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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scientology: Selling Invisible Things

There is a marketing phrase, "selling the invisible", used to describe the challenge faced by advertising to sell potential customers on the "sizzle" instead of (or in addition to) the steak.

But that's not what I'm referring to when it comes to Scientology's selling of the invisible.

What I'm referring to is the amazing marketing success of L. Ron Hubbard and his Dianetics/Scientology organization in selling something that may not exist at all.

I don't want to get into an argument about the validity of Scientology, since that is a matter of belief, I only want to point out this amazing fact:  There is, and never has been, any actual, valid evidence that Hubbard's "Reactive Mind" exists.  It cannot be detected by any physical means.  It cannot be measured, weighed or tested.

And yet Hubbard sold it quite lucratively for many, many years and his Church of Scientology continues to sell it to this day.

Hubbard said, "You have this very, very evil, horrible thing attached to you that is the cause of all your problems.  You can't see it.  No one has ever seen it or detected it, but it is there and it is very evil.  Pay my organization a lot of money and we will get rid of it for you."

And then, after tens thousands of dollars and many months, or even years, of "auditing", the Scientology organization declares: "We did it!  Your Reactive Mind is now gone!  Congratulations! You are 'Clear'!"

What is the difference between having something you can't detect at all and not having it?  Apparently, tens of thousands of dollars.

Whether it is true or not, the miraculous thing is, how the heck do they sell that?  This truly is the ultimate in "selling the invisible".

I have spoken to many "Clears" after they have left Scientology and have recovered from the Scientology thought control, and every single one of them has confessed that they felt no significant difference after they were "declared Clear".

And yet, most of them were happy to continue on "up the Bridge".  I know I was.

"But," as they say on TV, "that's not all!"

After Scientology has gotten rid of this invisible, undetectable thing, what else is there?

Amazingly, but not surprisingly, it turns out there are a lot more invisible, undetectable things that you need to get rid of.

Sure, there is no physical evidence that these things exist.  Sure, there is no way to measure, test or validate their existence -- but they are there and only Scientology can get rid of them -- if you give them much more money and spend much more time getting auditing.

And quite a number of people buy that.

And, after much, much money -- now hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and many years, Scientology finally declares, "We did it!  All those bad things are now gone!  Congratulations! You are 'OT VII'!"

And all these "OT VIIs" and "OT VIIIs" look and act just like everyone else.  They aren't demonstrating any amazing successes or powers.  They aren't demonstrating great changes.  Again, I've talked to a number of "OT VIIs" after they have left Scientology and they confess that things aren't that different.

Even current True Believers only claim vague gains, "My life has changed," "I'm better," -- the kind of "improvements" reported by any and all religions and self-improvement technologies.

What do you want to bet that, if David Miscavige decides to create some OT levels above OT VIII, that it involves some newly discovered, undetectable, invisible things that only Miscavige knows about and you just have to get rid of?

Hubbard, and Scientology, do an amazing and, some would say, an impossible job of selling invisible things.  There is no evidence that any of these things exist.  There is no evidence that these things have been removed.  And there is no indication that the "removal" of these things made any noticeable difference.  And yet the Church of Scientology rakes in millions and millions selling these invisible, undetectable "results".

There are, I am sure, many sales people who would love to know how to do that.  It is a truly amazing sales miracle.


  1. How about selling the idea of working 18 hours a day, for essentially no pay, for a billion years in hopes that someday you might be able to get that invisible thing too. Now that's a sales miracle!

  2. My dear Bill, I think you ought to rephrase
    "I don't want to get into an argument about the validity of Scientology, since that is a matter of belief"
    or leave the sentence out entirely. If there "...never has been, any actual, valid evidence that Hubbard's "Reactive Mind" exists" and if it "cannot be detected by any physical means...measured, weighed or tested” then you are putting yourself in a contrary position, to Scientology belief, and making a case for it‘s criticism. This is the basis for a good argument. You may call it an observation if you like but you imply, or suggest that the beliefs are themselves are an affront to sense and logic as well as morality.

    At least I hope you are! And what has “..a matter of belief” got to do with validity anyway? They are completely unrelated - ‘Belief’ and ‘Faith’ desire it so: precisely to skip the necessity to provide evidence to claims made as well as to deflect from the fact that adherence to faith and belief address internal needs and compulsions before they confront external reality.

    I think one of the things I’m wanting to say is that belief can no longer expect automatic respect as you appear to give. This respect has been too often abused. Respect is demanded before it is earned. Once you leave your house and open your mouth you must be accountable for it: non-believers are, so why not faith-holders?

    On a personal note Bill, I’ve been away from the comments pages for a while because I’m busy investigating another present totalitarian thought system more intricate, devious and powerful than Hubbard’s invention. Thanks to the clear way you express yourself, and the natural sincerity with which you do so, you continue to provide invaluable assistance to my thought processes. I’m always therefore looking for your latest post and remain, yours faithfully, Madeleine B (General Public AYS)

  3. @Madeleine B

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it, but I don't think I agree.

    The fact that the Reactive Mind cannot be physically detected, measured, tested or verified does not contradict any of the Scientology belief system.

    Hubbard admitted that it had never been detected before he deduced its existence. A Scientologist accepts the existence of the Reactive Mind by faith alone. That is what makes the existence of the Reactive Mind valid for them.

    Therefore, what I said about the undetectability of the Reactive Mind is a perfectly valid statement, both inside and outside of the Scientology belief system.

    If one believes in the existence of the Reactive Mind, then it is "valid" and I specifically don't care about that for this discussion.

    However, that doesn't mean you are wrong in your comment, I just see it differently.

    I agree that faith and belief need to earn respect and shouldn't just be granted respect automatically. In other words, it isn't what you believe, it's what you do that counts.

  4. Dear Bill:
    I consider big league sales the hard way is quite an accomplishment!
    Li'l Davy insists on bringing good news and great results somewhere in another dimension an time, which cannot be perceived by physical means!
    All of this stuff is sent religiously by mail even to dead people, but someone who reach these could benefit from the great amount of good vibrations therein!
    That is a great achievement: "Communicate" to late people!(no mediums allowed). Act and pose ad infinitum!

  5. The apostates are at it again.You know very well that thoughts DO HAVE MASS which CAN be measured. Tommy Davis said that so matter-of-factly that it cannot be untrue! Besides, the man has never told a single lie in his entire life. HA!
    The reactive mind can indeed be measured, and it's easy to do so, all you need is a contraption that can be assembled for less than $50....wait a second: Why the f***did I pay $3500 for it?

  6. Dear Sir:
    Of course, yesternight I had a cognition!!
    Now everything is crystal clear!!
    The Scientology News Issue 48 just received is like a Compliance Report: pages 46-53, what do you see?
    Empty building for an ideal Ideal Org. But look more closely: The space is full of OTs and Releases, even the Course Sups are OTs. They do not require any physical body to perform!!!!
    That is axiomatic and thanks to McMiscavige for bringing all of these to mere mortals!

  7. It seems to me that what Hubbard called "charge" can be demonstrated to exist, in terms of encysted (mis)emotions and forces, pressures etc. It is visible when people blow up and get misemotional. Auditors and people being audited have observed charge dissipating, being discharged, through various auditing procedures. Outside of Scientology, one can sometimes dissipate charge by, for example, taking out one's frustration on a punching bag or digging furiously in the garden. Wouldn't you agree these phenomena exist?

    Hubbard classified all these charged bit and pieces as "The Reactive Mind." It might not exist as some separate mental object, but that doesn't mean the charged bits and pieces themselves don't exist.

    At OT3 and above the person addresses little bits of wiggle — what could be called frozen energy-consciousness — that react on a meter to some extent, and then cease to react on a meter after they have been discharged. Some people think these are separate entire beings that then leave one's vicinity, although I think it's mostly nothing much more than a bit of charge with some tag of being "alien" (i.e., not oneself) that gets dissipated through the various procedures.

    I don't see all this as "invisible" phenomena, although "Clear and OT abilities" as promised by Hubbard certainly seem to be generally non-existent.


  8. Bill,
    What I did was jump on one of your sentences and make a fuss. Perhaps I didn’t read it as you meant it to be read, and it may have led to a little confusion: “Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it, but I don't think I agree.” and “However, that doesn't mean you are wrong in your comment, I just see it differently.” I’m not sure where our differences lie, or if indeed there are any.

    In response to me you say: “The fact that the Reactive Mind cannot be physically detected, measured, tested or verified does not contradict any of the Scientology belief system.” Did I suggest that they did?

    “The fact that the Reactive Mind cannot be physically detected, measured, tested or verified does not contradict any of the Scientology belief system.” This is a statement I cannot disagree with.

    “If one believes in the existence of the Reactive Mind, then it is "valid" and I specifically don't care about that for this discussion.” Well, I wouldn’t care for it either -it’s a waste of valuable time talking about things that don’t exist (with somebody who thinks they do)

    Perhaps I should not have leapt onto the table when I thought you were saying something like: “a belief is valid because it is believed in and therefore not to be debated.” But I did read the whole of your post and found it very entertaining.

    Madeleine B

  9. @Paul Adams

    Good to hear from you.

    As I have always said, I believe there is something there, and I believe Scientology touches on it -- and may bring some people some relief, even if only temporary. So, I do not dispute your information. But there are "leaps of faith" in your logic that you don't seem to be aware of.

    Nothing the e-meter does proves the existence of a thing called the Reactive Mind. Nothing the e-meter does proves the removal of a thing called the Reactive Mind. The e-meter may show that "thoughts have charge" but, even if that's true, that does not say that there is a Reactive Mind.

    You assume that if thoughts do have charge, as Hubbard said, then the rest of what Hubbard said is, ipso facto, true. But that does not follow.

    In fact, if some thoughts have charge before "Clearing", and thoughts still have charge after "Clearing" (and some certainly do), then what the heck did "Clearing" do?

    Whether a specific, removable thing called the "Reactive Mind" (not just "charged thoughts") exists or not is undetectable, even with Scientology's own e-meter.

    The existence of a "Reactive Mind" is, and always has been, a matter of faith. It is definitely invisible, even to true believers.

  10. Just Bill regarding the thing you measure with the E-Meter two words: Unvoluntary musscle-movement. Those indeed create currents going through the body. And better yet they can occur as outpoor of mental upset

  11. Wouldn't "Super Powers" be a level above OTVIII, Bill? Miscavige has been promising that for how many years? I wonder how many millions has he managed to squeeze out of the few remaining Scientologists with promises of "it's on the way!"
    Also I don't know if you've seen this gem:

    From: Int OT Ambassador Office PDT
    To: undisclosed-recipients:
    Subject: Message from the CO FSSO


    As the Ambassador Ship for Top Command and you are an OT
    Ambassador I need to go over a specific Ship target we have been
    given that is crucial to achieve as it means New OT IX and X coming
    closer for all. I know you understand what I am saying..

  12. Great discussion. I'm going to get personal (that's what I do, and I don't know any other way to illustrate my ideas except with personal experiences)on the issue of the reactive mind. I think it is another label, and not a particularly bad one, for the repressed emotions and beliefs that result from unprocessed traumatic experience.

    My first auditing session,I dealt with the day my dad died in our home of emphysema and heart failure. For a dozen years, merely thinking of that day had made my stomach actually shake, not to mention my mind becoming confused and my breathing, etc. change.
    After I told the memory in detail repeatedly to my auditor, and she acknowledged me without judgement or herself becoming emotional, I was able to see the memory clearly and evaluate it for myself. Since then I've been able to describe my father's death serenely--without the physical or mental 'symptoms.' Why? This is just one example--I had several more experiences in auditing that translated into a change in my 'reactions' to various phenomena in life. The downside, of course, is that although I became less 'reactive' in life, I was constantly being manipulated and defrauded by the CoS--pressured and lied to, regged to buy more services, donate, go on staff, etc. Apparently Hubbard used his insight into a process that helps people (confession?) to gain power over them.

    I'm not a fan of Independent Scientology because it keeps the crap along with the only effective, imo, aspect: telling the truth about one's life to a disinterested, ethical, kind person who doesn't evaluate or judge for you. I will always be grateful to my auditors for providing that.

    I now realize, though, that if I had had anyone in my family (or circle of friends) who was emotionally healthy enough to have provided the same kind of 'listening' that we all need, I would not have needed CoS nor would I have needed to give them $65,000 for mostly not deliverable 'invisible benefits.' Healthy parenting would probably eliminate the vulnerability many of us had to cults and sociopaths. My current quest is to contribute in some small way through my blog and through teaching to this understanding being more widely shared.

  13. @AnonKat

    And you've tested this, how?

    I don't mean to dump on you, but I've heard "explanation" after "explanation" about "how the emeter [does|doesn't] work". All from people who 1) don't have access to an emeter and 2) have never actually tested their theory.

    And I do get awfully tired of hearing these theories touted as if they were proven facts.

    I don't have any personal theory to promote, nor any personal ax to grind here, I just wish, in the absence of real and independent research on real emeters, that those who believe one thing or another would, at least, acknowledge that they are talking about unproven theories.

  14. Re: Super Power

    No, Super Power is supposed to be something that can be delivered to non-Scientologists. It was promoted by Hubbard as something that could (and should) be run on all government officials to finally "make planetary clearing possible".

  15. It is indeed a theory of how/why it works. If proven you have the scientific backing that it works. And the connection with the mind/brain.

    Sorry to have waisted your time. I started reading alot on Neuro-Motoric training because of my ADHD. A tool to better myself.

  16. @Anonkat

    I apologize for dumping on you. I really do enjoy learning about different theories, as long as we all recognize they are theories.

    I try to ensure that, on this blog at least, facts really are facts, and theories are properly labeled.

  17. Just Bill I do not feel dumped on. I find your reasoning refreshing.

    I tend to keep my intrest in ausiting and dianetics to things I can relate to. Like the "fact" that the e-meter is basicly a crude lie detector. It does measure something produced by the body and as such I want to discuss it. I alsoo dived into Psycho Somatic Illlness and behold an intresting techniques popped up . I am sure you find it vagely familiar. Of course the article could be crap but see foir yourself

    Alsoo with regards to body-mind or rather mind-brain I have found this article very enlightning.

    "How Thinking Can Change the Brain
    January 29th 2007

    20 Jan 2007 (Sharon Begley, Wall Street Journal) Dalai Lama helps scientists show the power of the mind to sculpt our gray matter.

    Although science and religion are often in conflict, the Dalai Lama takes a different approach. Every year or so the head of Tibetan Buddhism invites a group of scientists to his home in Dharamsala, in Northern India, to discuss their work and how Buddhism might contribute to it.

    In 2004 the subject was neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change its structure and function in response to experience. The following are vignettes adapted from 'Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain,' which describes this emerging area of science:

    The Dalai Lama, who had watched a brain operation during a visit to an American medical school over a decade earlier, asked the surgeons a startling question: Can the mind shape brain matter?" More at above posted link.

    And this nice clip

  18. Hampton Hamilton HallAugust 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM


    Yes, there is certain evidence that the mind can influence the body.

    Except real scientists call it "the Placebo Effect"

    Because, hey, what's true is what's true for you, in Scientology - If you feel better, and you think that's The Tech working, then it is! Never mind that you could get the same effect without spending hours of your life, and hundreds of thousands of pounds/euros/dollars/quatloo at your local branch of Cult-U-Like...

  19. @Paul Adams

    Apparently, you are having a discussion with me over on ESMB - without me. Makes it a bit hard to continue our discussion.

    I don't think we are disagreeing. I'm saying that this "Reactive Mind" is completely undetectable. Now that I see your further comments, it appears that, personally, you doubt such a removable entity exists at all - and that, subsequently, "Clearing" is a meaningless term.

    So what are we disagreeing about? I kind of thought that's what I was saying?

  20. @Hampton Hamilton

    So the brain researches at the University of Winsconsin are not real scientists ? I urge you to read the article again.

    they MEASURE

  21. Another brilliant Just Bill article :) Thanks

  22. What a wonderful way of putting it. I thank you and your posts for helping to get me out!

  23. Speaking of belief...

    So much emphasis on belief. I used to have a big thing on all this until I realized that I had never personally SEEN a microwave, radio wave, atom, molecule, and so on. I'm pretty sure nobody else has either. But some of us have measured the effects and some of us have seen related phenomena and then described what they BELIEVE it is and what they BELIEVE it does and so on. As for me, I have spent a great deal of my life looking down the rabbit hole of quantum mechanics where it seems that nothing is what it seems and most words are inadequate.

    I think it would be nice to have such certainty and conviction as what I read about on this blog both pro and con. Its all in flux for me these days and while it seems to be much more truthful, I can never really be sure.

  24. Just Bill said: "Nothing the e-meter does proves the existence of a thing called the Reactive Mind. Nothing the e-meter does proves the removal of a thing called the Reactive Mind. The e-meter may show that 'thoughts have charge' but, even if that's true, that does not say that there is a Reactive Mind."

    Your phrasing in this statement leads me to believe that you think of the reactive mind rather like a physical object, something that one can keep in a box in the closet, completely separated from everything else. Or perhaps you are objecting to people thinking that the reactive mind is a "thing."

    I thought it was just a model (analogy)describing memories that were not immediately or easily accessible that has a reactive element. Once the memories have been made routintely accessible, there are no further ill effects. i.e. the "reactive mind" isn't gone, only the reactive (uninspected) element is gone and the memories accessible just as the rest of the person's memory is accessible.

    I guess at that point it is just as invisible as routine memory -- really, I don't think I've ever "seen" anyone else's memory, but they still seem to remember things and I still seem to remember things.

    Can we measure what we remember? I think so. But not necessarily the way you would measure a pound of meat. Sure as hell something reacts on that emeter and it certainly appears to stop reacting after reviewing what was reacting.

  25. Re: Reactive Mind

    I think you missed the entire point of my article.

    I wasn't actually debating whether there exists a "Reactive Mind". I really wanted to avoid a theological discussion and just discuss the selling of it.

    Your model of the "Reactive Mind" does not match Hubbard's and, I am sure, other believers have yet other models. That's why debating theology is pretty useless -- without actual, verifiable evidence about something, faith, belief and theories are king.

    Dianetics/Scientology makes a big deal about, and charges a ton of money for, "removing your Reactive Mind", without any evidence that anything happens at all. Don't you find that amazing?

  26. This is a very good point, Just Bill. Once again, great use of logic and critical thinking - I hadn't really looked at this in this way before!

    So looking at it like this, we can see that the person on the meter has a subjective experience which he understands and would describe one way. The auditor sees the phenomenon as a meter reaction that can be described another way. And to these occurrences is ATTRIBUTED the significance that the Reactive Mind is being erased.

    And analogy might be: Two people get into a car and drive until it runs out of gas. The passenger in the car knows nothing about machines or how they operate. He is told that the car has died and that the spirit of the car has left and gone The Great Parking Lot in the Sky. It makes sense within the passenger's paradigm, and he accepts this. It now becomes "fact" to him that this occurs, and that the phenomenon he experienced is "proof" of the explanation. Car's die and go to heaven - he was there! He saw it!

  27. I'm not so sure that its all that amazing pay to have their "reactive mind" removed or at least the ill effects of something called the "reactive mind.

    After all, people spend money in droves on anything at all that will help to make them feel more comfortable, at ease, less pain, etc. Billion dollar illegal recreational drug industry, billion dollar legal drug industry, alcoholic beverages, medical intervention, on and on. I guess what I am saying is that people want to FEEL better and are willing to pay for things that make them FEEL better. Apparently auditing makes people FEEL better and I am not so sure that they really care whether phantom mind blips, reactive something or others, or just being listened to for once or placebos are the working factor.

    I was reading up on biofeedback machines the other day and learned that some medical centers are now using them with epilepsy patients. It seems that its very effective. Who the hell knows what exactly they are monitoring and some would say its just nonsense and placebo effect but they sure as hell are monitoring something and changing a condition. I don't think the feedback machine does anything at all except give the person feedback. Whatever happens, they do it and they pay handsomely for the privilege probably because it really is pretty obnoxious to find yourself writing around on a floor all of a sudden. They'd probably pay any fortune to make that go away.

  28. Re: Not amazing

    Well, yes. It is true that Scientology auditing does make some people feel better temporarily. And people will pay for that. But, in Scientology, there is more than that.

    People put up with a tremendous amount of abuse and donate tons of money to "fundraisers" just to keep from being kicked off "The Bridge". That's buying into a lot more than "feeling better".

    That's buying into all the promises that have never, ever been fulfilled.

  29. I attested Clear back in 1979.
    On the plus side, I can say that something did happen and I have felt significantly different since then.
    However, my new state did not fit the DSMH definition of Clear and this baffled me.
    However, something had happen that seemed to me quite extraordinary. It was as if there had been a geodesic dome-like structure in my space composed of thought and at some point in my auditing, the whole structure went poof. It was enormously liberating.
    But was I free from my reactive mind? I don't know.I still respond reactively to some experiences, so wouldn't that mean I still have a reactive mind?
    At the time, this thing that happened seemed like a good thing. It left me feeling as if I were cause over my mind, I felt empowered. But that "feeling" has not translated into happiness or success. The rest of my Bridge has not gone so well.
    So it is baffling.

  30. @Squash Lady

    Thanks for your comment. Your experience seems to be somewhat typical. "Something" happened, but not much and certainly not the promised results.

    Did you ever even have a "reactive mind" in the first place? Something happened, but what?

    Without independent research, we'll never know what, if anything, happened to us.

    I suspect that, now that Scientology is such a laughing stock, no legitimate researcher will ever take a look at the technology.


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