Sussing Out Scientology - Part 3
Final part of our check on the Scientology Centre in Firhouse. After taking the bolloxology personality technique, we get the suss on the sales techniques used by this "religion".(this is not a work of fiction. All events described occurred. All words written were spoken. Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series for context.)
Laszlo continued trying to wreck my head, as he explained how emotionally fucked up I was. I continued feeding him nonsense. He mentioned the temptations of drugs, and I let slip I may have once taken a few cannabis. Laszlo was amusingly confused by this statement.
Once I explained what cannabis meant, he made sure to mention that “marijuana” is really “bad” and “dangerous” and “irresponsible”. Maybe if I called it AstroTurf, one of the street-names given for cannabis in the Scientology drug propaganda, he might better understand?
At this stage, Laszlo had made it clear to me how pathetic and unstable I was. Remember that he was making these claims based off what he described as a scientific analysis of my personality. If I was actually in a vulnerable place, its easy to see his words could have had a serious effect on me. If I didn’t know anything about Scientology and I didn’t know anything about science, and if I felt down due to problems in my life, I could have been dangerously open to his suggestions. I could have listened to him, believed him, and found myself faced with cold, harsh truths about my mental healt-
Laszlo interrupted my train of thought.
“Scientology can help you,”, he said.
It was time for..
“I want you to see what’s happening in your life. That’s why we do this test. I’m not gonna guess about you, or anybody else, right? We want you to see what’s happening in your life. You are 23 years old, what gonna happen, this gonna get better by itself?”
“Who knows man? Maybe not, no...”, I said.
“Cause usually it gets worse, every condition, unless you care something to do about it.”
“I see what you’re saying, yeah. I want to do something about it.”
“You wanna take action, is that what you’re saying?”
“I am man, yeah. Always up for taking action, sure,” I said. Little did Laszlo know what kind of action I had in mind.
“That’s really commendable. People can do a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of stuff out there. People coming to us more often because we have solutions, more often simple understandable solutions. I would recommend you talk to this lady who is coming, we have courses often. You could try a really good course which is called Overco... Overcoming Ups and Downs. It’s really cheap, its €75.”
Laszlo struggled to spit out this final phrase. I could only make out the price and I had to ask him to repeat the name of the course. It was as though he was speaking against his own will, and maybe he was. Maybe he knew he was lying to me. Maybe there was a shred of humanity behind the grey wells of sadness he had for eyes. I hope so.
I allowed myself to be guided into the adjacent room, where I was introduced to a more positive lady named Gabriela. From this point onwards, Gabriela tried to extort money from me. She reminded a few times I must be upset, but also that the courses are very good and they helped her a lot. She kept on trying to sell me self-help courses, kept on attempting to convince me to come back tomorrow, kept on trying to convince me to hand over money. At one point, she literally asked me for a fiver.
Gabriela was pressuring me to sign up for a class, any class, and to fork out the cash right there and then. I had to make up several excuses for why I wasn’t free to attend their evening classes or show up to their weekend movie screening. Their movie of choice was science-fiction hit Guardians of the Galaxy. No mess.
This intense sales pitch eventually bored me and I could see the fun was over, so I made moves to scarper. Gabriela looked disappointed, but ensured she had my fake contact details to get in touch over the weekend. Cathal bid his goodbye, and out I strolled with the entire conversation recorded. Action is being taken, Laszlo.
What happened to me in Firhouse is wrong on many levels. The Church of Scientology are attempting to leech money from the Irish people. They tried to convince me I was mentally ill, then tried to convince me that giving them money would solve that dire problem. Their propaganda is atrociously produced. Their internal décor is mind-numbingly bland. Most importantly: it is immoral and dangerous to twist science in order to manipulate the mental health of unsuspecting members of the public in the pursuit of profit.
People trust the scientific method. It has given us fingertip access to vast stores of knowledge. Thanks to science, humans have walked on the moon. We know the Earth is round, we cured smallpox. We understand we live in a 4-dimensional spacetime Universe. These facts are astonishing and awe-inspiring, and science has brought us all of them.
To be scientific, you need hypotheses (ideas), data (experimental results), and theories (sturdy ideas based on evidence). Scientology does not follow the scientific method. Scientology is entirely unscientific.
Maybe my answers in the test messed up the results. Maybe my responses to Lazslo’s questions led him to believe I needed help. That does not excuse his behaviour, the kind of tactical manipulation of the mind I felt was performed on me. I saw no evidence in Firhouse these people were acting honestly or truly compassionately.
Looking at Scientology through the lens of science, I can’t help but think these fake bloodsuckers are trying to fraudulently claim this powerful authority, and even worse, they are using it to prey on vulnerable individuals. Messing with the human psyche in their pursuit of profit. In my opinion, this is a scandal.
Mental health is our outlook on the world, it is our safe haven, and it is not for sale.
In Ireland, we know a lot of people are struggling with their mental health, with anxiety or depression, or just a general sense of fear in an uncertain world. We know they need support, a friend to talk to, and well-funded trustworthy professional services. Pieta House is an example of an organisation doing such vital work.
In Ireland, we also know a lot about science and we can spot a scam when we see one. This sham they call Scientology is none of the former and all of the latter.
Stay frosty, a chairde.
And don’t go looking for Cathal O’Doherty.