CBC Ideas - The Dark Side of Charisma: Molly Worthen

“Charisma is sometimes dangerous allure that gives a leader to move a crowd.”

“To me what charisma is really about is the impulse to worship, to connect with someone or something transcendent that lends meaning to our puny, mortal lives. And gives us a sense of control over the chaos even if we’re not the ones in control. A confidence that someone is”

“The flip side of that allure is revulsion”

The exploration of how and why quasi magical words have been used to explain charisma going back to Max Weber.

The North American tendency/theme to swing in level of trust in authority and expert knowledge - and its downside where embracing conspiracy theories and similar rises quickly. “44% of Canadian adults believe that big events like wars, recessions, and outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people working in secret” (from an Abacus poll)

The rise of the “guru” (cough grifter cough) in all areas continues - and you can see the same

The concept on how the charismatic renewal movement set the stage to the destruction of traditional North American religious institutions and the rise of non denominational “gurus”. It couples nicely with secularism - less the move away from religion and more that folks moved away from organizations.


“How can they fall for this false authority. These are all very reasonable questions, but they are usually questions we ought to ask ourselves about the “gurus” and “sages” who might have a little too much influence in our own lives.”

43 min mark - these are impulses and it’s important to be aware of these impulses.

Ideas - The Dark Side of Charisma: Molly Worthen