2018-06-21, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
It's been a long time since I've done a critical thinking video but I've had some things happen recently that made me think it was time to do this. I've been chastised for offering advice to others or telling other people how to think, so instead of doing that, in this video I'm just going to talk about myself.
For me, it's always been easy to challenge other people's or other group's ideas. Challenging my own or my own group's has been very difficult. There's social pressure, I piss off my friends, I don't always express myself well and that also pisses people off and even if I do express myself perfectly, saying stuff that goes against the grain always runs the risk that people will think I'm nuts.
On the other hand, living in an echo chamber is easy. It's very easy. It's very comfortable. No one disagrees with you. Everyone's on the same page. All you gotta do is go with the flow and don't make waves. I did that for years in Scientology.
(Dax Shepard and Erika Christensen)
Your proprietor was on a family vacation a couple of weeks ago when a splash of Scientology celebrity news lit up the intertubes. Erika Christensen, second-generation Scientologist and accomplished actress, had uttered some interesting things about the church in a podcast with her actor friend, Dax Shepard.
Except for a few utterances we made on Twitter, we weren't really in a good position to react to what was going on, but now we've had a little time to review what was said in that podcast and, more importantly, how it was presented to the world by the media.
2017-06-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is a question that came up in a recent discussion I had.
It is based on two facts that scientology hold as true and indisputable:
Scientologists believe they are the ONLY ONES who can save the planet because they are the only ones that have "the technology" to accomplish this objective. Hubbard says that the most important people on earth are auditors and the ONLY WAY to clear the planet is by training auditors (not just by auditing people - because you cannot audit them without auditors).
Scientology has billions of dollars.
One of the reasons that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, invaded the town of Clearwater, Florida in 1975 to make it Scientology's "spiritual" headquarters, was that he was running out of ports where he was welcome. Hubbard had set sail in 1967 with a ragtag group of young followers who traveled with him on three ships, eventually renamed the Apollo, the Athena, and the Diana. For the next eight years, Hubbard ran the worldwide organization from the Apollo, his flagship, except for several months he spent hiding out in a couple of apartments in Queens, New York in 1972-1973.
One of the reasons why the small armada kept on the move through the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and finally the Caribbean was that it got chased away from numerous ports by governments that eventually figured out what was going on and that the ships were not a floating "school," as the cover story went. Finally, with very few ports left, in 1975 Hubbard made plans to come back to land, and surreptitiously began buying up properties in Clearwater while hiding out in Daytona.
Today, Scientology carries on its sailing tradition with the Freewinds, a private cruise ship which is the only place where wealthy Scientologists can attain the highest step on the "Bridge to Total Freedom," the auditing level known as "Operating Thetan Eight." (For a fun look at OT 8's wacky early history, see our story about a man named George White.) The Freewinds also hosts other expensive week-long seminars for Scientologists, and it is the site of a very special week of festivities known as "Maiden Voyage," which takes place in June and commemorates the formal launching of the Freewinds as Scientology's ultimate destination in 1988.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) launched a criminal case against members of the St. Petersburg branch of the Church of Scientology suspected of engaging in illegal business activities, the FSB regional department's spokesperson Natalia Voskresenskaya told RAPSI on Tuesday.
The FSB officers have conducted searches in St. Petersburg, Leningrad Region and Moscow, in offices and apartments of alleged participants of illegal activity, Voskresenskaya said. Documents supporting investigation's theory that the Church of Scientology branch members had sold goods and services in violation of law were seized.
Investigators believe that the suspects' activity had interregional nature.
It's been nearly four years since Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, was found dead at Scientology's flagship drug rehab center, Narconon Arrowhead, in Oklahoma. Two other patients at the clinic had died in just the previous nine months, but it was Stacy's death that particularly shocked local and national media, leading to a new focus on the problems at Scientology's rehabs.
The lawsuits in those other Narconon Arrowhead deaths of 2011 and 2012, of Gabriel Graves and Hillary Holten, have been settled. But the lawsuit filed by the parents of Stacy Murphy Robert Murphy and Tonya White not only hasn't been resolved, now two of the defendants in the case have asked Judge Jim D. Bland to grant them summary judgment.
Narconon International (NI) and the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), the two Scientology umbrella groups which license and oversee Narconon clinics, have submitted a lengthy brief to the court, asking the court to find for them without having to go to trial. They argue that Murphy and White have not been able to prove the assertion in their complaint, that NI and ABLE not only license Narconon centers but also exert enough control over them to have been liable in Stacy Murphy's death.
2016-06-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
After years of promises, now we know: in 6 weeks Pasadena IS going to be "SH Size".
Remember when they had the Sea OrgMission "making them SH Size"? It was about 6 months ago. Fizzled.
Remember when they opened the "Ideal Org" in 2010. Nothing.
Hollywood may never be the same again now that the Church of Scientology has opened its new movie studios, which they claim has bigger and better facilities than Paramount.
Leader David Miscavige announced to the world that this will be an 'uncorrupted communications line to the billions', as Scientology promises to reach 'virtually every person on Earth'.
The colossal studio complex on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles was finally unveiled after five years of renovations at a cost of at least $50 million on May 28.
2015-06-21, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The tenth installment of my question-and-answer video show, where I take up questions subscribers and commenters have asked me in my videos and answer them as best I can. Questions in this video are:
(1) Do you think most staff members are there to truly help a person spiritually or is it more about the stats and how much money or sales they can make? I always wrestle with that question and would like to think they are there to help. I've heard other people say they don't care at all about people in general and it's all about the money.
(2) I was in Scientology a long time ago, and only recently realized it was a cult. I don't remember much about the thought control that apparently went on, I just remember reading a lot. You've talked perhaps to many others. Do you know of a book that would be good to read, or a person I might talk to, just to ferret out any effects it has had on my thinking? I am fine, just thought I should do it.
Thanks to researcher R.M. Seibert and the MuckRock website, we've been receiving some pretty great original documents about L. Ron Hubbard and his family lately, some of which have never been seen in public or put online before.
Much of it is also very serious, and is having us rethink some of the historical record about Hubbard and Scientology. But also, there's some fun stuff. Like the new file that came through Friday.
It's a document that we've found online before, but only in textual format. Is this the first time L. Ron's actual full set of fingerprints have been online? We think it is, but either way we still think it's fun!
The Church of Scientology started a big-money lobbying relationship with the U.S. State Department during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.
Greg Mitchell, proprietor of The Mitchell Firm, is Scientology's official Washington lobbyist. A church member, Mitchell works to help the church gain mainstream credibility and to lobby on behalf of issues the church cares about, like criminal justice reform and religious freedom in foreign countries.
2015-06-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
They are really pumping this one up. It would normally be in with the rest of the Thursday Funnies, but it is remarkable for a few reasons.
First, Tom Burton rates top billing over D/COB for Lookalikes, Gavin Potter. Yet GP is an "International Keynote Speaker" and "Sea Org Officer." Those titles just aren't what they used to be.
Second, why isn't Tom Burton imparting his brilliance ("vital LRH tech"?) to help all these struggling orgs that are going nowhere (starting with the Moneywinds)? If this guy is so brilliant why isn't he single handedly changing the course of scientology?
Coverage of the June 2015 "Getting Clear" Conference on Scientology in Toronto
I am attending the June 2015 "Getting Clear" conference on Scientology in Toronto, both as an invited speaker and to cover the event.
As part of efforts to evolve my coverage, I am experimenting with a new online platform for this event.
The Church of Scientology contract below is the real thing.
This contract allows the Church of Scientology to remove any of its parishioners from psychiatric confinement and lock then up in a Church of Scientology facility for an indefinite basis.
This contract was what killed Lisa McPherson. After she had a mental breakdown the Church removed from the emergency roon and locked her up in the Fort Harrison. Badly in need of real medical care, Lisa McPherson was deprived any medical help and died 17 days later in confinement at the Fort Harrison.
2014-06-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A bit of fun to kick off the weekend.
You will all be relieved to hear that THIS Maiden Voyage is all about "aesthetics."
It also seems they have rolled back time. Though the 25th Anniversary of the MV HotAir was last year, and though the magnificent Dear Leader cancelled that event because he was too busy preparing for GAG II (which then didn't arrive til November), he has simply proclaimed THIS year to be the 25th anniversary so he could use the video put together for last year's aborted MV. And my word everyone, those silver streamers (also salvaged from last year) are just SOOO aesthetic.
Our legal helpers have been working overtime as it gets tougher and tougher to keep an eye on everything going on in Scientology litigation around the country.
Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton keeps plowing away, and has filed yet another federal fraud lawsuit against Scientology's drug rehab network, Narconon.
The Georgia class-action Narconon lawsuit: Scientology counters
First motion to dismiss in the giant NAFC lawsuit
Scientology members agree to be kidnapped by contract
Neil Gaiman's new book, The Ocean at the End of Lane, is garnering good reviews and a lot of attention as his first novel for adults in eight years. Gaiman, 52, is well known for his fantasy and science fiction, including The Sandman comic series, the Hugo-winning novel American Gods, the Hugo-winning novella Coraline, and much more.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a mesmerizing read that should please Gaiman's many fans. We were charmed by its tale of childhood danger and myth stemming from a mysterious suicide on a country lane.
But there's also a lot here to consider for Scientology watchers. As Gaiman has said in press interviews, his idea for the book came from an actual suicide of a lodger staying in his family's home a short distance from Scientology's UK headquarters, where Neil's father was a prominent executive. And now that we've read it, we can say there's a lot more about Neil's Scientology past that makes this an interesting read.
2013-06-21, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The church of Scientology and David Miscavige have had zero influence on my recent announcement that I will no longer wear the label "Scientologist." Scientology Inc. lost in their effort to silence us and to prevent us from using what we learned of the mind and spirit from L. Ron Hubbard's work. We succeeded in our four-year effort to free the methodologies of Hubbard for independent application in accordance with practitioners' consciences. What prompted me to eschew the "Scientologist" label was the conduct of those we paved the way for while we were withstanding the very best shots Scientology Inc. could and did take at us.
I hold no malice for any particular individuals. I understand and so too might you if you read and consider Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior that these folks really are doing everything they can to be the very best Scientologists they think they can be. And that is at the heart of the sickness they exhibit. While we were fighting for their right to practice Scientology, eleven folks instead of practicing it figured out how to monopolize it, at least in their own minds. They put together a corporation that proclaims ownership of independent Scientology under the name Milestone Two Ltd. Based on my experience with its secretly chosen 11 founding member ruling council, having read as much as I could of their charter before giving up after losing count of the points of hypocrisy (and duplication of the original Scn Inc intent and activity, including policing in KSW and a 'justice committee' to deal with 'out-ethics actions which are destructive to statistics') within it, I concluded that if these folks were honest they would call themselves "Scientology Inc, Ltd" or perhaps "Squirrelbusters Light." And that is how I will refer to them from here on out.
I am going to share some facts that led to this conclusion (mostly in the chosen 11's words). But I am not going to single out individuals. I care for them all. I still hope one day they too can graduate from the cult mindset within which they are imprisoned. And while some of them have declared me an SP, in Treason, a Squirrel and as we shall see worse - I will not return the fire because I understand, like their alleged second biggest bogeyman (apparently I am number one now) David Miscavige, how they are simply an inevitable product of the Scientology system.
2013-06-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A study in twisted logic.
All of Europe's businesses are dependent upon the creation of an "Ideal Org" in Denmark.
With that sort of genius (clearly a master of the Data Series) in play the US should be BOOMING by now, so too South Africa and Australia and Italy and Spain and Denmark and Russia and Sweden and England and Germany.... My God, there should be a planetary economic upsurge the likes of which have never been seen before emanating from the "Ideal Orgs"!
2012-06-21, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Description: The first critical treatment of Scientology that seeks to identify and correct what is wrong with it rather than to merely expose or advocate against the subject. A handbook for former, current and prospective members. The book can help to heal any damage done by misuse while rehabilitating any positives derived from Scientology. The book also serves to proof up an individual against being harmed by misapplication of Scientology in the future. As the first simple, accurate description of the philosophy from its introductory to its most advanced levels, the book will inform those interested in Scientology as no other available work has.
2012-06-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The first critical treatment of Scientology that seeks to identify and correct what is wrong with it rather than to merely expose or advocate against the subject. A handbook for former, current and prospective members. The book can help to heal any damage done by misuse while rehabilitating any positives derived from Scientology. The book also serves to proof up an individual against being harmed by misapplication of Scientology in the future. As the first simple, accurate description of the philosophy from its introductory to its most advanced levels, the book will inform those interested in Scientology as no other available work has.
2011-06-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We wrote recently about Jan Eastgate, the Los Angeles-based Aussie who is president of the Scientology front group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which presses Scientology's attack against the psychiatric profession. Eastgate was arrested recently in Sydney on charges of "perverting the course of justice," for encouraging the daughter of a Scientology couple to lie about her sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Last week, Eastgate arrived for a court date, and some Australian journalists got roughed up by what they called "Scientology goons."
Once again you try to paint an ugly picture of a religious movement that has helped hundreds of thousands if not millions of people lead happy and successful lives. So let me address your latest falsehoods.
My experience in Scientology has been incredible.
I have been a member of the Church of Scientology since 1973. I met and married my husband while working for the church. I have raised two sons in the church. They are both practicing Scientologists. They have never taken drugs or abused alcohol. They are ethical and productive members of society. My husband and I have been married 32 years. We are both productive members of society. We both do extensive volunteer work in Clearwater.
Hats off to the St Petersburg Times: by getting two of David Miscavige's key former lieutenants to go public on the violence and abuse at the top of Scientology, they have taken the story mainstream .
Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder, two former lieutenants of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, have gone public on abuses at the top of Scientology.
Their revelations appear in the first of a three-part series in The St Petersburg Times , Florida, by Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin
They also requested interviews with church officials, who initially spoke with the reporters but later responded to Times inquiries with only written answers. The newspaper has given prominence to the church's responses.
Scientologists and former Scientologists revealed aspects of the church previously unknown to the public, including how church upper level managers engaged in violent behavior, how the church controls its members and how it pressures and pesters them to donate far beyond their financial means.
The result of the Times' reporting is this multi-part special report, the latest in a long history of Scientology coverage by the newspaper. The Times won a Pulitzer Prize for a 1979 report on Scientology. And in the years since, with the church's Clearwater headquarters in the Times' prime coverage area, the in-depth reporting has continued.
David Miscavige joined the Church of Scientology at age 16 and has been its leader since 1987. Now, former top church officials have come forward to describe a culture of violence under Miscavige. For the full St. Petersburg Times special report on Scientology and David Miscavige, see Scientology: The Truth Rundown.
LISA MCPHERSON TIMELINE: This is part of a St. Petersburg Times special report on Scientology. For the full report, see tampabay.com/scientology .
1994: Lisa McPherson, a longtime Scientologist, moves from Dallas to Clearwater with her employer, AMC Publishing. The company is operated and staffed mostly by Scientologists who want to be close to the church's spiritual headquarters.
September 1995: In a ceremony at the Fort Harrison Hotel, Lisa McPherson is publicly declared "clear," a state in which a Scientologist is said to be free of inhibitions caused by painful images in the subconscious. In her last five years, McPherson spent more than $175,000 on Scientology counseling. She is 36.
The leader of the Church of Scientology struck his subordinates numerous times and set an example for physical violence among the tightly controlled religion's management team, four former high-ranking executives told a newspaper for a story published Sunday.
The executives who have since left the organization told The St. Petersburg Times that they witnessed David Miscavige, chairman of the board that oversees the church, hit staff members dozens of times.
"It was random and whimsical. It could be the look on your face. Or not answering a question quickly. But it always was a punishment," said Mike Rinder, who oversaw the church's legal and media relations operations. Rinder said he was struck many times by Miscavige and that he also hit others before leaving in 2007.
Scientology, which was established in Los Angeles in 1954, describes itself as the handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others, and all of life. Following are details about Scientology's beliefs and history.
Scientology, which was established in Los Angeles in 1954, describes itself as the handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others, and all of life. Following are details about Scientology's beliefs and history.
In Scientology, a person is an immortal spiritual being a "thetan" from the Greek letter "theta," meaning "spirit" who has a body and a mind and lives on from lifetime to lifetime. By following Scientology practices, a person can achieve spiritual awareness.
Scientologists believe that the "reactive mind," the part that works on a stimulus-response basis not under the individual's control commands one's awareness, purposes, thoughts, body and action.
This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology's powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.
Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology's celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
One by one, the four defectors walked away from the only life they knew. That Rathbun and Rinder are speaking out is a stunning reversal because they were among Miscavige's closest associates, Haldeman and Ehrlichman to his Nixon.
2009-06-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
As recently as 2007, in a BBC special, Rinder was seen denying rumors that Miscavige -- who is supposed to be the worldwide leader of a religion based on the ethical treatment of human beings -- actually maintains order by physically beating his staff, including high-ranking managers like Rinder himself.
Now, Rinder is out and telling the St. Pete Times that he lied in that BBC special. It's true, he says, that Miscavige is a terror, slapping and beating and humiliating his employees.
After eight hours, when reporters readied to leave, church spokesman Tommy Davis brought in nine senior members of the management team. They stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the exit and insisted they be heard. Marc Yager, Guillaume Lesevre, Ray Mithoff, Mark Ingber, all said Miscavige never struck them.
The St. Petersburg Times is running a massive report on Scientology, focusing on leader David Miscavige and high-ranking defectors spilling on him. Revealed: Miscavige's sadistic temper. Like when he made staffers play 'violent' musical chairs, scored to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The three-part expose, which continues tomorrow and on Tuesday, had Times reporters out doing serious nose-to-the-grindstone reporting, gathering history, interviews, and sitting for hours with Scientology flacks and reps. They published plenty of material Scientology gave them, including a letter from Miscavige about him not being interviewed for the article, though the Times asserts that they "first requested an interview with Mr. Miscavige on May 13, and offered to meet with him in person, or interview him by telephone at any time since."
Tom Cruise wasn't always so cool. In fact, it's taken him years (and tens of millions of dollars, we hear) to achieve the special brand of inner bliss that allows him to shrug off getting squirted in the face with water on the red carpet. How'd Cruise do it?