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), Enturbulation.org 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.