Nxivm’s Super Kids Program vs. Scientology Applied Scholastics

Two weeks ago, we wrote about the similarities between Scientology and its founder and the group Nxivm, whose founder, Keith Raniere, had been arrested in Mexico and extradited to the US on charges of running a bizarre sex slavery ring, where the women in the group were branded in their lower abdomen with Raniere’s initials.

Today, we follow up with another comparison, this time, focusing on the similarities between Nxivm’s “Rainbow Cultural Garden” program, designed to teach kids seven different languages at the same time and the Scientology “study tech” program pushed into often unwitting schools by its Applied Scholastics front group.

We look at how the similarities may portend a common feature of well-established personal development cults, pressured to come up with ever greater “super powers,” and ways to create second-generation members.  Continue reading “Nxivm’s Super Kids Program vs. Scientology Applied Scholastics”

Hubbard’s 1960’s Bizarre Vision for the Global Economy

In 1964, the Church of Scientology published a small document authored by L. Ron Hubbard called “Scientology Plan for World Peace,” which set forth a vision of a “one world government” headed by the UN, with all decision-making to be handled by diplomats and bureaucrats resident in a giant “International City” to be built in North Africa.  This document was only circulated for a few years, perhaps only until the early 1970s, when it apparently was allowed to fade quietly from sight.  While it’s been available on the web for a while, it hasn’t been the subject of much scrutiny.

We’ll give a general overview of the proposed structure of Hubbard’s world government but we’ll focus on the economic prescriptions Hubbard throws out to solve all the world’s ills.  Unsurprisingly, they’re the usual Hubbard stew of naively simplistic ideas presented with unwavering confidence in their brilliance.

The biggest conundrum is why Hubbard would propose something under his own name that’s so far left on the surface.  Hubbard’s political views, especially in the 1960s, were so rabidly anti-communist that they could have been lifted wholesale from the propaganda of the John Birch Society.  We take a guess at Hubbard’s real motivation.  In particular, the bland assurance in the introduction that “the following programme has no other purpose or interest than attaining these ends” is highly suspect.  Continue reading “Hubbard’s 1960’s Bizarre Vision for the Global Economy”

Opening an Inquiry: Do Cults Always Abuse Women?

News over the last week or so on the cult front has featured multiple cults who seem to focus on sexual abuse of women members.  We wrote extensively a week ago about the arrest of Keith Raniere, founder of Albany, New York-based Nxivm (pronounced “Nexium”).  The indictment alleges that Raniere headed a secret “master/slave” group where the all-female membership were branded with his initials in their pubic region.  Be Scofield, a journalist specializing in new-generation Internet gurus, recently published an article on yet another abusive group.  Scofield looks at the followers of Padma Aon Prakasha, who leads various workshops in the US; 15 women and 2 men have accused Prakasha of physical and emotional abuse and other things.  And the well-received Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country about the 1980s Rajneeshee cult in Oregon recounts stories of physical abuse aimed at women.

We are writing to start a discussion about treatment of women in cults, including in Scientology.  For those of you who are ex’s, we would be interested in understanding what happened to you, for both former staff/Sea Org and for rank-and-file members.  And we’re particularly interested in whether high-control groups always end up committing abuse of women (and, probably equally of children).  What general inferences can we draw and what can we do about it? Continue reading “Opening an Inquiry: Do Cults Always Abuse Women?”

NXIVM Cult Leader Arrested: Parallels with Scientology?

Earlier this week, Keith Raniere, the leader of Nexium (pronounced “Nexium”), a cultic group headquartered in Albany, New York, was arrested in Mexico after fleeing the US and swiftly extradited back to the US for trial. He’s accused of sex trafficking in conjunction with a secret “sorority” made up of Nxivm members who agreed to function as slaves for him, and who were branded in their pelvic region with his initials. There are other investigations pending that may result in further charges.

Though Nxivm never achieved the success of Scientology in its 20-year history, there are some interesting parallels between Nxivm’s modus operandi and Scientology’s as well as some parallels between Keith Raniere and L. Ron Hubbard’s claims about themselves. We look at some of these parallels and try to determine whether there’s any way to use the accelerating collapse of Nxivm to predict the endgame for Scientology, particularly in seeing how activists can target their efforts to hasten its demise. Continue reading “NXIVM Cult Leader Arrested: Parallels with Scientology?”

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?”

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”

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”

A Deeper Look at the Upcoming Ideal Org in Orlando

In an article published on Saturday, Tony Ortega reported that Scientology is pushing to open the new Ideal Org in Orlando soon.  I decided to take a look at the numbers behind the building and behind Scientology in Orlando. This Ideal Org is doomed to failure because of the small number of members in Orlando and the location of the facility, even further off the beaten path than most new Scientology buildings.

Once we’ve gotten a handle on the numbers, we’ll look at whether this particular Ideal Org might herald a change in the Ideal Org strategy.   Continue reading “A Deeper Look at the Upcoming Ideal Org in Orlando”

Indirect Proof Auditing Doesn’t Work: The Failure of Independent Scientology

Another reason Scientology auditing doesn’t work: if it worked, there would be tons of “independent Scientology” groups, practicing the “tech” outside of the evil cult. But they’re nowhere to be found. Auditing is thus less valuable to ex-Scientologists than many think. Those leaving today want to distance themselves from all of what they experienced in Scientology, even the allegedly good parts.

I recently posted an article showing why success stories are not sufficient to prove that Scientology auditing actually works, even though there are many people who claim to have received life-changing “wins” while using this technique.   That’s because of the nature of establishing the statistical validity of a hypothesis.  The essence of the argument is that “the plural of anecdotes is not data.”

But here’s another reason that we can be fairly confident that auditing is a relatively ineffective tool for fueling personal growth: “independent Scientology,” the practice of L. Ron Hubbard’s “tech,” should be a much bigger movement than it actually is.

Continue reading “Indirect Proof Auditing Doesn’t Work: The Failure of Independent Scientology”

Spotlight on “The Big List:” The Master List of Ex-COS Members Speaking Out

This contribution by Dutch Anon Trevor Horn, who posts in various forums as TrevAnon,reveals a different side of Anonymous, one where a committed team laboriously puts together a database over the course of a decade to help show the degree of abuses that Scientology has committed.  They are aiming to compile the definitive list of all former members of the Church of Scientology who have spoken out publicly against the organization’s abuses.  

This is a far different side of Anonymous than the one most of us recognize – the protesters outside Scientology facililties with clever signs, a determined but fun attitude, and lots of caek.  But the committed activists laboring on these projects are making an ongoing difference, long after most Anons have hung up their masks. 

The “Big List” project is important but is underappreciated and understaffed.  In this post, Trevor will talk about what it does, why it matters, and how people interested can help, with a one-time perusal of the list to spot any easy additions, to becoming a project member.

Continue reading “Spotlight on “The Big List:” The Master List of Ex-COS Members Speaking Out”