Scientology Thaumaturgy: Commenters of the Week!


This was some spooky week here in the underground bunker where we keep an eye on all things Scientology related. Some downright eerie things showed up in our stories this week: Surfers who can see the future. Beings living in clouds. Egyptian gods showing up in some lady’s kitchen. And The Great Beast himself, of course. Freaky!

Looking for a little protection, we had a tough time corralling everyone into the magic circle we drew on the middle of the floor. But then all we had to use was catnip, so the felines kept messing it up.

Anyway, things started out with a special edition of Sunday Funnies — we loved the mailer announcing that Chill EB was coming to the Melbourne Org! There’s something about Melbourne these days, and we’re big Chill fans going way back. (Well, to November at least.)

Then, Monday, things started to get strange with the fun and wild stories we found in an old copy of Advance! magazine. Nothing like Scientologists telling tales about using their superpowers to get your spidey sense tingling!

On Tuesday, we posted yet another example of Scientology hip hop. In this case, we were happy to bring to the world the jiggy stylings of the Melbourne Day Rap Battle Team. That Melbourne org, it’s going places.

Monday’s sample of Advance! magazine ghost stories — er, OT Phenomena — were so popular, we decided to dish out a second helping Wednesday morning.

That afternoon, we gave a sneak peek of Hugh Urban’s next scholarly article, this one exploring the ways that L. Ron Hubbard cribbed from his occult master, Aleister Crowley, for some of the bedrock principles of Scientology. Spooky!

For our Thursday Stats Roundup, we looked at media developments in Australia, Switzerland, and right here in the U.S.

And yesterday, we had another seafoam-soaked dispatch from the yacht Apollo, as we sailed with L. Ron Hubbard circa 1971.

So let’s get to the awards!

On Monday, our special holiday treat was digging through old copies of Advance! magazine for accounts by Scientologists of their super power OT abilities. We loved this anecdote from Derfty

I have witnessed Tom Cruise’s OT powers. I was at a deli on Topanga Canyon Blvd standing in a very long line during the lunch hour rush, when TC walks in, bypassing the line, and right up to the counter where he was promptly served. That’s right, no more standing in line for OT’s.

It’s always great when our commenters can supplement our stories with their own experiences. We’re grateful that Synthia Fagen shared this memory with us…

I remember when the first New OT8 completed (“New OT8” because everyone had to re-do the OT7 & 8 they had previously done) and came to our org to tell of his enlightened state and to sell others on purchasing their OT levels. A big and excited crowd had gathered in anticipation of him divulging his OT secrets. He was asked, “Ray, tell us about some of your OT abilities” and this is what he said, “Well, I once had a fax come in and I didn’t even have to look at the fax. I knew who it was from and I knew about it before the fax even started ringing.” He was very proud of that and I thought to myself, “You paid hundreds of thousands for that ability?” I looked around to see if anyone else was disappointed. So, instead of running out the door right then and there, this is what I did — I justified it by thinking. “Hmmm, OTs probably can’t tell us about the things they are moving with their minds and how they are walking through walls because that would be too ‘out-reality’ and we wouldn’t be able to really process it correctly” or some such crap! OMG, cringe city. I am embarrassed beyond belief.

And, as usual, when Jefferson Hawkins shows up he raises the level of the discourse several notches. In this case, he really gave us the inside scoop…

Tony, I was editor of Advance Magazine from 1975 to 1979. At that point, I had not yet reached the “OT Levels” so was still in awe of the supposed “OT abilities” I would gain. I was in charge of collecting these “OT Phenomena” stories from OTs around the world and publishing them. I filtered out the most laughably bizarre but published the rest. Scientologists love these stories, it always came out tops on reader surveys. But the fact is, these sorts of stories are a dime a dozen with ANY sort of new age or spiritual or past life subject – just go to their websites and you’ll see virtually the same stories. Even devout Christians love stories about how they were healed or contacted a dead loved one or made a fortune through “prayer.” People love these types of stories – they love to tell them and they love to hear them. But there is a world of difference between anecdotal stories of psychic phenomena and the creation of psychic ability (or “OT powers”). A phenomenon (real or imagined) is not an ability. A story about how an OT drove downtown and found a parking place right in front of his office building is meaningless. Can he drive downtown EVERY DAY and find that parking place EVERY TIME? And can it be observed and measured? The answer is no. These supposed abilities do not stand up to any sort of inspection. Look, if someone wants to believe in this sort of thing, that is one thing. People have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. That is freedom of belief or freedom of religion. But if someone is going to claim to produce these sorts of things as stable, predictable ABILITIES, and charge money for it, then they had better be able to demonstrate it. Otherwise it’s called fraud.

On Tuesday, we shared with the world the stunning talents of the Melbourne Day Rap Battle Team. There’s something about Scientology rap that seriously drives us wild. And then Chocolate Velvet put us in stitches with this comment…

The problem is, this is squirrel rap tech. In order to ensure the survival of scientology well into the 21st century, LRH left behind the mysterious OT MC levels. (HCOB PL 123 Run DMC) No one understood these at the time, as the Source had forseen an art form that wouldn’t emerge for another 20 years. But now, this is yet another place where scientologists can have an edge, if they apply the tech correctly. These fellows need a few months on the SS Freestyle, the official Land Yacht of the church. (Ok, it’s a ’78 Cadillac, but it has a sun roof!). This is where the OT MC levels are given, as this luxury land yacht cruises endlessly around the city of Inglewood – which the COB has told us is the center of Black American culture. Captain Will Smith (OT MC VI) will teach you how to get Jiggy, and be at cause over some phat beats! Don’t use squirrel rap tech! It only makes LRH look out of touch with the culture. If you want to be a wigger for the Source get yourself onboard the SS Freestyle and get going!

Most readers, however, found the video tough going. From Rolotomasii

I am so proud of myself, I was able to make it until 1:47 of that video. Thank you Scientology for marking Australian accents suddenly uncool.

MRK didn’t even make it that far!

I could take like 39 seconds of the rap video before I wanted to eat my own eyes.

On Wednesday, we brought back another helping of spooky OT Phenomena stories. BroekerBroekerBroeker took issue with one OT’s claim that he remotely sped up a soccer game just with his mind…

Only an OT would think that the distance that a soccer ball is being kicked somehow correlates with the quality of the game.

And Skydog took apart another OT story about preventing a crime from happening…

Let me see if I get this straight, Mr. OT Sheen: You imagine a situation where a girl is victimized and, learning that it didn’t happen, imagine the next night that you prevented it from not happening again? Wow, that is impressive.

On Wednesday afternoon, we previewed a yet-to-be-published academic article by Hugh Urban in which the professor describes the ideas in Aleister Crowley’s “magick” that L. Ron Hubbard lifted for Scientology. Along the way, Urban describes the efforts by Hubbard and JPL scientist Jack Parsons to create a “Moonchild” in 1946 with some kinky occult sex rituals. That prompted this reaction from Rumpelstiltskin, which really floored us here in the underground bunker…

As far as I’m concerned, Hubbard’s ‘Moonchild ‘ turned out to be Scientology/Dianetics being born.

Wow. We’re constantly amazed at what a great commenting community we have here at Runnin’ Scared. And thoughtful, too. As in this interesting observation by V for Vacation

As horrifying or scandalous as LRH’s “Affirmations” are, I find them to be more overwhelmingly sad than anything else. So often is the case that when you break down the story of some awful criminal/sociopath/dictator that has caused a lot of harm in people’s lives, at their beginnings these people were just weak and clueless and sad, watching the better part of the world pass them by, and them getting angry and vengeful and reckless. The whole “I will rule them all / I will be a god / They will rue the day” vein… It’s so the opposite of true growth and authentic knowledge/power/enlightenment. Sad. Also, it kind of makes LRH like a comic book villain.

In Thursday’s press roundup, Rebecca had this to say about Scientology’s claim that its workers are volunteers and don’t need to be paid…

I suppose it depends on how you define volunteer. In my world, volunteering doesn’t usually mean signing a billion year contract and working overtime week after week with little sleep. That sounds more like full-time employment or torture.

And we also enjoyed this tribute to Paulien Lombard by billy bob

I have to say, Paulien Lombard is one classy lady! I have yet to see an ex-Scientologist own up to their wrongs in such a sincere and noble manner. Moved only by her own conscience, her brave public apology to the parties she had wronged under orders of Scientology is one of the highest acts of contrition I have seen displayed by a Scientologist in recent times. She made no excuses, did not blame “one person,” instead she quite honestly exposed the rotten organization for what it truly is. Unlike those who have only admitted to their evil actions under Scientology when it serves their selfish needs, Paulien made her public pronouncement because she truly sought to make up for her wrongs. I hope courage and honesty lighten the load of her conscience, and help to speed her journey on the road to recovery from cult mind control. Bravo for Paulien!

Our Friday feature, “This Week Aboard the Apollo” is bringing out some great comments, particularly for something that can be a bit inside-baseball some weeks. But this week featured some interesting statements from Hubbard about his own wealth and his family, and prompted this reaction by billy bob

Poor Arthur Hubbard — He’s not a beloved son, he’s a “test rider and mechanic in chief.” Seems like Ol’ Ron had to handle everyone, even his own family, by depersonalizing them, reducing them to mere ranks and titles, or “hats” as he called them.

And we’ll finish up with this stunning discourse by John P about Hubbard’s possible income. We don’t know if John’s right or not, but we sure loved reading this…

Let’s tease out the numbers on an interesting detail mentioned in one of the orders. For this purpose, let’s assume Hubbard is telling the exact literal truth (a stretch, but let’s pretend). Hubbard claims the orgs owed him 10% of revenue, and that “An audit of monies owed me by orgs showed about 13 1/2 million pounds some years ago.” So let’s pretend that “some years ago” equals perhaps 1968 or so… The exchange rate was fixed in 1971 at about $2.40 per pound, so that would have equaled 32.4 million dollars in 1971 money. Adjusting for inflation, which was about 450% from 1970 to 2011, you get the equivalent of about $146 million in today’s dollars. If Hubbard’s payout was supposed to be 10%, then the aggregate revenue for Scientology up until that point would have been about $325 million in 1970 dollars. Applying a logarithmic growth curve, a growth rate of 25% from 1950 (founding) to 1968 gives you aggregate revenue of about $325 million and implies a company size of about $70 million in 1968. That’s not a huge company today. But for comparison purposes, the #500 company in the Fortune 500 for 1970 (per cnnmoney dot com) did about $168 million in sales… So Scientology would have been a very solid sized successful company in 1968. Compare that with the organization today. A reasonable estimate of the organization stats (based on leaks posted on Marty Rathbun’s site and elsewhere) suggest about $350 million per year, with perhaps $100 million from Flag, $100 million from books, plus (mostly) IAS donations. Direct “product” revenue hasn’t kept pace with inflation since the 1970s, even though inflation-adjusted prices for hitting the OTVIII levels are 10x or 20x what they were in the same time frame. The only reason that overall revenue is anywhere near the inflation adjusted level of 1968 is due to the IAS “donation” scheme. So if Hubbard is telling the truth about how much he was owed, then it appears that the membership of Scientology is substantially less than 1/10 what it was in 1970, and most of the (smaller amount of) money appears to be coming from high-pressure extortion fund raising, not from delivering product that people want to buy. Of course, if I were a Sea Org peon making 10 pounds per week, I would have felt less than kindly about hearing Hubbard brag about how he could just graciously “forgive” 13.5 million pounds that he was owed in back bonuses. How would you feel if your boss casually told you that he forgave an IOU of $146 million in today’s dollars from the company treasury? I don’t think that happens even at Google or Microsoft.

That’s a capper on another amazing week of comments. Make sure to tune in for tomorrow morning’s Sunday Funnies — it’s a great one — and then some of these longer stories we’ve been working on should start popping next week. In the meantime, keep those tips and leaks coming. We’re on a roll!

Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, “What is Scientology?” Another good overview is our series from last summer, “Top 25 People Crippling Scientology.” At the top of every story, you’ll see the “Scientology” category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories. As for our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week’s best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology’s wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.

As for hot subjects we’ve covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology’s “Mecca,” whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology’s policy of “disconnection” that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We’ve also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there’s plenty more coming.