Why Smart People Join Cults
My stomach is tight and my mood is grim. I just finished watching Going Clear, an excellent documentary on the cult of Scientology.
I’m always deeply grateful when an ex-cult member shares their personal, painful, even shameful story. They do so at great personal risk, and to add insult to injury, many are swift to laugh at them. “Who are the dopes who buy into this stuff?” one Internet commentator wrote. After all, Scientology is a ridiculous story concocted in order to exploit people for money and sex. Satirists are quick to quip, “So it’s basically Christianity!”
It apparently comes as a surprise to a lot of people that you can be intelligent, educated, and in a cult. I personally think that every last one of us believes something false, but beyond that, there’s a good reason so many otherwise normal people sign up – and I think we’re going to see many more join cults in the next few decades.