Law 27: Play On People’s Need To Believe To Create A Cultlike Following

The 48 Laws Of Power Summary Series


“People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.”

The Science Of Charlatanism, Or How To Create A Cult In Five Easy Steps

Greene introduces this law by illustrating how having a large following opens up all sorts of possibilities for deception.

“Not only will your followers worship you, they will defend you from your enemies and voluntarily take on the work of enticing others to join your fledgling cult. This is kind of power will lead you to another realm”.

This phenomena can be observed through many large celebrities and influences. Their dedicated fan base will be there to defend them whenever someone speaks down upon them.

“You might think it a gargantuan task to create such a following, but in fact it is fairly simple. As humans, we have a desperate need to believe in something, anything. This makes us eminently gullible. Dangle in front of us some new cause, elixir, get-rich-quick scheme, or the latest technological trend or art movement and we leap from the water as one to take the bait”

The History Of Charlatanism

Charlatans have been around for centuries. They sold elixirs that would promise immortality and superior health and peddled alchemic shortcuts to wealth. “They originally focused on small groups — until, by accident they stumbled on a truth of human nature: The larger the group they gathered around themselves, the easier it was to deceive, because people were more emotional and less able to reason. Any deficiencies in the charlatan’s ideas were hidden by the zeal of the mass. Passion swept through the crowd like a contagion, and they reacted violently to anyone who dared to spread a seed of doubt. Through decades of studying this dynamic and experimenting the charlatans perfected the science of attracting and holding a crowd, molding the crowd into followers and the followers into a cult.”

The Modern Day Charlatan

“The gimmicks of charlatans may seem quaint today, but there are thousands of them among us still, using the same tried-and-true methods their predecessors refined centuries ago, only changing the names of their elixirs and modernizing the look of their cults. We find them in business, fashion, politics, art. Many are following the charlatan tradition without having any knowledge of its history, but you can be more systematic and deliberate. Simply follow the five steps of cult-making that our charlatan ancestors perfected over the years.”

Disclaimer: I’m putting these five steps on ‘how to create a cult’ not so you go out and actually create a cult. Instead, they are here in order to demonstrate how you can avoid getting tricked into joining a charlatan’s cult. The premise is simple: To not fall for the trap you have to reverse engineer how the trap is laid and how it aims to catch you.

“To create a cult you must first attract attention. This you should do not through actions, which are too clear and readable, but through words, which are hazy and deceptive.”

When people attempt to trick you into buying something they will try and keep things simple, vague and promise something great and transformative in return for little work. This technique is used a lot by the health and fitness charlatans.

These charlatans become superficially successful because they feed from the bottom 10% of the ignorant and desperate. People will try and be vague and stimulate the hazy dream into a vivid colorful fantasy. As you become more emotionally invested you see more of what you want to see. Vagueness is a charlatans enemy, therefore, ask them for specific details and watch them stumble on their own deception in the process. If someone is going to promise something so grand you deserve an explanation on how it’s going to work — question everything.

“Once people have begun to gather around you, two dangers will present themselves: boredom and skepticism. Boredom will make people go elsewhere; skepticism will allow them the distance to think rationally about whatever it is you are offering” Both breed uncertainty and are a charlatans enemy. Stay alert, aware and persistent as the charlatan will attempt to amuse the bored and ward off the cynics. They will try and dangle fancy superficialities in front of you…

Will you fall for it?

I skipped Step 3 in the video below but will include it here. Step 3 includes creating rituals for your followers, organizing them into hierarchy and giving them names and titles that resound with religious overtones. “To emphasize your gatherings quasi-religious nature, talk and act like a prophet. You are not a dictator, after all; you are a priest, a guru, a sage, a shaman, or any other word that hides your real power in the mist of religion” Be aware of any group or organization that attempts to instill these religious overtones, it doesn’t mean they have an intent to deceive or manipulate, but it’s a possibility to be aware of.

“Your followers want to believe that if they follow you all sorts of good things will fall into their lap. By surrounding yourself with luxury you become living proof of the soundness of your belief system. Never reveal that your wealth actually comes from your followers’ pockets; instead make it seem to come from the truth of your methods” Learn to see past the facade and understand the irony that a lot of the superficial wealth displayed on social media is created by selling people on how to exploit other people.

Now that the group is filled with enough blind sheep the leaders will attempt to unite them all by creating an ‘us versus them’ dynamic; similar to what all religions and belief systems have done. “First, make sure your followers believe they are part of an exclusive club, unified by a bond of common goals. Then, to strengthen this bond, manufacture the notion of a devious enemy out to ruin you. Any outsider who tries to reveal the charlatan nature of your belief system can now be described as a member of this devious force”

Observe the organizations that behave like this and question their followers one on one to determine the truth from the facade.

Misunderstood law’s like this are a big reason people assume this book has negative intentions. By reverse engineering the five steps above you should have a clear idea on how to not get tricked into joining a cult like organisations that riddle our society. Doing the right thing is always the right thing.

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Originally Posted

Self reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour.

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