From: Bernie@bernie.cncfamily.com (Bernie)
Subject: Re: NBC Poll result - Scientology regains credibility
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 17:21:08 GMT
Sister Clara <email@example.com> wrote in article <firstname.lastname@example.org> (alt.religion.scientology):
>In message <email@example.com> Bernie@bernie.cncfamily.com (Bernie) wrote:
>Do you think that Scientology is a religion, a cult or a business?
I agree. I already went along with Rebecca's post in this respect.
Even to ask whether it is a religion or a cult doesn't make much sense, since both are difficult to define anyway, and the difference between them sometimes impossible to tell.
However, I think that those who made up the question had mainly in mind a gross difference in public's mind, mainly weather they consider Scn as just a group of people holding whatever weird and more or less innocuous beliefs they may consider as religious or if it's a dangerous cult. That's probably the crude differentiation they had in mind.
>Did that poll take place in Germany, Bernie?
No. The poll was posted on their web site, and advertized on the NBC television. You just had to log in and cast your vote. Several messages in ars urged readers to go on the site and cast their vote. So, if scienos knew about the poll or not , it is certain that critics knew about it. The small margin by which they won is even more significant in this light.
>How was the sample chosen?
Sample weren't chosen, it was a simple yes or no vote on a web site.
>Was it a face-to-face random poll (good) or a telephone poll (far larger margin of error and more opportunity for interested parties to manipulate the result)?
It was obviously the later - but the critics knew about it, they could "manipulate" the result all they liked by just calling on a massive vote (which they did) and casting it on the web site. The call was made several times, and I have little doubt that they did cast their vote.
>Do you know?
>Seems to me that it is very difficult to try and compare these results when the questions are so different.
True, but that's the closest I could find. It does give an "ordre de grandeur".
>Let me put it another way.
>Do you think that a religion is incapable of being regarded as having negative attributes
No. A religion certainly can be regarded as having negative attributes. I personally regard most of them as such. That's part of the reason why the question was not quite appropriate.
>and a cult incapable of having positive ones?
Mmm.. In public's mind I think they may have difficulties in finding positive aspects to a cult, even if it obviously can have positive aspects.
All in all, while I agree with you, I think that the overall bend to both those who asked the question and the public at large was closer to "do you think that Scn is dangerous or innocuous; good or bad".
>How could the criticism of any organisation "show the world" that the organisation is a "genuine religion"?
Criticism would not show that. Most of what I read in here, I don't consider as criticism, but bigoted, one-sided, vindicative attacks. That's my opinion, of course, but I think that reasonable outsiders may come to the same conclusion
Criticism involves, IMO, a more balanced and honest approach, that consider both aspects, use moderate language, and is self-reflective - something that is singularly missing with many posters.
That's the reason why, IMO, the type of "criticism" to be found in the majority of this newsgroup, has the reverse effect and eventually get the public to say "why don't you let these people believe whatever crazy things they like?", i.e. the perceived harm Scn does versus the perceived harm critics promote is disproportionate. Anybody having a minimum of interaction with Scientologists will very quickly realize that what is said about them is not true, they will therefore dismiss arguments of critics and have a more tolerant view of Scn, i.e. that it is just a religion (in the sense that they are just free to believe whatever they want, and that they should only be penalized for concrete crimes they themselves do). That's how I view it and it's in this sense that my statement above should be understood.
>That's silly, Bernie.
I don't know. Maybe it isn't as silly as it appears to be at first sight.
>Does the worldwide criticism of totalitarian regimes make them "genuine religions"?
There probably is a worldwide criticism of the regime in place in Iran. It's no doubt totalitarian. Islam is a religion nevertheless. I think that there are two separate things. If Scn could effectively be compared to fundamentalists group, I don't think it can be compared to a "regime", since it doesn't control any state, and people *are* free to come and go. It's a most fundamental difference. A regime is forcefully applied to all of their citizens, whether they chose for it or not.
The same goes for political parties. Criticism of the Soviet regime was certainly warranted - but does it make Communist less of a genuine and legitimate political party to which people are free to belong if they want to, and of which members have has many rights as anybody else?
The two things are separate, IMO. Criticism of the totalitarian aspects of Scn is certainly warranted, but, once again, the stupid and vile attacks by some (actually the majority of) individuals have very little to do with "criticism" in my view, and I am persuaded that it has the reverse effect on the public in the long run.
>All the indications are that Co$ is losing ground heavily at the current time and is in wholesale retreat.
Be careful of appearances. Even in 1975, when I joined Scn, and it wasn't as insane as it became with Miscavige, Scn had a very bad press. Not as widespread as now, with the internet effect, granted, but still the information you would find in the press was awfully bad. I didn't join out of a sudden impulse. For months, I made various researches, gathering all the information, pro, counter, and neutral I could. In so doing, I went to the main press agency and searched all the press articles I could find about it. In one of them, I read that Scn was practicing electro-shock on its members. By that time, I knew enough of Scn to know that this was ridiculous, and the rest of the article and the press was equally ultra negative. Because I could see the bias, ill-will and disinformation, I just dismissed the whole thing.
At some point in Scn I also did some body routing. From time to time we would meet people who were knowledgeable about the many negative aspects of Scn. The "handling" was dead simple. You would just ask "do you believe everything you read in the press? Aren't you curious to see it for yourself?" and that's all it took to bring them in and make the personality test, sell the books, etc.
Now, Sis, what do you think the global impression of someone scanning through this newsgroup or reading many critics web page is? Check for example this page: http://www.ezlink.com/~rayr/, and tell me that the bias doesn't jump right out at you as you log in.
It's hard to tell for sure, but I think that if I had to join now, my reaction would be quite similar to what it was then, because the picture you get when you personally contact scienos or scienos orgs doesn't fit at all with the picture one gets from it through the net. As a matter of fact, the contrast is even an additional argument for the scienos. The fact that they are so intensely attacked, with very little *current* examples, are also another argument in their garden that they are "dangerous" to those whose interest it is to preserve, etc, etc...
Many scholars who have actually studied the movement, and a few religious journalists don't view it as negatively; and they don't rely on anti-Scientology information because they know it's biased and the part of truth and exaggerations is impossible to set apart. CNN, for example, seem to just increasingly distrust anti-Scienos sources and link to them less and less frequently.
>No amount of wishful thinking can change that.
Frankly speaking, I personally don't care about the existence or not of Scn. I don't even care for the existence of the freezoner or not, since I decided that, while there are many positive aspects in Scn, at the end of the day it won't solve Humanities problems. I care, however, about truth and basic human rights, and all the threats of violation I can see right now are on the critics' side (such their support of the German discriminative measures, for example), and the dishonesty I can see is overwhelingly on the critics' side as well, to such an extend that it makes this newsgroup as so to say illegible. I am not interested to bring anymore fuel to this madness, and I certainly became considerably more anti-critics than I am anti-scienos over the years reading ARS. Reasonable and honest critics, with whom you can have a sensible conversation, are an extreme minority in this newsgroup, and often are just flamed as being an apostate to the group just for being reasonable and anti-fanatical.
>I fear you are allowing your dislike for several critics and their posting styles and sentiments to blind you to the larger picture.
I don't know. I don't really dislike Martin, for example. He is intelligent and humorous. Eh - even the Bird can be funny at times. Roland is smart, he writes well, and we probably have some common interests in OOBEs. I admire Tilman's capacity for work, organization, concentration, and persistence. Dennis can be quite lyric, perceptive, and display some noble emotion at times. I don't really think that I "dislike" them. Those I dislike might be because I don't know them so well. I have seen very little of the positive sides of Barwell or Lerma, for example, but I suppose they may have some as well, somewhere. Nevertheless, I do think that what all of these people display on Scn matter is distasteful, and is quite clearly bigotry, dishonest ill-will and one-sidededness, to the point that they really appear as idiots and stupid. I am quite confident that as soon as people realize of their bigotry, they would just simplywrite them off, together with many of their claims and a bit of the critics in general.
I am well aware that the "larger" picture, in the public, is largely negative about Scn, but I am not sure that this will have the effect awaited, and that it can't be turned, individually, around rather easily. I am not sure that the amount of critics' propaganda, on the long run, do not have just the reverse effects than the one awaited. I think it does.
>Whatever you may think of the critics on this newsgroup, they are but a small group of people expressing strong opinions.
It's not the impression I have. If rather important group express strong opinion and biased opinions, the majority go around endlessly repeating the same worn out clichés, and a *very* small minority are actually trying to have an honest and reasonable approach, and try to understand the situation as it really is.
>Co$ on the other hand, is a large, litigious organisation that perpetrates more harm on individuals in one minute than the whole assembled multitude of critics could ever do in a lifetime,
Jeesh, Sister, isn't this statement a bit over the board? I frankly don't agree with you. When you look the psychological mindset, the critics can be just as fanatical, sometimes even worst. I don't buy the statement that the cult is all bad and the critics all good. The results can be as destructive on either side, with the critics pushing for discriminative actions, and with situations getting out of hand just like in Jonestown and Waco. Both in the case of Jonestown and Waco, what we saw was critics pushing authorities to hysterical action. Then of course critics can say "oh, we didn't do it...". Propaganda, fear inducements, demonizations, *do* have an action too, Sister. I wouldn't dismiss it if I were you. As far as I am concerned, these are things, in some respect, much more important than the acts themselves, because the acts simply wouldn't happen if this previous demonization didn't exist.
>even assuming that they had the desire or the means to do so.
I don't think so. I think that the psychological mechanism that bring about gross abuses are exactly the same on the critics side as they are on the cult side, and you dismiss it at your own peril. Things doesn't get out of hand right away, it takes sometimes months or years of constant propaganda to create a "reality" that will degenerate. That's how it starts, and that's what I see. This type of "criticism" is, IMO, ineffective in the long run, uninteresting, and has the reverse effects than the one awaited. That's how I see it.
>I have accused enough people on this newsgroup of losing their sense of proportion. Step back a little, Bernie, and try to regain yours.
I most heartedly welcome your criticism, Sister, but it would take more than your statement above that CoS is doing more harm every minutes than critics would do in a lifetime to convince me. It doesn't correspond to what I saw in the CoS or what I see right here and now in the newsgroup, at the psychological level, nor how I perceive some of the reactions from the outside towards both protagonists.
>That is without doubt the silliest post I have seen from you in a long time.
Yes, it was a bit silly. That's true - but it's more on the form and statement aspect that it was silly, I think that on the content aspect, it does have a large part of truth.
Paper Tiger recently made a list of 166 posters in the last few months, Mike O'Connors estimated that there are 100 lurkers for every posters . The amounts of Scientologists posting here is very small. The poll was announced several times in the newsgroup. How come the margin is so small? If the number advanced where true, we would have something like 95% a cult and 5% a religion, or even worst. I think that, even though we should not jump too quickly to conclusions, it still is rather significant and, in this case at least, a victory for the CoS and a defeat for critics. Whether critics draw conclusion from this and from what I say generally on this quetsion or not is none of my concern. As I said, I don't care about the outcome of this fight. As I view it, the path is much more important than the end. *How* we go about what we do is more important than the results achieved, and in the "how", I would certainly include the spirit and integrity through which we are acting almost as much as the acts themselves.
Sorry for making it so long.
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