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Blogs - Clock - Desteni Has Had a Bad Month. (UPDATED!)

Author: Clock (Show other entries)
Date: Aug 13, 2013 at 11:35

This blog, originally published August 20, 2011, was updated on September 19, 2011. Scroll to the end for the update.
By Muertos

Reposted By Clock for the Muertos Blog on Skeptic Project

The month of August has not been kind to the conspiracy theorist cult known as Desteni. Indeed, while it's probably too early to declare the impending extinction of this bizarre group, they are undoubtedly reeling from a series of recent disasters, one of which may well strike at the cult's ability to reach new members.

On August 9, YouTube shut down several of Desteni's main channels, including "DesteniProductions," "BernardPoolman," "DesteniMoney" and "DesteniProdDemons." If you click these accounts (you'll see that the stated reason for the closure of these accounts is repeated violations of community guidelines and/or copyright infringement. In other words, somebody at YouTube officially got wise to the cult's spurious tactics. While we can't know for sure, my surmise is that it was the promotion of the fraudulent multi-level marketing scheme known as the "Desteni I Process" which probably pushed them over the edge.

This move by YouTube is very possibly a stake in the heart for the cult, as YouTube is their main recruiting portal. While Desteni uses Facebook to a lesser extent to spread its message, its main strategy has always been to reel in the gullible via YouTube videos spouting their bizarre philosophy and promoting conspiracy theories. Indeed the use of YouTube to appeal to a conspiracy theorist demographic is no accident. Conspiracy theorists are uniquely attracted to YouTube, for reasons I explained in another blog on the SkepticProject site. [The link to that blog is temporarily down as the SkepticProject site upgrades--I will add it when it's again available]. Furthermore, Desteni has always marketed itself using a uniquely visual interface. Blogs and even Facebook posts just don't have the same visceral appeal.

The cult's indignation at this move was palpable. In an "official statement," the Desteni cult, mere hours after the channel closures, was already crafting its take on this event: it is (naturally) claiming this is censorship and an attempt to prevent Desteni's pure message of equality from getting out. The statement read in part: {clock comment: Article was retrieved here:}

"We can only assume the real reason for this. One thing is certain - Desteni is hitting the nerve of some people and it's hitting hard. It also shows the nature of the system we live in. I mean what we deal with in our material - self-forgiveness, self-perfection, establishing and Equal Money System for all. Points that everyone can benefit from, points that are best for all. Many people have been supported by this material and shared their results publicly. Yet, this is not recognized and even fought against. Shame."

Desteni immediately launched a counter-strike, commanding its members to spam YouTube with a form email protesting the closure. Not surprisingly, the form email blames the whole thing on Desteni's external enemies-the "haters" with whom the higher-ups in the cult seem bizarrely obsessed:

"Hereby we declare, as the individuals that have received the support and assistance from the material provided by these channels, our discontent and discomformity with the decision that youtube has taken based on the false-flagging done by people that have been opposing our stance in relation to world equality."

Although there is some precedent for reversing YouTube channel closure decisions, it has now been 11 days since the closure and the hundreds of emails sent by dutiful Destonians seem to have come to nothing. None of the channels have been reinstated.

Desteni spokesperson Darryl Thomas, who I suspect (but do not know for sure) is #3 in the cult hierarchy after leader Bernard Poolman and New Age whack job Sunette Spies, took to his blog with an even more defiant statement denouncing the closure, as well as reinforcing the cult's narrative that it's all the fault of "haters." For the record, Darryl once told me he "enjoys being in [my] head." I wonder if I and other Desteni critics were not in his head as he fired off this seething invective:

"It is so unfortunate that these misled fools will one day realize after it is too late, that they stood on the wrong side of history. They have unwittingly - in their misguided zeal to stand against equality for all - unleashed demons that will return to devour them in madness and direct them to a fitting end. And the beautiful thing is they brought it on themselves. How fitting.

And to all the Haters, do not gloat so loudly. DesteniProductions is not dependent on YouTube for our continuance - Desteni has its own websites and forums, and so, still lives. And even though equality-speech is apparently strictly verboten on YouTube, Desteni finds this entire affair little more than a nuisance. The Desteni Material will soon be released as book and DVDs and the thousands of texts and videos will still be available on the Desteni website for anyone who wants to watch them.

I know it will sound strange to some people who believe that Desteni is defeated by this treacherous activity by YouTube, but we haven't gone anywhere and in time, this alleged "setback" will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the Desteni Group."

The closure of the cult's YouTube channels was evidently enough to bring cult leader Bernard Poolman out of hiding on his South Africa ranch. Two days ago Poolman uploaded a video that is remarkably shrill even for him, urging followers to flag as inappropriate any video on YouTube that they don't like for any reason-regardless of copyright or privacy status. The video is here, but as the video itself violates YouTube's terms of service I doubt it will be up for very long; I'll therefore link you to another blog that ran a story on the video. Essentially, Poolman is, in evident desperation, commanding his followers to create such havoc on YouTube through the flagging process that the video website giant will be brought to its knees. Somehow I don't think this is likely.

The second blow to the cult fell just this morning. As you can see from Darryl's defiant statement, the cult clearly did have plans to relocate to another web video service, though of course being denied access to the vast numbers of YouTube users must be galling. Desteni attempted to move over to Vimeo. Today, however, suspended Desteni Productions's account. Why? Because promotion of multi-level marketing schemes is not permitted on Vimeo.

In short, it seems that efforts to promote awareness of the fraudulent and destructive nature of the Desteni cult are finally bearing fruit. While we have no idea what's next, I wonder if Facebook may be the next social network outfit to ban them. Facebook's terms of service, like Vimeo's, expressly forbid the promotion of MLM schemes, and Desteni watchdog bloggers are already spreading the word that Desteni violates Facebook's guidelines.

It's not inconceivable that in the near future Desteni may be reduced down to its own website and a much less-centralized structure of communication. Individual Desteni users are still as thick as fleas on YouTube, but the authoritarian coordination of their message seems to have already suffered a serious disruption. Their bizarre "Anti-Hate Response" ritual, for instance, has ground to a halt. Without central coordination from YouTube, marshaling the Destonians in the future is going to be a much tougher slog than before.

It almost goes without saying that this has nothing to do with Desteni's message of "equality," as much as Destonians would like to make it about that. Instead, it's about the fact that Desteni is a fraud and has been using social networking tools to make money, possibly illegally but certainly spuriously, through a remarkably transparent pyramid scheme. It is certainly not against YouTube or Facebook's terms of service to use their services to promote belief in conspiracy theories. And it's ludicrous to believe that the owners of these services give a whit about messages of "equality." They just don't want to get tagged with advancing fraud and illegal activities, and rightly so.

I'll continue to update the future developments regarding the Desteni cult on this blog. Thanks for reading.

Update 19 September 2011

Desteni spokesman Darryl Thomas really, really, really doesn't like me. Largely in response to this article, he posted an entry on his blog that ranks as probably the single most vitriolic rebuttal ever directed at me.

For paragraph after paragraph Darryl screeched, raged, fumed, foamed, and made veiled threats about how sorry I will be someday that I ever chose to oppose Desteni. As to the recent actions by YouTube and Vimeo, he shouted "F*ck YouTube! F*ck Vimeo!" and insisted that their closure of Desteni's accounts was the best thing that ever happened to the cult. And, as I pointed out in my second-to-last paragraph of the original blog, he tried to assert that the issue really is about YouTube, Vimeo and "Desteni haters" supposedly opposing Desteni's message of "equality." In short, his reaction was entirely consistent with how Desteni has chosen to deal with the August setbacks.

Darryl also asserted that I'm a white supremacist, a charge he made completely without evidence, which is not surprising since I am very obviously not a racist. In fact one of the reasons I oppose Desteni is because of its disturbing patina of racism, evident in their various pro-Hitler material and its association with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories such as "reptilians," which are sci-fi stand-ins for Jews. The irony of a cult that looks up to Hitler charging its critics with racism is quite rich. (Ironically, there are some indications that Desteni is trying to cleanse the web of its pro-Hitler material. I guess Darryl didn't get that memo).

Darryl is in quite an angry mood these days. I'm not the only person to face the wrath of his blistering invective; in addition to trashing me, he's also tried to paint cult expert Rick Ross as a "cult leader" himself, and called another anti-Desteni blogger a "psychopath." Indeed he seems to be on the verge of launching a comprehensive campaign against anyone that criticizes the group. Judging from the number of "likes" you see on his blog from folks with bald-shaved heads, the obedient Desteni cult members are lapping it up. I believe it's safe to say that, despite Darryl's defiant bluster, Destonians are deeply anxious about the recent setbacks and more afraid than ever that the growing wave of negative press about the group is having an effect.