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Quoting vs. Thinking

March 9, 2011

The Church of Scientology encourages people to quote L. Ron Hubbard at every possible opportunity. They would rather you quote LRH than give some thought or opinion of your own.

When I was in Scientology, I became really good at this. I was responsible for writing scripts, speeches, magazines and promotional copy. And of course these had to be peppered with “As LRH says…” and “According to LRH” and so on. I was an OEC/FEBC grad, had studied most Policy, and many HCOBs and lectures.  I got so I could find just the right quote in minutes.

Cramming Officers got good at this too – being able to pull just the right reference or quote out of a hat. Managers too, had to reference the right Policy for every action they recommended, so they got good at finding and supplying the exact right quote at the right time.


But don’t mistake it for thinking.

After I left the Church, I found myself in the interesting position of having to think about things. My new friends and co-workers didn’t care what L. Ron Hubbard thought. They wanted to know what I thought. So I had to think about things. And I started reading. I got curious about what other people thought – philosophers, thinkers, just ordinary people. I felt like my own rusty thinking mechanisms were starting to slowly turn. I couldn’t just quote. I had to think.

It’s a hard habit to break. Some people still have the quoting habit years after they’ve left the Church. In fact, you sometimes see conversations on some of the Independent Scientology blogs that go like this:

Bob: This whole situation is explained by HCOB ____, where LRH says…

Frank: Excellent quote, Bob. It reminds me of the lecture where LRH says…

Bob: Spot on Frank. And remember that in the Policy Letter of ____, he also said…

Frank: Great find, Bob. And he also said…

And this goes on and on. Really, this is what passes for conversation with some people.

Sure, it’s fine to quote people. It’s fine to pass articles and quotes you like to your friends. But how about giving it a break and quoting someone else? Like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln or Kurt Vonnegut or John Stewart? Or how about not quoting anyone, just writing what you think and feel. How about just writing your opinion without having to reference anyone?

And for those who don’t think there is anything wrong with the above conversation, let me run it past you again in a slightly different version:

Bob: This whole situation is explained by Reverend Moon in his lecture where he says…

Frank: Excellent quote, Bob. It reminds me of the lecture where Father Moon says…

Bob: Spot on Frank. And remember that in his book, Father Moon also said…

Frank: Great find, Bob. And Reverend Moon also said…

Creepy, right? Cult-like even?

But it’s a habit you can break.

When someone asks for your opinion, give your opinion.

And when that perfect LRH quote pops into your mind, ask yourself ,“do I agree with this? What are my own opinions? How do my opinions differ from Hubbard’s? What do I have to say? What do I have to contribute to the discussion?”

It’s fine to quote others. But it’s not thinking.


The Transcendental Future

March 2, 2011

Reading an interesting book: The Time Paradox by Phillip Zimbardo and John Boyd.  It’s an in-depth examination of how our attitudes towards time – past, present and future – affect how we live our lives. It is a worthwhile read. Doesn’t have much to do with our discussion of the Church of Scientology – however…

I was reading a chapter on something called the transcendental future. Simply put, it has to do with people’s beliefs about what will happen to them and the world after they die. For instance, Christians believe they will go to Heaven if they are good, devout, and pious. So this affects how they live their lives.  Transcendent futures are usually unprovable, often improbable. But they are believed, and that is what matters. And no one reports back as to whether it’s really true or not.

Belief in a transcendental future can have both good and evil results.  Certainly, the Christian belief in an afterlife has inspired great works of art and architecture, great acts of charity and compassion and courage.

But a transcendental future can also be used to manipulate people.  “If you contribute money to the Church, you’ll go to heaven,” and so forth.

The most notorious example is suicide bombers. Most people think that they are either crazy or ignorant. No, they have been convinced that if they detonate themselves, before the first drop of their martyr blood hits the ground, they will be seated at the right hand of Allah. And they will have secured a place there for their entire family. Powerful imagery. Powerful motivation.

People’s Temple, Heaven’s Gate, Solar Temple, Kamikaze pilots, Christian martyrs – people can literally be convinced to off themselves for a transcendental future.

But short of suicide, people can be convinced to endure hardship, crushing poverty and degradation, oppression, exorbitant tithing, enormous self-sacrifice, all for the sake of their transcendent future.

Scientology, of course, has its own version of “transcendental future.”

Scientologists believe that somehow, somewhere in the future, they will achieve complete freedom and ability as a spiritual being.  The Church uses this endlessly – talking about “your Eternity.” If you continue in the Church and do what they say, and continue your “Bridge progress,” and make the sacrifices they demand, then somewhere up the line, somewhere in a vague future time, your “Eternity” will be secured.  Reminds me of the Tom Cruise bit in the Knight and Day trailer: “With us, your survival will be up here; without us, down here. With us, here – without us, here. With us – without us.”

Add to this, particularly for staff and Sea Org members, “a Cleared Planet.” People will endure a lot of sleepless nights, long hours, arduous work, poverty, threats and even abuse if they buy the dream.

And Scientologists don’t want to give this up. Even Scientologists who have given up on the Bridge still sadly talk about “going OT next lifetime.” One of the worst, most unforgivable things you can do to a Scientologist is to challenge that transcendental future in any way. They cling to it desperately.

And that’s a key reason they don’t listen to you. Oh, they’re listening all right, but they block out anything that challenges that transcendental future. They carefully remember and hoard any gains or wins they have had, and stack them up as proof that the transcendental future is real. They forget the losses, the failures. They don’t listen to naysayers. They carefully block out any contrary information from the Church itself, and invent reasons why the Church actions and announcements are “OK’ and “make sense.”

They strive to convince themselves that they and their fellow Scientologists and OTs really are superior, that they really do have spiritual ability no one else has, that their lives are not as mundane and confused and ordinary as everyone else’s. They shut out any reports of OTs committing criminal acts, going crazy or even committing suicide, or explain it all away. They try to convince themselves that contributing to Ideal Orgs really does move us closer to a Clear Planet. They try to convince themselves that Scientology really is expanding, and shut out anything they actually observe to the contrary. Like the number of Clears actually being produced. Or the total Clears since 1950.

Because to doubt the transcendental future is to doubt all the self sacrifice, all the time spent, all the money spent, the fractured families, the abuse.

And this is why the Church hammers you about “your Eternity.” While doing nothing to deliver any real spiritual ability to anyone or take any actions that would make even the slightest concrete progress towards a “Clear Planet.”

Because they know the power of a transcendental future.

External Influences

February 28, 2011

I’m always fascinated by the Church of Scientology’s obsession with “external influences.” At the Int Base, any “bad attitude,” doubt or criticism was always blamed on some “eternal influence,” whether a family member, friend, news story or whatever. One had to be constantly on guard against these insidious, evil  external  influences.

In a broad, non-Scientology sense, an “external influence” would be anything outside of yourself that could influence your opinions or attitudes. Family, friends, TV programs, newspapers, internet sites, political or social groups and, yes, religious groups, could all be considered to act as “external influences” on a person.

So what the Church is really saying is “we want to be your only external influence.” “We want to be the only ones who influence your opinions or viewpoints.”

In other words, they want to isolate you.  In fact, one of the definitions of “isolate” in the American Heritage dictionary is “to render free of external influence.”


As Eric Hoffer points out in his book, The True Believer, “All active mass movements strive…to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth or certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ…To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy and treason.”

Steven Hassan says in Combatting Cult Mind Control:

“Information is the fuel we use to keep our minds working properly, Deny a person the information he requires to make sound judgments, and he will be incapable of doing so. People are trapped in destructive cults because they are not only denied access to critical information but also lack the properly functioning internal mechanisms to process it.”

He adds: “Most importantly, people are told to avoid contact with ex-members or critics. Those who could provide the most information are the ones to be especially shunned.”

Two things to remember:

1. If someone is trying to isolate you from certain sources of information, they are trying to control your information.

2. Information control is mind control.

The Monkey Master

February 24, 2011

I ran across the following fable in a book by Gene Sharp, called From Dictatorship to Democracy (available as a free download here).

Sharp, Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle, which have influenced numerous anti-government resistance movements around the world. Known as the  “Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare,” Sharp  has influenced resistance organizations around the world, most recently the protest movement that toppled President Mubarak of Egypt as well as the movements in Tunisia and Libya. This fable, a Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji, offers insight into the nature of political power.

In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master).

Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.

One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.” The small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?”

Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.

On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.

Yu-li-zi says, “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”

The lesson is clear: dictators only rule because we allow them to rule. Dictators require our assistance to maintain their power.  We go along with dictatorships because we believe, for whatever reason, that their authority is legitimate, and that we have a moral or ethical duty to support them. Some obey them because of fear of punishment, imprisonment, exile or even death.

“On the other hand,” Sharp points out, “withdrawal of popular and institutional cooperation with aggressors and dictators diminishes, and may sever, the availability of the sources of power on which all rulers depend. Without availability of those sources, the rulers’ power weakens and finally dissolves…Over time, the withholding of the sources of power can produce the paralysis and the paralysis and impotence of the regime, and in severe cases, its disintegration.”

So, Scientologists, ask yourselves, what do you really need your monkey master for?

Actress Karla Zamudio Quits Church of Scientology

February 22, 2011

The following press release appeared on one of the free press release sites:

Karla Zamudio Joins Jason Beghe, Paul Haggis and Other Notables in Departing Scientology

Actress Karla Zamudio joins Jason Beghe and director Paul Haggis in publicly departing the controversial Church of Scientology.

Los Angeles, CA, February 21, 2011 – Karla Zamudio, an actress, who has appeared in many TV shows including, General Hospital, ER, and Lincoln Heights, has announced her resignation from Scientology after 17 years. Ms. Zamudio’s spokesperson states “Karla left Scientology because she felt that the organization had become overbearing and actually interfered with her personal life, career, and spiritual growth.” Ms. Zamudio’s spokesperson further added “for Karla, Scientology had become more about profit and recruiting new members than helping people. Karla was also deeply disturbed to learn that several of her personal friends who previously worked for Scientology had been mentally and physically abused by the organization.” According to a recent article in the New Yorker, Scientology is now under investigation by the FBI.

According to posters at ESMB, Karla was in the Dianetics DVD released last year and was in the tech film TR-16: Ultimate Beingness. Damn! More reshoots!

As I said before, “Out is the new In.”

Reality Check

February 21, 2011

A poster at ESMB, “dianaclass8,” wrote about the latest issue of Flag’s Source Magazine, Issue 213, which she just received in the mail. Interestingly, their completions are listed as follows:

Clears – 5
OT 1s – 1
OT 2s – 2
OT 3s – 1
OT 4s – 5
OT 5s – 7
Class 5 grad auditor course completions – 3
Class 5 grad auditor internship completions – 1
Class 8 auditor course completions – 1

Source Magazine comes out six times a year, so this represents two months stats, eight weeks.  Impressive, eh? Seems like every time someone slips up and gives actual stats, it gives the lie to their “unprecedented expansion” claims.

Here’s my prediction: Look for the Church to stop printing their completion lists in their magazines. There, that handles it.

Just like they stopped printing org and mission address lists in the magazines and books. It used to be you could look on the back page of the Auditor Magazine and see a complete list of orgs. And you used to be able to look in the back of any book and see a complete list of orgs and missions. Well, you can’t do that anymore.  They don’t even list them on their websites. You have to go to their handy-dandy “org locator” to find an address. Why? It’s obvious. They have claimed “over 8000 orgs, missions and groups.”  If they actually published address lists, anyone could see the lie. As it is, you have to laboriously go through their “org locator” to discover that there are fewer orgs today than there were ten years ago.

Same reason they don’t show stats at events any more. Remember, they used to show actual stats? With actual numbers and dates on them?  Not any more. Now they just talk about “unprecedented expansion.” And if they do mention any stats, it’s things like “square feet of renovated space,” or “Ideal Org fundraising,” or “number of books printed,” or “number of trees chopped down to make all of our promotion.”

Why? Well, if they showed the actual stats, things like Clears made, auditors made,  Releases made, they would get ridden out of town on a rail. Because then anyone, even the most self-blinded Scientology true believer, could see that the Church is failing, that all of this “unprecedented expansion” is a lie.

So the Church continues with more and more elaborate events, more and more empty “Ideal Org” shells, more and more claims of huge expansion.

As every magician knows, one key to fooling the audience is misdirection. Put their attention on something else, so they don’t see your deception. “Look over here! Shiny! Shiny!”  Look at this nice event backdrop. The big podium. Miscavige’s $5000.00 Italian suit.  Another posh building façade.  Look! Look! Look!

Everywhere but at the actual statistics.

Five Clears in eight weeks? Great, at that rate, they’ll Clear everyone in Clearwater in the next three thousand years.

Wake up, people. All that “unprecedented expansion” doesn’t exist.  No matter how many shiny distractions they wave in your face.

Think Out Loud – OPB

February 14, 2011

I was on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud program with Emily Harris this morning. Interesting program.  You can download the program or stream it here.

Here’s the comment I posted to the OPB website:

The Church of Scientology did their standard boilerplate handling for whistleblowers or critics: deny everything; attack the critics personally.

Their lame attack on me is to say I am associated with or running with or even leading Anonymous, which they brand as a “terrorist organization.”

I was able to read the following reference on the air, which is from Hubbard’s Church Policy Letter of 17 February 1966, “Public Investigation Section”:

“Associating the attacking group’s activities with reprehensible groups in the past by using familiar descriptive words will be found very effective. For example, if the word “white” has been made hateful to the public by some past criminal group we use “white” in our descriptive terminology concerning the group that is attacking us…”

They’ve chosen to use the word “terrorist” to associate with me. “See? He pals around with terrorists. Therefore he’s a terrorist.”

Anonymous, of course, is the loose term used to describe the community of online activists who oppose internet censorship. It is not “an organization” as such. They have no leaders, no meetings, no structure. Factually, anyone who does anything anonymously on the internet can call themselves “Anonymous.”  And any authoritarian regime that wants to censor the flow of information on the internet and keep their own misdeeds secret hates “Anonymous,” of course, whether that is Mubarak’s government in Egypt or the Church of Scientology.

My entire connection with Anonymous is that I showed up at one of their protests at the local Portland Church of Scientology. The Church’s intelligence arm, OSA, photographed me from all angles and then concocted their story to try to smear me by association.That five minute chat with peaceful, law-abiding protesters then became, with the Church spin, “palling around with terrorists.”

It’s the standard Church handling. Deny everything. Attack the critics personally. Try to discredit them with negative buzzwords, implied associations and vague allegations.

Rather than attacking their critics, Scientologists should be looking for ways to reform their church and cease the abuses of human rights.


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