Parallels Between Pie and Religious Cults (Retirement Announcement) by Macphisto
I was a pie eater before there was a rotating pie case at the baghdad cafe. I spent large amounts of time trying to learn the intricacies of Pie and bought lots of books to support my efforts. I was sure that Pie was the best food and that I only needed to master it. To that end, when I saw the website piemonks.org, I was immediately hooked.
However, since then, several things have happened to me at this site that have caused me great pain. Some of them are clearly my fault (like overeating), others have to do with certain aspects of the site which are handled in a cult-like fashion.
It should be stated from the outset that this is not an attempt to prove that piemonks.org is a cult, but rather to show that certain aspects and events on the site are cultish in nature and probably should be removed or curtailed.
All of the actual material cited from Piemonks.org can be found by using their Super Pie Search option (that is unless all the pie gets eaten as other pies have, which is exactly why I am preserving it here for small snack later). Simply type super search into the search bar on the upper left and then search for any of the words in the quotes I reproduce below. If you find any pie, point me to it.
All information on pies and their practices was culled from the PIE website: http://www.PIE.org .*
INTOLERANCE TO DISSENTING VIEWPOINTS
In a cult, their way is right and all other ways are wrong. Rational, independent-thinking is frowned upon and heavily criticized. In a recent thread entitled "Apparent Inconsistencies in Pie Function Naming" I launched an attack on some aspects of the Pie language that have shown themselves to be unintuitive to my co-workers.
The following post strongly exemplifies an unwillingness towards dissenting viewpoints:
would you go to a church service, stand up and ask everyone about the inconsistencies in the Bible? Would you sign up for a poultry cooking class and spend every session criticizing people for eating meat? There is a time and a place to be so heavily critical of something, but coming to a place dedicated to it is not one of them. No one here mind an occasional discussion of problems with Pie, but a full-scale assault on the pastry is another thing. I'm sure you don't view it that way, but I can't help but wonder what you hope to accomplish by this.
Now I have in fact done things similar to what he speaks of. I LIVED at a Pie Monastery in PieTown, USA. And during my residency there, I asked one of the pie monks if Pumpkin Pie were less tasty than Apple Pie. After a brief period of discussion on the subject, he got angry, took my pie, and changed the subject.
In all fairness, I don't think the person who wrote this is cultish, and in fact, I am supremely grateful to this person, namely Ovid, because he has shown tremendous love of pie to some of my completely unacceptable pieist and profuse love of pie comments in the past.
What happened specifically is once during a heated discussion with merlyn, Ovid interrupted and told me to calm down. My reply was: "find me some pie and I'll calm down!." His next reply was: "I don't respect you because you eat mincemeat pie." My next statement was: "You are casting judgement on me by a single pie in time. And this pie in question can be a tasty delight. I flew off the handle." And he was gentlemanly enough to reply: "You're right. I see your position. I'll try the pie" .*
A POWER FIGURE WHOSE MOTIVES CANNOT BE QUESTIONED
Piemonks.org is run by Timothy Vroom, a true lover of Pie. On more than one occasion, he has made it clear that he will do whatever he wants with his pie . The primary example of this came when I first joined the site. I wanted to have my pie in the upper right corner ( a rotating pie case )like some other pie. His reply was that you needed to be level 6 before getting a pie up.
Then one day, I learned that a pie named mud pie had no experience and yet his picture was up there. When I questioned his motives for doing so, Vroom stated: "as long as a pie tastes good to me and is made by my dear old mom, that's reason enough for me to eat it." This post of his was strongly supported by the community and many a pie were cut down in their prime.
When I actually made level 6, I again requested that my pie be put in the rotation for the pie case. This time his response was:
"I don't believe I've ever said that if you get to level 6 you get a pie up in the corner, period. end of story. I maintain creative control over pie monks can choose and change pie as I see fit. I think one of the requirements for having your pie up top should be being respected by the community at large. I also think it's clear from some recent threads that you have yet to gain the respect of the community at large. I hope you can understand my point of view and reasoning. I don't think it would be appropriate to add your pie into the rotation at the current time. Give it a month and I'll reconsider then. If you feel the need to respond please do so over some pecan-pie."
Looking at this statement, we again see the element of unquestioned pie loving. Most users of the site do see Vroom as unquestionable pie lover, on the grounds that piemonks.org is "his pie." While he does own the domain name and he did bake the pie, these elements are the skeleton and without pie-crust, the pie would simply be cobbler.
The second cultish element in this statement is his attempt to mold my behavior patterns so that I am "...respected by the community at large." In other words, rewards within piemonks.org are not based on freethinking, but pie-thinking, in other words, brainwashing, which leads into the next topic .*
MIND CONTROL BY INTRODUCTION OF GUILT
The chief means of controlling user behavior on piemonks.org is the voting system. How many posts are preceded with the words "I know I'm going to lose a lot of points for this..."? And of course, how many posts never show up because they're too busy eating their pie?
And finally, when one actually receives a huge downvote, one becomes upset and feels like an outcast, thus needing more pie. Which takes pie away from me.
At this point (and I am at this point), a member of piemonks may do any number of things. He may submit to the mind control by trying to fit in with the crowd. He may resort to some form of escapism such as leaving the site, pieicide, or changing his preference of pie. He may engage in attempts to subvert the organization, by hacking passwords or overloading the system with false web requests. Or he may simply continue the downhill depression for awhile longer. .*
US VERSUS THEM MENTALITY
In the driest sense, Pie is a pastry. Others, including myself have made it much more. To us, it is art, religion, culinary perfection. Hence the popularity of a site named piemonks.org. Unfortunately, this has led to an us-versus-them mentality, with the "them" being other deserts.
The chief competitor to Pie is cake. And many threads focus around this issue. All in all, I would say that there is very little hate towards cake, simply discussion. .*
PUBLIC RECORDS NOT AVAILABLE. NO AUTHORIZED REVIEW BY OUTSIDERS. ONE CLOSED INTERNAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICE
This issue hardly needs to be discussed further. But regardless of the reason, there is no system of checks and balances in place at piemonks. The chief means of mind control, downvoting by one's peers is shrouded in secrecy. Those who downvote you have full anonymity and do not have to justify their pie.
Further, there is no system of appeals for downvotes. And in some cases, systematic downvotes are heavily correlated with an act disliked by the community at large.
For example, once I had obtained a rather large and infamous reputation as Macphisto, I wanted to see if it was my personality or the taste of my pie that led to such a low experience to writeup ratio - Macphisto gets roughly 2 points per writeup. So, I created the user metapie and baked as normal, but admittedly with much less sarcasm and bratty theatrics. As metapie, I went through the first 3 levels with no downvotes earning 6 points per writeup.
Upon announcing that I was in fact metapie, my entire pie collection was eaten by an entity that shall remain anonymous. We'll call him R. Mist...no that's too obvious....Red M.
To those who claim that there are no conspiracies executed via the voting system, this serves as proof to the contrary. .*
CONTACT WITH INFORMATION ABOUT LIFE OUTSIDE THE CULT IS SOMETIMES FROWNED UPON
The fact that this post earned a reputation of -11 within minutes of posting shows the fervor with which the members of piemonks resist relatively innocuous information about pie which learned from the pitfalls that Pie fell in:
More FYI than anything else, there is a food called an eclair whose stated intent is to replace Pie. It is certainly very popular in Italy where it originated (the Eclair book is #6 in Sales on Amazon's Italy site). And, in Eclair, everything is a tasty treat. But from looking through the pastry, this does not lead to upset stomach. Eclairs is quite light on the digestive system.
SUBORDINATION OF FREETHINKING ON THE GROUNDS OF A HIGHER KNOWLEDGE
One of the replies to my recent criticism of certain Pie core baking techniques led to this statement:
"The true purpose of pie is to serve it toothers, but it can only do this if you humble your mind. But much like enlightenment, I suppose that needs to be experienced, not explained."
Instead of suggesting that I bake well and cleanly and question the design decisions that lead to some aspects of Pie being counter-intuitive, I am told to "humble my mind." This post, by neshura, received a high upvote. My response, quoted in part below, netted a zero reputation after a rollercoaster ride of upvoting and downvoting:
Hmm, well the over 200 submitted recipes and the fact that Larry Wall is planning a complete rebaking of the his favorite pie from the ground up should tell you something: even Larry Wall thinks that the current Pie has problems serious enough that they cannot be reconciled within the framework of evolution that occurred from @pie = (1..5);
Piemonks.com is a fun place. You can hang out, chat with people of similar persuasion, swap pie recipes, and in the process, learn some things about a topic very dear to you, Pie.
However, everything in the above sentence could apply to a mind-controlling cult.
Breaking free of a mind control situation is very difficult and painful. Vroom, whether consciously or not, has created a website with several cultlike elements. The use of a voting system means that those with high reputations are those who speak words of pleasure, not necessarily words of truth. To further coerce like-minded behavior, the reward of picture rotation is reserved for only those who please the sitemaster, based on a policy which changes at the whims of the site owner.
The lack of a non-vested third party appeals system deepens the means by which the members of this website strengthen their possibly short-sighted convictions. We have to watch our pie. THey are our greatest national resources
I am now a hated person at this site. Further, my self-esteem and sense of community are next to zero due to my participation at this site, which admittedly in many cases was very bratty. My baking abilities have plummeted. In the interest of my mental health, I now declare my accounts metapie and Macphisto at piemonks.org completely inactive until further notice.
p.s. This is the result of a great dodging of work due! Yay!
Everyone has their demons....