I know many of you are occupied with batting around an obtuse creationist named JohnHamilton, but if you need a break, there’s a nice post here that has drawn out a couple of scientologists. They’re actually trying to defend the fantasies of L. Ron Hubbard as “science”!
Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is, in its broadest sense, any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a correct prediction, or reliably-predictable type of outcome. In this sense, science may refer to a highly skilled technique, technology, or practice, from which a good deal of randomness in outcome has been removed.
Dianetics and Scientology processes fit that description.
Why, no it does not, since Scientology has no reliable, testable outcome other than the separation of the suckers from their money.
David Marjanović says
What rot. The argument from etymology is a logical fallacy. As soon as you can’t answer the question “if I were wrong, how would I know?” all the way down, you’re not doing science anymore.
Which isn’t to say that Scientology doesn’t make testable predictions. Xenu is supposed to have used volcanoes that didn’t even exist yet… the universe is supposed to be thousands of times its evidence-based age… the E-Meter®… and so on…
One of the most common tactics of pseudoscientists is confusing psychological claims, with factual ones.
If someone believes they are the reincarnation of Cleopatra, say, you can examine this claim from several perspectives. First, is it true? Does this person possess knowledge that suggests that she is, in fact, remembering a past life as a Queen of Ancient Egypt? Does the phenomenon of reincarnation hold up under scientific scrutiny?
But, there’s also the question of whether this belief is useful to the believer, regardless of its actual truth. Does it give her confidence? Does it help her deal with stress? Is it a framework which is providing her life with meaning and excitement, and does she now belong to a community of like-minded people who reinforce her value as a person, while they reinforce her belief?
They blur the distinction. Go after the truth claim, and they will point to the benefits, both as sort of validation of the claim, and as a way of deflecting criticism, and mischaracterizing the skeptic as insufficiently sensitive or holistic.
I’ve seen Scientology do this, as well. It’s an apologetics version of the bait-and-switch. They want to direct your attention away from their publicly weak points, and on to their stronger ones. Trouble is, the ‘weak’ points are what define and distinguish Scientology.
Scientology does make a few testable claims.
Xenu the Galactic overlord supposedly killed his prisoners 75 million years ago on volcanoes with nuclear weapons.
There were no humans on the earth 75 million years ago during the age of the dinosaurs, the atomic blasts never happened, and those volcanoes didn’t even exist back them.
Where scientology makes testable claims, they all end up being false.
They must be having a membership drive this week.
“Now, go forth to all the blogs and spread the stupid!”
Catch people when they’re all happy on the chocolate and peeps.
But, but as Pat Condell says “it ends with ‘-ology’ and contains most of the word science”!, so they must be onto something! right?
According to Scientology, if you pay enough money, you eventually become godlike, able to control Matter, Energy, Space, and Time or “create your own universe”.
Well duh. If that were true, scientologists wouldn’t have to rely on harassment, legal action, and babbling like loons to keep their cult going.
I wouldn’t mind being a master of matter, space, time, and energy. Scientology isn’t the way to do it. The Mormons claim the same thing, if you do everything right you can become a god with your own planet. If you are male that is. The goddesses all end up as baby factories in their hereafter.
Since immortality as a promise has been done, the newer religions have to keep upping the ante as far as rewards in the afterlife. Hard to say what can top becoming a god but I’m sure someone is working on it. Anyone who figures that out can start the next religion.
Jim Lippard says
Dianetics was put to the test a long time ago; it failed–see Jeff Jacobsen’s “Science and Dianetics” article from the July/August 1992 issue of the Arizona Skeptic:
As for Scientology, a number of its cosmological claims have been decisively disproven, such as the assertion in OT III that Xenu solved an intergalactic population problem 75 million years ago by dropping thetans into volcanoes in Hawaii and Las Palmas–those volcanoes didn’t exist 75 million years ago. (See http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/OTIII/) Hubbard also claimed in _History of Man_ that human beings are descended from Piltdown Man, which was a hoax definitely exposed shortly after he wrote that book.
Hubbard also makes numerous bogus claims about radiation (in _All About Radiation_).
L. Ron Hubbard the Joseph Smith of the twentieth century . . .
Both were charismatic.
Both were skilled confidence men.
Both were accomplished fabulists.
Both were megalomaniacs with messiah complexes.
Both religions called cults.
Cult + 100 years = religion?
darvolution proponentsist says
I’ve shared the following link in the past so it may not be new to some. LRon lays it all out in a musical number created by Pareidolius (hat tip) and Purinton Pictures…
Pink Munky: “What’s the matter with you, hat?”
Also, pulled from the depths of a long forgotten favorites folder, lulz ahoy…
ScientLOLojyuuichi!! by LULZunlimited
But, but it has the word “science” in the name of the religion. Just like Creation Science. Ergo, both our science.
T Wood #5 wrote:
I think it used to be rare for scientologists to venture into skeptical forums. Years ago, I met a man who had once been in Scientology’s Sea Org, and I mentioned to him that I’d never seen a scientologist in any of the places online, where there were debates on religion. He told me that it would be unlikely that I ever would: they were told to avoid debating skeptics, because that was a snare or trap. People who resisted Scientology had an evil agenda, and were unworthy. Or something of that nature…
Janet Holmes says
But of course the science of separating the vulnerable from their money is the only one they care about! If you’ve got that one perfected the rest is merely icing on the cake. Ask the catlicks!
That’s one of the best, most concise refutations of the switch to benefits that I’ve ever read. Kudos, sir. I believe I will employ your example in future.
*#3, my bad.
Thank you for the mention, I see it has generated a great deal of interest.
I especially appreciate the links to the tested (and failed) theories of Scientology, as that has been the main thrust of this conversation.
Keep them coming.
10 Cities in 10 Years
PZ: Why, no it does not, since Scientology has no reliable, testable outcome other than the separation of the suckers from their money.
I’m not sure whether that is a scientific experimental result or an engineering practical practice.
I do believe we have a couple members of the Sea Org here — probably lower-ranking ones, not part of the higher-ups who are allowed to sleep a full eight hours a day and live high on the hog while the lower-level Sea Dupes live crammed into communal dorms.
Honestly, Sea Orgies, you don’t need the Church. You can leave it and you won’t become homeless or a drug addict. Nor do you have to pay their “freeloader bill”: http://blownforgood.com/?page_id=4
More at http://blownforgood.com/?page_id=2
But, but my E meter is so scientific! It has a red light, a button and it goes “beep, beep, ping”!
It happened that I first got my hands on an E meter while attending electronics school. I laughed.
It also happened that I was heavily into reading science fiction at the time. I recognized much of Scientology as S.F., but had never even frikking heard of L Ron before–he must not have been much of a writer.
I gave it up after a few sessions, but I did notice that they would present something new, interesting, factual or useful, then wrap an astonishing amount of bullshit around that kernel.
Scientology is pure evil. I saw the remnants of the brain-washed minions as I grew up in Clearwater.
Scientology: Attack the attackers strategy (copied straight from wiki:
” (1) Spot who is attacking us.
(2) Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using own professionals, not outside agencies.
(3) Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them.
(4) Start feeding lurid, blood, sex, crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press.
Don’t ever tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way. You can get “reasonable about it” and lose. Sure we break no laws. Sure we have nothing to hide. BUT attackers are simply an anti-Scientology propaganda agency so far as we are concerned. They have proven they want no facts and will only lie no matter what they discover. So BANISH all ideas that any fair hearing is intended and start our attack with their first breath. Never wait. Never talk about us – only them. Use their blood, sex, crime to get headlines. Don’t use us. I speak from 15 years of experience in this. There has never yet been an attacker who was not reeking with crime. All we had to do was look for it and murder would come out.
—Attacks on Scientology, “Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter,” 25 February 1966
For more Scientological gems” Check out
Operation Snow White and Operation Freak Out.
These fucking guys should be filed high in the case study list of evil and insidious religious practices. Watch your back PZ
And to think I WAS an Athiest. I can’t walk away from this scientology plan. I can’t wait to get enough skrilla together and control matter, space and time! :-)
First paragrah of the quote was perfect, the last sentance… well, let teh intarwebz speak on this one: