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Friday, February 05, 2010

The Hunger Project Gets Free Ride on The World

PRI's The World had a story today about a family that sold their home and gave half the proceeds to The Hunger Project. THP got a lot of good press without any mention of its controversial nature. I sent The World this letter:

Ironic that in the same program in which you reported in such detail on the cultlike practices of the Pakistani Taliban, you also gave free, unrebutted advertising for another cult-related group, The Hunger Project.

THP was founded by Werner Erhard of Erhard Seminars Training (est) and several of his followers, and did not end (formal) ties to that group 'til 1991. It has quite recently been accused of trying to suppress critical information about itself. See, for instance,

I also find it objectionable that those you interviewed, in praising THP's stated emphasis on helping people sustainably overcome hunger, spoke as if it were unique in this respect. Even if it is true that this is really their practice now (and they've been accused of misrepresenting their activities in the past), they are hardly alone in this. To name just one example, Oxfam is also known for emphasizing development aid over handouts.

Eric Hamell
Philadelphia, PA, USA

You can write them at


Anonymous said...

Werner Ernhard doesn't have any "followers" nor was (est) a cult by any means but imagination. None has said that THP is the only one focusing on sustainability, but certainly was one of the first to pioneer in that field.

stripey7 said...

Well, Anonymous, a lot of people in the cultic studies field would disagree with you about est, and so do some who were involved with it. My own interest in the subject arose out of concern over a former girlfriend's involvement in an offshoot called Landmark Forum, sometimes described as "est lite." She's subsequently ended her involvement in it and allows that it might be a cult.

stripey7 said...

BTW, I'm not too proud to point out that I don't get comments on this blog very often at all, so it really stands out when someone responds to a post _within one day_ -- when that post concerns The Hunger Project. It's hard to interpret this any other way, but that someone has a Google Alert to let them know when anyone anywhere might be making a critical comment about it. If that's not evidence of a cultic mentality, I don't know what is.