I found myself sitting on Edmondson's sectional couch with a handful of her friends and colleagues from NXIVM, the cultish self-help company she'd helped popularize among actors in Vancouver. Edmondson was a senior proctor and recruiter for the company until she left and became a whistleblower in 2017. We were about to watch an A&E documentary on cults and extreme belief —the first of many television hours that would try to make sense of the now-infamous NXIVM story.
NXIVM, pronounced Nex-ee-um, was a goal-setting program full of idealistic people who wanted to make a difference in the world. Or at least that's what students who signed up were led to believe. Behind the scenes, something unthinkable started happening: women handed over blackmail material believing it was an edgy exercise in facing fears, and that blackmail material was then leveraged to extract naked photos, secrets, assets, and in some cases their participation in sexual acts with NXIVM's founder Keith Raniere. The secret scheme, which branded women and called them slaves, would eventually lead to Raniere's conviction for sex trafficking, racketeering, and other crimes.
That viewing party in 2018 wasn't the last time Edmondson would offer me something exceedingly health-conscious to eat, and it certainly wasn't the last time a documentary would try to unpack the group's so-called world-changing mission. The latest nine-part series on HBO The Vow is the most comprehensive effort yet, with a first episode that hits many of the company's purported selling points: language immersion for kids (not licensed), Tourette's and OCD research (not peer reviewed), and classes that taught people how to get out of their own way.
'Taken,' the third episode of 'Scientology Black Ops,' a special 7NEWS Australia investigation that was cancelled by the network in July, has been leaked to the Internet.
Ten episodes were scheduled to be published to the 7NEWS website on July 14 when the network changed its mind, cancelled the program, and also pulled down a trailer it had made for the series. On August 31, we found that the first episode in the series had been leaked, and we embedded it along with a transcript we prepared. We also did the same for the second episode, 'Witness X,' last Friday.
We've done the same for the third episode, in which 7NEWS reporter Bryan Seymour reports on the remarkable story of Tristan Silverman. A second generation Scientologist, she worked as an intern for director Paul Haggis when she was only 15. She later left Scientology, and she was surprised when Kathy O'Gorman, a longtime operative in Scientology's secret police, the Office of Special Affairs, called her up and began asking about Haggis.
This week I welcome back Dr. Jonas Kaplan, a cognitive neuroscientist in Los Angeles who has been helping us to deconstruct and understand the supercomputer in all of our heads: our brain. This week, we tackle the subject of memory and it's a very interesting ride, especially when we make comparisons to what L. Ron Hubbard had to say about memory in Dianetics. Dr. Kaplan was quite amused and I think you will be too. Enjoy!
Yesterday we looked at how Scientology seems to expend enormous resources for initiatives that really get them almost nowhere. And yet, today we have another reminder that for those still hanging on inside David Miscavige's sinking ship, it's always a sunny day.
One of our more recent additions to the tipster crew has kept us up on some correspondence she's had with Scientology staffers at the org where she herself was once on staff.
Like so many former church members, our tipster has been hit up by these staffers with entreaties to return to Scientology. But our correspondent has had enough of Hubbardism and has been very clear about that in her messages and letters.
2019-09-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
They are promoting the empty new AO in Africa as a bargain basement alternative to the traditional AO's.
These prices are (believe me, even though seem ridiculous) WAY lower than anywhere else.
You can bet the other AO's are less than thrilled about this as they struggle to scrounge public...
A conservative student group could be derecognized for breaking SGA rules, but as the group's future is considered, national representatives have come to rebuild.
The group, Turning Point USA, is a national conservative nonprofit that was founded in 2012. The group seeks to promote ideas of freedom, free markets and limited government, with a focus on high school and college campuses, according to the group's website.
SGA President Jillian Scannell said the group has not done any of the SGA requirements that all recognized groups must do.
Two men who are not students have been tabling around campus since the first day of classes.
Jeffrey Augustine had an odd visitor last week, and we asked him to tell us about it…
On Wednesday, a woman dropped by our house in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz and asked to speak to my wife, Karen de la Carriere. Karen was busy, so I talked to her.
She handed me her card, which identified her as a private investigator named Rebecca Dobkin.
I asked her who she was working for, and she told me she was working for an attorney named Amanda Touchton. I asked her to spell it.
She said that Touchton represented Heber Jentzsch.
2018-09-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is another astonishing statement from L. Ron.
It's accepted as true by the bubble-dwellers, but in fact, it is evident that studying scientology in fact makes you dumber. The more you study, the less you believe you need to think for yourself and the more you are convinced that all you need do to have the answers to every question in life — from why am I crazy to how do I wash windows properly — is to "do what Ron says."
That does NOT make a more intelligent person.
Many cult groups have extensive physical control mechanisms to keep members in line. Scientology, for example, keeps Sea Org staff from defecting by housing them in apartment buildings where the spikes on top of the fence, the surveillance cameras and the motion detectors all point inwards. But physical control to ensure loyalty is an expensive proposition and not all cultic groups can afford to do it. Scientology has had the cash, the free labor pool, the isolated facilities, and lots of time to perfect control of the physical environment.
Nirvana, from the standpoint of cult management, is to perfect the trick of getting people to imprison themselves in the cult mentally, where they become the most effective policeman to ferret out and shut down dissenting thoughts. Here, we look at a case study of how Nancy Salzman, the #2 in the Nxivm cult, used a story about the 9/11 terrorist attacks to not only keep herself on Nxivm's path, but to serve as a lesson to push others to do the same.
Fence at Scientology's "Int Base," with motion detectors and lights pointing inwards. Source: WhyWeProtest.net
CLEARWATER — Alessio Zavaglia stopped by his Cleveland Street Cafe late Saturday night to do one last walk-through before Hurricane Irma's landfall.
As he approached his building, there were strangers with gloves and hammers boarding up his storefront's glass windows.
He wasn't expecting it, but the Church of Scientology had come to secure his business before the expected Category 4 winds. And within 12 hours, Scientology volunteers boarded every other storefront in the downtown district too.
2017-09-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Thanks to everyone who took the time to express their support for The Aftermath.
There are way to many people to thank individually. Know that the support is what gives us and the brave people who come on the show strength.
I am implementing the guidelines laid out below for this blog now.
We're still marveling at the juxtaposition — that the same weekend Leah Remini took home an Emmy award for her A&E series Scientology and the Aftermath, a major hurricane was barreling down on the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.
Talk about the scene of an accident. But with a busted ankle, Operating Thetan 7 Big Being Tom Cruise was in no shape to come to Flag's rescue, even though he has a new condo penthouse that got bull's-eyed by the storm.
Now, cheekiness aside, we're bringing this up because Scientologists actually take this stuff pretty seriously. And the combination of devastating hits being taken by the church must be leaving a mark, right?
Rather than honestly considering the many criticisms leveled against the Church of Scientology, Scientologists ignore the facts and instead call for increasing levels of censorship as the answer. This is both delusional and unrealistic in a free society. Nevertheless, censorship is the only answer the Scientology Cult has to its critics.
A leaked post from a secret Scientologist-only Facebook group calls for more censorship:
The Facebook entry above shows the cultic mindset of Scientology: Censorship of all things critical of Scientology is the answer! The Church of Scientology will never consider reform. Rather, due to the Master Race doctrine at the core of Scientology, the Church of Scientology wants to impose its will upon the world and force the world to conform to Scientology's deviant ways. Founder L. Ron Hubbard expressed it this way:
2016-09-11, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The show where I answer questions left in the comments section of my Q&A videos or sent to me by email at AskChrisShelton@gmail.com. This week, the questions I take up are:
(1) When you where going to all the different orgs and seeing the fail that COB was creating with the ideal orgs, were you doing any auditing during this time? What about sec checks? Could you explain how a Sea Org mission works?
(2) If Scientology doesn't want to be viewed as a kooky space alien cult, then how do they explain away the Church of Spiritual Technology? Scientology "scriptures" sealed in 2,300 titanium capsules in "calamity-proof vaults" in the middle of nowhere? Titanium is not cheap, and digging bomb shelters in the desert, with directional markers carved in the earth that can only be seen from the air or space – sure, that sounds completely not weird. What was your knowledge of these sites when you were in the Sea Org? Did you have any second- or third-hand knowledge of what these vaults were really like (shiny and high tech, I hope)? Or is this the ultimate con, with 100% of the money that is regged for the CST funneled into the IAS slush fund?
(Former City Councilman Dan Halloran (center), in 2013 with Bernard and Meghan Fialkoff)
Often, over the past few years, we've pointed out time and again that a Queens dentist, Bernard Fialkoff, and his daughter, the glamorous Meghan Fialkoff, have infiltrated New York City's schools and police precincts with their Scientology-sponsored anti-drug campaign which is intended to increase the public's exposure to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. We find their story particularly interesting, because it shows that even in supposedly sophisticated New York, Scientology front groups can rope people in with their dubious Scientology message wrapped in "social betterment" language.
This week, Rod Keller takes a closer look for us at what, exactly, the Fialkoffs are peddling. In this case, Dr. Fialkoff is going after New York-area dentists with his message, which Rod shows us is an amalgam of Scientology ideas dressed up as drug education. Take it away, Rod...
2016-09-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Next in the ongoing series of essays by Terra Cognita. See earlier posts here: A Story, Auditing: a PC's Quest for the Holy Grail, The Knowledge Report, Integrity, The Almighty Stat, The Reg, The Horrors of Wordclearing, Why Scientologists Don't FSM, Respect, The Survival Rundown - The Latest Scam, Communication in Scientology... Or Not, Am I Still A Thetan?, To Be Or Not To Be, An Evaluation of Scientology, Fear: That Which Drives Scientology and Justification and Rationalization.
The Way to Happiness – Really?
Ron Hubbard compiled twenty-one precepts into a book called The Way to Happiness. Primarily printed as a pocket-sized pamphlet, TWTH is given away as means of enticing people into Scientology.
Gold Base is one of the largest and most secretive Scientology compounds in the world, and is essentially the religion's headquarters. The church and its members have publicly identified the location as belonging to the religious organisation. It's protected by a sturdy fence and microphones to detect intruders.
But someone has been able to fly a drone over Gold Base and record two 4K-quality videos showcasing life inside Gold Base. Scientology journalist Tony Ortega has published an in-depth examination of the footage with the help of former Scientologists.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - One Saturday morning in August, Pastor Farris Wilks, a brawny man with a close-cut beard, walked up to the altar of the church he leads, the Assembly of Yahweh, 7th Day.
The church, which sits off a two-lane, 75-mph highway, draws most of its members from nearby Cisco, Texas, a town of 3,800 filled with empty storefronts, idled derricks and beat-up houses. Church doctrine considers being gay a serious crime, the Bible to be historically and scientifically accurate in every detail and abortion to be murder, including in cases of rape or incest.
Here's what Assembly of Yahweh believes (PDF)
It was 1995, and Ortega was a rookie reporter. He had written a couple of warm-up articles, but in his search for more ambitious stories, Ortega ended up writing a profile on Rick Alan Ross, an intervention specialist. Ross interested Ortega because he specialized in deprogramming former cult members. Ross was a controversial figure, partly because he had butted heads with the Church of Scientology.
Twenty years later, Ortega has become one of the foremost reporters on the Scientology beat, writing extensively about the church's operations and former members. His 2015 book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, chronicles the 16-year battle between author Paulette Cooper and Scientology's then-militant defenders. Ortega appears in the acclaimed HBO documentary Going Clear. Ortega created a blog, The Underground Bunker, where he writes daily posts about Scientology news and controversies.
As the Daily Beast reported recently in an excellent piece, a government-funded study has been going on for several years in Maryland that is measuring the effect of Scientology's "detoxification" regimen on veterans with Gulf War Syndrome. The study isn't actually testing L. Ron Hubbard's quack theories for how his sauna-and-niacin plan is actually supposed to work (as Jeffrey Augustine recently laid out in all of its goofiness). Instead of putting Hubbard's way-out ideas to the test, the study is only asking its subjects if they feel better after getting some exercise and the sauna treatment.
But even with that low bar to get over, Scientology, it turned out, tried to rig things in its favor.
We learned this after the tireless document hound and friend to the Underground Bunker, R.M. Seibert, made another successful records request with the help of the Muckrock website. The documents she managed to get her hands on provide a narrative of how the years-long study ran into numerous problems with funding and bureaucracy. But our favorite item was the record of a site visit made this March by the Army to inspect how its money was being spent.
Well here's a shock. A patient at Scientology's Watsonville, California drug rehab clinic, Narconon of Northern California, was rushed to an emergency room and died, the state later investigated the clinic and substantiated seven deficiencies — several of them major — and the clinic apparently suffered no penalty at all.
That's pretty shocking, considering what's been happening in the rest of the Narconon system in the years since that 2010 death was investigated in early 2012. Additional patient deaths in Georgia, Michigan, and Oklahoma — where three patients died in only a nine-month period — have led to multiple government investigations and numerous lawsuits.
The incident in California somehow managed to stay under the radar — it hasn't been mentioned in any of recent lawsuits filed against the Watsonville facility by Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton, for example.
2014-09-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Surrounded by Suppression
Another must miss event. Daphna really has a bee in her bonnet about all the "suppression" that is around.
Maybe she has a computer and googled scientology? Those SPs are everywhere, just waiting to pounce!
2013-09-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
More of the book scam.
These $500 unreadable leatherbounds supposedly fund the promotion campaigns for Ideal Orgs.
But despite the collections over the years I have yet to see ANYTHING that is accomplished as a result (other than more books stuffed in the corner of the garage of the sucker that buys them).
Claire Headley is taking us on our journey to train as Scientologists. She and her husband Marc were Sea Org workers who escaped from Scientology's International Base in 2005. She spent years working with Scientology's "tech," and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. Go here to see the first part in this series.
Claire, we're so happy to be finishing up the Grades. We've been pretty amazed at what rates people pay on these levels, and what they get in return. Let's see what we get here on "Expanded Grade Four."
CLAIRE: Expanded Grade 4 is known for handling your service facsimiles.
2012-09-11, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Karen de la Carriere with Alexander Jentzsch at his wedding to Andrea Evans I talked earlier today to Ed Winter, assistant chief coroner of Los Angeles County, who tells me that he's ruling Alexander Jentzsch's death an accident.
The 27-year-old son of Scientology president Heber Jentzsch was found dead on the morning of July 3 at the home of his in-laws. Winter has now determined that Alexander was suffering from pneumonia while he was on a prescription of methadone. His injury was "drug intake," Winter says, and "final mode" of death an accident.
"What you're telling me sounds like an accidental drug overdose while he was very sick," I said to Winter.
2012-09-11, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Somehow Steve Hall came up with the idea, or knowingness, that when 500 people stood up, told the sociopath David Miscavige 'no' to his campaign to wipe Scientology from the face of earth, and vowed to take action to salvage Scientology a tipping point would be achieved. A tipping point is a term of art defined as follows in Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point:
...the moment of critical mass, the threshhold, the boiling point.
(The Tipping Point - Little, Brown and Company)
2010-09-11, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
One of the reasons I call Dave Lubow Lil' Dave or Mini-Dave is that historically he is brought in in times of desperation for David Miscavige when Black Ops are called for in his mind. For many years we made a conscious effort to keep a tight reign on investigations so that no felonies were committed or overly aggressive actions were taken that might indicate we had adopted or condoned the Black Ops days of the GO. That was for survival reasons, since the public and courts had been given a heavy dose of Guardian's Office Black Ops through the release of tens of thousands of documents by the DC Federal District Court in the late seventies.
But, when Miscavige's own goose was being cooked, and his demands for retalitation and silencing became overpowering, and post removals became imminent, we brought in Dave Lubow. Lubow is a creep to be sure. But, he is a perfect 1.1 which is qualification number one for a spy or Black Ops operative. In many ways he is the perfect duplicate of Miscavige himself. That is, clueless when it comes to fundamental human virtues like love and forgiveness and empathy. But utterly ruthless and devilishly clever when it came to manipulation, black propaganda, and destroying lives by any means necessary.
His first major assignment was to infiltrate the Las Vegas crowd in the early nineties. Miscavige was obsessed with Terri Gamboa, former Commodore's Messenger and ED Author Services Inc. Lubow lead a double - or triple or quadruple - life in Las Vegas, California and Australia during that op that lasted for several years. Lubow lived with and befriended the Gamboas, the Gradys, Mark Fisher and others while doing all he could to pursuade them not to attack Miscavige.
Should UNADFI, the French anti-cult federation, be allowed the status of plaintiff in the case against Scientology? UNADFI president Catherine Picard debated the issue with the movement's lawyers.
Catherine Picard had already appeared in court during the trial.
On the first day of the trial, as president of UNADFI, a national union of anti-cult groups, she had sought to have the group accepted as a plaintiff in the case. Scientology's lawyers had angrily objected and the judges had deferred their ruling on the matter.
2009-09-11, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
A friend of mine, let's call him Joe, was at Flag one day and was approached by one of the reges and asked to contribute more money to the Superpower Building. Joe was already a Cornerstone Member, meaning he had contributed over $35,000 to the building.
"I thought you had all the money for the building," Joe commented. "Why do you need more?"
"Well," explained the reg, "Some of that money was used for the Oak Cove Building."
Next is the Church of Scientology, with $287,000 in liens.
Construction began in 1999 and stopped in 2004 on the church's 380,000-square-foot Mecca Building at 215 St. Ft. Harrison. Two years later, the city's municipal code enforcement board began assessing fines because the church was out of compliance with a permit that required active construction to finish the exterior shell.
The debt has been growing at a rate of $250 a day since June 26, 2006, according to city records.
But like the other code enforcement liens recorded in official records, no one is trying to collect this debt. City policy is to refrain from pursuing construction permit fines until the permit comes back into compliance, which hasn't happened.
The suspicions stem largely from the NVLA's use of Study Technology, a teaching methodology developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology.
It operates under the assumption that there are three "barriers" to learning that children must identify and overcome.
Critics claim Study Technology is repackaged Scientology. One professor who has closely followed Scientology suggested the "three barriers" technique is used as a means of familiarizing children with some of the vocabulary often used in Scientology teachings, and several educators told ABCNews.com that the "three barriers" philosophy is a fundamentally flawed teaching tool.
Portlander and former Scientologist Susan Lentsch submitted an open letter to the head of communications for the Church of Scientology, Karin Pouw, last Thursday, September 4, asking why her daughter, Katherine, cannot be allowed home for a vacation from the church's elite management organization, the so-called "Sea Organization" or Sea Org ["Selling Scientology," Feature, August 7]. Lentsch alleges that since she allowed her daughter to join the Sea Org in 1993, Katherine was promised three weeks vacation a year, but that this has never happened. "You, yourself, have denied publicly that Scientology disconnects families," wrote Lentsch. "But the question is, Ms. Pouw, are you actually willing to stand by those words?" Lentsch has yet to receive a response.
But Penn and Teller weren't the only cultural guerillas with a knife out for Scientology, and in 2005, their friends Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park," came up with a now-classic episode of their own show called "Trapped in the Closet" -- a double hit on Scientology and one of its most famous promoters, Tom Cruise. Penn was a little bummed about being beaten to the punch, but now he wonders how much "BS" really could have done with Scientology. " "South Park" can play a cheerleader role," he says. "Like with Ouija boards, where everybody knows it's bullsh -- and you just join in. But I always like there to be some sort of revelation, some really surprising information. And everyone who's not a Scientologist already knows it's bullsh -- ."
2007-09-11, Jule Gardner, Blog, Washington City Paper
A bold, swanky sign went up less than a week ago in front of 1812 19th Street NW in Dupont, site of the "founding church" of Scientology that Hubbard set up in 1955. The house belonged to the church until the mid-'70s, when it was sold and reverted to a residence. It was repurchased by the Church of Scientology three years ago, according to acting director of the L. Ron Hubbard House and chairman of the Friends of L. Ron Hubbard, Bill Runyon.
2007-09-11, Chloe Hilliard, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Those prices are steep, particularly in Harlem. But for ardent believers who can't afford those rates, there's always the Sea Org, a quasi-military group of workers who sign billion-year contracts, wear naval outfits, and do low-paid work filing papers, answering phones, and anything else that needs getting done. "By setting up in Harlem and offering stress tests in New York City, what they are looking for is workers," explains Ross, whose rickross.com chronicles the many complaints against the church. "I think that people in Harlem need to wake up and know who their new neighbor is."
The dapper Miscavige, flanked by attorneys and bodyguards, tried not to take the chubby heretic's bait. After all, Ward and his cohort, Keith Henson, thrive on getting a rise out of Scientologists and impressing their Internet pals.
"[I] have seen postings from [Ward]," Miscavige stumbled during his hotel room deposition, "describing the various sexual acts that he had me engaged in with various male members of the Scientology religion, attorneys and so forth."
"And let the record reflect," chimed in William Hart, a New York copyright attorney representing the church, "that both Mr. Henson and Mr. Ward are snickering."
"Let the record [reflect]," Ward retorted in a mocking two-can-play-at-that-game voice, "that William M. Hart is not well shaved and he looks like a ruffian."