Keith Raniere stated in his affidavit in “NXIVM v Ross Institute et al”:
“It was at the age of 12, I read ‘The Second Foundation’ by Isaac Asimov and was inspired by the concepts on optimal human communication to start to develop the theory and practice of Rational Inquiry.”
The premise of the Foundation Trilogy is that the new science of psychohistory predicts the impending fall of the Galactic Empire, to be followed by a 30,000 year dark age of war and barbarism. But if a Foundation is established, it will grow into the nucleus of a Second Empire, cutting the dark age to 1,000 years. The Foundation is dedicated to physical sciences, engineering, and commerce, and for a while overcomes all foes, usually without firing a shot.
Halfway through the second book, forces lead by a short, deformed man, who calls himself the ‘Mule’ begins to defeat the Foundation. The Mule has the power to control the emotions of others.
“To me, men’s minds are dials, with pointers that indicate the prevailing emotion… Slowly, I learned that I could reach into those minds and turn the pointer to the spot I wished, that I could nail it there forever.”
The rest of the Trilogy is about the Mule’s search for the Second Foundation, which is the only force capable of defeating him. The Second Foundation also developed emotional mind control and ultimately uses it to defeat the Mule, and put the First Foundation back on the trajectory to triumph.
Raniere says the book that inspired him to create Rational Inquiry is about mind control, and its use by the Mule to nearly conquer the Galaxy.
Keith Raniere names Isaac Asimov as one of six heroes on his website.
His other heroes are novelist Ayn Rand; Indian pacifist/freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi; Austrian philosopher, Rudolph Steiner; hypnotist Dr. Milton Erickson; and judo teacher/acrobat Eugene Waddell. Raniere is not known to have ever claimed to have met any of them.