3. STUDY TECH AND SCIENTOLOGY DOCTRINE
Study Tech is routinely claimed by its supporters to be wholly secular. Applied Scholastics’ chief executive officer Bennetta Slaughter told the Associated Press in July 2003 that “we have no religious materials.” Ian Lyons, the organization’s former President, told National Public radio in an August 1997 interview that “there’s nothing religious, there’s no Scientology in them.” J. Gordon Melton, a University of California religion scholar and author of the Encyclopedia of American Religion, has reviewed Applied Scholastics’ textbooks and judged them “purely secular.” The State of California’s textbook review committee agreed when it considered the issue in 1997: “There’s no religion mentioned in those books. They don’t say anything about Scientology.” (St Louis Post Dispatch, March 21, 2002)
However, a detailed examination of the Study Tech materials reveals a very different picture. It is certainly true that Study Tech does not mention the word “Scientology.” But this is only because that word has systematically been removed from the Study Tech books. In every other respect, Study Tech is entirely derived from Scientology. Much of its training materials is taken directly from Scientology religious works, often word-for-word. Because the details of Scientology doctrine are not widely known and its works are not generally available, it can be hard for non-Scientologists to spot the connections. But even the most profoundly unversed reader can hardly fail to spot the similarities — and direct matches — when Scientology and Study Tech books are compared side-by-side.
When controversies have arisen concerning Study Tech, a common issue has been the degree to which Hubbard’s educational methods are religious rather than secular. His supporters have often claimed that Study Tech is a “secular adaptation” of Hubbard’s work. But this is clearly not the case. There is no indication from Hubbard’s writings that he saw the Study Tech as anything other than an integral part of the Scientology belief system. Hubbard himself made this explicitly clear:
In an earlier policy letter, he declared that “Study Tech is our primary bridge to Society” (“Ethics and Study Tech”, HCO Policy Letter of 4 April 1972). It is closely identified with Scientology even on the official Study Technology web site. The Scientology influence is apparent throughout the Study Tech manuals. As is the case with course materials for Scientology’s other “social reform” programs, Study Tech is riddled with Scientology jargon and religious doctrines. The lengthy glossary at the back of the Basic Study Manual includes many Scientology jargon terms and Hubbardian neologisms. Besides “mass”, “gradient”, “misunderstood” (used as a noun), and “word clearing”, other examples of Scientology-specific terms or usage found in the Basic Study Manual include “reelingness” (p. 37), “blow” (pp. 58, 97), “doingness” (p. 66), “reality factor” (p. 144), “senior data” (p. 260), and “cause” and “effect” (pp. 273).. A similar set of terms can be found in Study Skills for Life, and in Learning How to Learn.
The text itself uses a variety of Scientology doctrines. Non-Scientologist reviewers are often unversed in the details of Scientology doctrines, and do not have access to Scientology materials for comparative purposes, so the connections have often been missed. Nonetheless, if a reviewer knows what to look for, Scientology’s doctrines are easily found and are visible in a virtually unaltered form. One good example concerns Study Tech’s association of different physiological symptoms with violations of each of the three “barriers to study”:
- Lack of mass causes one to feel squashed, bent, “spinny”, dead, bored, or exasperated. In Learning How to Learn, additional symptoms listed include headaches (p. 64) and eyestrain (p. 66).
- Too steep a gradient causes a feeling of confusion or “reelingness”.
- A misunderstood word causes one to feel blank, washed-out, or “not-there”, or to suffer a sort of nervous hysteria.
These symptoms are emphasized repeatedly throughout the books:
What would you do if you and your brother were in your bedroom and he was explaining to you about the engine in your dad’s car and you started to feel bored and your head started to ache?
(Learning How to Learn, p. 73)
[I]f a child were studying and felt sick and it was traced back to a lack of mass, the positive remedy would be to supply the mass — the object itself or a reasonable substitute — and the child’s sickness could rapidly clear up.
(Basic Study Manual, p. 35)
But why should the mere act of reading or listening cause physiological reactions when a misunderstood word crops up? And why should a misunderstood word prompt a student to go on a vandalism spree, as the Basic Study Manual depicts? The answers lie in a combination of two Scientology doctrines. The first is “ARC,” short for Affinity-Reality-Communication. Collectively these form what Hubbard called the “components of understanding.” Affinity can be described as one’s degree of liking of a thing. Reality is one’s level of acceptance of a thing (if it’s true for you, it’s true). Communication is one’s ability to exchange ideas with others. Each element of the “ARC triangle” is dependent upon each of the other elements. If one of the elements is knocked out, the result is termed an “ARC break”.
An ARC break has negative consequences for the second of the two Scientology doctrines in question. The “Tone Scale” was Hubbard’s attempt to assign precise rankings and numerical values to no fewer than 59 different emotional states (or “tones”). For instance, Enthusiasm is at 4.0, Resentment is at 1.3, Grief is at 0.5 and Shame is at -0.2. Hubbard composed a highly detailed “Chart of Human Evaluation” purporting to show what behaviors would manifest themselves at a particular tone level. This includes the individual’s likely physiological states. If an ARC break strikes, the claimed effect is said to be that a person is pushed “downtone” to a lower tone level.
How is this supposed to work in practice? Imagine that a student encounters a misunderstood word but doesn’t deal with it properly. The student’s cannot comprehend the text, so is pushed “out of reality”. This is an instant ARC break. The student slides down to a lower tone level — let us suppose that he started at 4.0, Enthusiasm, and now ends up at 2.0, Antagonism. The Hubbard Chart of Human Evaluation tells us what to expect. According to Hubbard, the student will now be “capable of destructive and minor constructive action”. He will be subject to physiological effects including “severe sporadic illnesses,” or as the Basic Study Manual puts it, “various mental and physical conditions.” He will be “antagonistic and destructive to self, others and environ,” a trait illustrated by the Manual’s depiction of an ARC-broken student vandalizing his school’s restroom. He “nags and bluntly criticizes to demand compliance with wishes” which the Manual describes as the student’s “various complaints, faultfinding and look-what-you-did-to-me.”
None of this is explained in the Study Tech manuals. It is, however, explained in some detail by Hubbard in the “Study Tapes” — a series of lectures given in 1964 on the subject of study and education, which are today part of the Scientology “Student Hat” course. The Study Tech is therefore put in its proper theological (or Scientological) context when studied as part of Scientology. This context is stripped out when the Study Tech is disseminated outside of Scientology, leaving a lot of loose ends and omitted explanations. No attempt is made to supply a non-Scientological explanation; the gaps in context remain unfilled even when highly visible. For instance, the fact that the Study Tech uses “word clearing” methods numbered 3, 7 and 9 begs the question of what happened to the other methods. The question is never addressed by the Study Tech materials.
The result is that the “secularized” version of the Study Tech is actually even less coherent than the Scientology version. The student is not encouraged to dwell on this problem. Word clearing ensures that the gaps will be papered over — the concepts might not make any sense, or be explained in any way, but that is deemed to be of little concern.
The contents of the Study Tech books are taken directly from Scientology scriptures published over a period of about twenty years between approximately 1960 and 1980. Not all of the material is reproduced in exactly the same form in the Scientology and Applied Scholastics versions. A number of significant changes have been made. Hubbard’s rambling lectures have virtually been rewritten, although their underlying message remains the same. Some of the wording of original Scientology materials has been modified, presumably to make it more readable to a non-Scientologist audience. All mention of Scientology has systematically been removed, although some Scientology jargon still remains. But despite these modifications, much of the text remains close to the original Scientology versions in word or spirit. Each chapter of the Basic Study Manual is drawn from one or more original Scientology works, often retaining the same or an abbreviated version of the titles.
A side-by-side comparison of extracts from seven of the Basic Study Manual’s eight chapters illustrates the similarities:
|Scientology original||Study Tech version|
|“Studying : Introduction,” lecture of 18 June 1964||“Why Study?” chapter 1 of Basic Study Manual, p. 14|
|“Barriers to Study,” HCO Bulletin of 25 June 1971 revised 25 November 1974||“Barriers to Study,” chapter 2 of Basic Study Manual, p. 24-32|
Such an absence of mass can actually make a student feel squashed. It can make him feel bent, sort of spinny, sort of dead, bored and exasperated.
If he is studying the doingness of something in which the mass is absent, this will be the result.
If one is studying about tractors, the printed page and the spoken word are no substitute for having an actual tractor there.
Photographs or motion pictures are helpful because they represent a promise or hope of the mass of a tractor.
It is important to understand that educating a person in a mass that he does not have and which is not available can produce some nonoptimum physical reactions.”
|“Simple Words,” HCO Bulletin of 4 September 1971 Issue III||“Understanding Words,” chapter 3 of Basic Study Manual, p. 79|
|“Dictionaries”, HCO Bulletin of 13 February 1981||“How to Use a Dictionary,” chapter 4 of Basic Study Manual, p. 129|
As dictionaries are such an important factor in the learning and application of Scientology (or any subject for that matter) I thought I had better recommend some dictionaries that have been found to be the best of those currently available.”
- “Dictionaries are vital and important tools in studying or learning any subject. However, current dictionaries vary in accuracy and usefulness and many of these modern dictionaries are virtually useless and can actually confuse a person due to their false and omitted definitions and grammatical and other errors. So the dictionary that a student chooses to use is important and can actually make a difference in his success as a student.
As dictionaries are such an important factor in the learning and application of any subject, a list of some dictionaries that have been found to be the best of those currently available is included here.”
|“Clay Table Training,” HCO Bulletin of 11 October 1967; “Clay Table Work in Training”, HCO Bulletin of 10 December 1970R Issue I revised 10 February 1981||“Demonstration,” chapter 5 of Basic Study Manual, p. 142-44|
|“Method 3 Word Clearing”, HCO Bulletin of 7 October 1981||“Word Clearing,” chapter 6 of Basic Study Manual, p. 157-59|
Method 3 is tremendously effective when done as described herein. If it were done every time a student hit a bog or slow or every time a student became dull or his study stats dropped your students would gradually get faster and faster and brighter and brighter. Study stats would soar and the Academy [of Scientology] would turn out more and more auditors as well as other trained individuals the org could really be proud of. So get a good reality on it and become expert in its use. Use it to Keep Scientology Working.”
- “The student looks up the word found in a dictionary and clears it per the steps of clearing a misunderstood word.
Method 3 is tremendously effective when done as described herein. So get a good reality on it and become expert in its use.”
|“Scientology Training Twin Checkouts”, HCO Policy Letter of 26 August 1965||“Coaching,” chapter 7 of Basic Study Manual, p. 211|
These examples illustrate a very important point about the purpose of Hubbard’s Study Tech. It was designed from the outset to teach Scientology to Scientologists. It was devised for religious purposes and taught in a religious context, and its adaptation to a secular environment has involved little more than taking off the Scientology labels.
c. MENTAL MASS AND THE E-METER
One of the most fundamental teachings of Scientology is that painful events are permanently recorded in our minds as mental image pictures, called “engrams”, or “mental mass”. This includes not just the pain associated with physical injury, but also simple discomfort, or unpleasant emotions such as fear, confusion, or embarrassment. Hubbard constructed an elaborate pseudo-science around the idea of mental mass. According to Scientology doctrine, focusing attention on a mental image picture causes its mass to increase. And:
“… mental mass is mass. There’s no doubt about that. It has weight. Very tiny, but it has weight. And it actually has size and shape.” (Hubbard, 1982, p. 106.)
“… an increase of as much as thirty pounds, actually measured on scales, has been added to, and subtracted from, a body by creating `mental energy’.” (Hubbard, 1982, p. 50.)
The elimination of mental mass is the central ritual — and the largest source of income — of the Church of Scientology. It is accomplished by replaying the mental image pictures until the “charge” (or mass) associated with them blows off. Scientologists believe that the mass of an engram can be measured electronically, using their E-meter device, short for “electropsychometer”.
The E-meter measures skin resistance in much the same way as a police lie detector. Scientology auditing (counseling) sessions use the E-meter to help the subject “locate” and “erase” their mental mass, supposedly thereby freeing them from the emotionally and physically harmful effects of their bad memories (Cooper, 1971, ch. 18). The E-meter can detect when engrams are discharged — according to Hubbard — because the body’s electrical resistance decreases as mental mass is eliminated. More information on the E-meter can be found at the “Secrets of the E-Meter” web site (Touretzky, 2000).
Scientology has a history of making unsubstantiated claims about the power of E-meter auditing to cure disease. On January 4, 1963, the US Food & Drug Administration raided the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Church of Scientology and seized more than one hundred E-meters as illegal medical devices. This was as a direct result of fraudulent claims that Hubbard had been making about the machine (Atack, 1990, pt. 3, ch. 7; Miller, 1989, ch. 15, pp. 246-248.). The subsequent legal battle over the raid led eventually to a settlement under whose terms E-meters were required to bear a printed disclaimer. The disclaimer found on current models begins: “By itself, this meter does nothing. It is solely for the guide of Ministers of the Church in Confessionals and pastoral counseling. The Electrometer is not medically or scientifically capable of improving the health or bodily function of anyone…”
The latest model of the E-meter, known as the Hubbard Professional Mark Super VII Quantum, was unveiled in 1996. The Church of Scientology charges its members more than $4,600 for it (as of 2003), although the cost of the components is at most a few hundred dollars.
Scientologists believe that unpleasant feelings and traumatic past experiences are recorded as engrams. Therefore, they are detectable by the E-meter. And this brings us to the word clearing methods that were omitted from the Basic Study Manual. The nine methods are set out in HCO Bulletin of 1 July 1971R, revised 11 January 1989, “The Different Types of Word Clearing“. Methods 1, 2, 4, and 5 involve use of the E-Meter, the device intended “for religious use by students and Ministers of the Church of Scientology only” (another quote from the disclaimer attached to the Mark Super VII). Joe Harrington, who was active in Scientology from 1966 to 1990 and has studied the highest levels of its scripture, wrote in 1997 that:
“The e-meter is extensively used in the “study tech” setting. Students are periodically subjected to questioning on the meter to ascertain if they have any disagreements or misunderstood words they have not looked up. Students who refuse to submit to meter checking are routed to ethics, or required to write confessions of all their transgressions while they were being a student.”
(From a posting to alt.religion.scientology, cited earlier.)
In Method 1 Word Clearing, the “auditor” goes through a long list of subjects while the student listens. The auditor notes those subjects that cause “reads” (abnormal needle movements on the meter, indicating mental mass.) Afterward, the auditor goes back and, for each noted subject, finds a chain of earlier words or earlier subjects, considering each in turn to see what problems the student may have with them. Reviewing these problems is supposed to release the “charge”, meaning that the mental mass evaporates.
According to Scientology, when we die and are reincarnated, we take our accumulated mental image pictures along with us. This can include mental image pictures of the discomfort caused by misunderstood words:
“If it didn’t clear up at once he would send them back to get them to look up the word and use it in a couple of sentences. Then if THAT didn’t clear it up he’d send them to the Word Clearer and really let them get worked over, because it goes way back. They even found a student who had a misunderstood word clear back into his last life.” (HCO Bulletin of 25 June 1971, revised 11 January 1989, “Supervisor Two-Way Comm and the Misunderstood Word”)
Method 2 word clearing is used to clear words in specific materials. The student reads the material to himself while holding the E-meter electrodes. The auditor monitors the E-meter, and misunderstood words are detected by meter readings.
Method 4 is used by “cramming officers” to search for misunderstood words. (Cramming is Scientology’s term for remedial instruction ordered when a student shows lack of mastery of previously studied material. As the name indicates, it is essentially a rote learning task.) The cramming officer reviews the material with the student and uses the E-meter to “fish” for misunderstoods.
In Method 5, the word clearer feeds words to the student one at a time and asks for their definitions. Those the student cannot define are looked up in the appropriate dictionary. (A Scientology dictionary is used for Scientology terms.) This may be done with or without the E-meter. Method 5 is the method used to clear words used as auditing commands in Scientology counseling sessions.
Method 6 is called Key Word Clearing, because it focuses on the key terms associated with a specific post (i.e., a job, either within the Scientology organization or in the secular world), or a specific subject. The word clearer makes a list of these terms in advance, and then asks the student to provide a definition for each one. It does not use the E-Meter.
Method 8, which appears to no longer be in use, was supposed to produce something called “superliteracy”. Students must make an alphabetical list of every word in a piece of material to be studied. They then look up the definition of each of these words. This was claimed to give complete mastery of the material, but, unsurprisingly, it never lived up to Hubbard’s promise.
It should be evident by now that word clearing with or without an E-meter is a prominent part of the Scientology religion. The Study Tech books discuss only three methods, and make no mention of the E-meter, in an effort to hide the essentially religious nature of the practice. But a secular version of the E-meter, called a “Learning Accelerator”, is reported to have been used in at least one supposedly non-denominational private school controlled by Applied Scholastics, with wider release planned once Study Tech gains a foothold in the public schools.
Educational matters have played an important part in Scientology doctrine for many years, even before Study Tech was formulated in the 1960s-70s. The issue of education dovetailed neatly with Hubbard’s persistent aim of improving the functioning of the human mind. The original Dianetics, way back in 1950, was claimed to improve the subject’s memory, analytical ability and IQ (which would “go up like a skyrocket”). Dianetics was supposed to be a set of universal principles which would be applicable in every walk of life and every situation. It was hardly surprising that Hubbard identified flaws in what he called “the faulty educational system currently employed” — flaws which, naturally, Dianetics could correct.
When Hubbard relaunched the secularly-oriented Dianetics as the spiritually-oriented Scientology in 1952, he added educational matters to his increasingly complex cosmology. Scientology was originally quite open about its core beliefs, but has over the years become increasingly secretive. These days, only trusted high-level Scientologists are allowed to learn the secret “advanced technology” of Scientology. Fortunately for the rest of us, enough information has leaked to allow us to learn something of Scientology’s most fundamental beliefs, in which the issues of education and Study Tech play an important part.
Low-ranking Scientologists are taught to detest the conventional educational system because of its embrace of psychiatry and psychology (a topic discussed in detail in the next section of this essay). High-rankers are given a different and somewhat bizarre reason to prefer Hubbard’s methods: non-Scientologist education has been heavily influenced by malevolent extraterrestrial forces. At its heart, Scientology is a 1950s-style UFO religion. Its high-ranking followers are taught the secret history of the universe as Hubbard saw it, involving extraterrestrial “Invader Forces,” “implant stations,” “zap guns,” galactic empires and interstellar genocides. According to Hubbard, we are all immortal spirits or “thetans” trapped inside “meat bodies.” At various times over the “trillenia,” jealous corporeal beings have captured and abused thetans, brainwashing them and dumping them onto the prison planet Teegeeack — otherwise known as Earth.
This brainwashing has been accomplished through the means of “implant stations” located in places like Mars, Venus, the Pyrenees mountains and so on. They supposedly implant a series of hallucinations or “engrams” in thetans in order to condition and control them. Scientology is, naturally, the means by which this conditioning can be broken. Much of our daily behaviour is the direct result (or “dramatization”) of the implanted conditioning. The present educational system is one of the products of the extraterrestrial brainwashing campaign.
Hubbard explained these theories in an increasingly bizarre series of works issued during the 1950s. In 1952 he wrote a famously incoherent book, A History of Man, with the ostensible aim of describing each of the implants and “key incidents” encountered by thetans over the years. He told his followers that education was the manifestation of two separate implants, “The Obsession” and “The Education”:
THE OBSESSION: This incident is the incident which gives one the feeling he HAS to have facsimiles in order to know. Actually one doesn’t need facsimiles. One thinks in concepts, approximations, pervasions. A fine control trick is to make one think he has to have facsimiles. This aberrates him and makes him easy to handle. Educational systems are locks on this. The incident is an electronic incident, very strong, and sometimes includes a great many source points of energy directed against one’s back.
THE EDUCATION: After all these [other implants], the thetan was given a complete education. This was of a hypnotic, stimulus-response variety. It was the type of education which makes a file card system out of a thinking being. It is dramatized today in universities as it requires no skilled instruction.
(Hubbard, A History of Man, 1952)
Even more bizarrely, Hubbard claimed that the very appearance of the written word was a “dramatization” of an ancient implant. The following passage is so peculiar that it is hard to know what to make of it, except perhaps to ask what recreational substance Hubbard was taking on the day that he wrote it:
[T]he entire field of learning is today dramatizing the significance of blackness.
The jest is terrible, when one realizes how he has been betrayed by education. Print is in black, the page is white. In order to read, one has to put forth an effort to suppress the whiteness of the page. This keys in gradually the suppression of the brightness of an explosion, a thing which is automatic, and which is succeeded by darkness. The black letters apparently contain knowledge – and actually often do – but they lead the poor student deeper and deeper into “What is the significance?” And the more he studies, the less he knows, until he is left at length in a complete mystery of darkness.
Further, in that the scholar is seeking more knowledge, and in that the knowledge is written in blackness, the scholar is led to suppress the whiteness of the page consistently until he is suppressing all whitenesses. This makes him suppress the whiteness on the cycle of an explosion and thus moves him on the time track past the peak of youth long before his time. The continuous suppression of whiteness retards the metabolism of the body and reduces energy. Educators uniformly dramatize the cycle of the explosion, of course, for their field is thought, and the first thought consists of energy particles not of concepts …
And, mentioning education brings one to the most terrible thing which can happen to the thetan. This is to have a guarantee of no explosions. Once the thetan cannot have, either by manufacture or acquirement, explosions or facsimiles of explosions, he is finished. Prison is so terrible merely because it denies the thetan explosions. The interim after death is terrible to the thetan because it is without explosions. Education as done on the public school system guarantees long periods in cubicles which contain no explosions; and education free from the printed page for long years in cube space is easily the most destructive and effective method of destroying the vitality of a race and the initiative and energy of those who should be its leaders and is, to say the least, rather typical of the MEST [physical] universe.
(Hubbard, “The Cycle of Action of an Explosion,” Professional Auditor’s Bulletin No. 12, October 1953)
Educational matters feature in other aspects of Scientology’s esoteric teachings. According to Hubbard, 75 million years ago a terrible genocide was carried out by an interstellar ruler named Xenu, who brought the spirits (or “thetans”) of the victims to Earth, where they were dumped into volcanic craters. They attach themselves invisibly in huge numbers to our bodies, acting as spiritual parasites. These “body thetans,” or BTs as Hubbard dubbed them, suffer from educational difficulties which can be identified in the course of a kind of exorcism procedure using the E-Meter. He informed Scientologists:
I have discovered that BTs can have misunderstood words too!
The body’s ear might hear one thing and the BT might hear something else entirely, direct. This results in Mis-U sounds and oral words. The BTs don’t know what the person is saying, nor do they know what is being said to the person, due to these Mis-Us. …
BTs can get Mis-Us from reading matter, foreign languages, and I have found BTs that don’t speak English. There is also a basic consideration that the Dead would not understand anything anyway.
(Hubbard, “BTs with Misunderstood Words,” HCO Bulletin of 22 February 1979, NOTs Series 46)
BTs are dealt with through procedures outlined in a series of highly confidential Scientology documents collectively called New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans (NOTs for short). Very few Scientologists achieve a sufficiently high level of clearance to undertake the NOTs course, so knowledge of the NOTs doctrines is not widely shared within the Church of Scientology. Because Church spokespeople are trained to not disclose information to those deemed insufficiently spiritually advanced, they usually decline to make any comment on the contents of the NOTs documents. However, leaked copies have been posted on the Internet on a number of occasions; the document on BTs with Misunderstood Words may be found at w4u.eexi.gr/~antbos/ned7.htm.
The NOTs procedures require the subject to make telepathic contact with the BTs and communicate with them, while monitoring the results. The aim is to “handle” their individual problems and so persuade them to go away. In the case of BTs with misunderstood words, they need to be contacted “conceptually” (with images rather than words). According to Hubbard,
This discovery shows the importance of clearing words used in auditing questions and commands, and the importance of clearing Mis-U words in general. And of course the fact that these Mis-Us may be a BT’s Mis-Us rather than the person’s own Mis-Us, will dispel any mystery about why one can run into Mis-U word phenomena when one knows the word himself.
(Hubbard, “BTs with Misunderstood Words,” HCO Bulletin of 22 February 1979, NOTs Series 46)
In public, Applied Scholastics claims to be interested only in education and motivated solely by a humanitarian desire to combat illiteracy. In private, however, the Church of Scientology paints a very different picture. Applied Scholastics is routinely portrayed as being a vital agent for Scientology’s expansion, and Study Tech as being a weapon against the forces of “suppression” responsible for the “destruction” of secular education. Much of the funding for Applied Scholastics comes from the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), which explains its interest in its journal Impact:
“By sponsoring generation plants of LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] social betterment technology on a global scale, such as Narconon Arrowhead, the Applied Scholastics International Spanish Lake Campus [in St. Louis, MO] and The Way to Happiness Foundation International, the decline of current society is being arrested so that it is possible for the peoples of earth to walk onto and up The Bridge [to Scientology].
The Applied Scholastics Spanish Lake Campus, whose purchase and establishment were made possible by grants from the US IAS Members’ Trust, is the answer to handling the worldwide illiteracy problem. The need for it has never been greater. As Bennetta [Slaughter, CEO of Applied Scholastics International] pointed out, Ritalin use in US schools has soared over the last 10 years from 900,000 to almost 5 million users – most between five and twelve years of age. And while 38 billion dollars have been spent on education in the US alone, literacy rates are plummeting with 20% of American adults functionally illiterate, thereby finding even such basic actions as balancing checkbooks and filling out forms difficult tasks.
The only answer is to get LRH study technology implemented on a massive scale, and that will be the role of the Spanish Lake Campus which is moving rapidly toward its opening, thanks to support from the membership.
(Impact magazine, issue #104, July 2003)
The Church of Scientology views the activities of Applied Scholastics as one strand in an ambitious program of “planetary salvage.” In Scientology’s view, the world is in a catastrophic state. It is a point illustrated by the opening pages of the Scientology Handbook, a huge volume setting out the basics of Scientology “technology” including Study Tech. Various social ills are highlighted: community breakdown, falling marriage rates, environmental degradation, drug abuse, violence, failing schools and so on. Something, the Handbook says, has caused a change in human behavior over the past century. That something is psychiatry (blamed on the 19th century German professor Wilhelm Wundt) combined with “materialism” (blamed on Charles Darwin). The consequences for education have been disastrous:
In our educational systems, Wundtian-based psychological and psychiatric theories have left a legacy of spiraling illiteracy. With the broad introduction of psychiatric mental health programs into the US school system in 1963, Scholastic Aptitude Test scores declined nationwide for sixteen straight years and have leveled off in a much lower range. While illiteracy has always been with us, it has generally been because of lack of schooling. These figures have worsened in spite of the availability of schooling for everyone.
(The Scientology Handbook, foreword)
The point is made in more detail by another Scientology “social reform” organization, the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, which campaigns against psychiatry. It has published a booklet on the subject entitled Psychiatry – Education’s Ruin, one of a number of lurid publications attacking psychiatry. The booklet purports to show “how the education system has been infiltrated, subverted and brought to the brink of collapse” by psychiatrists. A hidden conspiracy of psychiatrists has apparently determined to undertake “controlling human nature and changing it to the advantage of the common weal” as defined by psychiatry (p.6). Teachers have “shed their trademark role and become psychiatric agents” (p.10). State funding of psychiatrists has increased massively in the US and elsewhere, leading to an explosion of social problems: “there is hardly a country in the world today not faced with increased drug use and suicide among youth and that, coincidentally, does have an increasing number of child psychiatrists and psychologists spreading propaganda that conditions are so bad our children are ‘at risk’ and ‘need help’” (p.11).
Psychiatry was L. Ron Hubbard’s pet hate, to such an extent that its destruction became one of his life’s main obsessions. The reasons for his antipathy are somewhat complex and not at all clear, but seem to have arisen from a combination of psychiatric opposition to Scientology’s activities and Hubbard’s own mental problems. This virulent hatred of psychiatry permeates virtually every aspect of his work, even including his science fiction works. It is also manifested in the Study Tech manuals. In the middle of a discussion of misunderstood words in the Basic Study Manual, Hubbard suddenly introduces a paragraph denouncing psychology (a term which he frequently, inaccurately, uses interchangeably with psychiatry):
The subject of psychology began its texts by saying they [sic] did not know what the word means. So the subject itself never arrived. Professor Wundt of Leipzig University in 1879 perverted the term. It really means just a study (ology) of the soul (psyche). But Wundt, working under the eye of Bismarck the greatest of German military fascists, at the height of German war ambitions, had to deny man had a soul. So there went the whole subject! Men were thereafter animals (it is all right to kill animals) and man had no soul, so the word psychology could no longer be defined.
(Basic Study Manual, pp. 79-80)
The very existence of schools run on Hubbardian principles owes much to his hatred of psychiatry. Scientologists are all but required to share his antipathy and are constantly urged by their Church to resist the “psychiatric system.” Education is at the center of the battlefield, with secular schools often being denigrated as being agents of “the enemy.” Hubbard himself told his followers in a 1964 lecture: “The whole educational system, as I see it, of total duress, total squash on the individual, in view of the fact that it’s a system that’s full of lies, I think it’s about the most destructive thing you could have around at all.” In a very similar vein, the Los Angeles Times cited a late-1980s recruitment pamphlet for Scientology schools which warned against state education, asking: “If you turn your kids over to the enemy all day for 12 to 15 years, which side do you think they will come out on?” New Mexico’s Mojave Academy, a Scientology school which somehow fails to mention the word Scientology in its online prospectus, uses exactly the same language. The school’s principal, Joke Reeder, takes an even harder line than Applied Scholastics: only a school run entirely on Hubbard’s doctrines will do. Her open letter to parents gives a flavor of how fundamentalist Scientologists view non-Scientology education:
You can’t just take the enemy’s school system, give it a light coat of study tech and think you’re applying the L. Ron Hubbard philosophy on education.
Quite often a parent will give me a pretty grim picture of what his kid is into and in the same breath say: “Charley’s doing okay in school, he got an ‘A’ in Math.”
At that point I chill to the bone, for I know the boys who gave Charley that “A” and I know what it stands for: “Charley is progressing toward death at an acceptable rate.” We see all indications of his imminent demise and we are pleased.”
The enemy system is hypnotizing your child and making him stupid.
No, I’m not being harsh. I’m not being harsh enough!
For too many years the victims of this system have been brought to my office by shocked parents; their lives suddenly disrupted emotionally, legally, financially as they must now face what it will take to put Charley back together again.
The parents as you can imagine, are crushed. They see their cause now. It wasn’t Charley who betrayed them. It was they who betrayed Charley by sending him into the enemy camps unprepared to deal with the suppressives’ system.
(Joke Reeder, founder of Mojave Academy, NM, “Letter to parents” – http://www.mojaveacademy.com/founder.html)
Scientologists themselves like to claim that only schools run on Scientology principles can provide a “safe environment” well away from “psych drug pushers.” But Hubbard was not content merely with removing Scientologist children from the “enturbulative” influence of psychiatrists. By the end of the 1960s, he had committed Scientology totally to achieving the physical obliteration of psychiatry. He publicly declared war on psychiatrists, claiming that they had taken over all branches of the state (including the educational system):
You may not realize it staff member but there is only one small group that has hammered Dianetics and Scientology for 18 years.
Last year we isolated a dozen men at the top. This year we found the organization these used and all its connections over the world.
They are as red as paint. Their former president was a card carrying Communist and they have four on their Board of Directors. Yet they reach into International Finance, Health Ministries, Schools, the press. They even control immigration in many lands.
Psychiatry and “Mental Health” was chosen as a vehicle to undermine and destroy the West! And we stood in their way …
They have infiltrated boards of education, the armed services, even the churches.
(Hubbard, “The War,” LRH Executive Directive 55 INT of 29 November 1968)
Psychiatry’s responsibility for educational decline was a theory that Hubbard returned to many times thereafter, with an increasing degree of stridency as the years passed. In 1971, for instance, he told Scientologists:
Education has fallen under the control of one-worlders, is less and less real. Data taught is being taught less well. Less data is being taught. School and college unrest reflect this. Confirmation is the deteriorated basic education found in teenagers such as writing. Older technologies are being lost in modern rewrites. THIS THIRD DYNAMIC [social] PSYCHOSIS IS A COVERT REFUSAL TO TRAIN.
(Hubbard, “Org Management Program No. 2,” LRH Executive Directive 123 INT of 4 September 1970)
By the 1980s, Hubbard’s hatred of psychiatry had clearly developed into a psychotic obsession. Scientologists were alarmed to discover that psychiatrists were now deemed responsible for “pain and sex”, as well as educational and social problems:
They say poverty makes crime. They say if one improved education there would be less crime. They say if one cured the lot of the underprivileged one would have solved crime.
All these “remedies” have proven blatantly false.
In very poor countries there is little crime. The “improving” education, it was tailored to “social reform,” not teaching skills. And it is a total failure. The fact that rewarding the underprivileged has simply wrecked schools and neighborhoods and cost billions is missing.
So who is “they”? The psychologist and psychiatrist, of course. These were their crackpot remedies for crime. And it’s wrecked a civilization.
There’s only one remedy for crime – get rid of the psychs! They are causing it! Ah yes, it’s true on cases and cases of research on criminals. And what’s it all go back to? The psychs!
(Hubbard, “The Cause of Crime,” HCO Bulletin of 6 May 1982)
Hubbard was, if anything, even more rabid in private. He told his aides that the Scientology goal of “clearing the planet” (making Scientology universal) was henceforth to be subordinated to the goal of destroying psychiatry:
Our war has been forced to become ‘To take over absolutely the field of mental healing in all forms.’
That was not the original purpose. The original purpose was to clear Earth. The battles suffered developed the data that we had an enemy [i.e. psychiatry] who would have to be gotten out of the way and this meant we were at war. …
Our total victory will come when we run his organizations, perform his functions and obtain his financing and appropriations.
(Hubbard, “Intelligence Actions – Covert Intelligence – Data Collection,” confidential memo of 2 December 1969)
The establishment of Scientology’s “social betterment” organizations – Applied Scholastics, Narconon and Criminon as well as a variety of others – followed on the heels of Hubbard’s confidential declaration. This was very likely not a coincidence. All three organizations are heavily involved in areas that are greatly influenced by psychiatry and psychology – education, drug rehabilitation and criminal rehabilitation. Significantly, there is no place for any aspect of psychiatry or psychology in any program run by any of the three organizations. All three share, and have publicly expressed, Hubbard’s hostility to psychiatry and psychology. And of course, if money is being spent on a Hubbardian program, then that money will be lost to psychiatry or psychology. This helps to meet Hubbard’s goal of Scientology “perform[ing] [the psychiatrist's] functions and obtain[ing] his financing and appropriations.”
Reading, unlike speaking, is not an evolved ability: it has to be taught. But just as there are disorders that affect speaking, there are also disorders that affect reading and learning. Dyslexia is probably the best known and most widespread of these, affecting up to one in five schoolchildren. There are others, including the often controversial Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), commonly treated with the drug Ritalin; dyscalculia, a math disorder; and dysgraphia, a handwriting disorder.
These disorders have two things in common: medical science identifies anomalies in the brain as their probable cause, and supporters of Study Tech claim that it can cure them. Celebrity Scientologist and actor Tom Cruise is one of many who has publicly claimed that his dyslexia was overcome by Study Tech. This immediately raises three questions. Can dyslexia be cured? Is there any hard evidence that Study Tech has cured anything? What does Study Tech say about dyslexia and other learning disorders?
Dyslexia cannot be “cured” but it can at least be dealt with, if caught at a sufficiently early age. Psychiatric researchers have discovered, using magnetic resonance imagers to watch the activity of the brain in real time, that the probable cause of dyslexia is a “miswiring” between three parts of the left side of the brain that play a key role in reading. This is not an insurmountable problem: the brain is an enormously adaptable organ that can “rewire” itself over time if given sufficient stimulus. A young child’s brain is the easiest to “rewire,” as the brain is still developing – a fact illustrated by the ease with which children pick up new languages, in marked contrast to the difficulties experienced by many adults.
This means that if dyslexia is to be tackled, it should ideally be tackled as young as possible with a targeted program of remedial education. A leading researcher into dyslexia, Yale University neuroscientist Sally Shaywitz, reports that brain scans of dyslexic kindergartners and first-graders who have benefited from a year’s worth of targeted instruction start to resemble those of children who have never had any difficulty reading. Dyslexia in older people cannot be tackled in quite the same way, as their brain “wiring” will be set in a more fixed pattern. Even so, specialist centers for dyslexics such as the Frostig Center in Pasadena, California have achieved impressive results through a combination of specialist education and applied technology (of the electronic rather than the Hubbardian kind).
Study Tech’s supporters may claim that it is an effective remedy for dyslexia, but there seems to be no hard evidence to support this contention. There have certainly not been any independent studies of the matter, nor does there seem to be any systematic before-and-after comparison of recorded improvements (if any). Tom Cruise’s well-publicized “cure” provides a case in point. It is not even clear if he had dyslexia in the first place; in 1992, he told celebrity columnist Marilyn Beck that his exposure to Scientology had convinced him that “I had never been dyslexic.” His claim to have been “cured” was criticized by the International Dyslexic Association, whose executive director J. Thomas Viall commented:
“When an individual of the prominence of Tom Cruise makes statements that are difficult to replicate in terms of what science tells us, the issue becomes what other individuals who are dyslexic do in response to such a quote-unquote success story. There is not a lot of science to support the claims that the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard are appropriate to overcoming dyslexia.”
(National Enquirer, “Top Gun Tom under fire,” Thursday August 7, 2003)
There are plenty of similar “success stories” from Scientologists, but uncorroborated subjective anecdotes are a notoriously unreliable form of evidence. In the case of Study Tech, there is also the problem that these accounts are not freely given, that there are effectively penalties for failure to claim success, and that those to whom the accounts are given are already convinced that Hubbard’s theories are proved beyond any dispute. (See the section “Study Tech Assessed” for more on this.) In short, Study Tech’s supporters’ claims cannot be verified and are very likely influenced by the bias of the reporting process.
Study Tech does not directly address the matter of dyslexia or any other learning disorder. Instead, it insists in the usual dogmatic fashion that all learning difficulties are the result of Hubbard’s three “barriers to study.” Scientologists insist that there is in fact no such thing as dyslexia, claiming that it is a meaningless concept invented by psychiatrists. Applied Scholastics’ sister organization, the anti-psychiatry Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights, publicly denies the existence of dyslexia:
Dyslexia is a PSYCH term. It is a catch-all phrase that has gone from meaning reversal of letters to meaning anyone who can’t read or study well for any number of reasons. IT IS A PSYCH CONCEPT.
So, the first thing is to TOSS THE WORD “DYSLEXIA.” It’s just more psych crap.
(Marie Gale, CCHR National Spokesperson, email to TNX mailing list, June 9, 1996)
This claim is amplified by the CCHR publication Psychiatry: Betraying and Drugging Children (1995) which claims – in defiance of a century of work and a mountain of research – that all supposed learning disorders are fraudulent inventions of psychiatrists:
Confronted with children whom psychologists, psychiatrists and teachers claimed had ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], I have not been able to find any abnormality – no disease whatsoever!
Dyslexia (or Specific Reading Disability), we are told, is an abnormality in the language parts of the brain, not manifest until the child fails to gain literacy in the early grades of school. What parents and teachers are usually not told, however, is that over sixty years of research have failed to confirm that a defect of any sort exists in the brain of a child who has been labeled dyslexic. Sadly, maintaining this condition to be a fact is doing incredible damage to these individuals.
These made-up disorders, along with others including “Severe Emotional Disorder” or “Dyscalculia” (special arithmetic disorder), have never been validated as brain diseases.
(Dr. Fred A. Baughman, Jr. in CCHR, Psychiatry: Betraying and Drugging Children)
Although he is frequently cited by CCHR and has written articles in support of Applied Scholastics, Dr. Baughman is generally regarded as an unrepresentative and ill-informed voice on learning disabilities. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) told the Congressional Committee on Education and the Workforce in a letter of September 29, 2000 that Dr. Baughman “represent[s] fringe opinions about the disorder and about psychiatry.” His position is certainly at odds with mainstream research and ignores the findings of a huge amount of research from around the world.
Even Dr. Baughman does not go quite as far as some supporters of Study Tech, who claim that the symptoms attributed to dyslexia are in fact caused by psychiatry:
“Dyslexia” is in fact a coverup for the victims of a deliberate psych-based assault on the mind which is also now another catch-all “treatable (and chargeable) psych illness”.
(Ned Hoover, email to TNX mailing list, June 17, 1996)
The “invention” of dyslexia is a sign of the financial corruption of psychiatrists, according to another Scientologist:
To understand the significance of the word ‘dyslexia’ in our modern world, it is important to understand the way the psychs work. They are essentially running a con game — all that they are and all the income they make depends solely and entirely on how effective they are as con men.
Part of their smoke and mirrors is the development of resounding Latin and Greek labels which create the apparency that a palpable pathological condition exists when there is actually nothing there at all except perhaps a confusion. They then conduct studies which pretend to develop epidemiological statistics of the incidence of this made-up disease, and voila, you have a REAL disease. But the stats are ALL FALSE. I know, I’ve researched enough of their studies to see how they do it.
It would be best if Scientologists refused to use the word ‘dyslexia’ and whenever it comes up, nail it, hard. Since dyslexia is defined as arising from a physical cause, the person purporting to label a child with dyslexia has the burden to prove that the child is brain-damaged or otherwise physically damaged in some way. Failing that, the use of the term ‘dyslexia’ is inappropriate.
(Michael O’Brien, email to TNX mailing list, June 5, 1996)
This is entirely in accordance with Hubbard’s claim that “the psychs” are the root cause of educational and social problems. Applied Scholastics is less extreme in public than CCHR but uses exactly the same arguments and implicit denials of the existence of learning disorders. For instance, Bernard Percy of Applied Scholastics writes in a Tennessee Tribune article that the symptoms attributed to learning disorders are in fact caused by Hubbard’s “barriers to study”:
How often are students labeled as having some psychiatric named affliction (such as ADD or developmental reading disorder) when the truth is that they are displaying mental or physiological phenomena caused by having hit a barrier to learning?
For example, nervous hysteria is one of the potential symptoms of having passed a misunderstood word. How often have students displaying this symptom been labeled by a teacher as ‘perhaps having ADD’? From that moment on the teacher will most likely find other ‘evidence’ of ADD and perhaps even recommend that child be put on the destructive drug Ritalin.
(Bernard Percy, “The dangers of labeling children,” Tennessee Tribune, October 6, 1996)
In much the same vein, Fred A. Baughman castigates the “whole language” approach to literacy, which Scientologists regard as a failed psychiatric experiment being inflicted on children. He once again brings up his peculiar and unsupported belief that there is no such thing as dyslexia:
Dyslexia refers to extraordinary difficulty identifying the printed word by normally intelligent children. It is widely held to be due to a defeat in the child’s brain. However, a century of research has failed to establish the cause of dyslexia and has failed to prove anything whatsoever wrong with the brains of the children. Virtually all children who have seemed normal from birth to the first day of school, are normal and are capable of reading at an age/grade appropriate level …
The problem remains, that no matter how bad the reading scores or how many children are rendered permanently “dyslexic” or “reading disabled,” those of the Whole Language faith perservere, convinced that they have the right way, that the faults are not with Whole Language and that given time, and a few million more of our children, they will prove it.
They are the main cause of “dyslexia.” They are the main cause of “at risk” children. They are the main cause of our “at risk” society.
(Dr. Fred A. Baughman, Jr., ” ‘Whole Language,’ the cause of Dyslexia,” Call & Post (Cincinatti), May 16, 1996)
The supporters of Applied Scholastics and Study Tech also share Hubbard’s implacable opposition to the use of psychiatric drugs to assist those diagnosed with disorders such as ADD. Such treatment is admittedly controversial and has aroused concern from non-Scientologists as well. But Applied Scholastics and its sister organizations take an extremist view of the matter, rejecting any use of psychiatric drugs. This view is not subject to change, even if the value of drugs such as Ritalin is proved beyond all doubt. Its adherence to Hubbard’s view of psychiatry means that any psychiatric diagnosis must automatically be treated as suspect, if not rejected outright.
Those who suffer from learning disorders can only be badly served by this approach. Someone with dyslexia is unlikely to benefit from a “therapy” provided by an organization that denies the very existence of dyslexia. The Scientology heritage and Scientologist management of Applied Scholastics has pushed the organization into a wholly dogmatic and unscientific approach to the issue of learning disability. It is a particularly cruel irony that while Study Tech is promoted as being uniquely suited to addressing learning disorders, in practice it is likely to be much less useful than the “wog learning” that its supporters like to disparage.
“Wog” is Scientology’s term of derision for non-Scientologists. It was introduced by Hubbard but is now in common use throughout the organization, as in this memo from Scientology management to staff members in California:
“Quite a number of children [of Scientology Sea Organization staff] are behind their grade level on studies in the public school system (which is absurd since we have study tech and wogs don’t).”
(Larry Price, Sea Org Evaluator, Aides Order 203-71 of 28 August 1981)