Ross Douthat - known as Chunky Bobo in some quarters - writes:
From the Franciscans to the Jesuits, groups that looked cultlike to their critics have repeatedly revitalized the Catholic Church, and a similar story can be told about the role of charismatic visionaries in the American experience. (The enduring influence of one of the 19th century’s most despised and feared religious movements, for instance, is the reason the state of Utah now leads the United States on many social indicators.)
...[PayPal co-founder Peter] Thiel’s argument is broader: Not only religious vitality but the entirety of human innovation, he argues, depends on the belief that there are major secrets left to be uncovered, insights that existing institutions have failed to unlock (or perhaps forgotten), better ways of living that a small group might successfully embrace.
Of course whenever I study social sciences I always go to an associate of...um... well let's just say that this "we need more crackpots" argument is a bit self-serving. (Why are "futurists" rarely dystopian?)
No we do not need more cults. We need amateurs who through their amateurish love of the practice of life get to be virtuosos.
That's what we need.