We’re starting a new feature today, and we’re really excited that Claire Headley has agreed to help us out! Claire is well known among Scientology watchers for the way that she and her husband Marc escaped from the International Base after many years as “Sea Org” workers. She spent years working with Scientology’s “tech,” and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. And now she’s going to help us as we take a trip up L. Ron Hubbard’s famous “Bridge to Total Freedom.” That’s right — we’re all going to train to be Scientologists, and tally up the costs along the way!
Claire, we don’t know if this was always the case, but at least in recent decades, for most people their first encounter with Scientology is the “Oxford Capacity Analysis.”
When we see signs that advertise a “free personality test,” they’re talking about the OCA, right? But when they say “free stress test,” is that something else?
CLAIRE: As long as I can remember, the OCA was used as a hook to get new people (infamously referred to as “raw meat”) into Scientology.
I did the HQS course (Hubbard Qualified Scientologist course) in 1987/88 in England when I was 12, and at that time one of the steps of the course was to get someone to purchase a Scientology service, which I did by going to the London test center and bringing people in to do personality tests.
It starts as “Hi, would you like to take a free personality test?” Hey, who isn’t curious about a personality test!
Ironically, at least in my opinion, there’s no such thing as “passing” the personality test.
No matter what the results, there’s always something wrong with you, and the test evaluator is trained to get the person to see how they need to take a course in Scientology to address that. For example, in the scenario where someone gives the optimal answer for all or most of the 200 questions that comprise the test, the evaluator would then convince the person that they were in a false state of happiness, and were not really confronting the true state of affairs in their life, thus their need to do a course in Scientology.
THE BUNKER: So even if you’re completely grounded and a happy person, Scientology wants you to believe you’re being unrealistic about what a hot mess you really are. You know, something tells us that most Scientologists never lose that feeling. Anyway, what’s in the test?
CLAIRE: The OCA questions are broken down into 10 different categories or traits.
The test has 200 questions, each of which are to be answered yes, no, or maybe. Typical questions:
3. Do you browse through railway timetables, directories or dictionaries just for pleasure?
6. Do you get occasional twitches of your muscles, when there is no logical reason for it?
27. Do you often sing or whistle just for the fun of it?
30. Do you enjoy telling people the latest scandal about your associates?
59. Do you consider the modern prisons without bars system “doomed to failure”?
69. Does emotional music have quite an effect on you?
105. Do you rarely suspect the actions of others?
124. Do you often make tactless blunders?
196. Do you sometimes feel that your age is against you (too young or too old)?
The OCA test evaluates and scores against personality characteristics such as “Stable,” “Happy,” “Composed,” “Certainty,” “Active,” “Aggressive,” “Responsible (Causative),” “Correct Estimation” (meaning the person’s ability to look at a situation and determine what is needed to deal with it), “Appreciative,” and “Comm[unication] Level” (meaning the person’s ability to communicate with others).
Each trait is scored on the scale of +100 to ?100, with three main bands marked “Desirable State” (+100 to +30), “Normal” (+30 to 0) and “Unacceptable State” (0 to ?100). In the middle are two shaded bands, “Acceptable under perfect conditions” (about +32 to about +6) and “Attention Desirable” (about +6 to about ?18).
THE BUNKER: That’s a pretty complicated answer key if everyone is just going to be labeled defective. So how about the stress test?
CLAIRE: The free stress test is something else. That’s where E-meters are set up, and people are asked to hold the cans while the volunteer asks about people or things in the subject’s life, fishing for a reaction on the E-meter that indicates an area of “stress.” The idea is to “prove” to the person that the E-meter works, while also showing them they have areas of stress in their lives and to get them to buy a Scientology book.
This is a more recent development, put in place by Scientology leader David Miscavige, and implemented along with his “Ideal Orgs.”
When I was growing up in Scientology, I never heard nor saw a stress test being delivered.
Back then, at least in England, they did pinch tests as the means of demonstrating the E-meter worked.
You’d hold the cans, and the person would tell you they were going to pinch you and then ask you to recall the moment of the pinch. On asking to recall the moment of the pinch, the needle would surge. And if it didn’t, you’d get a harder pinch.
THE BUNKER: Yeeouch. OK, well, we’ll assume we’ve taken the OCA, and no matter what we answered, we’ve been told we’re a disaster. And only Scientology can fix us! Fun times.
COST THIS WEEK: $0
COST SO FAR: $0
SMERSH Madness: Sowing the Seeds of World Domination!
As we announced on March 1, we’re joining bracket fever with a tournament like no other. It’s up to you to decide who should be named the new SMERSH, the traditional nemesis of Scientology. Cast your vote for who’s doing more to propel the church down its long slide into oblivion!
Continuing in the first round, we have TWO great matchups this morning…
Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder were two of the highest-ranking officials in the Church of Scientology for more than twenty years. Since 2009, the two have made life miserable for their old boss, church leader David Miscavige, with a devastating campaign of publicity and involvement in court cases. Through the use of Rathbun’s blog in particular they’ve encouraged many longtime, loyal Scientologists to abandon Miscavige and the church, but the sheer amount of surveillance and harassment each has experienced should indicate what a threat Miscavige considers them.
Tom Tobin and Joe Childs of the Tampa Bay Times are the deans of Scientology journalism. Their 2009 series that exposed violence at Scientology’s International Base, and their 2011 project on the money side of Scientology provided the bedrock material that most of the rest of us work from. Consummate professionals, these two quiet guys go about their work with little fanfare and never seek the spotlight. We shudder to think what their next blockbuster takeout will uncover.
And the second half of our double-header…
Katie Holmes changed everything. When she surgically removed herself from her marriage to Tom Cruise, she sent a clear message that she was fully aware of Scientology’s potential to cause her trouble. Not only did she outwit the church, she created a new media environment that has not dissipated: from supermarket rags to business publications, everyone wants a piece of the Scientology story. And as her daughter Suri grows, Katie’s vigilance is going to keep that story on the front pages.
David Edgar Love was shocked at what he saw when he worked at the Quebec branch of Scientology’s drug rehab program, Narconon. Unlike others, however, he’s made it a personal mission to expose Narconon’s deceptive business practices, and his hard work paid off with the closing of the Quebec facility. He then turned his attention to Narconon’s flagship facility in Oklahoma, and it’s now teetering on the edge of disaster. Overworked, underfunded, and always exhausted, David Love is a one-man wrecking crew.
An update on our tournament so far:
L. Ron Hubbard defeated Steve Cannane (by one vote!)
Debbie Cook defeated John Sweeney
Nancy Many defeated Paul Thomas Anderson
Posted by Tony Ortega on March 5, 2013 at 07:00