“Das Experiment” opened this week in Germany. The film follows a group of volunteers as they evolve through an experiment about the effects of group persuasion, reports the New York Times.

An experiment like this was actually conducted during 1971 by Professor Philip Zimbardo in California, but it frightened the good doctor so much he shut it down after only one week.

The German thriller is an obvious analogy about the rise of a totalitarian regime like the Nazis. Germany is very vigilant regarding such groups and has dealt decisively with the Church of Scientology on that basis.

Robert Cialdini explores these same themes in his book “Influence.” Robert Jay Lifton wrote the definitive book titled “Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism.”

Another book just released “The Power of Cult Branding” details how the public is manipulated through marketing.

When people say only “nuts” join cults, this can be seen as a form of denial. Most people are susceptible to persuasion techniques. But it seems to be disconcerting to admit just how vulnerable the human mind really is.


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