By Michael Voytinsky more
I visited the Ottawa Church of Scientology today with a
couple of friends, and now I am trying to put the experience in
words. This is not an easy task — I have little in my
experience which approaches the degree of irrationality that I
encountered today. Half-crazed
Fundamentalist Christian street preachers look like paragons
of rational and intelligent thought in comparison. It was like
being inside a bad
Saturday Night Live sketch that just went on and on and on,
with no punch line in sight. Nevertheless, I will attempt to
relate my experiences and hope for the best, and pray that the
reader does not casually assume that nothing this ridiculous
could be for real.
One of my friends (Craig) was doing a research paper for an
English class on the
Church of Scientology. The visit was part of his research.
Me and my other friend (Michael) were doing it more for personal
amusement then anything else. Michael, being of religious bent,
also finds the use of religious trappings to con money out of
the stupid and the gullible to be thoroughly offensive, and I
can not say that I find practice to me morally acceptable
We came prepared. A few days earlier I tracked down a copy of
Thetan level III — part of the Scientologists' secret
writings not available to the general public — at
least not without spending 30 minutes looking for a pirate copy
on the Internet — use one of the major Web browsers
and look for "Operation Clambake"
), in L. Ron Hubbard's
(founder of the Church of Scientology)
handwriting, on the Internet, in graphics form. According to
that document, our spirits were placed inside volcanoes
75,000,000 years ago and had hydrogen bombs dropped on them.
This was done by the Head of the Galactic Confederation whose
name was Xenu. This was
done in order to "implant" us with "engrams" that robbed us of
our true potential.
The Church of Scientology was never clear on whether this
information is for real, or whether someone was making it up to
make them look stupid. Publicly, high-profile members of the
Church of Scientology such as
Travolta denied knowing anything about it. On the other
hand, those distributing the OTIII (and other secret scriptures)
were sued for copyright and trade secret violations by the
Church of Scientology or one of their affiliates. I leave it to
the reader to decide whether the "being nuked in volcanoes by
Head of Galactic Federation Xenu" is part of the beliefs of the
Church of Scientology or not. Further, I leave it to the reader
to decide whether or not this is simply the most ridiculous
thing that they ever heard.
Michael tracked down a copy of NOTs — "New Era
Dianetics for Operating Thetans" — another set of
secret Scientology Scriptures, more incoherent then kooky,
although certainly not lacking on the kookiness front. Further,
he tracked down a copy of the Scientologists' "Oxford
Capacity Analysis Test", together with the right answers.
All this we brought with us when we met at the Coffee Revolution — which
offers an excellent combination of second best coffee in Ottawa
with high enough background noise that private conversation is
possible. Unfortunately the best coffee shop in Ottawa can get
as quiet as a grave.
We met at 1 pm, and proceeded to go over the Oxford Capacity
Test questions and answers.
I need to digress at this point and relate my previous
experiences with the Church of Scientology. It will explain my
interest, as well as my distaste for this organization.
I first encountered them in the summer of 1989, in Toronto. I
was taking a stroll down Yonge Street late one fine Saturday
afternoon — which took me past the Scientology
building. As I walked past, a nice young lady asked me if I was
interested in taking a free personality test. Having nothing
better to do, I said "Sure," and followed her inside. There I
was handed the "Oxford Capacity Analysis Test" — which
I proceeded to take. Then the lady proceeded to go away to mark
it, while I browsed through the miscellaneous literature lying
in profusion in the area. It looked like bad pop psychology,
branching out into bad philosophy as well. According to one
passage that I read,
a demon that told him what to do. This was apparently a problem.
The only problem that I could see is that this was utter
Eventually the nice young lady came back with the results and
I joined her in her cubicle, and she proceeded to explain the
results of the test to her. According to her, my life was a
mess. Now I was not about to argue with that. I was going
through probably the worst mental, physical and spiritual phase
in my life, and was to some extent aware of it. However, total
and utter brain death was no one of my problems. She told me
that I could be helped by taking a
"Communications" course, for $250 (I think — I do
not recall the precise figure). I asked her what the course
entailed and she did not go into great detail. She merely said
that I should give it a try. I countered by saying that there
are many different people selling different remedies for
personal problems — I would need to know more before giving my
money to anyone.
She responded by pointing to one of the dots on the test
result, and said "Well, this is just like your test shows — you
can not trust anyone". The conversation continued along these
lines. When I expressed my low opinion of their literatures'
grasp of Socratic philosophy, she pointed to another score and
said "See, this is like what your test shows — you are
critical of everything". The conversation continued in this
vein, until she just told me that I can not be helped — rather
rudely I might add. I wished her a good evening and left. The
entire episode was rather odd, but I thought little of it — I
heard that Scientology was some sort of weirdo cult, and this
confirmed this opinion. On the other hand I casually assumed
that they are harmless — after all its a free country
and if people want to turn bad pop psychology into a religion,
its their right. I knew little about the actual weirdness that
they believed in, but this encounter left me with the conviction
that whatever it is, it must be fairly silly.
Scientology was absent from my mind until the
Time magazine article in 1991, which had a great many bad
things to say about the Church of Scientology. This article
reminded me of the above encounter, and I related it to my
friend Michael. We discussed the personality test, and I made a
guess about the nature of the "right" answers — they
would have to be the sort of answers given by people who are
stupid, extroverted, cheerful and simply have no clue.
Eventually we decided to visit the Ottawa Church of Scientology.
We decided to use my formula for correct answers — with
him trying to score as low as possible, and with me trying to
score as high as possible. We did so, and although our guesses
were imperfect, we largely got the results we wanted. A good
personality test should not have been that easy to hack, but the
Scientology Oxford Capacity Analysis Test is not a good
personality test. We were then taken into separate small offices
to discuss the results of our tests.
The gentleman dealing with me looked at my results and said
that they are pretty good, that I have no major problems with my
life although of course I have some. However, a lot of people
had serious problems with their life and their mental health,
and of course I could help them — and to better be
able to do that I had to take their Communications course — for
which I had to pay, of course.
In the meantime Michael was being told that his problems — which
were large in number — could be solved by taking the
Communications course. I will leave it as an exercise to the
reader to determine if there is a pattern here, and if so, what
the nature of that pattern is.
We thanked the Scientologists politely, told them we would
think about it and left. For several more years Scientology and
Dianetics entered my
mind only on brief and rare occasions. This changed a few months
ago when Michael came across an extensive collection of
information about Scientology and Dianetics on the Internet — much
of it very unflattering. Not only did it accuse them of being
essentially a money-grubbing operation, but also of various
unsavory activities from frivolous lawsuits directed at their
opponents to harassment of their opponents and even murder. The
information came from a large number of sources — including
mainstream press — all of which seemed to agree on
major details. The information on Scientology's
website created more
questions then it answered.
The rather silly OTIII course was the same regardless of
source — and one of the sources,
Dennis Erlich, was being
sued by the Church of Scientology for copyright and trademark
violations for distributing it. My own research on the Internet
lead me to further my conclusion that at best Scientology
involves beliefs in utterly ridiculous things and giving the
Church lots of money and at worst it is a dangerous and criminal
Several months passed as I did more reading on the subject of
Scientology. Nothing that I encountered provided any cause to
improve my opinion of it. One day I described Scientology to
Craig, who, upon hearing the name "Xenu"
thought that this must be a joke. I recommended to him that he
takes a look at the Scientology web site if he thinks that my
description of them is unbelievably ridiculous. This he
proceeded to do — and this developed into more then
merely casual interest. Soon he was writing a research paper for
his English class on the subject of Scientology. Of course, a
first hand account would not hurt — hence our trip to
the local Scientology org.
I return now to our 1pm meeting at the Coffee Revolution, a
minute walk away from the Church of Scientology.
We went over the answers and questions to the
Oxford Capacity Test, and
discussed, in general terms, our strategy. Having done so, and
having seriously caffeinated ourselves, we proceeded to the
Church. In front was a lady offering a free film — we
did not even get to tell her that we were there to take the
personality test. We followed her to a small movie theatre,
where the three of us were shown the first film — "Problems
The film featured a couple that were overcome with problems
in their life. The film never provided any specific information
about the precise nature of their problems — it seemed
that despite working hard they never seemed to get ahead, but no
more detail was provided. They proceeded to go around asking
different people "How do we handle life?"
First they went to their college career counselor, whom they
apparently regarded as extremely wise. The counselor, looking
extremely wise, looked over his reading glasses and solemnly
told them that "You just have to handle life". "How do we do
that?" the whiney couple asked. In response the professor looked
very sheepish and said nothing.
Next they went to a biologist — apparently a friend
of theirs. His solution to handling life was to put it in a
test-tube and throw in some chemicals to kill it — he
proceeded to do just that, with what presumably was a bacterial
culture, on camera by way of explanation. He then proceeded to
laugh and cackle in the best 1950s horror flick mad scientist
fashion. Indeed, this was one of the best mad scientists laughs
I have heard for a long time.
Their next stop — although I hope that my reader
forgives me if I get some detail out of its proper sequence — was
a civil engineer. His solution to handling life — in
this case a lone tree left in what was to become a subdivision — for
now a mess of dirt, rocks and bulldozers, was to blow it up and
laugh maniacally (a popular theme in the film).
Next they proceeded to visit a psychologist, but on the way
there had an encounter with a police officer who told them not
to cross the street on the red light. They proceeded to ask him
how to handle life. His solution — hit it with a
nightstick, and if that does not work, shoot it, followed by
maniacal laughter. Perhaps he was a mad scientist before he
became an actor. The policeman would not be out of place in any
Police Academy movies — but this film was not
intended as a comedy.
The film at this point had the feel of a comedy sketch took a
very long time getting to the punch line.
Finally the hapless couple made it to the Institute of
Psychology, where a man in white was dragging a
straight-jacketed screaming woman inside. Eventually they made
it to the office of a bearded psychologist who spoke with what
was presumably supposed to be a German accent. In it he was busy
with trying to get a mouse to run through a maze. He used a
largish serrated hunting knife to prod it along.
Apparently mistaking the couple for someone from "the
government" he proceeded to explain how they (psychologists) are
doing an excellent job destroying the mental health of the
people and making them easier to control — by
controlling education and mental health care with government
billions. He then noticed that the mouse was not cooperating
with the experiment, and proceeded to repeatedly stab at it with
his hunting knife — although the actual stabbing was
done outside of the screen. Presumably no mice were hurt in the
making of the movie.
Michael seemed to have some difficulty containing his
laughter and this point. I leaned over and whispered "I am going
to have to hurt you, Pinky!" — a reference to
and the Brain, a cartoon about laboratory mice out to
take over the world. It is a credit to his self-control that he
did not collapse in uncontrollable paroxysms of laughter.
I fully realize that my narrative is too ridiculous to be
true — and yet it is true. If my reader doubts that
what I am describing in the truth, I would urge him to visit his
local Church of Scientology. The entertainment is well worth the
money — as long as you do not sign up for any courses
or buy any of their books.
The film did not end there, of course. While sitting on a
park bench discussing their next move — and clearly
losing hope for a satisfactory answer — they are
approached by a man in a suit who invites them to a free lecture
about Scientology. Needless to say, that that lecture they find
out that Scientology has all the answers to handling life.
The second film — Orientation — was
just as interesting, although less filled with obviously wacky
stereotypes. It covered the structure and organization of the
Church of Scientology, and for some reason emphasized the fact
that all the different Scientology organization are legally
independent entities. I can not even being to speculate why they
mentioned this — it seems like just the thing to set
off alarms. The film also quoted a number of court decisions in
different countries confirming that Scientology is a bona fide
religion — the message being apparently "nine out of
ten courts agree Scientology is a religion", and went on at
great length explaining how evil the government, in concert with
psychiatrists, is. It concluded by telling us that with
Scientology, we can take control of our lives for the next
trillion years, and compared not taking up Scientology with
blowing your head off with a shotgun. (I am not making any of
That someone could take either of the films seriously is hard
to imagine. Yet we must presume that some do. Late night psychic
infomercials make more sense. Half-crazed Christian street
preachers make more sense.
After the films were concluded we had the opportunity to ask
questions. I wanted clarification on the statement that one can
be a Scientologist and follow any other religion at the same
time. "The Christian doctrine," I said, "states that one can
gain eternal life — effectively taking control of ones life
for the next trillion years or more — though belief in the
redemption through the death and suffering of Christ. Why would,
say, a Christian have any need for Scientology?"
The answers were interesting, although I use the word
"answer" in a rather loose sense, since my question was not
actually meaningfully answered. I was told that Scientology
guarantees eternal life. But of course so does Christian
doctrine, and further according to it nothing else does. The
Scientologists were lying on the compatibility issue — the
same can be said of most religions and Scientology. Their
explanation that Scientology is compatible with Christianity
because Christ is Truth, and so is Scientology so they are
pretty much the same — is patently ridiculous. If true, it
would also mean that Scientology is incompatible with religious
that are not compatible with Christianity.
They said that the only thing that they insist on is no
drugs. I asked if alcohol is a drug and they said yes. Could a
Catholic partake of the Holy Communion, then? Yes. Alcohol in
moderation is OK. How about
They did not know who the Rastafarians were, so I explained to
them that they smoke pot in their religious ceremonies. Then
they said that one could not be a Scientologist and a
Rastafarian. Michael asked if this applies to certain American
Indian religious practices that involve ingestion of peyote — would
this be incompatible with Scientology. Yes, it would be, we were
In short, the claim that one can be a Scientologist and still
practice one's own religion is a lie. Not an evasion, not a
half-truth, not an exaggeration. It is a blatant, 100% lie, one
of many blatant untruths at their disposal.
I asked about clams. In specific, I told the gentleman we
were talking with — Martin — that I was reading the
alt.religion.scientology, and that it often referred to
Scientologists as "clams", using that word in a derogatory way.
He explained that this may have something to do with L. Ron
The History of Man, which explains humanity's evolution,
which involved, at one stage, being clams. I pointed out that
this goes contrary to all established scientific knowledge,
since clams are not even vertebrates, and belong in a very
different branch of the evolutionary "tree". Martin's
explanation was extremely convenient — he meant spiritual,
not necessarily physical revolution. The reader should be aware
that according to "The History of Man", the
was also one of the stages in our evolution — and I am not
sure how evolution, whether physical or spiritual, could go
through a being that never existed — L. Ron Hubbard did not
know that the Piltdown Man was a fraud.
Then I wanted to know why Scientologists have secret
scriptures that they do not want the general public to have
knowledge of. Martin explained that some of that material is so
much in advance of current scientific knowledge that those
insufficiently knowledgeable would just think its kooky. This
was one of the few things that Martin said that was neither a
lie nor an evasion. A member of the general public reading their
secret scriptures would indeed think that its entirely kooky — with
good reason: it is entirely kooky.
I then asked if it is true what I read on the Internet — that
the Scientologists believe that 75,000,000 years ago we were all
placed in volcanoes, at the behest of the Head of Galactic
Federation Xenu — and nuked. He said that its not. I then
reached into my bag and produced a printout of the OT III
materials, in L. Ron Hubbard's own handwriting. I asked him if
this was a forgery, and he said that it probably was. He showed
it to his associates, who confirmed what it was bogus, but one
of them seemed to react rather strongly to something that is
merely forged information about them — especially when
Michael pulled out his printout of the
NOTs (New Era Dianetics for
Operating Thetans). Much activity followed on the part of one of
the Scientologists present, which involved looking up phone
numbers and calling people. They — especially this one lady
who was never introduced — seemed rather disturbed.
Martin said that he is not actually going to look at the
material, in case its for real, in which case he should not be
reading it — he was not up to that level yet.
Next was the personality
test. We decided in advance to try to score perfectly, but
our memory was not up to the task — our results were good
but not perfect. We were taken one by one to talk to someone
about our results. I ended up talking with a pretty young woman
name Katherine. She did not appear to have the self-confidence
that the Scientologists claim is one of the results of their
training. If anything she had something of a frightened little
girl aspect. She told me that my high score indicated that I was
concealing some problems about from myself, and Scientology
training would help me to uncover it. You just can't win with
I asked her some questions. Was my OT III printout a forgery?
It was. Why was the Church suing people for copyright
infringement for possession of this information? She did not
know. She was not at that level. Would anyone in their right
mind believe in the Xenu
and being nuked in volcanoes thing? "No. But I don't know, I am
not at that level." No straight answer again, but she seemed
very uncomfortable as a result of this line of questioning.
"What was the amount of damages in the lawsuit against
Time ($500 million) based on?" She did not know — but
she looked very uncomfortable being asked all these questions.
How much does it cost
to get become a Clear (a
person with no reactive mind — a completely mentally
healthy individual)? "Its expensive — about $15,000. But
you really can't put a price on something like that."
Up to this point the afternoon was fun, but faced with
Catherine the fun was quickly disappearing. She was trying her
best — but that simply was not nearly enough to answer my
questions. The looked more like a scared child then a crazed
cultists — and I went there expecting to deal with the
latter. I had no heart to proceed with a thorough attack.
In retrospect, I should have known better — crazed
cultists are less common then merely lost souls. Deranged
cultists can be fun. Mindless pathetic dupes can not.
I did not press with further questions. I thanked her
politely, told her this was all very interested and that I will
be sure to read "Dianetics". She asked me if I was interested in
a sample auditing
session and I said yes, and she said I could come in with my
friend Craig next Saturday at 1 — she will try to find
another auditor. She also asked me for my phone number — I
gave a fictional one. She said that I would be called during the
week to confirm the appointment.
I went back to the front office, chatted with Craig as
Michael went to Katherine's office. Craig said that he is coming
next Saturday for an auditing session, and that he gave them his
phone number — at this point he winked. Martin asked if he
could have the printouts — I gave him mine, saying I have
another copy (he did not look happy to hear that), but as to
other stuff, he'd have to ask my friend.
When Michael was done, he cheerfully agreed to hand over his
printouts also, saying he can always print out more. Martin did
not look impressed at that either. Through the tail end of this,
more and more people — most of them looking like more
senior members of the organization — arrived, many of them
looking very unhappy. One of them, looking very serious, headed
immediately for the office labeled "Ethics
Office". While we can not be certain that our printouts were the
cause of this, it seems likely, given the frenzy of running
around and phone calls they produced.
We did not provide our real names or phone numbers — given
the information we had about the Scientologists we did not want
to have them know we had OT III and other secret material — while
at the same time knowing our names and phone numbers.
We thanked the Scientologists politely and left, heading
again for the Coffee Revolution.
In retrospect, I should have given them my real name, and
gone to the auditing demonstration. Having decided to make this
narrative available to the public, I need to use my real name to
provide the maximum credibility. This would also allow me to
provide a first hand account of auditing. For those who are
interested, but not interested enough for a personal visit to a
local Scientology org, I would highly recommend the video "Dianetics".
There is a good chance that your local library has it. In this
video you will see poorly understood and badly applied
psychoanalysis used in combination with the popular
brainwashing technique of repeating the same question over
and over and over again.
For the OT III and NOTs fans I have to add that there is
plenty of anti-Scientology material even in their public
offerings — material that may have been underused. OT III
is not essential for discrediting Scientology when we have "Orientation",
— Michael Voytinsky
Ottawa Ontario Canada