In the previous post in this series we examined the first workbook given to clients of Narconon ‘drug rehabilitation’ facilities. It became obvious that the ‘Training Routines’ it describes are, for all practical purposes, identical to the TRs taught to beginning Scientologists in the “Success through Communications Course” and the “Hubbard Qualified Scientologist” course.
Before we move on to book 2, I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the way the Narconon ‘course’ is presented in this first book, and the general advice it gives to clients. Both are clearly based on Scientology procedures, and teach Scientology concepts.
Examples include the use of ‘checklists’, the absence of formal assessment (students ‘attest’ to having understood the materials and completed the exercises) the use of unqualified ‘supervisors’ (who are forbidden to offer advice) and a heavy reliance on Scientology ‘study tech’.
All of these features are shared by other Scientology front groups, including Criminon (which purports to rehabilitate offenders) and Applied Scholastics (which claims to teach students how to learn effectively). In fact, like Narconon, these organisations are not fit for purpose, and present Scientology in disguise.
The Source of Narconon Literature
All of the Narconon workbooks are published by “Bridge Publications Inc.” This entity is wholly owned by the Church of Scientology and is dedicated to printing and distributing Scientology books, audio and video material in the United States.
Scientology uses another entity, “New Era Publications” for this purpose outside of the United States. It, too, is entirely devoted to the production of Scientology literature and media.
These close connections between Narconon and the Church of Scientology are not made clear in the book. In fact they are hidden behind the statement that the Narconon trademark is owned by “The Association for Better Living and Education.”
ABLE is, in fact, a front group for front groups – an umbrella organisation wholly owned by the Church of Scientology. It functions to insure that people who encounter Applied Scholastics, Criminon, Narconon and The Way to Happiness Foundation (who present themselves as humanitarian organisations) do not know that are dealing with Scientology.
However, the money paid by clients seems to know where it’s going. Franchise fees from Narconon facilities are passed to ABLE, which passes them on to the Church of Scientology.
The most obvious give-away is on the cover of every book. Whenever you see the phrase, “Based on the works of L Ron Hubbard” the text in question almost certainly originates from the Church of Scientology, which owns all of Hubbard’s writings and only allows them to be used by itself.
The title pages of Narconon Workbooks (image above right) also contain a disclaimer. This is worth examining in detail. It reads,
This book is based on the works of L Ron Hubbard. It is presented to the reader as part of the record of his personal research into life and the application of same by others, and should be construed only as a written report of such research and not as a statement of claims made by the author or organization. Any verbal representations made to the contrary are not authorized.
As we have seen from the claims he made about dianetics L Ron Hubbard himself clearly stated that he was performing scientific research and had obtained results that he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt. He asserted that people who practised the therapy described in his first book (Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health) could increase their IQ, develop total recall and grow new teeth (among other remarkable things).
Narconon downgrades this to “[…] personal research into life” which was “not a statement of claims”. What’s more, it legally invalidates any claims that might be made by Narconon staff on behalf of its ‘treatment’.
To put the disclaimer in other words:
This book states some of the personal opinions of L Ron Hubbard, and how other people have acted upon them (i.e. previous students of Narconon). We only present them here. We make no claims that they work.
Personally, I would prefer a therapy that was based on scientific evidence and educated medical opinion.
The Special Importance of Checklists and Glossaries
The reason for the particular emphasis laid upon proceeding step by step in a programmed sequence is related to the importance placed in the definition of words which can been in the another passage (reproduced below right from pg 5).
Both are features of L Ron Hubbard’s ‘study tech’, which consists of his ideas about how to learn effectively. ‘Study tech’ is based a few, simplistic, principles which are incorporated into Scientology training.
According to Hubbard, there are only three things which prevent student’s learning:
- An absence of mass (i.e. concrete examples), To provide these, students are required to make clay models, illustrating what they have learned (which can prove difficult in the case of abstract concepts).
- Too steep a ‘gradient’. That is, students must learn to walk before they can run.
- A misunderstood word. Hubbard had a particular obsession with the misunderstood word (or M/U as it known to Scientologists. His idea was that, if you go past a word you have not understood you will not understand any of the subsequent materials. His solution was to force students to endlessly look up words in a dictionary, until they ‘understood’ the text.
While studying this course, do not go past a word you do not fully understand. The only reason a person gives up a study or becomes confused is because he went past a word that was not understood.
If the material becomes confusing or you can’t seem to grasp it, there is a word just earlier that you have not understood.
Stop and go back to before you got into trouble, find the misunderstood word and get it defined using the glossary or a simple dictionary.
Once you have found and defined the word you did not understand, continue you studies from the point where you located the word not understood.
This process is called “Word Clearing”. The idea that the text might be badly written, or just plain wrong, is never entertained. If you do not understand this is your fault. There is no other option.
The Importance of ‘Attestation’
The first checklist begins on pg 5. Checksheets exactly like this are a feature of every Scientology course, right down to the simple layout, which resembles the checksheets written on a manual typewriter by L Ron Hubbard. These are still reproduced in Scientology course materials.
You give yourself a pass by signing the appropriate section of your checklist. Your twin and supervise sometimes have to countersign, but there is no other ‘examination’.
This provides Narconon with a get-out clause. If you later complain, they will tell you that you ‘falsely attested’. No matter what happens the course materials can never fail. Any apparent failure is the fault of the client. This is a diagnostic sign of pseudo-science, and part of the reason why there is no hint of a complaints procedure in any of the Narconon coursebooks.
Writing a ‘Success Story’
In signing the form you also state that you have “had improvements.” You cannot pass the course unless you agree in writing that it was beneficial, even if it wasn’t.
All of the TRs must be done “to a win”. According to the Workbook (pg18) A ‘win’ means, “…] intending to do something and doing it or intending not to do something and not doing it.” However, in the culture of Scientology/Narconon this idea has more complex associations. You are only deemed to have achieved a ‘win’ if you experience an (often short-lived) feeling of euphoria. Clients must be relieved to have finished a section, and are likely to be told by staff that their relief is the result of a ‘win’.
At the bottom of every checklist there is a line which reads,
You may use this space to write down any gains or wins you had when doing this drill
Below this is an “OK to publish” section (e.g. pp 45-46) which you are asked to sign. It is clear that you are not only expected to write what Scientologists call a “success story”, but also allow it be used as a testimonial by Narconon.
The disclaimer we examined earlier makes it clear that Narconon makes no objective claims for its ‘treatment’, so it relies heavily on such testimonials.
If you decide later that your treatment was worthless, Narconon hold documents that show you lavishly praised it at the completion of every stage.
The Function of the Supervisor
A Supervisor is not a “teacher” or “instructor. He does not tell the student the answers, but shows the student where to find the answers. If you have any questions or difficulties, ask your Supervisor. He is there to help you get the most out of this course.
The ‘supervisor’ plays the same role in Scientology. He won’t – can’t – explain the material to you. He can only send you back to course materials or require you to perform pointless and boring ‘word clearing’. There must be a constant temptation for clients to claim to have experienced a ‘win’ just to escape the dreary repetition involved.
Supervisors are recruited from Narconon ‘graduates’ – so recovering addicts are exploited to ‘supervise’ recovering addicts on very low pay. This must make the operation profitable, but there are obvious drawbacks to this approach.
About the Author – L Ron Hubbard
This may not be the usual Scientology hagiography, but it is misleading. Hubbard did take “[…] classes in Mathematics and engineering at George Washington University”. However, he failed to pass his first year and left with nothing.
His academic report is shown on the left (f you click on the image, a larger version will open in a new tab, and you can view the details of his failing grades).
Hubbard held a glider licence, as claimed in the text, but there is no record of a qualification to fly powered aircraft which is claimed for him.
Hubbard’s “Caribbean ‘Motion Picture Expedition” was mounted during his final semester at George Washington University. It collapsed after the ship was blown off course and the fellow students, who had paid to participate, left.
No official records exist of Hubbard’s claimed “Puerto Rican Mineralogical Expedition.” It is likely that Hubbard was given a passage there to assist in a hurricane relief effort, but got a job there and went looking for gold, instead.
His ‘expedition’ to Alaska was mounted by himself and his wife in a small yacht. Equipment failure stranded them there, for a time, and Hubbard found temporary work telling tall tales for a local radio station.
Hubbard did write for pulp magazines, but his stories are now only printed by Galaxy Press (yet another Scientology entity) in a strange kind of posthumous vanity publishing. They are not of high quality.
The assertion that.
Mr Hubbard discovered that drug residuals actually lodge in the fatty tissues of the body and can effect a person long after he has quit taking drugs and he developed a brilliant technology to flush these toxic deposits out of the body.
is simply not true. The medical consensus is that drugs are highly reactive substances (they have to be, to have the effects they do) which are quickly eliminated by the body. The notion that ‘drug residues’ can have the same effects as the drug itself (which is also claimed by Narconon) is nonsense. Exhaust fumes cannot fuel a car.
After learning about the TR’s readers can probably decide for themselves how likely it is that Hubbard’s methods achieve “[…] a 70 to 80% success rate in helping people come off drugs – and stay off them”. Independent research shows it to of little, if any, value.
However, if you are in any doubt, please read on – my next post will begin to examine the second Narconon workbook.