Some people actually believe this stuff

by Matthew Cobb

All religions tell stories that seem somewhat bizarre to the more critically-minded unbelievers (talking snake, anyone?). But surely there is little out there to match the wackiness of what Scientologists truly believe, which is described in all its gory detail in this gif (pronounced…) An Illustrated History of Scientology, which was posted on Imgur. It lasts about 5 minutes and is highly recommended if you haven’t previously encountered this truly sophisticated theology. This is apparently called “Advanced Technology” by the Scientologists and is only revealed to believers when they have donated $$$$$$$$ to the Church. Why they hide this stuff from public gaze isn’t clear to me – could it be they think we will laugh?

An Illustrated History of Scientology – Imgur.

PS: I just noted on Wikipedia that “Scientologists warn that reading the Xenu story without proper authorization could cause pneumonia.” Just in case, here is a list of the symptoms.

122 Comments

  1. Posted March 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m convinced an e-meter is a microphone stereo preamp. The Eight Dynamics in Scientology is actually referring to dynamic headroom and saturation levels. Miscavige is an undercover recruiting agent for Full Sail University. This I believe.

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      I did their e-meter test years ago, when in college. In that case the set-up was nothing more than an analog voltmeter fixed inside a bigger box. It was cranked up to react if you hold both electrodes and squeeze ‘em. The ‘electrodes’ were actually soldered to a pair of tin cans.

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure they want to prepare your mind & drain your $$ before the big reveal! Like a sinister Wizard of Oz.

  3. pktom64
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t the beginning read “It all began 75 billions years ago”?

    Well… millions or billions, does that really make any difference after all? (Yes, I know that the universe is only about 13.7 billions years old but what the heck, that wouldn’t stop believers would it?)

  4. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    At Crispian Jago’s “Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense” there are four overlapping circles, “Religious Bollocks,” “Quackery Bollocks,” “Pseudoscientific Bollocks,” and “Paranormal Bollocks,” with each bit of nonsense being placed into whichever of the four it belongs. For example, chemtrails is in the circle representing pseudoscientific bollocks, while angel therapy is in the intersection of the two circles for religious and quackery bollocks.

    The only item in the dead center, where all four circles overlap, is scientology.

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      That was a good ‘un. But I think ‘crop circles’ should be included in ‘pseudosci. bullocks’ since it is generally about aliens. At least I thought it was.

    • merilee
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Love the Venn diagram!

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Down at the bottom of that link is another diagram with 5 sections, adding Conspiracy. It puts crop circles in with Roswell, Area 51, and UFOs.

  5. Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Cults use certain aspects of hypnosis in their indoctrination to induce a hyper-focused state which is equivalent to a trance which in turn makes intelligent decision making impossible. Psychopaths (socialised or not) do this to their targets also.

    Often it is people with super-traits, that is, having the ability to focus attentively/receptively on details who get sucked into being abused mentally and emotionally in this way. En bref, the adherents of Scientology had their own mental strength used against them.

    A part of the solution would be educational: teach as early as possible in school how smart people can be made functionally dumb through covert manipulation.

  6. Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Back in the 1980s I ran into a woman who had hung out in SF circles in the 40s and 50s. She claimed to have been at a party where L Ron Hubbard and Robert Heinlein got into a discussion about religion. From this conversation came a bet as to who could create a more believable religion. Heinlein wrote Stranger in a Strange Land, and Hubbard wrote Dianetics.

    It’s no surprise that this Xenu crap reads like bad 50s pulp SF.

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      I have heard about this story on the origin of scientology. Not sure if it is true, but it has gone around…

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:32 am | Permalink

      Dianetics : published in 1950
      SiaSL : published in 1961, with “Between Planets”, “The Puppet Masters”, “The Rolling Stones”, “Starman Jones”, “The Star Beast”, “Tunnel in the Sky”, “Double Star”, “Time for the Stars”, “Citizen of the Galaxy”, “The Door into Summer”, “Have Space Suit—Will Travel”, “Methuselah’s Children”, and “Starship Troopers” between the time of Dianetics and SiaSL.
      Nice story ; may have a kernel of truth in there, but far, far separated from the version you give.

    • Les Faby
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      The father of a close friend was Hubbard’s editor. Hubbard told his father at a Science Fiction convention how he was going to make more money. He said, he could only make pennies per word writing science fiction but he could make unlimited amounts of money if he invented a religion.
      I have subsequently heard a number of such reports so that is definitely true.

  7. Simple biologist
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I think that the animation has one flaw.

    Saying that this is what scientologist belive isn’t terribly accurate. Scientology sort of gnostic, but you have to pay quite a bit in order ot get the hidden information.

    (AFIK) The Xenu stuff won’t be reveiled until one gets onto one of those Thetan levels. Getting there costs a 6 figure sum. So most scientologists don’t even know about this stuff (well maybe after that Wikileak couple of years ago they do…).

    • Scote
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      I think the animation has another flaw, which is the gratuitous depiction of L Ron Hubbard as drooling in every image of him.

      While I think he was deluded and/or lying about Xenu, and created an awful and manipulative religion, the drooling is an unnecessary ad hominem that takes the GIF from factual history into screed territory. The “facts” about the religion should be enough to condemn L Ron Hubbard on their own, and the drooling depictions only weaken the case against Hubbard.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted March 1, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        It makes it a more precise parody of a Chick tract.
        The ‘what $cientologist$ believe’ bit is given by the text, the illustrations are for tone and entertainment value. So your complaint is…

        • Scote
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:00 am | Permalink

          Ahh…

  8. steve oberski
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Many, many years ago I was walking down Yonge Street in Toronto and I passed the Church of Scientology building*.

    A young man with a rictus of a smile on his face and eyes focused on infinity ran out and asked me if I wanted to come in for an intelligence test.

    Apparently my subconscious wanted nothing to do with this and without bothering to involve me in the process caused me to respond with:

    But if I came in wouldn’t that mean I failed automatically ?

    I must say I have never seen a smile leave someone’s face so quickly and reveal this person for the soulless robot that he apparently was.

    * Records show the building was purchased for $2 from a contractor called Plaza Investment Co. in 1979.

    Makes you wonder what the story behind that was.

    And it gets even more interesting.

    Around 2:30 p.m. on March 2, 1983, three chartered buses pulled up to the office tower.
    More than one hundred OPP officers, equipped with recording equipment, axes, sledgehammers, and a battering ram, rushed into Scientology’s offices. Acting on the findings of a secret two-year tax-fraud investigation of the church, they removed 900 boxes of material, among them illegally obtained confidential documents from government, medical, and police agencies. The church initially claimed the raid was spurred by attacks from the psychiatric community and believed it was entitled to Charter of Rights protection.

    Hiring Clayton Ruby as its lawyer, Scientology pursued a decade-long fight against the raid and the charges that resulted from it. Some of its efforts were comical: in July 1988, the church offered to donate considerable sums to agencies working with drug addicts, the elderly, and the poor so long as theft charges were dropped. Ontario Attorney General Ian Scott rejected the offer, saying that “there’s no immunity that permits a church or anyone else to commit crimes in the country.” Ruby argued that the legal prosecution of a small religion like Scientology threatened the freedom of all faiths, and that while individual members may be guilty of offences, the whole church should not be held at fault.

    The legal battle appeared over by 1992. When the seized boxes were returned that January, church members celebrated on Yonge Street. While a banner declaring “Scientology Wins after 9-year Battle” was draped across the building, a human chain passed the boxes back inside from a rented truck. Jubilation was short-lived: though acquitted of theft charges, the church and three of its members were found guilty of breach of trust. Related cases lingered for a few more years, including a libel case that earned crown attorney Casey Hill a then-record $1.6 million award from the church and one of its lawyers.

    • Merilee
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      They’re still there on Yonge St., are they not?

      • steve oberski
        Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        I believe they relocated during renovations but are now back in the Yonge Street location.

        If I recall correctly I was headed for the Bakka science fiction book store at the time which is sadly no more.

        • Merilee
          Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

          And Atelier Grigorian is sadly closing in Oakville…
          I thought I had passed the Scientologist hq
          In the last year or two while going to the used bookstores (ABC and another one?) around there. Current weather has not been conducive to wandering around downtown.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

            You still get to enjoy that annoying TV evangelistic monstrosity on the 403 heading into Hamilton though!

            • Merilee
              Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

              Isn’t that just the ugliest conglomeration of disparate architectural styles??!!

            • steve oberski
              Posted March 2, 2014 at 5:40 am | Permalink

              You must be referring to Crossroads Christian Communications Inc., that refuge of televangalists, religious fraudsters and hucksters of all stripes busy vacuumming the money out of the pockets of credulous idiots via the medium of TV and an 800 number and whose transmission towers pump enough energy into the air to keep my coffee warm 20 km away.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 6:57 am | Permalink

                Yep, that’s the one! Whenever I drive by it, I get annoyed. I often forget it’s there or that there is such a think as TV evangelism but that stupid, expensive building reminds me.

              • Merilee
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

                I stumbled on one of those charlatans while trying to find the Olympic men’s hockey finals last Sunday morning ( only time I ever watch sporte).

  9. Richard Jones
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Words fail me!

  10. Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    In fairness, it’s no more nor less insane than the proposition that the human species has its origins in an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry wizard; that a talking plant (on fire!) had to give magic wand lessons to the reluctant hero before he would start down the path that ended with the talking plant dictating a perversion of Hammurabic Law to the now-genocidal hero; and that a virgin-born zombie necromancer likes having his intestines fondled through his gaping chest wound, and you damned well better cannibalize his flesh and vampiristically suck his blood (which looks and tastes just like stale crackers and cheap wine) or else he’ll torture you for the rest of eternity after you die.

    Indeed, if anything, the Scientology version isn’t quite so implausible….

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
      • Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        (beat me to it by 5 minutes!)

        • Posted March 1, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          beat me to it, too…

          • Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            To snooze is to lose, loosely….

            b&

            • Posted March 1, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

              you callin’ me a looser?!?

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

                Well, I do believe I might once have heard you cry havoc! and let loose the dogs of war….

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

                One of the first Ancient Greek things I learned was “break the peace” is literally to “loose the peace”: λυω την ειρήνη. I like the idea of peace being something you need to imprison.

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

                Curious. There’re definitely echoes of Pandora and her Box in that idea….

                b&

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Implausible, agreed. Actually I rate creationism as more bizarre and wacky, starting with the separate creation of species (a 10^-2000 likelihood) onto the creation of the universe (more dilution in volume than homeopathy).

      But christianism is adding inanity to that.

      Never mind a ‘monotheistic’ magic agent that is three (when you accept the ‘monotheist’ label) or one (when you don’t accept the ‘monotheist’ label) in a merry circle within the asylum. But the sect texts starts out with two different creation stories, which ad verbatim is telling the reader that “either I’m going to lie to you throughout or I’m a (badly composed) myth”.

      As for the gif description of Hubbard, he is no better or worse than Smith, Blavatsky, Steiner, Moon or Asahara. Men or women known for previous cons that eventually hit and stay with their successful religious exploits.

      • Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        And never mind the trinitarian dispute. Virtually all Christians will reassure you that Satan is at least as real as Jesus. If Hades and Set and Mantus are all gods — and they most assuredly are — then so too is Satan, whether or not Christians worship him.

        And if all the gods of Mount Olympus are the gods that they clearly are, then, so, too are the Heavenly Host with all the angels and cherubim and seraphim gods.

        And if Romulus and Remus are gods, as they must surely be, then so too are Jacob and Esau.

        And if Prometheus and Pandora are gods, as they unquestionably are, then Adam and Eve must also be gods.

        And if the ancestor spirits worshipped in ancient Rome and in some branches of Buddhism and many other religions are gods, as anthropologists would generally believe, than all the dearly departed who have passed the Pearly Gates are, too, themselves lesser gods.

        Clearly, Christianity is every bit as polytheistic as any of its contemporary Pagan religions, and in exactly the same way for exactly the same reasons. I’ve no clue why they wish to deny this blindingly-obvious fact, unless they’re embarrassed at the fact that they buy into so much patent bullshit.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Jeff L
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

          Don’t forget the patron saints. When my wife & I were selling our last house, a relative suggested burying a statue of St. Joseph to aid in the sale.

          I do think there’s somewhat of a distinction, though. When Judaism was developing, they did believe in the entire Canaanite pantheon, but only worshipped Yahweh. A few generations later, those other gods had lost their divine status and were considered false gods. Of course, there’s still the heavenly host and Satan, but Judaism did at least go through a paring down process before being thought of as monotheistic.

          • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

            The process you’re referring to seems to me a logical and obvious step. In very ancient days, all gods were local gods. The tribe in this valley would have its own gods; the tribe in the next valley would have theirs. And those gods may well have interacted with each other, at least according to folklore…but each tribe was certain that their gods would be the other tribe’s gods in a fight.

            In Judaism, the hostility became passive-aggressive. Not only could YHWH beat up all the other gods, those gods weren’t deserving of recognition. In fact, they didn’t even exist at all.

            It wasn’t so much a matter of Judaism adopting a single god, as of Judaism adopting a single religion. Gone was the loosey-goosey intermingling of gods on much the same stage; in its place, entire religions competed with each other for a claim to the truth.

            But within each of those religions (as the notion spread), there still remained as many gods as there ever were in any of the local tribal valley pantheons.

            So, the great innovation of Judaism wasn’t monotheism; it still remains decidedly polytheistic, with notable exception such as Spinoza. Rather, the innovation was of anti-ecumenicalism.

            Curiously enough, modernity has seen a revival of ecumenicalism. Today, we are assured that YHWH and Jesus and Allah and Brahman and the Buddha and all the rest are all such good friends that they even answer each others’s prayers.

            Such is what theologians consider progress. To me, it seems much more like a Star Wars / Harry Potter crossover fanfic — but, hey, what do I know? I’m just one of those soulless hyper-rational atheist automatons.

            Cheers,

            b&

    • Jiten
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      The recent invention of this religion makes their absurd beliefs more vivid and makes people wonder in anyone really believes this crap? With time the vividness is lost.

      • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        That’s certainly the common explanation…but I don’t think I buy it.

        We’re generally equally familiar with ancient Greco-Roman and Teutonic Pagan religious beliefs that’re even older than Christianity, and most people today would agree that you’d have to be crazy to think that thunder comes from some big dude waving around his hammer, or that heavily-armed women can be born from a popping pimple on a dude’s head, or that the same dude would turn himself into a bull so he could have some sexy time with the ladies.

        Rather, I think it has much more to do with the fact that lots of people profess sincere belief in the Christian flavors of bullshit, and nobody wants to be the one to tell them that, not only is their fly open, not only is their junk hanging out, but they’re actually wearing their soiled underwear on their heads and it’s quite disgusting.

        That, and so many were brought to being taught to dress themselves like that such that they themselves don’t get what all the fuss is about.

        Cheers,

        b&

  11. Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    One humble observation: This doesn’t differ principally from any other revealed religion; actually it’s arguably more entertaining than the Old Testament.

  12. Posted March 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Anybody else notice the the book hubbard had was DIABETICS, w/ a b?

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      There are a lot of visual funnies in that gif. IIRC, the book “Diabetics” was authored by “Old Mother Hubbard,” too. And Hubbard’s drooling in a lot of panels. And the time arrow going from the pyramids to Mickey D’s arches. And…

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        I did notice the drooling!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      I thought I saw that but figured it was my eyes messing with me again!

      • Merilee
        Posted March 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        He also seems to drool out of his ear…

  13. Diane G.
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Free Xenu!

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      …except, of course, he’s rather expensive…that, and you couldn’t give him away, not to anybody rational.

      While we’re on the subject, is it just me, or would any sane person rather be eaten by Cthulhu than join Scientology?

      b&

  14. Bob J.
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    If you’re worried about catching pneumonia from reading about Xenu, I suggest my homeopathic single malt scotch and water. It won’t make you well, but if you take enough you won’t care.

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      I’m not so sure that homeopathic liquor is really gonna do the job, though. But I would, nevertheless, encourage everybody to consume a generous portion frequently at all times! So would your own doctor, too, I rather suspect….

      b&

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        I think he’s just trying to hoard his Scotch…

        • Bob J.
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:31 am | Permalink

          Glade to share. Stop on by. These days it is usually Oban (product placement).

      • Bob J.
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:31 am | Permalink

        One of my favorite videos.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:38 am | Permalink

        I have been told that the Scottish method of preparing homeopathic whisky has a good reputation. It’s like normal homeopathy, but the serial dilutions are done by your internal organs.
        Try it ; you might like it.
        (Fly agaric for extra taste.)

        • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          While it’s likely good practice to be wary of trusting the Scotts, I do believe I would trust that method much more readily than I’d ever trust an homeopath.

          “Homeopath.” Always sounded like a contraction of “homophobic” and “psychopath” to me.

          b&

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      No thanks, I prefer my scotch with only a drop or two of H20, not at homeopathic dilutions!

      • Bob J.
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:27 am | Permalink

        Me too. I just get the bottles confused.

      • Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        Homeopathic water! I knew it had to be possible…careful you don’t drown in your drink!

        b&

  15. SA Gould
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why L Ron Hubbard is clearly and copiously *drooling* in several of the frames of him…

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I wondered that as well. It has to be an inside joke!

  16. Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s almost as if the hallowed history and teachings of this grand organization was written in about 15 minutes by a psychologically disturbed science fiction writer.

    • Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Considering whom we’re referring to, shouldn’t that be, “psychiatrically disturbed science fiction writer”?

      Just to rub it in, if nothing else….

      b&

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:30 am | Permalink

        Personally, I much prefer to believe the account in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy quintet. It’s far better written and will only cost you $11.30 from Amazon… rather more affordable than Scientology…

        • Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

          It’s also far more believable, even if it’s distinctly improbable.

          b&

          • merilee
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

            And it’s so easy: the answer is always 42 (hope I remembered the # correctly)

            • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

              True, but that’s just the answer. It’s the question that’s interesting….

              b&

        • Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          Just for giggles, I once wrote my own “origin myth” because someone had posted an origin myth contest on the intertoobz.

          Like all origin myths, it makes no sense except to those who would believe it:

          Makes about as much sense as the scientologists, and mine even included a theorem that explains the mantra “same shit, different day”

      • Posted March 3, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        No difference. They apparently target clinical psychologists as well.

        • Posted March 3, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          Ah. Somehow, I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re that far out of it….

          b&

  17. Golkarian
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, to me these “newer” religions only seem crazy because unlike the ancients they know about planets and space. The ascension of Christ seems crazier to me.

  18. Taz
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    South Park did it better.

  19. Posted March 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    A waste of time!

  20. Kevin Alexander
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    I had the fastest Auditing session ever. Instead of holding an E-meter I looked at the fee schedule.
    Suddenly, it all became clear.

  21. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t even make technological sense.

    Space ships that looked like DC-8s but with rocket engines? Idiotic. Why would they need wings?

    And why stack the victims around volcanos then detonate the nukes inside the volcanos, thereby probably sheilding a lot of the victims from the blast? Surely an air burst would have been much more effective. No volcanos needed.

    Come to that, why not just fly/dump the victims into the sun or other convenient star? Or even just jettison them into space? Why bother with the nukes and the volcanos at all? All of this makes Xenu look like the most ludicrous Bond villain or maybe even as psychotically twisted as Yahweh…

  22. tombesson
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the info. This actually clears up a lot of things for me, sort of like when Kevin Klein in ‘Soap Dish’ says he wants to do a one man version of ‘Hamlet’ because the play all happens inside his head. John Lovitz had a character on SNL, the pathological liar, who would say something ridiculous and then mutter, “Yeah! That’s the ticket!” I wonder if L. Ron Hubbard ever uttered such a phrase.

  23. Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    This should be taught in school, along side of creationism. Teach the controversy.

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      I just woke up and found this post; thanks, Matthew. Apropos, I’m about to finish Lawrence Wright’s new book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” which is a history of Scientology interwoven with the story of how director/writer Paul Haggis eventually left the church because of its stand on gays. It’s an absorbing, wonderful book (Wright’s pervious book, “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11″, won the Pulitzer Prize, and this one was a finalist for the National Book Award).

      If you want to learn about scientology and its bizarre history and theology, as well as about the horrible ways it bilks its adherents, and injures many of them, I highly recommend Wright’s book. The story of how it got its tax exemption as a “religion” is fascinating (it involved endless lawsuits against the Internal Revenue Service as well as harassment of its employees).

      There was a time when, if Matthew wrote this post, he (and I) would have been hounded by endless litigation and harassment by Scientology. Mercifully, those days are gone.

      • Merilee
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        I read an excerpt of this book a while back in the New Yorker, I believe. I was dumbfounded that someone as smart as Haggis seems would fall for this stuff. He does not seem have haggisforbrains:-)

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted March 3, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

          Careful…

          You’ll laugh on the other side of your face when the Flying Haggis Monster™ comes for you.

          • Merilee
            Posted March 3, 2014 at 7:16 am | Permalink

            LOL

            Flying haggis – now there’s an image;-). No collander, though, I’d imagine…

      • steve oberski
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        Jamie DeWolf, L. Ron Hubbard’s great grandson, does a performance about his experiences growing up under the shadow of Scientology.

        Not to everybody’s taste but I found it powerful and moving.

        • Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          You beat me to it! I was about to post it. :)

          • Merilee
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

            I found that very moving, and tragic. Though this guy seems to have his head on his shoulders.

  24. Hempenstein
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    But weirdly, most of those Scientology types don’t know they believe this stuff since they haven’t yet paid enough to learn what they’re supposed to believe. Or at least they didn’t in the pre-Wikipedia days. Do any other religions operate on the principle of incremental revelation?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      It’s standard mystery cult stuff. I suspect Jehovah Witnesses do this to some extent and back in the day I’m sure Christianity was this way as it was an ancient mystery cult like Mithras, Isis, etc.

      • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        It’s also common in fraternities, secret societies like the Masons, and probably even tree-fort clubhouses.

        b&

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          How could I forget the Masons?! I loved this Simpson’s parody.

        • Kevin Alexander
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

          Like this one.

          http://calvinandhobbes.wikia.com/wiki/G.R.O.S.S.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

            Or the Little Rascals’ “He-man Woman Hater’s Club”. I used this phrase to describe a very misogynistic boss I had (quit the job because of him) who would hang with a club of men (who also thought he was a goof). I’d bug the guys that he was bringing them into his club. Some people didn’t know it was from the Little Rascals.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      From about 400 to 1400, the Catholic Church allowed no one to see the bible in any language other than Latin, which only monks and priests could understand. For 1000 years Christians had no idea what their own scriptures contained, and the church meant to keep it that way. The dark ages were dark.

      The sometimes excessive bible fundamentalism we see today has its roots in the reformation movement, which sought to make scripture, not the church, the source of authority on faith.

    • steve oberski
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Actually religions don’t even have to try to keep parts of their mythology to an inner circle for this to happen.

      Christopher Hitchens had this to say about it in an interview with Mark O’Connell:

      MO A lot of religious belief is not genuine belief, though, so much as professed belief. There are a lot of people who tell themselves and others that they believe something that they actually don’t.

      CH Yes, I know this to be true from my book tour around the southern states. It’s all over the place. It’s all a la carte, all cafeteria. I made a mistake with one guy on a radio station in Seattle. I said I don’t think anyone really believes in the virgin birth and he said ‘I do.’ I said ‘you don’t really’ and he said, ‘I do, I believe absolutely in the immaculate conception.’ I told him he’d got it wrong and he said ‘What do you mean I’ve got it wrong? I’ve been a Catholic all my life.’ The immaculate conception and the virgin birth are two different concepts. He didn’t get this, but he believed in both. Well, I thought, what else could I get him to believe while I was at it? Why not the Tooth Fairy in that case?

      • Merilee
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        How are the immaculate conception and virgin birth different concepts, aside from happening 9 months apart?

        • steve oberski
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          Ah the memories that brings back, the nuns marching up and down the classroom aisles like demented penguins (they wore the complete superhero outfits back then, a tunic covered by a scapular and cowl), force feeding all the little catholic kids with the contents of a blue softcover book known as the Baltimore Catechism.

          The dogma of Immaculate Conception asserts that Mary was born without original sin (but makes no supernatural claims about Mary’s conception) while of course the dogma of the Virgin Birth alludes to her rape by a supernatural being and the subsequent birth of a deity and is pretty much lifted wholesale from similar myths of other extant and earlier religions.

          • Merilee
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

            If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you ( and some Florida swampland, and should we now add Nigerian 419 deals?)
            I do agree with Dawkins that this kind of indoctrination borders on child abus.)

        • Kevin Alexander
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          The dogma of Immaculate Conception asserts that Mary was born without original sin

          .
          It was explained to me that they dreamed that one up because they couldn’t bear the idea that baby Jesus emerged from a filthy c*nt like the rest of us. She was not just perpetually chaste but concieved in both senses of the word without the stain that ruins the rest of us.
          Sorry about the language but it’s the only way to convey how these guys really feel about women.

          • steve oberski
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            Being raised as a Catholic, it was never explained to me this way explicitly, but you are right.

            Misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, sectarianism and all the associated bigotry and intolerance was the air we breathed and the water we swam in and you just never noticed it as long as you remained a good little sheep, never lifted your head up or dared to ask questions.

        • Kevin Alexander
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          I’m guessing she also had some magical kidney and digestive processes as well. Inter urinas et faeces nascimur and all that.

          • steve oberski
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

            Pretty funny, my high school latin is so old and rusty I had to look that up.

            And of course it would be from that dear, sweet champion of women’s rights, St. Augustine.

            • Kevin Alexander
              Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

              I had to look it up for the spelling. My Latin is more than forty years old.
              The Monty Python bit with the Roman soldier giving a language lesson to Brian is exactly how I remember Father I Forget his Name (PTSD?)

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

                romani ite domum! Wrote that on many a Classics test in first year for bonus points. I think the university still owes me 3 points because my mark was too high for them to be applied. :(

                Thanks Monty Python for the Latin!

              • Merilee
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

                Wasn’t the Latin lesson to the John Cleese character, rather than Brian? I love that scene!!

              • Kevin Alexander
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

            • Merilee
              Posted March 2, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

              I never took Latin but could kinda guess it :-)

              • Kevin Alexander
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, didn’t mean to embed that!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

                It is extra funny because all the mistakes they make and get chastised for are common Latin mistakes – using the accusative instead of the vocative, using dominus (master) when you mean domus (home).

              • Merilee
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

                By Ceiling Cat you were right about Brian, Kevin. John Cleese is the Roman.

  25. Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Scientology demonstrates that it isn’t the story that matters. What matters is that the founders of all religions found themselves a really good gig.

    Whether it be the first witchdoctor, shaman, Apostle, or inner circle of scientology – religion pays. Really well.

    You never have to do the tough, sweaty work that everyone must do in order to live well, indeed, live in luxury. People are very happy to feed you, clothe you, tithe to you, give you the power of life and death. You are respected, feared, revered, adored, excused and pampered. And all you have to do is talk a good game and make everyone else believe that they are responsible for the shortcomings of the world.

    The religions that survive are the ones that have a very positive cash flow and the best lawyers and lobbyists.

  26. Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Here is some Scientology-induced madness in action. Sad, really.

  27. Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Reliphorism and commented:

    A Healthy Dose of Scientology

  28. cherrybombsim
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Hubbard was not the greatest writer who ever lived, but he was good enough to know whether a story was plausibly true or not. I have to assume that he made his theology so ridiculous on purpose. Having faith in something so absurd does serve a useful purpose, it allows you to tell who the outsiders are because they are the ones giggling.

  29. parnell
    Posted March 3, 2014 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    The thread that runs through all ‘belief’ systems like Scientology is the willingness to initially accept something without evidence which leads inevitably to accepting despite evidence.

    Scientology preys on the gullible just as missionaries did (and still do) when trying to spread Christianity. I have a friend who is intelligent but impervious to reason. She believes in reincarnation, believes in alternative medicine and the whole Deepak Chopra world view. She’s now ensnared in Scientology and has developed a whole new vocabulary that they provided her with to ward off any rational objections raised by her friends.

    As Wright’s book and Janet Reitman’s equally good “Inside Scientology” from 2011 makes clear anyone trying to reason with someone under the spell of Scientology is called a ‘suppressive’ person and their rational objections are ignored.

    Sadly she’s the perfect victim as she has recently inherited a substantial amount and has already ‘donated’ much of it to her ‘church.’ Now that her mind has been started on the path toward being ‘clear’ she’s about to start on the ‘Sauna Program’ which is a body purification regimen featuring exercise, five-hour saunas and copious amounts of Niacin intended to purge her body of the same kind of toxins that they believe affect her mind.

    20 sessions with cost estimates ranging from free to $3500. I suspect that the latter is closer to the actual cost.

    I once worked at a horse racing track in operations and had to deal with drunks arguing that they should be able to collect their winnings because while they neglected to buy a ticket before the race they had actually picked the winner. I had some success reasoning with drunks. With a victim of Scientology, not so much.

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted March 3, 2014 at 2:59 am | Permalink

      Scientology preys on the gullible just as missionaries did (and still do) when trying to spread Christianity.

      Gullibility born of fear.
      I read somewhere recently that the first thing the missionaries would do is try to destroy the local culture. This put the minds of the people in turmoil which made their unsettled psyches ripe for directed re-education.
      I was born about the time that Hubbard wrote his nasty bit of poison and to say that our culture is in a state of flux is putting it mildly.

  30. patlefort
    Posted March 3, 2014 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    I saw some scientology ads on TV on RDS (sport channel in quebec). Real legit ads with promise of higher existence and in french to boot. I never thought I would see that and on RDS of all places. WTF RDS and quebec?

    • Merilee
      Posted March 3, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      T*bernac!

  31. Posted March 3, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Patrick Mackie and commented:
    For the full whackeroonie and some great laughs … until you realise these people are serious.

  32. Jim Thomerson
    Posted March 3, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    L Ron Hubbard was a fair SF writer. He wrote several articles about dianetics and scientology in Astounding Science Fiction back in the early 1950s. I read some of it and it made no sense to me, a highschool student at the time.


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