Analysis Versus News Versus Opinion Versus Lulz

As I said in my first post on this blog, I want to try to add value to the world of Scientology activism by building a site for deep analysis, initially my own and, over time, building a community of like-minded folks to work together.

Why?  Because analysis is the prelude to action.  If you can do the following:

  • Understand the problem better
  • Identify a wider range of possible solutions
  • Predict accurately the potential results of each different solution scenario, especially by minimizing the chances that you’ll miss something leading to unintended consequences,
  • Apply enough analytical rigor to choose the best solution, and
  • Do that as quickly as possible

…you can significantly improve the outcome of whatever you’re doing, whether that’s winning a war, beating your competition in business, picking stocks, or doing any one of a hundred different things in a dangerous, competitive world.

What is Analysis?

Most people don’t understand what analysis is and where it fits in the different ways to think about Scientology. In this post, I’ll try to position analysis against the other types of writing that people have done about the cult. I will also try to show how deep analysis can help us work together more effectively as we try to oppose the evils of Scientology. 

Analysis is the prelude for action.  It’s not a pointy-headed intellectual exercise.  If you can gain some unique insight into the problem you’re solving, you can identify a broader range of possible solutions and arrive where you’re headed faster and more efficiently than your competitors.  Long-term competitive advantage is a function of doing this better than other people a little bit at a time for years at a time.

Fundamentally, analysis is based on facts, which are then refined by experience, logic and judgment, into a testable series of predictions about the future. These predictions, unlike predictions from theories of physics or other sciences, are not necessarily exact. But they should be testable, if for no other reason than to make sure that the analyst has some skin in the game to be accountable for the quality of their work.  The end product is an opinion but it is a highly credible opinion.  And it is an opinion that still has value even if the scenario predicted doesn’t come to pass. 

A great example of the positive impact of good analysis is in the world of building software.  In the classical “waterfall model” of software project management, projects move through five steps: analysis, design, implementation, testing and post-release maintenance.  A well-known truism says that it costs 10x as much to fix a problem in a given stage of the process than it does in the prior stage.  It’s also true to say that an error in analyzing the problem and potential solutions is 100x more expensive to fix if it’s discovered during implementation.  So in that domain, the economics of good analysis are compelling.

The Elements of Good Analysis

Among the key elements of good analysis are:

Testable conclusions:  The end product must include clear, unambiguous predictions of some future event, in a way that the conclusion will be verifiable. You have to be able to determine whether you were right or wrong. 

A statement that “Microsoft will have a good quarter” isn’t terribly useful, nor is it testable.  On the other hand, consider this statement: 

“We now believe Microsoft will report earnings per share of $0.03 to $0.05 above the current consensus earnings estimate. We expect upside to be driven by Internet search revenue coming in approximately $100 million above our former estimate, but more importantly, by lowered capital expenditures in that unit, coming from tighter expense controls.  If we are correct, we expect the price/earnings multiple on the stock to expand slightly as investors are relieved that the Company is becoming more consistent in applying expense controls, and we would expect the stock to rise from the current $37.66 to around $39.50 in the short term after the earnings release.”

That’s a highly testable scenario.  It gives five specific predictions, and each one of them can be clearly examined to determine whether they’ve come to pass.  There are hints of what might go wrong if the prediction fails — the stock won’t go up in price even by the 5% we are expecting here. 

Arguments and data that add value even if the conclusion is wrong:  Analysis is not like betting. You have to accept that even your best work won’t get the conclusion right all the time.  And you also have to accept that you might get the conclusion right but your scenario showing how you got to the conclusion will be off, or vice versa.  It’s like a complicated problem in algebra: you get marked off a little if you get the answer wrong, but you lose all the points if you get the answer wrong and you don’t show your work.

I have been recognized by peers on many occasions for doing great work even if I’ve gotten the conclusion wrong, because my thought process provided a new way to look at the operations of a given company, or because I was able to discover some data about the company’s operations that no one else had.

One of the key things about formulating a good argument is the notion of intellectual honesty. It usually ends badly if you formulate an argument designed to reach a particular conclusion, but you intentionally omit facts that undermine your case.  In my business, it’s a certainty that anyone who tries to hide known facts to take a shortcut to making their case will get caught by some sharp-eyed client who will then dismember you.  It’s like a district attorney prosecuting a case: he can’t hide evidence from the defense that would contribute to finding a defendant innocent.  In other words, he has to prove his case while disclosing as much information as possible to help the opposition prove theirs.

It’s similar here.  Intellectual honesty demands that we acknowledge what Scientology has done right as well as attacking what they do wrong.  After all, the cult survived the imprisonment of almost a dozen members of senior management following Operation Snow White in 1977. It survived several epic legal setbacks in the 1980s and 1990s, and it survived the Mission Holder Purge among other changes when David Miscavige took over.  They had to have been doing something right to stay alive then, when other organizations would have been mortally wounded. Thus, the “cult collapse scenario” (first version yet to be written as of publication date) would have to acknowledge and account for why those events were not fatal in order to be credible in establishing that the current scenario may actually result in the cult shutting its doors forever.

The right amount of rigor for the available time frame: Analysis is sort of like science, with one difference: with science, predictions have to be right all of the time.  Kepler’s laws of orbital mechanics work 100% of the time.  That’s why those are laws and the process of deriving them is science.

Analysis tries to apply science-like rigor to much squishier problems than physicists might try to solve.  But every problem is different, and part of the job of a good analyst is to figure out how much work to put into a solution.  A highly precise answer a day late is useless on Wall Street, though that may not be much of a problem in other types of analysis, like legal research or drug trials, where safety is paramount and the length of time to complete a trial is secondary.

So part of the process is figuring out how much rigor you need.  Sometimes, back-of-the-envelope estimates are all you have time for, but even those have a certain amount of rigor behind them; I’ll cover back-of-the-envelope exercises (which are a lot of fun) in one of the first articles I do on analytical technique.  Other times, you need detailed analysis that covers a substantial portion of the sample space, and analysis approaches science in needed rigor.

A commitment to improving the process: Because we’re dealing with a human process, it’s important to think about how to improve the process. After every failure, and after every success, it’s important to debrief and spend at least a little time to figure out what worked and didn’t work.  I try to do this with analysts on my team, particularly after a notable success or failure.  This is one of the key lessons of the aerospace industry: after every crash, the government investigators work to figure out the cause of the crash, and then work to ensure that no future crashes occur because of that particular problem.  I’ve written tons of mea culpa research reports to clients after I’ve blown a call in a particularly egregious way. Nobody expects me to be perfect; they just expect me to be diligent, and one of the ways you show your diligence is by accurate self-analysis when you go wrong.

An ability to admit you’re wrong: A big part of being a good analyst is to get your ego out of the way. If you understand that the goal is to do good work, creating useful conclusions as well as well-supported arguments to get there, then you’re doing a good job. Staying humble in the face of the difficulty of the task helps.  Admitting you’re wrong and taking clearly visible steps to get it right next time is key.  And having compassion for others who get it wrong after doing a good job is important.  That’s why avoiding the easy temptation for ad hominem attacks is really important if we’re going to do serious work here.  I have successfully managed people I dislike intensely on a personal basis, but if they’re doing the work thoroughly and honestly, and if they admit they’re wrong, I will treat them professionally and respectfully and I will pay them well, even if I am invariably ready to smack them when they come into my office to complain about something.  

There’s an unspoken agreement that’s necessary for survival in stock picking: criticize my work, don’t criticize me. As long as I’m diligent and useful, you do not have the right to engage in an ad hominem attack.  Conversely, in my world, leading with an ad hominem attack is seen as a virtual guarantee that the attacker has no game and is engaging in a very poor attempt to cover it up.

Analysis versus News

News and analysis are highly complementary but they are not the same.  We in Global Capitalism HQ depend on accurate news reporting about companies and about external events (Fed actions, etc) as a cornerstone of investment decisions.  We spend a certain amount of time thinking about whether a given news story is credible, and we have opinions about certain reporters in our respective areas of expertise.  I loved certain Wall Street Journal reporters and trusted them implicitly, but others I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them, because they had areas where they were completely unable to understand the real issues they were covering.

News is about answering the classic questions about an event: who, what, where, when and why? It’s about delivering the most relevant facts about the past. A news reporter’s job is to focus on the past, and not to get distracted by the future. Typically, of course, a good news reporter will interview experts who do have an opinion about the future and will quote them extensively in looking at the significance of the event. But it is not the news reporter’s job to express his own opinion about the future, even though a good reporter is close enough to the story that he will undoubtedly have an opinion.

Tony Ortega is a good journalist because he goes to appropriate lengths to keep his personal opinions out of the story. Sure, Tony has opinions about the issues he covers; that’s how he is able to figure out when a particular source is lying or telling the truth.  In journalism, the writer is not allowed to say what he thinks, though he may slant the story by focusing more on sources on one side of the issue versus another. The degree to which reporters do this honestly factors into their long-term credibility, of course. 

In looking at whether a news reporter is wrong, it is fairly straightforward to determine: did the reporter ignore or omit key available facts in reporting the story that would have been available to a competent reporter?

Getting a news story wrong is a big problem, but in analysis, as long as you put in the work and do your best work, it’s disappointing but not fatal.  In that respect, analysis is like baseball.  In the 2013 season, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera led the league with a .341 batting average.  That meant he failed to get on base almost two out of three times he stood at the plate, but he was better than anybody else last year.  But football is more like news reporting: getting a story wrong is bad for the career in much the same way as missing a field goal from the five yard line would be in the NFL.  You’re just not supposed to miss those if you’re in the pro’s, even if it’s 15 below and snowing like mad in Green Bay.

Analysis Versus Opinion

All analysis is opinion, but relatively few opinions count as analysis.

Everyone has opinions.  Most people tend to think their opinions are inherently damned smart ones, otherwise they would have different ones. In other words, their egos are tied up with opinions.  That’s fine when you’re thinking about your favorite basketball team or which one of the supermodels is the most beautiful.  Those are hard arguments to win with facts.  But it’s really dangerous to treat opinions as true when you’re trying to make your opinions bring about something big in the world.

You’ll notice that I work very hard on Tony’s site to qualify statements I make as verifiable fact, as analytical opinions with a high confidence level (often indicated by reference to a document, or with terms indicating my confidence level), as a hypothesis, as an educated guess, as a supposition, or as merely a speculation (almost a fantasy).

For example, in a comment on Tony’s blog today, I observed that if Tommy Davis really was in NYC, as part of his job traveling as an assistant to the chairman of his real estate investment fund, it seems likely that he’d be spending a lot of his time in LA, but if his wife is still living in Texas, is there a possibility that they’re divorced?  I specifically said that this was a potential inconsistency in the facts that bears further checking, and that it was not intended to start a rumor that they’re divorced, and that it certainly wasn’t fact.  I clearly stated my level of confidence in what I wrote — which was zero, since it was really a question.  That’s really important in analytical work.  The CIA and other intelligence agencies have a very specific standard for the verbiage they use to express their confidence levels in various things that they write.  We on Wall Street are a bit less formal, but it is still important.

Analysis Versus Lulz

All of what I’ve written above has been deadly serious.  But that’s not to imply that analysis is inherently serious, and indeed, boring.  If you can be funny in a research report, it sure helps to make your conclusions jump out at the reader, if the humor is built on solid logic.

And sometimes, the lulz that the Anons post can actually point the way to finding out and identifying deeper truths about Scientology.  The finely honed sense of the absurd that keeps many Scientology protesters engaged can actually help give insight into the cult, particularly how its members behave.

Though a lot of what I’ve written so far on this blog has been serious, I’m not like Sam the Eagle from the Muppets, utterly humorless and perennially serious.  In fact, over my career, I’ve been admonished to dial down the humor far more than most people that do my job.  Here, I’d like to encourage wit and humor to be part of what we end up doing, though not if it comes at the cost of good thinking and good data.

Outside References

There’s not much written about an introduction to Wall Street analysis, since the field changes fairly rapidly, and since most people just learn on the job.  But it’s fun to read about military analysis and try to understand the general thought process, even if the mechanics of producing military and political intelligence is way too cumbersome for what we’ll try to do.

  • The Wikipedia page on Intelligence Analysis gives a pretty good overview of the research process in a discipline that is more rigorous and slower-moving than what we’re trying to do.  It’s a good place to start to indulge your inner James Bond as you think about how to add rigor to what we do.  I’d suggest reading this and looking at some of the referenced articles, such as the NATO Open Source Analysis primer below.
  • The NATO Open Source Intelligence primer gives some understanding of the process of “open source” intelligence (not the same as open source software), which uses publicly available information such as newspapers and broadcast media to figure out what a potential adversary’s intent is.  It’s all about looking for patterns in disparate sources and having a good process.  Unfortunately, this document is written in Eurocrat-speak, which is even worse than most military bureaucracy, and it’s a bit dated, but still useful.
  • A bibliography page at the USAF “Air University” training center has a ton of reading on intelligence and related topics.  A lot of the books in the sections titled “Intelligence Basics” and “Intelligence Analysis” are classics in the field.  Knock yourself out on some of these.  Of these, I’d particularly recommend:
  • The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, by Richards J. Heuer, Jr., published in 1999 by the CIA and released in the public domain.
  • IASREG

    I will be reading for the analysis, the news, the opinion and the lulz! omfg FIRST.

  • Narapoid

    This will help me JohnP. Here’s my first shot:

    The News: A huge block of decades-long adherents to Scientology, the “Whales” and top level OTs…including a half-dozen OTVIIIs have been declared en masse in South Africa. Commenters on Mike Rinder’s blog are calling them SPOTs. (Suppressive Person OTs). The top 2 staffers were recalled to FLAG and David Miscavige has deployed 7 Sea-Org members to “Handle” Joburg.

    The Analysis: It would be impossible to fully quantify the impact in SA of such large numbers of local super-customers leaving and being declared enemy’s of Corporate Scientology on the remaining believers. This is especially acute considering that the bulk of the money to build the New Ideal Org came from the newly declared enemies. If the best of the top people are gone, with top staffers removed, the remaining souls on staff will be demoralized. Any new public will not be impressed by hang-dog staffers of any organization and will likely turn on their heels and move on.

    The Lulz: David is sending Seven Sea-Org vigilantes to fix the problem.

    • John P.

      This is a great start. What you wrote lays out the basic landscape clearly and efficiently.

      Over time, the fun is to learn how to take work like this and go even deeper. Here are a couple questions, which, if one is able to answer them, could expand the impact of your article even further. The point is to keep looking at building a scenario with continually more interesting and more specific predictions. One thing that we frequently do is re-issue research with new facts. Sometimes those facts merely confirm what we believe, but even reiterating our high confidence in our predictions based on new data is a smart thing to do.

      So let’s imagine some new things that might be fun to think about in an expanded version of what you wrote.

      1. Try to hang some numbers behind the amount of money the now-declared SP’s contributed to the new building. At the very least, what’s the total they paid for the new building? Then use that information to try to think about the propensity of one or more of those donors to sue. To come up with a reasonable answer to that question, you’d have to know how “top heavy” the donor list was. In other words, is there reason to believe that one guy gave $6 million of the $15 million total price (made up numbers)? You might be able to guess at this by discovering that the guy owns a mining company and is worth $600 million. Or is it more likely that it was 100 small donors at $150,000 apiece? If the latter, it seems less likely that any one donor would be sufficiently pissed off that they sued. Also, was the money raised a long time ago or two weeks ago? If two weeks ago, I am sure large donors would be really pissed. Finally, if large donors are involved, can one investigate their general background to find out if they’re trigger-happy litigants? There are many questions one could ask to try and figure out if this unique circumstance could lead to litigation.

      2. Yes, it is clearly apparent that there is going to be increasing financial strain on the JBR Ideal Org with large donors out of the picture. But how can we estimate that? Is there any data that shows what the total “public” field in JBR is? I posted something yesterday that estimated about 400 in the whole country. Losing 18 whales out of 400 is huge. But it’s also important to try to figure out unique economic circumstances — is the JBR org newly opened? Or has it been open 10 years and are they going to need renovations soon? In the latter case, losing whales is a bigger problem.

      3. What is Miscavige’s likely move to counter the negative effects of this move? We know from watching him that he is obsessed with keeping up the appearance that the cult is expanding. He is not going to do nothing. He will do something. He usually does the wrong something, but we should at least try to guess what that is. I suspect he will put up a campaign in the US or the UK to raise money for the renovations in SA because all those damned SP’s were lying about it. He’ll have some cover story we will laugh at but some of the Kool-Aid Drinkers will lap right up. They may issue him enough checks to get it done.

      Something to watch to see if DM tries to tap US wallets to fix this mess is to watch for what they do about the Buenos Aires org building they just bought on Monday. My suspicion is that there are too few Scientologists in Argentina to pull off $3 million or $4 million in renovations, particularly if inflation continues to run at high rates there; money collected today for renovations that won’t start for 3-4 years will be worth a small fraction of what it’s worth today in a 25% inflation environment when it’s time to start hammering drywall. By the way, you should see how hooking up other recent news can give you a “tell” into what Miscavige is thinking about something else, which you can apply to the problem in front of you.

      4. What are the odds that this move precipitates a mass defection of the whole JBR org, much as Dani Lemberger’s Haifa (Israel) mission did last year? That would seem possible in a small country that is a long, long ways removed from headquarters. SA may fit. Even if you don’t have an opinion on whether this would happen, it might be useful to lay out the markers so readers can keep an eye out for themselves on whether this is starting to happen or not. You’d need to understand something about the new Sea Org team that just arrived — are they total morons, perhaps including people who have never been overseas and are thus your typical Ugly American tourist? Or are they people that have something of a clue?

      The point of these questions is not necessarily that I am setting them to you. Try and think about them if you want. The point is that I’m trying to show you how to take a basic scenario such as the one you’ve sketched out and to learn to ask more interesting and in-depth questions, and then how to think about trying to find answers to those questions by building on how the cult behaved in other similar situations.

      • GlibWog

        I would love to have a complete personality profile and SCN history of each Sea Org team member.

        How can we find their names and EX s or insiders who have worked in some capacity with them. ( With them, For them, Under Them )

        As you have indicated this will be part of the Analysis.

      • Narapoid

        Thanks for your great response! It is a mental discipline I will work on. Any usable data with source reference I find I will pack back to you.

        The Haifa Mission is the first, Joburg next?

  • Bea

    Thanks for this very interesting and thought provoking article which I enjoyed reading.

    In my day job, I don’t spend a lot of time doing analysis but I spend far too much time typing up summary notes my boss has made of massive, industry and regional sector research reports.

    You mention the unpredictability of analysis and how at some point you have to make a judgement call on what you think is the most likely outcome based on the data collected. However, the one thing that strikes me that is difficult to make a call on is the personalities of the various industry leaders.

    Despite being, for example, leaders of FTSE 100 etc companies they are all very different animals and it is not always easy to predict what their decision making will involve.

    For example, an oil company investing in Africa will have a massively complicated local political game to play involving reputational as well as financial risk. And although investing in China might look highly tempting based purely on economic data, it could be the local big wigs who screws everything up for you at the last moment.

    I guess, my point is that it is possible to analyse and think about outcomes for the Co$ but in the end a lot of it will come down to David M. and he strikes me as pretty irrational (although simultaneous bizarrely predictable) in behaviour e.g. the flap in Clearwater re the opening of SuperPower and yet the irrational decision to apply for permits to close the roads so late in the day.

    • John P.

      Betting on personalities can be very tough. It’s probably harder to do with political figures than it is business leaders, since foreign political leaders are generally less accessible than US business leaders, and it’s thus harder to get in their heads. The intelligence agencies are better at political analysis than we are at Global Capitalism HQ because they have a lot more people than we do.

      But some people you can get right at a high level. Like Venezuela: you could always count on Chavez to try and twist the US’s nose, even if it meant he would make a stupid decision on his economy as a result. His successor, Maduro, is politically weak, so the usual bet with him these days is that he’s going to blame “saboteurs” and “foreign interests” and “spies” for all sorts of problems. And increasingly, none of his citizens are going to believe him.

      It’s not that hard to predict the general approach that CEOs are going to take to solve certain problems, especially if you have watched them for a long time, and especially if you have a lot of face time with them. There are some CEOs that I know well enough to know when they’re doing something that’s going to blow up.

      With Miscavige, the trap is to fall into thinking he’s insane and thus that his behavior is predictable. I submit that for the purpose of trying to predict what he will do, it is completely irrelevant whether he is insane or not. Some people assume that people who are insane (personality disorder in the case of DM rather than, say, schizophrenia or other organic brain dysfunction).

      He is actually fairly predictable, regardless of pathology. Miscavige almost always goes for the short-term fix, since he has demonstrated minimal ability to think strategically. He will typically go for a solution without regard to a cost/benefit payoff, since he’s sitting on $1 billion or more in reserves and he’s probably not (yet) eating into them. And he will often add externalities to a solution based on his desire to prove to people around him how smart he is (micro-managing the lawyers, for instance), even if that runs counter to his long-term interests. Those relatively consistent behaviors allow some degree of success in predicting his actions.

    • GlibWog

      As I refer to as the Tent Flap Bea..

    • John P.

      In my earlier comment, I got lost in what I was saying and forgot to respond to the last two paragraphs of what you said before I posted. You are indeed correct that predicting the action of individuals you don’t know very well, especially when a quantum event (deal signed or not signed) is indeed difficult. Local government officials in a foreign country are among the most difficult. And the examples you give, classic problems in what we domestic investors call “submerging markets,” are among the scariest and most difficult to predict.

      My point is that it varies, but people are often somewhat predictable in similar situations when they are observed over a long period of time and when you have a modicum of reasonably accurate info about them. You almost certainly will not be able to predict their behaviors with anything close to 100% accuracy, but you can do better than chance, potentially enough to improve the odds of success on a deal.

      • Bea

        Thanks for your reply. The data would suggest that there is enough evidence to predict that David M’s will behave like the despot / tyrant he is as his Götterdämmerung draws nigh. He will either try to escape over the border with his body guards or take down as many people as possible during his final demise aka Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein. I fear for all those caught in the crossfire.

        • Narapoid

          It’ll be a thrashing monster, then it will get very still.

    • N. Graham

      I agree, one thing that makes Scientology watching so interesting is that you can’t predict what the Wee One will do in a certain situation. About the only safe prediction you can make is that it will be something bizarre. I am really looking forward to the upcoming events!

  • aquaclara

    Good analysis is worth the investment of time, if the subject is important. Bad analysis often takes substantially less time, and the results show. Part of the reason why the stats fail in Scientology is due to the pressure of fast results. “NOW, NOW, NOW” is not an effective motivational tool in any well-run company.
    For all the topics LRH managed to touch, it’s truly remarkable how many of those subjects are badly executed, badly interpreted, badly utilized or badly managed. And for all the energy expended on reissuing books, the faulty analysis continues to plague the cult. More semicolons does not a better cult make.
    Or something like that.

  • MissCandle

    Dear John,

    Thank you for making the effort to set, and lay out for us, the tone and structure of your blog.

    I look forward to our analysis of D.M.’s personality disorders because I agree with you that identifying his personality disorders will actually help us predict his future actions. The actions of people with personality disorders only seem unpredictable to an observer because they are not those that one would expect under similar circumstances from a non-disordered (dare I say “normal”?) person.

    Belated congratulations on the launch of your blog!

    • John P.

      Thanks for the kind words. Actually, my slant on Miscavige is the opposite: I don’t think you need to diagnose him accurately to have a pretty good guess what he’s going to do in a given situation. I don’t think those with personality disorders are more unpredictable than the neuro-typical population. In fact, it could well be the opposite: those with personality disorders may very well have less meta-cognition than normal folks. In other words, they can’t step outside themselves to try and see their behavior from others’ points of view. That, in turn, would make them less likely to change in a given circumstance, because they’re not questioning whether they’re doing the right thing.

      So my point was that even if Miscavige’s responses are not what a normal person would do, the ability to predict what he will do in a given situation is no worse than the ability to predict what a normal person will do. In other words, he has less self-determinism than the average “wog.” Not a shining endorsement of Scientology “tech.”

      • MissCandle

        Dear John,
        If you disregard the part about making a diagnosis, I think we agree on everything else. (I mean in these two specific posts.) Continued success!

  • Science Doc

    John P., sign me on for a five year mission (sorry can’t commit to a billion years). Chief Science Officer maybe? One correction. As an experimentalist I frequently and joyfully made incorrect predictions. In the developmental stage of any tough science problem (as opposed to set piece quantum mechanical or similar calculations using mature quantitative theories), mistakes are part of the process, and finding your error is preferable to the competition finding your error. Consider Bayesian probability, as the data start to come in the hypothesis is updated.

    My earlier suggestion for a count of the numbers of SO, etc. fits the bill, but it is testable only retrospectively, and even then with difficulty. We can’t look into the box to assess the cat.

    Some of the other comments have mentioned South Africa. I think we should jump right on that if we can get immediate and excellent data from some of the better placed locals. SA is urgent, it is largely isolated from RCS as a whole making it more tractable. On the SA blog, we are seeing recent top numbers of a thousand or so for turn outs at all hands events a few years ago. 18 declares that we know about in the last 2 days. If we can get the SA group sharing info fast in this fast moving situation we might be able by analysis to influence strategies to accelerate defections. Moving money out of SA is hard. If SA can have a Martin Luther moment and establish an independent movement that is nationally preeminent, it will be a matter of time before RCS must choose between hanging onto the copyrights and keeping their tax exemptions ( image the Vatican exerting a no doubt time barred copyright claim).

    Anyhow, reporting for duty but not willing to clean dumpsters with my toothbrush.

  • Penny

    I’m sorry I have not had a chance to read your post today and will BUT thought many here would want to know what Geir Isene is up to. Here it, and it’s called “Flag Down in 2014!” http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flag-down-2014-exposing-the-fraud-and-abuse-of-the-scientology-cult

  • Anandamide

    Fantastic breakdown. I look forward to your post on analytical techniques.

  • Eivol Ekdal

    My cult’s training materials look like this…
    http://www.google.com/search?q=itil&tbm=isch

    • John P.

      Yes, and your cult produces almost as many binders of stuff that gathers dust on bookshelves as Scientology does. The major difference, however, is that libraries don’t write letters begging AXELOS not to send them free books.

  • Drat

    Thanks for this detailed summary on analysis, types and structure of. I don’t have much time at the moment, but will attempt to at least study Heuer and the Wiki article over the next few weeks.

    I think it is important to review historical data and look for patterns (purges, legal cases). As you said, the CoS has survived previous setbacks, the only real difference today being the Internet (ability of ex members to stay in touch, process the experience and share information, anonymous to coordinate worldwide protests, and PR to decay at never before seen rates). Brain drain is also a serious problem for the church.

    South Africa has just experienced a not-so-minor purge, and I anticipate similar actions around the globe prior to and coinciding with the release of GAT2 and SP. I concur that DM is consolidating, but with no hope of ever expanding again.

    This is not the first purge. According to a comment on backincomm, Jbg saw a similar action less than 20 years ago, although the Mission Holders Conference has been the biggest (global) purge in the church’s history. I believe there was a purge of a sort at the end of the 60s in England. It might be useful to learn why these purges came about and what they were or are supposed to prevent.

    The recent SA purge was almost certainly the result of information control. I do not know if any of the 18 voiced displeasure or doubts of any sort to anyone about management, but if they did, it will have been revealed in a sec check, which will have resulted in the declares. I have seen this happen to a friend (overnight declare), and consider this scenario likely. I don’t believe it is absolutely necessary to understand or predict DM. I do believe he is becoming increasingly paranoid and that this is reflected in trigger-happy actions.

    I think one contributing factor to the church’s survival has been members’ willingness to sacrifice their time and money. I know you like to approach CoS as a corporation, and that is a good stance to take, but it leaves out faith. Think Apple being driven by employees who pay to work there because they believe in the products so much.

    I look forward to views on what the church has done right. Hopefully it will be a refreshing debate without the usual crusade mentality.