Is Covid a cult?
Let's look at the evidence…
I have been a little bit naughty (wot me?!?) and taken the BITE framework of cult expert Dr Steven Hassan (without asking him first) and applied it to Covid. BITE stands for “Behaviour, Information, Thought, Emotional” and lists the elements of authoritarian control over cult members. You can download the Excel spreadsheet here and play with it yourself.
This is a rough and ready assessment and reasonable people could disagree over my evaluation of each criterion. Red is “danger — control in play”, green is “safe — not applicable”, and amber is in the contended middle. The overall picture is pretty clear in my view — Covid is a socially engineered project to hijack free-ish societies and replace them with sanitary dictatorships.
Dr Hassan has a somewhat controversial reputation (don’t we all!) and wrote a book called “Cult of Trump” — whose premise I personally reject as being an over-elaboration of Orange Man Bad™. That said, I believe he is fundamentally an honest person who seeks to do good, yet who has made numerous errors of judgement in the context of an unprecedented bio-information war:
Ignoring the spiritual aspect of information warfare and mind control, and how everyone (including him, me, and you) can be subverted via cunning evil.
Assuming that the “liberal intellectual consensus” (formerly known as “normal”) is in any way sane or rational due to its social acceptability or popularity.
Treating all those who drift from the “baseline of commonly held belief” as misguided deviants rather than wise dissidents.
Neglecting the possibility that he might be a relapser into mind control due to social engineering of the “respectable norm” — a blind spot for a cult expert.
Conflating the operational mechanisms (like military grade psychological warfare techniques) with the intentional outcome (like cult installation vs cult destruction).
Nonetheless his BITE model is a sound one in my view and his work deserves airing and application. It is not a subject area in which I claim expertise, but even a journeyman like myself can apply the model with reasonable care to get a general sense of whether dangerous coercion is in play. The extreme case of a mind control cult shines a light on the broader issue of unethical manipulation of human choice.
I see this BITE model as having application beyond its cult and mind control roots. It can be seen as a (prototype?) checklist for abuses of power in any technocratic context. I suspect it has significant potential for being edited, improved, and expanded to help solve governance and ethical issues in the design and deployment of any socio-technical system that has the power to affect the human psyche.
Despite our differences of interpretation and political outlook, I commend Dr Hassan’s work as worthy of wider attention.