Notes On Law 27: “Play On People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following”

48 Laws of Power
“The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own.”
– Frank Zappa

1.) Introduction – Summarising The Law
2.) Notes On The Law
3.) Relevant Reading

1.) Introduction – Summarising The Law:

The need to believe in the improbable and the idealistic is a common source of passion and comfort for the unfulfilled. Gullibility is profitable, particularly if it can be sustained, hence the lucrativeness of cults.

Law 27 touches upon the single aspect of the human psyche that dictates the form of all human thought and action, as well as the movement of capital that accompanies it – belief. This is why ideology, marketing, subculture and religion all frenetically compete to influence the people with their various interpretations of reality, for those who buy into their views reward them politically and financially.

Belief and gullibility are inextricably intertwined, for gullibility finds its root in greed, escape, and the want of happiness. All minds are suggestible, it is just that some are convinced to a greater degree and with less effort than others.

Remember, to form a cult is not to merely impress a mind, but rather, to capture it by defining the very filter with which it interprets its surrounding reality. If you can sustain a delusion and extract a regular tithe from your followers, wonderful. If not, you’ll be forced into a nomadic lifestyle in the unending pursuit of fresh marks.

2.) Notes On The Law:

  • A following is the cultural embodiment of an army, your most zealous followers will preserve your reputation by fighting your detractors.
  • With a following in tow, the enforcement of your will becomes automated. Your followers will act as relays for your ideas, pushing your agenda and converting others to your cause. Like any good business, a successful faith outsources proselytisation to its most fervent pawns.
  • People are blessed with the ability to adapt to a harsh reality, but cursed with a need to believe in delightful implausibilities.
  • The allure of the unreal is the grace of transcendence, fantasy bestows escape from mediocrity, and it is in this desire gullibility finds partial form.
  • Cult creation relies on a central point of worship, a person or thing that symbolises a group’s shared values. Cult leaders appear to be the living personification of the ideals, norms and values that the wider group holds dear.
  • In the absence of religion there is a power vacuum, the people’s need to believe remains, but the cult which previously sustained the need is absent. As such, people turn to smaller and less ancient cults, swapping religion for ideology in the unending quest to understand a cold world and experience a better tomorrow.
  • The gullible outsource their agency to faith, rationalising failure as fate.
  • The greater your number of followers, the easier it becomes to acquire new ones; this is preselection at work.
  • A sophistic charlatan is infallible to his cult, misfortunes are rationalised around him rather than attributed to him.
  • In groups, people are more emotional and less capable of reasoning – see mob mentality.
  • In the midst of a mob, passion is contagious and a naysayer’s doubt is quickly dispelled by riled up sycophants.
  • Crowds can be molded into followers, and followers can be molded into cultists. It is in a cult leader’s interests to have stupid followers, because they are more passionate and contagious in their conversion of non-believers, incapable of thinking critically they are less likely to question the leadership. [See Law 21 – Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker.]
  • Real power is garnered by appealing to the wishes, opinions and preferences of the uneducated masses; it is not earned by appealing to the reason of an intellectual minority.
  • Inculcate an optimism bias by conflating desire with probability of outcome. It is easier to misrepresent probability when the objective is desired and the want to believe is present, one only need invent a rhetorically plausible methodology to sway the gullible.
  • By rationalising backwards from a desire, optimism bias can be created by customising a narrative to fit desire as opposed to observing the material facts and planning in harmony with them. The prior form of reasoning is a top-down approach driven by dogma and unconcerned with probability, the latter is a bottom-up approach driven by a cost-benefit risk/reward analysis pegged to probability. The gullible reason with the prior, the rational with the latter.
  • To create a cult you need to bring attention to yourself, the best way to gain attention is to make large but vague promises.
  • Emphasise the sensual over the intellectual, make your ambiguity attractive by using invigorating and passionate language, you can even make up new words to explain vague concepts. Employing language in this way makes people think you’re a type of sage full of insight and expertise. Be elaborate, visual and descriptive in your language, for this is far more compelling than explaining the mundanities of a thing.
  • A Machiavellian uses science to manipulate rather than educate, borrowing the authenticity of scientific factuality and perverting it to lend plausibility to the bogus. Such a thing can be achieved through the employ of falsified data, the deliberate misinterpretation of findings and statistical misrepresentation.
  • One must balance ambiguity against specificity, being careful not to utilise too much of either. Too much ambiguity makes you untrustworthy, whilst too much specificity will obligate you to promises and expectations that run counter to your interests. To condense the idea into a maxim: be vague, but not empty. [See Law 20 – Do Not Commit To Anyone.]
  • Keep your ambiguous promises simple, most lack the patience to try to understand something and want a simple solution for their problems. Promise a simple solution without being too specific, and you will appear revolutionary, greatly bolstering the numbers who join your ranks. [See Law 21 – and Law 08]
  • Boredom and scepticism are a threat to the narrative you peddle, sceptics will expose you and the bored will desert you.
  • To prevent abandonment and clear thinking, overwhelm the senses. Attack smell, sight and sound, using theatricism to bewilder and entice.
  • Emulate the form and structure of religion to give your cult power, create rituals and ranks with religious overtones and be sure to require sacrifices from your followers. You must be careful with how you ask for sacrifice, as you do not want to seem greedy. Offer your service for free, but require a type of emotional sacrifice or point to a grand social cause that will inevitably necessitate the donation of money or possessions. By asking for nothing directly, you only seem more magnificent.
  • Behave like a prophet, speak in proverbs and quote profound observations to give yourself an air of authority and mysticism.
  • No matter how rich you become from your cult, you must be careful not to seem greedy.
  • When you become rich from your follower’s contributions, surround yourself with luxury, but disguise how your income was earned. Attribute your wealth to the beliefs your cult espouses, rather than the donations it receives from it members. Surrounded by opulence, your followers will naively believe they can be as prosperous as you if only they believe more fervently and do as you do.
  • Utilise the polarisation strategy, create a very strong us-vs-them mentality, promote the benefits of the cult whilst warning your followers of the deviousness of those who do not follow the same path. By feeling like they’re part of an exclusive group, the bonds between your followers will be strengthened whilst outsiders who could expose the cult will be dismissed because they’re distrusted. This is vital to retaining followers and preventing competing ideologies from encroaching on your power base.
  • The importance of the polarisation strategy cannot be emphasised enough, if you have no enemies, invent a fictional one. If anybody causes you trouble, accuse them of being said fictional enemy.
  • Leverage mystery and imagination (1) – hint at a grand achievement or difficulty indifferently and without fully explaining it; this will provoke people into thinking you’re better than you really are. People will think you’re special as your nonchalance to the spectacular implies great fortitude. As they ask for greater detail, refuse or redirect, let their imaginations take control, and hyperbolic tales of your exploits will be concocted by your follower’s awe.
  • Leverage mystery and imagination (2) – Think of it like this: initially you garner a following with grand and outlandish claims. With a following built, you switch from outrageous to humble, leaving breadcrumbs for the awestruck who inflate your deeds and regale grand tales of your exploits. When the people are promoting and defending you, you need do neither to any great degree. For now you enjoy the luxury of elitist humility, minimally affirming questions about your successes with a quaint and sophisticated dignity. – [See Law 34 – Be Royal In Your Own Fashion.]
  • Granting your followers one of their wishes by having them engage in a ritual first only furthers their belief in your cult, attributing success to the ritual rather than the mundanity of human action.
  • Your beliefs and practices should provide comfort to your followers in an uncomfortable world, in doing so, you augment their desire to believe in you and your ideas.
  • Appeal to emotion rather than reason and you will be justly rewarded, appeal to reason rather than emotion and you will be unjustly punished.
  • Identify something that makes a person believe with passion, and they will rationalise a framework around it, crediting you as a prophet or genius for initially introducing them to it.
  • Generally speaking, women’s need to believe is greater than man’s, as through mechanism of vitiated reason there is greater gullibility.

3.) In Closing / Relevant Reading:

If you have any additional questions or suggestions, leave a comment. You can read more articles like this here.


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20 thoughts on “Notes On Law 27: “Play On People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following”

  1. Another well versed article. Will definitely come in handy to me as a prospective leader.

    Have been following your blog without commenting for a while. Felt too compelled to this time. Truly grateful for the day I came across your work. As someone from Johannesburg, I do hope my word of thanks will serve to encourage you to keep unraveling the power dynamics we are faced with as men all around the world. I laugh with a slight cringe whenever I look back to how oblivious I was to them, and how little ownership I claimed for my own life.

    Current exchange rate or not, I will gladly fork out whatever I can as a token of appreciation in due time.

  2. People’s NEED to believe. By the virtue of it being a need, every iota of logic and reason that may cast a light of doubt in them is totally obliterated. The need to believe is prevalent in all humans and as such we inexorably seek to fill the void. This is evident in the case of non-religious people, who cling to any social justice course they can to give them the sense of purpose absent in their lives – which would otherwise have been filled by religion. So it becomes their new religion.

    A word of thanks again to illimitableMan for the great work he’s doing.

    1. Well what about those of us who have neither no religion or social justice cause to fill said void, only a never ending thirst for wealth and all that it ensues? or does that become the new religion?

      1. Ambition is also a form of religion. You’d find that highly ambitious people are rarely religious in its typical sense.

        An ambitious SJW is one who isn’t really passionate about the cause, but hopes to further a career by being in the front line.

        1. Agree to disagree. I wouldn’t call my thirst for wealth a new religion of sorts because it doesn’t fill any metaphysical void, just physical ones. In short, I’ve convinced myself that this void, that this need to believe, isn’t real because the world has been stripped of all its fancy clothing and shiny jewelry in my eyes and I look at it for what it truly is: a cold, random and often dispassionate place. To better articulate what I’m essentially saying you should check out this free series (ebook) that goes into extreme depth about my point, if you haven’t already. It’s a great read.

          Although the setting of the series is about a work environment, it really can be applied to everyday life scenarios; and the people whom are most susceptible to joining cults and believing irrationally in things are the Losers and Clueless types (series reference) .

  3. Another wonderful article. I find myself waiting for your new articles because they are guaranteed substance, unlike some things posted to the redpill subreddit.

    One question: Can you speak to the idea of the Red Pill community being a cult? I have frequently seen detractors of the red pill philosophy refer to the community as a cult and would love to hear your thoughts on it.

    1. Some parts of it are definitely becoming a cult. Look no further than Roosh’s forum.

      While it’s a great resource, you can definitely recognize certain aspects of that forum’s culture in this post.

      In the end, I think awareness is key. Keep thinking logically and filter out the bullshit that’s designed to appeal to hurt and furious guys.

      I think the redpill community has an overall healthy message in that we go out of our way to find an exciting and satisfying lifestyle. With that said, remember that nobody has everything figured out and there are always exceptions to the rule.

  4. Hi, I appreciate your work a lot, it changes ones prespectives upon reality.

    I have an offtopic question: Did you post other articles ? My Patreon says there are 5 articles for july.

  5. so basically prey on blacks and their racial insecurities (especially at a time like this with the riots and what not) and women in general….both groups have proven time and time again that they move off of emotions and then reason after the fact. Shout out to the democratic party(or rather the people backing the party) , they’ve been exploiting that for years and have now turned this country into a fucking circus and all for the financial gain of a very small percentage of the population. I have to say I envy that small percentage.

  6. Sublime bruv…
    Gold for men to employ it skillfully.
    Precisely the reason women flock to cults like moths to a flame….
    Watched a doc on Jim Jones.
    He just had his way with the women and of course they either rationalised it or blamed “his power”….
    Need to up my Machiavelli…

  7. You are probably the biggest follower of Robert Greene on the internet, since you actively promote his work. So how will you defend his reputation against a question like this: Why should I listen to Robert Greene on advice for power, if he isn’t very powerful himself?

    1. I enjoy his work, but I wouldn’t exactly characterise myself as a follower.

      As for power, that depends how you’re defining power. Is he a badass? No. If your idea of power is “is this person a badass?” then you will find plenty of unpowerful badasses and plenty of rich and well connected people who are smartish but basically pussies.

      Is he cunning, rich and somewhat famous? Yes. Do famous people consult with him? Yes. He’s more powerful than most people, but he’s not at Trump’s level because he’s simply an erudite high Mach, not a dark triad (like Trump is). Dark triads like erudite high Mach’s like Greene because they know he’s neurotypical enough to be loyal and controlled, but smart enough to give them quality advice.

      There’s a saying “those who can’t do, teach” – most likely Robert knows what it takes to get power, but doesn’t have the personality attributes necessary to seize it for himself, either because he’s tried and failed, or because he isn’t willing to become that kind of person.

      Does this mean he doesn’t know what he’s talking about? No.

      Food for thought.

      1. Robert Greene seems to have the general idea of power in his head, but it’s a fuzzy picture. By that, I mean that while he has the general idea of power in his head, from researching and studying it, he doesn’t understand the mechanisms that drive power dynamics, which I believe you must experience yourself to fully understand. This leads him towards developing baseless laws such as “Law 1: Never Outshine the Master” from faulty reasoning that was not able to correctly consider all of the factors.

        Just like you can’t know about power by just reading about it, Robert Greene shouldn’t be able to know as much as he acts like he does about power from just researching it. It can offer assistance and inspire some ideas, but it can not replace solid experience that gives a solid foundation to any advice. Before you mention Robert Greene’s historical examples, let me remind you of Robert Greene’s misunderstanding of the mechanisms behind power that I mentioned earlier, and how it would lead him to missapply historical examples. That is what I believe to lead him towards contradictory laws of power that actually represent a misunderstood underlying power dynamic.

  8. When reading this, I can see how you’ve used this law in your writings on this site, your writings are however legendary based on the logic and rationality

  9. I see this all the time. Especially in todays day and age. It’s unfortunate. Do you feel as if those dumb enough to be duped deserve it? After all, there are tons of Indians but there can only be so many chiefs. Curious to what your view on this is.

    Overall a great article. I love the logic and explanation behind it. I’ve recently stumbled across your site via a link from Ed Latimore. I admire what you are doing so keep it up!

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