Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coercion and Extortion? In *My* Religion?

Tommy "Foot Bullet" Davis has been at it again. In case you've not heard, Larry Anderson, star of the Church of Scientology's Orientation video, has woken up and walked, claiming that he no longer believes Scientology can deliver what it promises (freedom from "the trap"). He also blames what he regards as corruption in the upper levels of management, citing the fact that the Church, for a period of about two years, was quite happily selling books it knew were no good, while those titles were being revised for re-release. This mis-selling is the sort of brazen nasty that we like to report on at The Beacon because it is irrefutable. The "wrong" books were sold right up to the day before the release of the "corrected" versions. It's so irrefutably wrong of the Church that they haven't even sought to apply any spin on it.

But anyhew. It's what happened next where it gets really interesting. Reports are widespread of the lengths that the Church will go to to retain parishioners it believes are valuable to the church or best kept silent. After making his intentions clear Anderson agreed to meet and discuss with Davis the return of money the actor had on account with the Church for services he had not yet received. Anderson had the foresight to record the "brief meeting" that became a ninety-minute conversation, with the full consent of Davis. Excerpts from the tape are now available online.

Knowing that the conversation is being taped, Davis nevertheless tries on various tactics to ensure Anderson, at the very least, remains quiet about the Church on his departure and does not receive any refunds. He waves the IRS at Anderson, discusses Anderson's impending disconnection (with some wonderful double speak; he says it does and doesn't happen in the same breath), tries to make Anderson feel guilty and/or pay(!) for the projected $2 million reshoot of Orientation and makes veiled threats concerning those Anderson will leave behind in the Church. One can only wonder how differently the conversation would have run had it not been taped!

Davis seems to be making a habit of saying things he oughtn't on tape. Last year saw him reveal that he was passing on former-Scientologists auditing files, collations of things admitted to while undergoing auditing, in the hopes that he could make some kind of ad hominem attack and damage testimonies regarding David Miscavige's violence and brutality. Naturally enough the provision of firm evidence that the Church does exactly what it says it doesn't do did not do much to dissuade the reporters from pressing ahead with their story. One wonders how long Davis can keep hold of his job; his continued ineptitude in handling these situations suggests that Miscavige has no-one with which to replace him. By sticking to CoS procedure, Davis only ever seems to galvanise departing parishioners into the new role of vocal criticism of the Church, its management and its policies. Scientology seems unique as a religion that makes enemies of its footstools.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Trouble with TRs

The 30 Second Skinny Scientology's Training Routines often involve pattern spotting. Psychology suggests that is possible that by training someone to be a more adept pattern spotter they may in turn become more superstitious, or in other words come to recognise patterns that aren't really there. This could well be a consequence, intended or otherwise, of the TRs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hubbard Motors

with apologies to Tory Christman

"Hubbard Motors! 100 million vehicles sold!"
"Hi, this is Mr Construct. I bought a car not so long ago from you."
"Of course, sir. Can I interest you in supplying us with a testimonial?"
"Not really. There's a problem with the car."
"A problem?"
"It doesn't work."
"Really. I was told it would be more powerful than run of the mill cars, but it doesn't seem to be. I keep getting left behind at traffic lights."
"Oh my. Are you sure you're driving it properly?"
"Sure I'm sure."
"Well this is a pickle."
"Also, it cuts out completely whenever I try and drive past accidents."
"No, no, that's by design. It's an undocumented feature."
"I'm not sure I know what you mean by that."
"Oh? Which word did you not understand."
"It's not the word, it's the... never mind."
"Okay. Well why don't you bring this car of yours in and we'll take a look at it..."

Later that Day

"If you'd just like to turn on the windscreen wipers, sir."
"The wipers? I think the problem is with the engine."
"Oh don't worry, sir, I'll find the problem; but please, the wipers?"
"Okay... There."
"Hmm... well they seem to be working fine."
"Like I say, it's not the wipers. I just can't get any power out of the engine."
"But the wipers are part of the car."
"And the wipers work fine. You've observed this to be true, yourself."
"Yes, but-"
"Therefore the car must work fine. I have proved it. Axiomatically."
"I don't follow your logic. Sorry."
"You don't? Odd. Someone must be clouding your judgement on this."
"Has anyone been critical of the car at all?"
"Well, my wife doesn't have very much good to say about it."
"Oh no?"
"She has a point, though. It's been nothing but trouble since I got it."
"I think we have found the problem, sir. I've proven that the car is fully operational, which can only mean that it is being suppressed by some outside force. This wife you speak of is the source of the problem."
"My wife? What has she got to-"
"It's technical, but the most important thing for you to do right now is to go back to your wife and tell her that if she doesn't stop criticising your car, then you'll have no option but to leave her."
"Leave her?!"
"Leave her."
"Over a car? Look, I'm not happy with the way I'm being treated here. Can I at least have a replacement vehicle?"
"There's nothing wrong with your vehicle, sir, it's your wife's suppressive behaviour that is the problem."
"Nonsense. That's it. I'm well within my rights. I'd like a full refund."
"But we can't possibly take the car back and refund you, sir. There's nothing wrong with it. We could take the car back, but it's a lengthy process. A lot of admin. And we charge for admin."
"But the car is faulty! Its engine's busted!"
"That's something that Hubbard Motors will contest sir, in court if we have to. And we can afford some very good lawyers. Also, I found these in your glove compartment. A lesser person would be shocked."
"What in the-?"
"I know. The secrets people hide."
"I've never seen those before in my life."
"I'm sure the police will take that into consideration, sir. Now, what is it to be?"

Later that Week

"Who is this?"
"Who is this? You phoned me?"
"What's that you say? A bomb? In the showroom?"
"What? Is that..."
"Wait! I know that voice. Mr Construct? Why would you perpetrate a bomb hoax?"
"You phoned me!"
"We view this as an act of terrorism, Mr Construct, and this call has been recorded. If you do not desist in this hate campaign then you leave us no alternative than to take this up with the FBI."

Later that Year

"Mr Construct?"
"This is Mr Savage, sir, from Hubbard Motors."
"Please, leave me alone."
"I have some excellent news Mr Construct! We've found what was wrong with your car! There was a problem with it after all."
"Then you can fix it?"
"Better than that, we can replace it!"
"You can?!"
"With our latest model! All for the competitive sum of $250,000!"
"What? You're going to charge me for the replacement."
"Also, please can you arrange to have your existing vehicle junked as soon as possible?"
"You want me to junk the car you sold me that didn't work and buy another car from you to replace it? For a quarter of a million dollars?"
"Come on, Mr Construct. It's more than just a car. Think of it as a way of life... Mr Construct..? Are you there Mr Construct?"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fighting Nonsense with Nonsense

Dear Helios Ltd.

I read with some discomfort that Natrum Bromatum can stop someone being homosexual.

If this is the case, should NB carry a warning? This sounds like a massively disruptive side effect for those who are happy with their sexuality. I'd hate for Helios to be the subject of a lawsuit.

Kind regards,

Beacon Schuler.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Homeopathy and Malaria, Still...

The 30 Second Skinny A study into a homeopathic preparation of the neem tree has been promoted as evidence that homeopathy can be used against malaria. However, the study raises many concerns. Results of the two year trial were being published after only six months, but no later version of the paper seems to exists. It also didn't compare the treatment against a placebo, and recruited people who had had malarial attacks in the last twelve months, making its six month reporting of little value. It is worrying that advocates of homeopathy deny clinical trials are capable of proving homeopathy works, yet at the same time use flawed trials in order to claim homeopathy has some robust evidence supporting it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Trouble with Engrams

The 30 Second Skinny Engrams are memories containing emotional charge. Thei removal of that charge is at the heart of both Dianetics and Scientology, but they were only ever a theoretical object in Hubbard's original hypothesis. Evidence has shown that they don't fit in with his original description for them, nor with our growing understanding of the way the human mind works.