On January 14, 2005, John Travolta appeared as a guest on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. Travolta promoted Scientology, specifically study technology, and explained the “three barriers to study”. The full transcript [was] available online.
Now, speaking of education, you know, in Scientology, the first thing you’re taught is the barriers to study, and it’s a misunderstood word, basically. So dictionaries are very important in one’s education. If you hear someone speak to you, and you don’t understand a word, write it down, look it up later, remember what context it was said in. When you’re reading a newspaper article or a magazine or–remember that if you have a misunderstood word, even if it’s nomenclature, you will not grasp that subject matter. The other one is gradient. That’s usually in the field of doing this–too steep a gradient. You know, if you’re learning a dance step, you have to learn how to do this before you can do the next one–in sports, the same thing. You learn things on a physical gradient. The third would be the lack of mass itself on the subject matter. If you’re studying–let’s say jet engines–you must see a jet engine to understand the technicalities of how it works. So the misunderstood word, the gradients, and the lack of mass are the 3 barriers to study. If you just knew that, every area of knowledge would become much more interesting to you. And that’s the gift that I had, soon after I got into Scientology, was the gift of any area was possible for me because I had a dictionary. Now, you have to take your time. Dictionaries are not a glib thing. There’s derivations, and there’s the basic, and there’s the multi-definitions to any given word. I mean, most people don’t know there’s, like, 21 definitions of “the.” Tavis: So was Clinton right when he said, “It depends on what ‘is’ is”?
John: Yes. [Laughs]
Tavis: OK. I just love talkin’ to John Travolta.
John: What’s the 16th definition of “is”?
Tavis: Of “is,” yeah. [Laughs]
John: You know what I mean?
Tavis: I would not have gone here, John Travolta, had you not raised it because I try to respect people’s personal and spiritual space. But I won’t surprise you when I say to you that there are critics of Scientology. I don’t want to get into a debate about that, but I want to ask you, though, because when I listen to you talk about this and explain it, it makes perfect sense to me. What, then, do you think is most misunderstood about what you believe–Scientology?
John: Well, you know, if there is anything. I mean, lately, I think it’s being much more understood because of the evolution of the reading on the subject matter, which is what I’ve always insisted on: read a book. But, moreover, I’m getting opportunities to give specific examples, like I just gave you with the misunderstood word, a very basic thing in Scientology. So if I ever get the opportunity to give examples, it’s much better than not giving an example. But, at any rate, I don’t know, it’s going very well.