A cult and a conspiracy.
With inequality growing exponentially over the past decades, people around the world have assumed massive debts. In Indonesia, a mysterious cult with the impressive name Swissindo World Trust International Orbit has attracted a global following for its promise to magically make one’s debts go away.
The group is led by Soegihartonotonegoro, a charismatic leader who calls himself M1, and presents himself as a godlike figure who can erase the world’s debt due to a seemingly limitless ancient inheritance. To find out the truth behind this bizarre story, VICE Indonesia correspondent Arzia traveled to visit the Swissindo Headquarters in Cirebon, Indonesia, and interviewed M1, and his followers.
We also met with the manager of a local bank that had been targeted by Swissindo for its debt services, and a client of Swissindo’s whose experience with the group was not exactly as anticipated.
With the recent Blood Moon there are several people going around that are “predicting” that the end of the world is near… again. Most notable of those predicting the end of the world is Pastor John Hagee.
This whole “end of the world” thing has once again got me thinking about all of the people who have made doomsday predictions, and more than once.
I decide to look around Wikipedia and have found quite a number of people who have made multiple doomsday predictions that didn’t happen.
So here are ten people that made multiple end of the world predictions:
If I’m going to start this list I might as well start it off with him.
Harold Camping, the now infamous evangelical preacher and founder of the Christian radio station Family Radio, used some mathematical equations, along with some calender dates and dates in the Bible, to predict when the Rapture was going to occur, and the eventual end of the world itself.
Most of you are probably thinking I’m referring to his failed 2011 end of the world predictions, which I am. I’m also referring to his failed end of the world prediction for 1995, and his three failed end of the world predictions in 1994.
One would think that someone whom had failed to predict the end of the world four times before that no one would listen to this guy’s last end of the world prediction. But alas, not only did people listen, but they also spent millions of dollars on an advertisement campaign that basically told people they were about to die.
I’m sure most people in America know who Pat Robertson is. He’s the host of The 700 Club, as well as the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent University, and is considered to be one of the most famous televangelists in the United States, if not the world.
He’s also made a failed prediction about the end of the world… twice.
His first failed prediction was that the “Day of Judgement” would happen sometime in late 1982. He didn’t give a specific day when it would happen, only that it was going to happen sometime around then.
For his second failed prediction he did give a specific date of when it the end of the world might happen, that date being April 29, 2007. Ofcourse for this prediction he didn’t actually say that the end of the world would happen on that, only that it might happen.
Leader of the notorious polygamist cult the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and convicted child molester, Warren Jeffs predicted, twice while in prison, that the world would end.
His first prediction for doomsday was for December 23, 2012. When that failed to occur he blamed his followers for that failure due to a “lack of faith” (because apparently you have to have a lot of faith inorder to make the apocalypse happen) and then moved his prediction to New Years Eve of that year.
I guess his followers still lacked enough faith to bring about the end of the world. Or maybe he just got the date wrong again?
Or maybe he’s a obscene liar as well as a pedophile.
Herbert Armstrong was the founder of the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College. Throughout his lifetime he and and his advisers met with numerous leaders in various governments throughout the world, for which he described himself as an “ambassador without portfolio for world peace.”
He also made four end of the world predictions, all of which clearly failed.
His first end of the world prediction was that the Rapture was suppose to occur in 1936, and that only followers of his church were going to be saved.
When that failed he revised he prediction that the end would happen sometime in 1943, and when that failed he revised it again for 1972, and when that failed he revised it again and said that the world would end in 1975.
Considering that fact that he failed to predict the end of the world four times, why anyone, more or less heads of state, would ever listen to this guy is beyond me.
Founder of the Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God (damn that’s a long name) a splinter sect of the Worldwide Church of God (what a surprise), and convicted tax evader Ronald Weinland predicted that Jesus Christ would come back and that the world would end on September 29, 2011… and May 27, 2012… and May 19, 2013.
You’re not reading that wrong. Ronald Weinland, three years in a row predicted that the world would end, and each and every time he did… nothing happen.
No word yet from him on whether or not the world is suppose to end this year.
The Anti-vaccination movement has had a pretty bad past month, and I would feel sorry for them too if it wasn’t for the fact that their propaganda (which is mainly based upon a long since dis-proven and fraudulent study by Mr. Andrew Wakefield that was published in 1998 in The Lancet, and formerly retracted in 2010) has scared parents into not getting their kids vaccinated, which has caused numerous deaths and unnecessary illnesses, as well as permanent injuries.
First is the news reports of multiple outbreaks of measles in several communities in the United States and Canada. Many of the people who have gotten infected are young children who were deliberately not vaccinate, the results of which have been directly attributed to causing these outbreaks.
Suffice to say there has been quiet a bit of backlash against the Anti-vaccination movement, which they rightfully have coming to them. Also, since these outbreaks first started making the news there have also been multiple articles published telling parents why they need to ignore the Anti-vaccination movement and vaccinate their children, which I feel is sort of sad because it shows we as a society have to publish numerous articles about why you need to vaccinate your children and make them immune to diseases that could kill them because some parents have been scared into not doing so.
Then there is ofcourse what happened to the cult… I mean group formerly known as the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network, which is now known as the still kind of deceptively named Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network.
What happened to the group is that it finally changed it’s name after it lost an appeal against the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading, which had ordered the group to change it’s name in 2012 due to group’s deceptive sounding name. Shortly after the group changed it’s named, it also . . .
AIDS Denialism and the Anti-vaccination movement. Two groups that promote what many scientists and and doctors and skeptics alike consider to be the two most dangerous and deadly types of pseudoscience there is. In fact many skeptics have debated which one is more deadly!
Regardless of which one is more deadly, both of groups have an awful lot in common, and I’ve come up with about ten different things that both groups have in common:
They become very upset when someone questions their claims.
Anti-vaxxers and (as I have learned in the past few weeks) AIDS denialists really do not like it when someone questions what they are claiming. It doesn’t matter how nice you are to them, or how many facts you present to them, if you question their claims they will become very anger and start throwing around accusations and insults and start spamming people with a bunch of propaganda. This is of course annoying at best, and usually just something that gets them blocked on an internet site, but sometimes they take it to the next level and start doing the next thing on this list…
They use intimidation tactics.
AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers just seem to love to use intimidation tactics. Many times these intimidation tactics can be a benign type, like fear mongering and emotional appeal, which is used to sway people who might be on the edge of whether to believe them or not over to their side, or it can be an aggressive type, like death threats, or threats of lawsuits, or harassment, which is used in an attempt to frighten people away from questioning their claims, or to stop skeptics from debunking them.
They claim to do research.
Both AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers will often say that they have done their own research into the claims that they are making, and then through this so called research they will claim that they have come to a conclusion, and then proclaim that their conclusion is correct and that all others are incorrect. This is of course if they’re not simply claiming that the contradictory information isn’t apart of some “big pharma” disinformation propaganda campaign to “slander” Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists. And that’s another thing…
They think there is some kind of big pharma conspiracy.
Many Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists sincerely believe that not only what they believe is true, but they also believe that pharmaceutical companies also know “the truth” and that they’re keeping this so called truth hidden from the public so that people will keep buying their products, products that Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists believe that no one actually needs and sincerely believes is dangerous.
The reasons why these two groups claim that the pharmaceutical companies are keeping this so called “information” hidden is because if people knew “the truth” (i.e. their truth) that they would no longer buy anything from these pharmaceutical companies and they would go out of business. That, or according to some Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists, vaccines and HIV medication is part some kind of NWO/Illuminati plot.
They have no problem censoring people.
Ever make a comment on an Anti-vaccer’s or AIDS Denialist’s page or comment section for a Youtube video, and said comment either criticizes what they are saying, or debunks what they’re saying? Well then you probably know that not many people are going to see it because most administrators of such sites will usually remove such comments pretty quickly… and probably ban you. While this type of censorship is bad they do have every right to do it because they have every right to control the content that is on their webpages.
Some of these people will take the censorship of people who disagree with them to the next level and actually try to get entire webpages and videos from various social media websites removed, either by flagging a webpage or a group or a video as inappropriate or harassing, or even by sending out bogus DMCA takedown notices (which is illegal).
The line between religions and cults can be a blurry one at times. Although some prefer to distinguish between cults and religions, there are some indisputable similarities. For example, both sometimes encourage donations from their followers and promote the sacrifice of food and other luxuries in the name of ritual observances. However, cults significantly differ in their belief systems, rituals and indoctrination. A religion that uses mind control techniques, deception and exploitation to teach its followers has strayed further away from a religion and is much closer to a cult. Here are 9 ways groups become cults:
1 • Mind control
Cults were built upon the foundation of mind control. Cults use mind control and brainwashing techniques in virtually every aspect of their teachings, recruitment and policies. Cults aim to reduce one’s critical thinking skills and gain control of one’s thoughts, emotion and behavior through the use of mind control techniques. Researchers may argue that mind control is nothing new to religion and most religious groups use some form of brainwashing to get their members to alter the way they perceive the world, but there is certainly a fine line between coercive thinking and suggestive interpretations of the truth.
2 • Charismatic leader
A signature characteristic of cults is their charismatic leader. Although many religious leaders are considered charismatic, cult leaders have a different kind of magnetism and power that wins over followers. A cult leader is considered the supreme authority of the group, and he or she typically becomes the object of worship. This figurehead commands the upmost respect and compliance from its members and they have the only and final ruling on matters. Cult leaders lead the pack in using mind control and brainwashing techniques, so they can take full advantage of the members financially, physically and psychologically.
3 • Deception
When it comes to religion people will do anything to seek the truth. Cults know this and use it to their advantage. Unlike most religions, cults will use deceptive and manipulative ploys to get people to join the cult and stay in it. They are notorious for using deceptive recruitment efforts, such as not indentifying themselves and not being transparent about their organization or message. Cults often use confusing terms and languages to control their followers’ minds and strengthen the group’s belief system.
4 • Exclusivity
One way for religious groups to become cults is to claim exclusivity. Cults are notorious for claiming that they have an exclusive line to God and have a special revelation of the truth. Most groups believe they are an elite and secretive group that is expected to recruit and fundraise with hidden objectives and limited disclosure to protect their sacred mission.
5 • Offer explanations and solutions to everything in life
Most religions will admit that there are many things that can’t be easily explained or easily solved. This is a concept that many cults refuse to believe. Cults have a tendency to give ambiguous explanations for the most complex things in life and suggest unethical solutions to the world’s problems. These deceptive teachings are all part of the cult’s totalitarian worldview and brainwashing.
Cults… those groups of seemingly nutty people that have been around with us since forever.
Most cults tend to die off, but some do stick around and in some cases evolve into religions.
Now many cults do have a lot of things in common but I’ve noticed five certain things about them.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about cults:
5. They’re self destructive.
With a few notable exceptions most cults will eventually die off and cease to exist.
Most of the time a cult will cease to exist due to it’s leadership’s abusive and controlling behavior, which sometimes results in either a member getting kicked out for some minor infringement, or a member getting fed up with the behavior of the leadership and leaving. These combined with the public’s finding out about a cult’s abusive behavior, plus what ever strange beliefs they may have, might keep some people from wanting to join, and thus the the cult eventually dies out due to it being unable to gain new members.
Of course sometimes a cult dies off not slowly and gradually, but very quickly due to it’s members committing criminal acts that forces law enforcement to imprison most of it’s members (those that come peacefully that is) or they get killed by law enforcement because they refuse to be arrested, or the members commit mass suicide or murder/suicide.
4. They isolate people.
Almost every cult there is encourages (or forces) it’s members to engage in some form of isolation. For some this may be as minor as encouraging it’s members to have as little contact as possible with people that are considered to be possibly “harmful”, to having no contact with people who left the cult, to outright isolating themselves from society in general.
Sometimes this isolation isn’t the result of a cult encouraging it’s members to stop having contact with other people, but instead encourages them to engage in behavior with non-members that is usually considered to be bizarre, imposing, or abusive. Such behavior often times causes non-members to not want to be around any of these members, regardless of whatever relationship they may have with these people.
Regardless of however a cult does it, ultimately a cult will usually end up causing a member to be isolated from those that were closest to them (i.e. friends and family).
3. They’re financially ruinous.
Many cults encourages it’s members to do things that can cause them to go broke, or at least set them back financially.
One of the ways that cults ruin people financially is that they encourage their member to give large sums of money to the cult.
Prisonplanet and Infowars. Both are Alex Jones’s main websites, and both are two of the largest conspiracy theorist websites in the world.
Now there are a lot of things that have been said about these sites, and after taking a look at these two sites I’ve noticed quite a lot of things about them, which I have narrowed down to five things.
So here are five things I’ve notice Prisonplanet and Infowars:
5. There are a lot of ads on the sites.
I have no problems with any websites having advertisements on them, and with the size of the websites that Prisonplanet and Infowars are it’s necessary for these sites to have advertisements on them in order to make money to both pay people maintain the sites, as well as to pay other employees… and also to make Alex Jones money.
The sites not only have your ordinary, random ads that try to look like news stories, but also ads by sponsors of the sites with products or services that is geared towards the typical fans of Alex Jones (i.e. conspiracy theorists), or it’s just advertisements for books and videos and other products that Alex Jones has created himself… or at least he claims to have created. And of course there are also ads for Alex Jones’s radio show.
There are also articles on those those sites as well, not just ads, but the thing about that is…
4. Alex Jones doesn’t write a lot of articles on those sites.
On any given day if you go to Infowars and Prisonplanet you’ll find a whole bunch of articles on there, what you hardly ever see however are articles written by Alex Jones. Infact seeing an article on there that was written by Alex Jones is more rare than seeing an article on there that actually tells the truth instead of being a manipulative form of propaganda.
Not only does Alex Jones not write a whole bunch of article on his sites, but neither does his staff. Many of the articles on those sites are actually from other websites, some of which mainly promote conspiracy theories and pseudoscience, and some are from legitimate news sites.
Even when someone there does write an original article, they always seem to do this one thing…
3. They cherry pick stuff.
Most of the articles on these two sites that are written by actual staff members of Alex Jones’s tend to be just cherry picked from other legitimate news articles, with parts of the legitimate news articles being taken apart and having pieces of it taken out of context, and then the writers ad in their own comments to make it sound like the original article agrees with their point of view, even if it doesn’t. Or they . . .
I’m sure everyone has heard about them and the groups that they form around them and their “teachings”. I’m also sure you’re aware of how they act…
Well anyways, I’ve been examining cult leaders for a long time, and people who act like cult leaders as well. During my observations I’ve notice certain traits that most of them have, and from that I’ve come up with five things they all tend to share.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about cult leaders:
5. They’re narcissistic.
If you were to ever meet the leader of a cult they will tell you that all of their teaching are for you to help better your life, and on the surface that sounds great… except this is a lie.
In reality it is all about the leader of the cult, and the power that leader has over you and the members of that cult.The leader doesn’t actually care about you, they only care bout what you can do for them, and how much you respect (or fear) them.
And as for their teachings? Well, just remember this is something that THEY created, and therefore can change at any time they want to (which most do) to suit whatever needs that they have, and they do this while telling you it’s for your own good.
4. They like to surround themselves with important people.
Because of a cult leader’s narcissism and their need to feel important, and also feel the need to gain influence (as well as new members), they tend to try also try to surround themselves with people who are either important, or they feel are important. This of course could be politicians, community leaders, celebrities, Playboy models (which I can’t really blame them for), and especially people who are rich.
They do this because not only does it help them get new members (via influence of the important person), they also do this because they feel it gives them a kind of bubble of protection (which does work sometimes).
Now, if they can’t actually get important people into their cult, then they’ll do the next best thing: make members of their cult important and rich (as this helps get them more money).
3. They try to destroy their critics.
Probably one of the most well known and enduring practices that L. Ron Hubbard created for his Church of Scientology was the Fair Game policy, which is basically guidelines on how to destroy a critic of Scientology using whatever means necessary to silence that critic. This policy is still used today (although some in the cult claim it isn’t), but it is far less effective than it was years ago as most people are no longer afraid of the Church of Scientology.
L. Ron Hubbard isn’t the only cult leader whom did this, or something similar to this. In fact many, if not all cult leaders do this, mostly because they see their critics as their enemies (although this might not be to far off in some cases, it’s usually for good reason).
While most have a direct hand in their handling of critics, most of the time they aren’t the one whom actually handle their critics. In fact the actual handling of their critics is done by other followers, they just give out the orders on whom they feel should be targeted, and how, and this is because…
- Created Equal (cultoclock.wordpress.com)
- Leah Remini Files Missing Person Report For Scientology Leader’s Wife (huffingtonpost.com)
- To Parents: Does Your Daughter Listen To Kesha? You Better Watch This: : Kesha The Satanic Cult Leader (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- ‘Cult’ leader gets two life sentences in Durham murders (myfox8.com)
- Church of Scientology plans October opening for Flag Building (bizjournals.com)
- Leah Remini May Fear Release Of Confidential Scientology Files As Retaliation For Defection (huffingtonpost.com)