Start up your own cult?” Instead of Jim Jones, think Dow Jones,” reports

Yes, for those who say, “How could anyone be stupid enough to join a cult”? Maybe you should look into the mirror. How many products do you consume with cult-like devotion?

Do you prefer familiar brands that have developed a “cult following,” such as Nike, Starbucks, Jello, McDonalds, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, or Krispy Kreme donuts? Maybe you are part of the phenomenon of cooperate cult branding?

This is the focus of Geoff Williams analysis in his article “Develop your own cult following.”

What Williams offers is not only a “how to,” but a “how come?” inside look at the brand-driven consumer market, which is fueled by clever techniques of persuasion and influence through advertising.

What’s the difference between being “brainwashed” by Corporate America as opposed to “cults”? Well, there are some obvious distinctions. But clearly virtually everyone is vulnerable to persuasion, or companies wouldn’t waste their money promoting “cult followings” for their products.

And what about those destructive cult leaders?

According to leading cult expert and clinical psychologist Margaret Singer, “They’re all basically, really, the same, con men.”

Singer warns, “These sharpsters, when they’re very good at what they do, can get people to believe anything, You might think you’d never get taken in, but don’t bet on it.”

So the next time you are laughing at the Raelians or some other seemingly preposterous “cult” that accepts the bizarre claims of an apparent “con man,” think about the “sharpsters” who have taken you in. Starbucks anyone?

The controversial “expert” introduced by Clonaid CEO and Raelian bishop Brigitte Boisselier at her “news conference,” has apparently dumped the “cult,” reports the Globe and Mail.

Michael Guillen said in prepared statement given through a PR firm, “The team of scientists has had no access to the alleged family and therefore cannot verify firsthand the claim that a human baby has been cloned. It’s still entirely possible Clonaid’s announcement is part of an elaborate hoax intended to bring publicity to the Raelian movement.”


It is interesting that it took Guillen this long to figure that out. No wonder the so-called “journalist” won a mocking “Pigasus” (“when pigs fly”) award from a famous debunker, which recognized his seeming stupidity.

Of course the Raelians will continue to spin this story and try to grab more publicity. But maybe it’s time for the media to stop rewarding them with any additional coverage for what is obviously a knowingly contrived “hoax.”

Some religious scholars don’t like the word “cult” and prefer the more politically correct term “new religious movements” (NRMs), reports ABC News.

ABC said such scholars say “just because a belief system is young doesn’t make it wrong.”

This category of “new religions,” according to the quoted scholars, includes the Raelians and Scientology.

Gordon Melton, director of the “Institute for the Study of American Religions” offered comments for the ABC piece, as did religious studies Professor Frank Flinn.

However, both men have a history of working closely with “cults.” And they can be seen as “cult apologists.”

Flinn has defended Scientology in court.

In one affidavit the professor submitted he stated, “It is my opinion that the spiritual disciplines and practices…of the Church of Scientology are not only not unusual or even strange but characteristic of religion itself when compared with religious practices known around the world. Contrary to the generally second-hand opinions of outsiders and to the claims of disaffected members, whose motives are suspect.”

However, compare Flinn’s “second-hand” analysis to Time Magazine’s “Scientology: The Cult of Greed.”

First-hand accounts from former members are routinely dismissed as “suspect” by academics like Flinn.

But Benjamin Beit-Halami, Professor of Psychology at Haifa University said in his paper “Integrity and Suspicion in the Research of New Religious Movements,” “Statements by ex-members turned out to be more accurate than those of apologists and NRM researchers.”

And given Scientology’s sordid history in court and criminal indictments how could Flinn characterize it as “not unusual or even strange”?

Benjamin Zablocki, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University concluded, “The sociology of religion can no longer avoid the unpleasant ethical question of how to deal with the large sums of money being pumped into the field by the religious groups being studied…in the form of subvention of research expenses, subvention of publications, opportunities to sponsor and attend conferences, or direct fees for services, this money is not insignificant…This is an issue that is slowly but surely building toward a public scandal.”

Gordon Melton and Frank Flinn have both been the recipients of such funding and fees paid by groups called “cults.”

Melton once flew to Japan to defend Aum, the cult that gassed Tokyo subways killing 12 and sending thousands to hospitals. Aum paid for all of his expenses. Melton’s defense of Aum in retrospect now appears to be part of building “scandal,” referred to by Zablocki.

Gordon Melton comes highly recommended by the Church of Scientology along with other “scholars” that are often referred to as “cult apologists.” He has made a career largely from defending “cults.”

Cult apology has become a substantial source of supplemental income for some academics. Such “religious scholars” and/or “forensic psychologists” work on paid reports or appear as expert witnesses for “new religious movements.”

Perhaps it is actually people like Flinn whose “motives are suspect.”

The Raelians may not have produced a clone, but they do seem to have a publicity plan. Claim a clone is born at regular intervals and try to milk the press again.

But the press doesn’t seem to be buying this nonsense any more.

No proof whatsoever has been provided regarding their first clone claim. And the second claimed birth seems to have received scant coverage, reports the Chicago Sun Times.

Raelian bishop and Clonaid CEO Brigitte Boisselier didn’t get 30 minutes for an announcement on CNN this time.

Boisselier said at her CNN press conference last month that reporters only had “one week” to treat her as a “fraud.” This was based upon her boast that proof of her preposterous claim was coming soon.

But it’s now been more than a week and Boisselier has proven nothing.

It seems safe to say that the Raelian bishop may now be regarded as a “fraud.”

Of course the Raelians have their excuses. Boisselier claims “the parents” are reluctant to have tests, reports the NY Post.


Rael also was working on a good excuse. He claimed that a “judge in Florida signed a paper saying that the baby Eve should be taken from the family, from her mother.” And thus her parents would not come forward for fear of losing their child.

Uh huh.

But no such ruling exists, reports CNN.

Joe Soucharay of the Pioneer Press summed things up pretty well. He said, “This story should not have been printed. When Boisselier called a press conference nobody should have gone. She has no credibility. The Raelians have no credibility.” He added, “They have offered no scientific or medical writings. They have produced no proof of their claims. They have not produced the mother of the child. They have not produced the child.”

Brigitte Boisselier will now likely assume her proper place in the annals of science. That is, as one of the biggest “frauds” ever recorded.

And what about Clonaid’s handpicked “expert” for verification Michael Guillen?

The “Pigasus” award winner and former science reporter for ABC seems to be in hiding and only speaking through a “friend.” His friend says, “If something doesn’t give by the end of the weekend, it’s safe to say Guillen will be making a statement at the beginning of the week,” reports the NY Daily News.

But does anyone care now about what Guillen has to say?

Guillen who describes himself as a “free lance journalist” may have trouble finding employment by a credible news outlet, though he just might pick up another “Pigasus.”

Clone claims will now become part of Raelian mythology, but there is no reason why anyone else should give this attention.

The media is beginning to reflect critically upon the frenzy that surrounded cloning claims made by the Raelian “Sci-fi cult” shortly after Christmas.

It increasingly looks like Claude Vorilhon now known as “Rael” and his acolyte Brigitte Boisselier cynically staged a media event, hoping to cash in on a well-established slow news cycle just after Christmas.

Many within the media hungry for a sensational story were easily and quickly hooked by the duo.

Without any evidence whatsoever Boisselier managed to get 30 uninterrupted minutes for her monologue on CNN. Other news outlets quickly ran with the story, without any meaningful proof or additional sources to verify her outlandish claims.

Eric Lander, Director Whitehead/MIT genome sequencing center in Cambridge, Massachusetts said it is really quite “simple…to verify this claim scientifically,” reports the Washington Post in the story “Cloning a Previous Hoax?” by Rick Weiss (December 31, 2002).

So why didn’t anyone in the media require such proof before running this story?

LA Times reporter Tim Rutten offers some context.

“Consider, for one moment, the objective circumstances: a crackpot cult, whose French founder says he got his marching orders from a space alien, calls a press conference in Miami to announce that a cloned child has been born to an unidentified woman in an unspecified place the day after Christmas,” the reporter jibed within the LA Times in his piece titled, “Cult ‘clones’ a baby! Read (and read) all about it” (January 1, 2003).

Orville Schell, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism summarized the so-called news story about “cloning” succinctly. “This story is a very obvious example of a larger, more worrisome problem, which is that there are a thousand ways every day in which the contemporary media doesn’t know how to make the dignified decision.” Schell concluded, “Everybody associated with the media became a little less dignified.”


And Rael laughed all the way back to “UFO Land,” his Canadian base of operations, the proud recipient of a belated Christmas present from the media. That is, the greatest news bonanza the known publicity hound has ever received.

Don’t expect too much self-analysis and contrition from those who irresponsibly ran with this story. It’s just too embarrassing to admit you’ve been had, and by no less than a “cult leader” and ridiculous buffoon like “Rael.”

Apparently Raelian “expert” Michael Guillen attempted to act as a go-between for potential cloning clients and cloning companies. That is, if he could obtain exclusive rights to the story, according to an article in the NY Times (“For Clonaid, a Trail of Unproven Claims” January 1, 2003 By GINA KOLATA and KENNETH CHANG).

Guillen comes across as someone with a vested interest in the story and not an objective observer. He continues to remain unavailable for comment.

More revelations about Boisselier and Clonaid make it increasingly clear that their claims of producing a human clone are probably bogus. And as a “science reporter” with an “Ivy League” education it seems that Guillen should have known this.

Cloinaid’s “lab” was nothing more than a rented room in an abandoned high school. FDA experts who reviewed their “research records” said, “They were inadequate.”

Boisselier was working with cow embryos, but nothing in her notes indicated an advanced stage of research and/or any scientific breakthrough.

In September of 2001 Guillen reported that Boisselier was being “investigated for fraud.” But just seven months later announced on the TV program 20/20, “I met with Dr. Boisselier…she told me that in two weeks they’re expecting to conceive the first human clone…Ready or not, the technology is on its way.”

It seems that despite his doctorate, Guillen was focused upon sensational headlines, not science. Repeatedly his name comes up, but not as an investigative journalist. He appears to be more of a collaborator. Is this why the Raelians like him so much?

Clonaid Vice President Thomas Kaenzig now admits the whole cloning business was initiated as “a project to create controversy.” He also has confessed that for three years the company was nothing more than a mail drop and “no research was going on.”

The real story about Boisselier, Clonaid and the Raelians is how they seem to have conned both cloning clients and the media for profit and promotion without actually producing anything.

This may be the only “cow” Clonaid successfully conceived in its laboratories, a “cash cow” milked for free publicity.

The expert Raelians hand picked to oversee the validation of their clone claims may just be a “ringer.”

Michael Guillen, who once worked for ABC news as a science reporter, has a history of supporting pseudo-science, reports the Washington Post.

James Randi a noted debunker of fakes and quackery said, “This man has a reputation. He has supported every bit of pseudoscience that’s come along. Scientology was just fine with him. Human cloning by a religious cult is right up his alley, and to put him in charge of this kind of thing is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”

The fraud-buster awarded Guillen the “Pigasus” in 1997, which symbolizes the adage “When Pigs Fly.” Randi said the award is “the gold standard of impossibility for…indiscriminate promotion of pseudoscience and quackery.”

Michael Guillen was unavailable for comment and seems to have virtually disappeared in recent days.

What is very clear is that any DNA testing must be rigorously supervised regarding the clone allegedly produced by the Raelians.

This means, from drawing the blood to transporting it for testing, the entire process must be observed second by second in minute detail. And the experts involved must be credible scientists who are impartial, not a friend of the Raelians like Guillen.

It is very doubtful that the Raelians or Clonaid will allow such a meaningful process for conclusive verification to take place. Instead they are far more likely to prove their claims through their own dubious process and questionable standards.

Perhaps it’s time for Randi to get another “Pigasus” ready for Clonaid CEO and Raelian Bishop Brigitte Boisselier. It certainly looks like she has earned one.

According to the leader of the “Sci-fi cult” called the Raelians cloning claims may prove to be a “cash cow.”

In a recent interview Claude Vorilhon, who now calls himself “Rael,” stated that there are now 2,000 potential cloning customers on a waiting list willing to pay a fee of $200,000.00. That would mean the company he inspired named “Clonaid” could potentially take in $400 million dollars, reports Knight Ridder.

So far Clonaid seems has successfully bilked at least one couple out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to clone their dead son. But the father now says, “They weren’t doing anything, they weren’t working.” He feels embarrassed by the episode and believes Boisselier had no real intention of attempting the cloning, reports the Daily Telegraph.

How many more desperate and/or despondent people will pay Clonaid, for what appears to be little more than unfulfilled wishful thinking?

Brigette Boisselier, a Raelian bishop and the CEO of Clonaid claims “Eve,” the alleged “clone” her company supposedly produced, is coming to the United States for “testing,” reports USA Today.

However, can such “tests” be independently verified?

Based upon Boisselier’s track record it looks doubtful. And her “independent expert” Michael Guillen has already drawn sharp criticism and deep skepticism amongst credible scientists.

Real is having a great time though. The “cult leader” and apparent egomaniac has certainly cashed in on a media bonanza.

In Rael’s self-published book “Yes to Human Cloning” released just last year he boasts, “For a minimal investment of $3,000, it got us media coverage worth more than $15 million…I am still laughing, Even if the project had stopped there, it would have been a total success,” reports Reuters.

What was Boisselier’s 30 uninterrupted minutes of CNN live coverage worth?

Rael must be laughing even harder this time.

The FDA is now looking into the Raelian claims to see if they have done anything that might have violated US regulations, reports USA Today.

But it’s doubtful that the group has broken any laws. Pretending to produce a human clone isn’t illegal.

South Korean officials have raided “BioFusion Tech Inc.,” a company controlled by Raelians with offices in Seoul, reports the BBC.

Cloning is not illegal in South Korea, but doing medical research without a license is.

The conclusion that is likely to emerge from documents seized in Korea will probably match what authorities found out through a previous raid on Raelian facilities in the United States. That is, the group is nowhere near achieving the technology and expertise required to produce a human clone. And that claims to the contrary are apparently a hoax concocted to gain attention.

But a Raelian leader enjoying a photo op in Great Britain of course thought otherwise. He insisted, “I believe completely that a human clone has been created. It is no hoax.” And then added, “I could be a clone and you would never know,” reports the Sunday Mirror.


It does appear that reality is often subjective to Raelians. And for them “science” seems to be something substantiated through feelings rather than facts.

This “cloning” story now appears to be sputtering to its inevitable end, which is the exposure of Boisselier and her company Clonaid as a fraud.

However, Rael’s followers are unlikely to lose faith even if the world scientific community firmly establishes that their group lied about its “science.” After all they are “true believers” and will continue to believe whatever Rael tells them.

Rael can simply explain away whatever he wants to his faithful flock. The apologetic for the cloning claim will probably sound like an “X-Files” script, some “conspiracy” to suppress the “truth,” which is still “out there.”

And Raelians are known for being “out there,” not for their critical thinking and piercing logic.

Mainstream society may not easily understand such seemingly mindless behavior, but it’s instructive to remember the preposterous Sci-fi stories Rael has already told, which are firmly accepted by his followers.

Raelians believe that Claude Vorilhon, now known as “Rael,” is actually the offspring of an alien being from outer space that artificially inseminated his mother and that Jesus and Buddha once met with him on another planet.

Is it really that difficult for these folks to swallow one more ridiculous story from their leader? I don’t think so. Don’t expect to see any mass defection of Raelians, if Boisselier’s and Rael’s cloning claims are proven false.

Reporters have commented about the “glassy eyed” look many Raelians have. Never mind, some say there is no such thing as “cult brainwashing.” However, “brainwashing” does seem to explain much of the denial and irrational behavior exhibited by the Raelians.

Michael Guillen, the so-called “independent journalist” recruited by Clonaid CEO and Raelian bishop Brigette Boisselier to verify her clone claims, turns out to be an old friend, reports the Boston Globe.

Guillen is a Ph.D. and former ABC science reporter for “Good Morning America.” He joined Boisselier at a recent news conference in Florida to announce his role as a supposedly objective expert, who would organize a “scientific team” to verify Clonaid’s claims.

However, in a recent interview Boisselier’s “spiritual leader” Rael (a.k.a Claude Vorilhon) said, ”I know he is very good friends with Dr. Boisselier. I think they communicated from the beginning. He was the first to make a positive interview about the project. I think that’s why she gave him priority.”

“Positive interview”? This appears to be Rael-speak for a “puff piece.”

Have Boisselier and the Raelians essentially stacked the deck?

Cult groups frequently recruit supposedly “independent experts,” that are often “friends,” to report about them and present papers. These academics have been called “cult apologists.”

Many “cult apologists” eventually cash in, either as expert witnesses defending destructive cults in court cases, or through future funding of book projects and “research.”

Bob Giles, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard said Guillen “crossed a line of independence by appearing to be part of the team that is making the announcement.”

The former ABC reporter says he is “unpaid,” but is there some understanding between this self-described “free lance journalist” and the Raelians? If so, he certainly wouldn’t be the first Ph.D. recruited by a “cult” to provide cover and/or some “positive” spin.

Giles observed, ”It always raises ethical questions when a journalist works under the auspices of an organization such as this group.”

So far Guillen has not identified the supposed “world class experts” he expects to include on his “team” to verify Clonaid’s specious claims.

How will this verification be done? Supposedly by sending blood samples to “world class” DNA labs for testing. Guillen says he has already picked the “expert” to draw the blood, but some observers are skeptical and raising serious questions about the process and Guillen’s past performance.

Robert Park, author of a book on pseudo-science said, “How can they be sure that the samples really came from the mother and the child?”

A pathology professor at Washington University in St. Louis reiterated this point; “An absolutely neutral party has to obtain the samples. From point zero on, the arbitrator must be involved in the whole process. He or she must actually choose the laboratory that is going to do the analysis,” reports Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Giles inferred that without hard scientific evidence made public any alleged “verification” the journalist offers should not be taken too seriously.

Is Guillen simply preparing another “puff piece” for his “friends”? Is this another foray for the former ABC reporter into the realm of “Voodoo Science,” or is it a serious scientific inquiry to establish the facts?

Michael Guillen may have a Ph.D., but he has been “derided in Scientific circles for being overly fond of the paranormal,” reports Desert News.

Guillen’s past work is scrutinized within Park’s book, “Voodoo Science.” The author says the former science reporter has labeled astrology and psychokinesis “as open scientific questions, which they are not.”

It seems now that the real story emerging isn’t the “first human clone.” Increasingly it seems instead to be how Clonaid’s groundless claims became the focus of hard news coverage. Cloning may be part of Boisselier’s bizarre belief system, but why did a cable news network run her Raelian rant as “breaking news”?

CNN seems to have essentially given away 30 minutes of network time for a “cult” infomercial.

Rael must be pleased. What would that time have cost him if the “cult leader” had to pay for it? And there wasn’t even a disclaimer.

The so-called “press conference” seemed like little more than brazen self-promotion for the Raelians and their for-profit company Clonaid. And only those reporters approved by Boisselier were allowed to attend. Half of the media-representitives that came to cover the announcement at the Holiday Inn in Hollywood, Florida were “banned,” reports the Globe and Mail.

One couple has already stepped forward to call Clonaid “nothing more than a slick con,” after being taken for $500,000.00 by Boisselier who promised the parents a clone of their dead son, reports the Sunday Mail.

What’s next for CNN? Will they give a Unification Church spokesperson 30 minutes to announce that Rev. Moon’s mission has been confirmed in heaven? That story was run as paid ad in newspapers, not a news item.

CNN has lost credibility by providing a platform for the Raelians to make their claims without scientific evidence.

Who vetted this story?

The followers of Rael can be expected to uncritically accept whatever their leaders say, but what’s CNN’s excuse?

The announcement of the “first human clone” was clearly not a legitimate news story. Without peer-reviewed supporting proof first verified by the scientific community, all Boisselier’s statements amounted to was little more than prattle about her fanciful beliefs and “spiritual leader.”

And as for Boisselier, she is a major stockholder in Clonaid and stands to personally benefit from recent media exposure. The Clonaid CEO is also a member of the “Order of Angels” waiting to be a “hostess” for humanity’s space alien creators when they land on Earth, reports the Miami Herald.

How could someone like this be taken seriously as a credible source by a news network?

Obviously, CNN should have done the necessary research before giving Clonaid airtime. And by failing to do so CNN appears to be more like a supermarket tabloid than a cable news network.

What’s next on CNN, “Woman impregnated by outer space alien through artificial insemination gives birth”? Wait a minute, that’s Rael’s other story.