In this video series, we are going to take a long hard look at the philosophy and practice of Scientology.
When I first started writing about Scientology, my attitude about its beliefs and practices was that they were not as important as exposing the abuses, immorality and actual criminal activities that Scientologists would get up to, either on their own bat or at the behest of Scientology leaders L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscavige. I’m a big supporters of tolerance of belief and letting people think whatever they want. They’re going to anyway, so there isn’t really much reward in trying to forcefully suppress anyone’s way of thinking.
But there is something to be said about how one’s beliefs define one’s attitude towards the world and how that attitude can shapes one’s actions. When those actions are destructive, we should cast a critical eye on the ideas driving those actions and see if there isn’t something worth commenting on. In the case of Scientology, there is a great deal to talk about.
I’ve already made a couple of videos which will go in to the playlist for this series, giving some breakdown of Scientology beliefs and the organization of the subject itself, its history and the great volume of materials which make it up. I’ve put a link to the playlist in the description below so you can catch up if you haven’t seen those yet.
Now to officially get started on this, let’s look at how Hubbard talks about Scientology itself. This will give us a good overview and context from which we can then talk about the specific beliefs and methods. In doing this, we are not limiting ourselves to just current Scientology materials, but are also going to go back to earlier editions of his work where some of his claims were, shall we say, a little more bold.
Current Scientology leader David Miscavige has justified a great many changes to Hubbard’s works over the years by claiming that Hubbard’s words were misinterpreted or mistyped by evil-intentioned stenographers, copy editors and past Scientology executives who didn’t want to see people improve or get better. He further claimed that Hubbard didn’t know about these changes, which could only mean that Hubbard never bothered to look at any of his published books in the 36 years he was overseeing the subject. It’s a nice story, but I think Hubbard wrote and said exactly what he meant to say in his original works and I very much doubt that he never bothered to look at his own books after they came off the presses. To think Hubbard was that out of touch with his own subject is to make him out to be an idiot. Well, you can rightfully use a lot of epithets to describe L. Ron Hubbard, but idiot is not one of them.
In 1952, L. Ron Hubbard started organizing the subject of Scientology in earnest. According to the Church of Scientology itself, he had already coined the term at least as far back as 1947 but had changed it to Dianetics when he offered his work to the medical and psychiatric professions in early 1948. When Dianetics tanked and went bankrupt, Hubbard hauled out the term Scientology again and by 1953 was very busy converting his Dianetics followers over from that pseudoscientific mental health therapy to the spiritually-minded pseudoscientific belief system of Scientology. As early as May 1953, Hubbard referred to Scientology as the “science of certainty” (Associate Newsletter No. 3, mid-May 1953)
Hubbard had a repeating pattern over the years of nullifying and invalidating the field of science and the efforts of scientists because he needed his followers to not be critical of what he was presenting them. Yet he was obviously conflicted because Hubbard craved the recognition and authority which real science has. He mocked scientists and tried to make them look like the Keystone Cops while positioning Scientology above their efforts and claiming that Scientology was what science was really trying to achieve. Yet if anyone compares Hubbard’s work to the actual scientific method and how science is actually conducted, they couldn’t help but conclude that Hubbard was simply making things up as he went along and that his claims of experimentation and clinical discoveries was so much hot air. None of Hubbard’s case studies or research notes or clinical trials have ever been published and it’s doubtful they even exist, but that didn’t stop him from making some pretty authoritative claims about his subject. In his earliest lecture on Scientology on March 3, 1952, here’s what Hubbard said:
“Scientology would be the study of science, or the study of knowledge, rather than the small segment of therapy which has been, up to this time, Dianetics. Scientology actually embraces these axioms and embraces the various activities of man.”
A little later in the lecture, he explained how science had ceased to be very useful and that Scientology was now going to expand on and carry the torch for science because of its failures. At least, that’s the message I get from this:
“The study of knowledge would embrace not only how you went about creating a science which could be utilized in the derivation of the formula and the application of the formulae of atomic fission, but it would also embrace, Who’s going to use it! Why is it! Where can it be employed! And how can you keep it from being employed! Scientology would step outside of the field of science as it has been known.
“Science, as it’s been known, has been the collection of data (almost a random collection of data), assembling it into piles of similar data and calling these piles “piles of dataology.
“A study of biology, let us say. Well, that started out to be “study of life”: bio or biology – “study of life.” Very, very interesting, but it wound up as the study of cells and small animals and that sort of thing and merely collected enormous quantities of data – observed, not particularly evaluated, and certainly not grouped and aligned into a form which could be utilized in the discovery of new data.
“Each one of these ologies, one by one, has come into a dead end. That is not a condemnation of them. They have been carried forward as far as anyone could carry them forward and then they’ve stopped, stagnated, specialized and drawn themselves away from the body of knowledge. So that each one becomes a study of how you memorize a lot of unevaluated facts, and you put them together and maybe you get something and maybe you don’t.”
If you look at the actual discoveries of science from the time Hubbard said these words in 1952 to now, I thnk you’ll find the exact opposite of dead ends and stagnation. Scientology, on the other hand, has not moved forward or discovered anything new in decades. In fact, Hubbard himself demanded that Scientology be placed in a static, unchanging condition by his own hand in 1965 when he wrote a policy called Keeping Scientology Working, stating that he had perfected the only workable system on the planet capable of freeing every man, woman and child here. Tall boasts from a man who died alone, a self-admitted failure who was the exact opposite of free because he was in hiding from the law for tax evasion and worse.
Hubbard had lots more to say about science and Scientology. By August of 1952, Hubbard placed Scientology above the rest of science when he wrote this in Issue 1-G of the Journal of Scientology:
“‘Scientology’ is a new word which names a new science. It is formed from the Latin word scio, which means know, or distinguish, being related to the word scindo, which means cleave. (Thus, the idea of differentiation is strongly implied.) It is formed from the Greek word “logos,” which means the word, or
outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known; also, the inward thought or reason itself. Thus, Scientology means knowing about knowing, or science of knowledge.
“The ‘exact’ sciences contradict each other daily. This is not because their observations are wrong, but because they cling to old theories that conflict instead of finding the newer, simpler theories.
“Scientology has introduced new simplicities of theory into the field of human thought and has brought the study of human thought up to a level at which it begins to embrace all thought and all life, not only of man, but of all organisms.”
After he’d had a few years to refine the subject and work it over, in 1956 Hubbard wrote the book Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought as the defintive basic guide to Scientology theory and practice. Though he had already established Scientology as a tax-exempt, religious organization which even had a creed and codified ceremonies and symbology, he defined Scientology as:
“…that branch of psychology which treats of (embraces) human ability.
“Scientology is actually a new but very basic psychology in the most exact meaning of the word. It can and does change behavior and intelligence and it can and does assist people to study life.”
“Scientology used by the trained and untrained person improves the heatlh, intelligence, ability, behavior, skill and appearance of people.
“It is a precise and exact science, designed for an age of exact sciences.”
Later in this chapter, Hubbard then claims:
“Tens of thousands of case histories (reports on patients, individual records) all sworn to (attested before public officials) are in the possession of the organizations of Scientology. No other subject on earth except physics and chemistry has had such gruelling testing (proofs, exact findings). Scientology in the hands of an expert (Auditor) can cure some 70% of Man’s illnesses (sicknesses). Scientology is used by some of the largest companies (business organizations) on Earth. It is valid. It has been tested. It is the only thoroughly tested system of improving human relations, intelligence and character and is the only one which does.”
“Scientology does things for people where nothing has been done before. It makes people well from illnesses which were once considered hopeless. It increases their intelligence. It changes their competence and betters their behaviour. In addition to these it brings them a better understanding of life. One outstanding thing which it does: it alleviates burns received from Atomic Bombs. Scientology is the only specific (cure) for radiation (atomic bomb) burns. Scientology processing given to persons burned by radiation can alleviate the majority of the difficulty. This is true even when the person who is treating (auditor) is not completely trained.”
So I think I’ve made it abundantly clear that Hubbard had a thing for science and for positioning Scientology not just alongside the hard sciences but above them. That means we can hold Scientology to the same standards as the hard sciences and evaluate Hubbard’s claims against them. Now I can tell you that every one of Hubbard’s claims are simply baldfaced lies, but in this series we’re going to go deeper than that. Einstein said “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” By showing how there are exceptions to Hubbard’s axioms and statements of natural laws, I’ll show how these are not scientific principles at all but the exact opposite: pseudoscience.
We’re going to break the basic Scientology principles down and look at where some of them actually came from, their pros and cons and whether they work or not. The best way I can think to do this is to cover the subject the same way Scientology itself has, going through the chapters of the Scientology Handbook. Once we’ve done that, we’ll cover some other specific aspects of the technology, such as the E-meter. I’ve already done a video on the Purification Rundown and that will be made part of this series too.
Scientology is both fascinating and horrifying. It posits a new and better condition for every human being and claims that it is the only workable technology capable of freeing mankind from the shackles of its material existence. Yet a review of the results of Scientology shows hundreds if not thousands of broken families and friendships, busted bank accounts and bankruptcies and even deaths. Are the supposed wins and gains in Scientology’s testimonial videos worth this cost? Is Scientology really everything it’s cracked up to be? Should us critics stop grinding our axes and let these people just get on with practicing Scientology in peace? Well, I think after this series is over, we’ll have very definite answers to each of these questions and I think it will be clear that Scientology as a philosophy is morally and intellectually bankrupt and that its practices are far more harmful than helpful. That’s the case I’ll be making and in the end, you’ll be the judge.
Thank you for watching.