An Afternoon With the $cientologists

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Creationist Cults

http://www.maggotpunks.com/headlines/2002-09-23.htm

September 23, 2002

An Afternoon With the $cientologists

You have to give them credit for trying. The advocates of Dianetics went through great efforts to publicize their seminar on the campus of Wichita State University. Buying seventeen pages of ads in two issues of the WSU newspaper that is normally only eight pages long, they must have been expecting a huge turnout. Wichita, after all, has played an important role in the development of Dianetics. The author, L. Ron Hubbard spent a few months here, and Dianetics advocate and star of Cheers Kirstie Alley was born here and set up a Dianetics center. Valiant efforts don't always result in dead dragons but a steaming corpse of sorts wafted through the air by the end of the day.

Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science is the Bible of the Church of Scientology. It was written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Despite the connection to the Church this fact L. Ron Hubbard

The world headquarters of Scientology was downplayed in their over hyped one hour seminar. According to the rambling, sometimes incoherent advertisement Dianetics is a revolutionary, breakthrough treatment that sums up the complexity of the human mind in a few phrases and has the potential of ridding the world of every mental illness and awkward school dances. This is done simply by remembering the initial incident which caused your negative feeling. Once remembered you can tell this negative experience to go away and you are cured. This way people have regained their ability to walk, regained their ability to hear and have given people like John Travolta an Emmy for a spectacular performance in Battlefield Earth. Needless to say I was skeptical, especially after seeing Battlefield Earth which was also written by L. Ron Hubbard.

The seminar began at two o'clock. Only two people had entered the seminar before that time, one had left shortly after entering. Outside in the student lounge a group of young adults were debating whether it was worth an hour of their life to be exposed to such quackery. With nothing better to do we entered.

The lecture began by a woman in her thirties reading from a handbook about the basics of Dianetics. Apparently what you have been taught by psychologists is wrong, there are only two parts of the mind, the reactive and the analytical. The reactive mind is where all the nasty thoughts come from and only through the auditing process by a trained Dianetics auditor can these engrams (bad memories) be removed. Buying Dianetics for around $35 you can rid a few by yourself but you won't become absolutely "clear" until you spend a little more cash for a trained Dianetics expert to find more problems with you to remove. The process how this is done wasn't explained but according to the Scientology website it involves a lie detector and expensive Dianetics courses that never end.

The entire lecture, like the large ads, never brought any revelation into the inner workings of the brain. Through Hubbard's extensive scientific research he came up with the knowledge that we have positive thoughts and negative thoughts and the negative thoughts were bad and inhibit happiness. To explain this further we were treated to a movie demonstrating with real life actors how Dianetics can help someone. The setting was the 1940s and the star football player was hit unusually hard in a football game and was paralyzed from the waist down. It seems the condition was psychosomatic so a psychologist was sent into the room to talk with the patient.

The caricature of psychologists is moronic and more akin to mad scientists in a cheesy B-movie. The psychologist comes into the room and makes his full diagnosis before the patient opens his mouth. Since the patient doesn't accept the prognosis that the paralysis results from a poor father/son relationship another Freudian psychoanalyst is called in (according to the film all psychologists are advocates of Freud). When asked if the psychoanalyst ever cured anyone the doctor simply laughs and says that such a concept is absurd. The authors created an image of a psychologist who was practically drooling at the mouth to perform lobotomies and shock therapy. Not to worry the protagonist was saved because his girlfriend brings in a copy of Dianetics (much smaller version than what was being sold that day). The football player reads the book and begins to walk again. We couldn't suppress our laughter watching the film.

A little more commentary then the question and answer period began. Claiming to be a science I asked the lecturer what scientific journals Hubbard has published his results in. Not an unusual request but she said she couldn't answer that question at this time. So I asked about the methodology. Again she couldn't answer. Unusual, I told her. If it's a science these should be simple questions so she answered that Dianetics was a philosophy but the very next sentence she proclaimed it to be a science and a technology. I accused her of throwing these terms around to give Dianetics credibility. I don't think I was going to make many Scientologist friends that day.

She took some other questions from the audience and talked about her personally witnessing a attendee who came into a seminar with no sense of hearing. After a 45 minute seminar he miraculously acquired his ability to hear again. She told everyone how profound this was, I told her it was just like the accounts of faith healing. She denied it was anything of the sort, after all, she announced, Dianetics was a science.

Okay, perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh, they did have a personality test. Having taken and given a few in my university days I was curious as to which sort of test it was. She said it was the Oxford Capacity Analysis test and that it was from Oxford. Color me impressed, Oxford is a prestigious school so it must be legit. They handed out a personality test to everyone. I looked at the fine print which stated that Oxford Capacity Analysis is a trademark of the Religious Technology Center which is a license of the Church of Scientology. When I read this out loud, after a few bits of laughter from the audience, I asked if the Church of Scientology owned Oxford. I shouldn't have been surprised she ignored my question.

Not going well they dismissed the seminar. People quickly filed out. Another woman came up to me with additional handouts and asked if I had any further questions. Once again I probed about the science issue and what scientific journals the Dianetics researchers published in. I was then turned over to a gentleman who would answer my questions. Finally, I thought, I'll get some answers. What the hell was I thinking? He was the guy trained to give me the run around. If I had known all the answers I'd receive from him were to buy the book and could have saved 15 minutes. He encouraged me to test Dianetics out for myself. I told him I'd gladly do it that's why I needed their scientific studies to test their methodology. So he went back with the personal accounts. I told him personal accounts meant nothing since that's what all psychological theorists claim. Not exactly going to have an advocate of a treatment advertise that his treatment produces no positive results.

I felt like I was talking to a creationist having to explain the basic concepts of what a science is. He explained the reason why the Dianetics folks weren't getting published in any journals. It's because there is a huge effort throughout the scientific community to protect their theories. Aha! I said. So there is a conspiracy. He said no but I think I know what the definition of a conspiracy is. Just like the so-called scientific creationists I thought. They claim to be scientific with positive results but can't get published because of a conspiracy. Perhaps, I suggested, it's because Dianetics isn't scientific. His response, "Buy the book." The same advise of all snake oil salesmen and pop psychology self-help book authors.


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