Gullibility Revisited, part 2
This is part two of an article entitled Gullibility Revisited, by an anonymous ex-Scientologist.
My reactions nowThe first thing I noticed during my restudy was the number of times ron expressed uncertainty about any of the subjects he discussed. Zero. I even re-listened to the tape to make sure. Zero. I didn't notice this when I was a scientologist. In fact, I'm sure that when I was a scientologist, any expression of uncertainty would have put me off. Now I see it as proof that hubbard was a remorseless fraud. Nobody could discuss so many things without a single 'maybe.' The man was pretending to be God.
Listening to the tape this time, it occurred to me how simplistic and wishful hubbard's basic idea of the mind was. If only it were that easy. But when I was a scientologist I never questioned the fundamental model of the 'mind' on which all of dianetics and, really, scientology were based. Indeed, what evidence was there that there existed a 'bad mind' and a 'good mind,' and that you could re-file everything (as if minds were computer-like) from the bad mind to the good mind and then 'erase' the bad one, like a software program? Why am I able to see this now if I was unable to do so then? I don't fully know, but a lot of the answer is now clear to me.
When I first came into scientology I simply hadn't developed much ability to identify and challenge basic assumptions. I hadn't learned well that a hypothesis can sound like a stroke of genius, but still turn out to be dead wrong when subjected to a test of proof, and that this applies to social and philosophical as well as 'physical' hypotheses. These things weren't taught well where I went to school. They still aren't taught that well as far as I know, despite the nominal move toward 'critical thinking.' Maybe it would cause too much pain and turmoil by threatening too many cherished ideologies to teach these things well to kids, but it would have helped me to avoid the scientology trap.
Instead of identifying and challenging, I, like many others, made a horrific mistake. It seemed to make sense and to work for others, so I accepted it tentatively and decided to see if it would work for me. After all, this was the basic line being given out by the people promoting scientology to me at the time: "You need it. It's the only thing that can solve your problems. Give it a try. See if it works for you!" At the time I sensed no danger. I didn't know that people could promote something false with such verve. I didn't know that some people could wildly exagerate and falsify their experiences with such wholesome sincerity. I didn't see that I had anything to lose. After all, I thought, what's so bad about giving something a try and seeing if it works? If it doesn't work, won't I soon realize it and leave? But there are several reasons why this DOES NOT hold true in ultra-manipulative, genuinely evil groups like Scientology. Maybe these are worth going into:
Reason one: Scientology doesn't LET you "see if it works."
Scientology needs people who will give it plenty of money or it won't survive. If you can't give money, scientology needs you as a slave, someone who will work for little more than room and board, either in the sea org or as a non-sea org staff member. Scientology lives on the money-givers and the slaves. Once you have agreed to 'try it,' you can't be allowed to wander away. Operatives in the group skillfully go to work on extracting a powerful committment of unreasoning loyalty.
The new person is bombarded by radiant stories of Scientology success--stories about how Scientology saved person after person from the depths of despair, poverty, misery, lonliness, lovelessness, lack of energy, inhibition. Stories of fantastic, superhuman abilities gained, like seeing through walls, moving objects telekinetically, telepathy, 'knowing' things that couldn't be known, curing terminal illnesses, moving around disembodied and doing good deeds. The stories are lies; the successes are hopes molded by the imagination into delusion, or the outright lies of confident and personable manipulators. But the new person doesn't guess at the truth. After all, how could anyone lie about such things? Shining hope is awakened. How can one not be FOR such a wonderful group?
Having started a scientology training course, the new person is told time and time again that Scientology is 100% workable, that the only reason Scientology sometimes appears not to work is people altering it or not doing it exactly as ron says. People who alter the tech are either not too bright, very low on one or more of Hubbard's "scales," or suppressive. This is strangely effective. Soon one "knows" that the tech invariably works if correctly applied even while witnessing evidence to the contrary in oneself and others. More loyalty. How can people believe something in the midst of contradictory evidence? I don't know, but we seem to be able to do it with ease.
Over and over one is reminded how bad it would be not to support the only organization on earth that can do all these wonderful things and how necessary it is to oppose evil groups who work against scientology's goal of spiritual freedom, especially psychiatry. More and more support is extracted--donations, staff contracts, sea org contracts. More loyalty.
People who continue to doubt scientology's workability or who complain about a lack of results tend to wind up in the caring hands of the 'Ethics' section, where they spend a long time 'handling' the 'suppressive people' in their environments or doing tortuous 'lower conditions formulas' under the supervision of the 'Ethics Officer.' Usually such people come to see the path to salvation: Stop wavering and apply the tech exactly in all areas of life. Look inward; all failures stem from your own deriliction of your basic duty to apply the tech precisely. The only right path is the path of loyalty to Ron.
Scientology materials and scientologists let you know in dozens of ways that if you fully subscribe to the 'standard tech' myth you are one of the universe's 'ethical beings'--a white hatted freedom fighter bravely waging war against evil. Those who waver from full acceptance don't just have something wrong with them, they have something embarrassingly wrong with them. They are very low on the 'tone scale,' or they have lots of nasty secrets. They are degraded beings who can't duplicate or they are so low on Ron's many other scales that they just can't recognize truth. They can't stop doing bad things or they're under the spell of a suppressive. Or they have so many filthy evil intentions that even standard tech has a hard time rooting them out. Or maybe they're just 'small beings' as opposed to the 'big beings' hubbard often mentioned. This is a very powerful technique. You don't want to be one of these creatures. Much easier to be loyal. Easier to imagine that you are 'winning' through standard tech.
Reason two: Unreasoning loyalty,once established, obliterates critical thinking about the object of loyalty, the group and its leader and its beliefs. When this happens, you're trapped.
It would be comfortable to assume that scientologists and members of other enslavement groups are abnormally low on critical thinking skills. I've met plenty people in and out of Scientology and I doubt if it's generally true. I'm inclined to think it's more a matter of very bad luck. One is terribly depressed, isolated, having an awful time of it or whatever and has the misfortune of running into a Scientology disseminator. You don't recognize this warm, caring, confident, friendly person as a deceitful manipulator, but then few people would. Most friendly people are just friendly people. True, if your critical thinking skills had been strong you'd have had a good laugh and left, but at the time you just weren't that sharp. You hadn't been trained in critical thinking and you were desparate for help. You were a fool, but most other people could have been equally foolish in the same situation. And lots of people were simply born into Scientology--for example, the chairman of the board--or had good and trusted friends or relatives who got them in. Lousy luck.
The point I'm getting to is that people in enslavement cults like scientology are not necessarily strange morons devoid of the ability to observe and reason. It's just that because of their powerful loyalty, they have a very hard time using reason with regard to their own leaders and group ideology. They are trapped by their own loyalty which they have mistakenly given but can't seem to take back. There are plenty of examples of people with obviously great critical thinking skills BEING UNABLE TO USE THEM when it came to their own groups and leaders. Nazi Germany had some of the world's best scientists--people who solved all sorts of real, physical problems. Yet many of them enthusiastically followed and worked for a sadistic lunatic whose ideology had no basis in fact or reason. Scientology fortunately isn't a country and it has few if any of the world's good scientists, but Hubbard, like Hitler, made it terribly, terribly wrong to engage in critical thinking about his ideas. He demanded loyalty without question, and, for some reason many not unintelligent people gave it to him. And without people questioning, the lies could grow and grow into Helatrobus, into the Wall of Fire, into the debilitating monstrosities you see in the NOTs materials. I don't fully know why this happens, this suspension of reason in favor of loyalty to evil maniacs, but it is a powerful and disastrous human phenomenon and it really does happen under the right conditions. Can people be educated well enough in recognizing lies that it doesn't happen? I hope so.
Reason three: Scientology offers a caring community.
At first, the group is very warm and caring, very friendly. Concerned with your success. A close-knit, loving community with social AND economic connections. People who didn't have this in the non-scientology world--and there are too many--are easily seduced. Loyalty is easily exchanged for community--if one is starved for community. For some reason it's difficult not to be loyal to a group of people who accept you so fully. Especially when they're all such really nice people. Aren't they?
I wouldn't be at all surprised--although I don't know this for sure--to find that scientologists are people who, at the time they were recruited, had NO group they felt they belonged to. Scientology definitely satisfies this need.
Reason four: Scientology leaders are very artful in getting people to accept lies. Most scientologists are defenseless against manipulative lying by their leaders once loyalty has been given.
I mentioned the "wins." Now I see the embarrassing truth: People can be gotten to pretend all manner of wins that are really imaginary. Some become very enthusiastic about it. A few engage in elaborate and fantastic lying with great pleasure and no guilt. It's a bizarre human trait. We don't like to talk about it much, but really, we lie a lot, especially if our group wants us to.
Since leaving the scientology I've realized that hubbard and the scientology elite practiced and practice a kind of lying that was completely effective against me and other members I knew. Essentially, Hubbard claimed to be fighting the things he was actually trying to bring about, and claimed to be promoting the things he actually worked to destroy. It's very strange.
He claimed to be leading people to spiritual freedom, yet requiring that people adhere utterly and without deviation to standard tech in all areas of life meant that it was 'unethical' for his followers to think for themselves--spiritual slavery.
In the early fifties he railed against authoritarian teaching methods in schools and universities, yet scientology 'study tech' as practiced reduces education to the duplication and understanding of 'source' only. It is positively vile for a scientologist to seriously challenge the validity of the tech and unthinkable to propose or try alternatives.
Hubbard said he wanted people to confront reality as it is, yet Scientology and Dianetics processing is the ultimate in introversion, mainly aimed at getting the person to see imaginary incidents and beings as "real".
Hubbard claimed to be achieving greater "self-determinism" and ability for his followers, yet Scientologists are made mentally dependent on "the tech" in nearly all areas of their lives, even business and the arts. Hubbard actually sought to eliminate "self-determinism."
Hubbard and the scientology elite claimed to be for libertarian "laissez faire," letting people do as they please without too much interference, yet the cult is practically a totalitarian slave state unto itself. It's in Scientology that you find the ranks of hollow-eyed "sea org" slaves living in poverty with few rights, under the most unyielding control, the RPF sub-slaves shuffling around in dirty clothes denied even the right to address and associate with other Scientologists, and the comfortable, arrogant elite, strutting their rank and unquestionable power in their impeccable uniforms, instilling terror in the subserviant ranks, living genteel, priviliged lives.
Scientology claimed to be against the persecution of minorities, but the cult actually does the things it now accuses Germany of slipping toward: falsely demonizing.and persecuting members and past members as "suppressives," demonizing and vilifying psychiatrists and psychologists with precisely the same propaganda methods used by the Nazis against the Jews.
Hubbard and scientology singled out the "psychs" as the true source of insanity and crime in the world. Yet it's Scientology that brings about introversion and insanity --as I myself and thousands of others can attest--through endless "processing," in which people are little-by-little gotten to believe that Hubbard's imaginary "minds" and "implants" and hordes of interfering spirits are real.
I could give hundreds of examples like these of this 180 degree truth-reversal type lying in scientology. EASILY. It is weirdly powerful. You'd think it would be possible to see through this stuff. From a vantage point outside of Scientology it is, but when I was in Scientology I couldn't. My misbegotten loyalty somehow made it very hard to step back and compare what was being said to reality. Yes, I saw plenty of flaws, even serious ones, but for many years, I couldn't break out mentally and get the overall picture of massive, ruthless, unbridled deception.
Again, a really well-educated critical thinker would have been able to see through this as well as the other kinds of deception one meets in member-destroying cults like Scientology--despite any inborn sheeplike tendencies. But in me at the time, as in many others, the sheep was stronger than the thinker, who, if potentially smart, was very weak through lack of exercise. Seems that education in critical thinking would include plenty of exercise as well as familiarity with ways people lie to each other and especially with how truly dangerous, manipulative liars operate. And with the truly awful danger of agreeing to avoid fundamental questions.
Next: Freedom from the burden of proof.
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