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Jon Atack - Scientology Expert


Silver Meritorious Patron
Here are a collection of quotes from Scientology expert Jon Atack. He left these comments in the comments section of The Underground Bunker.

I have to say that I found that Jon Atack to be the top Scientology expert I have found in my opinion. I was in Scientology myself for twenty five years. I have spent several years and hundreds of hours trying to understand what Scientology actually is and its true history and methods and results.

I must give my highest possible recommendation to the work of Jon Atack. I found his articles at The Underground Bunker blog in the Scientology Mythbusting series to be crucial to my own mental emancipation from Scientology indoctrination.

I have to add the book Let's Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky. It is in my opinion the definitive history of Scientology. Most detailed, most fact based, most accurate information possible on the subject.

I also add the articles Possible origins for Dianetics and Scientology, Hubbard and the Occult, The Total Freedom Trap, and Never Believe a Hypnotist. These are all relatively short and jam packed with crucial information you may never discover otherwise.

Possible origins for Dianetics and Scientology has one of the finest collection of quotes regarding the plagiarized nature of Scientology possible. Essential for understanding Scientology.

Hubbard and the Occult describes the occult origins of Dianetics and Scientology and strikes right to the heart of the matter.

The Total Freedom Trap has a terrific brief description of the way Scientology controls people.

Never Believe a Hypnotist has a fabulous collection of quotes from Hubbard himself who portrayed Scientology as free from hypnosis but contradicted his own statements on the matter dozens of times and demonstrated a profound knowledge of the subject in hundreds of remarks on hypnosis itself. Even a pathological liar cannot hide one thing - they HAVE the information they state - so when they say something you know they have the information, whether they believe it or not. Hubbard knew a great deal about hypnosis, otherwise he couldn't have said the things he did.

And if he understood what he said he likely knew that he was describing hypnosis as having specific phenomena and results in several quotes in extreme detail then denying that very same information in other quotes. Truly necessary to understand Hubbard and Scientology in my opinion.

Now we get to the main topic of this article. I will put Jon Atack quotes from his comments at The Underground Bunker with my own statements mixed in.

Jon Atack
"Shocking to realize that Scientology is actually a method of putting a parasitic cloned identity into control of the existing personality. The thoughts are all Ron's thoughts - those thought terminating cliches that prohibit self-determinism."

My comments:
This is really summing up what Scientology actually does - it is an attempt to make Scientologists thralls - mental slaves - to Hubbard by getting them to have thoughts, including certainties and purposes and goals which Hubbard gave them through Scientology indoctrination.

Jon Atack
"Hubbard was doubtless a fan of the despicable Protocols of the Elders of Zion, where we discover that the double triangle is a symbol of the Antichrist (Hubbard's perceived role, according to OT VIII). There is so often another strand of meaning underneath his proclamations."

"So, for anyone who is concerned, please read Norman Cohn's exceptional expose of the fraudulent creation of the Protocols, Warrant for Genocide."

"And, yes, the Brainwashing Manual was a deliberate attempt to follow in the footsteps of the fraudsters (probably in the Russian secret police) who created the Protocols. He dictated it to Henrietta de Wolf, with both Nibs and John Sanborn present, so it isn't even necessary to point out the significant discrepancies (as I have elsewhere), but it does of course mention 'the Church of Scientology' which is impossible, as the lecturer, Beria was dead before even Hubbard's secret first registration of that entity, in December 1953."

My comments
Hubbard's interest in the abhorrent Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery is beyond disturbing in itself. His plagiarism from such a disgusting work is troubling. His own creation in that tradition of The Brainwashing Manual is an important part of Scientology history.

Jon Atack
"There were 28 books attributed to Hubbard (and, no, I'm not counting again), outside of the Tech, OEC, Flag Orders, R&D and so forth. Hubbard wrote only one of those books (DMSMH). Science of Survival was compiled by Richard de Mille from dictaphone discs of Hub's rantings (I've even seen and heard one of the discs!). He also compiled How to Live Though an Executive (and gets a credit in the earlier editions). Alphia Hart is credited in 8.80, and was likely responsible for several other works, before defecting and running the wonderful Aberree (which please see on line). From 1954, most of the compilation was done by John Sanborn - up to 1978, when he saw one of Hub's bank statements and realized that he'd been scraping by on $5 a week for 25 years to inflate Hub's bank account. Like Ryder Haggard, Hubbard could not stand to reread his own work. Or, to put it another way, he couldn't finish a 'cycle' of action (a characteristic he attributed to SPs)."

"The books have been mightily inflated - I have first editions of most, and Problems of Work, Intro to Scn Ethics and Fundamentals of Thought are simply pamphlets that grew spaces in reytpesetting."

"Early journal articles were often written by others, who, as with David Mayo's OT V material, had their names deleted later. Paul Twitchell - founder of Eckancar - was such a one. On the point of Mayo's OT V bulletins - I've compared the old and the revised packs (using not just my OT powers). We were told that those of us who had the Mayo version had been damaged and the revisions had put things right. The only revisions were the removal of his evidently incredibly suppressive name. The text remained the same. So, Professional Auditor's Bulletins and the like are at times misattributed."

"Much material - indeed most - derives from recorded lectures. Hub would rise at noon, ask his assistant's opinion on a topic (and, yes, I spoke to several people who quite independently told me about this - from Jo Scott in 1954 to John McMaster in the mid-60s) and then give his own version of their answer, often along with a bogus autohagiography, in his daily lecture. These add up to between 3000 and 3500 lectures. From these some bulletins were extracted."

My comments
The true history of Hubbard's plagiarism is important to document, so these remarks have great value in my opinion.

"At the end of his life, as he descended into dementia (and thus the vistaril found by the coroner in his blood after his death), every word he said was recorded and ferried to Ron's Technical Compilations unit (or RTC, as it used to be known, before the acronym was recycled). A messenger would stand by with a tape recorded to make sure that not one precious word, sigh or fart was unrecorded. Some of this became 'advices' or 'orders' as we real people think of them."

My comments
Hubbard's descent into dementia was a vital truth - Hubbard was subject to the same vulnerabilities and decline as all too normal humans.

Jon Atack
"The point is that Hubbard's output was immense and grotesque, with very little substance, much of it foolish, false or plain dangerous. If everyone's utterances were recorded in this way, the Guinness Book of Records would be packed with 'literary output'. He was also a shameless plagiarist, changing the odd word here and there (check the Tech Dictionary's 'price of freedom' to find who actually said it first)."

"There is an excellent book called Voices of Protest about Charlie Coughlin and Huey Long, back in the thirties in the US. Coughlin is said to have had the largest radio audience of all time - you could walk from one end of NY to the other without missing a word of his sermons, because so many apartments were tuned in. He was a Catholic priest and a big fan of Hitler. Those sermons are the template for Hubbard - if you substitute 'psychs' for Jews in Coughlin's bigoted litany - which was Jews, communists and bankers. His phrasing is so similar."

"The actual source of Hubbard's own belief seems to have been his own guru - Major Arthur J Burks - who describes the 'litte its' as he called them in a book called Monitors, where the 'redhead' is mentioned (we know from Hubbard letters that he visited Burks in 1948, in Georgia, while he was doing the series of deep trance 'experiments' that would become Dianetics)."

"Hubbard was very much the produce of his times. He was a neophyte of the Ancient and Mystical Order of Rosicrucians (AMORC confirmed this for me), where he found the idea of a series of graded steps to Utterness (curiously, a Rosicrucian told me that OT III is very much stolen from them - he'd done both versions - and that the RTC symbol is the Masonic 'grave of fire' - the 34th grade of the Freemasons, where, so I was told, Masons are finally told that they worship Baal - Behelzebub - not his brother Jehovah - wild stuff)."

"I've come to believe that Hubbard actually never had an original idea - one of the Dn axioms tells us that dreams are an imaginative reconstruction of events, and I think that he just 'alter-ised' ideas. I was able to trace many, many such - see Possible Origins for Dianetics and Scientology."

My comments
I have come to agree with the idea that Hubbard likely never had an original idea in his life. I recall a reference I read while in Scientology in which Hubbard gave advice on writing. Hubbard's advice was to go to bars that sailors and men who had wild adventures went to and to listen to their stories and encourage them to tell their stories and encourage them so you could take in these stories.

This advice is really appropriate for the plagiarism of stories and not actually writing original work. Hubbard in his doctrine used ideas incredibly similar to those of Hitler and substituting the psychs and suppressive persons for Jews to be used as scapegoats via lies just as Jews were used in Nazi propaganda with incredibly similar propaganda.

Jon Atack
"Often as not, believers can talk themselves out, given enough time. There's a story in a text on attachment therapy, by John Bowlby, where a 16 year old who was abandoned by his mother at birth, tells his counsellor that he's going to save enough money and travel to the US and find her. Rather than pointing out any of the obvious difficulties, the counsellor simply encourages the boy to talk. It took months, but, eventually, the lad realized that his plan was impossible. And people do, but if you are aggressive and conflictual, the ego defences go up and the belief is actually strengthened. Which is why protests can be harmful for those locked inside the belief system - even when the protestors are friendly."

My comments
This advice is really good. It is consistent with ideas cult expert Margaret Singer has presented in YouTube videos and John Stuart Mill elaborated on in his book On Liberty. People need to express ideas to evaluate or even fully form them. This is particularly relevant regarding Scientology recovery.

Alexandra Stein elaborated at length on the use of trauma in the form of fear without resolution - terror - to overwhelm cult members and impair the integration of emotional information and rational thought in her book Terror, Love and Brainwashing.

She described how the reintegration of the separate parts of the information the cult member holds is needed and can be accomplished via independent and critical thinking in the form of discussion and writing about the cult experience, about things that leave the cult member confused or mystified or interested or concerned that they cannot understand or appreciate or feel what they should be able to regarding something from their cult experience in my opinion. This is not the same as abreactive therapy or Dianetic auditing. It is something entirely different.

Jon Atack
"I agree, save with the notion that Hubbard was not cruel and manipulative 'at best'. We picked up accounts from early childhood on, researching Blue Sky and Bare-Faced Messiah and he seems to have been both cruel and manipulative by nature. As with most sociopaths, he was capable of charm, and there are still followers who spent much time with him and are sure that it was the Sea Org that sent power to his head, but how about the 1955 The Scientologist: A Manual on the Dissemination of Material, where he puts forward the notion of ruining 'utterly' any unlicensed practitioner by using the law to 'harass'. He was vindictive. That he kidnapped Alexis, and kept her from her mother (whom he had tortured, as he did his first wife) for three months is hardly credible. But it happened only months after he released his world saving cure."

"Power does indeed tend to corrupt (and absolute power absolutely so), but Hubbard was out to con from the very beginning. When he switched from deep trance hypnosis after DMSMH was commissioned, with no light trance work at all, he simply explained to Don Rogers that hypnosis was unpopular. The moment before they opened the doors to the first foundation, he turned to Don and said, 'Let's sell these people a piece of blue sky.'"

"He started out a pathological liar (as accounts from those who knew him in the 30s and 40s show - watch this space for more like the Forest Ackerman interview - we have plenty yet to come) with a very weak ego. He couldn't bear criticism and longed to be adulated (forget the Code of Honour!), as many people have told me over the years (John McMaster couldn't believe how narcissistic Hubbard was, but in that case it took one to know one). He was a sick man - physically and mentally - and a dangerous one. That doesn't mean I don't think he could have been redeemed. I wept at news of his death, because I had some silly idea that I might sit with him in prison and help him back to reality. Oh, well."

"But as you say, and Judge Breckenridge said before us, Scientology is the 'alter-ego' of Hubbard, and under DM has become even more destructive."

My comments
These are important details about the unbelievable history and character of Hubbard.

Jon Atack
"But much of my work is very specific - it is necessary to understand that the particular teachings of a group are bogus, not simply the mechanics of exploitative persuasion. So, Scientologists have to consider the 'truth question' as Professor Johs Aagard put it and reflect on 'ARC' or the '8 Dynamics' to realize that it doesn't actually make sense. Otherwise, they can spend years approaching it from the point of view of Lifton (which is essential) or attachment theory (also full of insights). And, I've dealt with about 600 ex Scientologists and seen many who were messed up by counselling, because counsellors thought they could generalise or use more hypnosis on severely hypnotised people. The pivotal factor in recovery is comprehension and that often comes from understanding the precise nature of the trap, rather than subscribing to anyone's notion of 'counselling' or model of the universe. I've seen enough people take back their lives to be very, very sure of this."

My comments
In my own efforts to recover from Scientology and witnessing those of others I have found that this is a core principle for escaping the influence of a cult. It is something that must be known well and practiced without fail.

Scientology and other cults rely on the use of all the eight criteria for thought reform by Robert Jay Lifton. To undo the mystical manipulation in the life of a person the deception of the technique that persuaded that particular person, or techniques, often must become revealed and exposed for the mundane phenomena it truly is and the doctrine it was alleged to prove likewise exposed as lies.

This is particularly difficult with Scientology because Scientology used hundreds of methods based in hypnosis while most cultic groups use between two and a half dozen such techniques. Finding which method persuaded a particular person and when and which ideas it proved to the person is extremely difficult.

Scientologists come to believe hundreds of false ideas buried in the thousands of terms in the loaded language of Scientology. They include thousands of contradictions, including Orwellian reversals and statements and definitions that directly are opposite to one another. Sifting through all the experiences and ideas in a mind indoctrinated in Scientology is extremely difficult, particularly if the person still believes in Hubbard's character or the concepts in Scientology.

The language often reinforces a belief in Scientology. This belief often has its foundation in mystical manipulation - normal experiences. Two prominent examples are Scientology indoctrination which uses confusion and relief of it by adopting Hubbard's definitions as stable data to alleviate confusion, but this is not the enlightenment it is portrayed as and mental and emotional phenomena encountered in aiding is also interpreted in Scientology as miraculous and beneficial. It uses techniques plagiarized from hypnosis which produce euphoric trances and sensations of floating, which several training drills in indoctrination produce as well.

Many other specific techniques in Scientology serve the same function. The influential power of such experiences often is the foundation of the hold Scientology has over a mind. Without removing the mystical manipulation of these specific experiences in the mind of a particular person freeing them from Scientology is almost impossible and often only partly successful if at all.

How can someone reject what they experienced as see inspiring miracles ? And still believe was a miracle and thus still have a deep drive to believe in the concepts and language accompanying what they experienced as miracles in their own life ?

These false miracles occurred, but are known in hypnosis as false memories, sensations hypnosis often creates and trances too, all of which increase suggestibility in some cases and greatly impair independent and critical thinking.

These experiences give the persistent, deeply held beliefs in Scientology that often serve to anchor the entire persistent belief in Scientology which is difficult to throw off. It is like a root which must be found, examined with the exact right information for a particular person and exposed. It is like a weed whose root must be fully destroyed to stop the weed. To be clear people often do not need merely to understand theories on hypnosis in general but need to understand what truly happened to themselves as individuals in their own indoctrination in specific persuasive moments. They often need to understand that the moments of seeking miraculous results in Scientology were not enlightenment from indoctrination or transcendent experiences from auditing but very normal mental and psychological phenomena long understood as results attainable in hypnosis or meditation or from the use of drugs or in some cases virtual reality equipment or sensory deprivation equipment, and not truly miracles or overcoming human limitations.

Hubbard framed these experiences of euphoric trances, strange sensations, alternating confusion with anxiety and alleviation and other difficult to understand experiences in his terms as going through changes to improve themselves and overcome limitations. It seems plausible to some people as worries are set aside in many of these experiences which can seem like a permanent alleviation even though it isn't truly. And many of these experiences lessen critical and independent thinking and increase suggestibility, so the suggestion that they have improved as he suggested is accepted and considered proven by the entire experience as its existence is genuine but the interpretation of its meaning is a fraud, a story of Hubbard giving miracles where he gave none. This is an essential tie that binds, the root of the weed, that must often be found and destroyed in the mind of the individual person to strip it of strength.

If this can be achieved achieved with an ex cult member for the primary influential experiences of mystical manipulation a person was persuaded by and they can realize these alleged miracles were misrepresented mundane experiences with no real proof for the doctrine they are tied to then the foundation of persistent persuasion is often rooted out and destroyed.

In Scientology in particular it is often a first requisite. If these experiences aren't addressed in the life of an individual they may never recover. They are often certain of these experiences as miracles and that holds the entire house of lies Hubbard created in their mind as a prison of belief. If this essential task of finding these experiences and realizing that more mundane explanations (found in the eight criteria for thought reform by Robert Jay Lifton, the ideas from Margaret Singer in Cults In Our Midst and my own descriptions in the mind control posts at Mockingbird's Nest blog on Scientology) are the truth occurs then often ex Scientologists still need a tremendous amount of work in removing the loaded language with its thousands of terms, tens of thousands of definitions and hundreds of concepts and mottos. These need to be questioned, doubted and rejected. A person often is extremely upset, overwhelmed and confused as this process occurs. Extreme anxiety and cognitive dissonance can come crashing down on a person going through this process. They often have to come to taking the entire Scientology vocabulary and reclassify it as false and this can be extremely difficult for people. Scientology uses many techniques to make indoctrination that is built to last.

But knowing that the work of people like Lifton and Singer shows what is being done and Scientology can be undone by understanding this and the successful efforts of people like Him Atack is a tremendous step forward. It can be an indispensable cornerstone of successful recovery from Scientology.

Jon Atack
"Sorry, Cialdini's Influence is the very first book I recommend to anyone who wants to understand how we are influenced. Pratkanis and Aranson's Age of Propaganda comes next. Both are excellent guides to selling and the perils thereof."

My comments
Excellent recommendations. Both are books I read and highly recommend. I wrote long series of blog posts on Age Of Propaganda, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Subliminal, Terror, Love and Brainwashing, the BITE model by Steven Hassan and several other books that really help people to understand influence and cults.

Jon Atack
"For me, the horror is realizing just how easy it is to let go of the implanting. Once you've realized that Hub was a pathological liar - and the evidence is overwhelming, compare any two of his own autobiographies (I checked almost 30 against each other and no two are the same...) - and that he was a braggart who was usually ill both physically and mentally, and that he wanted to be deified (oh, come on!) then it is time to let go, and letting go simply means realizing that not a word he said is to be trusted. But then, right at the start he talked about checking everything 'scientifically' and then presented never a single scientific study (the only attempt was at the LA Foundation in 1950, where he admits to using 'pain drug hypnosis' in a failed attempt to recover an 'engram'). Very much like the Wizard of Oz when the curtain is pulled back - Hub was a little man, standing on a stool yelling through a megaphone."

My comments
For context you should understand that Jon discovered many people do not recover from Scientology. Not in weeks, months or decades but they COULD HAVE. If they were helped by Jon or someone with a similar approach they might have, but tragically many thousands of ex Scientologists never get this help or are lucky enough to find the right article or book to snap them into doubting or questioning the ideas Hubbard sought to implant in them.

Jon Atack
"There are other courses based upon the work of others, partly because so much was simple a reworking of other people's stuff (see my Possible Origins for Dianetics and Scientology, and Jeff Jacobsen's earlier paper) and also because he used other people's books. So Positioning is a misunderstanding of Reiss and Trout (interesting that Trout was paid a fortune to point out he serious mistake of calling it a religion rather than a therapy - see Jeff Hawkins excellent Counterfeit Dreams). Cutlip and Center provided the PR 'tech'. Much of the management system derives from the Taylor system. Then there are the intelligence books, lovingly crafted into the Information Full Hat, along with various Hubbard directives about how to break the law. And of course the highly revealing Freud Worcester Lectures, where the original Dianetic technique is described in some detail (including charge, chains, repeater technique and even unconscious trauma) and Freud's explanation for abandoning it - it doesn't help the person, but increases dependence on the therapist. Worst of all, the hypnosis textbooks that explain his fundamental method. "

"Les Dane is appalling..."

My comments
Here Jon gives us great advice on what Hubbard stole from where and who. All of this is pure gold to me.

Of particular note are Jon's article Possible Origins for Dianetics and Scientology and The Hubbard is Bare by Jeff Jacobsen. These two stand out as superb essays on the plagiarized ideas Hubbard stole. Jam packed with details in each.

Also worth noting is the original Dianetic technique doesn't help the person and increases dependence on the therapist. And hypnosis textbooks explain his fundamental method.

Jon Atack
"Although there are about 2000 hypnotic techniques in Scn they are all based around the same simple notions - visualization, false memory induction, repetition, fixation, mimicry and confusion. And they make people high for the requisite three days, as the trance fades (then they are PTS and have to get another fix)."

My comments
Understanding basic methods and concepts in hypnosis which Jon laid out in tiny bite sized portions in articles in his Scientology Mythbusting series at The Underground Bunker made it so I could reflect on my Scientology indoctrination and realize Scientology is modeled on covertly using the same basic techniques from hypnosis over and over while disguising them as counseling or study or other activities that are more palatable to the public. In Scientology you use visualization, false memory induction, repetition, fixation, mimicry and confusion over and over. You call them different names and they are attached to many different lies in different contexts but these basic techniques are the foundation of Scientology.

Jon Atack
"It depends what we mean by education. If we rerigged our approach to education - rather than simply sticking rhetoric back on the curriculum - it could change the world. If kids were encouraged to think critically - following Matthew Lipman and others' ideas - by compassionate teachers (who were properly paid and highly regarded) in a creative environment, I think we could significantly reduce the impact of fanatical groups in a decade. And look at the pig flying over the horizon."

My comments
perhaps his most optimistic statement and most sweeping. Education does need some improvement and Jon has no shortage of ideas in this department. He has expressed several in interviews and at Opening Minds, well worth checking out in my opinion.

I went through 426 comments Jon Atack posted at The Underground Bunker. I picked out these as ones that I felt really should be preserved and passed on.

I believe that Jon Atack has a lot of hard won wisdom when it comes to Scientology and many other things. Lots of people who have long watched Scientology have heard many of these ideas before but they are all worth the time to look at them again in my opinion.

Clay Pigeon

Gold Meritorious Patron
Much interesting substance and much more perverse malignant falsehood. I'm happy to see it published where an honest student of the subject who is disabused of the indignities of Co$ can respond.

The charge that Hubbard "tortured" Sara Northrup is particularly despicable and onerous.

The two had a stormy relationship that turned into what is known as "The Battle Royale" apparently by reason of Hubbard's infidelity but though it may have been stormy before that it was hardly seriously so. I've seen a photograph of Sara Ron and their daughter taken just before the fecal material hit the fan.Sara is bright-eyed with a large smile. This is plainly not a photograph of an abused woman. Nor is there any indication Hubbad ever tortured Polly; no police blotter items, no admissions to an ER.

Subscription to such charges is either ignorant craven or both.

Boys and girls d fight you know.

Anybody love Humphrey Bogart?

You want maybe to toss out his films for his violently turbulent marriage to Mayo Methot?

The antis who persist in throwing garbage don't themselves any favors in the eyes of the intellignt and decent.

More to come...


stubborn rebel sheep!
John Atak is thoroughly well documented and doesn't make false pretenses.

Nobody can support any accusation of him for being ignorant neither uninformed. He is 100% kosher.

Anyone who reads his book will be amazed for how his works are serious and very enlightening.
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