I DVR a small number of shows that I like to watch. I love edutainment stuff. I think I got through all of FBI Files. New Detectives is OK, but it's too much forensics. My new favorite edutainment show is History's Mysteries. One episode they did focused on secret societies. Secret societies have always fascinated me a little, and given that they're doing History Channel shows on them, I'm guessing they fascinate others as well. There are a whole spectrum of secret societies all around us. I like this Wikipedia-linked definition; by this definition a secret society is a group who: is exclusive claims to own special secrets shows a strong inclination to favor its own There is a whole spectrum of societies that fit this description. The one that comes to mind for me is Skull and Bones at Yale, whose membership includes three U.S. Presidents (Kerry was also a "Bonesman," meaning that we were going to end up with a Bonesman-President from 2004-2008 no matter what). Societies with powerful members are often linked to conspiracy theories. Others in this vein include, for example, Bohemian Grove (see what Richard Nixon thought about them). Fraternities and sororities seem to be "lite" versions, with less exclusivity and less secrecy (although they nearly all have their so-called "secret rituals.") The Freemasons seem like a grown-up version. All these organizations seem to me to be efforts for a bunch of people to get together and collude at some level, creating an advantage for the ingroup over (and possibly to the detriment of) the outgroup, which is everybody else. I am reminded of the Stanford Prison Experiment. When the "secret" parts leak out, it's usually nothing exciting. It never seems to be "secret knowledge" like the existence of aliens or the frequency of the brown noise; it's usually the details of a "secret ritual" that is no spookier than a Catholic wedding. As such, the secrecy seems to serve mostly to enforce the exclusivity and reinforce the ingroup bond to encourage the collusion. You don't specifically need the secret, I've even heard of "business clubs" that operate in much the same way - businesspeople meet every month at IHOP to exchange leads to generate more business within the club's membership rather than outside of it. The term "secret society" is even a misnomer, as the existence of the society and its membership are often well-known. I hear that the Freemasons prefer "society with secrets." What may be a little more sinister is the way that the societies get members to keep the secrets. It may be as simple as an oath. According to some dubious sources, Skull and Bones members masturbate in a coffin while telling the other members their deepest, darkest secrets - essentially exposing themselves to future blackmail in exchange for membership. FOCUS: Are you a member of a secret society (or "society with secrets?") If offered the chance to become a member of one of the really good "power-elite" ones, would you join - knowing that you might have to sacrifice your privacy and give special treatment to people you don't necessarily know well or trust? ALTERNATE FOCUS: Could you masturbate to orgasm in an open coffin surrounded by a bunch of other guys (and girls) the same age while revealing to them your deepest, darkest secrets?