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Scientologists In Row With BBC 763

CmdrGravy writes "The Church Of Scientology is currently engaged in a row with the BBC, a result of an investigation by reporter John Sweeney. Sweeney is investigating the Church Of Scientology, trying to judge changes in the organization over the last few years; He's trying to discover if they've moved away from the questionable practices and secrecy they have employed in the past. The conflict centers around a YouTube video posted by the scientologists. It shows Mr. Sweeney losing his temper with a scientology spokesman. Mr. Sweeney's outburst came at the end of a tour of a scientology exhibition which attempts to portray psychiatrists as evil nazi type torturers entitled 'Psychiatry: Industry of Death' which is both gruesome and utterly unconvincing. The BBC appears willing to stand behind its reporter, in spite of the pressure brought to bear by the scientologist organization."
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Scientologists In Row With BBC

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  • Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:39AM (#19110311)
    Why are wasting our time with a bunch of delusional cultists?

    Their material calls that there's not a shred of "scientific" evidence that mental illnesses exist, instead it's all about the alien ghosts lord Xenu imprisoned.

    I mean, for Christ's sake, people. Is there a limit to how ridiculous you can get?
    • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kestasjk ( 933987 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:57AM (#19110425) Homepage

      Why are wasting our time with a bunch of delusional cultists?
      Because they take millions of dollars from gullible people, they are a corporation of ignorance posing as a religion, they have killed [], and they censor and lash out at people who investigate them.

      I really hope the BBC wins, and shows that nothing has changed. We have to nip this "religion" in the bud, it's disgusting.
    • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:04AM (#19110469) Journal

      Why are wasting our time with a bunch of delusional cultists?
      I'm guessing, because they're pretty ruthless in trying to destroy the lives of people who think that they can just laugh them off.

      Ridiculous, yes... but have you seen the messes those crazies who believe in Transubstantiation [] have made over the last couple thousand years? Just as they're settling down, we've got some newer upstarts wanting to go all David Koresh and Osama bin Laden on the world. Where's Janet Reno when you need her?

      In one big way, these people are worse than previous cults striving to be religions - ironically, our ability to detect mental illness helps the CoS get crazier. This cult specifically recruits and attracts those who modern science has said are mentally ill... and we're surprised when they pull particularly crazy-assed shit?
      • Re:Why (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:20AM (#19110835)
        At least with those wierdos you don't have to hand them your credit card when you go visit them. And if you want to make fun of them, go ahead, you'll piss them off but they won't sue you. Not unlike these people [] who will blow themselves up to get you and of course these goofballs [] who will sue and make your life a living hell.
      • Re:Why (Score:5, Interesting)

        by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:29AM (#19110895)
        Amen to that. I'd never hard of them way back in 1982 or so when one jumped out at me in Oxford Street (London) 'Free Personality Test Sir?' Why sure! My friend had ben warned by his Uni not to go near them but I thought it sounded fun so I went in and he waited in the lobby.
        2 Hours later my friend got me liberated by shouting the place down in no uncertain terms and threatening them with the police for kidnapping.
        I'd just split with my g/f and was feeling very low which needless to say they picked up on and I quickly found myself in a side room getting the good cop/bad cop routine, being told it would take 20 years to undo all the damage in my head that was stopping me achieve etc. etc. They would not let me go. Every time I tried to get up they stopped me, not with a gun but in ways that stop a polite person - gentle hand on shoulder, standing in the way of the door etc. as well as all the 'Please, you really need help, I'd be a bad person if I let you just leave - at least buy our book!'.
        In hindsite, a lucky escape c/o my friend. Whilst I knew it was all highly dodgy, something in the way they quickly stripped my defences, pulled me apart and offered the 'only' way to be put back together again was with their help was compelling.
        • Re:Why (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @08:39AM (#19112419) Homepage
          I got caught some Dianetics people in the early 90s who were also offering a free personality test. Luckily I had read up on exactly what Dianetics was a few weeks beforehand and decided to go to see if it was really like I had read it was.

          First of all they showed me some video and then I filled in a questionaire or something and went for a private interview with one of their practioners. He was trying to insinuate that I had psychological problems by asking things like "So, what do you regret most in life then eh ?". "Actually, nothing. I am very happy with my life - how about you ?". He was getting more and more frustrated by me insisting that life and great and I was the worlds best example of a rounded, well adjusted human being and in the end explained his theory about how auditing can help erase bad influences in my psyche so I asked him to explain exactly, scientifically, how this process worked and disagreed with everything he said. This carried on for 10 minutes or so and then he lost his temper when I told him that from what I'd heard so far he was peddling a load of nonsense and would be well advised to get out while he could. Then he accused me of being a reporter and wouldn't say anything else. He just sat there and wouldn't talk at all. I sat there for another couple of minutes or so reading a book I had just bought in town until he got up and left the room without saying anything.

          All in all it was a very strange experience.
        • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @08:50AM (#19112525)
          They apparently believe in statistics. I went into a center in Worcester MA in the late 70s to see what they would do. They gave me a not-too-long "Free Personality Test", went and scored it, then came back with the results. They showed me a line graph, with connected points (!) illustrating my score on each of about 9 things. Of course, a first question would be how can you rate 9 distinctly different attributes on one scale? You probably can't, so if you bother to look at the Y axis, you see that it was a Z-scale - or normed values. So it merely shows you where you fall in a group for each of those things, regardless of the actual units. But the really cool trick was that besides being all normed values, the Y-axis was scaled to your results' high and low, not +-3z or full scale. So they circle the lowest point, and tell you they have a course to "fix" that. Only $495 or something like that. Great! I can fix the worst thing in my life for a few hundred bucks! Sounds great! But guess what? In a scaled Y-axis, there's always going to be another "low" that magically appears, and well, shouldn't you just go and fix that one too? Repeat ad nauseum, ad bankruptcy.

    • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ThePromenader ( 878501 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:54AM (#19110709) Homepage Journal
      Even before it began, the 'psychiatry is evil' story is f*cked from all angles. What is 'normal' and 'sane'? 'Sane' in our society has not the same definition in other societies, cultures and social networks. So the goal of a psychiatrist is to guide his patient towards behaviour considered nomal by the society he lives in... yet who in our society can define "optimal normal", especially when we worship the most eccentric amongst us?

      The goal of Scientology is the very opposite of psychiatry - it wants to split you from society (to better 'form' you), not help you work better with it. The things most 'evil' to any religion are things a threat to the religion itself.
      • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

        by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @06:14AM (#19111423) Homepage Journal
        What is 'normal' and 'sane'? 'Sane' in our society has not the same definition in other societies, cultures and social networks.

        I call bollocks on that. Human behaviour is variable, but not infinitely so. It's within set boundaries. In no society is, for instance, paranoid delusional behaviour, or severe depression, or mania adaptive.

        yet who in our society can define "optimal normal",

        Do we need to define one normal? No. Normal was never just one thing. All we need to define are the gross abnormalities.

        we worship the most eccentric

        eccentric is not insane.

        And maybe here's a consistent definition of sane for you to consider: Able to cope and function effectively in the society in which you find yourself.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:27AM (#19110883)
      Intelligent Design.

      Care to explain why we waste our time with that kind of delusion? Because the head honchos just happen to follow a religion that supports it?

      It might seem unrelated, but I see a parallel. One claims that there's no mental illness and it's all some deity (or, if I remember right, its enemies) messing with your inner alien. The other one claims that, since you can't prove every single step taken from the beginning of the universe to the world as we know it now, it's all a bunch of fabrications and we should instead rely on magic detailed in some old book. Both call science bollocks and we should instead rely on some magical fabrication of some kinda god.

      Could you point out the difference to me?

      Religion is something wonderful, and if people need it for their inner peace and 'cause they got nothing better to do, ok, have fun. But don't mess with my life, and most of all, don't mess with science, dammit! Religion has no room in science. Science is about disproving things, not blind faith in them!
      • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Monday May 14, 2007 @06:31AM (#19111503)
        You're misstating Intelligent Design -- it's not quite the same thing as Christian Creationism, at least in its minimalist form. ID claims not to be a strictly Christian (or otherwise religion-centric) position, or otherwise indicative of any particular "old book" to be used in determining how the universe came about; instead, it argues (quite strictly) that probability is so firmly against the universe ending up the way it is now that some entity (with the individual entity being unspecified) must have taken actions encouraging it to be created as it did (with the actions also being unspecified). Anything beyond that is not Intelligent Design, but ID+something else. (Intelligent Design in this base form is quite vulnerable to many-universes theory in combination with the anthropic principal [], and I've used that argument successfully in discussion with an intellectually honest opponent).

        It would be consistent with ID, for instance, for me to state that our universe reached its present state via general laws of cause and effect, but with physical constants intentionally tweaked (either as a once-off or via an iterative process) with an eye to permitting life. There are circumstances (ie. our universe being a simulation) where such tweaking of constants is feasible.

        Getting back towards topic -- IDers are generally fairly harmless, except when they try to corrupt widely used educational materials and/or laws to support their positions. Scientologists may operate on a smaller scale -- but their impact on victims' lives is unquestionably far more severe than that of those who support (strictly) Intelligent Design (as opposed to one of the Creationist religions which benefits from concessions made under the Intelligent Design banner -- in that situation, impact is obviously case-by-case).
        • by shrubya ( 570356 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @11:57AM (#19115177) Homepage Journal
          No, that's just revisionist bullshit. It's been demonstrated multiple times in both the media and in the courtroom that Intelligent Design(tm) is exactly equal to Creationism with the religous serial numbers filed off. All of ID's earliest proponents are "former" creationists, their first major publication was a 99% verbatim creationist essay retro-edited to delete mentions of God, and of course, when citizens/judges/schoolboards pushed ID out of their local curricula, Pat Robertson and friends gravely announced that these foolish people were endangering their immortal souls.
    • Re:Why (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:43AM (#19110975)
      Having recently unwittingly visited the scientologists psychology exhibition (here in france scientology is banned so they operate under a "front" called the society for human rights) i offer some general remarks -

      The presentation, a series of picture displays and video documentaries in the style of "fox news" or "americas 100 worst criminals" is very one-sided and lacking any kind of objectivity. Its point is psychiatry is evil, psychiatrists through the ages have committed torture and that psychiatry should be outlawed. However, there is absolutely no discussion of any alternatives therapies / treatments.

      Many of the points raised are valid ones -

      - In the middle ages people with mental health problems were subjected to horrific, barbaric treatments not disimilar to torture.
      - Lobotomy and electro shock therapy are both destructuive non-reversable practices that permanently destroy a patients mental capacity.
      - Modern pyschotropic drug therapies are often over prescribed by a for-profit, capitalist health and pharmacuetical industry.

      However, more problematic for me -

      - A long discussion directly blaming the holocaust and Nazi idealogy on psychiatry and psychological ideology.
      - Direct association of modern medical psychotherapeutic practice with interrogation and torture (videos of Guantanamo Bay, pictures from Abu Ghraib)
      - A picture display claiming the creativity of celebrities including Kurt Cobain, Marlyn Monroe, Duke Ellington, Peter Green was destroyed by psychiatry.
      - No discussion of more benign and benficial psycho-therapeutic practices and no right of reply from healthcare practitioners
      - Hiding "scientology" behind a front organisation and masquerading a cult recruitment seminar as pseudo science

      The somewhat confrontational exhibition staged in a seaside resort hotel seemed to be attracting few visitors (people here are more interested in going to the beach / casino) and appeared to be disturbing the other paying guests and unnerving hotel staff. I heard they were forced to close the show 2days after starting despite having booked the suite for a week.
      • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

        by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:49AM (#19111013)
        >electro shock therapy
        Does actually help a large number of people though. I've seen interviews with several people who cite it as saving either their life or giving them a fresh start, being the only thing that finally knocked their depression on the head (as it were).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrXym ( 126579 )
      I mean, for Christ's sake, people. Is there a limit to how ridiculous you can get?

      I don't know if this was deliberate or not, but every religion is fundamentally ridiculous, including believing Jesus Christ was the son of god etc. After all, Christianity started off as a cult as I'm sure did every other religion. The only thing that separates L Ron Hubbard and Jesus Christ is 2000 years of propoganda.

      So its important to push back on cults like Scientology whenever possible. Nip them in the bud. Expose t

  • by psaunders ( 1069392 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:42AM (#19110333)

    Scientologists believe humans are tainted by the remnants of aliens' souls who were dumped on Earth and blown up with nuclear bombs.
    Kinda puts the whole thing in perspective, doesn't it? I'd be screaming, too.
  • by svunt ( 916464 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:48AM (#19110365) Homepage Journal
    • by realitybath1 ( 837263 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:14AM (#19110507) [] It doesn't seem so harsh at this angle and the scientologist is the one who starts with the voice raising. Sweeney just takes it to the next level. Obviously out of hand for a journalist, but quite satisfying to see.

      The one characteristic that I've noticed is consistent across scientologist interviews I've seen is that they all have a creepy boneheadedness when it comes to answering any question, no matter how innocuous it may be. It's as if every moment in life has to be a confirmation of their beliefs.
      • by Kelz ( 611260 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:16AM (#19110807)
        Wow. The "spokesman" is pretty much a master of getting people extremely pissed off. You can tell in the tone, in the VERY precise words used. It puts you off at first by speaking down on you like a child, and then keeps attacking until you feel you have no choice but to raise your voice so you cannot hear them while refuting them.

        ...actually quite impressive, were it not coming from a religion.
        • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:12PM (#19115419)
          This is definitely the one thing that struck from the videos posted on Youtube. Tommy Davies was ice-cool under all situations. When he blew outside and he told Sweeney how mad he was, he was in total control. Every word he said, you could very clearly understand. There was no foaming at the mouth, no contortion of the face, nothing. There was no emotion in his face, even if the words coming out of his mouth were all about rage and justice and righteous indignation.

          If there are only a few people more like him in the upper echelons of Scientology, they're gonna be around for a long time. There's a word for people like these, and it's sociopath. And judging from the success of another group of sociopaths (CEOs), I suspect we're gonna have to deal with Scientology for a long time. I wonder if it's gonna take something like what happened to the Knights Templar to deal with Scientology.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:52AM (#19110387)
    Bad driving: Industry of Death

    Thousands of people die in car accidents each year. All of them drove facing the steering wheel and front windshield of the car [showing big charts on the presentation screen to show some convincing statistics].
    The bottom line: we should drive facing the rear end of our cars.


    But damn, I'd rather drive my car sitting backwards than believe some alien sci-fi story since they just discovered there are bad psychiatrists, like there are bad professionals in every area of life.
  • says it all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:56AM (#19110415) Homepage
    "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." - L Ron Hubbard
  • by JimMarch(equalccw) ( 710249 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:02AM (#19110453)
    Here's why:

    A key belief and practice of the Church involved "auditing" via the "E-Meter". The "E-Meter" is a bargain-basement lie detector. It works on galvanic skin response; it can measure (crudely) fluctuations in your emotional state. It can't measure much past that. So one person holds these two "tin cans" while somebody else tries to make them respond enough to flinch the needle.

    The person being "audited" is practicing how to be emotionally non-responsive to whatever is thrown at them - and that can involve verbal abuse, shouting, whatever.

    This isn't controversial or something the "church" denies.

    What most people don't think about is the flip side: what is being learned by the person NOT holding the tin cans? The one trying to trigger a response in the other?

    Yup. You guessed it. They become masters (eventually) at "pressing people's buttons".

    So anybody not used to this sort of thing or who isn't expecting it can be made to "blow up", sometimes spectacularly. And I'd bet good money that's exactly what they did to Sweeney and for exactly the reason they've used this incident: to portray any opponent as an out of control loose cannon, nutcase, etc.

    Don't go up against these guys unless your self control is rock solid AND you understand this technique. Be ready to say something like "much as you might prefer otherwise, I'm not being "audited", I'm not standing here with tin cans in my hand looking like an idiot, you're not going to get me to blow up". Turn it back on 'em, they'll start foaming at the mouth. If a Rondroid is trying to get you pissed, ASSUME there's a camera pointing your way.
    • by Toreo asesino ( 951231 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:47AM (#19110679) Journal NYC Times Sq. Metro. "Free personality test" they called it. Being in a generally good mood at the time (first day in the US no less), I though "why not" - the girl looked pretty hot, and it was an excuse to talk to someone. So I hold the tin cans, and the questions start coming; "how are you doing", and then "no really, how ARE you doing?", and then more like "I think you're insecure" and "This book can help with that" - despite my protests that I was actually OK. This pissed me me somewhat, as my good mood turned quite sour quite quickly and in fact, I left rather pissed off.

      Anyway, the next day, I saw them again, and this time I was ready for them. I did the whole "Oh, I wonder what this is" type gaze, and sure enough they invite me over for another free personality test, and sure enough the same questions start. The needle was going no-where this time, and in fact the more the guy tried to convince me i was a mental train-wreck the more my confidence grew and the needle fell. Eventually I actually start laughing at the guy interviewing me, and he can't take it any more so hands me over to another fine looking female who tries a similar technique. At this point I'm chuckling even louder at their constant mental batterings, and people are starting to take interest in the commotion, at which point they try and sell me their book once last time.

      I tell them quite clearly and loudly enough for the onlookers to hear that "when I'm as insecure as you lot, I'll buy your stinking book then and burn it". To which my awaiting friends added "Scientology is for losers".

      That showed them.
    • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:49AM (#19110683)
      photo of L Ron Hubbard "auditing" a tomato. pg []

      I'd say it still has a few thetans to go before it makes clear.
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @11:56AM (#19115159) Journal
      Don't go up against these guys unless your self control is rock solid AND you understand this technique. Be ready to say something like "much as you might prefer otherwise, I'm not being "audited", I'm not standing here with tin cans in my hand looking like an idiot, you're not going to get me to blow up". Turn it back on 'em, they'll start foaming at the mouth. If a Rondroid is trying to get you pissed, ASSUME there's a camera pointing your way.

      Actually, it's far, far more intensive than you describe. Scientologists practice "pushing buttons" hour after hour after hour on a course called the "Pro TRs". In this course, you practice:

      1) How to seem completely relaxed and calm in nearly any circumstance. You sit in a chair in various places, both private and public, while somebody watches you intently for any outward sign of discomfort.

      2) How to not "lose it" despite having somebody right in front of you trying to get you to. You sit in a chair and try to appear completely calm and relaxed while somebody is authorized to do ANYTHING to try to get you to react. They are encouraged to use any means to "get you", including jeering, screaming, feaux sexual come-ons, depictions of anal sex, teasing, yelling, etc.

      3) How to lie effectively and believably. It's called "originating a communication", and the practitioner sits in a chair (notice a theme here?) facing another person. The practitioner then has to say ridiculous, nonsense things from a list, convincingly. The practitioner repeats this until he/she can say virtually anything with conviction and apparent honesty, no matter how crazy.

      It goes on and on - I think I've covered maybe the first days of a weeks long course. Also included:

      How to order somebody to do something with enough conviction to do something they don't want to.

      How to effectively project communication at a distance with apparent ease.

      How to appear physically intimidating/threatening without appearing overtly hostile.

      How to physically direct somebody who's openly defiant.

      And on and on and on. If you want to "go up" against these guys, you'd better practice first. Do like "The Sims" and practice your charisma and your calm very, very intensively first - you're going to need it!
  • by pingveno ( 708857 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:15AM (#19110513)
    As Sweeney pointed out, Scientologists' comparison of psychology to Nazism is disgusting. That's why I wish Godwin's Law could be extended to the beyond the [forum|usenet|chat] world. Abusive display at a conference? You loose!
  • Especially worrying (Score:5, Informative)

    by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:20AM (#19110547) Homepage Journal _Moscow_versus_Russia []

    This is a recent development - in April the European court of human rights decided that it was against EU law for Russia to deny Scientology religeon status - a judgement that applies to all EU member states including the UK and Germany (who have previously been quite outspoken against it).

    May I draw people's attention to []

    Scientology - the cult pyramid scheme
    • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:18AM (#19110819)
      This is a recent development - in April the European court of human rights decided that it was against EU law for Russia to deny Scientology religeon status - a judgement that applies to all EU member states including the UK and Germany (who have previously been quite outspoken against it).

      Reading the details of the case, it seems the Russian situation was quite different from that in the UK or Germany, in that an unregistered church is legally prevented from doing several things that could be considered necessary to running a church (e.g., "renting premises for religious ceremonies and worship" or "receiving and disseminating religious literature") which can be performed legally in the UK and Germany without being a registered church. Because of this factor, refusal to register effectively constituted banning them from spreading their beliefs, which is (IMO) unacceptable unless done in full view of the world, with proper democratic process (rather than via beurocracy as was done here). Not considering them a religion in (say) the UK simply means that they do not acquire a number of taxation benefits that they might otherwise be entitled to. I don't think this would be considered a violation of their human rights.

      I'd be very careful about what you read into the conclusions drawn in the "case law" section of the article you link to, BTW. Wikipedia has a strong scientology community, and in this case I believe they have rendered the article rather biased. As an example:

      The decision of the Human Rights Court in the Moscow Church of Scientology case mandates that States cannot intervene arbitrarily into religious matters and are strictly prohibited from evaluating or reinterpreting the internal validity of religious beliefs genuinely held by individual believers or religious communities like Scientology.

      This is introduced as an interpretation of the court's conclusion that "the autonomous existence of religious communities is indispensable for pluralism in a democratic society and is thus an issue at the very heart of the protection which Article 9 affords. The State's duty of neutrality and impartiality, as defined in the Court's case-law, is incompatible with any power on the State's part to assess the legitimacy of religious beliefs." While it is a valid interpretation of the last sentence, if taken out of context, I'd say the previous sentence (and sentences earlier in the paragraph) limit the scope of the "incompatibility" noted by the court to matters which relate to article 9.

      Specifically, article 9 states "Everyone has the right [...] either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance."

      Also worth considering is that the court did not consider any public health issues in making this decision (because the basis of the decision that the Russian government made against Scientology was not made on those grounds), but article 9's scope is "subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society [...] for the protection of public [...] health". This means that the courts decision is not incompatible with one where a country introduces a law preventing religious practices that are considered psychologically harmful, for instance.
  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:23AM (#19110559)
    When I was just out of high school, there was a Scientology office in my town. They always had a sign out front offering a 'Free Personality Test'. On a lark, a pal and me went in and had our personalities 'tested' just to see what they were hawking. When I was done, they compared the multiple choice questionare to their chart, and drew some lines through it. They explained to me that I was doing fine, and that I was already highly Dyanetic, or whatever they called it. They then thanked me for coming in, and told me to have a nice day.

    I have never been quite sure how to take that. Maybe I should have sang them the leader song...Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Leader! Leader! Batman!
    • by michaelnz ( 701047 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:44AM (#19111303) Homepage
      Similarly, when I was in college there was a Scientology office just down the road from the dorms. One day as I was walking by I saw a sign that said 'Free Personality Test' and I thought to myself, "That it is!" and stole the sign. Undoubtedly that says a lot about my personality.

      At the end of the semester I was approached by my RA who told me that the Church of Scientology had contacted him, they had seen the sign hanging up in my room through the window and they wanted it back. He seemed a little shaken and told me to get it back to them right away. When I took it back the office was empty so I left it on the desk with a note that said "Thetans made me do it."
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:45AM (#19110677)
    Disclaimer: my background is Episcopalian/Quaker. I'm not exactly pro-fundamentalists. But I have experienced exactly the same techniques from fundamentalists, home grown as well as US. Choose an enemy who thinks differently from you (e.g. Catholics, psychiatrists.) Demonise them. Stir up hate among your followers; everybody likes to have an "other" they can believe to be evil. When dealing with sceptics, always behave very calmly to show your emotional superiority. This convinces your followers that you are right. (It's also a good idea to point out minor factual inaccurancies or grammatical errors in the publications of your opponents, to prove to the sheep that you are intellectually superior as well.) In order to keep your sheep in line, make sure that they keep having to pass tests, like "testifying" to your born-againness. (Of course I wouldn't for one moment suggest that Scientology auditing is in any shape or form like fundamentalist conversion experiences or speaking in tongues.)

    The difference is that most nutty Protestant sects do not become as large and rich as the Church of Scientology, and they also have to keep some sort of attachment to a nominally Christian approach. They also have the problem that their followers do tend to be socially mobile - the fact of going to Church shows they want to "better" themselves - and with social mobility comes exposure to more educated people who may guide them towards mainstream Christianity. Scientology, on the other hand, is not a bizarre offshoot of a mainstream religion and there is no central tendency for its followers to gravitate back to.

    There is too with cults an interesting anti-intellectual tendency. If you want to make authoritative pronouncements in, say, the Catholic or Episcopalian churches, you are probably fluent in NT Greek and can read the NT in the original. Cults contain less educated people, so they will do things like take a particular English translation of the Bible as being authoritative and solve the problem that way. Extreme cults can get a following from rich people who do not want to invest the time and effort needed to become familiar with, say, the Bible or the Pali texts. You can join something like - oh, say Kabbalah - and say pretty well anything in public without looking ridiculous, while a Hollywood actor who tries to sound knowledgeable about the Bible had better know his or her stuff because there are so many well informed people listening. A religion that does not let its sacred texts get out too much is at an advantage in this respect.

    As a part time student of religious sociology, it's a pity I won't be around in 50 years to see if Scientology, like Mormonism before it, is evolving into a mainstream religion and gradually losing its bizarre baggage.

  • by brivett ( 1101783 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:57AM (#19110713)
    Sweeney didn't lose it. He tried a different response after a solid week of total frustration and non-answered questions and attempts to exchange understandings of how outsiders view CoS and how CoS members view their detractors. I would have lasted an hour before the same. Interestingly the BBC have received legal papers from lawyers in Hollywood asking that their famous clients (i.e. Kirstie Alley) are removed from the report as I guess they don't want to be linked with the CoS. This of course is the CoS removing balance from the debate.... and I wonder why people them think they're barking.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:19AM (#19110831)
    This is a bit off-topic, but I just want people to know that you don't have to look hard to find scientologists pushing their beliefs on people. The Wikipedia article on scientology [] seems to regularly be edited by CoS shills who try and turn the article into a PR brochure. Just look at the talk and history pages for the culprits.
  • by cheros ( 223479 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @06:00AM (#19111373)
    I just read The Full Facts of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland [], and I would recommend this as basic education for anyone wanting to become aware of manipulation. In this book, Ian shows how 'mentalists', tarot card readers and those who predict the future actually ply their trade. It's a bit too much broken down IMHO, but Ian knows his stuff and brings it with a wry sense of humour (evident in little asides like how to identify an English football fan).

    Other stuff to read is anything about the sort of tricks that Derren Brown gets up to - he has done a 2 DVD pack with card tricks of which the second one is mostly about psychological manipulation like how to make people think of one particular card in a full 52 deck.

    Study, and be amazed as to just how easy it is to put someone on the wrong track. The "church" (bit of an insult to the word) makes full use of this. Start an argument on false premises and then walk away, witter away at one flaw in a story to invalidate the whole story .. hey! Where did I hear that before?


  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @07:40AM (#19111915)
    .. they can not claim it isn't a religion. The church of scientology will fight tooth and nail claiming religious discrimination and they will win.

    So rather than claiming that scientology isn't a religion, what can be done to avoid having to give these fraudsters tax benefits and possible government funding?

    Simply stipulate that only "open" religions can be given these benefits. That is, only religions in which all the religious texts are freely reproducable and the religious services are open to anyone without payment, will be given full benefits.

    This would help against a whole host of other cults it would be easy to argue that only open religions can be considered charities.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"