Posts Tagged ‘scientology’

John Sweeney at Leeds Skeptics

Monday, July 29th, 2013 | Foundation, Humanism

Earlier this month we welcomed BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney to present his talk “Oi! Scientology!”, a mini tour he is doing to support his book, Church of Fear. It was a bit of a shaky start when we couldn’t find John, but once resolved he gave us a highly entertaining insight into his experiences.

The discussions continued long after the event – indeed, it was nearly 2am by the time the last of us left the bar of Malmaison!

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Leeds Counselling review

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 | Thoughts

Earlier this year I started sessions at Leeds Counselling, and having recently terminated them, I thought I would write about my experiences. I’ve kept a detailed diary of my thoughts while using the service, but as there is a certain level of confidentially associated with counselling services, I’ll only discuss some general ideas here.

I think I did ten sessions in total, and then terminated the service for a number of reasons, but mainly because I didn’t feel we were making any progress.

When I started the sessions, I was told that she hoped we would be able to make some progress early on – nothing major, but we should expect to see something after three sessions. As this deadline was reached the estimates increased, and increased again, and I still don’t feel like any sign of progress had been made. Perhaps counselling just takes a long time, but I feel it was rather misleading if this is the case.

Having spoken to a number of counsellors, it seems clear that nobody in the field of counselling really knows what it is. That is to say, if you compare it to a field like CBT, which is quite specific and has methodology and a clear expectation of results, counselling seems very fuzzy and nobody can really define it very accurately.

I didn’t feel there was a strong knowledge of mental health. For example, I had to explain a lot of the techniques and ideas behind CBT. Obviously I’m not expecting them to be CBT experts, but you would expect people who work in mental health, particularly people who tend to deal with clients who have previously done CBT and then being referred, so have a basic knowledge of the subject.

I also found it incredibly similar to Scientology. This could be because Scientology copied many of its features to give it a feeling of legitimacy, or for some other reason, but the principles behind Scientology and counselling bare a very strong resemblance.

Leeds Counselling charge me £47 per session, meaning I have invested over £500 in their service once you include the initial screening. That is a worthwhile investment of my time and money if it was having a positive impact on my health, but as I didn’t seem to, it doesn’t seem worthwhile.

The Master

Monday, February 25th, 2013 | Reviews

Recently, I watched the film The Master, that was released last year.

Overall, I wasn’t that impressed. While it was interesting, I think there are a number of points that let it down.

It’s loosely based on the life of L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. Though it is also based on some other works, I don’t really think it would make any sense unless you were familiar with Scientology and its origins.

This really shows in the fact that the plot line doesn’t make much sense. Again, if you’re familiar with the origins of Scientology, then you can see what they have done. But if you’re not, I imagine you would by simply left wondering what was happening and why, when there doesn’t seem to be any apparent reason behind it.

Secondly, nothing really happens in the film. It doesn’t really feel like it’s the story of a man who gets taken in by a cult – because he just walks in there on day one and signs up to everything. It feels like just a series of things happening, with no interesting storyline behind them.

It is worth noting however that the film received almost universal acclaim from the critics – so what do I know.

The Church of Fear

Saturday, February 16th, 2013 | Books

You may be familiar with John Sweeney, a war reporter who has also turned his interest onto the Church of Scientology, making the 2007 Panorama documentary, “Scientology & Me.” Since making that, he received a leaked set of communications documenting how he was followed (the Church denies they are genuine) and spoken to some of the people who followed him, but have since left the Church.

Most of this was retold in a follow up documentary he made for Panorama, but he has now written a book about it too, The Church of Fear.

At a rather bargain price of around £3.50 on Kindle, I decided to give it a read. It comes it an 336 pages, which I checked upon before making the claim “it’s reasonable short” – apparently it isn’t, I just assumed it was because I read the entire thing in two sittings – only having purchased it last night. Instead, I think that provides testament to what an interesting read it is.

One thing that did freak me out a little though – as I put the book down so we could head out for dinner, my phone began to ring. I didn’t answer as I recognised the number – it was the Church of Scientology London.


Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 | Thoughts

Recently, I undertook my first session of EMDR.

It’s a relatively new form of therapy (albeit, older than Elina), which in it’s full title is named “Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing” originally developed to help trauma victims and has since expanded into other areas.

So far, I’m quite torn about it. On one hand, EMDR is now approved and recommended by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and has shown to be affective in dozens of randomised controlled trials.

On the other hand, it really, really sounds like Dianetics.

For those not familiar with it, Dianetics is a concept developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard which divided the mind into two parts – one of which is the reactive mind that stores traumatic memories, and anything associated with those memories, related or not.

This is why Scientologists are very quite around people who have been knocked out – because anything they say will be linked to the memory of being knocked out in the reactive mind. These are stored as negative engrams and the only way to get rid of them is to pay for Audit Counseling.

I’m not a subscriber to Dianetics, and even though EMDR has a lot of key differences (for example, the traumatic memories don’t just pop out of existence in a second), it’s similarities have thrown me somewhat, despite all the evidence to show EMDR genuinely does work. It’s like some kind of reverse-placebo affect, is there a term for that?

Message from an unknown number

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

Received this text message.

Heya! Is this Chris? Its Charlie here, I Just wanted to know whether you got started with Dianetics? What did you think of it? Let me know! Lv, Charlie (Dianetics & Scientology Life Improvement Centre

My question is, how did they get my number?

Perspective Citywide: Scientology

Monday, February 21st, 2011 | Foundation

For the third session of Perspective Citywide, Sam Butler joined us from the Church of Scientology in Manchester. Scientology is a great religion for us to cover because it’s one where the popular conception and the church’s official line on what they believe are very different so it’s fantastic that Sam can come over and talk to us. Things got a little heated during some of the session, but Sam handled it well and the feedback after the session was on the whole positive.

Bare Faced Messiah

Sunday, April 25th, 2010 | Events, Humanism

Last Saturday we kicked off Leeds Reason Week 2010 with Skeptics in the Pub. The duty had fallen to me to deliver the event so I settled on the topic of L. Ron Hubbard. I wanted to find out the true story behind his life and came across the book Bare Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard.

Whether the book itself is entirely accurate is of course open for dispute too, though it does at least go as far as to regularly cite sources. It was a fascinating journey because in many ways Hubbard was an amazing man – everyone laughs at Scientology but he convinced millions to take it up and follow him – no mean feat by any standards!

Scientology and me

Sunday, April 4th, 2010 | Events, Foundation, Religion & Politics

For the final session of this year’s Perspective we invited Sam Butler over from the Church of Scientology in Manchester. It was really interesting to hear what he had to say and get a good insight into the beliefs that Scientologists hold.

Unfortunately it wasn’t chaired well and we ended up not getting any real chance for questions which was a disappointment. Also I managed to mess up the focus on my camera and so half the photos were out of focus. Still, the first of hopefully more such Perspectives.

Tuesday night shenanigans

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 | Life

A lot of stuff went wrong Tuesday. By 1pm there had been so many things go wrong I was ready to give up for the day but in the end a few things pulled themselves round and didn’t end too badly.

The evening saw us take up a debate on Scientology looking at whether it was a cult or not. Attendance was fairly good though we had been moved into the resource lounge (which was better than the original plan of just not having a room).

After this we headed down to The Old Bar to join the Christian Union’s barn dance. Not that we did that much dancing, we had drinking to do, but it was fun never the less.

Tom and John Nicola Norm and Chris