> Only one of the group's members, Rio DiAngelo/Richard Ford, did not kill himself: weeks before the suicides, in December 1996, DiAngelo agreed with Applewhite to leave the group so he could ensure future dissemination of Heaven's Gate videos and literature.
This isn't surprising. The most dangerous viruses and parasites aren't the ones that kill their hosts immediately - they have to ensure their own survival first. If you view suicide cults as a meme (in Dawkin's terminology, not the Reddit usage of the word), then this makes sense.
Wikipedia cites this article which is pretty interesting. There even seems to be what I assume is a mirror of the original site: http://www.religio.de/highersource/server/
This is the best part of their story. Just because a person does technical work doesn't exclude them from being a moron.
Look at Scientology and lots of other cults like it. The people in it aren't stupid. Brainwashed, perhaps. There are many tricks both seemingly logical/cognitive and emotional that people can be taken in by. The emotional side is important: these people show affection to people who join them, and they often target people who are at uncertain points in their lives. Cult-style groups have often gone after college students precisely because they are at a point in their life where they are unsure about their future and potentially emotionally volatile.
There's a lot of people out there who are living unhappy lives, who find themselves alienated from society, who have a strong but unfulfilled desire to join together in a community with others, who lack self-confidence or enough self-belief to push back.
Cults aren't just stupid people making stupid decisions: sometimes joining a cult is a decision made by an intelligent, educated person in a moment of weakness. And the way the thing is set up makes it not seem cultish when they are joining. Scientology don't tell you about Lord Xenu on day one. They lure you in with promises of making you a better person: reducing your stress and anxiety, helping you with addictions to drugs, tobacco, alcohol etc., helping you succeed in business or education or whatever, helping you have a better relationship with your partner or family. Out of that menu, there's something everyone will want. Those are all the same things advertisers lure people in with. Falling for that kind of pitch doesn't make you stupid, it makes you human.
My point was that IQ and/or technical competence are no assurance that you won't make really, really bad choices in life.
True that. I see it all the time. Though in practice, the most technically brilliant people are unlikely to be morons. It's usually the average and underachieving ones, IME.
Viruses and parasites gain nothing from killing their host, hence most don't.
Heavens Gate has a very very small following today, so no it's not a meme by any means, it's failed to spread at all.
The religious memes aren't herded towards a path. There are millions of religions created and through evolution some succeed while most of them fail.
I hope the web page stays online. It serves as a monument to how wrong they where. Now that Heaven's Gate has run it's course, I think the biggest threat to the "virus" at this point is sunlight.
And, plus, I think it's an important part of Internet history. The Internet during the '90s was an amazing transformation of society, and this site shows how old ideas embrace new means. It's fascinating from a sociological perspective.
Except it doesn't, for two reasons:
People who are inclined to sympathise with them have no way of seeing any "failure". They left their bodies behind, sure. Wannabe believers will assume they've left with the aliens and are now happily enjoying the fruits of their belief.
Secondly, cults does not work the way you'd expect them to: Failure does not diminish the belief of true believers.
On the contrary, what we see time and time again is that while failure may drive away some people, for many cults failure serves as a "do or die" trigger: These people are so incredibly invested already, that they have a deep need to find a way of explaining the failure that can justify their belief to themselves, that many cults after a temporary lull experiences an increase in activity following a failure. E.g. the cult may decide the explanation for the failure of whatever event they are waiting for is that they have not been devout enough, or that more believers are needed, and redouble their efforts to bring about their goal.
Now, I don't think the Heavens Gate site should be taken offline, mostly because there's plenty of worse material online, and unlike most extant cults Heavens Gate is pretty much entirely extinct, so they are not much of a danger to anyone.
But don't assume a "failure" in predictions mean anything to these cults, even if a failure can be objectively proven.
That seems like picking nits, though - these people clearly weren't the best and brightest in the first place.
While they did appear to believe the world would be "recycled" and potentially that this means a lot of people would/will die, the excerpts on their website does give vague descriptions of ways that people can be "protected and 'saved' from the approaching recycling". The difference would be that these people would still be "stuck" on this world, though they could "one day find them a member in the Level Above Human".
Consider the similarity to the idea in christianity of the Rapture, where some christian sects expects certain sets of "true believers" to be "raptured", while the rest - believers and non-believers and sinners of all kinds alike - are "left behind", with various means of eventually being saved:
The "recycling" or "spading under" of civilisation from Heavens Gate appears to be a form of the Rapture, with the possibility that many good people who have just not advanced far enough can survive, while the "true believers" are raptured. The difference being that in their version, it appears they believe in some sort of cyclic history for the earth, where there will be another opportunity at some point in the future.
Truth be told, this is one of my favorite examples of hidden text, because it shows that people don't always use spam techniques for making money.
I haven't had much luck contacting the maintainer of that page to ask them to remove the hidden text.
>I'm the head of the webspam team at Google.
Once a few clever souls realised they could increase their visibility by adding hidden words, they started appearing everywhere almost completely ruining any chance you had of finding something you want or need by searching due to all the false positives.
I know this arms race is still ongoing, but it's interesting to see back where we've been.
- that's just an insane thing to suggest, that would exclude much of the world's poetry, lyrics (I'm looking at you Icona Pop), code, etc etc etc. What does it even mean "to parse" in this context.
"it's trivial to deduce that the text doesn't display" - for that example it might be, but in general it's anything but trivial.
In a similar vein, "invisible to user" text may get cross referenced with "visible to bot" text and if there's a discrepancy, that may count against your rank.
Edit: The website is responsive, clearly got there priorities sorted.
History lesson: Fluid widths were quite common until around 2005, as there weren't a large number of resolutions to cater to. Around the start of 2006 designers started switching to 800-960px to have the webpages look the same or nearly the same on every page.
 http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_display.asp - In early 2006 77% of displays were between 800-1024px wide.
We pointed it at aolsucks.org until their t1 melted.
We took control of DNS for two weeks. http://linbsd.org/geek.mp3 details the rest of the fun we had from snafu.org.
The person who did the hack put himself as technical contact...
Glad we got away with it...
Check out that thousand yard stare.
This guy reminds me of that insane space cult leader from Star Trek TOS. Apparently this cult was full of ST fans, including wearing "away team" gear while they killed themselves.
And then other folks who have been stewing in their own brand of delusion mix this new delusion with their own eventually leading to mass suicide.
It makes you think about the importance of critical reasoning skills.
<meta name="keywords" content="Heaven's Gate,
Heaven's Gate, Heaven's Gate, Heaven's Gate, Heaven's Gate, Heaven's Gate,
ufo, ufo, ufo, ufo, ufo, ufo, space alien, space alien, space alien, space alien, space alien, space alien, extraterrestrial, extraterrestrial, extraterrestrial, extraterrestrial,
extraterrestrial, extraterrestrial, millennium, millennium, millennium,
millennium, millennium, millennium, millennium,
misinformation, misinformation, misinformation, misinformation,
freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom, second coming, second coming, second coming, second coming, second coming, second coming, angels, angels, angels,
angels, angels, angels, end times, end times, end times, end times, end times, end
times, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, God, God, God, God, God, God">
Case in point: Michelin Guides http://www.constructaquote.com/business-insurance-blog/index...
Umm... That's par for the course....
'A couple of the surviving members of the group who did not "leave" have been maintaining their web site at http://www.heavensgate.com' (http://j.mp/1cKc0KA)
Domain Name: HEAVENSGATE.COM
Creation Date: 1997-12-18 05:00:00Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2013-12-17 05:00:00Z
Domain Name: HEAVENSGATE.COM
Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Whois Server: whois.enom.com
Referral URL: http://www.enom.com
Name Server: SNS19.WIN.HOSTGATOR.COM
Name Server: SNS20.WIN.HOSTGATOR.COM
Updated Date: 26-jul-2012
Creation Date: 18-dec-1997
Expiration Date: 17-dec-2013
Considering the suicide happened in March 1997, I guess the name has already expired once, and someone re-purchased it.
It has expired twice.
126.96.36.199.in-addr.arpa. 3600 IN PTR pss010a.win.hostgator.com.
Cantor would argue though that some infinities are bigger than others..
I wonder if their nads were waiting for them?
alt="To Access Our Book: "Heaven's Gate"
and so on
Those were dark times.
I wonder who maintains it.