william.scherk

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From Rick Ross's Cult Education Institute -- Getting Started:

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How can you determine if a group or leader might be potentially unsafe?

Are you trying to determine if a group or leader is destructive or might pose a possible problem, but can't find anything specific about that group, organization or leader on the Internet? You might try "Warning Signs" as a meaningful list of criteria to evaluate the group, leader or organization that you are concerned about. Many groups and leaders, which may be potentially unsafe, seem to share the same characteristics. Reviewing "Warning Signs" could help you to determine if a group or leader conforms to that pattern.

If You Need Help Now

If you suspect that someone you know is involved with a destructive cult or potentially unsafe group and need help now, go to "Getting Help" where you can begin the process of arranging for an "Intervention." Or, if you are involved in a court case and are considering using an "Expert Witness." The Cult Education Institute also offers educational DVDs that will help you to better understand the subject of destructive cults and abusive controlling relationships.

Basic Questions

What is a cult? Why do people join? What kind of people join cults? These and many more commonly asked questions can be found at a section titled "Frequently Asked Questions."

Mind Control

Are you trying to understand the process of intensive indoctrination used by many groups to gain undue influence? See the section titled "Mind Control." Are you curious how and why some people seemingly give up their individuality and critical thinking within certain groups? "Is this like brainwashing?" See the section titled "Brainwashing?."

There you will find a list of specific criteria developed by the renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton (the definitive authority on "mind control") that can help you to determine if a group, organization or person are actually using "Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism."

Recovery

Are you struggling to leave a destructive cult or group, or working through a recovery process after breaking away from such an experience? See the section titled "Recovery." Here you can find constructive advice from leading experts in the field, such as educator and clinical psychologist Margaret Singer, the preeminent authority concerning cults of the 20th Century.

Reading

One of the largest virtual libraries about destructive cults, cults, controversial groups and related subjects on the Internet is available at Books. Here you will find hundreds of reading selections instantly accessible for ordering in partnership with Amazon.com.

See also the fascinating Objectivist Living topic, "Secret Objectivist Cult," a funny and intriguing thread started by Dear Leader seven years ago: 

I am a big fan of Tony Ortega's blog The Underground Bunker. Tony is former editor of the Village Voice, where he began his decade-long examination of Scientology. Some readers here may have seen him on various episodes of the Leah Remini cable series "Scientology and the Aftermath.

Tony had a 'public service' announcement in an awful GQ article that dared to compare Trumpism to a cult ...

theTrumpCult-Ortega.png

It seems to me, rightly or wrongly, that the word cult gets flung around with wild abandon at the best of times. My first immersion into "cult studies" came in the mid-nineties, when a couple of trends in psychotherapy met and melded with moral panic into a belief that an intergenerational and international "Satanic Ritual Abuse" cult was stalking children and adults (sound familiar?). 

One of the many astute chroniclers of this time was Frederick Crews, whose "The Memory Wars" still stands out above the rest. I note in passing his most recent book, a stunning tour de force in my opinion. See Freud: The Making of an Illusion. I have mentioned his work a couple of times here on OL.  He is the author of a book review just out, published at the online site of Skeptic Magazine, which is -- to say the least -- becoming massively controversial.  See this critical blog entry to grasp the contours of the controversy.  In a nutshell, the book reviewed suggests that Jerry Sandusky may be innocent ... 

Anyway, back to the main subject, cult warning signs, and what to do or say and how to behave if you suspect someone is trapped in cult-thinking or a 'High Demand Group.'  Here's another PSA:

theTrumpCult-whatNotToDo.jpg

-- finally (save for edits), what compelled me to post this rambling topic. 

Spoiler

theTrumpCult.jpg

NB: I have never, ever used the word "shithole" on Objectivist Living, to the best of my memory (which unfortunately, may not approach the 'best memory' of the US President). I much prefer "socialist hellhole."  

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10 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

Fifty Canadian dollars is released from bondage and sent on its way to Michael and Kat.

William,

Thank you for your donation to OL.

:)

Michael

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To be a bit recursive, I quote my POV ...

Quote

 It seems to me, rightly or wrongly, that the word cult gets flung around with wild abandon at the best of times. My first immersion into "cult studies" came in the mid-nineties, when a couple of trends in psychotherapy met and melded with moral panic into a belief that an intergenerational and international "Satanic Ritual Abuse" cult was stalking children and adults (sound familiar? [...]

Anyway, back to the main subject, cult warning signs, and what to do or say and how to behave if you suspect someone is trapped in cult-thinking or a 'High Demand Group

The writer of yet another Trump-Cult essay throws caution to the wind ... without, however, focusing on the areas where the cult take is limited to a so-called cult of the leader/leadership cult, or perhaps a "cult of belief."

I think you have to be clear with criteria, so you can explain where the model or metaphor does not fit.

One possible use of slinging around cult accusations is comparison to a definite cult, a classic -- like John de Ruiter. What struck me about his cult was a strategy of "control of language." John de Ruiter has introduced new conceptualizations of "truth," "self" and dozens of others,  each entailed with "okayness" and "the knowing." One aspect of the trap here was the whole personal framework was re-oriented to de Ruiter as source and arbiter of "the Deep."

So, my first read through this, besides marking for conflation, I look for 'language control" ... 'Source' ... and "dissent."

Meditation terminated at 1500 hours, Soul Date 25.0666.

(How) Trumpism is a Cult

https://eand.co/how-trumpism-is-a-cult-89f583778e35

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9 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

The writer of yet another Trump-Cult essay throws caution to the wind ...

William,

As he must.

He's a vampire telling others what is wrong with them:

07.24.2018-15.50.png

:) 

Michael

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10 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

William,

As he must.

He's a vampire telling others what is wrong with them:

07.24.2018-15.50.png

:) 

Michael

'Member back when people were fainting at Obama rallies? "Oh, the Messiah has come, it's so exciting that I can no longer remain conscious!"

Anyway, the above is an interesting read. It's definitely a study in projection, straw men building, looking through distorted lenses, assigning others motives and mindsets, and just overall cult-like behavior.

J

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I think I have mentioned Chris Shelton somewhere on OL. He is one of the most active ex-Scientologist "experts," with a fab Youtube channel (of interest to those who like deep dives into Scientology arcana and practical horrors).

Here he is with a slightly-on-topic video for this thread. Key word: "Dopamine."

 

Edited by william.scherk
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21 hours ago, william.scherk said:

I think I have mentioned Chris Shelton somewhere on OL.

William,

I have been watching Chris Shelton ever since he posted his first video on YouTube several years ago. (As you know, keeping an eye on Scientology is a hobby of mine.) I think I even have his book lying around somewhere.

Gradually I stopped watching Chris, though. It was good to see him--in real time--work his way out of the cult mindset with Scientology and start using his independent thinking. Unfortunately,  he ended up using the term "critical thinking" in the same manner as one would in a cult. He bills himself "Critical Thinker at Large," uses the slogans like "Bringing Reason to an Unreasonable World," and has a constant attitude and subtext of being superior to "them" who do not have a critical thinking badge or knowledge of the critical thinking secret handshake and so on. (I'm being metaphorical, of course.)

I'm not talking about being pissed at a certain type of person because of the damage they have done. (He actually does that against Scientology well.) I'm talking about an elitist mindset where one belongs to a club of superiors in relation to the entire human race. Chris, after he got some mental balance (after three or four months of leaving Scientology) started bashing everyone who does not use critical thinking as he understands it (basically the new atheism form of Dawkins, Harris, etc., if I remember correctly) instead of bashing what he did know, Scientology. He simply did not have enough information and perspective at that time to do that, but he fell into the trap. The need to be an insider is strong in him based on how he started framing things. And he continued this up to the last video I saw of his a few months ago. I don't know if he has kept it up, but I am almost sure he has. This is an itch that doesn't go away with scratching.

Just to give you an example of what I am talking about, see this YouTube video of 2017. It is called "What is Denialism?" Here is quote from the description:

Quote

Critical thinking is an important subject, but has been discredited by people who are not critical thinkers claiming to use skepticism and reason to assert utter nonsense. They fool themselves and others with their pseudoscientific and ridiculous claims. In this video, I break down what this is all about and why what they are doing is not based on critical thinking at all.

Now, instead of being on a mission to trounce the enemies of Scientology (like when he was in the cult), he is on a mission to trounce the enemies of "critical thinking." And be careful. If you fall within his sights as an inferior, he will slap you with an "ism," often one he makes up. Like Denialism. :) 

btw - I haven't seen that particular video. I got it on a Google search. It is one among many, many I could have chosen.

Essentially, Chris swapped a toxic cult for a more healthy one. It's like the way some people think of Objectivism as the cult they belong to (albeit, they don't use the word, "cult") and go about trying to save the world in the name of Objectivism more than trying to figure out their own lives.

Still, I'm glad to see him doing this instead of promoting Scientology as a member.

Michael

EDIT: I just watched the video you posted. Notice how Chris speaks with certainty because he can use a few big words from neuroscience and can put up a graphic and refer to a magazine article he read by a neuroscientist. Unfortunately, he's off-base in several things he said (which is peppered with "may" and "might" and so on, anyway). For example, he got the love-bombing rush wrong by attributing it mostly to dopamine. While some dopamine is involved, from what I have studied, a mix of oxytocin and serotonin are far more powerful at that moment. (See the work of Paul Zak especially about oxytocin. He has a couple of books about how oxytocin levels in the blood increase with closeness, trust and love.) Also, Chris totally left out cortisol. At least serotonin is present on a venn diagram he presented. 

Since I know a little about this (and admittedly I'm no expert, but I do know a few things), I think I know where he got some of his ideas about how neurochemicals affect human behavior. If you look at that venn diagram he presented and accept the descriptive bullet points as gospel, you can perfectly infer what Chris said. Those bullet points are misleading, though. When you start studying this stuff for real, the wrong emphases and critical omissions in them jump out at you.

However, Chris does offer some good and correct observations, especially about the experience aspect of cults and behavior. Just not about neuroscience. (It's not that he's wrong. His explanation is cockeyed. It's like a person claiming that since both a delicious taste and vitamins come with a well-cooked chicken, the vitamins are what cause the taste. That is partially true since putrid food is not vitamin rich and tastes awful, but that does not correctly explain what is going on.)

Oddly enough, this reminds me a lot of the way L Ron Hubbard reasoned. In addition to the nasty stuff, there is actually a lot of great advice in Scientology. It's just premised on Hubbard's sloppy understanding of science. But, boy, does he present it with certainty. Take a look at what Chris does and see if it is similar... :) 

Michael

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20 hours ago, william.scherk said:

I think I have mentioned Chris Shelton somewhere on OL.

As it turns out, I haven't mentioned Chris before. He is still recovering in some ways from the 20 years he spent with the Church of Scientology, 17 of those years in the Sea Org.

I am looking forward to him publishing his "Show Notes," which usually go up at his website in parallel to the video just uploaded. I have twitted Chris to get a move on that. [http://sensiblyspeaking.com/]

-- the neuroscientist/psychologist he quotes in the video by the name of Stephanie Ortigue has had some life changes. She 'fell in love' (in a tale recounted at Scientific American) and got married, taking the surname of her spouse, and is now known as Stephanie Cacioppo.  She has moved on from Syracuse and landed at the University of Chicago, where she leads the Brain Dynamics Library.

The original research cited by Chris Shelton appeared in 2010 and made a few rounds in the Eureka! media.  That paper was (according to blurbs) called "The Neuroimaging of Love,"  featured in a blurb/article at Psych Central, and in a Syracuse University media release back in the day:

The Science Behind Falling in Love

-- here's a quote from that article:

Quote

 

Results from Ortigue’s team revealed when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression.

The love feeling also affects sophisticated cognitive functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image.

The findings beg the question, “Does the heart fall in love, or the brain?”

“That’s a tricky question always,” says Ortigue.

“I would say the brain, but the heart is also related because the complex concept of love is formed by both bottom-up and top-down processes from the brain to the heart and vice versa.

“For instance, activation in some parts of the brain can generate stimulations to the heart, butterflies in the stomach. Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart may sometimes be coming from the brain.”

Other researchers also found blood levels of nerve growth factor, or NGF, also increased. Those levels were significantly higher in couples who had just fallen in love. This molecule plays an important role in the social chemistry of humans, or the phenomenon of ‘love at first sight.’

 

-- this collaboration was apparently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine(!). It doesn't remain under that title on her 'selected publications' list at UoC, but I will track it down ... [Added, full title, behind a paywall: Neuroimaging of Love: fMRI Meta-Analysis Evidence toward New Perspectives in Sexual Medicine

Another pretty good (with caveats) video from Sensibly Speaking, "The Left"   ... "The Right" and ... civility!

 

 

Edited by william.scherk
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42 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

Another pretty good (with caveats) video from Sensibly Speaking, "The Left"   ... "The Right" and ... civility!

William,

If you ever want to go beyond the preaching stuff in Chris's videos and go behind the scenes, so to speak, go to his channel, click on Videos, then sort by date--oldest first.

Unfortunately, Chris deleted his very first "coming out" videos. At least I remember seeing a few when his channel started. He just poured his heart out. He let it all hang out.

Now he has transformed into a warrior, so I think he's embarrassed by his earlier videos. That's too bad because they were powerful, even if they were long and confused (if I remember correctly--and I hope I'm not confusing him with someone else--I don't think I am...). 

Nowadays (after a couple of videos for show), his channel starts his anti-Scientology stuff with his six-part "What is Wrong with Scientology" series where he points his finger outward instead of inward.

Even with the missing first videos, if you go through that series and some of the other early videos, it is fascinating to watch his process of switching mental gears. If you are into case studies, Chris has a lot to offer.

Now that he's a mini-celebrity in the anti-Scientology world, and a mini-guru in his own right, I don't find his contributions nearly as interesting. Still, I am glad to see him where he is now at rather than where he was when he was in Scientology. 

Michael

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A lot of good points to hang a discussion off in Michael's posts above. Thanks for engaging with the material.  I have a few two many pots on the stove to give it my best response today, but here is a palate cleanser in the meantime ... it's cued up to avoid the wind-up.

Is this good?  It this awful?  Is it so awful it's good?  The music specialist members of OL might find this an opportunity to weigh in.

Tony Ortega's site has highlighted some AWFUL-Good songs. The one featuring a cast of thousands is remarkable.  Someone not Tony added some unpleasant facts to this rendering of one of their worst songs ever:

 

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16 hours ago, william.scherk said:

... one of their worst songs ever...

William,

Oh come on...

"We Stand Tall" is not a bad song. It's a good song. It's got one hell of a great hook. And it's inspiring.

I'm serious.

I can easily see this song (without the Scientology references in the lyrics, of course) at the end of a movie where a group of people in their late teens and twenties has gone on a journey, been physically and morally challenged, disgraced, almost destroyed, made a thrilling comeback to win, and returned home in triumph.

It's a perfect song for a movie like that. Pure middle America entertainment of a Disney variety.

The Scientology and the dorks being filmed make it bad, not the song qua song. Also, the editing does what it can with the dorks, but you can only do so much when the people you film are not up to the emotion and concept. They come off like a sour set of bagpipes in the middle of a Mozart symphony.

:) 

I saw this video years ago. Including the notes. 

I've liked that song ever since. Its inspirational quality and the fact that it actually is a good song makes the irony and hypocrisy highlighted in the notes stand out all the more, not to mention the dorkiness of some of the dorks--their appearance, posture and demeanor. Some of them look like middle-class undertakers trying to be cool.

:) 

Michael

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Back to the cult topic: "How to recognize when you’re in an online marketing cult" at Medium.

Quote

[...]

How to recognize when you’ve joined an online marketing cult

1. Everything is focused on the personality of the marketer, as opposed to the actual content that is supposed to be taught.

When all of the content offered by the marketer is focused on the marketer and includes a lot of images and videos of the marketer talking but none of the content offered is specifically helpful and comes across as vague, with lots of promises off making 6 or 7 figures, that’s a red flag that is online marketer is trying to create a cult of personality around themselves.

If the free content you get is mostly theoretical, with no actions offered, and a lot of the focus is on getting you to pt into something else that’s also a red flag. The online marketer doesn’t care about providing helpful information. They care about getting you on their list so they can convert you on their products, while also making you part of their cult.

[...]

There is a fierce fight going on within the so-called "Disclosure Project."  This is the cultish discussion arenas   of the 'secret space programme,' the Gaia channel (Netflix for Alien whoopee), and the various personalities 'recovering memories' of traveling the cosmos under secret training to meet The Aliens. Key names Corey Goode, David Wilcock, Jason Rice.  Key term #BlueAvians ... 

In a nutshell, the 'established' whoopee-meisters have tried to close the door to "inauthentic" whistleblowers/insiders gaining followers and the all-important grift:  PayPal, Patreon, etc.

The new guy on the block, Jason Rice, has somehow treaded on purported 'trademarks'  or copyrighted terms of the movement -- according to legal threats emanating from Corey Goode. So, the fight is on.  Did you know that "Blue Avians" or #BlueAvians are types of aliens that the nouveau 'contactees' have encountered?  Probably. But did you know it was possible to assign the name to a copyright?
 

 

Edited by william.scherk
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It's Hallowe'en, and the spooks and spirits are abroad in the imaginal world. Here is 'skeptically-speaking' Chris Shelton with a themed video; includes video recordings of L Ron Hubbard expounding on the 'thetans' that inhabit and infest human bodies:

 

Edited by william.scherk
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On 10/21/2018 at 10:56 AM, william.scherk said:

[...]

How to recognize when you’ve joined an online marketing cult

1. Everything is focused on the personality of the marketer, as opposed to the actual content that is supposed to be taught.

When all of the content offered by the marketer is focused on the marketer and includes a lot of images and videos of the marketer talking but none of the content offered is specifically helpful and comes across as vague, with lots of promises off making 6 or 7 figures, that’s a red flag that is online marketer is trying to create a cult of personality around themselves.

[...]

 That's good description of Obama's campaigns.

J

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1 hour ago, william.scherk said:

For fans of Steven Hassan ... "Terror, Love, and Brainwashing."

 

 

Hahahaha!

"Orange man bad. Freedom bad. And, of course, Climate Doom™!!!!  I'm not an expert on it, in fact I don't know anything about it really, but Climate Doom™!!! Seriously. I don't have the cult mindset anymore. The Others™ do. Orange man bad."

J

 

 

 

 

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Cults of belief, cults of ideology, cults of identity.  Can one stretch the notion of cult beyond the term's breaking point?

Sure. 

Here is an interesting article that explores "partisan prejudice" (for want of a better term); it explores the 'rates' of prejudice against the 'opposing' political formation as represented by party -- by geography:

The Geography of Partisan Prejudice

Quote

[...]

Conflict and protest are vital to democracy. But whenever people begin to caricature one another, anywhere in the world, predictable tragedies occur. Fixable problems do not get fixed. Neighbors become estranged, embittered, and sometimes violent. Everyone ends up worse off, sooner or later. “This is the great danger America faces,” Representative Barbara Jordan of Texas said in 1976. “That we will cease to be one nation and become instead a collection of interest groups: city against suburb, region against region, individual against individual. Each seeking to satisfy private wants.”

Partisan prejudice is different from other forms of prejudice. It is not yet embedded in all of our institutions, the way racism has been. But the evidence shows that it distorts our thinking, just like other kinds of prejudice. “Just like with race, the problem is that when people stereotype, they miss the variation within a group,” says Stanford University’s Neil Malhotra, who has researched political behavior for more than a decade.

Fundamentally, partisan prejudice is another way for one group of humans to feel superior to another. New research suggests that it is now more acceptable in some areas of life than racial prejudice. In a 2012 experiment, the political scientists Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood gave nearly 2,000 Americans implicit-bias tests and found that partisan bias was more widespread than racial bias. About 70 percent of Democrats and Republicans showed a reflexive bias for their own party. (Take a version of this test here.)

[...]

partisanPrejudiceMap.png

 

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Hell, I don't mind if all the people in the entire country become supporters of President Trump.

That would stop all the ills of partisan prejudice as warned in the article.

:) 

Michael

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21 hours ago, william.scherk said:

Cults of belief, cults of ideology, cults of identity.  Can one stretch the notion of cult beyond the term's breaking point?

The Atlantic article cited above has a companion piece, "The Least Politically Prejudiced Place in America." It seems almost promising in the subhead:

"As American towns become more politically segregated and judgmental, what can we learn from one that hasn’t?"  The subject of the piece by Amanda Ripley is Watertown, New York.

2019-03-05%2017_00_50-U.S.%20Counties%20Vary%20by%20Their%20Degree%20of%20Partisan%20Prejudice%20-%20The%20Atlantic.png

As American towns become more politically segregated and judgmental, what can we learn from one that hasn’t?

2019-03-05 16_53_25-Watertown, New York, Tops a Scale of Political Tolerance - The Atlantic.png

-- I'm not so sure Watertown is so exceptional, except for being roughly halfway between Toronto and Montreal, and a happy part of the Thousand Islands. Other exceptional places can be hunted nearest your own county/area just by finding and checking the least pink blots on the interactive. 

Edited by william.scherk
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15 hours ago, william.scherk said:

The Atlantic article cited above has a companion piece, "The Least Politically Prejudiced Place in America." It seems almost promising in the subhead:

"As American towns become more politically segregated and judgmental, what can we learn from one that hasn’t?"  The subject of the piece by Amanda Ripley is Watertown, New York.

2019-03-05%2017_00_50-U.S.%20Counties%20Vary%20by%20Their%20Degree%20of%20Partisan%20Prejudice%20-%20The%20Atlantic.png

As American towns become more politically segregated and judgmental, what can we learn from one that hasn’t?

2019-03-05 16_53_25-Watertown, New York, Tops a Scale of Political Tolerance - The Atlantic.png

-- I'm not so sure Watertown is so exceptional, excerpt for being roughly halfway between Toronto and Montreal, and a happy part of the Thousand Islands. Other exceptional places can be hunted nearest your own county/area just by finding and checking the least pink blots on the interactive. 

And the article, and its companion piece, didn't have any political prejudice at all. Not in the least. Not even the faintest of traces. None whatsoever. It was completely fair and scientific.

 

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Billy, do you think that this comment from the article is true:

"Immigrants have been explicitly targeted by the current administration..."

Or is it a lie based on a political prejudice? Is it a part of the leftist false Narrative™?

Billy, can you identify the reality of what the current administration's position is on immigration? Unlike the writers at the Atlantic, can you set aside your emotions and biases, and identify what the Others™ actually believe versus what the writers at the Atlantic need to believe that they believe?

J

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