I think that I was able to identify some of the deciding factors that determine whether a new Scientologist will stay in the cult or leave it. I will try to describe how these factors affect people including myself.
In my opinion, four most important factors are the following:
1. The thetan idea.
About 99% of Scientologists who live in western countries have Christian background. Their background makes possible an easy transition from the notion of “soul” to the notion of “thetan”. They simply replace the immortal “Christian soul” with immortal “thetan”. The differences between the soul and the thetan are insignificant for those who have not reached the OT levels. The Scientology trap is set for them, and they walk right into it without realizing the consequences.
It was very different for me because I was an atheist who wanted to do my own Dianetics research at the time of my encounter with Scientology. Scientology is not designed to convert atheists into Hubbard followers, probably, because he also had Christian upbringing and did not know much about atheism. You cannot convince an atheist that the thetans exist just because Hubbard says so. For an atheist Hubbard is a lone figure faced with a long line of atheist scientists of all persuasions who believe in the evolutionary theory.
For me Hubbard was a Werner Heisenberg of psychology. Heisenberg was one of the most famous physicists who developed the matrix version of quantum theory. I have a great respect for him. But, as a philosopher, he was an Idealist, which is not acceptable to me (I am a Positivist). Similarly, Hubbard’s thetan idea was meaningless to me.
2. Part of Scientology ethics that mirrors Christian ethics.
This part of CoS ethics is presented in the small booklet (sorry, forgot its title). I saw the former young Christians reading the booklet and being deeply impressed by it. Later they will encounter the SP doctrine. But by that time they will be deep into the cult and accept it. The first impression is the strongest; it transforms Hubbard into a saintly figure for them.
I did not read the whole booklet, I just browsed it. I had no knowledge of the Bible at that time, but I read couple of articles on Christian ethics. I thought that the booklet material has a vague resemblance to the Christian ethics, but was not impressed by it. My reaction to it could be described in two words -- so what?
3. Dianetics can be used to cure brain tumors, heart disease, blah, blah, blah.
I fell into this trap like a hungry mouse into a mousetrap with cheese, and so did the others.
But 80% of the Sea Org recruits avoided this trap; they are the ones who left Sea Org in a matter of weeks after graduating EPF. Some of them saw the Clears wearing glasses, which was a good reason for leaving the cult behind. The others could not understand Hubbard’s horrific English and, because of that, could not comprehend the engram material (Hubbard was the worst Scientology enemy).
The damn thing looks like a scientific device; the implication is that Scientology is an exact science. Nowadays people have tremendous respect for the science, as they should. Hubbard used this respect as a means of enticement into his cult.
I was incredibly lucky to avoid this very dangerous trap. It happened not because I was smarter than the other Scientology novices, but because the circumstances were in my favor.
I took my first basis Scientology course when I was on a winter break in New York City. CoS of NY have a library of Hubbard books. I used to come to the Church 3 hours before beginning of the course to read Dianetics Volumes I and II. At the time these books were written the e-meter did not exist. My first encounter with the e-meter took place when I begun taking Bridge courses in Los Angeles. I saw the device as unnecessary evil because it was expensive. I asked the course supervisor why we should use the device if we can do the auditing without it. He said that e-meter makes the auditing much faster. But that was not very convincing to me because Hubbard wrote that the most valuable asset that the auditor has is his intuition. I thought that my intuition works much better than e-meter, so the device was of no use to me.
There are additional factors that may make people susceptible to Scientology:
5. Hubbard is the incarnation of Buddha, which makes him a religious figure.
Several Scientologists told me this crap. But when I asked them to provide a reference they could not one. Oddly enough, very few Scientologists know the exact reference, which is Hymn to Asia.
Foe an atheist like me the whole idea of Hubbard being Buddha was nonsensical.
6. Hubbard was an adventurer.
This idea had certain appeal to me and to almost all my Sea Org colleagues.
For the Scientologists this organization is the leader in the noble fight against psychiatric abuses.
Incredibly, I learned about Narconon after I became anti-Scientologist.
Most likely, there are other factors that I am not aware of.
“This OT shit is driving me insane. On a positive side, I laugh a lot these days because I’m at a funny farm.”
L. Ron Hubbard
No soy marinero, soy capitan del culto de mi padre.