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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)!

October 18, 2014

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.

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From → Cults

11 Comments
  1. Linda Method permalink

    I looked up the Sowers Education Group website. This is a collaborative effort, not a slick business deal authored solely by Mr. Hassan as you seem to be portraying in this inflammatory article. “Cashing in” on human trafficking? Really? As for the efficacy of the program, there are plenty of testimonials that might indicate it has actual value in people’s lives. To offer such a licensing program at no cost — are you serious? Do you think that it could even be facilitated without charging anything for it? The high end of the fees, if you’ll notice, are for the cost of training 7-12 facilitators, not just one as you seemed to imply. Still haven’t really figured out why you hate Mr. Hassan so much. It really doesn’t make sense, you are supposed to be on the same team.

    • You bet I’m serious. And no, testimonials are not evidence. When no evidence exists, ethical mental health professionals are to inform their clients of this fact and let them know that any interventions they do are indeed experimental. It is highly unethical to charge huge sums of money for interventions and programs that lack support. I don’t hate Mr. Hassan. I am simply calling him out on his high fees and this is yet another example, put into a slick info-mercial format. If you read what I wrote, I didn’t say it was solely Hassan. Yes, he collaborated with people who appear to be as clueless as he is.

  2. alexjamesisnotmyrealname permalink

    “What evidence is there for the efficacy of this program? None! (other than perhaps testimonials).” Aren’t the testimonials themselves evidence? You contradict yourself in three sentence fragments, invalidating your entire argument and I might say, column itself.

    And again, So you don’t know if there have been any studies done? You haven’t done any research but will just say “probably” and assume that somehow adds credibility to your statement?

    Sorry but this review is poorly presented, poorly written, and poorly supported.

    • No, anyone with any remote education in science knows that testimonials are not evidence. You can find testimonials for any quack treatment out there including Scientology. Guess you’re a good candidate to get suckered into just about any bogus offering out there if you think they are. As for no studies conducted, if you read the website and you will see that the people selling this program flat out admitted that there were no research supported interventions for human trafficking victims. That was my point. The fact there is no evidence is no excuse for them to market an expensive program. Now go trot back to your guru and tell him to find someone maybe a tad bit knowledgeable than you are about what constitutes evidence because obviously you are clueless.

      And that’s no “properly conducted studies” not “probably”. And yes, I do know this. Hassan has no peer reviewed publications on his BITE model, nor are there peer reviewed studies on his human trafficking intervention he and his cronies are selling – only self-published and one commercially published book by a minor publisher who he recently bought that book from – not peer reviewed. Looks like some of Hassan’s followers have gone from the frying pan into the fire and in my opinion, Hassan has become what he is fighting. I have every confidence that the full truth will eventually come out.

  3. Since some people apparently do not understand why anecdotes and testimonials are not good evidence, here is another article written by a psychology professor that explains why:

    http://psysci.com/2013/01/23/anecdotes-testimonials-good-evidence-for-claims/

    I had thought this was common knowledge, Psych 101 type of material but apparently some people either slept through Psych 101 or missed it.

  4. Please see my update. I am now holding Hassan supporters/defenders to the SAME standards I hold myself to. If you want to comment here, you must use your real name, as I have done, or your postings will not be approved. This is not hypocrisy because I am holding you to the same standards I hold myself to – full, open transparency about who you are. Enough is enough, with anonymous and pseudonymous cowards not revealing their names and personally attacking me without in any way addressing the actual substance of my criticisms. If you want to post here, you must use your real name.

    Please note that this change in my policy does not apply to VICTIMS of bogus therapies, who may for their own safety, continue to post under pseudonyms, as many have good reason to protect themselves. The same cannot be said for those who are defending their therapy gurus, so this is fair.

    • Linda Iverson Moser permalink

      My real legal name is Linda Iverson Moser, I left the comment above. I’m not afraid to reveal who I am, I just tend to use Linda Method in discussion forums when I’d like to keep a little anonymity on my side for whatever reason I choose to. I’m no coward, Doctor Pignotti. I’m just a lay person and former victim of cult mind control who now helps people recover from the same religious cult involvement that I went through. I have no degree nor any credentials or fancy letters after my name, what I do have is an open mind and a respect for people who conduct themselves in a professional manner. My opinion of this article is that it’s not done in a professional manner and doesn’t appear to come from an objective point of view. It comes off as if from someone deeply embittered and angry with a very large axe to grind. If you want this article to be taken seriously, you should simply keep it factual and lose that silly gimmicky verbiage. In the levels of licensure you mention, you do in fact portray it as if it’s for one person. You conveniently leave out the fact that the differing levels are for training different numbers of individuals not just one. Who’s playing games? How about just relate the facts authentically, leave out your ranting and raving, and let people make up their own mind about whether or not this is a worthy program. if this program is not effective and doesn’t go anywhere, it will be simply because it just didn’t work and not because of this ridiculous article. I don’t see many (or any) comments from people supporting your point of view here.

      It’s also interesting to note that if someone disagrees with you when they comment on one of your inflammatory posts about Mr. Hassan, to you they are automatically ‘a follower’ of him, a silly immature conclusion to make about someone you don’t even know. All I am saying to you is if you want to question or criticize something you consider unethical, you need to stay above board yourself – don’t you think? I hope you publish this comment even though it is not complimentary to you, otherwise I’ll question who the coward is.

      • I know who you are and it is evident from looking at your YouTube, you are clearly a supporter of Hassan. You did make yourself known to me, though and l was not directing my comment towards you. I was directing it towards two other commenters who did not reveal their identity. I related the facts about Hassan’s program supported with a link to it where people can read for themselves about the fees and various levels and lack of evidence and I will continue to relate other facts that are in the public domain that I discover. I never said the levels of so-called “licensure” was for one individual and by the way, licensure really isn’t an accurate term for them to even be using because licensure for mental health professionals has to be sanctioned by the State. This is a privately sold program.

  5. Oh, and by the way, John Knapp, who recently had his license to practice revoked by his state board and his supporters also trashed me and called me a hater when I tried to warn people about him. No, I was just a concerned citizen trying to do the right thing and speak out. Finally,at long last, a former client filed a complaint with his state board which took years to get through the process, others came forward and he lost his license. Trying to warn people is a thankless job, but I do it anyway. It’s too bad cult watch organizations don’t do more to look out for the people they purport to serve but instead feel it is wrong to challenge a peer. This is cronyism at its worst.

  6. Jane permalink

    Hi Monica,

    I found your website through the cult news website.

    I agree Hassan needs to start making a lot improvements and be more willing to accept criticism, and more etc

    I was wondering if there is anything in Hassan’s book that you do approve of?

    Also, could you please recommend better books about cults which you approve? (reliable ones) I would very much appreciate it!

    Thank you very much. 🙂

    • Hi Jane,

      There is a saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I wouldn’t say that everything in Hassan’s books is nonsense. He took a great deal from other people that unfortunately he did not properly reference in his latest book. Instead, he says people can go to his website for a bibliography, but just putting a list of references on a website or at the end of a book isn’t proper use of citation because it doesn’t reference specific material in the text itself, so the reader has no way of knowing which ideas are original to him and which are other people’s, except for when he chooses to name others. That said in my opinion, what is of value in his book is not unique to Hassan. As an alternative, I can recommend Rick Ross’ newest book, Cults Inside Out, which is well referenced so reading this will lead you to further reading. This is available from Amazon.

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