Scientology The Evidence - What Convinces Scientologists ?


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Many people have said Scientology is entirely dependent on faith, meaning belief without evidence. I can assure you that is not the case, not even a little bit. Scientologists routinely see, feel, hear and experience things they count as evidence.

These experiences have scientific evidence they occur and evidence the methods Ronald Hubbard used in Dianetics and Scientology create these effects, too. They have been studied and examined with scientific research in studies and experiments that establish the existence of these effects and that they are genuine and can be measured and reproduced.

They are significant and worth describing in fine detail one by one. The effects may seem astonishing and incredible but when you look in explicit detail at what the effect is, how it is created and the scientific evidence regarding each one then hopefully it can be comprehensible.

The key I think is taking on each one in full, from how it is described and created in Scientology to the scientific evidence regarding it and what it means for the individual Scientologist experiencing it. Then by adding up several effects hopefully a full picture of the evidence and experience a Scientologist gets can be presented.

Any list should include the memories of past lives experienced in auditing, the new vocabulary attained in indoctrination, the experience of exteriorization (aka out of body experience), the acceptance of Hubbard's doctrine as infallible and the experience of confusion in Scientology indoctrination and the relief of that confusion by seeking words to look up or something to demonstrate or a skipped step and not the issue that initially was confusing.

Evidence from psychology should be examined regarding the techniques in Scientology. Hubbard took methods from hypnosis such as repetition, repetition-with-variation, confusion (aka contradiction or paradox), mimicry and vivid imagery and stories and used all of them in Scientology and Dianetics.

I think the evidence regarding these methods and their effects is entirely relevant and will often surprise people who assume that techniques taken from hypnosis either cannot work or rely on knowing cooperation from people that are subjected to them or the placebo effect or especially gullible or stupid people to be victims.

By looking at each phenomena and the experience a Scientology cult member has along with the techniques used to create the phenomena and the specific details of the method as it has been examined scientifically we can try to see the evidence from several relevant perspectives and get a broad look at it including the whole picture. We can try to see what a Scientologist experiences, what Hubbard used in creating these effects and what relevant and legitimate scientific evidence exists to frame the phenomena in conventional terms.

I want to start with a description of Scientology indoctrination and distraction, confusion and relief from a perspective that contrasts the techniques used against both hypnosis and evidence from psychology.

In Scientology indoctrination one of the very first ideas introduced is word clearing. It is a part of Scientology study technology. To be a Scientologist you have to almost immediately use study technology.

In entering Scientology as public or staff a person must use study technology. I will in this post try to list Scientology doctrine describing the required practices in the simplest terms and then describe Hubbard's claims that illustrate that he intended for this to be a covert method of influence and to show what a Scientologist experiences and then to use the descriptions from cultic studies and psychology to fill out the description of what is done and how.

First we have the description of Scientology study technology.

Here's a series of quotes from Hubbard that outline some basic concepts in study technology:

The First Barrier – Lack of Mass
A student who encounters this barrier will tend to feel squashed, bent, sort of spinny, sort of dead, bored and exasperated. He can wind up with his face feeling squashed, with headaches, and with his stomach feeling funny. He can feel dizzy from time to time and very often his eyes can hurt.

The Second Barrier – Too Steep a Gradient

There is a different set of physiological reactions which occur as a result of this barrier. When one hits too steep a gradient, a sort of confusion or reelingness is experienced.

The Third Barrier – the Misunderstood Word

Going past a word or symbol for which one does not have a proper definition gives one a distinctly blank or washed-out feeling. The person will get a "not there" feeling and will begin to feel a nervous hysteria. These are manifestations distinct from either of the other two barriers.

Have you ever come to the bottom of a page only to realize you didn’t remember what you had just read? That is the phenomenon of a misunderstood word, and one will always be found just before the material became blank in your mind.

HCO Bulletin of 25 June 1971 (revised 25 November 1974),
"Barriers to Study" Ron Hubbard

In the Scientology Handbook a simple version of Hubbard's study tech is presented with his method 3 word clearing presented as Basic Word Clearing. It's a foundation of how a Scientologist approaches indoctrination and the materials he studies.

Basic Word Clearing
Basic Word Clearing is the method of finding a misunderstood word by looking earlier in the text for a misunderstood word than where one is having trouble. This is the most basic method of Word Clearing used in Scientology.
A student must know how to keep himself tearing along successfully in his studies. He should be able to handle anything that slows or interferes with his progress. He applies the Study Technology to assist himself.
A student who uses Study Technology will look up each word he comes to that he doesn’t understand and will never leave a word behind him that he doesn’t know the meaning of.
If he runs into trouble, the student himself, his study partner or his instructor (in Scientology called a Supervisor) uses Basic Word Clearing to handle anything that slowed or interfered with his progress.
Waiting to become groggy or to “dope off” (feel tired, sleepy or foggy as though doped or drugged) as the only detection of misunderstood words before handling is waiting too long. If you have ever seen a student falling asleep over his book, then you have seen dope-off. Long before that point, someone should have made the student look for a misunderstood word. The time to look for the misunderstood word is as soon as the student slows down or isn’t quite as “bright” as he was fifteen minutes before. It is not a misunderstood phrase or idea or concept but a misunderstood WORD. This always occurs before the subject itself is not understood.
Basic Word Clearing is done as follows:
1. The student is not flying along and is not so “bright” as he was or he may exhibit just plain lack of enthusiasm or be taking too long on the course or be yawning or disinterested or doodling or daydreaming, etc.
2. The student must then look earlier in the text for a misunderstood word. There is one always; there are no exceptions. It may be that the misunderstood word is two pages or more back, but it is always earlier in the text than where the student is now.
3. The word is found. The student recognizes it in looking back for it. Or, if the student can’t find it, one can take words from the text that could be the misunderstood word and ask, “What does _____ mean?” to see if the student gives the correct definition.
4. The student looks up the word found in a dictionary and clears it per the steps of clearing a misunderstood word described above. He uses it verbally several times in sentences of his own composition until he has obviously demonstrated he understands the word by the composition of his sentences.
5. The student now reads the text that contained the misunderstood word. If he is not now “bright,” eager to get on with it, feeling happier, etc., then there is another misunderstood word earlier in the text. This is found by repeating steps 2–5.
6. When the student is bright and feeling happier, he comes forward, studying the text from where the misunderstood word was to the area of the subject he did not understand (where step 1 began).
The student will now be enthusiastic about his study of the subject, and that is the end result of Basic Word Clearing. (The result won’t be achieved if a misunderstood word was missed or if there is an earlier misunderstood word in the text. If so, repeat steps 2–5.) If the student is now enthusiastic, have him continue studying.
Good Word Clearing is a system of backtracking. You have to look earlier than the point where the student became dull or confused and you’ll find that there’s a word that he doesn’t understand somewhere before the trouble started. If he doesn’t brighten up when the word is found and cleared, there will be a misunderstood word even before that one.
This will be very clear to you if you understand that if it is not resolving, the thing the student is apparently having trouble with is not the thing the student is having trouble with. Otherwise, it would resolve, wouldn’t it? If he knew what he didn’t understand, he could resolve it himself. So to talk to him about what he thinks he doesn’t understand just gets nowhere. The trouble is earlier.
Zeroing In on the Word
The formula is to find out where the student wasn’t having any trouble and find out where the student is now having trouble and the misunderstood word will be in between. It will be at the tag end—the last part—of where he wasn’t having trouble.
Basic Word Clearing is tremendously effective when done as described here. From the Scientology Handbook based on the works of Ron Hubbard

Hubbard's claims that illustrate he intended to knowingly influence students come from a variety of sources.

Quotes from Ron Hubbard on the Confusion Technique:
Now, if it comes to a pass where it's very important whether or not this person acts or inacts as you wish, in interpersonal relations one of the dirtier tricks is to hang the person up on a maybe and create a confusion. And then create the confusion to the degree that your decision actually is implanted hypnotically.
The way you do this is very simple. When the person advances an argument against your decision, you never confront his argument but confront the premise on which his argument is based. That is the rule. He says, "But my professor always said that water boiled at 212 degrees."
You say, "Your professor of what?"
"My professor of physics."
"What school? How did he know?" Completely off track! You're no longer arguing about whether or not water boils at 212 degrees, but you're arguing about professors. And he will become very annoyed, but he won't know quite what he is annoyed about. You can do this so adroitly and so artfully that you can actually produce a confusion of the depth of hypnosis. The person simply goes down tone scale to a point where they're not sure of their own name.
And at that point you say, "Now, you do agree to go out and draw the water out of the well, don't you?"
"Yes-anything!" And he'll go out and draw the water out of the well.
[End Quote]
Ron Hubbard Lecture, 20 May 1952 "Decision."

Also, even earlier, in 1950:
One error, however, must be remarked upon. The examination system employed is not much different from a certain hypnotic technique. One induces a state of confusion in the subject by raising his anxieties of what may happen if he does not pass. One then "teaches" at a mind which is anxious and confused. That mind does not then rationalize, it merely records and makes a pattern. If the pattern is sufficiently strong to be regurgitated verbatim on an examination paper, the student is then given a good grade and passed.
[End Quote]
Ron Hubbard lecture 29 August 1950, "Educational Dianetics."

He also knew that when one is confused they can feel relief (i.e. brighter TEMPORARILY) when they get an "answer", even if it doesn't address the confusion!

“A confusion can be defined as any set of factors or circumstances which do not seem to have any immediate solution. More broadly, a confusion is random motion.”
“Until one selects one datum, one factor, one particular in a confusion of particles, the confusion continues. The one thing selected and used becomes the stable datum for the remainder.
“Any body of knowledge, more particularly and exactly, is built from one datum. That is its stable datum. Invalidate it and the entire body of knowledge falls apart. A stable datum does not have to be the correct one. It is simply the one that keeps things from being in a confusion and on which others are aligned.” – Ron Hubbard [ref]

“Any time anybody gets enough altitude he can be called a hypnotic operator, and what he says will act as hypnotic suggestion. Hypnotism is a difference in levels of altitude…if the operator can heighten his own altitude with regard to the subject…he doesn’t have to put the subject to sleep. What he says will still react as a hypnotic suggestion….With parity, such as occurs between acquaintances, friends, fellow students and so on, there is no hypnotic suggestion” (Education and Dianetics, 11 November 1950, Research and Discovery, volume 4). Source Jon Atack

Here's a longer excerpt:

“In altitude teaching, somebody is a ‘great authority.’ He is probably teaching some subject that is far more complex than it should be. He has become defensive down through the years, and this is a sort of protective coating that he puts up, along with the idea that the subject will always be a little better known by him than by anybody else and that there are things to know in this subject which he really wouldn’t let anybody else in on. This is altitude instruction … It keeps people in a state of confusion, and when their minds are slightly confused they are in a hypnotic trance. Anytime anybody gets enough altitude he can be called a hypnotic operator, and what he says will act as hypnotic suggestion. Hypnotism is a difference in levels of altitude. There are ways to create and lower the altitude of the subject, but if the operator can heighten his own altitude with regard to the subject the same way, he doesn’t have to put the subject to sleep. What he says will still react as hypnotic suggestion.” (Hubbard, Research & Discovery, volume 4, p.324)12 source Jon Atack

Additionally we have Hubbard's private self hypnosis commands he used called affirmations to show his innermost desires and thoughts.
Here are several quotes from the affirmations.
“Material things are yours for the asking. Men are your slaves. Elemental spirits are your slaves.”
“You use the minds of men. They do not use your mind or affect it in any way.”
"Your psychology is advanced and true and wonderful. It hypnotizes people. It predicts their emotions, for you are their ruler."
“You are a grand master of words and you can do with them as you will. You know what they mean to others. “You know how their meanings and melodies affect others.” LRH affirmations

Third off we have the way a Scientologist experiences study technology and Scientology indoctrination. I spent twenty five years in Scientology and hundreds and hundreds of hours, probably many thousands overall, using Scientology study technology, much of it in Scientology course rooms.

In the course room a Scientology student is rapidly taught all their confusions are about things that are not what they think they are. It is always traced back to alleged barriers to study, most often purported misunderstood words, regardless of the actual situation.

To handle specific phenomena allegedly caused by the purported barriers to study Hubbard provided specific criteria to find and diagnose the barriers and methods to handle the purported barriers.

I must be very exact here - real phenomena occur in Scientology indoctrination that are demonstrable. But Hubbard framed these as always and exclusively being evidence his ideas regarding study are genuine.

A person can genuinely as Hubbard said feel squashed, bent, sort of spinny, sort of dead, bored and exasperated. He can wind up with his face feeling squashed, with headaches, and with his stomach feeling funny. He can feel dizzy from time to time and very often his eyes can hurt - which Hubbard without proof alleged was caused by his lack of mass.

Hubbard also noted confusion or reelingness is experienced - which also does occur, but the too steep a gradient barrier which Hubbard alleged is again lacking scientific validation.

Finally Hubbard gave a vast array of phenomena in numerous references regarding "not there" feeling, nervous hysteria, distinctly blank or washed-out feeling and numerous other phenomena which genuinely occur, but again he alleged his purported misunderstood words are the exclusive and unfailing cause of all these phenomena.

We need to understand that all these phenomena occur. People do feel every one of these things and witness others displaying them as well in Scientology course rooms. Every day on numerous occasions.

But the barriers are not real. They are perceived as real because the phenomena associated with them occur and the techniques Hubbard described to address the barriers seem to handle them to Scientologists.

This brings us to a few obvious questions: what causes these numerous and specific phenomena ? Why do the techniques Scientologists use to address these phenomena seem to alleviate the phenomena ? Thereby serving to convince Scientologists that the barriers and technology purported to handle them are both genuine.

That is a lot at first blush but can be broken down into parts. Basic word clearing from the Scientology Handbook has already been quoted above.

Many other techniques to handle misunderstood words exist in Scientology. The primary association of the phenomena with misunderstood words is the foundation of all these methods.

In the Scientology Handbook techniques to handle the other two barriers are also laid out.

Remedying an Absence of Mass

"As not everyone studying has the actual mass available, useful tools to remedy a lack of mass have been developed. These come under the subject of demonstration.
Demonstration comes from the Latin demonstrare: “to point out, show, prove.”
The Chambers 20th Century Dictionary includes the following definition of demonstrate: “to teach, expound or exhibit by practical means.”
In order to supply mass, one would do a demonstration. One way of accomplishing this is with a “demonstration kit.” A “demo kit,” as it is called, is composed of various small objects such as corks, caps, paper clips, pen tops, rubber bands, etc. A student can use a demo kit to represent the things he is studying and help him to understand concepts.

Demonstrating a concept with various small objects adds
mass to what a person is studying. This increases understanding.

If a student ran into something he couldn’t quite figure out, demonstrating the idea with a demo kit would assist him to understand it.
Anything can be demonstrated with a demo kit: ideas, objects, interrelationships or how something works. One simply uses these small objects to represent the various parts of something he is studying about. The objects can be moved about in relation to each other to show the mechanics and actions of a given concept.
Another means of demonstrating something is by sketching.
Someone sitting at his office desk trying to work something out can take a pencil and paper and, by sketching out or drawing graphs of what he was working with, get a grip on it.
There is a rule which goes if you cannot demonstrate something in two dimensions, you have it wrong. It is an arbitrary rule-based on judgment or discretion-but is very workable.

Sketching helps one to work things out.

This rule is used in engineering and architecture. If it cannot be worked out simply and clearly in two dimensions, there is something wrong and it couldn’t be built.
Sketching and two-dimensional representation is all part of demonstration and of working something out.
A third means of supplying mass to clarify principles is through the use of modeling clay to make a clay demonstration, or “clay demo,” of a principle or concept.

The purpose of clay demonstration is:

1. to make the materials being studied real to the student,

2. to give a proper balance of mass and significance,

3. to teach the student to apply.

The whole theory of clay demonstrations is that they add mass.
A student needs mass in order to understand something. Without it, he only has thoughts or mental concepts. Given mass, he can sort it out because he has mass and space in which to then envision the concept he is studying " Scientology Handbook

And finally Scientology has techniques regarding too steep a gradient in the Scientology Handbook as well.

The Second Barrier: Too Steep a Gradient
"A gradient is a gradual approach to something taken step by step, level by level, each step or level being, of itself, easily attainable – so that finally, complicated and difficult activities can be achieved with relative ease. The term gradient also applies to each of the steps taken in such an approach.
When one hits too steep a gradient in studying a subject, a sort of confusion or reelingness (a state of mental swaying or unsteadiness) results. This is the second barrier to study.
The remedy for too steep a gradient is to cut back the gradient. Find out when the person was not confused about what he was studying and then find out what new action he undertook. Find out what he felt he understood well just before he got all confused.

Learning to ride a bicycle is often too steep a gradient for a child. But a set of training wheels makes it possible for him to progress. This is a proper gradient.

You will discover that there is something in this area – the part he’d felt he understood well – which he did not really understand. When this is cleared up, the student will be able to progress again.
When a person is found to be terribly confused on the second action he was supposed to know or do, it is safe to assume that he never really understood the first action.
This barrier is most recognizable and most applicable when engaged in doingness – performing some action or activity – as opposed to just academic or intellectual study. " Scientology Handbook

It's worth noting that the Scientology Handbook additionally lists other phenomena which Hubbard alleged are always and exclusively caused by his fictional barrier the misunderstood word.

These include the following from the Scientology Handbook.

"The confusion or inability to grasp or learn comes after a word that the person did not have defined and understood.
The misunderstood word is much more important than the other two barriers. The misunderstood word establishes aptitude and lack of aptitude; this is what psychologists have been trying to test for years without recognizing what it was.
This is all that many study difficulties go back to. Studying past misunderstood words produces such a vast range of mental effects that it itself is the prime factor involved with stupidity and many other unwanted conditions.
If a person didn’t have misunderstood words, his talent might or might not be present, but his doingness in that subject would be present.
There are two specific phenomena which stem from misunderstood words.

First Phenomenon
When a student misses understanding a word, the section right after that word is a blank in his memory.
You can always trace back to the word just before the blank, get it understood and find miraculously that the former blank area is not now blank in the material you are studying.

When a person is reading down a page. . .

. . . and goes past a word for which he has no definition. . .
. . . the section after the misunderstood word will be blank in his memory. The misunderstood word is the most important barrier to successful study.

It is pure magic.
Have you ever had the experience of coming to the end of a page and realizing you didn’t know what you had read? Somewhere earlier on that page you went past a word that you had no definition for or an incorrect definition for.
Here is an example: “It was found that when the crepuscule arrived the children were quieter and when it was not present, they were much livelier.” What happens is you think you do not understand the whole idea, but the inability to understand comes entirely from the one word you could not define, crepuscule, which means twilight or darkness.

Second Phenomenon
A misunderstood definition or a not-comprehended definition or an undefined word can even cause a person to give up studying a subject and leave a course or class. Leaving in this way is called a blow.
We have all known people who enthusiastically started on a course of study only to find out some time later that the person dropped the study because it was “boring” or “it wasn’t what they thought it would be.” They were going to learn a skill or go to night school and get their degree but never followed through. No matter how reasonable their excuses, the fact is they dropped the subject or left the course. This is a blow. A person blows for only one primary reason – the misunderstood word.
A person does not necessarily blow because of the other barriers to study – lack of mass or too steep a gradient. These simply produce physical phenomena. But the misunderstood word can cause a student to blow." Scientology Handbook

Okay, now we have taken on laying out the foundation of much of Scientology indoctrination technology, Hubbard alleged that students need to look for specific phenomena on course and use them to guide their thoughts and conduct. He gave a list with everything from feeling blank to being confused to getting groggy to anxiety to wanting to leave Scientology or a Scientology course as being caused by his three barriers and that the phenomena are framed as triggers for Scientologists to use his three remedies regarding them.

Hubbard wrote much of Dianetics and Scientology with a specific style. This directly tied into how study technology works and how people get overwhelmed, distracted and confused by Scientology indoctrination.

He used a thesaurus while writing and tried to pour out tons of synonymous terms with an overly complex vocabulary to appear scholarly, to establish an air of authority and additionally coined thousands of terms in Dianetics and Scientology. Hubbard changed terms from adjectives and verbs to nouns and reversed the meaning of terms both by the dozens. He intentionally made Scientology and Dianetics language mind bending in its difficulty to learn and understand. It's loaded language as described by Robert Jay Lifton and the language of non-thought.

Hubbard coined thousands of words, thousands of phrases and mottos and thousands of abbreviations and used extensive puffed up English vocabulary. This leaves Scientology students struggling with literally thousands of words to look up in dictionaries and to learn the definitions of. It makes keeping track of what ideas are ones a student believes and which are definitions from dictionaries and English terms and also which are Hubbard's ideas and found in Scientology indoctrination.

A Scientology student rapidly has thousands of ideas in each of these three categories to keep separate and the task of looking for over a dozen phenomena Hubbard described as being caused by his three barriers to study and determining whether confusion or reelingness for example are being caused by too steep a gradient or is a confusion from a misunderstood word.

Lots and lots of ideas to constantly observe. It's enough to leave a student anxious and overwhelmed and distracted. So, we can understand that is the state of mind of a Scientologist on course.

They can read things that are contradictory or go against well established scientific evidence or that just don't make sense in Scientology. They know that seeing these things in Scientology is interpreted as simply evidence that the barriers are present and unhandled in themselves.

Having a criticism or awareness of flaws in Scientology materials is interpreted as always indicative of misunderstood words in the student and never legitimate.

The million dollar question remains what causes confusion and blankness and the other phenomena in study of the barriers to study don't actually exist ?

We know Scientology indoctrination has materials jam packed with contradictions. One day Hubbard says Dianetics creates Clears but another day says it doesn't, he says Scientology frees people but requires absolute control over people, he says Scientology makes strong families but it breaks up thousands of families routinely. Hubbard contradicts reality and himself and well established facts time after time.

What happens in an environment of extreme contradictions that is presented as infallible and consistent ?

I will start with the perspective of a hypnotist:

I will start with a quote from Mark Tyrrell at the website Uncommon Knowledge:

Using confusion for hypnosis may sound like a strange idea – even a confusing one! But the notion of pur-posefully and knowingly using confu-sion as a tool to elicit hypnotic re-sponses from the unconscious mind has a good pedigree.
No less an authority then Dr Milton Erickson, perhaps the greatest hypnotist who ever lived, believed that few things could capture the attention so well as confusion. And he was right. Think about it for a moment.
If someone whose opinion you respect usually makes sense when they’re talking, then you’ll pay attention to them. When on occasion they seem to be saying something important to you, but the meaning isn’t immediately clear, you’ll assume you need to pay more attention in order to grasp what they are saying.

And if a point is not logically clear, you’ll focus more and more of your at-tention in the hope of understanding it eventually. And remember, focusing the attention is a key component of hypnosis. We are all dependent on our ability to decipher meaning from what happens to us and from what people say. When people are confused, their awareness turns inwards in a search for understanding – or escape.
It’s ironic in a way that so many people work on their communication in an attempt to make it more clear, yet the best hypnotists work on making (at least some of) their communication more confusing.If you look at people when they are confused, you’ll see they are highly focused. And strong focus is akin to hypnotic trance. When you can’t quite figure something out, but it seems really important that you do figure it out, you have an activated expectation.
Focus and expectation are at the heart of the confusional technique. But why should being confused make you more suggestible?Being confused is like drowning in a sea of communication. You will grab onto anything that will keep you afloat. Any words or phrases that you can make sense of in the maelstrom are likely to affect you more strongly than usual – so if these words can be inter-preted as suggestions, this is probably how you will respond to them.
This is a rule of human nature. If something is scarce we value it more highly and when we get it, we grab hold of it and we use it. When water is scarce it becomes more valuable to us and we don’t waste a drop when we get it. It’s the same with clear meaning if it sud-denly becomes scarce. Consider the confusion elicited when a stage show hypnotist tips back a subject unexpectedly.Confusion is followed by clarity when the unequivocal command to ‘sleep’ is uttered.We like puzzles and riddles because we expect clarity to eventually emerge from the confusion. People watch and read mystery thrillers for the same reason. This confusion as entertainment is an excellent tool for locking people’s attention.

"If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable.”
― Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Margaret Singer as a top cult expert in her book Cults In Our Midst described cults and Scientology in particular quite well:

First a quote that struck me instantly. It reminded me of an analysis of Scientology written by a class XII auditor. She said Hubbard's writings can seem contradictory and paradoxical. That is actually intentional.

The more complicated and filled with contradictions the new system is and the more difficult it is to learn, the more effective the conversion process will be. ( page 67 Cults In Our Midst )

That fits Scientology. It's incredibly complicated and embodies contradictions and is almost impossible to learn, certainly in full.

What is the effect of all this ? Immense confusion, anxiety and cognitive dissonance. Scientology is promoted as consistent but is not consistent at all.

This prompts cognitive dissonance in Scientologists. What are phenomena associated with cognitive dissonance ? Blankness, confusion, anxiety, reelingness.

The phenomena Hubbard described as created by his three barriers are well established as fitting two mental states - cognitive dissonance and hypnosis.

A not there feeling and postural slump are long known as accompanying hypnosis.

The pattern in Scientology is incredibly - almost idiotically simple - confuse a person by some method even slightly then offer a "stable datum" for that confusion that is accepted. Here is the important part I just now got this exactly - the stable data is ALWAYS meant to be two things - a lie and a method to induce further confusion that leads to accepting another stable datum, over and over. That is the con. The details vary and their effects and deserve tremendous study and dissection but the formula has only a few basic parts always. Confuse, offer solution to confusion give "solution" it is a lie designed to bring more confusion immediately or later. Sometimes there is a delay or apparent relief for a time before the confusion is back. Why ? Because if it does not add up if the truth was not part of the equation - it is all lies. Always was always will be. No truth ever, no workable anything, no miracles. One formula one conman one con. And by confusion I mean the confusion and reelingness and mental blankness associated with cognitive dissonance - it is a distinct feeling of being baffled or beffudled or overwhelmed and can be from contradictory or surprising info, behavior or emotions - ANYTHING that creates or brings back those phenomena even slightly.

That is his method. In my mind whether it is from his love of hypnosis and it having confusion and repetition in it or rhetoric or somewhere else he arrived at 1) get attention 2) create confusion 3) lie to direct attention while pretending to resolve the confusion( without resolving the confusion as it is his basis for an entry point for exploitation - so he will never give it up ) 4) create another confusion requiring more attention and controlled action to pursue a claimed resolution that never comes 5) get more compliance from the victim and gradual increase via the first four steps over and over in confusion and compliance. And by compliance increasing I mean getting greater and greater degree of how willing and unthinking the victim is. How willing to do more and more extreme things and give more money and adulation and trust and even the victim's life and blind loyalty are they ? Never enough for Hubbard - he wanted gradual building to absolute devotion. With no other priorities even left at all. And the confusion is to grow too as he saw it holding this all in place. Some will look at his study of hypnosis and say the growing confusion acts hypnotically and some would say it creates a condition of hiding the cognitive dissonance and discomfort in the subconscious via trance logic so it gets directed via projection or other psychological defense mechanisms at any who bring the confusion back to the surface but that is not the main point and that is for those who pursue the finest details on this to consider. And the growth of confusion is vital as it leaves those who do realize something is not true or right to often take forever to unstick the lies one by one as they feel odd about the ideas and unsure what is untrue or not. They do not see the pattern and so are emotionally still prey to it and emotion influences thought and behavior.

In the blog posts 1) Insidious Enslavement: Study Technology and 2) Basic Introduction to Hypnosis in Scientology and 3) Burning Down Hell - How Commands Are Hidden, Varied And Repeated In Scientology To Control You As Hypnotic Implants and 4) Why Hubbard Never Claimed OT Feats And The Rock Bottom Basis Of Scientology I took on laying out the foundation of Scientology relying upon cognitive dissonance and hypnosis.

I elaborated on the book A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger in a series of blog posts. I combined all eleven of them together in one long post Scientology And Cognitive Dissonance Theory.

If you want to dig deep into both of those all those posts are available at Mockingbird's Nest. But what about more traditional psychology to establish how this influence could possibly work ?

There actually is some available. First a smidge from cognitive dissonance theory itself.

I have been communicating with Jon Atack and want to give him credit for pointing out something to me. I got close to seeing and stating this but not quite right .
I will quote directly from an email: "I realized that throughout DMSMH he contradicts himself. I'd read it three times and never noticed. Presumably because the 'blank' that he relates to the mu actually occurs during the cognitive dissonance. Once you have confused someone, you insert the suggestions that will put them under your control ('if you knew what was wrong with your mind it, it wouldn't be wrong' is a favorite). Jon Atack
I will also include a quote I found in a book online that I think is relevant:
"I saw the confusion on some faces and blankness on others. My ed psych professor in grad school would have called this cognitive dissonance. "
Fixed for Life: The True Saga of How Tom Became Sally

Here I will examine ideas on this from social psychology and propaganda analysis. I will cite several quotes from the book Age Of Propaganda by social psychologists ( both professors of psychology ) Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson .

When confronted with a persuasive communication, especially one that runs counter to important beliefs, we tend, whenever feasible, to invent counterarguments on the spot. This tendency serves us very well: It prevents our opinions from being unduly influenced. This resistance can serve to defeat the propagandist's purpose, especially when the arguments for the cause are weak and specious and therefore easily refuted. ( page 185 Age Of Propaganda )

Counterarguing is the internal and often automatic process of creating and considering claims AGAINST information being taken in or considered. It happens most often when critical and careful analysis of information without bias occurs or the information is contrary to our own beliefs, identity or behavior. Disabling counterarguing is a primary requirement for a propagandist.

A mild distraction...can disrupt counterarguing and increase the effectiveness of a persuasive message. ( page 185 Age Of Propaganda )

Leon Festinger ( famed father of cognitive dissonance theory ) and Nathan Maccoby did a series of experiments on persuasion, counterarguing and distraction.

They had college fraternity members watch a film and hear arguments against fraternities. They found distracting the audience reduced the audiences ability to counterargue the message. A message they had a natural inclination to disagree with.

The trick for advertisers is to provide just enough of a distraction to disrupt counterarguing but not so much that it eliminates the reception of the message. ( page 187 Age Of Propaganda)

This information is crucial in my opinion for understanding how Ron Hubbard developed his methods of persuasion. In Scientology "study technology" indoctrination at the most basic level distraction is quite plentiful. Hubbard gives three entirely false "barriers" to memorize, and be on constant lookout for. And they have a list of over a dozen "phenomena" to spot, and use as guides in thought and behavior.

That is a lot to keep track of. Intentionally too much to have distracting you while using your undivided attention to "study".

In Insidious Enslavement: Study Technology ( a post at this blog ) I described in detail how the "phenomena" functions to create and hide a form of persuasion consisting of covert hypnosis AND cognitive restructuring aka thought reform or mind control in the simplest terms.

That post took elements of hypnosis and basic psychology, particularly cognitive dissonance theory and took on study technology and tried to redefine what Hubbard actually achieved.

In an experiment social psychologists Richard Petty, Gary Wells, and Timothy Brock distracted students who received messages. They had one simple message in a video and another complex thought out message in another.

They concluded distraction INCREASED the effectiveness of the simple, weak message ( by disrupting counterarguing ) but DECREASED the influence of the complex message ( because it stopped the ability to think through the arguments for the message ).

I took on the book Age of Propaganda in a series of blog posts called the Pulling Back The Curtain series which I published in full as Scientology And The Age Of Propaganda.

Now I want to examine repetition. Repetition is often called the most basic form of persuasion.

Next up is repetition , probably Hubbard's OTHER great love in both tech and his own mind : I will once again quote a plain old hypnotist : this time Adam Easton from the online article entitled - Using repetition in Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy : If you look back through history, you will see that repetition has been associated with hypnosis. You are sure to have seen those swinging pendulums and rotating wheels that get used, not to mention the enjoyable repetitive quality of the ocean waves coming in to shore.I love to hear that sound, it is one of the reasons I love to live beside the sea.Some of the more classical hypnotists use expressions such as “you are going deeper, deeper and deeper into hypnosis” when taking people into hypnosis. This is repetitive, though can sometimes be a bit boring.

The good hypnotist can use words repetitively to induce a relaxed and focused hypnotic state, though ideally giving the same message in a variety of ways is the way to make this principle most effective.You see, when you use certain words in a repetitive fashion, they can have the same effects as that pendulum swinging in front of the eyes or the rotating wheel. The repetition tends to hypnotically focus the prospect on your communication. It holds their attention very effectively.
Hubbard had a deep fondness for repetition and made it a foundation of Dianetics and Scientology. It is used in training and drilling and auditing.

Hubbard had students study the same references over and over and over. He had them repeat auditing questions over and over and over, sometimes for hours. He had students repeat the same statements and motions hundreds of times. He had the same ideas presented hundreds and thousands of times in his doctrine.

When a course consists of three times through the Checksheet, the student goes through three entire Checksheets once, theory, practical and all drills in sequence, completing that, and then goes through the entire next checksheet a second time, then goes through a third checksheet fully a third time. There is no difference in what is studied and how it is studied the second and third times through-or any subsequent times through the Checksheet! It is done fully each time–theory, practical and all drills (including all study drills). HCO POLICY LETTER OF 27 JULY 1969 WHAT IS A CHECKSHEET RON HUBBARD

Send student back to training” means that the student is sent to Cramming to get straight exactly what is missed and then back to Course and does THE ENTIRE COURSE AGAIN, three times through the checksheet if that is the course (such as the Dianetics Course). No short cuts or skimping is allowed on retraining, as a student who fails to apply one aspect of the course had a misunderstood which would have prevented him from fully grasping and understanding the other material on previous times through the Checksheet. HCO POLICY LETTER OF 27 JULY 1969 WHAT IS A CHECKSHEET RON HUBBARD


“CHINESE SCHOOL, as very few Westerners have ever seen a Chinese or Arab school in progress, it is very easy for them to miss the scene when one says Chinese School. The term has been used to designate an action where an instructor or officer, with a pointer, stands up before an assembled class and taps a chart or org board and says each part of it. A Chinese class sings out in unison (all together) in response to the teacher. They participate! Chinese School, then, is an action of class vocal participation. It is a very lively, loud affair. It sounds like chanting. It is essentially a system that establishes instant thought responses so that the student, given ‘2 x 2’ thinks instantly ‘4.’ You could teach the laws of listing and nulling, The Auditor's Code, axioms and so on in this way. There are two steps in such teaching. (a) the instructor taps and says what it is, then asks the class what it is and they chant the answer; (b) when the class has learned by being told and repeating, the instructor now taps with the pointer and asks and the class chants the correct answer. Anything can be taught by Chinese Schoolthat is to be learned by rote; (HCO PL 13 May 72)”
(from ‘Modern Management Technology Defined’* (released 1976))

Here I will examine ideas on this from social psychology and propaganda analysis. I will cite several quotes from the book Age Of Propaganda by social psychologists ( both professors of psychology ) Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson.

If repetitive advertising is so irritating, why do advertisers continue to do it ? ( page 179 Age of Propaganda. )

In surveys people consistently say repeated ads are annoying, but they have been found to be effective. This has a seeming contradiction that can be understood with close examination. For Ex Scientologists it is important because repetition was used upon them quite heavily in Scientology auditing and indoctrination and the cult environment. They should know how it affects people.

Robert Zajonc of the University of Michigan has demonstrated in a laboratory setting that, all other things being equal, the more a person is exposed to an item, the more attractive it is. In three separate studies, Zajonc presented nonsense words, Chinese ideographs, and photographs of students taken from a college yearbook. The items were repeated from zero to twenty-five times. The results showed the attraction to the item increased with the number of exposures. Much subsequent research has supported Zajonc's basic finding: More exposure results in increased liking. ( page 181 Age of Propaganda. )

This concept was stated by many others in many ways before Hubbard started Dianetics and Scientology. In fact several people Hubbard is well known as studying stated this. Here is a very relevant example :

The power of repetition was well understood by Joseph Goebbels, the head of the Nazi propaganda ministry. His propaganda crusades were based on a simple observation: What the masses term truth is that information which is most familiar. As Goebbels put it:

The rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious. In the long run only he will achieve basic results in influencing public opinion who is able to reduce problems to the simplest terms and who has the courage to keep forever repeating them in this simplified form despite the objections of intellectuals. ( page 182 Age of Propaganda. )

Now, our disgust with the Nazis aside the point of this is to examine the concepts of repetition and influence and Hubbard's intent in using repetition in his cult doctrine and methodology.

According to Goebbels, the repetition of simple messages, images, and slogans creates our knowledge of the world, defining what is truth and specifying how we should live our lives .

A set of recent experiments illustrates Goebbels point-repetition of a piece of information increases its perceived validity. In these experiments, participants were exposed to statements such as 'Leonardo Da Vinci had two wives at the same time"and "Tibet, with 1.2 million square kilometers, occupies one-eight China's total area." Some of the statements were repeated on multiple occasions. The results: The participants in these studies judged the repeated statements to be more "true" than those not repeated. ( page 183 Age of Propaganda. )

The sited experiments are covered in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 27,
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 5, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 16 and American Journal of Psychology, 95.
For more exact information consult the bibliography of Age of Propaganda.

Here's a bit more scientific evidence supporting repetition and even that repetition can overcome a person KNOWING the information being presented is false !
Meanwhile, other research is shedding light on the mechanisms underlying the effects of misinformation. Repeating a false claim increases its believability, giving it an air of what Stephen Colbert famously called “truthiness.”Known as the illusion of truth effect, this phenomenon was first demonstrated in the laboratory by Hasher and her colleagues. On each of three days, subjects listened to plausible-sounding statements and rated each on whether they thought it was true. Half of the statements were in fact true, such as Australia is approximately equal in area to the continental United States, whereas the other half were false, such as Zachary Taylor was the first president to die in office (it was William Henry Harrison). Some of the statements were repeated across days, whereas others were presented only once. The results showed that the average truth rating increased from day to day for the repeated statements, but remained constant for the non-repeated statements, indicating that subjects mistook familiarity for verity.
More recent research reveals that even knowledge of the truth doesn’t necessarily protect against the illusion of truth. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Lisa Fazio and her colleagues asked subjects to rate a set of statements on how interesting they found them. Following Hasher and colleagues’ procedure, some of the statements were true, whereas others were false.The subjects then rated a second set of statements for truthfulness on a six-point scale, from definitely false to definitely true. Some of the statements were repeated from the first set, whereas others were new. Finally, the subjects took a knowledge test that included questions based on the statements. The results revealed that repetition increased the subjects’ perception of the truthfulness of false statements, even for statements they knew to be false. For example, even if a subject correctly answered Pacific Ocean to the question What is the largest ocean on Earth? on the knowledge test, they still tended to give the false statement The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth a higher truth rating if it was repeated. When a claim was made to feel familiar through repetition, subjects neglected to consult their own knowledge base in rating the claim’s truthfulness.
From Scientific American
Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News


Next I want to take on the past lives that Hubbard encouraged his followers to seek and required auditors to find. Scientology has hundreds of stories about past lives that suggest incidents for people to recall. Scientology has several books and courses and hundreds of taped lectures that Hubbard created.

This post is referring to the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow.

Mlodinow wrote, "The world we perceive is an artificially constructed environment whose character and properties are as much a result of unconscious mental processing as they are a product of real data." (Page 50 Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow. )

Mlodinow sums up the second chapter (Sense Plus Mind Equals Reality) with, "That brings up a question to which we will return again and again, in contexts ranging from vision to memory to the way we judge the people we meet: If a central function of the unconscious is to fill in the blanks when there is incomplete information in order to construct a useful picture of reality, how much of that picture is accurate ?" (Page 51 Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow. )

A question that is of particular relevance to Scientologists and ex Scientologists is how can the unconscious shape, alter or influence memories ? And how can influence of the unseen unconscious be unseen influence of memory ?

That's the subject of the next chapter.

In the third chapter (Remembering And Forgetting) of his book Subliminal Leonard Mlodinow takes on the issues of how much the unconscious or subconscious mind affects memory.

We usually assume our memories are accurate and reliable. We believe everything we recall happened as we remember. It's unfortunately not true.

I know you may think your memory is good, and I often have myself. But there is a lot of evidence that we can be swayed by factors to be inaccurate, sometimes in the most important situations.

Many people identified by victims of horrific crimes like rape, sexual abuse, robberies, assaults and other crimes have eventually been exonerated due to DNA evidence despite the victims picking suspects out of lineups and testifying against them with strong certainty.

Mlodinow wrote, "About seventy-five thousand police lineups take place each year, and statistics on those show that 20 to 25 percent of the time witnesses make a choice that police know is incorrect." (Page 55.Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow )

Mlodinow went on to explain how police use fillers meaning people like other police or people imprisoned in local jails to fill the lineup out. They have assumed a person who was in jail for months or years didn't recently commit a crime outside the jail in person. There have been experimental studies that have suggested more than half the time if there is a lineup and the correct person who committed a crime isn't present people will pick someone out of the lineup. Terrifying for numerous reasons.

Mlodinow wrote, "An organization called the Innocence Project, for example, found that of the hundreds of people exonerated on the basis of postconviction DNA testing, 75 percent had been imprisoned because of inaccurate eyewitness identification."

This gives us several problems with the criminal justice system. A book called Convicting The Innocent by Brandon Garrett takes this up.

I personally don't like the fact that a person can be convicted solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony with no other evidence, despite eyewitnesses being far too unreliable alone. The standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly for the most serious crimes, to me should require more proof. We are imprisoning innocent people and letting the guilty walk free to commit more crimes, likely by the tens of thousands each year.

A lot of research and evidence supports the idea that we can have memories that are clear and vivid that we are certain of which are inaccurate or even entirely false. Philip K Dick would love to explore this. He wrote many stories about the nature of memory and reality and himself had serious mental health issues.

Psychologists thought - as most of us do of - that you had memories saved like files of videos and they could be lost or fade if we couldn't find them but that the vividness and completeness of a memory corresponded with its accuracy. Even many very recently believed this. It seems true to us, we consult certainty for certainty.

In 1907 Hugo Munsterberg, a German psychologist who studied under Wilhelm Wundt, realized memories could be vivid and inaccurate.

He had his home burglarized and he examined his home then described it in vivid detail to police in interviews and in court and he got many details completely wrong. He had delivered thousands of lectures relying only on his memory and was stunned by this revelation.

Munsterberg studied memory and tried something original. He studied a staged event. Professor Franz Von Liszt gave a talk on criminology and afterwards a man stood up and got into an argument with another man, soon a gun was pulled and it was fired and people ran around and finally it was revealed to be staged. Witnesses were in different groups asked to write essays or answer questions or report on these events in another way.

People reported details that never occurred, they reported events in entirely different orders from reality and ommisions, alterations and additions were counted as errors. Error rates from 26 to 80 percent were reported.

Staged event became the rage in Europe for a while. People got things wrong consistently. They recalled who did what and who spoke wrong and even who wore or didn't wear a hat.

From all these experiences Munsterberg formed a theory on memory - we don't remember everything, but try to remember the most important things and when needed for consultation our memories are pulled and combined with our efforts to fill in the blanks and we don't consciously know about the creative editing our unconscious minds perform before or while presenting our memories.

Mlodinow wrote, "Munsterberg published his ideas about memory in a book that became a best seller, On the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime. In it, he elaborated on a number of key concepts that many researchers now believe correspond to the way memory really does work: first, people have a good memory for the general gist of events but a bad one for the details; second, when pressed for unremembered details, even well-intentioned people making a sincere effort to be accurate will inadvertently fill in the gaps by making things up; and third, people will believe the memories they make up."

These revelations bring us to a crossroads. How do we survive and operate with such poor memories ? Why don't we notice ?

Well, our memories have evolved to select and focus on the most important things in our estimation. If you have to tell your boss one thing from his boss that is a yes or no answer you understand you need to get that right and not the color of his tie or what he had for lunch.

Our minds filter for importance and you can have a boring conversation with a person who you feel has no important information for hours on a long bus or train ride and forget everything that they said upon walking away, and be glad to forget it.

We retain conclusions and not details. We categorize information to help us remember it. Sometimes we remember something in the same category when asked for information, a person similar to another or a description of something instead of the thing or the most vivid idea we associate with a person or thing. When you see someone say "the guy on the show about the thing in the place" they are remembering the ideas they associate with something, sort of.

In memory research people can be given lists of words to recall later. If you have synonyms of words on the list in questions people will recall those as being present when something close was. They recalled the general idea better than the specific words.

Frederic Bartlett researched memory and found we edit and re-edit over and over. If asked about incidents from our childhood we surprisingly give different accounts right after an event, a year later, five years later and ten years later. We change parts, leaving out some adding others and adjusting minor details.

Many, many experiments have verified our changing and incomplete memories. It has been found for us to recall something we have our conscious mind must focus attention on it, a conscious mind only focuses on a few details usually and that guides memory of vision. If it's important enough to look at intently it might be important enough to remember, but if it isn't then that alone can filter out details as irrelevant, even if they are not.

Two psychologists, Daniel Levin and Dan Simons, filmed an experiment to see what details are noticed by people. They had a person outdoors claim to be a researcher and speak with a student for ten to fifteen seconds, then a pair of men rudely carried a door between the researcher and the student, separating them for about a second, the researcher was replaced with a different man. The new man had a different voice and height but most people didn't notice the replacement. Astounding.

This phenomena is called change blindness. Sometimes something that isn't the focus of conscious attention can be changed and we don't even notice.

People that recalled similar words to words actually on a list were certain that the words were there. Mlodinow wrote, "False memories feel no different than memories that are based in reality."

Uh-oh, in Scientology people are taught certainty is knowledge. But in truth certainty is not accuracy, not even close.

This is a particular problem for ex Scientologists that are used to always relying on certainty and put their memories front and center as irrefutable proof Scientology works. They recalled the things Hubbard said they would.

Mlodinow wrote, "As it turns out, planting false memories is not that hard...Memories of events that supposedly happened long ago are particularly easy to implant." (Page 75. Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow. )

Psychologists have found merely telling a person an event occurred can prompt the manufacturing of a memory to fit the suggestion. And then recall the memory but not the suggestion that prompted it.

This has been described as successful 15 to 50 percent of the time. A recent study was done on people that went to Disneyland. They were asked to think about a fake ad for the park with Bugs Bunny. It had suggestions regarding vivid imagery of Bugs and being with him using suggestive language like imagine, he got bigger the closer you got and so on.

About a quarter of the subjects recalled meeting Bugs and of those 62 percent remembered shaking his hand, 46 percent recalled hugging him.

Now Warner brothers owns Bugs Bunny and Disneyland owns Mickey Mouse and the two don't visit each other. But people can recall meeting Bugs Bunny when they never did - if provided the suggestion.

For Scientologists the hundreds of suggestions they're provided are certainly sometimes effective on some people at prompting false memories. In Scientology indoctrination and auditing hundreds of suggestions are given and repetitive questions certainly serve as suggestions in this context. And if those people stay in Scientology and agree that the suggestions are real as memories then to them it appears everyone has these memories, because the people that don't have these memories either leave or keep it to themselves.

Mlodinow wrote, "Conscious memory and perception accomplish their miracles with a heavy reliance on the unconscious."

Unfortunately, just as the unconscious is unseen by conscious mind its errors and efforts to manipulate the unconscious to guide or fool the conscious mind are also unseen and when successful unnoticed.

That's the horrifying vulnerability that makes groups like Scientology capable of deceiving people with false memories and similar techniques.

Our ignorance about the vulnerability of our minds is the deadly glaring weakness that leaves us gullible about our gullibility. We are sure our memories are so reliable when Scientology manipulates them we mistakenly take that as proof and see the matter as settled. We couldn't be more wrong.

I think I have given a good start for contrasting the evidence from psychology against the foundation of Scientology which Hubbard had taken from hypnosis. I could add information on the experience of being outside your body and dissociation regarding Scientology. But this is certainly a significant start.

I told you I was trouble

Suspended animation



Well, Mockingbird, what you say/cite about Hubbard and his technique for implanting hypnotic shit in a person's mind is quite right, he said it . . . .

But I have to tell ya, scrolling down that long, long, long page of line after line after line after line after line was enough to make me feel dull enough to accept what ever you said as truth.:)

Was that an intended real life example of the phenomena???:p