Recent quotes:

'Trumpism isn't a cult'

How I define it in my class is by two benchmarks. The first is: Cults manage to shift people’s beliefs rapidly away from the broader society and away from the beliefs they had before they joined. The second thing I emphasize is that cult members act against their own interests and their families’ interests quite strikingly. The reason I highlight those two things is that when I’m talking about the psychology of cults, I’m interested in how the cult, and usually the cult leader, is able to have this kind of influence. Typically, the cult leader is benefiting in an exploitative way off of these two things, so many of those strange beliefs are about the leader being very important, often divine, the key to salvation against the apocalypse, etc. And then, more importantly, often the cult members’ labor is making the leader rich, or female cult members are expected to have sex with the leader and all men, besides the leader, have to be celibate. Cult members make extreme sacrifices that benefit the leader.

Why AI Will Save the World | Andreessen Horowitz

Third, California is justifiably famous for our many thousands of cults, from EST to the Peoples Temple, from Heaven’s Gate to the Manson Family. Many, although not all, of these cults are harmless, and maybe even serve a purpose for alienated people who find homes in them. But some are very dangerous indeed, and cults have a notoriously hard time straddling the line that ultimately leads to violence and death. And the reality, which is obvious to everyone in the Bay Area but probably not outside of it, is that “AI risk” has developed into a cult, which has suddenly emerged into the daylight of global press attention and the public conversation. This cult has pulled in not just fringe characters, but also some actual industry experts and a not small number of wealthy donors – including, until recently, Sam Bankman-Fried. And it’s developed a full panoply of cult behaviors and beliefs.

Academia is a cult - The Washington Post

That asymmetry contributes to a culture of dependency, convincing graduate students that they must obey the dictates of their advisers if they hope to obtain increasingly scarce jobs. It is also, at least in part, a response to the desires of tenured faculty members, hungry for disciples of their own, regardless of whether there are jobs for them. Inevitably, it results in a growing pool of academics who teach on an adjunct basis, frequently making less than minimum wage, without benefits, subsisting in patterns of unfair employment not unlike those of the church employees I knew growing up: financially insecure and thus susceptible to offers they can’t refuse. With little practical training even in teaching, the implied career goal of many research fields, grad students who venture out of their discipline may appear overqualified to employers wary of the initials following their names, but they are usually underqualified, their concrete experience limited to the service jobs and freelance gigs keeping them afloat between terms. Those faithful who adjunct, whether by necessity or choice, commonly earn less than $5,000 per class, and in 2015 the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center reported that a quarter of part-time faculty members are on public assistance, further foreclosing their options and avenues of escape.

The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment - The New York Times

Nearby, a number of colorful sashes hung on hooks. Each color in the hierarchy was not only a higher state of self-awareness but also reflected a member’s ability to recruit more members. Some higher-ranked sashes have never been attained, Bronfman whispered. You don’t trade up directly to a new color of sash but first must get four silk stripes ironed onto your existing sash, a process known as “moving up the stripe path.” The rigid hierarchy and doctrinaire teachings pushed members to revere those with a higher level of sash, to whom they were encouraged to pay tribute in words and deeds.

The cult of the academy: jargon, insularity and status

I think we lost a few generations of art critics to academia. They all learned to write in a similar style, which I find very jargon-filled and impenetrable; and I also feel that their taste flattened and everybody liked the same fifty-five artists, and they would quote the same twenty writers over and over. I thought, “The art world is not this boring; how can this be?” Now, I’m seeing more and more younger writers starting to write online, making sense, speaking in ways that you can understand and, most importantly, putting out opinions. The juice of criticism is opinion. I really admire Artforum; I’ve never written for it for good reason: I’m not smart enough, but I look in the second-to-the-last paragraph and I see a phrase like “this problemetized the show.” Is that positive or negative? There is no judgment in it. Everybody is smart. So I can’t fit in that art world because I never went to school; I have no degrees; I am not schooled in the language of the empire.

Inside the Rise & Fall Of A 1970s Upper West Side Cult: Gothamist

After the raid, the pillagers returned to their seven-story co-op at 2643 Broadway. “We were prepared for them to invade,” says Paul Sprecher, a member of the Sullivan Institute for over a decade. “We had security down at the front door to make sure they would be duly chastised. I don’t remember, I think one guy showed up to complain and he was manhandled.” (According to a 1989 New York Magazine article, the complaining tenant was “beaten by more than a dozen members,” one of whom “broke four knuckles punching the young boy in the face.”) The paint splatter that started the ordeal is still visible today, on the brick wall just above the Metro Diner on 100th and Broadway. It is perhaps the last physical reminder of a psychotherapy cult—informally known as the “Sullivanians”—that once had 500 members living in three buildings on the Upper West Side.