Disappointing lunch

Disappointing lunch

Knox Bronson Music and Art

Knox Bronson gives a most interesting audio commentary on a controversial Large Group Awareness Training. Take note of the entertainingly fervent responses in the comments section. See more at: Knox Bronson Music and Art.

Dean Brandon

Dean Brandon links readers to this intriguing reflection on a Large Group Awareness Training, in this post drawing attention to a YouTube video clip. Again the response posts make for amusing reading material.

The PR Verdict

The folks over at The PR Verdict analyze this disappointing lunch date, and they comment on the behavior of the subject being interviewed. Note what caused more than a hint of irritation from his luncheon companion.” The conclusion: “this was a disappointment.”

Food for thought

Is it possible that those same characters who often show up to praise leaders of controversial Large Group Awareness Training organizations themselves suffer from debilitating cognitive dissonance ?


The Huffington Post on ‘How Corporate America Is Turning Into a Cult’

The Huffington Post on ‘How Corporate America Is Turning Into a Cult’


“How Corporate America Is Turning Into a Cult and Why It’s Harming the American Employee”, by Ruth Whippman. The Huffington Post. November 24, 2012.

Two key points from this article:

1) “Over the last decade or so, a growing disconnect has developed between the bizarre and almost cult-like rhetoric and practices that companies use with their staff, and the increasingly grim reality of being an employee in modern day Corporate America.”

2) “It would seem that the more Corporate America demands cult-like devotion from its employees the worse it is able to treat them, and the less likely they are to complain. Yet given that the vast majority of Americans stand to lose rather than gain from this type of relationship, it is worth injecting a bit of healthy scepticism back into our assessment of our employers’ motives. Now that really would be empowering.”

Read the full article here over at The Huffington Post website.

Top five questions to ask at Large Group Awareness Training

Top five questions to ask at Large Group Awareness Training:

5. Are you willing to engage in conversation with me that may question the group and its leaders?

4.  Is the volunteer to paid employee ratio of your group greater than 2:1 ?

3. Does your group have its own unique words, cliches, slogans, chants, prayers and doctrinal phrases that reinforce the group viewpoint? 

2.  Are doubts viewed as a lack of faith, dedication, commitment or disloyalty? 

1. Does your group use frequent public testimonials, confessions, or sharings that reinforce the group’s mission or agenda? 


More questions and resources:

Cult Help and Information: “Questions for Cult Recruiters”.

Periodically.org: “How to Know If You Are in a Greed Group”.

John D. Goldhammer: “Self Quiz – Are you ‘under the influence’ of a destructive group or belief system?”.

Chilling Effects and American thinkers


LGATs in the News


November 16, 2012 – Jack Cashill writes in Americanthinker.com of the Peoples Temple group and what they came to realize at Jonestown in Guyana: “What they discovered was a South American gulag equal parts Werner Erhard and Pol Pot.”

Those are his words, we can’t make this stuff up folks, most interesting references by the above author to Werner Erhard and Pol Pot in the same sentence.


“Chilling Effects”

Here’s how “chilling effect” has been described online at RationalWiki: “A chilling effect describes a situation in which rights, such as free speech, are threatened by the possible negative results of exercising these rights. The effect is to silence criticism and freedom of expression, even in cases where criticism is perfectly valid.”

Interesting development at the website ChillingEffects.org, a revealing look at a complaint over a 60 Minutes program by CBS about Werner Erhard from March 3, 1991 and attempts to remove multiple different types of references to it from the Internet.

Some background about prior history of that on the Internet at BoingBoing.net by Xeni Jardin, and more general background history in the biography Outrageous Betrayal by Steven Pressman, see for example some excerpts from that biography at the orange papers website.

Remembering 34 years after Jonestown


Let’s take a moment 34 years after Jonestown and the dangerous group Peoples Temple to remember the tragedy of November 18, 1978.


Here are some videos about how groups with cult like qualities recruit, and about how cults are related to Large Group Awareness Trainings or LGATs, to reflect on during this time:



Large Group Awareness Training denies it is a Large Group Awareness Training?

There have been some interesting articles lately over at the online site for The Arizona Daily Star, about Large Group Awareness Training. In addition, there are some very good articles at the paper itself. They are:

November 3, 2009 – “Large Group Awareness Training”: A touchy label after the Sedona sweat-lodge deaths

November 5, 2009 – Psychology prof calls “plagiarism” on author of 2005 study on personal-transformation seminars

November 8, 2009 – ‘Transformation’ sessions claim high cost

November 8, 2009 – It’s buyer beware for personal-transformation seminars

November 10, 2009 – Is Landmark Forum an LGAT or not? And does it really matter?

At this last one from November 10, there is an interesting statement given from Landmark Education.

Let’s look at 2 issues from the Landmark Education statement. One, is the strange attempt by the Landmark Education representative to distance the company from the term “Large Group Awareness Training”, and the other is the ties of high-ranking executives that control Landmark Education to Werner Erhard and his prior company “est”.

Deborah Beroset, Director of Public Relations, Landmark Education, said: “As I said during our conversation a bit ago, Landmark really has no place in a story about LGATs. To characterize Landmark Education as a LGAT would not only be inaccurate, it would also damage the reputation of the company, its programs, and the approximately 1.2 million customers who have participated in Landmark Education’s programs and derived value from them.”

This statement seems quite odd – especially when this statement from Beroset is compared against writings of a highly-ranked executive within Landmark Education. Take a look at the paper “The Promise of Philosophy and the Landmark Forum”, Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. XXIII, No. 1 & 2, Jan/Feb & Mar/Apr 2001 Barbados Group Working Paper No. 01-01. Full cite is here, and the paper itself is here. One of the authors of this paper is a man named Steven Zaffron. Zaffron first became an executive for Werner Erhard and was an “est trainer” in Erhard’s company “Erhard Seminars Training” (Outrageous Betrayal by Steven Pressman, St. Martin’s Press: 1993, page 217). Currently, Zaffron serves the Landmark Education corporation as CEO of “Vanto Group”, formerly known as “Landmark Education Business Development”, and in addition, Zaffron has the highest-ranking “trainer” title in Landmark Education called “Landmark Forum Leader”.

In this paper co-authored by Zaffron, the phrase “Large Group Awareness Training” is used multiple times in reference to Landmark Education. Example on page 52: “Dennison’s dissertation,7 which categorizes the Landmark Forum as a “large group awareness training” is a qualitative study based on interviews with Forum graduates. He also reports predominantly positive outcomes and in addition, briefly summarizes philosophical components of the Forum. The extensive research literature on “large group awareness training” published in the 1970s and 80s (summarized in Finkelstein, Wenegrat, and Yalom8) is framed in psychological more than philosophical terms, albeit there is some reference to the training as existential psychotherapy.” Two different academic treatises are cited as references in the paper co-authored by Zaffron (see page 59, endnotes 7 and 8, Dennison 1994 and Finkelstein 1982) – and both have the phrase “Large Group Awareness Training” in their titles.

So, on the one hand you have Deborah Beroset, Director of Public Relations, Landmark Education, saying “To characterize Landmark Education as a LGAT would not only be inaccurate, it would also damage the reputation of the company…” and yet on the other hand – there is Steven Zaffron, former executive of Werner Erhard’s est, current CEO of Vanto Group (formerly Landmark Education Business Development), and current “Landmark Forum Leader”, readily using the term and referencing multiple academic papers that also use the term “Large Group Awareness Training”.

Next, let’s look at another statement from Deborah Beroset, Director of Public Relations, Landmark Education, where she says: “I noticed your ProfNet query mentioned “est” as well as Landmark Education. Landmark Education is a different company (we were established in 1991), and The Landmark Forum is not the est program (the two programs differ in their focus, material, methodology, and delivery). The person who created est sold the founders of Landmark Education his intellectual property…”

It is interesting to see this attempt to separate Landmark Education from what Beroset refers to as “The person who created est…”. Well, the person who created est was Werner Erhard. As already stated above, high-ranking Landmark Education executive Steven Zaffron, was previously an executive within Erhard’s est training, and an “est trainer” before he was a “Landmark Forum Leader”. Werner Erhard’s brother, Harry Rosenberg, is CEO of Landmark Education. Werner Erhard’s sister, Joan Rosenberg, is listed as a Director of Landmark Education. And last but not least, attorney Art Schreiber is Chairman of the Board of Landmark Education (also see list of directors) and  and is also General Counsel of Landmark Education. Prior to his work at Landmark Education, Art Schreiber was General Counsel for “Werner Erhard and Associates” (“$5 Million Lawsuit Filed Against EST”, San Jose Mercury News, December 5, 1985, page 8A.) In addition, Art Schreiber also served as an attorney representing Werner Erhard (“$15 Million Suit Against Werner Erhard Is Dropped”, by Susan Sward, San Francisco Chronicle, October 26, 1985, page 2).

So Werner Erhard’s brother is CEO of Landmark Education, his sister is a Director of Landmark Education, and his attorney is Chairman of the Board of Landmark Education.

On a side note, BoingBoing.net has published a legal letter sent to the website from a Terry M. Giles, yet another attorney for Werner Erhard. Giles owns “Tekniko Licensing Corporation”. The company “Tekniko Licensing Corporation” is also a subsidiary of Landmark Education.

‘The Landmark debate’ in Bangkok Post

The Landmark Debate, by Al Lock – November 6, 2008, in Bangkok Post

A great article on this controversial large group awareness training organization.

A very interesting quote from the article: This sounds suspiciously like the process used by the Soviets in preparing confessions for their show trials or the first stage of the brainwashing process.

Here is another blog’s take on the article: Don’t Be Fooled: We Are Now Under Attack.

And for some enlightening historical background, read: Why did Landmark leave France?

Find out more about Landmark Education at the Introduction to the Landmark Education litigation archive – a truly invaluable resource.