Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Jon Atack: Seduction, recruitment, and Scientology’s hard sell

Our thanks to the readers who wished Jon Atack a happy birthday recently, because it inspired him to check in with us…

Thanks to all for the good wishes on my birthday! It was most gratifying to read so many kind comments.

I’ve been away from the Bunker for far too long, but have not been idle in my absence: I was working on the creation of the Open Minds Foundation. I have long been concerned that there is very little preventative information out there, so gave four years to putting that vital material online for all to see.

I feel that it is imperative for us to proof the coming generation from the tricks and traps of predatory people and groups, so I also published the book Opening Minds to sum up the characteristics shared by such people and groups.

After finishing the fundamental content of the Open Minds website, I decided to concentrate on YouTube videos, where most people go for information these days. I’m happy to report that our first two videos are now on our new Opening Minds channel at YouTube.


While the Open Minds Foundation is a registered non-profit corporation, Opening Minds is a gathering of like-minded people who want to share and discuss ideas about exploitative persuasion. We’d love you to join in, so please check out our Facebook group, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

The two most significant areas of concern are how to spot human predators, and the techniques of seduction and recruitment that they and their agents use. Once the techniques are widely known, far less people will fall for them, and, as these techniques rely upon normal, everyday behavior, once someone understands them, they will know that they’re being sold something other than the charming friendship that seems to be on offer. If they understand the basics of recruitment, our kids will shy away from Scientology, the Moonies, a pick-up artist, a pedophile groomer, and even the local ISIS recruiter.

I was just nineteen when I sought out Scientology’s Birmingham Franchise after reading the first book of Hubbard’s Science of Survival. I didn’t join the staff, but I soon found myself out on the street with a clipboard, asking strangers what they would most like to be, do and have, as a way of luring them into the franchise for a free personality test (and, no, there is no such thing as a free personality test).

It interested me that the more experienced Scientologists never took to the streets with a clipboard. It seems that the enhanced communication which is the basis of Scientology does not apply to communicating with “dead-in-the-head, raw meat wogs” (to use Hubbard’s colorful expressions for non-members).

I was fairly successful; indeed, I still have the book that I was presented for my endeavours. I was quickly introduced to Hubbard’s Dissemination Drill (HCOPL 23 October 1965 – see Jeff Hawkins’ wise comments on this drill). Here, I learned how to make contact, to handle any objections to Scientology, to “save from ruin” and to “bring to understanding.”

I balked at the “ruin” part of the drill: “… you must find out what their own personal ruin is … What is ruining them? What is messing them up?” This seemed invasive and manipulative to me, and I don’t remember using it during my nine years of involvement (I was later awarded the Data Series Evaluator’s Course for bringing in even more customers).

Once you’ve found the “ruin” you can play on “fear of worsening.” In his “Awareness Characteristics,” Hubbard lists “ruin” at minus 7, leading to “effect,” and then “fear of worsening,” and then, at minus 4, “need of change.” That change always used to be the Communication Course – no matter what the problem was. Problems with your spouse? The Comm Course. Problems with money? The Comm Course. Problems at work? The Comm Course (oh, and a copy of Problems of Work).

Over the years, I introduced many people to Scientology. At least 14 of them took courses. I’m happy to say that they all left, with or without my help. I’m told that, since then, one or two more have reconsidered their belief in Scientology through my efforts, or at least moved to a less authoritarian form.

Out in the wider world these many years, I’ve made a study of influence and recruitment techniques. Scientology, of course, expands those techniques into the “hard sell.” Recruitment is after all simply a subset of selling.

Hubbard was outspoken on the topic of hard selling. In a despatch called “What is Life Worth? The Importance of Hard Sell,” Hubbard said, “HARD SELL is … a MUST in dissemination and selling of services and materials.” [Quoted in International Management Bulletin No.108, 29 September 1987, emphasis in the original.] Elsewhere, he said, “You tell him that he is going to sign up right now and he is going to take it right now … One does not describe something, one commands something. You will find that a lot of people are in a more or less hypnotic daze … and they respond to direct commands in literature and ads. Hard Sell means insistence that people buy.” [HCO PL 26 September 1979, Issue III.]

Hubbard made his intentions clear in this passage: “NEVER let anyone simply walk out … And never let a student leave or quit – introvert him like a bullet.” [HCOB 29 September 1959, The Organization of a PE Foundation, emphasis in the original.] Further, “You have to be willing to invade privacy, very definitely … [recruits] don’t have any rights!” [13 May 1959, Second Lecture on Clearing Methodology.] So, there we have it: recruits don’t have any rights.

Nor do members, when it comes right down to it. Imagine what the world would be like if authoritarian and predatory groups and people thought in the same way as Ron Hubbard. Well, actually, we don’t have to use much imagination; because they do.

In researching Opening Minds, I came across a manual used by Al Qaeda for recruitment – Abu Amru Al Qa’idy’s A Course in the Art of Recruiting. On creating rapport, the author comments, “Don’t criticize the candidate's behavior. Thank him for any help, even if it is just a little. Caution: don’t disregard his opinion or his manner of thinking, but let him express his opinion even if it opposes yours … Be close to him in order to get to know more about his character.”

This pretense of friendship is common throughout the world of sales. After returning to the nest, Al Qaeda recruiters filled out a form, to make sure they’d followed the steps precisely. Not unlike the supervision of recruiters in Scientology.


Part of the horror of recruitment in Scientology is that we were so convinced that we were offering salvation that we were willing to manipulate people. Recruiters become the agents of predators – who are more than willing to manipulate everyone. Recruiters will adopt the behavior and especially the deceptive practices taught to them in their group. So, in the Children of God (or Family of Love) women were trained to recruit through prostitution or “flirty fishing.” Moonies were perfectly willing to use “heavenly deception.” These tactics of seduction, recruitment, and hard sell are everywhere — and I want to show everyone, particularly young people — how to spot these tactics and the people who use them.

I would be highly obliged if you would take a look at our new videos and carry on the discussion in our YouTube comments section, because it is only through open and free debate that we can make the world a safer place, and better protect society from human predators. And once we’ve seduced enough people into watching our videos, and recruited them into our cult, we can change the world! In the meantime, we’ll soon share another video about my then 14 year old son’s Unification Church of Saminanity, which over a period of a few weeks accumulated about 50 members and showed that Hubbard’s notion that 2.5 percent of the population are Suppressives is scientifically unfounded, as Sam had to expel four members – or 8 percent – as SEPs (from the scripture of Douglas Adams – “somebody else’s problem”).

Until the next time!

— Jon Atack


Bonus items from our tipsters

Charlie Wakley and his troops from the London Ideal Org made a foray into Brixton. Said Charlie: “I love just getting to meet random people from all different backgrounds and cultures and getting to know more about them. People are so interesting!! The two things I learned today is that one people are invariably basically beautiful and good at heart and two we all need help with our mental health.”



HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

THURSDAY NIGHT OPPORTUNITY: This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. But we also want to point out that Cathy Schenkelberg’s “Squeeze My Cans” will be running at the Hollywood Fringe, and we encourage HowdyCon attendees to see her show on Thursday night, June 20. Tickets and more dates available here.

Friday night June 21 we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.



Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greta Van Susteren]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Why are New York politicians such easy marks for Scientology?
[TWO years ago] Photos shot by L. Ron Hubbard in 1975 capture how the founder wanted Scientology marketed
[THREE years ago] Karla Zamudio on Scientology, and capturing Marc and Claire Headley in the short film ‘Escape’
[FOUR years ago] Google helps Scientology billionaire Bob Duggan hide a dark family secret
[FIVE years ago] Why Giovanni Ribisi told Marc Maron there are no aliens in Scientology: A theory
[SIX years ago] This is Your Dianetics on Drugs: The Nitrous Engram
[SEVEN years ago] How a Scientologist Loses Faith in His Church: A Case Study
[EIGHT years ago] ‘Inside Scientology’ Promises a Lot, And Delivers: David Miscavige Has Much to Worry About


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,476 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,605 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,109 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,629 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 649 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 540 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,847 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,715 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,489 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,263 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,609 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,175 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,095 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,262 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,843 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,104 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,143 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,855 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,381 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,470 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,610 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,930 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,786 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,905 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,260 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,563 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,669 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,071 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,943 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,526 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,021 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,275 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,384 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 13, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email