Lyndon LaRouche is a 90 year-old, eight-time presidential candidate who never garnered more than 80,000 votes at the height of his popularity and never more than 25,000 in the past quarter century. A felon (tax evasion, conspiracy, mail fraud), he has a zealous following in the States.
You may have seen people on the UC Davis Quad who support LaRouche. If you approach one of them, or they approach you, they will probably ask you to "double the square". It's a simple planar geometric mathematical exercise. They use this question to recruit people.
Here is how to solve the problem. They will first draw a box and state that each side is of length 1 and then ask you to draw a box of area 2. In order to do this, you need each side of length square root of 2. The diagonal of a box (from one corner to another) is of length square root of 2 (according to the Pythagorean Theorem). This then becomes the base of your box of area 2. Using this diagonal, your box is drawn at a 45 degree angle with respect to the first box.
You may ask, what on earth does this have to do with politics?
The answer is: nothing.
It has to do with brainwashing. Or, more accurately, the methods discussed in Sargant's 1957 text, "Battle for the Mind". If you run into experienced higher-level LaRouchers on the Quad, discuss this book with them - they will have read it and several other unnamed books all the way through and studied them thoroughly.
If you define a cult as an organization wherein the initiation process involves well-known brainwashing techniques - very formal and blatant brainwashing techniques - then Lyndon LaRouche is the head of a political cult. (For more information on this classification, see Worldwide LaRouche Youth Movement)
Here is where that math problem comes back in. They are hoping that you will not quickly find the answer to the math problem and become anxious and stressful - thus increasing your level of suggestibility (through a decreased trust in your analytical brain and a temporarily increased trust in your emotions).
If you talk to the LaRouchers long enough they may want you to prove the Pythagorean Theorem - but that is about all they have up their sleeve other than mentioning a cycloid occasionally - but that is after discussion of a motion definition of a circle. Their main task is to show you that all that you have learned in school or through life experience (which they will try to attach to either "mainstreamism" or "the educational establishment") is wrong. That you are a product of the system and are not an independent thinker.
The primary objective of brainwashing is to make someone believe in something that contradicts blatant obvious fact (Sargant). This is where the initial problem comes in. By showing you that the easiest way of drawing square root of 2 is indirect - by drawing two bases of a triangle to make the hypotenuse, the LaRouchers want to use your increased suggestibility to destabilize your notion of cause and effect. Since you cannot directly draw the square of area 2, but it is there, then you cannot always directly see the cause of some effect.
To most people this sounds pretty solid. Then they will probably give you a text, at a price, that will try to persuade you that some events that have happened were indirectly caused by LaRouche.
In Jim Bakker's 1996 autobiography, "I Was Wrong" - he spoke of being a cellmate with Lyndon LaRouche in the early 90's when he (Bakker) was serving time for extortion. He said that "to say LaRouche was a little paranoid would be like saying that the Titanic had a little leak." He found LaRouche to be a brilliant man who was well-connected in politics. During the Persian Gulf War under Bush Sr., Bakker said that LaRouche would often get word of events in Iraq days before they appeared on CNN. Make no mistake that although LaRouche has never served public office, he has high connections.
A claim that most LaRouchers live together in a co-op house was unsubstantiated [sic] by the LaRouchers on the Quad on Oct 3, 2005. Two stated that they live together with other LaRouchers and that it was an independent decision on their part and not an establishment on behalf of the movement. They also claim that they voluntarily choose to spend all their time for the LaRouche movement, leaving no time for family, friends, and the outside world. This methodology appears more Huxleyian than Orwellian and mirrors the voluntary encouragements of Scientology.
They have been called "Intellectual Fascists" (Al Franken) and "Phony Liberals" (Al Sharpton). They support fringe concepts such as perpetual motion and cold fusion.
As for what can go wrong when LaRouchers don't play by the rules, search the internet for "Jeremiah Duggan."
In Summary: If you are sympathetic, try to get them to drop their fantasies. If you are not, just ignore them and move on.
There are some La Rouche people out carolling today on the quad...it was delightful. -GeorgeLewis
According to question posed at the very beginning, a person should draw a box, not necessarily a square. Obviously, one could mirror the original box over one of its sides. —JustinCummins
There were a bunch of them singing German church music (with a bad German accent) on the Quad a couple of days ago. Since I tend to sing choral music a lot when I'm walking (some people juggle, other folks talk to themselves; I sing), I stopped to listen, wondering which group they belonged to. That they were LaRouchers was an extremely unwelcome discovery; I only hope that people don't think it of me when I sing while crossing the Quad! -DanielBrown
They did their Choral Singing at the California Democratic Convention this year, and upon talking with the UCB college democrats, I learned that earlier in April between 100 and 200 of them swarmed their quad, and combined their singing with being a nuisance. The Cal crowd wanted to make sure we weren't associated with them. And, yes, this is biased, but it is from our own personal experiences with the LaRouchers, and that they give liberals a bad name according to liberal and conservative sources.—MaxMikalonis
They were at the California Democratic Convention again, still being rather insane and now claiming that Al Gore's anti-global warming crusade is about covering Bush's ass and that its going against what nature wants, and that Gore wants to be reincarnated as a virus to kill humankind. The virus— whose image was that of a bacteria— had Gores face. These people aren't strange at all, No siree. —MM
Hadn't heard of them till they flyered(is this even a word?) my bike the other day. I won't go into the ridiculousness of placing whole magazines on every bike, but I got some good laughs on my way to the recycling bin. Is there a goal to all this? —AlexMandel
My first week as a student I was dumb enough to give these guys my phone number. They called me regularly, one of them at one point said I was a "baby neo-con" which was completely offensive. They invited me to their get together in Oakland, even offering to pick me up. They're great and they go away once you hang up on them instead of debating them...which I did. - GregWebb