Landmark Forum…just the latest version of the Wild West Medicine Show

May 24, 2005
By a Landmark Forum Graduate

I took the Landmark Forum this weekend, what a silly waste of time and money!

It's just the latest version of the Wild West Medicine Show, where a snake-oil salesman peddles a miracle medicine they say will cure all ills, then skips town before the customers discover they've been cheated.

You've seen and laughed at it in many old Western movies and heard about it in your grade-school history class. I invite you to laugh at Landmark and their ridiculous claims, the same way you would laugh if a Wild West Medicine show rolled into town.

Here's how Landmark is just the latest version of a very old and very corny game.

In the Wild West medicine show, the product was a bottle of medicine; Landmark peddles their seminars.

"Peddles" is too soft a term: they hard sell from the end of Day One (Friday) when, as part of the seminar "homework," you are told to invite someone significant in your life to a 3-hour sales-pitch on Tuesday night.

You are supposed to spend every single break during the next two grueling days inviting your friends and loved ones to the Tuesday night sales pitch.

Would you call your friends and loved ones at midnight (when you have to complete your over-night "homework" assignment) or wake them up in the morning to invite them to watch a 3-hour infomercial?

This is an example of the "profound" and "life-transforming" teachings at Landmark.

Snake-oil salesmen called their product "medicine" instead of a "magic potion," in order to exploit a belief in science; Landmark calls their product a "technology" or a "philosophical inquiry."

It's only a "technology" when that sounds cool and scientific and powerful.

But when it has to meet the obligations of technology (such as being tested and measured) then it becomes "a philosophical inquiry."

Of course, when it has to meet the obligations of a philosophical inquiry (such as free and open discussion) then any such questions are proof that you don't "get it," or that you are not "coachable."

This is the same game L. Ron Hubbard played when he peddled Diantetics as a technology, then changed it into the "Church of Scientology" to avoid meeting the testing obligations of real technology.

The medicine show claimed it's product could do everything from cure rheumatism to polish brass; Landmark claims their "technology" will not only solve your problems, but will solve the world's problems, too!

Whatever your problem is, Landmark will take care of ignoring it.

They are not there to merely "fix, change, or make better." They are there to "transform" you! Of course, once you're "transformed," you still have all those real problems to "fix, change, or make better." They claim they will make you more capable of fixing those problems, but have no evidence to prove it.

Why not spend your time or money fixing, changing, or making better one of your real problems?

The Medicine Show product was called a "patent medicine," as the powerful formula had to be protected by law; likewise Landmark protects their "technology" by having you sign a non-disclosure form to keep your from revealing the secret recipe.

I guess this also prevents you from telling people exactly what they teach, and therefore revealing how it's all plagiarized from other, more profound thinkers.

In the forum I attended, the seminar leaders insisted that Landmark was completely unique and not derived from anything else.

Imagine that; even Shakespeare and Beethoven have influences, but not Landmark! At one of the breaks, I asked the "good cop" seminar leader (the senior seminar leader was the classic "bad cop" out of an old "Dragnet" episode) if Landmark's concept of "Word" was at all influenced by or similar to Nietzsche's concept of Will, or Crowley's Thelema.

Without any pause or reflection (how can you have a philosophical inquiry without reflection?) he said no.

I then pointed out the actual, documented, historical connections of Landmark (literally purchased from EST, whose founder copied "technology" from Scientology, whose founder Hubbard copied Parsons, who was Crowley's student), he admitted that he didn't know who Crowley was.

If he was truly interested in considering my question, why didn't he just say, "Who's Crowley? I don't know who that is." Instead, his automatic answer indicates that Landmark is not a philosophical inquiry at all: it's just indoctrination. (The "bad cop" seminar leader actually accepted the term "indoctrination" when I asked him if Landmark was brainwashing.)

Do you want to pay someone to indoctrinate you?

Personally, I'd rather pay for teaching (to learn something new, rather than just accept what I'm told) or training (to learn skills to fix or change or make my life better) instead of indoctrination.

The Medicine Show skips town, before the customers discover the product is a fake.

The Landmark medicine show escapes responsibility by hiding behind language-games: "You are transformed, even though there is no evidence of your transformation!" "You weren't transformed because you aren't coachable!" ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Instead of wasting yourself on Landmark, why not consider some other ways to spend your time and money?

Spend $400 and your weekend on something else...anything else. Anything nice you do for yourself with your time and money will be better spent than wasting it on Landmark.

If you're feeling stressed, why not spend the same time (3 days) and/or money on a small vacation just for yourself, or a trip to a day spa for a relaxing massage and some pampering?

If you have problems communicating, why not ask someone you already know and who you respect how they communicate?

Whatever advice they give you will be more effective than anything you learn at Landmark will.

Use some of the money you would waste on Landmark to take this person out to lunch at a nice restaurant, or buy them a nice gift for their trouble. Use the rest of the money and time to read a book they might recommend, or join a skills-training club like Toastmasters, which teaches public speaking.

If you have profound philosophical questions (Who am I? What is the meaning of my life?) Why not sign up for a night class in philosophy at the local college, university, or community college?

Taking an adult education intro philosophy course will probably cost the same as Landmark, and the number of hours involved will be about the same, just spread out over a longer period of time.

Ask the school specifically about classes in the philosophical topics that you're interested in; otherwise you might wind up in a more technical class that doesn't address your questions.

I studied philosophy in college, so I can assure you the worst philosophy course I took was light-years better than anything they teach in Landmark can.

More important, there will be more true exploration and respect and inquiry in the most basic community college Philosophy 101 class than in all the Landmark seminars combined.

Good luck and I hope you can learn from my mistake!

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