I got really into the Sequences a while back, and while it struck me that the neologisms used in them were alienating me from people who weren't the LW in-group, I shrugged off all allegations that it was a cult. That is, until one particular topic came up and began to seriously shake my confidence that I was developing into a robust, serious critical thinker: Politics.
It starts off with a subtle assertion that thinking too much about politics can make you dumber. Okay. I accepted that within a certain context, such as picking a team color and waving a flag, you can actually truncate your understanding of the topic of politics. However, I observed an often obsequious and occasionally reactionary zeal for this ethic, which inspired some to passively accept what was for me the breaking point: Not the critique of party politics, but a definitive answer, handed down from on high as the 'correct' perspective on politics, so that we wouldn't have to worry our little heads about it any more. It turns out that being an American Libertarian is the answer! Any debate will reveal you to be irrational, and the hisses of stronger, better minds will answer you. After all, it was proven through analogy by saying that Republican is naive, Democrat is developed awareness, and right Libertarian is 'meta'.
As it happens, I am an anarchist who has reasons to reject the concepts of intellectual property (patent law and copyright) and private ownership of the means of production, as well as the existence of money or trade through markets, so it was a bit of a shock to be told I was precisely wrong in every way. I was being told the answer by someone I still consider to be highly intelligent, perhaps I should reevaluate my ethics... And so it tortured me, poring through history and philosophy, worried that I was 'killing my mind' in researching refutations of anarchist communism and libertarian socialism and finding none that satisfied me. If for all my efforts I remained a socialist and still saw the Libertarian Party as ludicrous, Was I too far gone, rendered incapable of objective evaluation?
Or might LessWrong actually be a bit cult-like?