I have often sarcastically referred to “Scientology Logic™” when discussing various statements and arguments made by the Church of Scientology and Scientology’s true believers. It is very true that Scientology’s version of “logic” is very, very strange, but what you might not know is that Scientology Logic is deliberately built into the Scientology belief system itself by L. Ron Hubbard.
Note that I am not talking here about how logical or illogical Hubbard’s actual “technology” is. I am talking about the actual “logic” mechanisms themselves that exist and are used throughout Scientology.
Note, also, that this “logic” exists inside Scientology and only rarely shows up on the outside. This is why discussing Scientology with a Scientologist can be so weird.
Technically, Scientology Logic is made up of a number of logical fallacies which Hubbard used extensively in his lectures and writings.
Here is a partial list:
Appeal to Authority
An appeal to authority is the argument that a person judged to be an authority verifies that the statement is true — therefore it must be true.
In Scientology’s case, the authority is, of course, L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology claims that all their “solutions” are “highly effective”. What is the basis of their claims? “Ron said so“.
When the raw facts show their “solutions” are failures, it is quickly agreed by all Scientologists involved to cover the failures up, because “Ron said his solutions were highly effective”.
They won’t look any further for any facts or hard evidence because “they don’t need to, Ron said it, so it’s true”. This is the absolute, bedrock foundation of Scientology: If L. Ron Hubbard said it, then it is completely true.
While this theme of “Hubbard’s Infallibility” crops up in Hubbard’s teachings from the very beginning, it became cast in stone with his infamous “Keeping Scientology Working” (KSW) policy letter. In that policy, Hubbard denied that anyone else had contributed anything of value to Scientology and that he, and he alone, had created this “miraculous tech” that was “100% workable”. From then on, it became a High Crime for any Scientologist to deny Hubbard’s perfection.
In any disagreement between Scientologists, the one who can find the best L. Ron Hubbard quote to support their side is automatically the winner. No logic is ever applied.
As non-church Scientologists discover how many of Ron’s statements have been irrefutably debunked, they struggle to fit that into Scientology’s Absolutism. The most popular approach is to label all of Ron’s lies as “allegories, not to be taken literally.” This, however, puts them on very shaky ground as more and more of Scientology’s “truths” become “allegories”.
In an odd and completely bizarre twist to this illogic, some Scientologists will insist that, if L. Ron Hubbard didn’t say something, it isn’t true. So, for instance, because Hubbard never talked about the dangers and effects of asbestos, there is no danger or bad effects from breathing asbestos.
This logical fallacy attempts to use personal attacks to discredit the source of contrary evidence.
This was, by far, Hubbard’s favorite and most effective logical fallacy and has become woven throughout Scientology’s belief system.
In Scientology, anyone possessing and disseminating any facts that are contrary to Hubbard’s words is automatically “evil”. This is one “truth” that is hammered into Scientologists again and again throughout their studies.
Even in its press releases, the Church of Scientology carefully refers to the Scientology whistle-blowers as “apostates” — and they do intend all the negative connotations of that word: “traitor”, “heretic”, “untrustworthy”, etc. The outside Scientologists aren’t much better, refering to critics as “haters” and worse.
Because they are labelled “evil” by Scientology, any source of contrary information is automatically “invalid” and any statements coming from that source must be automatically and quickly discarded lest one become “contaminated” by it.
This automatic, built-in ad hominem attack is marvellous to behold. One “bad” word and the Scientologist immediately shuts down and runs away, never to accept any data from that source again.
The genetic fallacy is committed when an idea is either accepted or rejected because of its source, rather than its merit.
In Scientology, this follows directly from both the ad hominem and the appeal to authority fallacies, above.
Hubbard has assured his faithful followers that anyone who dares to criticize him or Scientology is guilty of horrendous crimes “for which they could be arrested.” Hubbard even instructed his secret police to dig up or manufacture evidence of crimes on every critic — and they have done so with enthusiasm. The church’s attempts to frame their critics for crimes they did not commit are quite well documented.
Scientologists completely believe this characterization of Scientology critics. Given the allegations of such crimes, Scientologists automatically reject all criticisms of Hubbard and Scientology from any source. No logic required.
In a more generic form, Scientologists pretty much distrust any source that isn’t L. Ron Hubbard (or, in the church, David Miscavige).
Straw Man Fallacy
A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is, refutes this misrepresentation of the position, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted
Scientologists work very hard to pervert and obfuscate the very simple and clear messages that the Scientology critics and whistle-blowers present.
Any criticism of one of Scientology’s “solutions” is misrepresented by Scientology as an attempt to halt all efforts to help anyone. You will often find Scientologists claiming that critics’ messages are “No one can be helped” and “All help is bad” — but no serious Scientology critic ever said that.
The fallacy gets its name from fox hunting, specifically from the practice of sabotaging a fox hunt by using smoked herrings, which are red, to distract hounds from the scent of their quarry. It is simply an attempt to distract one from the current subject.
Hubbard famously said, regarding attacks against himself or Scientology, “Make enough threat or clamor to cause the enemy to quail. Always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace. Don’t ever defend. Always attack.”
Because of this policy, Scientologists work very hard to distract any discussion away from the lies, crimes and abuses of the Church of Scientology and onto anything else. “Look over there! Look how bad those other people are, over there!”
This is the primary motivation for the creation of many of Scientology’s front groups such as CCHR, “Youth for Human Rights”, etc.
As a bonus for Scientology, the general public tends to think that any organization “promoting Human Rights”, for instance, is unlikely to be violating those exact same Human Rights.
Hasty Generalization Fallacy
A hasty generalisation draws a general rule from a single, perhaps atypical, case.
This is the most common response by a Scientologist when confronted with Scientology’s consistent failure to deliver any of its promised results. Scientologists will inevitably say, “I got wonderful gains from Scientology!” This ignores the primary point that none of these “wonderful gains” were what was actually promised — or even expected.
This also ignores all the other times when Scientology didn’t deliver any “gains” at all to the Scientologist. It is very much like the compulsive gambler who remembers every time they won some money but ignores the huge amount of money they’ve lost.
After all that time, all that effort and all that money, instead of the promised miraculous results, the Scientologist once or twice got “wonderful gains” that are only a memory now. From those few, fleeting moments, the Scientologist makes the very general statement that “Scientology works!”
The situation isn’t necessarily that illogical people are drawn to Scientology. The situation is that bad logic is intrinsic to the core teachings of Scientology and that not enough people are educated so as to recognize this when they run into it. Once someone has accepted the core teachings of Scientology, they have automatically accepted all of Hubbard’s illogics as well.
(Yes, such an education would help people as consumers and as voters.)