In the future everyone will have two minutes of hate

I reject the “Anonymous” campaign against Scientology, and its widespread acceptance.

Scientology is an unpleasant and sometimes frightening organization. I find nothing to love about them. They are a cult in every negative sense of the word, they use coercive and threatening tactics, they have an alarming amount of money, and they are particularly good at snaring well-known people and using them as propagandists. Let’s assume that I agree with everything the opponents of Scientology say about their bad behavior.

The group is an easy target for bullying. They’re rich and litigious, but there are not many of them, and they are not a mainstream religion. I have seen national surveys that described them as the most hated or feared organization in the country. Attacking Scientology in public can result in litigation and threats, but it’s socially acceptable.

Their evils are not unique, and their reach and power are limited. It’s true that they extract money and service from their followers, use coercion and even force to retain them, present their associated groups dishonestly, and give terrible advice about mental health care, some of which may be deadly. That’s terrible.

Let’s look at the Catholic Church. Their history is two millennia of war, murder, intolerance, hatred of women, racism, slavery, corruption, terrorism, invasion, stealthy control of governments, and absolute autarchic invididual power. To this day they manipulate politics all over the world. They protect their priests from the law, even when nauseating crimes have been committed. And their strictures on women’s health are deadly, cruel, and irrational and have the force of law over millions worldwide. They are even complicit in the Holocaust.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists have a deadly disregard for modern medicine, and their members die for lack of readily available care. They impose this fatal ideology on their children and recruit others, who will then also face life-threatening disease with a crippling religious stricture.

I could move on to the Mormons here, but the point has been made. Scientology is a destructive ideology and the church is a dreadful organization. But on the larger scale of religious wickedness they are a small player.

Scientology looms large in the world of educated Americans with Internet access. Celebrities are our pantheon, and most of us have encountered Scientology in colleges too. We’re their primary recruiting target. And most importantly, we’re permitted to despise them as a group. They are, as they themselves would put it, fair game.

The language used by the Anonymous people is that of communal violence. Their half-funny, half creepy manifesto is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but the language is venomous. Invoking Rosa Parks and the Velvet Revolution in a document that declares war on a smallish religion is just nasty, even if you’re trying to be funny. The half-baked teen speechifying is bad enough, but something like “Social unrest will follow social awareness, social revolt will follow social outcry, and at the end of all of this there will be change” in the context of an attack on a religious group is nastier.

Imagine for a moment that this crusade was pointed at the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Mormons, or the Catholics. Or take a look at the rhetoric of the American war party about Muslims, and compare. And this, too: Imagine an elementary school aged child in a family of Scientologists who reads this, and then walks to school and looks around at the other kids wondering what’s going on?

Scientology isn’t an ethnic group or nation. This is not like an attack on black people or Mexicans or Germans.

But doesn’t anyone find it disturbing that so many are cheerfully supporting a mob attack? It’s impossible to list all the victims of Catholicism or even Christian Science. If you waged a propaganda war and invoked demonstrations against Jehovah’s Witnesses people would call you an intolerant jerk.

We can attack Scientology because they’re already disliked and socially marginal, and because they loom large in our own privileged and celebrity-obsessed world. But they’re a bad target.

There’s a war on. In the U.S. our own government is tossing Iraqis and Afghans into a giant woodchipper, 24 hours a day. Among religions, well-known and respected organizations support the war, successfully oppose the distribution of condoms in AIDS-ridden places, condone the molestation of children, and oppose the HPV vaccine on the grounds that sexual punishment of fornicating women is just.

Why is anyone at all being trolled into this nonsense?

It’s a mallomar, i guess that’s what i’m describing

Where the worlds of pants-filling terror and head-throbbing annoyance meet: ACTION MOVIE MARKETING:

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s upcoming “Mission: Impossible III” got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the “Mission: Impossible” theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers…

What’s all this about a clam? Oh no…

After today’s phrenology session I had an interesting talk with Brain Lady. I found myself explaining to her why she sounded like a postscientific wacko at first, before I learned more about her. Most of the problem is her language. She speaks Science and has been working at very technical jobs in the mental health field for 20 years, but when she’s explaining things to a client she uses analogies and metaphors that have been totally ruined by New Age bubbleheads.

For example, she will say “I’m doing this site to push the energy back over to the other side of your brain”. On further questioning, she explains that this is a thumbnail description for a poorly understood phenomenon in which treating one site causes the voltages to go down there and up in another part of the brain. She doesn’t literally believe that she is pushing the energy around. She refers to treating multiple injuries as “like peeling off layers of an onion”. This sounds like she believes in concentric spheres of some intangible substance, but again it’s a simile. Her observations show her that multiple injuries often require multiple stages of treatment, but there isn’t any proven one-to-one correspondence between the injuries and the stages of treatment. And when she’s talking about electrical activity and mental acuity increasing after treatment, she calls it “waking up the brain”; another analogy. All of these things sound like something the local Crystal Anus Delver at the Metaphysical Bookhonk would say. In Brain Lady’s case, she’s working off many years of academic study and clinical experience in developmental disability, head injuries, special education, substance abuse treatment, and psychotherapy.

The other bad news I had for her is that her stuff sounds like Scientology. Wires on your head, healing old injuries, increased states of awareness, oh dear. You’re expecting Tom Cruise to appear stage left and congratulate you for choosing the right path. Here’s the hilarious part: she knows nothing about Scientology. As I was explaining how many parallels there are, her eyes got wider and wider. “Oh no, do people think this is like Scientology? That’s just a dumb cult!” Poor thing, she’s spent 20 years in the Science Hole and working with actual patients, and hasn’t noticed some weird cultural trends.

She pointed out that she doesn’t speak in Science much to clients because communicating the statistical links between voltage differentials and affective disorders to people with head injuries can be frustrating to both parties. I think I did manage to get across that she was using language and analogies that had been poisoned, though.

For my own part, I told her I had only really started trusting her judgment the day she went off on a rant about attribution errors and the importance of knowing your independent variables and not trusting your subjective observations, with several anecdotes of failed studies that hadn’t taken these precautions.

Attacking the darkness.

So here’s the plan. I’m going to sell Dungeons & Dragons, specifically I think “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”, as a cult. The idea is that the D&D books, while masquerading as a game, are actually the keys to an ancient and powerful spiritual tradition. And I alone am the chosen one who has been given the burden of showing Mankind the Way. The adventures, and monsters, and character types, and spells, and all of it are Tarot-like symbols that point inward to a hermeneutic tradition that has been suppressed for five thousand years.

The (expensive) services will be of course D&D games. As the supplicant’s character increases in level, more bits of the inner truth will become apparent, or be revealed by the treasures and monsters that are encountered. Higher level characters will be given the ability to buy magic items, spells, weapons etc. The opportunities for religious consumerism will be endless here: dice, dice bags, books, etc. At a certain level, the supplicant may be invited to become a game master at a low level. And after years and years, the top level (probably 33rd as in Masonry) could be achieved, after about $150,000 and a lot of work. The mysteries of character generation, character types, alignments, and the existence of “dungeons” could be explained in stages of symbolic meaning tuned to the supplicant’s level.

So I could fuse pop culture, childhood nostalgia, Scientology, the New Age, shopping mall “wiccan” distaste for Christianity, the will to power, consumerism, multilevel marketing, geek culture, the current Tolkien mania, and every mythic tradition that D&D itself grave-robbed.

And if there’s girls there, I’m going to do them.

Mahalia Jackson, he’s not.

Music for Maniacs is a fine mp3blog for aficionados of outsider music and other oddities. Today’s post revealed one of the main problems “New Religions” or “Cults” have; their gospel music blows chunks.

Submitted for your consideration, L. Ron Hubbard’s music from 1980 for Battlefield Earth. Both of those tracks were intended as “soundtracks” to the novel.

One can easily picture the great man bent over his synthesizer, getting the evil laughter, boop-beep sounds, and ominously cheesy organ sounds just right.

rumors on the internets: neurofeedback

I decided to do some armchair research on this thing I’m trying. First stop was wikipedia, where a neurofeedback article had been flagged as both “neutrality disputed” and “needs to be cleaned up since May 2005”. Uh oh. Sure enough, there are links to Scientology everywhere, and the tone of the article is not only dismissive but actively disparaging. Not very wikipedia. A link is provided to the talk page which is the usual ridiculous holy war involving pro- and anti-neurofeedback parties and of course Scientology.

It was depressing in that “Oh man, there goes that Internet Guy again” way. That guy in this case being njyoder, a talented and energetic troll who baits feminists and particularly rape awareness organizations.

The actual professional association seems to be pretty sane and know their limits.

New cures bring enthusiasm, messianic prose, The Solution To Everything, cranks, and naysayers. Looking around the web in a first-click way I see all of those in about ten minutes. From my point of view it’s worth a try, since it doesn’t seem likely to break my brain. At the worst I’ll lose $200 a week for a while and then get disgusted. Since I’m already disgusted, here we go.

Their Thetanic Majesties Request

Edit: feisty_robot points out that this was originally a satire piece, and that the editors of the Toronto Fashion Monitor had been taken in. I guess they’re no longer the continent’s paper of record for me!

Every time he opens his mouth, he brings me joy, and I can forget the world’s cares for a few more moments. I had no idea that Brooke Shields had a multicentury career of evil behind her! I thought it was restricted to Blue Lagoon.

Scientologist Tom Cruise revealed that he is much older than the forty three years he has spent in his present body.

Tom Cruise noted that he is “old beyond reckoning.” What’s more, his current life is “probably one of the least satisfying” he has led.

“I was much happier in previous existences when I wrote plays, composed music, conquered nations, discovered continents, and developed cures for diseases,” said Tom Cruise.

Cruise said he became aware that he “had been here before,” when he read the complete works of Shakespeare in a month, despite being dyslexic, not long after dropping out of high school.

“Shakespeare was deja vu for me,” said Tom Cruise. “It was so cool. I felt as if I had seen his words already, knew them all by heart. Then, after I began studying scientology, I realized the words had come from my heart in a previous life. That’s why I say that as glorious and enviable as my present life is, making “War of the Worlds” and all those other great movies can’t compare to writing “Romeo and Juliet” or the sonnets.

In addition to recognizing his days of future passed in the works of Shakespeare and Bach—and in the achievements of Columbus and Napoleon—Cruise recognizes the continuing reappearance of “Anti-Thetanic forces,” such as Matt Lauer and Brooke Shields, with whom he has clashed in former lives. (via