The MITT Cult

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jewish_scientist
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The MITT Cult

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:51 pm UTC

https://www.gq.com/story/one-month-in-l ... betterness

A reporter decided to join as many New-Age health programs as he could in what I imagine must be one of the least controlled experiments of all time. Ends up that one of the programs he joins was a cult called MITT. The biggest difference between MITT’s program and emotional torture is that one charges you $700 to $3,500 and requires you to recruit your friends and family. Imagine being forced to yell the vilest things you can think to someone representing your parents and then immediately picturing what your life would be like if they were dead, or being publicly shamed for potentially causing someone’s suicide by going to the bathroom.

Rereading this, I realize that I cannot really describe the article that well. He does a much better job at explaining the trauma than I do. That is probably why they are a professional journalist. I suppose the greatest endorsement I can give is that this article inspired me to write a story about how to recognize cults for my university's newspaper during the same week I have an English paper due, a lab report due, and a calculus test.
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:05 pm UTC

Nope. What are you saying here? Why should anyone find this interesting? What do you want to talk about?

If you're late for class, save a draft. Edit it later to have your reason for posting.


Post more than just a link with minimal commentary on the news item's subject matter. If you're not interested enough to post a few lines about why the xkcd forum needs this in their forum, then either the story itself is uninteresting, or you're showing a lack of respect for others. Posting a link with scant else is akin to shouting a newspaper headline to a neighbour, before walking away. Unless, of course, the newspaper headline is "EPIDEMIC SPREADS: EVACUATE NOW".


As J_S has provided a better start, unlocked.
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby sardia » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:16 pm UTC

Do we call the California attorney general or should we guffaw at crazy Hollywood? I have the sinking feeling that this is somehow legal...

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:09 pm UTC

Of course it's legal. You chose to give them money. You can chose to leave at any time. If you stay and hand over your cash, that's your right as a Free American.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:14 pm UTC

But is it like the Scientology "choose" to leave where you first need to be interrogated/tortured for an extended period of time before you leave, while other members have time to frame you for either crimes or just something embarrassing, letting you know you can "choose" that for yourself? Ok, that's apparently legal, or at least it's one of those "it's not legal but the justice department isn't dying on that particular hill" sort of things.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:29 pm UTC

They go to great lengths to ensure its legality. It's very much in their interest to restrain their activities to what is legal; nothing they're doing is something you can really make illegal. Not without causing a lot of secondary problems.

This is the sort of stuff that you can only really fight laterally -- pushing for better mental health, better awareness of how cults indoctrinate their targets, better options for people who feel disenfranchised or lost.
jewish_scientist wrote:I suppose the greatest endorsement I can give is that this article inspired me to write a story about how to recognize cults for my university's newspaper during the same week I have an English paper due, a lab report due, and a calculus test.
One easy (not flawless, but cheap and dirty) way to recognize a cult is to just ask them if they're a cult.
  • If they have a prepared, ready-to-go response -- or otherwise just laugh the question off and deflect it? Probably a cult. Cults spend a lot of time figuring out ways to convince you that they're not a cult.
  • If they get defensive and angry? Maybe a cult. Cults get defensive over being accused of being cults, but so do Avon ladies.
  • If they get really confused and don't know how to answer? Probably not a cult. Because most not-cults recognize it's hard to identify cults, and won't rely on boring, meaningless platitudes to do so.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:31 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:31 pm UTC

When more than one review for a "business" starts with "This is seriously NOT a cult!!", you should probably avoid that place.


Good advice. Also, applies to MLMs, which are sort of a cousin to the money making cult model.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:38 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
  • If they have a prepared, ready-to-go response -- or otherwise just laugh the question off and deflect it? Probably a cult. Cults spend a lot of time figuring out ways to convince you that they're not a cult.
Point in fact:
I asked if she was bothered by people calling M.I.T.T. a cult, a frequent description in negative reviews online. Majdi laughed. Did I see anyone sitting on the floor worshipping her feet? "The moment you came out of the womb, you're in a cult. Think about it. You're told what to say, what not to say, how to dress, how to eat."
"Are we a cult? I mean c'mon seriously everything's a cult when you think about! don't people worship money like a cult? isn't life itself kind of a cult??? why do we have to be so negative and label things as 'cults' anyway??? I mean, why do words even exist?!!?!? JUST THINK ABOUT IT!"

Yeah, this is a fucking cult.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby sardia » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:46 pm UTC

Alright how about this, every time you see one of these, you put on gloves and pull the fire alarm. Eventually, they'll get the hint?

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby cphite » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:14 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Alright how about this, every time you see one of these, you put on gloves and pull the fire alarm. Eventually, they'll get the hint?


Would they? The leaders would just spin your fire alarm as an outsider wanting to stop them all from improving themselves.

The author of the article went in suspecting it was a cult, and had that suspicion validated; and yet they still managed to make him feel bad for leaving. Imagine how much harder it'd be for someone who's there and really looking for something.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:21 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Alright how about this, every time you see one of these, you put on gloves and pull the fire alarm. Eventually, they'll get the hint?

Lots of cults have persecution complexes (THEY are keeping the truth from you!). Doing something like this just plays right in to how "The Man will do anything to keep The Truth away from you! Now gimme money."
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:56 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
sardia wrote:Alright how about this, every time you see one of these, you put on gloves and pull the fire alarm. Eventually, they'll get the hint?

Lots of cults have persecution complexes (THEY are keeping the truth from you!). Doing something like this just plays right in to how "The Man will do anything to keep The Truth away from you! Now gimme money."
You have to admit, though, it's kind of funny to imagine cult leaders trying to explain how the most The Man can do to keep the truth from you is pull off the equivalent of a shitty high-school level prank.

"The Man doesn't want you to know who's really controlling the government... that's why they keep dropping cherry bombs in our toilets!"

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:25 pm UTC

Well, in this case it would probably be "Enemies of the Truth" wherein the Truth is some dude's whackadoodle beliefs, and the enemies are either people who failed or people who are sick in the head and since they're acting alone or in small groups, the most they can really get away with are high school level pranks.

Your religious groups cover that with a similar sort of thing, only replace them with Agents of (Our opposite force, if it has a name, or Psychiatry if it doesn't) and you're done. You've still got a explanation in there about how it's obviously going to be low-key things as anything larger would make the news and give The Truth better coverage. And that's the last thing the Agents of Enemy Psychiatric Truth want.
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby sardia » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:34 pm UTC

You weren't this much of a downer when antifa was punching Nazis. *

*OT but it's ironic that even though everyone was up in arms about the morality of punching Nazis, antifa was quite out gunned and poorly combat trained compared to Nazis.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:52 pm UTC

I've just read enough Woo Charlatanery to know how people weasel out of it. And I've seen enough Southern Baptists try to say, with a straight face, that Christians are a persecuted minority in the US due to Wiccans being allowed to exist.

Punchin' Nazis though... the beauty of that is the person doin' the punchin' is fully acknowledging "This is a criminal act I am doing for the express purpose of making absolutely sure you understand you are not wanted here, and to warn others that I plan on continuing to punch Nazis until there are no more Nazis to punch."

Having a stinkbomb thrown in your meeting room is uncomfortable and irritating when you're evacuating and your Fearless Leader is explaining how this is A Trial and that the Worthy Will Endure.

Trying to listen to your goose-stepping leader as he's whining through a mouthful of blood makes you kinda stop giving a damn about what they're saying. Also they can't speak as well, what with the blood and all.
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:11 pm UTC

sardia wrote:You weren't this much of a downer when antifa was punching Nazis. *

*OT but it's ironic that even though everyone was up in arms about the morality of punching Nazis, antifa was quite out gunned and poorly combat trained compared to Nazis.


Probably not so OT. Cults and their methods may have applicability to Nazis.

On the topic of the "poorly combat trained", the NYT did just run an article on the nascent rise of left wing gun* ownership/training/etc organizations. Socialist Rifle Organization and it's kin ain't all that big yet, but it's interesting. Regardless of how you feel about the morality of punching Nazis, having the capacity is just practical.

*https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/02/opinion/socialist-left-guns-nra-trump.html

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby idonno » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:17 am UTC

If it does cause demenstrable psychological damage, there is a could chance that they could be held liable. Lifespring, the entity that they came from, lost several lawsuits.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby ryanbryandyin » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:21 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
sardia wrote:Alright how about this, every time you see one of these, you put on gloves and pull the fire alarm. Eventually, they'll get the hint?

Lots of cults have persecution complexes (THEY are keeping the truth from you!). Doing something like this just plays right in to how "The Man will do anything to keep The Truth away from you! Now gimme money."


Except for the "gimme money" part (which I haven't been asked for so far), I wonder how much modern conspiracy theorists are members of a cult. Despite freely available information about the thing they want to call a "conspiracy", most conspiracy theorists are convinced it's all being hidden and controlled by the Government (which, to them, is always a single entity, not a mess of agencies jockeying for favor)

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:11 am UTC

ryanbryandyin wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:
sardia wrote:Alright how about this, every time you see one of these, you put on gloves and pull the fire alarm. Eventually, they'll get the hint?

Lots of cults have persecution complexes (THEY are keeping the truth from you!). Doing something like this just plays right in to how "The Man will do anything to keep The Truth away from you! Now gimme money."


Except for the "gimme money" part (which I haven't been asked for so far), I wonder how much modern conspiracy theorists are members of a cult. Despite freely available information about the thing they want to call a "conspiracy", most conspiracy theorists are convinced it's all being hidden and controlled by the Government (which, to them, is always a single entity, not a mess of agencies jockeying for favor)

As the saying goes - I admire the optimism of the conspiracy theorist. They believe thousands of people are working together in a coordinated effort to keep knowledge suppressed. This alone is hilarious for anyone who has had to organize a bake sale.

But to answer your question - kinda depends on how we define cult, doesn't it? While I'm sure a significant chunk of them are, I assume the majority of them are too far down their own individual rabbit holes of conspiracy to be swayed by someone else ("Get a load of that chucklefuck who believes in chemtrails. Like the Illuminati would allow it." "Hah, that baby believes in the Illuminati? That's a kid's story made up by MJ12")
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:01 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:But to answer your question - kinda depends on how we define cult, doesn't it? While I'm sure a significant chunk of them are, I assume the majority of them are too far down their own individual rabbit holes of conspiracy to be swayed by someone else ("Get a load of that chucklefuck who believes in chemtrails. Like the Illuminati would allow it." "Hah, that baby believes in the Illuminati? That's a kid's story made up by MJ12")
Weirdly, this does not appear to be the case: A strong predictor of whether or not you believe the Moon Landing was faked is whether or not you believe 9/11 was an inside job. In other words, accepting one conspiracy theory actually makes you way more open to accepting others. In fact, it's pretty rare to find a conspiracy theorist who believes in only one conspiracy!

This... Kind of makes sense? In the sense that all conspiracy theories follow a similar narrative structure, which makes them easier to reconcile. That, and I think it helps to understand conspiracy theories as less about internal logic and more about connecting to a community that makes you feel empowered.

They don't really have to make sense or work in concert; they just have to make you feel like you're relevant. That's what a conspiracy theory is, at its core: An attempt to cling to that feeling of relevance in a world where your irrelevance is increasingly clear.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:02 am UTC

Perhaps I wasn't clear -

I'm not saying people who believe one ridiculous theory reject all others.

I'm saying that whatever fantastic narrative they've built (and the contradictory nature of several conspiracy theories) means that they're less likely to follow a singular leader because the odds of finding 40 conspiracy nuts who believe the exact same conspiracies in the exact same way is like getting 40 cats to go the same direction at the same time.

They're not in a cult because they're already in a cult of 1 (or a few, I suppose, if they have friends or family who buy in to the same nonsense, but I figure even those will have enough "Agree to disagree" points of contention that a singular personality cannot develop as a unified leader - just as an expert on a particular branch).
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:56 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:I'm saying that whatever fantastic narrative they've built (and the contradictory nature of several conspiracy theories) means that they're less likely to follow a singular leader because the odds of finding 40 conspiracy nuts who believe the exact same conspiracies in the exact same way is like getting 40 cats to go the same direction at the same time.

They're not in a cult because they're already in a cult of 1 (or a few, I suppose, if they have friends or family who buy in to the same nonsense, but I figure even those will have enough "Agree to disagree" points of contention that a singular personality cannot develop as a unified leader - just as an expert on a particular branch).
Hm. I definitely misunderstood what you meant; pardon! I thought you were saying that believing in one conspiracy theory might insulate you from believing in others, but it sounds like you're saying believing in one conspiracy theory might insulate you from submitting to a cult of personality (because you'd have to reconcile your conspiracy with the leader's personal narrative).

That being said, I still suspect you're slightly off-base? On one hand, I've met plenty of conspiracy theorists who think they alone understand the conspiracy; they've cultivated a narrative that they're invested in, and part of that narrative is a rejection of authority (which a cult leader represents) or any narrative that doesn't submit to theirs. On the other hand... Alex Jones has earned the support of countless conspiracy theorists despite having unique (and contradictory) conspiracies of his own. He's not the leader of a cult (well...), but he's proof that conspiracy theorists can ignore cognitive dissonance and unite under a leader with a loud voice so long as that leader makes them feel good about themselves.

And I think this is an important point to make? Because conspiracy theories aren't about applying internally consistent logic. It doesn't have to make sense; it just has to give them emotional fulfillment, moral vindication, and a sense of having a place in the world. This is the need that conspiracy theories satisfy -- and it's the same need that cult leaders exploit. A lot of conspiracy theorists are willing to twist their theories into pretzels (or just ignore the contradictions altogether) so long as they get to feel like they're the virtuous few persecuted by the demonic many in a righteous war.

There's probably data on this? I should look that up. I imagine it's complicated, and maybe even a combination of both ideas. It's hard to imagine a conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones becoming part of a cult; however, it's easy to imagine a conspiracy theorist who listens to Alex Jones becoming part of a cult. There's likely some sort of continuum between conspiracy theorists who dream up conspiracies, versus theorists who just buy into conspiracies.

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:19 pm UTC

ryanbryandyin wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:
sardia wrote:Alright how about this, every time you see one of these, you put on gloves and pull the fire alarm. Eventually, they'll get the hint?

Lots of cults have persecution complexes (THEY are keeping the truth from you!). Doing something like this just plays right in to how "The Man will do anything to keep The Truth away from you! Now gimme money."


Except for the "gimme money" part (which I haven't been asked for so far), I wonder how much modern conspiracy theorists are members of a cult. Despite freely available information about the thing they want to call a "conspiracy", most conspiracy theorists are convinced it's all being hidden and controlled by the Government (which, to them, is always a single entity, not a mess of agencies jockeying for favor)

I would say no because they lack the 2 hallmarks of a cult; pyramid structure and psychological manipulation. Before anyone starts talking about confirmation bias and other phenomena that contribute to conspiracy theorists, cults use a specific type of psychological manipulation. There are different models of how this process works. Lifton's thought reform is the one I will be using for my article because it is given in terms of concrete actions rather then mental processes.
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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby WriteBrainedJR » Thu Nov 22, 2018 2:37 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Imagine being forced to yell the vilest things you can think to someone representing your parents and then immediately picturing what your life would be like if they were dead,

My parents are controlling and I don't have a good relationship with them, so I kind of want to get rid of the "being forced" part and try this myself. It sounds...strangely cathartic.

jewish_scientist wrote:or being publicly shamed for potentially causing someone’s suicide by going to the bathroom.

I've privately shamed myself for causing someone's suicide and that was bad enough. This is horrible and makes me want to punch some fools.

The Great Hippo wrote:In fact, it's pretty rare to find a conspiracy theorist who believes in only one conspiracy!

*waves*

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Re: The MITT Cult

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Dec 21, 2018 9:07 pm UTC

WriteBrainedJR wrote:My parents are controlling and I don't have a good relationship with them, so I kind of want to get rid of the "being forced" part and try this myself. It sounds...strangely cathartic.
I'm pretty sure that's a thing with non-cult therapists. Generally when you look at cults and there's one or two specific things that look like they would work, they're not unique or original.
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