Friday, June 29, 2007

Anatomy of a Deception - Part 1

In 2000 Mary Turner Thomson met a man named Will Jordan via an internet dating site. They hit it off and, despite his being unreliable, frequently disappearing for great lengths of time, they got married and had two children. Prior to the wedding Will revealed the reason behind his absenteeism and poor time-keeping; he was a CIA agent. Throughout their relationship Will slowly extracted himself from the agency, an expensive process that involved an unending flow of money, largely provided by Mary, her family and credit rating. In 2006, following his arrest and trial, she finally woke up to the fact that he was a bigamist, a convicted sex offendor, and a fraudster. Mary Turner Thomson is an intelligent woman. Prior to meeting Will Jordan she was a single mother with a good job; independent with a clear idea of what she wanted out of life, both for herself and her daughter. That she came to be duped and defrauded in such a dramatic way serves to demonstrate how easily one can find oneself believing the unbelievable, and the abuse to which such beliefs can be put.

Jordan initially admitted to being a workaholic, claiming that he had been guilty in the past of putting his work above everything else, with relationships suffering as a result. He claimed that this was something he wanted to rectify in himself. He also stated that he was infertile following an attack of mumps. This groundwork was explicitly set in place, but other foundations were also lying in wait, ready to be made use of. Initially Mary was not without her doubts.
In the back of my mind ... I had a feeling that something wasn't right. ... Gradually I grew suspicious. There was something very odd about all of this and by the end of January [2001] I was determined to get to the bottom of it.

He had created a personal website for me, so I looked it up on WHOIS and found details of his business and an address in Lancashire. I pulled the Company House records for his business and found he was the company secretary and a woman named Michelle Hayward was listed as director. Her address was in Lancashire but his was listed in a village just outside Edinburgh. I agonised over what to do but I had to know, so I got in the car and drove there.
What she found was a large house with Will's car parked outside. In the garden were children's toys. When Mary confronted him about this she was first told the CIA story, that he was an agent, that the house outside Edinburgh was part of his cover. Will claimed to gain security clearance for Mary, and told her of his CIA work, all while her mobile phone received data messages from ODCI RELAY. These messages, Will explained, were software downloads, allowing her phone to be tracked. She was being pulled into Will's secret world. Mary's discovery of Will's home clearly forced him to carry out a maneauvre he had already planned in order to safeguard the relationship, the creation of a coherent cover story that could be deployed should Mary get too close to the truth.

In The Other Mrs Jordan Thomson speaks about the emotional truth of Will Jordan, his overwhelming love for her and belief in monogamy. She describes how earnest and powerful Will's declarations of love were. These lies were just as important to the maintenance of Will's cover story as the various other "proofs" that Will provided:

...the emails he sent me from the field, which when I checked the path came through and (the CIA website); the cash he produced sealed in plastic wallets prointed with the Ministry of Defence logo; the gun that I had often felt through his jacket and the holster that I saw; the pass and parking permit for Brize Norton air force base; the gadgets and mobile phones; the secret calls; the language he used...
In Mary's telling of the narrative, and invariably when she reached a point in life where she had to choose what to believe in, the emotional truth of Will Jordan proved to be key, with the above more tangible evidence of Jordan's reality being secondary.

Will stated he was infertile, and more of his "emotional truth" concerned how badly he wanted children, how guilty he felt in not being able to give Mary a child. When the "miracle" happened, that it was a chance in a million in the first place cemented the relationship further. It also put further distance between truth and reality, a distance Mary herself refers to as the "gulf". Mary was sold a fairystory - a brave, loving husband, and a miracle pregnancy. When doubts came in, Mary would have to choose between that fairystory and a much uglier reality.

A further tool at Jordan's disposal in maintaining his fiction was the level of stress and fatigue that Mary was placed under. Whenever he was absent (which was more often than not) he was working in the field, was in possible danger. Will would often text Mary to say that he was on his way to meet her, only to never arrive, and only text a day or two later, always to say that he had been followed, or was ordered away on CIA business. He created a conspiracy, that the CIA were trying to drive a wedge between them. Mary described herself as an army wife lacking in the usual network of support that exists for them. The stress and the worry that she was constantly under (Will repeatedly claimed that she and the children were in genuine physical danger, and had trained her in self-defense, how to spot if she was being followed, and showed her how to use the Taser he had bought for her) meant that she was never afforded the mental space and the calm with which to take a step back and assess what her life had become.

She describes a holiday at Centerparks, the longest time they ever spent together. Will was called away before the holiday ended, and after he had left Mary found, in the bedroom, a wedding band that was not the one she had bought him, along with documentation referring to another marriage and children. This event seems to be hugely significant. It is almost as though Jordan was seeing how far he could take Mary's belief in him. He talked her round once more, and it seemed at that point his requests for the money he needed to escape the control of the CIA became more frequent and insistent. One is tempted to think that it was a challenge to her - if she could see concrete evidence of his other wife and children and be convinced of their forgery then she didn't want to wake up. Her commitment to the fiction became all the clearer.

The use of the CIA is itself fascinating. The agency, and the less-than-pleasant elements that Will had to deal with were blamed for his absenteeism, his insatiable thirst for cash, the emotional turmoil and stress that Mary had to deal with constantly. It was the motivation for Mary not being open with her family about her own situation. Will briefs her to be aware of being pumped for information by those around her, putting a tension and guardedness into every new friendship she would make. Mary at one point mentions to her family the real nature of Jordan's work, and Jordan receives a beating at the hands of his colleagues, a punishment by a third party on the second party to discipline the first party. Every action that the CIA take within the narrative that Will concocts serves to push Will and Mary together, strengthening their bond.

Hope is always dangled in front of Mary. Things are always about to get better, but of course they never do. Payments and compensation that Will expects to arrive in his account fail to appear. Contracts for his IT firm are won only to be lost later when he is dragged back into service. Even when Jordan is arrested, it is not enough for Mary to realise she has been duped. One reaches a point where the length of time that a belief has been held serves to maintain that belief further. By the time Jordan is charged with illegal possession of an offensive weapon, bigamy, fraud, and failure to notify a change of address with the sex offenders' register, Mary was five and a half years into the relationship, and had passed on about £300,000 to Jordan. Such a level of investment in both time and money creates a strong mental trap. As Jordan was facing trial, Mary was still holding on to the reality that Jordan had presented to her, that the pervious conviction for the molestation of a girl between the ages of nine and thirteen was a cover to allow him into a sex offenders prison in order to get information from another convict, that the other marriage was his cover, and that the credit card fraud was an honest mistake; that he would at worst be sent to prison for a few months, and once released would be able to rid himself of the CIA once and for all, allowing Will and Mary to finally set up home together properly.

Waiting for a phone call from Will's lawyer, Mary answers the phone instead to Will Jordan's other wife, and at last reality begins to break through.

Readers who believe they may have been a victim of Will Jordan or someone like him can find help and support at the Love Fraud website. The Other Mrs Jordan is available in paperback.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

News from Germany's Morgen Post on Cruise's latest cinematic venture, an account of Stauffenberg, the man that came very close indeed to assassinating Hitler.

High-ranking politicians of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) in Berlin have argued against Scientology ambassador Tom Cruise playing German resistance fighter Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. Secretary general Frank Henkel (CDU) said: "That‘s utterly distasteful, and it would cast doubt on everything Stauffenberg stood for." In a letter to minister of defence, Franz Josef Jung (CDU), Henkel is now pleading to prevent movie shots at original locations, such as the Bendler-Block.

This opinion is shared by member of the Bundestag, Klaus Uwe Benneter (SPD): "Stauffenberg was prepared to give his life in his fight against an authoritarian regime and its repressions. He of all people is now to be portrayed by Cruise, whose cult uses dubious methods in an attempt to lure and control people. This is a slap in the face for all respectable democrats, resistance fighters in the Third Reich and all victims of the Scientology cult." Benneter‘s fellow party member, expert on protection of the constitution Tom Schreiber, has a slightly different view, that Henkel apply for the part of Stauffenberg as an alternative to Cruise.

SPD: Scientology is not wanted

"With Tom Cruise it is dificult to differenciate. However, it would be wrong to use his part as Stauffenberg to campaign for Scientology." Schreiber stresses that, unlike Berlin‘s mayor Klaus Wowereit (SPD), he would address the actor with firm words: "Scientology is not wanted here. It is a malodorous commercial enterprise trying to give itself some semblance of religiousness." Therefore, secretary of the interior, Ehrhart K├Ârting (SPD), recently decided to have Scientologists monitored by the institution for interior safety and protection of the constitution.

From the German perspective there are a great many things in Scientology to cause alarm, from the military hierarchy, the youth-orientated programmes and the totalitarian nature of its teachings to its self-proclaimed desire to "salvage the planet". This site has more on Scientology being perceived as a totalitarian regime aiming for world domination and the segregation and possible destruction of dissenters and those singled out on the grounds of a pseudo-science.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jon Ronson On... Worst Internet Date

The first episode in the third series of Ronson On is of interest. It had originally supposed to be part of what became the second episode, on waking up from false beliefs, but was so extraordinary in itself that it turned into a programme on its own. It tells the true story of Mary Turner Thomson who met and married a man online that she had convinced her he was an American CIA agent. The CIA lie was backed up by, amongst other things, a watch he alleged was an alert from his superiors and incorporated GPS, and some apparent cracking of US Government systems.

Thomson also swallowed the story of his need for a "wife", another CIA agent who formed a mock marriage with him in a nearby town to provide a cover story for a safehouse. Thomson, who has written a book, The Other Mrs Jordan, about her story comes across as intelligent and articulate. That she was duped at all is testament to the slow gradient of lies fed to her, and the effects of the attendant fatigue and stress of being involved with someone who (apparently) had such a dangerous job.
"For six years, Will kept me pregnant, sleep-deprived and silent, so I could never work through in my own head what was happening or articulate to others around me the insanity in which I was living. He always gave me hope that the situation was just about to change for the better. I do not think he did it for the money, even though he conned me out of £200,000 during the years we were together. I think the money was a measure of the control he had over me, a benchmark."
MTT, Guardian 26/05/2007
I think another factor at play is the size of the lie. When a lie is so great that it makes you doubt the sanity of the person telling it, but the person telling it does indeed appear sane, you are left with something irreconcilable, and one of those two thoughts has to be dismissed.

EDIT: 28/06/07 Your humble servant is currently halfway through the book and will post a more detailed discussion of it in due course.

Some Magic Boxes - #2 de la Warr's Radionics

The 30 Second Skinny Radionics was created in the 1950s by George Warr. It is a type of sympathetic magic where the possession of hair or similar of a person allows the practitioner to influence the subject. Warr made medical claims for the device but in court in 1960 claimed that the device was only capable of ending potential illness on a spiritual plane, not cure someone of a physical illness. Despite this admission, medical claims for radionics continue to be made to this day.

The Wisdom Of Crowds

Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health is said by the Church of Scientology to be a best seller. Judging by its second-hand prices, people can't give it away, nor much else by Hubbard.

How much note we should take of the $1 list price for most of these is anyone's guess...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Times They Are A Changing

There were two articles about the Church of Scientology in the Times today; here and here.

They focus on CoS's bid for respectability through the work of its various affiliate groups, and an apparent attempt to avoid paying taxes in Britain following a redefinition of the word religion across the EU (though a posted comment seemed to suggest that the change in religious status of the church would still not lead to charitable status). An earlier article on their tax avoidance (and possible evasion) habits is here.

A quote from the Times tax break article:

Ms Yingling said: “The biggest discrimination is that you are looked at as a second-class citizen because of the failure to recognise Scientology as a charity. They can call you names like ‘nefarious cult’, which you wouldn’t do to the Church of England.”

Ms Yingling may have got that the wrong way round, I feel. It doesn't have charitable status in part because it is considered by many to be a nefarious cult. Oh and I admire the use of "failure to recognise Scientology as a charity". It is not that Scientology has failed to convince, but that the authorities have failed to recognise.

Much of the "good work" that Scientology does is through its various affiliate groups and that gives them a bit of a no-win situation. If they do not announce the various affiliation then they are accused of being underhanded, sly and devious. If they do announce it then they are accused of using the groups to unjustly raise the profile and respectability of Scientology and Dianetics. Compare, for instance, the almost tongue-in-cheek Youth for Human Rights International (stealth Scientology) versus the dayglo decals and pamphleteering of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers. The former host award ceremonies to honour individuals who may very well have issues with the Church of Scientology. The latter turn up at high profile disaster areas such as at the time of the 9/11 attacks, the 7/7 bombings or recently the Virginia shootings[1]. Much of their work at such sites is involved with ensuring victims do not receive psychiatric help. This site levels criticism of varying quality at the organisation, should you be interested.

Concurrently, the grapevine has it that David Miscavige is all set to announce on the fourth of July that the name of L Ron Hubbard is to be excised from all public facing documentation. They have, it would seem, realised that L Ron Hubbard is a bit of a liability when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of the people around them. In the past when the Church has broken the law it has always been able to put the blame onto individuals, Operation Snow White being the prime example. It's worth mentioning of course that LRH was considered a non-indicted co-conspirator in that instance. It seems that this misdirection of blame must take a step further, with Scientology tech just "being" without necessarily having to be ascribed to an individual. It is as though having gone around exposing the crimes of their critics, it has finally dawned on them that the logic swings both ways, so if Hubbard himself is not without crime, where does that leave the sacred and copyrighted texts of the Church.

These are, I must stress, just rumours at present, but the implication of destroying all existing editions of Hubbard's work and replacing them with re-edited versions are massive. Not least is the fact that CoS has spent a small fortune having Hubbard's canon etched onto metal plates and buried in the desert for future space aliens to benefit from should the OT VIII's stand by while humanity blows itself up.

Added to that is the overnight obsolescence of every Scientologist's library on the planet. Suddenly they are going to have a range of very expensive books to order in. We've seen in the past that floating OTs have often found the launchpad they've needed to leave Scientology in the flagrant money-making acts of the Church. Tory Christman was sold on freedom from the Church as soon as she was unsold on the idea of shelling out, as an OT VII, on more tech than she had been told would be required.

Lastly, the re-edit of the books may yet lead to more trouble from an ideological point of view. Hubbard is supposed to be source, but if Miscavige is tempted to dicky around with the tech too much, how will it survive an ensuing compare and contrast exercise? Hard-core scientologists will bow to the discouragement of such exercises in critical thinking, just as they will blindly agree to replace their dead books. Again it will be the floating scientologists whose doubts will be amplified by yet more inconsistency in the tech.

[1]Speaking of which, Travolta no doubt thought the timing of his "Psych drugs turn people into murderers" would key in perfectly with the release of the toxicology reports on Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho. Surely with news of his psych drug use to back up Travolta's claims it would be a real slap in the face for psychiatry? Only, of course, they didn't find any psychiatric drugs in Cho's bloodstream, undermining Travolta's j'accuse. Ironically it would seem that not enough psychiatric help was what led to the massacre. Cho was a psychiatric outpatient.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Psych Drugs Are Killing My Cognitive Function

John Travolta has been in the news lately nailing his flag to Tom Cruise's (and, natch, Scientology's) mast with regards psychiatric drugs. Travolta believes (and he has every right to believe, however wrongly) that if you delve into the backgrounds of the highschool shootings in America you will find that the perpetrators of the attrocities were all on psychiatric drugs. How true this is I don't know enough to say, but the notion that people who are psychologically damaged are on psychiatric medication is of no surprise, and it is grotesquely false logic to assume that the playground slayings are the direct and sole result of psychiatric medication; should we tolerate Scientology attempting to benefit from them?

It is a tired old phrase, but one that appears to require endless repetition; correlation does not equal causation.

It is this blogger's opinion of Scientology at large that tech serves to impose cognitive disfunction on those who adopt it. This can be seen in the neologist Newspeak language of Hubbard himself. This can be seen in the way that auditing slowly divorces its subjects from reality. This can be seen by the weird logical fallacies that pepper Hubbard's thought processes, the same thought processes he imposes on his followers.

For Travolta, Cruise et al to blame highschool shootings on the medication that the perpetrators may have been on is no more or less ridiculous and unfounded an assumption than the notion that chemotherapy causes people to die of cancer.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Attacking the Critics - #1 "What are your Crimes?"

"There has never yet been an attacker who was not reeking with crime."
HCO Policy Letter, 25th Feb 1966.
The Church of Scientology has always had its critics, and for understandable reasons. It has made all sorts of claims over the years, many of which are falsifiable1, and all sorts of lawbreaking has gone on in its name. The greatest infiltration of US Government buildings remains the Church's Operation Snow White in which papers and documents pertaining to Scientology were stolen from IRS buildings. This led to arrests and the subsequent court case: United States vs. Mary Sue Hubbard et al., 493 F. Supp. 209.

Eventually, 11 Scientologists, including Guardian's Office director Mary Sue Hubbard (wife of the church founder) were sentenced to prison. "The crimes committed by these defendants is of a breadth and scope previously unheard," wrote U.S. Attorney Charles Ruff in a sentencing memorandum. "It is interesting to note that the Founder of their organization, unindicted co-conspirator L. Ron Hubbard, wrote...that 'truth is what is true for you,' and 'illegal' is that which is 'contrary to statistics or policy' and not pursuant to Scientology's 'approved program.' Thus, with the Founder-Commodore's blessings, they could wantonly commit crimes as long as it was in the interest of Scientology....The standards of human conduct embodied in such practices represent no less than the absolute perversion of any known ethical value system."

Besides Hubbard himself, Kendrick Moxon and 21 others were named unindicted co-conspirators and were not charged. (Moxon tells New Times he didn't knowingly supply false handwriting samples and that the stipulation of evidence was something signed by church officials but written by FBI agents. He says the matter was thoroughly investigated by two bar associations -- in D.C. and in California -- before they admitted him as an attorney. Moxon is in good standing with the bar associations in both jurisdictions.)

After the Snow White debacle, church officials insisted that the Guardian's Office had contained "rogue elements" who broke into government offices without the knowledge or permission of the rest of the organization. The church has promised the IRS and said publicly that it has purged itself of the Snow White operatives. In 1993, the IRS granted tax-exempt status to the Church of Scientology after, among other things, it declared that it had changed its ways.

Double Crossed, Tony Ortego, 23/12/99

When someone chooses to criticise the Church of Scientology it is invariably based on behaviour such as the above. Often they have seen friends and families broken up by the Church's disconnection policy. Often they have been motivated by the Church's defensiveness itself. Many critics were once Scientologists themselves, who have become disenchanted either with the Church or with Scientology and Dianetics itself. Most critics have very little to gain in criticising the Church, and have exclusively altruistic motives. But here is how the Church views its critics:

Now get this as a technical fact, not a hopeful idea. Every time we have investigated the background of a critic of Scientology we have found crimes for which that person or group could be imprisoned under existing law. We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal pasts. Over and over we prove this.

Critics of Scientology, "Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter,"
5 November 1967

This belief that all critics of Scientology are criminals is still held true today. One only has to see some of the video footage of the peaceful picketing of the Church by the Lisa McPherson trust to know that. But what is the thinking behind the "criminal critic" belief? There are two associated beliefs:

  1. because the argument against the Church is being made by a criminal, it somehow makes that argument less plausible. This is clearly incorrect, though. The worst criminal in the world could amass with ease a collection of authorised, genuine documentation that would demonstrate, for instance, L Ron Hubbard's drug use, or his request for psychiatric help. This documentation would still stand up whether or not it is being put forward by a criminal.
  2. the "discussion" of Scientology is derailed. This is most effective when the crimes in question appear to be greater than whatever the accusation is being made towards the church by the critic. That is why often, when the Church has dug up something or other on a critic, it is exaggerated or, when nothing suitable is found, it is merely invented. That's quite an accusation to make, but it is one I am comfortable with. The Rundown on Scientology's Purification Rundown, recent article in the New York Press by John DeSio utilised comments from Free Speech activist David S Touretzky and when news of Touretzky's involvement reached Narconon, the knives came out.
    [Jim] Woodworth [director of the Scientology run New York Rescue Workers’ Detoxification Project] specifically pointed to items on [Religious Freedom Watch] that note Touretzky hosts bomb-making instructions on his own website and accusing him of being a racist. 'If you quote this guy as an expert, I want you to put in exactly who this guy is,' said Woodworth.

    Bomb-making instructions do appear on Touretzky’s website, along with an explanation that he has hosted them as a protest of the arrest and conviction of Sherman Austin, the owner and operator of anarchist website, who was arrested for publishing the information on that site several years ago. Touretzky explains that he now hosts the information to “facilitate public scrutiny of the law under which Austin was charged” and to shine a light on First Amendment issues raised by the case. The professor even points to other resources on bomb-making, available through, Wikipedia or even CNN’s website, that have not led to the arrest of their creators as a contrast to the Austin case.

    As for the racism charge, the information hosted at Religious Freedom Watch could not be found at any other credible source. A Google search found only reposts of the information, and a Lexis-Nexis search found even less. Therefore, the racism charge was deemed useless and unfounded. “It’s the same thing since the beginning of the cult,” said Touretzky. “They attack their enemies relentlessly in the hope that people will shut up and go away. But in the age of the Internet, it doesn’t work so well.”
Hubbard claims that whenever he has investigated the background of a critic of Scientology he has found crimes. I shall stick my neck out and say that that doesn't surprise me in the least. If you investigate anyone you will find crimes. If you ask anyone if they have ever broken the law, they will invariably say yes. I understand it's a standard part of police training. So criminality isn't particular to the critics (nor for that matter Scientologists).

For those unfortunate critics who were once Scientologists themselves, the Church need only check out their auditing files to find dirt on them, breaking a fundemental agreement of confidentiality. This is akin to a confessional priest using confessions to press-gang members of his congregation into staying within the church. To make it even worse, the Church would ordinarily use that information to demonstrate that Scientology works! If you're in Scientology your (prior) crimes are "proof" that Scientology reforms people, but when someone leaves the Church, it is as though they have lost their reformed character as well. But as I've said, the accusations of criminality are just a distraction, an attempt to place critics on the backfoot.

To that end it's no defence at all. One cannot prove Narconon works by libelling Touretzky.

In reading for this post I came across the following from the end of an LA Times article by Robert W. Welkos and Joel Sappell entitled Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison.
Boston attorney Earle C. Cooley, Scientology's national trial counsel, said the present church management does not condone the criminal activities of the old Guardian Office. He said that one of Hubbard's most important dictums was to "maintain friendly relations with the environment and the public."

"The question that I always have in my mind," Cooley said, "is for how long a time is the church going to have to continue to pay the price for what the (Guardian Office) did. ... Unfortunately, the church continues to be confronted with it.

"And the ironic thing is that the people being confronted with it are the people who wiped it out. And to the church, that's a very frustrating thing."
The answer to Cooley's question is to stop libelling people, to pursue Hubbard's dictum of "friendly relations" and see that fair game and dead agent tactics are not a part of it. The lay person knows very little about Scientology beyond its "cooky cult" status. When Scientology attacks its critics all it does is fulfil the ideas people have about it.

1 A falsifiable claim is not a false claim, merely one that can potentially be proved false by experiment. The term falsifiable is used because science sets itself up to disprove theories. A scientist posits A, an experiment is created to prove A false, A is not proved false by the experiment, so A becomes part of orthodox science. A later experiment proves A false. A scientist posits theory Aa, which seeks to explain the results of both experiments. This is the nature of scientific progress.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some Magic Boxes - #1 The E-Meter

The E-Meter is a galvanic skin response meter that is used in the auditing process. Galvanic skin repsonse (GSR) refers to the electrical resistance of skin, and is thought by some to change depending on the emotional state of the subject. A mild current is passed through the skin and the efficiency with which the electricity is conducted is measured. This efficiency fluctuates and it is the fluctuations that are considered to be meaningful. GSR is one of the indicators used in the polygraph, or "lie detector."

Less sophisticated than the polygraph (which as its name suggests utilises a number of different indicators with which to measure anxiety) the E-Meter was the invention of Volney Mathison, an associate of Lafayette Ron Hubbard, the author of Dianetics and architect of Scientology. He created and patented the device, which he named the Mathison Electropsychometer, claiming that it would allow access to the subconscious and so aid any form of psychotherapy. Mathison experimented with lie-detectors in the 1940s and noticed that when a subject recalled past events, a fluctuation would occur that appeared to corelate with the level of response in the subject. How Mathison measured the level of repsonse so that he could check it against fluctuations in the GSR is hard to see. I'll come back to this point in a moment.

The notion of the E-Meter was appropriated by Hubbard while he was creating Dianetics. This was an above board arrangement, but in 1954 Hubbard and Mathison fell out when Mathison refused to take his name off of the device. As Mathison had the rights for the device, Hubbard decided that the E-Meter was no longer deemed a necessary part of auditing.

"Yesterday we used an instrument called an E-Meter to register whether or not the process was still getting results so that the auditor would know how long to continue it. While the E-Meter is an interesting investigation instrument and has played its part in research, it is not today used by the auditor except perhaps in testing the basal metabolism of the preclear. The E-Meter is no longer used to determine 'what is wrong with the preclear.' As we long ago suspected, the intervention of a mechanical gadget between the auditor and the preclear had a tendency to depersonalize the session and also gave the auditor a dependence upon the physical universe and its meters which did not have to be there. I knew when we first began to use E-Meters that sooner or later something would have to be evolved, or that something would turn up which would dispense with them. I worked along that line rather consistently and about half a year before this writing developed 'communication lag' as the only diagnostic instrument needed by the auditor."

-- Hubbard, Dianetics 55!, Chapter 10, "Communication Lag"
Four years later Scientologists Don Breeding and Joe Wallis developed a similar tool that was smaller and ran from batteries. Hubbard, evidently rethinking his reasons for dismissing the meter, patented it in 1966 and reintroduced it into the process of auditing. It would appear that the key element of his thinking with regards the E-Meter was whether or not he could own and market the device. The E-Meter remains a central part of the auditing process to this day, despite various criticisms about its efficacy both as a measure of stress and in terms of the explanation of the device as laid out in Understanding the E-Meter. The earliest key criticism of the device focused on the supposed ability for an E-Meter to access the sub-conscious. We are told that the sub-conscious mind retains all information given to it. Indeed one of the abilities that a subject is supposed to acquire on becoming clear is perfect recall. Thus it is suggested that the E-Meter would be able to access memories inaccessible to the conscious mind. This claim was challenged by Alan Levy in an article he wrote for Life Magazine. During an auditing session it became important to pinpoint the time on which a particular argument took place.

Somehow, I was reliving an argument from early in my marriage. I had been blathering about how well I was doing and how great I was, and my wife had made a face. I shot back then almost jokingly: "Don't you love me anymore?"

"I love you," she had replied, choosing her words carefully, "but I'm not sure that I like you at this very moment." Her words had for a brief time devastated me.

David wanted to know when this had happened.

I thought for a moment and said: "In 1958. We were living in Louisville and had just came back from a winter trip to New Orleans, so I'd say early 1958. And it was Sunday morning -- I remember that distinctly."

"Good. Let's get a fix on the date, Was it January? February?"

"March, I'd think."

"It was March," said David, consulting the E-Meter. "Now the date? First to 10th? Eleventh to 20th? I've got a read on 11th to 20th?"

"Wouldn't it be easier," I said, "to consult a 1958 calendar? There are only four to five Sundays in March."

"There's no need for that. And keep your hands on the E-Meter," David said sharply. "The E-Meter will find out for us. Was it the 11th to 15th? Sixteenth? Seventeenth? Eighteenth? Nineteenth? Twentieth? That's funny, I get reads on the 15th, the 17th and the 18th."

"I think I know," I said. "When you said '15th' the Ides of March went through my head. And the 17th is St. Patrick's Day, which anybody who grew up in New York remembers. But I don't know about the 18th."

"Then it's probably the 18th," said David.

We rechecked March 15 to 20th on the E-Meter. This time the only "read" was on the 18th.

"Before we go on," I said, "can't we get a calender and check whether March 18, 1958 was a Sunday?"

"No," said David. "This is the session. And don't let go of the cans!"

March 18th 1958 fell on a Tuesday. It seems unlocking the subconscious mind may not be as certain as the literature of Scientology suggests. It turns out the E-Meter isn't all that good at monitoring Galvanic Skin Response in the first place.

The Food and Drug Administration took the Founding Church of Scientology to court in a case that saw the E-Meter facing criticism from the scientific community. Paulette Cooper summarises these criticisms as follows:

1. The E-meter has no device to control the constancy of current.

2. Holding a can in the hand permits great variations in the area of the skin in contact with the metal electrodes, and would allow great variation in the amount of actively sweaty tissue that is in contact with it.

3. The instrument is subject to polarization.

4. It is not a quantitative instrument due to uncontrollable variations in skin contact and current.

These experts also explained that the machine was not really a measure of skin resistance at all, but partially a reading of how firmly the individual was grasping the can; if the person squeezed the can, there was more contact, and apparent skin resistance would drop. If he held the cans loosely, the apparent skin resistance would simply increase.
That last paragraphs brings me back to my earlier query. How was it that Mathison could tell that the needle fluctuations of his device matched the level to which a subject responded to certain memories? Unless Mathison quizzed the subjects, asked them to gauge their own responses, which would be a rather sloppy way of going about it considering his interest in unconscious and subconscious responses, it is likely that he assessed the reaction levels based on observation alone, which would involve determining from the subjects body language the significance of each memory. If the body language changes, indicating a significant response, it's not too far a supposition to think that the grip on the cans (or the metal scouring pads that Mathison seemed to favour) would change along with it, providing the real cause of the fluctuations.

Not all criticisms of the E-Meter focus on its explicit claims. One of the routine accusations levelled at Scientology is that of brainwashing, which is one of those terms that somehow automatically undermines itself. Brainwashing is a word that tends to be used by one ideology to describe the indoctrination of someone into an opposing ideology. The claim invariably is not met out with science, however, but therein lies a problem with the word. It is very much an a priori term. The term is used and it is left to the listener to determine exactly what is meant by it. We can imagine some kind of crude torture, perhaps a 1984 style Room 101 encounter where the butterfly of humanity is broken on the wheel of a fascist government. If what Scientology does can be called brainwashing (and that is a discussion for a later post), it is of a much gentler and discreet form. Arnaldo Lerma's criticism of the E-Meter is very much bound up with this notion of auditing as a means by which a person is in some way detrimentally altered.

He notes that the E-Meter passes a low current through the subject and that this current, albeit harmless for short periods of time, has other effects when the current is sustained for the sort of lengths of time associated with the auditing process.

The E-meter can expose the human body with a left hand to right hand current up to 300 Micro Amps. 1/3rd of the value that is generally considered noticeable by a person.
Studies have shown that a small electrical stimulation with a small morphine dose has a therapeutic effect of a larger clinically significant dose, which indicates there is a close relationship between these two factors.

Thus, I conclude that the E-meter directly provides a pain killing adjunct to the implied result of Scientology auditing technology's release state.

This is also the source of the sag effect of a participant feeling great after auditing, yet having a sagging emotion tone some few days later - as his bodies endorphin levels go down past normal in a hang over effect, in which, like a heroin addict, he wants another dose, only it is a dose of auditing.

The feeling of euphoria that is often associated with the auditing process is central to the way in which the Church of Scientology slowly divorces its subjects from a commonly held worldview. Auditing is primarily a form of regression therapy, and the feeling of euphoria that comes with protracted auditing is a powerful tool for legitimising, at least in the mind of the euphoric subject, the validity of the process. That auditing then leads on to past life regression, a process that results in that same euphoria, that quasi-proof does much to assure the subject that the lore of Scientology is little short of fact. No wonder they didn't want Levy to let go of the cans!

What I think is worth pointing out with regards Lerma's claims is that it seems doubtful to me that Hubbard knew of the effects of receiveing a low and lengthy electric current. Lerma describes the electric shock machines that were common in the fairgrounds of Hubbard's youth, but the experience of a short sharp shock, and that of a low, almost imperceptible hum, seem too dissimilar for Hubbard to associate them. What I suspect is that Hubbard may have encountered the euphoria of the cans and either unwittingly associated it with the auditing process, or saw something that he could use to his advantage and lay the foundation for a fraudulent religion. I hope in future posts to suggest that Hubbard may have trodden that same slow gradient that Scientologists today tread, the path from immediate credibility to the heady heights of Incident II, that he to some extent, and using the same doublethink that many Scientologists cling to, suckered himself. I realise this is conjecture, but I feel it is conjecture worth pursuing.

coming soon... de la Warr's Radionics

First Post

This is a blog that I'm starting because I don't seem to have any other outlet for what I want to write about at present. There are a lot of things that I need to discuss, largely to do with peculiar beliefs, the bad behaviour that they can lead to, and other related dangers. Much of it will be about the Church of Scientology, but I will also be writing about other things that swim into my purview that I feel ought not to go unchecked. But before I get into any of that, I want to outline exactly where I am coming from.

I think that people should be allowed to believe in whatever the hell they want to believe in, and that it is absolutely their own business. However, I do not think that those beliefs are sacred. I do not think they are above discussion. I don't believe they should necessarily go unchallenged. When belief turns into behaviour, as it usually does, that behaviour is open for discussion, and criticism where necessary. What I write here I will strive to be thoughtful, respectful, accurate and truthful. At the end of the day, though, they are just my words and my thoughts. Do not think for a moment that I hope to inflict my worldview on other people. Do not think that I hope for my words and thoughts to be the basis of any kind of unethical or immoral behaviour towards other people. We're all on our own paths, and we're all seeking the truth. Maybe what I write here will mean something to you, and maybe it won't.

I'll leave off now with something someone said once:

" Do not allow the authority of any one person or school of thought to create a foregone conclusion within your sphere of knowledge."