Marc Fisher The Cult of Scientology


Researched and prepared by Marc Fisher, February 26, 2001
© Marc Fisher, 2001

Also see: A reader complains, and Marc replies


Introduction

In the course of discussions with a Compuserve Religion Forum Scientologist, the subject of the cult of Scientology has come up. It is my contention that Scientology conforms to all the standard criteria to qualify as a "Cult": that is, focus on a central charismatic leader (Hubbard); brainwashing/psychological control of members and suppression of dissent through intimidation, slander, or legal threats. Cults also typically foster outlandish, irrational ideas (Heaven's Gate, Branch Davidians).

I was challenged to provide substantial support for my contention. I was astounded to discover that such support is VERY easy to find around the internet from a wide variety of sources. And, furthermore, that the evidence and testimony provided are in such immense volume as to prohibit full quotation here due to CIS' message limitations. Therefore I offer illuminating excerpts and some distillation of the conclusions, but also a number of web URLs so you, the casual reader, can educate yourself on this insidious, dangerous modern junk science cult. I apologize in advance for the length of this, but I could not in good conscience do less. The full extent of the case against Scientology deserves nothing less.

I will try to limit this start-off to four posts, divided roughly into this one (Intro), one on L. Ron Hubbard himself, another on the "Science" and phony philosophy of Scientology, and lastly on the many legal difficulties encountered by Scientology. After that, it is entirely up to you to make your own mind up.

I fully expect our forum Scientologist to do her usual bargaining with the truth. I'm sure she will question the credibility of the sources -- fair enough, but we're not just talking about a few ex-cult members here. We're also talking about official government documents, newspaper accounts, the opinions of scientists and psychologists AND the court decisions themselves which have invariably found the ideas of Scientology to be both dangerous and wrong. And frankly, I don't really care how she chooses to debate the validity of the evidence. There's enough of it to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that Scientology's claims to be based on "science" are nothing short of laughable.

Hubbard's book, Dianetics

Some key sources to start off with :

  • Jeff Jacobsen has written possibly one of the most comprehensive indictments of L. Ron Hubbard and his phony-baloney Scientology religion at http://www.factnet.org/Scientology/lrhbare.htm ("The Hubbard is Bare"), and even he admits that his voluminous work does not begin to scratch the surface on this junk science theology:

    "I would submit that our goal should be not just feeling good but also learning about and learning how to live in the Real World. There is a Real World that we all share (except, perhaps, for lobotomized drunks). In this world, both of us will die if hit by a bus doing about 60 mph, even if one of us thinks that by positing a world where he survives such an encounter that he thereby will survive. In this world, neither of us can control street lights just by our will so they will turn green before we get to the intersection. And in this world, Scientology takes you away from the common sense and actuality of the Real World by taking you to a Fake World where you sacrifice reality for a sense of belonging and well-being."

    Operation Clambake - exposing Scientology!

  • From "Operation Clam Bake", another exceptional anti-scientology website at http://www.xenu.net/,

    "Scientology is a vicious and dangerous cult that masquerades as a religion. Its purpose is to make money. It practices a variety of mind-control techniques on people lured into its midst to gain control over their money and their lives. Its aim is to take from them every penny that they have and can ever borrow and to also enslave them to further its wicked ends."

  • Another good source for information: http://www.scientology-lies.com/

  • "Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious...It is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit" - Justice Latey, ruling in the High Court of London

  • "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power": http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/time-behar.html

  • Testimony of supporters and critics of Scientology: http://home.snafu.de/tilman/mystory/

  • "The Scandal of Scientology" by Paulette Cooper: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/cooper-scandal.txt

  • From Factnet ( http://www.factnet.org/ ):
      "We have just expanded the largest on-line archive in the world of the dirty secrets of Scientology Dianetics and L Ron Hubbard, (now about 50 megabytes). Before you believe ANY claim made by Scientology, Dianetics ... or L Ron Hubbard carefully review these materials and link resources. Scientology has tried everything to block your access to them. They even tried to shut us down with a raid. These free materials have saved the lives, careers or resorces of tens of thousands of individuals and/or their families and friends. 2/20/01"

    From http://www.demon.co.uk/castle/audit/ ("Scientology Audited"), another exceptional site which offers VERY extensive documented references for the case against Scientology (possibly the best that I found, though it focuses chiefly on England and Australia)

  • [Excerpt from the conclusion of The Anderson Report: Report of the Board of Enquiry into Scientology, Published 1965 by the State of Victoria, Australia ]

    "If there should be detected in this Report a note of unrelieved denunciation of scientology, it is because the evidence has shown its theories to be fantastic and impossible, its principles perverted and ill-founded, and its techniques debased and harmful. Scientology is a delusional belief system, based on fiction and fallacies and propagated by falsehood and deception. While making an appeal to the public as a worthy system whereby ability, intelligence and personality may be improved, it employs techniques which further its real purpose of securing domination over and mental enslavement of its adherents. It involves the administration by persons without any training in medicine or psychology of quasi-psychological treatment, which is harmful medically, morally and socially. Its founder, with the merest smattering of knowledge in various sciences, has built upon the scintilla of his learning a crazy and dangerous edifice. The HASI claims to be "the world's largest mental health organization". What it really is however, is the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy. "

    Part 2: L. Ron Hubbard

    Even a cursory review of Mr. Hubbard's claims concerning himself would suggest a very egocentric, grandiose personality -- he is worshipped by his followers as a man of genius and vision when in fact, he was a pathological liar and a snakeoil salesman.

    From http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/atack-freedom-trap.htmlL. Ron Hubbard

    "The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile."
    -California Superior Court Judge Breckenridge, speaking of L. Ron Hubbard, in a 1984 decision.

    Directly quoting from the article:

    "Hubbard claimed he could ride before he could walk, and that he was riding broncos at the age of three-and-a-half, by which time he could also allegedly read and write.

    He also claimed to have been a bloodbrother of the Blackfoot Indians by the age of four. However, the Blackfoot Indians dismiss " bloodbrothers" as a Hollywood fantasy, and there is no more truth in Hubbard's other boasts. His early life was undistinguished, and one childhood friend recalls that Hubbard was actually afraid of horses. Hubbard asserted that his brandfather was a wealthy cattle-baron. Factually, Lafayette Waterbury was a small town veterinarian, who ran a series of failing businesses.

    Hubbard said that his interest in the human mind was sparked by a meeting with Commander Thompson, a U.S. Navy doctor, when he was twelve. However, Hubbard's extensive teenage diaries-used as evidence in a California court case-show no interest in psychological or philosophical ideas.

    Hubbard told his followers that he spent five years between the ages of fourteen and nineteen--travelling alone in China, Mongolia, India and Tibet, and studying with holy men. He did not actually visit Mongolia, India nor Tibet. His two visits to China were short excursions in the company of his mother. Hubbard *CONFESSED* [emphasis mine] the brevity of his Chinese stay in an interview with Adventure magazine in 1935.

    Hubbard was nineteen when he entered George Washington University, where he intended to major in Civil Engineering. He failed to qualify for the third year of the course, because his grades were too low. It would later be claimed that Hubbard had degrees in both civil engineering and mathematics. He graduated in neither, and his grades in mathematics were very poor. While at University, Hubbard also failed a short course in "molecular and atomic physics", which prompted his ludicrous assertion that he was "one of America's first Nuclear Physicists".

    Hubbard's eyesight had prevented his admission to the U.S. Naval Academy, prior to his enrollment at University. In 1941, he was accepted into the Navy Reserve after receiving a waiver for his inadequate vision.

    Many outlandish claims were made by Hubbard about his achievements while in the U.S. Navy. For instance, he bragged that he had been the first returned casualty from the Far east. In fact, he was shipped to Australia in December 1941, and he sufficiently antagonised his superiors to be returned to the U.S. after only a few months. After his return, in March 1942, Hubbard was posted as a mail censor in New York.

    The Scientologists have boasted that Hubbard "rose to command a squadron". Factually, he oversaw the refitting of two small vessels in U.S. harbours. His second such command was withdrawn after a cruise down the west coast. During the course of this journey, Hubbard managed to involve a number of craft in a 55-hour battle against what he believed to be two Japanese submarines. The incident was reviewed by Admiral Fletcher who pronounced "an analysis of all reports convinces me that there was no submarine in the area ...The Commanding Officers of all ships except the PC-815 (commanded by Hubbard) state they had no evidence of a submarine and do not think a submarine was in the area."

    Hubbard completed this "shakedown cruise" by firing on a fortunately uninhabited Mexican island. He was removed from command, and Rear Admiral Braisted wrote in a fitness report, "Consider this officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results ... Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time. Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised." [end quote]

    Part 3: The "Science"

    Hubbard's "science" is another example of his bombastic grandiosity at work. See http://xenu.phys.uit.no/lrhbare/science.html for a detailed discussion of the gaping holes in his alleged "science":

      "Despite his claims to the contrary, there is NO scientific evidence for his theories and he has no academic background to make such claims for his "theories".
      Dianetics is a "science of mental health" as the full title of Hubbard's 1950 book declares. The main theory of dianetics is that the human has two minds, the Analytical mind and the Reactive mind. The Analytical mind is a perfectly working device, and life would be wonderful were it not for the Reactive mind lousing up the workings of the Analytical mind. The Reactive mind stores memories of events in our life when we were unconscious and in pain. These memories are perfect recordings of the events, but the problem occurs because they are not stored in the Analytical mind. These memories can be triggered or restimulated by events in our environment that the Reactive mind interprets as similar to one of its memories. When the Reactive mind spots such a similarity, it attempts to take over from the Analytical mind. This is a problem because the Reactive mind is "moronic" and screws things up horribly and disrupts the proper activities of the Analytical mind.
      Diagram of an EngramThe goal of dianetics is to re-file these memories, called Engrams, into the Analytical mind, where they can be properly indexed and utilized. The Reactive mind is an evolutionary throwback to how animals think, and is therefore a weaker area of the mind in the human. The goal of dianetics is to remove all Engrams from the Reactive mind and clear them out, transferring these memories into the Analytical mind where they can be properly utilized and processed. When the Reactive mind is emptied, or cleared, of all Engrams, the person is declared a CLEAR, and from then on the person is able to utilize his or her mind to the utmost, operating on a heretofore unknown level of abilities. [end quote]

    Experiments conducted at University of California, Los Angeles in 1950, using Hubbard's "engram" theory, were a miserable failure.

      "The Dianetic Research Foundation of Los Angeles cooperated with the experimenters by providing a subject and several qualified auditors. The subject was a 30 year old male who worked for the foundation and was considered a good candidate for the experiment by the foundation since he had "sonic" recall and had been audited. The experiment was carefully laid out according to dianetic theory and was at all times done under the cooperation and suggestions of the Foundation."

      "The experimenters concluded by stating that while their test case was only one subject, they felt that the experiment was well done and strongly suggested that the engram hypothesis was not validated. I know of no other scientifically valid experiment besides this one by non-dianeticists which attempted to prove Hubbard's engram theory."

    This, however, is not the end of it. While your mind may now be running at an optimal level, your soul, known in Scientology as a Thetan, is still troubled. Dianetics has supposedly fixed the problems of our mind, but now the religion of Scientology must enter to cure the problems of our soul. Every person is not just a person with a mental problem, but is also a reincarnated spiritual being who has lived at least millions of years. Each of us has experienced an identical horrible event whereby other Thetans were fused on to our own Thetan, and these interfere with the optimum activities of the main Thetan (our own soul). Scientology processing teaches the Thetan how to rid itself of these Body Thetans that are attached to us somewhat like leeches, and also how to operate on a more efficient level.

    From http://www.xenu.net/roland-intro.html:

      "The results of applying their crackpot psychotherapy (called "auditing") is to weaken the mind. The mind goes from a rational state to an irrational one as the delusional contents of the subconscious mind are brought to the surface and are assumed to be valid. It also makes a person more susceptible to suggestion since it submerges the critical thinking faculties of the mind into a partial subconscious state. It results in a permanent light hypnotic trance and so from thenceforth that person can be more easily controlled. The person will, to a much greater extent, believe and do whatever they are told. And of course this is used to the full in persuading them to hand over further money and dedicating themselves further to the cult.
      The results of applying their oversimplified and inapplicable rules in life is to lose the ability to think rationally and logically. A person loses the ability to think for themselves and so they lose the ability to challenge incorrect ideas. This makes them easier to control. It also isolates and alienates the person from society so that they withdraw from normal society and into their "Scientology" society. This further increases their susceptibility to the influence of their group. They end up being afraid of society, believing all society to be controlled by a group of drug companies, psychiatrists and financiers all of whom report to more remote masters. In other words they are in a state of mass paranoia. They therefore avoid reading newspapers and the like since they fear it will disturb their safe Scientology world. It is a downward spiral into madness.
      The science fiction content of Scientology is revealed to them after they have reached the state they call "Clear", meaning freed from the aberrations of the mind. However, perhaps "brainwashed" would be a more applicable word to describe the mental state of someone who has survived the near entire delusional contents of their subconscious mind brought to the surface and presented to them as "truth". On the "advanced" levels (called OT levels) above the state of "Clear" they encounter the story of Xenu. Xenu was supposed to have gathered up all the overpopulation in this sector of the galaxy, brought them to Earth and then exterminated them using hydrogen bombs. The souls of these murdered people are then supposed to infest the body of everyone. They are called "body thetans". On the advanced levels of Scientology a person "audits out" these body thetans telepathically by getting them to re-experience their being exterminated by hydrogen bombs. So people on these levels assume all their bad thoughts and faulty memories are due to these body thetans infesting every part of their body and influencing them mentally. Many Scientologists go raving mad at this point if they have not done so already."

    After Dianetics was written, Volney Mattheison introduced Hubbard to a galvanic skin response meter. Hubbard decided to use this device as a tool to find Engrams. This device, which appeared in 1941 as a "new fun-provoking stunt for parties," simply registers the differing conduction of a weak electrical flow through the body which can differ by how hard a person squeezes the cans held in each hand or how much the person is sweating. Hubbard called this device an E-meter. In any event, the goal was still to re-file all memories in the Reactive mind to the Analytical mind.

    (So, essentially, Hubbard took a simple parlor-trick machine which did nothing useful and tried to use it to support his crackpot theories. And this man tried to style himself as a visionary thinker!!)

    Lawsuits:

    The Case of Lisa McPherson:

      On December 5, 1995, Lisa McPherson was dead on arrival at a hospital north of Clearwater Florida. According to the coroner's report, Lisa was underweight, severely dehydrated, and had bruises and bug bites. Lisa had been a Scientologist from the age of 18 to her death at age 36. On November 18, 1995, Lisa was involved in a minor car accident. She was apparently not hurt, but she got out of her car and took all her clothes off and seemed mentally unstable. She was taken to a hospital where she was physically evaluated as being unharmed, but the hospital wanted her to be psychologically cared for.However, some Scientologists arrived and stated that Lisa did not believe in psychiatry, and she checked out after a short evaluation and left with the Scientologists. She went with them to the Ft. Harrison Hotel for "rest and relaxation" according to the church, but church logs from Lisa's stay there (or here) from November 18 to her death December 5 show differently. Some logs are missing, and a high ranking ex-Scientologist has written an affidavit in which he claims that the church has in the past destroyed documents that might get the church in trouble.

      On June 12, 2000 the criminal charges were dropped against Scientology because (so the prosecutor claims) the medical examiner could not be counted on to confidently testify, even though the criminal charges were abuse of a disabled person and practicing medicine without a license.

    Mary Johnston recently sued Scientology, saying she underwent a personality change and her health suffered while she was undergoing Scientology processing. She recently won the right to see her auditing folder (notes kept on her from Scientology processing sessions).

    Michael Pattinson is suing Scientology for several counts of fraud and a variety of other extremely serious charges. The suit garnered some national press (including stories in the Guide and Fab! and at MSNBC ) because it names John Travolta, alleging that Scientology claimed they could "cure" Pattinson's homosexuality and used Travolta as an example of a homosexual whose orientation they had changed.

    After years of investigation, the Madrid state attorney's office has held out for a strike against Scientology. The office has charged 18 leading members of the pseudo-church, reported the Spanish daily newspaper, "El Pais." 30 years in prison was demanded for Heber Jentzsch, the international President of the organization. ( http://www.rickross.com/reference/Scien100.html ) The indictment described Scientology as extremely dangerous. The members are said to be financially exploited and subjected to brainwashing. The twelve charges range from tax evasion to the formation of an illegal organization. The Scientologists promise cures without possessing the proper education or permits.

    1999: Greece: Scientologists found guilty 15 Scientologists were accused of systematically keeping files on politicians, journalists, judges, clergymen and other Greek leading personalities. The Scientologists were found guilty , but they were not sentenced, due to procedural errors. (In other words, they got off on a technicality.) In 1998, a judge ordered the Scientology organization in Athens to stop operating, since the organization was established under false pretenses . According to the ruling, the organization was not operating as a non-profit, and was putting people's mental and physical health at risk.

    1995: Canada: Scientology pays the largest libel award (almost $3 million) in Canadian history. Scientology was found guilty of libelling Casey Hill, the prosecutor responsible for bringing Scientology to justice for its egregious illegal acts in Canada. http://www.rickross.com/reference/Scien9.html

    In 1986, former Scientologist Larry Wollersheim sued Scientology for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury awarded him $35,000,000, which was reduced on appeal to $2,500,000. Scientology refuses to pay, and now owes Larry more than twice that (with interest accruing). The appeals court agreed that Larry had been badly hurt by Scientology: it found that Scientology "coerced Wollersheim into continued participation," "seized Wollersheim and held him captive," and that "the Church's conduct was manifestly outrageous." In October 1997, the court found that the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center are liable for the debt . http://www.rickross.com/reference/Scien24.html

    Scientology vs the Internet

    From http://www.skeptic.com/03.3.jl-jj-scientology.html

      In one of the most well known attempts by Scientology to suppress dissent, in 1994 the COS actually launched attempts to bring down the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup - first by spamming the newsgroup with COS representatives ("no less than 50 posts per day"), then by threatening posters with legal action. (Former scientologist Arnie Lerma was visited by COS reps, and when he refused to sign their affidavit, he was sent a fax which threatened legal action. Lerma turned it over to the FBI and the Washington Post).

      This article is well worth the read to anyone interested in the lies and manipulation this cult has engaged in. To claim that it is a benign religion is to fly in the face of the evidence and the experiences of thousands of former Scientologists who are now speaking out against the cult.

    Scientology and the IRS:

    http://wpxx02.toxi.uni-wuerzburg.de/~cowen/essays/irs.html

      >>"On 1 October 1993, the Church of Scientology obtained tax exemption from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This ended 26 years of what the Church itself has described as a "war" against the IRS, in which it used extraordinary and in many cases illegal tactics - bugging of government offices, theft of mountains of classified files, private detectives pursuing senior government officials, thousands of lawsuits, full-page attack adverts in US daily newspapers, and so on.

      So perhaps it is not such a great surprise that the settlement itself came about in some very unusual circumstances, raising questions about the actions of both the Church of Scientology and the IRS. Neither party has been willing to provide answers, with the IRS refusing to disclose the terms of the exemption agreement in defiance of a court order and US taxation law. But with the leak in December 1997 of the secret agreement, the relationship between Scientology and the IRS is under greater scrutiny now than ever before."<<

    From http://www.primenet.com/~cultxpt/irs-cos.htm:

        This Secret Agreement provided many sweetheart deals for Scientology:
      1. The IRS states that it will no longer have any interest in an audio tape (known as the Zolin tape) that a court had ruled was of a meeting by Scientology officials and attorneys to defraud the IRS.
      2. Grants en masse tax exemption to dozens of Scientology's corporate structures, including Church of Spiritual Technology.
      3. the IRS sent a Fact Sheet to other countries concerning their new agreement, which included a pro-Scientology pamphlet written by the church!
      4. changes the status of many of the 1023 forms so that they cannot be viewed by the public as required by IRS rules (1023 forms are any documents the church provides the IRS in order to obtain tax exemption. The majority of these documents are not available to the public).
      5. makes fixed costs of church courses tax deductible. This goes against the US Supreme Court's ruling.
      6. any future violations of IRS rules by Scientology will be taken out of the hands of regular auditors and now placed in the highest officials of the IRS' duties.
      7. requires that both parties keep the agreement secret.
              (IRS documents follow at http://www.primenet.com/~cultxpt/irs.htm)

    That, in 4 overly-brief (!) posts, sums up most of the case against the COS. We can see that their philosophy is faulty, their "religion" dangerous, their leader a liar, their tactics those of a fascist bully, and the thrust of legal opinion and the testimony of ex-members against them chilling in its portent. To pretend that this CULT is anything but a CULT is to bargain with the real truth -- it fits the criteria far more perfectly than many examples I've seen in my 50-some years of life. And begging the question and bargaining with terms are not going to change that essential fact.

 ©Philosoraptor 2002