“Is there Anything You Don’t Understand?” A Sceptical Article About Scientology From 1969

Cover of April 1969 Issue of "Eye" magazineEye Magazine | April 1969 | George Malko | Is There Anything You Don’t Understand? | Download as .pdf File

in 1970, George Malko published a book entitled, “Scientology: The Now Religion” (full text here). The article that is the subject of today’s post – “Is There Anything You Don’t Understand?”  – had been published in “Eye” magazine about a year before. However, it does not mention an upcoming book. It’s likely, therefore, that the book was a work in progress.

“Eye” was an obscure but literate publication, devoted to youth culture. It was mostly concerned with popular musicians, fashion and make-up. The Cover story was “Boys and the Pill”.  Scientology seems to have appealed to young people with a counter-culture style in this period, so its inclusion of malko’s article isn’t as odd as it might seem.

The “Eye” article took a very sceptical view of Scientology, but emerged unscathed. In contrast, when Malko’s book “Scientology: The Now Religion” appeared, the Church of Scientology sued its publisher.

After the book had appeared in Hardback and Paperbook editions the publisher paid a settlement to Scientology and did not release it in a printed format again.

It was a common tactic of Scientology at this time to force publishers into protracted litigation without having an arguable case. The book went out of print simply because Delacorte Press could not afford to continue to uphold their freedom to publish.  Scientology successfully suppressed critical texts for years in this way.  It was a matter of policy, laid down by the founder.

The text of the article from “Eye” (which is transcribed in full below) is a short-form survey of Scientology back in 1969. It begins with an account of Malko’s visits to a Scientology org in New York, where he was ‘assessed’ by a young woman, and includes telling interviews and real insight into its belief and the mindset of Scientologists back in 1970.

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“Confidential” Magazine Warns Readers to “Beware of Scientology” in 1970

“Confidential” Magazine | October 1970 | Volume 18 No 10 | “Scientology Can Drive You Out Of Your Mind” | Jane Nellis   Download as pdf (NB – this document was made from a high-resolution scan – please be patient while it downloads/opens)

“Confidential” magazine was published continuously from December 1952 until 1978. It specialised in serious exposés and show-biz gossip (originally about cinema, latterly TV).

In this edition there were articles about Jane, Henry and Peter Fonda, Jackie Kennedy, a long article about the contraceptive pill and another about fashionable and flattering swimsuits (“Are You a Bathing Suit Patsy?”). It seems to have been aimed at a young female audience, and was presenting an edgy but  commercialised version of then fashionable counterculture themes.

The article about Scientology is the nearest this issue comes to real exposé journalism. The cover reads “Beware of Scientology” and the contents page, “Scientology can drive you out of your mind”. It’s not a puff piece.

If you can get past the hip style of the writing, it is an interesting take on the culture of Scientology ‘missions’ during this period (with a few good black-and-white photos). It also shows how the basic operation has hardly changed at all Continue reading

The Revenge of the Guardian’s Office on “Amazing Science Fiction Stories”

What is Scientology | The ‘Reverend’ Robert H Thomas | Amazing Science Fiction Stories | March 1971 | Pages 104 – 112 |  Download entire issue as .pdf (download link will appear in new tab).

I have posted an issue of “Amazing” here before . That one was from  November 1970. It featured a reassessment of ‘Dianetics,  more-or-less 20 years after it was introduced to the world in the May 1950 issue of “Amazing’s” rival, “Astounding Science Fiction“.

In it, Barry N Malzberg went along to a Scientology org, took a ‘communications course’ and was generally very unimpressed by the whole proposition. He was scathing about Hubbard and dianetics.

It must be said that this expression of scepticism was good for the magazine.  “Amazing” had a little catching up to do in the credibility stakes and knew it.  Five years before “Astounding Science Fiction” published the first article about dianetics, they had fallen for a author whose claims were at least as implausible as Hubbard’s. Although they had traded on  “The Shaver Mystery” fad that resulted, it ultimately damaged their reputation.

Now they had an opportunity to implicitly criticise the credulity of the editor of the market-leading “Astounding Science Fiction”, John W Campbell, for falling for dianetics to the extent that he heavily promoted it as “a new science of the mind”. They took it.

However, in March 1971 “Amazing” had been struggling with a falling circulation for some time, and was in dire straits. It was vulnerable. At this time, it incomprehensibly published an propaganda piece entitled “What is Scientology” written by the ‘Reverend’ Robert H Thomas –  Deputy Guardian for the US Churches of Scientology.

The Guardian’s Office was, of course, Scientology’s secret police and dirty tricks department. I think it’s likely that this uncritical article appeared as a result of improper pressure from the Guardian’s Office – Scientology took the opportunity to kick “Amazing” when it was down and settle a score.

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Why Is A ‘Clever’ Magazine Like The “New Statesman So Dumb When It Comes to Scientology?

new-statesman_ New Statesman | February 2017 | “Telling Tales”| John Sutherland | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

The New Statesman, is a well-established national magazine published in London. It  bills itself as offering intelligent writing about politics, current affairs and culture, taking a liberal, sceptical  stance.

The February 2017 issue lives up to this claim. It contains a variety of interesting articles on all of those subjects.

However, at the very end it rather blots it’s copybook with a ‘humorous’ and dismissive account of the writers encounter with Scientology, years ago.

In it, he suggests that maybe Scientology’s opposition to Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and psychiatric drugs might be just a little admirable – thereby revealing that he has no idea of the nature of this opposition. It’s almost as if he has fallen for Scientology’s anti-psychiatric rhetoric – so much for the sceptical stance…

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The Pulp SF Magazine “Amazing Stories” Assesses 20 years of Dianetics / Scientology in 1970

amazing-stories-malzbergAmazing Stories November 1970 | “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science” – A Personal Report by Barry N Malzberg | Pg 75 | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

In this issue Barry Malzberg marked the (more-or-less) 20th anniversary of the publication of  the iconic article by L Ron Hubbard in “Astounding Science Fiction” which kicked off the dianetics fad in May 1950.

Malzberg used the same title as Hubbard for his critical article – Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science”. However, he employs it with heavy irony:

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A Scientology-influenced Science Fiction Story From 1954, Penned by a Minor Scientology ‘Celebrity’

Authentic Science Fiction #41 (Jan 1954) coverAuthentic Science Fiction Monthly No 41 | Jan 1954  | Featured Novel: The Phoenix Nest | Richard DeMille | Download Issue as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

If you mention Scientology today, to anyone who who has not looked into it, a typical response will be: “Isn’t that the cult Tom Cruise is involved with?”

Scientology has cultivated celebrities for years, now and treats celebrity members like royalty. They are one of the few means that the Church has left to project a positive image and attract attention to its message. Tom Cruise is the Jewel in Scientology’s tarnished crown, but they also count a number of minor celebrities and fading stars among their members.

This obsession isn’t new. In early1955, an article in the Scientology periodical “Ability” by L Ron Hubbard offered a reward to any Scientologist who recruited anyone on a list of named celebrities .

That article is probably the first written evidence of such a policy, but Hubbard recruited minor celebrities before it became a fixed doctrine, and exploited the resources they provided him with and  interest they drew.

One of the early Scientology celebrities was Richard deMille who was, for many years, presented as the son of the film director Cecil B deMille. Among other things, he wrote for science fiction pulp magazines (as did L Ron Hubbard).

Although he was probably valued by Hubbard as much for his potential to influence his famous father as for himself, deMille did subtly promote Scientology in his writing, as we can see in the story featured in this post

Appearing in the British pulp science fiction magazine “Authentic Science Fiction” its plot depended crucially on Scientology concepts (principally the incorporeal ‘Thetan’) and developed a theme of personal immortality through Science. Continue reading

Tom Cruise and His “Freedom Medal of Valour”

hqdefaultInternational Scientology News| Issue 29| Extract | Download as .pdf (Click the grey ‘download through your browser’ button in new tab)

I’ve been busy lately, and have got behind with my latest series of posts. To fill in, I thought I’d publish this, without much comment.

It’s an article  from issue 19 of  “International Scientology News”. It describes the presentation of Tom Cruise with “The”Freedom Medal of Valour” – the highest award given to Scientologists by Scientology, and especially created for Cruise alone.

The person who scanned the magazine did not seem to have the means to quite image the pages in one go, so theymade two, overlapping, images of each. I’ve combined them again, using the excellent (and free) “Gnu Image Manipulation Program.” See if you can spot the join.

The rampant sycophancy of this ‘event’ and its coverage was designed to draw Cruise back into Scientology, and seems to have succeeded. It was at a price, however.

The announcement by David Miscavige, the present leader of the Church of Scientology that rich, pampered, Tom Cruise was ” the most dedicated Scientology I know” did not play with many members of the audience – members of the Sea Org who work all hours for subsistence wages, giving up a career and a family to dedicate their lives to serving Scientology. Continue reading