Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why the Rumors?

I have been traveling since August 8 and in spite of this could keep up with the news and this blog until August 13. After that, however, I had to let it go and now have a backlog of about 10 days. I still hope to catch it up before it becomes completely pointless.

If I receive an interesting e-mail, however, I try to answer straight away. I thought this particular answer could be interesting for others so I share it here as today's entry. Of course I stripped out any personal information.

The email:
Dear Bernie,

I was reading your website on Scientology and got a few questions. Just to provide some brief background, I am a student who is interested in Scientology but hope to understanding the depth n width of it. For many religions, I have lots of doubt and just want to find some experienced persons to answer me.

Back to the point, I am wondering why it will be so expensive to enroll the courses comparing with other religions. Why there are numerous claims that people who left Scientology got mental disturbances or illnesses, etc. Is it really an evil religion? I deem that those courses will be useful but why there are so many rumors.

You might definitely think that my opinions and questions are so naive but I really hope to understand more about Scientology.

Thanks a lot!

Best wishes,
The Answer:
Hi R,

" Back to the point, I am wondering why it will be so expensive to enroll the courses comparing with other religions. "

Scientology is expensive compared to other religions because it claims to have a technology that other religions don't have. It claims that in Scientology it is not a matter of believing but a matter of actual, scientific, experience. It values its technology so much that it makes it expensive. It claims that the price is nothing compared to what you get. It also claims that people need to "exchange" something for something and that if they would get it for free they would not value it and would have no benefit from it.

Note that this is Scientology viewpoint, not mine. Critics claim of course that the purpose of all this is to make money and nothing else.

My personal belief is this. I personally believe that when spirituality is concerned, money should not be involved. I also believe that no amount of technology or other mechanical means can bring true spiritual benefits. Therefore, I do not personally believe in Scientology claims regarding spiritual achievements. Now this is just my personal belief, others may view this differently.

On a psychological level, however, I think that there may be some benefit from a mechanical approach, Scientology or otherwise, and some people, even ex-members, have claimed they have been truly helped. It is important to make a distinction, however, between this level and the spiritual level. The reason I believe Scientology is a cult is because they extend the possibly valid technology they have at the psychological level to the spiritual level, where they just cannot "deliver" what they promise, almost by definition.

"Why there are numerous claims that people who left Scientology got mental disturbances or illnesses, etc. "

People who left Scientology did so because obviously they were not happy with it. What they report of their experience may be true or not. The reasons why it may not be true are many, but the main ones is that they need to justify why they left, they are pressured in making exaggerated claims by their new environment (critical environment), and they want to convince other people about the evilness of Scientology.

This does not mean that everything they say is a lie, but you need to be extremely critical when reading ex-members accounts and take these possible distortions into account.

I personally do not believe that Scientology in general really creates mental disturbances and illness. On the whole, when correctly applied, the technology is quite sound and many ex-members who left the official Church of Scientology (CoS) continue to have an interest in the technology and even continue to practice it outside from the CoS. If anything, I just believe that it is ineffective at the spiritual level, but I do not believe it is harmful and, at the psychological level, could even be beneficial. I personally have no interest in practicing Scientology anymore, in our out of the CoS, because my sole interest is spiritual, not psychological. I also believe that the benefit at a psychological level brought about by Scientology can be achieved by other means, that are not expensive or controversial. The best of course, in my opinion, is to follow a genuine spiritual path, which through increased awareness would resolve other issues which I view as only consequences or our spiritual unconsciousness.

"Is it really an evil religion? "

Scientology is very demanding, whether financially or through working on staff. It makes spiritual claims that it cannot deliver. In making these spiritual claims, it plays on hope, fear and guilt. Because people believe in the absolute truth and necessity of Scientology, they will indulge in all kinds of cultic behavior as reported by critics. Many of the critics' claims are exaggerated and are themselves exploitations of fear and guilt from the other side. Nevertheless, they do have a basis in truth.

Whether it is an "evil" religion would be a subjective appreciation of the above. One may claim that offering things you cannot deliver at a very expensive price and indulging in cultic behavior to defend it would be evil. The point is, however, that those people do not realize they cannot deliver these promises. They actually believe in this stuff. They do not intent to harm anybody and quite on the contrary they have the best of intentions. In this sense, I would not call Scientology "evil", just misguided. By the way, this applies to other religions as well. The horrors religions such as Christianity down in history, and Islam even in actual times, have been responsible for far outweigh anything Scientology ever did in its own right. All religions are at the same time a reflection of a higher truth, and a source of great evil when fanatically applied.

"I deem that those courses will be useful but why there are so many rumors. "

The secret of Scientology is that there really are two Scientology.

One, let's call it "Scientology P" for positive, is a wonderful and original systemic approach of the mind and spirit based on an actual technology. This the Scientology Scientologists see. They do not see the cultic aspect of Scientology and if they see it will dismiss it. They are in owe regarding Scientology presentation of the universe and have great wins applying its technology.

The other Scientology, let's call it "Scientology C" for cultic, is the many crazy and cultic statements injected in that system by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard (LRH). This is the source of many of the fanaticism and cultic behavior Scientology has been involved into. This is the Scientology critics see. They do not see the positive aspect of Scientology and if they see it will dismiss it.

This is the secret of Scientology. The fact that the two aspects, P and C, are intimately mixed. If LRH would have taken a wiser approach, taking criticism into account and including in his system mechanism to avoid fanaticism, such as free speech and inclusive statements towards other religions and technologies, it would not be so controversial and would be much more successful. This is not what he did. On the contrary, he included mechanism that encourages fanaticism and exclusions, such as putting the blame on critics and making statements that are offensive to many strata of society.

Because it is virtually impossible to dissociate the Scientology P from the Scientology C, because Scientology C is built into the system by the founder itself, I believe the situation is pretty hopeless and one should give a miss to Scientology as a whole.

To more directly answer your question, many of the rumors are myth and exaggerations and abuses as exposed on my web site, but they do have a basis in truth. They are a reflection of Scientology C within Scientology P.

Still, at the spiritual level, there really are no absolute certainties. Who knows who is right eventually? I have given you my personal opinion. Ultimately, what you choose to do is your decision. There really are no wrong choices, only choices that bring us faster or slower to our ultimate destination.

Best regards,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dreaming to Wake Up

Jeff Hawkins published the introduction to his book/blog. I was interested to read it because it starts by "We all dream", and such was the theme of my own story, written in a much less prosaic style but true to life nevertheless.

Basically Jeff says that cult gurus appeal to our inner aspirations at spiritual freedom and at doing something significant in the world, but that cults have a darker side that eventually turns the dream into a nightmare.

I would partly agree to that, but would only point out that not all such dreams turn into a nightmare. In my case, the dream never really turned into a nightmare, but it was a dream nevertheless, an illusion, from which one really needs to wake up.

I sometimes compare the experience in Scientology, or in another cult, with marriage and divorce. People marry because they have high hopes, but it does not always turn out the way they imagined it to be. Thus, they divorce. For some, looking back to the experience may look like a nightmare. They may even have been actually beaten or otherwise abused. This, however, does not describe the majority of marriage, and an alien race trying to understand human marriage through the accounts of abused wives would get a very wrong idea of what marriage exactly is. In a way, the same could be said of ex-members, and of people trying to understand what Scientology is through dramatized accounts.

Now I am not saying the the story of Jeff is a dramatized one. I only read so far chapter 1, so I still have a long way to go before getting the whole picture. I am only pointing out that different people may have different experience of the same event, and that these can vary dramatically.

I must admit that had I spent 35 years of my life in Scientology, like Jeff did, rather than just five, I may have some legitimate reasons to be bitter (again not saying that Jeff is, I don't know at this stage). That's basically the biggest and best chunk of your life, and waking up from the dream after such time one may feel that he spent the best part of his life sleeping and chasing chimera. Maybe not the best feeling of achievement, and one does need quite a fair amount of courage to face it all.

In my case, I started in Scientology early and when I quit the movement I still had a family to get back to (my parents), and by chance I also could build a whole career. Looking back to my experience in Scientology, I mostly remember the exhilaration of having found the ultimate one and only truth, as well as my purpose in life. It's rather positive. I went out of Scientology smoothly, having attended lectures by Krishnamurti who happened to be give them a motorbike jump from Saint Hill. This helped me to make a sort of smooth philosophical transition out of Scientology.

There is, however, something I have to say. And this is that if I did not have access to critical material at the time, I am not sure my doubts about Scientology would have grown to a point where I would effectively quit the movement.

Because, on top of my publication job I was the night watch in Saint Hill Manor, not only did I have access to critical books from the GO library which the average member does not have access to, but I was at liberty to read them with impunity, being alone in that estate (I even explored a bit further and discovered personal effects of Hubbard, but that's just for the anecdote.)

For this reason, I think it is a good thing that a critical voice towards Scientology resounds around the world (now mostly through the Internet), even if sometimes that voice is a bit too loud to be credible. What I read back then was pretty outrageous, like comparing cultists to robots. However, even this helped me to see through the cultic illusion, because I could then observe that people were responding in a predictable mechanical way, according to their conditioning, a bit like robots indeed. Of course they were not robots, they were still human beings, but the allegory did help me to start seeing the cultic pattern.

This pattern is indeed like a dream, like an illusion. The moment you realize that what you see/believe is an illusion, you are free from it, but as long as you believe in it, it is as real as our concrete world, as real as a dream into which you are really engrossed.

What my point is with my web site, however, is that sometimes we think we are free from something when in reality we only changed one illusion for another one. That would be like dreaming we are waking up from a dream. Of course we are still sleeping, still dreaming, but now we believe that we woke up from that dream! Maybe that's the reason why this particular illusion is more difficult to realize than the cultic illusion itself.

This is what I wish to highlight with my web site, of which this blog is just a part. The anti-cult illusion is basically an illusion just as the cultic illusion is. Sometimes, fanatical Scientology members and fanatical Scientology ex-members think they are different, but they are only superficially different. Deep down, they are the same, because they basically follow the same pattern.

In this sense, I was interested to read a thread in ARS from henri who argues that it is wrong for anti-cultists to recruit in the anti-Scientology cause freshly exited members, because they are vulnerable to outside influence and have not yet consolidated their own perspective.

This has always been my contention. The anti-cult theory is by itself, quite ironically, a whole cultic belief system on its own. By offering ex-members an "explanation" of what happened to them, they recruit them into their own belief system, and rather than fully waking up, they just transfer from one dream to another.

"The devil is the other" could be a summary of such a belief system. Cults need enemies, and by interpreting the cult experience in negative terms, explaining to ex-members that they have been deceived by a devious cult guru, rather than in fact being part of an illusion in which both the guru and members re-enforce each other, they basically keep the ex-members in a cult.

It may not be called Scientology anymore but it is still a cult nevertheless, because they still live in a world full of enemies. They still live in a dream, maybe even a nightmare worst than their previous dream, because they don't even have the Utopian expectations anymore.

They need to wake up from that dream too, and if my web site can help at least a few even just a little bit in that awakening, then it has not been in vain.

Suri Hubbard

I have heard rumors that Suri, the daughter of Tom Cruise and Kathy Holmes, was believed by some Scientologists to be the reincarnation of Hubbard, or something along that line, but I was not aware of what may have been behind this rumor.

Apparently, behind this rumor may be another rumor, that Tom Cruise used sperm specimens of L. Ron Hubbard to father Suri! No kidding... This rumor apparently went around at some point and is one of those "most bizarre celebrity rumors and myths" tackle with this week.

Well, I thought that was so funny and stunning a tale that it was worth a mention in my blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Elisabeth Moss may be a Scientologist

Jarett Wieselman of the New York Post is crashed. He does not understand how the "adorable, smart, talented, funny, charming and seemingly sane actress" could make such a stupid choice. In effect, we have here another case of cognitive dissonance, where people believe Scientology is what critics describe it to be, then of course cannot reconcile this false conception with real life happenings.

Isaac Hayes Interesting Links

The death of Isaac Hayes has been the top Scientology-related news of the last couple of days, now superseded with the opening of "Tropic Thunder", the new Tom Cruise sensation.

Here are for the record a few interesting Hayes-related links:

Isaac Hayes official web site

Isaac Hayes makes the Scientology booklet "The Way to Happiness" free

Isaac Hayes history with Scientology - from Fox News. This is a rather disturbing and moving article in which the author, claiming to be a personal friend of Hayes, says that Hayes never really recovered from the stroke he had in 2006. I am a bit skeptical about this article because the author also claims that Scientology forced him to resign from South Park and that he needed a lot of money to get up the bridge - which claims seem a bit exaggerated. Nevertheless, the information he brings forth and the question he asks, such as "Why was a stroke survivor on a treadmill by himself?" seem quite pertinent. A good article overall and, as I said, quite moving.

A compilation of Isaac Hayes "Treadmill" death report - from ARS

Everyone Interesting Died This Weekend - In addition to Isaac Hayes: Bernie Mac, Lester Young's little brother: Lee Young, American hero Anthony Russo. Which reminds me of the short distance between the death of L. Ron Hubbard (24 January 1986) and Jiddu Krishnamurti (February 17, 1986), two major influences in my spiritual life.

The Afterlife for Scientologists - This article attempts to trace what will be the fate of Isaac Hayes' soul in the after life, according to Scientology beliefs. It is not too bad but obviously the author got her information from second hand sources and most notably from some critics, which she acknowledges at the end of the article. Not surprisingly, some statements contained in this article are frankly false. For example: "When a body dies, its thetan forgets the details of the former life". Otherwise, as I said, it is not too bad.

Isaac Hayes's Death Is Attributed to Stroke - "The soul singer and songwriter Isaac Hayes died of a stroke, according to authorities in Memphis, The Associated Press reported. ... A spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said that paperwork filed by Dr. David Kraus, Mr. Hayes’s doctor, listed stroke as the cause of death. The spokesman also said that no autopsy had been performed."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Unbiased Bias

News are a bit slow currently so I will tackle with one of the arguments found on the EO thread about my blog.

Let's start with this post. In it, the author takes a few quotes from my blog then writes sarcastically "Clearly a reputable unbiased source of information on Anonymous!"

This is the unbiased/neutral/balanced argument that sometimes pops up. Basically, it says that I claim to be unbiased, neutral, balanced, but that in reality I am not.

The problem with this argument is that I never claimed to be unbiased, neutral, or balanced. At least, I am not aware I ever did. People do jump to this conclusion, though, and not only critics. They seem to think that if someone criticize both sides, then he is supposed to be unbiased, neutral, and balanced. This, however, is not correct.

What I claim to be is independent. This means that I basically take a stand against the negative aspects of both Scientology and its critics. This is different than claiming to be neutral, unbiased, or balanced.

To be independent is different than being neutral. Neutral means you don't take a position. Not only do I take position, but I take a double position: at the same time against Scientology and against critics.

Nor do I claim to be unbiased. Being at the same time against both sides does not necessarily mean one is unbiased. I do have my bias. In particular, I do not like when people claim to be fighting against Scientology for ethical reasons, then go on to engage in the same type of unethical behavior. This is clearly visible in most of the quotes chosen by that poster.

As for "balanced" I guess you could say that the fact of criticizing both sides is "balanced" but again it does not mean that I should not tackle negatively with what I find objectionable. By "balanced" critics want me to be soft towards them. In this sense, I am not balanced. I tell things as they are. Critics would agree when I criticize Scientology, but when I criticize them then all of a sudden I am not balanced...

Another possible signification of this is that I should have the same amount of criticism on my site towards Scientology as I have towards critics. I don't think so. There are thousands of people criticizing Scientology and hundreds of critical web sites. There is, however, almost nobody criticizing critics from an independent perspective. This is the specialty of my web site, and naturally it makes up for most of it. As I explained otherwise, however, my criticism of Scientology is more potent for current members than critical web site, precisely because I criticize both sides.

The unbiased/neutral/balanced argument in this case basically amounts to a "straw man" argument, where someone builds a straw man by giving his own (false) interpretation of the argument someone else is supposed to make then goes on to "burn" the straw man he just built. In reality, he is only arguing with his own misunderstanding of what that person is saying.

Since I do not claim to be unbiased/neutral/balanced, building up an argument showing that I am not has no sense.

In particular, my blog is even more representative of my bias, because I mostly write it in one go, whereas with my web page I may spend more time trying to police things up. It only is a way for me to keep up with the news. It does not claim to be unbiased / neutral / balanced. It only is my take on the news. That's all it is, and I do claim it is done from an independent perspective.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes dies at 65

Isaac Hayes, best known for his iconic theme to the 1971 film Shaft and his role as the gravelly voiced Chef in South Park, was found dead at 7.08pm GMT today Aug. 10. The cause of death is not known.

A celebrity Scientologist, he left South Park in 2006 because of an episode of the show which mocked Scientology.

A good overview of his career can be found here.

Anonymous Discovers My Blog

Anonymous finally discovered the existence of my blog, through the post I made about the Black Op 8-8-8. I must say, there are still many anons as I get loads of hits from that thread on (EO).

What I don't understand is that in the thread and in comments to my post, they point to two links to show that the 8-8-8 was not an utter failure. One is about a radio show, and the other about news uncovered by Anonymous that high ranking CoS officials are illegally in the UK. None of these two examples have anything to do with anything they spoke about a return to phase I hacking the CoS and other pranks. It has everything to do with what Anonymous has been doing all along without any Black Op being involved, promoting anti-Scientology stances in the media and uncovering anything that could damage the CoS. So I really fail to see the relevance of these links.

I just now checked again It is loading damn fast. I checked Google news again, not a single article about Anonymous Phase III events.

So, sorry, from where I stand it is still a monumental failure. They were hoping to get back the rash of news they got when they started to hack Scientology websites and they didn't get even a single news article, and this was several days before the news of Isaac Hayes' death took over the Scientology-related news. Quoting two totally irrelevant links does not help a bit.

Now this is also just the first part. The Black Ops were not a goal by themselves. They were also supposed to bring back the lulz and people in the fold. We'll see about that later on, but excuse me if I have my doubts about it.

By the way that thread in EO contains also a wide variety of comments about my blog. I don't have time to address them now but maybe later. By all means they are similar to what has been said about me and my site already but whenever I find the time, I'll try to address some of the arguments made.

Thanks for watching, Anonymous, and don't think I am anti-anonymous myself. Lots of bright people trying to do what they think is right. What I am only saying is this: try to check things out further than what is first apparent. Things are far more complicated than the simplistic presentation made on critical web sites. Going around just repeating these is neither original nor effective in the long run.

Black Op 8-8-8. Another Resounding Flop

I tried to browse two Scientology web sites yesterday and one wasn't available, while the other was just so slow loading that it basically was stuck as well.

I was wondering whether Anonymous was at it again, as they did make threats for starting their mischievous acts again on August 8.

However, on the evening, the sites were loading just fine. I also did not hear any other complain, either from ARS or through the news.

In fact, today, Google news on "Scientology" was lower than ever. Not a single mention of Anonymous' supposed attack, and in fact barely just a couple of general Scientology news articles, mostly from notoriously biased news outlet such as Indymedia of Glosslip.

If Anonymous did anything, it was just another phenomenal flop. The movement really seems to be dying.

Another sign of its moribon state is that for a long time now, we don't even get the "week in review" from either.

We'll see anon's health on the next protest on August 16.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Not sure whether this is a Scientologist or not as I did not invest enough time in it to find out but the xemutv poster on YouTube has a few interesting videos, among which this one, that contains some video shots of Anonymous harassing Scientologists in guise of "peaceful protests".

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tom Cruise Regaining Fame?

A few weeks ago I read some rave reviews of "Tropic Thunder", a Hollywood satire by Ben Stiller in which Tom Cruise plays the role of a fat, bald, and vulgar head of a movie studio.

In spite of the negative publicity Cruise enjoyed of late, the reviewers of some pre-view festival were unanimous in their praise, with shouts of "Cruise steals the show".

Then nothing until a new article that sings the same tune:
"Yes, I am praising Tom Cruise, kids. Let’s put aside the Scientology and the Nazis for a minute."
"Tropic thunder" will open on August 13.

Another praise of Cruise I read recently, and with which I would agree, was for his stunt at the start of Mission Impossible II:
"Whether or not it was stunt-doubled, Tom Cruise's rock-climbing exploits at the beginning of Mission: Impossible II are undeniably impressive. When he does his final flip on the rockface and looks directly at the camera, I always freak out that I'll get instantly converted to Scientology if I stare into his eyes."
The stunt is available on YouTube and can be seen here.

I must say I do like Cruise as an actor, notwithstanding his religious preferences. I also like his choice of films in general, which I find of taste and quality, along that of Dustin Hoffman, another of my favorite actors.

CoS adds 5 acres to its presence in Clearwater

In one of its biggest purchases in years, the Church of Scientology has added 5 acres to its already defining downtown Clearwater presence.

"One parcel is notable in Clearwater history. Rock singer Jim Morrison lived with his grandparents for a year in a little house on the water in the early 1960s while attending St. Petersburg College."

"Scientology now has 29 properties in Clearwater, most downtown."

"South of the just-purchased Triangle property is the seven-story Ocean View condo building, which the church bought in 2006 for $7.8-million. Plans call for remaking the Ocean View, formerly called the Belvedere, into 23 luxury, extended-stay units for visiting Scientologists. Remodeling cost: up to $6-million."

"Just south of the Belvedere and also on the water is Scientology's now-sprawling Sandcastle complex, a mix of hotel rooms and training quarters. Once a small, privately owned tourist hotel, the Sandcastle has been in church hands for decades and expanded many times."

"Now it's overtaxed, officials say, so plans call for a six-story, 60,000 expansion to be built on a vacant lot abutting the recently purchased land."

"Early this year, Scientology opened its latest hotel for visiting church members, the Oak Cove complex on downtown's south side. It offers high-end overnight stays after a $26-million renovation."

"In April, the church also started $30-million in renovations to its well-known Fort Harrison Hotel, which will have 220 rooms."

"In all, current church expansion and remodeling projects will give Scientology 725 guest rooms in downtown Clearwater."

Lone Picketing a Remote Scientology Cabana in South Dakota

Mildly funny video of an anon picketing a lone Scientology cabana in South Dakota. If true...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Anonymous Getting Ready for the Aug. 8 Big Opening Day

August 8 is the big day for Anonymous. No, I am not referring to the Olympics. I am referring to their claims that they basically will resume their hacking-style attacks against the CoS on that date. They call this "Phase III".

Phase I was supposedly their first wave of DDOS attack against the Scientology web sites, their Pizza prank calls, and the rest in the 4chan panoply. Phase II was supposedly their waves of massive protests. And now Phase III, well, we will see.

In the meantime they are putting their artillery in place, as can be seen by this post in ARS. It asks people to keep a certain page open in the background, it supposedly being the "Chanology Phase III live update page". In reality it contains code that apparently will unwittingly turn your computer into a relay point for DDoS attack.

Anonymous Getting Desperate

Anonymous is getting desperate in view of the dwindling numbers and them being ignored by the press. The trend I already pointed out learning of the Aug 16 theme, "The Return of the Lulz", is being confirmed by two subsequent videos.

The first one, entitled "Reclamation : Phase Three", wants to get channers back and dissociate themselves with tory-like influences that "polluted" project chanology. It also marks a return to possibly illegal and questionable activities such as the ones they engaged in "Phase I" (hacking web sites, prank calls, etc), which anon says will start on August 8 (bad timing if they want media attention, as this is the date of Olympics opening).

Obviously, these elements of anons have decided that the cause for the dwindling number is a disinterest from original channers mostly motivated by Lulz. They want to get them back to get the numbers up again, and so have made a sort of internal purge in the hope that discarding the minority, blamed for the protests failure, will bring back the majority. They also hope that getting into hacking-style activities again will bring back the media attention they enjoyed at the start.

The response however has not been the one they expected, and has created more dissent and schisms from within the movement. So much so that Anonymous had to issue a second video, entitled "Anonymous Message to Allies". In this video, they claims that anybody is still welcome to the protests in spite of activities from the "dark side" of Anonymous that may be pursued in parallel.

The date of August 8, eight days before the protest on August 16, is most probably chosen to get back media attention through hacking-style activities before the protest, and the subsequent hope that this will motivate people to attend the protests again.

By all means, Anonymous feels they have nothing to lose. Their current rating is at an all time low. They have to do something drastic to get the movement going again.

Pity that this something drastic is not an escalate in the quality of their understanding the larger issue, which would bring them to demonstrate about things like the German discrimination in parallel to their demonstration against Scientology. Quite on the contrary, they showed that they in fact support the German discrimination, so it is hardly surprising that the only drastic change they can bring about is one akin to terrorist tactics.

I hardly think that this approach will bring them anything positive. They will just confirm what the CoS and some media accuse them of being, they will increase the schism and division among themselves, and the whole movement may be brought to a halt.

This may be a fitting end to a movement that turned out to be an Internet mob reaction rather than, as the Maxim article has it, "A new dawn of social protest". Much more fitting is a quote from the excellent New York Times article:
"Technology, apparently, does more than harness the wisdom of the crowd. It can intensify its hatred as well."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jeff Hawkins

chuckbeatty77 posted a comment on my entry about the Ex-Scientologists New Web Site, asking me to "Please do a posting on Jeff Hawkins and Mark Headley".

I fail to see how this is relevant to the post in question but I guess he wants to know what is my take on these two.

Frankly speaking, as of now, I have no real idea who they are. All I have time to do currently is to try to keep up with the news and I don't have time to go into the details of everything.

Nevertheless, I was curious and so I fired my Google on the first name and checked the first ten entries on Jeff Hawkins Scientology.

Apparently, Jeff Hawkins was a high-ranking Sea Org member who has been declared SP and has quit Scientology. He now writes a book about his past 35 years in the movement, which book is availabe online as a blog.

Interestingly, Jeff refers to his story as "counterfeit dreams", being similar in that with the title of my own story, "everybody has a dream, but everyone needs to wake up". We seem to be on the same foot on that one.

However, he does write much better than I. That's an understatement. He is an extraordinary writer, and his story reads like a novel. Of course his level of experience in the movement is much more extended than mine as well.

So far so good. As of now, his story is tl;dr for me to read, but he does look sincere and as long as there are no red alerts ringing as I read, I am always willing to give people the benefit of doubt when they write their story. I am even willing to assume as true for now his claim that he and others have been beaten up by DM. So, until I find the time to read his story and listen to his radio interviews (that may not be soon :-(), I am going to reserve my opinion on this matter.

However, there is something else that struck me as I was scanning the first ten Google entries.

Most of these are made of forums references commenting on his book/blog. The comments are universally positive. except for ARS.

This is to be expected. So-called critical forums such as the Operation Clambake Forum (OCMB), forum, and the Ex-Scientologists Message board are moderating out dissent under one pretense or another and therefore are hardly interesting to read, most opinions being aligned in the same direction.

ARS is a different matter. ARS is totally unmoderated, and this is usually where you get the real picture, and it so happens that the thread in ARS on Jeff Hawkins appears in the Google top ten, and so I got to read it.

Why is this interesting? Because this is where you can see Jeff (and other critics), dealing with actual dissent, and this is one of the things that speaks the loudest about their current state of cultic mindset, and therefore the credibility of the rest of whatever they may be saying.

For example, Magoo, is a long-time ex-member who have some interesting things to say about Scientology and is quite good at giving out public speeches. However, she long time ago discredited herself in my eyes because she would take little responsibility for her carelessness with facts, and because her reaction to her critics is to cry "OSA, OSA, Bill Yaude, OSA". This eventually even led her to lose her celebrity status with Anonymous who won't be spreading her videos anymore. A counter example to that would be David Mayo, who always displayed intelligence and openness towards his critics.

You can write chapters and books, and give interviews and demonstrate in the street, but if through actual challenge all you display is basically the same fanatical and cultic mindset as the one you were in while in Scientology, what's the point? It just shows that you didn't really learn anything from your experience, so why would anything you may write about interesting at all?

Unfortunately, for the very little he dabbled in ARS, Jeff did not fare that good so far. However, I am going to dismiss it for now as just a newbie thing. I don't have enough material as yet to make a final judgment, but, Jeff, if you happen to read this, please think about all of this.

The thread in ARS is here. It starts out as in the other fora, but, unlike these, of course, we very soon get a dissenting opinion, that of one "Tom Newton".

Tom questions the validity of what Jeff writes about DM beating up people, asks where is this substantiated, and why he did not file in a criminal complain or a civil suit.

Of course, Tom is going much further than that and does engage in a whole range of cultic behavior himself, accusing Jeff of lying and being in league with Anonymous, but nevertheless some of his points are valid, namely the question of substantiation.

Jeff Hawkins replies as "Fishdaddy". He does not really address Tom's main questions, but goes on to ask him his real name. This of course is irrelevant, especially in a world of "Anonymous" all around claiming that personalities are not important, only content is... But the worst is still to come.

Though ARS isn't moderated, dissenters are heavily trashed, randomly accused of being trolls and OSA agents and other "circle jerks" not worth listening to. We thus soon get very quickly as well this sort of cultic answer that has done so much to discredit critics, from one "Out_Of_The_Dark" (out of the dark, yeah, right...):
"He does this to anyone of merit here, Jeff. His real name is Alan Conners and he's a well known usenet kook most likely hired to 'dead agent' and distract readers. he;s turned down various offers to meet up with critics and get the facts but that is just not a part of his agenda. As a consequence, most here just ignore him "
There is of course not a shred of evidence to show that Tom Newton is Alan Conners, but this is an "ARS fact" that is routinely being repeated and presented as something established. It is almost certainly false, but it does not seem to matter much for so-called critics. As long as they are able to repeat it ad nauseum , it is going to be true...

Tom Newton appears simply to be someone who does not reconcile what he reads in ARS with the Scientologists he personally knows and who questions the whole Anonymous thing. He does often launches himself in unwarranted accusations but also does point at time to legitimate questions, and more importantly, is one of the few dissenting voice remaining in ARS. By all means, who he is is not even relevant. It does not change the question or the arguments being made.

What does Jeff do in regards to the supposedly out of the dark poster's "information"? He buys the black PR as-is and does not question anything! Oh, that's his real name? Right... He is a troll and an OSA agent, ok, I understand now, I will not be paying attention to him anymore nor address any of the legitimate questions or objections he may have...

Yeah right...

This is foolish, but as I said, I'll forgive that behavior for now as a newbie thing. However, if this is the type of reaction that repeats itself, I may not even be interested to start reading his story at all.

As for chuckbeatty77 who asked me to make an entry for Jeff Hawkins, I am rather disappointed with his reaction in this ARS thread too, though I am not going to pass judgment either until I see this as a pattern. He goes right off and accuses Tom Newton of being OSA. Now, with all due respect, this is stupid, Chuck. You write:
"My thoughts are there's a crew of skilled persons with conveniently plausible "nutjob" valences who are encouraged to keep ARS all weird and unattractive to prevent really helpful ex members like you from discoursing here."
Let me tell you that the people who keep ARS all weird and unattractive are people unable to address dissent in any meaningful way other than trying to dismiss them as troll or OSA agent. Even if Tom Newton was an OSA agent it would still not matter - just address whatever arguments he is making.

This knee-jerk reaction to a simple dissenting comment is the kind of things that very badly reflects on critics, and does more damage to whatever Jeff Hawkins may be writing of value than anything else.

Rather than start to accuse me of being an OSA agent myself (it has been done plenty of time before and still continues), you Chuck and Jeff and anybody else who may turn out to be reasonable critics would do well to consider my friendly advices - address dissent as you would expect a non-cultist and reasonable person to do. Address content and stop building up and promoting conspiracy theories to "explain" dissent away, because eventually it is only going to make you look like conspiracy kooks, and this does no good for whatever else of value you may be saying.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Frivolous Law Suits

Two frivolous law suits have made the news recently.
  1. The first one, filed on July 15, 2008, is by former Scientologist Peter Letterese who alleges that Scientology was operating like a "syndicate" and that David Miscavige is "aided and abetted by the actions of Tom Cruise". The suit is so ridiculous that even critics admit that it is likely to be dismissed by the court before any defendant even responds. Because Tom Cruise has been named in the suit, however, the news led to several articles.

  2. The second one, filed on July 18, 2008, is by one Jonathan Elliott who basically claims that his talent agency failed because Scientology owns the entire entertainment industry!
Even paranoid Lerma admits the two suits are so silly that they are in fact Scientology fronts to make critics look bad - yeaaaah, Right! As if kooks and opportunists could not be just kooks and opportunists - they really have to be Scientology front!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Anonymous Supports Discrimination in Germany

By it's own creed, Anonymous should be against the German discrimination towards Scientology, and in fact should even demonstrate masked against it.

It has been obvious however, through various signs, that this is not the case, and that Anonymous in fact supports that discrimination.

To now make this completely clear and un-mistakable, one should see how they boast and cheer about the fact that they have been invited at an official anti-Scientology event by the anti-Scientology group lead by Ursula Caberta.

Check out the news announcement (together with the supporting comments) and the thread in about it.

It just goes to show that the members of this dying movement (Anonymous) have no clue whatsoever and that their protests, through mere lack of any sophistication and any quality researches, are doomed to fail.

I still maintain that Anonymous makes a major mistake in associating themselves with government oppression towards an unpopular religion, and this cheering at an official invitation is a further nail in their coffin.

Organized Religions Lag Behind Scientology on Internet

This opinion article claims that Scientology web sites, with their sophistication and the fact it offers a personally test that relates to young people needs, is more potent than what traditional religions have currently. It claims it had to develop this sophistication as a result of negative articles from the media.

It is a pretty weak argument. People may check the CoS pages but if they check the Internet they will also see floods of negative information about Scientology. I am not sure that the sophistication of CoS pages alone can make people forget that flood of negative information, but the thought is an interesting one.

Scientology approach towards the media, and this would include the Internet, is never defend only attack. By that, it means it does not argue with opponents but just dismiss them on the whole. I must admit Scientology critics themselves do a good job of discrediting themselves through the gross claims they are making. This may indeed make people who see through their propaganda vulnerable to Scientology arguments.

I still don't think this is what is happening on the whole but a good case could be made that it is possible, at least in some cases.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New York Times - First Hand Report in Anonymous' Entrails

The New York Times has published an outstanding article, "The Trolls Among Us", that goes much further than the recent articles about 4chan published by the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian. It is a first-hand researched article where the author actually lived with the major hackers and channers for days to get into the whole scene.

Unlike the Maxim article, you won't find it much promoted by Anonymous because in fact it is quite damaging for them.

Some quotes:

"/b/ is the designated “random” board of, a group of message boards that draws more than 200 million page views a month"

"A post consists of an image and a few lines of text"

"Almost everyone posts as “anonymous""

"In effect, this makes /b/ a panopticon in reverse — nobody can see anybody, and everybody can claim to speak from the center""

"The anonymous denizens of 4chan’s other boards — devoted to travel, fitness and several genres of pornography — refer to the /b/-dwellers as “/b/tards."

"Measured in terms of depravity, insularity and traffic-driven turnover, the culture of /b/ has little precedent"

"/b/ reads like the inside of a high-school bathroom stall, or an obscene telephone party line, or a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand."

"“You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz."

"Among /b/’s more interesting spawn is Anonymous, a group of masked pranksters who organized protests at Church of Scientology branches around the world"

"Technology, apparently, does more than harness the wisdom of the crowd. It can intensify its hatred as well."

"After all, I was examining a subculture that is built on deception and delights in playing with the media"

"Does free speech tend to move toward the truth or away from it?"

"When does it evolve into a better collective understanding?"

"Is the effort to control what’s said always a form of censorship, or might certain rules be compatible with our notions of free speech?"

"One promising answer comes from the computer scientist Jon Postel, now known as “god of the Internet” for the influence he exercised over the emerging network"

"In 1981, he formulated what’s known as Postel’s Law: “Be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others.”

"Originally intended to foster “interoperability,” the ability of multiple computer systems to understand one another,"

"To build a robust global network with no central authority, engineers were encouraged to write code that could “speak” as clearly as possible yet “listen” to the widest possible range of other speakers"

"The human equivalent of this robustness is a combination of eloquence and tolerance"

"the spirit of good conversation"

"Trolls embody the opposite principle"

"They are liberal in what they do and conservative in what they construe as acceptable behavior from others"

"It’s tempting to blame technology, which increases the range of our communications while dehumanizing the recipients."

The Power of Lulz

The new August 16 protest of Anonymous seems to be called "The Power of Lulz", and is sub-titled "Anonymous takes back chanology".

The way I interpret this is as follows: Anonymous tries to boost up the dwingling numbers by getting back to its chan roots, do it for the lulz, and "takes back" the channel after the Tory/Magoo incident.

There is something ironic in promoting lulz and at the same time promoting Scientology with accusatory signs of "Scientology Kills", backed up by conspiracy theories....

Anyway, that guy on the video above really can dance and it's a fun video, and the music is nice too.

By the way, I believe that dancer is MGB, the guy who was manhandled by Tommy Gorman and who was at the origin of the whole Tory/Magoo debacle. Now that's a prime pick for leading the "take back chanology" theme of the Aug. 16 protest...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Russel Brand Forbidden from Mentioning Scientology

"BRITISH comedian Russell Brand, known for his controversial way with words, has been banned from making certain jokes when he hosts the MTV Video Music Awards.

The British comic has been warned by show bosses there are specific things he definitely can't say.

He explained: "I've been warned when I'm presenting there are two things I'm never allowed to say.

"One - C*** and two - Scientology.

"There is one sentence that could join both of those words but I'm going to try and not say it."

Russell is worried he will not be able to control his mischievous instincts.

He added to Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "I have a real problem when people tell me not to do something.

Now this is quite strange that MTV would single out Scientology as a word not to say along with the C word. I am not sure whether this is something that reflects positively or negatively on our favorite cult.

Maybe the Americans are being over-cautious but Russell does have history with MTV. He was sacked from the station after turning up for work on September 12, 2001, dressed as Osama bin Laden.

Anyway, I have been sampling a few news stories and I must say this Russel Brand character is quite a hoot. First his hair. Then his Manson-look. Then some downright funny comments. For example:
"When I was going to meet the Queen of England, the protocol people told me how to bow, not to curtsy and not to speak until I was spoken to. But all I could think of was, 'Grab her tits.' "

Thankfully Russell managed to control his urge and the royal bosom remained untouched.

After having earned a scholarship to The Drama Centre in London and being subsequently expelled for misbehaving, Brand said:

"I was a drug addict. I used to smash stuff up, cry, take drugs while at school, I had a mouse live in my hair, broke school property - I was a whirlwind of annoyance. They tolerated it for three years because the work was good but at the end, due to various afflictions and addictions, it deteriorated and I was slung out."

Joking at his good fortune for being named host of the MTV award show, Brand said:
"I'm planning to have lesbian kisses with Britney and Madonna individually. It's not going to be easy, what with my genitals, but I will try."

Brand, who won rave reviews for his performance in comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is welcoming the opportunity to get his raising star in the US raise further:

"People say you must enjoy it that no one knows you're famous in America but I hate it. Without fame, this haircut makes me look like someone with a mental illness. I want everyone to know who I am. I have to carry a laptop around with me so I can explain I am a celebrity."

Will he be able to control his impulses? Nothing is so sure. Recently, Russell Brand had to apologise for phoning the police with false information about a sex attacker during a stand-up show in Northampton, UK. However, he said it had been a "spontaneous and impulsive thing" to do, which is why he says he cannot promise not to do it again.

"You can never rule that out, that's the nature of spontaneity, things just sometimes happen."
The MTV Video Music Awards will be held in Los Angeles on September 7.

Quote of the Day
"After all, how could a bunch of teenagers who'd never heard of Scientology until a few months ago possibly not easily destroy an organisation which has been around for decades, with tens of thousands of dedicated grownup members and many millions of dollars in the bank? "Piece of cake", as Lafayette R. Hubbard would say.

Sorry, I may have misplet 'cake'."