Scientologists: What, exactly, “works”?

One of the things that Scientologists do that is so very confusing, is their insistence that “Scientology works!”

Even after leaving the Church of Scientology in disgust, a few people continue to believe and insist that Scientology works.  This results in such movements as the “Independent Scientologists”, the “Freezone”, “Ron’s Orgs” and such.

Yet, if you can convince these people to talk openly about it, they must all admit that “Clear”, as promised by L. Ron Hubbard, has never been achieved.  Instead, they may redefine “Clear” from “no longer has a Reactive Mind” to “I once felt really, really good for a short time and attributed it to Scientology”.

If they are being honest, they also will admit that “OT”, as promised by Hubbard, has also never been achieved.  They may redefine “OT” from “cause over matter, energy, space and time” to “I once felt really, really good for a short time and attributed it to an ‘OT’ level”.

In other words, they know that Scientology does not deliver what was explicitly promised by Hubbard — and yet they will insist that “Scientology works!”  How can they say this?

As I see it, these people are confusing “It does something” with “It works”.  It is obvious that, for some people, Scientology processes definitely do something.  Some temporary effect has been created on them.

But that doesn’t mean “Scientology works“.

Let’s use an example outside of Scientology to see the difference between “it works” and “it does something”.  I’ve lived in a number of old houses, and there seems to always be that one light switch you can’t figure out what it does.  Let’s say the switch is labelled “backyard light”, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with that.  It doesn’t work.

But what if, sometimes, when you flip that switch, the kitchen faucet started to drip badly?  What if, at other times, you flip that switch and your cell phone reception in the house gets a lot better?  Well, it sure seems that the switch “does something” — but it still doesn’t work.

These are the kind of “results” that Scientology provides — mostly nothing, sometimes something nice and sometimes something not nice.  It is the “sometimes something nice” that Scientologists remember when they say “It works!”

But, what does “it works” actually mean in the real world?  It means something does what it is supposed to do when it’s supposed to.

Scientology is supposed to bring you up “levels” of greater and greater abilities and powers until you reach “OT”, the “Upper End of The Bridge”.  But it doesn’t.  Scientologists at the “Upper End of The Bridge” have no more abilities or powers than non-Scientologists.

Scientologists hate it when this is pointed out but they can’t deny it.  According to Scientology’s mythos, Scientologists will all be leaders in their fields.  The truth is that none of them are.  The irony is that some of those who may have been leaders in their field before Scientology, no longer are.

In the real world, “it works” means that it, whatever “it” is, produces the intended effect reliably, consistently and predictably.

Predictable: The expected results are known. In Scientology, Scientology’s expected results are enshrined in Hubbard’s “Grade Chart”.  It is in this document that Hubbard makes his miraculous promises for Scientology.  This is what Scientology is supposed to do, although, you’d be hard-pressed to say these promised results are expected by Scientologists today.

Consistent: The expected results happens every time it is run.  In Scientology, this doesn’t happen, ever.  The abilities promised by Hubbard simply don’t happen.  The fact that, for some people, something else happens, does not have any meaning here.  In Scientology, the expected, promised results don’t happen.

Reliable: Unwanted effects don’t happen.  While not talked about much, unwanted effects do happen in Scientology.  In Scientology, it could be said that the unexpected “nice” results and the unwanted “bad” results are equally likely to happen. But the most likely result from any Scientology process is: Nothing much.

So, when a Scientologist says “Scientology works!” they are really only saying “I had something nice happen to me once or twice in Scientology.”  Using Hubbard’s definitions, there are no “Releases”, no “Clears” and no “OTs”.  Scientology often “does something” but — it doesn’t work.

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35 Responses to Scientologists: What, exactly, “works”?

  1. keiths says:

    The genius of the CoS is in creating an aura of infallibility around LRH and “the Tech”. This means that when a person’s “wins” fail to materialize, he will blame himself rather than the infallible “Tech”.

    For example, here’s Jon Atack describing his frustrations with OT II:

    “One of my friends did 600 hours of auditing on OT 2 when it was first released in 1966. I was more fortunate. I spent about three days on it and started to feel rotten. I had the suspicion that it was doing precisely nothing. I began to wonder if I was really ready for OT 2. Maybe I had skimped OT 1? Maybe I wasn’t really Clear? I did not question the efficacy of the ‘Technology’ itself.

    “I made an E-metered statement to the Advanced Org’s ‘Director of Processing’, a wizened seventy-year old Sea Org veteran and was taken into session by an OT Review Auditor. He asked whether I had ‘over-run’ (gone past) the end of the process. The needle obviously floated, as the Auditor told me I had indeed ‘over-run’ OT 2. I was never able to pinpoint any tangible benefit from doing OT 2, but for the rest of that day I was pleased as Punch. At last I was ready for OT 3.”

  2. Excellent piece. The one aspect of Scientology that actually does work, and even then not always, is the very beginning of the Bridge, Introductory Services where you get instilled with the idea or feeling that something can be done to improve yourself, they call it “hope”. From that point on, it is hopeless as nothing improves and in fact, invariably things get much worse. They can’t even Grade 0, which is one of the simplest abilities to achieve, “the ability to communicate with anyone on any subject”, because the one subject they can never talk about frankly is Scientology itself.

  3. Here’s another way of looking at it: Scientology works, but it is not doing what its followers think it’s doing.

    Scientologists think they are going up the Bridge to Total Freedom — but as Lawrence Wrights astutely points out in his new book, Going Clear (p16), normally you go across a bridge, not up it.

    In fact what is happening is they are walking into what Jon Atack calls the Total Freedom Trap: they are surrendering more and more of their freedom in pursuit of a chimeric notion of success, wealth, special powers — whatever it is that most appeals to them.

    As Hubbard once put it, in his typically blunt manner: “We’ve got some new ways to make slaves here.”

    So Scientology works!

    Jonny Jacobsen

  4. SpecialFrog says:

    I recall a discussion on ESMB where people were claiming that the Purif would be a good treatment for exposure to Agent Orange. Even though they acknowledged that Hubbard’s scientific claims about the Purif were unfounded (and essentially discredited) it made them feel better when they did it so clearly it worked in some way.
    Therefore it should be applied to Vietnamese farmers.

  5. Larry says:

    It’s a protection mechanism of the ego for the ego. Based on the command ‘Survive’. Where survival includes a computation/implant called: If it doesn’t work, I am a failure, therefore it works (and I feel really happy that ‘it works’). Outside of a hefty bit of cognitive dissonance its really a simple phenomena.

    In my first auditing session I recalled being eaten by a lion about 5000 years ago. After the session was over I felt the whole ‘I was breakfast for a lion’ was somehow or other absurd. Nonetheless I dutifully complied with the request to write up my win. I wrote: I was eaten by a lion, for breakfast (as I recall it was early morning when I got ate).

    Now what that has to do with ‘it works’ is this, something happened, meaning I (after careful prodding by the auditor) imagined myself being eaten by a lion (for breakfast). The upshot is what happened is I felt better after having confessed my short stint as being food to the auditor. I felt better. And that is what lies at the heart of ‘it works’. One feels better. It’s really that simple.

    Was I really eaten by a lion (for….never mind, we know) no. I imagined it. But imagining something and then telling someone else about it made me feel better. Psychology 101 (or Catholicism 101). Tell someone what you are thinking and feeling and provided that someone is a sincere listener (or a good pretender) and you will feel better. Add that to the ego protection mechanism and one has the basic workings of being disconnected from reality. I felt good & don’t want to be a loser.

    Hubbard was a master manipulator of the ‘naive’ mind. Which is why neither enlightened sages nor PHD type mental health practitioners would touch his ‘revolutionary breakthroughs’ with a ten foot pole.

    Larry

    • Larry says:

      By the way, I feel better now. Was somebody listening? Lol.
      Lar

      • I was. 🙂 Larry, the way I see it, one can use imagery in any situation to represent emotions or anything else bothering you. It can be beneficial. The danger is when a cult like Scientology convinces us the imagery or symbolism are real and sucks you or me into a world that exists entirely in our minds and the mind of its insane Founder. In reality, Scientology only helps itself as an organization and we as individuals are the Soylent Green that feeds that machine.

  6. But Bill, there is plenty of workability in Scientology – I learned a great deal from my time there.
    Ever seen “The Dollhouse” television series? Same.

    Without the weight of personal responsibility for one’s own values, without respect and consideration for others actual needs, beliefs, loyalties or feelings, without allowing any doubt in one’s mind no matter the situation (just use TRs), no thinking is required! No confusion! No indecision! This way, a great deal can be accomplished on behalf of another, because there are no lingering individual thoughts to stand in the way of Tone 40 absolute action!

    Scientology is the chilling lesson of brainwashing, of what happens when one turns over his individual will completely to a person or ideology. The dedicated glare, the obnoxious self-righteous, arrogant indignation, the confidence, the absolute certainty – these are the hallmark traits of a Scientologist. Rather than advertising its workability for the individual, these only advertise how well Scientology works for itself. These staunch, loyal supporters giving all their time, youth, energy, money and even their children and personal thoughts to the cult might as well wear neon signs saying, “I am dead. Use me and suck every bit out of me while you can.”

    My nine years in the Cult of Scientology was like one big drug blur. It wasn’t me. It was just an addiction.

  7. Dave says:

    Getting it “off your chest” works. All you need is a friend. It is almost impossible to deal with a problem while it remains vague and nebulous, so “putting exactly what is troubling you into words” works. All you need is a pen and paper. Sharing your troubles with someone else works and it’s free. You don’t need to empty your bank (account that is).

    • overall10 says:

      Dave, Dave, Dave. Talking to a friend may make you feel better, this is true. But auditing releases mental energy, negative charge and gives you kind of spiritual high. Really, a small charge of electricity is running through your body when you are in session and somehow negative particles release. It is somewhat miraculous and it does feel good. But like a drug, it has a down side and the downside, from my perspective, is that you are more susceptible and so you buy the rest of it ie., that there is a Bridge to Total Spiritual Freedom and you have to keep buying your levels. That’s where they get you. And you believe that reaching those levels will solve all your problems, which in fact it won’t and in the meantime you are missing opportunities to learn skills which actually may help you build the life you want. It’s a magicians trick…”look over here at my beautiful Bridge. Don’t notice you are drowning in debt. Don’t notice your problems aren’t getting any better.”

    • Sid says:

      Getting something off your chest only takes you so far – the problem still remains, all you have done is verbalized it. The “genius” of Dianetics is to take things a step further.

      Dianetics tells you that by reliving the incident you can “blow off charge” – so by describing the incident in an auditing session, then getting a floating needle you are led to believe that you have had some kind of victory over the problem. The high you get from this is much more than you would get from talking it through with a friend.

  8. Luis Agostini says:

    Excellent examination of what happens in many cases.
    It did something positive therefore it works
    The tremendous need to have it work and be what one wants it to be, is I believe, the driving force.

  9. indygirl6 says:

    Hi Bill, love the new format! (The commenter formerly known as Rachel99 🙂

  10. John Doe says:

    Scientology works. This is an undeniable and proven fact.

    Jeez, I can’t believe the misunderstoods you all have! Scientology WORKS!

    If you go and join the Sea Organization, you’ll be putting in 120 hour weeks without a day off for about a billion years.

    If you’re a lay scientologist, you have to work two jobs and as much overtime as you can to pay for your services.

    If you’re in Scientology, you WORK!

  11. Dave says:

    IMO there is a lot of misplaced criticism of Scientology, here and elsewhere. Sure, there are Mr. Hubbard’s lies about his personal history, disconnection, the RPF, over-the-top regging, exploitation of Sea Org members, mind control, and exorbitant prices for services. These things exist. I personally think, however, that the main focus of criticism should be on if Scientology works or not. If it worked I’d be inclined to forgive all the above wrongdoings. But when you focus on the fact that Scientology doesn’t deliver what is promised, the above mentioned offences collapse like a house of cards. I think the focus should be on the fact that Scientology doesn’t deliver what is promised. All the other stuff in peripheral and will collapse when the unworkingness of Scientology is revealed.

    • justbill001 says:

      I agree that the fact that all Scientology’s promised “miracles” are complete and total lies is important. I also agree that, if everyone knew this simple fact, Scientology would automatically collapse.

      However, I would not call all the rest of the criticisms “misplaced”. Certainly, if the technology actually worked, one could, theoretically, forgive the crimes and abuse. But, factually, if the technology actually worked, there wouldn’t be any significant crimes and abuse to expose.

      No, the fact that the Church of Scientology has a massive history of crimes, abuse, coverups, lies, greed and fraud is an important part of the evidence that Scientology’s “tech” does not work, not some sideshow.

      That’s just my opinion.

      Bill

  12. Dave says:

    Re: “If the technology actually worked, there wouldn’t be any significant crimes and abuse to expose.”

    Right on and well said Bill. I still think, however, that the primary focus should be on the fact that Scientology doesn’t work, i.e. doesn’t deliver what is promised. That’s the target’s bulls-eye. All the other stuff is peripheral. Conquer an outpost and it will be re-manned from the main fort. Conquer the main fort and the territory is yours.

    • justbill001 says:

      Theoreticallly, you are absolutely correct and I don’t disagree. However, unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Remember the phrase “You can’t prove a negative”? In a large sense, that’s the problem here.

      I don’t know if you’ve read, or been involve with, the long and frustrating arguments here and elsewhere on the exact subject of “Scientology works/doesn’t work”.

      If you say “Scientology doesn’t work!” and some True Believer says “Scientology works!”, it’s just people making claims. If you say “There are no Clears!” and some True Believer says “I’m ‘Clear’!”, it’s just more words. Scientology absolutely depends on this ambiguity to further its fraud. For the many, many people who read the critics and understand the Scientology is lying, there are a few, gullible and/or hopeful, who read what Scientology puts out — and believe.

      I have absolutely no problem with keeping up the message that all of Scientology’s “miraculous” claims have never happened, that’s important — but that just isn’t enough, because you can’t prove that someone, somewhere might have actually gotten what Scientology promised. We all know that never happened, but it is impossible to prove that it didn’t happen.

      That’s why the constant exposure of Scientology’s greed, abuse, crimes, coverups, lies and fraud is so important. Those things can be and have been proven.

      Bill

      • justbill001 says:

        Of course, on the other side of the coin, it would be dead simple for the True Believers in Scientology to prove any of Hubbard’s claims for “Release”, “Clear”, “OT”, “miraculous cures”, “amazing abilities”, etc., etc. Dead simple. Could not be simpler.

        Just produce one for independent verification. That’s it.

        Of course they refuse because they can’t because not one of these results exists.

        Bill

  13. Dave says:

    The scientific method has rules and procedures for the pursuit of knowledge involving the finding and stating of a problem, the collection of facts through observation and experiment, and the making and testing of ideas that need to be proven right or wrong.

    When a True Believer says, “Scientology works,” respond by saying “Prove it!” When a True Believer says “I’m ‘Clear’!” again respond by asking them to PROVE IT. If Scientology is a science then prove it! How about a little evidence! Let’s put your amazing powers to the test!

    You could say, “If you are a Clear what is 187 x 234? If you are a Clear, recite to me verbatim the introductory paragraph of the 101 history book you studied in first year university. I happen to have a copy of the book right here. I know you were home on 3 February 2000 and watched Tonight Show, what jokes did Jay Leno do in his monologue?

    If you are an OT what picture do I have hanging on the north wall of my bedroom? If you are an OT, levitate this ashtray and do it NOW! If you are an OT, I have a number from 1 to 100 written on a piece of paper in my jacket pocket, which number is it? Tell me now! If you are an OT, I’ve written the name of my cousin’s favorite movie star on a piece of paper in my wallet. Who is it?

    This is not a parlor trick. I’m not asking you to do a parlor trick, this is SCIENCE! Do it! Do it NOW. Put up or shut up!”

    That should put an end to any ambiguity.

    • justbill001 says:

      Exactly! I only wish that everyone reading Hubbard’s books, reading Scientology’s propaganda and studying Scientology’s “tech” would apply these principles.

      Bill

  14. Crepuscule says:

    Excellent! Now I can post on your fabulous blog. I spent hours trying to get that other one to work. Thank you for the upgrade. Feel free to delete these comments, I was just trying it out.

    Love your work. MOAR!!

  15. Strelnikov says:

    “What exactly works?”

    Definitely not Scientology in San Diego…..they still have done nothing with the Coleman College property in La Mesa, they still haven’t put another Applied Scholastics school together, membership is allegedly down to the double digits.

  16. Dave says:

    Scientology works only in the way it makes long-term practitioners batshit crazy:

  17. overall10 says:

    Hi Bill, It was your articles that got me to see that Scientology doesn’t “work”–deliver what’s promised. However, “something did happen” and sometimes it was good and so in my mind that meant “it worked”. And since it worked, I overlooked the other stuff. Neat trick, I guess.
    For me, it came down to the dishonesty of the whole thing. Why insist you can produce Clears when clearly you can’t and so on. If the thing weren’t rotten in its core, the organization could just come clean and we’d forgive them. But the fact that the Church won’t, tells the tale. Liars have something to hide. I’m still sorting it out in my own mind–it’s a process. Those processes do process you and then you have to process that you’ve been processed. Jeeezzz….

  18. Dave says:

    What exactly works? Not much! Your excellent “The Redefinitions of Scientology” post of March 20, 2011 hit the nail on the head. They’ve stopped promising the “Clear” as Hubbard described and stopped promising the “OT” that Hubbard defined. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. If you promise nothing, you’re totally covered.

    https://therealaskthescientologist.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/the-redefinitions-of-scientology/

  19. overall10 says:

    Scientology worked for LRH. He got what he wanted: power, fame and riches. Sadly it didn’t really work. That was his ego talking. What most people really want deep down inside where it counts is interconnectedness. He billed himself as man’s best friend but in the end he seems to have died pretty much alone. His family apparently wasn’t even notified that he had had a stroke. And there wasn’t even a funeral. I think that says it all. He was a fool. And okay, so was I.

  20. tony says:

    this is awesome information. leaving the cult requires for me, intuitive thinking, even a year or so after forever leaving–for my thoughts are often continually scrambled by what i learned (brainwashed) into thinking for years! thank you so much!!

  21. aegerprimo says:

    Excellent essay! I love your metaphor about the light switch, “…there seems to always be that one light switch you can’t figure out what it does…” That effectively explains the workability of the tech.

  22. Kay says:

    I got nothing from auditing – Happiness Rundown, ARC SW, level 0, I hated it all. My sole memory of it is squirming with embarrassment at the OW, ARC Break and PTP rudiments, which always came up, I started to think I must be an exceptionally bad person.

    What I did get some positive experience from were the following:
    Years of SCN Study improved my vocabulary, grammar, historical and geographical knowledge. I failed badly at school, looking up lots of words did help to repair this.

    Method One Word Clearing – Total rubbish for repairing my education, however I did clear up some confused sexual terms, some automotive confusions, and possibly a few other things, so like the light switch example above it did something.

    I did the purif twice, according to the IQ test I experienced a 13 point increase after the first time. Honestly though I take this with a pinch of salt as I was taking a near identical test 2nd time round so was by that time much more familiar with the concept.
    2nd purif I did see a significant and lasting improvement in a skin condition I had before I started it, this has not come back even 10 years later.

    Not sure about Objectives – I used to cheat and sneak a look at the EP before starting so that after several hours of running it I could say the expected thing at the right time. What I did experience though is a much greater awareness of the environment I was in – for weeks I could tell you exactly where anything was in that room.

    Now this one I’m really not sure about – in my mid 20’s – early 30’s I became short sighted and needed glasses/contacts. Someone ran an eyesight assist on me and I now have not needed glasses for at least 10 years, however I have heard that this has happened to other people who had no involvement with SCN so it might have been something which occurred naturally.

    Generally though I agree with the comments here, all the so called Clear’s, and OT’s I met are anything but what they should be, they are generally nice as long as you are saying good things about SCN but change very quickly as soon as you stop.

  23. Surviver says:

    I’d like to thank for all the comments. They provide helpful views. I left scientology in 2011 and still feel the ill effects of its trap as I am about to describe.
    I loved it at the beginning, it seemed so rational and ‘scientific’. My biggest problem re SCN has been described in the comments above. Once you believe it “works” you are able to ‘forgive’ anything – as it is not scientology (philosophy\tech) – it is the people who are wrong, have misunderstood words, etc. I was in SCN for 10 years and helped\worked for them almost all the time – and all the time I kept repeating to myself: ‘It is the people, not scientology’ – as I run into idiots repeatedly. I met quite a few OTs and would say that because they decided to be great ‘shining’ people, they became ones. Those who did not stayed arseholes despite any and all tech. I almost joined the sea org (btw I am omitting the capital letters in names on purpose) – I did the EPF and that actually made me leave. 3\4 of the ‘highly valued’ sea org members were incompetent and I would not hire them in my company (if I had one). Most of them were just pretensious drama queens (masters of the universe) – with unhappy faces (away from the public of course). That was the actual proof that the tech did not work. If the very core of scientology is that what I saw – then there is nothing to aim for.
    Another important reason why I left is that in all the trillions of years – how come we are so lucky to ‘suddenly’ have the Messiah and the tech to become totally free? It is just the same scam like in any other religious group: “If you do not accept XYZ, you will be condemned for ever.” And I say: if I survived trillions of years I can not be that bad off.
    With regards to auditing: I did quite a lot of hours (around 150). The problem with auding, as I can tell, is that you can not distinguish what is true and what you made up. And I am persuaded that a lot of it is just fantasy created by your mind – you just have to find an earlier incident – don’t you? You haven’t laughed yet! So you ‘find’ something. The whole beining is screaming ‘this is bul…t’ but you can not audit yourself. And so you continue and hope, that you will find ‘the thing’ in the next session and next session… And, of course it is your fault because you are sooooo aberated that you can not distinguish the two.
    To conclude: half-truth is much worse than a lie. And the half-truths keep SCN in business (plus the pretty wrapping paper). The trap: when one thing works – it all must work. When Hubbard came up with such wonderful ideas – all his ideas must be true, etc. Some stuff in scientology works and I keep using some of the knowledge. But (as scientologists like to say) – when it comes to the higher levels and auditing: ‘show me the money’!

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