Monday, June 30, 2008

A "Scientology" School

There seems to be a lot of hullabaloo about the school that Will Smith and his wife Jada are opening. Because the school uses the study technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard some news reports are calling it a "Scientology" school.

My guess is they are calling it that for two reasons:
  • Ignorance
  • So they can make it sound "Controversial" to "sell more papers"
Neither reason is forgivable. Both reasons are a betrayal of the public trust given to the media and a threat to freedom of speech. Every inaccurate report in the media gives fuel to those who wish to curb that right.

The school does not teach Scientology. So how can it be called a "Scientology School"?

What these inaccurate and misinformed reports do is merely obscure the most effective study methods developed since a Greek philosopher stood before a group of interested students and began to expound his ideas.

Think about it: Our teaching methods have not changed in thousands of years.

2,500 years ago in the Gold Age of Greece there were four primary teaching methods:
  • Stand in front of a group and tell them stuff
  • Write a book and have others read it
  • Get your students together and have them discuss ideas
  • Show someone by example how to do something
We are still using these four basic methods today. Modern technology has merely expanded on these so you can video the guy who is telling stuff or showing how to do stuff so he doesn't have to stand in front of the group, you can make the book come to life in a video or a Power Point presentation and your students can video conference so they don't have to be in the same physical location to discuss ideas.

These methods are good methods and have helped us produce our current civilization but what about the poor guy who "just can't get it"? The answers of the existing methods are: "you are stupid" or "you are not smart enough" or "get it or you will fail the class" or "if you fail you won't get that well paid job." or "you will end up flipping burgers for a living" or "you have a learning disability, take this drug so you won't worry about it." These are "blame the student" or "threaten the student" type solutions and are not very helpful.

Study Technology has solutions to those things which stop you from understanding and being able to apply what you are studying. The problems of leaning and education have been solved in Study Technology. That is a bold statement to make, but from personal experience I can tell you that it is a true statement.

For more info on Study Technology:
Study Technology Results and Research Papers
A Workable Answer: Study Technology

What do y'all think? I'd like to get some feedback from people who have used Study Technology. How has it worked for you? What has it enabled you to achieve?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Medical Ethics: Conflict of Interest

Thanks to Jim Gatos for pointing me to this article: Are Perks Compromising MD Ethics?. Here is the video (forgive the ad that it starts with.)

Of course the answer to the question, "Are perks compromising MD Ethics?" is clearly, "Yes!" And it's "Yes!" to the tune of $57 billion a year. That means the drug companies are spending more on corrupting doctors than they are on any other form of marketing.

And consider this: if they can afford to spend $57 billion on perks and "consulting" fees to doctors then how much are they making from these drugs?

Now don't get me wrong, drugs have their place. If a person is dying of cancer and needs a strong pain killer to help make their last few days bearable then I say give 'em the drug. If someone just had a major operation and needs a pain killer then go ahead. But I call it criminal when a doctor prescribes highly addictive drugs such as Oxycodone or Methadone when the patient does not need such dangerous medication and the doctor prescribes them simply because one drug company gives him better perks or more money than another.

That may have been the case in the video and the result was the death of a 12-year-old girl.

I think it's time Congress acted and the proposed law on disclosure of payments to doctors by drug companies should be passed as soon as possible.

What do you think?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The mystery finally solved

For about forty years now there has been a huge mystery surrounding what Joe Cocker really sang at Woodstock. Now at last an enterprising video enthusiast on YouTube has solved this most perplexing conundrum. Listen, watch and be amazed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm a millionaire

In just the last few days I have become a millionaire. I've won 27 lotteries and several people in foreign countries have left millions of dollars to me. Isn't that great!

Somehow they managed to find me via email and just yesterday I even received an email from the FBI confirming that the money from Nigeria was for real and had been delayed because they needed my bank account number and PIN number. Once I supply them with that data the millions of dollars I've inherited will flow like sweat spring water into my bank account.

I just can't believe my luck.

I'm going to spend all those millions on the Viagra that the other nice advertisers have been telling me about and then I'll contact the Guinness Book of Records so they can come and measure my enormously long ... Well, let's not get too carried away here.

Do these spammers really get responses to their ridiculous emails? Does anyone ever fall for them? Is there anyone out there who knows of someone falling for it?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Take your meds - get worse

Another psychiatric drug maker is being sued for billions over side-effects of it "wonder drug". Actually the only "wonder" of the drug Seroquel is that it is still on the market.

The side-effect is diabetes and estimated cost to the company of the litigation will be around $10 billion. There are currently 2,500 cases pending against the drug maker AstraZeneca including suits from three US states.

But is the drug off the market? Is AstraZeneca attempting to make up the damage it has done to all those people who now have diabetes thanks to its dangerous drug? No. They are fighting on to protect their shareholders from loss. Shame that AstraZeneca, like most other drug companies, cares for the almighty dollar more than the health and welfare of the people who use its drugs.

Read the article: Astra CEO in London trial will take stand

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scientology and Politics

The Church of Scientology is non-political. The Church's policy is to work with social personalities in the government for the benefit of all. The Church does not get involved with parties or ideologies.

However, as an individual Scientologist, I do have my own opinions and preferences when it comes to politics. I am not affiliated with any party. I am an independent. I personally find party politics abhorrent. Party politics is like a sports event: "my team is perfect and yours sucks" seems to be the general attitude when it comes to the two party system.

My own view is that the left (the Democrats in the US) have some good ideas and the right (the Republicans in the US) have some good ideas and I want to be in a position where I can support the ideas that make sense to me. Hence I am an independent.

One particular politician that I find echoes many of the ideals I hold (the US Constitution, Civil Liberties, etc.) is Ron Paul. After ending his campaign for President, Dr. Paul has announced a new campaign, the Campaign for Liberty. Below is the video he released to announce this.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Controversy

The all time best cartoon strip ever is Calvin and Hobbes! Some will say The Far Side is best and it is indeed a superb comic, but the social commentary and imaginative mayhem of Bill Watterson just tips the balance for me.

What do the rest of you think?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Let's get controversial

I think psychiatric drugs are dangerous. There, I said it. There is plenty of evidence that they are (see the references below) and there is plenty of evidence that they are not effective. For example, antidepressants are no more effective than a placebo (see Study casts doubt on anti-depressants). So if these drugs are no more effective than a placebo and they have horrendous side-effects ... why is anyone prescribing them?

My own personal theories:
  • Theory #1: Money
  • Theory #2: Money
  • Theory #3: (there is no theory #3)
These drugs are creating massive profit for pharmaceutical companies and, sadly, these companies are not there for the benefit of human beings in distress, but for the benefit of company shareholders.

I'm hoping some of you will want to comment on this. It's a subject that can arouse the passions, so please keep you comments on topic and practice good manners.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Welcome back to an old friend

Our old friend Habeas Corpus (the right to contest imprisonment) is back! After taking a short, involuntary vacation from the shores of the United States he returned earlier this month thanks to his buddies at the Supreme Court. (See the article: The Limits of Power.)

All joking aside, I'm not sure how many people realize the importance of habeas corpus. Imagine you are accused of a crime, locked in jail and the key is thrown away. That is life without habeas corpus. It is so important that it is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

ARTICLE 10... Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Articles 6, 7, 8 and 9 are also relevant to habeas corpus.

Here is a public service announcement video that was created by some Scientologists to educate people about this right: No Unfair Detainment.

I'd like to get your opinions on what happened to habeas corpus (as described in the article I linked to above) and how the treatment of "foreign combatants" affects human rights.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blog Expansion

Until now this blog has been purely about Scientology. My viewpoints on other subjects were being posted to another blog. Trouble was, my attention was getting split between the two as well as with a couple of other blogs that I help out on. So I've decided to simplify and concentrate on this one. Therefore, I am expanding this blog to include my viewpoints on life, the universe and everything as well as reviews of movies, books, music and anything else I fancy blogging about.

My intention is to give you wonderful readers out there an idea of what Scientologists are like by presenting the viewpoints of a typical member of the species :)

If there are any topics you'd like to hear my two cents on then please post a comment and I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Purification Program

Julia has an interesting post on the Purification Program or (Purification Rundown as it is also called): The Purification Rundown

I have done the Purif twice, once in 1983 and again in 2001. The interesting thing was that the second time was after living in LA for 16 years, and the Purif took longer than the first time. Both times it was wonderful. Not only did I feel fitter physically, but I also found that I could think more clearly which made study and doing a job that requires a lot of mental work much easier.

It's also a blast, and you make some great friends in the sauna. I recommend it to everyone.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Death: The Undiscovered Country

Just over a month ago, a good friend of ours was rushed to hospital with what looked like a mild heart attack. He was kept in for a couple of days while the doctor ran various tests. After the results came back he learned that he not only had pancreatic cancer, one of the most virulent sorts, but it had spread to his liver. It must have been there for quite some time and it was surprising that the first sign of it, the mild heart attack, had occurred so late.

That was shock enough, but then the doctor told him that he could be given chemotherapy but the cancer was so far advanced that it was unlikely it would do him any good and and would probably kill him faster. So he would be better off spending his remaining days in what comfort he could. The doctor also gave his wife the contact information for the local hospice.

Can you imagine being in that situation? To suddenly find out that you have only a few weeks left to live? It's a sobering thought.

Our friend is over seventy years old, and he has had a good life. He is also a Scientologist and so has the certainty that the death of his body is not the end for him. He knows that he is a spiritual being and that he will continue to exist when his body is gone.

Still, it isn't easy. My wife and his are very good friends and my wife is giving as much help and support as possible. Other friends are pitching in to help and make his last few weeks as comfortable as possible.

He seems to be reconciled with the death of his body and his biggest concern is not for himself but for his wife. How will she manage without him?

This sad situation caused me to wonder what the prospect of death is like for people of other religions and for atheists?

For me personally, because of Scientology, I don't have a fear of death. After my body dies, I will continue to live as a spiritual entity. My identity will not vanish. My memories will not be erased. My friends and loved ones won't be cut off from me forever. I know I'll be back in another body, living another life. So to me death is not the end of consciousness and awareness. Everything won't suddenly go black and silent. (See: The Parts of Man video for more information.)

People of other religions usually have some idea that they won't just cease to be, but what of the poor atheist? To him death is the "undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns" (from Hamlet by William Shakespeare). Death must scare the pants off of atheists. Or at least it would me, if I were such.

I'd like to hear from anyone who reads this blog what they think of death and what they think is going to happen to them when their body finally gives out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

For Fathers' Day

A tribute to our fathers!

My policy on comments

In the past I've received complaints about the fact that I moderate the comments on my blog. I've been accused of stifling free speech and only allowing through worthless, censored pap. I've even had nasty comments that challenged me to post them and accused me of having no huevos if I didn't.

I actually did begin to wonder if maybe there was something wrong with moderating my comments, but to my rescue came Jeff Atwood. Jeff firmly believes that a blog without comments is not a blog. I subscribe to his blog and I recently came across a post called, "Finally, a Definition of Programming I Can Actually Understand" which begins with a discussion of the merits of allowing comments on your blog.

He doesn't moderate but he does "... scrutinize every comment, and I remove a tiny percentage of them: they might be outright spam, patently off-topic, or just plain mean. I like to refer to this as weeding my web garden. " So whilst allowing comments, he moderates the real bad stuff after the fact.

In his article he refers to Joel Spolsky (another guy whose blog I follow) who takes quite a different view, namely that comments are a waste of time and a distraction from the ideas that a blog post is trying to communicate. He quotes Dave Winer, who says that blogs should be the unedited voice of a person and that if you want to comment then get your own blog.

So, here I am being presented with two very convincing arguments: 1) allow comments, with minimal moderation and 2) to hell with comments. What should I do?

Decisions, decisions.

Well, as usual, I think the best route through this minefield is the middle road. Extremes tend to be ... well, extreme. So, my policy is to hit the middle road between the two and say: This blog is (as Dave Winer puts it) my voice and I will allow comments which I feel contribute to what I'm trying to say.

Questions are a different kettle of fish and I already have a policy on those (Questions about Scientology).

So that's my two cents on the subject. What do ya'll think about comments, the two extremes of handling them and my solution?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Subscribing to this blog

I have decided to use Feedburner for my blog feed. For those of you who are not very Internet literate, a blog feed is a file that is updated whenever a new article is added to the blog. A thing called a "Reader" or an "RSS Reader" monitors the file and whenever it is changed will inform you that there is more wonderful content to read.

People use all sorts of Readers: their My Yahoo page, Google Reader, iGoogle page, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Microsoft Outlook and many more. They use the reader to get news and also the latest words of wisdom from their favorite bloggers.

So if you want to get the latest posts from this blog then click here (My Scientology Blog Feed) and add it to your Reader.

According to the Blogger help, if you subscribe to the old feed, you should be redirected to the new one. How well that works, I don't know. So I suggest you switch to the new feed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Mind and Improving it

Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health
When I was a kid in England, the BBC (ad free TV) and ITV (ad supported TV) had quite a rivalry going on. I especially remember one week when the BBC had a documentary about the wonders of the brain and how it was the source of all intelligence and creativity and just two nights later ITV had a documentary that showed how the brain probably didn't have anything to do with these things. (For example, they showed how one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the day had a shrunken brain, how people with brain damage produced amazing art, how there was little evidence to back up various theories about the brain, etc., etc.)

The reason I bring this up is to demonstrate that when it comes to the mind, very little is known about structure. There are a lot of theories out there (left brain/right brain, etc.) but they are soon replaced by the next great fad. And theories based on fad don't get results. Look at the increasing statistics of crime and mental problems.

The great thing about the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health is that it doesn't get bogged down in arguments about structure. It looks at things like: What is the purpose of the mind? How does the mind go about achieving that purpose? What stops it?

Because its approach is so practical it can answer such questions as:

- Why do people act irrationally?
- What is the source of unchanging behavior?
- Why do I get into stupid arguments with my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend?
- What causes compulsions and repressions that I can't control?
- Why did my last relationship fail?

And, more than just answering why, it provides a workable way to solve these problems.

When it was researched and developed, L. Ron Hubbard, the originator of Dianetics, was looking for results, not fancy sounding theories. Because of this, the book is just as applicable today as it was when it was written in 1950.

I recommend it as a great way to start learning about and helping yourself, your friends, your family and anyone else you come into contact with.

Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Scientology Basics

A year ago all the basic books of Scientology were re-released after an enormous project to correct long term editorial errors and get the texts to match the original manuscripts and include changes that the author, L. Ron Hubbard, had made post-publication.

Not only were the new books easier to read because of formatting changes (new fonts, new layout, etc.), not only were they easier to read because grammatical and punctuation errors had been fixed but they were also a lot easier to read because omitted section, sections in the wrong order and other major errors were fixed.

So now the actual basics of Scientology are available in an easily readable form. So for all you curious people out there who want to know what this thing "Scientology" is, you can! Go to your local library and check out a copy of a book such as "Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought" or "Scientology: A New Slant on Life." Or click on the links to the Scientology Basic Books link on the right.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Scientology Secrets

I have answered a lot of questions about Scientology. I'm willing to answer lots more, so don't stop asking.

But there is a better way than getting second-hand information and that is ... get it first-hand.

Many of the questions I've received about aliens and other weird beliefs that Scientologists are supposed to have are answered by reading a book on the subject. The books of Scientology and Dianetics are the source of the subject. They tell you what it is all about.

So, I recommend curling up on the couch with a nice warm book and reading to your heart's content.

In my next few posts I'll be talking about the books and what is in them. But if you don't want to wait you can check them out for yourself: Basic Books of Dianetics and Scientology.

Have fun!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Scientology: Answers for A Student

rhcp21490 said

Hi my name is Patrick and I am doing a project about Scientology in school and was wondering if you could answer some questions.

Why did you choose the Church Scientology?
The Church of Scientology forwards and protects the Scientology religion. There is no other place to get true Scientology from.

What initially appealed you about Scientology?
What I liked about Scientology was the logical approach to the questions of life and how to handle the problems of life and the fact that when I applied what I learned I got results.

Do you believe Scientology is a cult?
I already answered that one here: Is Scientology A Cult?

What do you have to say to people who believe it is a cult?
The problem with that questions is that anyone can "believe" anything. Whether something is a "cult" or not depends on the definition of the word and if that definition applies to the activity in questions.

The word "cult" has been so misused and abused that it is not an accurate or scientific word to use when referring to any religion or group in any but a denigrating or pejorative way.

If someone wanted me to tell them why Scientology is not a "cult" then I've answered that in the posts you will find here: Scientology, Brainwashing and Cults.

Are you tolerating to other religions?
Yes. Scientology is not an "exclusive" religion. That means is people from any religion can be Scientologists. You don't have to give up any beliefs or practices to be a Scientologist. I was an atheist before Scientology, so I didn't have anything to give up, but I know Jews, Christians and Muslims who are Scientologist.

Scientologists also are very hot on Human Rights and one of the most important Human Rights is the right to freedom of religion. Here is a video created by a human rights group that was started by some Scientologists: Respect the Religious Beliefs of Others

What would you do if someone tried to convert you to another religion?
Funny you should ask that, because I had a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses at the door today. They were very nice ladies. I told them I was not a Christian but that I very much agreed with the religious philosophy of Christianity. We parted on good terms.

I have studied Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism and I've taken very brief glances at Shinto, Sikhism and a couple other lesser known religions. I see that they are all basically saying the same thing.

Do you feel threatened by other religions?
Scientologists regard people in other religions as friends and fellow travelers on the road to spiritual freedom.

My personal view is that religion and spirituality are vital to this world. Without them we would live in a barbarism. The great religions of the last few thousand years have helped civilize man and have kept alive the hope that man could rise to greater heights and that man can be freed from the travails of this life.

What practices do you perform in Scientology?
There are two basic practices: Scientology Auditing and Scientology Training

Description of Auditing (from Scientology Auditing)
The primary means by which the basic truths of Scientology are applied to the rehabilitation of the human spirit is called auditing. It is the central practice of Scientology, and it is delivered by an auditor, from the Latin word audire, "one who listens."

An auditor does not engage in some vague form of mental exploration, nor does an auditor offer solutions, advice or evaluation. One of the fundamental principles of the Scientology faith is the truism that an individual can improve his conditions only if he is allowed to find his own answers to life's problems. Scientology auditors help individuals to accomplish this goal by guiding them to examine their existence through a carefully structured series of steps that Mr. Hubbard developed. By following this gradient process, individuals can thereby improve their ability to face what they are and where they are - peeling away the layers of experience that have weighed so heavily upon them.

Description of Training (from Scientology Training))
Another fundamental practice of the Scientology religion is training - the study of Scientology principles. Many courses of training are available in the Scientology religion because a person can, as stated, use the truths found in Scientology to improve conditions in every area of life. However, the most important training courses are those through which one learns to become an auditor. That is because the overriding principle in all courses is that Scientology is an applied religious philosophy, and all training emphasizes application.

The broad path the Scientologist follows through auditing and the study of Scientology materials is known as The Bridge. This embodies an ancient concept - a long-envisioned route across a chasm between man's present state and vastly higher levels of awareness. The Bridge is comprised of gradient steps so that gains are incremental, predictable and apparent.

I hope that answers your questions. If you have more then please feel free to ask more.