Now, I’m not the world’s best example of how to handle Scientology’s trolls, but I have observed a few things that I’d like to mention. These are things I’ve learned over time and that I wish I could keep in mind when I respond to trolls. Sometimes I do.
The wrong thing to do when you run into someone who you suspect is a Scientology troll is get into a heated argument. This is what they want: A flame war, a diversion.
Here are some things I have found more or less workable:
- Try to be courteous and polite. It contrasts nicely with their abusive and illogical posts. When they use gross insults, and (hopefully) you haven’t, point this out, it’s worth highlighting.
- Do not let them derail the thread. This is their job so don’t let them do it. Point out that they need to post their (off-topic) comment on a different, more appropriate thread and then you bring the discussion back to the main subject — usually something the Church of Scientology wants to hide. If you consistently and repeatedly do just this, they are defeated.
- Know your data. Include links to the facts available on the Internet. We know that trolls can’t go and look, but the other readers can and will get the facts.
- When the troll makes their claims or accusations, demand proof. They will not give you any so keep asking, it drives them crazy. If they do provide some bogus “proof”, debunk it with links and then demand “valid proof this time”. Keep saying, “You claimed X, so you need to prove it!” They really hate it when you keep returning to the exact thread they have worked so hard to derail.
- Admit it when you’re wrong. If you’ve made an incorrect statement, admit it and correct it. It contrasts nicely with the troll’s inability to admit any error no matter how well debunked.
- If the troll is off-topic, abusive, insulting, etc. you do not have to respond at all. If they are not participating in the real discussion, why follow them down their little rabbit hole?
- This leads to: The troll is not in charge, don’t act like he/she is. The troll will demand that you answer their abusive and off-topic comments. They use various tricks from L. Ron Hubbard to try to “control” you. But those tricks don’t work, they are not in charge, and you can do whatever you want. You could simply say “Why are you avoiding the subject?” or some such, or just ignore them.
- While it may be quite satisfying to get into a flame war with the Scientology troll, realize that this is their job and their intention. If they successfully muddy and distract a discussion of Church of Scientology’s crimes, they will have fulfilled their purpose.
- Not all people who defend the Church of Scientology are Scientology trolls. For many people, attacking a church, any church, is just wrong. If the only thing a person has seen/heard/read is the Church of Scientology’s lies, they will believe that the church is good and the attackers are evil. This is another good reason to be courteous and polite. Provide links to the truth. I realize that Scientology trolls sometimes pretend to be this kind of person, but even in that case, your being polite and providing links won’t hurt the discussion.
- The Scientology trolls love to equate criticism of the organization, Church of Scientology, with intolerance of the belief system of Scientology. They seek to hide the abuse and crimes of the church behind the cloak of religion. This is a ploy that many, many people fall for. Unfortunately, some newby critics of Scientology make this same mistake. A small number of newby critics of Scientology do attack the belief system of Scientology, sometimes even neglecting the crimes of the organization. While it may be entertaining to make fun of Scientologist’s beliefs (and some are quite strange), if you do this, and someone accuses you of being “intolerant of another’s beliefs,” well, I’m sorry, but they are right.
- In any case, please don’t you equate the two, that’s just playing into the Church of Scientology’s game. Keep the two things separate. The fact that the belief system of Scientology is very weird is not the reason and has never been the reason that the Church of Scientology is being attacked. Always be very clear: The belief system of Scientology, wacky or not, is up to the individual. They do have the right to believe as they wish.* On the other hand, the organization of the Church of Scientology is a criminal and abusive organization and its leader, David Miscavige, and all others responsible, have no right to get away with that abuse, “religion” or not. There is no “right to abuse people” in Scientology. They must and will be brought to justice.
While I’m no great expert, I do know that the Scientology trolls are trying to control the Internet and suppress the truth. If you fall for the troll’s tricks, they move toward that goal. If you simply continue to expose the crimes, abuses, fraud and lies of the Church of Scientology, the Scientology trolls lose, the church loses and, eventually, the organization will fold and the criminals will go to jail.
* While people do have the right to believe whatever they want, they should be well and truly informed of all the facts before they buy into any belief system. This does not happen in Scientology. It is important to realize that a majority of Scientologists do not know the seriously wacky stuff. Most Scientologists are sincere people who were lured into Scientology with a few, carefully selected, acceptable bits. Many joined before a lot of this other data was widely available on the Internet.
Attacking Scientologists only plays into the Church of Scientology’s game of “them against us.” It would be more accurate and more useful to frame the conflict as “honest people — non-Scientologists, ex-Scientologists and Scientologists — against the corruption in the Church of Scientology”. Scientologists are simply future allies against that corruption. When they finally learn the truth, they, too, join the fight against Church of Scientology corruption. After all, that is why the leaders of the church work so hard to keep them in the dark.