Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation framework examples

img. source: Complex.com

Researched and compiled by
Tim

I would suggest that a good number of people have seen at least one of the television documentaries that have been made about L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, we, on the outside, may see it as a cult but if you talk to anyone from within they will swear up and down that it’s not that at all… it’s only when someone comes out from the controlled “within” that we can begin to get some rational and real perspective on the subject.

One resource that has been widely applied within the Pagan communities is the The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (Version 2.6) which can be found at neopagan.net

The evaluation framework clearly defines the questions that need be asked in order to demonstrate whether a group is actually a “cult-like” entity or not. The results are yielded on a sliding score scale with the lowest score possible being 18 and the highest score possible being 180, therefore the mean is 81.

Although there is no “result table” that tells you, point blank, whether the score is or is not cult we would have to assume that anything above the mean denotes a “cult-like” entity of some sort. Naturally, if you go over 100, I think you can safely assume that you have a cult.

The biggest problem with utilising this framework is that you can only do it if you have a completely clear, logical and unbiased view of the thing you are assessing… let’s assume, for example, if The Framework had been given to Susan Atkins [1] in 1969 when she aided Manson in the Tate-LaBianca murders would she have returned a clear, logical and unbiased result? Don’t believe so myself…

So, if you were asked to sit down with The Framework and apply it to a group that you are in would you be totally objective, clear and logical about it or would you give the answers that you have led to believe?

Could you take The Framework and apply it, in the same fashion, to a group that you were a member of in the past? If you had good experiences I would suggest that the result might be skewed in that way, if you had bad experiences – which are usually remembered far longer than good ones – could you give an accurate and completely unbiased response?

Let’s look at a couple of examples;

Example 1

1              Internal Control: Amount of internal political and social power exercised by leader(s) over members; lack of clearly defined organizational rights for members.           3
_________________________

2              External Control: Amount of external political and social influence desired or obtained; emphasis on directing members’ external political and social behavior.                5
_________________________

3              Wisdom/Knowledge Claimed by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared or implied about decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations; number and degree of unverified and/or unverifiable credentials claimed.             6
_________________________

4              Wisdom/Knowledge Credited to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations made by leader(s); amount of hostility by members towards internal or external critics and/or towards verification efforts.       4    _________________________

5              Dogma: Rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility or “fundamentalism;” hostility towards relativism and situationalism.    4             _________________________

6              Recruiting: Emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing; requirement for all members to bring in new ones.     1             _________________________

7              Front Groups: Number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of main group, especially when connections are hidden.               1             _________________________

8              Wealth: Amount of money and/or property desired or obtained by group; emphasis on members’ donations; economic lifestyle of leader(s) compared to ordinary members.         1
_________________________

9              Sexual Manipulation of members by leader(s) of non-tantric groups; amount of control exercised over sexuality of members in terms of sexual orientation, behavior, and/or choice of partners.            1
_________________________

10           Sexual Favoritism: Advancement or preferential treatment dependent upon sexual activity with the leader(s) of non-tantric groups.    1
_________________________

11           Censorship: Amount of control over members’ access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader(s).            3
_________________________

12           Isolation: Amount of effort to keep members from communicating with non-members, including family, friends and lovers.          4
_________________________

13           Dropout Control: Intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.  1
_________________________

14           Violence: Amount of approval when used by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s).               1
_________________________

15           Paranoia: Amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; exaggeration of perceived power of opponents; prevalence of conspiracy theories.  2
_________________________

16           Grimness: Amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).            3
_________________________

17           Surrender of Will: Amount of emphasis on members not having to be responsible for personal decisions; degree of individual disempowerment created by the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).            3
_________________________

18           Hypocrisy: amount of approval for actions which the group officially considers immoral or unethical, when done by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s); willingness to violate the group’s declared principles for political, psychological, social, economic, military, or other gain.   2
_________________________

So, assuming that a score of 18 is the most ‘non-Cult like’ possible, and assuming that a score of 180 is ‘totally Cult like’ what we see in this evaluation is a score of 46.

Given that the mean, or median, that indicates ‘Cult like’ behaviour is a score of 81 we are left to conclude that this particular result falls in the lower percentile when considering ‘Cult like’ traits.

Example 2

Factors:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
Low                              High

1              Internal Control: Amount of internal political and social power exercised by leader(s) over members; lack of clearly defined organizational rights for members.           10
_________________________

2              External Control: Amount of external political and social influence desired or obtained; emphasis on directing members’ external political and social behavior.                9
_________________________

3              Wisdom/Knowledge Claimed by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared or implied about decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations; number and degree of unverified and/or unverifiable credentials claimed.  10
_________________________

4              Wisdom/Knowledge Credited to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations made by leader(s); amount of hostility by members towards internal or external critics and/or towards verification efforts.       9
_________________________

5              Dogma: Rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility or “fundamentalism;” hostility towards relativism and situationalism.    9
_________________________

6              Recruiting: Emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing; requirement for all members to bring in new ones.     3
_________________________

7              Front Groups: Number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of main group, especially when connections are hidden.               1
_________________________

8              Wealth: Amount of money and/or property desired or obtained by group; emphasis on members’ donations; economic lifestyle of leader(s) compared to ordinary members.         1
_________________________

9              Sexual Manipulation of members by leader(s) of non-tantric groups; amount of control exercised over sexuality of members in terms of sexual orientation, behavior, and/or choice of partners.            1
_________________________

10           Sexual Favoritism: Advancement or preferential treatment dependent upon sexual activity with the leader(s) of non-tantric groups.    1
_________________________

11           Censorship: Amount of control over members’ access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader(s).            9
_________________________

12           Isolation: Amount of effort to keep members from communicating with non-members, including family, friends and lovers.          7             _________________________

13           Dropout Control: Intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.  4
_________________________

14           Violence: Amount of approval when used by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s).               1
_________________________

15           Paranoia: Amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; exaggeration of perceived power of opponents; prevalence of conspiracy theories.  9          _________________________

16           Grimness: Amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).            9
_________________________

17           Surrender of Will: Amount of emphasis on members not having to be responsible for personal decisions; degree of individual disempowerment created by the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).            10
_________________________

18           Hypocrisy: amount of approval for actions which the group officially considers immoral or unethical, when done by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s); willingness to violate the group’s declared principles for political, psychological, social, economic, military, or other gain.   9
_________________________

 So, assuming that a score of 18 is the most ‘non-Cult like’ possible, and assuming that a score of 180 is ‘totally Cult like’ what we see in this evaluation is a score of 112.

Given that the mean, or median, that indicates ‘Cult like’ behaviour is a score of 81 we are left to conclude that this particular result falls in the upper percentile when considering ‘Cult like’ traits.

  1. Oxy Gen Crimetime http://www.oxygen.com/blogs/where-are-the-members-of-charles-mansons-killer-cult-family-now

Note from Phaedra Bonewits:
Isaac Bonewits passed away August 12, 2010.

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