I think data hounds should pay close attention to the story on Mike Rinder’s blog about the Haifa org, which broke away from the cult en masse last year. There are abundant stats on how well the org is doing. I show below how these credible stats can be used to bracket estimates for the size of the cult worldwide, so this is a pretty significant discovery.
Tony’s blog post today featured a story about a relatively bizarre filing in the Luis Garcia case. Apparently, the cult is trying to get one of the plaintiff’s declarations thrown out because it is alleging facts that are inconsistent with the complaint. What makes this absolutely surreal is that the facts mentioned in the declaration are the ones that Scientology has alleged. So in other words, essentially, the cult of saying that Luis Garcia’s declaration is invalid because it repeats the church’s statements, which are true when the church says them but lies when Garcia repeats them.
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
One of the most personally relevant comments on Tony’s blog came from Bury_The_Nuts, who remembered something I wrote a long time ago and applied it in a confrontation with cult goons at Flag one night… Her story about using “Capitalist Tech” to mess with the heads of the guards and get them to understand that “the tech” doesn’t work made my day.
Tony Ortega’s Blog
The cult filed a rather odd motion in the Luis Garcia case, attempting to strike a declaration by Luis Garcia himself, claiming that the facts in the declaration did not match the facts in the original complaint. Of course, the cult is rather conveniently forgetting that the declaration is repeating what the cult alleged were the facts. In other words, it is getting a little surreal in here. I would have to believe that Ted Babbitt, the Garcia’s attorney, could not believe his eyes when he read the motion.
Scott Pilutik cleverly and vividly explains the absurdity of this filing in his comment.
Marc Headley wrote an eloquent letter to Mayor of Clearwater giving a great summary of how David Miscavage treats everyone, including the city. He is advising the mayor to toughen up and deal with this hemorrhoid on the body politic. I am not sure if this will have much effect, but it is certainly a great read.
In the interest of brevity, click here to see my detailed comment taking apart the craziness in the Sunday Funnies.
My take: as I frequently point out, I am not a lawyer, so I do not see this legal battle through a lens that looks anything like the way a lawyer would see. I tend to see these things, surprisingly enough, as plays that explore good versus evil. Some of my thinking is informed by literary criticism and literary theory, and some by my skills in handicapping political campaigns and strategies.
That said, it sure feels to me like the tenor of this case has changed, and the momentum is back The motion to dismiss filed by the cult on grounds of “diversity jurisdiction” certainly had the feel of an elegantly laid trap that, if successful, would make it significantly harder for the Garcia’s to prevail (even if it did not make it any more difficult, it certainly would make it more expensive). While Ted Babbitt prepared what felt like a competent enough response, it was a bit less confident in tone and some of the prior paperwork filed in the case.
But now, it appears that the cult is back to its usual program of bizarre legal machinations that swing for the fences but they come nowhere near actually hitting the ball. This latest tactic sounds even more ill-advised than the motion to disqualify counsel, which the cult soundly lost. It seems to me that if David Miscavage had a little more restraint, he would probably have a better chance on prevailing with the diversity jurisdiction motion. But the fact that he is driving his attorneys to file these obviously dilatory motions has a great chance of waving a big red flag in front of the judge. The judge will smell bogus legal tactics, and it would seem reasonable to guess that he will be very sympathetic to the Garcia’s attempts to conduct extensive discovery on the reality of the trusts that are at the heart of the motion to dismiss on diversity jurisdiction grounds.
In other words, by trying to win every battle, and by trying to start other battles in relevant locations, it is entirely possible that Miscavage will turn a potential victory into a far more likely defeat.
- Anonymous points out that the whole Sunday Service thing, which Artie Maren’s trip to “preach” in Georgia, may be a renewed emphasis on “religious cloaking” to try and deflect some heat. I would ask that people be aware of this possibility, and look for any notices of similar events at other orgs to try and determine whether this is a trend. That enables us to try to figure out what “flap” caused Miscavige to stir this pot, which has been relatively quiet for a long time.
- Miss Tia tweeted director Ron Howard and other relevant players to make them aware of the copyright violation for the movie “Rush” with all the footage incorporated in the Silicon Valley org promo video. Apparently, though they were pretty good about copyright violations for a month or two, they’re back to stealing stuff left and right. It appears they just can’t help themselves.
- “Jo” discovered a cartoon that implies that the use of free stress tests to recruit new members may be alive and well outside of Scientology.
- Beloved witty commenter “The Next Mrs. Tom Cruise” resurfaced after some months under the name “Sciloonfairy” after fixing long-time Disqus security problems.
- TheCommodeDoor makes a nice catch of a 1980 paper published in the journal “Sociological Analysis” on the “superhuman” aspects of Clear. It makes the point that Clear is a social status marker in the cult rather than something people believe gives them actual super powers.
- Observer discovers a picture that hasn’t been shooped, and is disgusted by what she sees in the background behind Hubbard. This is why.
- Michael Leonard Tilse points out that vacillation on the part of the City of Clearwater may be a function of covert Scientologists still on the City payroll, long after many of us may have thought that the cult would have lost interest in such things.
- Cat Daddy goes off-topic with a major find, a gloating video from a Volunteer Minister who took a bunch of water bottles stacked against the wall outside a makeshift X-ray clinic and handed them out. Too bad the bottles were there as improvised radiation shielding to protect personnel and people waiting to get treated. Oh, wait, who was it that said radiation was an engram or something ludicrous?
Mike Rinder’s Blog
Mike’s blog post for today does a nice follow-up of the Haifa mission in Israel, which broke off as a group (staff and customers) a year ago, in a move that is unprecedented in the recent decades of Scientology. There are some interesting data points that come out: Haifa, a metro area of 700,000, and the educational capital of Israel, has about 50 active Scientologists. That’s probably due to extraordinary hustle on the part of the Lembergers, the mission holder couple. That gives us a likely number of church adherent Scientologists in the country as a whole of perhaps 200, given likely lack of hustle from the Tel Aviv org.
It also gives a lower bound of staff per member, since the article shows the 5 staffers serving the 50 customers or a ratio of 1:10. I have estimated previously that there are about 5,000 staff worldwide out of 25,000 members, a very inefficient organization indeed. A software company typically does about $1.5 billion in revenue with 5,000 employees, almost an order of magnitude more than the cult… Thus, this article suggests I’m reasonably correct on the relative ratio of staff to public in the cult. That means we can focus on trying to model overall cult membership, and estimate the staff top-down from the overall member total, then we can cross-check that with built-up estimates of the staff of various key headquarters organizations.
Marty Rathbun’s Blog
Marty’s back after a long-ish absence, with a post about his plans to publish more books next year. He plans to help people move beyond Scientology, with the first part focusing on how to get some critical thinking skills back so one is no longer a blind adherent to the cult. He’ll then think about what’s wrong with the OT levels from the standpoint of someone who’s done them. He decries the “shallow debunking of Hubbard and his theories.” While that may well be a nod to never-in’s trying to point out the absurdity of the OT process, the insult doesn’t matter. What is interesting here is that he may be trying to use Scientology to cause Scientology to implode. We shall see what happens as these books come to fruition.
WWP, ESMB, OCMB
Thanks again to Aeger Primo for keeping an eagle eye on the forums today! Vistaril also made a great catch revealing a particularly pernicious trick for dealing with protesters.
- Here’s a link to ESMB’s thread discussing the South Africa situation after the recent “massacre” of 50-year members that were at the top of the heap in that country.
- Here’s an important discussion on both WWP and ESMB of security for people posting videos to YouTube and posting content to other Google properties. The fact that Google is trying to get you to use Google+ (their sort-of Facebook clone) can result in some security leakage potentially including revealing one’s name used in sending e-mails. When some of us created the “Rodeo” on Google Groups as a temporary home for the commenter community when Tony left the Village Voice but before he launched his own site, we discovered this. I emphasize that I don’t think one needs to panic, but just to be aware of the situation and take steps if you post content to the properties referenced. This does not create security risk on non-Google sites, such as Tony’s blog, mine, or anything else that uses Disqus, for example.
- From the “Maggots gotta mag” department: the Philippines were devastated recently by the strongest typhoon ever recorded, and desperately needs help. ESMB anticipates that the American Red Cross may soon be joined by the “Cockroach Brigade” as Scientology’s Volunteer Ministers fly in to get in the way for a major fundraising photo op, and to waste time with fingers ready to do touch assists and hand out “International Disaster Response” booklets. I continue to find it amazing that they are handing out booklets to people languishing in the rubble of their former homes that contain the precept “Live a prosperous life.” See the video Cat Daddy uncovered to amp up your outrage quotient over Volunteer Ministers if you just think they’re hapless dupes. Their stupidity kills.
- WWP discusses the project to flag Co$ ads on Craigslist as spam. They’re working to coordinate efforts even more effectively.
- Vistaril caught an interesting story about how a cultie got arrested for throwing water on two protesters. The discussion on WWP raised the interesting point that this may have been done so the cult could get the identity of the Anons that would have to be revealed as part of making a police complaint, implying that the stunt was essentially arranged entirely for the purpose. Apparently, one of the Anons was comfortable doing this, and that was sufficient to make the arrest. The good news: they’re desperate enough to unmask Anons that someone would risk an arrest that will show up on a background check if they ever leave the cult. The bad news: this may actually work. The worse news, if you’re in the cult: David Miscavige treats your future employment prospects with about the same care and concern as the average Al Qaeda lieutenant recruiting suicide bombers.