Scientist Speaks to Scientologists Stateside


by Rohin
21st March, 2006 at 10:33 pm    

In my last post I promised an account of what happened when I was rude to some Scientologists, in light of Isaac Hayes leaving South Park as it had made fun of the religion. To give my posts some sort of coherence, I’ve decided to make a new one in order to avoid making any too long.

Following in the footsteps of two heroes, Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson, I set out to find some ‘only in America’ weirdness last month. I found plenty to gawk at whilst travelling through America’s heartland along Route 66 and across California. But hicksville, USA nor the insane world of Vegas have anything on Scientology when it comes to the weirdness stakes. First up was the Big Apple.

We were rather polite to the New York Scientologists (branch pictured above), probably as none of us had knowingly met one before. Oh you’re wondering about that time me and Katie Holmes- well, she hadn’t converted back then. I had heard much of Scientology was based on Hinduism and Buddhism and I went with an open mind. NYC was more of a recce. So when I got to the spiritual home of Scientology, Hollywood, I was prepared.

The Oscars were in a matter of hours. Scientologists were doing what they do the world over in order to attract followers to their super-superior cause: Free Stree Tests! Although this is apparently a process called ‘auditing’ and uses an ‘E-meter’ to measure my ‘galvanic skin response’ to ‘rehabilitate my spirit’. Don’t know about you, but I was converted.

The Hollywood Blvd. branch is pictured here – the armoured cop car was because the Oscars were literally next door at the Kodak Theatre. I figured, if I’ve come to America to find weirdness, now’s the time.

So in I went. Having found out some basic tenets of the religion, which I shan’t bore you with as you can look them up here, I had a few specifics I wanted to ask about. (Interestingly, that wikipedia page has had a recent alteration which has stood for a few days unedited: “CHEF DON’T LEAVE US FOR THIS CRAP!!! SUCKIN’ THE CHOCOLATE SALTY BALLS OF XENU WILL MAKE YOU GO BLIND!!! DON’T DO IT CHEF…DON”T SICK XENU ON TREY AND MATT!!!”)

I chatted to a few smiley youngsters, but mostly a chap called Tom. No, not Cruise.

Rohin: So listen dawg, what’s up with this no drug thing?
Tom: Sorry?
R: You know, you people say your followers can’t take drugs.
T: That’s not true.
R: No serious homeboy, Tory Christman was told to stop taking his epilepsy medication and some girl whose name I forget had to stop her thyroxine.
T: Scientology would never advise people to do something that harms their health. And we don’t tell people not to take their medication.
R: What about watch Mission Impossible: 2, that harms your health.
T: Haha.
R: Are you laughing cos you agree? Come on dude, you can tell me. I’m not going to blog about this or anything. Are you not allowed to speak against the Cruise? Is he God?
T: No of course he’s not God. Medicines are drugs which can remain in the body forever -
R: No they don’t. Cos if that’s the case, I’d be stoned the whole time.

I moved back onto medicine:

R: I want to be a psychiatrist daddy-O. Do you hate me? [I don't really, they're weird]
T: Of course we don’t hate you.
R: We? I only asked about you. Are you like the Borg?
T: Haha, I don’t really watch Star Trek. No, a lot has been misreported about Scientology and psychiatry. We feel it as a field has little to offer in terms of real improvement and those with mental illnesses are being hurt by psychiatry.
R: That’s bullshit buddy, psychiatrists help patients massively. Look, we’re not going to agree, but I really don’t get your hatred of psychiatry and mental health workers so much. Maybe L. Ron Hubbard was cuckoo.
[Tom rolled his eyes]

Then race:

R: L. Ron Hubbard said the problem with China is that there are too many chinks and that they smell. Are you racist, man?
T: That is really outrageous, I don’t know where you’ve got your information from.
R: Aren’t South Africans retarded and impossible to train? He said that too.
T: No, I think you’re wrong again. [Actually, Tom's right, L. Ron Hubbard didn't say that, he said they're "retrograded"]
R: OK so Scientologists aren’t racist?
T: Of course not, we welcome all people.
R: Do you have any Indian followers in this church?
T: As in East Indian?
[That was it for Tom. 'East Indian'. One of my pet hates. The country's called INDIA you chump. He was dead now.]
R: Doesn’t matter. What about aliens?
T: I’m not sure if I want to continue this conversation.
R: Yes, this has been a test. And you have failed. I am Xenu. [Xenu came to Earth 75 million years ago and stacked frozen humans around a volcano and blew them up with atom bombs]
T: Okay…
R: Seriously, how do you know I’m not Xenu?
T: Thank you for coming today.
R: Not really, I’m a lizard. Have you heard of David Icke?
T: You’re a lizard? That’s great.
R: Yeah a lizard psychiatrist! And Dianetics sounds like a contraceptive pill!

God bless America.


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  1. xyz — on 21st March, 2006 at 10:54 pm  

    Did you really say those things? True or not, hilarious!

  2. Rohin — on 21st March, 2006 at 11:15 pm  

    Well I jotted down whatever I could remember afterwards, but it was pretty much like that. I’m especially pleased with the ‘dude’, ‘man’, ‘buddy’, ‘daddy-O’ and ‘dawg’. Should’ve filmed it.

  3. Sid D H Arthur — on 21st March, 2006 at 11:32 pm  

    Travelogue accounts of conversations with natives where the writer is made to sound intelligent, tolerant and funny as opposed to the natives, invariably depicted as feckless, arse-scratching chumps, have been perfected by V S Naipaul. Yeah him, the Great Over Rated Bore.

    On the other hand, with Americans, that might not be so difficult; naive and irony-free cherubs that they are.

  4. Rohin — on 21st March, 2006 at 11:46 pm  

    Well Sid, I wasn’t sure what I should write as any travelogue I write I would assume no one would be interested in. I’m pretty sure I don’t come across as tolerant or intelligent! But just in case the wrong impression came across, I liked almost everyone I met in America. Not the cops. Not the scientologists. Not the unbelievably intolerant Christian couple in New York. Not the Deliverance-style petrol pump staff who said “we ain’t never seen your type around here”.

    But the hundreds of other people were bonza. Like Larry the drunk father of two who refused to believe I wasn’t Egyptian and that I wasn’t called Ronin.

    “Yo! Ronin! Like the V8! Yeah! V8! You paramilitary? Man I’m fucked up, been out the army too long! Woo! Darius! (my friend) you’re I-ray-nian? Shit I love Iraynians! And Egyptians! Whether you’re Mooslem or American or purple alien, shit you’re a good person!”

    He then taught me how to kill a man in 3 ways. And demonstrated on a girl.

    Or 3 of the Sepia Mutiny crew, who were great. Or the indie bookstore owner I had a smoke with when skiing. Or the countless funky hipsters in NY and San Fran. Or the nutters in LA and Vegas.

    I like America a lot more than I did before. I advise all America-haters to hit it up, I guarantee you’ll mellow.

  5. Tanvir — on 22nd March, 2006 at 2:38 am  

    Me and two of my mates had an encounter with the church of scientology last summer when we were in New York for part of our electives. Our hotel was well close to times square, and we would see these tables set out on the street near the easy cyber cafe daily with a stress detecor sign and people stopping random passers by trying to talk them into having a stress test.

    Anyway, one morning, we had just come out of our hotel, about 11am, walking toward times square. Muz, who was about to enocunter his come down from the drum and bass night we found the night before, and was really itching to have breakfast at a ‘proper american diner’. When we finished our munch and were leaving, we opened the door and realised it was pissing it down. We kind of stood in the doorway wondering what to do.

    Then this nice lady appeared, with a big umbrella and huge smile. Said hi and kind of ushered us out. She suddenly took the role of our trusty tour guide asking us where we are from and what we are doing in town. By the time we all were wondering what we were doing just following her as she spoke, she asked “Have you guys heard of scientology?” We were already at the church of scientolgy by then.

    Anyway, we went in and asked many many questions. They didnt really have an explanation for scientology, just kept pointing us to the posters, ooh and you MUST buy the books for 99% of your answers. I think they quickly realised we were going to ask them a lot of stuff and directed us to this dark room, with lots of chairs and a projector screen. They proceeded to show us this well crap video, selling scientology to us as a lame manufactured ‘religion’. It was quite tacky, Muz ran out of the room after 5 minutes because the thought there might be subliminal messages in the video! (by the freemasons) Back in the main hallway area where they have posters and little screens showing videos, we were all being quite funny,bit like Rohin.

    The other major part of their gimmick is that they have developed this stress detector test which detects stress in your life which the books, theories and donations of scientology can solve! It just looks like this box with wires that plug into your body this little dial that gives your reading! Could not believe this was what they had on those stalls in times square!

    At one point we were all jumping up and down yelling ahhhh freemasonaryy as soon as we noticed the pyramid shape and made other similar hearted conspiracy comments for the purpose of catching jokes. I cant remember details of the exact questions we were asking, but I think we most of their answers were returned by looks of confusion from us or us telling them that thats common sense. In fact we walked out of the building talking about how geniusly they have repackaged some logic and common sense concepts into a religion and went into business.

    At least we finally figured out what those stress detecor tests around time square were! Next time we walked past one we paid attention as people who were told they had high levels of stress were directed or walked to the church of scientology or at least sold a book.

  6. Sunny — on 22nd March, 2006 at 2:49 am  

    Hahahahaha!!

  7. Expose — on 22nd March, 2006 at 4:37 am  

    Rohin,

    I haven’t visited this [great] blog of yours in a while.
    Pleasantly surprised to note that you are visiting stateside.
    I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to a conference my colleagues and I are organizing at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
    It is an India centric conference – “Inspiring India”.
    Two panels – U.S. – India relations and Kashmir.
    To make a long description short – where may I email the details?
    If you can access my email, do write and I shall replay asap.

  8. Expose — on 22nd March, 2006 at 4:38 am  

    I shall reply not replay.
    Sorry!

  9. Rohin — on 22nd March, 2006 at 4:52 am  

    Thanks for the invite Expose, but sadly I’ve just popped back to the UK before heading to Afreeeka forthwith. Hope the conference goes well. Incidentally one of my original plans was to take up an offer to study at Columbia for a bit during this period. But I thought sod it I’d rather be a bum.

  10. David T — on 22nd March, 2006 at 9:41 am  

    hahaha top stuff dude/dawg!

  11. Sanjeev — on 22nd March, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    They are on a recuitment drive in Birmingham…’Would you like to take a stress teast?’

    …yes I fell for it

  12. Steve M — on 22nd March, 2006 at 5:41 pm  

    IThe ‘stress detector’ is a Galvanic Skin Resistance meter (GSR) which has been around for many, many years and was not invented by Scientologists. It was used by Jung and does have genuine therapeutic potential.

    Unfortunately, because these devices have been taken up by the cult of Scientology they are discarded by most of those who would find them useful in a ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ kind of way.

    Incidentally, I’m no fan of Scientology but in the interest of truth you should know that it now seems that Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park.

  13. Janardan — on 23rd March, 2006 at 9:37 am  

    I met this man once at a public meeting, and he said he wanted to talk to me about Psychiatric Abuse. I had no idea what he was on about, but said I could meet him if he really had to discuss some way I could help. He came to meet me armed with lots of journals about Psychiatric Abuse. At one point when we were conversing about medicines, he raised his voice and said, “You have no idea how these people abuse innocents by pumping mind inducing drugs in them.”

    I was a bit puzzled. I asked him “Do you think Indian psychiatrists also indulge in abuse?”

    And he almost screamed at me, “They are the worst. The UK is full of Indian psychiatrists”.

    As he was walking out, he stopped, turned to me, gave me a big smile, and said, “By the way, we have an event with John Travolta next month, do you want to come?”

    At that moment, I realised, that he may possibly be a Scientologist, because Travlolta is one too.

    “Isnt Travlota a Scientologist?” I asked.

    “O thats ok,” he brushed it away. “Do come to the event.”

    Things clicked in place, and when I went back home, I did some digging round, and found that Ron Hubbard had started this campaign against psychiatrits because they had questioned the authenticity of Dianetics.

    An orchestrated campaign of hatred against psychiaty as a profession – all because many of them don’t accept Dianetics.

    After I learnt this, I maintained a respectful distance from this man. Too much hatred is a wrong thing.

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