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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scientology and Control

There is "good control" and "bad control."  The difference between them is certainty and uncertainty.
L. Ron Hubbard
New Slant on Life
Most people are not aware of how much Scientology is about control.

This is not emphasized in their literature, nor broadcast when they are trying to sell you things, but much of their technologies are about control -- how to control others.

You will notice, in the quote from L. Ron Hubbard, above, and in all teachings of Scientology, that nothing is said, and nothing is taught about ethical control.  "Good" control is defined as effectively getting others to carry out your wishes, no matter what those wishes are, no matter what the other person might wish.

Let's look at specific examples.

The "Communications" Course

The Scientology Communications Course, which is one of their introductory courses, is promoted as teaching a person how to "communicate effectively".  This course utilizes Hubbard's "TR Drills" to do this.  These TR Drills are done on many courses as one trains on Scientology technologies.

And what are the goals of these TR Drills?  The TRs are there to specifically and only teach a person how to get their commands complied with or get their questions answered.  Period.  They have no other purpose.

How to have a normal conversation?  Not taught.  How to create a friendly environment where normal conversations can take place?  Not taught.  How to make people feel at ease and draw them out?  Not taught.

No, the Communications Course and all courses that utilize the TRs are only teaching a person how to control others through communication.

Hubbard's Tone Scale

Here is a simplified version of the Tone Scale:
4.0   Enthusiasm
3.5   Cheerfulness
3.0   Conservatism
2.5   Boredom
2.0   Antagonism
1.5   Anger
1.1   Covert hostility
1.0   Fear
0.5   Grief
0.0   Death
Many people have now seen this scale.  The emotions are pretty easy to understand, but what's with all those numbers?

It's all about control.  Hubbard created and taught his tone scale as a method of controlling others.  No more, no less.  Hubbard taught that, if you assumed a "tone level" that was .5 to 1.0 above another's tone, you could control them, and make them do what you want.  Or, you could assume a "tone level" .5 to 1.0 below their tone to drive them "down tone" and make them ineffective.

It's all about control.

The "ARC Triangle"

L. Ron Hubbard taught that Affinity, Reality and Communication were the three corners of this ARC Triangle.  When dealing with others, if you raised one, you would automatically raise the other two.  If you lowered one, you would automatically lower the other two.

In other words, the purpose of this "ARC Triangle" is to control others.

The only way to control people is to lie to them.
L. Ron Hubbard
On Control and Lying
Scientologists are taught, from very early on, not to tell non-Scientologists all about Scientology.  Don't talk about past lives.  Don't talk about "space opera".  Don't talk about OT.  Scientologists are carefully coached as to what to say and how to say it.  And what not to say.

They call this "acceptable truths", "shore stories", "communicating at the proper 'reality level'" and other such euphemisms for lying.

Scientologists are told such lying is necessary because, otherwise, the public wouldn't respond correctly and wouldn't come in.  In other words, Scientologists are taught to tell lies in order to control the public and bring them in.

It's all about control

There are many, many other examples of this in Scientology. Hubbard taught that there were many key phrases to cave a person in -- so you could control them.  Hubbard said that certain images from OT III materials would control people and cause them to be unable to resist buying his books.  Hubbard believed in positioning as a way to secretly control the way people thought about Scientology so that they would react favorably, without facts and without logic.

Control is a major part of Scientology.  Controlling people.  Controlling you.

So, when you are trying to have a conversation with a Scientologist, they are using "communication" to control you.  When you try to be open about your emotions with a Scientologist, they are figuring out which "tone level" to use to control you.  They are working to manipulate your affinity, reality and communication to control you.

And, when you are looking for the truth, Scientologists are trying to figure out which "acceptable truth" to tell you -- to control you.

Hopefully, this will help people understand why talking with Scientologists so often seems artificial, stilted, awkward and non-sequitur.  Scientologists have had all their natural social skills replaced with Scientology techniques for control.


  1. Yes, and gullible hippie-types like me fell in love with the music and ignored the lyrics: I actually thought that ARC was to be used to make people happier and more able--not just able to give more money to CofS; I also realized recently that I thought all that stuff about "we're the only hope for the world" was metaphorical and people didn't really believe that--they couldn't, right? That would mean they could starve and humiliate and imprison people because it would all be in the service of saving the world! But as you write, Just Bill, it was all there, not hidden at all.

  2. Wow. I was never in Scientology, but I read that one book 'How To Choose Your People', based on the Emotional Tone Scale, about 15 years ago. Though I've done some Scientology research, I see a lot of things that I didn't know on this blog -- such as the point of it all to be to control people. That makes sense of some things.
    ` Thanks for blogging, and good job!

  3. Scientology is about total freedom. That's what the most ethical group on the planet says, so it must be true, rght?
    What is someone would be at -0.5 on the tone scale? Would a Scientologist be a 0.0 (Death) to control you? How does that work?

    BTW: Great article, really insightful. You should write a book.

  4. Once I saw John Travolta on the Jay Leno show. I think it was a bit past mid-90s. Jay Leno asked John Travolta "What skills does Scientology give you?" or something like that. I remember very well, as part of his answer, John Travolta said, "It teaches you to control people."

    Like most of the people watching I suppose, and like me watching, Jay Leno was baffled and half-laughing, asked, "Why would you want that?" I don't remember John Travolta's answer but I think he didn't know what to say at that point.

    I didn't know much about Scientology back then, and couldn't care less, but I remember when Travolta candidly admitted Scientology helped to control people. It would be nice to find a clip of that show, if it still exists.

  5. Thanks!

    Yes, Scientology certainly sells itself well -- or at least it used to. "If you can control people's emotions and 'ARC', then you can help them be happier."

    That sounds almost good. Many people believe that kind of thing, even whole governments, but, that has never worked. You can't control people into being better, happier people. You can only control people into doing what you think is "better". Inevitably, that leads to horrible abuses.

    Re: Tone -.5

    That's a bit far-fetched, but if a Scientologist believed a person was a -.5, they would attempt to control them by "dying".

    Re: John Travolta

    John has never taken the church's controls very well, so I'm not surprised he went "off script" in the interview. If anyone can find the clip, it would make a nice addition to the video clips about Scientology.

  6. It should be pointed out that, once you know how these Scientology control techniques are supposed to work, they lose all effectiveness.

    When a Scientologist suddenly starts showing some non sequitur emotion, those who know the trick will say, "Oh, you're doing that tone level thing, aren't you?"

    So, these control tricks don't work very well on Scientologists. This is why the Church of Scientology's primary way of controlling Scientologists is through threats: You are threatened with Ethics if you don't pay. You are threatened with Ethics if you don't take courses. You are threatened with Ethics if you take too long or ask too many difficult questions on course. You are threatened if you go to the wrong web sites, watch the wrong TV shows or read the wrong magazines. You are threatened if your friends are the "wrong sort" or if your family doesn't behave.

    To be a Scientologist is to live under constant threats.

    It's still all about control.

  7. Great post. I always wonder when people claim that the "Communications" course was helpful to them. It isn't about communication at all. There is no mention of listening to what the other person has to say. There is no exchange of ideas or points of view. There is only trying to get the other person to get in agreement with you.

  8. Dear Bill:
    ARC now is used to register: All of your Remaining Cash!
    You will be THE supreme idiot if you miss THIS ONLY CHANCE to save the Universe!!
    Pay and pay much more until you are completely broken. Then you will have a better life

  9. "To be a Scientologist is to live under constant threats."

    Perhaps they need to take a stress test.

  10. Hi Bill.
    This post is so spot on. I am in the throes of watching someone I love struggle with Scientology and can only hope that their efforts to control him are at this point helping to drive him further away.

    I did a few courses, including the Communication course, early on in our relationship because I wanted to be open minded and understand more about what my partner believed. Sure, there’s some useful stuff in it--there are times you may need to be able to end a conversation or get information from someone. But I was struck by the exact thing you’re describing. Afterward I remember thinking how the course teaches you all about how to control conversation, but not how to build intimacy by hearing, respecting and sharing ideas or emotions with another person.

    In the course of doing therapy and other personal growth work, I’ve learned a lot of different systems for improving communication, and two of the major steps in many of those theories--namely, validate and empathize with the other person--really aren’t to be found in the Scientology version of communication. That makes sense when you view the course as teaching control. In many ways, the Communication course was most useful to me in how it helped me resist future attempts by church staff to recruit me. “Wow, it sounds like you feel Scientology has been a great help to you in your life. That’s great. No, I won’t be signing up for another course.” They didn’t quite know what to do with that.

    I’ve actually seen that tone scale thing work amazingly well. I was with my partner when he went on a service call to a customer who was really upset. Within 3 minutes this man thought my guy was the greatest guy in the world and the one who was finally going to help with his problem. It was all in how my partner matched his emotion and directed the anger into something they both could agree on. So, again, it’s useful stuff at times, and can be used for good. But I think this is part of the great danger. Maybe a lot of people first come to Scientology because they feel out of control in their own lives. The techniques and theories they learn in the early courses do help them “handle” things and feel more empowered. If only it stopped there, eh?

    What I don’t understand is how people who’ve learned these techniques themselves don’t seem to recognize how the church is using these same methods to control them. I guess if you think of all the coursework as really intended as training to be an auditor and a party-line Scientologist, it makes sense. The more you learn, the more you’ve bought in and the more you have to lose if you start to doubt.

    Apologies for the perhaps over-long comment, but this post really spoke to me. I was excited to find your blogspot a few months ago because the things you post and discuss help me to understand what I’m up against with my partner, and, rather than being a trash-talk site, you mirror many of my own thoughts--in particular that a great many Scientologists are good-hearted people who sincerely want to help others. That is my guy to a T. But he clings to the promise to such an extent that he’s willing to ignore or even excuse the egregious outpoints and ways individuals (including himself) are hurt and exploited for the so-called good of the planet. It’s insane, which is why I often can’t get my head around it. I don’t know what will ultimately happen with us, but your site is an island of sanity and reading it has been a big help to me.

  11. @Megs

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I am glad that my articles have been of help to you.

    It is tough, I know. I sometimes think the best people, those who dream and hope and trust, are the ones who most get trapped in the Scientology fantasy -- and they are the ones who have the most difficulty giving up the fantasy no matter how much they are betrayed.

    Good luck.

  12. Wow! I never saw it that way but you are absolutely right. I just had dinner w/someone in showbiz who had Scns he'd hired. He got the ammo immediately and knew how to deal with them. Did he respect their intelligence? No. He knew he was dealing with robots and treated that think, not the person, accordingly.

  13. Bill, you gave her great advice. Megs, I would have him watch Bill Maher's "Religulous". That's what helped me out the door. He talks about the OTIII stuff and that's something I'd never heard. I said to my boyfriend (not a Scn) "We don't believe that" to which he said "How do you know?" And then I went on wiki, the unthinkable, and it all started unravelling. Get him out while he still has some $$ and sanity.

  14. Ya know, I am fed up with Scientology and normally agree with your posts but this one is really off in my opinion. I do not agree with you about the communication course.

    This statement,

    "Great post. I always wonder when people claim that the "Communications" course was helpful to them. It isn't about communication at all. There is no mention of listening to what the other person has to say. There is no exchange of ideas or points of view. There is only trying to get the other person to get in agreement with you."

    just isn't true either. There is mention about listening. There is exchange of ideas and it is NOT just about getting people to agree with you.

    What? Come on now. Let's at least tell the truth.

    There is WAY too much control in the church, no doubt, but you cannot just make some blanket analogies. This is WAY too biased.

  15. @Synthia

    The comment you quote may have been a bit biased, but your response is not quite accurate either.

    My representation of the "Communication" Course, based on the TRs was quite correct. It does not improve a person's ability to have a normal conversation.

    The TRs are for auditor training. That's the only reason for their existence. And what is the goal of an auditor? To get his question answered or get his command complied with. Period.

    The auditor must be able to listen -- but only so they can determine if the question was answered or the command was complied with.

    You claim, "There is exchange of ideas". Um, no. I have no idea what kind of "TRs" you did, but that is absolutely not part of Scientology TRs. The auditor does not "exchange ideas" with the pc.

    Certainly, the pc may "originate" but that is considered, per standard TRs, to be a distraction -- to be acknowledged or otherwise "handled" -- to stop that line of communication -- so as to get the pc back complying with the auditor commands.

    The auditor not only does not "express ideas", but he is expressly forbidden to do so. In the TRs training, such an action is flunked.

    I understand that a person might be able to use bits from the TRs in life, but that doesn't alter the purpose of the TRs, which is to train people to completely control communication and get compliance.

  16. Just Bill,

    There are many different communications courses in Scientology. Have you ever heard of "Two-Way Communication"?

    Duplication and understanding do require listening and two-way communication is definitely about exchange of ideas, not just "talking".

  17. @Synthia

    I'm not familiar with the "Two-Way Communication" Course, so I can't comment on that.

    What I was specifically referring to is what Scientology calls the "Communication Course" based on the TRs -- and all Scientology's "Communication" Courses that use the TRs as their basis.

    I'd love to see the checksheet for the course you are referring to, just to see what it included.

  18. Tell me how I can send you a PDF

  19. @Synthia,
    There is no course called "Two-Way Communication." There is training for auditors in something CALLED two-way comm (for auditing purposes). A scientologist who does not do auditor training would not be privy to this data. Also, the two-way comm taught to auditors is NOT about having a conversation -- it's about getting the preclear to discuss a very particular subject in order for the auditor to determine something or to gather data for the c/s. I know that the term "two-way comm" is thrown around a lot by scientologists instead of using "have a conversation" to refer to people talking. It's very sad. Just another way scientology lingo cuts people off from their humanity.
    Nothing in the TRs teaches about human communication, compassion, empathy, sharing, caring, feeling, conversing. The TRs are all about getting an answer to a question or compliance with a command. Period.

  20. @Synthia

    Post a pdf somewhere and send me a link.

    You keep mentioning "Two-Way Communication" as if the existence of that term in Scientology refutes what I'm saying. It doesn't. Don't you understand it's still all about control.

    In Scientology training, "Two-Way Communication" is specifically about the Scientology auditor completely controlling the "conversation" -- to start it, to direct it, to keep it "on track", to move it forward and to stop it. It is not a conversation.

    If you are talking about Scientologists calling a normal conversation "Two-Way Comm", that isn't part of Scientology training or technology -- it's just Scientologists replacing real words with bafflegab.

    Thank you gargy, for reminding me of this.

  21. Okay, firstly, you are right. There is no such thing as a "Two-Way Communication" course. I never said there was.

    My point was that there are several different communication courses in Scientology. They are not just for auditors.

    The basic Communications Course, done out of the Scientology Handbook, which costs 15 or 20 bucks, lays out the components of good communication and goes into detail the concept of two-way communication. This is not for auditors but everyday people. It is a tool.

    I do not call myself a Scientologist because I no longer wish to be labeled anything at all. I do not espouse any ideology exclusively and I will never again belong to any organized religion. That being said, truth is truth and there is just as much blind extremism on both sides and I will not fall into that trap because if denies me the fruits of my own observation and the ability to actually use something in life that is beneficial.

    I don't have to call myself a Scientologist nor do I have to like L. Ron Hubbard to be able to observe the brilliance in the distillation and codification of those components that make up good communication.

    If you want to view the entire offering of Hubbard as one big conspiracy theory to demonically control all of mankind, you are free to do so and you might be able to make some very good arguments to prove just that. Conversely, certain members of the C of S with their inability to understand and their rote like thinking, in their application will demonstrate their poor understanding and will use the tools inappropriately.

    I choose to use the tools in a beneficial way and in my view, they are not all about controlling another being but are used to create an environment in which safe, calm, soothing and non judgmental communication can occur. You are free to see it otherwise and yet when I use it the way that I see it, what Hubbard taught works exactly that way.

    It's not that easy to "teach" compassion but on the other hand, you could have a very empathetic woman, for example, who loved others and maybe was even a bit telepathic and so sensitive to others that she felt she knew exactly what her friends were going to say before they even spoke. Consequently, she was always cutting them off or not acknowledging them or evaluated for them because she was so sure about the rightness of her own perception.

    The person in that example was loving and compassionate and really felt strongly about helping her friends and yet she comes across as rude, evaluative, and not really there. How would you "teach" this person to be more compassionate? Well, she didn't need to be taught to be more compassionate. She needed to understand the structure of good communication so that her compassion could shine.

    It is also true that someone could have all the mechanical components down pat and still come off as not compassionate and in the drilling of communication, when it's supervised and coached by people who understand the purpose of these drills, that IS picked up and duly flunked and not allowed a final pass. Auditing sessions simply do not work well where there is no compassion.

  22. @Synthia

    Ah! So now you want to put words in my mouth, and then use that to try to knock my statements. Where did I say I viewed the "entire offering of Hubbard as one big conspiracy theory to demonically control all of mankind"?

    Are you trying to deny that Scientology's "Communication Course" doesn't include the TRs? It does.

    Are you denying that the whole purpose of TRs is to train a person to control communication? That is explicitly stated in all the TR materials.

    If you are trying to say that sometimes, some people need to learn about controlling communication -- I won't argue that point. It seems obvious to me that this is true for some people, and good on them if they get something out of the TRs that helps them.

    You appear to be reading things into my article that I never said. I'm not saying the TRs are "bad" or "evil". All I'm saying is they are all about control, as is most of Scientology -- something that is quite obvious to anyone to reads the material.

  23. Just Bill and Synthia

    The real issue here seems to be whether or not a person can be helped by their scientology training to do anything other than control another person.

    I do see the preponderance of control-oriented training in scientolgy, but since most of that training is to make auditors, it's a good thing.
    Imagine having a session with a therapist who was no good at getting you talking about yourself and your issues, and who you were never sure was listening to you or understanding what you were saying.

    Having said that, I will also say that I have been helped in the area of communication by the auditor training courses I took. I'm no longer a scientologist or an auditor, either, but I love to talk to people and will talk to anybody, and have been told repeatedly that I am so easy to talk to and that I listen really well. I don't do it control people, I do because I care about them. People are interesting.

    So, yes, the courses are aimed at teaching control, no they don't teach compassion, and yes, they CAN help average people have better conversations and thus better relationships with others.

    And Synthia, you're also right in that no good auditing session takes place without that element of compassion. Apparently, it's something a lot of people already have. Your example of the woman who cuts comm is a very good one.

  24. Thank you Nancy. This was well put. I also see that there might be a confusion on the word "control" which is not always a bad thing.

    Thanks, too, Bill for having this blog. I have certainly gotten a lot out of it.

  25. Reading Synthia's last comment, I think this "control" problem is you're arguing about different things.

    There's 'controlling the conversation', which I think Synthia is supporting and makes sense as it would be a good skill to have, and then there's 'controlling the person', which is what Just Bill is trying to shed light on. From what I know about TRs the type of control going on is the latter, which isn't very nice when it affects someone's mental health, finances and freedom.

    Anyway, good post.


  26. CR

    Good point. But the kind of control going on is at the discretion of and relies on the intention of the individual using the training.

    I always thought (at the beginning) that such control would only be used for the good of the person you were communicating with. It was quite a rude awakening to hear course supervisors and other staff joking about having "controlled" (manipulated) public into doing things by virtue of the staff members "superior" TR's.

    So that makes Just Bill's point pretty well, doesn't it?

  27. KCRW had a great interview on "The Business," a talkshow about the movie industry--it was with the young man who wrote the draft script for the extremely sucky BATTLEFIELD EARTH. Not only was the interview clever and funny, but it exposed so much about Scientology. One thing he said was that when he didn't want to continue with the CoS,they got an attractive woman Scio to come on to him. He couldn't believe how low they would go. LOL

    You can probably access the interview on the KCRW site or archives. It aired this week--Sept 6th - 10th.


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