Thursday, November 12, 2015

Doomsday Cults and Their Pack of Cards

People may laugh when they see some person or group proclaiming the end of the world. Skeptics marvel that anyone would take these warnings seriously but... this ploy does work and each year people are sucked into cults. What cards do cults play to fool otherwise intelligent people into buying into end-time scenarios?

End-of-the-world cults (also known as doomsday or Armageddon cults) play a number of cards from what could be said to be their doomsday pack. Those who fail to recognize the cards being played may become ensnared. 

Let's take a closer look at these cards, how they are persuasive and designed to overcome resistance on the part of the person they are being dealt to. 

The FEAR Card
The end is nigh! 

Doomsday cults tell people the end of the world is near. This card is played to instill fear. It presses emotional buttons. And what could possibly be worse than the world ending? It's the mother of all cards, really. Without the fear element, there is no story, no situation, nothing to overcome--and no action needed.

If this reminds you of a fictional drama, you are correct. In fiction, a challenging situation has to be surmounted or a villain has to be vanquished, before the happy ending. This gives the story its reason for "being" and propels the drama forward to the resolution.

In the doomsday scenario, it is hoped the thought of dying will convince people to investigate matters further. 

Time is running out! 

Once the FEAR CARD has been pulled out of the deck, the next card flipped over is the URGENCY CARD. To illustrate, we will liken this to what happens at an online sales page. When someone lands on the page, after the pitch, they are subjected to time pressure, as seen in HURRY, OFFER ENDING SOON! or TIME IS RUNNING OUT! often accompanied by a ticking clock counting down the seconds/minutes. This is designed to create a sense of urgency and to prod the person into taking some action without taking time to think things through.

Doomsday cults play the URGENCY CARD by proclaiming that the end is not only coming but that time is running out; it is now the "final countdown." People are told they must take life-saving action before it's too late. 

This second card is played in conjunction with the first card to tip someone into acting. 

For someone who has been subjected to end-time propaganda, the thought of dying may be a powerful incentive to investigate matters further or... it may not. Many adults are perfectly comfortable taking their chances, rather than taking any action that would require sacrifices on their part.

The thought that time is running out might see people slightly more curious and they may check things out to see what has changed with the first scenario--possibly to reassure themselves that there's no reason to fear--similar to the person who may see a headline and who visits an online page to read more but with no intention of buying anything.

The first two cards may be sufficient but if they fail to entice the "die-hards," additional cards are now played. 

But what about your family? 

Going back to the person at the sales page, what happens when he or she tries to click away? A box pops up: Wait! Stop! Don't lose out! The person is then offered some additional incentive. This might be a price reduction or some type of freebie. Whatever it is, it is designed to add a further inducement to convince the person to act.

The INCENTIVE CARD is designed with one end and one end only in mind: get the person to take the action they have just decided against by making an offer so compelling, they find it very hard to refuse. 

Doomsday cults also play the INCENTIVE CARD and how they play it can be so compelling, it may ensnare otherwise intelligent people. How so? 

Many people who have been sucked into end-time cults have related that they would have happily continued on, not overly concerned about the end of the world or even that it might happen in their lifetime. They had no actual desire to become involved with any group or "become religious." They may have never seen themselves doing so and may have even joked that if the end came, it would be their chance to "get away from it all."

All well and good, but... they felt VERY differently when it came to their family. The thought of family members dying had them taking a harder look. The idea of their small children perishing was a powerful incentive to at least listen and weigh the information presented to them. And... that was the first step down the slippery slope of indoctrination.

The GUILT Card
Your family's future survival depends on you! 

A doomsday cult knows that family is one of the most vulnerable areas, the soft spot, the chink in the armor, as it were. And just as the URGENCY CARD was added to the FEAR CARD to paint a powerful scenario, so too, a new card is added to the INCENTIVE CARD, to build a far more compelling case. 

If the person still hesitates, the GUILT CARD is now played: "You must take action so as to save your family members. Your failure to act could mean their death. Their lives are in your hands. Now that you have heard the message, you cannot escape this responsibility." 

The pressure is amped up even further for those with young children: "Your children are too young to be able to take life-saving action and hence will not be protected when God destroys the world at Armageddon. God expects you, as the parent, to take appropriate action to protect them; you are the umbrella under which they shelter. If you won't act to protect yourself, surely you will act to protect your children. If you fail to do so, you are pretty much consigning them to death."

What this looks like: FEAR ---> URGENCY ---> INCENTIVE ---> GUILT

The whole end-times scenario has been used repeatedly throughout history, and there's a reason why it is revisited and trotted out again and again. Each new generation may be "fresh fodder" but they have age-old concerns. The urgent end-time scenario house of cards is utilized by cults because, after all... it works.
The Joke's... on YOU!

No comments:

Post a Comment

What are your thoughts?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...