The Compelling Effects of Simply Staring: Understanding the Scientology Mindset Part 13

stareDissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through
interpersonal gazing | Giovanni B. Caputo| Psychiatry Research 228 (2015) 659-663   Download Full Text as .pdf

In plain language, this scientific paper describes a series of experiments which investigate the psychological consequences of two people (a dyad) staring at each other for a period of time (in this case, no longer than 10 minutes).

The author concludes that this can bring about visual hallucinations and a dissociated state, including a feeling of being disconnected from your body.

This is highly relevant to the ‘Training Routines’ (TR’s) taught to beginners in Scientology and Narconon – especially “TR0 Confronting“which is described on the linked page. During this exercise participants (who stare  at each other for two hours or more) commonly recruit strange hallucinations and a feeling of leaving their body.

Note: page numbers given are from the .pdf reader software, not the article itself. Continue reading

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Scientology and the Presumed Fragility of Unconventional Beliefs

fragile belief1982 | On the Presumed Fragility of Unconventional Beliefs | David A Snow and Richard Machalek | Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 21 (1) 15-26
View Online | Download as .pdf

To an outsider, it is an understatement to say that the doctrines of Scientology appear implausible and lack credibility. A common question from people who encounter them for the first time (for example the Xenu story) is, ‘how can anyone believe this nonsense?’.

Scholars tend to assume that because such ideas are easily disproved, belief in them is “fragile” – this is, it may be broken or lost at any time. They have developed various theories  to explain why it often persists despite this fragility.  Most hold that fringe groups exert powerful social pressure on believers, who rationalise away their doubts in a psychological process known as cognitive dissonance.

The authors of this paper observe that scholars are (by nature and training) analytical and sceptical –  and  that this may be a form of bias. They suggest ‘true believers’ do not share these characteristics, and may have no difficulty in holding weird beliefs. In other words, scholars are over-thinking it, and inventing complex theories to solve a problem which, in fact, only exists for them.

They turn the tables on scholars and ask, “perhaps it is disbelief, rather than belief that is in need of attention”.

This is a genuine, well-argued, minority viewpoint.  I think it has some merit – but is dangerously inappropriate when applied to Scientology (which is one of their examples).

Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Me (And Scientology)

1st bdayA few people who have commented on what I have posted here over the past year have asked what my personal philosophy is and whether I have ever been involved in Scientology.

These both strike me as fair questions, since they influence my writing on the subject so, after the break, I will start the New Year with a presentation of my eccentric perspective on the subjects of Scientology and belief in general.

In passing, I would like to point out that this blog had its first birthday on Christmas Eve. I would have celebrated, but my Internet connection had failed the day before, and it has taken me this long to catch up. Please be assured that normal service has now resumed.

Also, I extend my (belated) best wishes for 2015 to all the people who have visited this site – including present members of the Church of Scientology, Independent Scientologists, ex-members and interested outsiders.

Peace on Earth, among men [and women] of good will!

Continue reading

Scientology and ‘Magick’ – A Realistic Assessment

crowley_parsons_ hubbard2012 | Hugh B Urban | Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions Vol 15, Issue 3, pages 91-116 | The Occult Roots of Scientology? L Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley and the Origins of a Controversial New Religion | Download as .pdf

Before his breakthrough publication of “Dianetics”, L Ron Hubbard made a precarious living writing stories for a variety of pulp magazines. During this period, he met Jack Whiteside Parsons, a pioneering rocket scientist and disciple of the occultist Aleister Crowley. Hubbard became one of many (rent-free) residents of Parson’s rambling Pasadena home, and took a significant role in the curious black magic rituals which Parsons performed.

Hubbard’s participation in Parson’s rituals is well-documented, and I have provided a number of links to books and videos providing details of this period in another post.

Some critics argue that Dianetics and Scientology were heavily influenced by Crowley and Parson’s ‘Magick’ – others that the influence is small, and Hubbard was mainly interested in conning Parsons out of his considerable assets (they fell out after Hubbard absconded with several yachts that he was supposed to be selling on as part of a mutual business enterprise).

Hugh Urban is an expert on occult groups and author of the excellent book, “The Church of Scientology: a History of a New Religion“. In this paper he examines the question of how much influence Hubbard’s brief involvement with ‘Magick’ really had on the creation of Dianetics and Scientology. Continue reading

The History of Credibility Attacks Against Former Cult Members (Scientology Spies)

credibility2011 | The History of Credibility Attacks Against Former Cult Members | Stephen A Kent Phd

Download as .pdf

This paper discusses the controversy within social science (Kent is a sociologist) regarding the value of the testimony of ex-members of “high-control groups” – including the odd reference to Scientology.

In it, a prominent academic who has worked extensively with ex-members of these groups (and is an expert on Scientology) discusses,

[the problems] that have arisen with cult critics attempting to work with some former members, or at least people claiming to have left various groups.

and notes that,

A brief history of those problems, therefore, provides a cautionary tale worth telling in anti-cult
or counter-cult circles.

It is by keeping half an eye on the possibility that some few ex-members are not completely reliable that Kent has developed his formidable reputation as an accurate and objective scholar. This makes his criticisms of “high control groups” all the more effective – for example, his condemnation of Scientology’s labour camps (the RPF) for human rights abuses.

This is a good lesson for activists, who may find their own long-term credibility damaged by an encounter with any of the six types of unreliable potentially unreliable informants that Kent Describes. Continue reading

Education and Re-Education in Ideological Organizations and Their Implications for Children

Sea Org Alley 62005 |  Education and Re-Education in Ideological Organizations and Their Implications for Children

Stephen A Kent Phd professor of sociology at the University of Alberta at Edmonton, Canada

Originally published in Cultic Studies Review Vol. 4, No. 2,

View Online | Download as .pdf

In this paper, Kent examines the attitudes of  a number of “high control groups” (including Scientology) towards children. In all of these organisations he finds that:

  • The overwhelming majority of the second generation abandon their parent’s ‘faith’, leaving as soon as they are old enough
  • The reason for this is that group membership made such demands on the time and attention of parents that they did not have any time to spend with their kids – let alone time to indoctrinate them into a ramshackle belief system that was being made up as it went along.

Continue reading

Scientology: Religion or Racket?

tragedy42003 | Scientology: Religion or Racket? | Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
Read Online | Download as .pdf

This paper is an original take on the ongoing debate over whether or not The Church of Scientology is a religion or not.

In 2001, after the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Centre, Fox news received an e-mail. It included a ‘hotline’ which the author claimed would provide people traumatised by this terrible event with referrals to appropriate agencies and emotional support.

In the chaos after the attack, journalists included this number in their coverage without checking into its source. For several hours, viewers of Fox news saw a telephone number scrolling across the bottom of the screen: “MENTAL HEALTH ASSISTANCE 800-FOR-TRUTH” (see the image above).

It soon emerged that the hotline was provided by the Church of Scientology in an apparent attempt to insure that vulnerable people contacted The Church of Scientology instead of their perceived enemy, psychiatry (which they believe is engaged in a conspiracy to oppress mankind, and is responsible for many historical evils – including the Nazi Holocaust). Continue reading