“Uppdrag granskning” (Literally “Mission: Investigation”) is a Swedish television programme specialising in investigative journalism. They are known for secret filming using hidden cameras and microphones when more direct approaches would be unlikely to uncover the truth.
This (subtitled) programme investigates the activities of Scientology in Sweden, concentrating on the covert activities of its many front groups – principally Narconon and the “Citizens commission for Human Rights” (an anti-psychiatry organisation).
The programme makers present an excellent potted history of Scientology (including ‘fair game and Scientology’s history of persecuting critics) obtain edgy interviews (in English) with Scientology ‘executives’ in Los Angeles
Some time is spent is spent documenting the deceptive practices of Scientology’ front groups interviewing teachers and politicians who have been taken in, and estimating how much money Scientology has taken from the public purse – an astonishing sum.
Narconon presents itself as a residential drug rehabilitation organisation. However, its honesty and competence has been brought into serious question after multiple law suits have been brought against it in the US for deceptive practices. In this programme, Swedish doctors demolish it’s medical claims.
Most have been undertaken on behalf of individuals who entered ‘treatment’ only to find that it bore no relationship to what they had been promised – many by one lawyer. There is also a major legal action alleging that Narconon fraudulently claimed to be certified by the prestigious “National Association of Forensic Counsellors”.
The cases presented against Narconon argue that it makes several extraordinary claims which are not true, for example:
- That it is an independent organisation.
In reality, Narconon is part of the Church of Scientology and directly controlled by that organisation’s top management. This is achieved through a complex web of interlocking corporations and the exploitation of tenuous legal fictions.
- That it is a non-profit organisation.
Narconon treatment is expensive, and facilities are typically basic. Large sums of money are made, but passed on to Scientology in the form of licensing fees for the ‘technology’ used (one of the legal fictions mentioned in the point above).
- That it has no connection with Scientology
The ‘treatment’ used in Narconon is based entirely on the writings of L Ron Hubbard and closely follows the ‘training’ that a beginning Scientologist would be expected to undertake.
- That its treatment regime is based on robust and reliable scientific research
The rationale behind the Narconon regime is in direct conflict with scientific knowledge – to give only one example the idea that ‘drug residues’ can be stored for many years in body fat and rendered harmless by long hours in a sauna is completely false. Drugs of abuse are highly reactive substances, which are rapidly metabolised by the body. Even if they did persist in fat tissue, a sauna does not reduce fat – any weight loss is caused by dehydration.
- That its techniques are highly effective in treating drug addiction (with a typical success rate of >70%)
There is no way to know how (or even if) Narconon is effective because no reliable follow-up studies have ever been done. However, after a medical assessment of the ‘treatment, it is reasonable to characterise the Narconon programme as positively dangerous and ineffective.
This programme demonstrated that these abuses are not confined to the US, and also extensively examines the no less questionable attitude of Scientology towards psychiatry.
So many of the investigations of Scientology that I have posted about on this blog have illustrated how little it changes. It seems to use the same basic approach over time and in many different cultures and countries.
In the age of the Internet, this could be its downfall.