Education is one of the most controversial subjects in the United States and perhaps in the world. The bulk of a child’s life is spent in public or private schools or, for some, in home schooling. A great deal of money and time are spent not only in directly educating children, but also in figuring out how to best go about this job. In the fall of 2016, about 50.4 million students attended public elementary and secondary schools while an additional 5.2 million attended private elementary and secondary schools. The public school system alone employs about 3.1 million full-time teachers, so when one is talking education, we are talking about a lot of people and a big investment of money and time. Clearly, we place a premium on giving our children a good education so they are setup to succeed in life. Any society with even a modicum of common sense would do so because children are literally our future.
L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics and Scientology and supposedly the sole source of all of its researches and discoveries, made bold claims about his findings in regards to study. In fact, a whole subsection of the Church of Scientology is devoted to propagating Hubbard’s methods, known collectively as Study Tech. In this video we are going to break down what Study Tech consists of, look at the Church’s claims about it and then see if these claims have any merit. Let’s get started.
On July 9, 1964, Hubbard gave a lecture on assimilating data or information and he stressed nomenclature and the meanings of words.
“Nomenclature: what does a word mean? And that’s what trips you basically, because then you cannot read a sentence with that word in it and know what the sentence says. So nomenclature is a major stumbling block in any study.”
“So, the point is, in spite of any rebuff that you get, or of difficulty digging into some book to find out what it means, you actually put yourself in a soup at once, the moment that you leave one word in a sentence behind you, you do not know the meaning of. One unknown piece of nomenclature left behind you can absolutely ruin your comprehension of the whole thing you’re studying.”
Hubbard then detailed how this was the key principle behind remedying slow students in any subject or topic and that it was only the definitions of words that mattered when it came to why people could not grasp a subject.
A month later, on August 4, 1964, Hubbard gave another lecture concerning study where he added another barrier to learning. In this case, not having the mass or the thing to hand that you were studying about. In other words, you could try teaching a painter how to paint but if you only teach the history of painting, how many wives famous painters had and what their life history is and you never get down to picking up a brush and learning how to properly put paint on a canvas and practice mixing colors and that sort of thing, you’ll never get a painter who can paint. Hubbard called this separating the significance from the mass or the doingness. Too much stress on signficance and not enough stress on the mass or doing the actions you are teaching would result in students who can’t do what they are supposedly being taught to do. It’s not that there should be no signficance, but there should be a balance.
Just two days later, on August 6, 1964, Hubbard gave a lecture talking again about these principles and adding a new barrier to study. The time frame is important here because nowhere in these lectures does Hubbard describe testing these study principles on anyone else or doing any experiments or clinical trials to test the validity of his claims. He simply said this is the way it is and he expected every student under his charge to begin using these principles as though they were law. In fact, he even explained in the lecture how he went about choosing how to study the field of study. And I think you’ll find his logic to be… intellectually challenging.
“Now, when we recognize that education is not very successful we have made an enormous stride forward. Now, the educational authorities who are responsible for the education of children and adults refuse to recognize this fact and so they really don’t really try to improve it.
“But when you are down against a practical subject such as Scientology where you have trained this auditor as best you could and then you see him sit down—you have an element there which is missing in most educational technologies. They teach the engineer to build a bridge but then nobody in that university is forced to sit down and watch him build a bridge, much less go across the bridge he has built. So you see, they do not in actual fact get a very good look at whether their educational methods are successful or not. We teach somebody ancient Greek. There is nothing wrong with learning ancient Greek but the teacher then never really is a witness of the student speaking to the ancient Greeks, see? He doesn’t pay too much attention to this.
“So therefore, in studying study, I avoided all those fields where observation of the student was not easily attained, the actual doingness of the student was not easily viewed. That ruled out a field for the study of study, you see? So immediately engineering technology, we could learn nothing from that because, of course, nobody ever sits around and watches whether or not the engineer builds the bridge, you see? So it had to be something as intimate as Scientology, which is, the Instructor teaches the student how to audit a case and then, oddly enough, is able at that very minute to have him turn around and audit the case, see? So this, of course, has a tendency to force progress and advance upon us and we are able then to make a further advance because we have an instantaneous inspection of the results of our study.”
Almost every claim Hubbard makes here about educational authorities and the way practical education is done are wholly false. He simply writes off an entire field consisting of millions of teachers, administrators and researchers with a single sentence and then substitutes his own expertise as somehow more reliable and learned. This pattern repeats itself throughout many of Hubbard’s lectures and is how he would get students of his to readily dismiss wholesale any scientific or advanced field of study which Hubbard disagreed with such as physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and psychiatry.
Later in this lecture, Hubbard went on to describe the third barrier to study called a skipped gradient.
“So, we have a new discovery which we have made, long since, called gradient scales which applies in the field of study and that you teach somebody on a gradient. Well, what is meant by ‘teaching somebody on a gradient’? Well, a gradient of course refers to a grade which is sort of an uphill looking sort of picture, don’t you see? It’s a little bit more so each successive step. What we mean by a gradient: It gets steeper or it gets more complex or it takes in more the further you go.”
Hubbard explained that if you skip a gradient, giving a student too much too fast, he will become confused and won’t be able to learn. Given that schooling is almost universally done by grades where students are taught exactly as Hubbard describes here, it’s hard to fathom how he could have thought that teaching on a gradient was a new discovery.
Five days later, on August 11, 1964, Hubbard gave another lecture on study, this time stressing the importance of properly evaluating the information a student is learning and what the information is going to be used for. He mentions in the lecture that the student grades there at the Scientology organization where he was teaching were improving following his earlier lectures, but given that this had only been going on for a month and there were no public records kept of study scores or what it was exactly that the students there were doing that was improving their grades, its impossible to verify any of Hubbard’s claims.
This didn’t stop Hubbard from giving yet another talk two days later on August 13, 1964 which would end up being one of the most important and often quoted lectures out of the thousands he gave over the years. This lecture is called Study and Education and in it, Hubbard makes an amazing series of claims that the barriers to study he had thus far described were not only the key to learning but that each barrier could be spotted in a student due to physiological reactions the student would have. These were later summarized in a bulletin called Barriers to Study:
“There are three different sets of physiological and mental reactions that come from three different aspects of study. They are three different sets of symptoms.
“1. Education in the absence of the mass in which the technology will be involved is very hard on the student.
“It actually makes him feel squashed, makes him feel bent, sort of spinny, sort of dead, bored, exasperated.
“If he is studying the doingness of something in which the mass is absent, this will be the result.
“Photographs help and motion pictures would do pretty good, as they are a sort of promise or hope of the mass, but the printed page and the spoken word are not a substitute for a tractor if he’s studying about tractors.”
“You’re trying to teach this fellow all about tractors and you’re not giving him any tractors. Well, he’s going to wind up with a face that feels squashed, with headaches and with his stomach feeling funny. He’s going to feel dizzy from time to time and very often his eyes are going to hurt.”
“You could therefore expect the greatest incidence of suicide or illness in that field of education most devoted to studying absent masses.”
“2. There is another series of physiological phenomena that exist which is based on the fact of too steep a study gradient….
“It is a sort of a confusion or a reelingness that goes with this one.”
“3. There is this third one. An entirely different set of physiological reactions brought about through a bypassed definition. A bypassed definition gives one a distinctly blank feeling or a washed-out feeling.
“A not-there feeling and a sort of nervous hysteria will follow in the back of that.
“The manifestation of ‘blow’ [an unauthorized departure] stems from this third aspect of study which is the misunderstood definition or the not-comprehended definition, the undefined
“This one of the misunderstood definition is so much more important. It’s the make-up of human relations, the mind and subjects. It establishes aptitude and lack of aptitude, and it’s what psychologists have been trying to test for years without recognizing what it was.
“That’s all it goes back to and that produces such a vast panorama of mental effects that it itself is the prime factor involved with stupidity and the prime factor involved with many other things.
“There is some word in the field of art that the person who is inept didn’t define or understand and that is followed by an inability to act in the field of the arts.
“That’s very important because it tells you what happens to doingness and that the restoration of doingness depends only upon the restoration of understanding on the misunderstood word — misunderstood definition.”
These are very tall claims. These three barriers to study make up the core of the Study Tech, but over the years, Hubbard developed many more techniques and methods to both find and remedy misunderstood words and also to address other factors he thought were impeding learning. For example, a year after the lectures we’ve covered, on June 18, 1964, Hubbard gave another lecture on study where he talked about a person’s willingness to know and learn:
“Study has to do, basic and most formally, with just really one thing: willingness to know. That’s the first little gate that has to be opened to embark upon study: willingness to know.”
He went on to elaborate about a photography correspondence course he’d been taking and how he’d had the idea that he already knew all about photography and so had been making very slow progress in the course, but once he realized that he did not know everything there was to know on the subject, his rate of learning and progress through the course accelerated rapidly.
“So, what it boils down to, what it boils down to is an auditor’s ability to learn depends not necessarily on his saying how stupid he is, but depends certainly on a willingness to learn – just a willingness to learn. He’s willing to learn, and so forth. And the biggest single barrier is a preconception that he knows that is not attended by any singular result.”
Now if you’re paying attention, you can see the pattern here. Hubbard found something that worked for him personally and then proposed that because he had had success with it, it must be true for every person everywhere and presented his material accordingly.
As Scientology became more formalized through the 1960s and Hubbard started consolidating his other Scientology materials with Study Tech, he started developing more exact techniques for students studying Scientology to find words they didn’t understand and to conceptualize ideas using demonstration kits as a sort of substitute for the real things they were studying about. In fact, it was around the same time that he was giving those first Study Tech lectures that he developed the use of the clay table as a means of helping to clarify the definitions of words and to show ideas and concepts students study about but may have a hard time finding pictures or physical representations of.
Through the early 1970s, Hubbard developed nine methods of word clearing, some using Scientology’s E-meter to supposedly locate misunderstood words below the person’s level of conscious awareness.
Method One word clearing is a full Scientology auditing technique that assesses a whole list of past topics a person may have studied and seeks to locate every word the person did not understand in whichever of those topics register on the E-meter. The goal is to recover one’s former education completely.
Method Two word clearing is also done on the E-meter. The students reads a piece of text out loud and if the meter reacts on a word, that word is looked up in a dictionary whether the person thinks they know it or not.
Method Three word clearing is used when a person is studying in a classroom. If they find themselves feeling blank or sleepy or yawning or out of it, they go back in the text to where they were last doing well and find what word they read that they don’t fully understand and they clear it up. Classroom supervisors exist in every Scientology classroom for the purpose of monitoring students’ progress. If they are not flying along, if they are not so ‘bright’ as they were or exhibit just plain lack of enthusiasm or are taking too long on their mateirals or are yawning, disinterested, doodling or daydreaming, then they must have a misunderstood word and they are made to find it.
Method Four word clearing uses a meter to check over study materials in a broader fashion. A student will be asked to put his attention on a page or a chapter of a book or something like that and then will be asked if there is anything on the page they did not fully get, didn’t understand or are uncertain about. If the meter registers, they have to find what word or symbol they didn’t get and look it up.
Method Five word clearing is where a student is simply asked the definitions of words that are being used in specific questions or commands. It can be done on or off the meter. It’s mainly used in Scientology to clear up commands and questions used in auditing.
Method Six word clearing is used to cover key words of a topic or subject. For example, if someone was taking on a new job, a list of words associated with that job would be put together and the person would be checked by asking them the definition of each word. If the student hesitated or didn’t know the meaning, they’d look it up.
Method Seven word clearing is used with children and foreign language or semi-literate students. The student reads the materials he’s studying out loud to another person and each time there is an omission, word change, hesitation or frown, the word clearer corrects it by looking it up for him or explaining it to him. This is supposed to bring the person up to literacy.
Method Eight word clearing is very specialized in Scientology. It’s where a person looks up every single word contained in all of the lectures L. Ron Hubbard gave on the subject of study and in all of the bulletins he wrote on how to study. All of these words have been precompiled into a long alphabetical list. The student doesn’t do this by himself, he works with another person and they help each other out as they both clear up each word on the list, going back and forth. They each look up every word up whether they think they know them or not. This takes weeks of work in the classroom. Once they have done this, they use Method 4 word clearing on those lectures and bulletins and clear up anything else that got missed. The end result of this is supposed to be a new state of understanding called Super Literacy where a student can simply read any material and instantly have a full conceptual understanding of that material. This hasn’t been done as a service in Scientology since the 1980s.
Method Nine word clearing is where a student reads a text out loud to a word clearer, who follows along with a copy of the same text in front of him. If the student does anything but read the text easily, clearly and naturaly without any stumbles, hesitations, pauses, adding a word, leaving a word out, etc. then the word clearer stops him and they find what word or symbol he doesn’t fully understand. It is assumed that the only reason a person could not easily and comfortably read a text out loud, any text on any subject, is because he has some word he doesn’t understand. Of course, this would only apply to text in his own language. For foreign language students, Method 7 is used.
In 1979, Hubbard developed another technique to find false data and eradicate it from a person’s thinking.
“When a person is not functioning well on his post, on his job or in life, at the bottom of his difficulties will often be found unknown basic definitions and laws or false definitions, false data and false laws, resulting in an inability to think with the words and rules of that activity and an inability to perform the simplest required functions. The person will remain unfamiliar with the fundamentals of his activity, at times appearing idiotic, because of these not-defined and falsely defined words.”
“A politician is told by an adviser, ‘It doesn’t matter how much money the government spends. It is good for the society.’ The politician uses this ‘rule’ and the next thing you know inflation is driving everybody to starvation and the government to bankruptcy. The politician, knowing he was told this on the very best authority, does not spot it as false data but continues to use it right up to the point where the angry mobs stand him up in front of a firing squad and shoot him down. And the pity of it is that the politician never once suspected that there was anything false about the data, even though he couldn’t work with it.”
Hubbard even went so far as to claim that false data was the primary reason people cannot be trained to do their jobs. So False Data Stripping was the solution. It’s a technique that asks a person a series of questions on the topic or subject that the person is having trouble with and then drills down to what the false datum is and uses memory recall to eradicate it. Let’s say a person is having trouble washing cars. They just can’t seem to get it right no matter how many times they are shown. So False Data Stripping would ask them:
Is there anything you have run across in washing cars which you couldn’t think with?
Is there anything you have encountered in washing cars which didn’t seem to add up?
Is there something you have come across in washing cars that seems to be in conflict with the material you are trying to learn?
There are 14 different questions that are asked and if the person responds in the positive to any of them, they are then asked “Have you been given any false data regarding this?” and they then have to figure out what the false datum was and tell the False Data Stripper.
One can see almost immediately how this procedure could easily be abused to reinforce confirmation bias. While it may unearth confusions and difficulties a student has, deciding what is or isn’t false data in this procedure is a wholly subjective experience. If I am being trained to wash cars and I think that soap is harmful to glass and so won’t use it, then my answer to one of these questions could easily be “Yeah, I’m being told that I have to use soap to clean windows. And that’s just false data!”
The person doing the False Data Stripping is not supposed to tell the student whether something is true or false. His job is to just administer the procedure. Since it’s a wholly subjective exercise, you could base your answers on whatever authority figure you wanted to and under the guise of eradicating false data, you could actually double down on incorrect information. As another example, Scientologists are infamously hateful towards the entire field of psychiatry. L. Ron Hubbard claimed over and over again that it was the single most destructive force on the planet and that psychiatrists were behind many conflicts including the concentration camps in World War II. So if a Scientologist were doing False Data Stripping on anything connected with psychiatry, they would tend to state that any information they’d ever received from psychology or psychiatry was false.
There are also Scientology auditing or counselling procedures which are done to address study problems. Each of these procedures basically consist of a list of questions that are asked on the E-meter and taking up any questions which register. There is a Student Correction List, a Student Booster Rundown and a Study Green Form, amongst others.
L. Ron Hubbard said that Study Tech is Scientology’s bridge to society. For decades, the Church of Scientology has attempted to get Study Tech in use in public schools. Scientologists have chartered private schools and institutions that teach mainly children of Scientologists in all grades from 1 through 12 using Hubbard’s study methods and techniques. There are the Delphi schools in Oregon and Los Angeles, the Clearwater Academy in Florida and the Greenfields Boarding School in Forest Row, England to name a few of the more prominent ones.
The core elements and parts of Study Tech have been broken down in various texts produced by the Church of Scientology including materials for children. There’s Study Skills for Life, Learning How to Learn, How to Use a Dictionary Picture Book and the Basic Study Manual.
Applied Scholastics is a non-profit corporation founded in 1972 by Scientologists to promote the use of Study Tech in schools and education facilities around the world. Applied Scholastics has an international headquarters and teacher training facility in Spanish Lake, Missouri and runs the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project which Tom Cruise has endorsed, the World Literacy Crusade, “Education Alive” and there are probably other front groups out there which are also backed by Applied Scholastics and therefore by the Church of Scientology. While it may appear that these organizations are not directly linked, the executives and leaders of all of these groups are almost all exclusively Scientologists and the Church of Scientology actively promotes Applied Scholastics’ activities as examples of the church’s success in making inroads into society by propagating Hubbard’s Study Tech.
As I’m sure anyone can imagine, with the literally billions of dollars that are spent on education worldwide, the Church of Scientology views Applied Scholastics as a potentially major revenue stream. Unfortunately for them, almost every time they have tried to make inroads and get access to public school children for their programs, they have failed. There are very good reasons for this which have nothing really to do with Applied Scholastics’ connection with Scientology and has everything to do with the fact that Hubbard’s study methods don’t do what they say they do. Let’s take a look at this.
First off, as a former Scientologist, I can not only speak from my own experience using Study Tech for decades, but I am also a fully trained Scientology course room supervisor and word clearer. I listened to every released lecture Hubbard gave on the subject of training and study and read every issue he wrote on it. I oversaw the training of Scientology auditors and many other courses for years and was also the continental manager overseeing all Scientology classes and counselling for eight years from 1995 until 2003. So on this subject, I have some familiarity.
The way Scientology trains its parishioners using Study Tech is to enforce Hubbard’s doctrines primarily through word clearing. There are other social forces at work to get people to agree with Hubbard, such as peer pressure, appeal to authority and confirmation bias, but word clearing is a crucial element in the Scientology toolbox.
How it works is that supervisors are not trained on the materials or classes they are supervising. They are not teachers who know the subject inside and out and answer students’ questions from their own knowledge or experience. Sure, from time to time that does occur but according to Hubbard’s policies on supervising, it’s actually a crime in Scientology to verbally explain the subject to a student. They call it verbal tech. Hubbard’s written and spoken works are supposed to be the single source of explanation of Scientology principles. A supervisor is supposed to be an expert on Hubbard’s Study Tech and use that, which means that any time a student has a question or confusion or says that something Hubbard wrote doesn’t make any sense – and this happens all the time – then the supervisor’s response is “What word did you go by that you didn’t fully understand?”
Hubbard actually wrote a bulletin explicitly stating that this is the only allowable response from a course supervisor. This becomes an exercise in futility for the student who does understand the words Hubbard says, but who disagrees with the material or thinks that Hubbard may be off in what he is saying. Let me give you a real example.
A student is studying the book Scientology 8:8008 wherein Hubbard writes “The auditor must realize that communication is essentially directed or received energy and is inhibited by the willingness or unwillingness of the preclear to take responsibility for energy or forms of energy. Where responsibility is low, perception is low.”
Now this word salad is supposed to mean something but a student can read this and possibly not make heads or tales of it. Without further explanation, there could be at least three or four possible interpretations of what Hubbard means here. Yet if a student has any question or comment or disagreement with it, the supervisor’s job is to find what word he doesn’t understand here and make him clear it up in a dictionary and that’s it. This results in students being badgered to “find your word” over and over again, until they finally do so. But oftentimes, students would clear three, four or even five words in a passage like this and still have questions. I would then have to direct them earlier in the text to see if there was some earlier word preventing them from understanding this later passage. Hubbard makes a point in one bulletin of saying it could be two or more pages back. So earlier and earlier we go, spending hours looking for words a student couldn’t immediately define if asked. This means that a lot of one’s time in a Scientology classroom is spent in dictionaries more than in their study materials. But more importantly, it also means that students will eventually give up on ever getting their questions answered and will have to convince the supervisor that it all makes sense now since the supervisor is not going to stop until they say they don’t have any more questions about their materials and they fully agree with Hubbard.
Scientology students will even convince themselves that the nonsense I quoted earlier actually does make sense and is totally clear to them. Sure, they may have come to some understanding but who’s to say if it’s the right one? The supervisor can’t interpret the material and if the student even looks like he still has some question about it, the supervisor or word clearer has to badger him with a dictionary. This is not a good method of teaching, yet Scientologists think this is the best and only way to teach. I simply cannot overstate how important Scientologists think the misunderstood word is. Hubbard categorically stated “THE ONLY REASON A PERSON GIVES UP A STUDY OR BECOMES CONFUSED OR UNABLE TO LEARN IS BECAUSE HE HAS GONE PAST A WORD THAT WAS NOT UNDERSTOOD.”
In fact, Hubbard takes it one step further. Hubbard said that the first manifestation or phenomena of a misunderstood word is that the student will go mentally blank and not understand his study materials. But he then also said that there is a second phenomenon where the student will individuate, meaning he will separate himself from the subject, and he will then “commit harmful acts against the more general area. This is followed by an effort to restrain himself from committing more harmful acts and efforts to find ways he has been wronged. This is followed by various mental and physical conditions and by various complaints, faultfinding and look-what-you-did-to-me.”
This is very much an authoritarian approach to education, wherein if a student doesn’t conform and doesn’t agree with everything he reads or studies, he’s stepping out of line and becoming an anti-social personality. Given Scientology’s already authoritarian structure, it’s no surprise they would treat education the same way. There can be no alterantive explanations, no other way of looking at Hubbard’s works and no free thinking. And it cannot ever be the case that Hubbard’s written or spoken works can somehow be in error or be wrong. That is never a possibility. In fact, in Scientology, critical thinking is heavily frowned upon and is considered an indication that the person who is criticizing Scientology or L. Ron Hubbard can only be doing so because of their own harmful activities. This is how you create ideologues.
Professor David Touretzky of Carnegie Mellon University wrote an extensive article critiquing Study Tech and in it he said:
“Study Tech’s focus on misunderstood words is not just some arbitrary bit of educational dogma. It is an intentional and effective device for suppressing critical thought. In effect, it atomizes language, divorcing words from concepts. The same words might appear in a Shakespearean sonnet or an L. Ron Hubbard bulletin but their collective meaning might be very different. The words themselves may be perfectly comprehensible but their meaning may not be. The context is stripped away, leaving the words to be studied in isolation. But a student cannot ascertain context from isolated words, any more than she could ascertain the design of a house from individual bricks. The most outlandish concepts can thereby be presented in a way that compels word-by-word acceptance.”
Former Scientologist Joe Harrington wrote:
“Using Hubbard’s notion of the ‘misunderstood word’, one could introduce a ‘Source’ textbook on geology, written by the President of the Flat Earth Society and have every student who disagreed with the materials look up all the ‘misunderstood words’ they went past, until harmony with the Source material was in place.”
It is the standard refrain of any Scientologist who has experienced being a student in a Scientoloogy classroom that the only reason they would disagree with or be confused about their study materials is because of a misunderstood word, period.
The False Data Stripping procedure I mentioned earlier is used in the same fashion, to remove from a person’s thinking anything they have earlier studied or heard or been told that conflicts in any way with what L. Ron Hubbard said so they don’t have any impediments to agreeing only with him. This is LITERALLY the definition of mind control. Imagine for a moment if false data stripping was implemented in high schools teaching creationism as fact and what it would do to kids’ ability to think with evidence based-science after they’d been convinced that anything connected with Darwin was false data.
It is nearly impossible to find any hard research or verified statistics about the effectiveness of Study Tech on a broad scale. Almost all of the promotional materials concerning it talk only in anecdotes and success stories from individuals. On the Applied Scholastics website, there is a page citing results which lists three comparative studies from the implementation of Applied Scholastics methods at three separate locations. However, the “studies” were all written by Applied Scholastics personnel and a casual perusal of them finds excuses and exceptions written in to two of the three studies including the fact that in Zimbabwe, they implemented word clearing without having any dictionaries. This is hardly a positive test of L. Ron Hubbard’s Study Technology.
In another supposed case study of Study Techn at a Community College, under a section titled “Results” it clearly states “Though it was not possible to implement a controlled study of the pilot project, there are three sets of data that show the promise of Study Technology for handling the problems of community college students.” Later in this same paper, under the heading “Conclusions” it states: “Bearing in mind that the students were enrolled in other classes during the semester, and many of them in reading courses, and that there was no control group, based on the DRP results alone it is not possible to attribute the improvement in reading levels to the Study Technology course.” How can there be any other conclusion except that this report is nothing but window dressing on the website?
Applied Scholastics’ history of the positive results of Study Tech are not good. As David Touretsky cited in his article:
“Applied Scholastics claims to have educated 1.5 million poor black schoolchildren in South Africa through its ‘Education Alive’ initiative. This attracted the interest of Australian Scientology critic Tony McClelland, who asked the South African government about the claim. A South African foreign service official wrote back to explain:
“The matter has been taken up with the Department of Education and Culture as well as the Department of Education and Training who are responsible for school education in South Africa.
“Both denied any knowledge of the Church’s involvement in formal education in South Africa.
“According to the Department of Education and Training, the Church of Scientology tried to use a front organization in 1989, the so called ‘Education Alive’ but was not allowed to get involved in the Department’s schools.
“I am afraid their claim of teaching 1.5 million children in South Africa to read is just another fabrication.
(Letter from Johan Klopper, Second Secretary, South African Embassy Canberra, April 7, 1992)
When Applied Scholastics opened their international facility in 2003 in Missouri, they hardly received a warm welcome from educators in the area:
“Scot Danforth, who oversees teacher education for the University of Missouri at St. Louis, said he searched a database of four decades of published educational research and could find no study on L. Ron Hubbard’s instructional techniques.
“‘In my opinion, they are involved in the worst kind of deception. They make grandiose claims about the effectiveness of their methods and materials…with data that has never been published in a legitimate educational research journal.” (Bower, 2003)
In a November 12, 1997 article in LA Weekly, reporter Sara Catania interviewed educators about Study Tech being implemented in the California school system.
“‘In many cases, lack of comprehension is not because of a misunderstood word,’ says Sidnie Myrick, who leads a UCLA research group on early literacy, teaches a master’s course in reading at Cal State L.A., and also teaches a class of first, second and third graders at Thomas Edison Elementary School in Glendale (she was Glendale’s 1993 Teacher of the Year). ‘In fact,’ she says, ‘in many cases the student won’t get the meaning until the material is presented in a completely different way.’ Myrick also finds the books’ illustrations ‘cutesy and condescending,’ the explanations ‘stilted and manufactured,’ and study technology, all in all, ‘woefully inadequate.’ (Catania, 1997)
Now there’s one more aspect to this I want to cover. L. Ron Hubbard credits himself as the sole source of every important discovery and technique of Dianetics and Scientology. Yet, the truth is actually quite different from that. Hubbard was a pathological liar when it came to the events of his own life and his accomplishments. Despite his gradiose claims of having succeeded in every endeavor he set his mind to, he actually flunked out of college, was a sub-standard naval officer who never saw a single day of actual combat during World War II and therefore lied about being crippled and blinded by enemy fire, and he even lied to his own wives, marrying two different women at the same time who didn’t even know of each other’s existence for almost a year. It should be no surprise that a man of such low character would blatantly steal other people’s ideas and claim them as his own, and that is exactly what Hubbard did.
After leaving the Church, former Scientologist Alan Walters wrote at length of Hubbard’s plagiarism and idea theft, explaining that almost all of the basic principles and techniques of Scientology came from people other than L. Ron Hubbard. One of these ideas, he claimed, was the principle ideas of Study Tech. He said:
“I and several other [Scientologists] had dinner with Chuck and Ava Berner at the Forrest Row Hotel, it was June 1964, the night before Chuck and Ava were to meet with LRH to go over this new discovery they made to do with study.
“We were all enthralled with what they had discovered.
“Imagine the shock we had when LRH told us in a the lecture that night that he had made a momentous discovery in the field of study.
“The data he gave was almost word for word with what the Berners had discussed with us the previous night.
“There was no mention of the Berners who were in the audience.”
Walters later wrote:
“I know they had discovered the misunderstood word concept and the indicators of them, also study and intention, how fixed ideas block study, the importance of familiarization and how misunderstoods causes separation from the subject.”
Over the years, Walters has been quoted in various sources about this, but no one has ever contacted Chuck or Ava Berner directly. So I took it upon myself to track them down. I discovered that Charles Berner had died in 2007 and that he and Ava had divorced many years earlier but had remained in communication. Ava was happy to discuss the events of 1964 with me and here is what she had to say:
[quotes from Ava Berner interview]
In looking all of this over, it’s clear that there is certainly nothing wrong with clearing up definitions of words in dictionaries or even making models or demonstrations of things that are not easy to grasp in just spoken words. What L. Ron Hubbard did was elevate the importance of this to a level of absurdity, claiming that his plagiarized and re-packaged ideas were the only thing of any importance in all of education and learning. He so convinced his followers of this that they started an international organization to espouse and disseminate Study Tech to teachers and educators around the world. Tom Cruise even did a presentation on this to the Department of Education back in the mid-2000s. Fortunately, real educators can see that while there’s nothing wrong with the fundamental ideas, there is a lot more to the difficulties that students have with learning than just the definitions of words.
Despite their claims to the contrary, Applied Scholastics is nothing more than a front group for the Church of Scientology and the only reason they receive any financial and personnel support from the Church is because Scientologists think that the more people who buy in to Study Tech, the more people who will eventually buy in to all of Scientology itself. There are no positive independent studies or research data to indicate that Hubbard’s Study Tech is any better than the advice one gets from a fortune cookie.
As I’ve also detailed here, Study Tech is actually used within the world of Scientology in a destructive manner to control people’s thinking and make them subservient to Hubbard’s doctrines and rules. While it may sound nefarious and even ridiculous to some, the fact is that by enforcing Study Tech, Scientology instructors are engaging in nothing short of coercive persuasion, otherwise known as mind control. Those are the facts.
Thank you for watching.