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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The New Yorker Article and All the Reactions

The New Yorker article by Lawrence Wright, The Apostate, and all the follow-up commentary has been quite wonderful.  Not only are whistle-blower sites covering this but major media all around the world.  I can just applaud.

What can I add?  Wonderful coverage and comments.

The information that the FBI is investigating the Church of Scientology and David Miscavige personally has certainly caught the attention of media around the world.  OSA's attempt to "dead agent" that report was incredibly weak, but was spammed on almost every website that reported it.  Here was their attempt:
"A federal law enforcement source told AOL News [that] the investigation has fallen short and no criminal charges are expected to be filed."
This is so typical of the Church of Scientology -- posting information that is lacking everything it needs to be checked.  Let's investigate further.  The full context in the AOL News story has a bit more information:
The author cites two sources in the FBI who "assured me that the case remains open." However, a federal law enforcement source told AOL News [that] the investigation has fallen short and no criminal charges are expected to be filed. Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, declined comment.
But wait, even that is still missing some very important information.  What Wright actually said had significant information that AOL clipped off:
"I recently spoke with two sources in the F.B.I. who are close to the investigation.They assured me that the case remains open."
And now we see why AOL clipped it.  Who would you believe more, a vaguely described "federal law enforcement source" or "two sources in the F.B.I. who are close to the investigation"?  Hmmm?

And who do we think this vague "federal law enforcement source" is?  Could it just be the mole that the Church of Scientology infiltrated into the Clearwater FBI office?  Ya' think?

The church used some ally or "inside Scientologist" to get this anonymous quote into the news article published by AOL News and is now flogging that minor snippet for all it's worth -- and it really isn't worth anything.

The church is running scared and botching the job spectacularly, as usual.

But how are Scientologists taking the New Yorker story, not to mention all the other very, very negative press we've been seeing?

They are "shielding" themselves from it.  They are discounting it.  They are using their cult-thought-control to keep from thinking about it.  As Lawrence Wright said in his interview about his article with Fresh Air's Terry Gross on NPR, The Church Of Scientology, Fact-Checked.
Wright said, when asked how his article might affect current members of the church that it "may not matter to people who are involved in it, who may feel they are gaining something from their experience — either because they feel like the truths of Scientology enhance their lives or because the community of Scientologists that they live among is something like their family. So they intentionally shield themselves from knowing these types of things."
Even "independent" Scientologists have this mechanism firmly in place.  Here is Marty's comment:
Whether I agree with some of his views and conclusions or not, I  am fairly certain about two things concerning Larry Wright and his work.  One, he is honestly attempting to understand the phenomena that is Scientology from the outside. Two, he has opened a public debate on Scientology in such a thorough, balanced, newsworthy fashion it will have huge and continuing repercussions.  
I do admire Marty's honesty in linking to and commenting on the article.  This is a good thing.

But it is yet another example of the cult mindset of filtering information, not on what is true or false, but what is, to Scientologists, "theta" or "entheta".  As I've noted before, Scientologists automatically reject entheta (negative information about Hubbard or Scientology) even if true and they accept theta (positive information about Hubbard of Scientology) even if false.  They must do this -- it is what they are trained to do.

Here we have a very well-researched and thoroughly fact-checked article that exposes Hubbard's lies about his life and work.  The article also quotes Paul Haggis regarding the universal lack of any of the "miraculous" results that Hubbard and Scientology promised.

But, as you can see, on Marty's blog, even outside of the church, true believer Scientologists continue to filter out the entheta.  They believe in Hubbard and all of his stories, and no amount of real, verified documentation will change their minds.

The New Yorker article by Lawrence Wright is the way things will be from now on.  The AOL News story is how the Church of Scientology used to control the media.

This nightmare for the church is not going away.

Certainly, major media is still worried about the Church of Scientology's stable of million-dollar lawyers, but how they protect themselves is completely different now.  Instead of ignoring and minimizing Scientology stories of crimes, abuse and fraud, they thoroughly fact-check the information and then write it all up -- big and bold -- front page.

This leaves the Church of Scientology without a whole lot of ground to stand on, and they know it.  There is nothing the lawyers can do about it -- and that is the only thing the church knows how to do.

God forbid the church would admit it and actually stop committing the crimes, lies, abuse and fraud!  They can't even conceive of that route.  And if they continue, as they have, to commit these crimes and fraud, to abuse people and to lie, their problems are just beginning.


  1. Thank you Bill!
    IMO, dwarfie will never accept any part whatsoever on his responsibility about this, as he thinks it will jeopardize the "Aims of Scientology" and that is a very dear cost to foot

  2. You are correct, Miscavige will never accept any responsibility for these disasters, but I disagree with why. I doubt very much that he holds any part of the "Aims of Scientology" in very high regard.

    All he cares about is power. And money. Power over people and lots and lots of money that only he controls. I doubt that he even likes Scientology. To him it just happens to be the structure he uses to gain power over people and lots and lots of money.

    But that's just my opinion.

  3. Do you think any of his Legal team will bail?

    IMO - If they lose one more MAJOR celeb over this; they implode.

  4. Re: Legal team

    Why would they bail? As long as Miscavige pays their bills, they will continue to do as he commands.

    You think just one more major celeb would be the final straw? Hmmm. One can hope.

    There are two things about the end of the Church of Scientology. One is the departure of Scientologists -- and I think that will remain a steady flow, but not a massive exodus. The second is the collapse of the organizational structure -- the flight of DM, or his arrest, or the raid of top church properties, or the blow of most remaining execs -- something major like that.

    What will trigger the final collapse, we'll just have to wait and see.

  5. The most striking part about the article for me came at the end, when Tommy Davis and Larry Wright are discussing the "7 linear feet" of supporting materials that CoS provided to The New Yorker in response to fact-checking inquiries.

    Wright writes:

    "At the meeting, Davis and I also discussed Hubbard’s war record. His voice filling with emotion, he said that, if it was true that Hubbard had not been injured, then 'the injuries that he handled by the use of Dianetics procedures were never handled, because they were injuries that never existed; therefore, Dianetics is based on a lie; therefore, Scientology is based on a lie.' He concluded, 'The fact of the matter is that Mr. Hubbard was a war hero.'"

    This indicates a willingness on Davis' part to submit to facts. Then Wright writes:

    "After filing a request with the National Archives in St. Louis, The New Yorker obtained what archivists assured us were Hubbard’s complete military records—more than nine hundred pages. Nowhere in the file is there mention of Hubbard’s being wounded in battle or breaking his feet. X-rays taken of Hubbard’s right shoulder and hip showed calcium deposits, but there was no evidence of any bone or joint disease in his ankle."

    Somebody at CoS must know all this. After all, they've taken the time to forge alternative records like Hubbard's Notice of Separation. And I have a hard time believing Davis doesn't know this. And so I have a hard time believing that Davis doesn't know, as he put it, that "Scientology is based on a lie."

    But maybe I'm wrong. What do you think? Could Davis look at the same documents that Wright is looking at and "see" a wounded war hero? Is it really like Winston at the end of _1984_ when he really does "see" 5 fingers?

  6. Re: Ron the war hero

    It is impossible to know what Tommy Davis thinks or believes. I doubt that he read all seven linear feet of "documentation" and it is not possible that he actually read any negative information from the real world.

    One can assume that he is just as enmeshed in the Truman Show as the next Scientologist. Yes, it is most likely that Tommy sees only what the church shows him, and nothing else.

    Scientologists explain away all the documentation that proves Hubbard lied about his life, his research and his results because of the The Great Anti-Scientology Conspiracy. All that documentation is just part of the plot by Evil Psychs to destroy Scientology.

  7. I can't help but find myself wondering what might happen if Tommy Davis actually comes to his senses someday and blows like Rinder and Rathbun. The critical spotlight on Scientology has been much more intense since Davis has been the official spokesperson, and he is much more recognizable to the casual public observer of the Scientology controversy. If he were to suddenly turn against Miscavige, it would be quite a bloodbath.
    Unlikely, I realize, but fun to think about.

  8. I've seen something of a change I think in the way some Independents view Hubbard now.

    I think many of them accept that Hubbard was far from perfect. I've seen lots of comments rebuking fair-game and disconnection for example.

    What I've seen in its place is an attitude of "So what? I've had tremendous wins in Scientology and I think the tech is mostly great and I don't care if Hubbard made it all up, somehow whether he meant to or not he stumbled onto something good and I'm going to use it."

    Some Independents are championing the fallacy of Argumentum ad hominem. This states that a premise should be evaluated on its merit, rather than the person who created the premise.

    Using this argument they are able to say that it doesn't matter if Hubbard was the worst rogue in history. All that matters is if his technology worked.

    I think that although the argument is logically correct, this is essentially a protection mechanism used by Scientologists to avoid thinking about the consequences of the truth about Hubbard. Tommy Davis has it right, if Hubbard lied about his war time injuries then Scientology is built on a lie.

    I think the argument about Hubbard is over, I think only the hard-core believers really think that Hubbard was a war hero/scientific genius, and no proof you can present will ever change that.

    I really think it's time that LRH Tech was thoroughly and independently evaluated.

  9. Re: Tommy Davis blow

    Tommy Davis doesn't appear too bright, so he might not ever do the calculation. But the main reason a lot of Scientologists don't (officially) leave, and this applies to Tommy, is the tremendous weapon the church wields: Disconnection plus "confidential" confessional data plus lawyers.

    When you want to see how likely it is a person would leave Scientology, look at how much family they have still in, how many friends still in, and business contacts still in.

    But wouldn't it be interesting to see Tommy blow.

  10. Re: Hubbard and the independents

    Well, yes, what else can they do? It is becoming obvious that Hubbard was a very big liar. Shucks, that's why David Miscavige has been removing LRH from Scientology for years -- he knew the fiction would be debunked sooner or later.

    The problem with independent Scientologists using this line of logic, that Hubbard may have "not been perfect" but just look at the results, is that they then do not look at the results!

    Instead of looking at the actual results that they actually get, they say "it works!" based solely on Hubbard's (false) statements.

    Scientology is the science of excusing failure -- and they are still doing it.

  11. @The good old dog

    Oh, certainly they are aware of all the fuss, but Hubbard covered that -- they are in The Great Battle with the Evil Psychs to save the Entire Galaxy.

    And Hubbard assured all Scientologists that all the negative press simply meant that "Scientology is winning" and the Evil Psychs were getting desperate.

    As illogical as all that is, in light of the actual information being exposed, it allows Scientologists to view all this in a completely different light -- negative information equals lies, broad exposure of negative information equals "signs of success", and so on.

    And I'm sure David Miscavige will call each one of them up personally to remind them of this viewpoint.

  12. And Hubbard assured all Scientologists that all the negative press simply meant that "Scientology is winning" and the Evil Psychs were getting desperate.

    As illogical as all that is, in light of the actual information being exposed, it allows Scientologists to view all this in a completely different light -- negative information equals lies, broad exposure of negative information equals "signs of success", and so on.


    This is something I've been thinking about.

    Yes, a Sign Of Success is that the squirrels will be howling. On the other hand, KSW #1 also specifically states a data point that explains the reason for attacks from "monopolies" and "governments".

    It seems the CoS believes all PR is ultimately good PR. I've seen the claims in the media in the past from CoS spokespersons that (to paraphrase) "we're doing better than ever with all this new interest into Scn!" This is discussed in the article "Buzz" at the Leaving Scientology blog.

    On the other hand is the outpoint that there are obviously No Results or Bad Results. That is why we're where we are: If it worked as advertised, who could possibly be upset (other than the 2.5 percent-ers, of course)?

  13. @omnom

    Excellent observations. Scientology is filled with so much cognitive dissonance it is amazing they can think at all. If all PR, including negative PR, is good, then why does the Church of Scientology fight it so much? It's all good, isn't it?

    Trying to think like Hubbard just wears me out.

  14. "Thinking like Hubbard wears me out." LOL I am exhausted!
    And frankly, basing a "religion" on a lie somehow does matter. I even wonder now if the wins I have had were in some ways drug induced. By that I mean a temporary high brought about by some biochemical change that results when one blows or erases an engram. One does feel great right afterwards and maybe for weeks. But has your life really changed in any significant way other than you felt great for a little while and believed if you kept it up you would always feel great. And then one day you run out of money. Now nobody knows your name. When you had money, you were awesome. Now, well, yes, there was out-tech or out-ethics and that's why you aren't doing well. But of course the out-tech can't be corrected because you have no money and the the out-ethics well, just get your ethics-in but that doesn't really seem to do the trick.
    Like I said, I'm exhausted.
    Makes me think, yes, there are processes and they can give you some temporary relief but at what cost. Seems they own you once you start having wins.

  15. "God forbid the church would admit it and actually stop committing the crimes, lies, abuse and fraud! They can't even conceive of that route."

    Ironically, they can conceive of it. It's described in that quote by Hubbard regarding his "star-high goal," that one about a world without criminality, without war, where honest men can have rights. What's ironic about it, of course, is that the world which exists within the church of scientology, the culture created by Hubbard's policies and his tech, is at once criminal, violent and deceitful toward its own members and toward the world at large.

  16. @Ann

    Yes, it is a wonderful trick: "If you didn't get the results promised, it's your fault." Nobody got the results promised? "It's still all their fault!" You still want results? "Pay up." Still no results? "You are Evil, go away!"

    Whatever phenomena that causes that temporary feeling of euphoria is a real money-maker for Scientology.

  17. @lunamoth

    Ironic indeed. Hubbard, who gave those "star-high goals" of "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war..." in his "Aims of Scientology" is the same person who stipulated lying, criminal activities and abuse in the very policies of Scientology.

  18. LOL sorry, I left out insanity. Can you think of a more insane organization than the c of $?

    God, I love irony.

  19. Speaking of insanity and criminality, do you know anyone who is keeping stats on OTs who have gone insane. I know of three.
    And how about OTs who are criminal--let's see Reid Slatkin (in jail); WIlliam Rex Fowler-shot his business partner (in jail).
    And then there are the OTs who have become ill and died prematurely and then there are the OTs who have committed suicide.
    And just for kicks, how about the number of Scientologists who have declared bankruptcy.
    It could be me, but these really awful consequences of devotion to SCN don't seem to get the same press as breaking up families and slave labor and fawning over Cruise.

  20. on.the.edge.lately,

    I'm not aware of any studies, although I've seen lots of discussion on various forums wondering what the likelyhood of long-term ill health, and beyond that, the reason for such. Did Scn make them crazy, or make their teeth fall out, or cause late-stage incurable cancer? Did the *lack* (or improper application) of Scn cause it? Or was it simply ignoring your own first dynamic, spending long days under high stress and neglecting basic needs the reason?

    Either way, I don't think it's concrete enough to make major media spotlight - it's just too subjective right now. A journalist can focus on human trafficking, on management abuses, but cannot as easily investigate a matter of faith or perception. As far as I know, the numbers just don't yet exist to equate the long-term effects of, for example, being in the Sea Org as it relates to comparative health.

    Don't get me wrong, there's a LOT (LOT!) more going on that bothers me on top of the current investigations, and I hope it all eventually gets fleshed out and exposed. In the mean time, I find as a good short-term goal exposing and stopping the flagrant abuse at the upper levels of the organization.

    If you come across any objective analysis, please let me know - I'd be fascinated to read it, whatever the outcome.

  21. @omnom

    A general study of Scientologists would not be scientifically possible in that sense. There are just too many variables. There are fanatic Scientologists to try to apply everything, every day, and indifferent Scientologists who still believe, but don't do very much.

    As for Sea Org members, the predominant factors in their health and mental well-being would be non-Scientology factors, such as stress, bad food, lack of sleep, isolation and such. Technically, Sea Org members don't do much Scientology -- they usually don't have time for courses and almost never get auditing.

    But any long-term Sea Org member would definitely not be in good shape, mentally or physically. A survey of people who were in the Sea Org for 10 or more years would be devastating to the Church of Scientology.

  22. Awesome comments, esp. lunamoth's summary of the world CoS creates. That said, I don't think anything will make CoS go away. There are always more young people, damaged, altruistic, not too bright or some combination, who will fall for the well-packaged con game. I just talked--not willingly--to one on the phone today. I felt incredibly sad for her.

  23. Re: Awesome comments

    I agree. We have some very astute visitors here. Always appreciated.

    Re: Church of Scientology going away

    Yes ... and no.

    Yes, there will always be some form of "Scientology". You can't kill ideas, even ideas that can't be backed up with facts. Scientology's very outlandish "promises" will always attract some.

    But the specific business organization calling itself the "Church of Scientology" is unlikely to last in its current incarnation. There are many reasons for this. First, Miscavige has completely destroyed management and structure. When he goes, the whole thing will collapse. Second, anyone capable or intelligent has long left (or been kicked out of) the church. Third, the church's reputation is far worse than just its weird beliefs, including as it does criminal acts, physical and mental abuse, fraud and a history of lies.

    Currently it all hangs on David Miscavige, who will either be indicted shortly or will run-run-run to avoid justice.

    But I could be wrong and some shell of a "church" could survive Miscavige's blow.

  24. One question, Bill:

    Since you have ore experience with this than me, tell me what are the odds that FBI investigation will go anywhere? I know FBI have looked into Scilons in the past, but nothing ever came out of it.

  25. Re: FBI investigation

    Well, when the FBI investigated and then raided the Church of Scientology back in 1979, it resulted in 11 senior church officials going to prison, that's hardly "nothing".

    I think that the FBI is being very, very careful. Their problems with the Branch Davidians of Waco Texas are, I am sure, very much in their minds when investigating religions. They are aware that David Miscavige is insane -- and there are stories of an alleged "arsenal" at the Int. Base.

    Put all that together and the FBI is aware that this could go very, very badly.

    I, personally, don't think the people at the Int. Base would ever be that war-like, but I can understand the FBI's caution.

  26. thanks for reply, Bill

    That happened because Scilons tried to infiltrate US government and FBI, naturally couldn't allow it. I meant to say that they didn't do anything worthwhile SINCE then.

    I am afraid that anyone who manages to put label religion on anything he/she is doing gets auto protection from anything.

  27. Re: "Religion"

    I think that labelling their scam a "religion" confers a whole lot of protection from medical laws and false advertising laws. But that protection is not absolute. The crimes that Miscavige and company are engaged in are not protected.

    I just think that the FBI is being very, very careful -- because of that Waco thing.

    They are, I am sure, also aware of the brainwashing effect of Scientology's RPF and "The Hole" have had on the victims of Scientology. Those people most abused by Scientology will often be the most vehement in denying that any abuse has taken place.

    This manifestation would make it virtually impossible to prosecute the leaders for these crimes. It's a sick and sorry situation.

  28. Hope you are right, Just Bill. There are more apostates each day, and some of them may be willing to testify, so maybe things will change eventually. I tend to be pessimistic with this stuff.

  29. Per Wikipedia: Apostasy is generally not a self-definition: very few former believers call themselves apostates because of the pejorative implications of the term.

    Please note that when you call ex-scientologists or ex-members of the c of s "apostates," you're using a derogatory term. The cult uses it because, while it technically does describe one who has left the group, it does so with a negative connotation. There were a few attempts early on by church spokes people to brand "ex's" as "heretics," but that backfired on them when the public started ridiculing the church's medieval language.

    People who have left the cult do not refer to themselves as apostates. When others do so, it comes across as disrespectful at best, and at worst makes them sound suspiciously like kool-aid-drinking cult members themselves.

  30. Thank you lunamoth. You make a very, very good point. Their use of the term "apostate" was my only serious objection to the New Yorker article.

    Personally, I prefer "whistle-blower" as it much more accurately describes those who speak out against the Church of Scientology.


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