I read the company web page for ESP, as well as the company web page for NXIVM, and nothing too glaring jumped out for me (as I’d never been approached by a cult-like group before, I had no basis for comparison). As everything seemed to check out, I decided to pay my money, and began looking forward to this new learning experience.
The first day of the intensive, they managed to take every optimistic opinion I had about the process and shatter it. I immediately shut-down and my defenses went up after receiving a document entitled “rules and rituals” which informed us to never speak of any of our experiences in ESP, remove our shoes, bow, and pay “tribute” to founder, Keith Raniere.
There was a lengthy explanation on how to perform a perfect handshake (as well as the ESP secret handshake). An explanation of how the different colored “sash” hierarchy worked (which seems based entirely on recruitment rather than any measurable skill-set). And the request that Keith Raniere was to be referred to as “Vanguard” and Nancy Salzmann as “Prefect”. The robotic, monotone, video instruction of Nancy Salzman didn’t raise my confidence either, even when it was repeated immediately afterwards – with only slightly more enthusiasm – by her daughter, Lauren.
I quickly grew tired of being reminded of Keith Rainier’s IQ. At times it was 211, at others it jumped to 240 depending on who was praising his amazingness. We were also told that Keith was East Coast Judo champion at age 12, and that he had “total recall” which allowed him to never have any need for taking notes (despite the fact that he did for the benefit of others… how else could Nancy develop these marvelous lesson modules?)
There was an amateurish video of Nancy Salzman, where she said there were so many problems with the world today that there were only 2 or 3 people in the world who could solve them, and “Vanguard” was one of them.
In the end, it was a two hour block, which Lauren devoted to discussing the negative connotation behind the word “cult”, why “suppressives” considered ESP a “cult”, and why ESP had been accused of being a “cult”, that encouraged me to do a little more research on my original suspicions, at which point I stumbled on Rick Ross’ website.
I considered requesting a refund, but my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see it through till the end. I experienced a successful “EM” (Exploration of Meaning) and also witnessed many others go through their moments of clarity. Most were extremely vulnerable woman (about 25 women to 5 men in the class), who were quick to adopt the “Espian” way of thinking at the slightest realization that they might be responsible for their own actions.
I did not witness anything overtly harmful during the 5 days, and aside from being fleeced of their hard earned money in what seems like merely another elaborate pyramid scheme, I think most of these people are adults and are fully capable of making their own decisions. My personal opinion… for all the value I gained from the program, anyone who has chosen to follow Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman is an easily influenced person with almost no self esteem.
I highly recommend that anyone who comes in contact with ESP, should read the information on Rick Ross’ ESP page, as the info Rick provides is 100% accurate. While seemingly harmless, ESP is potentially very harmful to anyone who is feeling vulnerable and desperate and looking for a ‘quick fix’ for their problems.