Cults and the Group Mind: What Fringe Religious Groups Teach us About Ourselves

In this week’s edition of Mind Hack, Jeff DeRiso discusses how one of the new services offered by Facebook seeks to monopolize internet speech in the developing world.  He also looks at the recruitment tactics of religious cults, and how these tactics often lead to tragic endings.  We’ll also explore the roots of fictional narratives, and why people prefer narratives over raw information.

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Show notes

Facebook Zero and the “People’s ReceiverHYPERLINK ""”

Eight steps to mind control: How cults suck ordinary people in

Heaven's Gate 20 Years Later: 10 Things You Didn't Know

The Psychological Comforts of Storytelling

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  1. Biddie Dee says:

    Even though the humans know that facebook is a major tool of the system to spy on and control the minds of the world, they will keep on supporting if, making it stronger by logging to it and using it. There many social sites that replace facebook and that guarantee a spy free experience and no mind control, but people are absolutely not interested. They would rather feed the beast that is killing them and their offsprings.
    About that Nazi radio,.. Nowdays we have the tv, the main propaganda device. I would have to think, that most people reading this comment absolutely do realize the power of tv and how destructive it is to us. But, I bet that most of you have a tv and watch it with your offsprings and family. Again, this shows, given the choice, the humans in general will choose self destruction.
    May I ask you, the one who knows how bad tv is, and still watches it,… Why do you watch tv?
    may I ask you, the one who knows what facebook is about but continue to use it,.. Why do you log into facebook and post there?

    • Biddie, I am still thinking about your previous comment re: leadership. One of those thoughts that has stuck in my head for a long time.

    • says:

      I agree that using facebook makes no sense at all, unless you want to “spy on yourself” / provide intimate information about yourself to … You don’t even know to whom ;).
      But using TV is different. First you have the choice what you watch, second you can instruct your children and tell them what is bad and why. Surely some aspects of psychological ads will still work, but I believe many can be explained and avoided.
      And then TV ads are really nothing compared to internet ads. You want to keep everyone off internet too? 🙂
      If you keep family off the TV, you may be doing much better job for the TV than you think. They will take every option to watch it elsewhere and it may become the best thing to do, since it is forbiddeen 😉
      To put long story short, you cannot be prepared to face the reality of life by avoiding it.

    • April Sanchez says:

      Birdie, I decided to use it against itself due to a remark from Ray McGovern that had tactical significance… It had to do with timing… If one becomes familiar with the methods of control within the structure (like tells in poker), one may spoil the system while flooding all connected with information… One may give away little information that isn’t already known while cracking or ruining years of conditioning and mind control with the greatest loss to the system… One takes a risk, but it’s a calculated risk with the potential of cracking the smooth, slick facade of propaganda… Once the crack is there to challenge and form a curiosity, others seek to see what information might be found in a shared source of content and may share knowledge with others still in the controlled and constantly fed bubble… There are many ways to fight… I prefer to use an oppressor’s weaknesses against it’s own agents… When it comes to data collected by behaving this way, I prefer to remind myself that every form of communication is being collected, and that some sacrifices are planned in every battle… I’m a small fish to them, but they also cannot come after me through an employer, so it’s a stalemate for them and a win for education and free thought…

  2. Robert Barth says:

    The best book I have ever read on the topic:

    Alstad, Diane and Kramer, Joel (1993). The guru papers: masks of authoritarian power. Berkeley, CA. Frog, Ltd.

    From the introduction:
    “Authoritarianism lies at the root of the old paradigms worldwide. It easily remains hidden because it is often not apparent in the given structure, institution, ethic, or worldview. Authoritarianism rather exhibits itself in the process of how these human constructions maintain power. This includes the ways control over people’s mind is obtained and maintained.”

    • kate gibbens says:

      OK! Now that resonates with the utterly simple thought that struck me as I watched the video:

      Trying over the years to discuss 9/11 with my entourage and students has made me realize that one idea that people in general will NOT EVER entertain

      is the idea that Mommy and Daddy are Not out to protect them, but even perhaps, quite the contrary; to destroy them…
      If we equate Mommy and Daddy with our official governmental figures…

      And the more socially privilaged and educated among them seemed the most likely to dismiss the idea that the members of their own more or less secret governmental bodies could possibly have “sacrificed” 3000 of their own upstanding citizens….

      Same dynamic I suppose for admitting the rampant reign of the pedophiles amongst the most powerful;

      Daddy would NEVER do that. Mommy could NEVER EVER do that….

      I’d venture to assert that this Disney Delirium is one of the greatest, most profoundly subconscious misconceptions that authoritarian powers have managed to instill and exploit.

  3. I’m not sure academia iserving us well at all. There seems to be a policy of not questioning, not taking anything seriously unless it’s been peer reviewed and you have letters after your name. A degee is no more a guarantee of awareness than the lack of one guarantees ignorance.

    Storytelling is a social acitivity for a species that needs socialization. It is a safe way to role play. It is a means of passing down knowledge. But sure, go ahead and suck the fun out of that too.

    I wonder if that academic is a CIA asset, reinforcing their Operation Conspiracy Theory.. Or just another superior waffler who feels better believing he is better informed than us dupes.

    i watch TV. Sometimes it’s informative, sometimes I want a story with pictures. sometimes I want to watch sport. Sometimes it’s a good way to know thy enemy. But I am an advertiser’s nightmare, I switch off mentally every time the ads come on. I’ve taken months to finally register who was selling what. And no, I don’t subconsciously go out and buy their crap. You can eat a little junk food and not turn into an obese diabetic moron.

    I loathe FB and Twitter. I have used it only to spread the word of Newsbud. I get bored after 60 seconds. My proudest moment was FB telling me my feed was short because I needed more friends. I don’t know how people find the time or interest to be on social media every day. It has some very practical uses – eg. alternative news, hobby groups etc. But it’s the hours people spend on it that I can’t figure out. Has social media replaced slot machines?


    “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” E.E.Cummings

    • Thorny, you basically described me; likewise.
      “Has social media replaced slot machine?”- what a great way to describe and formulate it as a question Seems that way- especially with the new generation.
      Love the quote: spot on.

  4. John Phillips says:


    You’re getting closure to the truth. I’ll be brave and say it….Religion with a capital “R” whether Christianity, Islam or Judaism controls the thinking and world concepts of the majority of the people of this planet. Just as the cults that you discuss in this report controls people’s minds, breaks them down and indoctrinates them into believing and behaving; is the same as with the five great religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Taoism and Buddhism), but on a global scale. The cults you analyze are a mere glimmer of influence on this planet when compared to the Top Three (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). Only the top three are used in this propaganda war to influence the “belief” that there is a global war directed by Muslim Extremists….

    What is implied by the propagandists, is this war is war against “Christianity.” This is not said but implied; just left out there like the elephant in the living room to be silently understood….that “the Muslim horde” is coming for you and your children.” And the American people just lap this up without question. Of course this war is about money, power and global dominance…not Religion! But Religion is used as the emotional “hook.”

    What is most concerning is the unwillingness of this site and those that view and comment don’t seem to understand or are unwilling to discuss…that these two or three Religions, since their inception, have been used to justify the killing of hundreds of millions of PEOPLE.

    When you consider Alt-News;” the vast majority of Alt-News sites are fundamentally religious in nature and perpetuate the Religious War theme. This should be the subject of discussion. The majority of people who view alt-news go to religious sites not News-Bud. Literally billions of people are being controlled, manipulated and in many cases directed to do harm to other people in the name of their Religion!

    Raised as a Lutheran Christian in the United States, and in my early twenties a “Born Again Christian” for a short time; I quickly rejected all Religions for what they are…mind control!

    I see Religion for what it is… a construct of humans with the express goal of controlling the thinking…no the “Belief” of billions…thus the behavior and politics of the masses! And with that fact…the most visceral of responses comes forth from people when presented with the propaganda of today! They “believe” rather than “think.” Sibel knows this and for the life of me don’t understand her silence. It calls into question…everything.

    If you “believe” otherwise…that’s okay with me until you “believe” that I must “believe” as you do. You do not have to “think” as I do. Just don’t tell me I have to be under the influence of yours or another’s Religion! But this IS the problem…isn’t it.

    Yes, there are positive things to say about all religions and the faithful followers. But “followers” must put “thinking” before “belief” and their “beliefs” should not be forced on others for any reason! That is called “morality.” The faith of millions of people is being used to turn them into faithful-hateful killers!

    I can say for a fact that the only Religion that is threatening me and my family here in the US is the right-wing fundamentalist Christian faith which is “telling” me and my children we must live by their religious doctrines. No one is trying to influence my life more than Right-Wing Christians and Israel’s control over my Government. Nothing and I mean nothing is more frightening to me than a Right-Wing Evangelical Christian with an AR-15!

    Did I shock you? Good! Start thinking!
    Best Regards

    • John, This is exactly what I mean when I say: ‘Critical thinking and unrestricted analyses/feedback.’ Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such an articulate and thought-provoking manner. This is a great example of community I have been seeking. Thank you, sir!

    • Born into a secular family, I went to a Catholic school for non-religious reasons. It was an ‘education’. I was able to observe religious practice. It didn’t pass my sniff test, not even as an 11 year old kid. Which made me wonder how actual adults didn’t notice that none of it added up. I also learned the meaning of the word hypocricy.

      I don’t have a smart phone either.

      Sibel, that quote from Cummings has given me great solace for a long time. 🙂

  5. David E Burden says:

    Fine episode. In my opinion, this is your best one to date. I truly enjoyed it.
    You brought forth a lot of which, evidently for some, are some hard truths. As evidenced by the cognitive dissonance present. I especially liked the Mark Twain quote. Now there was a wise man, with a knack for storytelling on a level not often achieved.
    However, I should point out that I could be biased on this subject, as I have not had a TV for many years, and have never even seen a football game. In fact, this, and a couple of other “Group Sites” are my only form of “Social Media”. I don’t even own a smartphone. I much prefer the face to face approach. Furthermore, I have no religious beliefs, NONE. Not even “Atheism”.
    I’ve often encountered people requiring me to fill out some sheet of paper, wherein I’m expected to list as many things about me as possible. Like doctor’s offices, government entities, potentates, and such. I always leave the “Religion” section blank. Many of them actually do proof read those silly pieces of paper, and will always ‘remind me’ that I ‘forgot’ to fill out an entire section. “Which one”? I ask. “The religion section”, they inform me. My reply is always the same, “I didn’t forget it, I perused it carefully, but my religious beliefs were not listed, so I was unable to check any of the boxes.” Of course this always results in strange looks, and the question; “What is your religion?” I reply; “None.” They always look astonished and eventually walk away. Often shaking their heads in disbelief.
    Which, by the way, is likely my reaction when I encounter people who spend the majority of their lives with their noses glued to a tiny screen in their hand. Smart people, who refuse to accept the fact that I don’t have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or some alternative. Disclaimer: My family did coerce me into trying Fascistbook at one time, but it didn’t last long. 😉
    It amazes me how many intelligent people, many who profess to know better, are willing to be tracked, propagandised, and have so much of their lives, and time, dictated to them by a device that didn’t even exist for most of my life. Many even to the point of endangering not only their lives, but countless others by texting, and/or talking on those damned things, instead of paying attention to controlling whatever they happen to be traveling in. I don’t care if it’s a Volkswagen “Beetle” of a Peterbuilt, it can still kill. To believe otherwise is a fool’s errand, even for “Just a few seconds”.
    I’ll end this now, because I understand that I’ll likely have no better luck than you. I remember when I was very young, my grandfather, whenever we would witness someone attempting in vain to make a point, (to someone who obviously couldn’t care less), would look down at me and say; “Never try to teach a pig to sing, ya just can’t do it. All you can ever get done, is to waste your time, and aggravate the pig”.
    Thank you sir for a fine episode and lesson. If even a few choose the red pill, your efforts will not be in vain.
    For the Republic, ………….if we can keep it

    • David E Burden says:

      That should have read: OR a Peterbuilt. Not OF a Peterbuilt. Perhaps I should proof read my comments as carefully as those folks do their silly forms.
      Newbud IT person/people,
      Would it be possible to add an “Edit” or Delete” option to this comment section? I think one, or both, would be well used.

  6. steven hobbs says:

    Great!!! Cultish observance continues till other things emerge. Thank you for this contribution from outside of the box.

  7. Bas Spliet says:

    Heads off to you once again Jeff. Amazing episode!

  8. Amber Sayman says:

    This has been a fascinating show, Jeff! You’re amazing. I recently read Aleksandr Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory for an independent research project, and this reminded me of a phenomenon he described as “Angelpolitics.” I interpreted this as a sort of digitization of politics–maybe the application of an algorithmic model devoid of democratic intent and instead dependent upon mass participation in digital media. This facilitates subsequent delineation by market-based narrative community. I see that as a sort of post-political social Balkanization. (Of course that marginalizes, by default, anyone who is already excluded from the market.) This is all pretty scary stuff, but I wrote my final paper on it anyway.

    Keep up the good work! Wow!! I’m inspired.

  9. Dear Jeff, this is a high-density and interesting episode.

    To tap into the discussion, the question was raised whether the academia is serving us well. In my opinion, the academia’s role is to observe and humbly attempt to explain the observations, leading to a model that would describe a system. Ideally, this model would generate predictability in a dynamic world. However, academia turned into merely developing commercially viable technologies under the umbrella of the lobbycracy. Given that independent financing for most of the planet’s research no longer exists, this will not change.

    For the sake of simplicity, science has become reductionist: devoid of context and with only linear, causal dependencies. It results from corporate constraints by economists (the descriptive profession) who need understandability from a monetary perspective. Corporate science, tobacco science, needs manipulation from the hypotheses to the conclusions. It must lead to truths as opposed to questions and recommendations that generate future science. Unexpected/undesired results are eliminated. Therefore, the outcome of corporate science cannot be trusted. The concept of referencing lets the flaws/fraud in corporate science devastate tomorrow’s science. We start to see this in chemicals (pharma and agribusiness), although I believe that these effects are even more profoundly embedded in philosophy and politics.
    Because science explains what ‘is’ –as desired in an economical framework of reference, it has not much ado with truth or intellectual curiosity, creativity. Scientists do also not prove that there are no miracles or things that are to them unexplainable. They assume it and without this assumption there would be no science.

    The people in the scene of money changers, deep state and those who connect to them, often perceive ‘enlightenment’ to be a result of transcending the world we live in. It means that those calling themselves ‘enlightened’ or illuminati’ have, in their view, left the world we borrowed from future generations. They are not bound by the rules of nature, societies and living species. They go beyond imitating nature, they think they are liberated from nature and believe they master it. This corresponds with the thought of ‘culture’ resulting from reason, religion and mastering nature as Nietzsche views it. Transcending earthy life requires leaving and destructing it. It is the reason these people do not care for anything but themselves.
    Such a man who can generate from himself the visions of a cosmos and ideals by which to live thinks of himself as a genius: a mysterious, godlike demonic being. To the people, god explains the things we do not understand. God is primarily ‘not’ this and ‘not’ that. God is the result of esteem by people, therefore god is man-made and created out of nothing. Let it however be clear that the faith in God and the belief in miracles are closer to the truth than any scientific explanation. This longing for belief, hope, is being abused by those inventing the myths, as Wolfowitz states: ‘the myth of the 1930 is no longer effective’. Politicians of a certain breed have apparently taken the words of philosophers from a dark perspective. It is not ‘enlightened’, is is the very dark side of life that serves the interest of their pity ego.
    Alan Bloom, U of Chicago, describes in ‘The Closing of the American mind’ how the US population, including the academia, cannot live with putting things into perspectives from extremes. Europeans in general, were and are able to do so, which is why the French for example can live with Pascal and Descartes.
    The works of Hannah Arendt are increasingly popular. She was a friend of Heidegger and describes how totalitarianism is a real threat.

    Authentic values allow living and produce great deeds and thoughts. These have done so for ages. A value is only a value if it preserves and enhances life. Commonly held values (the red line here on station Newsbud) can be said to not exist naturally because there is no commonly held experience accessible in principle to all, which proves inequality. Because not every man is able to develop his horizons and tables of good and evil, he is drawn towards the one individual who provides him guidance. This phenomenon is being used for the worst to move the population.
    Authentic values are understandable to all, brought to us by those who founded our horizons and cultures: Buddha, Jesus, Homer, Moses. Their success was not in the truth in their thought, it was their capacity to generate culture. Because people remember stories better than bare facts, telling myths are more important than telling truths. That is why Nietzsche states that the poet is the ‘legislator of mankind’. Corporations and their servants in media and government have created a breed that perceives buying more mediocrity than thy neighbor as the highest achievable good. Heaven is hanging low.

    Let’s be clear that the chemicals industries, the MIC, privately held central banks and the governments live for generating revenue and margin to gain power over people. Because of these, values have been replaced by maximizing revenue and margin without an upper limit. Because of these, humans in court may face immortal corporations on a playing field that is far from level. This situation is as far from great deeds and thoughts, from life preservation, as it can possibly get. Who gain? The most influential minority shareholders. perhaps ‘zionist’ is the most abundant label in the shadow government.

    To move people from communal life of ‘zo-on politicon’ towards pure egoism of the bottomless self, the last version of the self, requires the mass to abandon authentic values through a phase of nihilism. It is abandoning the human nature that made humanity successful. Freud spoke about the ‘id’, Nietzsche called it one’s ‘fatum’: a stubborn and strong entity that has nothing to say for itself other than that it is. It is incommunicable and isolates itself from all other things rather than uniting them.

    This is where facebook, google and the institutes appear: before people can –together- discover their bottomless self and perhaps turn back to the strength and prudence that humanity as a whole incorporates, a few will try to hijack the minds, capture id’s and use this to steer humanity to a ‘regulated’ id or fatum. Those who do not add to the economy, who cannot be controlled, are expendable, according to Kissinger ‘useless eaters’.

    Freud tried to explain the elusive unconscious (id) with science while knowing that even biology cannot account for consciousness or the unconscious. This puts serious doubts on his work. The unconscious is outside the scientific domain and Freud is therefore stuck between science and psychology. We have more of that: the ‘ethical’ economist who knows nothing but gain; the socio-political scientist who sees only manageable group-interest; the physicist speaking about freedom in his framework of laws governing moving matter. Can we, and dare we acknowledge the boundaries of our framework of reference and put that into perspective?
    As for Freud: since science is a product of the psyche, psychology wins.

    Reading works of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Freud and Aristotle it becomes clear that their philosophical insights are nowadays used by a few who are egotistic, striving to reign in humanity and all life in this inch-thick layer around our planet. This layer is one delicate balance that can and will be destroyed by them. Central in their success is the private ownership of creating debt and scarcity in currency. This brings us to a small group of people at the core of the matter. THey are not serving the science that should serve humanity in a way that it respects life in general.

  10. victor friese says:

    It is sad that we cannot seed doubt of everything in everyone. Belief in something always serves as a shiboleth to make people feel like they belong, or like they have status. I would like to find a way to make a world wide shiboleth where if one does not doubt and criticize the world around them on an intense and persitent level, then one is simply considered childish and naive… to form a society where if one believes in those in positions of power, one is seen as deluded. That is the ulitmate revolution. Unhinging the belief systems of people from the clutches of power hungry psycopaths, lunatics, an the organized criminals that run this world. I envy those of you who get to pursue this goal for a living.

  11. B. F. EARL says:

    Two links on cults from Intentional Communities. The first link lists the watch-signs to realize what may be overcoming your ability to reason. For example, worshiping flags without knowing the principles they represent means you are participating in a cult (in my opinion).
    This second link goes into more detail

    Great Hack today, Jeff, Thanks.

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