Wikileaks re-publishes 60 Minutes piece on est/Landmark cult leader Werner Erhard

Update: On September 24, 2009, Boing Boing received a letter from an attorney representing Werner Erhard, which is now appended to this blog post.

Wikileaks has published the video and transcript of an investigative report into "est" (Erhard Seminars Training) guru and Landmark Education Forum godfather Werner Erhard by CBS News, originally broadcast on the program 60 Minutes on March 3, 1991. Excerpt from Wikileaks article:

Both, video and transcript, have been published at various points in time, but are not publically available anymore due to legal threats against publishers from Werner Erhard.

The material contains interviews with friends, business associates and family of Werner Erhard making serious claims against him. Erhard is accused by family members of beating his wife and children, and raping a daughter, while still giving seminars on how to have relationships that work. The story also includes interviews with two former staff members of Werner Erhard: Wendy Drucker (a senior manager) and Dr. Bob Larzelere (head of Erhard's counseling staff).

The current incarnation of the est training is now known as Landmark Education, with its course the Landmark Forum. Landmark Education is run by CEO Harry Rosenberg, who is Werner Erhard's brother, and General Counsel and Chairman of the Board of Directors Art Schreiber, who has acted as Werner Erhard's lawyer. Werner Erhard's sister Joan Rosenberg also sits on the Board of Directors of Landmark Education.

"Suppressed CBS News 60 Minutes on Landmark cult leader Werner Erhard, 3 Mar 1991," (Wikileaks, thanks Enric)

Related: A number of companies are reported to have corporate ties to est/Landmark, for instance: Bay Area vegan restaurant Cafe Gratitude (See: East Bay Express, and SFGate). And Lululemon Athletica, the company that makes all that trendy yoga gear (see Fast Company, this blog, and the CEO's testimony on the Landmark Forum website). Some former employees at both companies have stated publicly that if you want to become a manager or keep your job, you'd pretty much better be prepared to join Landmark.

Update: Following is the text of a letter received from Terry M. Giles, an attorney representing Werner Erhard.

September 24, 2009
Xeni Jardin

Dear Xeni Jardin and

I am a lawyer and have represented Werner Erhard since 1990 so am familiar with the true facts about the matters discussed in your blog post at

Your statement "Both, video and transcript, have been published at various points in time, but are not publically available anymore due to legal threats against publishers from Werner Erhard" is inaccurate. In fact, I first learned that CBS had decertified the episode when I read in Suzanne Snider's article in The Believer in its May 2003 issue: "The 60 Minutes segment was filled with so many factual discrepancies that the transcript was made unavailable with this disclaimer: This segment has been deleted at the request of CBS News for legal or copyright reasons.'"

CBS did not retract the statements made in the 60 Minutes episode by making the video and transcript unavailable as a result of Mr. Erhard's or his lawyers' threats. CBS independently determined that serious allegations made to the interviewer on the 60 Minutes program (which allegations you re-print in your blog post) are not true. The transcript and video were not "suppressed" as stated in your article; the transcript and video were made unavailable by CBS because the contents are not factually accurate and therefore should not be published. It isn't just CBS who determined the allegations are not true. I am enclosing an article from Time Magazine, March 1998, which clearly states that the allegations broadcast on 60 Minutes were in fact retracted and untrue. Numerous other respected publications, including the London Times, also reported that the allegations broadcast on 60 Minutes were recanted, and that one of the people appearing on the program had been offered money via a book deal to lie.

Now that you know the facts, you are in a position to re-think the advisability of continuing to publish a misleading and inaccurate blog post in your publication. I am formally requesting that you immediately cease said publication. Please let me know your intentions within the next ten business days.


Terry M. Giles

Here is the Time Magazine article referenced by Mr. Giles: "The Best of est?," By Charlotte Faltermayer, Sunday, Jun. 24, 2001."

The title of this blog post has been modified from the original.


  1. Some friends and I used to fantasize about instigating a shootout at the I’m O.K., You’re O.K. corral between $cientology, $ynanon, e$t, and the Mahari$hi Gang. But we lacked the mindset of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, so we smoked weed and drank wine instead.

  2. There were CBS execs at the time who were high level Scientologists. This CBS thing was a hit piece.

    And as far as I remember, this wasn’t suppressed – it was just Faux news type lies, so I assumed they got sued.

  3. Back in the ’70’s, the second personal computer company IMSAI was started and run by a bunch of est(holes) as they were called. The founder wanted to be an est trainer but they wouldn’t hire him so he started a computer company. Everyone was expected to take, and pay for, the training to get anywhere in the company. Landmark appears to be the same thing with a new name, and their corporate clients are following the same “One of Us, or Else” as in the olden days of est.

  4. ys ys, Lndmrk s nthr mwy-styl slf-hlpy thng. brng-n mr flks. Shm ths wh wnn lv. ts ll prtty wht nd n tht ttrly sl-lss gnr f xc-styl / glf-styl. Frtntly ts nt gnrlly th bng-bng crwd s ths blg pst wll nt gnrt mch trffc. dbt y’ll gt mny dfndrs f rhrd. n gnrl thgh, wsh bng wld stck t th lght nd ctsy nd lv th srs stff t thrs.

  5. “Brainwashing” is a loaded term with very specific connotations. I think in the conversation here it’s generally used to mean “coercive persuasion,” or otherwise standing in as a means of instilling belief in someone without their express and informed consent of the thing to be believed.

    Most of this comes from exploitation of a few simple psychological phenomena, whereby exposure to the right kind of controls, environment, and stimuli, produces a predictable response. Especially in LGAT settings, which amplify the effect: groups have an infective influence on one another (see the Asch conformity experiments) for lots of reasons, not only psychologically but also neurologically (internal synthesis of remotely observed/identified experiential stimuli via mirror neurons).

    These are exploited by, as the responses are evoked, framing them according to the principles and philosophies one desires to inculcate. Those without exposure to or training regarding the underlying science will be affected, often deeply and profoundly, and readily accept the explanation for the nature of the experience. Combine that with novel components and you have instant and fairly deep classical associations as well.

    Couple of pithy generalizations I’ll also toss in here: the ends do not justify the means (there’s protein in excrement, but that doesn’t mean I want to eat it to get it), and the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few is simply wrong (a well informed contribution is one thing, one extracted through coercive means is something else entirely). Following the money in these situations is pretty revealing.

    I will also state that there are protections from the EEOC (at least in the US) about attendance at these things in relationship to work environments.

  6. From Seattle:

    Employees of local raw foods restaurant, Thrive, have communicated that they have been pressured in the same way (as cafe gratitude) to join Landmark Forums. This is in order to secure a promotion, or keep their jobs…

    Whats the deal?

  7. I took some Landmark training back in the day. There was huge pressure to bring in new recruits and a very hard sell. I twigged to what I was being sold and bailed before I wasted too much money and time. The best part was getting to hear a whole lot of fascinating stories about old-school est(holes) from my mother and her friends who lived in the Bay Area back in the day.

  8. When I first moved to San Francisco in the early 1980s, I met lots of people who had been through est training. Some thought it was valuable, from a personal growth viewpoint, others thought it was a waste of time. One fellow I knew said he asked for his money back and got a prompt refund with no questions asked. Another, who had been a close friend of Harvey Milk, said that taking the est seminar helped bring him out of a deep depression he had been in for four years after the assassination.

    I was encouraged to take it as well, but not through a high pressure sales pitch. The folks that thought it was a valuable experience felt it could help me, and they even offered to loan me money to pay the tuition (which was about $300, a lot of cash for a new college graduate with no job and sleeping on a friends couch). I did take a three hour “pre-est” introduction to the concept, but decided I simply didn’t have the money and wasn’t in such a terrible psychological state that I needed something like that to be happy.

    A few years later, I did take a week-long course modeled after est (sponsored by the ARAS Institute, or something similar) that Paul Williams talked me into, but I didn’t feel I got much out of it. The book provided most of the information on personal empowerment that was reinforced during the training. And I honestly felt I got a lot more insight into my psyche from a good acid trip than I ever got from ARAS training, and a tab of acid was a hell of a lot cheaper.

  9. The 60 minutes piece aired & did probably as much good for Landmark Education, as the company was then known, as it did harm. Publicity always piques interest. Werner Erhard’s daughter was the “star” of the 60 Minutes piece & later recanted much of what aired.
    As someone who did a bunch of Landmark Education’s courses & who hasn’t done any in several years what I have to say is that the stuff taught, worked on, shoved down peoples throats, or however you see it as being done from your point of view, I enjoyed the courses & benefited greatly from having done them. I would very highly recommend them.
    The reason there is feeling of it as only being a sales pitch is due to the fact that actually talking about what you are going through & working on with others is a useful part of the courses, & allows them to not advertise, thereby keeping the cost of the courses lower than they otherwise would be. And I’ve gotten alot more out of Landmark Education, both in dealing with the physical realm & the spiritual realm, than I ever got out of LSD.

  10. Whenever I here about EST/Landmark, I’m reminded of the section of Jerry Mander’s book “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” in which he points out just why they are a cult. To be fair, EST seems kind of tame compared to the Scientologists or the Moonies (Mander only briefly mentions them in the book just to establish that they are the greater evils; he probably avoided criticizing them knowing the consequences of doing so), but nonetheless the description of their seminars definitely make them sound dangerous.

  11. Of course, muddying the waters greatly is the fact that the dirt that the media got on Werner Erhard (nee Rosenberg) and crew was originally dug up by Scientology’s black-ops department. Hubbard’s gang always hated EST because it was essentially a rip-off of their business model. Erhard used to be a mid-level Scieno who decided that he wasn’t going to work his way up the corporate ladder (pretty hopeless anyway, it’s hardly a meritocracy) and went into business for himself.

    So he got rid of the flying saucer mythology and replaced it with psycho-babble for marketing purposes (ideology and theology is always irrelevant) and upped the rate of psychological pressure on the potential dupes to suck more money out of a lower percentage of the initial attendees: causing more serious collateral damage to people’s brains in the process. Early on one set of fanatics stopped an ambulance crew from attending to a heart attack victim inside one of the seminars because they didn’t want any of “the secrets of EST” to leak out via the first-responders. The attendee croaked.

    Of course, that’s not what bothered L. Ron Hubbard’s gang: it was the threat to their market share. So platoons of private eyes and Scieno spys hit the streets and pur Werner and his operations under a microscope. There was plenty to find and more was manufactured: for example undercover Scienos would attend the seminars and fake total nervous breakdowns in the middle of them – not that that didn’t happen for real anyway. All of this was leaked to the media through a series of cut-outs to avoid revealing who was bankrolling the investigation.

    Erhard eventually got so worried by all this that he went into self-exile in Mexico.

  12. All the old traditions advised that anyone who offers to sell you enlightenment is immediately deeply suspect.

  13. I went though The Training (est) in the early 80’s. Complete waste of time and money.

    I’ve seen “The Forum” encarnation and now Landmark. It’s still a steaming crock of shit.

  14. have to look at your society’s basic education precepts. People want to be “good”. Who is teaching them their proto-values at the earliest age and why? Some memes are ubiquitous, Japan suffers from Sokka Gakkai, the west rots yet within from EST and $cientology, every culture has their analogue. The roots must be clearly identified and widely taught and humanity immunized. Or else this shit ain’t never gonna go away.

  15. Some of you here mention that you got a lot out of these courses. Does that really mean anything though? You could also get a lot out of a friend dying, or surviving a car accident. What something provides and what you get out of it are two completely different things.

    The question in my mind is whether Est/Landmark on its own has any merits. From what I’m reading here, the answer is no.

  16. I got dragged to a free Landmark Forum intro seminar by a friend who was all new-hammer about it. You know; when you have a new hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    I had mixed responses. The event itself was mostly fun. Lots of feel-group group dynamics, people using self-help tools to improve themselves, powerful can-do stories. Basically tons of good vibes.

    What bother me was the near-total lack of transparency about who is in charge, how the program is structured and works, and where the money goes. The biggest downer however was the HUGE hard-sell culture. By buying into the expensive system and recruiting others to do so, you were being “authentic.” I didn’t buy it, and my friend eventually got disillusioned and left.

    I was left with this: how TOTALLY COOL would it be to have an open-source, transparent, crowd-sourced, and wiki-ized group like this? Why can’t we take the parts of these systems that work, and make them FREE and ACCESSIBLE?

    Open-Source Consciousness Raising would rock. Call it OpenMind or something.

    Captcha: “revenues target.” BoingBoing, has your Captcha become self-aware and developed a sense of irony? I swear.

  17. I made my way through the Landmark basic set of classes. I m an avowed skeptic. Scientific method? Yay! Woo woo? bad! Is it contradictory to have found Landmark a profound experience and dismiss the anti-vaccine people and raw foodists? Not at all.

    I did my homework. I knew who werner erhard was And I’ll say from the jump, there is much to dislike about Landmark. But the folks here, as I read them, are missing the real of the good and the bad.

    There is always the possibility of a group experience becoming coercive. There is also the possibility of finding out that you are capable of greater things than you imagined. being part of a team can be used for good or ill. Are you all suggesting that any group experience that leads to something you wouldn’t have seen all by yourself is by definition a fabrication or manipulation? Only a fool would suggest such a thing. Or a very lonely soul. Been to a rave? Burning man? Played in a band or sung in a choir?

    There was nothing in the landmark forum or the advanced course that I hadn’t read somewhere, in the bible, Baghavad Gita, tao te-ching or everyone’s favorite zen buddhist, Alan Watts. But i had never experienced it. I had profound connections with individuals and a group.

    Great wisdom, none of which was created by Landmark, and profound insights, few if any of which were Erhard’s, were nevertheless translated into language and a set of experiences that were well designed for our time. I had life altering conversations with people I love because of experiences I had in that room. The path of my life, what I made possible, was altered for the better.

    What landmark does very well – not Werner Erhard, but Landmark as it exists today- is create the opportunity for me to take something I knew intellectually and present a searing emotional experience of that knowledge. There is a difference.

  18. Landmark is a lot like Burning Man- if you haven’t been no explaination is possible and if you get it no explaination is necessary. niether are convenient or cheap but both leave you transformed and wanting to involve everyone you know about how great they are.

    They’re also both totally empty and meaningless, as is the rest of life. Or not.

  19. You know, CBS would probably release this stuff if they didn’t have some serious doubts about it being true. I remember the LA Times did some pieces about how of the allegations were manufactured and how some of the people who spoke on the show recanted what they said.

  20. This video is really, really old information. The majority of it has been recanted or found to be untrue, which is public knowledge.

    My wife, daughter, several of my family and friends participated in The Landmark Forum in the mid 2000’s. The results have been positively life altering. The entire four course Curriculum For Living is under $1,500. Optional follow-up 3-hour, 10 session seminars are only $100; $10 per 3-hour session. I have participated in many business, college and personal development courses; Landmark’s were the most reasonably priced and most impactful courses I have ever taken.

    The Landmark Forum is an inquiry into what’s possible for human beings. In the Landmark Forum they distinguish blind spots that once distinguished gives you the access to whole new realms of possibility that were not available before. The Landmark Forum is for healthy and successful people whose lives are working well and who are committed to excelling at what is next in their lives. The promise of the Landmark Forum is anything you want for yourself or your life is available out of your participation. This is Landmark Education’s Reason for the Existence of Our Enterprise. “As an enterprise, we exist to empower and enable people in fulfilling those matters that are of interest or importance to them, and in the process leave them transformed with more power, freedom, self-expression and peace of mind.”

    The following is a link to a Harris Interactive independent survey of health professionals and educators who have participated in programs offered by Landmark Education.

    Harris Interactive found that survey results showed that the vast majority of respondents held very positive views regarding Landmark Education programs as more than nine of ten agreed that Landmark’s programs were responsibly and professionally conducted, produced practical and powerful results, and made a profound difference in their lives. Moreover, nearly all respondents (96%) agreed that Landmark Education Programs provided great value.

    Dr. Raymond D. Fowler, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer American Psychological Association, who participated in The Landmark Forum with his wife, who is also a psychologist, published the following.

    The Scoop About The Landmark Forum – Expert Opinions:

    Nothing is for everyone, including Landmark Education. However, the vast majority of the people who have participated in the Landmark Forum feel it is one of the best things they have done in their lives.

    1. However, the vast majority of the people who have participated in the Landmark Forum feel it is one of the best things they have done in their lives.

      Yeah, but their former friends stop answering their phone calls.

  21. It sure is hard to doubt first-person accounts of molestation and abuse by Erhart’s own children. I wonder what CBS’s legal queasiness was about?

    It was a little disappointing that the whole article was an attack piece on Erhart himself as opposed to an attack piece on est/Forum (ie, going into the minutiae of the its cult practices).

    And what The People really want to know: Whats the thought process behind a guy named John Rosenburg just up and saying, “No, this is wrong: my name should be Werner Erhart”? WTF?

  22. Mark, apparently the first person accounts were retracted – from Wikipedia: “Celeste Erhard filed an unsuccessful $2 million lawsuit against the San Jose Mercury News, saying she “was defrauded and her privacy was invaded during interviews”. She stated on the record that the articles and her appearance on CBS television’s 60 Minutes were to get publicity for a book.”

  23. The thing about the Landmark Forum that is so “difficult” to describe to someone who hasn’t done it is that the Forum isn’t about the Forum per se – but it’s about _you_ – the person _participating_ in the Forum.

    The individual who comes into the Forum, typically comes into the Forum looking for a “fix”, a “formula for success”, a “recipe/how to”, typically, for an issue/problem that is not easily resolved. For instance, you know how to get a job, a degree, a car, a house, etc. If one goes into the Landmark Forum looking to get common/easily acquired knowledge, then you’ve wasted your time and money.

    If you go to the Forum to find “better ways of getting more money” – I personally think you’ve also wasted your time/money as well, with one exception – that is, if the Forum allows you to see who you _SHOULD_ be being in life to get more money, _AND_ (a BIG f-ing -AND-) you actually DO what you’re supposed to do as a result of what you got out of the Forum, which should result in you getting more money, then you haven’t wasted your time/money by attending it.

    Given that the general populace in the United States and most of the G7-8-9, whatever they’re up to now, countries, aren’t dealing with survival issues, e.g. the standard of living is fairly high in these countries, people typically come into the Forum dealing with “small” issues like, personal happiness/satisfaction/inner peace/spirituality, or the most profound one, and why YOU SHOULD do the forum – _INTEGRITY_ and _RELATIONSHIPS_ (there’s a couple of others too, but in my view these are the top 2).

    The only thing you get out of the Forum, is a breakdown (in terms that _anyone_ can understand without getting a Ph.D. in psychology/socilolgy/anthropology) of how you got to be the way you are today, right now, in that moment as you sit in the chair and listen to others/the Forum leader. This, in my view, nearly perfect ontological re-creation of what a human being is, allows _YOU_ (for your hard earned cash/time spent on the Forum) to see who _YOU_ are in the scheme of things called your own life!

    The pitfall to people who HAVEN’T done the Forum is to think/assume – “BUT I KNOW WHO I AM and WHO I AM BEING IN MY LIFE”. The lithmus test to whether you know yourself and who you’re being in your life is – “is there one person in my entire life I’d rather avoid permanently than talk to and communicate with?” or “Is there one lofty goal in my life that I soo badly wanted to achieve but gave up on?”. If the answer to either one or both is ‘yes’ – and I haven’t found anyone that isn’t a ‘yes’ to these yet…. then by all means, spend the few hundred bucks and do yourself a favor by attending the Landmark Forum.

    You are guaranteed to like it, get new views about yourself, your life, who you’ve been being in life, why people are a “certain way” around you, or in general, why your boss seems to follow you around from one job to another, etc :).

    Do you have to do _anything_ about the insights you get in the Forum? Hell no. But then if you don’t, you get to keep your old life too. :) It’s as simple as that. The only difference between then and after the Forum – you will run out of excuses very quickly as to why you’re not doing what you want to do or what you need to be doing …. to get to where you want, to mend the relationships you want. And more than ever, it will become crystal clear to you that the cornerstone of everything in life is 1) integrity, 2) relationships….

    In a nutshell – you will be hard pressed to find a better mirror of whom you’ve been being in your own life than the Landmark Forum.

    I can not recommend it enough. As to what “I got out of it” :) – promotion, 20% pay in increase (although I had to lose one job to realize this is what needed to happen to move on… thanks to the reality check I got out of the Forum), and I tell my wife what I want now, instead of keeping quiet/reserved/unworthy/not good enough for her… the same way as I was for my mother. (go figure eh? , we all “marry” our mothers somehow… or their exact opposite :).

  24. It’s really sad that his own daughter would lie to get money/publicity for a book….

    I get that he may not have been the ideal father, but he at least came back and cleaned up.

    Metaphysically speaking, maybe what his daughter did was the cost he had to pay for abandoning his family, beyond just the personal cost he endured by hiding and running away from himself…

    In the end, he got hit by God…. and woke up.

  25. Why do I feel that somewhere there’s a Landmark person telling people to come here and rave about Landmark? Even with the Scientologists we only got one.

    Personally I try to avoid giving money to scumbags to the extent possible. Werner Erhard is a scumbag. Even if they weren’t a creepy cult offshoot of Scientology, I’d avoid Landmark for that reason.

  26. I remember in the mid 80’s in London being brought along to an EST meeting by sceptical friend of mine to accompany a friend of his who had made two new ‘friends’.

    We were both polite but obviously there as observers. The EST people tried everything in the book to throw us out, while at the same time hanging on to their new potential convert.

    It took quite a lot of determination on our part to take her with us when we left. From what I read above (in the comments), it’s still a cult, and a creepy one at that.

  27. The Landmark Forum was he best thing I ever did. Period. AND the only people who do not admit and acknowledge what is already old news about the CBC 60 Minutes hatchet job, have an agenda of some kind. It is well known – that the 60 minutes Werner Erhard piece was a farce and an orchestrated premeditated character assassination and eventually proven to be so full of lies and recanted statements and nonsense that CBC pulled it from it’s own library and CBS now takes great efforts to keep that piece of bullshit off of the web. Many kids and ex-employees have deep resentments towards bosses and parents and manipulating them to say ugly egregious things is not hard to understand.

    Werner Erhard is a what I would call a “great man” and almosty anyone who actually knows him and his work and what his concerns are and what he spends his life doing, will tell you that. The little creepy horde of busy misanthropes who spam the internet saying things about Werner Erhard and Landmark Education are full of it and need to look in the mirror.

    Werner’s work in Ireland the Middle East and Russia and the millions of people who have created value for themselves out of what Werner contributed is hard to put into words. It is massive and awesome, and will probably never be fully known.

  28. Cynicism and ugly comments about public people are so easy, it takes no risk and personal investment, just endless self rightious finger pointing at something out there and others, where they are bad (and you must be good) it is one of the saddest (and most worthless) things about 2009 and about the internet.

  29. If anyone gushes or is unapologetically enthusiastic and happy and says they love or like something they did or created for themselves and are unabashedly proud and acknowledge some course they did or some one who made their life better then they must be “brainwashed” or “naive” or a “shill” or a “troll” or a “cult apologist” (or some other cynical convenient bullshit term) and that person will be mocked and margianlized. But if some jerk with a face of misery spouts ugly angry dishonest slander against anyone or any group – well that person must be a string healthy individual and a critical thinker. It is ridiculous.

    Enthusiasm and vulnerability and taking people at their word are not honored on the Internet.

  30. no, it’s just that you’re a dpsht at best, a cynical vampire at worst. Like $cientology, this EST/Landmark dung isn’t subject to debate.

  31. and don’t bother replying, we all know things like you just exploit free publicity as any/good publicity. Get out of my sight.

  32. Interesting. Here we have a group of people who have not done the Forum, or the training, telling us what bullshit it is, and a number of people who have telling us that they’re glad they did it.

    FWIW, I did the training 30 years ago and found it to be the best gift I ever gave myself. I haven’t had anything to do with est in 30 years, and nothing to do with Landmark ever, but I’m grateful for the insights I got into how I operate, and credit them for the satisfaction I’m enjoying in my marriage, my job, and my art.

    What amazes me the most about this discussion is the anger and vitriol coming from those who haven’t taken any of the est or Landmark courses. I wonder what fears are driving that.

  33. Takuan, while I’m not sure I entirely disagree, you’re being very rude. Remember that the rules aren’t just for people we disagree with.

  34. SlideGuy, we’ve all known people who’ve done one of these programs, and come out much the worse for it. My experience with people who’ve done EST is that THEY’RE perfectly happy with the results, but they become so self-centered (to say the least) that I’ve had to withdraw from the friendship for my own peace of mind. Others have told me stories where their physical safety became an issue because someone took EST ideas to an extreme.

    Now, maybe all those people were twisting things. But that’s the source of the fear.

    OTOH, it’s not all fear. Some EST people are just annoying. Pushy about recruitment, that sort of thing. So you’re seeing that too.

  35. Xopher, at the risk of soundng “pushy”, please forgive the pushynesss in advance :-) …… are you saying that you did not know people who did not do “est” (which has not existed for 26 years btw) who were or become so self-centered (to say the least) that you’ve had to withdraw from the friendship for your own peace of mind as well?

    And do you not know people who told you stories about situations where their physical safety became an issue from someone who had not done est? (which we both know has not existed for 26 years.)

    Do you not know people who are just annoying and pushy who have never done “est”?

    I think the conclusion you draw is a bit distorted. Between “est” (which no longer exists) and Landmark Education, millions of people have done these courses and if you take any group that size, you will have extreme cases and annoying odd people, that is life on earth. Most people are great who did est and who did not do est and are good and safe to be around.

    I know people in every walk of life who fit the description of peole people you described – it has nothing to do with some course from 26 years ago. It’s a big planet and there are all kinds here. I remember people like that in high school and at places I worked. You?

  36. One thing worth mentioning in this brouhaha is that it was CBS itself who asked to have the thing taken down off the web – at least that was what the copyright notice on Youtube said when I went to check a link.

  37. @Sexthinkone: if this just has to do with random chance, then why the consistency of the responses, and why Landmark in particular? you don’t hear “so-and-so got really got obnoxious since they started studying Zen”. on the other hand, you don’t hear, “so-and-so got really quiet and reserved after taking Landmark.” no one on this thread has claimed that it happens to every single person or even most people act the same way. however, outside observes have noticed a consistent patten in many Landmark graduates (again, not all of them), as much as you would rather make excuses.

  38. *Some* of the anonymous internet “anti-” people who are out to smear and spam the history of est, LE and Werner Erhard have little or no interest in the updated facts surrounding the 60 Minutes episode.

    *Some* of these same anonymous internet “anti-” people continue to circulate the full transcript of that 60 Minutes show, which has been disowned by CBS, and tell lies about it all. *Some* of the anonymous internet “anti-” people take the case that only people who smear and slander are right. EVERYBODY else, no matter who they are, no matter how credible or educated or neutral, if they say anything in support of or positive about LE or Werner Erhard, they must be a “troll” or an “apologist” or have been “paid off” or “brainwashed” or “making $ from it”. Ridiculous.

    So, ONLY anonymous people spewing bile towards millions of graduates of est, LE and Werner Erhard or the work he was associated with, can be trusted on this subject? And the millions of people and mothers, and fathers and scholars and academics and teachers and therapists and Doctors and scientists and company CEO’s and clergy and lay people and shamans and individuals who went through the courses were and are all duped and conned and can’t think for themselves????????

    1. sexthinkone,

      I think that you’ve made your point. If you don’t have anything new to add to the discussion, take a break.

  39. Ria, it is because people stalk big names. “Landmark” is becoming a household name like “Lindsay Lohan” or “Michael Jackson”. People are using the tag Landmark to draw attention to themselves on the internet. Same way TMZ stalks big names for the ugly stories and to draw attention to their grotesque TV show.

    If you posted “so-and-so got really got obnoxious since they started studying Zen” who would jump on the bandwagon with you? You would hear the sound of crickets chirping.

    Big brand names have a built in audience for people fishing for fame and agreement on the internet.

  40. @Awakening: as far as the Scoop on Landmark site, as Landmark proponents keep saying, millions of people have done est or Landmark* and of that number, some have worked as psychologists or the like, or as members of the clergy. (Landmark even runs special Landmark courses, at a reduced rate for clergy. all the better to have them get their congregation interested.)

    however, CULTS IN OUR MIDST by Margaret Singer, Robert Jay Lifton and Janja Lilch described Landmark as a cult, at least in an earlier edition. but then Landmark sued Margaret Singer for defamation and forced her to remove the reference. Singer and Lifton had studied brainwashing (a.k.a. thought reform) for fifty years, following the Korean War. if not for them, the word “brainwashing” would not have entered our vocabulary.

    I would put Lifton and Singer’s opinions above that of some obscure psychologist.

    * – Landmark will deny the connection when convenient, i.e. when citing positive press which came out before the name change, or deny it to distance itself, when it serve them.

  41. actually, I got it wrong as far as calling Raymond Fowler obscure in his field. the rest of what I say stands.

  42. What does the word “suppressed” in the title of this blog really mean?

    CBS owns the 60 Minutes piece they produced and paid for, and CBS pulled it and keep in off the net because it was found out to be SO full of false information IT became an embarrassment to them. CBS really have a legitimate claim to the copyright, so their removal requests are not trampling anyone’s rights. It’s theirs!

    So what does “suppressed” have to do with the owner of this material, using their own discretion and choosing what happens to it? Do anonymous angry internet thugs think they own and run what other people should think and do?

  43. as a tragicomic sidenote, circa 2004, Landmark told grads that they wanted to “transform the world”* and make a world that works for everyone by the year 2020. they have pushed the goal up to 2028.

    also, Landmark apparently has a Wisdom Division.

    * – Church of Scientology says “clear the planet”

  44. Ria, what is “tragicomic” about what you posted? That people say in public that they have a life purpose? You find that comical? In what way?

  45. Recanted, really? Where did you read this? Wikipedia? A book written by an EST graduate?

    How about some rules of evidence. Find me a more reliable source.

    And if they did recant, why would I want to follow a father whose own children would lie about him on national TV?

  46. #60 “Anonymous”, no one (that I know) wants you to do anything or “follow” anyone. But it sounds like you have reached some state of perfection in life.

    It would be so wonderful to get YOUR personal life up on the table, or maybe some member of your families personal life up on the table, and every single one of both your friends and siblings and family members and see if or they or any of them were ever disenchanted with you and put you and them them under the microscope, offer them money, maybe some fame, maybe some pay back. And see how you hold up. No life self-righteous finger pointers like yourself usually have the most fascinating skeletons in your closet and under your bed.

    How any of us would hold up.

  47. How did that Hunger Project thing play out? I think Jack was going to end world hunger by 19-Whatever. Now his heirs are going to *transform* it, ey? Before or after $cientology *clears* it? I’m sure sorry we didn’t COINTELPRO those two gangs into a shootout at the I’m O.K. You’re O.K. corral.

  48. @Sexthinkone: I find it tragicomic that Landmark offered the grads to make the “impossible promise” to fix the world by 2020 (if they got enough people to enroll) and now has pushed the date ahead to 2028. (Landmark seems to believe in different orders of impossibility.)

  49. I attended Landmark (I did both the Forum and the Advanced Forum) and will definitely say it was worth my while.

    It is certainly one of those experiences (like psychedelics and Burning Man) that shatters many pre-existing conceptions that you have. They also want you to “enroll” your friends. But if you’ve had a truly transformational experience, you will probably want to enroll your friends yourself by the time the end of the weekend rolls around.

    I certainly know the people who constantly speak “in Landmark”; that is, they use terms from the seminar as part of their new vocabulary. This is pretty strange, and it’s probably what people here are talking about when they have discomfort with people who have attended Landmark. I’d say that’s a small percentage of the overall people who have attended, however. It also, unfortunately, happens to be the exposure that a lot of people get to Landmark, which IMHO is what causes a lot of the vitriol and backlash.

    Landmark is well worth doing if there’s something you want to change about your life. It may also help you meet new and interesting people and strengthen some old connections. My relationship with my mom strengthened immensely after I did Landmark.

    I am not currently associated with Landmark, but I think their prices are reasonable and I would recommend them to people who are ready to make changes in their lives. You can “opt out” at any time; it’s not something where they force you to come back every weekend or something like that. It’s a 3-day seminar that will leave your back hurting (from the bad chairs ;) and your mind more open, and it costs a few hundred bucks.


  50. @Erica: it doesn’t only have to do with the vocabulary. it has to do with my sister doing the Forum and then saying that she wanted to transform the world (her exact words) and that the Forum leaders loved her and marrow-deep knowing that they could make her do whatever they asked of her and she would eat it up. this after she had not even completed the three day course. she attempted to manipulate my concern into making me go to to the introduction to the Forum the following Tuesday.

    it doesn’t only have to do with language. it has to do with linguistic patterns and thought patterns and particular chains of logic. once you research it, like I have done, and know the jargon, you realize (as I have had done) that the longer you spend doing the courses, the less you can think outside those parameters.

    my uncle volunteered for twenty years and after studying Landmark and its tricks, I could predict what he would say before he said it and what would trigger him to say it. they get trapped and Landmark turns into their reality. they get released from the trap of their prior expectations and presumptions and channeled into anther set created by Landmark. or many of them do and Landmark has a structure of courses designed to cater to the dependance that it can create.

    I would not give money to a corporation with so little regard for ethics.

  51. I have here a quote from Antero Alli on shocks which can bump you from a lower metacircuit (in Leary’s eight circuit model of consciousness) to higher ones and how you can get arrested at one of the sub-phases.

    Any experience that allows for the absorption, integration and transmission of each circuit advances its intelligence. Integration is key. If you only absorb, nothing is integrated; if nothing can be integrated, you regurgitate (repeat) whatever you are absorbing. When experience is integrated, it can be shared and communicated in one’s own way; without integration, real communication is often replaced by ‘parroting’ external styles and trends, [sic] simply rendered mute.”

    all bolding in the original. all italics added by me.

    if Landmark grads manage to make it through the three phases, they do so accidentally, without any help from the Forum Leaders. Landmark actually benefits from the money and labor from grads who don’t transcend the simple parroting phase and end up forum junkies who alienate their family and friends.

  52. Boing boing seems censoring some comments that do not have an anti-landmark anti-werner erhard spin on them while posting idiotic purely insulting commments that are anti-landmark and anti-werner Erhard (“that’s right, losers, line up and fork over your dough. Losers” and “spare us, you pathetic shill”.). And Antinous / Moderator posted derogitory anti-landmark comments (which seem to have been since removed).

    Is this an anti-landmark anti-Werner Erhard thread? Wha is the point in posting here if it is just to rally one sided slander towards a subject?

    1. Boing boing seems censoring some comments that do not have an anti-landmark anti-werner erhard spin on them

      Well, either you’re picking a fight with no basis or you’re part of an organized astroturf campaign and your fellow turfers have complained to you. Either way, you’re done.

  53. correction; they have not been removed:

    #31 posted by Antinous / Moderator, September 1, 2009 3:55 PM {edit}

    Yeah, but their former friends stop answering their phone calls.

  54. Sexthinkone,

    I see lots of comments on both side of the line. Seems pretty balanced to me. Some found benefit, some found none.

    What makes you say BB is censoring Landmark-positive comments?

    Is it that you have knowledge of a cadre of people trying to post such comments that are not getting published..?
    aka astroturf?

    Is that what you are admitting to?

  55. And is that a “correction”, or an apology for insinuating Antinous had sneakily unpublished his own comment? (a comment that I’m sure he still stands by)

  56. Considering BB’s estimated world traffic I’ll be surprised if this thread is not being monitored and engaged 24-7 by the est-Forum-Landmark pod people. Any body-stealing functionary worth his rank sees this as *bad for business* and has committed his troops at *appropriate response* levels.

  57. I came back to read the comments that followed mine mostly out of curiosity but also frankly to be entertained. Most people found the Est Training to be valuable and I understand and respect that some people did not. The extreme nature of some of the comments about Werner Erhard or Est are self evidently hysterical, exaggerated and in some cases just plain false. However I think there is one thing that should be stated plainly. Werner Erhard was not a Scientologist nor was Est derived from Scientology. This rumor originated from Scientology itself as part of a huge campaign to defame Erhard personally and co-opt Est’s intellectual property as Scientology’s
    You can read about it in an article in the LA times.

  58. Hello AliceBT,

    In William Warren Bartley III biography, “Werner Erhard The Transformation of a Man: The Founding of EST” (approved by Werner Erhard), it states that Werner was involved in Scientology and the relationship of Scientology to Werner’s ideas.

  59. I know someone who did the landmark/est/whatever. He tried toaffressively make me see that I was being ‘inaccurtae’ in mourning my wife’s death,as according to est teachings, everything bad that happens to you in lif is your own fault, and somehow my wife developing a terminal liver disease linked to diabtes was my ‘fault’.

    fucking douchebags

  60. the regional and national management of the centers is terrible. they put a lot of pressure on their employees to meet quotas to sign people up for the forum, which sometimes leads to fraud (individuals falsifying registrations). landmark education also used to have a goal called “landmark 2020” in which a critical mass of people would have completed the forum by 2020 that it would transform the world. it has been a few years since they dropped that concept (the rate at which people signed up just wasn’t matching up with what was hoped).

    crappy, crappy, crappy management and leadership, uber-idealism (landmark 2020), and over reliance on psychologically vulnerable volunteers put them somewhere in between a cult and an evil corporation. the only redeeming thing about it is that some people, some times, get some good out of the training for at least a little while, and that could be said about big macs as well.

    and on the subject of cults, read about aum shinrikyo, the cult responsible for the sarin gas attacks on the japanese subway system in 1995.

  61. oh, and i forgot to mention, the founder of est/the landmark forum could be mother frickin’ teresa, the way they treat the volunteers and the lower level employees is disgusting. tt’s rotten on the inside.

  62. Friend of a friend went to the Forum and ended up being hospitalized for three days with a nervous breakdown (not a breakthrough). Landmark friend does not own up to the problem he has caused (which is consistant with Landmark teachings) and blames it on some faulty or inconsistent “leader”, not the Forum itself.
    One would think that friend would have stop “enrolling” other people in this fraud, but he has not.
    I have taken a more active roll (no pund intended) in stopping other friends from being enrolled.

  63. Having completed the courses and been one of the “exploited” volunteers. I can say that I have oscillated between extremes of opinion of the organization itself. The work done in the courses is life altering, with one caveat. You have to confront your own cynicism and resignation. If you are unwilling to do that then the courses are not going to be valuable. I can also see where my cynicism is what is at the root of my suspicion of Landmark.

    With the state of the world we live in cynicism is a natural response. It is also what prevents us from taking action in life. The courses are designed to confront that resignation. So it does not surprise me that there is so much of it around the organization.

    They are by no means a perfect organization but for all my misgivings I have always believed they are well intentioned.

    I have not participated in the program in years but am still reaping the benefits. I would encourage everyone to make up their own mind.

    As far as brain washing and the like it’s nonsense. I have

  64. As a participant in Landmark Forum and Advanced Course over 5 years ago, I had a spiritual emergency which landed me in a psych hospital. No prior or subsequent history. I have since done a lot of research about Landmark, the human potential movement, New Age, Karl Jung, transpersonal psychology, mind control. What I can say is that meditating, praying (to God, Jesus, Muhammad, or Buddha, or a tree), playing music, doing art, petting your dog, or going for a long run can help you keep your dreams alive and in focus (or even to remember them)(that’s transformation, folks). Some folks know that, and others ran into it at Landmark. Landmark has packaged existential philosophy, physics, psychology, and teachings from all major religions in a way that is accessible to most people. Those college classes that you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole because you were afraid to lower your grade point average or didn’t have the inclination to read Nietzche, Kant, Aristotle are taught at Landmark (without the footnotes) and for many folks, it helps. Gives perspective on one’s life and choices.

    Five years later, I went back to Landmark and did a year course because I needed to show myself that I could walk through those doors and both “understand” what was going on (without the wool pulled over my eyes) and yet also gain the tools that had started to make a difference in my life. Do I have moments of great cynicism? You bet. I’m human. Have I learned stuff? In a weak moment, I’ll admit yeah, I guess so. Have I run into people who are gung ho, jargonish folks? Sure, but less so. Will I continue? Having a great life, sure. You bet. With Landmark? Jury’s still out, but there’s no pushing (sure as hell, not from me). I’ve been to the dark side (and to Landmark), and only fools would jump with me.

  65. My mother actually knew Erhard’s first family, and met him completely separately years later. While she only saw him maybe twice when she knew the family (he “worked late” a lot), the first time she actually met him in earnest (post-est), she immediately found him unbelievably creepy.

    Now, while my mother may regard people who run off on their families somewhat lowly, “sinister” is not the first word that springs to her mind in describing them. She does know a sociopath when she sees one, though…

  66. I attended the EST seminar training when I was 17 years old I was a very rebellious teen-ager – and any time my poor mother tried deliver pearls of wisdom to me we would just fight. So she asked me if I would go through the seminar with a friend (in hopes that it wold improve my relationship with her). I agreed, I think at the time I just wanted to prove to her it wouldn’t work. So off I went, very begrudgingly, and I stayed the full 3 days! At 17, I needed to hear those pearls of wisdom from someone other than my mother – so I left there feeling like I had really learned something – I was taking with me – something that opened up my eyes to OTHERS! As a teen-ager, no one else other than self and friends are important – so learning to see and HEAR others was awakening. THe other thing that I realized then was that the ‘NOW’ was just as important and even more so than the tomorrow. As a teenager I was always day-dreaming about my future – or what party was coming up, or what jeans I wanted to get next week – or everything will be okay in a few days!

    I realize today that I probably would have learned that ‘’s the present time that matters when it comes to my happiness…’ but I remember how much better my communication skills got with the older generation after EST. After graduating college, having read Plato, studied Catholicism , endured years of therapy and after two marriages – it’s hard for me to carry around on the tip of my tongue exactly what in the seminar made me more self aware of others – but it stuck. At 54 today – I’m glad my mom baited me into taking EST – it sure helped her and I out and it taught me at a very early age just how important communication is! Why not learn that as a teenager instead of stumbling through the first 25 or even 40 years of life before learning improved skills that I carry with me today.

    I didn’t leave the Tuesday night graduation feeling brain washed – and I didn’t run out and find a cult to sign up for. I learned to ask more questions and get two or three answers from several people before deciding on what the real reality of something was (not just my own reality). I use that skill today watching the news and reading the paper – there is no one right person – belief – theory or answer that everyone will agree with. It’s why we still throw around the words partisan and bi-partisan after 233 years of people governing people.

    I later read all the bad reviews of EST and even made it a point to watch the 60 minutes piece – did some of those ALLEGATIONS turn my stomach – sure but isn’t discontent and a life in disarray that forces us to seek change? Strangely, my first husband was and still is a scientologist – and as much as I enjoyed EST – I never felt compelled to become a scientologist – but I had a greater capacity to understand that we are not born perfect and by nature we are curious. If EST, Scientology, structured religion or fishing for mermaids is what lets you stop and appreciate what we have and what we can still do for ourselves and others if we try then I say go for it.

    But there are people who took EST, or are scientologists or who are devoutly religious, yet they can only speak and communicate using the language of words taught to them in these groups and are blind to the needs of others. So is it a cult? It wasn’t for me – and it wasn’t for my mothers friend who also took it with e that weekend – but I’m not a weak minded person and I generally don’t enjoy very large group activities so re-upping or rejoining or attending mass every single Sunday has never been my cup of tea. But I am capable of listening, sifting and learning new things all the time. My GOD never ceases to amaze me – he’s with me always – I try to talk to him all the time and if it is his will, I will continue to be able to benefit from the good in something and discard what I know doesn’t work for me.

    The only thin I can say that has stayed with me and is true for me to this very day is that whatever I am doing or saying or working at – I am content believing that if it makes me happy (and hurts no one else) then it makes GOD happy too! At 17 or 54 – cult or no cult, religious or not, I’m glad that I can still carry that thought with me and it always brings a smile to my face – even in my worst moments in life – I am making GOD happy!

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