Friday, March 05, 2010

Landmark Forum. In (largely) its own words. Part 2.

Read Part 1 in this series.

It is beyond dispute that Landmark doesn't like to be called a "cult" and will take prompt legal action in instances where such an equivalence is proposed or merely suggested. (For the record, no such equivalence is being suggested here.) As we saw in Beroset's letter to me (and, again, a similar document went to The Wall Street Journal), the company doesn't like being called an "LGAT," either...even though many obse
rvers of the realm consider Landmark to be the prototypical LGAT. Just as an instructive exercise, Google "Landmark Forum" + LGAT. See how many hits you get. I dare say the characterization of Forum as an LGAT is public-domain by now. Certainly Margaret Singer thought so. In explaining why she brought up Forum in her 1995 book about cults, she said, quote, "Forum is one of the largest and most popular LGATs. It has also been the source of great public controversy and has been discussed in numerous magazine and newspaper articles and books. As a result, it would've been very conspicuous not to discuss Forum in a chapter about LGATs."

WHAT'S INTERESTING is that such perceptions evidently exist within Landmark itself. The company has a wing, Vanto Group, that specializes in corporate consulting and retraining. Vanto's CEO is Steve Zaffron. In a rather airy 2001 paper appearing in Contemporary Philosophy, "The Promise and Philosophy of the Landmark Forum," Zaffron and his three coauthors provide a succinct review of the "literature" on est and Forum; in that review they cite prior references to Landmark-as-LGAT, which they appear to be accepting on their face, and which, in any case, they make no attempt to refute. In truth, Zaffron et al seem to invoke the phrase approvingly in describing the benefits that can accrue to LGAT participants. Of one such study, a 1994 PhD thesis by Charles Dennison wherein Dennison interviewed Forum graduates, the authors note:
Dennison's study, which characterizes Landmark Forum as a 'large group awareness training'....reports predominantly positive outcomes.
Later in the piece, in a section on the self-serving poses we adopt in life, the authors write:
Sharing such inauthenticities in a large group has the remarkable effect of generating collective awareness of our human commonalities [emphasis added].
Further, one could plausibly argue that the group dynamic described under a subhead of the Zaffron piece, "Empty and Meaningless," is the very essence of large-group awareness training. Bottom line, if Landmark isn't an LGAT, maybe Beroset needs to walk down the hall* and tell Zaffron.

Another identifying aspect of LGATs is that the initial, entry-level course often functions as a sort of "loss leader" for more intensive coursework, and if the numerous anecdotal reports can be believed, Landmark meets that criterion as well. Even some people who are generally high on the company's products, like the folks here on Steve Pavlina's board, have grown weary of the strong-arm tactics Landmark employs in "encouraging" clients to sign up for a never-ending sequence of advanced classes. Recounting her Landmark experience for Mother Jones in 2009, Laura McClure wrote, "Part of it is the in-your-face, hard-sell ethos embedded in the corporate DNA it inherited from est. Forum grads are urged to stay involved and 'invite' friends and family. After finishing the Forum, I received calls asking me to volunteer at the Landmark call center and come in for one-on-one coaching." McClure added that their group leader "gently prods the storytellers to invite their family members to attend a Forum—or even pay for them to attend." Our own poster, who attended a Landmark session early in the company's history, described a similar experience.

Reading such accounts, you almost wonder what's next: Will Landmark threaten to sue journalists who call it a "company"?


McClure's passing reference to the origins of Landmark's "corporate DNA" is the kind of line that Landmark can get really touchy about. Landmark would like to control the debate on the precise nature of its relationship with Werner Erhard and est—on the one hand crediting Erhard for his groundbreaking theories about consciousness-raising while at the same time disowning the inconvenient and troubling connotations of the est course itself. This results in an odd and schizophrenic relationship between the company and its "DNA," as well as some rather cute (albeit technically correct) distinctionslike Beroset's assertion that Ney "was not about 'The Landmark Forum,' but rather an earlier and different program called 'The Forum,' which was presented by a different company, Werner Erhard and Associates."

Let's take a look at that.

As it happens, some of the facts that emerged in Ney are of special pertinence. In its decision affirming Landmark's dismissal from the suit, the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, writes that the former organization, Werner Erhard & Associates (WE & A):
...consisted of a business with offices in 21 cities throughout the United States. After the sale, Landmark continued to operate out of the same offices, presenting the same programs throughout the United States. As of the date of the sale, WE&A had 216 employees. Most of the same employees remained with Landmark. Landmark acquired all assets of WE&A that were necessary to continue to present the Forum. Landmark also acquired the right to use the names and addresses of all individuals who had completed the Forum.
After the sale, WE&A ceased doing business, and Landmark began doing business immediately with the assets and the license acquired from WE&A and Erhard. There was little change in the format of the Forum [emphasis added]. At the time of the sale, Landmark's six directors were highlevel [sic] employees of WE&A and WE&AII. Neither Donald Cox nor Erhard, however, became part of Landmark. The key negotiators for Landmark in the sale of WE&A assets consisted of the same group of top executives, one of whom was Erhard's brother. The only bidder aside from Landmark was Cox....
Donald Cox had been the CEO of WE & A. So, summing up, there were two suitors for Erhard's stressed est empire: (a) the former CEO of WE &A and, basically, (b) the rest of WE & A's existing management team. The Court goes on to note:
Landmark obtained from Erhard a license to present the Forum for 18 years in the United States and internationally with the exception of Japan and Mexico. Erhard retained ownership of the license. The license was not assignable without Erhard's express written consent, and was to revert to Erhard after 18 years.** Furthermore, under the Agreement, Erhard was promised 2% of Landmark's gross revenues payable on a monthly basis and, in addition, 50% of the net (pre-tax) profit payable quarterly....***
Nonetheless, in explaining why it has no choice but to uphold the ruling, the Court writes:
The problem here is that while the successor corporation continued the work of its predecessor [emphasis added], there is not a continuation of the corporate entity of the predecessor... WE&A was a sole proprietorship owned by Werner Erhard. Landmark is owned by its employees, and Erhard owns no stock in the new company...

The question of whether there was identity of management is more difficult to ascertain. There is evidence that with one or two exceptions, all of the executives of Landmark are the same as all of the executives of WE&A. The difficulty with the argument advanced by Ney is that it appears that while there was substantial overlap in personnel, it cannot be said that there was identity of management, since the primary "managers" of WE&A did not continue as a part of Landmark.
One senses that the Court has some misgivings about the decision it is legally compelled to render (that is, based on a narrow reading of the statutes that applied in Virginia, which had original jurisdiction). At the top of its conclusion, the Court editorializes thusly: "There should be legitimate concerns over changes in corporate form undertaken by an individual and his wholly owned company who, among other things, apparently owe the federal government millions of dollars in unpaid taxes." This statement turns out to be controversial. Erhard vociferously disputed his tax indebtedness, and in fact, in 1996 the IRS was forced to pay him a $200,000 settlement for making improper public disclosures about his finances. However, there is no denying the surreal messiness of Erhard's world as the '80s yielded to the '90s, and I think it's fair to wonder about his state of mind at the time of the Landmark acquisition: whether he felt as if the walls were closing in and he could use a Plan B.

In any case, were Beroset sitting in front of me right now, I would ask her: In making the distinction you would like to make between Erhard's Forum and your Landmark Forum, how do you explain (a) the fact that when you purchased the "intellectual property" rights to the est/Forum theories and methodology in 1991, the desirability of that property apparently constituted the entire business rationale for the acquisition?; (b) the much-quoted 1993 internal memorandum in which the CEO of this new entity acknowledged the Landmark course's roots in est and described Landmark's use of Erhard's ideas as a "licensing agreement"?; (To wit:
The nature and material of Landmark Education's initiatives, projects, and programs is based on a technology originally developed by Werner Erhard... It is on this technology that Landmark's work stands today and from which it continues to evolve.)
(c) the numerous anecdotal reports of striking similarities between Forum and Landmark Forum in terms of overall shape (especially in Landmark's early years)? Consider as a notable example the allegations in Been v. Weed, a wrongful-death suit filed when a Landmark attendee, Jason Weed, gunned down his mailman one day after graduating from an advanced Landmark course. The point is not whether Landmark "caused" Weed's homicidal outburst; in fact, a prominent psychologist called in to help gauge Weed's sanity, Dr. Harrison Pope, deemed it unlikely that the Landmark course was a factor in Weed's crime, and
the courts once again rejected Landmark's liability in the case. The point is that whatever caused Weed to snap, characterizations of the course he attended in 2001 suggest that it was of the more confrontational variety, in keeping with the company's "corporate DNA."

Further, that same year (2001), Landmark reportedly entered into a second licensing agreement with Erhard, this time with the intent of using his proprietary intellectual technology in Japan and Mexico, two markets excluded from the agreement of 1991. (If the company had evolved that far from its roots, why did it still need Erhard? Why not drum up a second syllabus, call it Landmark Bore 'Em or whatever, and go it alone?) To this day, Landmark pays homage to its philosophical father on its site, reminding us that Erhard is "widely regarded for the unique and lasting contributions that his ideas made in peoples' [sic] lives and organizations."

So when exactly did this sweeping, top-to-bottom transformation occur?

But if such a transformation did occur...then I have another problem.

I quote from Landmark's fact sheet:
From its beginning in 1991 to the present day Landmark Education has continued to fulfill its commitment to contribute to individuals and organizations... To date, over 1,200,000 people have participated in Landmark's programs.
In taking credit for those 1.2 million customers, Landmark is seeking to mine the PR implications of having been in business for several decades and having compiled a substantial cumulative client base over that time. Landmark is thus doing the same thing the local used-car dealer does when it seeks to establish credibility with a sign like, FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED SINCE 1954. To my mind, this clear pride in continuity of business also establishes a certain thematic continuity that invalidates Beroset's implication of some bright shining line between then and now.

Uh, wait a minute, Steve. Are you saying that the mere fact of Landmark's having been in business since 1991 means ipso facto that Landmark then = Landmark now? Of course not. And what an asinine statement that would be. Landmark declares on its site that its curriculum "has significantly evolved since its beginnings in 1991" and that the company "recently completed a comprehensive redesign and elevation of its programs." And that's all well and goodas long as folks like Beroset recognize that to speak of "elevating" their curriculum implies a time when that curriculum was less elevatedeven, perhaps, in need of elevation. If you're going to boast of being in business since 1991, you cannot selectively edit that narrative to reflect only your finest/most recent hours, nor can you run from allegations and suspicions having to do with the way you ran your shop during your moments of pre-elevation. If, say, GM wants to revel publicly in its long corporate history, then it can't get too pissy when you bring up the Corvair, or the fact that for much of that era when the Baby Boom was coming of age, GM cars had a reputation for exploding the minute the warranties expired, or that Chevys in particularwhich GM now seems bent on portraying as its flagship modelswere widely regarded as tinny pieces of crap. Sure, GM is free to emphasize its more recent nominations for Car of the Year and other accolades, but the company could not logically limit the discussion to those glossy, much-improved models pitched by Howie Long in the current ads.

So too, surely some among the 2.1 million that Landmark has introduced to a new view of Possibility received that training under formats that resembled the grim characterizations of Margaret Singer. Especially since Landmark appears to give its facilitators a fair amount of leeway in running their respective programs, or at least it did in years gone by.

Incidentally, for those who may not know... The "CEO of this new entity," alluded to above, remains in place. His name is Harry Rosenberg, and he is the younger brother of John Paul Rosenberg. John Paul Rosenberg is better known by the name he took for himself in launching his New Age venture back in the 1970s: Werner Erhard.

I'll have some final words on Landmarkand freedom of speechnext time. S

* I'm using the expression metaphorically. I have no idea where their respective offices are located.
** That brings us to 2009. As I couldn't find any verifiable reference to what happened when that license expired, I emailed Beroset and asked. I haven't heard back yet, but I'll report if and when I do.
*** In a subsequent sworn declaration, Landmark general counsel Art Schreiber stated that these fees were never paid to Erhard, and that Erhard had assigned his financial interest in Landmark to an unnamed third party.


SustainableFamilies said...

Haha. Landmark.

SustainableFamilies said...

What I'd like to do is get hundreds of people to do a post on each of their blogs entitled "Landmark is a cult"

Would they sue all of us? And THAT suppression of free speech is enough for me to consider them an oppressive force of evil.

(Ok evil might be a bit strong... )

: )

Looking forward to the next post on this.

Steve Salerno said...

SF: One of the tactics that has grown quite popular with companies seeking to suppress speech is the use of so-called "experts" to arrive at supposedly standardized definitions of what constitutes something that the companies don't want to be labeled. I know that sounds confusing, so let me illustrate. If I run an enterprise that has certain cult-like attributes, but I want to prevent people from referring to me that way, I go out and find myself some high-profile experts in the area of cults and cult behavior, then I have them arrive at a consensus definition of what a cult is--a definition that, conveniently enough, lists qualities that my enterprise doesn't have--and then I just sue the pants off anyone who implies that my enterprise is a cult, claiming that the question of whether my enterprise is a cult is not a matter of opinion, but rather is determinable according to a set of established facts (i.e. the "facts" that my high-profile panel of experts just established, and is willing to testify to in court). I'm not referring to Landmark here, per se. This is a very common tactic throughout corporate America, often used to intimidate even "regular citizens" who submit op-ed pieces (or even mere letters) to their local paper. It clearly chills free speech, and I find it very troubling.

Duff said...

Thank you for continuing to take Landmark Forum to task by laying out their inconsistencies and hypocritical statements in their own words. Bravo!

Steve Salerno said...

Duff: Thank you for hanging in there and participating. It's an awful lot of words, but this is one of those topics--and one of those companies--where nuance is everything, and you've got to make sure all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed, if you get my drift.

Anonymous said...

@ Steve

I find your point of view contradictory and hypocritical. Specifically, towards other's (Deborah Beroset and people who represent Landmark Education) right to free speech, right to express and speak up for their interests or their concerns in the public domain. How can you portray companies and their spokespeople as doing anything but exercising free speech if you are genuinely advocating for free speech? Yes, "It clearly chills free speech, and I find it very troubling."

Landmark has equal right to say what they say. Critics (like yourself) are quick to surpress and distort a discourse or criticism of their (your) criticism using various tactics and accusations. So much for free speech when something does not promote a critic's point of view. Would you consider criticism of criticism as a valid part of the discourse? Or should it just be surpressed and labeled
a "distraction" "trolling" "sophistry" "apologistic" etc.?

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: More sophistry and word games, huh?

What you're doing here is a variant of the old conundrum, "All generalizations are flawed...including this one." It is an abuse of free speech to use one's free speech to argue for constraining someone else's free speech. If you want to propose that Beroset and I are both free to speak our minds, that's fine and I agree with you. However, if she's using her speech to tell me (and society) that I (we) have no right to speak, that's dirty pool and another matter entirely.

You know how this should really play out, in the ideal? I should be able to say, "I think Landmark consists of a bunch of hired killers, and here's why," and she should be able to say, "No, we're not a bunch of hired killers, but you're a pedophile, and here's why." (Obviously that's parody and not meant to be taken literally, but you get my point.) And if one or both of us then wants to use additional free speech to defend ourselves and/or point out hypocrisies, inconsistencies and outright lies (as we see them) in the other's speech, that's still fine with me.

But neither of us should attempt to muzzle the other.

Rational Thinking said...

Anonymous 7.52:

Just as a matter of interest - who, exactly, would you regard as qualified to criticise Landmark? What, specifically, would qualify them to do that?

Anonymous said...

@ Steve Salerno

"More sophistry and word games, huh?"

Steve, is this strategic labeling of others intended to suppress and discourage views that do not promote your blogs point of view and to enforce your interpretation on what others say? That is what it seems like to me. How is what other's say "sophistry" but what you say not?

'However, if she's using her speech to tell me (and society) that I (we) have no right to speak, that's dirty pool and another matter entirely."

"..tell me (and society) that I (we) have no right to speak,..."

Is this an adult discussion? Please show me specifically where you or anyone is being "told" that by anyone. A person experiencing hallucinations might interpret a red fire engine driving by them on the street to be the government spying on them, it does not make it true? Do you have any interest in precision or facts or details or accuracy? Or is it all you reacting and writing about your own spin on things and then pretending and arguing that your spin on something is the same as the thing you are spinning? Are they the same? Are they even close? In my opinion they are not. You are the one who appears to be creating a story and then presenting it as reality to further your tabloid stories.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: I think I've shown extraordinary patience here. You're "going all Forum" on me, with your constant overanalysis of language, and, in fact, the very word-parsing (from Beroset) that inspired me to write this post. And I think you're being rather condescending besides. I don't need lectures about a "fire engine going by." I understand the Forum thesis. OK? I "get it." I am not a philosophical naif. I was thinking about these issues--issues of ascribing meaning and symbolism that is extrinsic to the fact itself--long before Mr. Rosenberg built a (highly profitable) program around them; I can prove it with essays that I submitted while still in college. That doesn't make me a genius, b/c people were thinking about these issues long before me and Erhard, as well. You think this stuff is new? "Enlightened"? You're kidding yourself.

But let me get back to my point and say it directly: If you sue (or threaten to sue) people every time they say something you don't like, and if you organize your very business model around the idea of chilling critical speech, then you are trying to "rig" the rules of free expression.

This has nothing to do with fire engines. It has to do with honesty and integrity and hypocrisy.

Now stop asking questions and say something--something that you think, not something that was fed to you or embedded in you by a program.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Please show me specifically where you or anyone is being "told" that by anyone."

I'd suggest that a large organization responding to criticism by threatening critics* with expensive litigation (rather than merely offering a viable rebuttal to the criticism) just might qualify as an attempt to quell the critic's right to free speech. And as far as I know, Steve has never threatened to sue anyone who suggested that his activities might be inappropriate or harmful.

* - I'm not talking about the crazies who make wholly unsupportable and illogical accusations here, either. Accusing Steve of pedophilia would warrant legal recourse, unless there was evidence to support the allegation.

Anonymous said...

@ Steve

you have no point. You are arguing with yourself and your own dishonest fabrication.

No one is suing (or threatening to sue) people EVERY TIME they say something they don't LIKE. That is just not accurate and it is trumped up to make your world make sense. And don't like has nothing to do with it. In our society, from time to time, people sue each other if they feel they are are misrepresented in the public domain. Celebrities sue papers who post in a newspaper or magazine that they are "getting divorced" or "had an affair" (and it is not true) Are those celebrities trying to rig the rules of self expression? Not a chance. Steve, it seems you just want to freedom to say anything against others with impunity. It does not work that way in our society (in the west where I reside anyway). If we say enough inaccurate things - we will might be sued. Welcome to life. That is how it works around here.

"if you organize your very business model around the idea of chilling critical speech"

Please tell me anybody who "organizes their very business model around the idea of chilling critical speech"? How could any company or person be happy and succeed or become a household name who organized themselves around values like that?

What you are saying does not hold up and you cannot substantiate most of the comments that you say to keep your blog interesting and promote yourself as a critic and a writer.

Anonymous said...

To Anon, I hate to say this and I wonder if Steve will even let it be said in light of the legal sensitivities, but the more I hear you talk the more you sound to me like a victim of mind control and cult type thinking. You are unable or unwilling to allow alternative thinking in, and you will use every method at your disposal to turn the argument around.

Have you considered deprogramming?

Steve Salerno said...

[NOTE: I had hoped we could avoid the "C word," but the accusations have been fairly strident in any case (i.e. regardless of what words were/are used to characterize them). And Roger's comment goes to the quality of Anon's thinking rather than to Anon himself. So I think what I'm going to do at this point is simply recuse myself from further discussion, let my posts (and the ensuing, final one) speak for themselves, and allow any other contributors to continue to engage each other, if they choose to.]

RevRon's Rants said...

The more of anon's comments I read, the more I understand why Landmark would so readily resort to suing critics. If the best that their "representatives" can do is to offer transparent variations of the Pee Wee Herman "bounces off me and sticks on you" defense, litigation might well be Landmark's only viable weapon.

They might, however, consider that providing at least high school level debating instruction to their minions would be more cost-effective. Teachers will work for much less money than attorneys. :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

Now I KNOW it's going to be an interesting day... I agree with Roger 100% (and we know how often that happens)!! :-)

And anyone who says that the Borg is merely science fiction needs to read this exchange!

Anonymous said...

Steve, I think your treatment of "anon" is harsh and unnecessary. There shouldn't be penalites for asking questions. Especially with him being in the minority, if you're true to your word about this being an open forum, you should go out of your way to consider his ideas and comments. Not attack and demean him.

Rational Thinking said...

Anon 10.36

What 'minority' are you referring to? And what 'penalties' have been imposed?

People who don't like what Steve writes have a very simple recourse:
don't read it.

RevRon's Rants said...

Well, if the Pee Wee defense fails, just switch to the Palin defense: "Challenging me with logic is mean."

It just gets better all the time! Keep going, anon!

Mike said...

Why is it that the folks who have the weakest arguments always post anonymously?

To the Anons: You know, if you disagreed with Steve and actually posted a coherent counterargument that reflected logic and thought and made valid points, everyone on this blog would scramble to be the first to say, "Hey, that's a good point. You make a lot of sense." This has never been a "shout-down" type blog where only one mode of wingnut thinking rules all. No one is being demeaning, or snarky, or sarcastic, or even mildly negative towards you other than asking for a more rational response than what you've offered. Give it a shot.

Anonymous said...

Predictably, when the subject of accuracy is raised, these types of baord resort to name calling and personal attacks.

For myself, I think my "accusations" of lack of facts and lack of accuracy are appropriate and I stand behind them. I notice that little of wht I have said specifically has been challenged, just sweeping insults. which direct the discussion way from what I said, which was specific commentary of Steves comments.

One thing I do admire and respect is that Steve posted my remarks. I do take an insufferable egressive tone (my bad) and I am not sure I would even post some of the things I say (because of the say I say them) even though I stand behind the content of what I said.

Thank-you for that Steve.

Anonymous said...

@ Steve

I posted a reply to "Rational Thinking" that was not posted.

May I ask why?

"Rational Thinking" asked:

"Just as a matter of interest - who, exactly, would you regard as qualified to criticise Landmark? What, specifically, would qualify them to do that?"

Steve Salerno said...

[I'm at a loss here. I post what comes through, unless it violates some of the generally understood rules of engagement. I don't recall censoring/killing a comment today. Can you resubmit?]

Anonymous said...

@ Mike

In my opinion, I have posted a few coherent points that were valid points and appropriate to this discourse - have you read the comments I posted in part 1 and 2?

And you can say that "No one is being demeaning, or snarky, or sarcastic, or even mildly negative" but the personal insulting attacks and labelling clearly posted here in response to my comments speaks for themselves.

RevRon's Rants said...

"No one is being demeaning, or snarky, or sarcastic, or even mildly negative towards you other than asking for a more rational response than what you've offered."

Speak for yourself, Mike! I have been intentionally snarky and sarcastic. Given the ludicrous and vacuous nature of the rebuttals offered by those who would hide behind anonymity*, I felt that logical discourse had already been abandoned, leaving snarkiness the only logical avenue for continuing the discussion.

* - Please note that I am referring to the content of the comments, as opposed to the commenter, thus refuting the predictable accusations that my response constitutes an ad hominem attack.

Anonymous said...

@ Mike

Can you specifically site the the "weakest arguments" you are referring to and make a strong aruement for what what makes it "weak"?

And, Mike, based on the posts, anyone can read here, so far by Steve and what appears to be a few like minded regulars who more or less share Steve's expressed point of view re: Landmark, you saying-

"This has never been a "shout-down" type blog where only one mode of wingnut thinking rules all."

- sounds like a cover up for what is vividly displayed and actually happening in this blog.

Quoting Harvard Professor Chris Argyris

“Put simply, people consistently act inconsistently, unaware of the contradiction between their espoused theory and their theory-in-use,between the way they think they are acting, and the way they really act.”

Harvard Business Review, "Teaching Smart People How to Learn“ (1991, pp. 99-109)

Anonymous said...

@ RevRon's Rants

Can you site specifically which part of what "content", and which "rebuttal" you are saying is "ludicrous" and "vacuous"? And can you express yourself without being insulting?

And specifically, what conent was posted that you say was "abandoning the logical discourse"?

RevRon's Rants said...

Anon, I really have neither the time nor the inclination to go back through every one of your comments and list each time when your responses were somehow devoid of logic or substance. If you will actually read my responses to your individual comments, you'll see that I've already done so once, as have others. Don't expect others to do your research for you, OK?

As to whether I can respond without being "insulting," I frankly doubt it at this point. When one enters a discussion and insults the intelligence of other participants by denying the blatantly obvious and expecting agreement, one should logically expect to be the target of insults herself. It became obvious early on that rationalization and obfuscation in support of Landmark were your objectives, rather than participation in an adult dialog.

And just help me get my mind around something here: how many times do you typically announce your intent to depart from other venues? Not that I particularly want you to leave; I just find it amusing that you would claim that you have no interest in continuing to participate here, yet always seem to return for yet another "last word," which is inevitably a rehashing of points that have already been discussed and refuted ad nauseum.

To use a favorite analogy, you're furiously digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole of your own creation, and for whatever reason (which I will not attempt to define, for fear of engaging in ad hominem attack), you just don't see it.

Anonymous said...

@ RevRon's Rants

"...offered by those who would hide behind anonymity*."

"Anonymity" has been brought up a couple of times in this blog. It is offered as an option under "Choose An Identity" when posting a comment in this blog.Is it really "hiding"? Is hiding one's identity on line not widely practiced and perfectly acceptable on the web? Has the tribe that populates this particular blog made some rule that anonymous posts are dubious and suspect?

Most discussion boards and blogs I know of are made up of large groups of phantom identities. Is it your view that an anonymous entry is less valid or less valuable then one with a name and picture? How do we verify that pictures and names are real and updated?

If you are going to continue to bring up "anonymity" as a way to deminish other's posts, can you please clarify the rules on anonymous posting in this blog as you see it?

Anonymous said...

@ RevRon's Rants

Without specifics, there is nothing I wish to discuss with you. All I hear from you is personal attacks and substance that is of no interest to me.

RevRon's Rants said...

Sigh - I guess it all comes down to a desire for transparency and accountability. I realize that anything I "say" online is perpetually attributable to me. If I am unjustifiably rude, make stupid comments, or insist upon adhering to a notion or item of information that is easily proven false (and I have done all these things at one time or another), I know that those actions and words will follow me. My willingness to post my real identity is a statement of my willingness to accept responsibility for what I do.

Your hesitance (refusal) to even assign an identity to your own comments - especially as an erstwhile representative of Landmark - cannot help but raise doubt as to the credibility of your offerings, as well as the agenda of the organization you represent. If you cannot or will not understand that, there is simply no use in beleaguering the subject.

Anonymous said...

@ RevRon's Rants

"...I guess it all comes down to a desire for transparency and accountability...."

It "all" comes down to..? For RevRon's Rants or for everyone? Is that not your decision and others to make when they log onto a blog? Because you see it that way for you - does that mean ALL others must do the same as you or be margnailized and discredited by you?

"...I realize that anything I "say" online is perpetually attributable to me...."

People can post fake names and fake pictures? How is that more reliable?

"...My willingness to post my real identity is a statement of my willingness to accept responsibility for what I do...."

What is this accountability you are talking about? You be demeaning, or snarky, or sarcastic, and mildly negative and what consequences are there? You are talking to people who you will never have to face in a public off line setting, where I doubt you would talk the same way where there might actually be real consequences.

"...Your hesitance (refusal) to even assign an identity..."

It is a choice. I have no hesitancy and I have refused no one. If it is a rule of participating in this setting, please let me know.

".... cannot help but raise doubt as to the credibility of your offerings..."

Like I said, if choosing the "Anonymous" identity moniker when posting when contributing to this blog is not welcome nor taken seriously by you and if you represent Steve Salerno and the rest of the contributors of this blog, and maybe you represent the views of the entire internet - please let me know.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 8:41 (ad infinitum): I'm banning you, and I'm telling you why.

I was willing to put up with this nonsense when all you were doing was being irritatingly combative and (I'm sure you think) "clever." But if in your zeal to defend your non-position (and I say that because your position appears to consist almost entirely of word games and/or putting others in the position of having to "prove" negatives), you are now going to lie and deny things you've said earlier, then there's no point in continuing. I could cite at least three or four cases where you're "repositioning" or backing away from things you said earlier, but most notably, you have not "refused no one." Way back in the beginning of this insane dialogue, I asked you to contact me off-blog and identify yourself. You have not done so. That is a refusal. And yes, I suppose you could say that I didn't directly ask you to identify yourself, I merely recommended that you do so, but see, that's all part of the problem here. (And I allowed you to continue to comment anyway, ass that I am.) Your entire "philosophy," such as it is, dwells in the margins of the nuances of the ambiguities of word meanings (and non-meanings). It is all smoke and mirrors.

I'm glad you stopped by, however. Now I think we all have been given a deeper insight into what this whole phenomenon is about.

Anonymous said...


I don't blame you. Thanks for allowing the comments that you did. I do appreciate it.

Take care.

Steve Salerno said...

[I posted that final comment only because I don't want to appear to be denying our anonymous poster an opportunity to be gracious.]

RevRon's Rants said...

I'll try one last time, and make it as simple as possible. The only people who need strictly documented "rules" when engaging in an exchange such as this are those who either lack the sophistication to participate appropriately or who recognize that they are unable to "win" if forced to do so, and abandon commonly-held dictums of appropriate debate. I'll leave it to others to decide for themselves which category applies to you.

I readily acknowledge having adopted an attitude of condescension where you are concerned, simply because it has become obvious that attempts at logical discourse will be met only with obfuscation and deflection. You don't address points; you merely attempt to distract and deflect the conversation to an area more within your own comfort zone and/or programmed agenda. Given that, the motivation for attempting to reason with you evaporates.

Finally, your doubts notwithstanding, the people who know me also know that I am if anything more gentle in my online comments than I would be in a face-to-face interaction. I am very conscious of the fact that lacking the ability to observe such nuances as facial expression and general demeanor, our online words frequently carry a harshness that would be absent in a physical interaction, and I try to structure my comments accordingly.

Furthermore, it is easier to simply walk away from an obnoxious individual in "real life" without abandoning the milieu altogether. I have enjoyed participating here for some time, and don't choose to simply walk away, simply because I find a contributor particularly obnoxious. In a face-to-face encounter, I would either roll my eyes, smile, and retreat to the company of others more interested in discussing than in preaching, browbeating, and having the last word, or I would stick around and describe to the person just why I found them obnoxious. As you venture beyond the boundaries of your "choir," I'm certain you'll learn that I'm far from the only person who adopts such an attitude.

Steve Salerno said...

NOTE: Folks, I've painted myself into a corner here. Comments continue to arrive, spurred by prior comments from our Anon, whom I've just banned. So on reflection--because I appreciate the thought and dedication that goes into participation in this blog--I'm going to allow this to go on for one last round. I'll publish the comments that have arrived, and--against my better judgment--I will allow Anon to have a parting shot, if he/she wants it. I hope that our regulars will not gnash their collective teeth too much over that decision.

When I say "one last round," I'm speaking with specific reference to the he-said/she-said that has developed over Anon's comments. Obviously this thread remains open to more general comments about Landmark, LGATs, self-help seminars, etc.

Anonymous said...

I second your decision to block Anon, the so called debate had gotten very tiresome. I only question whether you give him more ammunition now to cry "censorship!" or that this blog is all of one mind. That's how that closed off thinking works, as you know, by fanning suspicion of the outside world and a sense of persecution within members of the sect.

Notice how cleverly I avoided the C word, as you put it?

Anonymous said...

@ Steve

Thank-you and I will not be posting any more responses (save this one) but will check into read any replies anyone posts to anything I wrote.

My parting shot, would be towards your own posts Steve, to say that I find them to be disrespectful to a visitor:

"...I hope that our regulars will not gnash their collective teeth too much over that decision...."

and to say that it seems to me that you are maintaining what looks like a biased, "agreement" blog set up to encourage people who might want to promote a "negative" point of view about Landmark, LGATs, self-help seminars, etc., and marganalize others who do not share that point of view.

You seem to be overly generous towards "combativeness" "word play" and "ad hominems" and "sophistry" in posts coming from yourself and other individuals (regulars) who promote a similar anti-Landmark, ant-LGATs, anti-self-help seminar point of view.

Again, I am genuinely grateful to have the chance to express myself here (and surprised you posted my purposeful comments) and I will read ALL/ANY follow up replies people take the time to post (if any - there may be none) and then not return to this bog.

Anonymous said...

" . . . non-position (and I say that because your position appears to consist almost entirely of word games and/or putting others in the position of having to "prove" negatives). . ."

"Your entire "philosophy," such as it is, dwells in the margins of the nuances of the ambiguities of word meanings (and non-meanings). It is all smoke and mirrors."

"Now I think we all have been given a deeper insight into what this whole phenomenon is about."

Amen, Steve. Maybe I'm cynical but after a couple years of intense, insane go-rounds with an LGATer (not Landmark, but same sh*t, different name), I was flabbergasted at the utter futility of attempting real, rational, honest dialogue. A few years later, and having "forgotten" the gruesome anatomy of an LGAT-indoctrinatee, I attempted a discussion with a bonafide Landmarker. I was quickly reminded that, imo, it's a hopeless, colossal waste of time. The only benefit is what happened here: the insanity of the phenomenon is exposed and glimpsed.

It's been a decade since I was on the receiving end of a disturbingly reprogrammed LGATer, and I shake my head in disbelief when I witness such exchanges.


Anonymous said...

I meant to say: I *still* shake my head in disbelief. (ten years later)

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested in how these communication results are accomplished, there are some training videos from Co$ at this url:

Once you've seen this you might understand the predictable results.

Term Papers said...

I have been visiting various blogs for my term papers writing research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards