Social Control in Scientology, by Bob Penny  -- prevToCnext

The Web of Group-Think

Fluent use of preemptively defined words in their group-specific sense, and avoidance of other meanings as though such did not exist, are criteria and evidence of legitimacy within the group.

Another example of preemptive definition is the word help which, in the group context, is identified with whatever the Church does -- so that any disagreement with the group is made to seem the same as opposition to helping people at all. Obvious not-helped situations in Scientology are rationalized away with technical explanations and removed as nearly as possible from general view. One is not allowed to discuss case problems or disappointments out of session.

Other betterment activities are invalidated as ineffectual, misguided, or "suppressive." They dare you to say green. Nearly all the concepts required to understand actual Scientology practices are found in its own literature, but redefined in a misdirective way to prevent such use and understanding. Wrong source, something done other than what was said, something asserted, and invalidation are examples of concepts captured, and the person given opportunity to rationalize for himself how they actually do not describe his Scientology experience.

The above examples are from a list, called the "L1C," which is used in auditing when the person has an upset. Repeated use of this list on Scientologists provides ample opportunity for them to cooperatively rationalize how their upsets "really" come from some non-Scientology source (perhaps parents or other associates, or past life influences) rather than from conditions within the group.

Perhaps the ultimate example of such opportunity for misdirective rationalization is Hubbard's blithe comment about people who raise hopes of betterment and then betray them by using hope and human aspiration as bait for a trap.

Preemptive definitions do not exist alone, but in a constructed web of meanings which define the private universe into which the proselyte is to be re-educated. Special terms come to look natural, next to the familiarity of common-language words.

This association of the concepts help and discipline illustrates how Scientology's web is constructed [L. Ron Hubbard, "Conditions, How to Assign," HCO PL October 20, 1967]:

We help beyond any help ever available anywhere. We are a near ultimate in help. ...if we help so greatly we must also in the same proportion be able to discipline. Near ultimate help can only be given with near ultimate discipline.

Notice that nothing was actually said about the relation between help and discipline other than Mr. Hubbard's assertion.

But now you know the approved group line for how you are supposed to think about Scientology's coercive practices, and what line to take in justifying them to yourself and to others.

Something Done Other Than What Was Said

Such associations are made gradually, one small step at a time, so that at each juncture the current lesson is cushioned by one's participation-to-date (complicity) and by the habits of sociable cooperation such as granting benefit of the doubt.

It is your job to incorporate such data into your own life, and change your own understandings so it all fits. The web is built up in thousands of pages of "technology" written over more than thirty years by Mr. Hubbard, in which countless situations are given a place and explanation. That labyrinth of detail resembles a science fiction alternate universe in which the proselyte can lose sight of mundane reality by endless group-validated preoccupation (diversion, bonhomie) with apparently meaningful technical explanations and procedures. He can believe, and find support in believing, that he is learning a science -- but without ever having to face the public and adversarial nature of scholarly dialog or standards of validity.

The relative consistency of the web (such that it is) would not be credible were the subject treated seriously as a science (which it claims to be), with public methods and results. But there are no such constraints on the inspired creation of a single individual (author, Source). There are explanations for everything, and in such detail. It is expounded with such confidence and by such nice people. So it must be true.

To avoid being false within himself, the proselyte must take the given raw material, one small bit at a time, and find for himself how it could be that way; i.e., discover, invent, or imaginatively construct whatever thread of logic will produce for him the requisite observations and conclusions (called certainty), while obscuring or invalidating any contradictory or critical thought (the defense of certainty).

Nonconforming viewpoints can be deeply threatening because they challenge this precarious construct.

The claims of superior rationality made by Scientologists require that they perceive themselves as rational and self-determined. There is thus strong motive to submerge control mechanisms into normal appearances, to deny having been manipulated or having acted irrationally.

The the very process described here is thus made invisible (taboo) to group members -- though not necessarily to their family and friends.

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