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Jon Atack and Chris Shelton answer the question: Are cult members stupid?

Jon Atack and Chris Shelton teamed up for a new video this week. Jon’s helper Spike Robinson describes what’s in it…

 “Are cult members stupid?” It’s a question to raise the hackles of any cult survivor, and rightly so. Despite years of evidence showing that those who are seduced into authoritarian groups are, in fact, intelligent, altruistic, idealistic and often highly educated, the myth of the “stupid” cult member persists. In this rollicking and wide-ranging discussion with Jon Atack, Chris Shelton suggests a helpful and innovative re-framing of the question, suggesting a way to reconcile the stupid, irrational beliefs with the intelligent, otherwise rational human being clinging to those beliefs.

Jon answers with a historical tour of so-called “cult stupidity,” showcasing the fervent, irrational beliefs of such scientific notables as Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, and Neils Bohr. After a brief but germane detour into the problematic history of drug prohibition, the duo debates whether human society is inherently authoritarian. They then consider the importance of educating children to recognize predatory people and manipulative behaviors: Jon mentions Ira Chaleff’s exciting work on this topic, particularly his “Blink, Think, Choice, Voice” initiative for children, and Chris is kind enough to bring up the helpful information he found in Jon’s “Opening Our Minds.”

Jon and Chris finish by sharing some thoughts on the importance of humility and the willingness to accept that we might be wrong.




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Source Code

“We have, in this universe, space has a peculiarity. And there are three kinds of space. Three kinds of space: there’s ‘was space,’ ‘is space’ and ‘will be space.’ There are three kinds of space. And how is this space formed? By postulating it exists….Somebody was serious. And I think the whole, the title of this whole play ‘MEST universe’ could be on that line: ‘Somebody Was Serious.’ And the title of Dianetics could be ‘One Was Stubborn.’ All right.” — L. Ron Hubbard, November 20, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Recent surveys have revealed that the great and glorious Welfare State period is about to come to a screeching halt. A world recession is already in progress. U.S. currency, the only international money, is rapidly devaluating and may become completely worthless in the very near future. Scandinavia, wehre Welfare Socialism was the order of the day for decades, is on the verge of a crash. Welfarism is the idea that the people can get something without exchanging anything. Over 50 percent of the U.S. population at this time is on a hand-out kick. The Great White Father in Washington is supposed to be able to endlessly spend money which it itself is not covered by production. This brings about money worthlessness because the money isn’t buying anything.” — The Commodore, November 20, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“I still maintain we are missing the real thing. Sitting on a rock with an OT48 certificate seeing people like Trump actually being an Operating Thetan is humbling. There are other examples of people who change the course of history, make loads of money, handle suppression and an old body and still keeps a seriouly gorgeous woman happy and productive. So I have to ask, how have the OT levels worked out for us?”


Past is Prologue

1999: A French court this week handed down guilty verdicts and sentences for Marseilles Scientologists now convicted of fraud. From Reuters: “A French court on Monday jailed a former leader of the Church of Scientology for six months, with a further 18 months suspended, for fraud. Xavier Delamare, an ex-leader of the church in southeastern France, was also fined 100,000 francs ($15,750). Five other members of the church were given suspended sentences ranging from six months to a year. One of the defendants, who has turned against the group and accused Delamare of sending him on shady fundraising missions, was cleared. The seven Scientologists went on trial last September on charges of fraud, violence and illegally practising medicine in connection with courses in spiritual purification organised for church members. Delamare’s lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne said after the verdict that the proceedings had smacked of lynch law. The trial was marred by the disappearance of legal evidence, which authorities blamed on a court clerk’s mistake. Legal documents that could have been used as evidence against the movement in two other cases have also gone missing.”


Random Howdy

“I worked off and on in the restaurant/hotel industry for years. When the kitchen got slammed i.e busy, pretty soon tempers would flare and everybody would be cursing one another left and right (sometimes it turned to mild violence). Cooks attacking servers, they in turn attacking the busboys who would in turn attack the dishwashers. When it was over everybody would go to the bar, get loaded and try to have sex with each other forgetting the previous transgressions. Words spoken in the heat of the moment mean nothing.”



Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for February 8. Trial scheduled for August 29, 2022.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference December 17 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments held November 2, awaiting a ruling.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9, 2020 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] This changes everything: Scientology ups its cool quotient in swanky London
[TWO years ago] Scientology leader David Miscavige: Screw your lawsuit, you didn’t serve me properly
[THREE years ago] Someone doesn’t want you to see this rich Scientologist act like a rich Scientologist
[FOUR years ago] Charles Manson and Scientology: What the church doesn’t want you to know
[FIVE years ago] Scientology is making this world ideal, one renovated building at a time
[SIX years ago] Five months later, Ponzi schemer and Scientologist Reed Slatkin is still dead
[SEVEN years ago] Did a fashion website give a big boost to a Scientology infiltrator of NYC schools?
[EIGHT years ago] Claire and Bruce Take Us Into the Bizarre World of Scientology’s Operating Thetan Two!
[NINE years ago] Fox 25 in Oklahoma City Keeps Up the Pressure on Scientology’s Drug Rehab Deaths
[TEN years ago] Scientology, Indubitably: NYC Anons Make Their Fancy Raid on the 46th Street ‘Org’


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,490 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,995 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,515 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,535 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,426 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,733 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,601 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,375 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,705 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,179 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,495 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,061 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,980 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,148 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,729 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,990 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,026 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,741 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,266 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 621 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,796 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,347 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,496 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,816 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,671 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,790 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,146 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,449 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,555 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,953 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,829 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,412 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,907 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,161 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,270 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 20, 2021 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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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