How the PM blogosphere behaves like a cult

I first started seriously browsing the PM blog sites at the end of 2010. I'd traded for years (stocks mostly), but was a relative newcomer to the world of investing in gold and silver. I was struck by the huge amount of apparently helpful online advice, charts, and discussion, all dedicated to gold and silver. I'd never had such a resource to draw from when trading the FTSE, so I became something of an avid reader of these sites. A whole new world was opened up to me: one of Turds and talking bears and Keisers and KWNs and Zero Hedges; not to mention Harvey's Organ [sic] and too many others to name.

In years of trading I'd never come across all this kind of stuff before. Such passion! Such depth of feeling about conspiracies and manipulation. And the stories seemed to work: my new investments in gold and silver performed stunningly, and I cheer-leaded the near parabolic price rises along with the all the other obsessive readers.

But something never sat right with me. Something on which I could never quite put my finger. Amidst the charts and the stories (which even back then, before the crashes, I knew to be demonstrably ridiculous) there always felt like there was a dark side. And I'm not talking about Blythe and JPM here. I was kicked off numerous blogs for asking reasonable questions. The venom I received in April 2011 for pointing out the silver RSI had prompted me to sell my stash (and advising others to do the same) was remarkable.

I switched from participant to observer, and started to pay closer attention. Every psychological tool in the book was being employed: confirmation bias, creation and deployment of memes, use of single sources to imply many sources, aggressive trampling of contrary opinions, herd mentality, isolation of 'us' from 'them'. The works. It was these observations that encouraged me to start contributing to Screwtape, and to look more deeply and systematically into what I term the silverogosphere.

Entirely by chance, last week I came across some research which identifies the key defining characteristics of a religious cult. As I read through the checklists, I was flabbergasted. Almost almost every single one of these characteristics are readily identifiable in the silverogosphere. Have a look at the following list, and see what you think:

Key Characteristics of a Cult (adapted from the research of Janja Lalich and Michael Langone and of Marcia Rudin)

1. The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law. The leader is not accountable to anyone.

2. Rational thought, questioning and dissent are discouraged or forbidden.

3. Members are encouraged to interact only with other group members. Thus, cult members are isolated from the outside world and any reality testing it might provide.

4. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

5. Cults, particularly in regard to their finances, are shrouded in secrecy.

6. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

7. The cult weakens the follower psychologically by making him or her depend upon the group to solve his or her problems.

8. Members often devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.

9. The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

10. The group is preoccupied with making money.

11. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

12. Cults are apocalyptic and believe themselves to be the remnant who will survive the soon-approaching end of the world.

13. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

14. There is frequently an aura of or potential for violence around cults.

15. Cults exist only for their own material survival and make false promises to work to improve society.

Now regular readers of Screwtape, and my long-suffering co-contributors, know that I'm no stranger to scrutinising the information put out on other blogs, and that I've been sometimes a rather vocal critic of how readers are - in my opinion - frequently misinformed or downright lied to. But reading the above list came as something of a revelation. We see exactly these features every day on the silverogosphere:

- The silverogocult's 'truth' is the only Truth. Any different interpretations, or contesting of their Truth is immediately damned as heresy. Their Truth is never to be questioned, and their leaders (we all know who they are) are above reproach. They must never be held accountable for their misinformation, no matter how blatant. Hard-core silver bugs react quickly and ruthlessly to defend their leaders. Conversely, their leaders are to be praised at all times: the silver cult is expected to be fawning and enthusiastic in its adoration of certain hosts, otherwise the hard core quickly whip them into line.

- Group members are quickly trampled on, flamed, or banned from sites if they express any contrary opinions, no matter how politely. Negative comments are routinely deleted. Further, other blogs (such as ours, KD's, Bron's, and others), which actually question the 'facts', are never linked to by the silverogocult, and cult members are frequently warned against reading us, accusing us of being bankster shills and disinformation merchants.

- The silverogocult is self-aggrandising: they have 'information' that the 'sheep' do not. They will be 'saved'. They are the only truly wise ones. Their salvation will come through following the words of their leaders, and brooking no heresy.

- New recruits must be constantly brought into the silverogocult. The word must be spread - tell your family, your friends. Convert them if you can. But don't pollute yourself with their heresy if you can't [note: I'm really not exaggerating here - I've seen comments exactly along those lines!]. Don't let anyone lead you off the righteous path.

- The end of the (Keynesian) world is nigh, the silverogocult preaches. Get PMs, stock up on food, get weapons and bullets. Lots of lovely weapons. And fantasise about being a rich land-owner (grâce à l'argent) and defending your domain from the remnants of a shattered society too foolish to prepare in advance by stacking, stacking, stacking... And in the meantime, it's us versus them: crash the banks (by buying silver, of course), fight the Evil Empire.

I could go on, and do this for each of the 15 points, but you get the idea. And you'll have seen many examples of all of this on a multitude of blogs (which will remain nameless, as it's perfectly obvious to which sorts of sites I'm referring).

What's particularly scary to me is the balls-out use of standard religious cult methodology to impart what is effectively just investment advice. Why would anyone go to such lengths? Some of the silverogocult leaders certainly believe their own words, and do it out of a personal conviction, I'm sure. But one could say the same of David Koresh, so that's hardly a ringing endorsement. And others will be doing it to make a buck: they've found a great niche, and a willing audience, and are now capitalising on this. Others are, it seems, simply paid marketeers for big-name PM investors and companies, and are just using known psychological tools to do their day job.

Regardless of their motivations, cults are indubitably a dangerous affair, whether they be religious or investment. And it behoves any reader to always be aware of such techniques and organised group think when reflecting on what they read. Always question what you read; always fear confirmation bias; and always beware of any ideology which raises the views of its adherents to 'privileged' and untouchable status.

Otherwise you're just a sheep waiting to be skinned.


Kid Dynamite said...

I made note last year of the similarities between Harvey Organ's neverending predictions for the imminent demise of the COMEX and Harold Camping's rolling prediction for the Rapture, end of the world...

the only difference is that when Camping was proved wrong everyone realized that he was an idiot...

GM Jenkins said...

Great post, JdA. I realized while reading this that if a cult had a media department, they would produce something (in content as well as in both conceptual and artistic design) very similar to King World News. Though I'm a regular listener to KWN, I had mentioned in a previous comment (responding to a point KJ had raised) that it has a spooky, disconcerting effect on me. It's the literally cultish aspect.

However, it should be noted that just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that the black car parked around the vicinity of your house every day for the past week isn't loaded up with sensitive recording equipment, and just because you're a hypochondriac, doesn't mean that you're not a morbidly obese, crack-addicted leper with hepatitis and a weak heart, and (with no offense intended to our several million religious readers) just because you're in a cult doesn't mean it won't one day take over half the world.

Anonymous said...

just because you're in a cult doesn't mean it won't one day take over half the world.

Indeed. All the world's religions started as cults. For example, Christianity was an obscure cult which off-shooted from Judaism circa 150 AD. It achieved prominence in Europe solely through Roman Empire political machinations and a neat merging with Zoroastrianism and native European tribal traditions. The history of religion is essentially a history of co-option of cultist ideas by the politically powerful.

However, a world in which the Grand Council of the Glorious Theocracy of the Silverogocult are in control, with all its aggression and anti-rationalism, is most definitely not the sort of world I'd like to bring little blue-eyed lemurs into...

Boefke said...

An other characteristic of silver bugs I often face is the enormous blindness on non-questionable facts. It is common to create your own reality, and search for facts that support that own-reality.
When something doesn't fit in this reality it's often ridiculous, made by banksters or whatever!?

And this to an extend....omg!

That's a big, big difference with gold-savers meeting each other on several sites. There is enough confirmation out there, I search for people who can question key subjects.....

Justin said...

Amen. Glad to see that I'm not the only one that has noticed a common theme among various blogs/sites and the grip these authors have on their readers, which I find ironic considering most of those readers preach about "free thinking" and not being spoon-fed information by the mainstream media yet allow themselves to be fed by silver and gold spoons by authors with obvious personal agendas. I can't even recall how many authors I've seen go from being against conspiracy theories to promoting them in order to grow their fan base and keep readers coming back along with claiming to spread information for free for the greater good of all to later creating paid subscriptions services. I don't log in to Blogger as often as I used to, but it's nice to see that Screwtape Files is still keeping up with their quality posts. Thanks to all of the contributors, it's appreciated.

Otto Rock said...

Nobody expects the Silverbug Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to [insert favoured website owner's name here], and nice red uniforms

KJ said...

there's likely many out there that now stand outside the silverogocult (with the help of screwtape et al) and may now be passive observers vs. active participants realizing this may just be in fact a silver story drummed up by the casino to entice others into this particular game.

It helps, imo, to be 'out of the game' and to observe and watch. One is no longer desiring a directional swing in price but indifferent to the outcome. This indifference imo enables one to view the silver market from various angles vs. wishing/hoping/believing/praying that paper prices will skyrocket and waiting for the day confirmation bias can be confirmed.

Let's face it - it's very likely the casino has drawn in way more paper dollars to play in the silver sandbox. Some have made dollars; a lot have likely lost paper dollars. Like any particular market such as silver, we could draw up some characteristics of the small % that win frequently, whichever way the price swings: knowledge, experience, rational, dispassionate, etc. Most importantly imo, #1 is they understand this is, in the words of both Martin Armstrong and Jim Sinclair, just a game. They have a huge advantage on the majority of little shrimps who get sucked in by the cult and its religious doctrines.

And when the price rises to the heights of the next pump, the cult will be the first to tell screwtape et al the doctrines are true and the flying paper price is proof. And they'll laugh. Instead, it will likely be the same old story as always - the pump followed by the dump. The pump will again get TraderJoe off the couch, will inevitably be lead to the various websites we're all familiar with, trade his paper dollars into silver of some form based on the guarantees as promised by the cult, only to be left shaking his head later wondering why, paper dollars gone forever or holding physical silver waiting to be traded in at the local coin shop. As an example, how many out there bought near $50 only to sell near $30?

So to the silverogocult, for your own sake, if you choose to play, whether trading paper/physical, assume you are just part of a silver casino game. Don't take my word for it - take the word of the very same individuals that, ironically enough, the silverogocult revere - Martin Armstrong and Jim Sinclair.

And with the insight brought to you by the likes of Screwtape et al, realize that while you will likely make paper profits, the coming/next wave of silverogocult members are relying on you, the guru's/bloggers when deciding to buy at higher and higher prices.

Bron said...

Given the title of this blog, this link seems appropriate (got it from a Gary North article)


But you have met the phenomenon of an Inner Ring. ...

I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside. ...

To a young person [investor?], just entering on adult life [precious metals?], the world seems full of “insides,” full of delightful intimacies and confidentialities, and he desires to enter them. But if he follows that desire he will reach no “inside” that is worth reaching. The true road lies in quite another direction [screwtape!].

I Will Never Accept The Terms of Service said...

In your second to last paragraph you suggest that the cultish social structure of the silverbug scene is intentional and controlled. I would suggest that, like other fun sociological things, it's only an artefact of human group psychology. People into conspiracy theory and woolly thinking congregate together and the group dynamic just gives birth to a shared delusion.

People are dumb and dangerous in groups.

Robert LeRoy Parker said...


Interesting post. I happened to be perusing the internet last night and came across a poor soul's experience with the Cult of Scientology, which I think relates:

Welllllll - let's see... here is the thing; Scientology is a very clever construct, because it starts out by feeding you some very common sense ideas; when you first get in, it's like "hey, this really makes sense to me! These guys are alright!!" You are fed more and more bits of their beliefs, and if there are very subtle "wut?? really???" type things (items that seem kinda weird), well everything up to that point made perfect sense, so this kind of weird stuff must make sense too, right???

Then it begins, slowly, very kindly, but sternly you are fed a culture that this guy Elron made so much sense, and really knew the 'truth' that questioning this 'truth', or even looking at it from a critical angle is a no no - because you learn as part of your friendly advise that being critical is bad and it means that you have committed a transgression that causes one to be critical or think negatively of something. The absolute kicker is that you are slowly being programmed to control your own critical thinking - if your mind wonders off and goes "WTF?? Galactic who???? That's gotta be a load of... " and immediately your pavlovian routine kicks in "Oh no! Am I being critical???"

And you learn that it is YOU, not the things around you, that is enforcing your new cult. And it gets worse - they put you on a program to 'TOTAL FREEDOM' the irony couldn't be more insane! When you waive off your path to total freedom, (by doing things you actually like, no money, or worse, you're starting to think 'this makes no sense') you are handled with 'ETHICS' (a complete system to "correct" you through unpleasant weird methods that you hate - BUT do not tell them you hate it, because there will be more ETHICS!). You know that when you fight it, it gets worse, so you pretend all is well, you are SOOO HAPPY!!

But you are miserable and look at others around you thinking, am I the only one? But then your self control mechanism kicks in again and think, "it's not Scientology - it is ME, I am wrong", and if regular ethics does not work, there are the Security Checks, sitting in a room with a lie detector having to spill out your bad deeds, including thinking critical thoughts about others, the cult, its beliefs, etc. It is 1984 x 100. Some of us finally blow up - and you either jump off a bridge, or you escape the madness. Being an apostate you will lose all your family contact (a large fear of Scilons), your job (many Scilons work for other Scilons) and if you are still drinking the coolaid, your TOTAL FREEDOM.

Robert LeRoy Parker said...


It is very dangerous, because you see people that were smart, intelligent, and normal who got caught up in this - and turns them into zombies and they don't even know it - they will tell others that Scn saved their lives, they are so happy - because if you do not control your mind to think this way you cannot get on your path to Total Freedom and Ethics is waiting my friend. Also, all Scientologists do not know that the cult actively harasses and persecutes people that stand up against it, or post things online (oh crap!). They think all the donations go to helping the cult get rid of psychiatry and good causes - meanwhile that money is paid out to hush former members, sue them if they cannot be bought, harass them in the worst way (google operation Freak Out for example) if they cannot be subdued with crazy lawsuits.

Scilons also are told not to go online and read about scientology because bad people put OT III materials online and if you read that your will die if you are not ready for it (no joke - read up on OT III). But most important they are taught never to read bad publicity - and if you do.... ETHICS!!!! Scilons are blind empty shells that think they are happy - but are trapped in a cage they themselves guard the door to because they have been programmed to do so. There is SO much more to say, but this gives you a bit of light why people get trapped in this wonderful religion. Just remember this... fear is the bond.

EDIT: Oh, their mission? To Clear the planet make every one a Scientologist - it is their sole mission to plug you into their mind control machine and make sure you think you're free!!! They barrage you with fake statistics (about their achievements), false information (how governments love them for all the good stuff they did) and paint a picture that the cult is the BEST THING EVER (which is all just to woo you, it's one big marketing campaign)!! Celebrities love it, and so should you!!! Oh, and you may have to pay them a bit of cash for it.

Robert LeRoy Parker said...

While I know nothing about the following, I'll also mention that the book "Combatting Cult Mind Control" by Steve Hassan was highly recommended in the same thread.

Dr Durden said...

I didn't see it mentioned, but there's always a theme of victimization and violence running in the background of the conjuration's language:
- brutal attack
- relentless
- vicious
- take down
- beat down
- smack down

And on. Someone is always getting hurt. Someone is always getting taken advantage of. It's never fair. It's never justified. It's aways extreme.

And no natural events are allowed to happen nor will any mention of the contrary be allowed. And in the times I've tried to play devil's advocate? HA! Instant chopped liver.

I used to bug me, now it's just like any other form of intrawebz entertainment. Long live the irrational, blinded PM bugs and their silly antics!

Swampfox said...


Just read your description of a cult follower. I'm not an American but go there often for business. Going into the US leaves me feeling uneasy - I am always relieved to go home. I just realized why. I think the entire country has devolved into some sort of strange cult. If you really think about who is running the place and what it has become in terms of a surveilance state run by war mongering neocons etc (if you are not with us you are against us) embattled by an unseen enemy in an unending battle then really the majority of the country has really become one big cult. The USA has become the cult of the left and right. The cult of the dollar. The cult of the peacemaker/warmonger. The cult of Mickey Mouse don't tell us there are problems we are to busy with American Idol cult. The land of the free and the home of the brave? That's just history. The USA - land of the brainwashed and enslaved.

I think you may have missed the message behind silver and gold. Look deeper. The premise is simply "Don't tread on Me". The bitter irony behind the entire movement is that the guy leading the charge and putting his money where his mouth is is a f*&@ing Canuck. I never thought I'd see the day...

The truth is it isn't really about silver and gold. Just freedom. How many of you remember what that really is?

KD - the smartest guy on the board - dollars have value because you need them to pay your taxes he tells me (do you remember that conversation?). He says to argue that gold or silver have intrinsic value is a waste of time. Very astute. The majority of those who post here clammer in agreement. You stroke each other's egos as you wax philosphic about one of the most basic supports in the foundation of human civilization and freedom - it's money.

Careful guys - such behaviour could be considered cultish. Wouldn't want to be caught acting like a dirty little "silverbug" would you? Too much consensus could be considered unpopular.

Your country is fucked because you are too arrogant to realize that your own founders were right about a lot of pretty important things. You are more concerned about your portfolio's than your freedom. In the end you will lose it all and you will come to realize that the irrevrant behaviour of a few idiots somewhere on some PM blog did not make the crux of the arguement wrong. The internet is full of pricks (perhaps given the content of this message I am one???)you have to sift through the crap to get to the gold. THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS BROKE AND IT IS GOING TO BE A BITCH TO FIX.

Is that apopolyptic enough for you?

Ladies and gentlemen - It's not 1955 anymore.

Rant off.


Warren James said...

@Swampy - very nice and don't worry - we haven't forgotten the fundamentals about the PM's being refuges from the system which is obviously in a state of change. Gold will continue to do what it is doing, regardless of what we have to say about or whether some folk create a website to tap into and promote popular sentiment about a fundamental theme.

Personal freedom starts with freedom of the mind, it helps to be able to understand the walls which enclose. We fear that in today's world that even the intertubes - often touted as a truly independent space - is fast being infiltrated by the very folk we'd rather not deal with. Social Media Marketing, Comment For Hire, Link Farms, Comments Spam, Search Engine Optimization, Entrainment ... everything old is new again with the difference that this time around it's all digital so the economies of scale are fantastic. In fact things are so well tuned that the entire system could be collapsing and the common man would neither know nor care because of the propaganda he is subject to.

Tuning out the curtain of noise lets us see the clearer picture of the world around us. Once there however, we're confronted by our own reflection - the human condition - it's something that most would prefer not deal with, but which the honest soul must come to terms with, once seen.

Kid Dynamite said...

@swampfox - I'm happy to be a member of the Cult of Reality Based Obvservers. That's why it's not "acting like a dirty little "silverbug," as you put it.

GM Jenkins said...

The USA - land of the brainwashed and enslaved.

I think you may have missed the message behind silver and gold. Look deeper. The premise is simply "Don't tread on Me". The bitter irony behind the entire movement is that the guy leading the charge and putting his money where his mouth is is a f*&@ing Canuck.

LOL good stuff Swampfox. You should come by more often. I can't really improve on Warren's response so I wont try.

Anonymous said...

Wow, loads of great comments on here. I'm surprised at what a positive response I received for this (including quite a few private emails too). I think that shows that KJ's point about many now standing outside the silverogocult and being passive observers is a very valid one.

Too many comments for detailed replies, but here are a few quick thoughts:

@Boefke: A very fair point about the difference between gold and silver bugs. I think perhaps the reason for this is that the macroeconomic arguments often stand up for gold (and even if they don't, they can be reasonably and coherently argued). Much less so for silver...

@Terms of Service: Yes, I do think that some of it is intentional and controlled. But you're right to point out that it's not as black and white as that. Of course a lot of group think arises organically and needs no sinister eminences grises to direct the nonsense. I'm aware of this, and will be examining this issue in a future post. Nice pussy, by the way.

@RLP: Yes, there are always scales of nonsense. And even the silverogocult can't hold a candle to Scientology. That stuff is genius and makes Eric King look like a rank amateur.

@Dr Durden: +1. A very good observation. Something I was subconsciously aware of, but never considered until you pointed it out. It fits in well with point 14, actually.

and @Otto: Ah, that made me smile. But it turns out that everyone expected the Spanish Inquisition. Would that the silverogocult were so reasonable ;-)

Thanks enormously for your contributions. Do keep them coming - all views are welcome here.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and Swampy: I'm with GM. I don't think I could improve on Warren's beautiful prose.

But I will add a couple of clumsy points, which I hope won't subtract from Warren's eloquence:

- The gold/silver thing. I get it. I really do. As I've said repeatedly, I'm simultaneously horrified and terrified at the macroeconomic mismanagement of the past few decades, and I fear for the future. Holding gold may well be one way to protect oneself. Which is why I'm currently long gold (and silver, as it happens).

- But I've traded enough to know that fanaticism about any investment, and a refusal to question axioms and memes, is a recipe for the poor house. And you have to admit that one sees this kind of behaviour throughout the silverogosphere.

- Don't put words in my mouth about 'dirty little silverbugs'. I am one. Done in the right way, and with proper consideration, one can invest in 'the devil's metal' with great reward. What I suppose I'm really saying is that the kind of behaviour I describe in my post is actually deleterious to the silver market, and ham strains it. What irony! The very people who love silver the most are creating a reckless market that damages many otherwise sensible investors.

- Finally, there are clear differences between Screwtape and the silverogocult. Must I point them out? One is that we absolutely do not have homogeneity of thought here: our six contributors rarely agree on anything. Second, your views are genuinely welcome here: you can come on this site and say that I'm flat out wrong about whatever you like. Not only will your comment never be deleted, but I will actually feel relieved to see it, and will encourage more.

If you see the warning signs of group think on this site, then please - as GM said - come by more often. And bring others with you. We want the debate. We want to engage.

And that's sadly not something one finds everywhere on PM sites...


Swampfox said...

Good morning all. GM you said:

"In fact things are so well tuned that the entire system could be collapsing and the common man would neither know nor care because of the propaganda he is subject to."

Interesting statement to which I largely agree. The common man is the man who - for the most part in this day and age - lives from pay check to pay check and from day to day. He will remail asleep almost indefinitely and will not awake until he is hungy and his internet connection is gone. Then he will riot. He, however, will not change things in any fundamental way - he will simply react like an animal does to any kind of pain - with violence and fear.

Real change will come when those of us who are comfortable financially (and aware of the corruption around us) wake up one day and find there is nowhere left to run or hide. IE: If we wake up one day and find an 80% tax on our PM holdings as we try to combat currency devaluation. The true middle class - those with savings and wealth gained through risk and trade be they modest or large - will switch from moving money and metal around from one type to the next to flinging lead and copper around from one banker to the next politician. When bankers and politico's hang from the gallo's in Times square and the stairs of state and federal legislatures then we will know the feces is truly hitting the fan. Of course this crisis could be avoided if we could reverse the corruption but I am not holding my breath.

And for what it is worth I do agree that there are a number of snake oil salesmen throughtout the PM universe. But that is true of anything really. Politics rule our lives and is completely and utterly saturated with these snakes. Yet we still vote. Doesn't make everyone in the political blogoshpere a nut. Maybe :-)

And while the term "dirty little silverbug" may have never been overtly used here it has certainly on more than one occasssion been implied. I don't post much because I have a young family, a business and little time. But I come by here to read at least a couple of times a week because the site is intellectual and because those who post here rarely if ever seem to be threatened by debate. But in the attempt to be contrarian and open minded I often see groups of people painted with a broad brush. Odd really when you think about it. That is what set off my rant last night.

I told my 10 year old son a while back that he needs to always act with integrity. He asked me what that meant. I told him that in the course of human interaction it means always being honest with others but esspecially with one's self. If you are being honest with yourself Jeanne and go back and read your article after having read my rant and this message you will see that the article almost reads like a piece of propoganda - designed to paint a large group of people with a broad brush. Whether that was your intent or not is irrelevant - that was the result.
Is that what Screwtape is about? I never thought about it until last night.

But of course all of this is just my opnion. Take it for what its worth.

Anonymous said...

@Swampy. Nicely put. And thanks for taking the time to respond. I'll try to address just one of your points:

you will see that the article almost reads like a piece of propoganda - designed to paint a large group of people with a broad brush. Whether that was your intent or not is irrelevant - that was the result.

Well, I can't comment on the result as that's for everyone who reads the article to judge, of course. But I can confirm that that was absolutely not my intention.

Let me be clear: I'm not tarring the silver investor community with one brush (not least because I'm part of it). I'm tarring a certain kind of blog (and their hosts) with one brush. Although everyone should do their own due diligence, in practice many do not, and for better or worse I would submit that many investors are heavily influenced nowadays by what they read on-line.

The premise of my article is that a 'cult' has grown up around certain gurus, which is never to be challenged, questioned or exposed. It is these individuals - and their hard core followers - which I term the silverogocult.

The aim of my article was to try to prevent at least a few people being drawn into their disinformation and self-aggrandisement. It was not to smear anyone who buys silver as a member of a cult. And it was certainly not meant to be a piece of propaganda.

Whether I succeeded or not is, as you point out, for readers to decide.

Wendy said...

I have just recently discovered this blogspot, thanks RLP for that. I have to respond to a little remark that swampfox made that I think is huge:

"The true middle class - those with savings and wealth gained through risk and trade be they modest or large"

Your definition of "the true middle class" I believe gets very close to the core issue our society faces today.

The middle class of all past generations were those with some wealth that was gained through hard work and SAVING for the future. Risk taking was not part of the domain of the middle class.

In order to have a strong democracy, society MUST have a strong and large middle class. Are the middle class today those that have gained through risk and trade? Most individuals DO NOT gain through risk and trade, in fact they lose their shirts.

Through the introduction and growth of registered retirement funds over the decades combined with decreasing real rates of returns on savings the "middle class" have been pushed into becoming investors and speculators in a effort to protect their "savings".

As the strength and size of the middle class diminishes, so does our society. Turning middle class savers into investors and speculators is a big factor of many elements erroding the middle class

I could go on and blah blah about how that leads many to alternate avenues to presearve their wealth, but I'll stop now ;)

Kid Dynamite said...

@Swampfox -

one more point, in case JdA's "Let me be clear: I'm not tarring the silver investor community with one brush (not least because I'm part of it). I'm tarring a certain kind of blog (and their hosts) with one brush." didn't drive the point home.

as I replied to a commenter on my own blog long ago:

"It's not about gold and silver - it's about blatantly false information fed to the gold and silver community which is treated as fact because it gets repeated on the internet.

I do mean to imply that if you read David Morgan and think that there are multiple claims on SLV's metal, you're wrong. If you read Harvey ORgan and think that GLD owes its gold to the Bank of England, you're wrong. If you read Eric Sprott and think that the "gold/silver ratio has always been 16", you're wrong. If you read Max Keiser and think that you're going to bankrupt JP Morgan buy buying ASEs, you're wrong. If you read all of the goofballs claiming that SLV owns paper and not bullion, you're wrong."

we can add more made up truths to that list since I wrote it:

if you believe the idiots who tell you that PSLV's price represents the true price of physical silver, you're wrong. If you believe that paper and physical silver prices are decoupling, you're wrong.

all the repetition, cheerleading, cult behavior and group think in the world doesn't make it any more true.

Anonymous said...


Actually, I've just read through what you said again, and I'm a bit disturbed that you think what I wrote could be conceived of as being 'propaganda'.

Propaganda for what exactly? What is it that you think I'm trying to promote with this article? Propaganda always has a purpose - so what's mine? Be honest with yourself, there's a good chap...

Is it rationality propaganda? Question-everything-you-read propaganda? Avoid-untouchable-ideologies propaganda?

All I can say is that if this is propaganda, then I'm a useless propagandist because the whole point of the article was to show how propaganda techniques work and to give readers some tools to identify them.

I'm happy to admit to failures as a writer or communicator of a message, but to somehow try to spin that as propaganda is really a bridge too far. Come on - be fair!

Anonymous said...

I'm not afraid to say it...

A certain percentage of silverbugs are crazy/semi-crazy. You simply haven't been around them long enough if you can't see it, or you're likely one yourself.

Many more of them are just naive or uneducated... Which leads exactly the point of all of the posts here concerning silver.

The cult comparison is pretty damn close to being dead on, Jd'A. Just like most religions, nothing more than cult-like at their core. Talk to a Jehova's Witness or some of the other FundaMENTALists and proceed to see a few of your "key characteristics" first-hand!

Or don't, I wouldn't recommend it:) haha!

Wendy said...

I agree SV, and would add that there are fanatics throughout the world, over a range of issues. We just find ourselves exposed to the PM fanatics as a result of our interest in the subject.

Whenever I come across an individual whose is dogmatic , I back up.

Swampfox said...

Sorry folks. Just taking my brain out for a stroll. Didn't mean to kick up a hornets nest.

Too many trains of thought and lines too follow from one comment to another so I will address the primary issues.

First - my primary point is simple - the core of the issue is human freedom. We will either have to change our behaviour and our systems or we will suffer the consequences collectively. Time and history will prove my point either right or wrong.

As for risk and the middle class. All economic activity holds degrees of risk (saving included). Much of the middle class (not all) is entreprenurial. They own, operate and build small and medium sized businesses. To say that we do not engage in risk is incorrect. Historically we simply tend to invest in ourselves and our own energy directly rather than in the stock market etc. This is how America was built - on risk and yes - on savings. The two things actually go hand in hand. A guy works for a facotry and saves some money. He comes up with a better mouse trap. He and his best friend take their savings and start their own business. Ten years later they open the biggest and most effecient factory of its type and so on and so forth.

Save-> Produce-> Profit-> Expand-> Produce -> Profit-> Save.

That's why it was originally called capitalism. wealth was built on capital (savings). and so one and so forth.

If the middle class didn't save and invest in businesses you would not have grown your economy in the first place.

As for the comments from KD about SLV etc. I really couldn't give a rats ass one way or the other. That is another issue for the history books to decide and is beyond my ability to know. All I do know is our monetary system is a farce - a house of cards being held together by spit and string.

Sleeping Village see my comments regarding the nature of life in general. There are charletons everywhere. In 2012 sharks swin in every pool. As for JW's I get tired of these types of analogies. They may seem pretty strange to you and I (they do actually) but in a free country it is your right to be strange and different. I'd rather live next door to twelve JW's than one progressive who thinks he knows everything and wants to control everything everyone says or does.

But I digress. My point remains the same - in spite of a number of jackasses in the PM blog world the message remains important and critical to our long term well being. Fix the monetary system. Get rid of the corruption or the shit will hit the fan. The universe, nature and history will have the last word on what we are doing here - and it won't be a kind one.

Swampfox said...

Some further thoughts on the subject.

I think the problem we are having here is that the focus of the debate around silver (and gold) is messed up. We keep talking about them as an investment. A way to "make money". This line of thinking is backwards in my mind. The question is not whether or not they are good investments and will make you money or not but whether or not they are in fact money. If we continue to see them as an investment then the debate is easily hijecked by the charletons Jeanne writes about. The key to running off the jerks and and the trolls is to change the premise of the debate. If gold and silver are money then logic says everyone should hold some as savings. Not as a means to "get rich" but as a means to divorce ourselves from a corrupt and wrotten monetary/political system and to preserve the value of our labour and ideas. If they are just investments then their value is highly subjective. If they are money they are much less so.

If you want to discredit those loathsome bloggers you write about then change the direction of the argument. Those who are in it as a "cult" to profit from it will shrink away from this line of thinking because their premise relies on keeping the current monetary system in tact. Without it (without hyperinflation of the currency) they cannot get rich from holding metal - they can only save. Gold and silver as money will destroy their dreams of infinite wealth if it is money because their labour and ideas will not have an inflated value in terms of the currency it is measured against. An ounce of gold is an ounce of gold if it is money. As an investment its value is completely subjective in relation to currency.

Am I making sense?

Wendy said...

swamp you are right and I should have been more specific. Instead of wealth or savings it would be clearer to define it as excess production. The "money" one earns today in excess of one needs today, but will need in the future as ones productivity declines. This is the "money" we need to kkep safe and presearve the purchasing power of.

Although I would agree that
entrepreneurs are the primary employers in our North American society, most of the middle class are not entrepreneurs.

In terms of our current monetary system, IMO there's not a hope in hell that it will remain intact regardless of any effort at this point to hold on to it.

Personally I don't "invest", I save my excess production to use in the future, and my vehicle of choice is PM's that have genuine mass when I hold them in my hand.

Happy football game day to my southern neighbors

Swampfox said...


I agree with you. I think of the "middle class" in much broader terms than most... as in those of us whose annual bonuses and dividends are not seven figures.:-)

Wendy said...

Yes indeed Mr./Ms. Swamp, I too agree. The middle class in a true democratic society includes the majority of people, and these people will be earning the medium annual income. That medium annual income of the "middle class" should, and has in the past provide for what has been historically considered a "middle class lifestyle". A lifestyle that allows for a comfortable roof to live under, adaquate income (one income) to fully provide for a family, in addition, a bit left over to save for retirement.

Without question we have degraded as a society. IMO in order to presearve "freedom and liberty" we have to re-elevate our middle-class.

Demoncraic gov'ts in Iraq, Libyia, Seria etc ..... a complete waste of time, because they lack the main ingredient in the recipe: a large middle class.

Jeanne, I apologize for wandering way off topic. I'm new to this blog, and therefore I don't have a sense of it's rhythm. Please feel free to wring me in, if it appropriate. I won't be offended.

Anonymous said...

@Wendy - I wouldn't dream of wringing anyone in! (not least because of none of this stuff is off topic, and even if it were it doesn't matter because this has turned into a great thread of comments)

A huge thanks to you and Swampy for your excellent contributions on this topic!

Bron said...

"When there is a bubble in the markets, people are either not paying attention or accept as conventional wisdom, premises that do not stand up to logic or any kind of rational analysis." - James Turk

Bubble confirmed then?

KJ said...

it's been pointed out but will point it out again...the fact that most/all the contributors on this site have been banned on some other sites for, you know, being inquisitive in the rational sense, is a huge red flag. This red flag may be equivalent to a church booting one out for having any fact/idea that deviates from the norm. And most would agree then any church or whatever that suppresses/eliminates freedom of thought is, you know, a cult or at a minimum, meets the criteria for characteristic #2.

swamp, your post at 6:10pm alludes to the an important matter imo. Guru's/bloggers lead one to believe monetary collapse is around the corner and holding physical gold/silver is the rational decision - holdings outside the current system.

Yet many/most of these same guru's/bloggers will then recommend holding paper gold/silver and implied in the message is to trade and attempt to make paper profits.

swampfox writes:

"If gold and silver are money then logic says everyone should hold some as savings. Not as a means to "get rich" but as a means to divorce ourselves from a corrupt and wrotten monetary/political system and to preserve the value of our labour and ideas."

So either a) stop peddling the world monetary system is on the brink of collapse and peddle trading/investing in gold/silver for profits and b) peddle and recommend holding physical gold/silver for safety/insurance/etc.

These calls for doubling/tripling of the paper gold/silver price, paper mining shares taking off, shorts having a religious experience, send the message that you too can paper profit from gold/silver.

But if the message is one of holding physical for safety/insurance, who cares if paper prices go up, down or nowhere.

and perhaps peddling both ideas are not contradictory; i'd only ask these gurus provide their rationale for why it is not so.

Kid Dynamite said...

Swampfox -
I think you're still talking about an entirely different topic from what I'm talking about, and what JdA was talking about in this post.

I am talking about (and JdA was talking about, and Brian was talking about in the prior post about ZH and their nonsense about "physical vs "paper" prices) blatantly factually incorrect information that is spread like herpes and defended like a religious cult, exterminating any doubters or anyone who challenges the factually incorrect information.

I am NOT talking about the validity of silver and gold as either money or investment - those are not factual topics - those are topics of opinion.

now, I happen to think that gold and silver will not be used as money in my lifetime - in the sense that you will not stop using paper dollars or credit cards and start carrying silver/gold coins to the store with you - but that's my opinion, and I have very little interest in arguing it.

It's entirely different from the FACTUAL posts that I write about how no, in fact, the paper and physical prices of silver (or gold) are NOT in fact diverging, no matter how many silver charlatans want to claim that they are. that was the topic at hand. (that's one example of many falsehoods spread by the Cult, in fact, as we've detailed at length)

Motley Fool said...


Lovely post, and comments.


Warren James said...

I thought it worth appending the thoughts of Trader Dan who writes about
The Gold Cult, and shares the same sentiment as expressed in this article. Over a year later, as the bear market grinds away the credibility of the same cultists has been somewhat exposed. Full credit to JdA for calling attention to it and having the guts to write about it.