Friday, October 5, 2007

Reid Hovian Cult: Fact or Fiction?

There has been some discussion by our friends at Sailing on whether or not Reid Stowe is a cult leader.
In the interest of an honest, fact based discussion, I have spent several hours conducting research on the possibility. Here are my findings.
In 1994, Madeleine Tobais and Janja Lalich published Captive Hearts, Captive Minds
[1], an indepth look at cults, and recovery. In their widely referred to work, they identify characteristics of cult leaders, which I have summarized here:
1. Glibness/Superficial Charm
2. Manipulative and Conning
3. Grandiose Sense of Self
4. Pathological Lying
5. Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
6. Shallow Emotions
7. Incapacity for Love
8. Need for Stimulation
9. Callousness/Lack of Empathy
10. Poor Behavioral Controls / Impulsive Nature
11. Early Behavior Problems / Juvenile Delinquency
12. Irresponsibility / Unreliability
13. Promiscuous Sexual Behavior / Infidelity
14. Lack of Realistic Life Plan / Parasitic Lifestyle
15. Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
Stowe demonstrates many of these characteristics. Through his charm, he has been able to convince people of the importance of this voyage, solicit contributions, and his story telling capabilities are evident on his blog. He portrays this voyage as having great importance to mankind, despite the fact that no data of any scientific value has been collected, and NASA has no interest in his trek, nor are following it. His former girlfriend has provided details and evidence of his promiscuous behavior, and how he has taken credit for artwork which was produced by his former wife. Reid has not been honest about his criminal past, and his lack of financial support for his daughter. There is no evidence to indicate that Reid has been gainfully employed to fund the voyage, but instead has relied on the contributions of his followers (financial and in labour), and companies he has been able to secure as sponsors. That he would attempt this voyage under crewed, with only a young and inexperienced sailor clearly demonstrates his lack of responsibility (that he would endanger the lives of others to achieve his purpose), lack of a realistic plan, and that for him, the ends justifies the means, at all costs.
There has been much research done into cults, and what defines a cult. A common tool used to identify cults is the
BITE checklist, developed by Steve Hassan[2]. It summarizes the mind control techniques used by cult leaders to promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present.

I. Behavior Control
1. Regulation of individual's physical reality.
2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
3. Need to ask permission for major decisions
4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors
5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).
6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails
7. Rigid rules and regulations
8. Need for obedience and dependency

II. Information Control
1. Use of deception
2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
4. Spying on other members is encouraged
5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
6. Unethical use of confession

III. Thought Control
1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
a. Map = Reality

b. Black and White thinking
c. Good vs. evil
d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)
2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clich├ęs"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".
3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.
4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking

b. Chanting
c. Meditating
d. Prayinge.
e. Speaking in "tongues"
f. Singing or humming
5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate
6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
IV. Emotional Control
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.
2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.
3. Excessive use of guilt
4. Excessive use of fear
5. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.
6. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".
7. Phobia indoctrination : programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.

There is ample evidence of these techniques being used by Reid, and in the interest of space I will not delve into the details here, though it can be found in Reid's own blog writings, the responses to criticisms by the Reid Hovians, and in the analysis provided on Sailing Stowe's indoctrination is clearly evident in both Soayna, who has isolated herself from friends and family, and the outside world while submitting herself to great danger and the sexual demands of Reid, and the many Reid Hovians who have infiltrated the Sailing Anarchy forums, while not allowing reasonable comment on Reid’s own blog that may bring into question the value or safety of his mission.

There is help available. Many organizations have been formed to assist those in re-integrating after being assimilated into a cult. I encourage Reid Hovians to seize the opportunity presented by Stowe’s absence to visit the
Cult Information Centre.

[1] Landau Tobias, Madeleine et al. : Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, 1994, ISBN 0-89793-144-0
[2] Hassan, Steven (2000) Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves. Aitan Publishing


Anonymous said...

Why can't you mean SA people leave poor Reid & Soanya alone? Just because they're poorly prepared, made fraudulent statements to finance their "expedition" - doesn't make them bad people. Maybe you're just jealous that you people took so long to learn how to properly sail, and aren't as blessed with the "gift of gab" and have to work to pay your *gasp* OWN WAY! to pursue your sailing nightmares.
Either way - leave him alone, and donate often! :-)

hyundaifinn said...

you reidhovians are wacked. This guy is a complete wanker who has charmed a child to supply him ass for the next three years. Is part of his plan to be fruity and multiply?, or was he wise enough to get clipped? The is a great Parody. I am sure that when she hits land, if she hits land, the real story of what a manipulating freak this guy is will come out.

Mr. Mike said...

3 Years with this guy? She will be totally brained washed by the end of it, providing she survives.

If she does managed to break free of his mind control games during the trip, it will be very dangerous for her. I'd hate to imagine what could occur if an hostile enviroment develops.

Fake RS: I've had to tie Soayna down below. She won't listen to me anymore.

Fake Soayna: I'm sooooo screwed........

Anonymous said...

Well, if he is a cult leader (I think even stretching to the point to make this argument makes the poster the one obseesed) he needs to have stayed on land where he could build a cult of more then one.

As for the creator of this blog...does a hate filled obsession count as worship?

Sailflat said...

He had his back to the pier and instead of drinking the poison Kool Aid or setting the boat on fire he left. I suppose at least he was smart enough to do that. I wonder what he will do if he is lucky enough to return.

Vandalism and Fair Use

It seems that some energetic fans of Mr. Stowe have discovered this site and have a problem with it's content; All posts are welcome here whether you agree with this blog or not; however, nonsensical posts will be deleted.

We suggest you research the following terms: public figure, parody, and fair use.....and lighten up a bit, hey?