Ever been accosted by a man with a clipboard on Park Street who promised you the answer to life's problems with the application of a simple personality test? Welcome to the Church of Scientology, an institution that was set up by L. Ron Hubbard in his book Dianetics, a guide to using your mind to get what you want. Only thing is it costs. Scientologists continue to work their way up the ladder, completing course after course that will empower them further. Some of these courses cost $50,000.
The Church of Scientology has been exposed many times, as ex-members claim everything from murder to forced abortions, but with a running theme of taking people's life savings. Recently, the secrets of life that are revealed in the courses that cost your life savings were put up on the Internet by ex-members, removing the need to invest. The Scientologists are not happy.
We're committed to the public's right to know here at Tharunka, so committed, that we volunteered to go into the Scientology Headquarters to find out what it is that has captured the minds and bank accounts of thousands of people around the world, including our very own Nicole Kidman, her husband, Tom, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta and Priscilla Presley. We were ushered quickly to the Personality tests. There were 200 questions, asking for yes/no/maybe responses. "It would take a lot for me to consider suicide." "I would like to start a new activity in my neighbourhood." "I feel sorry for prisoners of war." It took about half an hour. I can't say I answered as honestly as possible. I had to lie about being good at doing what I'm told, and being self-disciplined. I wanted them to want me. And they did.
A woman typed our answers into the computer. Huge room for error. Then a complete stranger Scientologist told me that my personality is in serious trouble. I am very friendly, but I don't let people get close to me, so no one understands me, and it's ruining my life. "No it's not," I argued, "I think it works quite well." He was adamant. "What has happened to you?" he asked. "Things," I answered mysteriously. "Like what?," he pushed. "Personal things," I offered. "Tell me what happened," he demanded. I looked wistful. "People have let me down," I informed him. Well this is ruining your life." He circled my printout. "Tell me exactly what happened." Follow my logic," I said. He'd just told me I can't open up to people, and then he expected me to pour it all out for a pushy stranger. He didn't like that. "You need auditing," I was told. (I got nervous. I haven't filled in a tax return in 3 years.) "5 hours. Get the pain out so you can move on." How much? $80. Tempting. He did have a point. I don't get close to people. I have been let down. I am a bit irresponsible. But who the hell isn't? But for a moment I think I understood what Nicole might have been thinking.
I asked the pushy stranger to let me think about it, and he grew angry. "You won't come back, you'll treat it like a joke. I want you to say you'll do it now." I insisted I had to go. He got upset and walked off. Not very hospitable.
Outside, my companion, who is one of the most goal-orientated people in the world, revealed that he apparently has very few goals, and needs serious help in getting some.
The whole test was futile. They told me things I already know and then tried to position themselves as authorities on me. I don't think they'd ever be happy with me, or anyone. Save your time and superannuation. Get on the Internet if you want to find out what they know that you don't. (Even though the founder, L. Ron, admitted he made it all up a few years after the fact.) It's not as demanding, and it's free. If not, just avoid Park Street in the afternoons.