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Nan McLean in 1973: Rare Scientology documentary goes online, and it rocks

Thank you to the Canadian tipster who let us know that the W5 television program recently posted one of its all-time gems, a 1973 documentary about Scientology that featured one of our favorite old-school critics, former church member Nan McLean and her family.

We featured Nan in our book about Paulette Cooper, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, because her story was intertwined with Paulette’s — in the early 1970s, as they will tell you, there was almost no one else who was called on regularly to talk to news organizations about Scientology, and both of them paid for it dearly.

This particular program is especially good because it catches Nan at an early moment in her move away from the church. Her own daughter calls her out, saying that she can’t admit that she had simply been duped. Nan argues that in fact she still believed that there was good in Scientology and that she had not been duped.

We called her up last night, and she told us she remembers the program well, and she also remembers those arguments with her daughter.


“It took me a long time before I abandoned the idea that the tech was OK. But I was stupid,” she says now in her typical blunt style. (She’s 93 and still sharp as a tack.)

We told her that the same argument among ex-Scientologists, whether they had been taken advantage of by a charlatan, or whether L. Ron Hubbard had made actual discoveries about the human mind that were beneficial and that were overwhelmed by bad policies (and whether that was the fault of Hubbard or his successor) continue to roll on endlessly, but today it happens in groups on Facebook and in online forums.

“I know that. This has been going on always,” Nan says. “It is no different today than it was in the beginning. But I think it’s important that people like Leah Remini, in her show, go back to the beginning to see where this all came from. It’s L. Ron Hubbard every bit as it is David Miscavige.”

At the end of the program, W5 brought on Scientology spokesman Bryan Levman, who was typically disastrous. All in all, it’s a wonderful program, and we’re glad it’s back online.



Science Doc visits the Scientology Temecula mission

Science Doc is on the case in Temecula…

Last Wednesday, the Bunker’s poet laureate, Panopea Abrupta, revealed that the Scientology Mission in Temecula, California was in a dentist’s office on Margarita Rd. This immediately caught my attention because on the following day I had an appointment in Temecula very close to this location.

I rolled out of the Country House a little early and in due course found myself in front of the Temecula Scientology Mission in a nice strip mall I’ve only driven past a hundred times. Of course I imagined a lot of Scientology certificates on the wall and “Way to Happiness” booklets with a smiling tooth or some such on the cover.


I walked in to find a clean, professional, and crowded waiting room with a portrait of the Dentist’s daughters on the wall and one of the daughters (apparently) behind the reception desk. I asked for a brochure, and she had to go into a back room to get one. While she was gone I scanned the waiting room and at first found no Scientology Dissemination Tech at work. But at the last moment, backed into a corner on a side table, I found a big stack of Scientology front group Drug Free World’s “The Truth About Marijuana,” a choice piece of work I only just had the pleasure to read. The receptionist returned with my brochure; I thanked her and left with no judgment or opinion of the dental practice. But, as a Mission disseminating Scientology and Dianetics, the place is clearly ready to be carried away by the Tooth Fairy.

Later I quickly assessed Scientology’s anti-marijuana screed, which I found much more interesting. Full Disclosure: I use prescribed medical cannabis products almost daily to manage chronic pain, spasticity from spinal cord injury, and resultant difficulty in sleeping. “The Truth About Marijuana” contains few if any outright lies. It could be called a masterpiece of half-truths, out of context truths, misleading statements, vague fear mongering, and other soft tools of our alt-fact world.


Let me focus on a single page of this screed in which Scientology presents a sort of aspirational definition of what a medicine is in order to claim that medicinal cannabis is not a medicine. In this definition, a medicine must (ideally) be extracted in pure form for precise dosing. This is the sort of straw man definition you might see in week one of a first year pharmaceutical science course before the instructor knocks it down. By this definition almost no nutraceuticals, including several I’ve been prescribed, could be called medicines, and even aspirin tech might not have progressed from chewing willow bark, which is unfortunately where the arbitrary Schedule 1 listing left cannabis until recently. In point of fact, some cannabis products are available in chemically pure form with controlled dosing, which the Scientology screed partially acknowledges for the case of CBD.

How does Scientology’s assessment of the medicinal value of cannabis compare with the mainstream assessment? As a Science Doc perhaps I can be excused if I defer to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, who jointly issued a draft report on the health effect of cannabis in January of this year. I will quote one finding summary, and maybe you can deduce from it where I believe the truth to more closely lie.



Bonus items from our tipsters

Oh look. They put Joy Villa in charge of something: “Community of Active and United Scientologists Everywhere”



Countdown to Denver!


HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,730 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,833 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,327 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,367 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,079 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 605 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,694 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,834 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,154 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,129 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 485 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,787 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 894 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,296 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,169 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 750 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,255 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,499 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,608 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on April 24, 2017 at 07:00

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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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


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