Media Reviews

Charles Duhigg’s New York Times Podcast: “Change Agent”

2018-12-16T20:52:18-05:00March 8th, 2018|Blog, Media Reviews|

The "Change Agent" podcast is a five-episode series by The New York Times. It is hosted by Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of "The Power of Habit" and "Smarter Faster Better." It uses real-life problems to try and solve a surprising story. (When we worked on the podcast last year, Duhigg was a senior editor, but since then he is no longer there.) The New York Times describes it "as a new five-part podcast series that turns obstacles into opportunities. Each episode unearths surprising stories from science and business to offer answers to people’s problems. [They] [...]

Undue Influence, The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, and Current Events

2018-12-16T19:57:17-05:00May 16th, 2017|Blog, Current Events, Media Reviews|

Hulu has created a television series based on Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale, and it is highly recommended viewing*. Last year, Hulu produced The Path and I was interviewed by Vanity Fair for my perspective. This time, I am blogging about The Handmaid’s Tale as I believe this is a very upsetting but well made dramatic series that is worthwhile watching. It is especially disquieting for me as it is set in New England. A political cult takes over the U.S. after a staged terrorist attack and martial law is declared. When the book and the 1990 movie [...]

The Heaven’s Gate Tragedy–The 20th Anniversary of an American Doomsday Cult Disaster

2018-12-16T20:52:57-05:00March 23rd, 2017|Blog, Current Events, Media Reviews, News and Updates|

On March 26, 1997, the bodies of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult were discovered by police. Poisoned, and with plastic bags over their heads, these victims of cult mind control were forever lost to their friends and families. This story, which gained worldwide attention, illustrates just how dangerous undue influence can be and I used them as an example in my books. I was on NBC's Today Show and Dateline that week, and a slew of other media as the world wanted to understand about doomsday cults. It was during that week of media frenzy that I watched [...]

Book Review – opening minds: the secret world of manipulation, undue influence and brainwashing

2019-02-13T12:08:14-05:00December 29th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

opening minds: the secret world of manipulation, undue influence and brainwashing is the newest book written by Jon Atack, ex-Scientologist and author of the best book on Scientology. This masterfully written primer on undue influence is the first project of the newly formed non-profit organization Open Minds Foundation (OMF). Of course, you might expect I would write a positive review. I’m on the advisory board of OMF, and Jon is a long time personal friend. He is one of the smartest and most well read people I have the pleasure to know. He is an artist. A musician. A [...]

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

2019-02-13T10:52:45-05:00December 2nd, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

When I first heard that Leah Remini planned to make a show about Scientology, I was cautiously optimistic. Not that many celebrities have been brave enough to share their stories, much less want to really go further than the HBO Going Clear documentary. After watching the first episode, I am happy to say that Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath is professionally done and extremely thoughtful. It presents a lot of useful information in a short time. Please watch it and tell everyone on your social network to watch it too. I highly recommend it not just for those [...]

Meditation, Yes! But Please Be Careful and Do Your Homework Regarding Transcendental Meditation (TM).

2018-12-15T23:41:57-05:00November 4th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews, Resources and Support|

There are thousands of ways to meditate. Personally, I like to do a breathing, concentration meditation, or a moving or walking meditation to focus my mind. I like the discipline of focusing my mind rather than passively allowing thoughts to come and go. In the past, I have done mindfulness meditation, which is quite popular now and has helped many people relieve anxiety, depression, and other issues. So, be wary of any group that says there is only one Right Way to meditate.Mantric meditation (the repetition of a word or sound) is only one technique.In recent years, Transcendental Meditation (TM) [...]

Holy Hell Documentary Shows How Cult Leader Raped Followers for Years

2018-12-16T19:57:48-05:00September 29th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

Imagine spending over twenty-two years of your life believing you are one of the select few who knows the secrets of the universe-- only to discover the world that you live in is really a brainwashing cult. This is the story behind Holy Hell. Will Allen, the filmmaker who made this documentary from 20 years of recording cult activities, woke up and decided to expose his former guru. How did this happen? Jaime Gomez is the real name of founder and leader of Buddhafield. He started as a wannabe Hollywood actor and small-time gay porn star. After [...]

Roger Ailes, FOX News, Right-Wing Talk Shows, and Undue Influence Techniques

2018-12-16T19:58:04-05:00August 19th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

Fox News channel boss Roger Ailes was recently forced to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment. The suit, filed by Gretchen Carlson, has opened up a window into what was apparently a pervasive work culture of discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. Back in 1996, Roger Ailes teamed up with Rupert Murdoch to create Fox News as a right-wing propaganda juggernaut. Apparently Bill Shine, an insider, will take over but the entertainment/news/right-wing approach will seemingly stay the same. Now there are news reports that Ailes will be involved in coaching Donald Trump in his bid to become President. I recently watched a [...]

New Book on Patty Hearst Falls Short of Understanding Undue Influence

2018-12-16T20:07:36-05:00August 12th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

I recently read a NY Times book review of AMERICAN HEIRESS: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin and listened to an interview done with the author on NPR. Honestly, I was horrified at his lack of knowledge and understanding about undue influence and disagreed 100% with his conclusions. I felt like I was listening to a “cult apologist”- someone hired by cult groups to defend the group and say they are “fine”- for example, G. Gordon Melton flying to Japan after the sarin gas attacks to defend the Aum Shinrikyo [...]

An Interview with Cracked.com

2018-12-16T20:12:35-05:00July 15th, 2016|Blog, Media Reviews|

Just recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a podcast entitled “Modern Cults (Are Scarier Than Jonestown)” by Jack O’Brien of Cracked.com. The show was a long one, and in the first segment author Karen Stollznow discussed why America is such a good breeding ground for cults. I particularly liked that she discussed, as a linguist, that speaking in tongues is glossolalia and there was not a shred of evidence that people are speaking in a language of any kind. It is interesting that there are many millions of people doing this altered state of consciousness practice, believing [...]