Meet the Expert
Rick Ross is a renowned cult expert. He’s spent around 30 years studying cults and extracting people from them. His approach to the concept of indoctrination is unique in the way that its fact and evidence-based. He appears in multiple documentaries, commenting on and giving knowledge about cults and the way that they work and function.
The Versatile Life of a Cult Expert
His expertise opens doors to a variety of niche, unique jobs. For example, Video game developers hired him to help them create a fictional cult. People who play the game are given the role of police. They aim to arrest cult group leaders.
Ross helped them understand how people in cults behave and what types of things they do to manipulate their followers. “So the guys at Ubisoft would ask me things like: ‘Has a cult ever done something like this?’ and then they’d give me an example of something they were considering, and I’d say ‘Yes, but actually there have been even worse examples than that’—and that’s how I helped out,” Ross tells Vice Magazine.
Cults Survive on the Web
In an interview with Vice Magazine, Ross explains how cults function in 2019. According to the expert, cults can fully exist on the internet. Ross listed a woman named Sherry Daniels as an example of an internet cult leader. Daniels runs something called Miracle School which is a website. People go to her page and buy miracles using PayPal.
Ross received a complaint from a woman who was sucked into this internet cult saying that she’d spent $25,000 within a short time span of 2 months. Ross explains that Sherry’s cult may be on the internet, but her method is age-old. Like Miracle School, other cults made people feel detached from the real world and sucked into a fictional, and “magical” world.
It is harder to catch cults now that they’re based on the internet. However, it’s much easier for people to email Ross or anyone else about whats going on in the cult. Whereas before, it was harder for cult members to seek help, or speak out against their group leaders.
Traits of a Cult Leader
Typically, leaders of cults claim to be a direct line from God. Therefore the members believe everything they’re told is the absolute truth. Ross explains that interestingly enough, some cult leaders are aware of the fact that they’re frauds. However, in most scenarios, the cult leaders do believe that they’re communicating with God.
These types of beliefs exist in cult leaders of the past as well as in modern cult members. Cult leaders believe their own fantasies all while wanting to make the world a better place according to their beliefs. It’s this mix of twisted fantasy and the urge to make the world better that lead them to do some terribly evil things “for the sake of the greater good.”
Who Joins Cults?
Ross offered a bit of insight he gained from studying cults for three decades. “The human mind is far more fragile than we wish to admit,” he says. “Anyone can be had by a destructive cult given the right set of circumstances and timing.”
Ross explains that people who are vulnerable to getting sucked into a cult or leading a cult are extremely arrogant. They deny the idea that they can be wrong in any way. They actively ignore any instance that contradicts their beliefs. “It’s like saying: ‘An STI will never happen to me.’ People think they’re superman, so they don’t recognize the symptoms when it starts to go wrong. They’re so sure ‘this couldn’t happen to me’ that they don’t even realize it’s happening,” Ross explains.
The Resistance is Strong
Ross believes that the fight against cults is a tough one. Cults have such devoted followers and persistent leaders that, once they’re accused, there is no backing down. He says that the best way to understand how hard they back down is by reading up on their lawsuits.
Several cults tried to sue Ross. One of which, spent around three million dollars in the whole process. The cult’s followers surely empty their pockets to finance it all. Ross tells of a story where one cult tried to find dirt on him to that they can blackmail him into backing down. The cult spent months collecting and sifting through is garbage in hopes of finding something to hold against him. The man in charge of the trash even made money off of the cult members by selling it to them.
Ross says that the desperate attempts to win in court show just how strong the modern world’s resistance against cults is. Cult members would not be working so hard to blackmail Ross if the court system went easy on them. Clearly, it’s a hard time in history for cults to survive, and that the exact kind of result Ross aims to reach as he continues with his own work against cults.