their ruin”.


Bright? Of course. Curious about the world around me? Sure. Idealistic? Sometimes. Like being the recipient of a compliment? Who doesn’t? Take risks? From time to time.

So when Paul Grosswald, a former Scientologist-turned-anti-cult-lecturer, instructed those who checked off at least three of the nine general statements on a handout to raise their hands, everyone’s digits reached towards the ceiling.

“You are exactly the type of people that cult recruiters are looking for,” he said — which, of course, elicited a peal of laughter since New York City Skeptics, a group of local critical thinkers, was hosting the event last Saturday.


From what I have seen of the HBO docuseries, he was able to get the people to disclose their own weak points. Calling it “collateral”, in essence using it to blackmail members further into cult life.


Yes. As has been discussed elsewhere on this site, there’s a real and legitimate historical debate on whether the specific term “Holocaust” should be limited to Jewish victims of the Third Reich or to include all victims of the Nazi genocides. It really depends on what’s being discussed, and in this case the term is being used as shorthand for the larger programme of extermination.


Blackmail is always a handy instrument in the grifter’s toolkit if the mark is obliging enough to volunteer to spill the beans on himself.

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The blackmail comes later, with notes and recordings of their auditing sessions with the e-meter prop.

Finding their ruin is when the body router probes to find their problem in life (that Scientology can help with).


That’s an excellent article. This is the paragraph that struck me hardest:

" Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A study of brainwashing in China . Laftin’s “Eight Marks of a Mind-Control Cult” include placing people in the organization’s environment, creating mystical illusions, demanding purity, making people confess, implanting the idea that their way of thinking is superior, communicating with jargon, making the mission more important than any individual, and establishing the idea that outsiders have no right to exist."



I’ sorry but my post wasn’t about the number of Jewish mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties, brothers and sisters that were murdered. I was trying to say that when commenting about an historical fact that is being denied that passing on validated evidence is important. For Holocaust deniers this is their meat in the ‘argument’, nitpicking facts and figures.

Again I apologise if I came across to strident but I feel that so many facts gets sidelined into the noise in this Trump truth-less time we live in.

That was exactly how Licio Gelli ran the P2 Masonic lodge in Italy: he blackmailed powerful people into handing over blackmail information on other powerful people.