[the longest post I've ever posted]
Majestic12 - I'm glad to hear that the book could be useful to you. Especially if you are looking into various groups. All groups use some techniques
either "by accident", as some are completely normal things that we as people do...like being kind to newcomers or others in need...but some groups
[Real quick about the "secret levels" and such: Your question made me think. To be clearer, I'm more suspicious of the general secrecy. Secrecy
isn't bad or negative on its own. I guess I mean that these groups COULD be keeping requirements and group "laws" from you. So, I could join a cult
thinking that it is going to be what THEY tell me but slowly it turns into something that I never agreed to in the beginning. LIke the guy you talked
to on the phone, you wouldn't get straight answers about what the group believes behind "closed doors". Without telling you what you as an
individual are curious about, instead the guy wants a commitment from you to meet with a member.]
For example, AA isn't a cult even though the group may share SOME similarities, but of very different levels from a cult.
People are kind and helpful to newcomers in AA but don't promise any easy solutions and are straight up that meetings won't get you to where you
want to be...it helps though. Cults promise great things early on either specifically or through their actions (smiles, affection, etc). There is no
agenda other than getting sober and everyone knows that going in. People who attend meetings on a regular basis aren't coached in how to manipulate
others or pretend to be interested in them as individuals when they are not. All locations from town to town let various members open the meeting with
announcements and so forth and then the whole thing is turned over to the other people there that day, people from out of town, the first time, people
curious about alcoholism and so forth.
Family members are welcome to attend, etc. It is social in nature and encourages broadening horizons. By comparison, cults do the opposite. They
don't encourage broadening any more than what they believe in. It's all about increasing your knowledge of the group's interests and excluding
those that do not.
Exercise isn't usually encouraged either (except in some "athletic" cults that use sports as a type of gimmick to get members). AA encourages
exercise, identifying with a philosophy or religion of your own to be as private as you wish, getting involved with non-AA social groups, connecting
with family members, and importantly healthy compromise instead of avoidable and negative disagreements are applauded.
The book has a great section on why the Marines aren't a cult even though they may share some similarities.
has the information online
in the RESOURCES section (scroll down a bit).
People can be very charming and we all can be "charmed" by them at different times. Salesman, gold-diggers, job recruiters, popular peers, etc and
it isn't always negative - but it can be "used for evil".
It's interesting about your phone calls. Voice techniques have very real effects on us - the volume we speak in, word choices, patterns like
alliteration, "calm" speaking, even accents can play a role, etc. These things also aren't bad on their own, for example to make a presentation or
performance interesting for an audience or class, used by someone helping in a time of need to comfort. But if it is done to get you to "join" and
for no other purpose other than a deceitful action, that's of course different.
It also is possible that the enthusiasm that you heard from the other end of the phone could have been a way of connecting with you on an interest
(your curiosity) and then channeling that into you setting up a meeting. If you had mentioned you were into astronomy, enthusiasm for that would have
been most likely channeled the same way to set up a meeting.
And if you are a younger person in college or of that age group, this is the highest desirable group for some cults. Potentially younger people may
not be as world-savy as they are less likely to have "been around the block" and could be members for a longer time. The representatives of cults
are often young and attractive and seemingly happy people that are likeable. Some cults want young members to pop out children as often as
It's good you have a family you can joke with and it seems they are looking out for you in general. ATS doesn't hurt either for getting different
ADDED: The link I posted above also has many articles on the author of "Cults in Our Midst" as she died in 2003. The second article has a funny
story about a cult member and the 80 year old woman's retaliation.
[edit on 27-9-2005 by 2nd Hand Thoughts]