Scientology Daily Digest: Monday, November 25, 2013

Shameless plug:  An earlier post today highlights a poster listing the most common logical fallacies in persuasive writing.  Read this carefully every day for a week or two and you will find yourself making fewer logical mistakes in your own writing, and you will have great fun seeing what gaping errors people make in the arguments they use to sell you stuff, get you to vote for them, etc.


Tony Ortega’s Blog

Today’s post reports that Leah Remini was officially declared a Suppressive Person by the cult.  While the biggest wave of actual disconnections has already taken place, this move is yet another own goal by Miscavige since it gives the Hollywood gossip press another chance to revisit the disconnection story, just when it was starting to die down a bit.

My take:  As Mike Rinder points out in the article, the fact that Tom Cruise didn’t have to disconnect from Suri when Katie Holmes divorced him has probably rankled many ordinary Scientologists who have been forced to disconnect from wives, parents and kids when they blew.  So with typical Miscavige ham-handedness, he’s going to “make an example” of Leah by not cutting her any slack.

It seems to me that this is yet another situation where Miscavige has boxed himself in with arbitrary decisions in the past to accomplish whatever short term goal he had in mind at the time, which then limit his flexibility in dealing with the present.  His inability to think clearly about potential unintended consequences of his actions is a crippling flaw that would have, if present in a CEO of a real company, caused him to be fired long ago.

Selected comments: 

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Mike’s first post today reprints a letter from a longtime “field auditor,” who remains in the cult due to family connection and fear of disconnection.  He complains that the new Golden Age of Dreck 2 is so awful that it’s put him back at square one.  He’s wondering what to do next… I am sure some people here can come up with helpful suggestions, though it’s probably tough to formulate a pithy suggestion we haven’t already heard a few times.
  • Mike’s second post raises an interesting possibility: given that Leah Remini and Jennifer Lopez are BFF’s, would Miscavige order J Lo’s father to disconnect from her if she continues to hang out with Leah?  Technically, according to Mike, she’s guilty of a “suppressive act” which could get Dad in trouble.

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

South African Independent Scientology Blog

  • Today’s article estimated “crowds” for the GAT2 launch video event in J’Burg at 300 to 500, down substantially from the 800 they got in 2005 opening the Johannesburg Ideal Org, versus 1,200 confirmations on Facebook.  Pretoria supposedly had about 120 as did Durban.  Wonder if they had any seat fillers, which according to earlier comments on that blog, were used in the past at some events.
  • Cultural RevolutionA great article from a couple days ago written by someone who grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution compared the mind control tactics of the government to the way Scientology attempts to stamp out dissent and disagreement in its ranks.

General Press

  • Apparently, the cult’s German membership base has dwindled to the point that the watchdog BFV (Agency for the Protection of the Constitution) has stopped monitoring it, despite protests from some German states.  BFV officials base the decisions on what they estimate as 4,000 members in the country, though that seems rather high versus what we think is a more reasonable estimate of 500 to 700.  Interestingly, some BFV offices say that the cult is trying to lure new members through “hidden Internet portals.”  Craigslist, anyone?
  • From a few days ago, Huffington Post ran an article about local Clearwater fundamentalist Christian pastors complaining that Scientology “serves a false god.”  A fairly lame “my God can beat up your God” article, but nice use of some of the aerial shots that may have come from Rinder & Bennitt.  Some fairly amusing comments, though.

 

 

  • Marta

    “His inability to think clearly about potential unintended consequences of his actions is a crippling flaw that would have, if present in a CEO of a real company, caused him to be fired long ago.”

    Punching and slapping not withstanding.

    • John P.

      Indeed. I have seen CEO’s of billion-dollar companies get fired because they lied about their degrees (even down to the extent of what they majored in, not just whether they got a degree or not) or their military service records. As they should be.

      Lying about something that takes 5 minutes to check on the Internet shows sufficiently bad judgment that they shouldn’t be granted the keys to the janitorial closet much less the keys to the corporate jet.

      • Missionary Kid

        Unfortunately, the former CEO of Cessna, Jack Pelton, didn’t get fired over the lies in his resume. He now unfortunately, IMO, heads up the Experimental Aviation Association.

        • John P.

          I think the Jack Pelton affair was a while ago, somewhere late 1990s or very early 2000s, when it was still considered optional to fire a CEO who had engaged in this fakery.

          These days, with the Sarbanes-Oxley laws, it’s essentially a felony for a named officer to lie about a degree on an SEC filing, so it’s not really optional any more to fire them.

          • Missionary Kid

            He certainly dodged a bullet. Two of his degrees came from a diploma mill.

            One decision he made that’s bitten Cessna in the ass was to build the Skycatcher in China. They didn’t save any money. I’m a bit paranoid, and think that China lured them there for the technology transfer.

          • John P.

            If I were the Chinese, I would not want the “technology transfer” represented by the Skycatcher. An attempt to take a 50-year old 172 type design, downsize it a little bit, lighten it up with a composite engine cowling and few miscellaneous other parts, and then power it with a non-Chinese engine, doesn’t sound like a lot of tech flowed from Wichita to Shenyang. And given that the Skycatcher wasn’t designed for IFR, there wasn’t a lot of glass in the cockpit that they could put in from local suppliers to capture a significant part of the value equation.

            It sounds like a labor cost play, pure and simple, where they’re getting non-union Chinese labor to bend aluminum and pound rivets instead of American.

          • Missionary Kid

            An A&P I know was hired to install the sun visors on a Skycatcher because it was shipped to the U.S. without them. The mounting brackets didn’t match the holes.

            The technology transfer was in the means of meeting U.S. certification standards and documentation that’s required. That experience will be valuable in any future aircraft they try to certify with the FAA.

            It wouldn’t take much to certify the plane IFR, particularly with the glass cockpits available now. While a unit from Dynon isn’t certified, the manufacturer can certify it as a part of the aircraft. Dynon doesn’t certify their units because they don’t want to freeze their designs or go through the testing themselves.

          • John P.

            An A&P I know was hired to install the sun visors on a Skycatcher because it was shipped to the U.S. without them. The mounting brackets didn’t match the holes.

            Swell. Not like I was going to sell the Platypus to buy one of these, but it now sounds like the Skycatcher is the aerospace equivalent of the 1973 Chevrolet Vega, perhaps the worst car ever to come off the line in Detroit.

          • Missionary Kid

            Please don’t sell the Playpus. It’s a great airplane: fast, hauls a load, and safe. You can’t haul people, toys, and go very far in a Skycatcher. Full fuel, the payload is only 333 pounds. Supermodel #1won’t be able to carry any clothes with, and that might make her unhappy. 😉

            Cessna supposedly is developing a single-engine version of the King Air, but to do anything in the Platypus market, it’s going to have to work hard. Cessna would do better to start with a clean sheet, IMO.

            A rant follows.

            The Skycatcher definitely isn’t as rugged as the Cessna 150/152. Trainers need to be rugged, but I believe that the whole process of design, development and ramping up for production was obviously not done well. There were too many variables in a new design.

            My sense is that Cessna used the big manufacturing company tools to develop what was, essentially, a small project.

            For example, instead of going with some really phenomenal airfoils that were developed by Harry Riblett, they went with the tried and true.

            For example, a no-flap airfoil on the Bearhawk LSA stalls at 30 mph, yet gives excellent top speed on low horsepower. It’s the same airfoil used on the Bearhawk Patrol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearhawk_LSA Knowing Bob Barrows, it’s a rugged plane, but it’s a tail dragger and a tandem.

            Cessna also insisted on sweeping the tail (that is purely a marketing decision) on the Skycatcher to make it look like the 172 and 182. Sweeping the tail actually makes spin characteristics worse, because the horizontal stabilizer blanks the aft part of the tail in a spin. My experience int he straight tailed Cessna 150/172/175/182s is that they fly better than their swept tail counterparts.

            On the 150s, they had to increase the size of the vertical tail after they swept it, and the prototype Skycatcher spun in and the test pilot bailed out after it got into a flat spin. They did a complete redesign afterwards and had to increase the size of the vertical stabilizer.
            Cessna was trying to catch what they thought would be a boom in light sport aviation. They ignored the fact that European designs have been flying in what they call the microlight category that is essentially the same as LSA, and they have a lot more experience.

            The motor developed for the Skycatcher is a good one, because the Rotax is basically thrown away when it reaches TBO. Yes, it’s fuel efficient, but…

            AFAIK, a ballistic chute doesn’t make planes safer. It’s the psychological aspect that makes it a crutch. It also adds 20+ excess pounds, and on a plane like the Skycatcher, that’s a lot.

          • John P.

            Supermodel #1 naked plus me naked is more than 333 pounds; I weigh 220, so I’m the culprit. I never looked seriously at a Skycatcher, so I wasn’t aware that the usable weight is so ridiculously low.

            I don’t know what the safety stats on a ballistic chute are so I’m not qualified to figure out whether they’re a good idea or not.

            I thought Cessna’s competitor to the Platypus is the Caravan — that’s why the Platypus comes standard with a big-ass cargo door in the rear (it’s not an option and you can’t get it without). Both are single engine turboprops, though the Platypus has a bigger engine. Platypus has a higher gross weight, a lot faster speed but costs a lot more, even though the Caravan has good cubic footage, especially in the cargo models with the belly pod.

            I got hooked on the Platypus after I told a client/friend I was thinking of a used King Air and he sold me on the idea that the fail-safe of the extra engine was not worth the risk of the asymmetric thrust in an engine out on takeoff situation. He has had a Platypus for a long time and it’s the one he uses most of the 8 planes he owns (a small aircraft charter business in addition to the hedge fund he heads). My first ride was memorable.

          • Missionary Kid

            The solution on the Skycatcher is, of course, to operate at less than full fuel. It holds 24 gallons, so operating at 12 gallons gives a shorter range, but most training flights are less than 2 hours, so that gives 72 pounds more of useful load.

            The Cirrus is a beautiful, comfortable aircraft, but even with the ballistic chute, it has a lower accident rate, but a higher fatality rate. The lowest deployment altitude is 1000′ agl, and the top speed is far lower than the cruise speed. The Skycatcher doesn’t have the high speed of the Cirrus, so that wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

            The Cessna Caravan operated as a sky truck. It’s meant to be a hauler. It’s mission is different than the Platypus. It is not pressurized, and it has fixed gear.

            Turboprop aircraft are so reliable that having two engines doesn’t make economic sense in an aircraft the size of the Platypus. It barely makes sense in reciprocal engined planes. The old saw is that a second engine just carries you further to the crash.

          • N. Graham

            Actually, I think the Vega should be tied with the 1970 AMC Gremlin as Worst Car Ever, U.S. Division.

            World-wide, the Worst Car Ever would have to be the 1987 Yugo, which was said to have a rear heater so your hands could stay warm while you pushed it.

          • Still_On_Your_Side

            JP, is there any way that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act can be applied to the church’s finances? Miscavige has control of at least a billion dollars. Inquiries into his investment strategy cannot be called a violation of the Church/State doctrine, otherwise a ton of Wall Street gurus would be using it to achieve immunity. At any rate, what’s your take on this?

          • John P.

            Definitely not. Sarbanes-Oxley covers only stuff relating to companies that are publicly traded in the markets, and how they disclose information to investors. Misstatement of information in SEC filings is now dealt with much more harshly, often as a felony. And outside auditors and boards of directors are held to a much higher degree of accountability for the accuracy of a company’s financial information.

            Since the cult is not a publicly-traded company, SOX does not and will never apply to them. However, laws about fraud are higher priority than “religious freedom” arguments. Religions and their personnel can’t commit murder, fraud or other criminal behavior even when they are driven by sincerely held religious beliefs. So if the cult commits fraud, as the Garcias allege in their case, that’s actionable. Just not under SOX.

          • OrangySky

            “The Sarbanes-Oxley laws” – can you please define for those of us unfamiliar with business law?

          • John P.

            Sarbanes-Oxley was a comprehensive set of reforms enacted in 2002 that tried to clean up some of the biggest excesses of the stock market bubble of the late 1990s. It was focused on publicly traded companies, and relatively little of it was aimed at reforming the business of Wall Street.

            Many companies artificially amped the price of their stock by filing false financial reports with the SEC; these reports are the primary source of information for investors of all stripes, including professionals like me, to determine whether to invest in the company. In some cases, these numbers were out-and-out fabrications, involving intentional criminal deception.

            But in far more cases, some of the numbers were “estimates” that were derived using inconsistent methods, outdated versions of the laws, or other sloppy accounting procedures. At the same time, in many cases, auditing firms who were supposed to provide impartial verification of the accuracy of the numbers, were engaged in providing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of other consulting services (including IT package implementations) which skewed their judgment; there are many documented cases where firm partners placed a lot of pressure on the auditing division to certify dubious reports in order to enable getting far more profitable consulting deals. When the auditors found problems with company financial statements, the companies had to do a “restatement” of the numbers, typically with disastrous effects on the company’s stock.

            Sarbanes-Oxley did a number of good things, including:

            * Made officers and directors personally liable for material misstatements on SEC filings and increased the penalty for criminal misstatements.

            * Increased requirements for board members to verify that the audits were thorough.

            * Added restrictions on auditing firms to prevent conflicts of interest.

            There were some Wall Street reforms that made my life very difficult and that cost me a lot of money in my pocket due to ways that people like me could legally be paid (until I went to work on the hedge fund side), but in the cosmic scheme of needed reforms, the changes from SOX were minor.

            The Wikipedia article here is dry but has more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarbanes%E2%80%93Oxley_Act

  • aquaclara

    This is a great set of postings. It’s amazing how much information is opening up all around the world on the events in the cult, and the dramatic declines in numbers. I think there’s a connection, but wait, let me check the fallacy chart first. 🙂 I had a tremendous rhetoric class in college, where we had to learn over a hundred of these little buggers. The chart’s easier.

    The link to Roz Cohn’s workshop is well-worth viewing. She is a true SP and has a terrific voice, to boot. I would love to see this live!

    • Lurkness

      She was just in LA Monday night.

      • aquaclara

        Ooooh, thanks for adding this. I give Roz a ton of credit for speaking out on a stage by herself on something so heartfelt.

        Sending her cheers, just in case she stops by….

  • OrangySky

    OT – but here’s an interesting chart for you about minimum wage.
    Read it, and then think about what Sea Org workers make.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/11/21/246599184/who-earns-the-minimum-wage-heres-the-answer-in-3-graphs?ft=1&f=

  • Guest

    ” Even skimming this list without holding the cans, I can see my synapses frying like an egg on a hot griddle.”

    Great! Can I get some fries with that?

    LOL!

    Have you seen this?

    http://touch.dailymotion.com/video/x6f4yq_kanye-west-champion-video-clip_music

  • OrangySky

    Incredible digest today, John. This is like my classroom, not just for all things Scientology, but possibly for rhetoric and Socratic method as well…

    Some notes on the great items above:

    * RE: Auckland Org – GREAT catch on all those jaw-dropping numbers, NsInABk. This line struck me: “Non-members who wanted to see the building restored had also donated, he said.” *Gasp!* Do Kiwis think Scientology is benign? I wonder what percentage of the $3.5 mil that was? Or is it a PR line?

    * The Disillusioned Field Auditor on Rinder’s blog: this guy really brought out my empathy for those who so fervently “believe in the tech.” On Radar, I tried to politely suggest a different attitude to a commenter who claimed that anyone who joins Scientology is a low-IQ’d gullible loser. (It didn’t work – that commenter is stuck in her beliefs as deeply as Scientologists are.) I find it painful that people judge still-in Scientologists this way. The mind control is intense and as we’re learning, those who are most deeply involved in the “tech” have the hardest time coming up for air. This guy clearly had his world view shattered and I just want to impress on all those who would judge, just how devastating that can be. Imagine your spouse was cheating on your for years and you didn’t know. Imagine your kid was hiding drug use for you and you’d argued his or her purity for years. If you are to believe the widow of Bernie Madoff’s son who committed suicide, imagine your Dad who you idolized turned out to be one of America’s worst crooks (and destroyed you along with himself.) I’m in a situation where I just learned people I trusted for 15 years in business stole from me – and others! This stuff is serious. And add in the mind-control aspect of Scientology and I can see people just falling apart when they see a glimpse of the truth. So this is why I suggest we have patience not just with Indies but with those still inside. No, THEY GET NO QUARTER for their destructive and evil actions. But they were mind-fucked by the best and when the crack in the facade appears, they may be in genuine psychic pain. And hey, if Marty can say, “I don’t call myself a Scientologist anymore,” then there may be hope for anyone.

    * Roz Cohn – brilliant! Such a simple little performance piece that encompasses perfectly the crazy of the Scientology scam.

    * Huffpost comments – filled with the stock OSAbot “I’m no Scientologist but…isn’t Christianity as bizarre as Scientology?” responses. Sigh. I’m only sad that the general public isn’t as adept at recognizing pre-programmed OSA trolls as we are.

    Great digest, JP, and loving your Logic chart!

    • Missionary Kid

      I just checked Huffpost, and there’s more replies to the attempted derails. The $cion trolls don’t answer.

    • John P.

      I am in touch with a under-the-radar Scientologist who quietly left the cult after many years, who has had a truly remarkable business career. I have been able to verify this person’s accomplishments, since I have discovered we have a number of professional acquaintances in common. This person is someone I never would have envisioned as a candidate to join Scientology, but that person’s life was touched by a Scientologist at a moment, years ago, of deep pain and vulnerability.

      So for the commenter who sneers at Scientologists as uneducated, gullible fools, there are enough counter-examples that overgeneralizing is a huge logical fallacy.

      I would further point out that saying “it could never happen here” is a huge marker to a con man that your guard is down. You just don’t know your own blind spots. Anybody can get sucked into a coercive group, even those who think they have defenses against it. The best marks are the ones who think they’re bulletproof, because they will spend a lot more time trying to rationalize that they’re not being conned, far more than the average guy.

      This is true for many of Madoff’s victims, including Fred Wilpon (billionaire NY Mets owner), who invested hundreds of millions, and later had to pay the court hundreds of millions more because of “clawback” laws and because many others invested on his endorsement. Here’s a smart guy who became so emotionally invested in Madoff’s scam that he overlooked every due diligence tactic that served him so well in his decades-long business career.

      • Lurkness

        You don’t have to say, but would be neat if this “under” connection is from Tony’s blog a while back. You have a good memory and read on people, in any event.

  • I am flattered to be highlighted on your blog so frequently!

    I studied a course on critical thinking recently and it taught me about heuristics and logical fallacies. Although I had read about them before I wasn’t able to assimilate them the way I have now until the Assistant Professer of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine taught me via ‘The Great Courses’.

    My subscription to Audible is one of the best investments I have ever made. Right now I am listening to one called ‘Building Sentences’. Most recently I learned “simple and direct” doesn’t mean “simplistic and short”. A distinction I had not previously made. I have also learned about grammar versus rhetoric; the former which can be broken in favor of the latter.

    • Still_On_Your_Side

      Derek, you have gotten your wings! You absorb knowledge so quickly, you will be working on a doctorate soon. Have you discovered Overdrive yet? It is the service public libraries are using to loan out e-books and audio books. The good thing is you can borrow about ten books every 21 days, and it is free. I use both Audible and Overdrive, and I agree, Audible is a terrific investment.

    • OrangySky

      Great courses are terrific. I’ve done a lot of my comparative religion stuff via Great Courses. I used to be the nerd in the gym listening to lectures on my iPod instead of music.

  • Eclipse-girl

    Ever curious, how did you come up with 500 – 700 scientologists in Germany?

    • John P.

      The first thing I did was to not take the German government figure as absolute truth. Without knowing exactly how that figure was derived, it is a bad idea to assume that they are automatically right, or that they can necessarily do a better job than I can. I’m not saying that they are lying, inflating the numbers to justify their jobs, or incompetent.

      The problems with the number probably result from relatively pedestrian causes. For example, they could be using results from a standardized survey like the American Religious Identification Survey (which in 2008 said 25,000 Scientologists in the US but that was well below their margin of error, so it could have been 0 to 50,000). It’s also possible that they’re using a number provided by the cult, and which they didn’t bother to cross-check because even if the cult was lying, it’s not important to the German government if the cult is really 4,000 people or whether it’s 700 but they’re lying to sound more important than they are, from the standpoint of deciding how many resources to throw at their monitoring operation. So they may just not need as much precision on that number as we would like in our estimates, given that the group is so small compared to other groups that they are watching.

      So why does that number seem suspicious to me, causing me to choose to believe a much lower number than the “official” German government estimate?

      First, Scientology is mostly an English-language phenomenon. While they brag about the number of languages they have translated Hubbard into, most of the translations are crap. And a lot of the appeal of Scientology is rooted in somewhat unique aspects of American culture of the 1950s-1970s (space race, Summer of Love, rapidly emerging middle class, GI bill for education, etc). There are elements of universal appeal, but I sincerely doubt that Scientology would have a greater per capita membership in Germany than they would in the UK.

      So if we take the UK per capita membership as an upper bound, let’s see what we get as an estimate. The 2011 census yielded 2,451 Scientologists in the whole country. A regional breakdown put almost 1,000 of those in the towns directly surrounding East Grinstead. I’m going to guess that 600 of those 1,000 were Saint Hill staff, so we strip them out as a major administrative operation that doesn’t exist in Germany (but we leave local staff in the equation). So that gets us to 1,900 public in the UK, out of 63.2 million population. The population of Germany is 80.7 million. Solve the proportion and you get 2,426. But that is for an English-language country, where there is a far greater propensity to join Scientology than in most other cultures. I would have to believe that the number is at best half that, consistent with anecdotal evidence I have seen from other countries.

      Incidentally, if you use the incidence of Scientologists in the UK population at 2,451 out of 63.2 million and solve for the incidence in the US population of 310 million, you get to 12,022 Scientologists in the US, which is reasonably close to my estimate, allowing for a slightly higher number of staff in the US due to Flag, Pac Base and Int Base. My current estimate is 14,000 culties in the US of which slightly over 4,000 are staff.

      So why do I think the total number is lower than the standard estimate of Scientology population density in non-English speaking G-20 economies (at half the rate in the UK)? Because of the unique government attention on the cult, including the tireless work of the recently retired Ursula Caberta to deal with them. Among other interesting things, the German government banned use of Diskeeper software (a business owned by one of the biggest “whales”) because of the potential for a security risk, forbade employment of Scientologists in government jobs, etc. And if the government feels threatened by cult members as employees, I would have to believe that the large companies, who are perhaps more influential in Germany than in the US, would also be skeptical of Scientology members as employees. Since Scientology is not a religion there, it’s probably not an illegal case of employment discrimination to avoid a candidate who’s a Scientologist. So in Germany, it seems that Scientology is a career-limiting move. That is a further disincentive to get involved.

      The actual number may be closer to 1,000 than the 700 that I think, but I am reasonably confident that my number is still closer to the truth than the 4,000 figure used by the German government. You’re just not going to see more culties per capita in Germany than in the US, which would have to be true for the government’s 4,000 number to be right.

      I am working on two pieces that I hope to get out over the next couple weeks that may cast some light on the issue. First, I’m writing something about how we do back-of-the-envelope figuring at Global Capitalism HQ when we need “good enough” answers quickly and when we don’t have enough data to come up with a really precise number. Second, I’ve got some good financial data on the orgs in a couple of small countries and will be looking for correlations between membership, staff size, and other things that we can investigate. That would help me refine the estimates further. I’ll be publishing the detailed analysis of financial data for one of those countries in the next week or two, as soon as I can find the time to grind five years of historical data into a spreadsheet and try to match it with what else we know about that org.

      • John P.

        Also, forgot to mention that about 20% of the population of Germany today is from the original East Germany (16 million in 1990 versus 63 million for West Germany at the time). That means they had no history of Scientology in 20% of the country at the time of the cult’s greatest successes. So that argues for a further conservative stance on the numbers in Germany in particular.

        • Eclipse-girl

          I have been told that Germany mandates the education of all children in public schools.

          A German family tried to claim asylum in the US because they couldn’t home school their children in certain extreme christian beliefs, namely creationism

          If that is correct (I do not know that is) and children have a decent background in science and critical thinking, is it a small defense against the absurdities of scientology?

          TY for the thoughtful analysis. I look forward to your upcoming articles.

          • mirele

            Germany requires you to be educated in schools using a state-approved curriculum, which is different than requiring all children be educated in public schools. There’s a significant Catholic parochial school system in Germany, and its curriculum is approved by the government. The Romelke family believes it should be able to educate its children without any approval at all of its curriculum by the state. That’s why they are asking for asylum in the USA. (Current status as far as I can tell: granted asylum at the district court level; asylum denied on appeal; the Romelkes are now appealing to the Supreme Court.)

          • Eclipse-girl

            TY for giving me the details.

            I really do appreciate it

      • aquaclara

        Just love the analysis. I will add, too, that the Hollywood Celeb Centre (see how I spelled it the fancy way???) and the lure of acting classes/meet a celeb/be like Tom Cruise may not exist in Germany, or even pass their skepticism radar.

        Further justifying your conservative numbers….

        • John P.

          Apparently, German celebrity Scientologists have to come to Celebrity Centre in the US, as in this trip report from FHM magazine where one Dieter Lietershvantz did exactly that.

          http://harmonleon.com/my-life-as-a-celebrity-scientologist

          • aquaclara

            Funny. Very funny. What’s the fallacy for believing in a spoof??

  • Lurkness

    JP you can get a copy of the financials/balance sheet for CoS in New Zealand here:

    http://www.register.charities.govt.nz/CharitiesRegister/ViewCharity?accountId=5aa34fb9-cc91-dc11-98a0-0015c5f3da29&searchId=0fbf414e-aa6a-48b6-84ce-4739fc550f77

    They have five years of financials for comparison purposes! 2009-13. Bingo!

    Note too you have a Kiwi commentator, who also talks about the CoS getting their charity status there and the concern that the large debt to the mother chirch would make it difficult to make sure donations are actually going to charity rather than up the line and some other non-charitable use. {I cannot fathom that Dwarfenfuehrer would do such a thing.} She had other good comments too. See http://www.johnpcapitalist.com/2013/11/172/#disqus_thread

    • John P.

      Vistaril pointed me to the charities department web site; I’ll be chucking that in a spreadsheet as soon as I can and crunching away. And Sally Dannce is a well-known commenter on ESMB; I’m thrilled she has put in an appearance here.

      • Lurkness

        Cool.

  • tetloj

    Too, too many attractive young people in those GATII photos 🙁