Irreverent Skeptics Podcast Episode 11 – Scientology part 1 – Please Don’t Sue Us

L. Ron Hubbard audits a tomato.

Way back on March 1, we did our first in a two-part series on everyone’s favorite UFO cult, Scientology. Grab your e-meter, rustle up a body thetan or two, and join us as we discuss the history of the church, some of its most noteworthy scandals, its weird beliefs, and more!

Presented here in all their glory are our notes for the first episode on the anti-Xenu crusaders:

L. Ron Hubbard: A fiction author best known for sci-fi and fantasy stories. He later developed a self-help system, Dianetics, which was the precursor to Scientology. (should we mention the occultism and having purportedly conned a fellow occultist into financial ruin?)

Pre-History (Dianetics): a set of ideas and practices that L. Ron Hubbard Described as “a mix of Western technology and Oriental philosophy”. Dividing the mind into three parts: the conscious “analytical mind”, the subconscious “reactive mind”, and the somatic mind. Dianetics aims to remove the “reactive mind” which prevents people from becoming more ethical, more aware, happier and saner. Dianetics uses “auditing” to rid the auditee of the painful experiences of the past, which is believed to be the cause of the “reactive mind”. Hubbard claimed Dianetics could increase intelligence, eliminate unwanted emotions and alleviate a wide range of illnesses he believed to be psychosomatic. “Jon, what are some of those illnesses?” you ask?

  • arthritis
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • some coronary difficulties
  • eye “trouble” (whatever the fuck that means… so like conjunctivitis?)
  • ulcers
  • migraine headaches
  • “sexual deviation” – in Hubbard’s time that included homosexuality.
  • DEATH – worked out pretty well for L. Ron, eh?

 

Hubbard first introduced Dianetics to the public in the article “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science” which was published in the May 1950 issue of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. Not to be mistaken as an ad hominem, poisoning the well logical fallacy, it’s just a matter of historical record. That same year, Hubbard published the book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health”.

History of Scientology:

Jon: In 1951, the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation went bankrupt due to the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners having instituted proceedings against the foundation for teaching medicine without a license. That same year the subject of reincarnation became the subject of intense debate within Dianetics. Rather than banning the topic as some of the key founders of Dianetics suggested, Hubbard developed the idea of the “thetan”. More on that in a bit. Also that year, L. Ron introduced the Electropsychometer (electro-psych-ometer), or E-meter for short. More on that in a moment too.

Jon: Recognizing that Dianetics was doomed to fail due to its inherent individualism which set each person as his/her own authority; Hubbard built on the existing framework of Dianetics and published a new set of teachings as “Scientology, a religious philosophy”. In 1953 he incorporated three churches – a “Church of American Science”, a “Church of Scientology” and a “Church of Spiritual Engineering” – in Camden, New Jersey. In February of 1954, with Hubbard’s blessing, some of his followers set up the first local Church of Scientology in California. The movement spread across the U.S. and to other English-speaking countries rapidly. Before long the Church of Scientology ran into trouble with the IRS over its tax-exemption status and the FDA over its use of E-meters as illegal medical devices. In January of 1963, the FDA raided the offices of the Church of Scientology, seizing hundreds of the E-meters. In the mid-sixties Scientology was banned in several Australian states based on the Anderson Report, which found that the auditing process involved “command” hypnosis, in which the hypnotist assumes the “positive authoritative control” over the patient. …. kinky

Jon: In 1966, Hubbard stepped down as executive director of Scientology to devote himself to research and writing. The next year he formed the Sea Organization which developed into an elite organization within Scientology. The Sea Org was based on three ships, the Diana, the Athena, and the Apollo, which was the flagship. A month after establishing Sea Org, L. Ron announced that he had made a breakthrough discovery, the result of which were the “OT III” materials, which would provide a method for overcoming factors inhibiting spiritual progress.

Mike: In 1967, the IRS removed Scientology’s tax-exempt status, asserting that its activities were commercial and operated for the benefit of Hubbard rather than charitable or religious purposes.

Mike: In 1979, as a result of FBI raids, eleven senior members in the church’s Guardian’s Office including Mary Sue Hubbard (wife of founder L. Ron Hubbard and second-in-command of the organization) were convicted of obstructing justice, burglary of government offices, and theft of documents and government property. This was related to Operation Snow White, a major criminal conspiracy the church perpetrated during the 1970s to purge unfavorable records about Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard. This project included a series of infiltrations and thefts from 136 government agencies, foreign embassies and consulates, as well as private organizations critical of Scientology, carried out by Church members, in more than 30 countries. It was the single largest infiltration of the United States government in history with up to 5,000 covert agents. Under this program, Scientology operatives committed infiltration, wiretapping, and theft of documents in government offices, most notably those of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Mike: The investigation into Operation Snow White revealed the existence of Operation Freakout, which was a multifaceted plan by the church to silence Paulette Cooper, a journalist and outspoken critic of the church whose book The Scandal of Scientology exposed much of the hidden nastiness going on in the church (physical and emotional abuse, near slave labor, forced abortions, etc):

  1. First, a woman was to imitate Paulette Cooper’s voice and make telephone threats to Arabconsulates in New York.
  2. Second, a threatening letter was to be mailed to an Arab consulate in such a fashion that it would appear to have been done by Paulette Cooper (who is Jewish).
  3. Third, a Scientologist volunteer was to impersonate Paulette Cooper at a laundromat and threaten the current president Gerald Ford and then Secretary of StateHenry Kissinger. A second Scientologist would thereafter inform the FBI of the threat.[5]

Though the plan was never put into effect, several others (Operations Daniel and Dynamite) were. The church engaged in a campaign of litigation and covert harassment against Cooper meant to get her sent to prison or a mental institution, including:

  • stealing pieces of her stationery with her fingerprints on it and using it to write false bomb threats against the church
  • painting her name and phone number on street walls so that she would receive obscene phone calls
  • subscribing her to pornographic mailing lists (so there was a bright side then!)
  • sending her anonymous death threats
  • sending her neighbors letters claiming that she had a venereal disease

Jon: January, 1982, Scientology established the Religious Technology Center – RTC – to oversee and ensure the standard application of Scientology technology.

Jon: In November of 1982, the Free Zone was established by former top Scientologists in disagreement with RTC, asserting that the Church of Scientology had departed from its original philosophy.

Jon: January 24, 1986, L. Ron Hubbard died at his ranch in Creston, California and David Miscavige became the head of the organization. – (shortly before Hubbard’s death, an apparent order from him circulated in the Sea Org that promoted Scientologists Pat Broeker and his wife to the new rank of Loyal Officer, making them the highest-ranking members; Miscavige asserted this order had been forged and assumed the position of head of the Scientology organization)

Jon: In 1993, the Church of Scientology filed a lawsuit against former member Steven Fishman. Fishman made a court declaration which included several dozen pages of formerly secret esoterica detailing aspects of Scientologist cosmogony. Longtime strictly guarded materials found their way onto the Internet at this point. The Church of Scientology released a statement acknowledging the existence of the cosmogony, rather than allow its critics “to distort and misuse this information for their own purposes.” The material has since been widely disseminated and the story of Xenu has become a popular means of caricaturing Scientology.

Mike: In 1995, the church was indicted on two felony charges (abuse and/or neglect of a disabled adult, and practicing medicine without a license) in the death of Lisa McPherson, who died under the care of the church following a minor car accident. She spent the last 17 days of her life at Scientology’s Flag Land Base. According to her care notes, McPherson was incoherent and sometimes violent, her nails were cut so she wouldn’t scratch herself or the staff, she bruised her fists and feet while hitting the wall. She had trouble sleeping and was being given natural supplements and the drug chloral hydrate to help her sleep. She looked sick and developed sores.  On repeated occasions she refused food and protein shakes that the staff offered. On four occasions the staff attempted to force feed her, noting that she spat the food out.  She was noted to be very weak, not standing up nor on some days moving at all. Scientologists who questioned this handling were told to “butt out”. Doctors expressed concern about McPherson, insisting that she be admitted to a hospital, but the church staffers objected, fearing she would be given psychiatric care. Finally, they drove to a hospital 45 minutes away, where she arrived without vital signs, and after about 20 minutes of attempted resuscitation, she was declared dead.

Jon: “So now we’re gonna talk about auditing.”

Mike: “Auditing? What the fuck is auditing?”

Jon: “I thought you’d never ask!”

Mike: “Even though this whole conversation is scripted?”

Jon: “ESPECIALLY because this whole conversation is scripted!”

Auditing – dafuq is that?: In auditing a person who is trained in auditing asks questions, listens to, and gives auditing commands to a subject who is known as a “preclear”. Auditing involves the use of “processes” which are sets of questions asked or directions given by the auditor. The auditing process employs the use of the Electropsychometer, or E-meter

Basically the E-meter is a galvanometer which passes a low (0.5 volt, 1V and 5V were all cited in separate sources) charge between a pair of tin-plated tubes and measuring galvanic skin response. The resistance corresponds to the “mental mass and energy” of the subject’s mind, which are claimed to change when the subject thinks of particular mental images, or “engrams”.  These “religious artifacts” as of 1995 were valued at $4,650 each for the Mark VII Super Quantum E-meter! How very Dbag Chopra of a naming convention is that eh?

Basically, they just ask a series of bizarre questions which is supposedly going to help you clear out negative emotional imprints left by things that happened in this and previous lives. (Yes, they believe in reincarnation. You’re just a thetan, after all.) Sample questions:

  • Have you ever debased a nation’s currency?
  • Have you ever killed the wrong person?
  • Have you ever torn out someone’s tongue?
  • Have you ever been a professional critic?
  • Have you ever wiped out a family?
  • Have you ever tried to give sanity a bad name?
  • Have you ever consistently practiced sex in some unnatural fashion?
  • Have you ever made a planet, or nation, radioactive?
  • Have you ever made love to a dead body?
  • Have you ever engaged in piracy?
  • Have you ever been a pimp?
  • Have you ever eaten a human body?
  • Have you ever disfigured a beautiful thing?
  • Have you ever exterminated a species?
  • Have you ever been a professional executioner?
  • Have you given robots a bad name?
  • Have you ever set a booby trap?
  • Have you ever failed to rescue your leader?
  • Have you driven anyone insane?
  • Have you ever killed the wrong person?
  • Is anybody looking for you?
  • Have you ever set a poor example?
  • Did you come to Earth for evil purposes?
  • Are you in hiding?
  • Have you systematically set up mysteries?
  • Have you ever made a practice of confusing people?
  • Have you ever philosophized when you should have acted instead?
  • Have you ever gone crazy?
  • Have you ever sought to persuade someone of your insanity?
  • Have you ever deserted, or betrayed, a great leader?
  • Have you ever smothered a baby?
  • Do you deserve to have any friends?
  • Have you ever castrated anyone?
  • Do you deserve to be enslaved?
  • Is there any question on this list I had better not ask you again?
  • Have you ever tried to make the physical universe less real?
  • Have you ever zapped anyone?
  • Have you ever had a body with a venereal disease? If so, did you spread it?

Through the auditing process, one advances through the stages of “Preclear”, “Clear”, and “Operating Thetan”. The utopian aim of Scientology is a world in which everyone has cleared themselves of their engrams.

**here is probably a good place to mention Scientology’s distaste for psychologicalmedicine/practices**

From scientology.org – “Similarly, auditing bears no resemblance to psychology, which is primarily the study of observing responses to stimuli and provides no means of producing actual improvement.

(Mike M, ?)

Beliefs (this is barely scratching the surface):

Great googly moogly, there’s a lot going on here. LRH created a whole false history of his own life, painting himself as a world explorer, an adopted blood brother of the Montana Blackfeet Indians (but Blackfeet never had blood brothers), a nuclear physicist, (writing books which became part of the Scientology canon like All About Radiation which claims, amongst other things, that radiation poisoning and even cancer can be cured by courses of vitamins), an engineer, a mathematician, and so on. So far as anyone can actually find, he holds no degrees from anywhere that isn’t just an unaccredited diploma mill running out of a house.

Scientology teaches that unconsciousness and emotionally excited states are the states in which we best absorb information, contrary to everything science has actually taught us. They believe, for example, that if someone was involved in a car crash, and was unconscious in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, there should be no negative pronouncements – and preferably, no speech in general – by anyone else in the ambulance. The injured party, though unconscious, is acutely aware of their surroundings, and any information relayed here could affect them negatively for life. The same goes for anyone who has suffered a lesser injury, like a fall off a bike (and not necessarily been knocked unconscious). Everyone around must stay quiet. This is why they’re absolutely silent during the birthing process – they don’t want to imprint any future neuroses on the baby. Because… you know… babies are born knowing what people are saying, right? As Shaun O’Connor pointed out on his blog post “My First Scientology Audit”:

I wondered if I’d ever encountered anything else that supported the Scientologists’ bizarre pre-lingual theory, and I realised that I had: the film “Look Who’s Talking“…. starring über-ologists John Travolta and Kirstie Alley…! ).

LRH taught that there was an animal he called the Boo-Hoo, which was a primeval clam, which marked the transition from life in the sea to life on land. It  had a miserable life because it could get stranded or attacked by predatory birds. But if life was just emerging from the sea, where did the predatory birds come from?

Hubbard taught that scientology could make you resistant to H-bombs and the common cold, raise your IQ (claiming to have raised one boy from 83 to 212), improve the performance of astronauts and jet pilots, make you look younger, make psychotic people sane, let you leave your body and travel as a spirit, and so on. Apparently, a Clear can:

  • Generate electricity in a vacuum
  • Live forever as a spirit
  • Use mind over matter to increase their body weight
  • Heal people by touching them and telling them to feel their fingers touching them
  • Use ESP (precognition), telepathy, and remote viewing
  • Communicate with the dead
  • Create illusions with their minds that others can see, and make the illusions real
  • Access all 57 senses:
    • Time, Sight; Taste, Color, Depth; Solidity (barriers); Relative sizes (external); Sound; Pitch; Tone; Volume; Rhythm; Smell; Touch (pressure, friction, heat or cold and oiliness); Personal emotion; Endocrine states; Awareness of awareness; Personal size; Organic sensation (including hunger); Heartbeat; Blood circulation; Cellular and bacterial position; Gravitic (self and other weights); Motion of self; Motion (exterior); Body position; Joint position; Internal temperature; External temperature; Balance; Muscular tension; Saline content of self (body); Fields/magnetic; Time track motion; Physical energy (personal weariness, etc.); Self-determinism; Moisture (self); Sound direction; Emotional state of other organs; Personal position on the tone scale; Affinity (self and others); Communication (self and others); Reality (self and others); Emotional state of groups; Compass direction; Level of consciousness; Pain; Perception of conclusions (past and present); Perception of computation (past and present); Perception of imagination (past and present); Perception of having perceived (past and present); Awareness of not knowing; Awareness of importance, unimportance; Awareness of others; Awareness of location and placement (masses, spaces and location itself); Perception of appetite; Kinesthesia.
  • Move objects with their minds
  • Control others at a distance
  • Create their own universes

Here’s the core weirdness of Scientology: the Xenu story in Hubbard’s own writing

Transcript:

Data (1)            (1)

The head of the Galactic Confederation (76 planets around larger stars visible from here) (founded 95,000,000 yrs ago, very space opera) solved overpopulation (250 billion or so per planet) — 178 billion average) by mass implanting. He caused people to be brought to Teegeeack (Earth) and put an H Bomb on the principal volcanoes (Incident 2) and then the Pacific area ones were taken in boxes to Hawaii and the Atlantic Area ones to Las Palmas and there “packaged.” His name was Xenu. He used renegades. Various misleading data by means of circuits etc. were placed in the implants. When through with his crime Loyal Officers (to the people) captured him after 6 years of battle and put him in an electronic mountain trap where he still is. “They” are gone. The place (Confed.) has since been a desert.

So, basically, the galaxy was overpopulated, so the leader of the confederation, Xenu, gathered the excess beings around volcanoes on Earth (that didn’t actually exist yet), set off atomic bombs to kill them, collected their souls, and brainwashed them with a fake history of the world and false beliefs (which is where other religions came from). Xenu was imprisoned in a mountain … somewhere. The souls, which are called Thetans, eventually attached themselves to the bodies of humans, and are the cause of all the problems we’ve ever had since then.

BEGIN HUGE QUOTED SECTION

from an essay by Bob Minton, the long-time critic of the church who filed a wrongful death lawsuit for Lisa McPherson.

 In the lower levels of Scientology, new Scientologists are taught to believe that the person or “pre-clear’s” behavior and problems are caused by his “reactive mind.”  The reactive mind is the term used by Scientologists to describe a supposed force that causes a person to act irrationally or against his own best interest.  Scientology seeks to convince a person that he needs to overcome his unknowing obedience to this reactive mind and clear himself of its influence. A person is promised that when he becomes “clear” of his reactive mind, he will be free from mental and physical problems.  After reaching this much-touted “State of Clear,” a Scientologist is then indoctrinated to believe that by paying for a further series of expensive “auditing” procedures, he will eventually attain a state known as “Operating Thetan,” or “OT.” In Scientology, one is taught that there is an entity, separate from the body, which is called a “thetan”.  One is promised that when the state of OT is attained, one will be able to fly around at will without one’s body. One will be in complete control, in fact, over the entire physical universe of Matter, Energy, Space and Time.

The OT levels are very secret in Scientology. People spend many thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get onto these OT levels that are supposed to enable one to achieve such phenomenal abilities. No one has yet been able to exhibit any of these so-called super-human abilities, which on average cost USD 360,000, but many people are still trying. Some have been on these upper levels for as long as fifteen to twenty years.

The most important secret of the upper levels is found on OT 3, called the Wall of Fire in Scientology. It is on this level that one learns the “secrets of the universe.” One learns Hubbard’s so-called truth about why human beings are so limited in their abilities, and what can be done to correct this.  Hubbard’s “diagnosis” for the suffering and insanity on this planet is the OT 3 incident – the “Fourth Dynamic Engram” in Hubbardspeak. Many people characterize this as the core belief of Scientology but it is not — it is in fact the entire CORE of Scientology.

Here is Hubbard’s so-called factual and scientific truth that all Scientologist’s must not only accept as reality but experience as reality:
75 million years ago, the galactic overlord for this sector of the galaxy was called Xenu. He was in charge of 76 planets, including Earth (at that time known as Teegeeack).

All of the planets Xenu controlled were over-populated by, on average, 178 billion people. Social problems dictated that Xenu rid his sector of the galaxy of this overpopulation problem, so he developed a plan.

Xenu sent out tax audit demands to all these trillions of people. As each one entered the audit centers for the income tax inspections, the people were seized, held down and injected with a mixture of alcohol and glycol, and frozen. Then, all 13.5 trillion of these frozen people were put into spaceships that looked exactly like DC8 airplanes, except that the spaceships had rocket engines instead of propellers.

Xenu’s entire fleet of DC8-like spaceships then flew to planet Earth, where the frozen people were dumped in and around volcanoes in the Canary Islands and the Hawaiian Islands. When Xenu’s Air Force had finished dumping the bodies into the volcanoes, hydrogen bombs were dropped into the volcanoes and the frozen space aliens were vaporized.

However, Xenu’s plan involved setting up electronic traps in Teegeeack’s atmosphere which were designed to trap the souls or spirits of the dead space aliens. When the 13.5 trillion spirits were being blown around on the nuclear winds, the electronic traps worked like a charm and captured all the souls in the electronic, sticky fly-paper like traps.

The spirits of the aliens were then taken to huge multiplex cinemas that Xenu had previously instructed his forces to build on Teegeeack.  In these movie theaters the spirits had to spend many days watching special 3-D movies, the purpose of which was twofold: 1)  to implant into these spirits a  false reality, i.e. the reality that WOGS (Hubbard’s derisory term for anyone not a Scientologists) know on Earth today; and, 2) to control these spirits for all  eternity so that they could never cause trouble for Xenu in this sector of the Galaxy.  During these films, many false pictures and stories were implanted
into these spirits, which resulted in the spirits believing in all the things that control mankind on Earth today, including religion.  The concept of religion, including God, Christ, Mohammed, Moses etc.,  were all an implanted false reality that to this very minute are used to control WOGS on Earth.

When the films ended and the souls left the cinema, they started to stick together in clusters of a few thousand and remained that way until mankind began to inhabit the Earth. Today on Earth all the spirits of these aliens have attached themselves to our bodies and are the root cause of the false reality that all but Scientology’s “Homo Novis” or OT 8’s on earth experience. It is the job of all Scientologists to remove this false reality from the world by auditing each and every space alien spirit and human on earth and the entire universe to CLEAR. For those who oppose Scientology and stand in their way, Scientology promises to do away with them “quietly and without sorrow”.
The Loyal Officers of the Marcab Confederation finally discovered how evil Xenu was and overthrew him. He is now locked away in a mountain on one of the planets and kept in by a force-field powered by an eternal battery.

Many Scientologists who have left from the highest levels of Scientology have told us that they have been in a room at Scientology’s Sandcastle building in Clearwater, Florida for 5-7 hours per day for up to 15 years, holding two asparagus cans together, attached to a primitive lie detector, talking all day to these dead space aliens. And guess what? You’ll never ever finish talking to dead space aliens until you leave Scientology.

As we said, you  are learning about this story in the interest of full disclosure. If you become involved with Scientology we want you to do so with your eyes open and fully aware of the sort of material it contains. And, if you’re in Scientology you should know how you will be spending the rest of your life.

END HUGE QUOTED SECTION

Jon begs for MM’s forgiveness since Jon can neither read nor recall what he wrote as show notes…

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