Why Scientology became a Cult

Expanding on a previous post:

Where you have a method intended to produce a certain result, then either the method or the result can be fixed. But not both. If you fix the method, the results will be variable. If you aim for a specific result, the method must be flexible.

M E T H O D —-> R E S U L T

In most areas of life, you want a specific result. You don’t want to simply go through a set routine to mow the lawn – you want a lawn that is demonstrably mowed. You want a certain business outcome, not just rotely follow some predefined business processes. So, in most cases you would want a certain result rather than a fixed process.

In other cases you want instead a fixed process, like with testing procedures. When testing a product, you want the procedure to be the same for all products to be tested. The passing grade for the tested products will vary while the procedure for testing remains the same. Just like a school exam. Fixed procedure, variable results.


In the case of any personal improvement, you want a certain result. You want happiness, increased abilities, enlightenment, lower reaction speed, higher intelligence, life fulfillment… or something. The result is more important than the method used.

Let’s say you are depressed. You want to be happy. Now, the method used is simply a tool to achieve the aim of happiness. That aim is far senior in importance than the method. In fact, the method is rather uninteresting as long as you become happy.

In the area of life improvement; When the method becomes more important than the results, you get a cult. You get people who follow a methodology, a technology, a way. And in that, they desert the individual’s intended results.

The methodology becomes more than a tool. It becomes glorified, exalted. The result becomes the shadow of the pillar and the pillar becomes the object of worship.

This is the way of the Church of Scientology. The technology is beyond questioning, the methods are exalted and even sacred according to church officials. The results remain varied.

This is also the way of Scientology as a subject. With the policy Keeping Scientology Working #1, Hubbard made sure that no improvements to the methodology would ever be tolerated. He was an adamant believer in his technology – to the point where he berated any thought of altering his life’s work. His original aims – visionary and admirable as they were – became supplanted by a fixed technology cut in stone and worshiped by some 50 000 Scientologists today. They rely on the technology to produce some desired result rather than making sure the results are gotten and thus allowing flexibility in the set of tools.

And this is why Scientology became a Cult.

For the sake of balance, I would like to add that from my experience, many of the procedures in Scientology do indeed produce remarkable results. But again, the results for the individual is what really matters.

45 thoughts on “Why Scientology became a Cult

  1. Excellent article!

    Years ago when some pcs started a level questions would be asked … what am I going to get on this level? How long will it take? What is my next C/S? The pat answer back then was ‘Wait until you are in session’, or, it takes as long as it takes. To do otherwise would sometimes cause the pc to figure-figure.

    On the other hand, the old Grade Chart gave specific EPs to all levels up to OT Vlll. I would say that the vast majority made the grade on the lower levels but there were a few who had difficulties. Could have been mis-programming, incorrect C/S, Errors in session,by-passed earlier grades, etc. But, I believe the lower levels had truly attainable EPs.

    As for the upper levels, currently the EPs are hidden, levels are being re-done, OTs put back on to lower grades (which may not be a bad thing for some), gross eval, etc.

    Personally I would have rather seen just a long list of processes – you start at number 1 and continue. No stated EPs; the pc gets what he gets from his own viewpoint. No eval, no labels ( Grade 0, OT 2, etc.) – just do it.

    Call it a philosophy that one studies & practices and his cognitions are his own. This would be similar to a Christian Science Reading room or reading the Bible for solace, enlightenment or what have you – many have wins from their daily rituals, why not Scientology.

    To promise a finite something that is undeliverable is unsustainable. And where you do have an exact EP and promote it that way – well, you better be able to deliver.

    Thousands have had benefits from Scientology to a greater or lesser degree – all valid. So, there has to be some way to express that there might be something there for you. No guarantees – it is what it is, and you get what you get.

    If someone gets wins – great they likely continue. If not – ya gave it a shot.

    Personally, I think everyone can have a few wins with this tech – it may not be process A, but it could be B

    1. “Personally I would have rather seen just a long list of processes – you start at number 1 and continue. No stated EPs; the pc gets what he gets from his own viewpoint. No eval, no labels ( Grade 0, OT 2, etc.) – just do it.”

      I have also thought along those lines simply using the KHTK approach of LOOKING, instead of an e-meter.


    2. Dennis, you said:
      “Personally I would have rather seen just a long list of processes – you start at number 1 and continue. No stated EPs; the pc gets what he gets from his own viewpoint. No eval, no labels (Grade 0, OT 2, etc.) – just do it.”

      The way I see Bridge levels is that they are a map of a faster route through the labyrinth of the bank to get to “the other side” than would be the method of trial and error to e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y find the way out – if ever. And the reason for the EPs is to know when the pc has gone far enough in one direction, so to speak, and needs to start in another – and keep to that already mapped out, taped route. EP’s aren’t a matter of eval at all, just road signs. Plus, it’s the pc who is asked and who attests to the EP – his evaluation, in the end.

      Also, where you said “Personally, I think everyone can have a few wins with this tech,” that didn’t sound like you to me, from your earlier posts where you seemed pretty certain that there were more than “a few wins” to be had. Didn’t you sort of water down your viewpoint for a moment there? I know that I’ve done that sometimes! Getting caught up in the flow of the thread.

      For example, I think I sort of gave the impression that the tech “needs to be revised” and that would actually be a very misleading phrasing of my viewpoint. My idea is mainly that the organization of materials could definitely be better, not just because they would be easier to study but that the chances of their being correctly duplicated would be better, specifically in those instances where related references are needed to get the full picture. Things of that sort. Not that I would have a problem if well-trained tech terminals found some ways to improve or streamline it and fixed some outpoints where needed, but I don’t currently have reason to think that the tech basically needs improvement.

      Just thought I’d get that “off” (my own watering down). I bet you were a good confessional auditor. 🙂

      1. There are too many variations in the interpretation of tech, bridge, EPs, e-meter reads, etc. It is better to leave it to the pc to guide his/her case. An auditor and c/s should only provide the broadest overview and guidance. That is the KHTK approach.


        1. No sense in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 🙂

          Or giving the baby a little-by-little dabbing with a sponge over a period of…

          BUT – sometimes the sponge is all a body has and then it’s a very good thing.

          (“a body” – I’m being both metaphorical and poetic. “When a body meets a body, comin’ through the rye…” Wonderful old poem and song.)

        2. Nobody is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In my view, the less is the evaluation, the better it is. If you really look at it, c/sing is evaluation of a person’s case.

          I like Dennis’s idea of giving a person a list of grade processes, and let him/her have a go at it. He may pick the processes to run in the sequence he wants. He can easily run the processes by himself without a meter by simply using the KHTK approach.

          KHTK allows a guide. But the guide simply makes sure that the KHTK approach is being followed. The guide may also help a person narrow down to the root cause (see KHTK 10) of an unwanted condition. KHTK minimizes the amount of evaluation that occurs by the nature of the auditing process.

          Scientology processes may be used with KHTK approach. Scientology style may be necessary at times when the person is too re-stimulated to do the process himself/herself.

          But Scientology processes done with KHTK approach can assist a lot of people overcome many conditions on a short order.


  2. As a trained auditor and C/S, I would argue that specific Scientological methodologies intended to alleviate specific spiritual travail will consistently produce fantastic and rapid results. What I found, however, is that, especially at Flag per my own experience, the pc’s happiness was/is increasingly supplanted by the C of $’s love of $$$$. So results became secondary. The selling of inappropriate rundowns, such as the False Purpose Rundown, became routine, regardless of the case shape of the pc, and often further messed up an already messed up case or a case that was doing well. See C/S series #8 for why. The C/S series is a wonderful, simple read, BTW. It was the reason I knew the church had become incorrigibly corrupt (and totally out tech) and that I had to leave.

    1. Thanks for the input. Did you read the links in the referenced post at the top? Did you get why you cannot have both a fixed process and invariable result? It is rather logical.

      1. Yes, I read the links, very, very interesting. I’m still thinking about this idea…

    2. Interesting. Yes, putting spiritual endeavors into a business model is a recipe for corruption and ultimate failure. When the staff can’t eat and you can’t keep the lights on, it’s easy to justify not doing what is best for the individual.

    1. The insistence on exalting methodology over results is what I believe makes people rightfully view Scientology as a cult. The “it’s my way or the highway”-attitude makes for this.

    2. Pascal, I agree!

      From my rather long post farther down this thread:

      “I believe “cult problems” come about because much of humanity hungers for and loves cults. Cults provide something to either love or hate depending which side of the fence you’re on. They provide excitement, drama, action.

      Life would be boring, so the motto of many people is “Gotta have a cult. (to love or hate or be indifferent towards)” Then, it becomes a dramatization along the lines of the First and Second Postulate phenomena, it goes on automatic and everyone goes “Huh? Where’d this cult come from? How? Who? Why?”

      I might add, they don’t even realize they love/hate cults, which is why they dramatize them.

    3. I don’t think Scn is a cult in spite of Hubbard’s wishes, just because others dramatize cults. If somebody has dramatized cults, it was mainly LRH. He was the one who wrote KSW#1 and other stuff encouraging cult thought.

      1. I agree. Hubbard set up the system.

        But Hubbard did what he had to do at the time he did it. I don’t blame him. And I don’t mindlessly defend him either.

        Now the times are different. Scientology should be treated as a susbsystem of Knowledge. It needs to be reevaluated and integrated into the rest of knowledge.


        1. I don’t know if he had to make things happen that way, but in the end it’s not much important. He was the way he was, he did what he did, but he’s not here any more and now it’s only up to us what we’re going to do with what he left us. I only refuse to bow to any imaginary portrait of him, or any portrait of anybody for that matter. I don’t think we need cults of Edison, Tesla, Newton, Einstein, Turing, von Neumann and others, although we can thank them for a lot. What they gave us is much more important than their personalities.

  3. Simple clarification – thank you! (blowdown :-))

    My thought now is that the whole cult problem with Scientology (maybe even the whole problem, period) came about with the too-rigid admin policies. Those in fact did have individual policy that might have had the potential to make them flexible (like Senior Policy and others) but overall they were too rigid or made too rigid (which to me would simply mean they were flawed in some way).

    But I’m still thinking that the tech itself had a built-in flexibility to it that would account for most if not all of the potential wild cards (i.e. considerations). Per my concept of it, that was the purpose for having repair lists. Possibly even simple ruds would fill the bill as a more day-to-day inclusion of flexibility in the tech.

    The whole question of flexibility, though, is something Class VIII’s would probably be able to wrap their wits around very easily. I do hope you have a comm line with some of them, or will have! (Do you?)

    But probably no system can ever completely guarantee results as there is always the possibility of the irrepressible consideration. As a matter of fact, I recall something LRH said, pretty close to: “I cannot guarantee you will make it out.”

    (btw, another good image choice, that wistful kangaroo picture.)

    1. You got it 🙂 I had the stray thought that this post may offend some of my readers. Even when throwing in a random kangaroo into the post (my son was writing an essay on kangaroos, and I thought “why not?”). My next post could shake some nerves, though 😉

      1. Oh the kangeroo didn’t seem random at all – there was a feeling of yearning to it that goes with just about everything. But anyway, offend us or not you can’t keep us away. 🙂

        I am really excited to see your next post! I’ll either love it or love hating it.

  4. I do think you make many good points in your essay but far be it from me to be too agreeable, so:

    I have a different take on KSW #1 and on KSW in general.

    First off, most of the auditing processes were piloted and tested by auditors other than Hubbard, and were then ranked for effectiveness by polling those same auditors. They were not chosen by Hubbard on his whim to be his pet processes. In another post, I recently gave the Six Basic Processes as an example of this. Hubbard would dream up lists of questions and processes, others would test them out on as many pcs as they could, then report their results back to Hubbard, who then ranked them for effectiveness on the basis of these stats.

    KSW to me is simply the statement that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”, based on what had been tested and already been found to “work” over a growing number of pcs. Hubbard’s own disclaimer was that scientology tech was “a workable system” and not necessarily the best possible system or the only possible system. That’s in my copy of the Ethics book from the 1970s.

    I don’t see scientology tech as being much different from current medical practice in the USA, say cancer treatment for example. They use standard protocols based on stats and risk versus gain for any particular type of cancer. These are the protocols that have so far proven to provide the best stats for survival vs. the least deaths or other serious complications caused by the protocols themselves. It’ s “workable tech”. The treatment center may be compared to an HGC. In both, only the “standard tech” is allowed to be delivered. Research occurs in specialized research centers but experimental procedures cannot be delivered routinely in an treatment center. People acting as guinea pigs must be volunteers and may need to be paid to participate. All that needs to be financed. Standard protocols are those that have been proven to work more often than not.

    Back to the point.

    Here’s the kind of thing KSW covers: Some auditor has decides for some personal reason that his auditing will go better if his pcs are high on pot when he audits them. He tells his pcs to get high before arriving for their sessions. Or, that they should not sleep the night before a session. Or that he should shout all his commands at them. Or whatever.

    To insist that KSW has prevented progress is 100% a wrong target. It is wrong application, rote and unthinking application of KSW that has caused trouble. Application of KSW out of context in inappropriate ways.

    The meaning of KSW to me is no different than following the manufacturer’s instruction manual for any piece of technology.

    Secondly, I don’t believe anyone who hasn’t thoroughly trained in the application of the technology, ie trained and interned as an auditor all the way up to Class VIII has the full picture. Class VI has a good grasp. An untrained person has only a “pc’s eye view”of the tech and can only speak from his own limited point of view. He can gather the viewpoints of other pcs and discover some commonalities, but the result will always be a limited viewpoint from the level of the Preclear. Several people may agree “that process didn’t work on me”, but unless they are auditor trained, they are likely to miss the exact outness(es).

    As for method versus results, that seems to be a red herring. Try getting any results of any kind in any field, including science, without a method. You’ll get just that – any results. The problem is not that there is a method. The problem is the ability to perceive, of the user. If the user is out of communication with present time, he will not know when the method is working or not working, when it has worked or needs to be continued or needs to be changed etc. Auditing is supposed to be a dynamic process, not a rote robotic mechanical application of motions. For comparison try driving your car downtown while blindfolded. Or docking your boat or taking apart and fixing your computer while blindfolded.

    If your not in communication with your present-time environment your results will suffer to say the least. And the pc is part of your present-time environment. You’re not a really good auditor until you’re responding to the pc on the basis of your obnosis of him. At first, conscious knowledge of the processes are your crutch and your guide. Eventually it all becomes second-nature to you and you don’t have to think about it. But it takes a lot of education and practice to reach that point, as any black-belt or ‘amazing athlete’ can tell you.

    I’m sure some of you will try to take the easy way out and say I’m “defending Hubbard” or “trying to give Hubbard a pass”, but the truth is I don’t take anyone’s word for anything anymore. Including y’all’s. I do assume a person might know what he’s talking about IF what he’s saying is based on his own first hand experience, just because I don’t know otherwise.

    I believe “cult problems” come about because much of humanity hungers for and loves cults. Cults provide something to either love or hate depending which side of the fence you’re on. They provide excitement, drama, action.

    Life would be boring, so the motto of many people is “Gotta have a cult. (to love or hate or be indifferent towards)” Then, it becomes a dramatization along the lines of the First and Second Postulate phenomena, it goes on automatic and everyone goes “Huh? Where’d this cult come from? How? Who? Why?”

    1. Interestingly I held exactly your view of KSW#1 for some 25 years. Allowing me to get out of the Cult Think has allowed me to look at even KSW#1 without filters. Ans there is so much more to that policy than “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Terril Park posted once someone’s essay that dissected it fully. Very interesting read. I can see if I can dig it up for you.

      As for method/result; See my comment below regarding scientific experiment. And then let me answer you Straw Man; I never claimed you shouldn’t have a method.

      As for you defending your defense of Hubbard; I have read thousands of your posts over the past couple of years, and you do seem to knee-jerkingly defend Hubbard regardless. Just sayin’

        1. I looked for the “Holy Cow RD” mentioned in the essay on KSW but could find it. I would like to give it a go with KHTK approach.


    2. Valkov, you and I both have been quick to defend Scientology, no doubt in a knee-jerk way at times – but otherwise too. And besides, what’s so bad about a mother bear unthinkingly defending her cubs (rough analogy) – we too feel there is something extremely valuable that is being belittled and thus endangered. And sometimes we “defend” it not because we have a compulsive urge to do so – we truly see that it is being maligned in an unreasonable or unfair way – often compulsive too, which happens as just as much.

      But you’ve made so many good posts that show how much of Scientology you have duplicated and understood very well. Better than most – especially critics! Plus, you have a lot of knowledge of other disciplines to constructively compare it with. Believe me, your comments have been highly appreciated. I’m sure Geir would also give you credit in that respect too, and actually has given you credit for your contributions, now that I think of it. Keep on keepin’ on!

  5. “This is the way of the Church of Scientology. The technology is beyond questioning, the methods are exalted and even sacred according to church officials. The results remain varied.”

    Well unfortunately this is not only Co$. This to a high degree is also International Freezone Association, Marty’s Independents and many others outside the Church.

  6. Here’s an interesting point I got per e-mail. It is highly relevant so I pass it on:

    > Hey Geir,  I am just trying to understand what you wrote but I am seeing
    > it through a scientific way I guess?  it seems to me if you are
    > conducting an experiment and keeping everything exact you would come out
    > with the same results no? just trying to understand is all, so maybe you
    > could help me understand?

    I will specify; As long as you have varied conditions (which in a
    scientific experiment you will not have), then a procedure must be
    flexible to accomodate for the variations in order to create an exact

    1. “As long as you have varied conditions (which in a
      scientific experiment you will not have), then a procedure must be
      flexible to accomodate for the variations in order to create an exact

      How true.

      The focus in Scientology needs to be on the result. The methodology can be as variable as going from a fantastic auditor who really duplicates and acknowledges, to an auditor with low ARC and a poor comm cycle, who yet tries to slug it through for his pc. Thus the need for repair lists, ad infinitum. The method must allow for all kinds of randomity and be flexible. The results should not be…..in an ideal scene.

    2. That is true. Varied conditions cannot be eliminated in a Scientology session. So the focus has to be on results and not on methods.

      Precisely worded and sequenced procedures have value. But one should not be fixated on them. Micro-management of application is bound to lead to varied results or even no results.


      1. I agree too, Vin. And I believe LRH did too. There are various ways, right in the tech, that unforeseen variations are taken into account and handled. I’ve already mentioned correction lists and mid-session rudiments. And I thought of something else – all the different case resolution rundowns delivered at Flag.

        It’s unfortunate that there has been so much out-tech, even at Flag – or especially at Flag, perhaps. I don’t know if we ever have had accurate stats for the actual tech – it may be that we have yet to see what Scientology can do, and per stats. Time will tell.

          1. That is downright depressing. It’s one of the most valuable pieces of tech, if not the most so. I guess you mean that they’re imposing a certain beingness, something like that? And I hate to imagine what beingness it is.

        1. And the other area where LRH intended variation where the current management intends fixidity is the use of the E-meter with its definition of F/N.


  7. Scientology is not a cult because it is either “process centered” or “results focused.”

    Scientology is a cult because of its SOCIAL CONDITIONING.

    Social conditioning can be either “process centered” or “results centered.” Scientology just happens to be “process centered.”

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