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The Sunk Cost Bias

September 16, 2010

A friend sent me a very interesting article describing something called the Sunk Cost Bias. It’s a phenomenon that may help explain why it’s so hard for some people to leave the Church of Scientology.

The article describes sunk cost bias as “throwing good money after bad.” One persists with a bad decision due to an irrational attachment to the money or time already invested. One tends to persist on a given course just because one already has so much time of effort involved in it.

Let’s say you buy a used car. After you’ve had it for a while, you discover it’s a complete lemon. You spend weeks of your own time trying to fix it. You invest thousands replacing this and that, trying to get it to work properly. The smart thing would be to have the thing hauled away. But you’ve already invested so much time and money in it, you are reluctant to let it go, so you keep trying to fix it. You’re throwing good money after bad. The money you’ve spent is gone. It will never be recovered. You could save the money you are continuing to spend, but sunk cost bias prevents you from doing the rational thing.

The article notes that it happens with organizations and governments too. One example given is a government that insists on continuing to wage a war so the lives and treasure already spent “are not wasted.”

I’ve seen Scientologists struggling with their own sunk cost bias. They can see that the Church of Scientology has become corrupt and criminal. They know that tech and policy has been altered beyond recognition. They know that staff are being abused. They know that public are extorted and harassed. But still they carry on. Why? Because they’ve already invested years of their life and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What to do?  The article gives some advice:

“This is the fundamental reasoning behind how we deal with sunk costs. We have a genuine interest in making our efforts worth our while. We don’t want to feel that we spent anything in vain — time, money, anything. However, even if we know deep inside that our approach is wrong, we still have trouble abandoning it.

“Sure, we all expect to have a good return on what we invest. It would be insane not to. Just make sure you’re not on a situation solely because you made the investment in the first place. You don’t make a bad move any better by dwelling more on it, unless you can effectively make something that changes the expected outcome.

“Stop spending resources on a bad move — throwing good money after bad — immediately and start spending these resources on a new one:  Cut your losses and move on!”

  1. Doc "Smith" permalink
    September 16, 2010 3:33 am

    Thanks Jeff, I had gotten the article too, but as you have put it in perspective I had a realization. At my job I sometimes find that I need to take something almost completely apart to redo it correctly. In my younger days I would try to fix it or find a shortcut, but I learned that the best and actually most efficient fix is to just bite the bullet and do whatever I need to to do it right. I don’t waste any time anymore on inadequate fixes, but immediately on realizing that something is not done right I do whatever it takes to do it correctly.
    The same applies to the church of course. When I learned of the abuse, out-tech and lies, I just changed my mind, left the church ( as obviously trying to fix it from within wasn’t possible for me) and continued my studies in the Freezone. I can still audit others ( my passion) but without the now failed organization slowing me down ( as GAT did for years).

  2. brendon permalink
    September 16, 2010 4:55 am

    This explains it for me:

    • brendon permalink
      September 16, 2010 5:44 pm

      I’ve left the wrong impression. I was trying to embed a link to a picture of a person chasing a carrot on a stick. THAT explains it for me! See:

  3. September 16, 2010 6:55 am

    Great Jeff. I was taught exactly this in 2000 at my University in the subject of economics. I immediately had realizations and saw it all around ever after. From time to time I caught myself thinking that way. But it never occured to me that this can be the case with the people in Co$. I don’t challenge it. I’ve only been in occassional comm with the churchies since 2002. I’d love to find out.

  4. Cool Observer permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:04 am

    This is defintely an important factor, but I would think that something else is even more influential: Diasappointment that your trust and goodwill was abused. Scientologists are generally very decent people, who are willing to make enormous sacrifices. Imagine working for an organisation like ‘Doctors without Borders’, only to find out that the surgeons harvested the bodies to sell the organs instead of saving lives.
    Those who invested the most, not just time and money, but also goodwill and hope for a better world, are often unable to unravel the entire subject of Scientology. They continue to believe in a system that never produced a single Clear or OT, they refuse to acknowledge that DMSH offers nothing but claims that are not backed up. They point the finger at the runt, but find excuses for every despicable act orderered by Hubbard They invent terms like ‘Church of Miscavology’ and ‘Church of Mestology’, because the Commodore was a textbook example for modesty and had no desire for material goods.
    On the other hand, this is typically human behavior, we all “suffer” from selective perception, we all have a certain filter in our mind that influences how we perceive information. If a newspaper writes that a large company has fired 5000 workers, some see this as a typical example for corporate greed, others see it as a necessary step to remain competitive in a cutthroat market. In the end it all depends on your personal view of Hubbard. If you joined Scientology, you were ‘forcefed’ endless information what a great man Hubbard was, and this became the truth for you, the foundation of your belief system. LRH is behind the filter, he cannot be challenged, because that would mean challenging everything. Those never in Scientology or with minimal exposure have never been indoctrinated with the propaganda, they are able to look at it from a neutral point of view, and this makes it easy to see Hubbard for what he really was. To me there’s nothing more surreal than reading about people who describe Hubbard as kind, caring, brilliant etc. To describe him as mankind’s best friend is an affront to all the victims of the beast he created. If you want the truth about L. Ron Hubbard, read ‘Barefaced Mesiah’. It’s on the web and can be read for free.

    • TomatoTester permalink
      September 16, 2010 5:22 pm

      @ Cool Observer

      This is one of the best summations of why some scientologists refuse to, or have difficulty in accepting the fact that they have been the victim of a scam.

      That, and the fact that voicing blatantly obvious facts regarding the uselesness of Hubbard’s “tech” and how not “having wins” will, by default, mean that *They* are at fault.

      (No offence is intended on a personal level at any ex / scientologist with this post)

      • TomatoTester permalink
        September 16, 2010 5:31 pm


        I omitted to say that after reading every article and post on this site today, I was compelled to post a response to Cool Observer because he did it better than I ever could have.

        I think I said “post” too many times there 😉

      • Cool Observer permalink
        September 16, 2010 7:48 pm

        Tomato Tester,

        thank you, I’m flattered. I had minimal exposure, so sifting through all the ‘entheta’ was not a painful process for me. The best info still comes from those who were in and made it out – all the way, not half way. And I just addressed one facet of the multi-layered web Hubbard developed. So in a way he was indeed brilliant, a shame that he didn’t put it to better use. That would have spared John Travolta the travesty of Battlefield Earth (not to mention the millions of dollars that might have ended up with organisations that actually do something to improve conditions). And we could watch Tom Cruise movies without cringing.

  5. September 16, 2010 10:13 am

    I think Robert Cialdini might see Sunk Cost Bias as an aspect of his “Rule of Commitment and Consistency”, one of his seven points of Social Influence.

    Here’s a PDF on his work…. no cost.


  6. Sid permalink
    September 16, 2010 1:36 pm

    I’d be interested to know whether this genuinely plays a significant part in people’s hesitation to leave the church.

    I would have thought that fear of losing contact with close family and friends would be the number 1 reason, followed by a fear of losing your eternity (albeit nonsense) .

    • Grateful permalink
      September 16, 2010 4:56 pm

      I don’t think people really think about this. They just can’t look or question because they have invested so much into this that it would make them oh so horribly wrong if it turned out that they were mistaken. It is hard to face. I have seen this in many other situations nowhere near as significant as with Scientology. The person just does not see anything that disagrees with their model. They justify it, ignore it, or whatever it takes to make it fit.

    • TomatoTester permalink
      September 16, 2010 6:30 pm

      I would suggest that there are many reasons, each one of which will affect different people dependant on their personal circumstances.

      A cleverly (?) designed plan that ensures the one who wonders is always at fault!
      (A tatcic devised by Hubbard…. Miscavige merley copys his ex-leader’s passion for ill-deeds and wealth)

      “Donated” a lot of money? …. How embarrassing when you realise it’s a scam!
      “Donated” a lot of personal time? … How embarrassing when you realise it’s a scam!
      Disconnected from your friends/family/loved-ones? … How embarrassing when you realise it’s a scam!
      Followed every written word of Hubbard as if it were Law? …. you know the answer…

      If Hubbard had written his fictional “work”- “DMSH” 10 years later it would have been filed in the dustbin. Unfortunataley his garbage was written at just the correct point in history that people bought it. … both literally and mentally.

    • ClearlyMistreated permalink
      September 17, 2010 3:17 am

      I’d say yes. Here’s my example: I told my brother and sister-in-law about the abuse and the out-tech in the church. His response “You’re invalidating the 17 years I was in the Sea Org.” He just couldn’t have it. Now they’re disconnecting from me and other family.

  7. Grateful permalink
    September 16, 2010 2:21 pm

    Since my former models have been blown apart, in realigning my beliefs, I have tried very hard not to become invested in my rightness – keeping that velcro approach that was mentioned on here earlier. It makes it easier to observe what is really there and to change as needed.

    When I read this article, I thought of my “chiropractor”. The quotes are used because he no longer considers himself a chiropractor. When he was in chiropractic school, in his last semester, he had a fundamental question about the subject that he could not get answered to his satisfaction. He had a lot of money and time invested and was almost ready to start practicing, but he was ready to quit it all because it was of the magnitude that he could not, in good conscience, go ahead without getting this cleared up. He finally did get some degree of satisfaction and went on to practice his brand of chiropractic for awhile, but then had another shift a few years ago so that what he does now is no longer chiropractic. I don’t know many other people with this level of integrity and willingness to look at truth despite personal interest.

  8. Independent Scientologist permalink
    September 16, 2010 4:11 pm

    I’m trained in economics, so typically am able to spot and avoid the sunk cost fallacy. When I got out of the church, I got out quick – within hours of receiving a phone call from wife that “we need to talk.” Incredibly quick and severe reality adjustment.

    That being said, when I was in – just a few short months ago – I might have been not-ising outpoints that I saw here and there, but mostly I was just BLIND to what was going on. I had no clue. I was a “good” Scientologist who wouldn’t dare to look anything the church disapproved of. And I think most of the other Scientologists I knew were in that same category. We weren’t ignoring human rights abuses or serious alteration of the tech; we didn’t know it was taking place.
    Who could possibly believe that the leader of Scientology, LRH’s hand-picked successor (wink wink) was a raving psychotic??? No Sea Org member would allow that to happen – right???

    An interesting aspect of the church is how out-of-comm it is internally. I was public at the Cincinnati Org. The Cincinnati public have absolutely no comm with the Seattle public, who have no comm whatsoever with the Atlanta public, who have no comm whatsoever with the Denver public, etc. etc. etc. So hearing the PR at the big events about the extraordinary expansion of Scientology, the reaction is: I guess it must be happening everywhere but my Org! We’re just out of step with the rest of Scientology!

    I think all independent scientologists who still believe in and care about the philosophy and the auditing tech need to be prepared to see the great majority of on-lines public react with utter disbelief when DM is taken down or blows. Instead of idolizing him as their leader/savior they will idolize him as a martyr. Most on-lines Scientologists have drunk the Kool-aid and drunk it good.

    I think the immediate post-DM scene will be one of complete confusion/chaos, and I anticipate that the church will collapse and fragment. That will end the abuses, but it won’t be good for much else.

    • Doc "Smith" permalink
      September 18, 2010 7:08 pm

      I agree about your scenario of the church disintegrating, however ther is another possibility, which those of us who care about current members who were friends should consider. That one of DMs minions who is still in his valence uses his ‘martyrdom’ to grab the reins and continue the farce. If the church has a moment of weakness if and when he is taken out, we should be ready to do what we can to see that it doesn’t continue under some other SPs control.

  9. Joe Howard permalink
    September 16, 2010 6:50 pm

    Interestingly, the materials of Scientology contain the remedy for Scientologists caught in this sunk cost quicksand. It is in the bulletin entitled You Can Be Right. Anyone faced with the task of helping a parishioner open his or her eyes to their sinking condition before it is too late need only get the person to explain “what is right” about continuing to go further and further into debt to support a corrupt religious regime. A very basic drive is the impulse to be right and if you can get the person to really look at their “rightness” in this situation, they just may be able to come to another conclusion like: “Hey, this is freaking nuts. I’m outta here! And, give me my damn money back. NOW!!!!”

    Scientology is capable of curing itself.

    • Valkov permalink
      September 17, 2010 4:54 am

      I was gonna say….

      I think you’re right on with this, Joe. The human seems to have this inbuilt reluctance to consider that any decision s/he made could have been wrong. This drives, for example, a person obeying a post-hypnotic suggestion, no matter how silly, to rationalize a reason for their action. He will explain why his action was “right” and his perfectly rational basis for doing what he did.

      Although the “sunk cost” hypothesis sounds somewhat right, I believe some people have more difficulty than others viewing their own decisions objectively.

      This seems to apply across the board – doctrinaire critics can no more look objectively at any aspect of scientology than doctrinaire scientologists can, once theyhave made their 100% negative or 100% positive evaluative decision about the subject. From then on, they are each forever “wearing the t-shirt” and preaching to their individual choirs.

      It’s like college sophomores rooting for their own team and trash-talking the other school’s team.

      Eric Berne described such interpersonal “games” in some detail 50 years ago. They are nearly all oriented towards making the players feel justified and “right”.

  10. Cool Observer permalink
    September 16, 2010 8:07 pm

    This is a textbook example for sunk cost bias outside Scientology. A woman losing $400.000 to the Nigeria Scam, paying most of this sum AFTER people started warning her. Imagine, with this money she could have made it to OT VIII…

  11. Maria permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:45 pm

    There is certainly truth to the sunk cost idea. You can hear it as wails of protest when long term relationships such as marriages break down i.e. “I SPENT the best years of my life with you!” But I think there is more to it than that. People form allegiances, and value loyalty and often consider loyalty and allegiance more important than anything else. People love one another, and often consider that love to be more important that money or time spent. People give their word and consider this to be something very precious and important. i.e. “I will always love you” and “I will always be there for you” and “I’ll never let you down” and so on.

    Sunk cost doesn’t figure into any of those ideas. It can be seen as simply a price to pay for loyalty, love, and sincerity.

    I think the real question is: what did you give your allegiance to? To whom did you swear your loyalty? Who or what did you unconditionally love, and how best does that love manifest?

    I never swore allegiance to the man, LRH – I swore allegiance to the idea of deep and sincere personal soul searching to the end of evolving to a higher level of awareness, a greater breadth of understanding and an opportunity to break out of fixed conditions. And I got every one of those by participating in auditing, good auditing delivered with that intention.

    I love the man, LRH, with all of his faults and all of his genius, and yes, even his madness at times. I still love him. But that does not mean that I cannot act to curb misbehavior. It means that I must act to curb misbehavior, with all of the love and care I can muster. It means that I am willing to allow for change, for redemption, for mistakes, for evil intent, and particularly for granting an individual the freedom to change his/her mind, behavior, actions, etc.

    And how does this loyalty manifest? For me, it means never giving up on my personal path to greater awareness, understanding and knowledge. And it means that I cannot grant loyalty to individuals or groups that do not participate in that.

    People and groups change over time. And when core and crucial motivations are subverted or twisted or misused/abused, then that loyalty can make it necessary to withdraw support, to take action to curb or shift the direction.

  12. Aeolus permalink
    September 17, 2010 1:59 pm

    First off, anyone who thinks Scientology was never anything but a big scam by the evil Ron has on bigger blinders than any member of the Church. Hubbard was larger than life and so were his flaws, but many, many people have gotten benefits and become better persons through the use of Scientology. There is some good data there, and even if much of came from elsewhere, it’s nice to have it compiled in one place.

    However, there is so much data there that after a few wins it’s easy to believe that any question or problem can be handled with Scientology. From there it’s a short step to thinking that ALL of the answers are there and none in the outside world, especially when that idea is reinforced from all directions. And you are strongly discouraged from picking and choosing.

    Going back to Jeff’s car analogy, if you have a specific thing you want to address with Scientology and you keep getting told “it’s on the next level”, that’s exactly like putting more money into fixing the lemon automobile. For most ‘churchies’ though it’s more like you believe the car you have is the only one there is. It’s taken you on some great trips, but now you’re noticing strange noises and erratic behavior. If you abandon the car, you’re back to walking and you just know you will never reach your destination on foot.

    Now, you could get out and look under the hood, as readers of this blog have done. What you see won’t be pretty, but you might notice there are trains, busses, planes overhead, other ways to travel. Or, you could continue to keep your eyes on the road, foot on the gas, and hope for the best. That’s the situation for those who are still ‘in’, and many of them will stick with that until the car completely dies and won’t go another foot.

    • TomatoTester permalink
      September 17, 2010 5:17 pm

      “First off, anyone who thinks Scientology was never anything but a big scam by the evil Ron has on bigger blinders than any member of the Church.”

      Respectfully, many many people see it as it is. scientology was the “religious-ising” of Dianetics in order to avoid the authorities- medical, psychiatric, govermental and legal and to keep the money rolling in.

      “Hubbard was larger than life and so were his flaws, but many, many people have gotten benefits and become better persons through the use of Scientology.”

      Other than in “Freedom” Magazine, scientology marketing video and on Marty’s Blog, where are the testaments of these many, many people?

      He wrote some nonsense for a comic, people bought it. So he wrote a book full of the same nonsense and people bought it. He followed the $. It really is that simple.

      • Jeff permalink*
        September 18, 2010 6:02 am

        Personally, I think it’s only “that simple” to people who were never in Scientology and never met Hubbard. Then it’s easy to dismiss the whole thing as a con and Hubbard the evil mastermind. I think for those of us who were in Scientology, the reality is a bit more nuanced than that. If it were that simple, no one would have ever had the slightest interest in the subject. Even if you think Scientology is a trap, any trap requires some cheese.

  13. September 17, 2010 4:45 pm

    Here is a blitheringly intelligent lecture on two more cognitive biases from one of my favorite websites:

    This lecture explores the question whether cognitive biases are based in the “reactive mind”, or if they are part of a more “permanent” part of our make-up as human beings, and what you can do about that.


    Do Monkeys Make the Same Mistakes We Do?

  14. Bert permalink
    September 17, 2010 5:11 pm

    I once made a horrific blunder that cost both me and my company a large sum of money. I was actually updating my resume in anticipation of the worst when I was called in to see my boss. He was somewhat amused when I asked if he wanted my resignation. He said no, that they had just made a big investment in my education, and that they didn’t want that to go to waste.

    I’ll never forget that moment. No matter what mistake I have made since then I’ve realized that it’s only wasted if I didn’t learn from it.

  15. Cinnamon permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:00 pm

    Jeff, your blog post brings back to mind that moment of horror I experienced, long ago, when I realized that I had just spent so many years of my life devoted to something that now seemed like a total waste and falsehood.

    The difficult decision to cut my losses and let go was made easier by a family member (a devout Christian) who told me that it is OK, that God could use all that time spent and experience gathered. And yes, I do think that God has used all that experience. I feel that having been in Scientology has taught me many useful things about the mind and spirit. I just do not believe that the Co$ has my “eternity”.

    • brendon permalink
      September 18, 2010 1:13 am

      There’s a good point in here whether you resort to God or not. That being, rather than emphasize the amount you have invested that will go to waste, focus on the huge amount of time you still have left to invest in something better. Like having an actual life!

      By way of example, although I can’t speak for her, based on her comments I’d guess that Tory might say her 10 years out more than outmatch the 30 years she was in for living…having fun…whatever.

  16. September 18, 2010 1:29 am

    To me sunk costs have about as much use as opportunity costs. Both are valid concepts and would help your decision making if applied. But who takes the time to apply them? Applying them is an exercise in logic and mathematics. I just want to take my money and run. I just want to buy my drink at the game. I don’t want to sit there figuring out values and outcomes.

    Much of the argument over who leaves and why probably settles down in the muck of need. Scientology satisfied a need. We all want to understand life. We want to find meaning. We want to belong to something greater than just ourselves. Some people find this in Christianity and go forth to provide charity. Some find it in the radical Islamic movement and go out and blow up the local bazaar in the name of Allah.

    Satisfying a need isn’t an exercise in logic and intellect. A need exists far outside the bounds of logic. A need can be such a powerful thing that we would sacrifice anything to satisfy it. The need can become a black hole that sucks you in spiritually, mentally and physically. The need is so great that nothing else matters. You would give up anything for it.

    So, you’re pouring all of your resources into satisfying this need. Maybe during some quiet moment of being rational you ask yourself, “What the fuck am I doing?” Your efforts and expenditures just seem way out of line with the returns and outcomes. But then the need kicks in. It’s that need that got you to this point. So, you dismiss all your sunk costs. Those are irrelevant. What is relevant is the need. Satisfying that need.

    If you can control a person’s needs, you can control that person. A person gets stuck in a bad relationship because the partner promises to satisfy some deep need. It’s not logical. It’s not rational. It’s not a matter of economic equation. It’s a need. An urge that drives your behavior.

    Disparaging LRH is pretty simple. Lots of reasons to toss stones. Then I stop and think, I got into Scientology because I wanted to understand life, wanted to understand the universe, wanted to understand where I fit in and how all this works. I liked Hubbard’s approach, which is essentially modern gnosticism with a pseudo-scientific bent. What he proposed stimulated a deep need in me. And by applying some of the lessons I learned studying Scientology, I’ve been able to not only satisfy that curiosity and those needs, but exceed my expectations. Not a bad outcome. Not a bad return on the costs.

    If I really thought he was such a con man, I would just move onto something else. I wouldn’t waste my time disparaging him or his work. If I don’t like the smell, I certainly am not going to sit in a shit hole.

    But, criticizing Hubbard seems to fulfill some need in those doing it. And boy, that statement should raise some hackles.

    I’m not saying there’s nothing to criticize. I’m just saying that I have no need that sucks me into expending my resources in that direction. I have other needs. I have other things towards which I want to spend my time and attention. Things like growing as a being. Things like expanding my understanding and the understanding of others. And Scientology isn’t a big part of that.

    Complaining and criticism require the expenditure of your resources. Think about it: the time you spend being negatively involved with a subject could have been spent being positively involved with another subject. Or with that same subject. Sure, sometimes you have to scrape off old paint to provide a good surface for the primer and new paint. But why spend time scraping past the wood itself? At some point, you’ve gotten to the wood. So fucking stop scraping and paint.

    And then go enjoy a beer in the back yard.

    Complaining is a sunk cost. Complaining has severe opportunity costs.

    Just do what you gotta do and get on with it.


    • brendon permalink
      September 18, 2010 5:31 pm

      The idea that Hubbard was a con man is common refrain among critics. Personally, I don’t see Hubbard as a con man. Instead I see him a someone who had a con man’s eye for human behavior. His gift was to codify what he observed for others. Those followers then have their “aha!” moments and see value in the information, the “cheese” in Jeff’s comment above.

      He did this in the way he knew best: using his science fiction background. So yes, the result comes off as pseudo science. And of course without any true “research” that is all it will ever be.

      Hubbard was an opportunist: he ran with the surprising success of Dianetics – why wouldn’t he? The problem is that he was required to then create a framework for further development and an organization and so on. Having exhausted his real world observations he was left to just largely make up the rest. He did this using what he had left: creative, though make-believe, thought.

      From his initial creation of the concept of Clear through the OT levels, I think Hubbard created a body of work that is essentially nonsense. But one doesn’t start there of course. And since the lower level stuff works, you think there is something left to chase in the upper levels. Thus my carrot and stick image earlier in this thread.

      I don’t think critics are really criticizing Hubbard. The guy, who in much of his life (Navy record for example) was something of a buffoon, died rich and famous afterall. You have to give him some credit for that accomplishment. I think critics are more often criticizing people who would buy in to a body of work that, on balance, is largely ridiculous on its face. Especially given that so much of its genesis is readily available to be seen by anyone willing to look, (i.e. Hubbard’s personal history, the obvious disconnect between the promises of Scientology and the reality).

      Personally, my greatest criticism has always been reserved for the organization of Scientology and the way it interacts with society. It puts itself above the law and, as one critic used to say, makes lieing a sacrament. I am by definition already invested in society, so I’m quite willing to invest in effectuating the COS’s comeuppance.

      • TomatoTester permalink
        September 18, 2010 9:08 pm

        brendon: That was a wonderful analysis.

        Jeff: Your thoughts on “that simple” are equally as insightful.

        The discussions on this blog are fascinating and I only wish Marty’s blog would allow true freedom of expression.

        Yes, of course, to anyone who was never “in” it *is* blatantly obvious that the whole thing was and is a scam.

        For the people who joined in the early days such information was harder to access. The information was always there that scientology was a scam, but unsuspecting, good people who saw an opportunity to “help the world” were being scammed without any real way of researching the cult beforehand.

        The good people who joined in the 60’s and 70’s, who gave their life and wealth, and then had children brought into this thing are the ones I feel sorry for.

        The cheese was always mouldy and covered in fleas.

        Unfortunately Hubbard’s empire was based on a world where the masses do not have imediate access to information. He used Telex-Tech and thought it advanced.

        I would suggest that Hubbard *was* a con-man, and that Slappy is just mirroring what he saw in his highly uneducated up-bringing.

        Thankyou for accepting my posts.

      • September 18, 2010 11:04 pm


        Here’s the thing about Hubbard and his research. He was a keen observer. I’m often amazed by his powers of observation. If you study his research line, you’ll note that he didn’t just jump to Scientology. The change was gradual and transitional. People running engrams were running engrams in past lives. What was he to do, say, “Bullshit, stop that!” Or was he to follow something that was commonly cropping up in pc after pc after pc? Does this past life stuff jive with modern research and other fields of religion? It certainly seems to.

        So, you have past lives as a phenomenon. The question immediately becomes, “What is moving from life to life?” And you get theta. Which means you need to define this spiritual awareness and examine its laws and qualities. This has been going on for thousands of years. It didn’t start with Hubbard. I’ve been impressed with answers from other religions about this subject. And I’m impressed with Hubbard’s answers. It wasn’t just Science fiction intended merely to make a buck.

        Now, it’s easy to say that Hubbard didn’t know shit about scientific method and his results are suspect. Perhaps that’s true. But, say you’re in a mall and a girl gives you a certain look. You use your power of observation and think, “hmm, she just let me know she wouldn’t mind striking up a conversation.” So you go over, start talking and get a date. It wasn’t scientific method, just observation. So, if the observation leads to a positive result, then you have a right to trust your ability to observe.

        Certainly, Hubbard tended to exaggerate benefit and result. He tended to exaggerate possible outcomes. But, if he could produce a date with a good looking woman while predicting a blow job in the middle of the mall, I’d still accept the date even if I didn’t get the other. And I’d learn that the exaggerations were just that: exaggerations.

        Too many people have had positive results to dismiss his work out of hand. Just because lots of people have failed to match those results isn’t really a disclaimer. My wife teaches yoga. You can get a lot of benefit from yoga. And you can just waste your time doing yoga if you don’t do it right. I stand in poses watching other students and immediately can tell who is understanding what they are doing and who is not. That most people will not get gains from yoga does not mean yoga doesn’t work.

        Hubbard once said something to the effect that only several thousand people would really be able to understand the subject. Just a small fraction of people. Seems to have been an accurate observation.

        If you give a text on chemistry to an average person, they are not going to go out and make a new type of plastic. They will undoubtedly not even understand what the fuck has been written. But, it’s a good thing that chemists understand that stuff because I sure like modern living.

        I’m not a Scientologist. I keep saying this to put what I say in perspective. However, I still have a great deal of respect for Hubbard’s observations. I’m glad he came along.

        People who worked directly with him usually came away with positive reviews. Especially during the fifties and early sixties. Sure he had detractors. I have detractors. You have detractors. Jesus had detractors. Mother Theresa has detractors. So what?

        However, around the time he wrote KSW something had changed. He took a nose dive. But that didn’t erase his accomplishments from those earlier years, studying the spirit and the spiritual universes and the connections to the physical universe.

        I still find his work interesting and useful. And I don’t look on it as Sci-Fi or make believe. A lot of it was far fetched. But a lot of it was not.

        Smoking kills more people each year than Scientology ever will. So do chemical plants. Lots of truly bad people running corporations in the world. And making billions of dollars and ruining lives in the process. Especially lives in third world countries where the people don’t have much recourse. I’m not on my high horse about that. If I were more conscientious about those who do the most harm to others, I would research the subject and focus on those doing the most harm. Scientology isn’t top dog in the area. Even with David Miscaviage’s nonsense. Doesn’t mean that the evils of the organization should be ignored, just that it’s disingenuous to pretend that the critic’s main concern is human welfare.

        Spending time involves opportunity costs. Why spend time saving a couple dozen lives when you could spend the same amount of time saving thousands? Opportunity costs.

        Perhaps, critics just have a vested interest. Maybe a bit of sunk costs that they resent having spent. Don’t know. Each of us has our own reasons. I’ve got other things to do than survey those reasons.

        I’ve got guests that have just arrived. Time to socialize and go out for dinner. Time to live. So….


      • brendon permalink
        September 19, 2010 12:33 am


        I agree 100% about Hubbard being a keen observor — that’s what I meant about his skilled eye (I used the example of a con man) for human behavior. And again, he did a good job at sharing what he learned with other people.

        Where we’ll disagree is on much of his belief system, such as the idea of past lives and so on. To say “People running engrams were running engrams in past lives.” and thus it led to other things doesn’t mean anything to me because a) I don’t even accept the premise of engrams and b) can come up with other explanations for the phenomenon as well as evidence to discredit what the people supposedly believed had occurred to them in past lives.

        But if you, and they, believe in such things it’s fine with me. I’m not here to supplant my thinking for anyone’s. Really.

        Rather than having vested interests (I’m still waiting for the first paycheck from the psychs to roll in) I think critics are motivated by the same good intentions as Scientologists. Why do they take on Scientology rather than, say big tobacco? Perhaps it is because there are plenty of people taking on big tobacco. Taking on Scientology — given their history of litigation and their willingness to destroy enemies (Paulette Cooper, Gabe Cesares, et al) — finds far fewer willing to step up,* and consequently makes participating particularly rewarding. Besides, the subject (LRH and Scientology history and beliefs, pro and con) is both massive and complex. Frankly few can even contribute substantively to this dialog.

        Tomato Tester-

        I feel the same sadness. These aren’t/weren’t “bad” people for the most part — most of the exes (and members) seem pretty nice. To see the length some go to “run LRH” instead of their own life… Oh well, their life.

        And yeah Marty is an odd duck to deal with through his blog. I have been surprised about some of my posts he has allowed. He called me “clueless” for claiming that the First Amendment was only about protecting people from government action. I demonstrated how he was wrong (and, er, how I was right) and he printed it, but without further comment or “clueless” retraction. I have my share of “never made it” as well.

        *Anonymous, god love them, changed that equation considerably.

      • Just Me permalink
        September 19, 2010 1:29 am


        Re your sunk costs post above and reply to Brendon, hubbah, hubbah!

        Just Me

      • lunamoth permalink
        September 23, 2010 12:47 am

        Michael (OnceUponATime)

        Yours is the best expressed summation I have seen yet of what is good and bad about scientology and Hubbard (and why), and why the harping critics of both don’t impress me either way. And by that, I mean I agree with you.

        Maybe I’m mellowing in my old age but I no longer feel the need to condemn nor
        idealize either the man or the philosophy. The organization and the culture of scientology, well that’s another story.

        Thanks for putting into such lovely expression your observations and opinions. I share them with you.


    • Doc "Smith" permalink
      September 18, 2010 7:36 pm

      Michael, I agree with what you’re saying. I went to school to work in forestry and sunk some costs into that. I didn’t end up working in that field. Was that schooling a waste? No, because I find ways to use what I learned in my life and have a fuller understanding of Nature and natural systems as well as other subjects taken as pre-requisites. I then joined and studied Scientology for 30 years. Was that a waste? Not to me, as I learned things which work when dealing with people. I am much better at handling customers in my carpentry business than most others I meet, especially in periods of stress. Would I have been better off to stay in forestry? Well the next few years after I left that area, there was massive slowdowns and lots of unemployment and lost jobs. I don’t regret my choices, but learn from them and move on. Was Ron a charlatan? Who cares. I made my choices and can choose to learn from them and move on.

      • September 18, 2010 11:06 pm


        Got you. Like your attitude. We could have some long conversations I’m sure.

        Later… Cheating the guests.


    • September 20, 2010 3:22 am


      Your ideas about Scientology fulfilling a deep need in people, and that deep need not being logical or even rational, are ideas that I have had as well. And it really does explain a lot of what we see when we look at the time and money and energy that people invest into things like Scientology.

      Yours is a very well-written and I believe very astute observation. And I agree with you fully.

      It is when you get to “critics” and their motivations, though, that I see the kind of assumption that goes regularly unquestioned, and often un-inspected in the Scientology debate.

      Hubbard was able to get out ahead of his critics and define their motives to Scientologists. He defined the motives of his critics as very discreditable, and many Scientologists have just assumed this, and it appears many have not really questioned these assumptions very thoroughly after getting out of the Church.

      I’m a 10-year critic of Scientology and L Ron Hubbard, after being a devout Scientologist for 16 years. So I can tell you my motives for being a critic, and I can tell you with some authority – at least with more authority than L Ron Hubbard had for my motives, since he’s never met me.

      My primary motive for being a critic is to expose the lies and manipulations that exist in Scientology so that people can make more informed decisions about their own involvement. The reason I read and write about Scientology, on an almost daily basis, is so that others have more information than I had when I first got involved, and are able to use that information to look out for their own self-interests better than I was able to.

      When I first got involved, I was lied to, as was most everyone else who was recruited into Scientology. I made decisions about the course of my life based on those lies. I would not have made the same decisions that I made had I known the truth. You may not believe this, but I actually feel a responsibility to my fellow man to warn the public about the lies in Scientology so that others in future generations can be better off than me.

      I have done my very best to help ensure that no one else can be lied to by them. I’m not trying to rid the world of Scientologists, just trying to make it so the lies, and the fraud, and the abuse are exposed, and the criminality prosecuted where possible.

      I do not consider what I do as a waste of my time. I actually consider it a worthwhile public service. Knowing what I know, I feel that I have a duty to society to do what I am doing.

      So, maybe there are critics whose motives are the same as Hubbard described. But I have not met one.


      And maybe there are people who are simply wasting their time criticizing Scientology and L Ron Hubbard.

      But I don’t think I do.

      Until there is more transparency and until law enforcement has cleaned up the criminality, the fraud, and the abuse of Scientology, I’m going to be doing what I have been doing. It”s not because of my “case”, or because I’m “low-toned”, or full of overts, or evil, or any of the other things Hubbard assigned to his critics in order to discredit what they say to Scientologists.

      I suppose I have a deep need to be of service to my fellow man. I feel that I am fulfilling that need, in my own little way, by being a critic of L Ron Hubbard and Scientology.

      Plus, it gets me lots of chicks.

      So I got that goin’ for me.

      Which is nice.

      • September 20, 2010 3:16 pm


        Getting lots of chicks is motivation enough. I love women: holding them, watching their skirts swirl, smelling their hair and touching their soft skin. Dancing with them. Snuggling and laughing. Holding hands. Just being graced by their presence. So, kudos to you on that.

        That said, I looked over what I said about critics, and basically I said “maybe–I don’t know.” I think every critic has a unique motivation. And I think criticism is a very, very good thing. I criticize myself. I take apart my thoughts and positions, constantly testing them as new information comes in. We grow by testing and re-evaluating.

        Growing as an individual depends on being able to change your mind, to not take yourself too seriously, to sometimes laugh at yourself and shake your head.

        The things you said about LRH being defensive were pretty much how I viewed that aspect of her personality. Very vindictive at times. Very protective of the subject. Criminal.

        But he had another side, the genius that was able to observe life and conditions of life and formulate statements about what he saw. I find his work very informative in that regard.

        I highly value truth. I highly value those who can change their minds, who are constantly evaluating new ideas and re-evaluating old ones. Though I should be more understanding, I often get a little short with someone who is stuck in a pretense of knowing: be they Scientologists, critics, Democrats, Republicans, Christians, whatever. To self-righteously claim “I don’t believe (fill in the blank) but if you want to believe it, go ahead.” just screams “I’m right; you’re wrong.” It’s a statement of bad faith. It’s a pretense of tolerance.

        Belief is just that leap of faith when information falls short. A belief is mostly just a guess. Only a fool holds a belief to be a guaranteed truth.

        So, quibbling over belief is swatting at illusions. Maybe it’s entertaining. But it’s not a quest for truth. It’s a pissing contest over who wins the accolade for “Holding the Belief Most Likely To Succeed.” It’s intolerance in drag.

        So, I prefer to speak of evidence rather than belief. And supporters and detractors of LRH are fond of pointing out this piece of evidence or that. Then both sides will exaggerate that piece of information and deny the contradictory information. Both sides are willing to latch onto rumors and lies to substantiate their positions. Which, to me, makes finding the truth tedious.

        I’ve read most if not all the books aimed at revealing the “True LRonHubbard.” These works were well researched, and I don’t doubt their content. And for years after leaving Scientology, I felt utter contempt for the man. What a liar.

        Scientology was to fill my need for spiritual enlightenment, but how could I trust the subject if its author was as described in those works? Disgusting. I was livid and outraged with a sense of betrayal.

        So, I set out on my own spiritual quest. And oddly enough, I kept running into stuff that LRH had described. Granted, I was trained in the subject, which immediately gave me a certain bias. So, I was assiduous in avoiding those biases. I went to extreme lengths to dismiss or eliminate any type of thinking or conclusions that could trace back to Scientology. I hated the man so much that I wouldn’t have believed him if he put a twenty dollar bill in my hand and said, “That’s a twenty dollar bill.” I would have tossed the bill.

        But, the more I researched, the more I had to admit that LRH had made some amazing observations. So, very, very, very begrudgingly I began to shed both my biases and counter-biases.

        I’m not saying that I’m free of bias. I’m just saying that I work very hard to catch them and keep them out of my thinking.

        Now, one of the things I value is personal experience. What do you experience? What have you seen and felt and discovered? So, reading these blogs, I look for those things and kind of ignore quotes from LRH or opinions masquerading as fact. And one of the interesting things about LRH was how likable he was. And how much he cared about the well-being of others. Stories indicate he just radiated a regard and acceptance of who you were. He granted beingness. He wanted you to be strong and healthy.

        Sure, he was also full of bullshit and imagination and creativity. So? Fool me once….

        At work and in life, there are those who think I am a truly wonderful and caring being, and there are those who think I am the biggest asshole they’ve ever met. There are those who think I’m the most productive person around and those who think I’m the biggest goof-off they’ve every had to work with.

        So, who’s right?

        And I’m just an average guy.

        The point I’m getting at here is that critics have a bias. I’m not saying “how horrible!” I’m just saying that this bias must be understood in evaluating the critic’s position. What need is the critic filling in his life? You, Alanzo, seem to have a noble goal of helping others. So does Jeff. Some critics claim the nobility but wallow in negativity driven by truncated intelligence.

        But, you can’t dismiss the value that LRH has honestly brought to many, many lives. When you read Karen’s stuff, you can tell that she’s benefitted from Scientology. She worked with the guy, and truly admired him. Others, such as veritas and dozens of other posters are both very intelligent and speak of the benefits of Hubbard’s works. Let me say that again: INTELLIGENT! All caps!

        I’m a smart son of a bitch. But, I recognize that there are others on these blogs who can match me concept for concept, argument for argument.

        And that intelligence thrills me.

        Critics often marvel that Marty lets some of their posts through–but not others. Marty is keen on differentiation. If all a person has to offer is blah, blah, blah negativity, why bother? We’re all familiar with those arguments. It brings nothing new to the table. Reading all that’s posted is time-consuming enough. Someone has to edit.

        Of course, you could say the same for blah, blah, blah praise. I’m not overly fond of boot licking and tail wagging–propitiation is actually lower on the tone scale than covert hostility. Go figure.

        So back to what I was trying to say, I like a broad view that accounts for data on all sides, that takes into consideration every aspect of the subject at hand. It’s fine to be a supporter or a detractor. Just don’t dismiss the other side as having no basis for their position. LRH could be a fabulous guy; he came up with a system which has benefitted a lot of people. A system that has fulfilled the needs of a lot of people.

        He was also a bullshitter, and a lot of people who came into Scientology had their lives ruined by the experience. Their needs were crushed.

        Both of these contradictions are true and neither cancels the other. You can’t truthfully say that Scientology is evil and 100% harms those exposed to it any more than you can say Scientology is perfect and 100% helps all exposed to it. Evidence doesn’t support either position.

        Got to rush.


      • brendon permalink
        September 20, 2010 6:50 pm

        “To self-righteously claim ‘I don’t believe (fill in the blank) but if you want to believe it, go ahead.’ just screams ‘I’m right; you’re wrong.’ It’s a statement of bad faith. It’s a pretense of tolerance.”

        The far simpler explanation is that it is exactly what it purports to be. Tolerence.

        To make the leap to call it a “pretense” and that the person stating it is being “self-righteous” and making it in “bad faith” says a lot more about the person who concludes those things than it does the person making the statement.

      • September 20, 2010 10:19 pm

        I support you in being a critic of CoS and Scientology and Hubbard.
        Only there is only so much to be criticised. No more than some.

        Besides, if you think that people (who left or have never been in Scn) will never fall for anything similar, you are WRONG!
        Humans (95%) WILL find something to fall for.
        Scientology is not a final thing for believing as majority of mankind is concerned.

        Are you willing to spend your life helping humans become aware of cults/religions/ideologies?

        I’d rather suggest chicks. Ladies like smart people (like you). It gives them satisfaction (in itself). And of course, man can’t do without woman (since woman is the best satisfaction for man). LOL! 🙂

      • lunamoth permalink
        September 30, 2010 1:53 am

        Michael, that was freakin’ poetry.

        (Couldn’t match you for eloquence, so I went with spontaneous sincerity)


    • September 20, 2010 8:54 pm

      Michael, your post got me thinking. Thanks!

      You speak about “a need” as a key term.
      Let me take it deeper. How about an idea that *satisfying* the the key there?

      Needs are totally subjective. I need $500 a month (and happy with it) and one can’t do without $500,000 a day (and not be happy without it).

      A Need is very subjective. Any desire, wish, “Ican’t help but…”, a whim can become “a need!” in a person’s mind.

      Satisfaction is subjective, too… but! Once a peson has satisfied his need or “need”, he is satisfied. Truly and objectively.
      As an example, once one got the food he wanted, he’s not grudgy and angry anymore.

      You say that criticising Hubbard saisfies some people’s needs but is not the way to go.
      What if it’s not criticising Hubbard that satisfies people but restoring one’s own viewpoint toward own life and things in it?

      My post may seem stupid and irrelevant…
      Simplicity of what I wanted to say is this: life has never been about “survival”, “Infinite survival”, or “fullfilling the Needs”. It has always been about satisfactions, pleasures, good things in life… about such things that make you feel that you haven’t wasted your life-time dealing with a crap that has given you no satisfaction.

      Michael, perhaps (I believe) we think the same thoughts and there is no argument.
      I just feel that the word “satisfy” on your original post has taken a role of “accessory” while it should be the key word. 😉

      • September 20, 2010 9:39 pm


        1. “People would be happy with small things if they weren’t troubled with great ambitions” – (forgot the author)

        2. Michael: “Complaining and criticism require the expenditure of your resources”
        – Yes, that’s true. The criteria is “Has it been worth it? Did I get satisfactions and pleasure from spending these resources and time and efforts and…? ”

        3. Michael: “Complaining is a sunk cost. Complaining has severe opportunity costs”.
        – If complaining is personal and resembles whining, I agree. Otherwise, complaining looks to me as another way to right the wrong. It’s totally valid (as not satisfied customer is concerned). It’s like – “I paid you much for seeing and feeling myself as a Clear! I don’t feel myself as Clear. WTF?”

        People want satisfactions. Needs are made up along the way…
        Like in – last year I didn’t need a car. Few months ago I decided I *want* it. Now I *need* it.
        All sequence has started from nothing. Everything got bubbled up on a desire of satisfaction.

      • September 21, 2010 12:34 pm


        Actually, I’m talking about “need” as a driving force. You can imagine love as a driving force. Compassion. But, if you think of how need feels, it has a quality and definable feeling. This feeling can drive one’s behavior. The feeling may be powerful or rather vague. It can demand your attention to satisfy it or merely urge. Just what is needed is less important than that force being generated as need. And the need acts much as a terminal in a battery. It has a presence. It’s there. And it generates force of varying degree that motivates behavior.


  17. September 18, 2010 2:13 am

    Here’s a great list of cognitive biases, which are different from logical fallacies, on that huge SP encyclopedia of a website: Wikipedia!

    Cognitive Biases

    Here’s the article on logical fallacies on Wikipedia, too. Just for comparison:

    Logical Fallacies

  18. It's me again permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:36 pm

    Once upon a Time:

    “I’m not saying there’s nothing to criticize. I’m just saying that I have no need that sucks me into expending my resources in that direction. I have other needs. I have other things towards which I want to spend my time and attention. Things like growing as a being. Things like expanding my understanding and the understanding of others. And Scientology isn’t a big part of that.”

    I think you are correct. One problem I see is that Scientology was looked at has a way of life instead of the laws of life broken down in understandable terms for use in areas of one’s life when needed. A person needs to live on all Dynamics, even in the SO. Do do otherwise is not really living.

    I still say that the Policies of the Church are the problem and if what I have read on these sites over the last few months is correct, they are in conflict with the Technology. I, myself, find the Technology useful and see no outpoints with it. As for the Church and it’s Policies, I have no problem in walking away because they make no sense and are not useful.

    Life is for Living…….It really is a game. Use what is useful and throw out what is not. Lifetimes are very short. Dwelling on one’s losses to a point of obsession sucks the life out of people in my opinion.

    • TomatoTester permalink
      September 19, 2010 11:20 pm

      “Life is for Living…….It really is a game. Use what is useful and throw out what is not. Lifetimes are very short.”

      A very fine summary of life , that didn’t cost $350,000!

    • September 21, 2010 12:06 pm

      It’s Me Again,

      I agree. Scientology was just a bunch of philosophical tools to apply to life. Tools. But, too many allowed the subject to become cause over their lives and turn them into tools for the organization. Sad. Difference between being cause and effect of the subject.


  19. Sid permalink
    September 19, 2010 10:08 pm

    Some fantastic analysis and viewpoints being aired on this particular thread. Brendon and Michael – fascinating exchanges.

    It prompted me to add the following thoughts…

    As we all know, LRH was very insistent that he could be the only person to “own” and guide Dianetics and Scientology. He was very aggressive to anyone who thought they could improve on it, or wanted to vary it in any way.

    This despite the fact there were no actual studies conducted on the efficacy of his ideas – there was no peer review, no independent analysis, no control groups, no double-blind trials.

    Hubbard was supremely confident in his theories, and prone to exaggeration. He believed he knew best, despite little evidence to back it up. He tolerated no criticism, in fact he hated it. This “Standard Tech” attitude remains to this day, and seems to be the holy grail of Scientologists.

    In my opinion, this “I know best, anyone who questions me must have a hidden agenda” attitude of Hubbard is the root of all the problems in CoS today.

    Because of this attitude, he waged war on the “psychs” (not the other way around – psychiatrists merely asked Hubbard for evidence, and he was too embarrassed to say that had none).

    Because of this attitude, we have words like SPs, PTS, squirrels and disconnection. All designed to handle in some way those who didn’t agree 100%.

    But look at how science should be done.

    When a topic is open for debate, for review, for analysis, for trial, for evidence, we see improvement, we see development. If Hubbard really did discover something that could save mankind then what a tragedy it has been locked away for a privileged few. Jason Beghe made me laugh “clear the planet, we can’t clear Beverly Hills!”.

    Mankind did not get to the moon through private hunches, from great sounding theories which no-one was allowed to test. Man got to the moon by standing on the shoulders of hundreds of generations of men before them. Man could not have got to the moon when we did without Isaac Newton, even though his version of physics turned out to be flawed and was superseded (and he was an alchemist can you believe!?) Neil Armstrong stood on the moon, but he also stood atop a virtual pyramid of successive generations of genius’. If we make it to Mars, it will be because we first made it to the moon.

    Hubbard wanted to turn that pyramid upside down, he wanted everyone following only him. He wanted the power, the glory and many think, the money.

    Many of you are still trying to stand on the shoulders of Hubbard. If Scientology survives, will you be still trying to stand on his shoulders in 1,000 years? The fact you are reading this on the Internet tells me you like NEW technology. Is your car 60 years old? Is your phone 60 years old? Would you be happy if your Doctor told you she only used 60 year old medicinal theory?

    My advice? LRHtech.pdf, and let the world decide. If it turns out to have value, if it can be proved and tested then one day Hubbard will get the credit, and some credibility.

    Despite his failings Isaac Newton is revered, and known by all. He did not insist that anyone who believed his theories could not be allowed to develop them. Likewise Einstein, likewise every credible scientist in history. You could have had David Mayo working on Scientology, but instead you got David Miscavige.

    Hubbard coined a name for his beliefs that makes it sound as though it’s based on evidence, that sounds as though it was formed after extensive research. But it wasn’t. If you think it was, ask to see it.

    When a science is open for all to see, it’s a science. When it’s under the control of one man, it’s a cult. It’s true now, and it was true in 1963.

    • brendon permalink
      September 20, 2010 5:14 am


      Well said and a great comment in your own right.

      Funny, earlier today I posted something in Marty’s blog (“World Leaving Scientology Behind” thread) in response to someone who wondered why LRH wasn’t cited by other scientists (OK in this exact case the Mythbusters; but the issue is essentially the same.)

      I pointed out what strikes me as obvious: Hubbard didn’t do scientific research. He was at best a hobbyist.

      Now that doesn’t mean he was wrong. But Scientology will never have the credibility it thinks it deserves unless it subjects itself to the kind of scrutiny as you suggest. I doubt that will ever happen (and you can readily imagine why I think that).

      Whether the body of work can expand and grow is the million dollar question. Marty’s route seems to be about rediscovering “pure LRH unadulterated by DM.” That strikes me as only having limited potential — though certainly more than the formal COS seems to have anymore. In a way it is about moving backward rather than forward, with I believe appeal only to already disaffected Scientologists. While Marty might think “pure LRH Scientology” will create such great successes that people will flock to Independent Scientology, I think they are going to have to do a lot better to attract future generations of new members.

      The fact that Marty allows rather diverse discussion is an interesting sign; it has potential for a Scientology that evolves. (I give him a lot of credit for what he does allow on his blog rather than his occasional censorship; he and Mike’s civil chat with Behar was unbelieveable.)

    • September 21, 2010 12:26 pm


      Been meaning to get to your comment, but I have to set a timer so as not to get sucked into this stuff.
      Love what you have to say.
      One thing that I’ve noticed is the tendency to want to turn Scientology into a science, to subject the material to scientific rigor. But, Scientology is not a science. Never will be. It is an applied philosophy. We can just set the idea of a religion aside. Much of it is empirical. You observe what you observe.
      Things like ARC, KRC, S-C-S, Theta-Mind-Body, the data series, the logics all have application. Even auditing has application. You get someone to look at their life and mind and thought and come to understanding. The end phenomenon of auditing boils down to understanding. When a person suddenly understands what they once did not they usually will have good indicators and a floating needle. So having someone help you come to understand various aspects of your life is a good thing.
      The bad thing is the scam. The exaggerations. The demands. The cheating and the lies. The business aspect of Scientology is corrupt. A group that provides an honest service should be able to make a living doing it. But, the key is honest service.

      Lots of business run scams. WalMart did a bait and switch. Used to be pro-American worker, then got big enough to say , “fuck you, America.” Wal-Mart turned itself into an abusive cult of sorts. But they do sell things cheaply and the customers aren’t screwed over. General Motors set in motion planned obsolescence. They purposely built cars that wouldn’t last so they could sell more vehicles. And that model worked pretty good until the Japanese started building cars that would last. Still, I would love to have some of those old Chevies from the fifties and sixties.

      Just because a business is running a scam doesn’t mean they don’t also offer a viable product. The major problem comes from not providing the product with sustainable quality. Screwing the customer too much. Hell, if you look at ads for children’s toys you’ll immediately see what a scam these businesses are running. They toys don’t do what the commercials imply. But, the kids still like the toys.

      If you look at all the offshoots of Scientology, you’ll find that some are just plain silly and ridiculous. But, the market place will handle that. So what if someone takes your idea and tries to make a buck off it. If they make a better product, then you’re forced to improve your quality.

      Monopolies aren’t forced to improve quality. Monopolies can fuck you royally without consequence. What are you going to do? Where are you going to go?

      If Scientology could produce actual clears and OTs as defined by Hubbard, then I would say he was correct in wanting to control the subject. But it didn’t produce them. It produced a lot of gains for a lot of individuals. I am very happy with what I learned in the subject and what I got out of it. But, I sure would like to have those OT powers as promised.

      So, as good as his research (applied philosophical research, not scientific research) might have been, there is more work to be done.


  20. September 20, 2010 3:56 am

    Here’s another great cognitive bias to think about – the Confirmation Bias.

    The Confirmation Bias

    The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

    The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.

    • brendon permalink
      September 20, 2010 5:16 am

      Alanzo –

      SO TRUE!

  21. September 21, 2010 1:42 am


    “The far simpler explanation is that it is exactly what it purports to be. Tolerence.
    To make the leap to call it a “pretense” and that the person stating it is being “self-righteous” and making it in “bad faith” says a lot more about the person who concludes those things than it does the person making the statement.”

    An interesting definition I found in a cognitive psychology class was “perception is assignment of meaning.” The more I look, the more I think this is probably true.

    With that in mind, of course what a person perceives always says more about him than the object observed. In other words, the conclusions reflect back on the concluder and his storehouse of meanings. Hopefully, those meanings stem from experience and observation, from personal examination and evaluation, rather than some pat answer provided by another.

    It’s always interesting to watch what a person does with data, what that person does with an argument or discussion. Does the person try to learn? Does the person shift around and pretend to know? Is winning the argument more important than learning something? Will the person change his mind and admit a flaw?

    Will the person be logical or use logical fallacies? What does that person do with the attention of others? Will he keep attention on the subject or will he try to introvert? Will ad hominen creep in? Hubbard was a master at turning the tables and driving a person’s attention inward. It’s the old, “If you don’t agree with me, you’ve got overts” bit of nonsense.

    I don’t know this person named Brendon. Never met him. Have to rely on word choices, logical devices, direction of attention, lots of subtle shifts. What’s he doing with what he says? Seems to be an intelligent enough guy. And I assume it’s a guy. Don’t know. Find the person kind of interesting. A study in truncated intelligence. It’s like a highway that suddenly stops because of construction barriers.

    But then again, we’ve all got construction barriers, so that’s not such a bad thing. Construction is a pain in the ass, but if it’s done right, we marvel at the results. Trouble is, what happens when the construction just stops, when year after year you run into the same dead ends? And the whole thing just becomes an eyesore.

    So, I don’t know Brendon. I’ve known hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. I’ve spent a lifetime observing what people do and what they say. I’ve had thousands and thousands of discussions, again observing not only the subjects under discussion but the methods the players use to discuss. So I see familiar patterns in Brendon’s stuff.

    One of the concepts that runs through Scientology is scales: infinity valued logic. Another parallel concept is estimation of effort. So you get someone doing something and you understand that it isn’t an absolute. A person can be disingenuous, but making an honest mistake. Or a person can be very calculating with how they mislead others. The intent can be degrees of harmful or degrees of beneficial. Or a mix of the two, again with degrees of each complicating the outcome.

    In dealing with myself and others, I realize simplicity rules in the end, but that simplicity is often fraught with mind-boggling complexity. What is simple to one may well be incomprehensibly complex to another. Take science and math. There are individuals who can take twenty-four hours of hard science and math per semester and breeze through with plenty of time for fucking off. And there are those who couldn’t understand the subject if they spent ten years on one class.

    You can pick any element and claim, “this is sure simple.” Take the concept of quanta, those irreducible bits of measurable physical crap. Pretty simple. Got it all reduced down to that little amount that can be counted. Easy as 1,2,3. But how does this stuff interact? What causes and forces are at work? Does the observer influence the outcome, effect what occurs? Does this shit exist at all without an observer? So, the simplicity becomes a complexity.

    And “a far simpler explanation is exactly what it purports to be” suddenly is not so simple. Does Brendon have perfect knowledge of self and others? Then the explanation is simple because it perfectly duplicates his intent and his communication.

    But both of us realize that Brendon does not have perfect knowledge. Neither does Jeff. Neither does Marty. Neither do I. We’re all somewhere either doing our best to learn or doing our best to pretend to others we know more than we really do. Or any combination of things for which I lack time to explain.

    In Zen, a student asks a question and the master throws him out the window. I don’t mind getting smacked around if it leads to greater understanding. I could care less about winning an argument or coming out on top. All that shit’s temporary and illusory. What drives me is learning, finding the truth in those little increments.

    And all this goes back to criticism. And sunk costs. What will we come to understand? What will we learn? What changes will we make that benefit the world? Criticism designed for dancing around the fire in celebration of one’s own superiority just falls short of my definition of useful criticism.

    Of course, I fall short of a lot of my definitions of what is optimum. But, I don’t give a fuck. Building roads is messy work. And I’m often covered in dust and debris.


    • brendon permalink
      September 21, 2010 7:41 pm

      Last time I checked, this blog wasn’t titled “Understanding Brendon.”

      • September 21, 2010 8:15 pm

        Only a numbskull doesn’t try to understand the source of a communication.
        Of course, that’s a generalization, but still a handy guide. Who said it and why? Motive and intent.
        Part and parcel to participating in any blog or any informational exchange is understanding the source of the comment/information.
        Part of informational analysis. Words never just speak for themselves. Someone has to speak them. Or write them.
        So understanding how a person formulates his thoughts and why puts you ahead of the game. The words don’t control your perspective. Or response.

  22. It's me again permalink
    September 22, 2010 11:03 pm

    OK Michael,

    You made my day! When I first came to this site and read your comments, I use to spin a little. Couldn’t quite figure you out. Now I get you and I find your thoughts very interesting and sane.


  1. Mind Control – The Sunk Cost Bias | Mind Control 101

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