About This Site

Dianetics and Scientology

astounding-bigIn 1950, the pulp magazine, “Astounding Science Fiction” featured an article by one of its occasional freelance writers, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard. It was entitled, “Dianetics” A new science of the mind” (see the bottom left of the cover image).

The article consisted of extracts from Hubbard’s recent book, “Dianetics”, which made some suitably astounding claims – readers were promised that they would be able to correct defective eyesight, grow new teeth,  develop total recall – all by ‘re-living’ past experiences during ‘therapeutic’ sessions.

Hubbard later incorporated Dianetics into his new creation – Scientology (which formally extended the therapy to previous lives, as well as to past experiences).

This  controversial organisation survived Hubbard, and continues today in the form of The Church of Scientology.

Our Purpose

This site provides information which tells the truth about Hubbard, Dianetics and Scientology.  As you can see from the menus above, this includes books, periodicals, documentary films, features films, website, internal Scientology documents… and more.

Ongoing is a series of posts (Understanding the Scientology Mindset) which uses concepts from psychology &/or social science to try to explain the most puzzling thing about Scientologists – why they believe, and defend, and work hard for a doctrine that is so bizarre and incoherent.

We created this site (and made the first entry) on Christmas Eve 2013. Since then, it has grown to the point that is becoming increasingly difficult to find good material for posts.  Suggestions are welcome  and I would be grateful for new ideas.

Comments

Comments are open on all pages and posts. If you spot a mistake, or have something to add, please feel free to do so.

Due to the subject of this site, there is a significant risk of comment spam –  so we have decided to manually approve every comment. Consequently, it might take a little time for your contribution to appear.

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15 thoughts on “About This Site

    • Thank you.
      I have never had any connection to Scientology. My interest in the subject derives from a life-long fascination with social conformity, which led me to study Sociology. This was reinforced by periods when I spent time working near my local org, and was always being approached by Scientologists eager to recruit someone.

      When I did a little research into the Church of Scientology, it seemed to me that the beliefs of the Church were not only problematic, but novel. I was fascinated by the question of how people maintained such difficult beliefs despite widespread disapproval from the wider world. The explanations of early critics (which revolved around ‘brainwashing’ and ‘hypnotism’) struck me as both inappropriate and inadequate.

      Unfortunately, these ideas remain embedded in the culture of those who campaign against Scientology. This site represents my struggle, as an outsider, to understand Scientology’s extraordinary power to enforce conformity and at least the appearance of belief, and to come up with a better explanation for it.

      I am indebted to the ex-Scientologists and Independents who have discussed their experience with me on various online forums, and I hope that an outsider’s perspective is at least interesting. You are most welcome here.

      • Thank you very much for gathering all these materials in one place. This is possibly the best website about scientology on the net. I am an ex scientologist and I also studied sociology at the university ( I have a master degree on the subject), and I agree with your analisis: they are not brainwashed, the reasons for their strong beliefs are much more subtle. I personally think that the basic materials of scientology (the “basics” and the courses at the bottom of “the bridge”) contain precepts and techniques that can really instill hope in those who read and apply them, and it is mindblowing how they contrast with the actions and the personality of their author. Of course when you start to go deep into Hubbard’s biography, the gap between the man and its philosoohy starts to make much more sense.
        I only recently discovered “the affirmations”, and those few pages really opened my mind on LRH more than anything else. Before reading them I was still unsure about Ron Hubbard, but it turned out I was over-influenced by the material published by the independent scientologists here in Italy and in the U.S. (especially Marty Rathbun’s blog). Despite all that, I still think that some of the basic material can be useful, and the independents are surely much better than Miscavige’s crazy church. What is your opinion of them?

        • I believe the ‘brainwashing’ thesis was adopted by early ‘anti-cult’ groups back in the day when organisations like the Unification Church and Scientology were unfamiliar and the Cold War was upon us. It provided a (simplistic) explanation for the strange behaviour of loved ones who had been ‘converted’ by these new ‘faiths’ and an alibi for using coercive tactics (so-called ‘reprogramming) to reclaim them.

          It was always questionable, even as description of the behaviour of POWs who were beaten mercilessly by their captors. Chinese ‘brainwashers’ achieved compliance, but never permanently changed the attitudes of their victims. When they were returned home, they also returned to their previous selves. In the face of this kind of failure it is difficult to understand how it explains the behaviour of Scientologists, who can walk away at any time, but choose to stay.

          Unfortunately, some self-declared ‘experts’ still stand by this counter-productive nonsense. I have had discussions with one such person online, and their tactic is assert that I am denying that Scientology exerts undue influence when I criticise the brainwashing thesis. They simply don’t want to know about more nuanced alternative explanations for Scientology’s considerable manipulative power.

          I see Scientology as a social-psychological lobster pot. There is an attractive morsel at the bottom, which you can never quite reach. The deeper you in to get it, the harder it becomes to back out. My personal interest is the altered state of consciousness induced by the Training Routines (TRs) especially TR0. These exercises

          1) Provide subjective ‘evidence’ of previous lives in the form of compelling hallucinations
          2) Enable Scientologists to induce a dissociated state in themselves at will
          3) Encourage unthinking compliance

          My interest in Scientology began when I read a books called “Cults of Unreason” at the age of about 15. I was fascinated by the question of why clever, capable people believe such inherently questionable things. The next book I encountered “Bare Faced Messiah” ensured that I never, ever bought into Hubbard’s cult of personality. I’m a complete outsider.

          This fascination played a large part in leading to study sociology (rather late in life – I completed by UK BA just as I turned 50. Scientology is the perfect case study, because it has lasted for so long and it so complex – every extreme of fringe belief is represented at some point in its history.

          It seems to me that Scientologists do not so much believe as constantly struggle to suspend disbelief. It’s no coincidence that, as people enter upon the more ‘advanced’ training the degree of commitment that the organisation demands, and the degree of control they exercise become more extreme. Scientology doctrine is not feasible and very fragile. It has to be constantly reinforced by isolation and social pressure. If you reach the level of the Sea Org, actual physical coercion is required (e.g. guards, fences, and ‘blow drills’).

          incidentally. conditions in the Sea Org are as close as it gets to conditions of ‘brainwashing’. However, if brainwashing worked – if it really did bring about an enduring attitude change – Scientology would not need the guards, the fences or the blow drills. Scientology would not long endure without its oppressive apparatus. Evidently, something else is going on here.

          The need for a repressive apparatus to reinforce a fragile belief system, and hold together any organisation based on Scientology, represents a problem for Independent Scientologists. It seems to me that, without the ability to enforce orthodoxy, they are doomed to fragment further. This is why the present sub-culture of Independent Scientologists consist of many small groups each with their own incompatible views of what constitutes the ‘true faith’.

          What’s more, the relatively small Independent movement is spread thin, geographically. It’s impossible to practice Scientology or to exercise social pressure when your members are miles apart and can meet only rarely. Finally, the membership of Independent groups seems to be drawn exclusively from ex-Scientologists. They have even less success at recruitment than the ‘official’ organisation.

          In my opinion, Independent Scientologists are doomed to argue online about how many angels can dance on the point of a pin until their various organisations fade away through natural wastage.

          Some would say that Independent organisations represent a valuable ‘half-way house’, providing people who have just left the ‘official’ Church of Scientology but are not yet ready to completely abandon Scientology itself, with a supportive environment. Many such people lose their faith after re-establishing social contact with the wider world.

          AS long as Independent Scientology cannot cohere to the point where it can exercise control over a ‘critical mass’ of members it is relatively harmless. I have no argument with what people choose to believe – I may not agree with them, but I defend their right to their chosen faith. What I oppose about Scientology is the harm that it does – for example by discouraging people from taking essential medicinal drugs (especially psychiatric medication) and the practice of ‘disconnection’.

          The mystery is why some people leave The Church of Scientology, but continue to practice Scientology. IN online discussions, I have found that these individuals typically state that they found the early stages of Scientology training beneficial but judged the ‘higher’ levels to be disappointing. They explain this by stating the the Miscavige regime has somehow corrupted ‘the tech’. The implication is that the higher levels would be wonderful if everything could be restored to the way Hubbard intended it to be.

          I mentioned above that I am fascinated by the influence of the TRs upon the attitudes of those who become Independent Scientologists and this lead me to an alternative explanation. Many Independents state their early experiences convinced them that there was ‘something in’ Scientology. One person claimed that he found comfort in the ‘knowledge’ that death was not an end, and refused to discuss the actual subjective experiences that led him to that conclusion.

          I suspect that the altered states of consciousness and the hallucination induced by TRs (combined with the fact that the perceived significance of such experiences tend to grow in memory) persuades many Independents to persist with Scientology even after it is disappointed them for years (or decades). They never did reach that tasty morsel in the bottom of the lobster pot but, even they left the Church (or were thrown out) they are still trying to obtain it.

          So, at this point both the ‘official’ church and the Independent sector are struggling with the existential threat from their inability to recruit new members. The only possible future I can see for Scientology (which is based on an essentially 1950’s business model) is if they were adopt an online model, practising remote auditing via a kind of call centre. A device which emulates an e-meter in software and can communicate over an Internet link is already available.

          However, the Church of Scientology is now too inflexible and inefficient to take this route, and there are probably insufficient Independents who would work together to make it sustainable. It seems that they have both missed this opportunity, and their time is limited. The Church of Scientology, I think, only endures today thanks to the enormous financial reserves it has accumulated.

          Finally, my view is that there nothing of value in Scientology practice. However, I would be very interested in your proposition that “some of the basic materials can be useful”. I can’t honestly see how, or in what way – especially as whatever slight benefits there may be require membership of an organisation that will do the believer a lot more harm than good.

          Thank you for the kind words about the site (it was only supposed to be compressive list of critical books, but got out of hand).

          • Thank you for your long answer. I’ll try to address some of the points you touched.

            “I believe the ‘brainwashing’ thesis was adopted by early ‘anti-cult’ groups back in the day when organisations like […]. Unfortunately, some self-declared ‘experts’ still stand by this counter-productive nonsense. I have had discussions with one such person online, and their tactic is assert that I am denying that Scientology exerts undue influence when I criticise the brainwashing thesis. They simply don’t want to know about more nuanced alternative explanations for Scientology’s considerable manipulative power.”

            yeah, that’s pretty common among critics who were never “inside”. You are absolutely right about this.

            “I see Scientology as a social-psychological lobster pot. There is an attractive morsel at the bottom, which you can never quite reach. The deeper you in to get it, the harder it becomes to back out.”

            That is even more true for second generations: those whose parents are long time members and join the church in their childhood. I myself grew up with many of them. A lot of friends of mine left school early on in order to join the local church staff or the sea org. In that kind of environment it is considered quite normal. My parents were not staff members, so it was different, but I think more than 50% of my acquaintances that had parents in the staff left high school and joined them. Using a sociological expression, their entire primary socialization (their relations with friends, family members, sometimes even the school where they studies, if it is a scientological one) pushes them towards that, and not just the church as an institution.

            “My personal interest is the altered state of consciousness induced by the Training Routines (TRs) especially TR0. These exercises

            1) Provide subjective ‘evidence’ of previous lives in the form of compelling hallucinations
            2) Enable Scientologists to induce a dissociated state in themselves at will
            3) Encourage unthinking compliance”

            This is quite surprising to me.

            1) I don’t think there is a relation between trs and previous lives whatsoever. That is what auditing is supposed to lead to. Of course mastering trs is an essential requirement for auditors, but I have never heard anybody in scientology claiming that trs provide that kind of evidence, nor I experienced it personally. As for the hallucinations, I would not call them in that way. TRS can surely alter your perception of the environment, but generally in a positive way, not differently from what meditation does. I have practiced zazen for some years and I experienced similar feelings.
            2) This is also surprising. I think trs (as many othewr forms of meditation such as zazen and vipassana) help you overcoming a preexistent dissociated state, so it is quite the opposite of what you’re saying. They help you being more focused or, using a scientological expression, staying “in present time”.
            3) here I really don’t see the connection. I agree that this is something that exists in scientology, but I don’t think trs are among the causes of it.

            Actually I think trs and the communication “tech” (along with some parts of the studying “tech”) are the working parts of scientology that should be saved, and maybe studied from a scientific perspective.

            “My interest in Scientology began when I read a books called “Cults of Unreason” at the age of about 15. I was fascinated by the question of why clever, capable people believe such inherently questionabl things. The next book I encountered “Bare Faced Messiah” ensured that I never, ever bought into Hubbard’s cult of personality. I’m a complete outsider.”

            This is maybe what prevents you from separating Hubbard from his work. I personally think that even considering how crazy he was (and I don’t have to tell you why, since I think you already know it), some of what he wrote is still valid. I mean, Adolf Hitler was the worst dictator of the 20th century and that fact didn’t prevent him from being a pretty good painter. One mistake that many (if not all) critics of scientology make is throwing the baby out with the bath water. I don’t blame them, because I would probably do the same if I got to know the truth about LRH before studying his books. And still, I think it is a mistake.

            “This fascination played a large part in leading to study sociology (rather late in life – I completed by UK BA just as I turned 50. Scientology is the perfect case study, because it has lasted for so long and it so complex – every extreme of fringe belief is represented at some point in its history.”

            It is very interesting indeed.

            “It seems to me that Scientologists do not so much believe as constantly struggle to suspend disbelief. It’s no coincidence that, as people enter upon the more ‘advanced’ training the degree of commitment that the organisation demands, and the degree of control they exercise become more extreme. Scientology doctrine is not feasible and very fragile. It has to be constantly reinforced by isolation and social pressure. If you reach the level of the Sea Org, actual physical coercion is required (e.g. guards, fences, and ‘blow drills’).”

            Well, that is certainly true if you are a sea org member (and in many ways if you are part of the staff of a local org), not quite true if you did the ot levels as a public. I know many OTs who have never been staff members that after completing the levels simply retired from an active role in scientology, without leaving the church or stop to believe in it.

            “incidentally. conditions in the Sea Org are as close as it gets to conditions of ‘brainwashing’”

            Agreed. But I don’t like the term, because people tend to associate it with some kind of hipnosis, when it is more often the consequence of primary and secocondary socialization and the many convincing promises contained in LRH’s material. Auditing and trs have a little if any role in it. Also, many sea org members who would like to leave cannot do it for different reasons (one of which is the infamous disconnection policy).

            “However, if brainwashing worked – if it really did bring about an enduring attitude change – Scientology would not need the guards, the fences or the blow drills. Scientology would not long endure without its oppressive apparatus. Evidently, something else is going on here.”

            Agreed

            “The need for a repressive apparatus to reinforce a fragile belief system, and hold together any organisation based on Scientology, represents a problem for Independent Scientologists”.

            I disagree. A repressive apparatus is needed to protect the management and keep the highest levels secret (the latter being pointless now, with the OT levels available everywhere on the internet). The real problems of independent scientologists are others, and especially the following:

            1. the copyright on all LRH’s works is controlled by RTC. Thus the independents cannot really sell books or courses in a legal way without facing the risk of being sued by the church.
            2. the strong contradditions between their will to go through the bridge in a more liberal way and all the stuff LRH wrote about preserving the hierarchy and the structure of the church.

            “It seems to me that, without the ability to enforce orthodoxy, they are doomed to fragment further.”

            This is not necessarily a bad thing. Christianity passed through many scissions and after two thousand years it is still here.

            “This is why the present sub-culture of Independent Scientologists consist of many small groups each with their own incompatible views of what constitutes the ‘true faith’.”

            Still, they agree on most things. Also, a unified independent church would be very risky now, because it could be easily sued by the official church for copyrights infringement. The “guerrilla tactics” is now probably the best bet for the independents.

            “What’s more, the relatively small Independent movement is spread thin, geographically. It’s impossible to practice Scientology or to exercise social pressure when your members are miles apart and can meet only rarely”.

            I don’t know about U.K., but in my city (and I know it is also true for other italian cities) there are now at least as many independents as there are staff members in the local church. Among my friends and aquintances who were in the church 15 years ago, about 3/4 are now out of it. And among those who are out of it about half are part of the independents or are interested of being part of them. It is very common that they blame the church enstablishment and Miscavige but consider Ron’s “tech” effective.

            “Finally, the membership of Independent groups seems to be drawn exclusively from ex-Scientologists. They have even less success at recruitment than the ‘official’ organisation.”

            That is true, but again, the main reason is not that they are unorganized, but the impossibility for them to advertise their services in a conventional way. In other words, they cannot pull new people in because they are disorganized, but they are disorganized because they don’t own the copyrights. Or at least that is one of the main reasons that prevents an effort in that direction. They CANNOT create a parallel structurized church. I also think this can be a strenght because it forces them to approach scientology in a more liberal and individualistic way.

            “In my opinion, Independent Scientologists are doomed to argue online about how many angels can dance on the point of a pin until their various organisations fade away through natural wastage.”

            Quite possibly, but if the material is available online new people can always use LRH work on their own, in small groups. I think that would be a good thing, and not just for scientology but for other religions as well.

            “Some would say that Independent organisations represent a valuable ‘half-way house’, providing people who have just left the ‘official’ Church of Scientology but are not yet ready to completely abandon Scientology itself, with a supportive environment. Many such people lose their faith after re-establishing social contact with the wider world.”

            I personally think that scientology doesn’t have to disappear, but to become more liberal. After all even the craziest things written by LRH (the stuff involving xenu etc.) are not that crazy compared with the christian’s dogma of “the trinity” or similar things that are at the core of well established and respected religions.

            “AS long as Independent Scientology cannot cohere to the point where it can exercise control over a ‘critical mass’ of members it is relatively harmless. I have no argument with what people choose to believe – I may not agree with them, but I defend their right to their chosen faith. What I oppose about Scientology is the harm that it does – for example by discouraging people from taking essential medicinal drugs (especially psychiatric medication) and the practice of ‘disconnection’.”

            I agree, but, apart from psychiatric drugs, there are no prescriptions against normal medicinals, as far as I know. You cannot use them if you are receiving auditing, but that’s all.

            “The mystery is why some people leave The Church of Scientology, but continue to practice Scientology. IN online discussions, I have found that these individuals typically state that they found the early stages of Scientology training beneficial but judged the ‘higher’ levels to be disappointing.”

            This is no different from people who leave groups like the Mormons but continue to believe in God. They become more moderate, and that is a good thing. Also, it is not surprising at all if you try to do the trs and read the basic material from an unbiased perspective. I personally consider Miscavige to be completely crazy and paranoid and Ron Hubbard a liar and a violent, the xenu story a complete bullshit and… the basic courses pretty useful (well, not all of them, but at least some of them).

            “They explain this by stating the the Miscavige regime has somehow corrupted ‘the tech’. The implication is that the higher levels would be wonderful if everything could be restored to the way Hubbard intended it to be.”

            That’s a fairytale. Miscavige changed some things, but the old ot levels were as crazy as the new ones, as anyone can see by reading them on wikileaks’ website. But you must understand, in many cases they have passed a good part of their lives beliving that Ron Hubbard was some kind of messiah who is going to save us all, and thus it is very difficult for them to abandon that idea, that hope. Miscavige, with all the crazy things he did and he does, offers a perfect explanation to them for all the bad things that are happening nowadays in scientology.

            “I mentioned above that I am fascinated by the influence of the TRs upon the attitudes of those who become Independent Scientologists and this lead me to an alternative explanation. Many Independents state their early experiences convinced them that there was ‘something in’ Scientology. One person claimed that he found comfort in the ‘knowledge’ that death was not an end, and refused to discuss the actual subjective experiences that led him to that conclusion.”

            Mmm, yes, but I still don’t understand your opinion about the trs. I am sincerily curious. Can you tell me how you developed that idea of them?

            “I suspect that the altered states of consciousness and the hallucination induced by TRs (combined with the fact that the perceived significance of such experiences tend to grow in memory) persuades many Independents to persist with Scientology even after it is disappointed them for years (or decades).”

            I personally think that the real reason is that TRS work, as meditation works. They help people to relieve stress and being more focused in their daily life. Thay helped me with that, at least. They don’t make miracles, but they usually have a positive effect on people.

            “So, at this point both the ‘official’ church and the Independent sector are struggling with the existential threat from their inability to recruit new members. The only possible future I can see for Scientology (which is based on an essentially 1950’s business model) is if they were adopt an online model, practising remote auditing via a kind of call centre. A device which emulates an e-meter in software and can communicate over an Internet link is already available.”

            That, and small local independent groups. Keep in mind that much of the basic stuff can be studied individually, and the basic auditing can be performed with little training.

            “However, the Church of Scientology is now too inflexible and inefficient to take this route, and there are probably insufficient Independents who would work together to make it sustainable. It seems that they have both missed this opportunity, and their time is limited. The Church of Scientology, I think, only endures today thanks to the enormous financial reserves it has accumulated.”

            I agree.

            “Finally, my view is that there nothing of value in Scientology practice. However, I would be very interested in your proposition that “some of the basic materials can be useful”. I can’t honestly see how, or in what way – especially as whatever slight benefits there may be require membership of an organisation that will do the believer a lot more harm than good.”

            Well, if you study the good things and discard the crazy stuff, and, more importantly, if you do that outside the offiacial church, you can have the benefits and avoid the harm. In addition to the Trs, I think the ARC triangle and its applications are quite interesting and can have beneficial effects. There are other things, too.

            “Thank you for the kind words about the site (it was only supposed to be compressive list of critical books, but got out of hand).”

            You deserve the compliments. And please, don’t interpret my disagreement on some of what you said as a critique. I think this kind of discussions are very useful to better understand scientology, both sociologically and as a philosophy. And sorry for the mistakes I made while writing this, English is not my native language and I really don’t have the time to double-check everything I write 🙂

              • This is a paper by a psychologist who was interested in the study of dissociation. He was looking for a harmless and convenient way of inducing a dissociated state in experimental subjects to make this easier. In previous work, he had found that subjects who stared fixedly into a mirror entered a state of mild dissociation. In this paper he assessed the effect of having two people stare fixedly at each other.

                Without knowing it, he reproduced the exact conditions of TR0 – and observed not only a dissociated state in the participants but also hallucinatory experiences that matched those of people who had undergone TR0.

                Staring fixedly at anything can bring about a form of sensory deprivation known as the Ganzfeld effect – a completely unchanging sensory input can be as unsettling as none at all (as experienced in a sensory deprivation tank). This is made more potent by the fact that we are social animals with a theory of mind. Our brains have whole areas devoted to reading the finest nuances of other people’s facial expressions. It’s hardly surprising that, when you combine the two, strange things can happen.

                • I read both articles. I must say that I found them very interesting, so thank you for sharing them. I won’t critisize them for the sake of being right. Actually, I mostly agree with their underlying thesis, as they offer a very good explanation of why many scientologists who left the official church keep praticing Scientology independently. However, I think it is a partial explanation, for several reasons:

                  1. Trs are only a part of a wider process of convertion. A big role is played by basic books (dianetics in particular) and non-practical courses (such as the pts/sp course).

                  2.Not everybody experiences those altered statuses at the same degree, and some people don’t experience them at all. Furthermore, I don’t think that the difference between people who do experience them only depends on how they interpret them. I did the two hours TR back in the day, together with other similar trainings, and I had a recurring experience:
                  I start to see the other guy as if he is much smaller than when we start the TR, or maybe just much farther from me than he actually is, and his face becomes strangely smaller compared to his body.
                  I told the supervisor about my experience, and she told me that it was something I had to go through in order to be able to stay in present time, and not the goal of that specific TR. Also, the instruction text of the TR doesn’t really mention those altered mental statuses.

                  3. Although I agree with you on the effect that TRS can have in making conversions easier, I am not sure this was known by LRH at the time he conceived them (but I am just starting to explore his real biography, so I may be wrong on that). I also don’t think that the expression “dissociative state” is a good one. It takes for granted that our daily reality – highly determined by the society and culture we live in – is “truer” than the visions induced by trs or meditation. I experienced similar visions during a vipassana retreat, and in my zazen practice, in which you have to stare at a wall for hours, sitting on the ground in the half-lotus position. Being able to stop the thinking flow (something at the core of both trs and vipassana/zazen), and simply perceive reality as it is, can give you significative insights on yourself and your environment, if not on life in general. Those are real gainings, and they persist, while visions rapidly fade away. Also I must say that those visions where pretty rare events, and maybe I experienced them 4 or 5 times in years of practice. As for the insights (but this may be also true for the visions), claiming that they are less “real” or “true” than those brought about by social interaction may be the consequence of a common bias you can find in the scientific subculture (which is fortunately not that common among social scientists). I met some people who practiced zazen and vipassana for years, and you can really see how different they are. They are not indoctrinated, they don’t really want to convert you; most vipassana retreats in Europe are in fact completely free, and you have to make an effort to join them (nobody will try to pull you in). In soto zazen, as another example, part of the teaching is that dogmas are just there to give you some self discipline: “you have to step into the dojo with your right foot” the monk told me the first time I visited the dojo, “but this rule doesn’t have any meaning, and it only serves to give you a mindset that will help you focusing on the meditation”. And zazen meditation is really just that: staying there and do or think nothing. I don’t know whether after years of meditation one can develop some exoteric power or leave his or her body (if such thing is even possible), but meditation has surely a positive effect on stress and can help you developing self-control. Both things have been proven to have a positive impact on health. I think trs can have a similar impact.

                  • Absolutely – understanding the role TRs only provides only a partial explanation. It’s just they are that part of a fuller explanation which particularly interests me. I’ve considered other pieces of the puzzle here. I also agree that interpretation of hallucinations is crucial to the conversion process. They have to be understood as supporting Scientology’s claims.

                    My thesis is that Hubbard was not a mastermind of manipulation. He understood very little of what he was doing. However, he was shrewd enough to seen when something was working and to discard when it wasn’t. I believe Scientology evolved in response to external threats by a process of trial and error.

                    I’m a realist, who thinks that human beings are exquisitely adapted to functioning in the real world, and that is all there is. Visions may be compelling, and they may teach us something profound about our inner lives… but they are not ‘real’. That said, if you benefit from the practice of meditation, more power to you. My objection to Scientology is not that people believe strange things, or that they disagree with me, but the way its doctrines function to exploit believers and harms critics.

                    • I agree. That’s why I propose an individual use of scientology, for those interested in this philosophy, even though I am not personally interested in it anymore, if not from a sociological point of view. Despite that, I can still see something in it, something that goes beyond the money making machine.

                      Thank you for the nice discussion, and consider me among your readers 🙂

            • Re: unthinking compliance and TRs – I understand that many of them basically consist of taking turns to do things like telling your partner to “touch that wall” over and over and over again. The ‘students’ only ‘pass’ when they can enforce compliance and accept orders. Although this is presented as a preparation for auditing , it also inculcates a more general attitude. Either you are giving orders, according to instructions, or obeying them without question.

              I agree that the effects of TR’s should be scientifically studied – which is why I was so interested in the paper that I discuss in my reply to your other comment. It inadvertently reproduced the situation of TR0 and the results confirmed a number of other observers regarding hallucinations.

              I have to say that I am very sceptical about the proposition that early Scientology ‘training’ actually has any benefits. If this is so, I cannot imagine what they are. The nature of the TRs and whether there is, or is not, anything beneficial about them seems to be the area where we differ.

              I think I can separate Hubbard the man from his work. Where we differ is that I find that the work had no value (or, at least, if it does have value, I have yet to see this demonstrated). There is little scientific examination of Scientology because so much of it too incoherent to be assessed with and experimental approach. On the rare occasions when this has been done, Hubbard’s theories came off badly – for example the results recorded in these two papers, one examining the ‘engram hypothesis‘ and the other the claim that processing could increase IQ and improve memory.

              As for psychiatric drugs – my friend suffers from clinical depression and anxiety. He participated in a research programme which accessed the effectiveness of ‘mindful meditation’ and found that, for moderate depression it was almost as effective as medicinal drugs. That said, he still frequently needs anti-depressants. This isn’t some drug company scam – I have seen him suffering a depressive episode, and the way that the drugs restore his equilibrium. My (admittedly second-hand) experience is that his treatment has been undoubtedly beneficial. The side effects are minimal and a good alternative to suicide (which he seriously thought about on a number of occasions before he was diagnosed).

              There are also well-known cases where Scientology’s hostility to psychiatric drugs has proved calamitous – for example the case of Elli Perkins who died at the hand of her son, who was suffering from Schizophrenia after the Church of Scientology strongly discouraged her from allowing him to be treated with the anti-psychotics which would have stabilised his condition (relevant posts here and here)

              There is a lot to be said for both approaches, and for using them together.

              A number of ex-Scientologists have described how they, or people they knew were prohibited from taking medication for epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological condition with a well-established physical basis. The medicines used to treat this are not ‘psychiatric drugs’ and they are routinely effective. Perhaps recourse to scientific medicine is not forbidden, but it does seem to be discouraged within Scientology.

              Please do critique what I write here. It’s a rare pleasure to exchange views with someone who defends aspects of Scientology in a rational manner. Also your English is excellent.

              • “I understand that many of them basically consist of taking turns to do things like telling your partner to “touch that wall” over and over and over again.”

                Well, not all of them include a partner. Some of them are done individually.

                “The ‘students’ only ‘pass’ when they can enforce compliance and accept orders. Although this is presented as a preparation for auditing , it also inculcates a more general attitude. Either you are giving orders, according to instructions, or obeying them without question.”

                Most trs don’t involve orders. Those that include orders are 6,7 and 9. And when one partner gives some verbal and/or unspoken orders, the partner has to resist those orders. The goal is not learning to accept orders, it is being able to control the environment and/or another person, depending on the tr. In fact, the one who receives the orders is not the person who is being tested, but his or her coach for that tr.
                All trs focus on communication, with either the environment or another person. Being able to use communication to get things done, and also being able to receive a communication, these are the pivotal points of trs, as well as their final goals. This involves what is called in Scientology “the tone scale”, which by the way is another thing of scientology that I think is quite interesting and may have useful applications if separated from the church.
                There is even one tr (part of tr 0) that specifically trains you to resist external critiques and orders.
                Of course all this can be used in a bad way, to create followers who can easily handle critiques, thus making the church stronger. But again, thas is a consequence of how the organization is structured, and not a problem of the philosphy itself. Having said that, I think the scientology’s philosophy contains a lot of weak points, but most of the critic problems involve the “ethics”, the upper levels and many of the organizational policies (which led to the mistreatment of sea org members, the practice of disconnection and so on).

                “I agree that the effects of TR’s should be scientifically studied – which is why I was so interested in the paper that I discuss in my reply to your other comment. It inadvertently reproduced the situation of TR0 and the results confirmed a number of other observers regarding hallucinations.
                I have to say that I am very sceptical about the proposition that early Scientology ‘training’ actually has any benefits. If this is so, I cannot imagine what they are. The nature of the TRs and whether there is, or is not, anything beneficial about them seems to be the area where we differ.”

                Yes, indeed. I tried to answer what the possible benefits are in my previous comment.

                “I think I can separate Hubbard the man from his work. Where we differ is that I find that the work had no value (or, at least, if it does have value, I have yet to see this demonstrated). There is little scientific examination of Scientology because so much of it too incoherent to be assessed with and experimental approach.”

                Here there is a very important point to discuss. The experimental approach cannot be applied to the human behaviour without generating serious ethical problems, and even if we manage to solve that issue, there are several other obstacles. One is that most of the gainings one can get from meditation and counselling (such as auditing) are difficult to test because:

                1. you cannot really isolate the subjects for an extent amount of time without altering the very thing you are studying. The isolation may nullify the possible gaining or change the object of your study in some way that make the consequences difficult to judge, for example by making the subjects aware that they are being studied.
                2. The gainings are extremily subjective. If the person is not lying to the scientist, he can still be lying to himself. A lie can make a person happier (this is one of the reasons why religions are so successful), so is he or she happier because trs or auditing (for example) made them happier or because they believe they would even before starting? The same applies the other way around: if you select sceptical people for your test, and they have no gainings from it, does it mean the thing tested does not work, or rather they convinced themself it would not work before it even started?
                A similar test was performed years ago, in which a famous musician who had just exibit in a very big theatre and was acclaimed as a great actor, after a couple of days from the spectacle went to the city’s central station and started to play with his violin the same music he played in the theatre. Nobody stopped or appreciated his music. Is that those in the theatre were convinced by marketing that a great musician would exibit? Or on the contrary was it the environment of the station that convinced the people there that that person could not be a good artist (otherwise he would play his violin in a theatre)? Or maybe the truth is that people who go to theatres can appreciate music better.
                The point is: it is very difficult to know it for sure, because we are talking about something subjective (the beauty of music, the insight produced by meditation or auditing or trs). However, one thing is sure: sceptical people would not get much from these practices because it is impossible to perform well in such practices without beliving in what you are doing. Another thing is also sure: if you blindly believe that something works, it will problably work in your mind, and therefore you will get something out of it, even if what you were doing was praying a domestic chicken for salvation.

                So, it is difficult to test, and it is difficult to demostrate its effectivenes objectively (and not subjectively) if you don’t try to do it yourself. This is of couse something that help religions survival a lot.
                As for me, I tried meditation and it was useful. I don’t have much to say about auditing, but I can say that trs also worked for me to a certain degree, but not as much as meditation.

                “On the rare occasions when this has been done, Hubbard’s theories came off badly – for example the results recorded in these two papers, one examining the ‘engram hypothesis‘ and the other the claim that processing could increase IQ and improve memory”.

                Yes, I am also quite sceptical about auditing. I will read the papers.

                “As for psychiatric drugs – my friend suffers from clinical depression and anxiety. He participated in a research programme which accessed the effectiveness of ‘mindful meditation’ and found that, for moderate depression it was almost as effective as medicinal drugs. That said, he still frequently needs anti-depressants.”

                Well, it is not one way or the other. Nobody prevents you from doing both things. Mindful meditation has no negative collateral effects though, but the same cannot be said for anti-depressants.

                “This isn’t some drug company scam – I have seen him suffering a depressive episode, and the way that the drugs restore his equilibrium. My (admittedly second-hand) experience is that his treatment has been undoubtedly beneficial. The side effects are minimal and a good alternative to suicide (which he seriously thought about on a number of occasions before he was diagnosed).”

                A single case doesn’t make a statistics. There are plenty of people who say psychiatric drugs destroyed their lives (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Network_of_Users_and_Survivors_of_Psychiatry).
                Also, the scientific status of mental illness is still disputed, and some that were considered mental deseases in the past are no longer considered mental deseases, while new ones keep joining the dsm. As a libertarian I think people should be let decide for themselves whether to use psychiatric drugs or not. I also think that suicide should be legalized and mandatory treatments that are now quite common in psychiatry should become illegal. But we are going out of topic, so let’s talk about scientology.

                “There are also well-known cases where Scientology’s hostility to psychiatric drugs has proved calamitous – for example the case of Elli Perkins who died at the hand of her son, who was suffering from Schizophrenia after the Church of Scientology strongly discouraged her from allowing him to be treated with the anti-psychotics which would have stabilised his condition (relevant posts here and here) “

                There are many cases of people killing other people or themselves while under the effect of psychiatric drugs. Nobody should be forced to assume or not assume such drugs, but everybody should be allowed to suggest whether to do it or not (where suggestion ends and psycological abuse begins is something to consider, especially when talking about scientology, so I give you that point).
                I don’t think the alternative is between psychiatric drugs or killing people. I suggest you to read the books of Thomas Szasz, Giorgio Antonucci, R.D. Laing and Franco Basaglia, or even Foucault, for a non scientological critic to psychiatric treatments. The rosenhan experiment is also very interesting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment

                “A number of ex-Scientologists have described how they, or people they knew were prohibited from taking medication for epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological condition with a well-established physical basis. The medicines used to treat this are not ‘psychiatric drugs’ and they are routinely effective. Perhaps recourse to scientific medicine is not forbidden, but it does seem to be discouraged within Scientology.”

                That is very bad, and I fully agree with you. As a sidenote, epilepsy was considered a psychiatric disease before it was scientifically proved to be a physical disease. This has happened uncountable times throughout the history of psychiatry, with some diseases passing to the field of neurology when scientific proves where discovered, and others (such as homosexuality, histeria and drapetomania) just dropped out when the society changed its view on the behaviours linked to those conditions.
                Let me conclude by making it clear that I am not against psychiatry as a whole, but I have doubts about its scientific basis. I also think scientology is damaging the serious critics of psychiatry with their ludicrous and blind propaganda against it.

                “Please do critique what I write here. It’s a rare pleasure to exchange views with someone who defends aspects of Scientology in a rational manner.”

                The pleasure is mine.

                Also your English is excellent.

                Thank you!

    • Thank you… I will look into this.

      Edit: It’s also available (for $25) as a photocopy from “The Fate Magazine Store” which says it is in the process of digitising their back catalogue, starting with the oldest copies.

      A different edition”Fate” magazine has already appeared on this blog (at the bottom of the page) and I look forward to reading the article in the October 1951 issue which is entitled “Dianetics – One Year Later”.

      Thanks again.

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