- a substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient who supposes it to be medicine.
- a substance having no pharmacological effect but administered as a control in testing experimentally or clinically the efficacy of a biologically active preparation.
placebo effect noun
- a reaction to a placebo manifested by a lessening of symptoms or the production of anticipated side effects.
While it may be difficult to show that any one individual Scientologist has not “gotten gains” from his or her participation in Scientology, it is trivial to determine that Scientology does not and never has produced the benefits promised by L. Ron Hubbard.
Scientology promises to produce homo novis: A significantly superior being, far superior to current homo sapiens. This isn’t just implied, this is explicitly promised many, many times by Hubbard.
If Scientologists were routinely becoming such superior beings, it would be obvious in the real world. The leaders of science, academia, industry, politics and more would proudly declare that they were Scientologists, products of Hubbard’s amazing “tech”.
The truth is that there are no Scientologists of any note except those few who were already famous or successful prior to Scientology.
There is that joke: How do you make a Scientology millionaire? First you find a billionaire and then get them to join Scientology.
Given that it is true and self-evident that Scientology’s “tech” does not produce the wonderful results promised, why do some believers insist that they “got gains” from Scientology?
Enter the “placebo effect”. And here is where Hubbard really pulled off a good one. The capabilities and attributes of this mythical homo novis are largely undefined. In general, the attributes are virtually godlike. Anything could potentially be a homo novis ability.
And here is why it is so very effective in convincing a believer that Hubbard’s homo novis is not just possible but is actually happening:
Anything unusual that happens to a Scientologist can and is considered “proof” of progress towards this homo novis.
– Found some money you forgot you had? It’s Scientology!
– Your favorite team wins? It’s Scientology!
– Feel especially good for a day or two? It’s Scientology!
– Had a bit of luck doing some task? It’s Scientology!
– Unexplained tingling in your hands? It’s Scientology!
… and so on.
You, of course, understand that all these things are perfectly normal things that happen to almost everyone at one time or another but, to a true believer in Scientology, anything out of the ordinary is proof that Scientology is working.
It is the placebo effect in personal betterment. Because Scientologists still believe Hubbard’s wild promises, they will grasp at any straw that appears to validate their beliefs. After all that money, all that fuss and bother, there must be some benefit.
Yes, it is sad. No, you can’t reason with them.