Jefferson Hawkins was once the top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology and helped it reach its greatest extent with the famous “volcano” TV ads in the 1980s. He’s told his tale of getting into and out of the church with his excellent books Counterfeit Dreams and Leaving Scientology, and he’s helping us understand the upside-down world of Scientology “ethics.”
Jeff, we’re thrilled that you’ve offered to help us slog through L. Ron Hubbard’s book Introduction to Scientology Ethics. If there’s one subject we’d like to have a better understanding of, it’s the complex system of control that Hubbard invented. One of the things that non-Scientologists have trouble understanding is how Scientologists can talk so much about “ethics” and yet do things that a normal person would consider unethical — such as disconnection, the RPF, participating in shady business deals, and a host of other questionable actions. Do they have a different definition of “ethics” than the rest of us?
JEFFERSON: Very much so, and this is the book where Hubbard lays out his own definition of ethics and his system of “getting one’s ethics in.”
The normal dictionary definition of “ethics” is “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior.” It’s our “moral compass,” if you will. It’s that inner voice that tells us if something is right or wrong. In Introduction to Scientology Ethics, Hubbard’s goal is to replace a person’s normal sense of ethics with his own Scientology system, his “technology of ethics.”
THE BUNKER: Jefferson, we notice that the first copyright date on the book is 1968. So before you plunge in, let’s first try to put this book into some context. It came out during a period when L. Ron Hubbard was thinking a lot about discipline.
After planning through 1966, in 1967 he set sail with a bunch of young followers on what became an 8-year sea odyssey, running Scientology from a small armada of three ships.
And he didn’t only need to get his “Sea Organization” into shape. In 1965, there had been some breakaway groups, if we remember correctly, that really angered Hubbard, and he reacted by coming up with the idea of “declaring” people “suppressive” in order to jettison anyone who didn’t maintain the Hubbard line.
So what we have is a worldwide movement that was in one of its growth phases — Saint Hill was booming at the time and would forevermore be held up as the gold standard of what a Scientology organization should be like. But with that popularity came the challenge of keeping it under control, and Hubbard hated to lose control. So now, we need “ethics.”
Are we putting this in the right context?
JEFFERSON: Yeah, I think you have established the context pretty well. I think Hubbard was always concerned about control, that is, keeping Scientology under his control so he would not lose it as he had lost Dianetics. As early as 1960, he had floated the idea of overts and withholds at the State of Man Congress. The whole “ethics” push came into play concurrent to the Sea Org. I don’t have my OEC Volumes — sent them to the recycling bin years ago — but I think the “Conditions” date from 1966, as well as the idea of declaring SPs, PTSness, disconnection, etc. All that came in right around that time, 1965-66. The original dates of those “Policy Letters” would give the timeline.
One could say that this was really when Scientology took on all the trappings of a cult — the infallibility of the leader and the doctrine, expelling and shunning any who disagree, a fanatical inner core, etc. I have felt for some time that this book forms the core of Scientology’s mental manipulation techniques. In the Sea Org, anyone who steps out of line is forced to restudy this book over and over again. It is the go-to book to use when any Scientologist begins to doubt or question Scientology. It must contain the core principles of Scientology’s control “technology.”
THE BUNKER: Hey, watch it with the “c” word. We try to use it sparingly around here — too much time is wasted at other sites with people arguing endlessly over what a “cult” is or is not. Anyway, you were going to tell us about this introductory chapter…
JEFFERSON: Re-reading it, I noticed Hubbard uses a device that he often resorts to in his writing. One could call it “confusion — stable datum.” First, he describes how confused and messed up the subject is in “wog” hands, then he asserts that it has been solved in Scientology.
It’s a device I’m familiar with. When I was the Editor of Advance! magazine, I listened to a staff lecture by Hubbard where he instructed us to write the “Spiritual History” articles this way. “Past religions never resolved this. They didn’t know the basic principles of this. They were confused. They failed. Now, for the first time, we have resolved this in Scientology.”
I got curious about this and Googled “confusion and hypnosis.” And guess what? This is considered one of the most common methods employed in what is known as conversational hypnosis.
THE BUNKER: So you think Hubbard was trying to hypnotize the reader?
JEFFERSON: Well, I didn’t think so, but then I started investigating this subject called conversational hypnosis. Forget the clichéd image of a bespectacled, goateed hypnotist dangling a watch in front of a glassy-eyed subject. Conversational hypnosis uses things like voice tone, words, and word patterns to anchor beliefs or emotions in a person without his knowledge or permission, and without reaching deep trance states.
It’s used in sales, politics, and, yes, religion. It is based on the principles of indirect hypnosis developed by American psychiatrist Milton Erickson (1901-1980). One of Erickson’s main techniques was called “the confusion technique.” He describes it in this way:
As the subject tries, conditioned by his early cooperative response to the hypnotist’s apparent misspeaking, to accommodate himself to the welter of confused, contradictory responses apparently sought, he finds himself at such a loss that he welcomes any positive suggestion that will permit a retreat from so unsatisfying and confusing a situation.
THE BUNKER: Do you think Hubbard knew about Erickson’s work?
JEFFERSON: Probably not — Erickson was later. But Hubbard was certainly familiar with this sort of technique. I found this gem from a 1952 lecture — Hubbard describing his own confusion technique:
Now, if it comes to a pass where it’s very important whether or not this person acts or inacts as you wish, in interpersonal relations one of the dirtier tricks is to hang the person up on a maybe and create a confusion. And then create the confusion to the degree that your decision actually is implanted hypnotically.
This chapter offers a great example of the confusion technique. After a superficial and simplistic rundown of the history of philosophy on the subjects of ethics and justice, demonstrating how confused Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were on these subjects and how they failed to solve them, Hubbard concludes:
This chain continued down the ages. Philosopher after philosopher tried to resolve the subjects of ethics and justice.
Unfortunately, until now, there has been no workable solution, as evidenced by the declining ethical level of society.
See? Confusion, confusion, confusion. Then:
So you see it is no small breakthrough that has been made in this subject. We have defined the terms, which Socrates omitted to do, and we have a workable technology that anyone can use to help get himself out of the mud.
Note the subtlety of the suggestion. “We have” a workable technology, instead of “I have.” Hubbard already includes the reader as someone who already has the technology. And “out of the mud” — the idea is already being planted that the reader is in trouble and thus “needs” this new technology.
THE BUNKER: So at this point, do you think the reader is buying it?
JEFFERSON: It’s amazing how well this technique works. We tend to trust people. If someone states something authoritatively and confidently (and remember, voice tone is a part of conversational hypnosis), we tend to believe them.
THE BUNKER: So Hubbard has convinced us that he has a brand new, never before discovered system of ethics. Where does he go from here?
JEFFERSON: Hubbard introduces a new concept of ethics as “actions an individual takes on himself.” It is no longer simply an internal sense of right and wrong as we normally think of ethics, but becomes a sort of self-policing action where one “puts his ethics in.” And in order to do this self-policing effectively, one needs to know the rules of how to do it — Scientology’s “technology of ethics.”
It’s interesting that George Orwell, in 1984, makes it clear that so-called “mind control” isn’t someone else controlling your mind, but convincing people to control their own minds according to the group’s principles.
These ideas are repeated again and again in the remainder of this chapter. Man is confused about ethics and justice. He cannot be trusted with these subjects. With the lack of “a technology” of ethics and justice, society declines and falls apart. Hubbard summarizes:
The individual who lacks any ethics technology is unable to put in ethics on himself and restrain himself from contrasurvival actions, so he caves himself in. And the individual is not going to come alive unless he gets hold of the basic tech of ethics and applies it to himself and others.
The stage is set. Hubbard has planted some powerful ideas. The old definitions of ethics are invalid. The past history of the subject is only confusion and despair. Forget any idea that your own personal moral compass or principles will save you. The only solution is to learn Scientology’s principles of what is and is not “ethical.” You have to learn how to “put your ethics in.”
Get what he has done here. He has established that the key to an ethical life lies not within the individual, but within Scientology. The determination of what is and is not “ethical” has shifted from the individual to “Scientology technology.” An individual can now only be ethical if he knows and applies Scientology technology.
THE BUNKER: We feel more ethical already!
In France, Scientology is a Fraud, Part Deux
Yesterday, our man in Paris, British journalist Jonny Jacobsen, did yeoman’s duty and helped us get the most up-to-date and thorough coverage of France’s highest court upholding Scientology’s 2000 fraud conviction.
Naturally, he had even more information for us, but we told him we’d wait for today so it would get a bit more attention on its own. Take it away, Jonny…
Yesterday I received this reaction from Arnaud Palisson, who wrote his doctorate on how best to tackle Scientology in the courts.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Palisson, here’s a brief recap. Palisson used to work for Renseignements Généraux, the intelligence branch of France’s police service, part of the interior ministry.
But after publishing his thesis online in 2002 he became the target of a vigorous lobbying campaign by Scientology, and he found himself sidelined from his post at RG.
He eventually quit in disgust and moved to Canada.
But as I’ve reported at Infinite Complacency, his work has helped inform the French and Belgian approach to criminal cases involving Scientology.
This is what he had to tell me about yesterday’s ruling (translated from the French).
The decision is not a surprise. It was a solid case. And the Church of Scientology was perfectly aware of that.
The main aim behind its bid to get the convictions quashed in Cassation was to exhaust every legal recourse in French law so as to be able to act on a supranational level, by trying to get a case before the European Court of Human Rights — decision that in fact the Church announced as soon as the court’s judgment had been issued.
In doing this, the French branch of the Church of Scientology is hoping for three things:
— Draw the litigation out as long as possible. In this case that will allow it to respond to attacks by again and again raising the issue of religious discrimination. The Church of Scientology will thus be able to answer by saying that the case is before the European Court, with the implication that the case is not closed. They can keep singing that song for a few more years, the time it takes for the court to make a ruling. And in that time, the matter will fade into the collective memory.
— Get their “stats up” and improve their [ethics?] “condition” in the eyes of the Mother Church in the United States (to borrow Scientology’s jargon in disciplinary matters).
— Get a ruling against the French state, at least on a secondary element, or even on a purely technical level. If need be, that would allow the Church to make a meal out of it, by declaring something like “the French state has been convicted in this affair.”
But on the merits of the case, it is still true that the Court of Cassation definitively confirms under French law an essential fact: The Paris Church of Scientology (the main Scientology organisation in France) has been convicted as a corporation for organized fraud. The legal implications could be considerable. I hope that this whole affair, most of all the way it ended, will inspire other prosecutors across France.
Which is a good place to wrap up from this end, I think.
Now, Tony: where’s that Tom Cruise box set you promised me?
We thought you wanted the After Earth/Battlefield Earth combo box. Our mistake.
Not an Ideal Situation in Atlanta
A year ago, the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia fought a tough legal battle with the Church of Scientology, which insisted it needed to expand as it built a new church in that Atlanta suburb. Naturally, Scientology played the religious discrimination card, and the city, which had resisted a zoning change for the church, ultimately lost the fight.
But hey, a year later, Scientology’s new church is a thriving asset to the community, right? Isn’t that what they were fighting for?
Um, no. You see, in Scientology’s “Ideal Org” program, local church members are subjected to rounds of intense fundraising in order to purchase and then later renovate properties. In the meantime, they can sit empty for years. And sure enough, the building in Sandy Springs hasn’t had a thing done to it, and is becoming an eyesore. The city is not amused. WSB-TV has a good report…
WSB-TV has been doing great reporting on Scientology in Georgia, and they always define the issues well.
Sadly, we couldn’t say the same about this next report by Australia’s A Current Affair. In this report, ACA looks into a Narconon that’s opened up in a community down under. Unfortunately, ACA treats it as a typical NIMBY affair, with local residents expressing their displeasure with a drug rehab facility springing up in their neighborhood.
But come on, ACA, where’s any reference to the morass of problems that Narconon is sinking into around the world? Wouldn’t those residents like to know that deaths at Narconon facilities in Oklahoma and Georgia have sparked criminal investigations there — which recently resulted in the Georgia center closing permanently? More than a dozen lawsuits over wrongful deaths and fraud have sprung up about Narconons in several states. Meanwhile, Narconon gave up its presence in the UK, and a class action lawsuit in Georgia is being watched closely by attorneys in other parts of the country. Wouldn’t any of those details be worth bringing up in this report?
Come on. This is the age of the Internet. There’s just no excuse for this kind of reporting.
Posted by Tony Ortega on October 17, 2013 at 07:00
E-mail your tips and story ideas to email@example.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.