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Section: 39 Ways to Recognize A Cult When You See One

James Randi, immediately after hearing about the suicides, blamed radio host Art Bell and TRV person Ed Dames for them. The fact that Dames's story had been completely different (it was Brown who fit the bill for the 'benevolent aliens') wasn't noticed by Randi (growing infamous for the famous "insult first—ask questions later" motto). Of course, Ed DID have his own "comet companion" story, it's just that instead of aliens in a hollow thing, it was a hollow thing filled with disease by aliens. I suppose that's different...

Subject: The Higher Source - a Dead End.
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 14:12:53 +0000 (GMT)
From: James Randi <76702.3507@COMPUSERVE.COM>

This morning we've seen another example of organized madness, with the mass suicide of thirty-nine cult members in California. The immediate question: how do otherwise intelligent people get to believe the crap that they're offered? Certainly, the need to "belong" drives them together, but the bizarre ideas that then separate them from society need to be encouraged and cemented into place.

How to do that? Judging from other "successful" cults such as Jim Jones and his Peoples' Temple -- another such suicide crowd -- and from the recent Solar Temple suicides, heavy preaching of nuttery does the job. And, without question, any support that can be obtained through the media is eagerly sought and embraced. The strange notion that media and media personalities would not give attention to worthless ideas, seems to persist; exactly the opposite is true.

We're told that this cult embraced the stupid assertion that comet Hale-Bopp is accompanied by a huge UFO, to which these dupes thought they could migrate by killing themselves. Strange, weird notion. But it was invented, promoted, and encouraged by two men who I believe should now be confronted with the result of their callous "joke." Ed Dames, a would-be "remote viewer" who has peppered the media with outright lies about my long-standing challenge to "psychic" powers, and who has said that I've refused to test his wondrous powers, came up with the Hale-Bopp/UFO farce, and may have given the deluded Higher Source people the final item they needed to convince them that suicide would deliver them to Nirvana. Behind Dames, feeding off his nutty notions, is radio personality Art Bell. Bell proudly claims that he's heard nightly on 400 stations across the USA, and to hold on to that audience, he unconscionably promotes every sort of stupidity that he can attract; Ed Dames is his special pet and current "star."

Dames and Bell, j'accuse. You've giggled at those who have been terrified by the lies, and you've chosen to ignore the possibilty that suggestible people would accept those lies, and might act on them.

And I'm sure you have no trouble sleeping.

James Randi

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