Why is Scientology Still Around?
Since every control that we use against the public leads to a better society, we are absolutely justified in using control. L. Ron Hubbard  With [sales personnel] there is no place for people who have an unshakable belief in the self-determination of a public person. The public has long ago lost their power of critical thought. [...] The public person must be told where to go and what to do. L. Ron Hubbard 
The answer in Scientology is simple -- "The truth will always prevail."
The critics' answer is just as simple -- "They manipulate their members and submit them to brainwashing. They intimidate former members, pay them to be silent or use coercion so that they dare not report their terrible experiences. And when nothing else works, then they buy their silence."
Both short answers contain a measure of truth. I would word my own answer in a different way.
Filling a Need
Most former Scientologists would verify without hesitation that they had profited from Scientology to a greater or lesser degree
Whoever is as familiar with Scientology as I am knows what he is talking about. There are many truths of life in Scientology which are also known to other religions or philosophies, just as new, or newly packaged. Whether we like Hubbard or not, he succeeded in bringing large parts of theory and practice together in the area of life assistance. Also the main concern in the introductory courses of Scientology consists, for a large part, of providing information to the participant so that he can better control his life. After these initial successes, which are repeatedly witnessed and put on display chiefly for the benefit of independent third parties, most people are ready to push aside their critical thoughts about the system .
Therefore whoever has experienced seemingly practical and personally useful life assistance will see no reason not to regard Scientology as something good. He will frequently not believe the horror stories which constantly appear in the media -- I never believed them either, until I began to take an interest in the particulars.
A completely organized management bolstered by not insignificant financial resources helps to maintain structure despite occasional catastrophes.
With few exceptions, there are virtually no commercial undertakings which are as thoroughly organized as Scientology is. We probably would have to bring up a dictatorial military government as a comparison in order to do justice to the degree of obedience and organization that exists in Scientology.
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Fundamental Concepts of Scientology
A whole set of realizations about people and their relationship to their fellow human beings are a part of the fascination of Scientology. These realizations are comprised of a great deal of truth with which the normal citizen can identify, and which can also bring him tangible profit. Because Hubbard almost always failed to acknowledge that he had assumed realizations from others in the past, most Scientologists who have had little or nothing to do with religion, philosophy or esoterica believe that everything written by Hubbard is his own discovery.
A short synopsis of a few of the ground rules of Scientology:
The person, according to the fundamental rule of Scientology, is basically good. In this, Hubbard is in harmony with many other philosophers who also advocate this concept.
The person is a spiritual being (Scientology replaces the notion of "soul" with "Thetan"), which lives in and animates a body, and which, with the help of his mind, tries to master the problems of life. In the spirit of the Eastern religions and philosophies, the human soul is regarded as immortal. After death, it seeks, voluntarily or involuntarily, a new body. In direct contradiction to this is, of all things, Hubbard's explanation:
It is fatal to not be a Scientologist. [...] Anybody who is not a Scientologist [...] has no chance of personal immortality. It's that simple. (Critics of Scientology, November 5, 1967)
By this Hubbard contradicts his own assertion, that man is an immortal soul. In this case, immortality is made dependent upon Scientology.
The mind is a type of data bank, in which all of our experiences, memories, etc. are stored. They are, more or less, able to be recalled easily. Whether they are or not depends on whether they are in the analytical or the reactive mind. In the analytical portion is found the consciously recallable information or that information which is not embedded with negative emotions or strain. In the reactive (reacting to impulse) part of the mind is found the unpleasant recollections and thoughts.
The highest goal of people (and of life in general) is survival. This urge to survive manifests itself as an urge to survive as an individual, as family, as a group, as humanity. A person is dealing ethically when he arranges his actions so that they do good for the majority of these areas of life. A close comparison is made to the Stoics.
Hubbard said that he had developed the only functioning technology which could lead the person to complete spiritual freedom, make him into a "clear." Clear is the condition in which one has achieved the complete removal of his subconscious. One does not, therefore, have to "believe," or rely on imprecise meditation methods, or (naturally without success) undergo hundreds of hours of psychoanalysis. One can work his way to the highest plane of enlightenment through a precisely prescribed procedure.
Originally, according to Hubbard, there was no physical universe as we know it (meaning the earth, galaxies, etc.). All was spirit. Then the spirit created the physical universe and became entangled in materialism. Man tries to free himself from his dependency on matter.
Scientology divides itself into three areas: ethics, technology (which is concerned with the individual as far as understanding, Scientology courses, counseling procedures), as well as administration. For all three areas there are an abundance of writings and policy instructions which are allegedly comprised of the ultimate perceptions and truths. No Scientologist need understand all these documents in their entirety. If all the tape recorded lectures of Hubbard were to be transcribed, they would amount to around 250 books in A4 format, each with a size of at least 500 pages.
Scientology, according to its perception of self, is the only movement in the world through which a person can break his bonds with the physical universe and help the pure spirit again achieve his full potential, total divinity. Only it can ensure, with an absolute guarantee, that the world can be freed from poverty, from war and from every mental illness. This is said to be possible because L. Ron Hubbard sorted out the wisdom of life, ancient as he alleged himself to be, and developed from the application of the principles of modern science a functioning system of courses and individual counseling with supposedly absolute precision. Anybody can be led through this to spiritual enlightenment insofar as they lead themselves there.
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The Status of a Religious Community
Religious communities in most countries of the world enjoy a special protection, because religious freedom is supposed to be guaranteed. As a religion, Scientology can serve itself up a complete set of privileges. That is because a religion operates in a freed which cannot be underestimated. Whoever is active as a religion can either do or omit much which would be denied to a business. For example, in reaction to any criticism by the public, Scientology can always act as if it were "banned" or "discriminated" against. It may advertise its products on public land. Their staff does not have to receive the legal minimum wage, since they are idealistically employed as a "religious order." Besides that, almost no politician would touch a religious community with a ten foot pole.
Strong Internal Control Mechanisms
Scientology works with strong and well functioning internal control mechanisms.
Deviants, dissenters, and those expressing themselves critically quickly end up in the "Ethics" department of Scientology. In extreme cases they are immediately separated from the rest of the organization, including their fellow acolytes. In cases of emergency they are sentenced to house arrest and also forbidden to speak. They are told, "Your only communications partner is the Ethics Officer." Whoever expresses himself critically with friends (co-Scientologists) despite this risks getting a so-called "Non-enturbulation Order." He is forbidden to speak, since he "enturbulates" others. The danger exists that he could infect others, so that the organization would suddenly have to answer critical questions from its customers.
Through such measures, intra-Scientology communication can be reduced to the following points:
- Studying and auditing (Scientology individual therapy)
- Glorification of Hubbard and the miracles of Scientology
- Enthusiasm about the expansion of the movement
- Validation of the attainment of the goal of a "cleared" planet
Every Scientologist is obligated to write so-called "knowledge reports" under certain conditions. This is one of the many kinds of "reports" that a Scientologists can write. Before I quote Hubbard on this topic, a short example:
The sales leader of Scientology Zurich had asked me to take over the simultaneous translation of the participating Scientologists during a sales seminar. The seminar was led by the American sales trainer, Les Dane, since then deceased. During a break I conversed with one of the technicians who worked for the company responsible for the simultaneous talents, and he said that he might be interested in one of the sales books written by Les Dane. To this I recommended that he order the book from the book store. A few days later I received a copy of a "knowledge report" written by one of the staff at Scientology Zurich.
This report was directed to the Scientology "ethics officer," and said that I had the audacity to recommend that the technician order the book from the book store. This was said to have prevented the direct sale of the book by the Scientology organization. Background: whoever buys this book in a Scientology book store for about 80 Swiss franks pays more than double what they would in a non-Scientology book store: 35 Swiss francs.
Hubbard wrote about the control system in regards to the system of the "knowledge reports:"
It is of the utmost importance that knowledge reports be written. [...]
If you see something that threatens the expansion of the organization, or if you discover somebody who tries to hinder the progress of Scientology, then report it to your local ethics officer, so that the situation can be investigated by the responsible people. [...]
It is the neglect of the individual group members who do not check on their associates which makes it tough on all group members to live and to work together. [...]
If this control is in place and this nuisance is removed, it will be a pleasure to belong to the group, and work will flow easily. [...]
And in return, you get an effective group, which can commonly control its environment, and is successful because its individual members mutually help each other.
And of course now comes the question, what is everything "that hinders the progress of Scientology?" The answer is very simple. It is potentially every person who permits himself to express an non-standard opinion.
This shows the actual (spiritual) dimensions of the individual Scientologist. If we are dealing with an inveterate, narrow-minded Scientologist, any critical remark will all too easily result in one of these "knowledge reports."
It is much more pointed in the so-called "security checks ." In an one-on-one discussion with the Scientologist attached to an electro-psychometer, the person giving the "confession" asks:
- Have you ever denied someone an important sale?
- Have you ever been negligent about the close of a sale?
- Have you, as a salesperson, ever refused to perceive an opportunity to expand Scientology?
- Have you ever refused to help another salesperson close a sale?
- Have you ever obligated the organization for the delivery of free or reduced services?
- Have you done other things when you should have been selling?
- Have you criticized the organization or the leading powers of the organization in front of a person from the public?
Questions of the following type also exist:
- Have you ever caused another to write a check for money which he did not have?
- Have you ever lied in order to make a sale?
- Have you ever used sexual misconduct in order to make a sale?
- Have you ever sought out a wealthy individual and sold them services which they did not absolutely need, or persuaded them to make "donations" which were, in reality, not meant for any services of the organization?
Such individual questions could just as well serve to uncover an unscrupulous salesperson as it could to detect any criticism or faltering loyalty. Woe to the staff member who expresses himself critically about the leadership ability of Scientology. That's undermining the organization! And woe to the salesperson who agrees with a customer that the price of Scientology services are too high. The sword is double-edged.
With the aid of these interrogations, Scientology also learns to whom and about what people have talked and where common critical points exist which the organization then has each person "handle." A person's entire network of relationships can be illuminated in this fashion.
This type of experience includes (still conducted on the Scientology electro-psychometer) the "roll back" process. This is a procedure in which certain situations or events or moods are traced back in time during a one-on-one discussion. Who has said what to you? When? Where? And where could he have learned that from? Whom have you told? A systematic interrogation with the goal of rolling up all the threads of information which could eventually be damaging for Scientology. These are followed back until the origination point is found and the person or people concerned can be "handled" with other methods.
Statistics form another control mechanism of Scientology. Statistics measure the production output of each individual. Each staff member keeps one or more set of statistics in order to document his performance. (Examples are "number of people called up," "number of course participants," "money taken in.") These can be used to make tactical and strategic decisions, as they are so well in commercial business. Though one could also use them to tyrannize and hypnotize a person into having a "Thursday 2 o'clock psychosis". This is a condition in which a person looks neither right nor left, but only runs desperately after his goal to perform enough by next Thursday so that he can at least receive his minimal wage of 50 or 100 marks ($35-70).
I have already mentioned that Scientologists have a wealth of reasons for writing "reports." Hubbard once published a list which told the staff member everything he should report on:
Damage report, Mistake report, Waste report, Alteration report, Missing or Theft report, Discovery announcement, Non-Obedience report, Misdemeanor report, Crime report, High Crime report, No Report report, False Report report, False Attestation report, Nuisance report, Job Endangerment report, Technical Alteration report, Knowledge report.
Reports, reports, reports ... they accumulate in the "ethics folder" of a person, and the ethics officer will notice whose folder is particularly thick. A staff member, who does not write a report when he should have automatically becomes an accomplice!
The internal control system of Scientology is extremely well defined. Deviant thinking is very quickly discovered. By this means the "church leaders" can quickly "help" those who have gone astray to find their way back to the straight and narrow path.
Mindless Obedience - The Stanley Milgram Experiment
There are supposed to be people who need a "leader." Perhaps we all need someone who can lead us through life with a strong hand. Scientology's advertisements, which extol clear answers to the mysteries of life, can attract such people.
The manner in which one places one's own objections or criticisms in the background is to classify them as "mistakes" and say "They already know that. Maybe I do not yet understand their actions, because I have not progressed far enough mentally." That explains the experiment which was conducted by the American Stanley Milgram in the early 60's at Yale University. Here is how the experiment worked:
The person responding to the advertisement came into a laboratory. He would take part in an apparent experiment in psychological learning. The alleged goal was to determine what the connections were between learning and punishment. A second person was already in the laboratory. Which of the two would be the "student" and which the "teacher" would be determined by drawing straws.
In reality the first person in the laboratory was a member of the experiment team, and the drawing of the straws was fixed. The real guinea pig would always play the "teacher." The experiment began.
The teacher received from an "authority", the lead scientist, the assignment of reading words to the student, who had to repeat these words. For each wrong answer, the teacher was to punish the student with an electric shock. For each mistake the intensity of the shock would be increased by turning a dial, up to a maximum of 450 volts. Of course, there was no live current. The student would only pretend like there was. The teacher would not know this.
Prior to the experiment, Milgram had collected predictions. Most were of the opinion that the "teacher" would go up to a strong current of electricity. Not a single one thought it possible that someone would continue after serious or even life-threatening voltages were reached.
These predictions proved, in a horrifying way, to be wrong.
When the student, or "victim" was in a different room, out of sight and out of hearing, 65 percent of the test people went all the way to the end of the scale. If they could hear their victims scream, 64 percent went on to the bitter end. If they were in the same room with the victim ("student"), 40 percent still would apply the strongest current. And even when they sat right next to each other, 30 percent were prepared to go to the upper end of the voltage scale.
When the "authority", the professor, was replaced by an apparently incompetent "aide," only 20 percent of the test people went to the end. When two "authorities" argued with each other as to whether the experiment should be continued or not, the test person would immediately stop.
When the test people were only observers watching an incompetent "aide" (one of Milgram's staff) torture the victim, most of them protested, and a few even physically held the "aide" away from the dial. If others got busy reading the instructions for the voltage regulator, then almost all test people went on to the end.
I believe Stanley Milgram's experiment is one of the essential explanations for the fascination of Scientology. If someone gets involved in Scientology, almost all their critical attitude disappears in some mysterious manner.
"Whoever wants to think correctly must first have doubted." This famous quote from Aristotle articulates a truth which is not (yet) known in Scientology. Doubt must be permitted, even demanded, if the individual is to come to a really self-determined understanding. Doubt, however, to Scientology, amounts to a "lower ethics condition" and is not desired. Not even in the form of an open discussion!
Professional Marketing -
Professional Public Relations Work
Even advertisement professionals have confirmed that the advertisement and marketing policies of Scientology are very modern. They are not inferior to the policies used in many areas by large businesses. Hubbard's marketing policy No. 1 includes the following:
Before 1949, the knowledge of man about himself, his soul and his whole understanding was black barbarism. Look at the psychological, psychiatric and religious literature of the 1930's and 40's. A person could not change himself. He was a degraded animal. The application of therapy consisted of dreams, drugs, ice picks and cold showers. Only Dianetics and Scientology began the way out of this witch's lair. [...]
Act and write as if you have novel news.
These sentences show us two things. First, that Scientology is regarded as the one true answer to the collective questions of life. Secondly, that Scientology should always be presented as something new in marketing.
Scientology's marketing is constructed from clear policies:
The motto of the marketing office is: CREATE A DEMAND! The PURPOSE of marketing is TO CREATE A DEMAND and TO SELL SOMETHING.
This is clearly not about religious enlightenment. This is the preparation for a professional sale.
The first step is market research. A campaign is developed based on the market research.
Imagine a sales campaign that contains which interests (according to market research) should be brought to light, and what the key buttons are (according to market research) for the selected public.
Scientology pursues intensive marketing research so that their advertisements will be effective. In this way the marketing department can newly re-package old courses or books so that they address the consumers. This goes for all new products, for everything from a collection of Hubbard's writings to a new course.
The next main point is "positioning." By this is meant the art of bringing one's own product into the consciousness of an individual, and the attainment of a certain position in his consciousness. In 1988 Scientology published, as an internal policy letter, a brochure which was written by American public relations specialists Al Ries and Jack Trout, entitled "Positioning in PR":
"Positioning", according to Hubbard, "uses the fact that one compares what he likes with what other people like or dislike.
Also, if the person with whom one is communicating has no realization of the contents of the communication, one can instill the appearance of confidence. One then associates this appearance in the understanding of the other person with something which is known to the other person.
We know that people can not endure psychiatry. As a result, we communicate that anything detestable is, as we say, under the realm of psychiatry. We can also make people believe that something is good if we say it is against psychiatry. It is bad if it leads to psychiatry, or terrible because psychiatrists do it (as in the people from the tax agency).
[...] Through this the possibility presents itself of forming an opinion about a matter which one has endeavored to communicate.
A positioning example from Scientology: In the new "Scientology Handbook" is a photograph in which representatives of the largest religions of the world are pictured on a mountain ridge. At the top of the mountain, so that the others must look up to it, stands the wise Scientologist.
Another example of positioning could appear this way: Scientologists discover the cruelty of psychiatrists. This event is immediately distributed throughout the media. The goal is having people say about Scientology, "Those are the ones who are fighting against the terrible psychiatrists. Therefore they must be good." At this same time, attention is drawn away from Scientology problems; criticism is pushed under the table.
The larger Scientology organizations have constantly been using Hubbard's marketing directives for years. Surveys held on their own members lead to internal advertisements for products, formation of products, formation of prospective products, product names, etc. Course names such as The Key to Life or Success through Communication are the result of this work.
Part of the internal strategy of Scientology is that all news consists exclusively of success. Passing on critical information is forbidden. In this way, a picture is drawn that Scientology is free from mistakes, and the powers-that-be are demigods. Bad press is attributed to evil powers which prescribe that the devil annihilate the only movement in the world which can bring about total spiritual freedom.
All public relations directives of Scientology are founded upon Scientology making no mistakes, and that Scientology is above making mistakes.
One more policy on PR, as Hubbard calls it:
Do not stay on the subject on which people are attacking you. [...]
Just contest any of their statements which you can prove to be false, and do not pay attention to the rest of the conversation.
In Scientology, public relations has a clear mission -- "the manipulation and control of human emotions and reactions." It is supposed to "form" public opinion, as Hubbard expressed it in a presentation. If the authors of this book and others like it, or organizations which address critical points of Scientology, were not constantly attacked as a "frenzied tirade of the enemies of religion," and pushed aside... if there were, inside Scientology, the necessary areas of honest reform, then Scientology would not have made near as many enemies. Their positive side would also be much easier to believe. Whoever is sentenced as a criminal by Scientology, whoever is caught by the Scientology secret service because he has expressed himself critically will never be able to get around the idea that Scientology is something bad or at least highly doubtful.
Nazi Propaganda Methods
An unsuitable title? I do not think so, as I am quoting L. Ron Hubbard:
One of the socialist (communist and Nazi alike) propaganda techniques long in use is of interest to those who practice PR. I know of no place in PR literature where it is mentioned. But the details are passed by word of mouth among espionage circles and are presently in constant use.
The trick is this: WORDS ARE REDEFINED SO THAT THEY CONTAIN A DIFFERENT MEANING WHICH IS FAVORABLE TO THE PROPAGANDIST.
In a two page paper, Hubbard gives examples of application and further instructions.
There are many examples of this. It is not a "natural" alteration of speech. These are propaganda changes, carefully planned and executed, in order to gain an advantage in public opinion for the group which is producing the propaganda.
If one repeats the new definition often enough, one can change public opinion through alteration of word meaning. [...]
"Psychiatry" and "psychiatrists" are easily redefined to mean "an anti-social enemy of the people." That is a positive use of the technology, since the psychiatrist has managed, in one century, to beat the record of all time for his inhumanity to man. [...]
We can redefine modern psychology as a German military system, which is used to condition people for war and which is supported by the government in American and other universities during times when they are having difficulty in recruiting for the military.
The way to redefine a word consists of repeating the new definition of the word as often as possible.
For this reason it is necessary to redefine medicine, psychiatry and psychology "from the bottom up", and define Dianetics and Scientology "from the top down."
A constant, repeated effort is the key to any success with this propaganda technique.
The purpose justifies the means. It is important for each group to be self-contained. That goes for Scientology, too. It shows strength and continuity. Internal criticism is then a weak point. For this reason, it is completely sensible for such a group to build and maintain an external enemy and to make it responsible for all evil. One can always draw attention away from himself that way.
Hubbard said that he had found no reference in any PR literature to this Nazi propaganda technique which was published by him as an obligatory policy. I searched for a reference, and found it in ten minutes in Hitler's "Mein Kampf."
From these facts, effective propaganda must limit itself to as few points as possible and must make these into key phrases and use them, as often as possible, until everyone can picture what has been wished by the use of such words.
Hitler clearly states that specific words should bring about the effect, which has been introduced by the propagandist, in the heads of those addressed by the propaganda. In this context, Hitler condemns the German propaganda during the first World War, then he gives an example of the application of the proper technique:
[...] the propaganda of the English and the Americans was psychologically correct. That they presented the Germans, to their own people, as Huns and Barbarians, prepared their own soldiers for the terror of war, and thus helped prevent disappointment. The most terrifying weapon which could be used against them appeared to them only as a confirmation of their own convictions and strengthened the righteousness of their government's assertions, and it increased anger and the hate for the wicked enemy on the other side.
Then the cruel effect of the weapons to which he is introduced from the other side gradually appears to him as proof of the previously known "savage" brutality of his barbarian enemy, although if he thought about it for only a moment, perhaps his own weapons would have an even more terrible effect.
The advertisement and PR methods of Scientology are comprehensive. They serve to maintain a coherency, particularly inside of the community. The positions are: Scientology saves the world -- psychiatrists want to enslave the world. That is the enemy picture.
The question of whether this is legitimate PR work or if things have been stretched too far is left up to the judgment of the individual. Regardless, whenever an ideology and movement with these means is on the advance, as long as they are convinced that they are the only ones who can save the world, they must be accompanied by many watchful eyes.
Artists as Propagandists
Rapid expansion can be achieved [...], if one rehabilitates prominent personalities who have passed their zenith or have just reached it.
This includes any person who is well-acquainted with and likes publicity, but is either past their prime or approaching it.
[...] The payment will be: "any contribution that you would like to make, in case we have helped. No further payment will be demanded .
L. Ron Hubbard revised this policy letter in 1976. Prominent figures officially receive Scientology services only for money. Nevertheless it is clear that these people present a special and important target public because of their support for the expansion of Scientology. The "Celebrity Centers," mixtures of service centers and PR centers, were created especially for them. A "celebrity" includes "any person who is important in their area, or who is an opinion leader, or people connected with them in any way, such as business partners, family or friends, so as to attract special attention in the arts, sports, management or government.