Six months and learning
It’s been 6 months since I left the Church of Scientology and published my Doubt write-up. For six months I have been blogging and engaging in discussions and exchange of viewpoints on the Net. First there were lots of discussions on this blog with participants from all over the world. Then I erected The Scientology Forum (www.scnforum.org) and moved the discussions over there.
There has been media – all major Norwegian newspapers, Norwegian national TV, the St Petersburg Times and coverage on the net. I have been in communication with hundreds of people – many still in the church looking for a smooth exit, others recently out or out since the 80’s and various critics and people anonymous. Many have left as they have read my bloggings. And there is more media to come. In this update, I would like to focus on my experience on the Net.
The Scientology Forum may very well be the only loosely moderated area for discussion on the net where scientologists can feel safe from exposure to upper level confidential material and where free speech is still the high goal. It is one of the few places where scientologists meet critics and exchange viewpoints.
Although it has been reported as a pro-tech forum, that wasn’t the original intent. I simply wanted more time with my family after having spent way too much time approving comments on my blog. With several good moderators at the forum, I actually got more family time. I am grateful to the moderators for that.
I wanted to see if scientologist could debate the subject on neutral ground, and if they could stand the arguments put forth by the critics. I think they have done well. And the critics have given them a good run for their money. And in this I appreciate the critics for questioning everything.
The Scientology Forum has managed quite well so far with original research and valuable facts presented – clarifications, extensions and debate on the Axioms, Logics and Factors by Vinaire, the discussion on disconnection and the ensuing research on PTS/SP tech by Jim Logan, discussions on the E-Meter, KSW #1, the CST underground vaults, double-blind studies by Valkov and much, much more. The facts that surface need a home, and that home could be the Scientology Facts wiki.
It seems that the hot topic on the Intertubez these days is whether the current bad CoS scene is caused by David Miscavige by his alteration of LRH policies, by LRH through his policy and conduct or as a complex co-creation by everyone involved to a greater or lesser degree. I tend to believe it’s a mixture of all these three but that DM has made the scene significantly worse on his own.
Now I would like to share some experiences with you after my first six months “in the open”. The following points do not relate to scnforum.org specifically, but more the overall scene of Scientology on the Internet.
- Scientology itself is a highly charged subject. People feel very passionate about it – both pro and con. There are fanatics on both sides. There are the rabid critics, and there are the hard core Scientology party-liners. They have more in common than they like to admit – selling an agenda or “thesis”, insistence on being right and the ensuing habitual breaches in logic. Both camps are arrogant and “knows” what’s best for you. Tolerance in this arena is hard to come by. Insults on the other hand…
- Most people engaging in discussions about Scientology have difficulties in differentiating. Scientology becomes the Church of Scientology becomes Hubbard becomes individual scientologists becomes the FreeZone becomes Independents becomes the argument becomes the tech becomes whatever. Most discussions about some piece of Scientology ends up in a discussion about Hubbard. Insistence on differentiation and logic will earn you some snide remarks and insults, but it is the only way forward in trying to get to some facts on the table and to get something effective done.
- The noise/fact ratio is immense. There is a lot of blabbering by people who simply love to see their name and printed word appear on the net. Most have little or nothing to contribute except snide remarks, loose opinions, speculations or garbage.
- There is more speculation than fact. In absence of fact people go rampant in speculations. This is why it is important to get facts on the table. This is why I now set up Scientology Facts – to collect whatever is possible of facts about Scientology and the Church of Scientology. Fact is what will make most people see what needs to be done. In the short run, an appeal to emotions may get things going but in the long run Fact is King™.
- Trying to change another’s viewpoint by engaging in a discussion on the net is futile. It usually ends up in more cemented viewpoints. The insistence on being right is magnified by public discussions. As a variation of an old Internet saying goes: “Winning an argument on the Internet is like competing in the Paralympics. You may have won, but…“
- Keeping a discussion on topic? Yeah, right.
- If you want to engage in discussions on the net, ensure you contribute something of value to others in terms of facts, real experiences, valid questions and valid responses. Logic is your friend. And so is conciseness. Read up on “Logical Fallacies and the Art of Debate“. Stick to the topics at hand and don’t get offended.
The above points are not intended as invalidation of The Scientology Forum, but it may serve as a heads up that it could become a rambling mess unless we strive to keep the noise/fact ratio as low as possible and also capture research and fact onto Scientology Facts.
My purpose is threefold: 1) To help people differentiate between Scientology and the Church of Scientology, 2) To stop the human rights abuses in the church and 3) To ensure the tech is free for everyone to use. The forward progress along these lines are not happening on the Internet alone in front of a keyboard. – it takes actual real world action to pull these off.
It’s been an exciting first six months. Many have left the church, high profile people like Paul Haggis and Larry Anderson as well as scores of OTs. I believe we are seeing the snowball rolling down the mountain summit. This year we may just witness an avalanche. And in the debacle, I hope we can rescue the tech from the misapplications perpetrated by the church.
More at The Scientology Forum