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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Scientology's Logical Fallacies

You may recall, in Scientology Logic, that I thought that analyzing and listing all the logical fallacies that Scientologists use would be entertaining.  It has proven to be so.

As I discussed in that previous article, Scientology not only does not teach logic but it actively suppresses logical thinking.

What is even more interesting is how Scientology deliberately uses logical fallacies to justify its dogma and control Scientologists' thinking.

I've cribbed this list of logical fallacies from Wikipedia, which I find to be a wonderful source for many subjects, including Scientology.

Note that these aren't all the logical fallacies that Scientology uses, these are only a representative sample.

Fallacy of Accident or Sweeping Generalization: a generalization that disregards exceptions
  • Scientology example:
Argument: Anyone who opposes Good Works is Evil. Scientology does Good Works. Therefore, anyone who opposes Scientology is Evil.
Problem: While it may be true that some Scientologists do some Good Work, that is not necessarily true of Scientologists in general and definitely not true of the Church of Scientology.
The various programs that the church parades as examples of their "Good Works" have not held up under any independent inspection.  The claimed "good results" from these programs never materialized.

Scientologists who try to do good things via the Church of Scientology's programs such as "Volunteer Ministers" are effectively sabotaged by the church's greed and lack of support.

Converse Fallacy of Accident or Hasty Generalization: argues from a special case to a general rule
  • Scientology example:
Argument: The other Scientologists I know are good people, so it must be true that all Scientologists are good people.
Problem: Most Scientologists have only met is a small subset of the entire group.
Specifically, most Scientologists have not worked in the Sea Org under David Miscavige, they have not experienced the pervasive criminal abuse in the Sea Org at his hands and at his orders.

In addition, most Scientologists have not had dealings with the various Scientologists who have been arrested for many crimes.  

Begging the question: demonstrates a conclusion by means of premises that assume that conclusion is true. "Beg" in this context means "dodge or avoid".
  • Scientology example:
Argument: Scientology always works, I know this because, if it fails, it "wasn't Scientology".
Problem: The argument assumes that Scientology always works.
This is the classic and best-known Scientology logical fallacy.  Discuss Scientology's failures with any true believer, and their argument will inevitably beg the question.

Begging the question is also called Petitio Principii, Circulus in Probando, arguing in a circle, assuming the answer.

Scientology true believers cannot think their way out of this logical fallacy -- it is deeply embedded in their belief system.

Fallacy of False Cause or Non Sequitur: incorrectly assumes one thing is the cause of another. Non Sequitur is Latin for "It does not follow."
  • Scientology example:
Argument: It's OK to go deeply into debt to pay for Scientology services, because Scientology will greatly increase your income.
Problem: There is no evidence that there is such an effect from Scientology.
Scientology registrars use this logical fallacy more than any other.

If one simply looks at the many, many Scientologists who have declared bankruptcy, who were forced to close their businesses and/or lost their homes through foreclosure, it is quite obvious that an increase in income does not happen as a matter of course for Scientologists.

Yet this sales pitch is still used.

Fallacy of False Cause - post hoc ergo propter hoc: believing that temporal succession implies a causal relation.
  • Scientology example:
Argument: After Sally completed Grade I, she got a new job, therefore Grade I resulted in a new job.
Problem: Since people get new jobs all the time, without any Scientology at all, such a direct correlation is unproven and highly unlikely.
Scientologists like this particular logical fallacy a lot.  Since they are not seeing the promised gains from their auditing, they attribute any good thing that happens to them to Scientology, no matter how far-fetched or disrelated.

Straw man: A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.

They must get training on this in Scientology.  When a Scientologist posts a comment on some blog or forum critical of Scientology, they often use the Straw man.

Anyone who has read the comment thread on my first article on Scientology Logic is well aware of how "Sylver" tried to do this.
  • Scientology example:
Person A claims: While many Scientologists are good people who are trying to do good things, the Church of Scientology is run by criminals who must be brought to justice.
Argument Person B: You claim to like Scientologists, but you want to destroy their church.  You are a hypocrite!
Problem: Obviously, person A never said what person B claims.  Person B is creating a straw man so he can "win the argument".
There are more logical fallacies, and more that Scientologists either use or fall for (or both) but the logical fallacy that L. Ron Hubbard used most of all was this one:

Proof by verbosity, sometimes colloquially referred to as argumentum verbosium: a rhetorical technique that tries to persuade by overwhelming those considering an argument with such a volume of material that the argument sounds plausible, superficially appears to be well-researched, and it is so laborious to untangle and check supporting facts that the argument might be allowed to slide by unchallenged.

All of Dianetics and Scientology could be called Proof by verbosity. There is no real proof in all those millions of words, there is no research, there is no logic, there is nothing there -- but, boy, there sure is a lot of it.

Logical fallacies are embedded throughout the doctrine of Scientology.  If you remove the logical fallacies, you remove Scientology's foundation.


  1. Appeal to authority: where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative.

    IMO, once it is accepted that LRH is infallable in every word he uttered about anything, this fallacy becomes a scientologist favorite:

    "What would Ron do?"
    "Well, LRH says..."
    "What is the reference for that?"
    "What does your material state?"

  2. Nice, simple, logical even!

  3. This is good. I like what you have presented here on your blogspot.

  4. I love you, Just Bill.. keep up the terrific work.

  5. Just Bill, where were you when I was falling for this stuff?? Honestly, if I'd had this kind of context for what I learned "inside," my tenure as a scientologist would have been a great deal shorter.

    I always find something intelligent on your site, Just Bill, and thank you very much for that.

  6. You make good points. It's such a pity that that the subject of philosophy/logic has completely disappeared from our school curriculums except at the College level. Even then you pretty much have to majoring in Philosophy to encounter these subjects.

  7. I told an OT-8 auditor that I didn't agree with my experience in the Sea Org, and his response was "So you're an Enemy."

    I just spent 2 years in the Sea Org! But he sees me as an enemy because I don't agree with it anymore.

  8. @Just Bruce

    Yes, that's another good one. Thanks.

    And it isn't just LRH, the entire structure of Scientology is authority-driven. Anyone in a position of power is right, no matter what, to anyone below them -- no "counter intention" is allowed.

  9. Bill - I'm really enjoying these posts. I wondered if you had considered doing one on the original text of LRH's 'All About Radiation'? It seems to blow a number of holes in his credibility and alleged scientific prowess, to the point that DM dropped it from the new Basics course.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  10. And, of course, let's not forget that classic Scientology favorite:

    Ad hominem, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "to the man"), is an attempt to persuade which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise. The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.

    eg: "You attack Scientology because you're insane/degraded/hiding crimes/an evil psychiatrist!"

  11. This whole cultlogic thing... you know, I've been trying to come up with an idea for a movie where some people are manipulating other people, I've taken logic and critical thinking classes, I know the logical fallacies, and I'm studying the ways in which people can be tricked into using them. Thanks for the ideas! Srsly!


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