2014 | Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous | Gabriella Coleman
This recent book is written by an anthropologist and examines the strange, virtual, tribe of people who call themselves ‘Anonymous’.
The second chapter, which is entitled “Project Chanology – I came for the lulz, but stayed for the outrage” covers one of the earliest real-world campaigns undertaken by this online collective – its attack upon the Church of Scientology. It does so in loving, accurate detail, and includes the contribution of ‘Wise Beard Man” (aka Mark Bunker) which helped to make the mass protests so effective.
The involvement of Anonymous has had a profound influence on the culture of those who campaign against the Church of Scientology. It demonstrated how a groups of like-minded individuals, using anonymity and the Internet to work together, are more than equal to a inflexible bureaucracy like Scientology. However, as the book reveals, its involvement in the campaign against Scientology changed Anonymous just as much – from a group of uber-trolls to iconoclastic social campaigners.
This is a fascinating read for both Anons and ‘Old Guard’ critics of Scientology (who must have wondered where these strange, masked people came from, and what they were up to).
Unlike some academics, the author really understands the virtual culture which gave us Anonymous, the culture of Scientology critics and the motives of the people who belong to them both. She also writes in an engaging and accessible style. If you want to understand one of the greatest influences upon the shared culture of those who oppose Scientology, this is the book to read. Continue reading
At a presentation yesterday in the Conway Hall in London, Tony Ortega dropped the bombshell that Sky Atlantic will broadcast the Alex Gibney documentary film “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” in the UK in September. This has subsequently been confirmed by the BBC.
The broadcast of this documentary film had previously been postponed, apparently due to doubts about whether Sky would fall foul of the more repressive libel legislation still in force in Northern Ireland, and be sued by the Church of Scientology. It seems that Sky (which cannot exclude Northern Ireland from its coverage) has decided to call Scientology’s bluff.
Ortega (on the left) is an investigative journalist who writes the best blog about Scientology and appears in the film as an expert on Scientology. He knows whereof he speaks. This presentation was fascinating in itself and there is more about it after the break (including the video). However, before we move on, I would like to appeal for information from readers.
Before the UK broadcast of “Going Clear” was postponed, the Church of Scientology launched a media blitz. They promoted their front groups in full-page ads in publications such as “The New Statesman” and “Metro”, on social media and electronic billboards.
The advertisement in “The New Statesman” regarding ‘Volunteer Ministers’ was the subject of a complaint to the UK Advertising Standards Association. As a result the Church of Scientology agreed not to present VMs as if they were a relief organisation in future.
The Church of Scientology is unlikely to let the broadcast go without some media response – which may break their promise to the ASA or lay them open to complaints on other grounds. If anyone in the UK sees an advertisement, especially in a newspaper or print periodical, promoting Scientology front groups please let me know about it in the comments, or via the feedback page.
2015 | “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely | Tony Ortega | ISBN 9781511639378
Author’s blog “The Underground Bunker”: tonyortega.org
The Church of Scientology is the subject of many critical histories. The essential texts which cover the period up to the death of the organisation’s founder are, “A Piece of Blue Sky” (first published in 1991, and republished in an expanded form in 2013) and “Bare Faced Messiah“. These books remain definitive, and difficult to surpass
“The Unbreakable Miss Lovely” also deals with this period, but from a new perspective which adds considerable depth and a human dimension to the story.
Its subject is Scientology’s treatment of a journalist (Palette Cooper) who published a book critical of the Church entitled, “The Scandal of Scientology” in 1971.
After her book appeared, the Church of Scientology subjected her to an organised programme of persecution. This included a libellous (but anonymous) smear campaign, endless litigation, the tapping of her telephone, being ‘befriended’ by undercover agents and being framed for sending letters containing bomb threats.
After many years of legal action the Church succeeded in obtaining the copyright of her book and suppressed it. Nevertheless, you can download and read it here.
All of these operations (and more) were undertaken by the Church of Scientology’s ‘intelligence’ branch (which still exists and operates today, under a different name). While it was persecuting Cooper, the “Office of the Guardian”also infiltrated multiple US Government premises, where they copied (and planted) documents which they thought could be used to their advantage. This bizarre espionage story is extensively covered by Ortega, not least because it had unexpected consequences for the subject of his book.
Tony Ortega is a investigative journalist who has written extensively on the subject of Scientology in (almost) daily blog posts over a period of years. These began in the Village Voice. In 2012 he resigned his position as editor of the Voice to “[…] pursue a book proposal about Scientology in its time of crisis”. He continues to post daily on his own site The Underground Bunker.
Ortega recently announced the publication of a book he has been working on for the past two years.
It will tell the story of the extraordinary persecution of fellow Journalist Paulette Cooper by the Church of Scientology’s ‘secret police’ after her critical book, “The Scandal of Scientology” was published in 1971.| Read Online | Download as .pdf .
Ortega’s book, “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely” will be published by Silvertail books in May 2015. Much has changed for the Church of Scientology in the intervening years Continue reading
2014 | An Evening with Lawrence Wright
Watch Online | Download as .mp4
This is an interview with Lawrence Wright which took place at the Texas book Fair in 2014. In it, he discusses his book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief”, which had been published the previous year.
“Going Clear” is based on more than 200 interviews with ex-Scientologists and years of archival research and one of a select few texts that has brought the history of the Church of Scientology up to date.
Recently, the news broke that HBO, the American premium satellite and cable TV network, is in the final stages of producing a film based on Wright’s book by award-winning documentary film-maker Alex Gibney which they plan to release in 2015.
To protect both author and publisher from the notoriously litigious Church, it was subject to incredibly thorough fact-checking and legal scrutiny. Now (according to HBO) 160 lawyers have scrutinised, and stand ready to defend, the film. Continue reading
John Whiteside Parsons was a mass of contradictions. By day, he was a pioneering rocket scientist, who invented a formulation for solid rocket fuel which was developed into the booster rockets that modern space launch vehicles depend upon. By night, he was a secret occultist, who believed that he could influence the world with ritual magic.
He is of interest to Scientology watchers because, before L Ron Hubbard wrote “Dianetics”, the founder of Scientology participated with Parsons in black magic rituals. This relationship ended when Hubbard absconded not only with Parson’s girlfriend, but also a substantial amount of his money.
Yesterday, it was announced on the website ‘boing boing‘ that Ridley Scott was acting as executive producer for an upcoming TV miniseries about Parson’s life based on the book ,”Strange Angel” by George Pendle (the best biography of the man).
Will the series deal honestly with Hubbard’s involvement? How will the Church of Scientology react? The story of the production of this series is likely to be fascinating in its own right.
While we are waiting, I have some background for those who like to prepare by doing their research in depth.
After the break, you can view a documentary film about Jack Parson’s occult guru, the infamous (and ultimately pathetic) Aleister Crowley. To understand Parsons (and his influence on Hubbard) it certainly helps to understand Crowley. A TV docudrama about Parsons’ extraordinary live, which includes contributions from George Pendle
Also there are links to a number of books, magazine articles and websites which describe L Ron Hubbards curious career as a ‘master of the mystic arts” and an interview with Nieson Himmel, a resident at Jack Parson’s house when L Ron Hubbard was there. Continue reading
1983 | Psychology’s Occult Doubles: Psychology and the Problem of Pseudoscience
Thomas Hardy Leahey and Grace Evans Leahey
This site began as an attempt to compile a comprehensive and up-to-date list of books examining Scientology from an academic and critical perspective. It branched out partly because I was running out of books. However, now and again, an overlooked but very valuable text turns up – and this is one such.
The book begins by using the work of Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper in the philosophy of science to clearly draw the distinction between real science (specifically psychology) and pseudoscience.
The authors then develop their thesis by examining a number of historical pseudosciences which claimed to understand the human mind – Phrenology, Mesmerism, Spiritualism, Psychical Research and finally, “Contemporary Therapeutic Cults”. Their discussion of Scientology in this section is brief, but penetrating. Continue reading