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Independent research on Heaven's Gate

Academic Readings on Heaven's Gate

From: Barry Markovsky
To: John M. Knapp
Subject: FYI re the suicide cult and remote viewing allegations (fwd)
Mime-Version: 1.0


FYI, in case you receive requests for info relating to the suicide cult biz. This is from Marcello Truzzi, a sociologist who specializes in "scientific anomalies" and sociology of science.


Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 23:08:40 -0500
From: Marcello Truzzi
Subject: FYI re the suicide cult and remote viewing allegations

For those of you interested in the current "cult" suicides, here is some perhaps useful additional information.

ABC TV news this evening identified the leader called "Doe" as the man who earlier called himself "Bo" of an earlier cult called "Bo and Peep" or "The Two" which began in 1975! (Peep died of cancer in 1985.) In 1993, taking the name "Total Overcomers Anonymous," they took an ad out in USA TODAY stating their beliefs but with an apocalyptic tone not present earlier and which perhaps can now be seen as a signal of what was to come. Sociologists Robert W. Balch has written extensively about the earlier Bo and Peep UFO cult.

Though this group called "WW Higher Source" (which had a design business web site called "Heaven's Gate") did reportedly think that the Hale-Bopp comet had a UFO hiding behind it and that the comet was acting as a "marker" announcing the arrival of spacecraft, their beliefs about this appear to have no special connection with the remote viewers' comments on the Art Bell show about the Hale-Bopp comet being accompanied by a supposed UFO in a now discredited picture of that UFO (next to and not behind) the comet, as was claimed by Dr. Courtney Brown (not Ed Dames as Randi has asserted). This group, the core members of which have worked together for over 20 years, already had a rather full blown UFO centered belief system going. They did not need the remote viewers for their conclusions which were well laid out for some years before Hale-Bopp was even discovered.

It is important to remember that there are numerous religious groups around the country with somewhat similar UFO beliefs (including the Nation of Islam), which also follow charismatic leaders, and which have not engaged in suicides. Too many people are trying to draw glib conclusions from this episode not only without detailed knowledge but without proper historical and comparative perspective.

If you are interested in looking at the earlier Bo and Peep studies by Profesor Balch, some of his many articles on them include (chronologically):

Balch, Robert, and David Taylor, "Salvation in a UFO," PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, 10, #5 (1976). 58, 61-62, 66 & 104.

Balch, Robert, and David Taylor, "Seekers and Saucers: The Role of the Cultic Milieu in Joining a UFO Cult," AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST, 10 (1977), 839-860.

Balch, Robert, "Looking Behind the Sceneces in a Religious Cult," SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS, 47 (1980), 137-143.

Balch, Robert, "Bo and Peep: A Case Study of the Origins of Messianic Leadership," in MILLENIALISM AND CHARISMA, edited by Roy Wallis, Belfast: Queens University Press, 1982. Pp. 13-72.

Balch, Robert, "When the Light Goes Out, Darkness Comes: A Study of Defection from a Totalistic Cult," in RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS: GENESIS, EXODUS, AND NUMBERS. Edited by Rodney Stark. NY: Paragon House, 1985. Pp. 11-55.

Balch, Robert, "Waiting for the Ships: Disillusionment and the Revitalization of Faith in Bo and Peep's UFO Cult," in THE GODS HAVE LANDED; NEW RELIGIONS FROM OTHER WORLDS, edited by James R. Lewis. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995. Pp. 137-166.

Here are two documents of further possible intereest. The first is a news story about this cult's web sites, which you might want to visit. The second is a posting dealing with the history of the Doeremote viewing and Art Bell aspects of all this.


>From Mercury News 03:38 PM ET 03/27/97

Two web sites linked to apparent suicide group

(Updates with details of Heaven's Gate site, adds quotes)
By Jonathan Oatis

NEW YORK (Reuter) - A web site linked to the 39 people found dead at a California mansion touts the group's Internet and other computer services -- and contains little hint of their apparently bizarre lives and deaths.

But a second site -- dubbed ``Heaven's Gate'' and apparently set up by the group, according to the MSNBC cable television-Internet news operation -- is of a decidedly different flavor.

The ``Heaven's Gate'' site refers to the recently visible Hale-Bopp comet as a ``marker'' announcing the arrival of a ''spacecraft from the Level Above Human to take us home to 'Their World.'''

Nick Matzorkis, who tipped off police to the deaths, said Thursday the group -- whose bodies were found shrouded in purple cloaks Wednesday near San Diego in what police said appeared to be a mass suicide -- killed themselves to rendezvous with a UFO approaching Earth that was hiding behind the comet.

``Our 22 years of classroom here on planet Earth is finally coming to conclusion -- 'graduation'' from the Human Evolutionary Level. We are happily prepared to leave 'this world' and go with Ti's crew,'' says the site's home page, or title page. The site can be accessed at

Matzorkis, who runs a computer company in Beverly Hills, California, called Interact Entertainment, said in television interviews he had dealings with the group, called ``WW Higher Source.''

He said he had contracted some Web site designs to the group and had communicated with 15 or 16 of its members, who referred to themselves as ``monks.''

A ``Higher Source'' Web site accessible Thursday is festooned with pictures of comets, stars and other astronomical phenomena -- as well as a graphic of what appears to be a revolving UFO.

The site offers Web site design, including outfitting Web pages with audio and video features; Internet security services; computer programming; computer network services and digital telephone work.

It contains links to samples of the group's work, including Web sites for British Masters, a Vista, California, company specializing in new and used British car parts, and the San Diego Polo Club.

The site was available at

In a section of the site titled ``The Difference,'' Higher Source says, ``The individuals at the core of our group have worked closely together for over 20 years.

``During those years, each of us has developed a high degree of skill and know-how through personal discipline and concerted effort. We try to stay positive in every circumstance and put the good of a project above any personal concerns or artistic egos. By sustaining this attitude and conduct, we have achieved a high level of efficiency and quality in our work. This crew-minded effort, combined with ingenuity and creativity, have helped us provide advanced solutions at highly competitive rates.''



What follows is a posting by P.J. Gaenir to many of us who monitor events involving remote viewing. It rather sets the record straight about the connections between RV and the Hale-Bopp UFO nonsense.

Subject: Mass Suicide - RV Cults?
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 19:31:23 -0500

The recent tragic 39-person mass suicide in California is, it appears, vaguely related to prophecies based on what some people have called remote viewing.

Nick Matzorkis employed one of the late members of the group, who are web designers. He said the group sent him a farewell videotape announcing their intentions for suicide. He says they believed it was time to "shed their containers," to rendezvous with a UFO they believed was traveling behind the Hale-Bopp comet.

The 39 people were found dressed in black and lying peacefully dead, next to each other, with purple triangles draped over their faces.

Magician James Randi sent out an email accusing radio personality Art Bell and self-proclaimed remote viewer Ed Dames of, in effect, brainwashing a lot of idiots who took it them seriously, and being responsible for their deaths. (If you haven't seen that, let me know and I'll forward it to you.)

The first of the "cosmic comet companion" was from amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek, who noted on the Art Bell show that he had seen something, the 'what' unknown, beside the comet Hale-Bopp. He had no speculations as to what it was and said he hoped other astronomers would look for it too.

Ed Dames's remote viewing student Courtney Brown, PhD came on the air immediately afterward and presented the results of his process "scientific remote viewing," which basically said that a monstrously large hollow planetoid filled with aliens was heading toward Earth, and we would meet them SOON.

Ed Dames, with his process called "technical remote viewing," was on Art Bell's show shortly afterward, and agreed there was a companion to the comet, but instead referred to it as a 'hollow metal cylindrical object' which would rain death and destruction via disease upon the earth, wiping out 85% of the world population, and this was supposed to happen SOON. Dames had been on the show previously with other 'predictions' (things already happening, such as frogs mutating, etc.) and predicting other sorts of doom, such as the mass and widespread deaths of human babies.

Art Bell, who seemed to trust the credentials of a former Major and an Emory PhD, played the subject for all it was worth; however, he demonstrated some skepticism and a personal demand for proof when he later posted on his web site, without permission, a photo presented by Brown to Bell of the "companion" -- which was demonstrated within 24 hours to be fraudulent.

Dames then went on the air with Bell and said that Brown had been wrong because he had altered Dames's "100% accurate" methods of remote viewing; however, Dames stuck to his claims of his own type of 'artificial object accompanying H-B.'

Perhaps getting a little tired of all this, Art Bell invited three other members of the Army intelligence remote viewing unit -- Joe McMoneagle, Lyn Buchanan, and Paul Smith -- on the air March 25th. They pointed out that Dames has created more than one fabrication about his own history, and that he had been preaching one sort of doom or another for years. They mentioned that RV should be pursued, in Buchanan's words, "sanely." Smith pointed out "millenial hysteria" when the subject of Dames's predictions came up. McMoneagle mentioned that these predictions got into serious ethical considerations when made to the public with no legitimate claim to their accuracy. McMoneagle, one of the best documented remote viewers in the country, urged the public that in their inquiry, to be 'skeptical,' to question the process, the results, etc. as part of truly scientific inquiry.

Art Bell seemed relieved to have some sense and reason on the show, and did his listeners a real favor by finally presenting "the other side" of

which is to say, somebody legitimate and credentialed in -- the remote viewing subject.

Sadly, this voice of reason didn't come soon enough for 39 people, who trusted the word of these gurus and the widespread "channeling" of alien entities reinforcing the ideas.

Since the CIA did its best to discredit and disclaim remote viewing in late 1995, the media hysteria presented by Dames, and then Brown (his student), and then Dames once again (once Brown was discredited) has grown more hyped by the day. Real Remote Viewers groaned and hoped there would be some credibility left once people like Dames were done making a name for themselves... and wondered if all this was just what the CIA was hoping for, the ultimate discrediting of the subject, sure to cease any inquiry into its legitimacy by most of the public.

On Dames' web site BBS, members have talked of clearing their bank accounts and moving around the world to escape the impending doom. Dames has provided Bell's listeners with advice on where to move to escape the oncoming annihiliation.

> Yes, I MUST say it. I ranted about these guys being cult leaders in effect LONG ago, but would anybody listen? See my article "Cult-ivating Charisma" from September 4, 1996:

The media, of course, was far more fond of Dames and Brown than any of the real or rational names in remote viewing, with the exception of the television show Strange Universe, which presented segments with Buchanan, Smith and McMoneagle; instead of picking up the popular trail of Comet-Riding Aliens or Impending Comet-related Doom, they focused on a non-profit remote viewer group that works with police to help find missing children. Somewhat unusual for media, especially short-segment American TV. Strange Universe plans to air a segment about the mass suicides this Monday, March 31 1997. The show can usually be found on local FOX affiliates.

As for these stories getting out in the first place, this is certainly a case for responsible media; not just on the part of the media, but on the part of the individuals making it. It's unfortunate for Bell, known as an intelligent inquirer into anomalies and non-mainstream ideas, that he would end up being part of this due to his guests. In this case, the bizarre nature of the claims and the disinformation has not only hurt RV, but Bell as well.

Not to mention those 39 people.

It is also a case for responsible remote viewing. Remote Viewers and scientists have been trying desperately to get the media and public to listen to reason, and to realize that Dames and Brown were not credible as prophets, and it's damn sad that it probably will take this mass suicide to wake people up and recognize cults when they see them. Issues surrounding the ethics of RV instruction, and the hypnotic-psychic influence instructors can have on students -- such as Brown, who immediately picked up his instructor's obsessions as his own, at the potential expense of his career -- are a subject all to themselves.

What is almost as sad is that the reputation of remote viewing, a legitimate and fascinating inquiry and practice, is going to pay for this. Even though the people making these claims are not recognized as experts by anybody but themselves -- and, prior to March 25 when he presented a more rational look at the subject, Art Bell. Even though remote viewing has nothing to do with this and does not deserve to be represented by this.

A transcript of the Buchanan/McMoneagle/Smith interview on Art Bell's show will be available by Friday morning on the Art Bell web site.

An opportunity to improve individuals and humanity has instead become a bizarre tale, a group cult, and a textbook example of irresponsible individuals and tragic results. Doesn't it just figure.

I hope somebody remembers that there WERE voices of reason available all along. It's simply that nobody wanted to listen.

PJ Gaenir


For some real information on remote viewing, see:

The Cognitive Sciences Laboratory


The Controlled Remote Viewing Home Page

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