Sunday, December 14, 2008

An Open Letter to Scientologists

This letters was posted on the Operation Clambake Messageboard. I'm reposting it here in its entirety, because I feel the more people in who read this the better.

Dear fellow Scientologist,

I have been pretending to believe some things which I do not. I wish to clarify this. I am stating this now, carefully, and at length because I believe that this statement will cause me to be declared as a Suppressive Person and you may be ordered to not communicate with me. So this might be my last chance to say this directly. I had hoped to avoid this penalty by remaining silent about certain opinions, but this silence is ruining my life. It is now preferable to suffer the consequences of free speech.

I believe some data and laws are more important than other data and laws. Any law or guideline for behaviour is only a generality and must be used with judgement and the awareness of its importance and the fact that there may be an exception.

I believe that purpose is senior to policy. That is, the end result is more important than how you achieve it. And no, this is not a license to cause whatever damage to get what you want, because the damage is also part of the end result.

I believe it is not just the right of an individual to think and speak freely, it is a fact. People just do. But as a right, it is supreme.

I agree with United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, except where it contradicts itself. The main contradiction that comes to mind is the conflict between one's right to property and freedom versus another's right to receive various services. I tend to favor the property owner, except in cases of corruption or extreme need.

I agree with the precepts of The Way To Happiness, with a qualification ("Try to") on precept 9.

I agree with the Code of Honor, with the understanding that its guidelines are used on a self-determined basis and are not enforceable.

I agree with the Creed of the Church of Scientology, except for the last four words of point 10.

I reject The Way To Happiness precept 9 "Don't do anything illegal."

This statement is too absolute. However, we should try not to do anything illegal. I do try. The consequences of breaking the law include the penalties defined by law, the fear of being found out, and the degradation of the system of laws. Breaking the law is almost always incorrect. Almost.

The law is vast. You may be doing something illegal and never know it. Not even the most knowledgeable law expert could confirm that he spent a day without doing anything illegal.

Sometimes the law contradicts itself.

Sometimes you must choose between what is legal and what is right. It might be correct to flout the draft, to avoid fighting an unjust war.

I know I'm setting myself up. But I'm favoring accuracy over safety.

I reject Creed Of The Church, point 10, last four words, "That the study of the mind and the healing of mentally caused ills should not be ... condoned in non-religious fields;"

This contradicts the freedom to one's own life. I believe anyone may study the mind in any field whatsoever, so long as basic decency is observed.

I reject the strict prohibition of altering Scientology (squirreling).

KSW 1: "I once had the idea that a group could evolve truth. A third of a century has thoroughly disabused me of that idea. ... As we could have gotten along without suggestions, then, we had better steel ourselves to continue to do so now that we have made it. ... Squirreling (going off into weird practices or altering Scientology) only comes about from noncomprehension. ... If you can't graduate them with their good sense appealed to and their wisdom shining, graduate them in such a state of shock they'll have nightmares if they contemplate squirreling."

This contradicts one's right to one's own life.

This contradicts the recommendation to judge for oneself.

The intention of KSW is to keep Scientology working, that is, to keep producing good results - happier, more capable people. I agree that many Scientology processes and technologies do produce good results. I agree that altering a standard procedure often produces poor or bad results. I accept that squirreling has led to abuses. But these reasons and all the other reasons given are not nearly sufficient to prove the incapacity of man, of you and me, to propose new ideas, test new ideas in an ethical manner, and judge the result. If man cannot be trusted to judge truth, to judge a good result from a bad result, he cannot be trusted to perform a standard procedure.

I agree it is correct to follow standard procedure, normally. But when one sees an opportunity to improve a procedure, or make a new and better procedure, it is proper to pursue it. This is called research. It should be done with knowledge of existing procedures. It should be done carefully and ethically, with due regard for possible danger. Everyone involved should be properly informed that it is experimental, it is not standard, and should know the expected risks. It should be recorded accurately. But, it should be done. Research should not be prohibited.

The criteria of whether a procedure is valid is the result. That includes all the side effects. Harmful practices must be identified explicitly.

If an auditor has produced good results for many years, he knows how to get good results. This is true authority.

I reject the notion that students cannot/should not discuss the meanings of words. Sometimes it is difficult to guess the correct meaning of a word in a given context, even when looking in the dictionary. It is helpful to have the combined knowledge of others to help identify it. Furthermore, during a checkout, the student may flunk if he does not agree with the one giving the checkout. He may take it up with the supervisor, or even the D of T. But the whole matter depends on the opinion of just a few people, under pressure to make progress. There may be others who are well qualified to judge the meaning of this word in this context. But they are expressly prohibited from collaborating.

I reject, from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Unauthorized use of the materials of Dianetics and Scientology. "

This contradicts the freedom to one's own life.

I reject, from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Developing and/or using squirrel processes and checksheets. "

This contradicts the freedom to one's own life.

I reject, from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Public disavowal of Scientology or Scientologists in good standing with Scientology Organizations. "

This contradicts the freedom of speech.

This contradicts the right to choose one's own group.

I reject, from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Public statements against Scientology or Scientologists but not to Committees of Evidence, duly convened. "

This contradicts the freedom of speech.

I reject, from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Writing anti-Scientology letters to the press or giving anti-Scientologist data to the press."

This contradicts the freedom of speech.

This, as a measure to keep a good public image, is fully counter-productive. It's hard to think of a worse PR move than to blatantly prohibit statements against one's group. You might as well say, "don't trust us."

There is nothing wrong with telling the truth and stating one's opinions and observations, even when the truth is not pleasant. If one knows about an abuse occurring within a Scientology Organization, one should be free to speak of it. This would be considered anti-Scientology. In fact, it is not harmful at all, in the long run. Eventually, those who slander and maliciously twist the truth show themselves for what they are, as do those who are just telling it like it is. After a reported abuse is resolved, this resolution eventually becomes known as well. Allowing free communication speeds the whole process. Strict suppression of bad news causes anxiety, and produces a stilted, affected utopian image. It creates a withhold among Scientologists, cutting their communication with non-Scientologists.

Phillip Gale committed suicide (apparently) on L. Ron Hubbard's birthday, March 13, 1998. It happened. It's bad news. It's anti-Scientology news. Lisa McPherson died under the care of Scientologists, according to many sources. All is not well. It just makes it worse to try to suppress communication about such things. Though difficult, it is better to suffer the humiliation and deal with it as openly and straightforwardly as possible.

I reject from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Continued Membership in a divergent group."

This contradicts the right to choose or assist one's organizations.

I reject from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Continued adherence to a person or group pronounced a Suppressive Person or Group by HCO."

This contradicts the right to choose or assist one's organizations.

I reject from Introduction To Scientology Ethics, "Such Suppressive Acts include: ... Failure to handle or disavow and disconnect from a person demonstrably guilty of Suppressive Acts."

Besides being a needless interference in one's life, it is not consistently enforced. Pharmacists, hospital staff, and school nurses regularly dispense various harmful psychiatric drugs. Such drugging is one of the main suppressive acts against which Scientologists are rallied. But those people are not declared Suppressive. Any Scientologist can go to the hospital or talk to a pharmacist. This enforced cutting of communication is impractical. It's a double standard. It's cornball.

I reject unverified and unverifiable claims of superiority, such as "Scientologists are the most ethical", "Scientology is the fastest growing religion", "Scientology is the only hope for man", "Scientologists are the elite of planet Earth". For one thing, there should be some objective basis for making such claims. If you're going to make a ranking, then you'd have to be doing comparisons. If we're #1, then who are #2 and #3? Such comparisons are not only not scientifically done by the Church (as far as I know), the Scientologist is explicitly prohibited from engaging in "other practices" to find out for himself. Secondly, even if such claims could be proven, does it really help to state them? Finally, how can you say you are better than any other group because nobody else does what you do, and at the same time, attempt to enforce a monopoly, prohibiting anyone else from doing what you do?

I reject hard sell. High pressure sales make sense to me when 1) the situation is urgent and 2) the person being sold to is incapable of grasping the situation or too evil or stupid to take the right action. It could be argued that both of these are true in the case of a new Scientologist. I don't think so, but you could make the argument. But after twenty years in the group, why does he still need hard sell? The urgency becomes crying wolf. If the person is still not with the program well enough to just be presented with the facts and left on his own to decide, then he really is too stupid or evil. Or, you're selling him the wrong item. So I reject hard sell and all its variations, such as yelling orders to staff.

Withholds cause isolation and hurt relationships, right? What about the withholds a Scientologist builds up against non-Scientologists? That's enormous. Example withholds:
-- How much money you've paid to Scientology, and how much debt you've accumulated in the process.
-- Scientologists are subject to hard sell.
-- How often you are called by staff, harangued to help out or study, or pay, or go up the Bridge.
-- Policy on disconnection.
-- You or someone you know hasn't really achieved and maintained the ability promised for a given level.
-- You receive promotion with fantastic-sounding phrases, such as "Super Power" and "2 billion megawatt OT POWER NOW".
-- You have been trained to talk to new people in a certain way.
-- You are afraid to look at an internet site or TV show because you might be exposed to secret materials.
-- What became of certain leading Scientologists, such as Mary Sue Hubbard, Reg Sharpe, Mike Rinder, Ron Miscavige, Marty Rathbun, Jesse Prince, David Mayo, Martin Samuels, the first Clear, the first OT 7.
Do you feel free to say any of these things to non-Scientologists? To other Scientologists? Do you have to hide your mail? Are you withholding because you think it's right to not say, or because you are embarrassed? LRH said to answer people's questions. Can you freely answer people's questions? They want to know this stuff. Can you say it?

Why don't I disseminate Scientology? I talk about Ron Paul to anyone who wants to listen (and some who don't). I think he's the greatest patriot since Thomas Jefferson. I bought a hand tool called Root Jack for $120 that was more effective at pulling out small trees then a backhoe at $250/day. Ask me about Root Jack, and you'd think I was a Root Jack salesman, the way I go on about it. So why don't I talk with everyone about Scientology? Why don't I bring new people in? Don't I want others to have the same gains I have had? You bet I do. There are real gains available in Scientology. But I don't talk because I'm ashamed. I don't want others to be subject to hard sell, to censored communication, to authoritarian control.

To honestly disseminate, the conversation would go like this:
Me: "I think the Communication Course would help you. You can do it at the Church of Scientology."
Public: "Isn't Scientology a cult?"
Me: "Technically, any religion is a cult, so yes. Could you be more specific?"
Public: "Isn't it like the mafia?"
Me: "Well, Scientologists are put under extreme pressure to pay money and/or work long hours for almost nothing. And anyone criticizing Scientology or leaving Scientology is considered to be a Suppressive Person. Suppressive Persons used to be subject to various types of harassment. Some people say it still happens sometimes. But people who say that are also Suppressive Persons, and therefore not reliable, in the eyes of the Church. In any case, Scientologists are not supposed to have any contact with a declared Suppressive Person, even if they are family. This is ensured by required confessionals. I've never been in a mafia, but I suppose there are some similarities ... Wait! Where are you going?"
Public: (running) "Stay away from me."
Me: "The Comm Course is really a good course! I wasn't supposed to tell you that other stuff right away! I was just trying to answer your questions! Scientologists are great people!!"
Me: (to myself) "I liked doing the Comm Course, anyways."

That's how it would go, if I wanted to be fully straightforward. Seriously, when you are in doubt, you want to know the good and the bad. When you buy a house, you want to know if crime is high in the neighborhood. If you're hiring a babysitter, you want to know if she slaps kids and so forth. You want to know the bad stuff, as soon as possible. Don't you? What's wrong with being out front with this? No one would join, that's what.

So I reject the policies and practices that set up the Scientologist to needlessly withhold communication with non-Scientologists, in some misguided attempt at good PR. No. This hogties and introverts the Scientologist, alienates the other guy, and just plain stifles normal conversation. Thumbs down on that. No go.

How can I be responsible for the Church when I have little knowledge or control of its management? How can we correct a serious wrong if we can't talk to the only people who are talking about it?

How am I supposed to be responsible when someone asks me about Lisa McPherson? The Church provides me no details. Do I say that I don't know and I don't want to know? Is that responsibility? Do I say that it's all lies, an attack on the Church, totally fabricated by evil men? There is too much evidence that she died needlessly, in the care of the Church. Whatever lies added to that are relatively minor. Can I send my condolences to her family? No. It's a safe bet that her family is anti-Scientology, for obvious reasons. So to talk to them at all, would be to associate with "Suppressive Persons". Why is it that the only information I've gotten from the Church is that we've won a legal victory? The criminal case was dropped, the Church's image is much improved. Hip, hip, hurray! But, you know, she's still dead. This is not good PR. This is cold. Will there be no public apology? Will there be no public statement that the Church goofed, and has taken great measures to ensure it never happens again? How can I stand tall and say, "I am a Scientologist"? I consider the facts that 1) Lisa died, 2) we're only told about a legal victory, and 3) any Scientologist who seriously tries to investigate this, risks being declared Suppressive. The more I consider these, the more I have to say that something is very wrong. Something is NOT OK. It's irresponsible for me to do nothing about this. It's a cover-up, maybe not for the world, but it's out of the knowledge of Scientologists. Or, I don't have my facts straight at all, which is very possible. So I'm going to get my facts straight, which involves communication with "Suppressives". So be it.

Learning opposing ideas, hearing critics, is only harmful to a person who cannot evaluate data. For a person who can evaluate data, who can observe whether some data is true, hearing false information causes only a temporary setback. Soon after the false data is recognized, the truth is strengthened, and the source of the false data loses credibility. To censor, to cut someone else's communication, is to imply that the listener has a weak ability to discern true and helpful information from false and harmful information. It is insulting and degrading. It is appropriate to censor information for young children. But, it sends the clear message, "you are no more intelligent than a child -- I am qualified to control what you can hear, you are not."

There is a story going around that Sea Org staff are not supposed to have children and SO women who do become pregnant are often pressured to abort their pregnancies. What a vicious rumor! Can you imagine being ordered to murder your healthy, wanted baby, your future family? This is unbelievable! Outrageous! Sounds like black PR. Who is saying this? Ex-SO staff are saying this. Here's a situation that needs to be stopped. Either all the stories are false and the stories need to stop, or the stories have some truth and the coercion needs to stop. It's not ok to ignore. But you, the Scientologist, are not permitted to communicate with those people telling these stories to get enough data to verify them. This is where censorship becomes evil.

So, again, I reject attempts to censor what I hear.

I reject the assumed authority of giving me permission to disagree. This is inherent in everyone and not for LRH to grant or deny. It's nice that such freedom of thought is stated many places in Scientology. But it's a mistake to say, "Hey, LRH says it's ok to disagree, therefore it's ok to disagree." No. Just say, "It's ok to disagree." And mean it.

The subject of secrets is tricky. It's pretty clear that sensitive personal information, given to another in confidence, should be kept secret. You might break the agreement for a greater good, such as exposing a severe crime. But keeping personal secrets is proper, in general.

There are other secrets which are appropriate. For example, I know the End Phenomena of some processes on the Key To Life Course. These are secret. But I also believe that the reason they are secret is so that someone doing the process wouldn't be tempted to fake it. I also know that it's not the end of the world if someone finds out too soon. It just means that he has to be more honest if he wants to reach the End Phenomena. And if it were appropriate to tell someone, I would. I have the judgement to go along with the secret.

But Scientology has needlessly multiplied the secrets to be kept, and set unjustifiable penalties for revealing them. Why is it a crime to feed someone the Clear cognition? I don't know what the Clear cognition is, but if I found out before I originated it myself, would I forever be damned? Clear is a state of being, not a cognition, right? It doesn't make sense that so much could be riding on a few words. If anyone is a Clear, there must be a more robust way to determine the fact and a more robust way of achieving it.

Also, I have been set up for failure because some secrets have become broad public knowledge. We can argue whether or not they should have been exposed. But they are out. And they are broadcast on TV, the radio, and the internet. I tried to avoid them at first, but I gave up. I don't think it's possible to close my ears and eyes at the appropriate times. It's absurd to try. It gives a tool to anyone who wants to introvert me.

I am reminded of the United States atomic bomb project during World War II. That seems like a technology you'd really want to protect. And Soviet spies were right in the middle of it. So much for secrecy. The exact people you don't want to find out, are some of the first people to find out. LRH should have known this. Secrets get out. You have to take this into consideration before producing something that the bad guys aren't supposed to know about.

Anyways, secrets are a hassle because you have to keep straight what you can say to whom. I really don't appreciate having to keep secrets needlessly. So, I reject the duty to keep secrets which are already public knowledge. And I reject penalties of revealing secrets that are out of proportion to the damage caused.

The following is a generality, but it's true. Some Scientologists consider that the fact that they will be sec-checked is a motivation for not committing overts. The main consideration is financial -- it costs too much to spend the extra time in session. At first, this seems like an advantage of sec-checking. The advantage is temporary. This is wrong motivation. This means that one's behaviour depends on who knows about what one is doing -- a very bad way to be trained. One should make decisions based on the greatest good, not based on who will find out.

The following is another generality, but still true. When one brings up a critical comment about Scientology, the response from a Scientologist would be to question the validity of the source of the comment. Similarly, the test of whether a datum is dependable is often totally settled once it can be found in an LRH bulletin or book. If Ron wrote it, then it's taken as true. If someone disagrees with it, it will be assumed that he has misunderstood words or some fixed false data preventing him from grasping the truth. Though this contradicts LRH essays on integrity, this is the principle in use. The fallacy of this is made more obvious considering the 2007 re-release of the basic Scientology books, and also considering the earlier/ongoing project to store Scientology materials in a durable form. This project involved creating stainless steel plates and books made of a special paper, then storing these in titanium vaults. The idea is that the materials will be preserved in case of catastrophe. But now, assuming the latest releases to be the best representation of LRH, the project would need to be re-done. And the existing materials would need to be destroyed, or somehow marked that they are the wrong version, etc. This leads me to several conclusions. One, storing the materials in a durable form is little guarantee that they will last, unless numerous people are doing so. Two, if RTC were really interested in preserving and disseminating pure LRH materials, it would also publish all the raw data, unedited. Three, we Scientologists cannot identify genuine LRH materials from altered materials. Four, anyone who did point out confusions in the books, would have been stopped and sent to find their misunderstood word, preventing correction of the material itself. So stifling argument in the effort to Keep Scientology Working resulted in keeping Scientology from working. Five, we should therefore de-emphasize the importance of the source of information, and emphasize more reliable methods of ascertaining truth, i.e., observation.

I reject "He pulled it in", when it means "He caused the abuse he got". If you realize you are being a victim or causing destruction, and you are therefore "pulling" bad things in, OK. You realize it, you take better control of your life, great. But for anyone else to proclaim that "you pulled it in" is just an opinion, and often not helpful in any way.

I reject fixing the price of services. I believe a free market is a better guarantee of quality. Furthermore, arbitrary (i.e., decided by someone other than the persons giving and receiving) fixed prices and commissions result in less services being done, just as income tax squashes trade and production.

I reject the authority of the Church to control me. I'm talking about situations where the C/S or Ethics Officer says I need to such-and-such action, regardless of my opinion or whether I can afford it. I'm talking about when I would like to get some time off course, and I have to get approval and "make up the time", as though I owed my time. I usually don't mind being controlled for a few hours, or maybe more sometimes. But it's totally my decision, and not a blank check from here on out.

I reject the notion that, though I have the ability to make money, I don't have the intelligence or can't be trusted to spend it exactly as I choose and find out how it is used.

I reject the concept of buying status.

I reject the concept of buying status at 20% off.

I reject the concept of buying status at 20% off until November 7, after which time, status will cost full price.

I reject the extension of the 20% discount on status until December 31. I'm beating a dead horse here. But seriously, I'm happy to contribute to worthy projects. But I try not to care about a status, a pin, a certificate, a plaque or a trophy that says I paid so much money? Who really cares about that stuff and why should we be encouraging such vanity?

I reject most required attestations to states of being and abilities. It's ok to gain abilities and achieve new states and attest that you've done so. But if it's a required step and the ability gained is very general, there's trouble. To make a TRs graduate attest to "ability to handle any situation in life with communication alone", is to set him up for failure. The next time he ends up in an overwhelming situation, say he gets mugged by a street gang, or even a gang of 2-year olds, and he can't handle it, he becomes a failure. He has to admit it and re-do the course. Or he has to bend his mind around and somehow qualify this ability he attested to and say, "well, there's no such thing as an absolute," and water it down in some way. In any case, from there on, it's tough to talk to others in a straightforward way about this, because he's supposed to have that broadly-worded ability and the course just doesn't produce it. It's less introverting to attest to something more specific and demonstrable, say "done: 2hrs flawless TR0; 1/2 hour each flawless TR1, TR2, TR3, TR4." In the case of professional auditing, there is the additional pressure of completing for financial reasons. Take a Grade I completion, who is supposed to be able to recognize the source of problems and make them vanish. This is great, until a problem comes along that won't vanish. It doesn't necessarily mean she needs to re-do Grade I. It means that the stated result of the process needs to be brought into alignment with what the process really does do. Another example, why would a flubless interned Class XII auditor ever need cramming? She's perfect, right? Wrong. Mistakes happen. She may be outstanding. She may be worth her weight in gold. But there's no need to label her "perfect" or "flubless." There should not be mismatch between what is advertised and what is actually delivered. And there should not be pressure on students and pcs to attest to the advertised state, thereby shifting the blame to them when they discover a difference.

I reject the statement that Scientology works 100% of the time when applied 100% correctly. I've heard various versions of this many times. Anyone who claims this needs to define what phenomena is meant by "works", a detailed description of what is meant by correct application, and the records of a repeated experiment. And after that, it could only be claimed that it worked in 100% of the repetitions of that experiment. It is also important to test whether applying it differently produces a same, better, or worse result. But, with limited knowledge of everything in Scientology, having experienced success with what one has tried, to then extrapolate that all Scientology works 100% of the time for 100% of the people from here to eternity, is not justified. This in no way degrades your success. It just means don't be blinded by it.

The only times I hear this "100%" stuff is when a service is being advertised or when a less than ideal result is achieved. In the latter case, it is the trigger to investigate what was done non-standardly. Fair enough. But what about when a good result is achieved? You could still find something non-standard done. My opinion there.

I reject that Scientology is a science. It is a science in the sense that it is an organized body of knowledge. But in other subjects commonly known as sciences, such as chemistry or mathematics, the scientific method is continuously employed. This means posing new hypotheses and trying new experiments to more accurately confirm or deny the hypotheses. Testing and questioning is ongoing. No law is sacred. Anything is open for revision if new observation warrants it. In Scientology, this is not allowed. So it's misleading to call Scientology a science. If you corrupted a math book or a chemistry book that was in use, sooner or later, the corruption would lead to a failure in practice and the corruption would be traced down and corrected. And anyone competent in the field could do that. Applied mathematics and chemistry, by the way, can be very dangerous. But this does not warrant the existence of a central authority to keep math and chemistry pure, to own the trademarks on the square root symbol, the periodic table of the elements, "Mathematics(TM)", "Chemistry(TM)", or "Chemist(TM)".

In 1966, Tony Hitchman interviewed L. Ron Hubbard on Rhodesian television. This is available from the Church as a video entitled "An Introduction to Scientology". It is claimed to be the only filmed interview with Ron. This is false. There is another. Charlie Nairn with Granada Television produced a half-hour documentary on Scientology in 1967, as part of the World in Action series. Despite the mostly negative spin, this documentary has some favorable coverage of Saint Hill. "Saint Hill is a nice place. Scientologists are very friendly and honestly believe they can help whoever goes there. Usually, they can." In the documentary, Janet Lundy is announced as a Clear. She speaks briefly and really looks happy. It also includes an interview with Ron, but he doesn't come off altogether favorably. The interviewer asks Ron about his (three) wives. Smiling widely, Ron says his first wife is dead. Then Ron says he never had a second wife. Despite all of Scientology's truths, this documentary, and the Church's effective claim that it doesn't exist, is evidence that neither the Church nor Ron is 100% reliable. There is other evidence, but this is some of the most blatant.

Here are a few questions to consider.

What kind of friend would leave you because someone else told them they had to?

Why is there not an early-detection system for Suppressive Persons? Why does it take ten or twenty years sometimes to discover them?

Are your statistics more important than you? When you're upset, who is there for you, free of charge? When you succeed at something you really wanted to do yourself, who cares?

When watching a Scientology event video alone or in a small group, do you give a standing ovation? Do you clap? What about when watching the same video in a large group?

What are the local or international 1-, 5-, 10-, 20-year statistics for training and auditing completions? Do you care? Are you curious? Where can you find out? Is it ok to ask?

Who are the top executives? What do they do? Have you ever met with them in person? Have you met their families? Do they have individual hopes and dreams? Hobbies? Problems? Are they happy or frustrated? Where are they now? Who were the top executives the past 40 years? Is it ok to ask? Who records our Church history?

If all you cared about was doing the right thing, you didn't care who was looking, what would you be doing? How much of what you are doing is based on following orders or going with the flow, and how much is based on what you truly believe to be right? Why do you need so many orders?

How many bulk mail items do you receive? How many phone calls? How many e-mails? Do you want them?

How many HCOBs do you know of that you seriously doubt that LRH wrote? Did you verify he did? How did you verify it?

What are your crimes? Hmmmm? Think about it. What are your crimes, really? Ok, scratch that. Answer this. How do your crimes stack up against your contributions?

Suppose David Miscavige showed up at the New Years Event in a grey shirt. And what if his first words were, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I've been lying to you all, to you who've trusted me utterly. I truly thought I was doing the right thing, at first. ...", and he proceeded to tell the whole story? What would be your reaction? He's a person too, you know.

I am not attempting to harm Scientologists, the Sea Organization, or any Church official or staff. They are good people who sincerely wish to help, and do so regularly. I am formally stating my beliefs. I am criticizing and rejecting various practices: pompous haranguing, bulk mail blizzards, limited time special offers, micro-management, ignorance/hiding/non-confront of bad news within the Church, ignorance/hiding/non-confront of possibly good new ideas elsewhere, needless secrecy, out-of-proportion justice actions, interference in others' communications, etc. I consider these to be anti-Scientology. I am asking the obvious questions, obvious to anyone who dares to look. And I'm not buying any more nonsense.

Do you scorn me? Are you thinking I am a treasonous 1.1 goody-goody, now turning on my group? Then, realize what this means to me. I've been a Scientologist practically all my life. I've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of my own hard-earned money on Scientology. I've spent years studying Scientology courses. I'm risking losing many friends. I'm risking the Church ordering my own mother to never speak to me. Speaking out as I am is not a choice I made without much painful consideration. I'm putting my ass on the line, looking like a traitor to Scientologists and looking like a brainwashed fool to everyone else. So, don't lay the blame on me. I tried in earnest to get it right. I tried to help. I ain't the problem here. You'll know that when, after you've written me off, all the problems I mention will still be with you.

Suppressing one's own communication is often wrong, but is a personal choice. Suppressing others' communication is, for lack of a better word, suppressive.

What is Scientology?

I thought the top triangle of the Scientology symbol represented Affinity, Reality, and Communication. Affinity -- I like you. I don't like your money, your position, your impressive achievements, your statistics or certificates. I don't care about your public speech, your clever jokes. I might or might not like your intelligence, your ability, your body, or your beliefs. It's not your culture or your country. I like the person inside, the real you. I like being with you, no matter what anyone else thinks. Reality -- We agree on something. We're not just trying to impress someone. We don't reluctantly agree. We're not voting for the same lesser-of-two-evils. It's not a forced compromise. It's not a legal contract. We just happen to agree. And it's great to know someone that thinks like I do -- what a team! Communication -- I'm talking to you. I want you to know what I'm thinking. I'm the guy sending the message. It's coming from me. It's not coming through me. It's not paid for. It's not approved. And I'm sending the message to you. Though the whole room can hear me, it's for you. I want you to get it. You. Not him. Not her. You. Me to you. And if you want to reply, all the better.

I thought the lower triangle represented Knowledge, Responsibility, and Control. Knowledge -- You know something. You're not afraid of being proven wrong. You welcome criticism. You didn't just repeat "4x6=24" a hundred times. You made a rectangle out of 24 marbles. Your certainty does not decrease by hearing more opinions, because you can differentiate between your own observation and what someone tells you. You looked, you struggled through the confusion, you found out. You know. Responsibility -- You own something. It's your job, your area, your operation. You know what's yours and what's not yours and what you share with others. No one forced you into it. No one dumped it on you. You decided to put it on yourself to make it happen. You'll gladly take the credit for success, or suffer the consequences of failure. You don't let the ignorant make the rules. You care about the outcome. You care about the people. Control -- You control something. You're not on a power trip, impressed with your own status. You're not issuing impossible orders in a commanding voice. You're not freaking out, overworked, overwhelmed. Your credit is not maxed-out to the insane edge. You're not sloppy and lazy. You set the example. You lead from the front. You make steady, skilled motions. You're competent. You're in control.

I thought Scientology was for improving the ability and courage of the individual. I thought the idea was to increase survival and knowledge of self, family, groups, mankind, plants and animals, the physical universe, life, and God. A world where the able can prosper and where honest beings have rights. Freedom. That is the Scientology I was taught. That's what I thought it was all about. That's the Scientology we were promised. Remember?


Mac Stevens

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Complex: John Duignan, Nicola Tallant

In 1985, in Stuttgart, a twenty-one-year-old John Duignan, as a means to fund Scientology services, signed up to the local org staff. Twenty-one years later, he engaged in a cloak-and-dagger game on the streets of Birmingham, misdirecting OSA, the Church of Scientology's intelligence agency, so that he might flee to family in Ireland and rebuild his shattered life. In 2008, to a backdrop of Anonymous protests and high-profile defections, Duignan co-authored The Complex with Sunday World journalist Nicola Tallant.

On the verge of release, and with tedious predictability, the book was withdrawn from a variety of online outlets. One of the church members Duignan named had threatened a libel lawsuit, and The Complex is now chiefly only available through Amazon-affiliated booksellers or the Irish bookshop Eason. Church of Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw issued a statement, as is her wont, employing that familiar Scientology brand of not-lying. Duignan refers to a girl named Alice who, while on RPF, drank cleaning fluid and threw herself from one of the buildings in Saint Hill. The suicide attempt failed, but left Alice invalided. Prouw went on record stating "no one has ever committed suicide at the facility where Mr. Duignan worked in the UK" - denying a claim that Duignan hadn't actually made. With yet more predictability, the attempt to quash the distribution of The Complex has only served to fuel the interest in the book's contents.

Duignan's exposé does not limit itself to discussing what happened from the day he took the Oxford Capacity Test but instead takes a chapter out to outline everything that brought him over the threshold of that Stuttgart org. This courageous confessional serves two purposes, explaining what it was in Duignan's make-up that made him a mark for the organisation, and undermining any leverage the Church may yet hold courtesy of his case notes, the copious details of anything he may have discussed during his auditing sessions.

Duignan embraced life in the Sea Org, making his way from his initial training up to the heights of Deputy Flag Banking Officer for Org Resources and Exchange in Birmingham. Unlike many who find themselves in the organisation, Duignan was able to determine where he most wanted to be, what posts were best suited to him, and how to ensure his stats, the weekly results by which each member of CoS staff is judged, remained on the up and up. There is a palpable joy to Duignan's accounts of his times of success, though these shift over time from a sense of achievement to a sense of survival over adversity, of raising church funds to cover payments of legal damages, or turning around press releases within an impossibly short space of time.

As much as the book tells the story of Duignan's career as a member of Sea Org, it also serves as a history of the Church as it transformed itself under the leadership of Miscavige. Whereas CoS was no picnic under Hubbard, it became darker and more paranoid still following his demise. Miscavige rose to power following a coup against Pat Broeker, and impressed upon the organisation a far more totalitarian regime than existed before. Perhaps due to the shadiness of his own rise, Miscavige's leadership was characterised by purges and punishment. Whole levels of management were replaced. The base at Hemet has reportedly become a ghost town, with few people in the Church willing to be posted there, and fewer still able to survive the increasingly insane demands placed on them by their church leader. It is telling indeed that Duignan describes being held at Saint Hill in a room that once was given over to watch equipment (walky-talkies and the like) but had been turned into a cell where those undergoing ethics were to write out their confessions; Hubbard's outward-facing paranoia, raging against the psychs and the government, making way for Miscavige's inward-facing paranoia.

It was not Miscavige's tightening fist that led to Duignan's emergence from the cult mentality, however, but the organisations ongoing romance with celebrity. Duignan was able to get over the various injustices he had suffered for his alleged out-ethics, but not the disproportionate rewards that Cruise et al received when hard-working Sea Org members continued to live in cramped conditions on a diet of rice and beans. This crack was widened further following Duignan's access to the unfiltered internet (in order to sell goods on Ebay, where Duignan encountered e-meters and more) and with it an unfiltered view of the Church and its history. When Duignan took the courage to read, in Hubbard's own writing, the OTIII materials, he knew his life with the Church was over.

But Duignan does not end his story with his life on the run in Birmingham and his mad dash to Douglas. He also writes about his ongoing recovery; the counselling, the difficult successes, the community of ex-scientologists, and the slow but sure rebuilding of his life outside the Church. This is a vital part of anyone's Scientology story, an offer of hope to those stuck in an organisation that too often uses fear of the "wog" world to keep people trapped.

The power Duignan's story holds is because it is just that, an unflinching account of one person's own psychological journey through Hubbard's mad mad world. It's a great look not just at the church, but the personal motivations of those who find themselves employed by it. There are a few minor factual errors here and there (the occasional street name; Hubbard, while "researching" the OT levels, is described as popping "greens and reds" rather than the traditional "pinks and greys") but they do not detract from what seems to be an open and honest account of a man who was both victim and perpetrator of a powerful, fraudulent organisation.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Touch Assists and Logic Traps

Following a recent posting to ARS by the infamous Barbara Schwarz I took a deeper look into the "Touch Assist" as owned by the Church of Scientology. I find the alternative medicine side of Scientology quite interesting, and to some extent it was the medical claims the Church makes that led to my sustained writing about the organisation. The liberal in me insists that Scientologists can believe in whatever they like, but when they start trading in treatments, and this includes auditing, then they need some pretty robust proof to back up their behaviour. CoS, however, treats proof, and the need for proof, with suspicion; proof, they will tell you (in more words than necessary) is suppressive; by saying that there is no evidence for leukaemia being cured by auditing you are attacking the beliefs of those who say auditing can indeed drive out cancer.

The irony of this should not be lost on you. In their ongoing battle against the imagined psychiatric conspiracy, CoS will often complain that psychiatrists do not make it clear to their patients of the potential side effects the drugs they adminster might have. The flipside of that, though, is information about the likely efficacy of the treatment. If you are offered a drug that has a 99% chance of making your schizophrenia manageable, but a 1% chance of inducing a mild heart attack, you are going to treat that decision differently than one about a drug offering only a 10% chance of success. Where is the information about the efficacy of the tech? Right from the start, back in the days of the Dianetics Research Foundation Hubbard showed little or no interest in doing anything approaching clinical research; that was the main reason why Dr Winter resigned. Hubbard was instead only interested in disseminating his techniques and selling his wares.

Often CoS spokespeople will explain, when pressed for evidence that the tech really works (and hey! Ensuring the tech works is part of KSW, people, so get your ethics in!), that no trials have been carried out because their simply hasn't been the time time. Usually this is in reference to techniques and treatments that have been around for 30-50 years. For a multimillion dollar multinational corporation such as the Church of Scientology there can really be no excuse. This would be akin to Glaxo Smith Kline having a drug on the market for half a century without ever getting round to providing any evidence for it.

So anyhew. Touch Assists. Here is a case in point of a tech that is supposed to have clear medical benefits, has been around for about fifty years but has yet to be put through any kind of robust clinical trials by its main sponsor. The WIS page holds some interesting statements. Possible uses include "the banged hand ... burned wrist ... a dull pain in the back, a constant earache, an infected boil, an upset stomach. In fact, the number of things this simple but powerful process can be applied to is unlimited!" Everything, then! Well, as long as you're not overselling it.

It has more to say on the nature of physical injury. "Every single physical illness stems from a failure of the being to communicate with the thing or area that is ill. Prolongation of a chronic injury occurs in the absence of physical communication with the affected area or with the location of the spot of injury in the physical universe." Bang goes germ theory...

So, having established the cause of all physical illness, and that the touch assist can be applied to them, what does the process actually entail? Well you can read through for yourself, but it primarily involves getting the subject to lie down and make themselves comfy, then prodding the gently with your finger, each time stating "feel my finger". The prodding approaches the injured part. "You try to follow the nerve channels of the body, which include the spine, the limbs and the various relay points like the elbows, the wrists, the back sides of the knees and the fingertips. These are the points you head for. These are all points in which the shock wave can get locked up. What you are trying to do is get a communication wave flowing again through the body, because the shock of injury stopped it." This is close to the gate control theory of pain, although seemingly reversed, and is further confused on learning that the "touching must be balanced to both left and right sides of the body. When you have touched the person’s right big toe, you next touch the left big toe; when you have touched a point a few inches to one side of the person’s spine, you next touch the spot the same distance from the spine on the opposite side." Thus not following the nerve channel of the illness or injury at all.

But such musings on the possible theory at work behind the touch assist is rendered useless by the next step; continue the assist until the person feels better. Continue the assist until the person feels better! This seemingly innocuous instruction is a devastating boobytrap. Were we to construct ourselves a clinical trial, where a randomised group of recently injured people (perhaps as part of aftercare in an A&E ward) were either told to lie down, or told to lie down and get prodded by a Volunteer Minister, we would be no nearer to establishing scientifically whether touch assists worked because an integral part of the touch assist is that you do them until they work. There is nothing in the description of the touch assist explaining what to do when you get no positive indications; you simply keep going. If you break off the touch assist before you get a positive indication, then the touch assist wasn't complete. The reason for breaking off the assist is because it wasn't working, but in the topsy-turvy world of Scientology, the reason the assist didn't work was because the assist was broken off.

Regular readers ought to recognise the shape behind this. The tech is presented. The tech Works. The tech is tried out. If the tech fails, it is not the tech, but the practitioner; a logical trap that lies at the heart of so much of Scientology's scripture, where Hubbard's writing is never brought into question, but his followers are.

In the interests of transparency, both mine and CoS's, I should point out that all assists are treatments for shock and shock alone. If you were brave enough to read all of the Touch Assist description, you would have discovered this: "If the body has been very badly damaged, the person may still be in agony after your assist, but you will have gotten some of the shock off. At this point a medical doctor could administer a painkiller and repair the physical damage." So the assist doesn't treat pain, or the injury itself. Instead it treats the only thing left which is shock. This makes me wonder if the lying down and getting comfy part is actually the active ingredient, and that "poking on a gradient" is just a bit of the old witch doctor.