From: rbnstein@bucsf.bu.edu (Michael Rubinstein)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: My opinion on Scientology (a serious post)
Message-ID: <RBNSTEIN.91Jul19165411@bucsf.bu.edu>
Date: 19 Jul 91 20:54:11 GMT
Sender: news@bu.edu
Reply-To: rbnstein@bucsf.bu.edu (Michael Rubinstein)
Distribution: alt
Organization: Boston University Department of Computer Science
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While I have not read "Dianetics" or attended any Scientology functions myself, I have had an extensive involvement for half my life with something alternately referred to as "est", "Werner Erhard's Curriculum For Life" and "The Transformational Institute" (I think). While the content of est and of Scientology are vastly different, there is, I believe, a similarity of approach. I have also read the TIME article and numerous essays by Martin Gardener (much more recent than 1950).

This similarity I see is that the INTENSITY of the approach, and the structure in which one is indoctrinated, is much more directly responsible for the curative or uplifting effects of the work than the content itself. est seemed to show a greater recognition of this; they would often deemphasize the content and focus on the process. Werner Erhard once said he thought it should be possible to achieve the effects of the Training if he just sat on the stage and read the contents of the phone book to the audience for two days straight. Fortunately he never went that far, but you get the idea.

Another similarity is in theme. Both Dianetics and est focus particularly on the goal of freeing oneself from being dominated by negative experiences in one's past. But believe it or not, "transformational" organizations like these do not have an excluisive claim on that theme. Most of modern popular psychology is based on the same idea. In particular, John Bradshaw has helped many people, through his books and seminars, overcome the hidden pain of childhood that turns people into "adult children" who perpetuate this legacy in "dysfunctional families."

What sets Scientology apart is that it adds to these valid theraputic ideals a whole host of dogma and gobbledegook and "technology" designed to attract and comfort those who don't like the fact that REAL science doesn't provide ALL the answers. I am disturbed by the paradoxical way in which it embraces the ideal of "science" and yet simultaneously despises any application of the scientific method, or even that most basic of scientific philosophies: Occam's Razor. I am also sickened by the near-deification of L. Ron Hubbard (particularly typified in a huge color insert in a recent USA Today). Do you see John Bradshaw or Leo Buscalia (sp?) glorify themselves this way?

I think that Dianetics works for a lot of people for the same reason that faith-healing works for so many: the placebo effect. The mind has an incredible power to heal -- both itself and the rest of the body. There is no empirical reason to invent metaphysical entities to explain this, but doing so seems to help, since _strong belief_ seems to focus the brain on the task.

I have no problem with Scientology as a religion. People are free to believe what they like. I am concerned, however, about the ill will it is spreading towards legitimate science. Certainly psychiatry could use some reforms, but the solution is NOT the total abandonement of the scientific method. With the enormous political and economic power the Church of Scientology has amassed, it presents a serious threat to the very important need for a worldwide increase in social awareness and scientific literacy.

-- Michael Rubinstein rbnstein@bucsf.bu.edu DISCLAIMER: The opinions above are solely mine, and I refuse to mark them with IMHO's. If you can't tell fact from opinion, you should be running for office instead of reading news.

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