This is just my racket...
August 17, 2003 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Transformation in a weekend? Recently a friend told me he'd signed up for the Landmark Forum, a personal improvement seminar offered by the Landmark Education Corporation. I did some googling on LEC and found some very disturbing material. Since we're being all "fair and balanced" on MeFi now, I'll add I found some positive material too. Oh, and since my research tells me Landmark tends to be very litigious about negative publicity, I'll just cover my orange-feathered butt and say that my negative impressions of Landmark are only my opinion, not that of MetaFilter, and I could be wrong. Have any MeFiers had any experiences - positive or negative - with LEC?
posted by orange swan (47 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There was a great article about the Landmark Forum in the second issue of The Believer. Turns out Chuck Palahniuk attended one, and, according to a letter he wrote The Believer, he enjoyed the hell out of it.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:41 PM on August 17, 2003

*wrings hands*

1st draft: it was great fun. it's hard to describe. it used to call itself est. it's hard to describe. but it was worth every penny, and because i love and respect you, i am a powerful stand in the world for you to enroll.

2nd draft: the landmark forum made me the man i am today. anxiety ridden, and acutely depressed.

3rd draft: it's not really a cult you know. it just looks, acts and smells like one is all.
posted by quonsar at 8:51 PM on August 17, 2003 [3 favorites]

Have any MeFiers had any experiences - positive or negative - with LEC?


Upon review: damn it, he beat me to it!
posted by y2karl at 8:56 PM on August 17, 2003

From what I understand, it's basically est without the screaming. A friend dragged me to a meeting for new folks a few years ago -- creeped me out how they wouldn't describe what went on in the various "levels", and it seemed to cost a LOT over time.
posted by Vidiot at 9:00 PM on August 17, 2003

My sister got into "the forum" a while back - 5 or 6 years maybe? No, wait, it must have been longer - I guess she was pretty young at the time, so can be forgiven. I was totally freaked out that she was joining such a culty enterprise, but she really enjoyed it and still considers it to have been a positive experience. 100 % not my style, but for non-ironic non-religious optimistic but underproductive types, hey, have fun. Just, seriously, don't try to recruit me.
posted by mdn at 9:01 PM on August 17, 2003

Easy on the use of the c-word, quonsie. Landmark doesn't like that word.

I wasn't kidding about Landmark being litigious. When I was researching this post it seemed like every article or web site link I found had an accompanying link for a lawsuit, strongly worded letter to the editor from a Landmark lawyer, or letter of apology from the publisher.
posted by orange swan at 9:03 PM on August 17, 2003

Like most things, it seems to be good in moderation.
posted by ejoey at 9:08 PM on August 17, 2003

Isn't this just scientology with less space opera and a different kind of "Tech"?
posted by reynaert at 9:11 PM on August 17, 2003

I've done their four main courses. I got some value out of them. Mostly, I find their concepts helpful in analyzing conflict. The last course was staffed by unqualified volunteers and really messed me up.

I don't think they take enough responsibility for the risks of their program. Their workshops put people in an emotionally fragile state, and the participants are asked to mess with their relationships before they have even mastered the concepts of the course. On top of that, they are asked to invite friends to hear about the program and give glowing recommendations before they even know if the program works.

They are very protective of their "technology". You have to sign what is essentially an NDA before participating in a seminar. Their stuff is not really original, though. A friend of mine worked at the company at one time and volunteered for them over the years. In doing some linguistics research, he found several independent sources for the same self-help concepts they use.
posted by neuroshred at 9:24 PM on August 17, 2003

I used to er, know a lady who otherwise seemed quite intelligent. Until she revealed to me that she had been to one of these brain-washing, um, self-improvement Landmark forums.

Turns out the stuff I'd read about Landmark turning their own into minions who promote their course to everyone was indeed true. Not only was this lady a "volunteer" who helped the corporation without getting paid, she also kept pushing it at me every chance she got. Argh!

I made up my mind not to see more of her when she told me that she'd cleared a normally high-traffic stretch of road with the power of her mind.

To paraphrase a line from one of my favourite TV series, Becker, "the problem with going to one of these courses is that you end up meeting people who go to these courses."

I'm sorry, I don't intend to go to any "self-improvement" course ever. I don't need it. My life has meaning, and I'm not looking to find god either.

The Skeptic's Dictionary has a good entry for Landmark forum. (Be sure to read the reader's comments at the bottom.)

PS: I've heard notepads aren't allowed in their courses so people can't take notes.
posted by madman at 9:36 PM on August 17, 2003

Isn't this just scientology with less space opera and a different kind of "Tech"?

It certainly makes money like Scientology--although sans the benefit of the tax shelter that would come with being registered as a church.
posted by y2karl at 9:41 PM on August 17, 2003

madman: Notepads aren't allowed in the Forum (the first course). The others allow notes, as I remember.
posted by neuroshred at 9:47 PM on August 17, 2003

the first rule of landmark forum is you don't talk about what goes on at landmark forum.
posted by quonsar at 9:52 PM on August 17, 2003

It's good to take yourself out of your routine every once in a while and gain some perspective, and it's good to involve other people in this. Spiritual retreats and such.

But it's bad when the people breaking down your emotional defenses stand to profit from you, cult or no.
posted by lbergstr at 10:30 PM on August 17, 2003

I was on a whitewater raft trip sharing the front and active position with some dude who attended one and who was so busy rambling on about awareness and other such exciting things he got out of his seminar that the rest of us had to insist that he sit in the back of the boat because he was never paying attention to the present and imminent dangers of the RIVER.
posted by HTuttle at 10:34 PM on August 17, 2003 [1 favorite]

at one of my former jobs, i had a manager who had attended landmark education for quite some time. he even brought in some lady to do "the forum" with our group. after attending the forum and talking with him about it after, at great lengths, he decided that he would no longer be attending any of their meetings. why?

they didn't have much to teach. each sane and normal person knows that there are two sides to every story. each sane person knows that an agreeable truth lies somewhere in the middle. these people teach that the middle is %20 their truth, %80 your truth. they teach you to manipulate and deceive, yet somehow coming out smelling like roses. for the longest time, i wondered why he would try (and normally succeed) to talk people into doing something by saying "try this on" and following it with a different view of the situation. after attending the forum and being questioned by the OT.. er.. i mean.. the forum leader about why i thought the way i did about some issues and saying "well, think of it like this" a few times, i was very aware. i don't really wonder why this goes over so well in management circles.

i've come to my conclusions for a reason. i've also talked people into doing things they didn't want to do into doing things using that same method long before going to this meeting.

it takes a con-man to spot a con-man.

(this post was written by my cat stepping on my keyboard. dont sue, i'm poor.)
posted by onedarkride at 10:44 PM on August 17, 2003

Its the corporatism of Philosophic and emotional self-reflection.

It doesn't matter if the doctrine you are trying to sell has true value, its the way you place money above that doctrine that makes it suspect. The material may truly be helpful, but the motivation of the "movement" feels monetary, not "moral."

This seems to be a theme in 21st century America. The monetary and moral cocktail.

What we need is a GPL on a decent working moral philosophy that helps people learn how to think for themselves, relate to each other emotionally and understand their own emotions.

Or maybe we just need more plo chops.
posted by jopreacher at 10:50 PM on August 17, 2003

quonsar: Stop it! Making people giggle is not a fit occupation fit for an adult (you are an adult aren't you?).

As far as this Landmark money for knowledge thing goes, paying money to someone to "improve" your "self" is essentially pouring money down the drain and risking your sanity. Err, except if you're paying money to an accredited four-year college, of course.
posted by skyscraper at 11:55 PM on August 17, 2003

Hmmmm, I appear to be having a fit.
posted by skyscraper at 11:58 PM on August 17, 2003

I'm so glad that I'm naturally self-actualized. It's saved me a fortune.
posted by timeistight at 1:44 AM on August 18, 2003

I couldn't help but think of this. Scroll about halfway down or search for 'The time is here.'.
posted by stavrogin at 2:33 AM on August 18, 2003

I don't understand why people go to these things in the first place. Maybe a lack of a bad experiences to warn them off them (to which the course is the ideal solution - providing you get out in time.)

Groups are danderous things, especially groups with a leader who will invite you deeper and deeper in, but who won't let you see the bigger picture of what the group is about (as (s)he merrily and confidently dances the unsuspecting you into the jaws of hell.)
posted by Blue Stone at 2:38 AM on August 18, 2003

Long, several separate points, sorry:

I've participated at Landmark off and on for something like ten years. I find that for people who are already doing okay and just want to challenge themselves, they can find that structure and a good group of coaches. If somebody really needs a therapist or wants some kind of existential masturbation session, unfortunately, they can find people who are all too eager to participate at that level as well. The main problem with Landmark is simply that it's made of people; like a lot of philosophies, religions, or overarching paradigms, the theory is neither unique nor harmful, but the people involved can sure f*ck things up.

The ideas are not original in the least, but the application of them can be. It's something like "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", or just stuff our grandpas might have taught us had we been raised closer to our elders. Like: Be gracious with people, recognize that the way you see things may not be the way it is, listen to people, believe in them. There's some crazy lingo around these ideas, but essentially it's common sense for getting along with others and enjoying life.

I think that westerners in general tend to be very suspicious of groups; we are all taught the virtues of individuality and going it alone, and sometimes miss out on extraordinary experiences because we are so afraid of giving up even a little bit of control. If you can participate in something which gives you a richer and more fulfilling life experience, it might be worth checking out. It's better than rushing home to catch the daily reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Even if it isn't for you, there is no use judging people who
enjoy and get something out of something like Landmark, or yoga, or going to church every Wednesday and Sunday, for that matter. Neither the overenthusiastic inviters nor the cynical know-it-alls who player-hate participants in something like this really add much to the conversation; both are equally shrill and predictable. If it's not for you, fine. If it is, fine. What others do is not really anyone's business.
posted by pomegranate at 6:06 AM on August 18, 2003

To paraphrase a line from one of my favourite TV series, Becker,

Boy, you don't hear that sentence every day.
posted by dhoyt at 6:09 AM on August 18, 2003

"Even if it isn't for you, there is no use judging people who
enjoy and get something out of something like Landmark"

Being skepitcal of this type of group has great value. If that entails judging the people who join it to determine who and why, then that's part of the learning process. I wouldn't want to join a group that says, "don't judge us." That's foolish. Any group that fears being judged probably has something to hide.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:33 AM on August 18, 2003

What others do is not really anyone's business.

I basically agree, but one thing about the forum is that they're always trying to recruit. When my sis was into it, it was all she talked about, and she was completely convinced I needed to do it, that it would change my life. I told her I didn't feel that my life needed any massive overhauls, and that I prefer to learn slowly & carefully & on my own, rather than in a huge pseudo corporate seminar, etc etc. One of her arguments was that people who go are always satisfied, always happy they went - which I attributed to the fact that anyone who paid $1000 for a weekend was kinda pre-set to be into it.

She did manage to get my mother to go, and my mom and I joked about it beforehand, and then after the weekend was over (they basically tire you out and starve you in that first weekend so you're emotionally vulnerable anyway) my mom was all pro-forum too, and I just had to step back and let them do their thing for a while. My mother was really unhappy at the time, and for a couple weeks after the forum, she was really really happy, but it was like a burst of adrenaline, not a lasting thing.

And god, the lingo is so annoying. I'm all for self-reflection, but this is not honest self-reflection, it's steps to follow, tasks to do, categories to check, and most of all, group dynamics, the euphoria of a large gathering chanting together, hugging strangers, etc. Which is one reason it's so distasteful to me - groupthink is not clarity.

People are welcome to 'improve' themselves by whatever system they wish, but if they're always pushing their system, well, first off you're less likely to feel they've really 'improved' anything... lead by example, I say.
posted by mdn at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2003

I spent a lot of time putting this post together, and a good portion of that time was spent hunting for positive links about Landmark. Negative stuff abounded, but positive sites were usually either Landmark-sponsored or some little geocities site that couldn't support the MeFite traffic. The remaining sites were usually so laced with jargon that I hated to link to them. I wanted clear and comprehensive accounts of how the program had been beneficial with no off-putting and meaningless lingo, no gushing, no "you have to try it for yourself to really understand".

It was hard to find. And I kept coming across more stuff like this:

"For six months, I was just hooked," says a recently counseled Landmark participant from Denver, Colorado. "My parents kept pushing me to do it, and I thought, 'My God! If everyone did this, there would be no need for drugs, 'cause the euphoria is just so . . . euphoric!' I took the whole 'Curriculum for Living,' assisted constantly, and even dropped out of school because being a medical assistant wasn't 'extraordinary' enough for me. Then I had a miscarriage. I missed a seminar because I was grieving for my baby. When I showed up the next week, the leader said, 'The good news is the loss of your baby doesn't mean shit. What does mean shit is that you have gone outside your integrity because you missed your seminar.' "
posted by orange swan at 7:00 AM on August 18, 2003 [2 favorites]

Man, I was completely prepared to say, "eh, whatever makes people feel good," until pomegranate's post.

I think that westerners in general tend to be very suspicious of groups; we are all taught the virtues of individuality and going it alone, and sometimes miss out on extraordinary experiences because we are so afraid of giving up even a little bit of control. If you can participate in something which gives you a richer and more fulfilling life experience, it might be worth checking out. It's better than rushing home to catch the daily reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond."''

I mean, this sounds like it could have come right from a playbook of "here's how to convince those pesky knee-jerk anti-religion thinking types you'll encounter... 1) accuse them of a narrow world-view and make them feel provincial, 2) call them control freaks, 3) accuse them of being addicted to the idiot box / corporately driven pop culture, 4) point out that a true 'intellectual' shouldn't judge."

It's est. It's repackaged, and it's all guru-centric (which is more popular and acceptable today thanks to Oprah and Tony Robbins and the Tom Cruise-types making Scientology seem legitimate), but it's still just est, and it's still a cult. Common sense does not cost $1000. Y'all come to my house and we'll sit on my back porch and I'll give you some tough love for free. Or, for a bottle of screw-top wine and some pork rinds, you can even bring a friend. I'll tell him he's messed up too.

(this post does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of other MeFi posters, or other rational people in the universe, or other MeFi members whose usernames are also fruits beginning with P.)
posted by pineapple at 7:36 AM on August 18, 2003

Are these guys the evangelical knock-off of Landmark Forums?
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:09 AM on August 18, 2003

Curses, foiled again! My attempts to convert the world to my cult have been discovered! Must revise playbook to evade discovery by Pineapple and screw-top wine-drinking friends.
posted by pomegranate at 8:12 AM on August 18, 2003

Ok, this is a long post, worked on as I read through the thread and picked out stuff to reply to.

I took several LEC courses in the early 90's, and did a lot of volunteer work with them. The essence of my feeling about them now is this: the actual material of their classes is useful and valuable. In fact, the essential point of the first "Forum" seminar is actually something akin to Zen "satori." However, there is much about how they operate as a business that I do not like.

Isn't this just scientology with less space opera and a different kind of "Tech"?

Yes and no. From what I can tell, some of the concepts in LEC are similar to some entry-level Scientology stuff. However, the differences FAR outweigh the similarities. Scientology starts you out by giving you a rigged "personality test" that is designed to tell you that you need serious help which only Scientology can offer. Scientology also claims to be a religion. LEC tells you up front that it's a for-profit corporation, and it doesn't start out by telling you you're screwed up, or by tricking you with a false "test."

Oh, and I did enough work there that I can confidently assure you that there are no space aliens involved in LEC's "technology." Nor is there any sort of spiritual mumbo-jumbo of any kind. It's all really very much based in things like existential philosophy. One of the leaders also once made the remark that "you could get a lot of this from Zen Buddhism too."

If you want to know sort of what the Landmark Forum is like, watch Dr. Phil McGraw on TV. Really, that's what the course leaders can be like. (Not all of them; they each have their own style, but it all comes down to the same sort of "cut the bullshit" approach.) A couple years ago, Oprah did a week-long series where they had a group of people go through an intense multi-day training with Dr. Phil. A lot of it I recognized from the Forum, and more of it I recognized from my Dad's stories of doing "est" in the '70s. (E.g.: in est, you weren't allowed to wear watches in the room - same with Dr. Phil. In the Forum you can.)

I've heard notepads aren't allowed in their courses so people can't take notes.

Depends which course. In the weekend-type seminars you usually aren't supposed to take notes. In the smaller weekly series it's ok.

"the problem with going to one of these courses is that you end up meeting people who go to these courses."

And this is where we begin to get into my problems with the organization. They "market" themselves only by attendees sharing with others. This can be looked at two ways. Their main explanation for it is that the best advertisement they could have is their participants changing their lives for the better, so that the people around them start wanting to know how they did it. On that kind of level I can understand the idea. The problem is how quickly overzealous the "newly converted" become, especially when encouraged to become so by LEC. And for no real reason other than to make them more money, because really the material can help you just fine without forcing it onto everyone you know. (I was never one for inviting all those around me.)

LEC likes to claim that they market via word of mouth this way because it's a difficult idea to explain in an ad. Well, in the days before Dr. Phil and Franklin Covey organizers, that was probably true, but it's not true anymore. Heck, that series of Oprah shows I mentioned above would be a great advertisement for them. "Want this experience for yourself? Come take our seminar!"

I prefer to learn slowly & carefully & on my own, rather than in a huge pseudo corporate seminar

You hit on a very good point, there. The Landmark Forum, like est before it, grew out of the 1960's growth of "encounter groups." There was a belief at the time that you really could go through an intense weekend group experience and alter your life forever. We now know that's not really the case - the "peak experience" created by such a group encounter can be transforming, but will only remain so if you have an underlying structure in your life to maintain it. That is, you'll quickly revert right back to how you used to be unless you really try not to. Worse, you may revert back, but not realize it, so you walk around claiming to be enlightened when your behavior is anything but.
posted by dnash at 8:18 AM on August 18, 2003

What we need is a GPL on a decent working moral philosophy that helps people learn how to think for themselves, relate to each other emotionally and understand their own emotions.

Even better, how about one that's public-domain because it's so old? You know, maybe like Buddhism or something.
posted by kindall at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2003

It seems Bob Carroll of the Skeptic's Dictionary too has gone up against the LEC lawyers. Man, he's got a few words to say about it. ;)

I especially like the part where their lawyer claims "The people who participate in The Landmark Forum are normal, healthy, successful adults" and Bob counters with "What is your evidence that "the people who participate in The Landmark Forum are normal, healthy, successful adults"? Why would normal, healthy, successful people bother themselves with large group awareness training?"
posted by madman at 8:55 AM on August 18, 2003

I took EST as a kid back in the 80s. My take? Not worth the money, and potentially dangerous if you don't have your emotional shit together.
posted by Bryant at 9:06 AM on August 18, 2003

I'm kinda jealous of alla youse. The only people who ever tried to recruit me were the US Army and Amway.
posted by jonmc at 9:12 AM on August 18, 2003

Oh, and also - if you ever have a friend who goes to LEC courses and invites you to come as a guest, I recommend against it. Not because I don't like the courses - like I said, I think the material itself is good. It's the little guest seminar things that I dislike intensely.

If you go with your friend, you will be in the room with them for about 15 minutes to hear some people in the course talk about what's happened in their lives. Then you'll be taken along with the other guests into a smaller room for a little mini-seminar where they describe the Forum, have you participate in a small exercise, and ask you to enroll. The problem is, the people leading these guest rooms, and the volunteers who staff them, almost always end up being the most overzealous types you'll ever see, because part of the training they're in involves keeping track of how many people they enroll in the Forum.

I was never in one of those rooms as a guest - I enrolled solely based on conversations with my brother. I'm glad of that. Had I ever gone as a guest and been in one of those rooms, I probably never would have done the class. I was in plenty of them later during some of the advanced training I did, but I never liked them and still think it gives people a really bad impression of the whole thing.

Other piece of advice - if you ever do go as a guest, and decide you don't want to do it, be sure to give them a complete and clear "no." If you do that polite thing where you don't want to say no to their face so you say "I'll think about it" to make them go away? They won't go away. Until you unequivocally state that you are not and never will be interested in taking the Forum, they will assume you are a "Yes" who just doesn't know it yet. They will call you after the guest event and ask you if you've decided yet. They will continue to call until you either sign up, or state clearly that you are not interested and instruct them not to call again.

I have always found those methods of operation sad, because I saw how many people got driven away who might actually have enjoyed the course.
posted by dnash at 9:30 AM on August 18, 2003

>You know, maybe like Buddhism or something.

That's exactly the problem. Self-reflection and moral philosophies come wrapped in religious garbage. The problem and why places like LEC and other "leadership" groups exist is because there is no popular easy to access secular philosophy in mainstream American (if anywhere). Sure, if you're serious you can read plenty of philosophy, great thinkers, learn some science, and come to your own conclusions all for the price of a library card, but the "answers to your problems for $1000 a weekend" is much, much more tempting for some.

>grew out of the 1960's growth of "encounter groups."

No doubt. Those were crap too. Crap begets crap.

On a more positive note, its fairly obvious the western world is moving towards secularism and eventually an easy to digest secular and moral philosophy will become as popular as catholicism. In the meantime we have religion, cults, encounter groups, UFO cults, tarot readers, new agers, and other weirdos fighting for the mindshare, not to mention the wallet, of the average "seeker."
posted by skallas at 10:32 AM on August 18, 2003

I met a girl at a club here in Seattle, and I thought we were working up a mutual attraction. We went out for a drink and she started talking about the Forum. Boy, was I annoyed. Eventually I got a pretty good laugh out of it though. She invited me to some sort of coffee klatsch and I initially said yes. I looked the group up on the net and thought it over and canceled on her. (Bad dog!)

Is there a pyramid aspect to this organization? I imagine that's a word that puts their lawyers into orbit, but when I see people shilling so heavy for some pretty high-priced seminars I suspect some people are getting more out of it than self-actualization.
posted by Wood at 12:02 PM on August 18, 2003

There's no pyramid structure to this, Wood. Landmark has 451 paid employees who must be making an incredible amount of money, and an estimated 7,500 volunteers who aren't making a dime, though Landmark says they use fewer volunteers than that.
posted by orange swan at 12:09 PM on August 18, 2003

Wood, I think what volunteers get is (good stuff) - better self-discipline, more support for what they want, a sense of community and achievement, some event management and sales experience; (bad stuff) - a major case of the high-and-mighties, peer pressure to look a particularly corporate way, lingoitis, no time to themselves. Only the Forum leaders (the people who lead the weekend courses) and some administrative staff are paid. As Dnash said, the heavy volunteer effort is its strength and its hugest weakness; you would NEVER want your company represented the way endorphin-high Forum graduates or control-crazed volunteers do it. Some of my friends or family members have done the Forum because they saw good results in my life, and I never took them to a "guest meeting" because I knew that the volunteers running it would completely scare the hell out of my friends.
posted by pomegranate at 12:14 PM on August 18, 2003

I've done an LGAT course, and did it when clinically depressed (but unaware that I was). I think the coursework saved my life. It gave me some personal insights and tools that made it possible for me to understand that I was depressed and to seek help.

It was a rough fucking trip, but it put me on the fast-track to recovery. It would have taken a pile more years of pain before I'd have sought help otherwise. I have no regrets of the experience nor the cost.

That said, I'm also not pushing it on anyone. If someone came to me and asked whether I thought the course was worth taking, I'd heartily recommend it. But I'm not going to tell someone who hasn't indicated an interest.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on August 18, 2003

eustacescrubb: That Believer article was incredible (interested parties see Believer issue #2, May 2003, pg 18-28, "Est, Werner Erhard, and the Corporatization of Self-Help" by Suzanne Snider). Didn't the article go on to say that est training was what immediately inspired Chuck Palahniuk to write Fight Club? Plus, Snider suggests that est creator Werner Erhard is convinced that the Church of Scientology is out to get him--and that there very well may be validity to his claim. Erhard has thusly been in hiding since 1991, and the gears of Landmark turn without him.
posted by jennanemone at 10:58 PM on August 18, 2003

eustacescrubb wonders:
Are these guys the evangelical knock-off of Landmark Forums?

The answer is no. I attended a Veritas Forum at Northwestern University, and it's basically Christian apologetics. It seeks to reassure skeptical Christians, and prove to agnostics, that logic and science back up Jesus Christ. It's an open forum, in the sense that a guy gives a lecture, and then opens up the discussion, where usually someone jumps up and yells and shakes his fist a lot.
posted by jennanemone at 11:11 PM on August 18, 2003

Snider suggests that est creator Werner Erhard is convinced that the Church of Scientology is out to get him--and that there very well may be validity to his claim.

There IS validity to his claim. Documents have been found from a Scientology office indicating efforts to discredit Erhard. If memory serves, Erhard took some early Scientology courses and liked some of it, and Hubbard thought Erhard stole his material Scientology appears to have been behind the whole media campaign against Erhard, including the IRS tax charges (eventually dropped) and his daughter's accusations of abuse (eventually recanted). There's a book called "60 Minutes and the Assassination of Werner Erhard" by Jane Self which details this. The book admittedly has a clear bias toward Erhard and Est, but that doesn't make the Scientology smear campaign any less true.
posted by dnash at 8:03 AM on August 19, 2003

Hmm. I searched this discussion for the word "Sybok", and was surprised to not get any matches.

This post should correct that =)
posted by joquarky at 1:20 PM on August 19, 2003

dnash: I thought I'd read that Scientologists were out to get him, though--not in the smear campaign sense, but in the Mafia sense.

So I googled Scientologists Trying to Kill Erhard just to make sure I hadn't dreamed this all up, and the first thing that comes up is that same ol' Skeptic's definition of est, which has already been linked in someone else's post. Oh, well, still.

I guess my real question is, Werner Erhard: Paranoid? Or absolutely correct?
posted by jennanemone at 8:21 PM on August 19, 2003

not in the smear campaign sense, but in the Mafia sense.

Could be. I'm certain that the smear campaign is true, because evidence has been found. As for actually wanting him dead - well, it certainly sounds like something Scientology would do, from what I've read, so I'm not discounting it, I'm just not aware of proof of it.
posted by dnash at 7:43 AM on August 20, 2003

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