This Is Why MLMs Get Called Cults
This Is Why MLMs Get Called Cults

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Are MLMs a cult? Multi-Level Marketing schemes like Lularoe, Young Living Essential Oils, Doterra, Kyani, Herbalife, and Amway are scams for sure, but are they cults? Here we cut past the success stories, the testimonies, and the how-to's in order to analyze these pyramid schemes in light of Steven Hassan's BITE model. The world of pseudoscience is closely tied to the MLM world, as essential oils, naturopathy, homeopathy, anti-vax / anti-vaxxers, cancer conspiracies, and all kinds of alternative medicine exist in both. Direct sales and network marketing are often little more than alt-med quackery. This video contains 100% therapeutic grade skepticism.* ------------------------------------------SUPPORT------------------------------------------ Patreon: PayPal: -------------------------------------------FOLLOW------------------------------------------- Twitter: Facebook: Discord: Anti-MLM subreddit: Sounds like MLM but ok: Sources: Jon M Taylor paper: Graph I used: *This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA Fair Use Notice This video may contain copyrighted material; the use of which may or may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available for the purposes of education, criticism, comment, review and/or news reporting which constitute the fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Not withstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, review and news reporting is not an infringement of copyright. In addition this video is a transformative work intended to educate. Any video or sound clips included are just small portions of the original copyrighted works and used with the intention of directing people to the original works in an effort to increase both the visibility and potential market value of those copyrighted works.


Paracosmonaut : "It is easier to fool people then it is to convince people they have been fooled" Mark Twain

Nonya Damnbusiness : One error in this vid. He says the best way to make money in an MLM is to get in early and be near the top of the pyramid. Not so. The best way to make money on an MLM is to start one and be the top.

J Rain : I grew up in a 'Christian' based cult. One day, at a market I got met two doterra saleswomen, one who introduced herself and said she was a nurse, she invited me to a doterra party and when I went all my alarm bells went off, the tactics they used to get new members reminded me so much of the church I grew up in. I started telling the members of doterra how much their group reminded me of the cult I was raised in and why and I could see the shutters go up on their faces - it was almost as if they quite literally could not hear what I was saying and then... They'd just talk over me and try to sell me an oil package haha... They were like "oh, wow, honey, I can't believe that you grew up in a cult, you poor thing... We there is an oil for that" If I wasn't so disturbed by the whole thing I'd probably find it amusing. I feel very sorry for people who get ducked into these schemes.

JoJo Rumbles : What really pisses me off is that career fair keep allowing these people to have booths. They're not a real job.

Chiafade now : Yes they are a commercial cult. Cults aren't only religious. They can be religious, political, or commercial. As an ex jehovahs witness I've known many JW's who sold Herbalife. They fit right in. They were used to the structure that they were familiar with.

Rachel Stephens : That chart with the pins and the third highest tier is $2k a month. Uh... $24k a year - you could literally work at In-N-Out and make a comparable salary at $10 an hour.

avfusion : I worked at an MLM, not as a person buying into the program, but as an actual employee of the company. The cult feeling runs deep, and whatever the sales people hear, we heard 10x as much. When I finally left, which I did for moral reasons, they fabricated a fake case against me which I ended up having to go to court over. (Which I won, easily, they just hope you'll settle) They used all sorts of fear tactics for me not to quit after I had become a face of the organization. Image was insanely important. After I finally got out, they followed me pretty closely for a long time, including threatening me not to talk to any employees that work there ever again with this vague threatening aura behind it. And GMS, if you're reading this and you'd like to probe further, I'd be more than happy to share my story from the inside.

Ruby Doomsday : I let the "sell our t shirts from your own social media platforms" ad that preceded this video play for almost three full minutes before I realized it was genuinely an ad and not the intro to this video.

hurr durr : Once my mother brought me with her to an MLM "conference". There was a part where the speaker on stage told the audience to close their eyes, and they started playing "The Winner Takes It All" by Abba from the speakers to give a sad vibe. The speaker told the audience to visualize their children in their imagination. He then started saying things like "Daddy, why can't we afford that bike I always wanted?". Some people even started tearing up. It was an absolutely disgusting display of emotional manipulation. I was like "What is this, a brainwashing cult?". Of course, later the whole thing crumbled, and my mother didn't get a dime from it.

enter.the.void.II : I worked with Herba Life, I worked at some of their private parties as a sound/video technician and let me tell you, they're like a cult! The weirdest bunch of people I've ever met. They looked like they were on amphetamines the whole time and they would drink huge amounts of water. The seniors are constantly trying to trick the new comers by acting and faking how happy and successful they are. There was even a fake couple that was acting like Herbalife brought them together and like they were a happy couple.

Reverend scumlord : They're trying to push this in the UK too, I went to a Herbalife "seminar" which totally flopped, all of the guests/victims/marks saw right through it. For some reason British people don't seem so easy to sucker in with this sort of thing, maybe because we live in smaller communities and already have tight circles? There are certainly MLMs here but it seems a lot harder for them to recruit.

Gwen O'Reilly : Next time someone messages me about an mlm ill send them this lol

Comic Girl : My bestfriend did Amway. They encouraged the abuse she was experiencing from her now ex husband. It was so disgusting. She was told to pretend everything was perfect or she would be "let go". This particular area they were openly anti gay and single mom. They exclusively went after couples. Only the husbands could make the decisions. It was so strange to see her from going to this independent person to being mind controlled.

Mara Henao : In china they're known as "business cults"

Passio : I just discovered your channel and I'm sad I've missed so much. I love it! I'm a single mom in a poor area, EVERYONE is in an MLM. It's been such a problem that I've changed my bios to say "stop trying to sell me shit". What worse is they ALWAYS try to use my son's disability to sell things to me. There's absolutely nothing more insulting side from just flat out attempted robbery. This is family, friends, Facebook groups.. I seriously won't even talk to anyone anymore if I see the words "oils" "herbs" or "wraps" in any of their online accounts. Its created it's own form of isolation as you pointed out in another video that mom's are the worst about "alternative" medicine. My kid practically has a bullseye on his forehead.

Ben Steinundknochen : It's a video about MLMs. Guess what ad plays? One for an MLM. Can't be a coincidence.

Bree Evans : Got an MLM ad on this video... Well, that's ironic.

Mark Young : Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t these sales-people the actual customers? (To the eyes of the MLM.) They are the ones who buy the products directly, whether they then re-sell them on is irrelevant to the MLM. They even do most of the word-of-mouth marketing for free.

Christopher Fowler : What I always find ironic about MLMs is that if it's really the kind of work you'd be good at, you could go work a traditional commission-heavy sales job with none of the risk and the same potential gains with a far greater chance for success. Hell you could find a wholesale hookup for a product you already like and dropship it as your own business. The skillset required to be successful in an MLM is literally used to sell every product on the planet without a pyramid scheme attached. If you or someone you know is looking at one of these companies _just go try sales_ ffs. You might be good at it and love it, you might suck at it and hate it... but at least you won't wind up with less money than when you started.

Doctor Shell : I was able to escape one about 10 years ago. I was only involved for around 2-3 months and it was during a time when I was desperate.

mukkaar : MLM sells false hopes and dreams, not products.

Living Infernus : I expected this to be about Marxist-Leninist-Maoists, but no practical difference here.

Asteri : the ads you showed scared the crap out of me because they are just... putting essential oils directly on their skin, on their babies skin, without a carrier oil. thats a chemical burn waiting to happen.

Cucumberwarrior : Two summers ago, a "friend" from grade school advertised a position for Kyani on Facebook. Before I get into what happened, what was weird was that he didn't have on his Facebook that he worked for Kyani (instead it said he worked for a different company). If you have your work experience on your Facebook, why not say you work for Kyani? Kinda strange. But I didn't think about it much at the time. Now the advertisement itself. He worded it as a "great work-from-home opportunity." I was kinda desperate for a job, so I messaged him to inquire about the position. I don't remember what he said about the position exactly, but essentially I would have to distribute products to potential customers and recruit people (what he didn't tell me was that I would have had to spend a tremendous amount of money, basically all of the money in my bank account plus more that I'd need to get somewhere else, before I even start distributing. I had to look that shit up myself. Real shady for him not to even tell me). He instead harped on about how the job would make me lots of money. Bullshit. First of all, in the area I live, and probably in other places in general as well, a majority of the people aren't going to buy shit from a company they don't know. They like familiarity. Second of all, most people won't be willing to buy from a door to door salesperson. I would know because I remember in grade school, my schools (I've been to multiple schools because I was bullied, but that's another story) would have candy fundraisers every year, and every time I tried selling candy to my neighbors, barely anyone bought the candy, so my family had to wind up eating the candy. So if people are not willing to buy candy, what makes these MLM companies and MLMers think that people would be willing to buy sketchy products that no one has heard of from a sketchy company that no one has heard of? Makes no sense. So after doing a few seconds of research about the company and how it's essentially a pyramid scheme, I turned down the offer. Not only that, but I criticized my "friend" on the post and in the Facebook message chat that he was promoting a pyramid scheme and I sent him a few links and posted those links on the post explaining about Kyani being a pyramid scheme. You know what he said? He said that I am deluded, gullible, and unable to think for myself. And he was bragging about how Kyani would be big one day and then I'd be sorry. And he deleted my comments. Then after that, he deleted me off of Facebook. So then a year goes by, and just for shits and giggles, I asked him how his juice business (Kyani) was going and said to him that it turns out his prediction of the company "making it big" was wrong because I didn't hear about it in the mainstream media, meaning that his prediction about Kyani was "fake news" (yes. I actually told him the information he was spreading about Kyani was "fake news). You know what he said? He said the company's profits tripled, that he was making a lot of money, had a lot of expensive shit and that me trusting the media makes me gullible because the mainstream media is trying to hide information about the success of the company (I can't make this shit up if I tried). And you know what really got me? He had the nerve to say that he was "trying to help me." Well gee, I'm sorry ex-friend of mine who works at Kyani. I was just trying to help YOU by making realize that you were involved in a pyramid scheme and that at some point, it's gonna collapse, and then you'll be shit outta luck and money. And I'm sorry if I'm not willing to fork over 1000 something dollars for sketchy juice from a sketchy company that's running a sketchy pyramid scheme. I'm so sorry for using my brain (which you said I wasn't, which is ironic because you're the one being played for being involved in that shit in the first place; not me). I'm glad I didn't get involved with that company, or I would've lost a lot of money, and my family would have lost a lot of money, too.

Carlos Ruiz : I went to an amway "seminar" and they were saying how it had freed them financially, one of the speakers said how he was so close to buying himself a "real" car. He was aiming to get himself a Benz (C250) and he was hyping up everyone asking them if they would like to be driving one around and everyone was clapping and everything, I was like what the heck is going on here, he said he'd being in amway for 3years and if he ranked up at the end of the fiscal year, he would be able to afford one. So then he asked me if I would like to drive a car like that at some point in my life(I'm 21), I was well I already own a Mercedes and they are pretty sweet. He then asked how I was able to afford one at such a young age and I was like working, 90-100hrs every two weeks, plus Saturday and Sunday working on my own outside the company I worked at(piece work setting tile) . He then said if I had joined Amway sooner I would have been able to get it in 3yrs time, so I was like well I worked my *ss off for 1 year and saved up to get it. He looked angry at this point, so he stopped asking me questions and I looked around and noticed people around the room looked kind of confused, so he continued talking, I took out my phone texted my brother to call me so I could use that as an excuse to leave the room. He called me and I answered, told the lady that invited me i had to leave. I felt like he was going to deck me in the face at any moment, the tension was enormous so I just decided to never go again, I simply went because I was curious to see this "once in a lifetime opportunity

Your Moms : But they're not pyramid scams, no, THAT would be illegal.

Grace W : I’ve grown up in an mlm household. First, my mom was a single mother who worked at Kay jewelers, She made a good amount of money and took awesome care of me and my sister. The downfall of that was when she met my future stepdad who was in Herbalife and told her she’d basically never have to work again. He worshipped Herbalife and was surprisingly “successful” when my mom met him. Years go on, they get married, my stepdad medically separated from the navy, and my mom quit her job at the jewelry store. They tried to enlist family members, every neighbor we had, they even had me asking friends to ask their parents about joining under my parents. As I look back on my childhood, I realized how fucked up herbalife was and how crazy my parents were when they had me go to an Extravaganza in St. Louis Missouri and sit in those conferences for hours and hours a day. I was only 15 and they were training me to be a distributor. Luckily I wasn’t really for the idea, so they gave up after a couple years.

Åsa S : Kids should be taught this in school, so they learn how to recognize cults, and cult like behavior, and not fall for the bs.

wally man : Had a friend and his wife who got sucked into Amway decades ago. They invited me and a mutual buddy over one evening so they could "practice" their sales technique. Of course, it turned out to be a full on sales preso. The guy even put on a suit for god's sake! What struck me the most though was how his normally outgoing wife took a subservient role, sitting behind the guy as he did the preso, nodding and smiling where I'm sure the script they were following told her to. Pretty disgusting overall.

K : You should do a video on Southwestern Advantage. They prey on college students with promises of making good money over the summer by selling supplementary school books (math, science, etc for your kid to read over the summer or during school) door to door often in a different part of the US that is supposedly randomly selected for you. It all seems on the up and up since otherwise why would the college allow them to use their facilities? Though the trick is that they get through with Alumni that were actually successful to recruit other students. (And they are admittedly, a legitimate company under the law). You're NOT paid an hourly wage, purely on commission. Which honestly, I've heard many stories that went either way. However, what made me turn away during the second interview was that I googled the company online and found out that according to US law, since you are paid based on commission as a "salesman", the parent company is not responsible for you or your actions. Now I wasn't planning on going wild my first summer away from home, but if I was injured or worse, attacked, while working for this company, they were not required to pay my medical expenses, workers comp, or ensure my safety. The nice lady who was an alum seemed to be an honest person, and if I were to work with her as my supervisor, I would have felt a little bit more secure. However, your "supervisor" is randomly selected based on where you go (at least that's how I interpreted their presentation) so we're back at square 1 with my life being in the hands of a stranger that I've never met since I couldn't be sure that the company I'd be working for would ensure my safety. NO. THANK. YOU. That alone should make anyone say NO to this company without reading the many claims that they encourage unethical sales tactics (embellishing the actual effectiveness of their supplementary books), that many young women felt that their male supervisors saw it as a "dating service", or that the claims of "making big money" are overblown (like in MLMs) and that most students only break even once you account for gas, wear and tear on your car, living expenses for the summer, etc (since you have to pay living expenses for the new town you're sent to AND wherever you're currently living if you are still in your lease). Funnily enough, a year after I turned down this "amazing" opportunity, a couple of guys started working as bussers at the restaurant I worked at. They had been roped into the "Southwestern Advantage" program, quickly found out that they weren't going to make any money, and just decided to get normal jobs in the area as they had paid for their living arrangements upfront for the whole summer. I wouldn't exactly call this company an MLM as the recruiters don't get any bonuses based on how many people are "below them" like in a typical MLM, and there is a very legitimate product that you DON'T have to pay for upfront. However their recruiting tactics are eerily similar to an MLM; "Don't trust what you hear online, those are just people that didn't make money and are unhappy", flattery, and trying to make personal connections quickly (using university alum, my recruiter kept talking about "girl power", etc). This was several years ago during my undergrad, so I have no idea if the company has changed since then or addressed these issues. But to this day, whenever I see someone on my social media talking about going to an "entrepreneurship" opportunity on campus I tell them to leave as soon as they hear "Southwestern Advantage". Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention, they "highly encourage" all of their "employees" (who again, are not official, contracted employees) to go to church on Sundays. It amazes me that this is legal. The company started out selling Bibles door to door and based on some of the reviews of the school books it seems like the "knowledge" they're selling is pretty on par with "God works in mysterious ways".

Alpine Ink : My mom used to be part of Avon and was consistently losing money over it. She instead switched into running her own kind of business where she buys and sells jewelry as well as knits infinity scarves to sell to other women on Facebook and she’s had more success making money with that.

Allyshia Berger : Wow. I was in Mary Kay for 2 years, itworks for a year and scentsy for a few months. Mary kay and itworks fit this model 100%....

scott b : 20 years ago, Amway duped me into coming in for an Interview. They claimed to be a marketing company. I had to watch 3 hours of videos of people taking vacations, riding jet skis, driving sport cars, living in mansions, etc...The entire time, they would never tell me their business or what position they wanted to hire me for. After 3 hours, they finally admitted they were Amway. I got mad as hell, and left. Wasted a half a day when I needed a job really bad. Lesson learned.

lord thick nipples : If your dream in life is more money, you need to rethink your life

Steven Fox : My favorite start to a conversation: "Hey man! Do you like to make money?"

Dio out for a walk : yOu FrIcKiNg FRICks

bonfire302 : i thought you meant marxism-leninism-maoism

Tyler Hassey : Those 41 dislikes are from 41 people who can't be saved from the brainwashing

Sora Fujioka : MLM: Sees their name in description MLM: Better give them an ad!

Bean Álainn : I looked into Herbalife back in the 90s out of desperation, and what I found did not look promising. I did try their products a bit but I just didn't find it convincing or the products remotely effective.

RealHousewifeRachel : I sold Pampered Chef before we had kids and thankfully it didn't fit anything in this model, at least in my experience. It was fun, but that's it... I didn't make much money, but I made some great friends along the way and thankfully all I was left with when I left was a kitchen full of products that are going strong 10 years later. I mean, it's cookware, and didn't prey on other peoples' pain, illnesses, or financial situations. That being said, I'll never go into an MLM (even PC) ever again because of those awful stats you mentioned and of course, the cultish vibe that many of them give off. This model describes most MLMs very well, and I appreciate you posting this video. I'm also in the "Sounds like MLM but OK" FB group, and enjoy scrolling for a good chuckle. And the whole #bossbabe and #girlboss stuff makes me ill.

Nobody ever : The best mlm is drug dealing

John Jamele : I watch so many anti-MLM vids that practically every YouTube commercial now is for an MLM or some other "get rich on the internet" scam.

Anthony Dowling : Interestingly, the upload was broken by a 'Network Marketing' ad.

Radio cure : I thought you meant MLM as in men who like men and that title confused me so much

Jacob Greenbaum : The only thing essential oils are good for are scenting soaps and perfume.

Eli Nathan : i thought mlm meant "men loving men" oops i guess not

Freshwater Fish Freak : I've seen my Dad get sucked into MLM's several times throughout my life. Everytime he fails, he blames himself rather than accept it's a terrible business model.

William Wallace : "close enough to be scary" is my take away here. For the record I've actually done the scheme... I broke even and quickly saw the math and bailed out.