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Valid & Invalid Scientology Criticism


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Being neither a Scientologist nor an anti-Scientologist, but an ex-Scientologist critical of Scientology and also critical of the actual and potential abuses of the anti-cult movement, my position may sometimes be confusing. I hope I can somewhat clarify it through this page.

Notes:

  1. These represent only my opinion so just take it as such, though I'll try to substantiate them as I can.

  2. Although I make a valid/invalid distinction, nothing is black and white and each item may in fact be a mixture of both - but one has to draw the line somewhere.

  3. I do not bother clearing basic concepts on this page (Thetan, OT, sea Org etc.). I assume the reader is already familiar with these, or else clear them up through a Scientology Glossary such as this one.

Valid Criticism

In this Section

Disconnection
Fair Game
Indoctrination
Phony Church
Mystery Sandwich
Sea Org Abuses
Money
E-meter
Suppresive Persons
Absolute Claims
Workability
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Disconnection

Disconnection is one of the valid points of critics, even though the way they present it is not always correct. Because Scientologists believe that to stay in close contact with people who strongly disagree about Scientology is “dangerous” for their own advancement on the “bridge”, they may “disconnect” from friends and family members, even close ones. This is sad and objectionable. A good illustration of disconnection among other things is the story of Sasha. It makes for a fascinating reading, but also illustrates the fact that disconnection happens primarily because the belief is ingrained in the cultic assertions of Scientology itself, and not necessarily because it is forced upon members by the CoS. This is also why it sometimes remains a matter of individual decision, as illustrated towards the end of the story where one of Sasha's friends refuses to disconnect from him.

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Fair Game

Scientology indeed believes that people who criticizes it only do so because they have crimes they don’t want Scientology to find out or because they are unduly influenced by such people. Otherwise, why would anyone seek to undermine the “only hope for Humanity”? The Fair Game policy is a brainchild of that mentality, and canceling it because it creates bad PR does not change the mentality itself. The only difference is that the CoS now harasses its critics as far as they can legally get away with it. This is of course one of the valid arguments of critics, even though they sometimes engage in wild exaggerations about it and some of them even manufacture harassments when they can’t find enough to blame the CoS on.

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Indoctrination

I have done considerable work in the past to combat the notion of brainwashing and cult mind-control because these have been the conduit for gross abuses of basic human rights on the part of the anti-cult movement, but I certainly do agree with the notion of indoctrination. I am pleased to see that this, rather than mind-control, is the term used by modern day critics nowadays. More than a superficial distinction between Scientology beliefs and the CoS, one needs to make a distinction between Scientology tenets and cultic assertions on the part of LRH. The two are very often closely entangled in his writing. Because Scientologists value the first, they often unconsciously buy the second with it. Ironically, LRH himself describes this trap when he explains that an implant contains theta, and it is the power of theta that hold the implant together. The thetan cannot let go of the false ideas contained in it because he feels that this is like letting go of the theta. In the same way, Scientologists cannot let go of the cultic assertions contained in LRH writtings because they are so entangled with the teachings themselves that they feel this is like given up everything they valued in Scientology thus far.

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Phony Church

I defended in the past the fact that Scientology is a religion and the rights for its members to be protected against religious discrimination. I still maintain that position. However, I do believe that the church itself is a phony church, erected mostly to benefit from tax exemptions and other advantages. I believe that most rank and file Scientologists themselves do not like Scientology to be presented as a church and I am convinced that once the concrete advantages for being a church are removed, Scientology will promptly re-define itself as an "applied religious philosophy" instead, which it is. I am in fact in favor for all churches, not just the CoS, being taxed in the same manner as any business are. Tax exemption is little else than a mean for politicians to prevent churches getting involved in politic, and the State should not have any business in the first place taking on itself to try and define what is a true religious beliefs worth of being tax exempt and what isn't.

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Mystery Sandwich

I have in the past objected to critics presenting the Xenu story as the core belief of Scientology, when in fact 99% of Scientologists don't even know about it. I have also objected to their arguments that the science fiction nature of Scientology is only revealed at this level, when it is in fact available right at the beginning. And lastly, I have countered they arguments that hidden scriptures are unique to Scientology. However, I have to agree with the argument that the secret levels, and in particular OT III, is used as a mystery sandwich to keep people on the Bridge. Not only that, it is also used as a justification as to why people cannot get the results promised. People will keep on the bridge in the hope that after OT III their case will finally be resolved. When it still isn't, the justification will be that they still have more BTs to be audited out, and of course that there are still more levels above. However, the OT III level is the major carrot that keeps people in Scientology, precisely because the majority of them have not reached that level yet. As to the argument that it is all crap, this is just a value judgment and I have no opinion about that. That people stay in Scientology after OT III shows that they don't find it that crap, and I don't accept the justification that the reason is because they have been brainwashed to accept it.

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Sea Org Abuses

There are basically three levels of involvement in Scientology. As a public, as staff in an organization, and as a Sea Org member. Most of the horror stories you will read about Scientology usually involve the Sea Org. I believe many of the claims being made in this context are true, and there are several reasons for this.

  1. Total Causation Philosophy - Scientology believes that people, being powerful Thetans, are capable of formidable feats when they can set the reactive mind aside. This transpires through an impressive number of Scientology concepts, such as The Necessity Level (example of a mother lifting a car to save her baby), Tone 40 (total intention displacing mountains), Confront, Postulates, The Only Way Out is Through, Being at Cause, Make it Go Right, etc. See my page on the Total Causation Philosophy in Scientology. Many of the reported abuses find their root in this basic Scientology concept, summarized by "THE SUPREME TEST OF A THETAN IS THE ABILITY TO MAKE THINGS GO RIGHT".

  2. Messianic Zeal - The total causation philosophy of Scientology combines perfectly with the absolute dedication of the zealed member to The Cause. The lower the pay (ideally working for free) and the harder the work (ideally 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no holidays), the better he will feel, because he will feel that he is donating himself 100% to The Cause. He will expect others to do the same.

  3. Over stressed - Having been myself a staff member, I know that the workload is tremendous and that the org is constantly under-staffed. I imagine that for the Sea Org it would be the same. Add to this the stress of an hostile society.

  4. Cultic Assertions - The cultic assertions spread throughout Hubbard's writing (SPs etc) will, in combination with the points above, generate further abuses.

  5. Human Corruption - all the stupid things people do when they have power over others.

  6. Non Transparent Justice System - An absolute belief system such as Scientology cannot afford a transparent justice system, and without this, the justice rendered cannot be anything else than arbitrary and potentially abusive.

These are the six reasons why I believe many life accounts of what happens in the Sea Org are credible. This does not mean that we necessarily have to accept everything as true. There may also be a fair amount of exaggerations and the entire experience as related by apostates usually focus exclusively on the negative aspects, which gives an unfair and unreal picture of life in the Sea Org. Claims of gross illegal abuses such as forcible restrain, torture or killings are usually made up or distorted out of proportions from actual events. For real stories of gross human rights abuses such as forcible restrain and mental rape, check out what anticultists themselves did when they went on kidnapping cult members and engaged in forcible deprogramming.

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Money

There are two aspects to this: 1) the principle of paying for spiritual benefits and 2) the price of services offered. The first reason is one of the main reason I left Scientology. I came to believe that real spiritual achievements cannot be had through mechanical processes such as Scientology practices. This is one of the reasons true spiritual Masters never ask for money, because true spiritual achievements cannot be sold, can not be bought. Of course, if you offer services, it may require money, but this needs to stay within a reasonable range. In Scientology, services are extremely expensive. One of the reasons advanced is that the spiritual benefit you will get have no price. Another reason is that this constitutes a sort of "natural selection" wherein the able is made more able and spiritual benefits are dispensed to those who deserve them. I find these rationalizations abhorrent. The combination of high price together with absolute claims is a form of exploitation. I defended in the past that Scientology is not a scam because a scam would require the scammers to know that what they offer has no value, whereas it is obvious that the leaders believe in their own stuff as the members do. I still maintain that position. However, notwithstanding intent, considering that at the end of the day you sell wind for a high price, using people's atavist fears and hopes, it is a form of exploitation, even though I don't want to call it a scam because this would amount blaming people who are themselves victims.

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E-meter

The principle of the E-meter is quite sound. It allows, supposedly, to objectively measure the mental masses making up an "engram" and so aids in blowing them away through auditing. The problem arises, however, when the e-meter is used in the context of an absolute belief system such as Scientology where quite a few thoughts are consider improper or even a crime. For example it is considered a crime to think bad about the founder or his wife. In a "normal" belief system you could privately entertain doubts. In Scientology, this isn't possible because the e-meter will find it out, either through Sec Checks or in session. In this respect and in such a context, the e-meter becomes a sort of thought-control instrument. The problem of course is not the e-meter itself, but the context in which it is being used. The same could be said of many Scientology concepts themselves. While they may be fine by themselves, the cultic assertions that are indissolubly linked to through Hubbard's writings themselves is what makes the problem.

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Suppresive Persons

In most cultic, black and white, groups there are always "bad" guys. The bad guys myth helps assign blame to others for what is the group's own failings, and it also helps boost the group's cohesion. In anticult groups the bad guys are the psychopathic cult leaders, OSA agents and "cult apologists". In Scientology, the bad guys are evil psychiatrists, galactic overlords, and "suppressive persons". The concept of suppressive persons is quickly extended in Scientology to anybody who actively opposes Scientology, notwithstanding the fact that they may have valid reasons to complain (as happens in anticult groups as well). It is also used sometimes as a justification of why someone can't get his stats up. An SP is "found" and booted out to "resolve" the situation. Or it is used to "resolve" difficult relationships, with its subsequent "disconnection" letters. In other words, a fair amount of gross injustice, serious upsets, and unnecessary drama are being created because of this concept. Obviously, this only generates more angry reactions and just increases the tensions and conflicts. Again, it isn't so much part of Scientology as it is part of the cultic assertions made in Scientology texts. These assertions really should be "purged" from the texts. However, because they are made by the founder himself, who has closely knitted them in almost anything he has written, the situation is hopeless and it is dooming Scientology itself.

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Absolute Claims

Contrary to what critics say, many concepts in Scientology are remarkably sound and some of the effect of auditing truly powerful. The whole system is coherent to the point it forms a belief system that can be used as a way of life, in other words a philosophy, a religion, and many Scientologists use it that way. The trouble with Scientology, however, is its absolute claims. It basically claims that all religions are wrong, because they don't know of the reactive mind. It even claims that some religions are in fact the products of galactic implants and traps. It basically says that the Thetan has dwindle down from its all-powerful state to the state where he thinks he is a meat body, and that without Scientology the Thetan will end up being trapped in just a stone. It says Scientology is the only way out from this spiral, from a doomed vegetative future to a bright and powerful future, where you can travel the universe and be like gods. Contrary to other religions, it also claims to offer a workable and a practical way of achieving this, and, as a bonus, you'll also be successful and happy in this life. Now who could refuse that offer if true?

Note also that it will not always starts right off with such claims, and may often start with some practical steps to help you out in life, just claiming it is a workable system that makes the able more able. You'll only be led into that absolute belief as you get more into Scientology and get indoctrinated in it.

It is very important to understand this absolute mindset to understand the vehemence with which Scientologists will defend their religion.

Now, of course, Scientology is not the only religion to make absolute claims, and it is not the first religion to defend its absolute belief through end-justifies-the-means objectionable practices. As a matter of fact, what Scientology does in that respect is pale compared to what other religions have done and still do in some countries.

The trouble with those claims, however, on top of leading to potential spiritual exploitation, is that the results just do not live up to the claims being made. The concrete path of Scientology, its main argument compared to other religions, is also its Achilles' heel, which leads me to the next point.

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Workability

The worst criticism you can ever do towards Scientology is the statement that it does not work. Why would anyone spend a fair amount of money, time, effort, and squabbles with his environment, if at the end of the day it just does not work? Critics usually do not get too much into this because they are afraid they will be tagged as criticizing beliefs, but I, as an ex-member, am entitled to my opinion.

As I said above, Scientology can work at many different levels and if people are happy with it, fine. I also agree that Scientology processing can at times create stunning psychic or even spiritual effects. But I also claim that it does not work as far as its absolute claims are concerned, and, at the end of the day, these are the most important ones.

Having been involved with Scientology for five years at the local, European, and Word-Wide level, and having been in contact in the subsequent 28 years with ex-members and Freezoners, I have have been confirmed in what I concluded leaving Scientology, that stable spiritual results cannot be achieved through mechanical means such as Scientology procedures. Infinite results (true spiritual freedom) cannot be achieved through finite, mechanical, means. It is as simple as that. The results I have been given to witness, first hand, second hand, and third hand, confirm me into this belief. Scientology procedures can be one of the many conduits that may help spiritual awakening, if applied intelligently and ethically, much like meditation can be, but spiritual results are ultimately achieved through life only, whether one uses Scientology techniques or not. It is in that sense that I claim Scientology does not work, because it claims to "sell" spiritual states that, almost by definition, it cannot deliver.

Fantastic descriptions of Clears have been made. I claim that these are not true, and that Clears cannot live up to such fantastic descriptions. Clears are basically people like you and me. The same goes for OTs. They may have had fantastic experiences through auditing, but when these wear out, they are no more and no less normal beings as you and me are, with none of the fantastic powers attributed to them. Many OTs think that others have these powers, that only they don't, but they cannot discuss this with others because they are forbidden to discuss their case out of session. The truth is that none of them have such powers, at least no more than the powers they may already have naturally. I believe cases such as Ingo Swann have more to do with their own natural ability than anything achieved by Scientology.

Think about it. If only 1% of the fantastic claims that has been made in Scientology were true, Scientology would not be in the trouble it is today.

In my Skeptical enquiries when I was in Saint Hill UK I have met a person who claimed to have reached through Scientology a spiritual state known in Scientology as "Native State" (this would be the original pristine and natural state of the Thetan, something akin to Buddhists' Nirvana). I went to speak to her about my doubts regarding Scientology because I have been impressed by the kind of things she said, among which original spiritual precepts that were not copycat of Elron. She claimed that all the processes in Scientology are just a way to blow up charge until one reaches Native State, which could happen at any stage. Well, this may or not be. You have to admit that nobody knows the true end result of any religion. Will I go to hell for not believing that Jesus died for my sins? Who knows... But logically and ethically, it is a concept I do not accept, and on the contrary I think it basically is a form of spiritual exploitation. The same goes with Scientology. From a philosophical and logical point of view, but also from the results I have seen, as well as from the ethical questions raised by critics in their valid claims, I am of the opinion that Scientology just does not work. And, as I said at the beginning, if this is the case, then why bother?

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Invalid Criticism

In this Section

Scientology Kills
Scientology restrains members against their will
Scientology wore down CAN through lawsuits
Scientology is brainwashing
Cult apologists
Scientology is not a religion
Scientology is a scam
Scientology killed Lisa McPherson
Charles Manson, proud Scientologist
Scientology kills pets
Xenu is the core belief of Scientology
RPF
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Scientology Kills

Some critics would like to present the CoS as a murderous and criminal syndicate that would go to any length in defending its scam. They would also like to present Scientology procedures as dangerous medical malpractices and mind-tempering techniques. It simply isn't, and simple statistics of Scientology practices over the last half century belie the horrendous assertions these critics engage into.

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Scientology restrains members against their will

The CoS would have plenty of opportunity to do that. In the organization, in its RPF, in the Sea Org, in its remote desert camps. Yet, it does not do it. There will always be some people trying to claim they were physically restrained but most of the time when you take a closer look at their claim you will see that it does not live up to the definition of physical restrain. It just isn't a Scientology practice even if life within the movement, with its assorted conflict with critics, can be very rough. If you want to see real clear-cut cases of physical restrains then check out what anticultists themselves did when they kidnapped and forcibly "deprogrammed" cult members by haranguing them night and day.

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Scientology wore down CAN through lawsuits

While it is true that Scientology filed loads of suits against CAN, the real reason CAN was brought down was its close ties with deprogrammers. CAN was the successor of CFF, itself the successor of the organization that build up around Ted Patrick, who was the first to go around kidnapping cult members. The new names the organization went through did nothing to change the historical link it had to deprogrammers until its last days. This was clearly proven in courts, and confirmed by all the subsequent appeals CAN went through. I personally witnessed how deprogrammers used CFF convention in 1987 to actively recruit clients, and even Ted Patrick was present, freaking out parents with tall tales. Critics however will still present Can demise as "an organization trying to help parents of cult victims and ruthlessly brought down through Scientology harassment", completely ignoring the crimes that organization actively supported.

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Scientology is brainwashing, Mind-Control

The concept of "cult mind-control" has been the subject of considerable debates. So much so that critics nowadays are hesitant to use it. They rather use "indoctrination", a concept with which, by the way, I agree. The reason for the heated debates is because the notion of mind-control was for a long time at the core of the cult/anti-cult war and was used as a justification for kidnapping and deprogramming cult members, as well as a justification for passing discriminative and Big Brothers-type of laws. Many critics, however, still believe in it.

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Cult Apologists

"Cult Apologists" is a term used by critics to refer to independent observers who, they feel, are defending cults. Anticultists are so convinced about their own rightness that they just don't understand why anybody would do that. The only reason they can conceive of is that they are either being bought by the cults, or are crazy, or have some other unsavory motives. Being myself considered as a "cult apologist", I have a sizeable collection of accusations that have been hurled at me for taking the position I take. In reality, "cult apologists" are most of the time people concerned about the type of gross human rights abuses fanatical anticultists are able to justify in their own eyes, and in the eyes of the public and authorities. The fact that critics are unable to make the distinction between opposing actual and potential abuses and defending cults is yet another illustration of the type of cultic blindness they themselves are the victim of.

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Scientology is not a religion

--To be continued-- (March 15, 2008)

Scientology is a scam

Scientology killed Lisa McPherson

Charles Manson, proud Scientologist

Scientology kills pets

Xenu is the core belief of Scientology

RPF

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Comment  on article "'Moonlight' Star Thanks Scientology For Success" - skip down to reach "dr3kisawesome" comment made of a loooong list of claims, mostly myths. The one fitting reply to this was "You are a fanatic".


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Disclaimer :

This web site is NOT created by a Scientologist. It is created by a Scientology EX-MEMBER who is critical of Scientology. However, this ex-member is ALSO critical of the anti-Scientology movement. This does not make him a Scientologist, nor a defender of Scientology.

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