Scientology is like Smoking Cigarettes
posted to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup on March 8, 1999
... it holds little or no benefit for non-participants, yet it harms many, both participants and non-participants.
One of Enzo's comments in another thread caught my eye:
> generalising again, i'd say the predominant consideration is that > there's no point even attempting to put forth any of the positive > aspects of scn, as non-sci't subscribers actually have no interest in > such. > > not infrequently i read someone mentioning scn's "always attack, never > defend" policy. but this is exactly what is applied by subscribers to > any sci't who makes an attempt to discuss things in scn which are > positive or who would merely discuss anything in scn, positive or > negative, from a pro-scn position.
For what it's worth (probably nothing), my own opinion:
I don't much care whether there are positive aspects of Scn or not, since my position is that Scn can, should, and must stop its illegal, harmful, and deceptive actions. (I wouldn't say I have "no interest" in them, but "little interest" is pretty accurate.) Once the negatives have been subtracted, I don't really care whether what remains is beneficial or neutral. There are lots of activities other people engage in that have no beneficial effect that I can see, other than to provide enjoyment to the people engaging in them. I'm all for enjoyment, and I'm happy to see people put their time and energy and money into whatever activities give them joy, whether the activity is building model airplanes or doing needlepoint or volunteering for a local homeless shelter or auditing each other.
However, my Scientology handlers have often asked why I don't discuss Scientology's good side. Well, obviously, that's not my message - my message is "Scientology is hurting people and I want them to stop it." (Similarly, my revenge picketers certainly don't make an effort to point out any of MY good points, either <grin>). But besides that, nobody's proven to me that Scientology has a beneficial effect on anyone other than its participants.
In that respect, it's much like smoking cigarettes.
(For non-US readers, and even some non-California readers - smoking cigarettes in public has become a distinctly unpopular activity in California. Smokers, prohibited from smoking in public buildings, huddle on the street in front of doorways for their nicotine fix.)
I know smokers. I'm related to smokers. I know two hard-core smokers, both of whom go into lengthy rants against non-smoking laws. They rabidly defend their right to smoke, even when it endangers the health of those around them. They discuss the benefits of their smoking - it makes them feel better, it helps keep them slim, it calms them, it gives them enjoyment - but they never mention any benefits to others, because, of course, there aren't any.
Scientologists talk about the benefits of Scientology, but I remain unconvinced that there are any benefits for others, only benefits Scientologists derive for themselves. I don't wish to discount those benefits, but there is a difference between an organization or activity that benefits those who participate, and one that benefits others as well. The San Francisco State Anime Club and the San Francisco Boardsailing Association primarily benefit their own members. Project Read and Meals on Wheels offer identifiable, quantifiable benefits to others.
What identifiable, quantifiable benefits does Scientology offer to others?
Scientologists tell me about Narconon and literacy programs, but I have seen no verifiable documentation about the direct benefits to non-Scientologists from any of these programs. On the contrary, several of Scientology's official pronouncements about the achievements of these programs have been shown to be lies.
In the absence of evidence that Scientology benefits anyone other than its members, I conclude that, by and large, it does not. (The lone piece of evidence I have seen is the barrel full of toys at the Mountain View franchise. I have no evidence that the toys went to needy children, but I see no reason to believe they did not.) I hope someday to see evidence that Scientology does benefit others in a substantial way.
Perhaps Enzo and other Scientologists were mostly referring to the benefits Scientologists themselves receive. If so, I'm sorry that the environment here is not more hospitable to discussing those benefits. On the other hand, a smoker who extols the benefits of nicotine in a group of informed people is likely to be confronted with statements about smoking's negative effects - "Okay, so it makes you feel good, but it's going to give you lung cancer." People do this for a number of reasons: they think the smoker is refusing to see how smoking hurts him/her and is failing to think clearly; they dislike the negative effects of second-hand smoke on themselves; they care about the smoker and don't want to see him/her suffer lung disease, and they don't want to miss out on several years of knowing the person. (Pursuits without negative effects are rarely met with that kind of response. I have a friend who collects Godzilla memorabilia. When he wants to talk about it, I listen and ask questions and share his enthusiasm. There's no evidence that his interest in Godzilla is having any kind of negative effect on his life, or on anyone else.)
A Scientologist who extols the benefits of Scientology in this group of pretty darn informed people is likely to be confronted with statements about Scientology's negative effects. People do this for a number of reasons: they think the Scientologist is refusing to see how Scientology might hurt him/her and is failing to think clearly; they dislike the negative effects of Scientology on themselves; they care about the Scientologist and don't want to see him/her suffer, and they don't want to miss out on several years of knowing the person.
Those of us who make these statements do so with varying degrees of compassion and kindness. Such is the nature of both Usenet and real life.
I appreciate Enzo's explaining why so few Scientologists bother to post here. However, I still wish more Scientologists would post here, and I also wish ethat someone could show me that Scientology is beneficial to non-Scientologists, and that Scientology's benefit-to-cost ratio is greater than that of cigarettes.
(How much does a pack of cigarettes cost these days, a buck?? Two packs a day for 50 years would come to about $35,000 ... still about 1/10 the cost of the Bridge.)
P.S. In hopes of heading off a few arguments I already agree with:
* Of course no one is required to prove to me that Scientology's benefit-to-cost ratio is greater than that of cigarettes; I just wish someone would. People who are happy with Scientology's benefit-to-cost ratio continue with it, and those who aren't, don't. (Except, of course, for people who fall victim to crush-sell or extortion tactics, but I don't believe that happens to every practicing Scientologist.)
* I have no desire to ban or stop Scientology just because I believe it has a bad benefit-to-cost ratio. I don't want to ban smoking, either. I DO want to reduce the harmful effects of Scientology, and smoking, and anything else with harmful effects, but I have no desire to take away anyone's pleasure in anything they find pleasure in, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. (And I freely admit that cigarettes hurt more people than Scientology: way more people smoke than practice Scientology, second-hand smoke is more clearly harmful than the second-hand effects of Scientology, and smoking consistently and demonstrably harms the body, something that doesn't always happen with Scientology.)
Batting my eyelashes prettily at the notorious smoker Karin, hoping she won't flame me,
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.