Well, At Least it Has a Certain Minimalist Quality…

The Point of the Exercise

Summary: The cult sends out the shortest-ever e-mail solicitation piece, good for many laughs. With tongue deeply in cheek, we measure this effort against real-world marketing principles.  We then measure it against the marketing principles laid out in Hubbard’s “management tech” books for additional fun. Unsurprisingly, we discover a major heap of fail.


Editorial Note:  I have been incredibly backed up with various projects and have not had a chance to get back to people who have written in with offers to help with site design, with story ideas, or other contributions.  I want to let you know that I am slogging through almost 300 e-mail messages and responding as best I can; I’m still trying to deal with messages that are three weeks old (!) and am finally making some progress. Please be patient.  I welcome your contributions, but am just completely buried.


The Smoking Gun

One of our Alert Readers forwarded us this e-mail solicitation from the cult. It is perhaps one of the lamest appeals yet, though it is mercifully brief, and thus it has a certain minimalist quality to it. Oh, and it is short enough that the author managed to make it through two sentences without any spelling or grammatical mistakes.

For this post, I wanted to try to figure out how much of the bozo quotient was a function of the individual writing it or how much it was a function of the current Church of Scientology corporate environment, versus how much of it came from Hubbard’s marketing ideas.

Here’s the original e-mail text, reproduced in its entirety.

From: "Tyler Beal" <tyler_beal@mailpac.net>
Date: Dec 3, 2013 4:47 PM
Subject: LRH data: The way to solve any problem
To:  <an alert reader>
Do you know what LRH says is the way you solve any problem?
If you'd like to find out, contact me and I'll give you the LRH data.
Tyler Beal
tyler_beal@mailpac.net
323-953-3435

Things that make my teeth hurt

This is what Scientology marketeers think they're doing

This is what Scientology marketeers think they’re doing

First, my tipster is an upper level OT.  One would certainly hope that by that point in his time in the cult, he has a pretty good idea exactly what LRH said about the magic solution to any and all problems, given all the money he’s spent.  So you’d assume that the cult’s e-mail database reflects the level attained of each prospect, ensuring that they put the most relevant and appealing offer in front of each customer.

But nooooooo!  This e-mail assumes that the reader is a rookie with no clue that there is any received wisdom from “Mankind’s greatest friend(tm)” beyond that found in some of the low-level courses like the incredibly effective “confront and shatter suppression” course.  This is a “spray and pray” approach to market segmentation, rather than any kind of insightfully dividing the customer base into different types, each with different needs and with different buying motivations.

Second, of course, is the one that gets my blood boiling: calling random stuff Hubbard said as “data.” It recently occurred to me that this is one of the biggest mind control gimmicks in the cult.  Data is supposed to be neutral and verifiable.  It doesn’t represent an opinion.  Data is something like “the water temperature measured 10 feet below the surface at this location at this time is X.”  What Hubbard calls “data” are what real scientists would call conclusions.  And a key part of science is making sure that the available data leads to the stated conclusion.

But if Scientology can get you to think of what Hubbard said as “data” instead of “conclusions,” meaning that it doesn’t have to be proven, then they’ve knocked down your defenses and can storm the ramparts of your mind, and basically they will own you after that point.

What Scientology marketeers are actually doing: yelling randomly at customers who can't hear through the noise.

What Scientology marketeers are actually doing: yelling randomly at customers who can’t hear through the noise.

Also missing is the benefit statement.  What benefit will I receive from calling up and allowing myself to be reg’d?  The solution to any problem I might encounter in life? It’s tough enough to believe that Oxyclean, flogged on TV by the late, loud Billy Mays can clean any stain, so it’s harder still to believe that Hubbard’s figured out the solution to absolutely every problem I might face in life.

E-Mail solicitation in the “Wog” world

Unfortunately, this breaks so many rules of direct mail solicitation from the “wog” world that one doesn’t even know where to start.  Here’s a quick list of do’s and don’ts from Alexander Direct Mail Marketing, a large vendor in Utah, along with our take on how they do against the major criteria for success:

What the Experts Say How this E-Mail Stacks Up
1.  Keep your content simple: While print holds people’s attention for much longer than digital media, attention spans are still short. Boil your message down to the most important points, and deliver it with clarity and simplicity. Using the right photos, drawings or other graphics will also help you send concise messages to your reader. Maybe, if you squint at it a bit.  This e-mail is certainly simple to the point of being Zen-like in its minimalism.  It’s not like the lengthy stuff I write in my blog posts.  It certainly fails on the photos, drawings and graphics criterion.
2.  Tailor your message: In order to produce effective content you need to know your target audience. If your message doesn’t apply to them, your direct mail piece is wasted. Make sure you’ve done your research, and that you know the recipients of your message are likely to act to help you reach your goals. Fail.  Sending out something like this to a high-level OT is just bizarre.  Presumably the OT’s will already know Hubbard’s handy-dandy one size fits all solution to all of life’s problems.  And they probably can exteriorize to visit Tyler in his seat at the boiler room operation where he works at Big Blue and figure out exactly what he’s trying to raise money for.
3.  Have a great offer: You don’t need to break the bank offering coupons or giveaways, but you do need to provide value to your targets so that they won’t want to pass up the offer. Whether it’s a coupon, a discount, or merely a great service, your offer should be noteworthy. Fail.  Assuming that the recipient is ignorant of why the cult is sending out this letter, it might work. But anyone who’s been around for a while knows that this e-mail is an invite to a fleecing.
4.  Show off the benefits: No need to make your content sound boastful. Just make sure your message clearly describes the benefit. Don’t use words and images that aren’t relevant or helpful. When it comes down to it, consumers, clients and customers want to know what benefit they’ll receive. Fail.  On the one hand, you might think it’s a win to promise that one simple phone call will solve all your problems.  On the other hand, if the solution is that good, why don’t you already have this important benefit of Scientology?  Intuitively, those receiving this document know the benefits are a lie.

 Marketing the Hubbard way

Promotion:  This lame effort violates some of Hubbard’s tenets of marketing, as simplistic (and often as erroneous) as they are.  For example, Hubbard says “Promotion is the art of offering what will be responded to. It consists only of what to offer and how to offer it that will be responded to. By promotion in a Scientology organization we mean reach the public and create want.” (HCO PL 1 Sep 1979, “Marketing, Promotion & Dissemination Defined).  So obviously, this little effort is not exactly “on Source” because it isn’t doing what Hubbard defines as promotion.

A mystery spot... where they serve a great mystery sandwich in the snack bar.

A mystery spot… where they serve a great mystery sandwich in the snack bar.

The mystery sandwich: But wait!  It might actually be “on Source” after all. In another document, Hubbard says “A thetan is a mystery sandwich. If we tell him there is something to know and don’’t tell him what it is, we will zip people into Div 6 and on into the org.” (HCO PL 25 Jun 1978, “Come-On Dissemination”) So this may explain the supremely non-specific tease our buddy Tyler sent out.  Hubbard says this will always work — “Their own curiosity will pull them along the channel, providing you created the correct mystery in the first place.”

And what is this mysterious “channel” of which they speak?  It doesn’t appear to be the notion of a distribution channel, the typical usage of the term in the marketing world of today. It appears to be the path of interactions from the initial contact to a sale.  Hubbard says,
You channel by indicating where and how to get the data— — never just GIVE the data. And one can keep on doing this to a person— — shuttle them along using mystery.

Well, this is becoming a bit clearer.  Get them to respond, then deliver a few scraps of the answer, then repeat as necessary, as long as the prospect has any remaining cash (and functioning brain cells).

These blithely uttered simplistic strategies seem to be something Hubbard consistently does in “management tech:” to promise that success is trivially easy.  For example, he says “Were we able to clean out just this one factor in management in every org, we’d have a boom, just like that!”  In other words, “if you people weren’t such idiots, we’d have even more money.”  By the way, this is all built on the fallacy of infinite demand that appears to color much of Hubbard’s management thought.

Hype:  Hubbard says that you have to hype the product.  “So don’t understate things in your promotion. Just tell the truth and you’ll find that it’s very effective.”  (HCO PL 19 Sep 1979, “Promotion”)

In HCO PL 26 Sep 1979 (“Copywriting”), Hubbard says “A common fault in writing ad copy or other material, both in marketing and other areas, is an inability to assume the viewpoint of the reader and get the idea of what impression the reader may have when he reads the ad. An ad must be written from the viewpoint of the public that is going to read it.”  True enough.  I wonder just how much thought Tyler put in to looking from the standpoint of his customers.  It is entirely possible that Tyler, recruited to the cult at an early age, hasn’t actually met a customer because he’s been locked in the bowels of Big Blue for too long.

Hubbard says that all marketing material has to be good or you have a “quality degrade,” which means the marketing campaign won’t work.  One of the causes of these: “knowing products or promotion are of poor quality but, for one reason or another, neglecting to remedy them.”  So given the quality of this piece, will Tyler end up in the Hole given that this message is so lame?  We shall see.

The hard sell: In one of the most hilarious statements about Marketing, Hubbard talks about how important it is to use the “hard sell” technique.  He says,

It is necessary in writing an ad or a flier to assume that the person is going to sign up right now. You tell him that he is going to sign up right now and he is going to take it right now. That is the inference. One does not describe something, one commands something. You will find that a lot of people are in a more or less hypnotic daze in their aberrated state, and they respond to direct commands in literature and ads. If one does not understand this, and if he doesn’t know that Dianetics and Scientology are the most valuable service on the planet, he will not be able to understand hard sell or be able to write good copy.

Hard sell means insistence that people buy. It means caring about the person and not being reasonable about stops or barriers but caring enough to get him through the stops or barriers to get the service that’s going to rehabilitate him.

Yep, Tyler’s little ad sure shows the hard sell technique in action. Uncompromising command of the customer as only a true Operating Thetan can do.

57 thoughts on “Well, At Least it Has a Certain Minimalist Quality…

  1. Missionary Kid

    Your illustration, “This is what Scientology marketeers think they’re doing,” is perfect. Gold, silver, and copper are non-magnetic. A magnet won’t work on them. Of course, that doesn’t matter with someone with power over MEST, does it? FAIL.

    Reply
  2. chukicita

    Tyler’s little ad shows *desperation* more than anything. I just want to give this kid a hug and a sandwich. And I like the part in John’s post about ‘the fallacy of infinite demand.’

    Reply
  3. ze moo

    “Do you know what LRH says is the way you solve any problem?”

    Where’s the punch line?

    Lroon’s idea of marketing was out of step for the 50’s and not very useful in the internet age.
    Dale Carnegie would be ashamed. And pissed off, Lroon borrowed a lot from them.

    Reply
  4. thetaesque

    Wonder if it’s this Tyler Beal?

    http://tylerbeal.com/

    The following letter from the parents is heartbreaking:

    Dear son,

    I had hoped in vain that we might hear from you.

    I look back and wonder if all my choices were the best ones. At all the things we went through as a family. I hope we’ll get to do some of those again.

    I hope you’re well, wherever you are. That you’re being treated at least decently. That you have decent food. That you have time to enjoy life and friends. That you’re allowed to speak freely, and share what’s on your mind and heart – for want of that leads inevitably to a decay of the soul.

    We miss you a lot, especially on such days.

    We’ll always love you..

    Mom & dad.

    Reply
    1. Free Minds, Free Hearts

      That letter from his parents brought tears to my eyes, and to think this is what their son has been relegated to doing.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        His return email address is visible.

        Perhaps a copy / pasta of his mom’s email from some sort of inert email address as a “friendly forward” is in order?

        Reply
          1. Anonymous

            Thanks for doing that!

            The name is pretty unusual and Scientology is pretty small.

            It seems like a high percentage bet that it’s the same person.

    2. aurora50

      That website is such a poignant, dignified example of one family torn apart by the crazee cherch…golly.

      Will be good to bookmark in case it can be used in evidence at some point; not sure the Mark/Mosey show need any more input just now.

      Reply
  5. Scientology_411

    Scientologists like to call this kind of crappy come-on a “mystery sandwich”. Hubbard convinced them that all thetans cannot resist a mystery and thus any old nonsense like this is guaranteed to reel in the suckers. It’s pretty ludicrous when you think about it. Every time the cult called me and left a message like “I have something important to talk to you about. Call me back to find out what.” I didn’t consider it a mystery at all. Obviously (to me) they had something so distasteful to discuss (fundraiser, useless crap to sell, etc) that to mention it up front would kill any chance of getting a call back. No mystery there 😉

    Edit: Well I now see you already covered the “mystery sandwich”. My lack of sleep is catching up with me.

    Reply
  6. baalhazor

    That phone number in Tyler’s email belongs to the television station KCET Los Angeles, which I believe the church bought several years ago. I’m more than anxious to see what kind of Scientology programming/propaganda will be coming out of there.

    Reply
  7. Semper Phi

    Just a note about the hilarious statement about “hard sell” marketing — it is actually one of the key references that supports crush regging, so I find it to be a really toxic policy. Staffers are sent to cramming all the time to re-study that very reference, because they aren’t pushing the public hard enough to buy things or to come into the org for services. Understand that “reasonable” is a bad word in Scientology: it means accepting the “reasons” people give for why they can’t do or buy something. The policy in practice means that no “reasons” are ever valid as excuses to not come on course or buy something. If someone is described as “reasonable,” the word is always said with contempt. Being completely un-reasonable with a person shows how much you care about them. Therefore, crush regging = caring.

    Reply
    1. John P.

      Thanks for a concise, clear statement of how Scientology twists stuff around, so that they can justify financially raping someone as “helping” them. It’s a great explanation of how “reasonable” is a really bad word in Scientology…

      Reply
  8. aurora50

    This is a copy of a question I left at Mike Rinder’s blog, at the discussion about the new e-meter:

    When you all are talking about money ‘on account’ does that mean the
    CoS is holding actual cash of the members? I had gathered as much from
    the discussions about refunds…but don’t quite get how the pre-payment
    plan works? is everyone obliged to keep X amount ‘banked’ with them?
    and how is the required membership in the IAS justified? is this
    separate from the on-account money?

    Point me to a book or post, if this has been covered before.

    Thanks!

    (Think I will cross-post this at John P’s site; maybe he wants to address it…)

    Reply
    1. John P.

      One of the key things the cult does is to pressure people to put money on deposit against future courses or other products (books, etc) from the cult. In some cases, the amount of money on deposit can be substantial. I recall one case on Mike Rinder’s blog where someone had like $300,000 on deposit, and the cult kept accessing that to charge her for copies of The Basics that she didn’t order.

      The aggregate total of money on deposit could equal a substantial fraction of the amount of money in “the reserves.” I looked briefly at the financial statements of the New Zealand org, which it is required to file with the government, and the amount of cash on deposit equals about 10x the annual program revenue (i.e., how much money actually is spent that year on courses, whether paid for from deposits or with “new” cash).

      The potential bankruptcy of the cult if customers succeed in getting refunds of amounts on deposit is why they are fighting cases like the Garcia’s tooth and nail. The Garcia case is not about deposit money, per se, but it is about the refund process. If the refund process (arbitration with a panel whose composition is determined solely by the cult) is found to be unconscionable, then I’d look for a wave of cases seeking refunds of deposit cash. The class action lawyers will have a field day. I talked to one ex member who walked away from a lot of money on deposit. He said that he won’t file an individual action, because of the emotional toll it would take on him and the rest of his family, but he would happily join a class action suit, and would be able to provide details of the substantial amount of funds on deposit so he got a full refund.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        It is important to remember that in virtually all Class V orgs, and probably even in most Sea Org orgs, the advance payment monies on account from publics are a bookkeeping entry only, as the cash has long since been “sent uplines” or spent.

        Were even a small fraction of the people who have significant money already “on account” to arrive for service at the same time and not donate any new monies, operations would crash as delivery would have to occur with no new cash to support it. There are virtually no local cash reserves, regardless of what the books say is “on account” in various entries.

        Sea Org reserves, or IAS monies, to the degree that they actually exist as liquid cash, are the one place that large advance payment refunds would ultimately have to come from if ordered by a court. That would be incredibly convoluted and would take years of wrangling to unwind (intentionally of course.)

        What would more likely happen in the event of some sort of large court judgement against the church, would be an intense global regging cycle to find a few suckers, I mean whales, I mean parishioners, to make donations to cover the judgement. That is what has usually been done in the past.

        Reply
        1. Lurkness

          Of course, how the cult is accounting for these advance payments is wrong. This money should be set aside and preserved UNTIL services are actually provided. They are a liability, not an asset, until earned by providing the services.

          The fact that the advance payments (deposits) have been sucked up to the CoS itself is WHY they are not letting people use their advance payments/deposits to pay for the new $5,000 (+ a $400 charge for “taxes” that are unlikely being paid to the government). The orgs do NOT have that money (the deposits) to let people use their credits to purchase the new and required ez-bake emeters. It is also a way to get ADDITIONAL cash from the poor sheeple. To me, it is another sign that the CoS income streams are drying up and they are looking for any new gimmick to extract fresh cash from the old meat bodies.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            Interesting.

            This has been going on forever, although the recent impact is made worse by the combined effects of the huge rent / operating cost of the wastefully large Ideal Org buildings, plus the near zero volume of new people coming in the door, plus the depleted financial condition of the remaining parishioners from the extreme vulture culture of regging over the prior decade.

            What has happened is that Miscavige has exported his savage “management” style from INT, to FLAG and the AO’s, all the way down to the Class V orgs and their supporting missions so that everyone, Sea Org, staff and public gets a taste of nastiness every time they try to do anything in the church.

            This sort of thing is seen frequently in large corporations with heavily centralized HQ management. If there is a senior management change at the HQ, it takes awhile for the effects to permeate the remote operations, but when it does, all sorts of unpleasantness can occur if the changes are not well thought through and based on actual operational / market circumstances versus ego-driven “vision.”

            In the command and control style of Hubbard management policy, made even worse by Miscavige’s malignant personal style, the outcome is what we are all seeing.

            To some degree, it appears that Miscavige WANTS old timers to flee. Their seems to be less and less effort to conceal the deliberate changes to the “tech” and there are fewer and fewer people with long term perspective that would notice anyway. He is morphing the global organization in his own image and does not care at all what others think.

            I’m virtually certain (assuming COB is not arrested) that there is going to be an attempt at a serious new public outreach campaign using TV and other mass media to “drive new people into the orgs.” At this point it is really the only lever he has left to pull.

            That campaign will largely fail because of the horrid public perception of Scientology, at which point Humptey Davey will truly have a great fall.

          2. John P.

            The idea that DM is purging old-timers who want “classic Hubbard tech” is interesting, and is worth considering. This may have been an explanation of why all those long-time Scientologists in South Africa were recently purged. I don’t have a clear view on whether this is a trend, but I definitely think we should continue to pay close attention for more data points.

            A key issue in grappling with whether there’s an intentional purge of old-timers is to understand what, exactly, Miscavige is replacing the old “tech” with. There’s little chance he has made some breakthrough that he thinks would actually make the “tech” work better for self-help purposes. If he’s just churning the installed base by making them do stuff over and over again, it’s not clear that getting rid of the old-timers will help, since each churn of the installed base creates a new crop of old-timers that will remember the old “tech” and will thus need to be gotten rid of. It’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy chasing its tail endlessly.

            While mass media seems to be a thrust of DM’s — witness the TV screens to “disseminate” instead of expecting humans to do it — I don’t think an ad campaign will likely succeed, even with the kind of money the cult threw at the American Idol campaign in 2012 and their cobbled-together “Super Bowl” spot at the beginning of 2013. It’s just too easy to find out critical information about Scientology these days. I think DM is so focused on day-to-day maximization of cash extraction that he’s not paying attention to the long-term damage that his approach is doing.

            Good comments about the issues with overly centralized management style breathing down the necks of field personnel. I understand in talking to one former member that over time regging of higher-end donors changed, and no longer were they treated with kid gloves but were subject to the same nastiness that rank-and-file members were exposed to. It may be that pushing down the violent nastiness of DM into the orgs is a recognition (finally) that the Orgs are in real trouble; he may be trying to micro-manage them but, as usual, is doing so in a way that he fails to comprehend the unintended consequences of his actions.

          3. Anonymous

            You wrote:

            “I don’t think an ad campaign will likely succeed.”

            I don’t either, but I cannot fathom any other alternative that would present itself as a likely option to attempt to reverse the fairly obvious shrinkage of the global operation.

            As for the workability of the tech under Miscavige…there are no new magic bullets and there is nothing about it that is better…in fact, it is worse than before. Added to that is the lack of any new OT levels, which besides the L’s and SuperPower are the only things that an OT VIII can do (except get back on the treadmill and repeat old “new” stuff again.)

            The strategy of the past decade or so of demanding donations from the already on board public for no direct exchange cannot continue as it has alienated or broken just about everyone left.

            Davey is in a blind alley and I think he knows it. He’s trying to simultaneously keep enough trained staff aboard to provide service delivery, while at the same time getting rid of anyone who won’t toe the line completely. I think a giant ad campaign will buy some time and I’m sure he hopes it will bring in newbies to replace the old-timers he has driven away, intentionally or otherwise.

            A denouement to the wee Davey era of Scientology seems inevitable.

            What form it will take is a matter of great curiosity.

            Arrest? Illness? Retirement? Skedaddle?

            It will be amusing either way.

          4. Anonymous

            BTW – when I say Davey may try a “serious new public outreach campaign using TV and other mass media” I’m talking about tens of millions to hundreds of millions in spend from Sea Org / IAS reserves. Not the mickey mouse stuff of recent past.

            Because “in good standing” Scientologists live in a thought-protected bubble as a group, and Davey in particular only interacts with frightened sycophants, I do not think there is any general awareness of the great depth of contempt with which educated, monied society holds Scientology. I think they believe it’s just a few bitter apostates and the folks that are PTS to them that have a negative opinion.

            That Scientology is, by actual survey, regarded as contemptible (or ignored completely) by the public at large is just not part of their marketing equation.

            Probably nothing new here, but some links:

            http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/poll-most-americans-dont-think-scientology-religion

            http://www.thenation.com/article/164059/clear-scientology

            http://commons.trincoll.edu/aris/?s=scientology&submit=#jq1tot

            http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

            http://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/pewforum?q=scientology&search-button=Go

            http://www.gallup.com/tag/religion.aspx

            When one does a unsophisticated search for information about the popularity of Scientology one finds either PR releases from the church, evidence of insignificance in learned journals, or horrid / lurid accounts of church atrocities.

            There is virtually nothing that is credible and seemingly unbiased being published about Scientology.

          5. John P.

            Pretty funny given the obsession of Scientology with survey data that there are so many (legit) surveys that show that they are busy sucking massively. Thanks for taking the time to find all these surveys. Quite amusing to read.

            Incidentally, it’s also fun to read the “management tech” Hubbard spouts on Marketing in the “Green Volumes.” A lot of it is simplistic and very dated, but most of it is actually sensible stuff. But one of the strangest large-scale things about it is the obsession with surveys to figure out what people want. Probably half the “Marketing Series” is about how to create surveys and turn them into action. Surveys are indeed useful tools, but they’re not the only thing you need in order to make the right decisions when creating products. You need some skill and judgment.

            But the cult still has survey-mania in so many ways. In addition to sending out countless requests to complete marketing surveys, a lot of fund-raising letters contain completely inane questionnaires like “1) Have you ever thought about joining the Sea Org? 2) Do you know what being in the Sea Org could do to benefit your progress up the Bridge?” etc. etc. etc. They apparently think that just because Hubbard is obsessed with surveys, so too will the customers be, and thus getting them to send in answers to such stupid questions is a way to get them in to fleece them out of their cash so much sooner.

          6. Anonymous

            The management tech is not useless, but it IS incomplete and increasingly dated.

            As mentioned before, one has to keep in mind the audience to which Hubbard was aiming the stuff…largely a non-educated, younger crowd without very little real-life experience or success from which to make informed judgements.

            At the lower levels on staff, EVERYTHING is tactical and rote and extremely short-term. Original thinking / action is not wanted and in fact is punishable. Thus the green on white, and thus a miasma of fail.

          7. Eclipse-girl

            does Co$ have a savvy individual of the caliber of Jeff Hawkins?

            He did great stuff. I remember those ads 20 or 30 yrs later.

            I certainly hope not.

          8. Anonymous

            No. There is no one left comparable to Jeff.

            Wee Davey is calling the shots and increasingly outside experts are doing the technical execution.

          9. Eclipse-girl

            The outreach campaign will fail

            Jeff was good, damn good. Scientology was increasing its ranks.

            The failure to continue increasing its ranks at the rate when Jeff was in charge in marketing would be unsustainable.

            personal opinion : would you say that Jeff Hawkins was responsible for their best medai campaign that Scientology ever produced?

          10. Anonymous

            Not sure I need to state Scientology is failing, as the evidence is overwhelming.

            But OK.

            Scientology is failing. ;-}

            As an aside, Jeff was very competent, obviously. Just his writing alone on his sites shows what a great human being he is as well as his ability to paint a clear picture with words. And Scientology is much worse off without him and many of the other good execs that have fled.

            On the other hand, were there not so many, many very well documented atrocities committed on a regular basis as a result of Scientology policy and practice, good people leaving would be replaced by good people entering. That is NOT happening.

            The reputation of Scientology is so irreversibly bad that it is virtually impossible to conceive of a situation where an educated, competent, successful person with a substantial career under their belt would ever join the Sea Org to help straighten things out. They would be targeted, neutered and humiliated instantly.

            That is what the insane culture of that organization does to strong, competent people.

          11. Eclipse-girl

            I needed the reassurance. I am just tired of waiting. I want the church gone NOW. I want families reconnected NOW. I want to help the victims NOW. Waiting another 5 or 10 yrs is difficult.

          12. John P.

            The church has actually reached the point where more advertising is WORSE for them…that is how badly broken the brand has become.

            Talk about diminishing returns to the max: spending on ads actually results in negative brand value… Would be kind of like Enron running ads touting their contributions to society after the fraud was revealed. Or Bernie Madoff trying to repair his brand image back when the fraud came to light.

          13. Anonymous

            Exactly.

            Imagine the people you know and work with every day somehow stumbling onto Scientology (and assume for a moment they have no preconceived ideas at all.)

            Step 1) They do a quick Google search to learn more.

            Step 2) They are aghast at what they find

            Step 3) They either continue reading for the sheer fascination of the absurdity / atrocities they find or they move on and later probably tell a few people over drinks about what a nut that L. Ron Hubbard must of been

            Step 4) There is no step 4

          14. John P.

            Better scenario:

            1973: College kid is approached by pleasant looking person with clipboard and asked if they want to take a free personality test. Being a lazy spring afternoon, they figure, “sure, might be fun,” and they go into the org. Two years later, they’ve dropped out of school to join the Sea Org. Thirty years later, they blow the cult and wondered what happened to their life.

            2013: College kid is approached by pleasant looking though slightly emaciated foreigner with an odd thousand-yard stare and asked if they want to take a free personality test. If their grade school taught them particularly memorably about evading potential predators, they might yell “Stranger in my space” and run away. Point being that people are more suspicious of people trying to “sell” stuff anymore. 40 years of Scientologists, Hare Krishnas, Moonies, LaRouchies and other cults have kind of made people presume that anyone with a clipboard on a college campus is suspect. Or, if they’re like most college kids, they whip out their iPhone and ask Siri what to do. The first two Google search results for “Oxford Capacity Analysis” are critical sites, ranking ahead of cult-sponsored sites. Game over either way.

          15. Tod

            I love your last line, especially ‘a constantly churning engine of net new liability being created on a daily basis every time the client turns on the lights and delivers its “services.”‘. Beautifully put.

          16. Anonymous

            I actually never addressed this part of your comment:

            “A key issue in grappling with whether there’s an intentional purge of old-timers is to understand what, exactly, Miscavige is replacing the old “tech” with. There’s little chance he has made some breakthrough
            that he thinks would actually make the “tech” work better for self-help purposes. If he’s just churning the installed base by making them do stuff over and over again, it’s not clear that getting rid of the
            old-timers will help, since each churn of the installed base creates a new crop of old-timers that will remember the old “tech” and will thus need to be gotten rid of. It’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy chasing
            its tail endlessly.”

            Here is a more clear meaning of the point I was making:

            Whether one thinks Scientology auditing has any value or not, it IS a highly skilled activity and it DOES require a great deal of study and practice to perform the activity well. And it is a group activity when done well. It requires not only an auditor, but a case supervisor, an examiner, someone to man QUAL, a folder admin, ethics, a Director of Processing for interviews and scheduling, etc. etc. I know all those terms don’t have meaning for everyone, but they don’t have to for the point to be made that doing auditing correctly IS an intensely complex activity and requires competent, well trained folks to perform all the functions.

            Hubbard laid out how to do all of this in intimate detail. It is the one place where it makes sense to do so in writing and at a granular level. The reason for the granular exactness, is so that if someone gets messed up, it is pretty easy to see why (if all the steps are followed correctly and properly documented) the way Hubbard laid it out. (I’m not going to argue with anyone about this…don’t bother…I’m not advocating here…I’m making observations about intended and actual practice.) There are correction procedures to mitigate errors. More often than not, those correction procedures work, to the degree that anything in Scientology works.

            Separately from Hubbard’s freakish need to control everything, there is actually nothing wrong with teaching people the correct way to do a complex activity. There really are only a very few ways to do most complex tasks correctly. There is only one way to do some. If they are done wrong, calamity results. (For instance, an instrument landing approach in 500 foot visibility with a hundred foot ceiling at XYZ airport at 5:00pm on a Friday evening with a 40 mph 90 degree crosswind. Get inventive about how to do this with a bunch of original thoughts and maneuvers, don’t reference the plate, and don’t bother to use the indicated runway…then try it in the wrong aircraft type with the wrong panel setup and bad stuff is gonna happen.)

            All of the above is a prelude to this: people who have been well trained and who for decades have seen positive results from delivering auditing know how to do it. It is a complex activity. Bad things WILL happen if it is not done correctly. At the same time everyone has been super-controlled in Scientology to do things “by the book” for so long, that when “the book” changes, everything they think they know is rattled and they lose confidence. Have this happen a few times in row over the course of a decade or two and pretty soon it becomes impossible to enforce any discipline about anything, or as is actually happening now, EVERYTHING is IMPORTANT, so fear and punishment are EVERYWHERE and the the smallest (or the biggest) error will get someone creamed.

            Positive auditing results (in the subjective eye of the recipient) can only occur if everything is done well. (That those long-term results do not match up to the marketing hype is a separate issue.) Miscavige is trying to reconcile the ACTUAL results available from even the best auditing, with what happens in practice, along with the need to keep giving paying public a reason to keep trying for more / better results.

            He’s confusing operations with marketing and both of those with finance. And although they are always linked, they are separate subjects and separate areas of expertise. And he can not stand allowing experts in any of those disciplines have any independent initiative or control.

            But just as you would not put a 100 hour non-IRL single-engine private rated pilot at the controls of a 747 with 300 souls on board, you would not try to run the FLAG auditing operation with a bunch of newbie auditors. Extremely bad things would happen on an everyday basis (even much worse than now.)

            Much of the resistance to Miscavige on the auditing tech side, is (really was) from people who actually knew how to do it well. Miscavige is a novice pilot and with zero hours in the last several decades, yet is telling the pilots of fully loaded 747’s how to land at night at the old Kai Tak airport in a monsoon. Yikes!

            His solution to their resistance? Shoot the pilots mid-approach, ask the stewardesses to land the planes and hope for the best. Double Yikes!!

            Wee Davey is simultaneously feared and despised. Resistance to his edicts MUST be covert or one will be crushed. He thinks he knows more and better about everything than anyone. Thus he can only have sycophants around him and those people can’t do anything well, so the whole thing just circles the drain and gets worse with each passing day.

            He thinks he can turn new stewardess into 20,000 hour ATP pilots that will listen to him, in a few weeks. Good luck with that.

            I know this is long and am not sure I made the point any better, but there you have it.

            If it is TL;DR, my apologies.

          17. Scooter

            Spot-on analysis – I couldn’t agree more.
            I was at FSO for the GAT I roll-out and the contempt from the newly-trained for the old-timers who had trained was unbelievable. At best, it was condescension towards the unfortunates who had been stumbling around in the dark in the time for soooo long, trying to audit.
            It was a disaster at org level in Oz and a lot of old-timers ceased to audit because they couldn’t get through Slappy’s new line-up. Even folk who had trained under Hubbard Himself were sidelined.
            AND there were sooooo many “programs” Slappy had us all doing that lead to no delivery being done because wee were working on these programs that MUST be done.
            And that was all at the time before the Net had such a critical presence as far as the cult was concerned. It shapes as a total disaster in this day and age.

      2. Eclipse-girl

        If a bank has $ on deposit and the account holder, the $ goes through probate and is part of the estate. It is considered an asset.

        Is there any knowledge of what happens to an individual’s advance payment monies if they die?

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          Sometimes the money is transferred to the accounts of surviving relatives, but often times extreme pressure is put on the executor of an estate to debit the deceased persons account and credit the funds to the org without any tangible exchange. This latter obviously works best when the executor is a Scientologist.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            No. Others have also, but they are rare and usually hidden.

            There are (at least) two kinds of situations where money is returned.

            “Refunds” are when monies that have already been used for services are given back to a dissatisfied person. These are extremely rare and if the person does on fact get money back, they are virtually always declared and denied any further services for “eternity.” Scientologists “in good standing” usually have to disconnect from anyone who has received a refund.

            “Repayments” are when advance payments on account that have not been used, are returned to someone. These are more common, but still rare and always occur after a great deal of hassling and frequently involvement by lawyers. Declares usually follow with all the attendant drama as above.

            To this day the promo of Scientology claims that monies donated for services are refundable if the person is dissatisfied with a service. In practice, this rarely happens and never without nastiness.

            The Brian Culkin situation was unusual because of his high public profile in the church and the fact that he was a pawn in a bigger legal battle involving the Garcia lawsuit and making several bitter apostates look bad for supporting him while he fought with the church. Those bitter apostates seemingly were trying to make Brian into an “Indie celebrity.” It was nuts.

            That story is worth digging into (if you have the stomach) as it is a good metaphor for the whole stinking pile of rubbish that IS the church, versus their self-serving and deliberately false promotional schtick.

    2. Cece

      Well good questions and I’m not to good at saving links so can’t really point you to an earlier discussion so here goes:
      There are 2 different sources of CofS income:
      1. Payments that parishioners ‘donate’ for services. There is no requirement but if one wants to do services they have to be paid for (set rates are published in magazines and promotions). If they have pre-paid but not used the service then the cash (shows on CofS books as un-used APs which would be a liability on the books) can be given back by the church if one asks.
      2. IAS ‘membership’
      IAS is an invented source of income for DM. LRH’s membership was about 300$ for a lifetime. DM made this all up and somehow got all those blind KSW guys to believe him!!!!!!

      Reply
      1. Lurkness

        Good luck getting advance payments back! LOL. Certainly wont happen by simply asking. They are not even letting the sheeple use their own funds on deposit with the chirch (Advance Payments) to purchase the new and required Mark VII EZ Bake Emeters.

        Reply
  9. Cece

    You said: “…. but am just completely buried.”
    John P. Slow down. Pretend your seconds are dollars and spend them wisely :)
    Thank you for all your care in helping with the education and bringing truth.

    Reply
    1. And I don't rent cars!

      Hi Cece,

      I up voted your comment just now (three days after you wrote it), on this Sunday, Dec 8, 2013, 11:50 EST.

      I am replying to you for 4 reasons:

      1. I agree with your advice for JP to “slow down” and I wanted to repeat the same advice to JP myself (via this reply post to you.)

      2. You also said to JP, “Thank you for all your care in helping with the education and bringing truth”. Again, I wanted to tack on my own “Thank you” to your post to John P. :-)

      BTW, I am using this convoluted way of saying “Thank You” to John P. Capitalist, aka John P, aka JP because, like John P, I am also “just completely buried.” The reasons as to WHY I’m completely buried are very different from JP’s (as one can easily imagine) but again today, I am having computer problems and between crashes, debugging, and rebooting, this might be the only chance I get to post a reply or comment to anyone – so I am hoping to speak to you while simultaneously speaking to John P through my reply to your post.
      So thank you, Cece, for your tolerance in letting me “hitch my wagon to your post!” I know, I know… the expression is usually “hitch my horse to your post” but the play on words works in this case and amuses me. To be honest, I’m afraid my “horse” has bolted and has been gone for a couple months now. 😉
      Seriously though, due to this old, PC laptop that works intermittently and which I have borrowed for the past year or so, today I again have been unable to read this blog nor The Underground Bunker yet and may not get a chance to do so before I “hit the sack” (go to bed, that is) or before someone “puts me in a sack,” i.e., to take me to the local mental health hospital’s Emergency Room as a result of being “completely buried under” for so long. (Gosh, I hope if the later happens that I don’t end up in the “Miscavige Hospital for the Criminally Insane” – a fictitious hospital name used in a TV soap opera named “General Hospital.”) :-)

      3. I also wanted to introduce myself formally to you finally, Cece. I have been wanting to say “Hello!” to you for some time but have been unable to. You can call me Cars, that’s the nickname the folks in the Bunker use.

      4. And lastly, I wanted to tell you that due to my computer problems, I’ve decided to click “Follow” under your avatar’s and username’s Disqus “pop up box” today. (I am not sure what that Disqus “pop-y up-y thing-y” is called.)

      I’m following you because I’m learning a lot from your posts about the inside workings of the Co$ (or Bo$ – the Business of $cientology – as I like to call it) and during those times when I’m unable to log on to the internet for several days at a time because I’m having laptop problems, I will still be able to read your posts under your “comment stream” through Disqus once I can get back online.

      I’m telling you all this because I especially didn’t want you to worry if or when you noticed a red, 1956 gullwing Mercedes Benz (my avatar) showing up somewhere on your Disqus “Dashboard” as being one of your “followers”; that is, if you use Disqus Dashboard at all to post comments and to check for replies to your comments (some people do and others don’t). So, I am your follower who goes by the name of “And I don’t rent cars!”
      I am making a point of mentioning this and describing it in detail because I remember when I discovered my first Disqus “follower” and how I was a little taken aback by it. I suppose you could also interpret “taken aback” to mean: suspicious, worried, a little paranoid, etc; and that’s exactly what I don’t want you to be. 😉

      Glad to have had the opportunity to introduce myself to you finally,

      Cars

      Reply
      1. Cece

        Hi Cars, nice to see you over here at JPs. Hope you get that computer fixed and as for the other stuff … well I’m thinking we lock ourselves up – no need for anyone else to do it – trick is getting out!
        I have little clue what you are talking about ‘following me on disqus’ but I need to get smarter how to follow this stuff so I don’t have to re-read thru all the comments 20 times (which is fun but not to productive). So I will check it out one day.
        As for right now – thank you for liking my stories – there are many many. Life in the SO was a great lesson and I don’t regret any of it. Lessons need to be shared because some persons learn from lessons and then don’t have to go thru the same. Not me – I had to be there apparently.
        What is especially fun is watching it die and get dissected to it’s little parts like so many of us Xs are doing.
        A bonus is the never ins that care. It astounds me sometimes that there are so many persons that do care and are concerned for the damage that has occurred.
        Hope you get that computer up and running :)
        Cece

        Reply
  10. SciWatcher

    So much of Hubbard’s approach seems to be from the P.T. Barnum school of sales. Like the “mystery sandwich.” Tell potential customers that they will see the most amazing thing ever. After they pay their money, it’s revealed to be something ridiculous, They are then too ashamed to tell anyone they’ve been had.

    The “spray and pray” approach also seems to be quite common in Scientology. Throw anything at the judge in legal proceedings to see what will stick. Even with membership. Bring in as much “fresh meat” as you possibly can. Ninety-nine percent will never return, but all you need is that one percent to stay and give away their life savings or join the Sea Org to become slaves.

    Reply
  11. KJP in Portland

    That was about the skimpiest solicitation I’ve seen, John. It looks to me as purely a ‘stats’ thing.

    Reply
    1. Semper Phi

      I would bet good money on that. No doubt in my mind that Tyler has a weekly “letters out” quota, and he was just churning ’em out to get ’em done before 2pm Thursday. The Central Files folders are full of one-sentence letters just like this email.

      Reply
  12. Robert Eckert

    I know this battle is long-lost but: “the water temperature measured 10 feet below the surface at this location at this time is X” is “a datum”; numerous such observations are “data”.

    Reply
  13. Davka

    Something else to consider is CAN-SPAM, which regulates ANY e-mail with a primary purpose of marketing – requires a right to opt out, unsubscribe mechanism, and several other requirements. It may be short, but it is a solicitation. I don’t see any unsubscribe link – FTC enforces this reg. A more flagrant violation might be worth sending. I haven’t really thought this through fully, but my first inclination is regulatory violations are likely.

    Reply

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