Cult or Not to Cult?

So, as usual I was doing research for this blog and again came across this Web site by someone named Rick Ross. Normally I pass it up, but men ask if we are a cult and this piece gives me the chance to address the issues here from my point of view. These are my opinions and I stick by them.

The text below is By Rick Ross, "Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist." I am not familiar with Rick Ross and the The Ross Institute, but these seem like good, sensible questions to test up against ManKind Project and cult activity.

So here we go. My responses are in blue text.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf


Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.

1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
MKP is all about accountability; not a problem here.

2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
MKP men tolerate and encourage both; not a problem here.

3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
MKP's books are open and not-for-profit; not a problem here.

4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
MKP men do not preach anything, let alone impending doom such as the end of the world; not a problem here.

5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
MKP men encourage men to take responsibilty for their actions, wanna leave...go ahead; not a problem here.

6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
Men who leave have their reasons and, as I stated above, are encouraged to take care of themselves. If a man feels abused in any place in his life then I hope he will get away from it; not a problem here.

7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
I have seen very little of this, and I look for it; not a problem here.

8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".
Men are encouraged to find their strength and self in a world full of the opposite. If a man feels he is not good enough, he surely has a space with MKP men to work with that feeling; not a problem here.

9. The group/leader is always right.
MKP men are often the first to admit they are wrong or not in integrity with their words; not a problem here.

10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
MKP simply doesn't teach or support this idea; not a problem here.

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.

1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
MKP men have their issues they bring with them. There are men who could be judged as obsessive and others not. Certainly this is not a feature of MKP men; not a problem here.

2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower's mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused--as that person's involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
Again, MKP men have their issues they bring with them. There are men who could be judged as obsessive and others not. Certainly this is not the predomiante feature of MKP men; not a problem here.

3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as "persecution".
I know hundreds of MKP men and not one has ever said they felt persecuted because someone had something bad to say about MKP, I know I never have; not a problem here.

4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
I don't see this in MKP men; not a problem here.

5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
I don't see this in MKP men; not a problem here.

6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
I don't see this in MKP men, however, like any activity, some will get more into it than others; not a problem here.

7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
Quite the opposite; MKP men are increasingly more spontaneous and joyful. It comes from lifting off all the garbage we carry as men; not a problem here.

8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
Quite the opposite; MKP men are increasingly more connected. This also comes from lifting off all the garbage we carry as men; not a problem here.

9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
MKP has its ways and not all of them are for every man; not a problem here.

10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.
I honor any man who walks from something that doesn't work for him, it's my experience that this is the common thinking in MKP men; not a problem here.

Ten signs of a safe group/leader.

1. A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.
This is common in MKP; not a problem here.

2. A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.
This is common in MKP; not a problem here.

3. A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.
This is common in MKP; not a problem here.

4. A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.
This is common in MKP and men are honored for their choice to leave; not a problem here.

5. A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.
This is common in MKP; not a problem here.

6. A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.
This is common in MKP; not a problem here.

7. A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.
This is common in MKP, in fact, MKP encourages reestablishing boundaries where they are missing; not a problem here.

8. A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.
This is common in MKP; not a problem here.

9. A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.
This is so common in MKP that it makes me smile to know these men; not a problem here.

10. A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas. This is common in MKP. MKP strives to be inclusive and cutting edge in developing programs for all men; not a problem here.

Don't be naïve, develop a good BS Detector.

You can protect yourself from unsafe groups and leaders by developing a good BS detector. Check things out, know the facts and examine the evidence. A safe group will be patient with your decision making process. If a group or leader grows angry and anxious just because you want to make an informed and careful decision before joining; beware. This is great advise. MKP men want you to do what is best for you, check it out, go to an iGroup before you do the NWTA, keep in touch with your BS detector; not a problem here.


  1. That is a particularly good posting. Great work !

  2. I have seen this "discussion" as well and tried to take part before being banned by the proprietor as a flaming "troll." Since then I have watched as a variety of men have logged on to discuss their own lives and experiences with MKP, most to be insulted, ridiculed or ignored in a fairly predictable pattern. Having read through scores (if not hundreds) of posts on that thread a clear pattern emerges.

    1. "Hurtgirl" complains about MKP, asks a question about group or her husband/boyrfiend

    2. "MKPguy" tries to answer, explains own experience.

    3. MKPguy or partial material is mocked by someone with no direct experience.

    4. "MKPguy" tries to answer again, explaining own experience

    5. "RRModerator" labels MKPguy as "apologist," reposts earlier allegations as established fact

    6. MKPguy gives up or is banned by RRModerator

    7. New Hurtgirl complains about MKP, asks question.

    Having watched it happen over and over, I am convinced that this web site is about drumming up web hits and potential business for the man who runs it: self-aggrandizement, not meaningful answers.

  3. There are two main sources of these allegations, both of them self-published and prone to banning anyone who points out flaws in their logic

    http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?4 &

    Since the Houston Press article on the death of Michael Scinto (who had a drug and alcohol relapse after attending an NWTA in Houston) they have been slightly more active, but not more persuasive.

    I think that the answers you provide on this post are correct, but perhaps a little too glib. One very interesting article you pointed out to me on the "distributed federalism" of MKP seems very much worth considering and is at odds with many of the criticisms (http://mensstudies.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/mkp-survived )

    The decentralization and near autonomy of individual centers and of I-Groups within centers would argue strongly against some secret master plan, and many MKP participants probably have about as much to do with leadership discussions and decisions as a Catholic parishioner does with the College of Cardinals.

    People perceive that men involved in MKP may have changed, and if one does not like that change, it only makes sense to blame it all on the evil and satanic organization. No, sirree, there was nothing imperfect before. Post hoc ergo propter hoc and so on.

  4. To encourage more general and open discussion of these criticisms, there is also a general Yahoo group to combine positive, negative and ambivalent views on MKP


  5. Anonymous8/07/2008

    I would be very careful to use Rick Ross as a reference in this post. In addition to being an admitted convicted felon and lacking any credentials beyond a high school diploma, he has gotten a vote of no confidence from many of the other (professionally trained) people in his field.
    He has a reputation for self promotion and questions linger about the impact his un-invited input had on the outcome of the Waco-Branch Davidian Tradgedy.

    See- http://www.usdoj.gov/05publications/waco/wacofour.html