Scientology Critical Information Directory

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Robert Todd Carroll

The Skeptic's Dictionary.


The Sound of One Mouth Blathering

Despite what its founder and its advocates say, Scientology is not a religion. It has no creed, no rituals, and no hope of becoming a major social institution for the transmission of values. It has no cosmological myths and offers nothing new or interesting in ethical teachings. What it does have is philosophical dogma which it claims is scientifically validated by its practice of auditing. And while these dogmas do assert belief in a soul which is independent of the body and which usually resides in a person's head, the origin of the soul is obscure while its destiny is vaguely described in Buddhistic terms of escape from the cycle of rebirth. Scientology is an eclectic collage of philosophical and religious notions imaginatively brought together in a loose system by a man with a gift for fantasy.

I know, in 1993 the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America declared that Scientology is a religion. The IRS had initially denied Scientology the tax-exempt status of a religion. But after years of war which featured numerous lawsuits and tit-for-tat harassment techniques by scientologists, the IRS surrendered. What they should have done, in my humble democratic secular opinion, is eliminated the tax-exempt status for all religions. Or they should have continued to deny Scientology status as a religion, as the German government continues to do.

Dianetics (the "Bible" of Scientology)

What Hubbard touts as a science of mind lacks one key element that is expected of a science: empirical testing of claims. The key elements of Hubbard's so-called science don't seem testable, yet he repeatedly claims that he is asserting only scientific facts and data from many experiments. It isn't even clear what such "data" would look like. Most of his data is in the form of anecdotes and speculations such as the one about a patient who believes she was raped by her father at age nine. "Large numbers of insane patients claim this," says Hubbard, who goes on to claim that the patient was "raped" when she was "nine days beyond conception....The pressure and upset of coitus is very uncomfortable to the child and normally can be expected to give the child an engram which will have as its contents the sexual act and everything that was said" (Hubbard, 144). Such speculation is appropriate in fiction, but not in science. Thus, we may say that Scientology is a religion built on a fiction, but what religion isn't?

E-meter (electro-psychometer)

In the early 1950s, Hubbard discovered that everything is striving to survive and that something is "entangling man" (Carroll 1996). Hubbard thought he had figured out what it was that was entangling us. Man "was tangling himself up with combinations of mental image pictures." He claims he measured these pictures using an e-meter. He claims the device could measure the response of the soul "while exteriorized from a being." The device sends a small bit of electrical energy down wires attached to two cans (electrodes) held by the user and measures resistance, i.e., to what degree a body opposes the passage of an electric current. Resistance is measured in ohms and is affected by such physical things as moisture, temperature, and pressure, each of which can change without the user being conscious of it and none of which need be directly related to any thoughts or feelings of the user. Basically, the e-meter is "an ohm-meter with continuously variable range and sensitivity settings."*

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