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Culture Shock: Weird Science

Tom Cruise does it. So does John Travolta. But seriously, WTF is Scientology?

 by Stephanie Berger
 published on Thursday, August 25, 2005


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Despite recent wild escapades of celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise, the church boasts over 5,100 churches in 156 countries around the world on its official Web site, www.scientology.org.

The self-proclaimed "Fastest growing religion in the world" is based on science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, a book about how life works.

Doe Daughtrey, a religious studies graduate teaching assistant, says that Scientologists believe the primary urge of human beings is survival, and that people therefore use their reactive, emotional mind instead of their rational mind when confronted with pain. The mind takes a mental picture of pain called an "ingram" that becomes a source of negative energy. Through a process called "auditing," a professional measures your mental associations with different experiences. After your audit they help you overcome negative energy, classifying you as "clear."

SPM wasn't quite "clear" about what Scientology is after hearing the technical explanation. Church representatives never got back to us, so we investigated deeper - from the safety of a computer. I took a test on the Scientology Web site and discovered that good old. L. Ron can save me, as long as I answer all 200 vague questions of the "personality test."

I'm not sure why they need to know, "Do you browse through railway timetables, directories, or dictionaries just for pleasure?" And I found the question "Do you often ponder over your own inferiority?" a bit rude.

My results were given to me in the form of a graph. Apparently, I score in the "desirable state" range in the areas of stability, happiness, and aggressiveness, but I am in an "unacceptable state" because I am irresponsible, critical, and have a "lack of accord."

Because the graph doesn't make much logical sense, the Web site says I am supposed to stop by my local church to have an official auditor explain the results to me in detail.

Great. But I think they'd have a better chance of getting me to come in if they promised to tell me about the aliens, or introduce me to Tom Cruise.

Reach the reporter at stephanie.m.berger@asu.edu.



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