If you’ve been following our coverage of Scientology even tangentially, you know that one of the big stories to emerge in the last year is the surprising meltdown occurring in the church’s drug rehab network, Narconon.
Four deaths since 2009 at Narconon Arrowhead, its flagship facility in Oklahoma, has resulted in multiple investigations and lawsuits. A devastating wrongful death lawsuit at its Georgia facility has produced criminal investigations of insurance and credit card fraud. And additional lawsuits and document leaks have revealed deceitful practices at centers in California, Michigan, and Florida.
Narconon’s controversies have garnered a lot of problematic publicity for Scientology, including a series of damaging segments at NBC’s Rock Center.
But now, Narconon is fighting back. With the powerful words of stand-up comic Clark Carr.
Friday, a video was posted to YouTube of Carr who, besides doing skit work with Laughworks, is the president of Narconon International. In the video, Carr follows Scientology protocol to a tee, giving us the definition of the word “recovery” before announcing that the church — er, rather, its front group — has decided to denude another forest for the purpose of producing yet another bit of propaganda, in this case a booklet that supposedly lays out the history of studies proving Narconon’s success…
No doubt the booklet will prove a smashing success.
However, when this approach was recently floated in another form — a press release Carr put out a few days ago which also touted these studies, and in particular one study performed in Connecticut in the 1970s — it got a reception Scientology may not have bargained for.
Under the triumphant headline, “Recent Release of ‘The Narconon Program — 40 Years of Evidence of Recovery’ Reveals Earlier Unfound Narconon Connecticut Study,” the press release does its best to push back against one of the biggest criticisms of Narconon — that its 70 percent and higher claims of success are completely bogus.
Narconon centers regularly advertise rates of 70 to 90 percent success, even though legitimate drug rehab centers only claim about 25 percent rates of success for graduates to keep clean.
In a recent story, we revealed that privately, Narconon’s own legal affairs director admitted that Naronon has no scientific basis for claiming such high rates of success.
In fact, tax documents filed by Narconon facilities show that less than half of the people they admit as patients even finish the program. According to the latest Form 990 on file for one of Narconon’s largest centers — Narconon Vista Bay in California — in 2011 the program took in 610 patients, but only 255 graduated. (And as we’ve seen recently in multiple lawsuits filed against Narconon centers, it’s not uncommon for a patient to be kicked out of the program after only a few days, but parents then can find it impossible to get refunds on the tens of thousands of dollars they paid up front.)
Despite that dubious track record, Narconon continues to claim sky-high success rates, but what are they based on?
According to Carr’s breathless new press release, Narconon International was thrilled to “rediscover” a key 1978 study compiled in Connecticut. The Narconon center there only had about 20 students at the time, and of those, only about half were examined, according to Carr’s press release…
“[Narconon] studied the results on 10 of them, primarily teenagers, and found they were doing pretty damn well. Kids are hard to help, as they don’t have drug-free lives prior to addiction to compare their drug abused behavior to.” The New London program was actively supported, reports a March 7, 1978 article from The News of Niantic, Connecticut, by senior and other volunteer groups, providing furniture, curtains, helping with a newsletter, etc.
So Scientology’s big comeback to all of the recent bad publicity is to tout a study that had been lost for thirty years, and which based its results on only ten teenagers.
And even that, it turns out, may be highly questionable.
“I was the Executive Director of Narconon Connecicut,” says Patty Moher, who lives in New London, where this study supposedly occurred. “I can attest these numbers were all fabricated.”
Moher left Scientology years ago and has become a vocal critic of the church. But while she was in Scientology, she ran its New London Narconon center. Recently, at the research forum “Reaching for the Tipping Point,” Moher explained the background of the Connectictut study.
“How [were they fabricated]? I made them all up. Personally. I knew the numbers were awful, I knew they wanted to show great results. Being a Scientologist I thought, ‘Oh well, greatest good and all that’ and so just pulled those numbers right out of my ass. Consider this my confession. I personally fudged all the numbers because I knew it’s what they wanted. There was no study. I just made them up,” she said.
We asked her to elaborate on that, and she sent us this: “I remember that Narconon US had sent me a questionnaire on Narconon grads. The only thing I had to fill in were the numbers. How many of this, how many of that. No written report, no names, no case numbers, no documentation at all. Just fill in the numbers and send it back up line. It was pure Bullshit.”
At the end of his video, Carr posted his e-mail address and offered to answer questions about Narconon and its success rates. So we sent him a message that quotes Patty Moher’s confession. We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.
Posted by Tony Ortega on May 27, 2013 at 07:00
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