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Scientology’s tiger: How L. Ron Hubbard created a language trap

Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. 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.

It bothers me when I hear someone say that they “blew” from Scientology. The word does not mean “left” – which is what they actually did – it means that they had to flee, because they were overwhelmed with guilt stemming from their transgressions (or “overts”). But the sneering, deprecatory label is accepted, as if leaving Scientology were not eminently sensible (I’ve not regretted it for a single moment!).

Language can make a fine trap: people begin to believe the words and act in accordance with their emotional resonance. Hubbard knew exactly how to enmesh people in a web of language, as Scientology’s two 500-page dictionaries show. He brought about “conceptual understanding” by redefining hundreds of words (one of the cardinal sins of manipulators, as he pointed out in Propaganda by Redefinition of Words). The implanted concepts are often unhealthy, and it is important to think your way out of them, if you really want to be “self-determined.”

As Robert Plant pointed out in “Stairway to Heaven,” words “sometime have two meanings.” I used to enjoy the Hubbard statement that in our tough universe “only the tigers survive,” because I knew Hubbard’s definition of a “tiger:” “a pretended [staff] member … who has been repeatedly associated with goofed projects and operations and who actually has caused such to occur. He is a

person who is a continued out-ethics person. He has failed to get ethics in on himself.” (Flag Order 872). So, if you want to survive well, be a “tiger.” We can say with some certainty that Ron Hubbard “failed to get ethics in on himself,” after all, and he left over $640 million, having survived very well indeed. He had no concern for the poor Sea Org members, who had eked out a very meager existence on rice and beans, without health care, vacations or even time with their own children. He was a “tiger” and they were suckers, as far as he was concerned.

In his vitally important model of thought reform, Robert Jay Lifton spoke of “loaded language.” Words become “thought-terminating clichés,” inhibiting further thinking. So, after years of degradation and violation of their civil and legal rights, many former Sea Organization members have accepted that they were “freeloaders” and paid a “freeloader bill,” without considering the implication of this derogatory term.

They are caught up in Hubbard’s peculiar notion of “exchange”: Sea Org defectors really can believe that after devoting years of their lives – at 90 hours a week, for a few cents an hour – they should still pay full-price for the “services” they took, because they have failed in their contractual obligation and not lasted out the requisite billion years. First, Hubbard enslaved them, and, if they escaped, he made them pay for their time as slaves.

On leaving any high-control group it is very necessary to consider the language that keeps members in thrall. For instance, “SP” must stand for “social personality,” judging by the many friends I have who have earned the title.

Please add your comments and observations below, and then move over to the Open Minds website and add a few comments and observations there, too.

–Jon Atack


Bonus items from our tipsters

Save the date: October 6-8 is the weekend in East Grinstead, England for this year’s International Association of Scientologists annual gala. As ever, we’ll be looking for evidence of whether Tom Cruise makes the scene, and if he’s wearing his medal! Our tipster also notes that the Los Angeles celebration, with video from England, will take place at the new Valley org. How cozy.


Also, this year’s live New Year’s Eve celebration, which always takes place in Los Angeles, will be held at the Shrine Auditorium at a very early date this year — December 16.


We had fun speaking with Adena Bannick for her show “Meta Mondays” recently. She let us blather on and on…



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,881 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 27 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,090 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,864 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,638 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,984 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,478 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,518 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,230 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 756 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,845 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,985 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,305 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,280 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 636 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,938 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,045 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,447 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,320 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 901 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,406 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,650 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,759 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 22, 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 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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