Why People Believe that (L Ron Hubbard’s) Bullshit is Actually Profound

bullshitOn the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit | Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr Derek J. Koehler, Jonathan A. Fugelsan | Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015

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Anyone who has read “Dianetics”, let alone the material which makes up ‘advanced’ Scientology courses, will have come across many passages that make them ask, “what is that supposed to mean“?

This leads to the question of why people read nonsense and ascribe deep meaning to such passages – even when they cannot actually articulate what that meaning is?

There are several explanations for this. This paper describes an experiment which possibly provides another. It not only demonstrates how some people uncritically ascribe meaning to a nonsense passage which ‘sounds profound’, but also provides a means of identifying individuals who are most vulnerable to this kind of confusion. Continue reading


Mission: Tyrannical – The UK Newspaper “The Sunday Times” on Scientology

DSC_0381Mission: Tyrannical: The Secrets of Scientology |The Sunday Times (UK) | Section 4 – News Review Supplement pp 1 &2 |13th March 2016 | Download as .pdf

The Sunday Times have pushed on the boat on this article – they have even timed it to appear on the very day that Scientologists celebrate the birth of L Ron Hubbard, the founder of their Church.

The days when the British media were afraid of the Church of Scientology seem to be long gone.

  • The more liberal  Defamation Act 2003 (which passed into law on the first of January 2014 ) made it significantly more difficult to suppress critical comment on the grounds of libel
  • As membership declines, Scientology is losing the organisational ability to harass multiple critics

After the break-  the full text of the two-page article and comment.

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The Lincolnshire Echo (A UK local Newspaper) Falls For a Scientology Front Group – Why Does This Happen?

Press ReporterThe Lincolnshire Echo | Citizens Commission on Human Rights claims ADHD is a fake condition | August 29 2015  | Download as .pdf |
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The Lincolnshire Echo is a UK local Newspaper which was recently  taken in by a Scientology front group dedicated to attacking psychiatry.

It published the brief article above, which reports a claim that  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is  a fraud, but presents no supporting scientific evidence whatsoever. All it says is:

A mental health watchdog group has claimed that ADHD is a fake condition and could be costing the taxpayer more than £119m a year in benefits payments. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has said in a statement that ADHD benefits claims are providing families with a benefits boost which is difficult to resist.

The Citizen’s Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) is not an official ‘mental health watchdog’ – it’s a anti-psychiatry front group wholly owned by the Church of Scientology, and the CCHR are claiming that parents are conniving with psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies. The parents are supposedly drugging their own children for the sake of the state benefits they receive and the psychiatrists are accused of peddling unnecessary medication.

This is an insult to every parent who strives to look after a child with challenging behaviour and to the psychiatric profession – and it is being reported in a respectable local newspaper. You really would think that the journalists at the  Echo might have asked for evidence to support of this sensational and almost libellous accusation. They didn’t. Why not? And why did they report this story in the first place (it’s hardly local news)? Continue reading

L Ron Hubbard’s Reply to William Burroughs (Burroughs Versus Hubbard Pt 2 of 2)

manor “L Ron Hubbard Breaks Silence: A Reply to William Burroughs”
“Mayfair” Magazine | Vol 5 No 6 | August 1970
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This article by L Ron Hubbard was written in response to William Burroughs, who had published an extensive critique of the Church of Scientology entitled, “I, William Burroughs, Challenge you L Ron Hubbard” in the March 1970 issue of “Mayfair”.

Burroughs was convinced of the value of  Scientology practice, but criticised Scientology’s repressive ‘discipline’ and the secrecy surrounding Scientology techniques.

He believed that Scientology practices should be freely available for others to develop for the benefit of mankind, not held as trade secrets by the Church of Scientology and L Ron Hubbard. Burroughs was, in fact, one of the first ‘Independent Scientologists’.

Perhaps the prospect of debating with a prominent literary figure in public appealed to Hubbard’s vanity. Whatever the reason, he submitted a reply, which was duly published. You can read it &/or download the full text above and decide for yourself if Hubbard addressed the issues raised by Burroughs or attempted to evade them.

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Another Scientology Wedding in the UK (Plymouth) – Does This Make a Difference?


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Western Evening Herald  | Wednesday 28th January 2015
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I couldn’t resist this Scientology-related story from a local paper in Plymouth in the UK (where I happen to live).

The Church of Scientology seem to have embraced an opportunity to generate some positive PR which is essentially critic proof. Anyone who criticises a ‘Church’ wedding is going to sound mean.

I sincerely wish this couple well. At the same time, we still need to examine the claims made in this article more closely because it contains a number of  factual errors, distortions and omissions.

After the break, there is a complete transcript of this news item, followed by my  (slightly different) interpretation.

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Scientology’s Growing Obsession with Money – and its Origin in the Writings of L Ron Hubbard

the_basics2011 | Scientology – Basically Obsessed with Money | Tampa Bay Times| Joe Childs, Thomas C Tobin and Maurice Rivenbark | View Online | Download as .mp4

Scientology has always taken a ‘hard sell’ approach to its products. These are courses which, according to L Ron Hubbard’s book “Dianetics”, would enable people to raise their IQ, develop total recall, correct faulty eyesight, grow new teeth and become immune to disease. Modern Scientology takes a less ambitious line (at least in public) promising only ‘spiritual development

Hubbard wrote extensively on the subject of pressuring people to buy courses. After his death, these writings were complied into the “Hard Sell Pack” a manual which is required reading for Scientology “registrars” (AKA “regs”) – salesmen and women who are not allowed a course completion to pass without the student signing up (and paying) for the next step. This pack  included a book by an aggressive car salesman, entitled “Big League Sales Closing Techniques“.

The new regime, under David Miscavige cannot originate new material because  Hubbard is considered to have had the final (and infallible) word on the subject. Scientology ‘research’ ended with his death.

Instead, they seem to pursuing Hubbard’s advice about the importance of raising money to its logical conclusion – a series of campaigns in which your status in Scientology is determined not by your progress through the secret teachings but directly according to the amount of money that you contribute. Continue reading

LRH and the Rocky Mountain News – How Not to Promote a Book

rocky mountain news1983 | Sue Lindsay | Rocky Mountain News | Claimed Interview with L Ron Hubbard
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In  a previous post –  L Ron Hubbard’s Ghost (Writer) – I have described how Robert Vaughn Young, the Scientologist tasked with handling  Hubbard’s literary business, also wrote a number of  postal  ‘Interviews’ for him.

One of these interviews was published in a book (Dream Makers) by Charles Platt. In an introduction, Platt expressed scepticism that the manuscript (which he had received in the mail) had been written by Hubbard – and had good reason to suspect that it had really been produced by Robert Vaughn Young.

Platt published anyway –  possibly because  it could do no harm to the sales of a such specialised book (composed of  a number of interviews with Science-fiction authors) to include a rare exchange with a notorious recluse.

The second interview (and the subject of this post) was published in a newspaper called “Rocky Mountain News“. Like the interview in “Dream makers”, it was intended to promote Hubbard’s novel “Battlefield Earth” and his upcoming series “Mission Earth”. It was another failure.

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