EST was all about tearing down your soul and rebuilding it: i.e. giving somebody money to humiliate you. Erhard came up with it while driving one day when he had an "epiphany" wherein he "realized" that he "knew everything and knew nothing and didn't know what he didn't know." And if that doesn't make any sense to you, then you're just not enlightened enough and should probably write a few more checks to the EST foundation. If this sounds like a cult, well...
Erhard basically ripped people off by promising them an ability to see the world "as it really was," not mentioning the fact that his patented and expensive self-actualization seminar could just as easily be achieved with a plate of pot brownies and a late-night Halo campaign with some philosophy majors.
Did we mention Erhard used to be a used-car salesman named Jack Rosenberg? Or that his slimy cult leader routine proved to be the not-so-subtle inspiration for GI Joe nemesis Cobra Commander?
And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
How He Was Right:
Among his other asshole behaviors, Werner Erhard kept insisting that another cult, pretty much just like his, was out to kill him. But that was ridiculous. After all, it's not like a cult would have some kind of secret intelligence unit or anything! Especially not one called--let's look it up here--"Scientology."
Nobody believed Erhard. But, as you can probably guess, indeed Scientology had listed Erhard as a "suppressive person" and then basically declared a "Scientologic fatwah" on him.
That's like a regular fatwah, but with Tom Cruise.
The full extent of operations wouldn't be revealed until six years after Erhard was prattling about Scientology trying to kill him, when the world learned of Operation Snow White, which was L. Ron's little attempt to improve his reputation by stealing and destroying nasty files the government had on him.
If you really want to get the thetans out of your head, you'll deal with this Erhard guy for me.
Yep, the Scientologists were after Erhard, not because they hated his beliefs or anything, but because he was making money off of brainwashing people using some of their techniques, and they hated having the competition.
Scientology spammed the poor bastard with so many private detectives that they had five file cabinets full of documents about him. So, even crazy cult leaders can be right sometimes. Wait... does this mean when Scientologists complain that other people are conspiring against them, we should take their word for it?
No. No it doesn't.
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