Because of various problems with Blogger, I've copied everything as of November 26, 2012 over to WordPress. The new location is Ask the Scientologist. I am not deleting this blog and will still accept comments and answer questions here too, but any new articles will appear at the WordPress location. I apologize if this causes any problems.

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.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More on the Scientology E-Meter

Now that I've upset those who believed that the e-meter didn't work, I'll now really upset those who believe it does.

In my last article, I gave examples of tests and drills that appeared to prove that the e-meter reacts to thoughts.  I also mentioned that it reacts to a lot more than just thoughts.

I also presented Hubbard's explanation as to how and why it works.  I even said it was a reasonable explanation that fit the facts.  But, on purpose, I skipped the complications and contradictions between the theory and practice.

Let's delve a bit deeper into this subject.

To repeat the basic theory according to Hubbard, some thoughts have "charge".  When a person "activates" the charge by thinking some thought, the associated charge impinges on the body changes the body's resistance.  The meter measures these changes.

The charge, according to Hubbard, comes from some past trauma, which was called, in Dianetics, an "engram" - essentially a moment of pain and unconsciousness.

While this seems pretty far-fetched, the "pinch test" (as described in my last article) certainly seems to validate this idea.  No matter the theory, the "pinch test" proves that the meter does react to a thought (or, to appease the more critical reader, a thought can impinge on the body in a way that is detectable by the e-meter).

But I want to emphasize that this is all that it proves.  There is a lot of Hubbard's theory that is not proven and, in fact, doesn't make much sense.

First, let me tell you a bit more about Hubbard's explanation of the e-meter. Hubbard said that the e-meter reacts to charge that is "just below the person's awareness". This means that the person is not aware of the problem, but is "ready to confront it".  As the person becomes aware of the problem, the charge "blows" and it no longer "reads" on the e-meter.

By the way, this part of Hubbard's theory about his e-meter is necessary to explain why so many things do not register on the e-meter until later up The Bridge -- the person, you see, "isn't ready to confront" the higher levels.

That's the theory about the e-meter that is accepted by Scientologists.

But when you get into actual practice, things start to fall apart.

First, let's visit the Scientology course room again.  When you are learning how to operate the e-meter, you must do the "Dating Drill".  In this drill, one student thinks of a date and writes it down, the second student puts the first student on the e-meter and attempts to find out the date using only the e-meter. 

Now, if Hubbard's theory about the e-meter is correct, this drill would never work.  There is no trauma (and therefore no charge) associated with that date.  And the first student is fully aware of the date -- it isn't "just below his awareness".

So why does the Dating Drill work?  There is only one explanation: It works because they believe it should.

Oops!  That isn't part of the theory -- and that drill alone destroys the certainty about any read on the e-meter.  If something reads only because someone believes it should, then how can anyone determine which reads are "real" and which are "belief"?

In this same theme, let's look at a question asked at the beginning of every session about a person's "witholds" (things they have hidden and don't want found out).  Why do they read on the meter?  Where is the trauma?  The meter may read even though no one was hurt at all.  The person may have participated in some victimless, harmless activity that is nobody's business -- and the meter reads.  Why?  Because the person was afraid it would.  All Scientology auditors know this happens but they don't question it.  According to theory, the meter shouldn't read because the person is fully aware of what they did, there was no trauma and there was no harm.

Well, what if a person doesn't believe the e-meter will react?  What happens then?  Well, apparently the meter doesn't react.  You get the all too frequent situation where a Scientology criminal continues their criminal activities for years and years -- all while getting auditing.  Apparently, they don't believe the meter will react to their crimes, and it doesn't.

All these contradictions between theory and practice suggest a rather different theory than Hubbard's: The e-meter reacts not only to actual memories of actual "trauma", but also reacts because the person on the meter believes or fears that it will.

Do you see what this means?

This means that the e-meter is almost completely useless, since a reaction on the meter might indicate a real problem or it might not -- and the meter cannot detect the difference.

One result of this is the incredibly bizarre "4 trillion year past track history" that is accepted as truth by Scientologists but is logically, obviously and scientifically proven to be false.

Another result is that it seems there are thousands of Scientologists who were famous people. In fact, there are many who share being the same famous person -- and all these past identities were fully verified by the e-meter.

But the worst result of these reads-just-because-they-believe is the entire Bridge.  Scientologists, and their auditors, believed they were uncovering and "handling" vast amounts of past track incidents of trauma and upset -- 4 trillion years of it, no less -- but what is the truth?  No one has become Clear.  No one has become OT.  Scientologists, even those high up The Bridge are struggling.  Where are the miraculous gains and the incredible abilities that were promised and were supposedly delivered?

They believed and the e-meter showed them what they expected to see.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Scientology E-Meter

There is a lot of misinformation, speculation and strange claims about the Scientology E-Meter.  Since I try to clear up such confusing areas, it is high time I tackled this subject.

People (who have not actually studied or used the e-meter) very often claim the instrument is bogus; can't work; doesn't work.  It has been described by uninformed critics as "a crude lie-detector".

I recently had a conversation with someone who had heard it was only measuring skin resistance and reacted only to sweat and grip.  This is not accurate.

I have to tell you -- it works.

Before I get into a lot of caveats about that statement, about what it doesn't do, let me first establish what it does do.  The following is a description of a test, called the "pinch test", that anyone trained in the e-meter can do to anyone to show what the e-meter does.  I've done this myself on non-Scientologists, it is pretty convincing.

The "Pinch Test"

The person with the e-meter, let's call them the operator, sets the meter up and hands the other person the electrodes, the "cans".  The operator then has the person watch the needle while the operator pinches them, hard.

The person will see the needle immediately and quickly move to the right in response to the pain.

The operator then gives the command, "Recall the moment of the pinch."  When the person does so, they immediately see the same motion of the needle, usually a bit smaller.  The person can, again and again, recall the pinch and, the instant they do so, see that needle motion, a little less each time.

If you know someone who has a meter and has been trained, they can do this for you.

This is obvious proof that the meter really does react to the thought.

This is actually pretty amazing.

There is another test, a drill used during training, where the student puts another student on the meter and says, "Consider the events of today."  The other student does so.  When the first student sees a distinctive needle movement, he says, "That".  As prearranged, the second student immediately thinks of something else for a little, and then thinks the same thought he was thinking at the moment the first student said "That".   The first student is supposed to see that same needle movement and say, "That is the same thought."

Every graduate of an e-meter course has done this drill and passed it.

This shows that different thoughts can cause different and individually identifiable needle motions.

The unproven theory about all this is that some thoughts have "charge" attached to them, that this "charge" impinges on the body when the thought is "activated" by thinking it and this effect can be detected by measuring the change of resistance of the body.

There is no proof that this is true, but it's the only explanation at this time and it does seem to fit the current evidence.  It sure would be nice if someone competent did some scientific research on this.

So, that's what the meter can do.  Here's what it can't do.

It can't read or measure emotions.  It can't tell truth from lies.  It cannot tell what a person is thinking. It cannot make a person do anything.  It can be rather easily fooled.  And the meter is affected by many other factors than just thoughts.

The meter is affected by sweat, the grip on the cans, body motion and some other things.  This is a significant problem and requires much training on the part of the operator and much instruction of the person holding the cans (the "preclear").   Of course, sweat doesn't cause needle movements because it is slow to occur and very slow to evaporate, but sweat can affect the range, causing the meter to read too low.  Likewise, dry hands can make the meter read too high.

Preclears are carefully instructed on grip, and this is also why each meter comes with many different sizes of cans.

The meter operators are instructed and drilled on body motion, so they can, it is hoped, recognize and ignore needle motion caused by that.

The e-meter, as sold by the Church of Scientology, is a very expensive, but still somewhat primitive instrument.  It has never been analyzed in any scientific way.  It has many limitations.  The meter is quite easily fooled, if you know what you are doing.  The mind is a complex thing and the meter is a very simple thing, so problems can and do occur because the meter reads on something other than what is expected.

More research has been done in the Freezone concerning the e-meter and they claim they have improved it, but there is still no independent, scientific research on the e-meter.

How the E-Meter is part of the trap

It is the fact that the e-meter actually works that makes it a very integral part of the very effective trapping mechanism of the Church of Scientology. 

Very early on, every new Scientologist is led to believe that they cannot keep any secrets from the e-meter.   In session, when the auditor asks about their secrets, their bad actions, the meter reads.  And the auditor won't stop until the meter stops reading, meaning the Scientologist has "told all".

In this way, the Church of Scientology can and does get all the person's crimes, sexual problems, secrets and so on.  Every session starts with those questions.  The church's files are quite full and quite complete.

In addition, the existence and apparent effectiveness of the e-meter convinces the new Scientologist that the rest of the Scientology tech must be just as effective.

Of course, neither the e-meter nor the Scientology tech is as effective as claimed.  But that isn't obvious at the beginning.  By the time the Scientologist might detect the failings of both, they are usually too far into the indoctrination and can't perceive the flaws any more.

Friday, June 4, 2010

To Scientologists Newly Out of the Church

To you, dear Scientologist, who have finally decided to leave the Church of Scientology:

Congratulations!  You have made that important, first step to a new life.

Perhaps you haven't yet understood the magnitude of what you have done.

You have disagreed.

All Scientologists know that you may not disagree and remain in Scientology.  Oh, sure, you "can disagree", but only if you agree to get your disagreements "handled" by the church.  And that, we all learned, meant they would "handle" you until you realized "how wrong you were" and how right Scientology, the church and its leaders were.  There is no other "handling" -- you were wrong and Scientology, whatever they said and whatever they did, was right.

And, even though Ron said that agreement is effect and disagreement is cause,  Scientology only tolerates agreement.

And you have disagreed.  What's more, you refused to agree that you were wrong so you could be "handled" by the church.  You disagreed and you said, "I am right!"

This first disagreement after so much agree-agree-agree is a major step toward sanity.   If you are like I was, it is a great relief.

However, if you are like many Scientologists who have finally had enough and have stepped away from the Church of Scientology, you may still be wrapped up in the culture of agreement that is Scientology.

You might be tempted to return to that warm, welcoming culture of agreement with Scientologists outside of the church, like the "Independent Scientology" movement.  There, your disagreement about David Miscavige will become agreement, they all agree that "Miscavige is bad", and you could safely drop back with them into that safe world of complete agreement in Scientology.

You became a Scientologist because you found some of the things in Scientology to be worthwhile and workable.  But one of the characteristics of Scientology that is quite attractive to many Scientologists is that it is a pre-packaged set of beliefs where "all of that is bad" and "all of this is good",  you don't have to think, you don't have to worry, all you have to do is agree.  And once a person becomes a Scientologist, they are required to agree that everything in Scientology is good and workable -- no matter what their actual opinions or experiences are.

Hopefully, that's over for you.  Now you can make up your own mind about each and every thing in your life.  You can choose a life where you make the decisions about what you are going to think and believe.

You have taken the first step towards sanity and taking back your own life, don't stop now.  You can disagree if you want to.  You can disagree as much as you want, even with parts of Scientology.

And that is a road to greater truth.