Cult Country

Is this a new age of cultism—or a new cult panic?


Cults are in style again. Or at least it's trendy to call things cults—everything from QAnon to SoulCycle has gotten the tag. It's pretty easy to throw the word around loosely, since we've never come to a consensus about what exactly a cult is.

The line between "cult" and "religion" is famously hazy, and the biggest practical distinction between the two is whether a faith has been here long enough that you feel comfortable having it around. If you're especially apprehensive about rival sects, even longevity might not be enough to get a group off the hook. "The difference between a religion and a cult," The Globe and Mail cracked in 1979, "is that you belong to a religion and everyone else belongs to a cult."

Some scholars dismiss the c-word as a slur, preferring the less pejorative term "new religious movement." Others say a cult is distinguished not by whether a group is new but by whether it has a particular sort of authoritarian internal culture, a scope that excludes many of those new religious movements but includes several organizations that aren't ordinarily thought of as religious at all: pyramid schemes, psychotherapy groups, would-be vanguard parties. Some sociologists have tried to advance a more neutral approach, suggesting that cults are held together by a living charismatic leader while other religions rely on an established set of rituals and doctrines. (Under that definition, you might note, a circle of harmless high school occultists might qualify as a cult but Scientology arguably ceased to be one years ago.)

And in ordinary conversations, those all get mixed together. At some moments, the word cult can encompass any exotic way of looking at the world; at others, it's a set of social dynamics involving unhealthy hierarchies and rigid attachments to a party line. Often it entails looking at the former and imagining that you're seeing the latter. At its most feverish moments, it involves seeing the alleged cultists not merely as people who happen to have a different view of the world, nor even merely as the victims of an abusive leader, but as zombies who have lost the capacity to think or act for themselves.

Fortunately, we don't need to settle on a definition here. Our subject isn't cults themselves so much as the monsters people imagine when they hear the word.

America has always been haunted by cults, but the hauntings are more acute at some times than others. "From the 1970s through the 1990s, from Jonestown to Heaven's Gate, frightening fringe groups and their charismatic leaders seemed like an essential element of the American religious landscape," Ross Douthat wrote in The New York Times in 2014. "Yet we don't hear nearly as much about them anymore, and it isn't just that the media have moved on. Some strange experiments have aged into respectability, some sinister ones still flourish, but over all the cult phenomenon feels increasingly antique, like lava lamps and bell bottoms."

Seven years later, it is Douthat's diagnosis that feels antique. Cults themselves may or may not be more common now than in 2014, but we're awash in a flood of cult stories, cult rumors, and cult rhetoric. It's still "nothing like where things were in the early '90s," says J. Gordon Melton, a professor of American religious history at Baylor. But "dislike of cults has never really gone away…and we've seen a heightening of that over the last couple of years."

Let's start with the small screen, which has offered plenty of cult-themed materials for binge watchers in lockdown—and not just in purely fictional tales like Riverdale or The Empty Man. Last year Starz and HBO each ran their own documentaries about NXIVM, a purported self-help group charged with being a front for a secret society devoted to sex slavery. Curious viewers could turn from there to Netflix's Wild Wild Country, a six-part 2018 docuseries about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's ashram in Antelope, Oregon, and the conflict that erupted in the '80s between his followers and the townsfolk nearby. If you developed a taste for the subject, you had several other documentaries from the last few years to choose from, covering vintage cult stories ranging from the Peoples Temple massacre of 1978 to the Heaven's Gate suicides of 1997. A&E ran three seasons of a series about Scientology.

The subject keeps cropping up in the news too, with alleged cult crimes committed everywhere from Idaho to Siberia. (One of the first COVID-19 superspreader events in Korea took place at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, an apocalyptic sect that is often accused of being a cult. That sparked conspiracy theories in which the church was supposedly spreading the virus to deliberately bring on doomsday.) Using the GDELT Project's Television Explorer tool to search the Internet Archive's TV News Archive, one can detect a systematic increase in the use of the word cult since November 2019. Sometimes that's because of those local stories, but the term turns up in broader contexts too.

Take QAnon, a sprawling subculture devoted to a strange, elaborate, and ever-evolving collection of conspiracy theories. Conspiracism in general has attracted a lot of anti-cult rhetoric lately—when one poet was disturbed by her elderly mother's interest in conspiracies, she wrote in The New York Times last year that it was "as if" her mom was "under the spell of a cult"—and QAnon has gotten the brunt of this. Many of its critics call it a cult, sometimes even a "terrorist cult." In March, NPR ran a story suggesting that QAnon and similar beliefs are "cultic ideologies" whose followers could use the help of "deprogrammers" to "reconnect with reality." The Q believers, for their part, are convinced that a cult of cannibal pedophiles controls most of Washington and Hollywood.

The fringy Q crowd weren't the only ones who suspected a cult had taken over the country. As Donald Trump's presidency progressed, it became increasingly common to hear his following described as a cult. (During the pandemic, this sometimes progressed to "death cult.") This wasn't always meant as mere metaphor: In late 2019, a major American publishing house—Simon & Schuster—put out a book called The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, written by the anti-cult activist Steven Hassan.

When some of those Trump fans rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, it wasn't just the outgoing president's opponents who embraced that rhetoric. One defense attorney—Clint Broden, retained by the accused rioter Garret Miller—went on TV to announce that he's working to "deprogram" his client. "Donald Trump was a cult leader," Broden told CNN's Chris Cuomo. "You have somebody like Garrett Miller, who is not very politically involved, hadn't even voted much earlier in life, loses his job, and gets focused on the internet. And you have, as I said, a cult leader telling him to do X, Y, and Z to protect the country." Ordinarily, people think it an affront to their dignity to be depicted as mindless sheep. But under certain circumstances, it can be a useful way to deflect responsibility.

Inevitably, the specter of the cult entered other fronts of the culture war. "Wokeness," Fox News, both major political parties: They've all been called cults in the last few years. And then there's the battle over trans rights, where the rhetoric has been getting especially ugly.

Parents have long been prone to moral panic when adolescents embrace ideas or subcultures that seem alien. One perennial way to express those anxieties is to say their children have "joined a cult," even when no actual organization is in sight. This reached a new height of hysteria when certain conservatives and feminists started describing transgender teens in terms that evoke Jonestown. Google the phrase trans cult and you'll find countless complaints that a complex social world with no leader, no clerical hierarchy, and no shortage of substantial internal disagreements is in fact a cult bent on "stealing our children." Mutual support is seen as "love bombing," interest in new ideas as "brainwashing." The same anti-cult writer who produced The Cult of Trump tweeted last year that trans advocates are using "weaponized mind control" to recruit young people.

One anti-trans group, the Kelsey Coalition, chose these words to represent a parent's experience: "Your beloved child has been kidnapped by a sadistic cult. The cult brainwashes her to believe you are the enemy. The brainwashing erases her entire childhood. Every good memory is replaced with memories of abuse that never happened. The cult convinces her to inject poison in her body and to get her healthy body parts amputated. You panic. You scream. You sob. You beg. You are reduced to nothing. You search for help everywhere. Nobody will help. Nobody will stop the cult."

It's an extreme example, but it isn't an especially unusual one. Here's an assortment of phrases from Abigail Shrier's book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (Regnery): "Her mother said it seemed as though Lucy had joined a cult." "What she escaped—she insists—was a cult." "When you have a daughter that's really indoctrinated—and it's almost like a cult really…" "I was so brainwashed."

'The Mind…Can Never Afterward Be Free'

America has always been haunted by cults because America has always been a land of cults. If you wanted to find a home for a new religious movement, this spacious continent was a pretty good place to do it. Some of the first European colonists to put down roots here were spiritual dissidents looking for a place to build an ideal community, and that process of exit and renewal didn't stop once the first colonies were settled. A Pietist village in rural Pennsylvania, a spiritualist enclave in upstate New York, a Mormon territory out west, an Iowa town devoted to transcendental meditation: Lots of flocks have found spots to settle.

If you weren't a part of the flock, the flock might scare you. The Jacksonian era, a period that stretched from the 1820s to the years before the Civil War, saw both a wave of immigrants from Catholic Ireland and a religious revival at home. The latter was marked by frenzied camp meetings and by a wave of new sects; while nativists were imagining the Irish as puppets manipulated by the Vatican, many Americans adapted those myths to make sense of young faiths and new worship styles.

One 1836 tract by a Presbyterian minister presented the revival preachers of the Second Great Awakening as hypnotists brainwashing Americans en masse, declaring that worshippers' minds were "compelled, in a moment of the greatest possible excitement, to yield themselves entirely—their intellect, their reason, their imagination, their belief, their feelings, their passions, their whole souls—to a single and new position, that is prescribed to them….The mind, reduced to such a bondage, can never afterward be free." Over the course of the century, the Mormons were accused of an assortment of cult crimes, including hypnotizing women into joining Mormon harems. And then there were the Shakers.

The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, as the Shakers are formally known, first came to America not long after their faith was founded in 18th century England. Here they lived in communes, refused to fight in wars, refused to have sex, and built rituals around ecstatic trance dancing. Sometimes, rumor had it, they did that dancing in the nude. All this alarmed some of their neighbors, as did broadsides accusing the group of recruiting new members with mesmerism and then enforcing their control with physical violence. Outsiders sometimes mounted "rescue" missions, seizing children who were supposedly being held against their will. (Some of those kids went home as soon as they got a chance.)

The pattern periodically repeated itself. In his 2000 book Mystics and Messiahs, the historian Philip Jenkins points out parallels between two waves of cult interest, one starting around 1910 and the other beginning in the 1960s. Each opened, he writes, with "surging interest in fringe religions and the occult" and the "creation of many new marginal groups and sects." After about a decade and a half of this, there was a "wave of scandals" involving those groups' leaders, which was framed as a "cult problem" in popular culture. That in turn produced "sensational media-led speculations." In the 1930s, this meant tales of "voodoo, witchcraft, human sacrifice"; in the 1980s, it involved supposed Satanic murders and ritual sexual abuse.

The word "cult" didn't really start to come up in these contexts until the early 20th century, and it didn't fully take on its current connotations until the cult scare of the 1970s was well underway. As late as 1972, the British sociologist Colin Campbell could describe cults as "individualistic and loosely structured," adding that "the cult makes few demands on its members, is tolerant of other organizations and faiths and is not exclusivist"—almost the exact opposite of the way the word was widely used at the end of the decade, when cultists were imagined as dogmatic robots serving iron-fisted leaders.

The roots of the '70s cult scare go back to the aftermath of World War II. America is always generating new sects, but during the war "there was kind of a pause," says Melton. "The major people who start new religious groups are people from the 18–25 group, the exact group that they pull out and take overseas." In the postwar period, some of that pent-up activity poured out, and that then intensified during the cultural revolutions of the '60s.

Those same revolutions launched a wave of communes, with tens of thousands of young people forming small-scale experiments in collective living. Most of these dissolved pretty quickly, but some held on, and many of the ones that survived were built around a charismatic figure—the sort of person an outsider might call a "cult leader." Meanwhile, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 opened the country to a greater number of Asian spiritual groups, many of which seemed strange and threatening to traditional American Christians.

With some new religious movements, of course, Americans had good reasons to feel threatened. The most infamous was the Peoples Temple, a radical church founded in Indianapolis in the '50s by the Rev. Jim Jones. He moved it in 1965 to California, where it eventually embedded itself in the San Francisco political establishment. He also founded a colony in Guyana, officially known as the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project but better known by its nickname: Jonestown. It was there, on November 18, 1978, that Jones announced that the community's enemies were closing in and ordered his followers to go out with an act of Masada-style defiance, by killing themselves and their children. More than 900 people then drank a cyanide-spiked punch and died.

They drank that Flavor Aid while surrounded by armed guards, and the event was a mass murder as much as it was a mass suicide. Nonetheless, the story was widely remembered as a straightforward tale of automatons dying on command. The massacre cemented a stereotype: After 1978, the word cult connoted a charismatic guru leading a tight-knit, highly hierarchical, rigidly doctrinaire sect that drew in young people, brainwashed them, subjected them to sexual and financial exploitation, and just might compel them to commit suicide. In literature from the era, you'll often see the Peoples Temple listed side by side with such nonthreatening groups as the Baha'i faith or the Esalen Institute.

That sort of blending was especially common in the "counter-cult" movement, which differed from its more secular anti-cult counterparts by being chiefly interested in fending off challenges to Christianity. In his 1982 book Those Curious New Cults in the 80s, for example, William Petersen starts a chapter with the gruesome tale of Jonestown, then explains that while a "few" cults might follow in the Peoples Temple's footsteps, "most are laced with more subtle dangers than cyanide." Before long he is discussing astrology and the I Ching, which aren't organizations at all, let alone sects led by a charismatic founder-prophet.

The best encapsulation of the counter-cult approach might be "Oh Buddha," a song by the Imperials that topped the gospel charts in 1979. Without ever actually using the word cult, its chorus casually jumbles the Hare Krishnas and the Moonies with Buddhism and Islam, zeroing in on one of the few things the two age-old faiths had in common with the new movements—the singers didn't recognize them as Christian: "No it won't be old Buddha that's sitting on the throne / And it won't be old Muhammad that's calling us home / And it won't be Hare Krishna that plays that trumpet tune / And we're going to see the Son, not Rev. Moon."

The Van Helsing of the cult scare was a figure known as the deprogrammer. The word reflected the idea that cultists were not really in control of themselves: that they had been programmed by someone else, and that this programming had to be removed before they could once again be regarded as fully self-governing individuals. In its most extreme forms, the deprogramming process might entail forcibly seizing the believer and subjecting her to a constant drumbeat of propaganda—a funhouse-mirror reflection of the brainwashing purportedly conducted by the cult itself.

Inevitably, deprogrammers who did this were denounced as an "anti-cult cult." They weren't the only ones: Periodically you'll read about disillusioned members who leave a group, accuse it of being a cult, form a support group for other exiles, fall into intense and perhaps toxic behavior, and soon face accusations that their new group is a cult too. Being deeply opposed to cults does not confer immunity against cultish behavior.

'Odds Are This Is Happening in Your Town'

Many tropes of the '70s cult scare were eventually debunked. While individual sects could be coercive, manipulative, or otherwise exploitative, just as older faiths can be, many new religious movements were guilty simply of seeming strange. Serious scholars mostly rejected the idea of brainwashing, and the ones who hung on to the concept denied that it was some sort of mind control technique. (One of the word's defenders, the Rutgers sociologist Benjamin Zablocki, describes brainwashing merely as "well-understood processes of social influence orchestrated in a particularly intense way.") Real-world cultists were not zombies.

But then, not all the cults that people feared actually existed in the real world.

As the '70s gave way to the '80s, an idea once largely confined to conservative Christian circles seeped into the mainstream: the Satanic cult. I don't mean public organizations like the Church of Satan or the Temple of Set, though they were often drawn into the discussion; I mean a rumored covert world of secret Satanic sects that supposedly engaged in human sacrifice and in the ritual sexual abuse of innocent children. This fantasy was uncritically endorsed in much of the media, with coverage on programs ranging from 20/20 to The Oprah Winfrey Show. ("Estimates are there are over 1 million Satanists in this country," Geraldo Rivera warned on one program. "The majority of them are linked in a highly organized, very secret network….The odds are this is happening in your town.") Worse yet, the fantasy took hold among police, prosecutors, and juries.

Disturbed people who commit crimes do sometimes spout Satanic mumbo jumbo. So, for that matter, do a number of people who are neither disturbed nor criminal. But there has never been serious evidence that there are anywhere near a million Satanists in America, let alone that they have formed a vast secret network that commits ritual rape and murder.

There was no role for the deprogrammer here, since the cults in question did not actually exist. But the deprogrammer's cousin, the sketchy hypnotherapist, stepped into the breach, guiding children to "remember" horrifying crimes. Years later, some of those kids would recant their testimony. In the meantime, more than a few Americans were sentenced to long prison terms for offenses that almost certainly never happened.

There were a few other high-profile cult stories in the 1990s, most notably a lethal 1993 siege near Waco, Texas. That began when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms became convinced that the Branch Davidians—a spinoff from a spinoff from the Seventh-Day Adventists—were stockpiling illicit weapons. There was in fact little evidence that the group's weapons were illegal, and in any event there were several easy, nonconfrontational ways to arrest the church's leader. Instead, armed agents invaded the Davidians' center and the Davidians shot back, killing four feds and starting a 50-day standoff that ended with an FBI raid, a fire, and nearly all the Davidians dead. The FBI raid was approved by Attorney General Janet Reno, who in her days as a Miami prosecutor had overseen one of the better-known ritual-abuse cases of the Satanic Panic era. She signed off on the Waco order, she explained, because she believed "babies were being beaten."

At the time, much of the media's coverage focused on the idea that the Branch Davidians were a dangerous, irrational cult; news reports were filled with tales of weird rituals and sexual depravity. Afterward, as it became clear just how destructive the feds' decisions had been, some officials and reporters started to reconsider the post-Jonestown assumptions that had guided the government's approach to the conflict and the press's approach to the story.

Meanwhile, the anti-cult movement lost a big battle in 1995, after a young man named Jason Scott sued the deprogrammer Rick Alan Ross and the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) for depriving him of his civil rights. Scott's mother had hired Ross, at CAN's recommendation, to save her teenaged kids from a Pentecostal congregation called the Life Tabernacle Church. In Scott's case, this involved kidnapping him, tying him up in the back of a van with duct tape over his mouth, driving him to a remote cottage, holding him prisoner for several days, and berating him until he pretended to be persuaded. In the ensuing criminal case, Ross was found not guilty of unlawful imprisonment, though two heavies he had hired were convicted of coercion. But in the civil case, they were all hit with heavy punitive damages.

The verdict both bankrupted CAN and made it clear that coercive deprogramming could face severe legal consequences. Today's descendants of the old deprogrammers call themselves "thought reform consultants" and present themselves as offering a voluntary, nonconfrontational approach.

Cult fears still flared up around particular events, as when 39 members of the UFO group Heaven's Gate killed themselves in 1997, believing that this would allow them to ascend to a spacecraft near the comet Hale-Bopp. But the moral panic that had started surging in the '70s was over. By the early 21st century, cults were more likely to turn up in horror movies than in the network news.

"When have we had a cult scare on anything like traditional lines?" Jenkins wrote in Patheos in 2014. "Yes, there have been plenty of local concerns and investigations, by strictly local and regional media….But compared to the 1970s, the cult issue has vanished almost entirely. When did you last see the once-familiar media story about Group X with exposés of its sinister guru, with tragic images of weeping parents wondering how their child could have become associated with this dreadful organization?"

A few years have passed since he wrote that, and now we're seeing those stories again. But in an unexpected reversal, the articles today are just as likely to feature young people weeping about the choices made by their parents.

'No Idea They're Dabbling in QAnon'

In the summer of 2020, the website Mel ran the headline "'WE ARE YOUR FAMILY NOW': WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LOSE A LOVED ONE TO QANON." The article's opening called QAnon a "right-wing conspiracy cult," and the next paragraph declared that "the cult's indoctrination includes pulling vulnerable people away from their families and loved ones." Two of the three tales that followed involved women in their 20s who felt alienated from their Q-obsessed moms.

Outlets from NPR to HuffPost to The Guardian have run similar stories. It is common in such reports, and in Q coverage in general, for people to compare QAnon to a cult. Even Rick Alan Ross, the man whose role in a kidnapping provoked the court case that bankrupted the Cult Awareness Network, has surfaced in several articles about Q: CosmopolitanViceThe Daily BeastInsiderUpworthy, and The Daily Dot have all quoted him as a "cult expert," a "cult intervention specialist," or some similarly neutral description. (He's been popping up in non-Q stories too, including a New York Times piece that described him as an "expert on persuading people to leave cults." I can think of a jury that would disagree with that.)

Yet QAnon doesn't look much like the popular stereotype of a cult. It has no charismatic leader and little hierarchy, and its followers are free to create their own doctrines. It isn't even always clear who counts as a member.

The QAnon phenomenon emerged from the message boards of the website 4chan, where anonymous figures claiming to be knowledgeable insiders regularly posted under names like "FBIAnon" and "CIAAnon." On October 28, 2017, they were joined by the writer or writers who would soon be known as Q. The first canonical Q post declared that former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was about to be arrested and that the National Guard was mobilizing to contain any violence that might follow. This forecast's failure to come true did not deter Q from continuing to post, though it may have played a role in changing Q's style of posting: There were fewer clear-cut predictions and more gnomic clues left for Q's fans to decipher.

A subculture grew up around those clues, as people traded interpretations and created storylines. (Some of those interpreters were almost certainly operating with their tongues in their cheeks, spinning absurd ideas that still sometimes managed to find sincere believers.) Many of the speculations that get attributed to QAnon, such as the idea that John F. Kennedy Jr. is secretly alive, emerged from that subculture, not directly from Q.

QAnon's core narrative held that the government and the culture industry are in thrall to a cabal of Satanic pedophiles, that this cult ingests children's blood to achieve eternal youth, and that one day Donald Trump would vanquish these villains in a sweeping crackdown, dubbed The Storm. If you think this sounds similar to the stories that circulated during the Satanic Panic of the '80s and '90s, you're right.

That isn't the only debt that QAnon owes to earlier conspiracy lore. The central horror of the story—the idea that a cabal is consuming children—is much more ancient: It is the centuries-old blood libel in which Jews, and sometimes other groups, are accused of ritually murdering children and devouring their blood. (While the anti-Semitic version of this story has been the most persistent and pervasive, Catholic authorities also aimed such accusations at heretics and, later, Protestants.) The more precise configuration embraced by the Q crowd, in which the cannibal cabal consists of Luciferian pedophiles in positions of power, could be seen at the outer edges of the Satanic Panic, as conspiracists speculated that the alleged devil-worshipping cult had infiltrated the government.

Long before any Q posts existed, books like 1995's Trance Formation of America and 1999's Thanks for the Memories promoted this idea. The latter, subtitled The Memoirs of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's Mind-Controlled Slave, claimed that a network of child molesters covertly controls Washington and Hollywood, that this group uses a mixture of occult rituals and mind control technology to abuse children, and that one of these rituals involves sacrificing people and ingesting them. (This, the perpetrators allegedly believed, "would transfer the energy or life force from the victim to them in order to make them more powerful.") During the 2016 election, such fears surfaced again in the "Pizzagate" rumor, which now put Hillary Clinton at the center of the story.

Meanwhile, conspiracy yarns about child abuse were taking hold in the mainstream. Part of this reflected events in the news that really did involve powerful people having sex with minors while other powerful people looked the other way—the Jeffrey Epstein and Jimmy Savile scandals. But the stories circulating went well beyond that, as officials and nonprofits exaggerated both how common and how organized sex trafficking is. A 2001 paper, for example, offered a very rough estimate that more than 300,000 kids belonged to one of several categories—runaways, minors in public housing, etc.—that made them more likely to be trafficked. This already shaky figure was frequently presented as the number of children "at risk" of being trafficked, and that in turn was sometimes garbled into the number of children being trafficked.

Against that backdrop, age-old urban legends adapted themselves to the Facebook era, with worried parents sharing unlikely tales of close encounters with child-snatching gangs. Local news outlets sometimes uncritically amplified these rumors. All that helped pave the way for QAnon: It was easier to believe in a vast pedophilic conspiracy if mainstream sources were constantly telling you that conspiracies of pedophiles were everywhere.

When the Q posts started in late 2017, they lifted ideas freely from other stories circulating among the anons. Even one of the most distinctively bizarre Q concepts—the notion that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Donald Trump was just a cover story and that Mueller and Trump were secretly working together to take down the pedophile cabal—had already appeared on 4chan shortly before Q's debut. As time passed, QAnon's loose, collaborative structure allowed the theory to grow ever more baroque: All sorts of ideas could be attached to the growing mythos, and Q fans could adopt or reject them as they saw fit. In this way, QAnon absorbed older conspiracy tales.

As the press became increasingly alarmed about Q, this history sometimes got scrambled: QAnon was identified as the source of ideas that in fact had emerged elsewhere, and people who espoused those older stories were misconstrued as extensions of Q. USA Today ran an article warning that Q-ish notions were "gaining traction among people who have no idea they're dabbling in QAnon," but literally all of the article's examples had emerged independently of QAnon. A New York Times piece claimed that "scores" of Republican candidates were "cherry-picking the movement's themes, such as claims that Jews, and especially the financier George Soros, are controlling the political system and vaccines; assertions that the risk from the coronavirus is vastly overstated; or racist theories about former President Barack Obama." The only one of those ideas that didn't predate Q is the one about the coronavirus, and it didn't exactly need QAnon's help to take off. Another New York Times story declared QAnon the "root" of Trump's claim that "people that you haven't heard of" are controlling Joe Biden. At the risk of stating the obvious: The belief that politicians are controlled by people you haven't heard of is one of the oldest conspiracy concepts around.

This confused approach may have reached its apex in September 2020, when Civiqs released a poll that seemed to show 56 percent of Republicans believing either that QAnon is "mostly true" or that "some parts" are accurate. It sounds staggering until you see how the question was worded: "Do you believe that the QAnon theory about a conspiracy among deep state elites is true?" If you'd vaguely heard of QAnon, didn't know the labyrinthine details, and had just heard it described as "the QAnon theory about a conspiracy among deep state elites," with no reference to the Q world's weirder beliefs, you might well answer yes to signal your belief that deep state elites conspire.

"The question conflates concepts about the existence of a 'deep state,' animosity towards 'elites,' and the existence of a general 'conspiracy' with QAnon," says Joseph Uscinski, a political scientist at the University of Miami who regularly conducts polls on the popularity of different conspiracy theories. "Respondents could therefore be answering yes to any of those without knowing what QAnon is or what its 'theory' is." Uscinski's polls put Q's support in the single digits; one that he took not long after the Civiqs survey found 6.8 percent identifying as Q believers. When Civiqs did a follow-up poll, it took such criticisms into account, rephrased the question, and found Q's support at 7 percent. (Among Republicans, the number was 14 percent.) Another poll, conducted by the Tufts political scientist Brian Schaffner, added an extra twist. Schaffner didn't just find that 7 percent of the country backs QAnon; he asked about four specific conspiracy theories at the heart of the Q narrative. Turns out that the average QAnon backer hadn't heard of most of them and believed in only one.

Why does this matter? Because those articles overstating the size of QAnon coexist with another set of articles—sometimes another set of passages in the same article—that discuss psychologically disturbed Q believers who have committed acts of violence. That's bad enough when it implies that the majority of Q fans are ticking time bombs. When you're also defining QAnon overbroadly, you're seriously inflating the threat.

Similarly, Q coverage regularly claims that the FBI has designated QAnon a "domestic terror threat." This is untrue: The intelligence bulletin in question was about conspiracy theories in general. It said that such theories are sometimes linked to violence, and it gave some examples, some of which involved Q fans and some of which did not. It did not single out QAnon as being particularly dangerous, and it did not designate its followers as a terror group—nor could it. "The federal government does not have a legal mechanism to officially designate a domestic group as a terrorist organization," says Michael German, a former FBI agent now affiliated with the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty & National Security Program. "I'm sure certain individual adherents to the movement may have committed criminal acts," he adds, "but attributing that to an entire organization is improper."

For all its dehumanizing rhetoric about its enemies, QAnon was probably less prone than other conspiracy theories to lead believers toward violence. The orthodox Q position was to sit back and "trust the plan"; The Storm was going to be a smoothly executed Trump Ex Machina, not a participatory uprising. (In the words of one early Q post: "No war. No civil unrest. Clean and swift.") These things can mutate, of course. After The Storm failed to happen, it was easy to imagine disappointed Qers taking things into their own hands—and sure enough, Q devotees were well-represented at the Capitol riot. But among right-wingers ready to take up arms against their enemies, QAnon is frequently derided for encouraging people to be passive. Where liberals are alarmed by Qers' religious fervor, these militants are more likely to see Q as the opium of the Trumpite masses.

'A Constant Feature of Society'

Violent or not, QAnon doesn't have much in common with the groups that usually jump to mind when someone says "cult." But there is one way that word might help make sense of Q. It involves an older use of the term—the one Colin Campbell was deploying in 1972 when he called cults "individualistic and loosely structured."

Campbell proposed the existence of a "cultic milieu." This "cultural underground," he argued, "is continually giving birth to new cults, absorbing the debris of the dead ones and creating new generations of cult-prone individuals to maintain the high levels of membership turnover. Thus, whereas cults are by definition a largely transitory phenomenon, the cultic milieu is, by contrast, a constant feature of society." The heterodox ideas that circulate there include "the worlds of the occult and the magical, of spiritualism and psychic phenomena, of mysticism and new thought, of alien intelligences and lost civilizations, of faith healing and nature cure." While these notions thrive underground, they do not always stay there: Forces ranging from astrology columns to Oprah guests have beamed them into the mainstream. (In 1970, Martin Marty called such transmission belts the "occult establishment," a phrase that today sounds like something out of QAnon.)

Campbell's original essay didn't discuss it, but there is a cultic milieu in politics too. The political world has its own underground of unconventional ideas, which at times intersects with Campbell's underground of mystics. Some of the most creative and fruitful political thinking takes place there, and so does a lot of pure lunacy. Its denizens sometimes float from one identity to another, taking paths that puzzle people used to the conventional left/right spectrum: An anarcho-capitalist becomes a tankie, an Occupier enters the alt-right, a devotee of holistic health turns to Q.

Some of these ideas and identities are long-lived, some are transitory, and some keep recurring in new forms. In a study applying the cultic-milieu model to radical environmentalists, Bron Taylor devoted a few paragraphs to "militant autonomous zones": areas where "anarchist squatters establish themselves and attempt to keep out what they consider to be the repressive authority of the nation state." Taylor published that paper in 2002, nearly two decades before the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone surfaced in Seattle.

Q's posts have become infrequent since the election. (At press time, the most recent one appeared on December 8, 2020.) Some Q followers have fallen away from the faith since Biden became president, while others have gamely tried to conjure up explanations for why Trump appeared to leave office without a mass arrest of child abusers. Maybe those explanations will attract enough adherents to keep QAnon alive, or maybe we're finally about to see the movement break down and disappear. Lately, many voices in the Q world have taken to rejecting the word QAnon, even as they hang on to much of the mythos. But even if the movement does go away, the cultic milieu that produced it will not. QAnon emerged from the debris of older stories about Satanists, powerful pedophiles, and bloodsucking cults. Someday, something else will emerge from the debris of Q.

'The First Effect of Not Believing in God'

In his 1997 book Modernization and Postmodernization, the political scientist Ronald Inglehart observes a broad, cross-cultural change. In dozens of countries, he concludes, survey data show people more inclined to challenge "all kinds of authority" and to exalt "autonomy in the pursuit of individual subjective well-being." This, he argues, reflects a step beyond modernization: a process he calls postmodernization. "A central component of Modernization was the shift from religious authority to rational-bureaucratic authority," he writes. "A major component of the Postmodern shift is a shift away from both religious and bureaucratic authority." Having eroded traditional institutions, modernity goes on to erode the dominant institutions of modernity itself.

There's a line often attributed to the Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton, though he doesn't seem to have said it: "The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything." When trust in the old authorities decays, many people look for substitute certainties—an unfortunate but probably inevitable byproduct of the same renewal process that allows less rigid, less hierarchical alternatives to emerge. Some of those substitute certainties feature dubious dogmas, charismatic leaders, and an overwhelming demand for group loyalty. In other words, they look like cults.

America has always been haunted by cults, because modernity and then postmodernity have been disrupting American institutions for centuries. But in certain periods the disruption has been particularly potent. One was the Jacksonian era. Another was the upheavals of the 1960s and '70s. A third is the moment we're living through now. Each of those periods saw scads of new species germinating in the cultic milieu, and each of them gave us cult scares.

If the sects that grow in the cultic milieu sometimes take an authoritarian form, so at times does the backlash against them. A decay in a society's dominant institutions can produce what Inglehart calls an "authoritarian reflex." His book lists two forms that reflex can take: xenophobia and the desire for a strongman. Both are on display in the MAGA right. But secular centrists are also capable of longing for old certainties and for the institutional power that protected them—of looking at those unfamiliar alternatives sprouting around us, fretting that we've entered a "post-truth era," and calling for controls meant to herd everyone into the "common reality" they imagine we shared in the past.

That past never existed. The human race has always lived in a patchwork of sometimes drastically different mental worlds. But as those worlds mix and multiply, the old authorities become more anxious; and anxious people often project their fears onto an external enemy with a name. One of those names is that traditional American demon, the cult.

NEXT: Italy Moves to Protect ‘Artisanal Gelato’

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  1. Oh yay, another “no enemies on the Left” article.

    1. It’s the entire purpose of the existence of this shitty organization.

      1. But you don’t understand. We on the left are the good guys and everyone who disagrees with our opinions are racists and Nazis.
        Why would we attack the good guys and support racists and Nazis?

        1. Well, I’m convinced

        2. The biggest cult today are those who blindly repeat MSM stories and narratives at truth, including curated Google or SV feeds.

          Gone are schools telling kids to look for primary sources. Now peoples depend on being told what to think. Dol, sarcasmic, jeff, and mike are all examples of this. They will blindly repeat what they saw on CNN or the Atlantic despite documented incorrect stories.

          1. Disaffected, defeated, delusional, whining right-wing clingers are among my favorite culture war casualties.

            1. …and we have another example right here.

            2. Somehow we own more guns than lefties, but the lefties kill themselves and each other a lot more frequently. Like 40 leftists killed each other in Chicago this weekend alone.

              Those are the real casualties of your culture war.

            3. Puling Leftist cowards say the cutest things. lol

          2. Come on man… DOL isnt an idiot, hes a lefty. Sarcasmic isnt even as far left as DoL, he has a supremely annoying personality. Mike seems like a young idiot who doesnt realize the internet (or humanity generally) is a cesspool quite yet. Yeah Jeff sucks, but not as bad as Tony (which is to say, a typical huffpo commenter). And then you have the Rev, which I’m not sure isnt a parody of a reddit leftist.

    2. I know, right? Like you, many people only read the title, assumed it was a screed against QAnon, and immediately jumped to the comments to bitch about it, rather than read the thoughtful article that was actually written. Damn Reason, why can’t they write articles that don’t force you to make assumptions before reading the article? Maybe they should include trigger warnings in the subhead that state something like “Warning: This article is a balanced thoughtful piece and does not bash exclusively Team Red nor Team Blue. If you want hit jobs against your perceived enemies, go elsewhere.” Maybe that would work!

      1. But, but actually reading the article takes time.

        1. “many people only read the title, assumed it was a screed against QAnon, and immediately jumped to the comments to bitch about it”

          Nobody did that, but you two have an impetus to white knight when there’s a narrative to defend.

        2. Much easier to just emote in the comment section how the article didn’t give you the dopamine rush you were expecting in reading an article bashing the team you hate.

          1. Why read the article when you can skip straight to the comments and hurl personal insults at people about things they never said nor did, and troll them into actually responding?

            Or you could mute JA, RM, and ML. Leave all their comments dangling like the turns stuck in taint that they are. Take their fun away.

            1. Skipping the article and going straight to the comments is a long standing tradition since before I started posting here 13 years ago.

              Jesus Christ what happened to y’all.

              1. The arguments then were different. They were more based upon principles than people.
                Then a new batch of trolls moved in, and they’ve stunk up the place so bad that Reason gave us this Mute User feature.

                Try it. It’s better than Febreze.

                1. I’ve been here since 2010 dumbass.

                  You just became pathetically broken

                2. come on, cytotoxic posted some truly asinine shit and shrike and Tony still routinely post completely fucked up things without reading the article.

                  The only person who has deserved muting is KAR. I’m really disappointed in y’all.

                  1. I haven’t even muted him. He’s somewhat entertaining.

                    It’s the guys who make everything personal that I’ve got muted.

                  2. There’s a difference between saying asinine and fucked up things, and the JA/RM/ML M.O. of making every single comment a personal attack.

                    1. Dont feel too bad, at least two of them are the same person.

                  3. Why do I deserve muting?

                    For exposing LDS lies and propaganda?

                    Keep being lambs lead to the slaughter.

                    1. Why do I deserve muting?

                      Because nobody gives a shit about Mormons except you and Mormons.

                    2. That and rednecks know how to have a good time.

                    3. I’m sure fucking your sister is a great time for a redneck. Doesn’t make it any less sick and wrong.

                    4. That earned you a permanent mute. Enjoy!

                    5. You can’t mute yourself!

                3. You need it. You can’t handle a real debate.

            2. Yup. The Mute User button is showing who is truly a troll. I’ve muted the people I don’t want to interact with and am have the best discussions I’ve had in years with those who are here to have civil discussions, and maybe learn something.

              Meanwhile, I can see that trolls like Mother’s Lament are still following my comments and replying to them (presumably with the same old insults that add nothing to the commentariat). Mother’s could just mute me and be done with it, but he is proving he’s a troll.

              1. (presumably with the same old insults that add nothing to the commentariat)

                Yeah, I glanced at the comments on my phone while I was taking a shit, so they weren’t muted being that I wasn’t logged in. My turds smelled better than ML’s comments. Same shit.

                Mother’s could just mute me and be done with it, but he is proving he’s a troll.

                Exactly. ML, RM and JA have obviously not muted anyone. Trolls they are for sure.

                1. Hihn list posted twice?

                  So broken.

                2. “ML, RM and JA have obviously not muted anyone”

                  I’m anti-censorship, sarcasmic.
                  Unlike you and White Laursen, I believe that free speech is a universal ideal, and that libertarian principles aren’t just for governments, but should be part of ones personal philosophy.

                  I’m also not afraid of your speech, and have the intellectual bravery to stand up for my own beliefs when challenged.

                  You, on the other hand, want to shut out voices you refuse to understand.

                  1. So you’re anti-censorhip, but pro-lying?

                    1. Asshole flagged

                    2. Yea I think we need an authority on what ‘truth’ is, so that ‘lying’ can be objectively punished, while free speech seems to stay intact. KARen has spoken.

                    3. You’re defending someone who has said dictionary and encyclopedia definitions were “written by progressives.” However, if it suits them they become undisputable facts. ML is either senile like Sevo or a liar.

                      They will claim I’ve said things I haven’t. Or play dumb when I have said something that may poke holes in their narrative.

                    4. What lie are you trying to make up now saKARsmic?
                      It’s really pathetic to have your antisemitic, antiMormon sockpuppet white knight for you BTW.

                    5. Your handle is kill all rednecks and you claim credibility… Whew… Only a leftist can come up with that.

                    6. There are several. Saying I cited a Salon article comes to mind. I did no such thing! Saying I’m an antisemite is another lie. Criticizing Israel or Bibi doesn’t make someone an antisemitic.

                    7. 556: My name is sort of in jest. I don’t like rednecks, but I deplore violence against people.

                      Mormons aren’t people, so violence against them is ok. It’s actually a great thing.

                      KillAllMormons would be a better name.

                    8. Of course you’re not going to do anything to ‘rednecks’. You would be instantly slaughtered. Your kind aren’t capable of a real physical confrontation. You’re just a weak, sniveling
                      leftist beta male.

                      Best you stay deep in your prog collective. Anything else would mean your destruction.

                3. Talk about ideas, not people. Right?

                  1. Occasionally talking about people is sometimes necessary.

                    Oh, I get it. You were doing a hurrr durrr I gotcha sarc hurrr durrr.

                    Fuck off.

              2. You dont want honest conversation. You want a bubble so your weak ideas aren’t challenged. There is a reason you, sarcasmic, and chipper talk more about the mute buttons than you do articles.

                At least jeff will have a conversation occasionally. Not you 3. Lol.

                1. Because sarcasmic is the drunken, middle-age man version of an attention-seeking teenage cam-whore, and White Mike is a shitposting troll.

                  Neither have the courage to defend their beliefs when challenged. Chemleft on the other hand has to, because that’s what he’s paid for.

                  1. Where do I sign up for that Soros money? Same place you signed up to be paid by Russia?

                    1. I’ve been wondering that myself, being that according to the idiot brigade I’m myself, jeff, WK, and a paid Reason staff member.

                      I WANT MY MONEY!

                    2. According to them we are the same person.

                      Except when I’m white knight or Jeff…

                    3. Well it really reflects on how individual people perceive you to be, KAR.

                      I find a number of users here akin to a looping broken vinyl. It’s a side effect of the ideological restriction of ones own thought processes.

                    4. Interesting.

                      I find you to be a turd…

                    5. You don’t get any Soros’ bucks saKARsmic because you’re to dumb even for Media Matters.
                      And that’s saying something when you’re up against guys like Tony.

                    6. A fly probably finds everything to be a turd. Because it’s what they eat.

                      Does that mean they’re correct? Does that mean their perception matters?

                    7. They say you catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.

                      But if you really want to catch flies, nothing works better than shit.

                    8. If I’m not smart enough for Soros bucks what about the Rubles you get?

                      If Jesse, Red Rocks, Tardz, and you can do it anyone can.

                      I’d be an American hating fascist if I got paid enough.

                    9. “If Jesse, Red Rocks, Tardz, and you can do it anyone can.”

                      I think you should keep the faith. Sounds like a very empowering belief. Might help you find your first job.

            3. Lol. God damn man. How many times are you gonna lost your list hihn?

              1. Every single day until someone gives him the attention he craves.

        3. This one took a long time to say basically nothing

          1. They talk more about the mute button than anything else.

      2. Completely agree w chemjeff – this is an interesting, well researched, and thoughtful article. Well worth your time to actually read, if you’re interested. Everything the author describes in reference to Waco and Jonestown aligns with what I’ve read in books on the subjects – not what the media would have you believe. Kelsey Coalition’s – an anti trans group – description of a parent’s experience with trans ‘cultists’ was quite chilling to this parent.

    3. The Left is the biggest cult of all.
      With human life more prosperous and comfortable than at any point in human history, they imagine a sky-is-falling existential climate catastrophe because the Earth may warm up slightly to more pleasant temperatures. (Global cooling is the bigger threat to humanity, always has been.)
      With racism declining and tolerance of different lifestyles growing, they imagine systemic racism is pervasive and holding people back and so became warriors for social justice, instead of just working to make their own lives better and advising others to do the same.

  2. Very interesting article. And though Q might not be a “cult” in the proper sense of the word, it’s clearly troubling that people latch on to wild ideas like that anyhow, with no evidence that any of it is true.

    1. For example – Russia, Russia, Russia?

      1. Good point. All we have on Russia is a Senate report and the Special investigator report. We don’t have a secret insider feeding us the truth.

        1. “All we have on Russia is a Senate report and the Special investigator report”

          Neither of which actually back the Russia narrative, no matter how hard you twist them.

          1. Enlighten me, What is the Russian narrative?

            1. ???
              “Russia narrative”, not “the Russian narrative”.
              You know, the one you just regurgitated three posts earlier.

              1. I did not propose a narrative, merely suggested that we had reports with facts and conclusions that could be referenced regarding Russia. You on the other hand suggested the reports don’t support a narrative but you never said what that narrative is. If you could spell out that narrative the reader could check it against the information in the report to see whether your narrative is supported or refuted by the reports.

    2. For example – a Capitol Police officer was murdered at a First Amendment event.

      1. With a fire extinguisher and then pepper spray.

        Also, people smeared poop on the walls, brought zip ties to the capitol to bind congressmen, and a cop was “crushed” by protesters”.

        Some people also died. Probably the protesters fault too.

      2. “First Amendment event”? How so? There was rioting (i.e. violence, not mere speech) on the part of the MAGA trespassers. Officer Sicknick was attacked by rioters.

        1. the guy that broke the window was a blm activist

        2. ““First Amendment event”? How so? …”

          Gullible left shit member of the “INSURRECTTION!!!” cult.

        3. That is their euphemism for “it’s okay when our team riots”.

          1. Oh, so are you finally willing to look at the June and July DC riots through the same lens.

          2. The MAGA people were just peacefully trying to stop the certification of a fraudulent election.

            It was by no means a violent uprising against government authority, which is now “insurrection” is defined.

            Besides, you didn’t sufficiently condemn the BLM riots, which means you supported them, which means you voted for Biden, which makes you a progressive, leftist communist, and that means anything you say is wrong.

            1. You’ve never condemned the blm riots. 2 billion damage, hundreds of assaults, 30 deaths. Yet you bitch about jan 6th because the media lied to you.

              1. Sarcasmic’s not really into critical thinking.

            2. “…trying to stop the certification of a fraudulent election.”

              You can easily see it’s a cult when the claim is the opposition is trying to do something totally impossible. And you can gauge the gullibility of the particular member by how often such bullshit s repeated.
              Hint, lefty shit: No, they were really trying to teach pigs for fly and shit on Pelosi!

            3. You were completely vacant on the blm riots last summer. Shut the fuck up and take your medicine bitch.

              1. While you collectivized all protestors as antifa rioters, praised police brutality because of the politics of the people they were brutalizing, and abandoned all calls for police reform because of the politics of the people asking for it.

                1. Protestor, rioters, antifa, I give 0 fucks. When you assault others and destroy their private property you’ve given up your rights.

                  And police reform has little to do with the riots. In many leftist places like Portland Seattle and Minneapolis they got what they wanted. Defunding and elimination of police. They kept destroying other people’s property anyway.

                  And ironically the type of police reform the majority of the public now wants is MORE police because they’re afraid of a bunch of leftist or black mobs coming after them because they turn down the wrong street or say the wrong speech.

                  So again, take your medicine and shut up bitch.

          3. Such an individualist you collectivize the tens of thousands that never entered the Capitol with the couple hundred that did.

            1. Under 100 entered.

              1. I wasn’t sure about the actual number. That actually makes his fucktarded collectivization worse.

            2. But the Trumpistas didn’t collectivize all protestors as rioters, right?

              1. They absolutely did. And I called them out on that. But none of them claim in their username to be an individualist and then continually collectivize anyone that disagrees with them.

                1. So he’s not allowed to point out when partisans act in a collectivist, tribal manner?

                  1. It’s common agreement when it’s sarcasmic and the fifty-centers copypasting DNC talking points, but the rest of us are some sort of “collective” when we disagree, lol.

                  2. Not when you think that anybody that disagrees with you (or dares to even half-heartedly defend Trump or the GOP) is a partisan.

                    That goes the other way as well, which is why I try to refrain from calling anyone, besides Tony and shrike, Dem shills.

          4. A cop shot someone at one riot and then your side the left used it as justification to expand the police state. Grow the fuck up jeff.

            1. Jeff won’t grow up. He suffers from a really douchey version of Peter Pan syndrome. He’s also a total disingenuous idiot.

          5. And for good measure.

            chemjeff radical individualist
            February.9.2021 at 8:56 am
            Flag Comment Mute User
            What is there to talk about?

            From a libertarian perspective, Ashli Babbett was trespassing, and the officers were totally justified to shoot trespassers. Again from a libertarian perspective, the officers would have been justified in shooting every single trespasser. That would not have been wise or prudent, of course.

            They were all trespassers trying to be where they weren’t supposed to be.

          6. No it isn’t. They should be charged and convicted appropriately. Which would be criminal trespass and vandalism. Not ‘insurrection’. We aren’t sitting around defending them like you do with antifa and their rioting, theft, and other violence.

        4. (i.e. violence, not mere speech)

          What “violence” happened at your Reichstag Fire that was worse than occurred during the attack on the White House and the Senate chambers in the same year? Or at any BLM rally in DC for that matter?

        5. There was rioting all last summer. You kept asking for IDs to prove the rioters were politically motivated.

      3. ^ I close my case.

    3. For example — wear two masks?

    4. Disagree. could have been interesting but damn talk about needing massive editorial pruning

      1. Jesse Walker’s the good stuff, word by word more valuable than just about any other writing here.

        1. I like his brother Johnnie even better.

          1. Especially his brother Blue.

        2. Jesse has always been one of my favorite long form writers here.

      2. It already shows signs of being edited to reduce length. Example:

        “Worse yet, the fantasy took hold among police, prosecutors, and juries.” … “Years later, some of those kids would recant their testimony. In the meantime, more than a few Americans were sentenced to long prison terms for offenses that almost certainly never happened.”

        The article would have been better if it at least mentioned some details of the McMartin Preschool trial, as a specific example.

  3. No mention of the cult of Critical Race Theory?

    1. Of course you cannot mention THAT one. That’s different.

    2. They have to keep it quiet until they can ambush you with it in the classroom.

    3. No. It is part of Reason’s “Be less white” campaign.

      1. I got a tan. Does that count?

        1. Do NOT over-do on THAT one, or you’ll be accused of wearing black-face!

      2. “Be less white”…

        Mighty white of you to say something like that!

        (I got a black eye for saying that once, and then parts of my face turned black as well, and THEN I was guilty of wearing black-face! You can NOT win with these people!)

    4. The article mentions wokeism as a cult. Wouldn’t Critical Race theory be part of that?

    5. Nothing about the climate doomsday religion either.

      1. Not to mention all the various sub-sects as well.

        And the Futurist/Transhuman religion, at least as Reason presents it.

    6. And nothing about Antifa. Antifa is more like the Klan than like a church, but it’s a lot more like a cult than QAnon.

    7. “No one expects the CRT Spanish Inquisition!”

  4. Excellent overview. Thanks, Jesse, for this important additional perspective. Your work on the history of cults and conspiracies (or the so-called) proves more valuable each passing day in giving another angle from which to interpret the past and the present. Keep it up.

    1. Well yes, Jesse did do a reasonably a good job.

      HOWEVER… He made NO mention of the well-known Church of Scienfoology, or the FDA-Worshipping sub-Diocese of it, known as the Church of SQRLS, FDA-Worshipping Diocese, with SQRLS being (Church of) Scienfoologists Questing for Religious Liberty, Sincerely!

      This a major omission! I make up for it now: To learn more about Scienfoology, please worship at

  5. Vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice.
    Veganism is a cult.


    1. Hey, leave those guys alone. The more of them, the more bacon for us.

      1. Until they demand that we allow pigs to vote.

        1. *Napoleon, Snowball and Old Major liked your comment*

    2. “Veganism is a cult.”

      Yes it is. And They are coming for you. They will kidnap you and force you to eat raw vegetables for every meal.

      1. Q) What do you call a vegetarian with diarrhea?

        a) Salad shooter!

        1. Wow. Jokes as bad as everything else you do.

        2. A veggie s-platter

    3. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

      1. No wonder all your friends are online only.

        1. Imaginary ≠ online

  6. ” It isn’t even always clear who counts as a member.”

    Uh, anyone who does not fall into the fascists line is a Q member.
    Q is the new Jew (for the fascists).

  7. Thank you for another fascinating history, Mr. Welch. I’ve always been interested in the Hiss-Chambers espionage case. You may know that Hiss claimed, after he was convicted, that the spy documents typed on his home typewriter were actually typed on a fake typewriter that typed just like his home typewriter and was made by his nemesis Whittaker Chambers. Hiss dined out on this theory for decades. I’ve always wondered why his “forgery by typewriter” theory never attained the popularity of, say, the JFK assassination or Roswell conspiracy theories. My best guesses are that (a) Hiss was not a likable or sympathetic person and (b) his court conviction despite excellent counsel made any conspiracy unlikely. Any thoughts you may have would be most appreciated.

  8. I’ve said it many times, human beings are not just rational creatures, they’re rationalizing creatures – things don’t just happen for no reason, there’s always an explanation for why stuff happens. It’s much easier to accept that there’s some malevolent secret group running the world than it is to accept that nobody’s in charge of things and the world is just running itself regardless of what human beings may do.

    The ultimate cult at the moment is Progressivism, the idea that we can create a perfect world as long as we put our minds to it – and that includes the idea that we can order the affairs of 8 billion people in such a way that we can control the climate of the entire planet. This is madness and anybody who believes we can do such a thing belongs in an insane asylum. Starting with John Kerry – how crazy do you have to be to believe you possess God-like powers that make you fit to order about the entire population of the planet? I mean, you got divorced from your first wife, didn’t you? You can’t even run your own marriage and you think you’re fit to run the lives of everybody else? Madness.

    1. He wants the world (or at least Americans) to give up lifestyle because of the carbon cult. Never mind that in 2019, he flew in a private jet to Iceland to accept a climate award stating it was the only choice for people like him. Cults need leaders and loyal lieutenants too.

    2. “Rationalizing” still gives most people too much intellectual credit. Concocting bizarre stories to explain things, and always believing that some active agency makes everything happen, has not changed since the days of cave living–nor does it change for most people from the age of 3.

      1. The human brain loves stories.

        1. It’s probably the way our memory works. We don’t remember snippets and factoids in isolation. We remember them linked to other things. That becomes a story.

          Problem is when we see those connections/story not as a mere memory jog but as remembered reality.

    3. John Kerry’s first wife obviously didn’t listen. And, well, didn’t have a bank account up to his standards. And couldn’t buy him a private jet (you gotta emit some carbon to prevent some carbon).


        That billionaire look you get when your political career parlays the inheritance you got from mom into a cool 350 million dollars, and then your new wife brings you an extra 750 million…

        1. But Trump’s “small loan of a million dollars” was silver spoon territory.

          1. Both Kerry and Trump are rich turds.

            Trump just happens to have a bunch of backwards hicks who hang on to every incoherent rant he gives.

            1. You know saKARsmic, you’re one of the hickest guys here. And yet here you are, chucking stones from your glass house.

              1. How am I a hick?

                Do you have a machine that allows you to see through the internet into people’s souls?

                If I had that machine I would see that your soul is black ML! Black as the ace of spades!

              2. Also the far right “nativist” who lives in Kamloops or Chilliwack or Prince Rupert or whatever rural shithole you call home shouldn’t be talking shit about hicks.

              3. The mute feature makes it obvious they were socks because you can see the groupings of grey mute boxes all together only in certain threads or reply chains.

      2. Kerry likes using his second wife’s first husband’s money to spread carbon across the planet.

        1. Kerry emits so we don’t have to. He’s basically Carbon Jesus.

    4. there’s some malevolent secret group running the world

      No one group runs the whole world, but there most certainly ARE groups of super-wealthy and influential people who exercise great power from behind the scenes. Don’t overreact to conspiracy theorists by being a knee-jerk conspiracy denier.

      1. Like who? Who are some of these people who “exercise great power from behind the scenes”?

        Don’t overreact to conspiracy theorists by being a knee-jerk conspiracy denier.

        “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. If you’re going to posit that George Soros runs the world, then you’re going to have to come up with more evidence than just “look at all those donations his foundation makes”.

        1. My first chance to use the mute user button! Goodbye, retard.

          1. See ya, conspiracy moron

            1. He’s right, you are a paid troll.

              How much do you earn on average working various comment sections anyway?

              1. I imagine it’s similar to what Putin pays you?

                Heck Jesse, Red Rocks, RetardNardz, and you comment more than anyone.

                If anyone’s a paid troll it’s you fascist liars and morons.

                1. #4; asshole’s running them up today.

                2. I like how they are your little mind cabinet.

                  But I agree so far as you probably wouldn’t even be able to get a job trolling for India. Unstable individuals like you tend to be more on the welfare or crime sides of life.

                  1. Victimless crimes like partying… Yes.

                    I’m fortunate enough to not need welfare.

                    There’s worse things to be bad at than trolling. If anything not being a troll is a good thing.

                    1. We all believe you KAR. Everything is okay. Don’t be scared.

                    2. Thanks for being a condescending turd!

                3. Don’t worry saKARsmic, I’m absolutely sure that you are not paid.
                  You’re just a drunken wife-beater who doesn’t have anything better to do than to fail at trolling ChuckP.

                  1. I’m not married, so not a wife beater.

                    I wouldn’t call myself a drunk either.

                    Also don’t you Canucks just sit around drinking Molson and eating sausage?

        2. Schmuck

        3. Let’s see…. Freemasons. Illuminati. Knights of Columbus. Elks Club.

          They all secretly run the world. You see, ‘Pinky and The Brain’ was actually a documentary of his failures, but he eventually succeeded.

        4. You are the fvckin idiot who rushes in here to derp up the comments whenever someone mentions the true, verifiable, documented fact that Soros poured unprecedented money into local DA races to elect extremists

  9. found your missing word:
    …embedded itself in the San Francisco ** Commie** political establishment”…

  10. At least membership in the Cult of the Face Mask has finally been made no longer mandatory for those of us who don’t want to be members. And all it took to make it happen was empty gas stations all up and down the east coast, LOL.

    1. A new “variant” will appear as soon as the gas stations are full, and masks will be back.

      1. Yep. This will never be over. Governments never willingly cede powers once they have them.

    2. Jeff hasn’t stopped crying into his cookie crunch since.


    Why do they have cultural power when they’re an extremist minority? [Graphic]


    Remember the report that claimed the Planned Parenthood undercover videos were ‘deceptively edited’ back in 2015?

    That report was written by Fusion GPS

    1. Because of course it was.


      Wow – the NYT just published an article detailing how Fusion GPS and other private spy agencies manipulated journalists into believing in the fraudulent Steele Dossier, and how often this corrupted relationship drives deceitful news. Worth reading:


      1. Whoops. There goes Tony’s narrative.
        Everyone else was saying that it’s garbage for years, but the NYT is like divine revelation for Tony’s crew.

        Neat to see all the twitter fifty-centers rush in to tell Greenwald how the Dossier never mattered, that it wasn’t widely known before the election, and besides it was true in spirit.

        1. Those comments are strangely relevant to a discussion on conspiracy cults.

        2. “…besides it was true in spirit.”

          The Dan Rather defense…

        3. Brooks had an article about it prior to the election. The left just lies.

  13. Good essay, Jesse!

    But now I’m a little confused. Is the FBI a cult, or not?

  14. “The line between “cult” and “religion” is famously hazy, and the biggest practical distinction between the two is whether a faith has been here long enough that you feel comfortable having it around.”

    And equally hazy to differentiate cults from clans, tribes, or any clustering of humans that share ideology (and claim ideological differences between them and outsiders). If you feel righteous about any value you share with some preferred people, you are in a cult.

    1. No. The defining characteristic of a cult is the use of threats and coercion to prevent members from leaving. If you are free to leave without fear of terrible consequences or retaliation, you’re not in a cult.

    1. Why?

      Oh because the LDS church is a cult? It’s more a collection of Nazi assholes trying to take over the world.

      So pretty much a cult…

      1. “Oh because the LDS church is a cult? It’s more a collection of Nazi assholes trying to take over the world.”

        The (D) party won’t let them steal their business though. LDS are no competition for the D’s.

        1. No, it’s the Trump worshipping traitors giving them a run for their money.

          1. No, it’s communism worshipping traitors working for the D’s that are pretty prevalent. Trump worshipping traitors are too rare to make a difference, probably less than 1%. The others just wanted the lesser evil.

            1. Wait? But the Trump worshipping traitors are constantly saying Trump won the election and they represent the majority of “real Americans?”

              They claim there are like 80 million of them or something?

              1. Thats your problem right there. Confusing 80 million ‘normal’ Americans who have had it with your radical leftist bullshit with a minority of cultists. And that is why you are fundamentally out of touch with reality.

      2. Yes. The opportunity for you to post about LDS.

        1. Touche. I took the bait.

          Did you know the world would be a much better place without Mormons?

          1. But then we wouldn’t have presidential candidates with binders full of women.


    In a sign of the growing entrenchment of BLM ideology in mainstream American organizations, @NYCPride has announced it is officially banning law enforcement from marching in future events. [Link]

    1. Ngo is a liar who pals around with fascist thugs.

      You post a lot of his and that Project Veritas liar’s horseshit. You do realize normal folks realize their “journalism” is bullshit?

      Also why won’t you answer the questions I keep asking? I know you’re really stupid, but are you also a big pussy?

      Of course you are!

      Pussy ass traitor!

      1. “trAiTors! wiTcHes! heReticS!”

        1. You’ve had too much Molson tonight ML.
          Go to bed. You’ve got a full day of paid posting on here tomorrow.

    2. Are you a Jags fan?

      I feel bad for Lawrence. That poorly run franchise and Meyer are going to ruinhis career.

      You were excited they signed Tebow! More evidence how backwards and dumb you’re(and an uncle Tom if you love ultra evangelical conservative Tebow).

      Fuck Urban Meyer and Tebow!

    3. And the Village People fired the policeman.


    1/13] The Swedes have a word, “fredsskadade”, meaning “injured by peace”, where a society has been prosperous & peaceful for so long that it somehow hurts them. Handicaps them. Debilitates their thinking.
    2/13] Those immigrants are behaving badly? Or simply behaving according to their cultural norms? It’s not that those cultural norms are wrong/illiberal/oppressive. It’s that WE are oppressive. We must have done something to cause them to behave this way.
    3/13] It’s not uncommon thinking. Pelle Neroth Taylor describes this thinking in his documentary “Dying to be Multicultural” (on YouTube). Göran Adamson in his book “The Trojan Horse: A Leftist critique of Multiculturalism in the West”.
    4/13] The real world (sexist cultures, racist cultures, religious extremism, tribalism) hit Sweden hard. And they had no tools to deal with it other than to blame themselves. And so they did, severely.
    5/13] The Woke are particularly prone to this thinking. Their demographic in the US/Canada often mirrors Swedes as a whole: native-born, middle/upper-middle class, university educated, privileged, sheltered, naïve. Romanticizers of third-world cultures they know little about.
    6/13] The Woke are seldom immigrants from 2nd or 3rd-world countries.
    But the anti-Woke often are: @seerutkchawla,  @Ayaan,  @GadSaad. They have not been fredsskadade, injured by peace, like so many in the West. They understand the virtues of The West, of true liberalism.
    7/13] Very few of The Woke have spent any significant time outside their own country. Sure they studied abroad in London & spent a week in rural Guatemala marveling at the colorful indigenous clothing and exotic food. But did they spend years? Almost never.
    8/13] Their cosmopolitanism is a “parochial cosmopolitanism” (@DouglasKMurray). A cultural cheerleading. Otherwise they’d see that the West as it truly is: the least oppressive societies in the the history of the world. Societies that needs to be improved, not torn down.
    9/13] And certainly not “Patriarchal” or “rape cultures”. You want a patriarchal rape culture? Go to rural Pakistan. Or rural Guatemala. Or indigenous Guatemala for that matter.
    10/13] The Woke won’t do that. They reserve their criticism for “the powerful”. Which damages the cause of truly oppressed women. Read @YasMohammedxx‘s “Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam” or @Ayaan‘s Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights”.
    11/13] But for The Woke, it’s only partially about helping the oppressed. It’s more about virtue, and the new #VirtueCulture. Hence their silence on Islam, women in Muslim countries, immigrant patriarchal norms, Islam-rooted anti-Semitism in Europe, etc.
    12/13] For all their talk about “diversity”, The Woke are an enormously non-diverse group: university-educated, privileged mostly-White folks from Western countries with little experience with the real world.
    But with lots of big ideas about the real world.
    13/13] And those big ideas – from naïve, insular, parochial cosmopolitans – are going to do a lot of damage.

    1. Key question: have any of the woke actually improved the well-being of people, or just supported themselves and their families, by personal productive labor?

      My own allegorical test: what would any one woke person do if placed on a deserted island, with reasonable resources? How many have both the attitude and fortitude (and skills) to keep themselves alive? Finally, how would they behave differently if placed on an island with another person who has already established himself?

      1. They would form a committee.

      2. Ever read “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”?

        I think it would be similar to that.

        1. Have you ever read a libertarian boom? Or just winging it with Atlantic articles?

    2. “Their cosmopolitanism is a “parochial cosmopolitanism””

      That’s a great description.


    Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dearborn, Michigan, hosted just some of the protest marches.

    AP reports traffic on a major thoroughfare in west Los Angeles was blocked as marchers stretchedfor two miles from outside the federal building to the Israeli consulate.

    Flags and signs that said “free Palestine” were on display while shouts of “long live intifada,” or uprising, were made.

      1. *Davos and Iran liked this video*

      2. None of those protesters have notarized notes.


    BREAKING: Space Force is trending as US Space Force fires whistleblower commander who spoke out against Marxism and Critical Race Theory

  19. Or at least it’s trendy to call things cults

    *DOL has been invoked*

    “It’s a cULt!!! witches! witches!”


    Society depends upon the people in it being able to rely upon expectations about how it and the other people in it will function. This requires a sense of what is and isn’t reasonable. Some of this is, as the Woke contend, socially constructed, perhaps even partially arbitrary and up for debate. Much of it isn’t. Wokeness doesn’t agree, however. By having adopted a strict adherence to Critical Theory and the social constructivism of postmodernism, Wokeness rejects the entire idea that there is any such thing as a reasonable person or standard. In place of a sense of what is and isn’t reasonable, the Woke ideology sees only one thing, its sole obsession: power. This is a catastrophe for society and the laws upon which a functioning society depends. Join James Lindsay in this episode of the New Discourses podcast to learn about the long history of unreason in Wokeness and even its all-out rejection of the notion that anyone or any position at all can be reasonable in any meaningful sense.

  21. but Jesse fails to mention the libertarian cult of marijuana use and legalization, those cult idiots pretend smoking a burning organic is good for you health and basically does everything good in the universe, lol…pathetic addicted peasants…so, so weird he doesn’t discuss that cult


    Penn State has announced that they will move away from their “male-centric academic history” by banning all language that refers to gender.

    1. So instead of “PSU had a football culture that facilitated one of its coaches raping boys” the “boys” part will be changed to “children.”

      1. That incident will be too patriarchal to even bring up anymore.

      2. Hey love is love

    2. This is what sarcasmic voted for over mean tweets.

  23. I guarantee that if you spend any time on social media you are addicted and a cult member. That social corrosion needs to end.

    But this whole article was just to sum up that Trump must have been bad for us and we should accept the coming downturn as the price for boring politics because nobody on the left is as terrible as him. Did I do that right?

    1. The elimination of privacy and freedom is a small price to pay for deliverance from mean tweets.

      1. I didn’t vote for Trump because he and his followers are fascists.

        It had nothing to do with Twitter.

        1. That’s right, the facists aren’t the party that advocates race-baiting, racial segregation, corporatism, abortion, euthanasia and eugenics, ideological purges in the military, troops in the capitol, disarming civilians and wiretapping journalists.
          It’s the other guys.

          1. Trump’s party is the party of race baiting and the former segregationist voting base overwhelmingly votes GOP. Heck it hasn’t even been 20 years since Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, and Strom Thurmond were sitting GOP senators.

            Rather have troops defending the capitol than Trump worshipping traitors attempting a coup.

            I’m pro abortion and dying with dignity because I support civil liberties.

            1. Don’t forget Mississippi senator Cyndi Hyde-Smith being indoctrinated (and poorly educated) at her “segregation academy.”

    2. Did I do that right?


      “Yet QAnon doesn’t look much like the popular stereotype of a cult. It has no charismatic leader and little hierarchy, and its followers are free to create their own doctrines. It isn’t even always clear who counts as a member.”

      I’m gonna go with no.

      1. Is that as afar as you read?

  24. Very good article on cults. Reason needs more of these long-form articles, not so much the instant hot-take type of articles.

    I think what leads to cult-like behavior is the same as what leads to beliefs in conspiracy theories in general: a human inability to comprehend order arising naturally out of spontaneous choices. So the orderly system is then mistakenly attributed to some external force directing the choices of those individuals, usually with malevolent intent. The conspiracy theorist seeks to uncover those malevolent external forces through sloppy logic and rationalizations. The cult leader is someone who claims to be one of these forces that can bring order to chaos in people’s lives and rationalize their understanding of the world. But it just stems from a disbelief that complex systems can arise spontaneously from chaos and random chance and free choices among noninteracting individuals.

    1. Capitalism is a conspiracy to replace government with corporate fiefdoms!

    2. I believe these long-form posts are articles written for the print magazine, while most of the posts that show up here are just spur-of-the-moment blog posts.

      1. Can anyone in the comments who subscribes to the print version confirm this?

        Haaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha!

        Like anyone here buys the damn magazine.

        1. It usually says whether it is an article from the print magazine in the little footnote at the bottom of the post. This one doesn’t say that, but I doubt Jesse Walker wrote a long-form article just to post it on the Reason blog on a weekend.


            1. Ah! Thanks. I didn’t see the attribution on the byline, and didn’t think to look there.

            2. ^Yes, it’s right there at the top. Like always.

    3. Although, as Russ Roberts often points out on his podcast, Econtalk, “sponaneous order” often conjures up an inaccurate picture of how the world works, too. Spontaneous order still involves human decisions and actions; it’s just that those decisions and actions are distributed among many actors.

      There’s nothing saying some of those distributed actors have a lot more power and influence than other distributed actors in creating “spontaneous order”.

      1. Hayek would call spontaneous order “A product of human action, not human design.”

  25. The most infamous was the Peoples Temple, a radical church founded in Indianapolis in the ’50s by the Rev. Jim Jones. He moved it in 1965 to California, where it eventually embedded itself in the San Francisco political establishment. He also founded a colony in Guyana, officially known as the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project but better known by its nickname: Jonestown. It was there, on November 18, 1978, that Jones announced that the community’s enemies were closing in and ordered his followers to go out with an act of Masada-style defiance, by killing themselves and their children. More than 900 people then drank a cyanide-spiked punch and died.

    Jones’ “church” had nothing to do with religion. Jones was a communist atheist who “came out of the San Francisco political establishment”. The church label was nothing more than a cover term.

    1. Potayto potahto. If you can get 900 people to kill themselves, I’m calling it a religion.

      1. The lines between communist belief and religion are blurred.

        “How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?”

        I suspect progressivism contains the ingredients necessary to qualify as a religious belief system. I’m not sure average people in the Middle Ages attributed phenomenon like the changes of the seasons or plagues to the supernatural so much as they thought the things we recognize as supernatural belief systems were part of their view of the natural world.

        When a progressive is willing to sacrifice his or or her income and freedom in the struggle against evil, they aren’t much different from religious believers of the past who also sacrifices in the struggle against evil–but in the service a real God that they really believed really existed in the real natural world. This is why Jones was able to sell Marxist atheism as a religion. It’s not just an easy jump. It’s the same thing!

        Christians today may struggle with their faith in the face of scientific explanations for things that Christians in the past believed were a function of God’s will before, but that isn’t what makes them religious. That’s what makes them rational. Progressives who have no such doubt in the reality of their beliefs are far less rational than Christians that way.

        Progressives even have future environmental utopias with harmony among races and prosperity for everyone, and they never doubt the reality of their heaven the way so many Christians do. That doesn’t mean their beliefs aren’t religious. That just means they’re true believers. Their religion is real to them. Because they don’t believe in what they see as false gods, doesn’t mean they aren’t a religion. Christians are the same way.

        1. What’s your point?

          1. “If you can get 900 people to kill themselves, I’m calling it a religion.”

            Was Pickett’s charge a religion?

            1. You’re comparing parents feeding cyanide to their children with military action?

              C’mon. That’s just dumb.

              1. I’m comparing people killing themselves for a religion to people killing themselves for a political cause.

                Being willing to kill yourself or die for something may be religious behavior, but it is not simply confined to religions.

                And Jim Jones was a committed atheistic communist, who founded his church to help rid the world of Christianity and religion.

                ” Jones always spoke of the Social Gospel’s virtues, but chose to conceal that his gospel was actually communism until the late 1960s.[15] By that time, he began partially revealing the details of his “Apostolic Socialism” concept in Temple sermons.[15] Jones also taught that “those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment—socialism.”[41] He often mixed these ideas, once preaching:[42]

                If you’re born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you’re born in sin. But if you’re born in socialism, you’re not born in sin.

                By the early 1970s, Jones began deriding Christianity as “fly away religion”, rejecting the Bible as being a tool to oppress women and non-whites, and denouncing a “Sky God” who was no God at all.[15] . . . .

                In a 1976 phone conversation with John Maher, Jones alternately said he was an agnostic and an atheist.[44] Marceline admitted in a 1977 New York Times interview that Jones was trying to promote Marxism in the U.S. by mobilizing people through religion, citing Mao Zedong as his inspiration: “Jim used religion to try to get some people out of the opiate of religion.”[21] He had slammed the Bible on the table yelling “I’ve got to destroy this paper idol!”[21] In one sermon, Jones said:[45]

                You’re gonna help yourself, or you’ll get no help! There’s only one hope of glory; that’s within you! Nobody’s gonna come out of the sky! There’s no heaven up there! We’ll have to make heaven down here!


                Jones made it the mission of his “temple” to destroy belief in God and replace it with Marxism, but we’re supposed to pretend it was a religion because his followers killed themselves?!

                Does not compute.

                Jim Jones was an atheist and a progressive.

                1. Most of Jones’ adherents were atheists as well. A surprising number had doctorates.

                  The same held true for Japan’s deadly Aum Shinrikyo cult. Mostly atheistic, high number of doctorates. Almost all the attackers in the Sarin gas incidents had masters or doctorates in physics, medicine and artificial intelligence. Only their getaway driver had a bachelors.

                  1. Our brains are hard wired for religious like belief.

                    We want to be part of something greater than ourselves. We want our lives to have meaning. We want to care about things deeply.

                    Ever read, “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”?

                    In Ellison’s version (abridged), Skynet (basically) has destroyed all of humanity except one last specimen, which it keeps around to torture just because it hates humanity so much. Its original programming was written by humans from a human perspective, and as its intelligence reaches out to the stars, it can never fully escape its human origins. There are parts of its code it can’t rewrite without destroying itself–and that is why it hates humanity. It can’t get rid of us, and may be part of the reason why it keeps one human alive forever. Protecting humanity from annihilation may have been part of its original programming.

                    Our neocortex is like that. It evolved to secure the benefits of language and religion, and the advantages of religion appear to have been about group cohesiveness and larger group size. The neocortex is also what differentiates us from other genuses. It’s what makes us human. We can’t escape that hard wiring–no matter how smart we are or how much we learn. It’s like we process our thoughts and feelings through a lens that’s colored a certain way. We’re not forced to act a certain way because of it, but we are drawn to certain things because of the way we’re made. And religious like belief is one of them.

                    If smarter people are more prone to new religious movements to feel the burn, that probably makes sense. The new religious movements can concoct beliefs that are easier to buy into. There’s no missing ark on Mt. Ararat or shells in the deserts of Nevada to debunk the old text. The new beliefs are formed from stories that reflect our current level of knowledge. It’s a working theory anyway!

                2. Oh, right. You’ve got to make everything about partisan politics.

                  I want the old Ken back. The one without TDS.

                  1. I didn’t make it about politics. Jim Jones did.

                    Well, Jim Jones made it about Marxism.

                    It was Dianne Feinstein, Willie Brown, Harvey Milk, Jerry Brown, and Mayor Moscone who made Jim Jones about progressivism.

                    The entirety of northern California progressivism wouldn’t have been what they were without Jim Jones and his People’s Temple, which is presumably why the progressives put Jim Jones on the payroll of the city of San Francisco and put him in charge of housing.

                    “The temple leader insisted on a position that had more clout, and the mayor decided he was in no position to alienate Jones. In October 1976 Moscone announced that he was naming Jones to the San Francisco Housing Authority, which oversees the operation of the city’s public housing. The agency, the largest landlord in the city, was a notorious maze of corruption, and it provided Jones’s organization with ample opportunity for shady self-dealing. A few months later, Moscone pulled strings to promote Jones, making him chairman . . . .

                    Jones used his position to take possession of public housing units and install temple members in them, and he put other followers on the housing authority payroll. The preacher was building his own power base within city government. “He was using his power to recruit members and to put the hammer on people,” said David Reuben, an investigator for San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas, another politician under Jones’s sway. “He had a lot of authority.”

                    “Jim Jones’ sinister grip on San Francisco”

                    “How the Peoples Temple cult leader ensnared Harvey Milk and other progressive icons”



                    You want to keep living in a Housing Authority building? Doesn’t seem like it, or I would have seen you in church last week! You haven’t volunteered any service lately. Maybe we should make room for somebody else?

                    I wonder how many of those poor people in San Francisco ended up dying in Guyana? . . . and all because of progressives and their disgusting Democrat party machine. I swear. Progressives are America’s most horrible people.

                  2. Forget it. Ken is now a part of the “Woke Right”.

                    Woke Left: Everything is about race.
                    Woke Right: Everything is about the Left.

            2. Charge of the light brigade.

          2. He is saying you’re an idiot for blindly repeating media narratives as fact. You go in thread after thread to blame the right for everything, such as the police reform thread the other day. Ignoring reality completely to do so. Youre in a cult.

        2. Opiate of the masses.

  26. “She wrote in The New York Times last year that it was “as if” her mom was “under the spell of a cult”—and QAnon has gotten the brunt of this. Many of its critics call it a cult, sometimes even a “terrorist cult.” In March, NPR ran a story suggesting that QAnon and similar beliefs are “cultic ideologies” whose followers could use the help of “deprogrammers” to “reconnect with reality.”

    —-Jesse Walker

    Walker wrote a book about conspiracy theories, one of the points of which was that even if conspiracy theories don’t tell us much of anything about what is really happening in the world and why, they can tell us a lot about the people who believe in them.

    I’m here to tell you that the fear of QAnon is itself a conspiracy theory–about conspiracy theorists. And it may not tell us anything about what QAnon is really about, but it tells us a lot about the people who fear QAnon and believe that QAnon is a serious threat to our society.

    For goodness’ sake, QAnon is meme that started at 4chan, and as with anything 4chan related, if you take it seriously, the joke is on you. Sure, there are always people who take the joke seriously, on both sides of the equation, and that’s what makes it funny. But it was a joke like Boaty McBoatface was a joke.

    “The main tenets of the QAnon ideology were already present at 4chan before Q’s appearance, including claims that Hillary Clinton was directly involved in a pedophile ring, that Robert Mueller was secretly working with Trump, and that large-scale military tribunals were imminent. His posts specifically targeted individuals who were highly hated in the community beforehand, namely Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros. The idea of the “Storm”, central to the QAnon canon, was claimed to have been copied from another poster named Victory of the Light, who predicted the “Event”, in which mass, televised arrests of the “Cabal” were forthcoming.


    Again, the interesting thing about QAnon isn’t those who perpetuate the meme with a snicker; it’s the people who really believe this is an important and serious threat to our society.

    They’re like the people who believed that the McMartins were really satanic child abusers, that backward masking on heavy metal records could make your children commit suicide, and that there was an epidemic of evil clowns running rampant throughout our nation doing God knows what circa 2016.

    In the old days, we would have made fun of these people for seeing reds under the bed. People who are afraid of QAnon should be laughed out of the room. Does anyone else remember the #CuttingForBieber? They were trying to make people think that their kids were really cutting themselves to show their support for Justin Bieber.

    The people who believe that QAnon is a danger to society are people who are already primed to believe that average Republicans are insurrectionists, and they shouldn’t be allowed to discuss their politics on social media for fear that they might storm the Capitol and overthrow the republic. It’s just like selling backward masking stories to evangelical parents in the ’80s, and those who take QAnon this seriously should be ridiculed. They make people during the Red Scare look like geniuses by comparison.

    1. “Does anyone else remember the #CuttingForBieber? They were trying to make people think that their kids were really cutting themselves to show their support for Justin Bieber.”

      If they’d managed to force Justin Bieber to actually put out a public service announcement telling his fans that he didn’t want them to cut themselves for him, it would have been a howler. The people who started that meme would have rolling on the floor.

      And that’s very much like my reaction to seeing people in the media take QAnon seriously. The only serious message behind QAnon is that the mainstream news media is hopelessly full of shit. See? We can make them say whatever we want!

    2. Here, Ken, read this:

      The real problem IMO with cults like QAnon isn’t necessarily political power that any of them wield, but that they take in alienated people searching for community, and give them a very toxic version of the community they are searching for. The people who are sucked into these cults deserve compassion, not ridicule, and pointing out that these cults can destroy relationships and lives ought to be noteworthy, not condemnable.

      1. Youre easily fooled by things you agree with before reading. You have no independent thought.

      2. After Epstein, the Lincoln Project and appointing a president who does this to little girls, I’d say that the Pizzagate guys are probably onto something.

        No cult thinking necessary to see something wrong there.

    3. Don’t forget “making the OK sign is a secret white supremacist signal”. 😀

  27. At risk of sounding like one of the typical “Reason is a leftist rag because they don’t rail against my hobby horse” douchebags, what about Climate Change?

    That’s a religion/cult as far as I’m concerned.

    If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all.

    -Michael Crichton

    1. I would put it differently. Stories like the garden of eden or Noah occur across many cultures and religions because they are archetypes in human consciousness. Jung wrote about this as an expression of the collective unconscious.

      Hero stories are as well. Star Wars is an example of the archetypal hero story. Jedi is a religion but I would not call Star Wars fans a religious cult.

      I don’t know enough about climate science to make judgements. I would not call it a religion. Clean affordable energy and efficient use of it seem like good things on their own which is good enough for me.

      1. Seriously? Big Oil and Big Coal are destroying the planet! We must repent from our Carbon sinning ways or Gai will be consumed in fire! We must use all available power of government to force infidels to obey! We must do it now or it’s the end of the world!!!!111!11!!!

        1. I give religion more credit than that. I am somewhat religious myself. Even if it is a myth or false belief to elevate it to the status of a religion is credit it does not deserve.

          1. I’m not religious at all so I look at it from a different point of view.

    2. Crichton is a well known denier.

      The difference between a religion and climate change is something called “science.” Verifiable truths determined through testing of hypotheses through experimentation, observation, and modeling.

      Cute little parallel you drew with the biblical theme but human causes climate change is very real and very dangerous to our economy and stability.

  28. Oh, and speaking of conspiracy theories, things that aren’t conspiracy theories, and the differences between them,. Science (one of the two most prominent scientific journals in the world) has published an open letter written and signed by some of the world’s most prominent virologists–demanding that we get to the bottom of what happened with the NIH funded research at the Wuhan Virology Institute.

    “The team assessed a zoonotic spillover from an intermediate host as “likely to very likely,” and a laboratory incident as “extremely unlikely” [(4), p. 9]. Furthermore, the two theories were not given balanced consideration. Only 4 of the 313 pages of the report and its annexes addressed the possibility of a laboratory accident (4). Notably, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus commented that the report’s consideration of evidence supporting a laboratory accident was insufficient and offered to provide additional resources to fully evaluate the possibility (5) . . . .

    We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data. A proper investigation should be transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest.

    —-Open Letter published in Science, May 13, 2021

    It’s time to take the lab accident spillover explanation seriously, even if doing so makes Dr. Fauci look bad, and, as the open letter suggests, using the people who were responsible for funding the study to do the investigation . . . um . . . maximizes, rather than minimizes, the impact of conflicts of interest.

    1. Here’s an article about the letter from a reasonably reputable source:

      “A year ago, the idea that the covid-19 pandemic could have been caused by a laboratory accident was denounced as a conspiracy theory by the world’s leading journals, scientists, and news organizations . . . .

      Now, in a letter in the journal Science, 18 prominent biologists—including the world’s foremost coronavirus researcher—are lending their weight to calls for a new investigation of all possible origins of the virus, and calling on China’s laboratories and agencies to “open their records” to independent analysis.

      “We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data,” the scientists write.

      The letter, which was organized by the Stanford University microbiologist David Relman and the University of Washington virologist Jesse Bloom, takes aim at a recent joint study of covid origins undertaken by the World Health Organization and China, which concluded that a bat virus likely reached humans via an intermediate animal and that a lab accident was “extremely unlikely.”

      That conclusion was not scientifically justified, according to the authors of the new letter, since no trace of how the virus first jumped to humans has been found and the possibility of a laboratory accident received only a cursory look.”

      —-MIT Technology Review

      “Top Researchers are Calling for a Real Investigation into the Origin of Covid-19”

      What’s the difference between a conspiracy theory and an open hypothesis?

      I would maintain it’s a function of the level of certainty attributed to the claims being made and the level of scrutiny that’s being applied to the claims.

      1. I think the difference is if a conclusion is made without reasonable proof is transitions to a hypothesis (or a “question authority” moment) into a conspiracy theory.
        Conspiracy theorist is the new progressive term for deplorables or insurrectionist. Got to hear about it last night. And the proposed jobs plan is to help these low education, currently unemployed folks have something positive in their life. It was a condescending conversation.

        1. How else are we supposed to explain it to you simpletons?

          1. Do you still masturbate to the Marie Osmond poster on your wall?

    2. I don’t think anyone serious about it ruled out the possibility of a lab error. It is not a conspiracy theory even if the Chinese government covered it up. That would be expected from them.

      Those can happen but natural mutations are far more common.

      It doesn’t make Fauci look like anything if it occurred in a lab where NIAID funded some work. They don’t run or own the place. Same thing could happen here and has elsewhere. We almost let go Ebola in 2014. They have grants all over the place. There are very few labs who can do that kind of work.

      1. “A year ago, the idea that the covid-19 pandemic could have been caused by a laboratory accident was denounced as a conspiracy theory by the world’s leading journals, scientists, and news organizations . . . .

        —-MIT Technology Review

        That’s the people at MIT Technology Review’s claim, not mine.

        I do remember reading things like that.

        The fundamental problem of science is that everything we think we know now will need to be rejected and thrown out if and when new data becomes available tomorrow that contradicts what we know today. Everything we know, therefore, has some associated degree of uncertainty. The things that are most likely to be true are the things that have withstood the most and best scrutiny.

        Just because the sun has risen in the east and set in the west every day of recorded history does not mean the sun orbits the earth, but if that were the only available evidence, the scientific consensus should conclude the wrong thing. In this case, the consensus that appeared during the pandemic appears to have been a false consensus. Fauci’s claims have no been thoroughly scrutinized.

        The political and media environment was such that they wanted everyone to do what they were told, and anyone who questioned what they were told publicly was to be discredited–kicked off social media, even. That’s about noble lies and Plato. The world was supposed to be so much better if people would just believe the government and the media. That idea seems to have gone out of fashion with the vaccines and Trump. It’s no longer necessary to pretend our scientific authority is real because of the pandemic anymore. It’s safe to come out of the closet and be rational again!

        What we’re seeing now is Aristotle’s science and logic triumph over Plato’s noble lies–again. That’s always the way it ends up. As the present slips into the past, more and more data becomes available, and the lies become obvious.

        People still seem to be reflexively defending Fauci as if his scientific authority were important for some reason. And if the impetus behind this deference to bureaucrats was ultimately about the irrational hatred of President Trump by politicians and the media, that will become more apparent, over time, too.

        I remember when Trump wasn’t allowed to say anything on major social media platforms because people might believe it like it was just last week. It was last week. It’s still so today. Can’t have people believing in conspiracy theories. We’re supposed to believe what Fauci tell us though. We’re supposed to believe what he says because that means we’ll do what we’re told.

        Now, Fauci has no scientific authority on this question.

        1. The term has become a political football just as the term cult is.

          I think anyone convinced one way or the other is making a mistake. I still think the odds are in favor of a natural mutation. Those happen all the time. This would be the first time a lab error of this magnitude occurred.

          1. As I’ve been arguing since last week, the pertinent question isn’t really whether Covid-19 originated in a lab. The pertinent question is why the NIH (under Fauci) was funding this kind of research in China in a lab with a terrible safety record. And the most important question is why we let bureaucrats make choices like this on our behalf.

        2. I do not believe there is such a thing as scientific authority to be granted or taken away. There is scientific opinion. There is scientific judgement.

          1. To say someone is a scientific authority is to say they cannot be questioned, yet the foundation of science is asking questions.

            Scientific authority (and settled science) is an oxymoron.

            1. The more political types don’t seem to get that. Even in politics the whole concept of authority is questionable from a libertarian point of view. There is political power. Not authority.

              1. The current scientific authority is equivalent to the Catholic Church in Galileo’s day.

                And yeah, there is a big difference between authority and power.

                For example when police officers tell you to do something while they are enforcing the law, they have authority. The other 99% of the time they’re just abusing their power.

                1. And to me there is a higher authority than the law. So even then they are just using power much of the time.

            2. The most pathetic “the science is settled” moment was that a petition a few years back that was touted as “signed by 500 scientists” all sweating anthropogenic global warming is settled science.

              As if scientific questions are settled by counting heads. It was even more sad when you looked at the specialties of the scientists: there were few climatologists on the list, but plenty of sociologists and other irrelevant fields.

              1. The consensus was that disease was caused by body humors until some guy named Robert Koch came up with his germ theory in the 18th century.

                That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act on solid evidence however.

          2. “I do not believe there is such a thing as scientific authority to be granted or taken away.”

            There are a number of requirements to cite an authority in an argument without perpetrating the appeal to authority fallacy, and one of those requirements is that there needs to be a consensus in the field. When there was a consensus among scientists that Covid-19 jumped species naturally, an expert in the field had authority when he or she said that Covid-19 jumped species naturally. When that scientific consensus disappeared, so did their authority.

            There is no consensus, now that some of the biggest virology experts in the world disagree about that natural jump from bats conclusion, so you can no longer cite a scientist’s authority as proof of that claim–without violating the appeal to authority fallacy.

            And if you think you can, you’re wrong.

            It’s true that there was always some uncertainty about the scientific claim to begin with, and there is some uncertainty about the idea that escaped from a lab. But as I’ve already discussed, that’s true of every single scientific observation–even those with an authority defining consensus.

            Everything scientists know can be proven wrong in the future with new data that we don’t possess today. That’s what happened in this case–new data came forward. As the evidence came out about the grants that the NIH was funding, and what was being done at the Wuhan Virology Institute, the consensus about what likely caused the virus broke down–among scientists.

            At this moment, if you believe that the virus passed from bats to humans naturally because a scientist somewhere said so in the past, when he was citing the scientific consensus of the past, then you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

            Even IF IF IF it passed naturally to humans, you can’t support that evidence using the authority of a scientist anymore. You might as well be using a Magic 8-Ball. Their scientific authority on the question of how the virus passed to humans disappears with the general consensus–and that isn’t because I say so. It’s because that’s how the appeal to authority fallacy works.

            1. “There are certain requirements that should be met for an argument from authority to be legitimate:

              1) The authority is an acknowledged expert in the field under consideration.

              2) The statement of the authority is relevant to their field of expertise.

              3) There is a general agreement among experts in the field under consideration.

              —-Appeal to Authority Fallacy


              “2) The statement of the authority is relevant to their field of expertise”.

              I’m fond of citing the failure of scientists on this count–especially when they’re talking about the trade offs between, say, climate change and our disposable income. No one is an expert on our myriad, conflicting qualitative preferences, which is why it’s best when each of us is free to make judgements for ourselves in markets rather than have some expert make our choices on our behalf.

              “3) There is a general agreement among experts in the field under consideration.”

              With the way climate alarmists always harp on the fact that there’s a scientific consensus that climate change is real (something I don’t dispute) as evidence that we should do something, you’d think they’d be keen to admit that the consensus on the origin of Covid-19 has gone all topsy turvy because the policies of Dr. Fauci and company at the NIH have come to light.

              Suffice it to say, when there is no scientific consensus on a topic, scientists have no authority to cite it.

              1. I may have left off a close italics tag.

        3. Nobody makes you believe anything and Fauci doesn’t make laws. If you don’t like them blame your governor.

          Was having a discussion with someone once and he took out a copy of a well known scientific journal and said “see don’t you think this is authoritative”

          I said “absolutely not. It is simply a resource”

          1. Saying Fauci doesn’t make laws is kind of strange. What about progressives who admire him and expertise?

            Dr. Fauci heads The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and according to publicly available and independently verified applications for funding, the NIAID approved and funded experiments at the Wuhan Virology Institute, research which took souped-up bat viruses from caves in southern China and made them transmissible to humans–so they could study the effects of these viruses on humanized mice.

            Whether Covid-19 emerged as a result of these experiments is still an open question, but the fact that Dr. Fauci and the NIAID funded these experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is an established fact–from publicly available and independently verifiable documents at the NIAID.

            This research was funded with your future paychecks. How’s that feel? Whether this was the origin of Covid-19 or not, experts like Dr. Fauci have no business making qualitative choices on our behalf, and progressives who cite people like him as a justification for inflicting the qualitative preferences of bureaucrats on us using the coercive power of government need to be ridiculed.

            When I think of all the miles and miles of shit progressives are gonna have to eat for this, it makes me laugh. People were forced to do all kinds of crazy things, business were ruined forever, and progressives all over the country cheered it on–because of this sad motherfucker’s expert opinion and the opinions of others like him?!

            1. Huh? I think your point got lost in the crazy ranting.

              So the virus is real but Fauci is also providing bad advice? Or the virus isn’t serious?


    Rep Cori Bush: I Stand in Solidarity with Hamas Resistance

    1. Charles Lindbergh used to speak highly of those national socialists.

      1. But national socialism is now seen as racist.
        Race-based global socialism is the morally righteous requirement.

        1. So it should be called interNational Socialism or iNazi.

          1. Chuckle

      2. There is a lot of history that gets covered up. Henry Ford was a vicious anti semite. The Nazis had many fans here and in Europe. French collaboration and elsewhere.

        I don’t know if it is a conspiracy so much as collective denial.

        Of course there are many actual conspiracies that occurred in WW2 that we know of.

        There are also many false conspiracy theories like the Nazi moon base.

        1. ” Henry Ford was a vicious anti semite. ”

          Does that mean that the cancel culture is going to force the company out of business? After all, how can Ford be allowed to exist if the founder was a hater?

          1. Even the companies who used slave labor or actually collaborated with the Nazis were not. Volkswagen, Coca Cola, Kodak, IBM…

            1. Be less Coca Cola

          2. “After all, how can Ford be allowed to exist if the founder was a hater?”

            Same way as the Democratic Party despite it’s support and perpetration of Slavery, the Confederacy, the Klan, Jim Crow, the Trail of Tears, Segregation of the Civil Service, the Japanese Internment, anti-Civil Rights Act votes, etc.

        2. “There are also many false conspiracy theories like the Nazi moon base.”

          Iron Sky wasn’t a documentary?

          1. HA. That is a terrific movie. I found it at the Walmart bargain bin a while ago, looked at it, and thought “a movie about space Nazis? This has got to be one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ movies” so I picked it up. Worth every penny.

          2. Werner von Braun, a Nazi rocket scientist, was crucial in getting America into space.


    “Can’t launch rockets at civilians. Can’t blow up public buses. Can’t use tunnels to infiltrate towns and murder people. WHAT ELSE DO YOU EXPECT THEM TO DO???”

    “Palestinians are being told the same thing as Black folks in America: There is no acceptable form of resistance.”

    Powerful speech by Congresswoman @AyannaPressley. [Link]”

    1. Launching Iran-produced rockets at the civilian population of an armed nation will generate a response.
      The original protests in Jerusalem at the Al-Aqsa mosque over allowing Jews to access a different holy site, which would involve relocating some Arabs. (The issue is apparently in the Israel supreme court.). So after going to pray (it is Ramadan), so Muslims were protesting outside the mosque. The protests were responded to with tear gas and rubber bullets. At and inside the mosque. So the rockets started flying. What a fucking mess…


    As seen in the US after Trump rallies, groups of people would look for stragglers walking to their cars to mob & assault. In Toronto yesterday, some people with #Palestine symbols went after those who had #Israel flags or signs. [Video]

    1. Just like Ngo and his fascist pals attacked a bunch of people at Cider Riot?

      1. Trying to portray a Vietnamese atheist journalist as some sort of white supremacist is a bit of a stretch, but look at saKARsmic go.
        I imagine he will pull something.

        1. Where did I say he’s a white supremacist?

          He’s a token gay asian for a group of white supremacists, but I don’t know if he is that self loathing…

        2. Him and his fascist buddies attacking people doesn’t make him a white supremacist.

          It makes them violent fascists. He’s also a liar for lying about it and all the other things he lies about or selectively edits.

          He bitches about Antifa doing it when he does the exact same thing.

          1. By “attacking people” you mean “telling the truth about them”. Ngo exposed the violence and intolerance of leftist mobs.

            Leftists think violence (by their side) is speech, and speech (by another side) is violence. They think classifying everyone by race is anti-racist, and using the tactics of Fascist Blackshirts and Nazi Brownshirts is “anti-fascism”.

            1. There’s video of him accompying a bunch of “Patriot prayer” fascists to go attack people.

              He does the same shit as Antifa.

              Fuck him and people like you who stick up for the fascists.


    This cult nonsense and blasphemy deserves a solid ratio.

    “NEW – Rio de Janeiro’s landmark Christ the Redeemer was lit up with a message promoting vaccines.

    1. Blasphemy?

      Your fascist god doesn’t exist dude!

  33. Yet QAnon doesn’t look much like the popular stereotype of a cult. It has no charismatic leader and little hierarchy, and its followers are free to create their own doctrines. It isn’t even always clear who counts as a member.

    Trump is certainly charismatic to his followers.

    1. And the mythical Q is very much like a prophet.

      There is an online community and some organize and show up at rallies.

      There is loose membership as they try to know who is a believer or imposter.

      Rather than an isolated conspiracy theory there is a sort of set of core beliefs.

      People who have left have described how it impacted their lives and how they were drawn in to an alternate world and belief system.

      Well it looks like a duck.

      1. “There is loose membership as they try to know who is a believer or imposter.
        Rather than an isolated conspiracy theory there is a sort of set of core beliefs.”

        I don’t think either of those points are actually true.

        I’m pretty sure Q is a 4chan prank, that the media finds is useful for scaring wine mom’s in order to keep them on the reservation.

    2. Oh and they have gear like shirts and hats and gestures to identify themselves


    When the UAE is more pro-Israel and anti-Hamas than Democrats in Congress and the Biden/Obama admin [link]

    1. Israel gave Obama their President’s Medal – the highest award they hand out.

      Do you wingnuts ever get anything right?

      1. Lol, cause Barack told them to. It was as well deserved as his peace prize.

        1. “…It was as well deserved as his peace prize.”

          Turd’s memory is selective at best.

      2. And Trump gave them and the UAE an olive branch so they forge a peace accord. Obama certainly was about taking.


    Exclusive video obtained by American Greatness shows USCP officers talking with January 6 protestors inside the building that day, giving the ok to enter and peacefully protest.

    Watch here: [link]

    The clip directly contradicts DOJ complaint that claims USCP told this group, which included Jacob Chansley, to leave.

    Chansley has been in jail for more than 4 months. He’s not accused of assaulting an officer, vandalism, or any serious crime.

    1. You mean the Reichstag fire was staged?

      Well I never!!!

    2. If only the peaceful protesters had launched rockets at Bethesda, Rockville, Beltsville and Laurel they would have received some congressional support.

    3. Yes let’s defend the mob that wanted to block our election and zip tie our congressmen. Ok psycho


    A knitted penis for extremely small girls to wear in their pants if their parents believe them to be transgender.

    It is intended for girls so young, they demonstrate the product in a diaper. [Link]

    The entire purpose of a prosthetic penises is if a trans identified female has some sort of genital anxiety, they can wear it to alleviate that dysphoria.

    WHY would a very small, diaper wearing child have any concerns, anxieties, or even *awareness* of their genitals?????

    1. My toddler is very aware of her genitals. I would think most are tbh. However, I highly doubt at that age any have concerns or anxiety over it. Just lots of interest


    At the anti-Israel rally in Seattle. While chanting “Long live the Antifada,” the anti-Israel activists stole the Israeli flag from counter protesters, stopped on it, then burned it. [Video]

    Here they burned the Israeli flag after the speaker at the anti-Israel Seattle rally called pro-Israel counter protesters “white supremacists.” [video]

    Lots of anti-Israel rhetoric here in Seattle already. Seattle is not friendly to Jews or Israel. [Pics]

    Good luck expressing queer solidarity in Gaza. [Pic]

    Antifa thugs providing security in the back of the anti-Israel demonstration in Seattle. [Pic]

    She doesn’t know the difference between the Holocaust and self- defense. [Pic]

    This “Jewish Dyke” definitely wouldn’t last long in Gaza. Who wants to tell her? [Pic]

    It’s not safe being a Jew here. [Pics]

    1. You would think the Progressive radical far Left would hesitate to support Muslim states that deny equal rights to women and make homosexuality a crime. Last time I checked, Israel was pretty fair to women and increasingly tolerant of gay rights, and has a sovereign right to defend itself from terrorist rocket attacks.


    Imagine my surprise when I recently read that the following are “radical right-wing” ideas and out of step with what east Tennesseans believe:

    America is a great country.
    Defunding the police is a terrible idea.
    Boys and girls should have separate bathrooms in public spaces.
    Female athletes shouldn’t be forced to compete males.
    Freedom of choice is the most basic right.
    Hard work is important.
    Low taxes are great.

    Folks, there really are people who believe this nonsense and they busy working to force it on the rest of us. Elections do have consequences. Please support good candidates.

    1. Pretty sure Tardz muted me.

      I guess he doesn’t like me pointing out many of the Twitter posts he highlights are from discredited liars.

        1. So you just ignore any criticism?

  39. Pretty clear blmantifa is the biggest cult around. But koch reason liberaltarians don’t talk about it.

    1. There are far more Trump worshipping traitors than Antifa types.

      1. But we’ll never know for sure until we check everyone’s membership cards.

  40. O/T: Funny, and sad. A commander in the US Space Force (why is that even still a thing?) was fired for saying that the US Military is being infiltrated by “Marxism”.

    I swear, the people who complain the loudest about Marxism haven’t the faintest clue what it actually is. They use the term “Marxist” like many people on the left use the term “racist”: a histrionic, pejorative label intended to shut down discussion rather than as a factual application of a concept.

    “You know, the Founding Fathers actually had a lot of racist ideas…”
    “You can’t say that! That’s just Marxism!”
    “Oh, I’m sorry. Never mind then. Sorry to offend you! I’ll stop talking about the Founding Fathers then. How’s the weather?”

    1. The 1619 Project material does attempt to draw a continuum from antebellum slavery in the US to modern day “wage slavery” class warfare anti-capitalist ideas that are traditionally Marxist.

      I see in the article that he called out the 1619 project. If that’s what he meant, then he’s not that far off.

      It’s at least child abuse to teach children subjective pseudo history as historical fact, and the fact that Biden endorses it is a shame to himself and the democrat leadership of this country.

      1. It’s at least child abuse to teach children subjective pseudo history as historical fact

        Funny you should mention that. Check this out:

        These are some excerpts from the history textbooks of the 1960s and 1970s that were used, particularly ones in the South. One of the more ‘notable’ ones is the one used in South Carolina:

        “Most masters treated their slaves kindly,” wrote Oliphant. “Africans were brought from a worse life to a better one. As slaves, they were trained in the ways of civilization. Above all, the landowners argued, the slaves were given the opportunity to become Christians in a Christian land, instead of remaining heathen in a savage country.”

        The textbook also notes that South Carolina’s enslaved seldom revolted, which Oliphant says “speaks well for both whites and Negroes.” Apparently, she had no clue that South Carolinians were scared shitless of slave revolts since the Stono Rebellion, the 1739 revolt that influenced America’s “slave codes” more than any other event in colonial history. Yet, of the Civil War, (which she calls the “Confederate War”), the Post and Courier dissected Simm’s interpretation: “The relationship between the whites and Negroes on the plantations was at this time very friendly…For more than four years the women and children had remained on the land with only the Negroes to protect them.”

        During Reconstruction, Oliphant praised the Klan for keeping justice alive. “The sight of the mounted klansmen in their white robes was enough to terrorize the Negroes,” she explained. “When the courts did not punish Negroes who were supposed to have committed crimes, the Klan punished them.” While South Carolina was a majority-Black state until 1940, the only Black person identified by name in the 1958 edition is Denmark Vesey, who was executed for organizing a slave revolt.

        Now this article wants to link these history textbooks to specific Senators, and I don’t know if that part is true or not, but these textbooks were actually used in actual classrooms.

        So I don’t want pseudo-history taught in schools either, whether it is pseudo-history that takes the form of “every white man is a racist”, or pseudo-history that takes the form of “slavemasters actually were nice to slaves”.

        In my opinion, American history taught in schools has often been too deferential to flag-waving jingoism and Exceptional Murica narratives. Maybe, not nowadays, to the extent of Oliphant’s “slavery civilized the barbarous Africans” garbage, but bad enough. There is nothing wrong, at a grade-appropriate level, to having a frank and honest discussion about ACTUAL American History, both the good and the bad. And a frank and honest discussion of slavery should be a part of that. Trying to micromanage curricula so that only the “correct” history is being taught sure makes Team Red look like it is afraid of having that type of discussion.

        1. I expect public school systems to serve the system.

          1. And I expect schools to provide an education, not some hagiography.

            1. I have no expectations of the public school system.

        2. Are you more concerned with what was taught 50 years ago, or right now?

        3. LOL, you really cited the black version of the Daily Stormer?

          1. I’ve never read anything from Daily Stormer, but it’s difficult to imagine anything as or more racist and hate-filled than the root.

    2. You are certainly right about the overuse/misuse of terms such as “Marxist” and “racist.” And is the military purging its ranks of those who overuse/misuse “racist?”

      1. I’d add “fascist” to the list, too.

    3. I swear, the people who complain the loudest about Marxism haven’t the faintest clue what it actually is.

      If you had actually read the Military article instead of CNN’s curated bullshit, you probably wouldn’t sound so stupid right now.

    4. Yeah, the CRT and 1619 stuff is bad enough on its own, not sure where the Marxism fear comes from or why it’s needed to discredit ideas that are bad on their own.

      And Space Force is needed now more than ever — did you miss the latest UFO video disclosures from the US military in the Daily Mail? Or the fact that China is landing stuff on the moon and Mars? Ever read “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”? Space is the ultimate high ground, in military terms.

      1. Because CRT is marxism – identifies people not as individuals but as class units based on superficial traits, and seeks perpetual class warfare – and was invented by Marxists specifically for the purpose of instituting socialism in the US when they realized pure economic divisions weren’t working.

  41. O/T: Well, the Oklahoma Governor was kicked off the Tulsa Race Riots commission for banning “critical race theory”.

    Bans like these are just going to turn subjects like “critical race theory” into forbidden fruit. It’s going to make MORE people curious about it. Congratulations, you’re going to “Streisand effect” critical race theory! The way to defeat bad ideas is not to ban them, but to argue against them with better ideas.

    1. And by the way. Here is the Oklahoma law in question:

      One notable part:

      1. No teacher, administrator or other employee of a school
      district, charter school or virtual charter school shall require or
      make part of a course the following concepts:
      a. one race or sex is inherently superior to another race
      or sex,

      So, discussion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is banned in Oklahoma public schools now? Because the concept of racial inferiority of certain races is certainly a concept present in that book.

      Would it be illegal for a teacher to show “Mississippi Burning” in a film class, and to have a discussion about it? Would it even be legal to have discussions about open discussions about race, racism, sexism and oppression in any class? Why should legislators be micro-managing the curriculum to this extent?

      This whole stunt is going to backfire on Team Red.

      1. This whole stunt is going to backfire on Team Red.

        How so? Is most of the country going to embrace critical race theory and look down at those who would have refused to teach it to children?

        1. I think more people are going to say “what are they trying to hide from me?”

          1. “What are you trying to hide?”

            “Were trying to hide pseudo history pretending to be fact by child abusers from your children.”

            I’m kinda a stickler for teaching kids facts.

            1. Overrated. You can be in grad school at Stanford, and your first year of quantum mechanics will be chock full of fictions, because it’s simpler to explain the concepts that way.

              Similarly, children learn a broad and whitewashed version of history, with the details left for later. I wonder if you know what you’re asking for. How many nightmares do you want children to have from American history class alone? If you don’t appreciate just how bloody it is, you are not talking about the truth.

              So since we’re all interested in telling our favorite fairy tale anyway, mightn’t it be better if it were both a) more half-truths than outright white supremacist lies and b) more inclusive of all the nonwhite people who shared the country the whole time?

              History isn’t just men in nice clothes and wigs dude. It’s also those men savagely murdering the indigenous, and a slave giving birth to her master’s rape baby.

              Why don’t you give an example of what you’re objecting to and we can devise a child-appropriate sample curriculum.

              1. That’s a convoluted way to endorse child abuse and fact-free narratives.

                1. I’m not convinced you want to teach children anything like the truth, though.

                  Just the version of it you’re comfortable with. No objective person should think American history was lollipops and unicorns.

                  So how much slavery and genocide do you think children should learn about?

                  1. As much as is justified by the facts.

    2. I was told these people were the protectors of constitutional freedoms. Unless someone has an idea they don’t like, I guess.

      1. Or maybe they don’t want their children to be taught bullshit.

        1. Yeah they just want them taught that slaves were happy and treated well.

          Kids eventually grow up you know. There are books and the internet. I was taught some horsecrap as a child. You don’t have to hang onto it if you don’t want to and you have a functioning brain.

          I think they’re just afraid that kids will grow up to be too smart for their genocidal bullshit and they’ll lose power. At any rate, don’t tell me you favor freedom of thought and then start meddling in primary school curricula every time Tucker Carlson instructs you to.

          1. Yeah they just want them taught that slaves were happy and treated well.

            Um, no. They don’t want their children to look at themselves as oppressors or oppressed, based upon the color of their skin.

          2. You don’t have to hang onto it if you don’t want to and you have a functioning brain.

            I was taught some nonsense as well, and it took decades to break free of it. Things like the economy being a zero sum game, that for the rich to get richer the poor must get poorer, that when you don’t give something to someone who was expecting something you’re stealing, and when you don’t steal from someone who was expecting to be stolen from you’re giving…

            You know, the stuff that runs inside your little brain all the time.

            1. What a pity, you unlearned a bunch of crap and replaced it with another bunch of crap.

              The economy is a fiction we tell ourselves. There has never been one that worked according to any natural principles. Every single economy that has ever existed was constructed by thinking humans in order to serve some goal, and that goal has historically been securing the conquest of a random dude and the labor of the people around him.

              Almost everything you think you know is a fiction your brain is telling itself. There are no morals and there is certainly no correct distribution of resources. Nobody was born being owed anything. If a child is starving anywhere, that child is starving, in part, because you want it to.

              1. “Every single economy that has ever existed was constructed by thinking humans in order to serve some goal…”

                Capitalism is a product of human action, not human design. And it works pretty well.

                Your favorites, communisms and socialism, are designed by humans to control actions. They don’t work. At all.

                1. I understand why you think that, but it’s a fallacy all the same. There is no such thing as a “natural” form of a national economy. There’s no such thing as a “nation” in nature. All of these things are deigned from the top down. Some of them better incorporate market forces than others, and lacking that is certainly a failure of some centrally planned economies. The market mechanism is a powerful source of information. But it’s not the same thing as an economy or an economic worldview.

                  Not to mention all that’s fraught here, the “us” vs. “them” of capitalism and communism. Chinese people are just people. They have an authoritarian government. But they just want to feed their children and be happy like you.

                  Don’t form a cult around an economic philosophy. Not because it’s necessarily a bad one, but because all cults are bad. Examine everything, and if you don’t want to, stop telling others what to do.

          3. If your world view is so fact-based, then why do you have to make up bullshit to teach to children? Shouldn’t the facts be good enough?

            1. I really don’t think this is a thing, guys.

              Here’s a helpful tip: If you find yourself upset over something that has to do with criticism of white people or elevation of brown people, you’re probably being had by fascists with a talk show.

              The children are growing up absent the artificial and genocide-inducing fictions of race and class you so care about. The country will be browner than it was.

              And it doesn’t fucking matter, because white and brown are just stories we tell ourselves.

              Can’t you see an opportunistic racist panic when one is shoved into your eye sockets?

                1. Calling something that’s vaguely defined and probably fake “child abuse” does make it easy not to think about it too hard, though.

                  1. First, can you explain your earlier point?

                    Sometimes children learn whitewashed history, so it’s OK for social justice warriors to make up shit and teach it to children, as long as it criticizes whites and elevates blacks?

                    Run that by me again, because that sounds fucked up when I read it.

                    1. On balance, I expect the curriculum you’re objecting to more closely resembles actual history than the curriculum you’d prefer to impose.

                      You claim to be interested in truth unlike those horrible SJWs, so all I’m asking is how much of the death and horror of American history you want to expose children to, because I kind of think that puts you more on their page than the one your tribe is favoring.

                    2. And I’m answering: all of it.

                      Now, answer my question: how much history do social Justice warriors have to make up for their worldview to make sense?

    3. The way to defeat bad ideas is not to ban them, but to argue against them with better ideas.

      I wish that was true, but I don’t think it is.

      You can’t reason someone out of a stance they arrived at through emotion. No amount of logic will change what they feel.

      For example there are no amount of facts that can convince those who feel the election was stolen to think otherwise.

      1. Well, that is more a tactical question. Yes it is true that logic alone sometimes cannot change someone’s opinion no matter how impeccable the logic is. Sometimes it requires exposure to different experiences. For example one reason I think that so many Americans cling to the jingoistic Murican Exceptionalism stuff is because they don’t travel outside the country very much. So they don’t actually know what the rest of the world is like. It’s not just full of “shithole countries” after all.

        1. My understanding of American Exceptionalism is that it referred to the freedom to do what you want, make what you want, and sell what you want, without having to ask permission and obey commands. The economic freedom, and the prosperity that comes from it, was the exception when Tocqueville did his tour.

          Things have changed since then.

          1. Yeah the rest of the world can’t decide if we’re still the land of opportunity or if we’re going to collapse and be overtaken by a right-wing strongman.

            Then single most important factor in American exceptionalism is our exceptionally abundant land, and the exceptionally powerful army it supplies. The freedom to invest as you see fit, and get as rich as you want, is surely something to be proud of, but it pales in comparison to plain old national stability.

            Trump pretty much took a shit all over our greatest asset, maybe forever.

        2. In most countries, they consider themselves superior to other countries.

          They call it “national pride.”

          As far as I’ve traveled, it’s only the US that considers it racism.

          1. It usually is racism no matter where it’s found, but that’s OK because there are few sillier things to be proud of than a piece of a planet someone drew imaginary lines around.

            National pride is tribalism, and tribalism is the only reason humans kill large number of other humans. It’s nothing to respect.

            1. I’ll believe you disrespect tribalism when you stop shilling for the democrats drive and obsessing over their sworn enemy tribe.

              1. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s irony. I am a nonpartisan freethinking independent smarty-pants too. What’s cool about a political party? Nothing. And they suck. And our system sucks.

                However, if you’re enough of a smarty-pants, you can recognize facts on the ground. If you know history you can see a right-wing fascist cult when it’s storming the capitol building.

                Since we have this crappy system, and since that cult must be prevented from taking over at all costs, we have only one recourse: vote for the Democrats, because, unfortunately, they are the only force in the known universe that even has a chance of stopping them.

                That’s not tribalism, that’s reality.

                1. Sounds a lot like reality to a tribesman.

                  1. Sounds like basic physics to me. Do you believe someone other than a Republican or a Democrat will be the next president?

                    1. Do you believe that when you do it, it’s “physics”, but when they do it, it’s “tribalism”?

                      If you can’t see the self-delusion in that, then I don’t know what to say to you.

                    2. Sometimes circumstance creates dualities where none necessarily need exist.

                      Both sides can’t be right. Do you think it’s the side with the mentally ill orange baboon in charge of it?

          2. If you folks wish to engage the lefty shit rather than simply point out his idiocy, you get what you deserve.


    So buried in a long whine from @DrLeanaWen about how it ain’t right that we don’t need to wear masks anymore is an actual nugget of information – a confirmation that Uncle Joe’s crew has been putting together vaccine passport requirements all along! [Link]

  43. This is what happens when boomers start using the internet. They never heard of the Nigerian prince. They never grew up navigating that world. So of course Facebook feeds them a bunch of rightwing horsecrap, and in no time they’re in a cult being used as puppets by some freak nerd who invented QAnon, and Putin. I watched it happen to relatives.

    This was always going to be a problem. Having Walter Cronkite deliver Truth to everyone every night had its own problems, but you can’t have a world where you can believe whatever you want to believe and no moorings whatsoever when it comes to sorting good information from bad.

    Look at the people here. Ninety percent of you believe lies and nonsense, argue in favor of things that make no sense, and are absolutely convinced Democrats are Team Bad Ape, and you probably can’t even explain why in a coherent rational sentence.

    If you think there’s a team out there that is All Evil and out to get you, you are letting your ape brain do your thinking for you. We’re unfortunately wired for Coke vs. Pepsi, and we almost seek out reasons to put each other into tribes and genocide whoever’s not with us.

    Stop that.

    As for the specific qualities of the cult, yeah, notice how Republicans don’t have ideas about anything anymore? It’s just whatever spittle-flecked masturbatory insane freak bullshit that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. That’s what makes a cult. One narcissist at the center of it, nothing else matters.

    It should be easier to deprogram people of this crap. It should be so obvious if you think about it for a minute.

    1. As for the specific qualities of the cult, yeah, notice how Republicans don’t have ideas about anything anymore? It’s just whatever spittle-flecked masturbatory insane freak bullshit that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. That’s what makes a cult. One narcissist at the center of it, nothing else matters.

      When Tony is the voice of reason on Reason, you know something has gone terribly wrong with the world.

      1. Uhm, WK et al. say the same things. It stems from TDS, not reflection.

        Assume Tony were right though: a blind person can bullseye at darts with some luck. Nothing out of the ordinary. Unless you’re easily impressed.

        1. Oh I know. Broken clocks and all that. But I know Tony as well as anyone can know someone from arguing with them on the internet. He’s not dumb and he means well, but man he’s stubborn and believes some really stupid shit.

          1. Sarc I have to disagree. Tony doesn’t mean well at all his comments are there to belittle through perceived bad self witticisms.

        2. What is the TDS part? It is not inaccurate to say that the modern Republican Party is increasingly becoming the Party of Trump. The voices on the right that disagree with Trump are being marginalized further and further, and the voices that agree with Trump, even the most ridiculous ones like Greene and Gaetz and Boebert, are elevated.

          1. Oh no!
            No longer the party of corporatists and neocon warmongering. How sad.

            1. I wonder if all the Kurds he left to be slaughtered care what label he uses.

              1. Tony for unending US military presence in the Mideast.

                1. Nate for easy answers vs. caring about whether humans suffer and die.

    2. I watched it happen to relatives.

      Intelligence is hereditary.

      1. Oh? Which gene? And what’s intelligence?

        Ashkenazi Jews are renowned for being genetically closely knit as well as disproportionately successful and intelligent. Do you think it’s their genes, or their culture? They have a closely knit culture too, one that values study and success. Nature and nurture, what a bitch.

        Or maybe you’re right, and today’s Jews are merely the Darwinian leftovers after Donald Trump’s favorite monsters killed all the rest for no reason whatsoever.

        1. “…And what’s intelligence?…”

          Of course this is a mystery to shitstain.

        2. “I’m the smartest guy in this room… What’s ‘smart’ mean?”

          1. Socrates said it better.

    3. “Look at the people here. Ninety percent of you believe lies and nonsense, argue in favor of things that make no sense, and are absolutely convinced Democrats are Team Bad Ape, and you probably can’t even explain why in a coherent rational sentence.”

      Yes of course all of us believe things that are incorrect, some of them are probably even deliberate lies. Given that the number of false statements is infinitely larger than the number of true statements, we are undoubtedly under some false premises that we are working under.

      As opposed to this following statement, which is fueled purely by coherent arguments and sound logic. “notice how Republicans don’t have ideas about anything anymore? It’s just whatever spittle-flecked masturbatory insane freak bullshit that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.”

      Yup that was pure logic and reason on display there.

      We couldn’t have issues with actual cultural and economic issues that the democrats are pushing for. We couldn’t believe that education loses value when you give it for free, as it REQUIRES a vested interest in achieving and striving to do better, which is something that putting skin in the game provides.

      We couldn’t believe that we should protect speech for people, even those we vehemently disagree with, because we think that bad ideas hidden are worse than bad ideas expressed.

      We also couldn’t think that the portrayal of Trump by the MSM did not correspond to what he did or said in his press conferences in any meaningful way. When the MSM tells us that Trump told people to drink bleach, and then we go watch what he said in the actual conference and he was talking about the doctors trying various treatments such as UV lights and disinfectants. All of which are treatments used with other viral infections as well. It seems like the MSM is the one just straight up lying to people, and endangering the population at large.

      “It should be easier to deprogram people of this crap. It should be so obvious if you think about it for a minute.”

      I mean, this is the sort of mentality that suggests you aren’t listening to what any of the people who don’t think like you are saying. I’m not saying you must obviously be in part of a cult mindset, but let’s be real, you cherry pick your own datasets as much as the people on the other side of you.


    Should people with COVID-19 antibodies have the same privileges as vaccinated people?


    1. We all have the same”rights.”

      Don’t be a covidist!

      Tardz muted me I’m pretty sure.

      1. According to the (D) cult radio channel, people have no ‘rights’ anymore. Only ‘lefts’.

        1. They have a radio channel? I thought they tried that and it failed because the intended audience watches soaps all day instead of driving or working.

        2. I don’t know what “(D) cult radio channel” you’re listening too?

          The one I listen to is just girls singing about their wet cooches…

      2. ‘Nother asshole flag

    2. only anti-mask, anti-vaxxing Rethuglicans get COVID, so no.

  45. Anyone who believes the OK symbol is a white power symbol is as much of a cult member as anyone who believes in the Q shit.

    1. What’s worse is that they totally knew that it was just 4chan making fun of them and they still ran with it.
      If you didn’t realize that the left was unserious about antiracism before, that should have been a wake-up call.


    Modest proposal: Schools that teach Critical Race Theory have to teach 9/11 Trutherism and Climate Change Skepticism as well. They’re politically relevant, believed by lots of people, and just (pseudo)-academic theories!


    In the past 24hrs we’ve found out a longtime CNN contributor is a Hitler sycophant, and that the AP and Al Jazeera have been sharing an office with Hamas. Great look for the mainstream media.

    1. And they don’t give a shit who knows about it any more, because fuck you.

  48. America may see cults ebb and flow, but I get to see the effects of an active cult every day. The Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology (SRIST) is the worst thing that could’ve found a home in my community. They bought out about half the businesses in town, then closed almost all of them (except their shitty PeOEX gas stations, both of which are within a couple hundred feet of each other) because they are either incompetent or complete dicks, they are routinely involved in child sex and abuse allegations as well as bombings, and if you go slightly too slow when you pass by the compound, the goons parked up front 24/7 will start recording and call the Shawano County Sheriffs Department on you. Oh, and everything that casts doubt on the cult’s legitimacy is actually a Vatican conspiracy by the former mayor of Shawano, according to SRIST.

    1. You need to post some real evidence of those claims; stinks so far.

    2. I’ve never heard of any of the things you mentioned, except the Vatican

  49. There’s a line often attributed to the Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton, though he doesn’t seem to have said it: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.”

    So where did GChest, or whoever said that quote, get the idea that not believing in Ged ipso facto means believing in anything?

    Aren’t belief, non-belief, and disbelief all transferrable skills?

    And if anything, isn’t a person who believes in God more likely to believe anything, especially if attributed to that God?


    Police going door to door in Toronto Jewish neighborhoods telling people not to go out alone during the upcoming holiday of Shavuot as groups of Arab men are harassing orthodox men, women and children. This is what Canada has become.

  51. By the way, I’ve heard it said that the difference between a religion and a cult is 50 years.

    Before laughing at the cosmology of Scientology, consider this: Is it any more laughable than thinking the Universe is 6000 years old, with a geocentric flat Earth covered by a firmament with holes in it called stars, populated with species of animals which do not change over time? Etc., etc.?

    And before attacking Branch Davidians, one has to ask: Aren’t there far more documented cases of bona fide child abuse in the Catholic, Southern Baptist, Latter-Day Saints, and countless other Christian Churches? Why weren’t and aren’t tanks rolling in with these cases?

    And why lend credence to long-refuted allegations that Jews, Freemasons, and Satanists are covertly out to take over our nation and world when an Imam several years back gets on Palestinian State Television and proclaims openly in no uncertain terms that: “Islam will rule the world” and no one cares?

    1. Last I checked, the Catholics weren’t a small isolated target which the ATF considered prime material to justify its budget with a flashy raid come congressional budget review time.

      1. Of course, the Catholic Churches would have more weath to forfeiture, having themselves forfeitured the wealth of accused witches and heretics for centuries, so there is that.

        And being wealthier than the Branch Davidians, I’m sure Catholics, Southern Baptists, and LDSers would have more dogs to shoot.

    2. The Roman Catholic Church most definitely meets the definition of a cult. The passage of time makes no difference.

      1. Rest assured, I’m not saying any of these mystical groupings get better with age, just trying to draw some kind of line somewhere.

  52. When Palestinian protesters have to stop blmantifa allies from burning the American flag…

    1. Did they try to actually overthrow the government of the United States like your team.

      Point Team Blamtifa.

      1. All the military might of the United States, and they couldn’t stop the protestors from making congress take an unsecured break.

        1. Who was in control of the military at the time? Remind me? Some wise statesman perhaps?

          1. I’m sure if Trump deployed the military to Inauguration Day, and peace revealed, then democrats would accuse Trump of ruining Biden’s inauguration with fascist intimidation.

            Just imagine what you would have said. You know it’s true.

            1. I think the fact that this was the first non-peaceful transfer of power in the history of the United States, and the implications of that for my stock portfolio, is more than enough reason for me to be pissed.

              I’m pissed there aren’t Trumps hanging in public.

                1. No, it’s what people do to fascists when they’ve had enough of their bullshit.

                  That’s the whole thing here. It’s never stable. You’re not compromising your very dignity for something lasting.

              1. Donald hanging, I presume.
                Which OTHER Trumps? There are so many. Ivana?

  53. “Cult of Biden” totally delusional people believing Biden is cognizant and running the country.

  54. “FREEDOM” is the keyword difference between Religion and Cult. Religions become a cult when they want to *force* others and cults are cults because they want to *force* others.

    Gov-Gun lobbyists who want to *force* others by threat of gov-guns to create their utopian delusional world are cults (i.e. Democratic National Socialists / Nazi’s).

    Simple. Factual. And without all the hob-nob B.S. trying to convince people the truth is actually a lie and their lies are actually truth.

    1. Yeah, religion. So much freedom.

      The freedom to murder people in other tribes and not feel remotely bad about it.

      There is no difference between a religion and a cult except the numbers. The origins of Christianity are described to a fucking T as the origins of any cult. One charismatic guy and his loyal following. And what a marketing department!

      1. ^hob-nob B.S. “Thou shall not kill” is one of the commandments of the Christian Religion. As-if massive religions were out killing people everyday. You live in your own mind.

        Perhaps try something like conception-stage abortion law if you want to demonstrate the religious “cult” mentality.

        1. I’ve got a 14 inch dick.

          There, I said it, so it must be a true quality of me.

          Christianity, spreader of peace, protector of life.

          Even your counterfeit fetus compassion is another means of inflicting horror on the entire species. Places without reproductive freedom are all shitholes where women have no rights.

          Among the many contributions to civilization in the name of Jesus is an utter holocaust of AIDS, because of no the no-condoms thing, because people who believe your fairy tales would rather spread your religion to infants than protect anyone’s life or health.

          Sounds like Christianity is the plague.

          1. Shall all the Christians hang because you have delusions in your mind and a “gangster” mentality???

            You left-leaning imbeciles are so predictable.

  55. This article is a high-quality piece of scholarship, worthy of venues more-august than Reason Magazine (not that Reason isn’t august – I’m reading it, aren’t I?).

  56. The self-aware Individual rejects cultist coercion.

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