Cults... those groups of seemingly nutty people that have been around with us since forever.
Most cults tend to die off, but some do stick around and in some cases evolve into religions.
Now many cults do have a lot of things in common but I've noticed five certain things about them.
So here are five things I've noticed about cults:
5. They're self destructive.
With a few notable exceptions most cults will eventually die off and cease to exist.
Most of the time a cult will cease to exist due to it's leadership's abusive and controlling behavior, which sometimes results in either a member getting kicked out for some minor infringement, or a member getting fed up with the behavior of the leadership and leaving. These combined with the public's finding out about a cult's abusive behavior, plus what ever strange beliefs they may have, might keep some people from wanting to join, and thus the the cult eventually dies out due to it being unable to gain new members.
Ofcourse sometimes a cult dies off not slowly and gradually, but very quickly due to it's members committing criminal acts that forces law enforcement to imprison most of it's members (those that come peacefully that is) or they get killed by law enforcement because they refuse to be arrested, or the members commit mass suicide or murder/suicide.
4. They isolate people.
Almost every cult there is encourages (or forces) it's members to engage in some form of isolation. For some this may be as minor as encouraging it's members to have as little contact as possible with people that are considered to be possibly "harmful", to having no contact with people who left the cult, to outright isolating themselves from society in general.
Sometimes this isolation isn't the result of a cult encouraging it's members to stop having contact with other people, but instead encourages them to engage in behavior with non-members that is usually considered to be bizarre, imposing, or abusive. Such behavior often times causes non-members to not want to be around any of these members, regardless of whatever relationship they may have with these people.
Regardless of however a cult does it, ultimately a cult will usually end up causing a member to be isolated from those that were closest to them (i.e. friends and family).
3. They're financially ruinous.
Many cults encourages it's members to do things that can cause them to go broke, or at least set them back financially.
One of the ways that cults ruin people financially is that they encourage their member to give large sums of money to the cult. This can be done either through encouraging it's members to give large donations to the cult directly or any "charities" it runs, or encouraging buying overpriced products from the cult, or requiring it's members to pay large sums of money inorder to advance through the cult.
Other ways that cults ruin people financially is by encouraging their members to make bad financial decisions. This could be done either through encouraging their members to make bad investments into things that the cult likes, or to quit a job because the cult doesn't approve of the job, to quiting a job and leaving to go work for the cult.
Regardless of how a cult does it, with the exception of maybe it's leadership, a cult will often times leave a person worse off financially then they were when they joined.
2. They engage in dangerous pseudoscience and alternative medicine.
Almost every cult there is promote some kinds of pseudoscience, which for the most of them isn't actually dangerous, but then there are some types of pseudoscience that cults promote that really are dangerous, particularly concerning medical issues.
One example of this would be the Jehovah's Witnesses who strongly "discourages" (i.e. threatens to excommunicate) it's members from receiving blood transfusions, which has lead to needless deaths.
Another example of this would be Scientology and their "stance" on psychology, in that they believe that psychology is evil. This type of belief can cause people to not seek out or engage in any type psychiatric help when they really need it, which could cause a person to commit suicide or even an act of violence.
Some cults even go so far as to use no modern medicine what so ever. Christian Science is probably one of the best examples of this as they believe that praying will heal a person, and that they do not use any type of medicine at all, instead relying entirely on God's will and prayer.
1. They don't actually have to be religious or organized.
While many cults are generally organized and have religious aspects to them, there are some groups out there that are neither religious or organized, but because of it's own actions and the actions of it's members, many people would argue that they are cults
The 9/11 Truth movement and the Anti-vaccination movement are just two examples of groups that while neither are religious or organized into one single group (although there are several separate groups for both movements) both movements have been accused of being cults due to the movements' continuous promotion of the same stuff that has been debunked for years, and the behavior of both movements' adherents.
Then there are groups that are organized into one single group that are not religious, but because of it's promotion of pseudoscience and other things that are just not possible, as well as how it treats critics, they are considered to be a cult by many people who have examined the group. The Zeitgeist Movement is a prime example of this.
Regardless of whether or not it's religious or organized or neither, a cult is a cult, and it could potentially damage and even destroy your life, so it's best to avoid them.