Social Control in Scientology, by Bob Penny  -- prevToCnext


It is a high crime (in Scientology) to invalidate the states of "Clear" or "OT." Thus all that is heard are the widely publicized success stories, which are all that is permissible to say.

A failed case is said to be possible only due to ethics problems such as evil intentions. Scientology's claims of results are thus based on explicitly manipulated and restricted information.

Given the complicity required for participation in the first place, plus the stigmatization of failed cases, one is effectively forced to claim and to believe that one has had wins. Disappointments are more likely to be manifested as confusion and silence rather than as vocal questions or criticism. The lure remains that maybe the next level will handle it.

Many of those who escape remain silent, whether from fear, consciousness of failure, or dim hope for future results. Thus they leave others to follow blindly in their footsteps and give an unopposed PR victory to Scientology's letter-writing factories.

Further motive to believe in "results" comes from the high price of Scientology services (in my experience, approximately $100,000 by the point of completing "OT Level V"). The high prices, like loaded words such as "data" and "tech," lend a legitimacy to ideas which might not fare so well on their own merits apart from this formidable context. The prices also provide a rite of passage by which one significantly breaks with wog standards of value and increases commitment to the group. It becomes more embarrassing to have been wrong; there is motive to make it look good.

The Church has used inflated membership figures to suggest widespread acceptance of Scientology's benefits and results. For example, the 1978 book, What is Scientology?, claimed a worldwide membership for the Church of 5,437,000.

In 1984 a new official membership organization was made a prerequisite for receiving Church services. This cost money, so wildly inflated membership figures could not be used -- or no one would believe the Church's urgent need for money. After a year of recruitment, the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) claimed membership of 12,000. Jon Atack estimated in 1990 that worldwide membership was probably close to 100,000 by now due to a recent advertising blitz. (I am personally acquainted with the Hard Sell techniques that were used to sell $2,000 memberships in 1986.)

An appearance of result can be produced by misattributing the result of some other activity. Several books on Scientology have described working conditions and pay scales in the Sea Org. Is forced labor extorted by "heavy ethics" really the better life promised by Scientology?

Likewise in Scientology's front organizations, results attributed to "Hubbard Management Technology" may actually result from very ordinary brute force methods applied under group pressure.

For example, a March, 1990 article in Podiatry Today asks the practitioner:

Do you feel comfortable asking a patient to call and refer a friend to you while that patient is still in your office for treatment? Or sending a card to a friend before their own procedure is completed? Do you feel comfortable using tone scales to manipulate a person's response to your treatment proposal? Or talking about money and payment methods before discussing illness and treatment methods? Do you feel comfortable using tried and true hard sell methodologies within the doctor-patient relationship?

That same article notes that consulting firms licensed by WISE paid ten to fifteen percent of their gross revenue to WISE, which then "by extension, flowed into Church of Scientology coffers." In other words, Hard Sell is used to to get medical practitioners to use Hard Sell on their patients to get money to give to Scientology. That is "management technology."

One's ordinary work may come to be understood as part of Scientology because it is done in that context. The usual group pressures ("gung ho") are relied upon to cement the misidentification. Problems of organization and production can be handled enthusiastically and creatively, without having to pay much attention to what is being organized or produced. The technical activity itself, and the person's expertise, become the focus. The goal becomes to do a good job, and a good person will produce a result. The Church of Scientology (or an entity under its control) becomes an employer. The person's work habits become an area of security to fall back on when doubts or questions occur about more controversial topics -- a defense familiar in many industries, from nuclear weapons to advertising. One can feel more normal while preoccupied in dealing with UPS, printing companies, airlines, etc.

Just as being an auditor is asserted to be a legitimate profession, a job like many others, so the registrar can fall back on an image of himself as a dedicated sales professional doing right by his employer. In both cases, close focus on the task at hand becomes a means of avoiding notice of expensive pseudo-therapy, Hard Sell, abused clients, alienation of friends and family, and disrupted lives. One just "does a good job" and "increases production."

At each step, Hard Sell tactics assert some absolute which justifies disregarding any other concerns. At early levels it may be solving some problem or increasing ability. Later it becomes "getting stats up" or ensuring the future of Scientology. It may be averting nuclear war, getting rid of body thetans, or ensuring that Scientology controls sufficient resources, when the time comes, to repel the Markabian invaders from outer space -- anything to invalidate the mark's objections, to get the stat, to get the check.

The auditor is responsible for delivering a by-the-book correct session -- not for whether his preclear gets better. There is neither motive nor occasion to look closely at the actual result. But there is plenty of motive to stay busy and Make Money.

That is the result.

Enforcing the Appearances of Results

Scientology's claim to offer help for whatever ails you is possible because any situation is "handled" in the same way: transfer the person's attention away from the immediacy of his own situation and onto group loyalty and participation (busy, busy) which will encourage him to agree that results exist and are as miraculous as claimed.

Anyone doing Scientology and amenable to the new identity thus imposed could claim, at least temporarily, to have solved his problem by participation in Scientology. For example, a marital problem might be solved by doing Scientology so that hats, ethics officers, confidential data, special knowledge, and so forth constantly are interposed between the individuals involved, who then put attention on Scientology rather than on each other: I will help us by going off and doing something with them which I can't tell you about because it happened in session so it is confidential.

You, then, are supposed to cooperatively consider it fixed because I went off and did some Scientology. Otherwise you are not acting validly as a group member. You too must remove attention from whatever was wrong and put it onto Scientology (more gung ho), so as to make it not matter that whatever was wrong is still right where it was. It is fixed because we both did ethics conditions and wrote success stories and then got very busy: a therapy of distraction and misdirection which works when we all agree that it did.

A classic form of this is to do something unethical to get money to give to the Church, then fix everything by doing an ethics handling -- but keep the money! In a similar way, the Church will punish overly coercive members who have created a flap, make claims of reform, then recruit others to do the same things again.

The group member will appear inadequate or disloyal if he does not find some way to agree that the asserted result occurred and the situation is fixed. Success stories are a means by which one ranks and assesses status with reference to the Bridge, a complex chart of abilities supposedly gained at various levels of one's Scientology career. To fail to claim to have achieved the specified results would discredit one's status as a Scientologist and invite expensive remedial action. Thus one must come to see oneself and demand to be treated by others as an unusually sane, capable and rational person -- one with extraordinary ability to communicate, who has no problem with problems, one not troubled by past upsets in life, and so on. It is discrediting to admit having a problem that was supposed to have been "handled." At the moment of attestation you said it was handled. Are you now saying that Scientology does not work, or that you lied in your attestation? A way is needed, perhaps a divorce or most commonly by joining staff, to deny that such situations still exist. By doing Scientology (busy, busy) one gains an avenue for action that simply bypasses the circumstances of own prior life, so that such questions simply will not arise -- the ultimate invalidation.

OT abilities are least likely to be challenged by other Scientologists who have similar ego needs, most likely to be seen as delusional by those who have known the person well over time. Lack of real change, and evident failure, can be covered up by staying in the group and doing Scientology.

The more vain the person or fragile the ego, the more tightly and desperately held (internalized, believed) are the claims made for personal condition and ability, and the more threatening any challenge to those claims. An attack upon one's religion becomes emotionally synonymous with an attack on one's personal vanity and self-concept.

The group-think presumption that Scientologists will succeed better than other people encourages unequal standards of evidence and validity, giving benefit of the doubt on the one hand and withholding it on the other. If one begins to act more like a Scientologist, that tends to be perceived as improvement per se. Likewise, "he's better now" tends to mean that he is acting more like a Scientologist. Realistic assessment becomes impossible, the real accomplishments of others are minimized, and the ordinariness of trained Scientologists is not to be noticed.

Don't Overlook the Obvious Absurdity

Claims of success by Scientology or due to Scientology are supposed to be accepted at face value -- including the "I was thinking about my sister in Terra Haute and just then she called" type of thing which is common in promotional materials. Asserted but unverified claims are particularly evident in areas of education, drug rehabilitation, business management, and communication skills, where the Church makes claim to unique competence which is widely asserted but which I have never seen supported by evidence.

An amusing instance of claims for Scientology occurs in a book which we gave our employees for Christmas several years ago. It stated that with the amazing discoveries of Dianetics and Scientology there is no reason for anyone ever to wear glasses. This became a standing joke among the rest of our employees because all five of our Scientologists wore glasses.

If the claims made by Scientology were in any way true, the world and especially Scientology would be full of virtual supermen. I have not observed any, and I have observed people who should have been supermen if there were any -- in fact I should be one.

Social status such as "OT" or upper management enable some to pass within the group as superior beings without having to show anything more than an air of confidence.

In those I knew best, I saw no positive result not attributable to pressure-cooker motivation, experience, and the maturing of already existing ability. While those things may be valuable, they are not the claims made by and for Scientology. Certainly I saw no special qualities which cannot be observed also in non-Scientologists. The most predictable result I observed was a temporary elation following completion of a service.

There are negative results too. We might ask what it costs a person to believe, and act on the belief, that Scientology is scientific, that it is man's only hope, that only Mr. Hubbard got it all right, that nothing is as important as your status with Scientology, that everything associated with Scientology is always an emergency and urgent and mandatory, that the rest of the world lacks the tech and can be saved only by getting into Scientology, or any of hundreds of other examples from this bizarre ethos.

What relevance to anyone else does such a person have (except within the group's bubble)? What better life could such a person have created, on a more sane basis? And what is the cost to that person's associates?

A six year old child described being told by her Scientologist mother, when you get to higher courses you can be kind of dead and then if you don't like where you are, you can get to be somewhere else just by thinking about it.

Evaluation of result is pretty much bypassed in practice. The selling of cult membership relies on other means. Astounding results are widely asserted in promotional materials, to provide a needed rationale, but actual evidence is not needed for those already in the maw of Hard Sell and heavy ethics. Neither is it needed to attract new raw meat, the supply of which is assured by broad dissemination to the public at large, and playing the odds. There will always be some who will try an introductory course or service and prove defenseless to a new agenda for their lives -- especially if the cult is able to suppress free and public information about itself, and if those who have been there remain silent.

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