I am not a scientologist.
Let’s begin there.
I have never given money to the Church of Scientology, nor do I intend to.
I can believe that a second-rate science fiction writer with a checkered past could come up with something useful. L. Ron Hubbard was plainly a smart man. I can imagine a 1950’s engineering type with a can-do attitude deciding to treat consciousness as a machine and working out something good. Perhaps a simple Wheatstone bridge really can be used as a debugging tool for the mind – why not?
I have read every insider scrap of information I could find with an open heart and mind. I’ve downloaded torrents from the internet of pirated documents, though (surprisingly!) little is available. I can find first-run movies more easily than, say, a copy of Dianetics.
Much of what I have read is compelling and intriguing. I don’t entirely understand it – because I don’t wish to spend the time or money involved to learn – but passages remind me of garbage-collection algorithms one might learn in LISP class. Other parts seem to contain instructions for living, simple ways to identify and improve little things in your life. I find myself reminded of things I’ve read in my daily life, or using the jargon, words like ‘enturbulated’, “ARC breaks” because they seem to describe things that have no other word.
I’ve even read the OTIII materials – out of respect for Scientologists who may, somehow, read this blog, I shan’t repeat their contents. Ummm, but I didn’t get pneumonia or nothin’. The story told is, perhaps, absurd – but I grew up on science fiction, such a tale rings more true to me than a man nailed to a tree. Perhaps it’s meant as a metaphor, or perhaps Scientology works by brainwashing its followers to believe, in a sense, that the map is the territory; that a useful story is literally true. The tales of clams and gorillas may have value just as the parable of the mustard seed. Perhaps it is all literally true – why not? The very advanced readings remind me of The Matrix, and aren’t entirely at odds with modern theories of cosmology.
I have not currently decided one way or the other if Scientology is bullshit or not.
I have come to deeply question the psychological establishment. A guy in the late 1800’s writes a book claiming that every man wants to have sex with his mother, and the whole world suddenly says “hey, yeah, that sounds about right!” Today the psychological community, in conjunction with big Pharma, has tremendous sway – the right to lock people up against their will, pump them full of drugs – and half a lifetime ago, even scramble people’s brains with an icepick on a fine thursday afternoon in the doctor’s office. Psychologists are now the government-appointed acolytes of emotion, dispatched in squads to school shootings and disaster sites, scribbling prescriptions for Prozac as fast as their brave new fingers can move. Perhaps Scientologists are doing the right thing by sending out their own disaster squads?
It seems clear from the preponderance of evidence that Scientology is responsible for the death of Lisa McPherson, perhaps others. How many die in psychiatric hospitals every day? It’s not uncommon at all. The more I learn of the practice of psychiatry, the more their fervor against it seems sensible – even compassionate. However, many of the alleged Scientology deaths are suicides – when a jew, a muslim, or a christian commits suicide, is their faith blamed? Perhaps. Catholics still manage to kill off a few possessed people in exorcisms. Shit happens.
There is certainly something wrong with the Church of Scientology, as an entity distinct from what followers call “the tech.” However, most of this wrongness seems to stem from attitudes forged in Hubbard-era notions of intellectual property. The Church’s tactic of charging for services is a quite reasonable choice for a viral jacket to coat the meme of the Tech. It ensures the stability and long term survival of the organization and its ability to distribute the – ahem – holy texts. I could compare this quite favorably to the Catholic church’s long-standing proscription against birth control; in the long term, more believers are produced. (I have a friend who lives across the street from your celebrity center, with pre-clears in constant bicycle orbit around it… creepy, but I can’t help but be reminded of the Swiss Guard keeping the popes safe)
This was a brilliant tactic in the 16th century. It doesn’t make much sense anymore, but the church sticks with it. Scientology’s tactic – protect the meme with money and manipulation – was a brilliant tactic in the 1950’s. It doesn’t make much sense anymore.
Scientology needs to open the tech. Please, if it is truly worth something, share it with the world. Perhaps you’re right, that once one is open to it, reading the wrong things too fast can harm you – so just release the first part. Release Dianetics and other books to creative commons – this will ensure its survival in today’s world far better than titanium vaults. The copyright is going to expire eventually anyway – hm, though not if Disney has anything to say about it… The E-meter patents have already long expired. The Gideons seem to do OK. Software companies have shown that you can open source your technology and still make money – the church can certainly still charge for auditing services, for paper copies of the material, for classroom instruction, plasticine clay, jewelry, DVD’s and the like – and surely your believers might prefer to review their materials on a ebook reader such as Amazon’s Kindle? Save the trees for Ron’s sake!
And now, to Anonymous. I am with you in spirit, but I cannot in good faith join you. I applaud your collectively conscious flash mobbery, I cheer for the success of a truly twenty-first century movement. But I can’t help but wonder who is pulling your strings… Are you, perhaps, a creation of Scientology itself, drawing more publicity to the church – perhaps CoS itself wants to become a private corporation? Are you driven by the squirrels – a term I use affectionately, as I think they’re fighting the good fight – true LRH followers with an axe to grind and wish to take down the org?
Or are you just (brilliant!) memehackers out for a joyride? If so, you’re bullies, picking on a silly target that is easy to deride and has little meaning. Or are you part of some larger conspiracy? I sneer, ordinarily, at such theories; man really did land on the moon, Oswald really shot JFK, and 9/11 was really the work of a dozen fanatics funded by other fanatics, not a diabolical creation of Dick Cheney. However, Anonymous, you are by definition a conspiracy. Putting the IRS against Scientology? There are quite a few conspiracy theorists and presidential candidates who have some interesting things to say about that arm of the government, not to mention the Federal Reserve. What’s really driving you? Perhaps someone wants to balance the budget by sucking money out of a big organization?
I am disturbed that I cannot find a single intelligent argument against the faith and teachings of Scientology. Digg and YouTube are awash with childish responses, full of boorish sentiment and third-grade spelling, “What idiots they believe XYZ,” “Tom Cruise is a retard.” I’ve watched the video of Mr Cruise – critics refer to him as crazy, but he looks to me like an enthusiastic, passionate person – what Scientologists refer to as “high tone.” Since when is happiness supposed to be bad? Perhaps since the psychiatric community has us so focused on dysfunction that we hardly recognize function when we see it.
I’ve read reports from outsiders who have left. Many still seem to respect the tech, while cursing the church. Others seem to have not “gotten it” – and oddly, I find their writing to be, umm, not indicative of a particularly intelligent author. I suspect that the training isn’t that expensive and doesn’t take that long if you’re intelligent – but if you’re stupid… You might get your bank account cleaned out. That’ll give you a cognition eventually!
That there are a lot of things that don’t add up, on both sides of the equation. I don’t think Anonymous will have much affect on the church, but I won’t be surprised if I’m very wrong about that. I suspect that David Misgavige will be forced to step down, like other religious leaders whose hypocrisy is exposed… except that no one has accused him of any real hypocrisy – after all, his religious beliefs don’t include abstention from sex or pork – what has he done wrong, precisely, aside from run a successful organization? I mean, it’s not like anyone has caught him with a gay hooker and a bag of meth, and the gay hooker wouldn’t even be (strongly) against the beliefs of the church.
But why has the church not responded in an open, intelligent manner? Where are the counter-videos? Are the followers so isolated from the outside world that they are truly unaware anything is going on? Where are the pro-scientology blogs? Where is any information that doesn’t read as a sales pitch guiding one down an endless hall of mirrors towards an egress forever out of reach? I can’t throw a stone without hitting an evangelical in the USA, just dying to tell me all about jeee-zuz, and they don’t really hit me up for money.
Scientology, open the Tech. Release it to the world. A classmate refused to loan me Dianetics over twenty years ago, insisting that I pay him for it – and thus, I never read it. Make Dianetics a free downloadable PDF, and I will read it, and I expect many others will, too. With my own free will I can decide if I wish to continue, and find out for myself if, as you say, what’s true for me is true.
Anonymous, leave them the fuck alone. Go after a real target, the republicans, the democrats, the lawyers, the miltary-industrial-pharmacological complex. If you must go after Scientology… well, why don’t YOU open the tech? That’s the biggest thing that makes me wonder if you’re working for them. Forget the secret documents scraped from a German trial, why not just go buy a copy of Dianetics, scan it, and put out a torrent? Perhaps steal some of the other documents, the videos, the audiobooks. That would be some damage, and would take less effort than a mass protest. Are you working for them – or are you afraid that if people like me read it… it might make sense?
Here’s looking at the back of your head…