Why Anecdotes Are Not Proof of Anything. Especially not Scientology Auditing

How do you prove that something like Scientology auditing “works?” I’ve had many discussions with former Scientologists who say that their lives changed for the better because of Scientology auditing, and that I should not treat it with such contempt.

I believe the stories of people who have life-changing “wins” from auditing yet, at the same time, I remain resolute in saying that auditing is not proven to be useful.  How do you resolve the apparent paradox in my view?

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Evolution of Scientology Opposition, 1968-2018

Source: t52.org

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Anonymous’ epic protests at Scientology locations worldwide.  While headcount is hard to estimate precisely, the number of people who turned out, many in Guy Fawkes masks, was at the very least a significant fraction of cult membership globally, and may have actually exceeded the total membership of the cult, which we now estimate at around 22,000 globally. Numerous sources have covered the reasons for and the history of Anonymous’ protests far better than we could.

More importantly, the scale of Anonymous’ protests put the cult into a defensive posture from which it has never recovered. The idea that a large group could show up on Scientology’s doorstep without the cult’s OSA goon squad anticipating it and preventing it undoubtedly shook leader David Miscavige to the core. And the cult’s playbook for dealing with protestors was forever shattered.

In this post, we look at why Anonymous was such a landmark in the evolution of opposition to the cult, and we put it in the context of the evolution of cult opposition over the last 50 years. We connect the dots and take a stab at predicting the nature of cult opposition that may come next, particularly if existing opponents change strategic focus to make these next generations of opposition happen.

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Analytical Techniques: Don’t Overreact to Single Data Points

Last Thursday, the Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed piece by Scientology leader Miscavige’s consigliere, tax lawyer Monique (“Blinky”) Yingling.  In it, she rebuts a Times op-ed piece that ran back in November that made a case for revoking Scientology’s tax exemption.

We analyze this message — the content, the timing, the larger context of interest in the tax exemption, and we make an emotionally unsatisfying but intellectually honest decision in processing it. Continue reading “Analytical Techniques: Don’t Overreact to Single Data Points”

Back of the Envelope: How Much Might Scientology Spend on Winter Olympics Ads?

Earlier today, Tony Ortega posted an article about Scientology’s plans to air advertising in the Tampa market during the 2018 Winter Olympics.  We do a quick back-of-the-envelope estimate of the amount that Scientology will spend and the size of the Scientologist audience that cult leader David Miscavige hopes to impress. Spoiler: unsurprisingly, it’s a costly boondoggle.

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Scientology’s Empty Boycott Threats

A few months ago, Scientology “targeted” a few national advertisers whose ads appeared on Leah Remini’s hit A&E show “Scientology and the Aftermath,” implying a boycott might be lurking.  Earlier in 2017, Scientology announced a boycott of Clearwater businesses to show their economic impact on the city after losing the land deal they wanted.

What kind of pressure could Scientology bring to bear on an advertiser, to bend them to its will?  How rapidly can their ire affect a big company and show Corporate America who’s boss?  We analyze the effectiveness of consumer boycotts in general and Scientology’s whine-fest in particular.

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Are There Enough Scientologists in Clearwater to Take Over the City Council?

The city government of Clearwater, Florida, home of Scientology’s main global campus, voted in April 2016 to buy land from the Clearwater Aquarium, thwarting Scientology’s offer to acquire the property for substantially more than the city paid.  More recently, Pastor Willie Rice of Calvary Baptist Church, the city’s oldest church, has gone into attack mode, rallying his congregation and trying to rally other pastors to oppose Scientology openly.  Why is the power structure in Clearwater now opposing Scientology so openly?

We believe the city council and others now understand that Scientology is a paper tiger that can’t affect the outcome of elections, the political currency that matters most. They can only lobby ineffectually and skulk around and attempt to harass after the fact, a modus operandi that is increasingly often exposed, and which thus backfires on the cult.

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The Irony Goes to 11: Steely Dan Founder to Guest on New Spinal Tap Album

Today, it was announced that Spinal Tap’s bassist Derek Smalls will be releasing a new solo album on April 13.  It’ll be called “Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing).”



Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) in concert in 2009


The mind-blowing news, from my view, is the presence of Donald Fagen, co-founder of Steely Dan, on one of the songs.  Continue reading “The Irony Goes to 11: Steely Dan Founder to Guest on New Spinal Tap Album”

Will Scientology Media Productions Ever Start Broadcasting?

Recently, tawdry fame whore/Scientologist Joy Villa announced that her strategy for gaining fame involved waiting for Scientology’s new media arm to begin broadcasting, as she expected it to become a bigger media platform than Fox News, thus boosting her career stratospherically.

Scientology spent millions to acquire the historic five-acre KCET Studios  in Hollywood in April 2011, then spent five years and untold millions more to refurbish it into Scientology Media Productions (SMP).  Scientology leader David Miscavige held a grand opening event in June 2016 (press release on Scientology web site here) and promised that broadcasting would begin by the “summer solstice 2017.”  Seven months after that deadline, the radio silence continues.

We look at the strategy driving the creation of SMP and assess whether Scientology will ever begin broadcasting to the “wog” (their derogatory term for non-Scientologists) world and how they might justify their lack of action to their membership and those donors who gave to open the facility.

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Hey Rocky! Watch Me Open a Scientology Mission in Košice, Slovakia!

I explore the reasons why Scientology opened a “mission” in Košice, the second-largest city in Slovkia, a small central European country, and what it might mean for the lucky Scientologist who paid so handsomely for the privilege of operating it. In this note, we estimate how many potential recruits there might be in Košice, how much money the cult makes, and what the strategic thinking might have been behind this decision. The reasons they did this are not what you might think.

On January 3, 2018, Mike Rinder published a blog post detailing some of the data points showing the contraction of Scientology around the world.  One of the more interesting data points was the announcement of an “Ideal Mission” in Košice, the second-largest city in Slovakia.  Slovakia is half of the former Czechoslovakia, a country that underwent a peaceful “Velvet Divorce” at the end of 1992.

We estimate the potential number of Scientologists that the Košice mission might serve and the money that the cult might generate from those customers, and then we come to a surprising conclusion about whether this was a good decision or not.

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A Numbers Dive: Scientology’s Brag About Visitors to Information Center Falls Flat

We dissect a press release from Scientology trumpeting the foot traffic at the Scientology Information Center at its Clearwater headquarters, putting the breathless stats against the backdrop of the tourist stats for Pinellas County.

Yesterday, Scientology published a press release trumpeting the visitor traffic they’ve received to the Scientology Information Center, a place that is supposed to help present the wonders of Scientology to the teeming public hungry to learn about the “world’s fastest growing religion.”  I’ve copied the press release below, and will dissect it to see how epic the numbers really are.

This is one of my “Global Capitalism HQ” dives into the numbers, which often yield some revealing perspective. If you’re curious about how to do quantitative research for decision-making, you might find the thought process, particularly about how to find sources quickly on the internet and to assess them for credibility, to be worth tracking.   Continue reading “A Numbers Dive: Scientology’s Brag About Visitors to Information Center Falls Flat”