A Cappella Innovations

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Postby IanG » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:12 am

So is this the longest thread in RARB history?
Ian G.
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Postby UniqueAlias » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:43 am

Wow Eric! That was an amazing post in defense of NXIVM, almost a "cheerleading" type post one could say. The problem is it relied entirely upon personal experience in defense of it, just like others in this thread who took up the same position prior to it, such as Michael's posts. That makes it just as viable as those who have had a bad experience with the group, causing psychological breakdowns and attempts at suicide (with one known success) of the participants.

The problem still remains. Why all of the secrecy surrounding the group? If it's based on facts and science, the group should feel no qualms about publishing material for review in peer reviewed scientific journals. Why so much negative press (much of which you have claimed as "BS")? Is it rational to believe that all of these independent agencies have agendas against NXIVM? Why does someone who claims to have found a basis for an ethics that is applicable to the entire human race, then charge sometimes exhorbitant fees for learning this "world ethics" but then says it isn't for everyone in this thread, who's possibly made millions off of a video conferencing patent and shouldn't have any problems subsisting, in contradiction to the actions of those who were considered ethical people in the past such as Jesus, Gandhi, or Buddha, as Deke has mentioned?
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Postby UnifiedVoice » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:58 am

I don't think Eric should be criticized for speaking openly about his feelings. Of course it doesn't 'prove' anything as you say, but it adds to the overall body of evidence. The criticisms of NXIVM also represent personal accounts. An open discussion is a good thing I would think.
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Postby mcbc » Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:29 am

IanG wrote:So is this the longest thread in RARB history?

Yes, but oddly enough it's not the most viewed. There have been a few BOCA, ICCA, "Best ..." and "Worst ..." threads that have been viewed more.

At first, I found all the back and forth laughable. But truth be told, I am so glad to see the extent of some people's creepiness posted for all to see. Somebody had to say it. That my friends is power the internets.
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Postby ariel » Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:36 am

I've never gone to an ACI event, for the record.

I think what's really interesting about this thread is to watch the evolution of who has control over the discourse. I think it's pretty clear that this thread is about the a cappella community saying to ACI/NXIVM, "prove to us that you are legitimately interested in a cappella and not nefariously interested in those who participate in it for cult purposes." Deke and Ben have sort of had "control" of the discourse and much of NXIVM membership posting has been in response to that. Which makes a certain amount of sense - many of us trust them as leadership and their measured and thoughtful posts in this thread represent the way many of us feel.

Lauren Salzman's last post, where she wrote to Deke, "I see only three ways for you address Keith's offer" - that strikes me as a very sly way to turn the tables, for NXIVM to gain control of the discourse by appearing to present options for reconciliation to one who we all recognize as a leader. But I am glad Deke has chosen to keep the discussion in the public discourse. I have carefully watched as NXIVM supporters posting here talk the talk about honesty and 100% disclosure but don't walk the walk, instead hiding behind smokescreens like legal confidentiality as others have pointed out, and never addressing that hypocrisy even when asked.

I also see that the more sentiment grows increasingly anti-NXIVM, the more previously-unaffiliated-with-a cappella NXIVM people have come out of the woodwork to join this board to start offering their positive personal experiences with it. The incident of an NXIVM person contacting Amy under the guise of professional contact is disturbing to me, and I don't really buy the story that the woman who emailed her posted here. I can't offer any factual support for why I feel that way - it's my intuition, which I've learned to trust in situations like this.

I also think the logical leap between NXIVM's purported focus on "ethics" and how a cappella is a part of the substantial improvement of humanity overall has yet to be established by the NXIVM supporters posting here. If one assumes good intentions, still, there's no compelling case presented for why they would pick a cappella to invest in, and conversely, if one were to assume nefarious intentions, there's a pretty compelling case that's been made for why they would target collegiate a cappella singers, and how they ran the event this time around also supports the latter rather than the former.

In my mind, that's one of the unanswered questions that Deke keeps referring to. I love a cappella as much as anyone here, but it's not going to save the world in the way NXIVM purports their program will.

As a member of this community, I appreciate all the work and research Deke and others have to done to really suss out what the deal is. In the end, though, the research isn't what convinced me - it's a gut feeling after seeing the posting of the NXIVM supporters here. I see a veneer of warmth and openness that shields a calculated attempt to disprove detractors with ad hominem tactics and personal, unverifiable accounts of how great NXIVM is, and a calculated sidestepping of many of our community's most important concerns that we have articulated again and again.

I won't be going to any ACI events, and I would urge anyone I know to carefully consider what they're getting into before they do. If ACI wants our support and participation, the burden is on ACI/NXIVM to prove to this community that they're in it for the right reasons, and they haven't been able to do that.

I'll be wary of any emails asking me for fundraising consulting work in the next couple days.
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Postby livingfiction » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:16 pm

Let's see, Lauren posted, then Deke, there's Ben, then, wait, crap, when was my turn? Did I get skipped? Dang it!

Alright Ben, I gotta keep working on these pictures right now, I'm behind as it is, so next time it's my turn to post give me a call.
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Re: A Cappella Innovations

Postby TheObvious » Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:58 pm

DekeSharon wrote:
LRSalzman wrote:3. You decline his offer and choose to not put forth the effort to evaluate, which will cast these proceedings in a very different light.


Thank you for the offer.

I have chosen throughout this inquiry to keep all conversation here - in this newsgroup - as opposed to over the phone, in person, or via email.

Because this is about more than me & my opinion. And I believe it's essential to have everyone's opinion and insight included in the conversation. That means anyone who has anything to say can say it. Including Keith.

Meeting in person with Keith is not something I'm interested in doing. I don't personally believe this to be a matter of trust, especially in light of the fact that to trust him and his word appears to mean not "trusting" several major news organizations, other experts on these issues, etc. And, at this point, trusting my instincts after reading Nxivm's own documents.

However, I am very interested to have more information presented in this forum, by anyone, from any perspective, at any time. Opinion is welcome as well.

I think that's the safest, fairest, most open, most balanced, most researchable and verifiable mode of communication and dialogue around this issue.

And that is the light in which I want the entirety of this discourse to be cast, and vetted: the bright light of public discourse.

wow! I've read this entire thread and I'm impressed at the mathematical, logical rational minds of some of these musicians. I came to this read via a google search on ESP as I was approached to take some courses by a believer. The first words of my friend's pitch were "It's not therapy". After reading the link I found on this thread and especially the ESP course play-by-play that is the focus of this secretive protection, the answers to any doubts became freakishly obvious. I say freakishly because it goes beyond how far you might imagine someone would go to dupe someone, and then program them with pre-emptive defenses against any and all scrutinizable practices that may follow. Talk about arrogant. talk about paranoid. Just read it. Opinions don't even come into play. It speaks for itself. http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/wads.jsp?I ... DOC&PAGE=1
The real action starts on Page 58, the course itself. Totally impressed with Deke's refusal to be swayed by flattery, awed by celebrity, intimidated by arrogance and ability to back up his points with facts and data. Whatever 'filters' are being used on the other side of this discussion seem eerily similar to other groups with the same rep and also uncannily to the words of their textbook for learning. (not salvation) (not therapy) (not cult) (not belief system).
People, go out and sing, share your talents and your other gifts as you see fit, but I would not personally choose to associate with this machine.
The Obvious.

p.s. the people I've met in ESP are lovely and well meaning, sadly though, I just don't think they'll ever have the chance to read the info presented with their once pre-ESPian objective minds.
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Postby davebaumgartner » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:01 am

So I've been wanting to post for a while (Like since ACI2 ended), but have been really busy. Hopefully this post helps to clarify a couple things, and if not, no harm done.

Just a couple quick thoughts and questions:

At the event, everyone I talked to, from college a cappella singers to the pros seemed to be having a blast. Nobody seemed all that concerned with the theory that the event was being put on by a cult; everyone seemed much more focused on what they were able to learn by attending the workshops and judging.

Granted, I had a somewhat limited perspective of certain parts of the weekend, but other than the freakout at Allison's party, why didn't anyone really bring it up earlier? Like for instance, when all the event attendees were in one room together for a Q&A?

All of the posts on this topic have led me to a bigger question: What would make it all better? If the people running ACI2 aren't looking to recruit people for NXVIM, can they still put on a good event and have people just show up, get what they can from it, and enjoy themselves, or has this reached a point where they should just cut and run?

There's obviously a lot of time, effort, and money being put into the ACI events, and I personally would love to find a way for them to keep putting on events that people are comfortable with.

So does anyone have any ideas on how to fix it all? Having the "leaders of the a cappella community" write-off an event means a definite hit in attendance, and if nobody shows up, then who'll want to spend all the energy putting the event on?

When SoJam started out, there were some pretty high-up people questioning all parts of it, especially the motives of putting it on. Over time, people have come to realize that it's a great event and they've accepted it. What needs to change with ACI for that to happen?

I don't mean to re-open a can of worms, but I feel like the thread turned kind of fell apart without any resolution besides, "OMG I'M NOT GOING CULT CULT CULT".

Perhaps now that we've all had some time to gain perspective, things can be hashed out a bit better?
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Postby dekesharon » Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:38 pm


I appreciate your desire to find resolution, and keep an a cappella event from folding.

However, the central questions I've asked remain unanswered.

In addition, the dozens of ours spent researching NXIVM et al, and the hundreds of internal documents did not alleviate any concerns. Frankly, the more I looked into it all, the worse it got.

I don't doubt that there are some wonderful people involved with the NXIVM organization who do not really understand the, well, nefarious elements of the program and its underpinnings.

I also don't think most people will take the time to read hundreds of pages and really investigate what makes a cult. To that end, they're relying on people who do. I did. As did others as this thread unfurled (like Ben Stevens, who shares my opinion).

And know that there are many others who completely agree with me, but they're frankly afraid to post their opinions, considering the litigious nature of NXIVM.

Do I think ever person who attends ACI would be indoctrinated? No. But I do think that NXIVM set up this free event to create some good publicity for their organization (which it sorely needs!) and create a platform to introduce young people to their classes (which are most certainly not free) and their organization (which has been described in negative terms by many a major media source who has a better ability than I to investigate).

Why give away an a cappella seminar when they could instead give away their "transformative ethical program?"

Why focus on college students (which is the ideal age for cult indoctrination - still young and impressionable, but able to legally cut ties from home if needed)?

Why is the entirety of the press on the organization negative?

Why does the organization have such a cult-like infrastructure, with special titles, salutes, sashes, etc?

These are just the beginning of the questions, and have not been in any reasonable way addressed.

Furthermore, several reports of nervous breakdowns during seminars and one suicide is extremely concerning. That's where it crosses beyond the "live and let live" territory in my opinion.

Add to it the history of the leader (Ponzi scheme, problems with DA in several states) and the organization's ongoing legal troubles (seemingly incessant - $3 million a year in legal bills?!?), this org does not pass the smell test.


But you know I have and will continue to help every single (other) organization in its quest to foster and promote a cappella.

- Deke Sharon • 800.579.9305 • http://www.dekesharon.com

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