Scientology - what rock have I been under?

Their beliefs aren’t any crazier than other religions, and they are much smaller than many. They can be nasty if you encounter them, but adherents of the big religions do more harm by sheer numbers and power. When you get right down to it, you pretty much can’t make any claims more extreme than mainstream Christianity, with all its talk about omni-/eternal/infinite stuff.

This thread says otherwise. :wink: I think the Xenu stuff is very well known to Comedy Central viewers and people who spend a lot of time on Internet forums, for example, but for the most part I wouldn’t expect a lot of other people to know about it. I’m not saying nobody knows, but most people don’t- and if you’re the type of person who would even consider Scientology for a microsecond, you are probably in that second group.

Der Trihs,
Yea, but somehow it’s more fun to pick on Scientology.

I’m pretty sure Tom Cruise is convinced he could fly like Superman if he wanted to. But they’ve convinced him that he doesn’t want to.

It depends on how you look at it. The claims of Christianity are flat out impossible, but as Dirk Gently pointed out, the impossible often has a sort of integrity lacking in the merely implausible.

Scientology’s claims are merely implausible in the sense that in a different universe with different laws of physics, they could, at a stretch, be true. Christianity has implausible claims as well, but they tend to minimize them and dress them up with impossible but plausible BS (“But God’s omnipotent, so of course he could stop the sun!”) Scientology not only doesn’t dress up its ridiculous claims with pseudo-philosophical impossibilities, it flat out tries to hide them and make them secret, which only serves to highlight their blatant, undeniable and totally banal implausibility.

There’s something similar with Mormonism. Even if you were to find their claims about God making baby souls through sexual reproduction with his wife or ancient Israelites in America (themselves more ridiculously implausible than outright impossible), the story that Joseph Smith found the alleged Golden Plates and translated them by putting a “seeing stone” he got from a neighbor in his hat and staring at it (because that was just how normal people did things in Palmyra, NY, in the 1820s) should set off even the most miscalibrated bullshit detector.

The death of Lisa McPherson is pretty disturbing.

It’s not merely McPherson’s death that’s so disturbing – tragic as it is, and the way it highlights the Scientology weirdness. It’s that the Scientologists pressured the Florida Medical Examiner and the guy funding the legal fight against the CoS, and got them both to knuckle under to the Church that shows how they can and will lash out against perceived enemies.

…do none of these “followers” ever stop to think that their “religion” was invented by a science fiction writer? How incredibly gullible are these people?

Incredibly, incredibly gullible. I think there are only around 5,000 Scientologists (they claim their membership is much greater), which shows you how they focus on the very rich and on people who are very bad at critical thinking.

Actually, I think of ol’ L. Ron as a fantasy writer more than a science fiction writer. His most loved stories – “Fear” and “Typewriter in the Sky” are fantasies, along with “Slaves of Sleep” and its sequel “Masters of Sleep”. “Final Blackout” is arguably SF (although it’s ore dystopian war) and the Ole Doc Methuselah stories were. “Return to To morrow”/“Tp the Stars” is, but shows a pretty loose grasp of relativistic time dilation. He wrote lots of air-pilot fiction and westerns, but it wasn’t until he decided, late in life, to do Batrtlefield Earth and his Mission Earth “Dekalogy” that he got back to SF at all.
There was other short fiction, but I’ve never seen it, and I think most of it hasn’t been reprinted – even by the Scientologist’s own Bridge Publications, which probably says something.

Of course their command center looks like the inside of the Enterprise. If you took a crappy science fiction novel (you know, the kind Hubbard wrote) and turned it into a religion, you’d have Scientology.

The Jedi religion is more realistic.

The sad thing about Scientology is that it looks exactly like a parody of a religion* and people still fall for it and give it their money and energy. The good news it’s that it is a very small number of people and there might be even fewer of them if the group didn’t use such coercive methods to grab a hold of people and keep them.

*But not a self-admitted parody like Discordianism. I leave it to you to decide which looks more like a joke: Scientology being founded by a fiction writer or Mormonism being founded by a guy who’d been bought up on charges of being a con artist and who said he’d found angelic artifacts he wouldn’t show to anybody else.

Here’s my theory on Scientology. The reason Hubbard made it so batshit crazy is so potential followers will self-select for gullibility. If you gave the religion even an air of sanity, mildly skeptical people might check it out. The cult will have then wasted their time with that candidate once he eventually realizes just how preposterous it all is. By making the rituals and creation myth as utterly absurd as possible, those who STILL consider it are so stupid and gullible they’ll fall for anything.

I believe the theology is that too much knowledge of the inner workings would harm a pre-clear. So an adherent would actively avoid knowing more. The old joke is, the name ‘Xenu’ was supposedly able to kill a pre-clear. Which just makes people want to shout it out. Obviously, the internet has ruined an obscure religion’s ability to hide its secrets.

But there are other examples: Maori are supposed to not see photos of dead relatives, for years now, web filters have been available to block a certain person using a web browser to reach certain sites with certain images. But if a person really wants to violate the rules, they can evade any such check. Also, the traditional Apache religion requires certain sites and rituals never be shown to women. But those sites are on road maps, if a woman of Apache descent wants to violate the tenets, she can.

Thing is, Scientology uses litigation, and “dirty tricks.” Maori and Apache simply protested at first, and their adherents simply avoided technology until checks could be put in place.

Here’s some links worth checking out from the TomKat thread in Cafe Society:

I read recently the difference between a cult and a religion:

In a cult, there is a person at the top who knows it’s a scam.

In a religion, that person is dead.

You, sir, win an internet (or 3.333 metric ones)

I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Cruise didn’t really buy into all the bullshit. I just think he has a messianic complex and wants to be exalted as a savior, even if it is by a bunch of tards.

You know, the fact that Scientology actively seeks out celebrities and puts them on a higher plane should set off warning bells in anyone’s head. Really, if you look at other religions, their concern is growth and missionary work. Are there Scientology missionaries? I know of their presence in the U.S. and Western Europe, but are they in Africa and Asia, like most missionary-based religions are?

The CoS members that get paraded out, like Cruise and Travolta and Alley, strike me as people with deep emotional scars and potentially harboring secrets. The CoS auditing process means that CoS members share a great deal of personal, potentially damaging information about their lives with auditors… so there’s every incentive to stay in their good graces so these secrets don’t get out. And what population outside of those in political life are most concerned about their image? Celebrities.

They seem to be expressly focused on first world populations, and within those nations, really rich people.

It’s important to note that the high-level defectors really have an issue with David Miscavige, the leader of Scientology. He’s responsible for the elevation of celebrities and the growth of CoS since Hubbard’s death. The defectors describe him as a profane, violent megalomaniac. However, they still believe in Scientology itself.

In all the things I’ve seen about Scientology, I find it odd that the “defense” of Scientology is left to someone like Cruise. He’s not exactly an intellectual heavyweight. Miscavige gave an interview on Nightline years ago but the usual response to challenges to the CoS is litigation.

I can’t tell whether you’re defending Scientology or attacking those many other faiths.