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The Jonestown Massacre

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, in which 900 followers of the Reverend Jim Jones committed mass suicide by drinking poisoned flavor-aid. The delivery mechanism for the poison was widely and erroneously reported to be kool-aid, which gave rise to a new metaphor for unthinking attachment to a dogma or a leader.

Jim Jones was a charismatic preacher whose stirring oratory led many to follow and obey him without question or reservation. He preached a message of social justice, economic equality, hope, and change. Before the tragedy, he was praised and admired by many public figures, including first lady Rosalyn Carter. Just because a message is appealing doesn't mean the messenger is a good man. Human nature remains what it is.

Here is a video containing footage of Jim Jones and his followers:


Hmm, interesting. People do tend to follow charismatic leaders, good or bad.
I remember seeing a video of Martin Luther King speaking once, back in high school history class, and being reminded of Hitler speaking. I was surprised myself. The only thing they had in common was both being very charismatic speakers!
You make a good point. There are charismatic speakers who happen to be good people. I guess the trick is to understand that there is little or no connection either way between being charismatic and being a good person. And to always try to objectively think about the guy who just wowed you with his charisma and eloquence.