Cults are like playing in the schoolyard: it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. We’ve all been aware of different kinds of cults; the small ones like celebrity obsession or fandom (admit it, you know it’s true—pop culture is a cult, it’s in the damn name!). Then there are the other ones—the real dangerous ones. The ones that break you down mentally, have you change your diet and wear really dumb clothes. There’s also this one that loves to sue anybody who mentions them. You know who they are unless you’ve kept your eyes wide shut.
But seriously folks, there are all kinds of cults out there and they’re actually difficult to get out of—especially these days (damn social media). The whole necessity of brainwashing requires you to be in arm’s length all the time. However, people do get out, possibly after getting tired of eating gruel, doing menial tasks, and being deprived of sleep (that last one always wears people out). So, you’ve been on this site before, you probably know if you’d be a superhero or a supervillain already, but can you escape a cult? Let’s find out.
Have you ever sold jams and jellies?
Not all cults have deep pockets. In order to make some scratch, the Omega House had their new members sell jams and jellies on the side of the highway. As an added bonus, between the starvation, exhaust fumes and sleep deprivation, the pledges would be desperate and sad and more easily manipulated. Plus, who doesn’t love jam or jelly?
Are you interested in the Occult?
Are you constantly worried about the end-times? Are you worried about the prophecies written by people who lived in an era where indoor plumbing was the tool of devil? Do you think that the people who thought arsenic was a medicine also had a close relationship to beings of unlimited knowledge and power? Then, boy, do we have a show for you!
Would you eat the applesauce?
Yeah, the snack for kids. Good ol’ American applesauce. Someone in your group hands you an open container of applesauce and tells you it’s of extreme importance that you eat this applesauce quickly and go to bed immediately. Just be sure to bring a shaul or blanket with you. Don’t ask why, just eat the damn treat.
Are these sneakers fashionable?
Some cults demand that their followers all dress the same; it subtly undermines pesky things like individuality and agency. That said, there is the chance that the cult leader has great taste—or at least is really relaxed. Maybe you’ll be in sweatpants all the time. Or velvet. Who doesn’t like wearing velvet?
What are your favorite kind of shoes?
Trust us, we’re going somewhere with this. Depending on the type of cult it is, you may be working on your feet all the time to grind you down spiritually and physically. So, you’ll want something comfortable. You’d also want something comfortable if you’re trying to escape. But maybe this cult has some deep pockets and you can afford to live big.
Which of these is a fictional cult?
If you’re interested, there are almost as many fictional cults as there are real ones. It’s kinda sad, actually. Sad for humanity. But, hey, it’s not us at least, right? Anyway, cults proliferate by being subtle and flying under the radar, so you have to be aware of what’s out there and what’s just a joke.
Do you like Christmas carols?
Back in the good ol' days, if the FBI or the military wanted you out, they'd annoy you with music. Noriega got lucky--they blasted Black Sabbath and Judas Priest at him; David Koresh in Waco didn't fare that well. The FBI blasted Christmas carols and Nancy Sinatra at him. Speaking of Koresh, have you ever seen that guy? If there was anyone who looks like a degenerate, it's him. How did people fall for his shtick?
Would you consider living on a ranch?
Many cults live out in the wilderness; fewer unexpected visitors, unlikely governmental intervention. Grow your own food and no one knows where you are. Funny story: the author of this article was once on a date that was going poorly to the surprise of no one. When she asked the author where he grew up, he responded, “Spahn Ranch.”
Are you more of a leader or a follower?
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a follower, provided you know the right time to stand up for yourself. After all, everyone works for someone, so we’re all followers in a way. But enough philosophizing—we’re not asking you if you prefer taking or giving orders, it’s a lot simpler. Do you lead or do you follow?
Have you ever considered changing your name?
Sometimes your parents saddle you with a bad name--Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo or something like that. You'd probably want to change it. There are other reasons, of course; you need to start a new life because you're on the lam, or your new leader suggests this is part of your rebirth. You know, normal things.
Whiskey or Vodka?
Is there an inherently right or wrong answer to this question? Maybe a clearer way to put it would be this: “Are we screwing with you?” If you’ve been paying attention then you should know the answer is, “Yes. Always.” Everything’s about preference. Unless it’s not. Ask Marshall Applewhite what he prefers to drink.
Do you enjoy manual labor?
Look, it’s got to get done one way or the other. Are you good at it? Are you bad at it? Doesn’t matter. Just get it done. Cult leaders, particularly the ones that keep you out of the public, will have you do long-term, back-breaking labor to wear you down in every which way so you’re more pliable, and when you do get one little bit of recognition, it feels like a gift from God. It's not a bad racket, actually
Do you consciously watch your diet?
Charles Manson often used psychotropic drugs like LSD to make the people in his “family” more complaint and open to suggestion. They believed he was something more than just a short, lousy musician because he constantly instilled that in them. Often, he would pass out acid tabs and only take half so he could keep control of the situation at all times. No one likes a micro-manager.
Are you wealthy?
Don’t worry, cults don’t just you over your bank account, but some of the swankier ones definitely prefer that you had a black ammex in that wallet of yours. In return for some generous donations, maybe they could (ahem) help your floundering or burgeoning career. Maybe even set you up with a nice boat, even.
Are you naive?
A sucker is born every fifteen seconds. Sorry, but it's true; the world is going to treat you like a schmuck on wheels sometimes. Nobody's safe from it--except for street smart New Yorkers like myself. It must be the sewage in the street, the excellent bagels and the best pizza on this glowing blue deathball of a planet. We’re a cut above, ladies and gentlemen. A cut above.
Are you a good liar?
Being able to lie to yourself is just as important as being able to lie to other people. It’s not only the act of lying that’s important, it’s the ability to keep track of those lies and make sure that they sync up well enough with the truth. As Elim Garak once said, "The truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination."
Do you have problems with authority?
Nobody likes taking orders, but we all except it. Well, most people. It’s a necessity unless you plan on living in Appalachia or Chicago or something like that. Oh, and also, if you have your own cult you can just make up the rules as you go along. Don’t like hats—ban them. Don’t like the color orange—throw stones at anyone who wears it. It’s a real good time.
You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm.
No, you’ve never heard this question in any context before. It’s just a coincidence. Anyway, how you deal with sudden problems or stimuli will help us understand how you think. We take a look at capillary dilation, fluctuation of the pupil, involuntary dilation of the iris—the so-called "blush response."
Are you impulsive?
Impulsivity can get you out of trouble just as easily as it gets you into trouble. That’s probably why characters like Nightwing, Wally West and Spider-Man have endured as long as they have. No, this isn’t (just) a superhero ramble—it’s important to the arc of the quiz. Listen, you’re in a cult and you want to get out, right? It’s best to be as prepared as possible for every scenario, right?
Who do you prefer?
The Beach Boys and Nancy Sinatra have an odd connection to cults. Charles Manson resented the Beach Boys for not helping him get a record deal. He targeted music producer Terry Melcher, only to find that Susan Tate had moved into Melcher’s home. The Manson Family killed her and her guests anyway. In Texas, the Branch Davidians were inundated with annoying music by the FBI. Apparently, the Bureau wasn’t fond of Nancy Sinatra’s pipes.
Are you confrontational?
Are you the type of person that will push back? Do you have no problem standing up for yourself? We should hope so; it’d help you keep your individuality and would make you difficult for a cult to manipulate. Then again, you’re hypothetically in this cult anyway, so you still don’t have great decision-making skills.
What color do you look best in?
Feeling fashionable? We hope so. In what color do you look best in? No, no, we’re not fitting you for a burial suit, though you can never be too careful these days. Yes, best to be prepared. On an average week, which color appears the most in your personal style?
Was “peer pressure” a problem for you?
We’ll be honest—peer pressure was a problem for everyone at some point. Of course, you gave into temptation sometimes as a kid. You wanted to be cool, like Neil Young said in that song back when Neil Young was relevant. But was it a problem for you? Where you really couldn’t separate yourself from the group?
Are you a good actor?
We mean this in a different context than being a good liar. A good liar has to be able to tell a good, consistent story—a good actor makes you believe it. You want to hide from the others that you want to leave the cult or you want others to think you’re happy in it. One way or the other, you need to get good at it.
Are you a heavy sleeper?
Can you sleep through a constant bombardment of Christmas carols by the FBI? Are you even aware when the fleet of school buses arrive every morning and start honking their horns? Are you unaware when the garbage truck blocks traffic for ten minutes during rush hour? Or are you like the princess and the pea?
Do you get into fights often?
As American treasure Raylan Givens once said, “If you run into a jerk in the morning, you ran into a jerk. If you run into jerks all day, you're the jerk.” So, how about it? Do you find yourself getting into fights with anyone over anything? Or is there a time and a place for it?
Do you have many close friends or family members?
Okay, this is going to sound a little creepy, but bear with us here. Do you have people that would miss you or notice if there’s something wrong with you? Or do you have a looser network? Charles Manson found Susan Atkins, one of his most devoted followers, crying on the beach after a fight with her parents. It takes all kinds.
Which would you prefer: living nomadically or stably in one place?
Do you prefer sampling a little bit of everything or are you, at this point in your life, looking for structure and predictability? We all go through phases, and frankly, people from all walks of life and philosophical viewpoints can end up in a cult. Really goes to show you the malleability of that idea.
Would you say you had a happy childhood?
Not to pry, but this is an important question—especially if you’re a Freudian. We here at The Quiz are Jungians—you won’t be blaming everything on mommy today—but hey, variety is the spice of life. Given this hypothetical situation, you ended up in a cult anyway, so the point may be moot, but answer the question for our own edification. Remember, it’s about seeing if you got out, not just how you got in.
Which of these is a real cult?
Earlier, we asked you to identify which in a group was the fake cult. Now we’re asking you to identify the real one. It’s like what James T. Kirk once said, “How we deal with death is only half as important as how we deal with life.” Or something. That reference got away from us a little.
What kid were you in high school?
Everybody was somebody in high school, even if you were nobody. Funny thing about school—it’s a centralized, all-encompassing microcosm that is a world separate from the real one. It’s not unlike a cult. Only you get to leave eventually. And, one would hope, there’s less acne, hormonal outbursts and sexual humiliation.
Do people generally like you?
Are you sweet and adorable or obnoxious and loathsome? Do you come on a bit strong or are you the life of the party? Don’t worry, there’s always a place for you in some kind of social bracket, and there’s definitely always a place for you in a group. Would you like a pair of Nike Decade? They’re quite comfortable.
Are you arrogant?
Sometimes being pushy helps. Then again, sometimes being malleable makes you invisible and invisible can make it easier for you to move around. You have to know when to rock the boat, but don’t tip it over. Unless that’s your thing. Some people are just like that. Then all of a sudden, boom, Poland gets invaded.
Who do you usually root for?
We all have our preferences. Sometimes the worst villains are our favorite characters because they radiate cool, they’re unafraid to be themselves, or they just seem to have fun all the time. Sometimes the good guys are bland party-poopers by default compared to a colorful and charismatic bad guy. Don’t worry, we won't judge.
What’s your favorite thing about Jedis?
Star Wars is one of the longest-lasting franchises in film history. With an expansive mythology and a multitude of stories and themes, there’s something for everybody to enjoy about it. For this question, let’s focus on the Jedi, since they get the most attention. They are complicated warrior-monks—a strange contradiction perfect for this quiz.