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Thread: MLMS And CULTS

  1. #1
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    MLMS And CULTS

    Here's the list of the 10 things required to start a cult or a multi-level marking scam:

    1. Charismatic leader
    2. A good story
    3. A good show
    4. That first sucker
    5. Bring on the testimonials
    6. Swell the ranks
    7. Give praise and succor to the believers
    8. Defend assaults from outside with ambiguity, sweet talk and open arms.
    9. Take checks to bank.
    10. Laugh silently when no one else is around.


    1 and 2 (a charismatic leader and a good story)

    All you need to start a cult is a charismatic leader with a good story to sell. Someone who has some decent insights into some great or even not-so-great human need. For the cult leader, it's spiritual access to some secret universal sphere, or communication with the aliens following the meteor around, or access to some savior figure in some magic place... whatever. Just something mysterious and that needful people might find easy to want to believe, something they couldn't do before they met this person and his or her wonderful idea. Something they would like to be able to feel or do or know.

    A good, charismatic marketer does the same thing, promising access to a different type of mystery, the mystery of getting rich or powerful through special learning whether it's about wealth building or amazing fuel efficiency, maybe a cure for baldness or how to make money online. Who knows what it is; it's usually their creativity that gets the whole thing off the ground. They have a business plan or program that if you learn it you too will be an amazing financial success (or something), or at least well on your way - (That's the line I always love. If I take one step to my left I'm well on my way to France too even though I'm in California right now.)


    3 and 4 (the show and that first sucker)

    Outside of charisma and some "essential insight" the key component for people who want to start a cult or be at the tip of a pyramid scheme is that their story needs a grain of truth; they need something genuine to weave together the web of lies and lunacy, and whatever is being promised, it has to seem easy. Not like stupid easy, either. The leader has to create the illusion of some effort going in for the sake of reality, but ultimately, rewards have to seem attainable easily and without believers having to take the conventionally gradual steps that credible and proven institutions like universities or time-honored religions are endlessly putting forth. Cults and scams usually present something that is "gradual" too, but amazingly, it's always a much faster form of gradual than those other old fashioned ways.

    This is where "the show" comes in, and how they get "that first sucker" to buy in. For a cult leader, this often involves the type of trickery seen at fairs and fortune telling demonstrations or even at magic shows, although that is not always how it is done. Done right, actual truths can be revealed and hyper-interpreted to give meaning to the core idea, or at least certainly seem to be. It's mostly smoke and mirrors (in premise or in fact) with some basic psychology... mix in a good show delivered enigmatically by an artful and charismatic leader, and with an audience's need for answers that aren't otherwise easily to be had, and BAM a cult is born.

    For scammy marketers, the situation works much the same. Some razzle dazzle numbers presented well, and especially in areas of technology like the Internet where most people who buy into this stuff have no idea what illusions a clever operator can perpetrate, and the next thing you know they have believers buying in. They just need enough truth to make the idea plausible and initially verifiable and the optimists start pouring in. I would call them hopeful and naive but behind closed doors these kind of scammers have been calling them "suckers" for many, many years. "There's one born every second," is how their old saying goes.

    The leader just needs to continue administering the right dosages of this plausible reality while all the time stroking the ego and optimism of the members, particularly the new recruits and eventually he or she can grow the flock big enough to launch to the next phase. You just can't give them NOTHING, however, so it's very important that there at least be some scrap of truth to bait them deeply onto the hook. For the most part though, if someone needs or wants the big promise bad enough, a leader really doesn't have to give them very much. Any morsel will do, and hope will fill in the rest.

    5 , 6 and 7 (bring on the testimonials and swell the ranks, then give praise and succor to the believers)

    Once it's underway, a successful cult will thrive and develop a sense of community if the leadership consistently pours praise and positivity onto the flock along with these tiny seeds of truth (sometimes fear is used, but let's not get too far off track). The leadership must constantly lavish approval and a sense of well-being on them, just as one might do to a child or a pet one wants to train, until he can finally get them to believe. Pavlov's dog studies underscore this behavioral element of what's at work. Dogs learn that the sound of a can opener is akin to food and they begin to drool automatically. People can be trained in the same way if they are fed positive stimuli upon performing a given behavior or task.

    In the case of a marketing scheme, pointing out how well progress is coming in learning the materials or techniques of passing along the scheme, or rewards for how many new recruits have been brought in is rewarded with recognition, often publically for other cult members to see so as to enhance the neurochemistry. Whatever the rewarded behavior is, it's always in keeping with the program being pushed and the behavior (in a marketing scheme for sure) is never rewarded with any actual wealth. If there is a monetary reward, it's always a pittance that seems to teeter on the brink of some imminent cash cascade if the follower can just get to that next big step, a taste but never a feast. The big rewards are always at the end of that infernal stick.

    The Mastery of Praise

    It helps a charismatic leader if the people he or she is working on are honest and trusting folks who are willing to work very hard and who can't help but try to see the best on others constantly. Trusting people are by far the easiest to take advantage of by the very nature of who they are. Many are quite intelligent, and because of this often feel that they are safe. But they aren't, because the root device being used is recognition and praise, which as Maslow pointed out, is a very important human need. So don't be fooled into thinking that adults are past wanting to be praised. It happens little enough in our older years, and most are far hungrier for it than they will ever say out loud.

    The real art of this love lavishing, however, is in doing this with extreme subtlety, particularly in a marketing scam or pyramid scheme. Leadership has to be delicate enough to not go about it too obviously, but this is not hard for certain personality types naturally attuned to this type of thing. In fact for some people this kind of manipulative subtlety comes quite naturally, even intuitively - often it's the thing that makes them charismatic to begin. And if they have any depth of study in psychology, theology, anthropology, sociology, marketing, or, heck, even literature and art, one of these personality types can really get their cult or multi-level project off the ground.

    Once the community is formed, it becomes easier to keep the snowball rolling if the original idea has any plausibility. Done right, with a large enough core of supporters, even the smallest success or piece of evidence can be trumpeted loudly for everyone to see. And the tight knit community becomes a thing of glue. Once people are accepted in a bond of mutual belief and acceptance, and are made to feel empowered by it, not only are they no longer able look at it objectively, they will fight ferociously for the collective pride. It becomes normalized and any attempts to point out flaws in it will be taken as personal attacks.

    8 (Defend assaults from outside with ambiguity, sweet talk and open arms)

    This is where the real genius of the founder comes in, and it's an insidious thing in the workings of a cult or rip-off enterprise. Done properly, the members of these schemes will not allow any kind of attack on the foundation of the system they have bought into, for to let such accusations fly implicates those very followers themselves. Recognizing or admitting that the core idea is false or even flawed insinuates that they are dumb or gullible. And while this may not be the case in actuality - they've merely been exploited through the avenues of their own faith in the good nature of others and their own kind humanity - at this point it is probably too late.

    The cult leader has locked them down by their own psychology and they won't admit that they've been duped even if they wanted to, even if their minds were actually open to see. The thought becomes too humiliating to even entertain. Denial comes into play. There is essentially no chance for them to have an honest look. The logic and reasoning of their leader and the social network that keeps them buoyed emotionally will sustain them far beyond genuine reasoning, it has to because there is simply too much invested and at stake. It becomes faith based and no longer subject to logic or perspicacity.

    9 (take the checks to the bank)

    In many ways it is difficult to see what could possibly be wrong with this hugely powerful communal bond. If something makes someone happy and fulfills some inner need that they might have, even if it's only just the hope of salvation or gaining Internet wealth some day, how is that a bad thing?


    Well, that is exactly the foundation of the cult leader or marketer's defense. Plausible deniability. A clever leader of one of these operations can spin attacks on his methods like no White House press secretary ever could. These guys pretend to have the moral or personal interests of their followers at the forefront of anything they do, and that's certainly what they say out loud. Everyone knows the standard felon's attitude towards the lie: Stick to your story and deny, deny, deny.

    But these guys aren't "standard felons" at all. They are clever, intelligent and insightful; they understand people in all their emotional and biological simplicity (complex as we are, we are still pretty predictable in many ways). All they have to do is speak softly and with love and compassion and patience, emulate people that society has learned to trust, even offering sympathy for the lack of understanding their critics suffer from. They pity naysayers politely behind falsely smiling teeth. They grin and nod and maintain their angelic outward calm. Soon their followers will surge to the forefront on their behalf as emotions sweep any chance of reason from the field. Their minions fight the battles while these charlatans take their money to the bank.

    And that's how it works.

    10 (Laugh silently when no-one else is around)

    Multi-level marketers aren't stupid which is why they laugh at how gullible people are. They get this stuff I've outlined as clearly as I do. They don't even care if you do too. In fact, they laugh even when they get caught, because they can dash off criticism so gloriously easy by pretending it's them taking the high-road once again. Poor martyrs that they are. The best way to discredit an article like this very one is to point out how negative the criticism is. That's the oldest one in the book. But if that becomes too simplistic, a typical defense goes something along the lines of this:

    "Shadesbreath is clearly, and unfortunately, cynical. He's obviously trying to do what he thinks is best for his readers but he confuses our beliefs with something that we expressly forbid to happen in our (school, system, compound... whatever). We at Marketing Cult, Inc. are not in this just for the money. Not at all. Obviously money is useful, but truth be told, we're here because we honestly believe that everyone deserves a chance at happiness.

    We understand how, in a world that is so angry and quick to judge, our methods might seem too good to be true. But they are not. We work very hard and every one of our members knows that they have so much work to do. We don't try to fool anyone. This isn't an easy path, and for some it may even prove too hard, as has been seen in the actions of a few. But with effort and dedication, and with the support that our community ultimately provides, and with the guidance our fine leaders, our members will eventually find the successes that they are looking for. And they'll make some friends along the way. We're sorry that Shadesbreath has found so much insincerity in the places he has gone along his path through life, and we sincerely hope that he finds trustworthy people somewhere along that road. He's even welcome here with us, should he ever feel interested to try."

    You see how nice that sounds? I can dismiss charges of profiteering easily with a glib "obviously money is useful" and then misdirect on to something else. Lots of squishy feel-good nonsense that says nothing really fills in the rest. And it's all so nice. Who doesn't want someone that kind and welcoming in their lives?

    Unfortunately, all of that up there was crap. It sounds good, and it would be good if it was said in sincerity, but since I can come up with a spiel like that just off the top of my head as a writer using tricks of language and authorial voice, imagine what a marketing team could compose in response to some attack on its insidious ways. Notice how there is not one negative remark about Shadesbreath outside of "cynical" and how everything is couched in kindness, acceptance and love. That's called rhetorical device. Not all rhetoric is nasty or obvious.

    These kinds of people aren't obvious at all, they're subtle as all get out. Look, nobody with something of value to sell talks like that, and these guys know it. It's a form of reverse psychology that's been around in snake-oil selling and cult conversions for at least a zillion years. "If I don't sound like a salesman, they'll never know I am." But don't be fooled. Crocodiles don't cry. Snake oil doesn't cure baldness or consumption, and none of the other stuff that is obviously garbage works either. Just know what you're looking for and watch out for people who will take your money while telling you they only want to help. Nobody is that nice. And if they are, they don't want anything from you at all. Especially not your cash.

  2. #2
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    MLMs will often bring in other MLM gurus and motivational speakers to thrall the crowds. They will also pay C and D type celebs anfd former sports greats to rah rah the sheep. Many MLM programs feature intense motivational programs, which harkens very much to cult propaganda.

    The most heinous of MLms a will associate themselves with religion. (Christianity)

    I reccomend the book: All That Glitters Is Not God by Athena Dean

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    littleroundman is offline Administrator
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    An extremely good read for anyone interested in the "hows and whys" of the whole "persuasion" industry and/or cults is now available as a free download in .PDF format here: Dangerous Persuaders by Louise Samways

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    Lisa is offline Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    You know what, we can blame the leaders of cults all we want, but I think the BIGGEST contributing factor to modern day cults is stupidity. We're a culture full of idiots who want to buy into whatever the big thing is, whether that's MLM or religion. However, the need to feel like you fit in and the resulting stupidity that people take part in just to feel like they're part of something is ridiculous.

    In my honest opinion if we stopped promoting a certain lifestyle in this country (the US) and helped people realize that you don't have to spend money or be baptized or saved in order to fit in or have friends then charasmatic people who are out to deceive would have a harder time finding prey.

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    calvinandhobbes is offline Junior Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    You know what, we can blame the leaders of cults all we want, but I think the BIGGEST contributing factor to modern day cults is stupidity. We're a culture full of idiots who want to buy into whatever the big thing is, whether that's MLM or religion.
    I would agree with this wholeheartedly. Go to one of these Amway conventions and you can combine the IQ of everyone in the audience with the people on the stage, you get roughly the IQ of the people on the stage. Then you combine the ethics of the people on stage with the idiots in the audience, and you get roughly the ethics of the idiots in the audience.

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    Emet is offline Senior Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    You know what, we can blame the leaders of cults all we want, but I think the BIGGEST contributing factor to modern day cults is stupidity.
    Your utter lack of empathy and compassion is only exceeded by your lack of understanding of who maybe enticed into a cult, and why.
    You seem to be smug, judgmental, and contemptuous of those not so "wise" as you.

    The world would be a better place if people would open their hearts and minds, but wishing that will not make it so.

    I truly hope that your family and friends make their way through the world without making any "idiotic" decisions, but if they do, perhaps only then will you develop a less judgmental, more empathic point of view.
    A half-truth is a whole lie.

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    WishfulThinking is offline Foundling Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Ouch Emet, that was a little bit judgemental too, but your point is taken.

    Cult leaders are often professional sociopaths. They are able to take in educated and intelligent people. Affinity fraud is an example of this. You sometimes see the same effect in politics. They say that the most evil dicators in history were charasmatic individuals. Hitler is only one example. Con men are frequently real charmers, to the point of having an almost hypnotic effect on people. Not all cult followers are stupid, but they may not be sceptics.

    The point that this phenemena is encouraged by the "follow the dollar" morality in the US and to a certain extent in the whole of the western world is a fair one, but it is only an influencing factor and not the whole issue.

    Most of us have come across MLMs which are run in a cult like manner. It is quite something to see an erstwhile sane friend face bancrupcy, loss of friends and alienation from their families as a result of sticking with failure in an MLM and most of us have seen this too.

    Even in the most legitimate MLMs (and yes there are a few) the motivational aspect derails a normal business and sends it into a world of belief

    One must turn outside the world of business - to religion and politics - to find people who work as hard for as little financial reward as most Amway people do. Forbes Magazine
    from
    Amway Global Business Analysis - a look at the Amway Quixtar business opportunity

    There is a wealth of research and reading matter of the subject of MLMs and cults, and, whilst is not in doubt (for some of us) that some MLMs are legal, the connection similarity MLM motivational training and a cult is a little to close for comfort

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    Emet is offline Senior Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Ouch Emet, that was a little bit judgemental too
    Point taken.
    A half-truth is a whole lie.

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    Lisa is offline Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Let me clarify... (and ya, I know it's not nice and lacks empathy but that doesn't mean it's not true).

    I think it's laziness that leads to the stupidity. It has nothing to do with a person's IQ or how book smart they are. When I state stupidity, I mean a complete and total lack of common sense and desire to think for yourself. Not only are MLM's and religion leading around cults, I think people like Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann also have followers that could definitely be considered more like a cult. ALL of these people have one thing in common - they REFUSE to think for themselves. They have become so lazy that it's just easier to be told what to think rather than think for themselves. And that's just stupid.

    I know it's not nice, but I think more people just have a desire to be sheep and not ask questions and this is based on their laziness to really think. It's easier to buy into what someone else tells you to than to make up your own mind on what you should do.

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    fastmoney's Avatar
    fastmoney is offline All Around Great Guy!!
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    As people we want to belong to something... Have something to believe in.

    It is easy to get caught up...

  11. #11
    Emet is offline Senior Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    Let me clarify... (and ya, I know it's not nice and lacks empathy but that doesn't mean it's not true).

    I think it's laziness that leads to the stupidity. It has nothing to do with a person's IQ or how book smart they are. When I state stupidity, I mean a complete and total lack of common sense and desire to think for yourself. Not only are MLM's and religion leading around cults, I think people like Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann also have followers that could definitely be considered more like a cult. ALL of these people have one thing in common - they REFUSE to think for themselves. They have become so lazy that it's just easier to be told what to think rather than think for themselves. And that's just stupid.

    I know it's not nice, but I think more people just have a desire to be sheep and not ask questions and this is based on their laziness to really think. It's easier to buy into what someone else tells you to than to make up your own mind on what you should do.
    What kinds of people join cults? What's wrong with them?"

    For the most part, normal, average people join cults--people like you and me. Research indicates that approximately two-thirds of cult members are psychologically healthy people that come from normal families. The remaining third are likely to have depressive symptoms, usually related to a personal loss--perhaps a death in the family, a failed romantic relationship, or career troubles. Only 5 to 6 percent of cult members demonstrate major psychological problems prior to joining a cult (Singer, 1995). Cults don't want, and don't recruit, people with psychological problems or physical handicaps--they represent a loss rather than a gain of cult-oriented productivity. Cults prefer intelligent, productive individuals who are able to contribute money and talent to "the cause," whatever it may be (Hassan, 198-).

    Behavior is a function of both a person's personality and her situation (those of you who've taken psychology may recall the classic Lewinian formulation B=f[P,E] which indicates that behavior is a function of, or an interaction of, both the personality and the environment). One of social psychology's great discoveries has been the overwhelming influence that the environment--the immediate situation--exerts on people's behavior. Yet, when assigning cause, observers will usually attribute cause to a person's personality, not the constraints of the environment.

    This is such a persistent and reliable human bias--to assign cause to the person rather than to the environment--that it has been given the name of "the fundamental attribution error."

    The fact is, the environment can easily dominate personality-based differences among people, making person differences a relatively minor variable in the equation. In other words, given a powerful and engaging situation, people often react to it in a uniformly similar fashion, regardless of personality differences. This truism has been demonstrated numerous times in the laboratory (Sharif, Asch, Milgram. . .) and more frighteningly, in real life (Nazism, Bolshevism, Jim Jones . . .).


    True to this discovery, there appears to be no reliable personality factor that predicts cult membership. However, certain situational elements make people more vulnerable to cult recruitment, and they include: loneliness (as experienced by someone who has recently moved to a new location); depression (as we feel after a failed relationship); and uncertainty about how to proceed (as I felt when I first went to college). These situations create the desire for quick, simple solutions. Cults provide a myriad of "solutions," which are more importantly accompanied by structure, authority, and close social contacts--elements that people want, need, and which most of us take for granted in the course of our everyday lives.
    Cult Influence & Persuasion Tactics
    A half-truth is a whole lie.

  12. #12
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    And this is the rub, Emet and I agree with you. All the people who join scamming MLMs are not stupid and they are not greedy and they are not lazy. To believe so is just idiotic and uninformed. It's nonsense to believe this. There may certainly be a small faction of those that are, but that is not the vast majority of the members. Most of them have jobs and are looking for extra money to maybe put their kids through school, or help with their medical expenses or a myriad of issues. The onus needs to be put on the pwners/founders and those at the top of the food chain of these shady MLMs and not on the members. The founders are the issues.

    One has to realize just how slick these MLMers are. They have been honing their skills for decades and have been involved or started many MLMs. This isn't their first dance at the prom. They wear and exhibit all the trappings of false trapping of success. They are very very polished con men. They can sell bird seed to birds. They purposely play on people's needs and weaknesses. They are masters of this. They sell the MLM dream of financial independence for all and often use the word "Dream" in their pitches. They make an ordinary person feel like they can "do it" and that they "belong'.

    In MLMs, you do not own your own business, you do not own the product, and you are not in control of your destiny. The company holds all the strings--product supply, computer tracking, commissions, collections, customer service, order fulfillment, publicity, compliance, public relations, comp plan, everything. All you own is a position in a long line of distributors. You do not control the product you sell, the comp plan, what the company does or does not do, the money that is paid . . . distributors own nothing other than the opportunity to sign more distributors and manage the existing downline. You are at the mercy of the company, upline, downline, media, and government.

    MLMs are very cult like. Go to a meeting. It's amazing! "We are all in this together". They make the person at the very bottom, feel imposrtant and needed. The perception is that little old you are somehow as imporatnt and on the same level as say a Director, several levels up with an enormous downline. This simply is not the case. The leaders sell this notion to every poor ******* who goes to a recruitment meeting and or signs up, because without these people HE does not make his money.

    For the top leaders in any MLM to get $10,000+ a month, they have to build this on the backs of all the users, consumers, and little people--the ones who buy their $100 a month of whatever and don't get a check. This money flows upline to distributors and back to the company from people who don't make their monthly qualifications.

    The same methods are used in a cult that are used in most MLMs. A sense of fellowship and belonging and being needed and being made to feel special. The lies that you will be helped and mentored along the way. That you wil be successful. That we are all in this together. We have a brotherhood and a common goal. You are welcome here. That you can have whatever you dream. It doesn't matter how old you are, what you look like, your education or how much money you have, you are made to feel important, needed and wanted. All of these tactics play on a persons emotions and pyschology. They are meant to do exactly that. And these leaders are pros at this. They have been doing this for many many years. It is very easy to believe them and get swept up into the whole group mentality of the moment. They count on this and they rely on it.

    And this is why so many MLMs are "Christian" based. They sickly use people's faith and belief to entice and lure them. It's dispicable. After all, how can a person who believes in God and believes in the Bible and believes in what you believe in, rip me off? Why, they have to be good people don't they?

    Selling a product-based deal is fine, but the idea of marketing a business opportunity to prospects when we know the numbers is not ethical is immoral. In its purest form, MLM is a viable method of marketing if its focus is on products and not primarily the business. Selling the dream of financial independence with MLM is a mirage for 90+% of distributors. The MLM industry statistics are that on average only 10% of distributors get a commission check each month. Of that 10%, 80% do not make enough to sustain themselves as a full-time income. Industry-wide company statistics show that 90% of distributors drop out of each company within a 1-2 year period. The distributor churn rate is terrible.

    And this is why that most often the products are crap and highly overpriced. Because the true goal of any MLM is in the recruiting. The product is only a means and the hook to get you sign on and feed the upline and therefore the leaders.

    Any way you cut it, MLM statistically does not work for 90+% of those involved. And those who make the big bucks are in a more elite group--usually 1/10 of 1% of all distributors.

    This is why 95% of all MLMs are private and not publically held companies. This way no one can have access to or read the truth in their financials to see exactly what the members are making and where the money comes from. They keep all this information secret. If a company is so honest and so successful, they would want people to see these numbers as proof of their sales pitches. If people saw the actual truth, the figures and the numbers, they would run.

    So to say that people are just ignorant, lazy and stupid is really incredibly ignorant in itself and shows a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of how MLMs and their leaders and founders operate.

  13. #13
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    MLM's are notorious for presenting to you a barrage of smoke and mirrors that mislead you with hype and emotionalism that feeds on your deepest needs while subduing your reason and common sense. They usually start with catchy lines like "Are you tired of working for someone else?" and "Would you like to be your own boss?" followed by "How would you like to earn an extra thousand dollars a week in your spare time?" and "What if you could do this part time while keeping your regular job?"

    A sample recuiment meeting goes as follows....you are invited and told about a wonderful opportunity by a nice, happy, enthusiastic, seemingly sincere person. They tell you where and where to show up and offer not much more information, as everything will be explained in detail at the meeting. You go.

    You see ordinary people of all ages from all walks of life you are happy and again appear to be sincere and you see people who are expectant and hopeful just as you are. You fit right in and are greeted and welcomed and made to feel special and wanted. There are crowds of people at the meeting, and those with name tags are unusually friendly. (they were the MLM reps and leaders) Even pretty young girls among the reps come up to you (or if you are a woman, handsome, well dressed men) and introduce themselves and chit chatt. It is a wholesome church-like atmosphere. The company is a nutritional/dietary supplement distributor, lets say. When the presentation starts, you are held spellbound by a woman who is one of the most electrifying speakers you had ever seen. She claimed to have appeared on the Susan Powder show too. She claims to have knowledge, experience and education in this subject/field. You believe her. She is like a motivational speaker, video aerobics instructor, and charismatic evangelist all in one. Even the most hardened skeptics are swayed by her to some degree. She could have won an Oscar that night for her performance. The whole audience, including yourself, is convinced and sold. Afterwards, you break into groups to discuss the next step in your involvement. You are offered an immediate upline distributor position with about a dozen downline people below for a fee of $800. You are told that this offer will not last long as the company is building and growing by leaps and bounds. You are assured and promised that you will be successful and will be mentored and helped all along the way. You will have a Director and he will guide you all the time and support you. You see others, much like yourself joining. You are given hope and ecouragement and made to fee like you can succeed. You are made to feel that we are all in this together and that you are not alone. We are a family. A happy, positive, successful family. We look out for our own and we want you.

    The biggest LIE they will all tell you is that "You don't have to be a good at selling to succeed in this business," which is usually in response to the common objection "What if I can't sell?" Nothing could be further from the truth. Obviously, money does not grow on trees and it does not come from nowhere. In order for profits to come in, someone MUST BUY the products! Anyone with the slightest amount of common sense knows this. One way or another, you have to get people to buy the product, or you have to find someone who is very good at it to be your downline. So then you still have to SELL others on the opportunity and the product to recruit them! And this is not a one time sell either, you and your downline must find people who are willing to buy your minimum product volume on a REGULAR BASIS! Even if you're a great recruiter and recruit a hundred people, no one will make any money unless the products of the MLM are sold on a regular basis and they are bale to recruit more people beneath them. Recruiting and all the fees associated with that and payed by members is where the real money is at. That is an indisputable hard core FACT, and the MLM's will hold this fact from you as long as possible, because this alone discourages most people from getting involved.

    In short, Many cult experts, such as cult archivist Rick Ross and ex-MLM members Dean and Laura Vandruff, have said that these marketing schemes are nothing but cults with retailing involved. Among their assertions are that MLM organizations and cults may resort to high-pressure tactics to get members to conform to their guidelines and rules. A past member who reported to Rick Ross said in 2002 that he was ridiculed for spending time with non-Amway friends and relatives, and that he was told to work on recruiting and selling four nights a week. There is also a heavy emphasis on chanting, trust exercises and sharing of personal information at group meetings, increasing the feeling of vulnerability and need for acceptance.

    Cult-like MLM factions may also press people to spend their financial resources on organizational functions, books, seminars, recordings and various materials that further indoctrinate the member.
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 07-02-2010 at 01:03 PM.

  14. #14
    Emet is offline Senior Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Thanks, ALA. i am in complete agreement. I have researched the industry for some time now, and find them all devoid of morals and ethics.

    Here is an article from 2007. The writer sounds pretty sharp to me. It's about Mary Kay. And while the writer admits to "being deep in the pink fog", I spent a fair amount of reading and participating in The Pink Truth forums. None of the women there started out in the "pink fog"--it was a slow, insidious process.

    Is Mary Kay like a Cult? - Associated Content - associatedcontent.com

    I've never been in sales or in an MLM, and "happened" upon them quite accidentally. The more I read, the sicker I became. I still view most participants with compassion--I reserve my contempt for the "business model" and the promoters.

    And if truth be told, probably many of the promotors were brainwashed into their belief system...
    A half-truth is a whole lie.

  15. #15
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Emet, I am glad you are here. We need more posters who are actually informed, have done the research, know people with the experiences to share and have studied the issues, the facts, the truth, the figures and the details for years and are not just giving off the cuff, ignorant uninformed opinions and guesses that are way off the mark and which go off topic, comparing apples to soap. People need to have a true understanding of what the subject matter actually is and take the time to educate themselves. Or not, and appear foolish and uninformed and contribute little of value.

    We are here to educate the public at large and to help them. That cannot be done if people are clueless as to what is being discussed and are mis-informed and unwilling to be educated and acknowledge the truth, the research, the figures, and the facts, not opinions.

    This has nothing to do with just agreeing with anyone either, it has to do with the truth and the facts, which cannot be distorted and are not just opinions. That is the key. People need to learn about this subject and be open to doing that, instead of being hell bound to another agenda. Or just to be contrary and argue, without ever accepting the truth. That serves no real purpose and accomplishes nothing of value. Debate is fine, we need that. But one needs to actually understand and know the subject matter at hand to make it worthwhile and something of value and which is germane. Generalities, just don't cut it. Neither do opinion based posts only.

    The Pink Truth is a great site and I listed it in the site and links thread here. I have read it for a long time. Really mind blowing in many respects.

    I have seen families, relatives, friends and individuals destroyed and ruined financially and emotionally by MLMs/Pyramids and Ponzis over the decades. It is a vile industry for the most part run by immoral, greedy, unethical con men who are the 21st century snake oil salemen of old. The tactics have just become slicker. The results are the same. Lies, deceptions, and bilking people to line their own pockets.

    Millions and millions of people are effected by these schemes. To use some defense that hey, all big businesses do this is not only false, it's ridiculous and simply not the case. We are discussing MLMs here. If a person wishes to be blind to the truth, then nothing can help them or change their opinion.

  16. #16
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Whoa, I went to edit my post, which I did and somehow the unedited version (first response to Emet) and and the edited version below, the version that I wanted, appeared. I'll ask Mom to remove the first post. Have no clue how that happened. Yikes! I am telling you, this typing with two fingers, a toe and elbow is difficult. lol


    Yeah! She did it! Thanks Mom!! xxxxxoooo You are as always, the bomb!!! Thank you, hun!!! We are lucky and garteful to have you here. I need all the help I can get. lmao
    Last edited by A Life Aloft; 07-02-2010 at 02:13 PM.

  17. #17
    WishfulThinking is offline Foundling Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    Let me clarify... (and ya, I know it's not nice and lacks empathy but that doesn't mean it's not true).

    I think it's laziness that leads to the stupidity. It has nothing to do with a person's IQ or how book smart they are. When I state stupidity, I mean a complete and total lack of common sense and desire to think for yourself. Not only are MLM's and religion leading around cults, I think people like Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann also have followers that could definitely be considered more like a cult. ALL of these people have one thing in common - they REFUSE to think for themselves. They have become so lazy that it's just easier to be told what to think rather than think for themselves. And that's just stupid.

    I know it's not nice, but I think more people just have a desire to be sheep and not ask questions and this is based on their laziness to really think. It's easier to buy into what someone else tells you to than to make up your own mind on what you should do.
    If that was the case, there would be no religion either.

    Empirically, there are far too many intelligent, hard working and thorough people who have been involved in MLMs for your statement to be true.

    Cons are clever people. Motivators are clever people. One big issue with MLMs is the withholding of information. Without true information it is difficult to make an informed decision. Prospective members are not shown the real financials, they are not given the real facts, but they are given often given some very sophisticated information that gives the impression of being factual. It is often very difficult to disprove what is told to you, and unless you have a lot of experience in the field into which you are thinking of going, due diligence is not always as easy as it sounds.

    The personality characteristic that seems to save people from joining these businesses that are probably going to be doomed to failure is not intelligence, but scepticism. It is also the characteristic possessed by the people who question them and get out.

    Some people who get involved in mlms (of the legitimate kind with a real product) do so because they are genuinly impressed with the product.

    Having joined an MLM many years ago (when they were not a household name) which had an excellent product, I quickly discovered from practical experience that the issues of pricing (overpriced) and seller saturation (uncontrolled numbers of sellers of the same product in the same population) meant that any venture would be doomed to failure. Add to that the extraordinary amount of hype that went with the business and it became very clear very shortly after joining that the business model would only benefit those who owned it and those at the top who got overrides on everyone's sales. But I am a sceptic and they were other times.

    Nowadays the hype and motivational technics have become more sohpisticated and it is easy to see how people who are not familiar with the mlm culture get sucked into their first mlm. After that it depends on how successfully they are brainwashed if they continue to one mlm after another or get out.

  18. #18
    Whip's Avatar
    Whip is offline Anonymous. As are you all
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    I think Blue Oyster Cult would have a problem with this thread.

  19. #19
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Spot on Wishful! You understand this.

    It is not only the deceptions that are told to recruits and to members , it is the truth, entire truth and the factual details that are left out of the pitch and the false promises that are kept in. It is also the lies and deceptions, the carefully worded phrases, the emotional and psychological messages and tactics that are put forth to new recruits and to members and the incredibly clevor diversions and deflections when those doing the recruiting are pressed for specific answers.

    The recruits or new members can also be made to seem like they are a failure of some sort if they don't succeed. After all, you didn't work hard enough, didn't want it hard enough and the plethora of other b.s. that is fed to them. It doesn't matter that they were doomed from the onset, they are made to feel like it's them. After all, look at all these diamind, ruby, gold, paltinum whatever Directors that we are prancing around and showing off on stage for you, that have made tons of money and are big successes. If they can do it, so can you. The issue is that the members and recruits are never told the truth about how those Directors and leaders actually made and make their money in the MLM.

    Here’s the ugly truth of network marketing. People are in MLM’s are joining them after the the fact of the MLM already having it's leaders in place. They are being recruited by and cheered on by people who have in the vast majority of cases are hand picked MLMers known to the owners/founders (they have been in other MLMs together before - MLMs are a very incestuous realtionship believe me -- look at Len Clements for example) and are making great money as a result of this - off the backs of the huge downlines under them. These same people wouldn’t themselves rejoin the company with the current rate of growth and with the current rate of drop outs. You also have the MLM groupies who will follow these leaders from one floportunity to the next, waiting for their crumbs to be tosssed to them for the price of their "loyalty" in the new patented “Bupkis All Natural Root Juice 9000 With Healing Herbs Extract".

    We cannot blame the victims here. We need to put the blame and the onus where it truly belongs, which is on the lying, cheating, masters of deception and purveyors of false hopes, fake dreams and false promises, who prey upon the public at large. MLM gurus, leaders and founders are very slick, very well practised showmen first. Never forget this. They are very charismatic. They are often very intelligent. Morals, ethics, conscience, values aside (since they have none), they are very, very good at what they do and many, many people are fooled and duped.

  20. #20
    Unsaved Trash is offline Another site bit the dust
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    I attended two YTB recruitment meetings, one of their Founder's Tour meetings, three WorldVentures recruitment meetings, and one Global Travel International (GTI) recruitment meetings. They're all basically the same. They lie. They lie a lot. Wait, they lie all of the time. All three of these claimed wealth beyond belief and that all I had to do was join and then the money would roll in. All for a fee, of course.

    YTB was the most deceptive. The recruiters showed a long video, pretty splashy, and it had expensive cars, speedboats, jets, showed exotic locations of beautiful people lounging by the beaches sipping a cocktail, all sorts of things the average person could never afford to have or to do. Then the recruiters told of their own personal experiences and how they've made enough money in just a few short months to buy a large house, a couple of new cars, establish a trust fund for their kids, and took lots and lots of free trips. Naturally all of your expenses were tax deductible including your vacations. Hey wait, the vacations were free or that's what they said.

    Next came the questions from the padded attendees at these meetings. They asked questions that most people wouldn't ask. These were planned and planned well, with the exact same questions asked at both meetings I attended. They were so many answers like, "You'll earn money even while you're asleep." Another one of my favorites was that all brick and mortar agencies were eventally going to close because of the internet and you should "get in on the 7 trillion dollar industry, the largest industry in the world." Then came the tax deductions questions and that was a red flag for anyone with four brain cells that functioned. Did you know that by now having your own home based business that you could deduct the entire cost of you land line phone, cell phone, a room in your home as an office, your car expenses, and 100% of your personal travel expenses, including your entire family if you took them along? Well that's what they said. (Insert chuckles here.)

    Then it was the hard sell. Sign up right now and within 24 hours your very own travel website will hit the internet and you will be in the money. Tell your friends and family, coworkers and you got paid for that too...if you could sucker them into joining this wonderful opportunity. Remember, this is a sure-fire thing. Oh yeah, and God was mentioned a lot.

    The Founder's Tour had the three founders, "Coach" Tomer (a down-home speaking, golly gosh darn type of old time religion turd), his son Scott, a total greasy doofus that wore shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, and Kim Sorensen, a fat guy with a suit and weird sort of white flat-top haircut with about 4 ounces of Butch Wax applied. This was my favorite event. It was totally staged and I had been informed beforehand exactly the order of events. Everything went as planned, right down to the cell phone ringing and a "Golly gosh darn, congratulations to Elmo P. Finkelweird for just making director and hit the golden egg program" or what ever they called it then. The crowd cheered several times at each "announcement." Keep in mind these were mainly YTB people that had to pay $10 and a few of us "marks" that were allowed in free.

    Then the recuiting began, tons of testimonies, blah, blah, and more blah. Questions and more questions right in the very order of the paper I held in my hand from a printout I got online. At one point, I was ready to jump from my seat about 25 rows back and attack "Coach" for saying "Shucks, golly, the good folks at YTB" or another mention of God. But I didn't have enough strength since the woman next to me was drowning in Estee Lauder Old Hag Dew or something that was making my eyes water and my nose run. It was "recruit, recruit, and recruit" more people into this opportunity of a lifetime and build up your resessionproof income. For some strange reason, I was never called upon although my hand went up several times with questions. And remember, "You cannot fail with YTB, but you can fail YTB."

    Then it was "over" except for the constant question, "Are you a YTB member?" When answering "no" that's when I was pounced upon to get in right now. That's when I got to ask the questions. And I called one woman a liar. I was asked to leave. They also didn't see a checkbook or credit card in my hand.

    WorldVentures - Pretty much the same as the YTB recruitment meetings but a lot more professional. Travel free was the big deal. Then it was money. Lather, rinse, repeat from YTB's but not nearly as many people. The first one was fairly large, second one was about 15 people, third meeting was three including myself. l signed up for two more meeting but they were canceled due to lack of interest.

    GTI - Very glitzy presentation. Condo vacations for pennies. Also I think it was $6K. Blah, blah, blah, same as all of the previous but a lot more deception than WV and about the same as YTB's.

    What did all of these have in common? Riches, You cannot fail, and free travel. Build a residual income "guaranteed."

    After each one, I came home and scrubbed myself down with Lysol and a Brillo pad. I always did a double wash after attending a YTB event.
    GEORGE DRANICHAK - OWNER OF SCAM.COM, PORN MOGUL AND KING OF THE PORN SPAMMERS

  21. #21
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    I always said that you had a much stronger colon than I have for attending those meetings. lmao I would have needed a dramamine, a valium and a cocktail and I don't drink. I am gad you shared this with everyone though, seriously. Great reporting from the front.

    YTB for me was always the worst for me, especially in having the dear old Preacherman, The Coach, as their leader, the big phony Christian. If there is a hell, surely there is a special place for him there. Perhaps next to Bernie Madoff. Preferably next to me though, so I can kick his ass in person.

  22. #22
    Unsaved Trash is offline Another site bit the dust
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Quote Originally Posted by A Life Aloft View Post
    YTB for me was always the worst for me, especially in having the dear old Preacherman, The Coach, as their leader, the big phony Christian. If there is a hell, surely there is a special place for him there. Perhaps next to Bernie Madoff. Preferably next to me though, so I can kick his ass in person.
    I was hoping we would be sitting next to each other.
    GEORGE DRANICHAK - OWNER OF SCAM.COM, PORN MOGUL AND KING OF THE PORN SPAMMERS

  23. #23
    A Life Aloft is offline fled troglodyte invasion
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Quote Originally Posted by Unsaved Trash View Post
    I was hoping we would be sitting next to each other.
    Oh fine, I'll save your ass a seat. But I am not sitting next to Bill Clinton!

  24. #24
    Seriously?'s Avatar
    Seriously? is offline Just call me.... ahhh, no
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Kimmie, ALA, Coach, UT, and Scottie. What a line-up!
    Don't take life too serious. You'll never escape it alive anyway.
    ~ Elbert Hubbard

  25. #25
    iamwil is offline Senior Member
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    Re: MLMS And CULTS

    Quote Originally Posted by Whip View Post
    I think Blue Oyster Cult would have a problem with this thread.
    Why? You think it would upset their soft white underbellies?

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