Japan Just Executed the Leaders of an LSD-Fueled Doomsday Science Cult

Daniel Oberhaus, writing for Motherboard:

Aum Shinrikyo was a religious cult for the internet age. Its members blended yoga, terrorism, murder, chemical weapon production, arms manufacturing, and software development to create a multinational LSD-fueled monster. This is the story of Aum’s creation, the role of science in its terrorist activities, and why the cult’s vision never really died.

Holy shit. What a story.

Many of these members were highly educated students and wealthy businessmen. According to a 1996 Wired feature on Aum, many of the cult's recruits were “the otaku—Japan's version of computer nerds—technofreaks who spent their free time logged on to electronic networks and amassing data of every type.” As such, Aum relied heavily on science fiction imagery and grandeur to pedal its vision of nuclear armageddon and techno-redemption to attract new members. Indeed, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy served as a sort of “bible” for the sect, which also aspired to build a utopian community of scientists.

This serves as a good reminder that nerds are not immune to bullshit. Or murders and chemical weapons, for that matter.