Incredibly, four million Americans now believe they were once abducted by beings from outer space.

And these alleged kidnap victims share a “common recipe,” reports the BBC.

Researchers say people that make such claims typically have a similar profile of “pre-existing new-age beliefs…bio-energetic therapies, past lives, astral projection, tarot cards” and very often suffered “episodes of apparent sleep paralysis accompanied by hallucinations.”

Many then saw therapists who “would frequently suggest alien abduction as a cause–an explanation.”

Of course there is no objective evidence to prove such claims.

But nevertheless, these anecdotal stories have become the premise for urban legends, television programs and a fixture within American pop culture.

You then might ask, “What is a ‘UFO researche’ then'”? This may seem like something of an oxymoron?


Because UFO enthusiasts appear to be simply “true believers” and not really concerned with science, other than science fiction.

And alien beings from outer space have become principle players that animate their belief system, which is based upon subjective stories about strange encounters, alleged cover-ups and abductions, rather than scientific facts.

But those who believe, truly believe.

Researcher and Harvard Professor Richard McNally noted the “power of emotional belief” within his presentation before the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

McNally said, “If you genuinely believe you’ve been traumatized and recall these memories, you’ll show the same psycho-physiologic emotional reactions as people who really have been traumatized.”

This conclusion may also explain “faith healers,” though repeatedly proven to be frauds, still produce apparent results through those that believe they have been “healed.” They too “genuinely believe,” regardless of the absence of any objective physical evidence.

Likewise, millions of true believers around the world follow cult leaders that claim some supernatural power, but actually rely upon the same “emotional power” McNally has identified.

This is certainly a “common recipe” within most cults.

Ayn Rand only wrote two books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and died more than twenty years ago. But her idiosyncratic philosophy called “Objectivism” lives on and seems to perennially draw a renewed cult following amongst many college students.

Rand’s books still sell 300,000 copies annually.

However, when Modern Library surveyed publishers for its top 100 books of the 20th Century, Rand wasn’t even mentioned. But when they asked everyday readers to make their picks she came in number one, reports the Baltimore Sun.

Interestingly, sci-fi writer and founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard had three books in the top ten of that same popular listing.

What does this mean? Did the publishers somehow neglect or ignore the genius of these authors?

Some might conclude that the pop picks only reflected the devotion and organized efforts of those obsessed with their personal favorites.

Author of the Sun article and Pulitzer Prize winner Ray Jenkins points out the dark side of Rand. This includes, “megalomania,” self-centered indulgences and a humorless, dogmatic driven nature.

Does this sound familiar?

Is it possible that Ayn Rand actually had more in common with purported “cult leader” L. Ron Hubbard, than authors like Hemmingway or Joyce?

Wait a minute. No one is “deprogramming” Rand’s rapt readers.

But it’s interesting to note the parallels between “cults” and some aspects of Rand and her erstwhile acolytes.

A mystery that still persists about the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed the lives of 168 people, is who cooperated with Timothy McVeigh to perpetrate or plan the mass murder?

FBI files now being discussed seem to indicate McVeigh may not have acted alone and perhaps conspired with members of a white supremacist group named “Elohim City” in Oklahoma, reports the Oakland Tribune.

Racist Robert Millar who died in 2001 led the group often called a “cult.”

McVeigh and Millar seemingly have taken secrets to their graves.

What is not secret is the milieu, which brought forth the mindset of the convicted murderer McVeigh.

He submerged himself within a subculture that included anti-government extremists and “militias” for some time before bombing the Murrah Building. His hatred was fed by conspiracy theories, most of all about the Waco Davidian standoff.

Millar like David Koresh maintained an isolated compound. Did he or some of his followers fear the FBI would scrutinize them next after the Waco cult leader’s rule ended in tragedy?

The murky paranoid subculture that transformed Timothy McVeigh from army veteran to mad bomber still exists within America.

The followers of “Brother Julius” Schacknow who died in 1996 seem intent upon carrying on their leader’s penchant for outrageous behavior, reports the Hartford Courant.

Some group members have surfaced in Connecticut in an apparent organized effort to crash local church services.

One member stood up abruptly as an uninvited speaker during a Sunday service and proclaimed himself the “Prophet Peter.” He then proceeded to make pronouncements and warnings of impending judgement. When asked to leave the “prophet” resorted to curses.

Sound bizarre?

Well not for the followers of Julius Schacknow, who was born in Brooklyn, but claimed he was “Jesus.”

During Schacknow’s “ministry” he was often referred to as a “cult leader,” but cast himself as a “sinful messiah” and repeatedly exploited his female followers for sexual favors.

He also built lucrative businesses through the hard labor of his disciples, which eventually collapsed.

But it seems despite their leader’s death; Schacknow still has a faithful remnant that refuse to move on. And following in his footsteps they are apparently intent upon adding to the legacy of lunacy wrought by their “Jesus” from Brooklyn.

Groups like this often feed upon confrontation and claims of “persecution,” which bind members together and keep them dependent. The current activities probably reflect a desperate need to energize the flock.

Local ministers and church ushers in Connecticut are now watching theirs doors for the next uninvited “prophet.”

Nevada’s elected officials are not interested in visiting Mexico on a free junket, at least not if it involves Scientology.

Only two legislators indicated that they would go on the proposed trip to visit a Mexican prison that uses the Scientology related Narconon program, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

One pro Narconon state assembly member said she is sponsoring a bill for a similar prison program that would rely upon federal funding through President Bush’s faith-based initiative.

It’s unlikely that any such legislation will pass, but it’s interesting to note the connection to the Bush plan that allows federal dollars to be used by religious groups to fund supposedly non-sectarian social programs.

All three Nevada legislators who now seem interested in the Scientology program are social and/or religious conservatives.

But religious conservative Pat Robertson once opposed the Bush initiative on the grounds that controversial groups like Scientology might seek funding.

Looks like the televangelist was prophetic.

However, Robertson later lifted his objections after receiving a half million dollars from the fund for one of his pet projects called “Operation Blessing.”

Regardless of Robertson change of heart, evangelical cult watchdog groups such as “Watchman Fellowship” continue to warn conservative Christians and the general public about the perils of groups like Scientology.

Perhaps Nevada legislators should consider carefully Watchman Fellowship’s assessment of Scientology.

The Fellowship says, “Controversy continues to rage around Scientology due mostly to the totalitarian and abusive nature of its practices…It does, in fact, involve religious belief (in what most outsiders would regard as science fiction). But that belief appears to have been built chiefly as a cover for exploitive commercial operations.”

Tomorrow the biggest birthday bash in the world will take place in North Korea. It will commemorate the 61st year of North Korea’s absolute dictator Kim Jong-iL, often called the “Great Leader,” reports The Guardian.

Never mind that the isolated nation has endured poverty, deprivation and starvation through the despot’s rule and now faces a growing crisis regarding nuclear weapons, it’s time to cut the cake and have a party.

The Workers party newspaper controlled by the “great” one gushed about the “magic of heaven” linked to the blessed event. There will be mass demonstrations, parades and endless speeches.

Some say North Korea represents perhaps the biggest cult in the world today. That is, a state devoted to one personality with complete totalitarian control.

The annual birthday bash tomorrow certainly reflects the depth and intensity of that devotion.

One Kim devotee said, “He is my father, also our father.”

Another birthday celebrant claimed, “No one can match his creativity and enthusiasm.”

This may be true. Kim has created a myriad of assets and holdings outside of his homeland and enthusiastically stashed away reportedly more than a billion dollars in foreign accounts.

Some say North Korea reflects “Big Brother-style brainwashing,” a reference to a fictional totalist world government described by George Orwell in his book 1984.

But even Orwell might be shocked at the level of control achieved by this “big daddy.”

Scientologists were elected to the new Hollywood Advisory Council amidst controversy and allegations of packing the polls, reports the LA Daily News.

An election for citywide advisory councils last week included Hollywood, which is a bastion of Scientology with more than a thousand full-time staff.

According to one disgruntled candidate often blue uniformed Scientology workers “descended by the busload” to pack the polls and successfully elect their fellow Scientologists to the new council.

The guidelines for this election were murky at best and apparently Scientology’s seemingly organized election effort was legal.

Often in districts with low voter turnouts a determined and focused special interest group can exercise an inordinate influence, disproportionate to their size within a community.

If Hollywood residents don’t want Scientology to play a pivotal role within their advisory council they should turn out voters to cast a ballot.

However, voter apathy seems to be a constant dilemma within the American democratic process.

It looks like Helen Thomas was right when she dumped UPI.

After Rev. Moon of the Unification Church bought control of the historic wire service Thomas decided to move on and find a better place for her column.

And judging by its content maybe UPI has become something like a press release service for groups that are often called “cults.”

Here are two recent examples:

Rev. Moon, the guy who essentially now controls UPI, got quite a plug for his “peace conference” in South Korea recently. The headline read, “World leaders gather for peace.”

But is this really a legitimate news story or just another one of Moon’s self-promotional photo ops?

The rich “cult leader” often subsidizes such gatherings and frequently pays “leaders” to attend and hear his speeches and/or watch him receive some award.

A blurb in UPI’s “Capital Comment” titled “Hooray for Hollywood” touted Scientology’s effort to attack drugs prescribed by psychiatrists, through its front organization “The Citizens Commission on Human Rights.”

Scientology is against almost anything connected to psychiatry, since it sees itself as essentially the only valid means to mental health.

Maybe the Moon-controlled UPI wants to give other “cults” a plug too?

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see UPI as a credible “news source.” Instead, the historic wire service seems to have quickly become a spin-machine for Rev. Moon and his chosen friends.

In Martensville, Saskatchewan Canada claims of “Satanic cult” activity turned out to be nothing, reports CBC’s Fifth Estate.

Incredibly, a child’s “diaper rash” led to suspicions of “ritual abuse.” And after one constable asked children leading and manipulative questions, a bizarre “cult” conspiracy eventually emerged about a strange “devil church.”

Eventually that conspiracy would include police officers. And five Canadian cops were actually arrested.

Welcome to a reenactment of the Salem Witch Trials in Canada.

All the cases against the supposed “Satanists” “collapsed” when it was proven conclusively no physical evidence existed to support the fantastic stories of the alleged “devil church.”

Officials involved in the arrests don’t appear anxious to talk now, while some have moved on to other employment.

One falsely accused officer received more than a million Canadian dollars in a settlement. Others are still suing for malicious prosecution, but are waiting for their day in court.

Like many other cases of supposed “Satanism” this mess in Martensville illustrates the often-fanaticized existence of “Satanic cults.”

In fact, no evidence has ever supported the existence of an alleged vast underground network of Satanists, which once received sensational coverage through American talk shows and news stories.

What about the “ritual abuse” claimed by supposed “survivors”? This appears now to be nothing more than strange imaginings, most often brought about through questionable therapies that frequently included hypnosis.

Many lawsuits won against unethical therapists have helped the public better understand the nature of such false memories.

The real victims of “Satanism” have often been not only those falsely accused, such as the policemen in Saskatchewan, but also children terrorized through manipulative and coercive interrogations masquerading as criminal investigations.

It seems no court defeat can deter some Waco Branch-Davidians and/or surviving relatives from pursuing their cause and case against the government.

On Monday a lawyer representing the families of deceased Davidians argued that the dismissal of their civil suit in favor of the government was wrong, due to the trying judge’s supposed bias, reported Associated Press.

Again and again claims that the government was somehow responsible for the deaths of Davidians have been disproved. But this has not deterred determined conspiracy theorists that insist Vernon Howell, also known as “David Koresh,” was “persecuted” for his beliefs and that he and his followers were “murdered” by the government.

However, it has been proven that the cult leader ordered the fire that consumed his compound killing 80 men, women and children.

David Koresh’s mother was on hand at the court proceeding and admitted her son fathered 13 of the 14 children lost in that fire.

Koresh routinely exploited women in the group sexually, but insisted that others remain celibate. He also abused minor children.

After two congressional hearings, one independent investigation and a failed civil suit filed, some Davidians and surviving families remain unconvinced that Koresh was a madman and responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.

No doubt anti-government conspiracy theorists will continue to insist that the government was to blame, continuing to ignore the overwhelming physical evidence and eyewitness testimony.

A virtual cottage industry of anti-government videos, books, documentaries and lecturers sprung forth after the tragic end of the Waco Davidian standoff in 1993.

It appears that much like Koresh’s former followers, such conspiracy theory enthusiasts have largely dispensed with critical thinking and opted instead to embrace a fantasy about Waco, rather than face facts.

Perhaps this seeming subculture is now so deeply invested in its own fantastic version and/or vision of Waco, it cannot seriously consider anything else.

However, the vast majority of the public has come to conclude that David Koresh was a madman not unlike Jim Jones or Charles Manson and moved on.