The following is an excerpt from the book “Captive Hearts, Captive Minds”, by Madeline Tobias and Janja Lalich adapted from information compiled by Dr. Micheal Langone.

A Checklist of Cult Characteristics that bear strong resemblances to some of the complaints we have heard about IB, make us wonder — is IB a cult?

“Comparing the following statements to the group with which you or a family member or loved one is involved may help you determine if this involvement is cause for concern. If you check any of these items as characteristic of the group in question, and particularly if you check many of them you may well be dealing with a cult and should critically examine the group and its relationship to you or your loved one.

1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment. [A requirement from the IBO is that you must commit to their mission which then must permeate the whole curriculum]

2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members and/or making money. [Dominance of even non-IB parts of schools is recommended]

3. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged. [Parents, taxpayers, community are lied to, ridiculed, bullied and dismissed when questioning the program]

4. Mind-numbing techniques (for example: meditation, chanting, denunciation sessions, or debilitating work routines) are used to suppress members’ doubts. [Students routinely complain of exhaustion, overwork]

5. The group’s leadership dictates how members should think, act, and feel (for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, or get married;) leaders may determine types of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth. [IB has a set of requirements that include political guidelines, such as the UN’s UDHR, Agenda 21, Earth Charter, etc that are embedded into the program at all levels]

6. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, it’s leader(s), and members (for example: the leader is considered the Messiah or an avatar; the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity). [IB engages in self-laudatory language that claims it is more successful, more desirable, and creates better opportunities for students than any other program when there is zero data or evidence to support any of those claims]

7. The group has a polarized we-they mentality that causes conflict with the wider society. [Many schools are “IB or the highway”]

8. The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations). [IB has a disclaimer in its materials that absolves it from any responsibility for your child’s academic success or failure]

9. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities). [Topics such as “Islamic Jihadists: Terrorists or Freedom Fighters” is but one example]

10. The group’s leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them. [Words like ‘xenophobic’, ‘nationalistic’, ‘closed-minded’, and other disparaging insults too numerous to list are often hurled at IB opponents]

11. Members’ subservience to the group causes them to give up previous personal goals and interests while devoting inordinate amounts of time to the groups.” [Students routinely complain about the enormous load of busywork/homework they are assigned as well as the fact they have no time for friends, family, or other outside activities thanks to being in the IB program, which also, they say, teaches things in the most convoluted way — ex: TOK]

12. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members. [Since there is no time to do anything else, this is often the result, whether it is encouraged or not]

SO, as one can easily see, the IB program could be classified as a cult because its characteristics are remarkably similar to at least 11 of the 12 attributes listed.

Adapted with permission from Dr. Michael Langone