Steve Hassan’s Latest: You too can be a “Hero” for only $399 a month or $5,588 a year (plus $1,199 setup fee)!
Self-proclaimed “cult expert” Steve Hassan appears to be cashing in on people who work with human trafficking victims, a much more popular and potentially lucrative cause than cult victims whose popularity have declined since their heyday in the 1970s-80s. His latest is that he has incorporated his BITE model (which is based on other people’s ideas cobbled together and lacks evidence even for cults, let alone human trafficking) and developed with Sowers Education a copyrighted proprietary system called Ending the Game (C) (don’t forget that copyright symbol!) claimed to be of help to people who work with human trafficking. What evidence is there for the efficacy of this program? None! (other than perhaps testimonials). They seem to think this is okay since there are no evidence-based approaches yet for working with human trafficking victims. Apparently they think this lack of evidence means they can jump the gun and market an expensive, proprietary copyrighted program when really the ethical thing would have been to offer it at no cost as an experimental program and test it with full informed consent.
The program has three levels of licensure. According to this website of Sowers Education accessed on October 18, 2014, for $399 a month or $5588 a year (plus $1199 setup fee), you can license ETG (C) and be a “Hero”. Apparently he got the “Hero” idea from psychologist Phil Zimbardo, but Zimbardo doesn’t charge people to license some proprietary system – such systems are hallmark indicators for pseudoscience and not something Zimbardo would be involved in. He just used the term in a project he has to study why some people speak out where others remain silent. What Hassan is doing with this is something very different, he and his colleagues are selling a system for $5588 a year or $399 a month. Can’t afford this? No problem! For only $229.00 a month or $3118 (plus $599 setup fee) a year you can step down a level and become a “Lifesaver.” Still too expensive? No problem! You can step down yet another level and for $99 a month or $1588 a year (plus $499 setup fee), you can become a “Abolitionist” It’s good, better, best!
But wait, there’s more! If you sign up through December 31, 2014 you can get 20% off the setup fee and first month subscription. It’s all good! But wait, let’s take a step back and think about this. Is it? We don’t know because there have been no properly conducted studies to test the efficacy of this program, so we have no way of knowing whether it helps, does nothing, or makes people worse. Is the public really this gullible?
No specifics of what the proprietary curriculum consists of. Just hype. Who’s playing games here?
Was H.L. Meinken correct when he said “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public”? Stay tuned. Honestly, we couldn’t make these things up. This sounds like satire but it’s for real.
I’d like to know when the “game” of mental health professionals engaging in these kinds of marketing tactics of proprietary non evidence based programs is going to end? Probably not in the near future, I am sorry to have to say.
And since I’ve already had two commenters (at least one known to be a follower of Hassan) insisting that testimonials are evidence, go here to read all about why they’re not. But hey, when I first began to criticize John Knapp, he and his followers also attacked me, but now, after a client filed a complaint with his state licensing board, Knapp’s license, after a process that took years, was finally revoked but before that, his devotes tried to make me the “hater” for being concerned and expressing it..
Update: I have been posting my criticisms of Steve Hassan under my own name. However, the same cannot be said for Hassan’s supporters/defenders who apparently lack the courage to use their real names and attack me personally under pseudonyms, failing to address the SUBSTANCE of the issues I raised. Enough is enough. My new policy will be to only approve comments from Hassan supporters/defenders if they use their real names with verifiable information that at least I can see – your email address will not be published but I must be able to know who you are and that you are not a pseudonymous troll or shill for the one I am criticizing. Note that this is not hypocritical because I have always used my real name when criticizing Hassan and others and I expect others to do the same. Same standards I hold myself to, no hypocrisy, just the expectation of full transparency. I will, however, make an exception to this rule in the case of victims, since I know how frightened victims are to come forward. Hassan defenders, however, will need to play by the same rules I play by. Use your name of no approval.
From → Cults