The upcoming book "Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism," by Amanda Montell will cover Scientology, among other topics


Independent Scientology and Nation of Islam news
The upcoming book "Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism," by Amanda Montell will cover Scientology, among other topics.

"Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism," by Amanda Montell.


Available on Kindle and in hardcover on June 15, 2021.

Kindle $14.99
Hardcover $27.99

Kindle: 272 pages
Hardcover: 320 pages

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Product Description

The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.

What makes “cults” so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we’re looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join—and more importantly, stay in—extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell’s argument is that, on some level, it already has . . .

Our culture tends to provide pretty flimsy answers to questions of cult influence, mostly having to do with vague talk of “brainwashing.” But the true answer has nothing to do with freaky mind-control wizardry or Kool-Aid. In Cultish, Montell argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive ways and shadowy ones, cultish language is something we hear—and are influenced by—every single day.

Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities “cultish,” revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven’s Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of “cultish” everywhere.

About the Author

Amanda is a writer, video content maker, and linguistics groupie living in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Woman's Day, The Rumpus, and Time Out magazine, and she is a staff features editor at online beauty and health magazine Amanda is also the creator and host of The Dirty Word, a web series about language, gender, and pop culture, which airs on Jill Soloway's and has been featured in Glamour, Bustle, Refinery29, Hello Giggles, and Bust Magazine. Amanda graduated magna cum laude from NYU with a degree in Linguistics. Find her on Instagram @amanda_montell

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Independent Scientology and Nation of Islam news


Independent Scientology and Nation of Islam news
A book review or the book Cultish, which covers Scientology and is now out.

New Republic: How to Spot a Cult

According to Amanda Montell’s new book, “Cultish,” the jargon and technical language of fanaticism is surprisingly common.

Jennifer Wilson
June 28, 2021

How to Spot a Cult

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Among L. Ron Hubbard’s most pressing concerns was a singular problem: how to get his followers to turn their nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns. Like a Californian Hamlet, the founder of Scientology pondered the dilemma of “to be or not to be” and settled on beingness. There was no real basis for Hubbard’s morphological experiments, as linguist Amanda Montell explains in her new book, Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism; he simply “liked the sound of technical jargon.” So much so, in fact, that he published two extensive Scientology dictionaries filled with thousands of terms, many of which were borrowed (and subsequently mangled) from fields like psychology and software engineering “to create the impression that Scientology’s belief system was rooted in real science.”

Hubbard also wanted to establish, through language, a clear way of demarcating believers from nonbelievers (or, sorry—“suppressive persons”). A nonbeliever, for instance, would very likely struggle to parse the following exchange without the aid of Montell’s annotations:

“How are you doing?”

“I’ve been a bit out ruds [rudiments: tired, hungry, or upset] because of a PTP [present time problem] with my second dynamic [romantic partner] because of some bypassed charge [old negative energy that’s resurfaced] having to do with my MEST [Matter, Energy, Space, and Time, something in the physical universe] at her apartment.”

While this all comes across as profoundly idiosyncratic, Montell says there is in fact nothing unique or special about Scientology’s fascination with language. “The most compelling techniques” espoused by cults have had “little to do with drugs, sex, shaved heads, remote communes, drapey kaftans, or ‘Kool-Aid,’” says Montell. As she breaks down the glossary of terms espoused by members of QAnon, Heaven’s Gate, Jonestown, and even Crossfit, Montell says it is language that can best clue us in as to whether an organization we have joined is a cult or is at least engaging in cultlike behavior to extract resources out of its members. She develops a taxonomy of “cultish” linguistic tendencies from “the crafty redefinition of existing words” (i.e., calling a gym a “box” for no real reason), thought-terminating clichés (labeling good-faith doubts and concerns as “limiting beliefs”), and monikers that establish an us-versus-them binary (the “truth seekers” versus “sheeple” of QAnon)
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