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?”