Sussing Out Scientology - Part 1
Three Part Series in Which Fac Sent One of the Lads to Suss Out What Scientology Actually Is!
(*this is not a work of fiction. All events described occurred. All words written were spoken.)
In the foothills of Tallaght, just off the Firhouse road, a community centre lies. It has a spacious atrium, filled with natural light. The centre has meeting rooms and a café, and what they call “state-of-the-art audiovisual technology”. Their website boasts it can host events for up to 1000 people, and they even have a GAA pitch. All the facilities are available for use by community groups and charitable organisations. So far, grand.
Except there’s one little problem: This community centre is run by The Church of Scientology.
The Scientific Method
Let me set the record straight. Scientology has sweet fuck all to do with science. In the world of genuine science, the scientific method is employed. This means we follow these straightforward steps:
- Suggest an idea.
- Perform experiments to see if the idea matches reality.
- If reality disagrees with the idea, then throw it out.
- If reality agrees, then keep the idea, and add it to the rest of the experimentally proven ideas.
- If reality ever disagrees with the idea when another experiment is done, then throw out the idea, even if the scientists really, really like the idea.
The key point is our idea must be consistent with reality any time we check. So, if we carry out the same experiment as before at a different time, and the results don’t match the idea, we go back to the blackboard. Despite conveniently sharing six letters, Scientology certainly doesn’t follow the scientific method. As we will see, Scientology is entirely unscientific.
Returning to my tale, a mate of mine recently sent me a link revealing The Church of Scientology had opened up a centre close to home. To be honest, I had preconceived notions about Scientology. Most people have heard the stories, sure it’s hard not to when Tom Cruise is essentially their messiah. It can’t have helped their image when he went nuts on Oprah over his new bride Katie Holmes.
I’d seen some of Louis Theroux’s work about their organisation too. I knew these were dodgy feckers. Nevertheless, I decided I wanted to see for myself how they behaved up in Firhouse. Who knows what I’d find? Maybe the Scientologists are really a sound bunch, thoughtfully combining religion and science and fully committed to improving lives and society...
The 49 bus from Rathmines floated me up to the hills on my quest to suss these out. I arrived in Firhouse and spotted the centre, lurking behind a dark fence. I took a stroll down the smooth tarmac drive, past the pleasant water features and the GAA pitch, through the automatic sliding doors and into The Church of Scientology, Dublin. Immediately, I was approached by a man attired in a strange naval officer style suit, who introduced himself as Devonté. He offered his hand and I shook it. Then he asked me to fill in a small form.
Fake name: Cathal O’Doherty.
Fake address: 706 North BallycullenDrive
(a street literally around the corner from the building which definitely doesn’t have a number 706).
I was open-minded, but I wasn’t stupid. Scientologists aren’t above some casual harassment to scare away their critics, and I wasn’t planning on getting caught out for my investigations.
My host Devonté then guided me, with the actions of a man who has done this many times before, to the first piece of “state-of-the-art audiovisual technology”. Turned out to be a flat screen tv with some buttons, like the Playstation controllers in GameStop when the new FIFA comes out. A dull fairy tale describing L. Ron Hubbard, their precious Founder, played on the screen. It claimed L. Ron Hubbard to be a straight up hero, an explorer, an adventurer!
Seriously, this chap?
I have my doubts.
I looked around. Devonté had vanished. I moved on, more propaganda in store.
While I wandered around their surreal temple, my senses taking in their carefully tailored imagery and their precisely sculpted wording, I noticed everything was phrased in self-help style language. Empty vague statements adorned the walls, like
“What is true is what is true for you” and “Life is in you today and you make your own tomorrow”
All well and good, but it’s easy to say nice things about deciding your own future. What I wanted to know is: what’s the method that achieves this?
I reached another video, describing The Way of Happiness, which they sell as a pathway to an imaginary land of pleasure. It seemed to me like that false kind of Hollywood Happiness, where if you only follow these simple steps (and pay for the full DVD), you will reach a place of peace and serenity. I started to think this was more bolloxology than Scientology. I then detected a desk in my peripheral vision. A sign on its cheap wooden top said:
Free Personality Test
Intriguing. I’d heard whispers of this in the past. I knew it was one of their recruitment tools, but I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked. I wondered what fuckery was afoot, and made intentions to investigate.
Stepping onwards and into the unknown, I found yet another piece of audiovisual technology. An ad for The Purification Program began to play. This is their guide to freeing oneself from the plague of drug abuse, and this new video was dumping it on me. No Marijuana*, No Caffeine, No Alcohol. The video didn’t explain how the program works. Instead, all I got were some vague ideas about detoxification and some generic anit-drug propaganda, claiming all drugs are equally horrific and so is everyone who takes them.
*(by the way, this is a Mexican slang term which originated in a racist 1930s US government campaign to smear Cannabis)
I made the mistake of feeling slightly hopeful when I spotted the next video offered the results of this program. When I see the word results, I think of analysed data. Graphs, statistics, errors, conclusions. Not so in this case. What qualified as results was seven short videos, all parroting the same sad trick; a relentlessly grinning person giving a version of this quote:
“Before The Purifcation Program™, I didn’t even know what happiness was. Now, I’m happy, all the time!”
For Scientologists, results aren’t legitimate. They think some waffler acting on a tv screen counts as results. No data, no graphs, no statistics, no evidence. Not science, just Scientology™. A trademarked brand, focussed on profit over fact, trying to sell us their products.
I rose in fury, ready to rip into the next ridiculous commercial, just as my old pal Devonté appeared from around the corner.
Part 2 coming soon.
- Youtube interview with the dad of the current Scientology leader