Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than three years he’s been helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.
Ron Hubbard surely understood the importance of words: While Shakespeare added over a thousand new definitions to the English language, Hubbard left two 500-page dictionaries. However, where Shakespeare’s language is insightful, poetic, and beautiful, Hubbard’s is more usually obfuscating, awkward, and ugly.
Hubbard said that conceptual understanding can only come once you understand the words, but by focusing solely on the words, he distracted us from any detailed examination of those concepts. Believers are denied the chance to talk about those concepts, which Hubbard forbade as “verbal technology.” So, the words are “cleared” but the concepts remain unexplored. We could not see the concepts for the words, or the wood for the trees.
A fine example of a concept slipped into a word that actually creates new meaning is the word postulate. In its origins, a postulate is a demand. In logic, it means, “A proposition demanded or claimed to be granted; especially something claimed or assumed as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief; hence, a fundamental condition or principle…” (Oxford English Dictionary).
Without allowing any discussion, Hubbard transforms the word postulate into “a self-created truth” or “that self-determined thought which starts, stops or changes past, present, or future events.” This second definition (from Advanced Procedures and Axioms), bothered me even as a believer. How do we “start, stop, or change” past events?
It was only after I had left Scientology that Hubbard’s method for changing the past became evident – I compared tens of his autobiographies and discovered the many contradictions between them: indeed, no two were consistent. In Hubbard’s world, the past is changed by lying – a simple form of “postulate.”
Hubbard also defined postulate as “a prediction,” or “causative thinkingness” (a word Shakespeare managed to avoid). All of this verbiage to hide a simple change in the believer’s information processing: A postulate is nothing more nor less than a wish. Hubbard was determined to make his rag-bag of ideas seem scientific. So pompous, nebulous language like “postulate” fits perfectly. It seems solid enough at first, but like so much in Hubbard’s weltanschauung, it melts like sea foam in the slightest breeze.
When I walked through the doors of Moseley’s Scientology Franchise, if I had been told that I would be expected to adopt such childish make-believe, I would have wished the staff there a cheery goodbye and headed straight for home.
To think that the universe bends to the whims of any single human being is too far-fetched for me. Hubbard impishly ignored the impossible complexity of so many billions of billions of beings throughout the universe, all postulating simultaneously. The math just doesn’t work (and, no, reality isn’t actually agreement, unless you have accepted the suggestion of a hypnotist).
The OED has one more definition of postulate – “An unproved assumption” – which fits nicely with the word as Hubbard employed it. When I heard about the massive thefts made internationally by the Guardian’s Office, I knew that Scientology did not really work. If a single Operating Thetan actually existed, there would have been no need to steal those files, because that OT would have been able to sneak a peek at even the most sequestered government file.
Let’s face it, there are thousands of believers postulating the demise of the Bunker, yet here we all still are, proving that Scientologists’ postulates quite simply do not work.
— Jon Atack
TODAY: ‘Battlefield Earth’ invading a Barnes & Noble near you
On Tuesday, Scientology held a cute promotion for its re-release of L. Ron Hubbard’s 34-year-old sweaty splatbook, Battlefield Earth, that featured a crashed spaceship and men in kilts.
A tipster noticed that today, that promotion goes national as Scientology is hosting book launch events in a sampling of Barnes & Noble bookstores around the country. The events last from about noon to 4 pm depending on the location, and they are actually selling tickets to these things. If there’s a B&N in your neighborhood and you have the time, drop by today and send us a photo of what’s going on.
Some of the locations scheduled for today’s events:
Brandon, FL (Books-a-Million)
Lincoln Park, TX
Coral Gables, FL
Katy, TX (Books-a-Million)
Beverly Hills, CA
Battle Creek, MI
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Kansas City, MO
Spanish Fort, AL
Salt Lake City
Baton Rouge, LA (Books-a-Million)
Juliet, TN (Books-a-Million)
Hazlewood, MO (Books-a-Million)
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield