Response regarding Sensibly Speaking podcast #224 for Jon Atack


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Response regarding Sensibly Speaking podcast #224 for Jon Atack

I sent the following as an email to Jon Atack regarding his interview with Chris Shelton on The Sensibly Speaking podcast episode #224. Jon Atack suggested that I publish this somewhere. I recommend that anyone who has interest in Scientology check out the podcast and the work of Jon Atack and Chris Shelton.

My apologies for the rambling nature of my comments. I tried to make them as I watched your interview. I tried to combine observations, notes on references to pick up or that have been relevant and comments in response to the podcast.

I plan to read Words That Work by Frank Luntz and found that the democratic compliment The Political Brain by Drew Westen illuminated aspects of influence and propaganda and psychology that I found nowhere else. I also hope to read the three books by Eli Sagan, At the Dawn of Tyranny, Honey and Hemlock and Cannibals and Citizens.

It is interesting that Adelle Davis didn't read the books she listed in her bibliography as Hubbard's assistants read books for him and gave him a synopsis which he then used as a basis for a lecture that evening and policy letters. It is similar to how some YouTube "experts" today hire people to read books for them then briefly explain the books to them and they then make videos as experts on the books ! I was flabbergasted when I heard of these fellows who claim to have read hundreds of books and somehow are both young and quite busy but make many videos on YouTube. Once one revealed his method of hiring an assistant to read the book and explain it to him it all made sense. In this way Hubbard was ahead of his time. There is even a service called Blinkist that distills books down to fifteen minute long audio presentations. It may be adequate for a synopsis but it certainly doesn't substitute for reading the book.

Your remark on realizing Ronald Hubbard was a liar because he contradicted himself (and quite frequently) is essential to understanding what key experience helped you and me and I think will help many others in the future to escape the hold of a cultic relationship.

It almost cannot be overstated or overstressed that if you have a leader who you cannot criticize in any way you should look long and hard at them to see if they have any flaws and if they have contradicted themselves in their own statements. I don't mean they ever changed their mind or realized they were wrong, I mean they say one thing and then the opposite over and over and carelessly lie again and again. That is a great test of their character and your faith. Just what you revealed regarding Hubbard in Never Believe a Hypnotist.

Your comment on Ericc Fromm and The Art of Loving and Escape From Freedom of course has resulted in them being added to my list. Fromm has been recommended by Daniel Shaw and many others.

I also am interested in The Empathy Trap: Understanding Antisocial Personalities Book by Jane McGregor. The 60% number of cooperators is nearly identical to the number Stanley Milgram's experiments found as obedient to authority and nearly identical to the matchers at about 60% who look to others for the standards they should follow from Givers and Takers by Adam Grant. The 60% may truly be valid. Our apparent tendency to accept or elect human predators as our leaders is provocative and disturbing.

And I have been meaning to get around to The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell for awhile and now am adding the three volumes by Mircea Eliade regarding the history of religion. You have also convinced me to read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. I thoroughly enjoyed her book No Is Not Enough.

A crucial lesson that is often not learned is that people fighting for their very existence will persist against all odds if they have a remote chance, despite any delusions of American exceptionalism as demonstrated in Vietnam and Afghanistan and North Korea.

I think revealing the complicity of Barack Obama and George W Bush as both deserving being tried for torture and war crimes is a crucial story that sadly gets ignored.

I think that the comment on Scientology having members say one thing, think another and do a third (like Stalinism) fits the three tracks I found in taking Scientology apart. Hubbard has propaganda for external consumption, indoctrination for insiders (as defined by Alexandra Stein in Terror, Love and Brainwashing) and his actual intentions used to actually shape the behavior, thinking and emotions of Scientologists. It took me awhile to work that out realizing he used double speak to instill double think in his slaves, Scientologists, while covertly, insidiously, getting them to do other things, often things they are unaware of. So they said one thing, thought they were doing another but actually did a third.

I think that the kind of work you have done in exposing Hubbard's true intentions (via examining his statements, his contradictions in doctrine, his private correspondence like the Skipper letter and the games maker tape along with his admissions that Scientology is based on hypnosis and that to control people you can thoroughly confuse them then use high authority indoctrination to control them, as well as his claim you could rape women and and have them not even know it in the letter to Forest Ackerman and of course the affirmations that Gerry Armstrong bravely exposed which you have shared) is the foundation of exposing the third idea, that being his true intentions that guide the true activities and results of Scientology.

It was helpful that you mentioned Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein as I feel her model has connections and ideas regarding cults that I have not found in any of the other materials and further these ideas are important and insightful in my opinion. To isolate and engulf the person as you say.

It is important that you distinguished between forcible persuasion involving imprisonment, torture and so on and persuasion without overt force as both realities. There is far more than sufficient evidence in my opinion that people have tried to influence victims in both situations and had varying degrees of success but certainly some notable success at persuading some of the people some of the time with some of the methods. Brainwashing is an imprecise term in that it sometimes means forcible persuasion and sometimes means covert persuasion without force and sometimes means both in one category and I think we need more exact language to describe all these activities precisely enough. Some people such as Alexandra Stein in her work do define the term sufficiently well in my opinion. As does Lifton and Singer.

Obviously the mention of Robert Jay Lifton and Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism is almost mandatory as it has helped so many of us so well. It's a great foundation to start from. Just sacrificing the few moments it takes to examine and think through the right criteria for thought reform is a life changing experience for thousands of people. I think Steven Hassan's BITE MODEL is also quite useful. Your point about time and environment is important.

Many Scientology apologists counter descriptions from Scientology doctrine of abusive and coercive conditions with introductory doctrine (propaganda for outsiders) such as The Way to Happiness. The reality that Scientology has an abusive, authoritarian and totalitarian control involves how, when and how often the cruel, ruthless orders and doctrine get used and presented, re-presented again and again and enforced by the environment.

Understanding that changes examining Scientology from a debate with a critic presenting doctrine and practices that are immoral against a Scientologist or apologist who merely presents an opposite doctrine or alleged practice that is moral to create a confusion and a draw to getting to the heart of the matter: what the groups actually do, as in what kinds of relationships they use to control, defraud, deceive and ultimately harm people. Not what they pretend to do.

I have come to the conclusion that rather than looking at just the doctrine of a group one must also look at the behavior and what types of relationships the group uses and encourages. The doctrine can be important because if it doesn't encourage abuse, dishonesty or unethical relationships and a group carries out those things then the doctrine is not the source of the problem. In Scientology there is no lack of doctrine encouraging cultic relationships however. It is designed as Rick Alan Ross pointed out as a machine to produce abuse.

I think today exposing the brutality and crimes of Mao and Stalin sadly is always needed because they seem to always keep getting apologists (and fanatical admirers). The idea of people having or considering different economic conditions than capitalism should not be equated to blind faith in any leader who claimed to be a communist or socialist. The dark reality that China is really a dictatorship is almost controversial to say today because the American media portrays countries like China and Russia as communist or democratic depending not on their actual governments but on whether those governments are cooperating with the United States government.

It is interesting that you in an earlier video talk about the middle as opposed to right or left politically but admit that many political leaders have been sociopaths and brutal warmongers, and you advise that we stop fighting wars. To many Americans these won't be seen as middle of the road ideas. Sadly most Americans don't even consider stopping the wars. It isn't even on the political spectrum.

I think it is important to show how experts in many fields are not qualified to act as experts in other fields. The website Logic of Science has superb articles on this.

The possibly well intentioned academics who defend Scientology without understanding Scientology are frankly grossly unqualified to evaluate Scientology. Gordon Melton may be an expert on something else but he is flat out wrong on Scientology.

I have dealt with it many times. Recently I posted several evaluations of dangers involving nuclear power plants and climate change including evaluations by nuclear engineering experts and safety experts. The rebuttals I got included articles by people like psychologist Stephen Pinker, journalists, oncologists and numerous other experts in fields that are irrelevant to the topic. The inability of the public to distinguish between unqualified experts who agree with them and qualified experts who disagree is troubling. It is a big part of the problem with the Reza Aslans and other apologetics of the world. All opinions are not equally educated on every topic. It isn't just a matter of picking what fits your tastes or conforms to group norms.

I think that most of the time we make choices guided by emotional comfort as Leon Festinger researched in his BOOK A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance and make poor choices because we act as Leonard Mlodinow pointed out in Subliminal as lawyers, working to present and consider evidence to support views we already have and brush aside, disregard and deny evidence against our beliefs that have strong emotional associations, our sacred values instead of acting like scientists adhering to good critical thinking and remembering lessons from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and many others by people like Richard Paul in his books on critical thinking and his many YouTube videos.

The fact that you brought up the extreme hypocrisies and difficulties we have had in trying to fashion some kind of democracy is a crucial question about us as a species. Democracy really seems to be the most fairminded way we have imagined to have groups (I certainly don't know of any better ideas), yet we have the darndest time getting there, as we keep on oppressing women and keeping slaves and in other ways fail to achieve democracy and when we have a facsimile of democracy we seem to have various groups spring up to tear down the democratic system. Sometimes they are aristocrats, sometimes they are rich business people, sometimes they are fascists or racists and they seem to be authoritarians of any background. No race or religion has any monopoly on this tendency.

Chris Shelton touched on Cambridge Analytica and I cannot recommend the book Surveillance Capitalism strongly enough. It spends seven hundred pages breaking down the threat of new technologies and monopolies.

Chris Shelton mentioned governments needing to maintain bubble worlds to maintain brainwashing and it reminded me of the comment from Noam Chomsky regarding limiting political debate to a narrow range and allowing vigorous or passionate debate in that range. Most major media in America are in the narrow neoliberalism and neocon range or far right range with nothing else allowed.

The 38 people attending the Philadelphia Doctorate Course lectures and several other congresses and lectures are promoted in Scientology as being exclusive to the handpicked elite auditors in Scientology. This is used to portray the tapes as the inside track on the secrets of the universe, immortality and eternity.

I wish I could see Nibs' book to consider his claims in light of everything else I have seen.

The McDonald's molestation cases are sadly evidence that we are often too obedient to authority.

On Liberty remains a good basic for everyone. The essential lesson that we need to look at the best evidence and arguments for different sides of issues to understand them and form educated opinions is a foundation of thinking that underpins good critical thinking and is tragically routinely lacking. I have failed at it over and over and had to admit being not just wrong but to coming to my conclusions in completely wrong ways. If stuffing both your feet down your throat leads to humility hopefully someday I can attain some, I could certainly use it.

Your pointing out the Jesuits and Freemasons as possible predecessors to Scientology is certainly provocative. I would love a good comparison or analysis.

The story of Mary Sue Hubbard and her lack of faith in Scientology yet her commitment to Hubbard is important.

The true long story of the series of collapses of Dianetics and Scientology and the use of hypnosis in auditing is vital. I personally zero in on the purchase of Saint Hill and ask where did this money come from ? The change from Hubbard being broke or damned close to it and then in the late fifties or so getting the fortune to buy Saint Hill is a curiosity.

I can't say how happy I am that you point out how the tone scale essentially started with the medieval humours idea. I have pointed it out and been ignored by many ex Scientologists and Scientologists over and over.

I think it's tragicomic how the Anderson Report and other warnings about Scientology ended up getting the unwanted effects of promoting Scientology and some people in the British government even warned this would be the result. People trying to help by telling the truth ended up hurting people.

The terrifying Canadian mind control programs and their American and British counterparts really need to be further exposed.

I think naive realism and the bias blindspot stop people from looking at coercive persuasion, and studying critical thinking. Everyone knows that they are an unbiased, objective, rational critical thinker and the irrational, gullible and uncritical thinking in the world is done by other people. It is the essential barrier to overcome in getting people to understand influence, psychology and human behavior and critical thinking are worth serious study, just as the ego defenses are the barrier to overcome with human predators improving as they don't accept their own character as flawed in responsible and mature ways.

I think a crucial question to consider given the horrors to discover and face when we look at human predators, their role as leaders and the role of others as followers when we look at history, and the dynamics of abusive relationships and groups and our often cruel and frequently tragically obedient history, leads us to the challenge of trying to be life affirming while knowing the reality of what life is and can be like. I think being against life is among other things almost impossibly arrogant.

It requires looking down on others as unworthy with crushing certainty, as Lawrence Wright described Scientology. As Lifton quoted you cannot destroy everything if you don't understand everything because doubt about the evil, the irredeemable nature of every kind of person, should serve to limit your fanaticism and zeal. But we have seen that if the leader orders it far too many others will obey. But I lack the certainty to think that I or anyone else can know enough to fairly judge the entirety of humanity as permanently, irrevocably undeserving of life. It is far too ideological and dogmatic and frankly unjustifiable blind hatred.

Nathan Rich recently was reported in an article on ex Scientologists as describing the abuse, betrayal and rejection he endured from his family and mother in particular and said "why should I trust anyone again ?"

We all have different experiences and a variety of temperaments, so it may be easy for one kind and generous person to be life affirming but for another who was, for example, severely abused as a child, betrayed and battered, then cast aside as garbage and even further affected by heavy indoctrination in Scientology it may be almost impossible but desired.

I have seen a description of this I will try to do justice to. In trying to form trusting, stable and loving relationships, some people, some cult members and especially some second generation cult members have the darndest time.We can discuss attachment theory and Stein certainly does in Terror, Love and Brainwashing.

You could say severely disorganized attachment is like this - imagine that you are on a Merry Go Round and it is a metaphor for having relationships. You have an impulse to not trust anyone because they can hurt you and betray your trust making you feel mortified that you trusted someone and made yourself vulnerable, in essence you feel trusting anyone is betraying yourself and this is like sitting on a horse and hanging on tight to be safe, but you have a conflicting impulse to grab the brass ring hanging above you, that is like getting the relationship or relationships with others that you desire and trusting and loving people, but you can never reach the brass ring hanging above you and in trying to reach it you are terrified of falling and have a third impulse of being petrified and confused, traumatized and dissociated leaving you bouncing from grabbing the horse and rejecting trust and love completely and freezing trapped between the two and finally trying but ultimately failing to get the brass ring.

The disorganized attachment is characterized by being prompted by wild shifts in trying to have relationships and trying to protect yourself by smashing the relationships to bits, sometimes even in preemptive strikes to reject people before they reject you or to hide the real you or to betray them before they betray you or to cling to them but never feel secure in your attachments or to be petrified and confused and have that "I can't live with or without you" feeling so many songs describe. We have seen literature on borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder featuring this behavior.

Sadly some ex Scientologists suffer through these kinds of situations. I know a few who have tremendous difficulty in forming stable trusting and loving relationships. Some even have difficulty in getting and keeping jobs, while others see the relationships outside their closest friends and family as to be kept emotionally at arm's length, in other words not involving deep connections or real trust to prevent getting upset, so they are always seen as transactional and not personal. This can reduce upsets over trusting them as these people are not actually trusted but leaves the relationships as unfulfilling in my opinion.

So, given this whole mess that is life leaves the obvious question of what best supports or helps one to be life affirming and what road can or should the person who realizes as much as they might want to be life affirming and have healthy, loving and trusting relationships, they are trapped on the Merry Go Round - what can they do ? And it's got the limiting factor that some people cannot or will not get therapy, some for financial reasons, some don't trust therapists and some have other reasons.

I am glad that you mentioned the book Take Back Your Life by Janja Lalich. I certainly enjoyed it.

After hearing your comments I plan to pick up The Empathy Trap by Jane McGregor as well.

I am intrigued by your recent comment in another video about looking instead of a path for enlightenment for understanding regarding relationships. I have found no path to enlightenment and don't know anyone who demonstrably has but I definitely have relationships and know lots of people who have them as well. I don't know if there is a meaning for human existence or if there were one if human beings could learn or understand it. But I think that understanding human relationships and groups is I think a worthwhile pursuit.

I would love any ideas you have on this or further suggestions.

Hubbard knew well that personal incredulity (a common logical fallacy) guarded Scientology.

“Incredulity of our data and validity. This is our finest asset and gives us more protection than any other single thing. If certain parties thought we were real we would have infinitely more trouble. There’s actual terror in the breast of a guilty person at the thought of OT, and without a public incredulity we never would have gotten as far as we have. And now it’s too late to be stopped. This protection was accidental but it serves us very well indeed. Remember that the next time the ignorant scoff.”– L. Ron Hubbard, “Scientology Review”, HCO Bulletin of 29 July 1963