As an answer to a question about the definition of cult, Dr. Steven Novella published a highly interesting and recommended post on the subject at Neurologica. Here’s an excerpt:
There are many different lists of characteristics of cults, and not one list is definitive, but if you read through them you will find a great deal of overlap and recurring themes. One thing to keep in mind is that a cult is defined more by how it behaves than what it believes – a set of beliefs alone cannot constitute a cult.
This is a post to read and bookmark. You can find it here.