One hallmark of cult behavior is to predict dramatic events. Or more specifically to falsely predict events. I know of no examples where some cult leader showed some sort of unique capacity to actually predict anything. I’m excluding stuff like astrology where the prediction is so general that it can be argued to be accurate no matter what the actual outcome.
Clearly people enamored with cults are not interested in holding their leaders feet to the fire and pressing them for these failures. Now, some do leave cults of course but there is no internal leverage to correct this habit. I generalize that point as someone who grew up in this culture as well as simply observing globally that there is no self reflection about this. It’s been business as usual for centuries.
Do you suppose it would make any difference if the predictions came true? It would give skeptics pause but it would matter to believers? What about the daily experience of the average believer? Do the failures register? Are they deeply disappointed each time but finding the courage to believe the next version? Or is just routine? Speaking with people I grew up with it seems to be the latter. Our church had a revolving set of prophesies that they would announce publicly and even publish and they never happened… but the not-happening was simply not registered or acknowledged. There was just another prophecy.
The rhetoric generally caters for those imminent failures. It’s shaken off; and they move on. Apathy and ignorance in varying measures Brick.
I guess people need to believe in something.
I’ve heard different people state that we live in a time when there is no common myth to bind people together. People are rootless and miss the comfort of the tribe and the common rituals of belief and religion.
I look at Evangelicals, and even believers in Qanon, as desperate people searching for meaning and community. They put critical thinking aside because what they get in return — a sense of belonging — outweighs any cognitive dissonance they may be feeling.
I’ve read that generally speaking, when a cult leader makes a prediction that embarrassingly doesn’t come true, the cult members simply double-down on their beliefs and carry on. The cult leader has to save face with some sort of ass-covering lie, but he must sense that to his followers truth or lies don’t much matter — it’s belonging to an “in group,” being one of the “chosen ones,” feeling special — that matters.