Weekend Australian, 16-17 Jan 1988, p22

[Note: The punctuation, grammar and proofreading in the published version of this article were very dodgy - I think the typesetter and proofreader found it as tedious as I did. Or were part of the suppressive conspiracy. I've pretty much kept it as it was published.]

Scientology: the other side

IN recent weeks, The Weekend Australian featured extracts from The Bare-faced Messiah, a book on L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, written by Russell Miller and to be published in Australia next week. JIM CONLEY, a scientologist for 16 years and official representative for the late Mr Hubbard's interests in Australia, replies to some of the criticisms

"IT is inevitable that scientology will expand because, in my experience, the types of people I have met are walking advertisements for it. I think more and more people are looking for a practical philosophy" - the Hon Herber Graham, former deputy leader of the Opposition, Western Australia, 1975.

Scientology has expanded greatly from 120 churches and mission then to well over 700 today. It is not surprising, perhaps, that Miller chose to write a book on the founder of scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. Few men have achieved so much in so many fields.

Hubbard is one of the world's most widely read authors, with more than 589 published works to his credit. His fiction sales surpass 23 million, his non-fiction books have sold more than 27 million.

While failing to address the reasons for the continuing expansion of Hubbard's readership and of the Church of Scientology, Miller researched his book by interviewing detractors only. Had he followed basic tenets of journalistic ethics, he would have found no controversy to write about.

Miller has his own ideas on scientology and dianetics. By mixing a little truth with a great deal of untruth and by omitting any honourable data, Miller seeks to inspire hostility in his readers towards Hubbard, his work, and he arguably seeks to provoke religious intolerance.

It would be impossible and unnecessary to correct all Miller's errors in an article of this size. A review of his sources easily discredit his research.

"If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be to start a religion" has been attributed many times by detractors to Hubbard, and Miller is at it again.

But, of course, it was George Orwell's remark in 1938 and in 1982 a Munich County Court decision by (presiding) Judge Steinbrecht with two other judges agreeing, forbade the attributing of Orwell's statement to L. Ron Hubbard.

One of the sources for Miller's information is Cyril Vosper, who is currently in a German jail on charges of "attempted grave kidnapping" and "mayhem". His major source is Gerry Armstrong who is on record in a 1984 video-taped interview talking about his intentions to discredit the Church of Scientology: "We don't have to prove a goddamn thing. We just allege it."

One the plus side, Miller quite rightly points out that "the more the medical profession (psychiatry) rallied against dianetics, the more people became convinced there must be something to it".

However, he did not ask why so many people find it interesting and workable and pass it on to others. Had he done so, Miller would have found the reason it grows in popularity.

Pop singer Kate Ceberano said: "It's the practical, workable results that attract people. In a stressful area like the arts, many successful performers are using dianetics and scientology because they work. Life doesn't have to be a mystery. It's nice to know the answers."

Despite all the noise, the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health has endured. Today around 10 million copies have been sold worldwide making it the most popular self-help book of all time.

Hubbard said in 1975: "Through the years, dianetics has been attacked, venerated, questioned and praised. The adjectives used to describe it are legion. But the enduring factor is that it has provided a technology whereby millions of people have come to understand themselves and their fellows and live happily with each other in peace."

Because Miller did not approach any of the six million scientologists around the world to try to answer questions about the popularity of dianetics and scientology, it is appropriate to address the history of the book Dianetics first to see what started all the commotion.

Released to the world on May 9 1950, the first printing of 6000 rapidly sold out and many subsequent printings were ordered to keep up with public demand. It reached The New York Times bestseller list quickly and stayed there.

The sudden immense popularity naturally attracted the attention of psychiatric and psychological communities. And why not? The book claimed to have many answers to many common contemporary problems of people and even worse, it also stated that anyone - lay and professional - could now better understand their own minds, use the techniques, and get results.

Despite the fact that dianetics was intended only for able people to become more able, it was perceived as a major threat by the psychiatric groups. But the public, to the dismay of psychiatrists perhaps, persist in demanding the right to judge for themselves.

Hubbard made his discoveries about the mind and what it actually was, based on scientific observation of people and life, and his research is available. He used the world as his test tube rather than rats, probably considered a dubious approach by those in lofty institutions who claim to be the "authorities" on the subject of the mind.

Hubbard's observations and discoveries were the result of taking only those things that worked and discarding those things that did not. This heuristic method used by someone, who had not already been indoctrinated in the errors of those before him, may account largely for the breakthroughs in this previously jumbled, unsolved area of human knowledge.

In one the few press statements ever made by Hubbard, he said in 1975: "I have never claimed Dianetics was a perfect system, but it is certainly a workable one."

With the success of dianetics, and committed to continue unravelling the mysteries of life, Hubbard continued his research. He determined that man was a spiritual being, using a mind, and inhabiting a physical body.

He began to formulate an applied philosophy to embrace this new field of knowledge and called his philosophy scientology, meaning "the study of knowledge" or "knowing how to know". It is formed from the Latin scio, which means know or distinguish, and the Greek word logos, which means reason itself or inward thought.

It is necessary to stress that dianetics and scientology are separate subjects. Dianetics addresses the relationship of people to their minds and scientology addresses the spirituality and relationship of the person themselves to their mind and scientology addresses the spirituality of men and women. Hubbard's developments included "auditing", a counselling procedure that assists individuals to solve their own problems, as defined by them, not a practitioner.

Attacks over the years never challenged dianetics workability. They usually take the "authorative" approach, quoting eminent psychiatrist Dr Kutzbrain of the lofty Malingerer Institute of Kansas, etc.

Lamentably, Miller also follows this approach, but to give his work further authoritative air, by apparently being based on very thorough research, he begins his book with several generations of Hubbard's ancestry. Unfortunately, he could not even get Mr Hubbard's well known birthdate right.

Again by faulty research and Gerry Armstrong's data, Miller attempts to discredit L. Ron Hubbard's US naval record to convince readers that his work is invalid.

Miller says: "Armstrong had one niggling worry. Like all scientologists, he had been told that Ron was blind and crippled at the end of the war and had only recovered through the power of the mind."

Armstrong obviously did not give Miller the US naval hospital - Oakland California - document of December 1, 1945, concerning Lieutenant L. Ron Hubbard, which states in part: "Eyesight noted to be failing ... eyesight very poor ... lame in right hip from service-connected injury, infection in bone ... all service-connected. Physical condition on release unimproved."

Colonel Fletcher Prouty (retired) between 1955 and 1963 served as chief-of-special-operations for the US joint chiefs-of-staff and in a similar capacity with the office of special operations of the office of the secretary of defence, and headed the special operations office for the US airforce. On researching L. Ron Hubbard's wartime naval career, he said, in a letter to Miller's publishers: "Something most important that Miller chose to overlook was the fact that Hubbard had been awarded a "unit citation". This award is most important and special."

Unit citations are made only by the President of the United States to those combat units performing particularly meritorious services. L. Ron Hubbard was awarded the Purple Heart with Palm. The Purple Heart is awarded to servicemen being wounded in action and the palm signifies more than one occurence.

Miller cites some advanced religious tenets of scientology and holds them up to ridicule - taken out of context. The Holy Communion practice of Christian faiths would be found by a Muslim or Hindu to be strange. However, the Christian need not defend his religious practices or expect them to be ridiculed.

For his discoveries and technology, Hubbard has received hundreds of awards, proclamations, keys to cities and letters of recognition and acknowledgements by governors, mayors and professionals of many fields.

Miller's method of quoting bits and pieces may cause parts of scientology to sound bizarre to some.

Miller also failed to embrace the enormous social reform work the Church of Scientology is doing. Eighteen years ago the Church established the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights.

Having a history of some of the worst and most violent abuses anywhere, psychiatry in Australia suffered further from the expose of atrocities in Sydney's Chemsford Private Psychiatric Hospital. The tragedy of the 20 known deaths at Chelmsford may have remained hidden had it not been for the persistence of the CCHR, other concerned groups and the relatives of the victims.

The expose of Chelmsford uncovered another of psychiatry's bizarre treatments called "deep sleep therapy". Heavy doses of psychiatric drugs made the patients comatose, sometimes for many weeks. High voltage "shock treatment" was then inflicted on the unconscious victim regularly.

The former head of the World Federation of Mental Health, the now deceased psychiatrist, Ewan Cameron of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, conducted many of the original CIA-funded "mind control" experiments and exported his "pain-drug hypnosis" or "deep sleep therapy" theories to the psychiatric community where they were quickly adopted as "valid" therapy.

Figures released through court action on Chelmsford show that some thousands of Australians were subjected to this treatment, many without consent or knowledge of what it was.

As a result of CCHR's work, "deep sleep therapy" has been banned in Australia and controls have been placed on the use of psycho-surgery and electric shock treatment.

CCHR continues to monitor and expose psychiatric abuses in the mental health field as well as helping patients who have been harmed find compensation.

CCHR's success in cleaning up the field of mental health was validated in 1986 by a United Nations sub-committee on discrimination report tabled by Dr Erica Daes. Her report commended the work done by CCHR and noted that over 30 pieces of legislation around the world, "which would have given psychiatry power to commit minority groups and individuals against their will, have been defeated by CCHR actions".

A Church spokesman in Sydney, Mr Peter Mansell, said: "The Church is very active in social reform and believes that cleaning up the rotten spots in society is essential to making a safer, saner environment for all. In Australia, we are probably best known for our reform work in the field of mental health.

"However, many Australians are possibly not aware of our High Court action against ASIO, which resulted in a landmark decision holding ASIO to be subject to review by the courts. The rights of individual Australians are protected.

"Similarly, scientologists contributed greatly to the Victorian and federal government's decisions to introduce freedom of information legislation leading to far more open government. We also received acknowledgements from the Victorian and South Australian health ministers for our important contribution to the reforming of the mental health acts in their States.

"Currently, the Church is very active in the Say No To Drugs campaign with many scientology celebrities including John Travolta, Karen Black and Chick Corea warning young people of the dangers of drugs.

"Last month several members of the Michael Jackson world tour, while in Australia, spoke broadly through the media on the effectiveness of L. Ron Hubbard's detoxification program, which over 60,000 people worldwide have used to rid themselves of the debilitating effects of street and medical drugs, toxins and environmental pollutants."

Miller wrote a book about his own ideas of scientology.

[photo] L. Ron Hubbard ... "I have never claimed dianetics was a perfect system, but it is certainly a workable one."

[Press articles on Scientology]