In Ron We Trust – Part 2
This is post is intended to be a commentary on the article published in yesterday’s Irish Independent (which you can view here), and to highlight some of the bare-faced lying that went on.
Cults and cultism
The meaning of the words ‘cult’ and ‘cultism’ is the first thing that has to be to be addressed, with the article in question making a complete hames of this topic. Cultism is used to describe when a group has an unhealthy level of undue influence upon its members. Groups exhibiting cultish tendencies are called ‘cults’. Now consider the introductory paragraph to the piece (my colouring added):
Scientology gets a bad press, often being portrayed as a money-making cult built on lies that makes virtual prisoners of its members. So Joanna Kiernan asked some of Ireland’s practising Scientologists a few simple questions about their religion, what it has done for them and their lives, and what they think about society’s negative attitudes towards Scientology.
The red text is clearly referring to an organisation, while the blue text is referring to a set of beliefs. Those are not the same thing, yet they are continuously conflated throughout the article.
What a person does or does not believe is of no concern to us. What does concern us are the actions and abuses of the Scientology organisation. If you want to practice Dianetics or any of Hubbard’s teachings then fill your boots – we just do not believe that the Scientology organisation should be coercing people into paying thousands of Euro in order to do so. When the article is read with this distinction in mind the fallacious conflation of a group (the Scientology organisation which commits the abuses) and a set of beliefs (Hubbard’s teachings) becomes clear.
This fallacy can be further seen when it is noted that people who consider themselves Scientologists (i.e. they follow the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard) consider the Scientology organisation to be a cult. This recent post on Marty Rathbun’s blog uses the word cult twice even though the author is a Scientologist. People do not have a beef with a set of beliefs, rather they have a beef with an organisation that commits abuses.
Don’t answer the money question….
Sometimes what wasn’t said is much more revealing than what was actually said. This is certainly the case here with all the interviewees sidestepping the question. To be fair to Alan Ryan he did intimate that some courses can cost “a couple of thousand”. Alan recently achieved the state of clear and has been working on his OT Preparations since then, which would have set him back at least €97,000 (breakdown of the costs in reaching clear are here).
Anita Kelly’s answer was the most disappointing of the lot, side-stepping the question with “That is a personal matter, really”. To understand why this answer is disappointing I have to explain how donations to the International Association of Scientologists works. Each donation amount is graded, and by donating enough money for a given grade you get your name printed in the Scientology magazine ‘Impact’. This is a way of generating status within the Scientology organisation. Anita’s donations were not a “personal matter, really” when The Kelly Family were listed as patrons in Impact magazine 123 (which required a cool €40,000). Having her donations printed in a Scientology publication is fine, but she dare not mention it to a journalist! The Collins Family were also listed in the same magazine for the same amount of cash.
We have social-betterment groups…honest
Note how each of the interviewees made a deliberate point of talking about Scientology’s social-‘betterment’ programmes, particularly as a response to the money question. Sounds fantastic until you do a little digging and discover that these programmes are not what they seem. Taking each in order:
Study Technology – Billed as a way to improve education standards, but in reality turns out to be anything but. Dave Touretzky’s essay on the topic remains the most-researched rigorous work on Study Technology to date.
Narconon – Billed as a way to get people off drugs. The Fix magazine’s article on Narconon is one of the most thoroughly researched eviscerations you will read on any topic.
Volunteer Ministers – Claimed to have helped our during disasters such as 9/11, 7/7 and Haiti. The following BBC radio undercover investigation does a terrific job exposing what the Volunteer Ministers are really about:
BBC Radio 5 Undercover Investigation
There is an important point that needs to be emphasised here. When you are in Scientology and you are receiving the glossy Scientology magazines filled with shiny pictures about this stuff – you buy into it. After all, if it is in the magazines and other Scientologists are telling you this then it must be true right? When these interviewees talk about these programmes they are not being dishonest or deceptive – they genuinely believe these programmes deliver help. The magazines, the PR, the fund-raising presentations, etc. all act as convincers. Sadly, it is all one huge giant lie that does nothing other than generate money for the Scientology organisation. Dig into any Scientology betterment programme and it quickly becomes clear that something is amiss. But it is hard to do that digging when you are inside the cultic bubble and are getting swept away in the ‘we are helping the planet’ ideal.
It is your decision…except when it isn’t
One of the themes that pervades the interview answers is the concept that people are free to decide for themselves when they are in Scientology. The ‘what is true is what is true for you’ concept. It has never ceased to amaze me how large the chasm can be between what representatives of the Scientology organisation will say in public and what is actually practised as part of Scientology policy. I include the following extract from the Keeping Scientology Working policy letter to illustrate this difference:
KEEPING SCIENTOLOGY WORKING
HCO Sec or Communicator Hat Check on all personnel and new personnel as taken on.
We have some time since passed the point of achieving uniformly workable technology.
The only thing now is getting the technology applied.
If you can’t get the technology applied then you can’t deliver what’s promised. It’s as simple as that. If you can get the technology applied, you can deliver what’s promised.
The only thing you can be upbraided for by students or pcs is “no results”. Trouble spots occur only where there are “no results”. Attacks from governments or monopolies occur only where there are “no results” or “bad results”.
Therefore the road before Scientology is clear and its ultimate success is assured if the technology is applied.
So it is the task of the Assn or Org Sec, the HCO Sec, the Case Supervisor, the D of P, the D of T and all staff members to get the correct technology applied.
Getting the correct technology applied consists of:
One: Having the correct technology.
Two: Knowing the technology.
Three: Knowing it is correct.
Four: Teaching correctly the correct technology.
Five: Applying the technology.
Six: Seeing that the technology is correctly applied.
Seven: Hammering out of existence incorrect technology.
Eight: Knocking out incorrect applications.
Nine: Closing the door on any possibility of incorrect technology.
Ten: Closing the door on incorrect application.
One above has been done.
Two has been achieved by many.
Three is achieved by the individual applying the correct technology in a proper manner and observing that it works that way.
Four is being done daily successfully in most parts of the world.
Five is consistently accomplished daily.
Six is achieved by instructors and supervisors consistently.
Seven is done by a few but is a weak point.
Eight is not worked on hard enough.
Nine is impeded by the “reasonable” attitude of the not quite bright.
Ten is seldom done with enough ferocity.
Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten are the only places Scientology can bog down in any area.
The reasons for this are not hard to find. (a) A weak certainty that it works in Three above can lead to weakness in Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten. (b) Further, the not-too- bright have a bad point on the button Self-Importance. (c) The lower the IQ, the more the individual is shut off from the fruits of observation. (d) The service facs of people make them defend themselves against anything they confront, good or bad, and seek to make it wrong. (e) The bank seeks to knock out the good and perpetuate the bad.
Thus, we as Scientologists and as an organization must be very alert to Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten.
I’ve never heard anything bad or those people don’t know any better
Bernard Duffy’s comment “I have never heard anybody say anything bad about Scientology” is…well…strange since…well…we have videos of people telling him bad things about Scientology. Mar shampla:
Anita’s comment captures another familiar theme among the interviewees – “I do know people who have said things that are not true and in my opinion they do not really know what it is all about and have not found out for themselves and have listened to others who themselves do not know what Scientology is.” So former Scientologists who have spoken out in Ireland like John McGhee, Gabrielle Wynne, Pete Griffiths, John Duignan, etc. never “found out for themselves”? The most abrasive criticism of the Scientology organisation comes from former members. Here is a list of over 1,500 ex-members (complete with links to their testimonies) http://wiki.whyweprotest.net/List_of_ex-Scientologists_who_have_spoken_out – did those people not find “out for themselves” either?
I want to finish on this point because it illustrates how little was actually said by the interviewees. Did you learn what Scientology is? What its beliefs are? No you didn’t. All you heard was a nice sales pitch, one rich on promises but riddled with a dearth of substance. It should be very telling that, on this very website, there is far more material on Scientology beliefs, practices, auditing, policies, etc. than you will ever hear from a Scientologist. Well, not unless you open your wallet first that is…