Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A First Look at Stephen Kent's Narcissistic Rage Paper

Thomas Gandow posted on ARS today a possibly new paper from Professor Stephen Kent (PDF format, dated Jan 2008 thus not that new in fact).

This one, contrary to Jacobsen's paper just referred to in the preceding post, is not a "scholarly-sounding" paper. It is an actual scholarly one.

As with the previous Scientology-related papers, Kent seems to just want to "get at" the Church of Scientology, for reasons best known to him, if that's even the case.

This particular paper is entitled: "Malignant Narcissim, L. Ron Hubbard, and Scientology's Policies of Narcissistic Rage".

As usual, rather than actual field study and experimentation, he takes his information from popular critical information available through the Internet and anti-cult organizations.

Kent's papers usually get debunked at a later stage by reputable scholars engaging in a more in-depth analysis, supported by a broader field study that involve more than the unilateral viewpoints of critics and ex-members, as was the case for his study on the RPF.

In the present case, though, I doubt they will even bother.

First, through repeated challenges to his analysis and papers, Stephen Kent's credibility has suffered quite a few blows.

Second, the present paper is particularly ridiculous, because Kent basically says nothing else than the fact religious and Messianic zeal, and its corollary, intolerance to criticism, is a form of mental deficiency which he refers to as "malignant narcissism".

To "prove" his point, Kent launches in an extensive recitation of the same-old accusations made by critics towards the CoS: the Guardian Office operations, Paulette Cooper's harassment, and even R2-45.

The whole article seems like just an excuse to bring all this recitation up in a scholarly paper, and Kent makes sure at every stage to make the link with these and his claim that Hubbard suffered from the affliction he promptly identified miles away in space and time, and that supposedly translates itself in the equally meaningless term of "malignant rage".

The link he does, however, is nothing more than a simple statement:
"Tactics such as these, involving public humiliation and character assassination, reflected Hubbard’s narcissistic rage."

"Scientology’s campaign, which was a prolonged and aggressive response to Cooper’s publications and legal action, demonstrates the extent of Hubbard’s “narcissistic rage” and “need for revenge."

"‘Auditing Process R2-45’ dramatically demonstrates the manifestation of Hubbard’s malignant narcissism and, more specifically, his narcissistic rage. "
Frankly, not the best of Kent's paper, and one that will probably be simply ignored by his scholars peers, so ridiculous the arguments made that they are almost self-evident.

Not that Kent will care very much, since his aim seems to bring the bulk of such accusation in a scholarly paper, that will be extensively circulated around through the Internet by anti-Scientologists - just as his paper on the RPF is being circulated, and the papers debunking it ignored.

A First Look at Jeff Jacobsen's paper on Project Chanology

Jeff Jacobsen has an extensive scholarly-style study of "Project Chanology" posted on his web site.

The first impression is very good. The photos chosen are superb (see on the left here), the style is very clear, the ideas structured, and obviously Jeff avails of a lot of information, both publicly available and other more private, gathered from what he refers to as "informants".

I have only scanned through this very long article, so the opinion I am expressing here is a limited and reserved one, which may possibly change if ever I find the time to read the article in more details.

The start of that text looks very good, and seems really informative about Anonymous, its origine, development, impact, etc.

Unfortunately, the text soon loses itself in pages upon pages upon pages of speculations and abstruse theorizing about communities, online communities, leaderless organizations, etc, etc. This, IMO, would certainly be the most boring part of the whole paper. It also has, still IMO, not much sense.

Jeff seems to basically assume that Anonymous is already a success, and this seems to be the reason why he goes on and on and on analyzing a supposedly new and successfull model of social interaction and activism.

This seems to be the weak point of his work. While Anonymous certainly was a success at the start, where it mobilized overnight an incredible number of protesters across the globe, its success seem to me to stop there. It was not successful at bringing major changes within the CoS; after nearly one year, concrete results, as I wrote in another blog entry today, are almost non-existent; the numbers have dramatically crashed down and have remained low; Anonymous is currently almost unanimously ignored by major media, and some authors even start to write about them with some hostility, calling at least some of their protest "lame" and the protesters "inept".

This, major fail dimension, Jeff does not seem to take into account in his essay. Witness the last paragraph summarizing this tl;dr paper, devoid of any reference to that particular, crucial, aspect:
In summary, collective action is easy to form and easy to do when it is Internet based. This makes collective action more likely and potentially more powerful once begun As more and more of these Internet based collective actions succeed in their established goals, such success will breed attempts at imitation. If Project Chanology succeeds in pressuring the Church of Scientology into significantly altering its methods or its strength, more people will look at Anonymous' actions and history for ideas on how to mirror their success. Project Chanology already shows the surprising speed and size that such collective actions can take. Such actions should be expected more and more in the near future, but it will not be possible to predict their creation.
Jeff also, not surprisingly, seems to put on equal foot anons with what other critics already referred to as "human rights activitsts", or "civil rights activists".

There is no doubt in my mind that anons, just like OG critics, are sincerely motivated by the best of intentions, indepedently from the fact that the critical thinking ability of many, ironically, are not quite matching their intent, but to compare them to human or civil rights activists is, IMO, pretentious and inexact.

For one thing, human rights activitists typically defend a minority against an oppresive majority, sometimes at the peril of their life. In the case of critics and anons, we certainly cannot say that this is the case, and more typically they express the sentiment of the majority towards an unpopular minority. A "misguided mob" seems to me to be a more fitting description for critics and anons than "human rights activist", even though I believe critics do make valid points too.

The mob may use a series of factual-sounding and clever justifications, of which the present scholarly-sounding essay may be one, but these are most of the time superficial and usually do not hold water once examined in depth, somethings people obviously do not always have time to do, and thus myths can keep on having a life of their own on the Internet.

Really, although the technology revolution represented by high-speed chips running up and down super fast information highways is fantastic, it does not have only a positive side. That it does, is yet another mis-conception common to critics.

All in all, I believe the article is certainly worth reading for its initial part. Later on, it seems to lose itself in useless abstraction. More importantly, it is not critical enough towards assumptions typical of the anti-Scientology movement. Not surprisingly, being written by a prominent anti-Scientologist.

How to Ignore Your Blog

This title is not from me - I lamely plagiarized it from a regular Scientology blogger who goes by the name of "Kat". I found it witty so here's the almost full quote:
How to Ignore Your Blog
or How to Lose Blog Friends and Cease Influencing Bloggers, in 10 Easy Steps.
By Kat

1. Get burnt out in November by posting every day when you are too busy to do so.

2. Don't think about posting, don't compose posts in your head as you do other things, or hope that something cool happens so you can post about it.

3. Just don't post.

4. Don't reply to the witty comments left by those who are still bothering to visit you.

5. Don't read the blogs of your friends and those you enjoy reading.

6. Don't comment on their blogs when you do read them.

7. When you do comment, leave totally lame and non-witty comments, like, "Ha ha!"

8. Don't Tweet.

9. Spend all your time studying, working, preparing for Christmas, cooking and doing laundry. When you are not doing those things, play with your kids. When the kids are asleep, do more work, finish making Christmas presents, hang out with your husband and read a book. Repeat daily.

10. Take part in cool meme's like Weekly Winners and PhotoHunt, and gets lots of comments, but don't return the favor.

and because you're still reading this, I'll give you an extra -

11. Get your toddler to wake you up at least 5 times a night crying, "Ouch, mommy, my mouf!", for weeks on end, because molars are a bitch. This one especially will help you not feel like blogging or care much to make your life sound even vaguely entertaining enough for others to read. If you're an addict and really feel the need to cut back on your blogging & just can't seem to do it - I'm leasing a very cute toddler for incredibly reasonable rates. Nights only. Inquire within.

That pretty much sums it up.

Scientology Recognized as a Religion in Argentina

There are not that many countries around the world that recognize Scientology as a religion, although some of the key countries do. Here is one to add to the list, though, Argentina.

Way to go, Anonymous - a fitting birthday present for your one year, oh so effective, protests. Better than a shoe, I guess...

Anonymous First Anniversary Closing By - What Did They Achieve?.

Nearly a year since the advent of Anonymous springing in the news with their attack on Scientology.

Of course, we are going to see a few analysis.

Here is the first one, from ARS, and some reactions.

My comments on what I pick up here and there follows:

Ted Mayett:
They started out with about 9,000 one year ago and today about 3% or 4% still picket, maybe less.
That seems a bit low. I think 10% would probably be closer to reality.

And Ted then uses the claims that they closed down orgs (Last Vegas, Kitchener, San Diego) to show that they in fact do not substantiate their claim and when checked against reality one may find that it was indeed not the case.

As for me, while I agree with this kind of statement (Dox or STFU), I must observe that just like their claim that a group should not be discriminated against for their belief, and their brags about free speech, they are not really able to live up to this kind of ideal. Indeed, for a group that aims at "dox or stfu", they are incredibly gullible and shallow with researches, or else they wouldn't fall for old OG propaganda such as "Scientology Kills" or the Henson Myth.


About the masks:
That is the whole point of being 'anonymous,' innit. No leaders. No egos. Nobody trying to grab glory or take credit. The masks represent the collective as a whole.
I don't always agree with Barbz but I must admit that this is a good point.

Um, no. SD org is for sale. Hardly the same thing as "closed." We never claimed that San Diego was closed
Barbz did write in her post "The San Diego org has a for sale sign on it" but then check out the thread title she herself created: "ORG CLOSED DUE TO rAIDS".

If this isn't claiming that San Diego was closed, I don't know what is.

Same for Kitchener:

"PICKET REPORT: Kitchener, Ontario - ORG IS CLOSED!!!". Followed by a post two weeks later saying: "Kitchener org is open for business :("

why do you have to interject fantasy into your screed? HELLO MCFLY! Dox or STFU! See how that works?
Yep. Dox seems to confirm Ted claims, methink.

It's an information war, and we are winning.
Oh my... now I think hearing George W. Shoe.

You can see it reflected in the comments section of cult related articles.
Yes you can, most of these comments are increasingly seen as the deed of immature schoolyard bullys who need to get a life, as noted by the LA Times:
"many of those responses were immature or snide remarks, seemingly coming from 4chan members, which prompted Zoey Hampton to write: "The comments make it very clear that the members of 4chan need to get a life, as well as learn to spell and write cogently."
And in following comments:
"Indeed! As we enjoy a more free communication, so too with schoolyard bullys, semi-literates and disruptive elements."
"In days gone past it took great effort to rouse a demonstration. Today it takes only a few phrases on a disruptive website, a few minutes of discussion, and a few dozen computers running dedicated software"

"People dedicated to disrupting normal communication have found their comfort zone on the internet"

"Scientology may indeed be a cult, but these anonymous mask-wearing website-hacking "kids" (and I use that term loosely - many of these 4chan troublemakers are middle aged and living at home) are far more dangerous. Committing vandalism and hate crimes are NOT just "kids' play""

Barbz continues:
And if there are fewer people dancing, and the sheet cakes have become cupcakes, it doesn't matter a bit to me. Because we ARE winning. And that's all right with me.
Can someone throw a shoe at this lady, please?

Hartley Patterson:
My impression is that the number has stabilised
That's my impression too. The low numbers of the past few protests have remained more or less constant. In fact it could be said that it represents the solidification of Anonymous into Old Guards.

being ignored by the media and the police
If you don't know Hartley is referring to Scientology, you would think he speaks about Anonymous. Back in July, I already wrote:
Anonymous has big problem getting any press those days. Apart for their usual propaganda rag, such as Glosslip or HyndiMedia or the -ist series, they aren't getting any press at all.
This is more true than ever. Even worst, the press is even getting hostile to them, as in an article that appeared just today:
According to a report by MSNBC, the anti-Scientology group Anonymous did little to help their cause the other day, as they pulled off one of the lamest protests ever [...] Looks like the tides are turning [...] and now, due to a group of inept protestors, the oft-ridiculed “religion” that is Scientology successfully dodged an attack.

Wrote Hartley furthermore:
'Scientology' becoming a byword in the media for craziness and nastiness
Why "becoming"? This was always more or less the case, and, yes, they were more in the press of late than ever, for a while at least, and even so back in 2005 with the Cruise sofa incident, long pre-dating the advent of Anonymous, but as the article above said, the tide is turning. What counts, is the long-term, and Scientology having more or less graciously dealt with the attack may even become on the contrary stronger because of it.

Dude, "org closed due to rAIDS" is a joke based on an old /b/ meme. It's a JOKE. Google "pool's closed" for the origin.
That's easy - claim something seriously, then when undocumented or unproved, claim it was a joke... Read the context as above quoted, it does not sound a joke to me. Also read the context of the recent Anonymous propaganda video in which they insinuate that over 9,000 protested every month. The over 9,000 is indeed a joke, but it certainly is not presented as such in the video. It's more like deception, is what it is.

Point is, what exactly did Anonymous achieve in this one year? In the above referred propaganda video they attribute defections that in fact have virtually nothing to do with them at all. Speak about "Dox or STFU".

There was one guy who posted about the fact the protests helped him to leave. That's it, for what I can recall. (I thought I blogged about that but now can't seem to find in which category I filed it). Not a single org, that I know, closed (except maybe temporarily during the protest but that's not the same). I seem to recall that the SDO org is for sale because the CoS is moving in bigger quarters (have to check about that, though), and in Anonymous peak time they were busy buying expensive historical buildings in an apparent expansion drive, at least they did before the economic crash. Some say they just invest fraudulent money but anyway it really does not look like anything is closing at all, except of course for Anonymous protests venues.

What else did Anonymous achieve? Yes, the high numbers during protests of Feb. and Mar. This certainly will stay in Scientology History. That's it. And the guy who posted about being helped by Anonymous? What else? Dox or STFU, please...

Suri's Extended Vocabulary

From :
It's clear that Suri Cruise is blessed with unnaturally good looks - but apparently, she's super-intelligent, too. Her proud daddy Tom Cruise had plenty to say about his clever toddler at the 'Valkyrie' premiere on Monday night.

"Her vocabulary is incredible," Cruise told PEOPLE. However complicated two-and-a-half year old Suri's speech may be, he and Katie favor the classics: "I love hearing 'I love you, dada,' or, 'I love you, mama.'"
From :
Watch out, Harvard. She's not even three years old, but little Suri Cruise is a bona fide brainiac, boasts her proud papa.
"Her vocabulary is incredible," Tom Cruise told PEOPLE Monday night at the New York premiere of Valkyrie.

Anonymous Picks the Wrong Building

Several news article about Anonymous' goof during the Valkyrie premiere.

Report: Tom Cruise Outwits Anti-Scientologists

According to a report by MSNBC, the anti-Scientology group Anonymous did little to help their cause the other day, as they pulled off one of the lamest protests ever at the premiere of Tom Cruise’s new film “Valkyrie.” Looks like the tides are turning in Cruise’s favor. First he pulled off an interview on “The Today Show” and managed to seem--dare we say it--normal, and now, due to a group of inept protestors, the oft-ridiculed “religion” that is Scientology successfully dodged an attack. First Britney, now Tom. 2008 truly will be remembered as the year of the comeback.

Hours before the premiere, the group realized they’d obtained a permit to protest at the wrong place, as they discovered the premiere was taking place at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which is located in the Time Warner Center, not in Lincoln Center. Whoops. Sure seems like someone should have double-checked that...

In the end, Anonymous got their protest, but the new locale really wasn’t conducive to a good ol’ truly disruptive protest. In fact, the premiere organizers chose Jazz at Lincoln Center for that very reason. Explained a source, “Anonymous picketed outside (Cruise's wife) Katie's ‘All My Sons’ premiere and ruined photos by being in the background. They didn’t want the same thing. Tom loves being with his fans, signing autographs.
Anti-Scientology group Anonymous hoped to protest the Dec. 15 New York City premiere of “Valkyrie,” starring noted Scientologist Tom Cruise, but wasn’t so successful.

For starters, just hours before the premiere, group organizers realized that the event’s location was at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which is actually located at the Time Warner Center and not in Lincoln Center itself as they’d thought.

The difference of a few blocks meant a difference in police precinct jurisdictions, which in turn meant that they had to scramble to get a permit from the police to allow their protest (in the end, they did get their permit).

One source close to the premiere planning says that the choice to hold it at Jazz at Lincoln Center was made in part because it would be more difficult to protest — the location doesn’t allow for a big outdoor red carpet.

The net result: Anonymous, along with a German camera crew that followed the group to the protest and plans to air their footage in a documentary in early 2009, gathered at the premiere “but Tom never came out to talk to us,” according to one protester.
FAIL Protesters from Anonymous; wrong place, right time.

Cruise on Letterman

Tom Cruise will appear as a guest on "The Late Show with David Letterman"

Tune in Tuesday, December 16 on CBS to watch Tom Cruise and David Letterman on "The Late Show with David Letterman."
PS - From this article I also read:
However, when Lauer was the guest of honor at the Friars Club annual celebrity Roast in New York City in October, Cruise arrived and joked with Lauer about the incident.
I thought it was the other way around, that it was Cruise who was fried about, but then am just a modest Belgian and don't personally follow any of these American shows.