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Saturday, August 1, 2009

The "Science" in Scientology

If you've read anything from the Church of Scientology or talked with a Scientologist, you've heard the claims, "Scientology is based on science."

Typical claims from the Church of Scientology:
"Dianetics technology works and is an effective science of mental health"
Hubbard applied "modern science to accomplish the goal of religion throughout history. "
"Scientology, drawing on the same advances in knowledge that led to the understanding of nuclear physics, provides modern answers to these questions."
And look at the titles of L. Ron Hubbard's early works:
  • Dianetics: Evolution of a Science
  • Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health
  • Science of Survival
They push this line hard. You can't have much of a conversation with a Scientologist without this claim coming up. "This isn't about belief," they will claim, "this is scientific."

It is interesting to me how Scientologists can spout this line and never, ever think about what it means. One might assume that Scientologists understand the concept of "science", "scientific research" and the "scientific method", many Scientologists are quite well-educated. Why, then, do they believe that Scientology is scientifically based?

Let's take a look at what is involved in science and scientific research and how this compares with Hubbard's work.

Now, I don't want to get into a long, dry dissertation on the scientific method. That's boring and a bit off the subject. Let's just take a high level view.

What is the primary activity of scientists? Research. The fundamental aspect of all science is research. Careful, accurate, honest, well-documented, repeatable research.

To be accepted as valid science, any research must be transparent. That is, any legitimate, interested person should be able to read the research documentation, duplicate the research work and validate or disprove the original findings.

So where is Hubbard's original research? Hubbard claimed to have done lots and lots of research before developing his technology and writing Dianetics. Where is his research?

Now, you must understand the Hubbard was a pack-rat. It is doubtful that he ever threw anything away. If you've visited the L. Ron Hubbard Museum in Hollywood, you would see how much he saved. He saved toys, diaries, tools, merit badges, everything. Some of it is displayed in the museum, but there was too much to display all of it.

So, where is his research?

No one has ever found any research papers, documentation, notes -- nothing. And, believe me, they looked. Are we to believe that Hubbard saved his scout merit badges and threw away his Dianetic research?

No research papers. None. So, of course, no one has ever vetted his "research" or his findings.

Even today, there is no proper research or documentation on any of Hubbard's findings. In fact, David Miscavige vehemently rejects any attempts to validate any of the claims of Scientology or Dianetics. You want to get attacked by the Church of Scientology? Tell them you are testing their claims.

This is not science. When you have a "technology" with no research, no documentation of research, no validation of findings, that is simply not science. That is belief.

I have no problem with people believing anything they want. But, until the Church of Scientology allows independent validation of their claims, it isn't science and it will never be science.

So, Scientologists: Look up the word "science". Look up "scientific method". And then stop trying to claim Scientology has anything to do with science. You have a long, long way to go and a lot of major changes before you could earn that title.


  1. A great example of how Scientology tries to have its cake and eat it too. The claims of Scientology being a "science" come out when CoS recruiters are dealing with skeptical or non-religious people that they wish to "route" into their Orgs. The "Oxford Capacity Analysis", scientific-sounding jargon and the e-meter are of course tools used to further the illusion of scientific validity.

    But the minute there's any criticism, objective investigation or suggestion of taxation, suddenly they cry "This is a religion, and you are guilty of religious bigotry!"

    Quite a schizophrenic organization.

  2. Scientology is about worshipping "Gross Income," thus, Scientology is [whatever-will-make-the-target-buy-Scientology-stuff placeholder]. Scientology can [whatever-will-make-the-target-buy-Scientology-stuff placeholder].

  3. @NarkAnon

    Yes, indeed! Window dressing. Image. But true science? Not on your life. Religion? No, unless there's an advantage, then yes.

    @R. Hill

    Unfortunate, but true. Scientology is "whatever sells".

  4. scientology science = ron savelo in a labcoat. if you didn't know he was serious, you'd swear it was an SNL skit, lol.

  5. Science? Try "science fiction" in the fullest sense of the term.

  6. And not very good science fiction either.

  7. Good article. Thank you for addressing this topic, that has always irritated me. I've had the "it's not belief" angle thrown at me, but the person was smart enough, though still deluded, to not throw the science bit in. Even they know Scientology's methods have no scientific merit, but they'll defend it's effectiveness to the last.

    "It's a Science! It has tangible proof that other religions don't! But! It's a religion, you can't put any of our "scriptures" to the test!"

    Talk about having it both ways. It would be nice if someone in the media could pick up on this, when you see it the duplicity is glaringly obvious.

  8. You are correct.

    I think the standard response to a Scientologist's "It's science" might be:

    "True science always publishes its research, Scientology never has and never will.

    "True science always includes independent review of its research, findings and results, Scientology never has and never will.

    "True science always allows and encourages independent verification of its findings and results, Scientology vehemently opposes any and all attempts at independent review and verification.

    "Given Scientology's consistent and dogmatic rejection of core scientific principles and methodology, please explain exactly how it has anything to do with science."

    I think that's what I'm going to say from now on.

  9. In the UK we managed to stop CoS referring to Dianetics as a science and concede (albeit in private) that it was merely the beliefs of L Ron Hubbard. Annoyingly they still get to keep the full title of Dianetics.

  10. @Beacon Schuler

    I didn't know that. Truth in advertising, what a concept!

    They should be required to add quotes: Dianetics: The "Science" of Mental Health.

  11. Thanks. Another good article! Wouldn't it be interesting to see some comparative studies done, using real research and scientific protocol, looking at the results of Scientology versus other technologies. Start with some hard conditions. A good one would be autism. What kind of results do you think they've had with that? Or cancer? Or maybe serious, clinical depression? But the Scientologists would say that where any of those conditions existed and their tech didn't work it was the person's own fault. They actually blame the patient! Even after that person has often spent thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars looking for results. How successful would a medical doctor or just about any other professional be if they blamed their patients or clients for their own failures. Unbelievable that otherwise bright people fall for this lunacy. But they do. And the longer they do, the harder it is for them to get out. Just look at what's happening with John Travolta. I feel for him. He's trapped. Keep up the good work.

  12. In Germany the book "Dianetics : The modern science of mental health" is called
    "Dianetik : Der Leitfaden für den menschlichen Verstand", which could be translated as
    "Dianetics : The Guide for the human mind"

    So they don't refer to it as a science here as well.

  13. Autism is probably the most obvious FAIL of this (ahem...puke) "Science".

    We tried this "Science w/ our autistic relative. (Auditng,comm course,objectives etc). We also enrolled him in a Scientology school to get a "better education and real care". They threw him out (at age 5)for being "out-ethics" after only one week because they have no tech to handle him.

    Luckily now for the past 6 years he is in a great WOG school where they have nurtured him and gave him a chance. He is now considered one the most polite kids in the whole school and now he is high functioning thanks to some caring wogs! Also he did recieve some behavioral therapy and still goes to a social workshop group of peers his own age headed by...gasp a Psychologist.

    I know of three other families who have the same problem but it doesn't get fixed because they keep using the "tech". Meanwhile their children are missing out on the advancements made in the field.(You know,that Science thingy). One only need see what happened to Jett Travolta to see what the "tech" has to offer. Please open your eyes people and let Scientology be put through the tests of Science!!

    Thanks for a great article.

  14. @pieceOmind


    I'm so very glad that you left Scientology and got your son the real help he needed -- and so glad to hear he's doing well.

    You did good! You paid attention and did what was right.

  15. I want to write a few comments on some of the subtler mental traps that I encountered in Scientology. Here is one: thinking is a circuit, therefore bad, so don't think. There was a promotion going around in the Orgs with posters that said "Look, Don't Think.", apparently considered to be a pearl of wisdom from LRH. Well you can look, be like a cow, and not put two and two together. On staff in a Class V org, there were plenty of outpoints. The accepted reasoning is that the outpoints were our individual fault, staff were not ethical enough... Questions I had: Why do longer term Scientologists hang up when you call to "invite" them to an event? Why is it so difficult to get good attendance at an event, so many calls, so much staff time put into upping the attendance? A note on how ridiculous it was: we had 5 staff all working to get one "confirmation" late at night so we could all go home. It's okay! It's a game! Be high toned! Isn't this great! Yay, we did it! If we were _really_ (no __really__) saving the planet, okay fine. But we weren't. Still trying to wrap my head around the depth of the betrayal.

  16. Dear Bill,
    Great post..but I have a question. What about the R&D vols? Weren't they supposed to be the running record of research LRH did? Just curious if you read them and your opinion of this as "research". I have them and they are quite extensive with LRH ususally having a PC in front of him. I honestly thought that was the research. Maybe you could shed some light on this.

  17. Re: Research & Discovery volumes

    These are all transcriptions of Hubbard's taped lectures. And, yes, some of these lectures were "demo sessions" by Hubbard, in front of an audience, for training purposes.

    Scientists do not conduct real research as a "demo" in front of an audience, nor is real research used as part of training practitioners in a discipline.

    I don't care what they named those books, they aren't a "record of Hubbard's research". They were just lectures and demos. LRH certainly may have talked about his "discoveries", but the actual, real research is not in those volumes.

    If any real research documentation exists, it has never been made available to anyone.

  18. Hi Bill,
    Just wanted to invite you to a new forum:

  19. Nice. Teaching people how to recognize cult front groups is important. Good work.

  20. Sadly, the discussion of science on this page relies on the simplistic materials taught in grade and high schools, which is under examination and correction by the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993) and the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1994).

    In this online article, "Ten myths of science: Reexamining what we think we know," William McComas, Ph. D. (Parks Family Professor of Science and Technology Education
    Curriculum and Instruction) addresses and attempts to refute several of the most widespread and enduring misconceptions held by students regarding the enterprise of science.

    These are the 10 myths. You can read why they are myths, and why they are misleading at:

    1. Hypotheses Become Theories Which Become Laws
    2. A Hypothesis is an Educated Guess
    3. A General and Universal Scientific Method Exists
    4. Evidence Accumulated Carefully Will Result in Sure Knowledge
    5. Science and its Methods Provide Absolute Proof
    6. Science Is Procedural More Than Creative
    7. Science and its Methods Can Answer All Questions.
    8. Scientists are Particularly Objective
    9. Experiments are the Principle Route to Scientific Knowledge
    10. All Work in Science is Reviewed to Keep the Process Honest


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