Request for Your Thoughts: Link Between Scientology and Conspiracy Theory Thinking?

This post is a request for help.  I’m trying to understand the link, if any, between Scientology and conspiracy theory thinking.  I was struck by how well-known old guard critic Arnie Lerma, who recently attacked his wife and then killed himself, had degenerated into the conspiracy mindset.  The story is more complex, involving significant medical challenges that affected his mental health, which may have been primarily responsible for his increasing paranoia.  (Lerma’s tragic saga merely sparked my interest in the general mechanism; I’m not trying to understand the particulars of his journey or to diagnose him retroactively.)  The news about Lerma’s death came only a day after another post from Tony Ortega about Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s “SMERSH” conspiracy, a ludicrous tale of opposition to Scientology, and the juxtaposition led me to start thinking about the connection.

I’ve heard stories about other former Scientologists who have similarly crossed into the conspiracist world.  I’m trying to understand the relationship between Scientology and conspiracy theory obsession, and I can’t get it right without a lot of different perspectives.  I’ll set out my thinking so far, which is indeed incomplete, and then set out particular questions I’m struggling with.  I welcome the thoughts of ex-Scientologists, never-ins and people who are familiar with the mindset of conspiracy theorists.  Thanks in advance for helping me (and hopefully, the reader base) understand the conspiracy mindset and how it relates to Scientology.   Continue reading “Request for Your Thoughts: Link Between Scientology and Conspiracy Theory Thinking?”

The Responsibilities of Leaders, Part II: Power, Mary Sue, and Where’s Shelly?

In last week’s post, I provided an overview of The Responsibilities of Leaders, one of Hubbard’s more iconic writings, along with some observations from former Scientologists Brian Lambert and Jefferson Hawkins on the importance of this policy in understanding Scientology’s zeitgeist. Both gentlemen frame their observations of this policy as being perhaps a sort of “command legacy” from Hubbard to David Miscavige given that it’s Miscavige’s favorite LRH essay, which he uses to illustrate what he literally expects from his subordinates in terms of loyalty, ruthlessness, and Keeping Scientology Working. This week I begin by contrasting Hubbard’s power-as-leadership model against more traditional concepts of leadership, and then examine the connection between Mary Sue Hubbard and The Four Seasons of Manuela, and lastly, how The Responsibilities of Leaders may account for David Miscavige’s behavior and its subsequent impact on his relationship with wife Shelly Miscavige. Continue reading “The Responsibilities of Leaders, Part II: Power, Mary Sue, and Where’s Shelly?”

Another Angle on the Strategy Behind Scientology TV

Earlier this week, Scientology TV began broadcasting on the DirecTV network.  Tony Ortega’s story the day before the launch, explaining the apps and channels involved is here, and Tony’s review of the first slug of programming the day after the premiere is here.

Here, we’ll look at the strategic imperative driving Scientology leader David Miscavige to begin to broadcast to generally accessible public, which we think is a case of doing the best job he can in playing a terrible hand.  We suspect that some percentage of top donors are starting to wonder about the efficacy of the expensive Ideal Org strategy.  In particular, they might be starting to wonder why there are so few new members in these opulent facilities, which was the justification for building them in the first place.

We predicted a few months ago that Scientology Media Productions would not begin broadcasting anytime soon, because of the potential for blowback and further tarnishing of the already toxic Scientology brand.  We still believe all the reasons we cited in that post arguing against broadcast operations are still valid, and we now look at why Scientology management might have felt it necessary to go forward with a broadcast plan even though it will likely backfire.  Continue reading “Another Angle on the Strategy Behind Scientology TV”

Reappraising Hubbard’s “The Responsibilities of Leaders”

Certain Scientology policies written by L. Ron Hubbard have assumed almost mythic proportions. Keeping Scientology Working is perhaps the penultimate example but there have been others. These policies provide an inside look at the mind of Hubbard and are very helpful for those seeking an understanding of his motivations and thought processes. To some extent, these policies also illustrate not only Scientology’s group-think on expanding their reach, but also how Hubbard expected Scientologists themselves to think and act. Continue reading “Reappraising Hubbard’s “The Responsibilities of Leaders””

Hubbard Cozies up to Ronald Reagan With Sage Economic Advice

Recently, Chris Shelton located a previously unknown letter from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to Ronald Reagan, who had been elected to President a few weeks earlier.  The letter offers Reagan laughably bad advice on how to fix the US economy, which at the time of the vote in late 1980, had been wracked with soaring inflation and even higher interest rates for over a decade.

According to Chris, the letter was circulated among Sea Org members in the late 1980s as part of efforts to keep key people in the organization motivated to keep up the war against the IRS.  So this letter was clearly intended for internal consumption, to burnish Hubbard’s reputation for brilliance, and to support the IRS campaign.

Dr. Jeff Wasel and John P. appeared as a guest on Chris Shelton’s podcast discussing the letter (also published today) and we’re presenting our analysis of the letter here.  We’re writing after the podcast was recorded so our commentary here contains analysis and discussion that doesn’t appear in the podcast.   Continue reading “Hubbard Cozies up to Ronald Reagan With Sage Economic Advice”

The Data Series as Revisionist History

A part of another project we’re working on here at, I’ve been taking a dive into one of the more esoteric bits of Scientology “tech”: the “Data Series” in the Management Series, Volume 1.  Volume One also contains the Organizing Series and the Personnel Series. The Management Series or “Green Volumes” are an extensive set of works that cover every permutation within the organizational domain of Scientology management.

Written over several years starting in 1970, the Data Series is defined as “a series of policy letters written by L. Ron Hubbard which deal with logic, illogic, proper evaluation of data and how to detect and handle the causes of good and bad situations within groups and organizations.” Hubbard felt that Scientology management was failing in certain areas of understanding and leadership, and in writing the Data Series, he created a highly prescriptive set of policies, procedures and instructions in dealing with every conceivable challenge those in management might face on a daily basis. Starting with “The Anatomy of Thought” (HCO PL 26 April 1970R), Hubbard pontificates on “Logic,” “Breakthroughs,” “Data and Situational Analyzing’” and “Information Collection” among other topics, all in his uniquely bloviating and paradoxical fashion. However, what struck me most while reading through this “guidance,” was not only his convoluted, typically tortured syntax, but more so, the abundance of nonsensical historical analogies and examples he alludes to throughout as a means of “illustrating” his points.  Continue reading “The Data Series as Revisionist History”

Hana Whitfield Writes About the Sinister “Particle Speed Flow Officer”

In a recent conversation with Hana Whitfield, former captain of the Apollo and the Avon River, as well as a senior executive who reported directly to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, I broached the subject of the most absurd job title I’d ever seen. In Scientology, the person who pushes the mail cart around emptying everyone’s OUT box and refilling the IN box with more mind-numbing paperwork, is called the “Particle Speed Flow Officer.” I figured this was just another comical example of Hubbard’s pomposity of trying to make everything vastly more important than it was.  But Hana pointed out that she was actually the first “Particle Speed Flow Officer” in the history of Scientology, and she reveals here that there’s a sinister side to this.  

There’s a valuable object lesson in the story: that there’s almost always a sinister side to Scientology, even in small-scale things that initially seem to have only comic relief value.   Continue reading “Hana Whitfield Writes About the Sinister “Particle Speed Flow Officer””