Bangkok Calls Fraud on Raniere’s Judo Claims – Says He Is a Fighting Coward

Keith Raniere was a champion at age 11.

USP Tucson sent Keith Alan Raniere to the Special Housing Unit because he was in a fight. on or about July 25.

It is unknown how the fight started or who was to blame. It did not last long. In fact, there may have been only one blow landed. According to our sources, an inmate sucker punched him shortly after the TNT Rich and Shameless episode The Heiress and the Sex Cult aired and was shown on TV sets in the prison.

I was a consulting producer of the one-hour episode, and it featured Raniere and his relationship with Clare Bronfman.

This incident prompted John Tighe to write a post about the SHU and Raniere’s potential fate.

Tighe suggested Raniere could be transferred from Tucson due to his various actions, including suing the prison.

This in turn prompted Bangkok to write about Tighe’s post, the prisons, and Raniere’s ability to defend himself.

By Bangkok

Thanks for sharing, John.

Always interesting to hear how things are inside American’s horrible prisons.

But I disagree that Keith will be found at fault (for this fight) or that he’ll be transferred away from Tucson.

Keith is a pussy, and there’s no way he started that fight.

At MDC, Frank reported inmates picked on Keith on multiple occasions, without him ever fighting back.

More likely, the dude who punched him will be found at fault and transferred.

Artist conception of Pea Onyu

As an aside — Pea Onyu once talked about Keith’s legendary judo skills helping him in prison fights.

However… Keith’s ‘judo champion’ title isn’t helping him in prison fights.

Keith was “East Coast Judo Champion” at age 12, he says. LOL.

For those who don’t know — 12 year olds don’t compete in ‘real’ judo (they’re not allowed to do submission holds, arm locks, chokes, dangerous throws, etc).

Keith defeats an opponent.
Keith training in his dojo.

In real judo, you can break your opponent’s arm (via arm locks) or choke them unconscious during a match, and it’s perfectly within the rules (assuming they don’t first ‘submit’ by tapping out). But 12 year olds are too young to do any of that.

Also… There are several dangerous ‘throws’ which 12 year olds aren’t yet allowed to do.

12 year olds don’t practice REAL judo, it’s more of a modified ‘kiddie’ judo.

Also, 12 year olds only compete against other 11 or 12 year olds in competition, not against adults. It’s a special ‘kiddie’ division, with different age limits (i.e., 9-10, 11-12, etc).

Also, most 12 year olds compete at the white/yellow belt level (or possibly orange) —– which is basically just a ‘beginner’ level.

At every local judo competition, there are many winners from various ‘kiddie’ divisions and different age groups.

Therefore… Keith is among thousands of other kids who’ve won local judo competitions on the East Coast — while competing against other kiddies in the lower divisions (using ‘kiddie judo’, not real judo).

It’s hardly an accomplishment to brag about as an adult.

I wonder if Isaac Edwards would agree with this assessment.

Frank, can you ask Isaac Edwards to comment on Keith’s judo claims? Or am I asking too much of you?

Keith Raniere [left] said he won the East Coast Judo Championship when he was 11.
Keith Raniere’s website biography, as it appeared in 2011, at the now-defunct
A screenshot of Keith’s bio on in 2005

Bangkok, I do not need to ask Isaac. In his 2005 bio, on, it clearly states: “At the age of eleven, he was an Eastern Coast Judo Champion.”

In his 2011 bio, also on, it states: “Applying this skill to athletics, Keith Raniere excelled in judo and was an East Coast Judo Champion at age eleven.”

From what the plain language of the bios state, Raniere won two different championships, the Eastern Coast Judo Champion and the East Coast Judo Champion within the same year – 1971.

Raniere was 51 when the second bio was published. He was a leader of a company with a 12 point mission statement that talked about changing the world.

It is inconceivable that Raniere would mention a mere children’s tournament as a major accomplishment.

If you look at all his other accomplishments in his bio – they are all in the context of advanced accomplishments. For instance, he played “piano at a concert level by age 12.”

Winning a simple tournament with kids his own age – at yellow or white belt level – is not something a grown man would cite as a major accomplishment.

Keith Raniere competed against adult men like these men, according to his bio.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall, is a motto Keith Raniere believed in.

Playing concert level piano at age 12 is not like playing with the skills of other 12 year olds.

No, it is Carnegie Hall ready.

This prodigy astounded everyone with his preteen skills.  And, if he says he was East Coast and Eastern Coast Judo Champion – it means he fought against adults and put them in submission holds, and threw them around like so many rag dolls. And if needed, he could choke out or knock an opponent unconscious.

It means he defeated men – not children.

You’re all washed up Bangkok, and you know it.







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Frank Parlato

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Love me, hate me, but never ignore me
Love me, hate me, but never ignore me
1 year ago

Once you realise how a narcissist’s mind works, it becomes so predictable that you can only laugh at it.
KR won a judo competiton at 11. Still trots out the same bs 30 years later. Meghan Markle wrote to a soap company (part of a class project) at age 11. Still trots out this bs 30 years later, even though her ‘influence’ on the matter has been debunked (P&G nor anyone she wrote to ever acknowledged her letter, let alone act on it).
KR is going to save humanity; MM will modernise the British Royal Family and/or break the internet and feed the billions single-handedly.
KR fell; he didn’t just have a fall, like a mere mortal; he was practicing judo, didn’t you know. MM’s recollection of a smoking heater becomes ‘a fire in a ‘housing unit’ (i.e. a ‘shack’) that could have hurt my baby who wasn’t even near it.
It seems narcs start early – and may well be a combination of predisposition and upbringing (doting and/or absent parent(s)), so their behaviour may not entirely be their conscious choice.
Their grandiosity seems to be fuelled by a pathological need for adulation and control at all costs: me, me, me and my way and they will not shy from anything to remain in control of that facade they built up because underneath there’s … nothing. Hence the endless lawsuits from both KR and MM, for example, another parallel.
By the way, they’re impervious to mockery and irony and generally dismiss it as proof that ‘haters’ hate their ‘greatness’ and are ‘jealous’.
Best to starve narcissist of their fuel: attention, but difficult to do as in most cases, they’re like a slow-motion car crash you can’t keep your eyes from … and they themselves will give you constant material to work with. Look at the Amber Heard trial, for example.
Fading away quietly is never an option narcs will ever consider, however bad the publicity or backlash. “love me, hate me, but never ignore me”. So the KR saga is set to continue for the next 118 years. What fun.

1 year ago

Happy Birthday Vanguard! Today, in my part of the UK, a hosepipe ban was imposed. At least it won’t last as long as your hosepipe ban.

Klaus VanUrine
Klaus VanUrine
1 year ago

Miss White, that was his own piss. Not toilet water. But again numb nuts would get it to the face and think it’s raining. Cuck Raniere.

1 year ago

Frank Report
Raniere Falls Injuring Wrist While Practicing Midnight Karate After Cell Flooded With Backed-up Toilet
October 19, 2019

[ … ]

Down Goes Vanguard
As it turns out, that wrist injury came about when The Vanguard slipped on the floor in his cell while he was stretching and practicing karate in the middle of the night.

[ … ]

1 year ago

Funny fact: the man who created the Guniess Book of World Record’s (Keith Raniere’s claim to genius but not timed or observed version of a mail in & now widely debunked) “IQ Test” frequently exaggerated his own IQ.

1 year ago

Breaking Jeffrey Epstein News
Years ago Epstein was involved with a Ponzi Scheme scammer named Steven Hoffenberg
Some people, including Hoffenberg, believe that some of Epstein’s wealth came from Hoffenberg.
In other words Epstein scammed his partner in crime Hoffenberg.

From the UK’s Daily Mail.

BREAKING NEWS: Jeffrey Epstein associate and one-time New York Post owner Steven Hoffenberg is found dead in his Connecticut apartment aged 77

Steven Hoffenberg’s decomposing body was found on the floor of his bedroom in Derby, Connecticut, yesterday
Police tell the 77-year-old had been dead for a week already
There were no visible signs of injury to his body but a cause of death remains unconfirmed
Hoffenberg served 18 years in prison for a Ponzi scheme which he claimed Jeffrey Epstein masterminded
Hoffenberg briefly funded The New York Post, saving it from bankruptcy in 1993
He was only in charge for three months before he was pushed out
Hoffenberg ran the scandal-ridden Towers Financial Corp
In his later years, Hoffenberg tried to repay his victims and he phoned some of them from prison

PUBLISHED: 13:48 EDT, 25 August 2022 | UPDATED: 14:43 EDT, 25 August 2022
Steven Hoffenberg, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s associates and the one-time owner of The New York Post, has died at the age of 77, can reveal.

Police were called to his Hoffenberg’s home in Derby, Connecticut, yesterday by a concerned friend.

They found Hoffenberg him lying on the floor of his bedroom.

His body was so decomposed that police believe he had been there for at least a week. A medical examiner is now using his dental records to make an identification.

Hoffenberg rose to notoriety in the 1990s with his scandal-ridden Towers Financial Corp, a firm he ran with Epstein and the vehicle in which swindled $460million out of 200 victims.

He spent 18 years in prison for the crimes and emerged a changed man who befriended Epstein’s victims. can reveal that it was Maria Farmer, the first woman to accuse Epstein of misconduct to police, who called the police asking them to check on Hoffenberg.

‘Hoff was one of my dearest friends on earth, more like a father than my own father ever was to me. He lived in kindness, always giving what little he had, never asking for anything.

‘This man was beyond incredible and a dear friend to survivors of Epstein… as he was also,’ Maria told after his death.

A police source however told they are ‘extremely confident’ it is Hoffenberg.

A formal identification is expected in the next few days and will be announced via the Derby Police Facebook page.

Hoffenberg is a colorful New York character who is best known for trying to ‘save’ The New York Post from bankruptcy in the early 1990s, and for his ill-fated partnership with Epstein.

He invested millions in the flailing Post to stop it from shuttering and ran it for a period of a few months in 1993.

The newspaper was sold to him in desperation by Peter Kalikow, another millionaire and fixture on the New York social scene who ran it into disrepair and financial ruin.

Hoffenberg wasn’t a popular choice as a boss.

In March 1993, after just three months in charge, he was pushed out by Abraham Hirschfeld, who he’d brought in with his deep pockets when the SEC froze his own assets amid an investigation into fraud.

Epstein was never charged, but he is understood to have made millions from it.

Speaking in 2019, he told The Washington Post that it was Epstein who masterminded the scheme that he spent years in prison for.

‘I thought Jeffrey was the best hustler on two feet. Talent, charisma, genius, criminal mastermind. We had a thing that could make a lot of money. We called it Ponzi,’ he said, calling Epstein the ‘architect’ of the scam.

In 1995, he pleaded guilty to defrauding investors out of $420million.

They had bought bonds from his company, Hoffenberg’s Towers Financial Corp, which Epstein worked for.

George McBlack
George McBlack
1 year ago

Alright Mr. Parlato,

I have the set of questions ready.

Mr. Patriot God, if you are here and can read this. I would love interview you in anticipation of the impending release of your upcoming series of articles hopefully coming out very soon after this interview that many are excited to read so that readers can get to know you better and what you’re about before their release.

With that being said, I would like you to read and answer these set of questions that I will post following this message and post them back answered on here. We may have more questions coming afterwards based on what you say and possibly what other readers would like to ask you, if you are willing to answer them of course. But this I hope will be a very good start and I hope these are interesting questions that I have compiled from many readers and their interactions with you overtime, including Mr. Parlato himself.

These are some hard-hitting questions that many people would like to know and I hope that you will thoroughly answer them. I have asked Mr. Parlato not to censor your answers and to let you speak freely. I sincerely hope he does so that we can have real journalism via the 1st Amendment in this country again. And through this demonstrate what journalism should be like.

Would you kindly please answer these questions and have an interview with me?

I would greatly appreciate it!

Please and thank you and I greatly look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you!

1 year ago
Reply to  George McBlack

Woow. I hope Frank will be speak! ❤️

🇺🇸💪🏻✊🏻👑 Patriot God 👑 ✊🏻💪🏻🇺🇸
🇺🇸💪🏻✊🏻👑 Patriot God 👑 ✊🏻💪🏻🇺🇸
1 year ago
Reply to  George McBlack

Dear George,

I will GLADLY take up your offer for an interview!

Finally! Somebody on ol’ Ginzo’s website that has some respect!

You better accurately represent me and not be a sensational idiot like Ginzo does!

Send me the Q/A here and I will answer them!

✊🏻 IF WE BELIEVE!!!!!! ✊🏻


🇺🇸💪🏻✊🏻👑 Patriot God 👑 ✊🏻💪🏻🇺🇸
🇺🇸💪🏻✊🏻👑 Patriot God 👑 ✊🏻💪🏻🇺🇸
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Parlato

“Patriot God, that’s mighty white of you.”

And that mighty nigger of you to interpret it that way and say, Ginzo!

✊🏻 IF WE BELIEVE!!!!!! ✊🏻


George McBlack
George McBlack
1 year ago

I have already sent it.

For some reason Mr. Parlato hasn’t posted it yet.

Mr. Parlato, please post up my Q/A for Mr. Patriot God.

Thank you kindly.

George McBlack
George McBlack
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Parlato

Mr. Parlato,

Please post my Q/A on here so that he can answer the questions.

🇺🇸💪🏻✊🏻👑 Patriot God 👑 ✊🏻💪🏻🇺🇸
🇺🇸💪🏻✊🏻👑 Patriot God 👑 ✊🏻💪🏻🇺🇸
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Parlato

“Patriot God is getting a little rambunctious”.

Dear Ginzo,

You’re uppity ass is the one to talk about “rambunctious” when your guido ass is unconstitutionally a reporter in a country that doesn’t belong to you while you blatantly and flippantly blaspheme the 1st Amendment and rob the true inheritors of this country their rights that their ancestors paid for in their blood like you wink at down here in Exhibit A👇🏻

Exhibit A: “and maybe it is a bit thick this time”

Who cares if it’s “thick”?! I understand you have a small wrinkly old guido nigger dick and anything “long” or “thick” intimidates you and makes you feel insecure, but that still doesn’t give you the right to steal our freedom of speech from us because anything bigger than an inch threatens your ego! That’s what therapy is for, Ginzo! Why don’t you actually practice what you preach for once and check yourself into a mental hospital to get YOUR mental illness’s in check!

“but I plan to publish it – with my comments added as well.”


Good God! Usually it only takes one order to a nigger and if he doesn’t get it right the first time, a few lashes on the back helps jumpstart their clunkered brains start working again for a little bit before it breaks down!

But you!…….. YOU are an exceptional lower than average level level of nigger stupid that is near impossible to come across! We need to study Ginzo’s like you for the benefit of the of the scientific advancement of The Great White Race! Then those “comments” pertaining to you in science will actually be something worthy of serving a purpose FOR ONCE!

✊🏻 IF WE BELIEVE!!!!!! ✊🏻


George McBlack
George McBlack
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Parlato

Mr. Parlato,

Do you understand that I sent a Q/A sheet on this comment board for for you to post up on this page in the comments section for Patriot God to read and answer and post back?

Why haven’t you posted that Q/A?

Also, you agreed that you wouldn’t speak when you said,

“Mr. McBlack does not want me to speak. He wants to interview himself.“

With all due respect, Mr. Parlato,

I am trying to use this opportunity for unbiased journalism. You have been given several chances to be fair to Mr. Patriot God and all that you do is delay posting up his articles and strain that delay as long as you can and then when you finally post it, you misrepresent what he says, you are extremely intellectually lazy and and reckless with the information, and you essentially set him (and others) up with a stage with a cane to trip them up and yank them off afterwards.

My goal is to allow the full performance (so to speak) without any interruption or Tom foolery.

You are not an unbiased journalist, Mr. Parlato. Your job is to be a microphone and so that the people can hear and decide for themselves the message and instead, you manipulate that duty you have by changing the tones and words of people that you don’t like, cut off/deny certain points of debate to be made, and add unwanted music or other illustrations in a performance that you’re only supposed amplify so that the people can decide and discuss (so to speak).

I’m using theatrical terms in order to better articulate this, I’m not accusing anybody of a performance (expect Mr. Parlato) in regards to the things that believe or say. But Mr. Parlato sensationalizes everything for attention and that’s not what true journalism in this country was supposed to be.

So with all due respect, Mr. Parlato, you are a liability and I’m quite shocked you are not sued more than you have been for defamation/libel slander because you sensationalize everything and are completely reckless.

So with being said, just post up my Q/A for Mr. Patriot God and stay of out of this outside of that and don’t put up comments or set people up to fall in anyway shape, form, or manner! It’s up to the people to digest, decide, and discuss/debate without you setting your readers up to think what you want them to by your childish games of cane-tripping and cane-yanking!

Thank you kindly.

Miss White
Miss White
1 year ago

2019 Keith Raniere slips in toilet water while practicing Judo at night inside MDC Brooklyn NY.

Aristotle’s Sausage
Aristotle’s Sausage
1 year ago

Raniere’s claimed accomplishments are of course pure bullshit.

It’s interesting the kinds of things he boasted about though. They’re all pussy sports. He didn’t brag about playing football. Or wrestling. He didn’t claim he could bench press 420 when he was a kid.

No, it’s all pussy sports. Judo where you get to wear a prissy short robe like your sister, and “earn” colorful sashes. (That one stuck, the pretty sashes would became a big deal in Nxivm)

Table tennis. Fuckin’ ping pong. Volleyball. VOLLEYBALL??! The girls summer camp game?? He bragged about this…

Cycling. Yeah that’s a sport to boast about. Real man stuff. Riding your Schwinn down to your friend’s house to brag about your judo trophy.

Diving? Like in a pool? Christ.

I’m surprised the creep didn’t add figure skating to his list of fairy sports. I bet the little bastard could’ve twirled like the dickens.

1 year ago

Well Judo is a man’s sport. It’s used all the time in MMA. But everything else, I agree with.

1 year ago

Lance Armstrong might disagree

Aristotle’s Sausage
Aristotle’s Sausage
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Yeah Lance Armstrong is a real pillar of virtue. Cheated and lied about it for decades. Then had all his medals revoked.

He and Raniere are two of a kind.

1 year ago

Just cause you suck at darts, pool, ping pong, foosball, bowling, air hockey, pacman, beer pong, and cornhole doesn’t mean they’re “fairy” sports. While the rest of the boys were playing kickball in elementary school, where you playing “princess” with the girls?

In addition, nice post. I laughed and agree with the overall point.

1 year ago

Yiu acr like Gus. Dude ain’t tuff

1 year ago

Scientology “Ethics”: Deviance, Identity and Social Control in a Cult-Like Social World
May 1986
Article in Symbolic Interaction · May 1986
author: Roger Austin Straus
All content following this page was uploaded by Roger Austin Straus on 24 October 2018.

Roger Straus
Aimed University

Qualitative research at the macrosocial level can be facilitated by examining the more fully articulated social worlds existing within advanced societies. Based on the author’s field research, Scientology’s structure, culture, and comparability to American capitalist society are discussed and “Ethics,” its institution of social control, is shown to involve a paradigm in which conduct flows from social identity and deviance is defined in terms of a progression of stages of identity loss through reference group con fusion. 4 hypothetical case shows how each stage is treated through specific intervention formula designed to reverse the process. “Ethics” is shown to closely parallel symbolic interactionist theories of deviance. Its differences from symbolic interactionism are ascribed to the inherent contradiction between the individualistic and system-centered orientations permeating American capitalist society.

If we can get beyond our personal reactions to unconventional groups like Scientology, we can begin to use them as resources for the qualitative study of social institutions. Scientology’s no-holds-barred pragmatism and lack of institutionalized cultural or po- litical constraints upon organizational practice have, for example, permitted a 30-year- long, open experiment in social control. “Ethics,” as Scientology labels its social control s.ystem, represents the outcome of this attempt to create a workable alternative to how society at large defines and manages deviance. As we shall see, “Ethics” exaggerates (and brings into clearer focus) certain features of American capitalist society while incorporating a model of deviance and conformity closely resembling symbolic interactionist theory.
Direct all correspondence to: Roger A. Straus, Department of Sociology, Alfred U niversiry. Alfred, NY 14802.

Symbolic Interaction, Volume 9, Number 1, page 67-82. Copyright y986 by SAI Press Inc.
Alt rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
IEAN: 01966086


Roger Straus
Aimed University

Qualitative research at the macrosocial level can be facilitated by examining the more fully articulated social worlds existing within advanced societies. Based on the author’s field research, Scientology’s structure, culture, and comparability to American capitalist society are discussed and “Ethics,” its institution of social control, is shown to involve a paradigm in which conduct flows from social identity and deviance is defined in terms of a progression of stages of identity loss through reference group con fusion. 4 hypothetical case shows how each stage is treated through specific intervention formula designed to reverse the process. “Ethics” is shown to closely parallel symbolic interactionist theories of deviance. Its differences from symbolic interactionism are ascribed to the inherent contradiction between the individualistic and system-centered orientations permeating American capitalist society.

If we can get beyond our personal reactions to unconventional groups like Scientology, we can begin to use them as resources for the qualitative study of social institutions. Scientology’s no-holds-barred pragmatism and lack of institutionalized cultural or po- litical constraints upon organizational practice have, for example, permitted a 30-year- long, open experiment in social control. “Ethics,” as Scientology labels its social control s.ystem, represents the outcome of this attempt to create a workable alternative to how society at large defines and manages deviance. As we shall see, “Ethics” exaggerates (and brings into clearer focus) certain features of American capitalist society while incorporating a model of deviance and conformity closely resembling symbolic interactionist theory.
Direct all correspondence to: Roger A. Straus, Department of Sociology, Alfred U niversiry. Alfred, NY 14802.

Symbolic Interaction, Volume 9, Number 1, page 67-82. Copyright y986 by SAI Press Inc.
Alt rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
IEAN: 01966086


Roger Straus
Aimed University

Qualitative research at the macrosocial level can be facilitated by examining the more fully articulated social worlds existing within advanced societies. Based on the author’s field research, Scientology’s structure, culture, and comparability to American capitalist society are discussed and “Ethics,” its institution of social control, is shown to involve a paradigm in which conduct flows from social identity and deviance is defined in terms of a progression of stages of identity loss through reference group con fusion. 4 hypothetical case shows how each stage is treated through specific intervention formula designed to reverse the process. “Ethics” is shown to closely parallel symbolic interactionist theories of deviance. Its differences from symbolic interactionism are ascribed to the inherent contradiction between the individualistic and system-centered orientations permeating American capitalist society.

If we can get beyond our personal reactions to unconventional groups like Scientology, we can begin to use them as resources for the qualitative study of social institutions. Scientology’s no-holds-barred pragmatism and lack of institutionalized cultural or po- litical constraints upon organizational practice have, for example, permitted a 30-year- long, open experiment in social control. “Ethics,” as Scientology labels its social control s.ystem, represents the outcome of this attempt to create a workable alternative to how society at large defines and manages deviance. As we shall see, “Ethics” exaggerates (and brings into clearer focus) certain features of American capitalist society while incorporating a model of deviance and conformity closely resembling symbolic interactionist theory.
Direct all correspondence to: Roger A. Straus, Department of Sociology, Alfred U niversiry. Alfred, NY 14802.

Symbolic Interaction, Volume 9, Number 1, page 67-82. Copyright y986 by SAI Press Inc.
Alt rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
IEAN: 01966086

68 SYVBOLlCtNTERAC7tON YoK9/No.1/1986

To discover regularities in social life, qualitative researchers have long depended on information that can best be generated through appropriate case comparisons (e.g., Thomas and Thomas, 1938). One of the barriers to macrosociology of the interactionist kind has been finding something with which to compare advanced Western societies— yet we are already tapping a resource that can be used toward this end, those relatively autonomous social worlds existing as enclaves within our general society.’ While usually dismissed as “cults,” certain of these worlds (e.g., Scientology) are in fact organized much like miniature societies, lacking only such features as territorial jurisdiction and eco- nomic autonomy. One strategy for doing qualitative analysis at the “macro” level, then, would be to piggyback onto substantive studies at which we are already adept.
Thus, when we probe beneath its surface differences, we find that the Scientology world in fact not only shares but glorifies the essential value, motives, and rationality of American capitalist society. As we will see, Scientology epitomizes the historical trend toward rationalization of social control noted by Spitzer (1979). Its “Ethics” system proves to be of especial interest for the reason that Scientology institutionalizes a contex- tualist model (Straus, 1981) linking deviance, identity and reference group.2

This type of social world, however, presents a host of methodological problems, such as the difficulty of obtaining good information. Not only do “cults” tend to maintain relatively impermeable boundaries between themselves and the outside world (Simmons, 1964; Balch, 1979), but they are often organized so that participants only perceive the actual pattern of the whole as they advance through the status hierarchies of their world. An “insider’s perspective” is, therefore, necessary for practical understanding of a world like Scientology. Our usual methods of participant observation, interviewing members or exmembers, analyzing public documents, and so forth, cannot in and of themselves provide that overarching perspective.
My own solution to this problem is largely accidental: between 1968 and 1970, prior to my training as a sociologist, I had obtained “insider familiarity” as a Scientologist. That experience was subsequently documented in the form of field notes worked up in 1972 for an undergraduate course in qualitative analysis. This material along with documen- tary evidence then in hand has been supplemented on an ongoing basis by (a) intensive interviews with others who have had contact with Scientology or were presently Scien- tologists, and (b) analysis of the group’s copious internal literature and promotional mailings. I have found it necessary to rely almost entirely on my own files and sources over the years because —with the major exception of Wallis (1977) —the literature on Scientology is primarily concerned with debunking rather than understanding it (e.g., Malko, 1970; Bainbridge and Stark, 1980).

Scientology originated in the early 1950s as an outgrowth of American si-fi writer, L. Ron H ubbard’s Dianetics movement. Under his canny leadership it spread throughout the English-speaking world, the rest of Europe (particularly Scandinavia) and, most recently, into Mexico and Latin America (Anonymous, 1984). Although membership

Scientology “Ethics” 69

figures are not obtainable, this world seems to involve (as a conservative estimate) hundreds of thousands of participants across the globe, rivaling the scale of many national societies.
Scientologists consider themselves different from “the raw public” as a result of the counseling-like process known as “auditing” through which (holds the group’s culture)
* accumulated confusions, traumas, and limitations are progressively cleared away. Thus, like other “identity transformation organizations,” Scientology maintains its integrity
, through a process of encapsulation (Greil and Rudy, 1984). Its worldview, however, is couched in a technological framework bearing virtually no resemblance to the schemata of conventionally occultist groups or self-consciously religious cults. There is no institu- tion of faith, no concept of supernatural revelation, no formal separation of sacred from profane, no call to believe anything. The entire approach is pragmatic; truth is what works, period (Hubbard, 1970a).
Where Mead (1934) places the i, Hubbard puts the ther an, the self conceived as a
living viewpoint capable of “postulating” and perceiving its postulates. Going beyond ethnomethodology to idealism, Scientology holds that “Considerations take rank over ihe rriechanics of space. energy and time These mechanics are the products of agreed-
upon considerations which life mutually holds” (H ubbard, 1968:36, emphasis in original). The goal of auditing is “to bring an individual into such thorough communica- tion with the physical universe that he can regain the power and the ability of his own postulates” (H ubbard, 1968:37). After a series of auditing levels designed to eliminate personal aberrations and produce the “State of Clear,” the Scientologist begins the as-yet open-ended “Operating Thetan Course,” the ultimate promise of which is to restore total power over matter, energy, space, time, life, form, and thought (Hubbard, 1954, 1968).
While this might seem rather far out, primary stress is placed on auditing’s practical value, how it can help you maximize survival and prosperity in everyday life. Thus, despite the unfamiliar quality of Hubbard’s cosmology and its Faustian promises, there is no conflict with capitalist values. To the contrary. Scientology culture seeks to maximize those vahi/.
For example, in further contrast to conventional religiosity, Scientology shares the American emphasis on individualism; one of its basic premises is that “you are entirely responsible for the condition you are in.” The philosophy defines Whelans to be discrete individuals, auditing stresses individuation and differentiation (Hubbard, 1954). Tough- ness and effectiveness are championed as primary virtues —along with group loyalty, as it is also a premise in Scientology that maximizing one’s own survival is fused with the survival of one’s group and of all beings everywhere.
From the first days of Dianeties (Hubbard, 1950), survival has remained the bottom line in practice, organization, and philosophy. While the rationale of institutionalized Scien- tology is to deliver auditing services, this is seen as inseparable from the larger cause of “Clearing the planet” before we destroy ourselves through nuclear or ecological catastrophe.

“My purpose is to bring a barbarism out of the mud it thinks conceived it and to form, here on Earth, a civilization based on human understanding, not violence” (Hubbard,

Scientology “Ethics” 71

other early clinical sociologists, however, the values of the mainstream American society, their social world of reference, took on a normative character (Wirth, 1931), even though the theory itself is relativistic. Similarly, while Hubbard holds that one’s only real identity and value is one’s status within the group, this relativistic proposition is reduced to a
* normative precription by the framing assumption that Scientology is the only legitimate reference group. This is not a hidden agenda, as in most Western societies; rather, the
, Scientologist quickly learns that her she is expected to enact the principle that “you are
your role.”
From the first encounters with Scientology and Scientologists there is a push to get the newcomer to explore basic Scientology concepts as tools for enhanced living, with the expectation that he/she will discover their practical value and consequently adopt the premise that “Scientology works.” Once the novice begins to perceive effects from Scien- tology technology, it is only natural to define further involvement with the group as in one’s own best interest. At the same time, it’s philosophical frame gains immediate plausibility —including the definition that Scientology is the only group able to “save the planet.” There is no requirement that Scientologists “believe” this or anything else. Awareness is epiphenomenal to action in Scientology; the transactions of auditing and associated training are simultaneously the primary means of socialization to the cultural realities of Scientology.
The key to understanding the attraction of this world is its adeptness in creating a sense of change as evidence that Scientology works, that the technology is doing some- thing for the person. Scientology life is carefully managed by the group in a strategic reversal of those principles whole societies employ to minimize the sense of identity change (Strauss, 1959). By keeping its people “moving up the Bridge” through ever more positively valued statuses, by providing language and symbols encoding its cultural realities, and by structuring services to actually produce that sense of change, Scientology keeps them happy —and keeps them operating within its grounds of meaning.‘

The actual institution of social control in Scientology is known as “Ethics”: “All that Ethics is for —the totality of the reason for its existence and operation —is simply that additional tool necessary to make it possible to apply the technology of Scientology” (Hubbard, 1970b:7). While this statement can be read in terms of either individual or organizational discourses, the major concern of “Ethics” is to keep Scientology working as a social world. Adapted as it is to this world’s bureaucratic framework, the practice theory (Scott, 1969) of its “Ethics” institution represents a shift from the reality- constructionism of Scientology philosophy to a businesslike, functionalist rationality:

The whole decay of Western government is explained in the seemingly obvious law:
If you reward non-production you get non-production. When you penalize production you get non-production . ..
In the conduct of Scientology in all matters of rewards and penalties we pay sharp heed to the basic laws as above and use this policy:


We reward production and up statistics and penalize non-production and down statistics. Always.
And we do it all by statistics—not rumor or personality or who knows who. And we make sure everyone has a statistic of some sort. We promote by statistic only. We penalize by statistics only. (Hubbard, 1970b:57-58)

Local responsibility for “Ethics” is assigned to the “Ethics Officer” (E O) located within the Department of Inspections and Reports in the standardized 21-department organization chart used by all Scientology units. Two suprasystems —the Guardian’s Office and the Sea Org—have additional centralized responsibility for overseeing “Ethics” in the larger Scientology world and dealing with external threats to the system. While production statistics —such as “auditing hours well done” for a staff auditor—are monitored by the Ethics Officer and form the basis upon which bonuses, other rewards and pénalties are administered within the organization itself, the term statistics is more generally used in a symbolic sense to refer to a person’s level of effectiveness and productivity or as a qualitative measure of the effects he/she causes.
To maximize these values and correct any deviation from group norms, Scientology employs the social invention of “conditions formulae.” Hubbard identifies ten “condi- tions” as possible operating states in which any individual or system may be found. For each condition he defines a “formula” providing a step-by-step method for satisfying the functional necessities for advancement to the next higher state. The conditions formulae are held to be isomorphic for individuals, groups, and systems of every kind.’
When first entering any status, for example, one is in a “Condition of Non-existence.” The formula for Nonmxistence requires establishing oneself in the ne\v role by finding a communications line, making oneself known to those with whom one will be dealing, finding out what is needed or wanted, doing producing or presenting just that (H u bbard, l970b). By conscientiously going through the Non-existence formula, the Scientologist enters into a defined role within the ongoing interactional network and begins to act in line with the socially constructed realities of the group. He/she becomes a person, an individual with social status (Wirth, 1931).
Above, Non-existence, five progressively “higher” conditions—Danger, Emergency, Normal Operation, Affluence, and Power —represent states of performance in any role or situation. Upon successful completion of each subsequent formula, as evidenced by productivity or goal attainment, one begins to work on the next formula. On the other hand, if one falters or runs into problems, the situation is corrected by working on a lower formula. While an important aspect of Scientology life, these formulae are only peripheral to the problem of deviance.

“Ethics” also serves as Scientology’s equivalent of the criminal justice system. Here we see bureaucratic rationality extended to a degree only rivaled in American society by cham- pions of behavior therapy (Portes, 1971). This unswerving rationalization ofjustice can be seen in the recent description of a new, five-week long “thoroughly comprehensive and practical training course that produces a fully trained Ethics Officer who is I 00% standard in his application of Ethics and justice” (Church of Scientology, International, 1984:39).

Scientology “fthics” 73

“Ethics” actions (the term is used to refer to deviance handling) are rarely opened on the basis of official production statistics alone. Rather, crime control begins with an extension of ihat monitoring function. A file is kept on active Scientologists, into which go any reports or other evidence concerning “out Ethics” behavior. If a major offense is reported or if that
, file gets fat, unless the subject’s statistics, condition or status are exemplary, the file is opened and a formal investigation begun. All Scientologists, staff members in particular, are expected to report norm violations on the part of other Scientologists; identified “non-
reports” will go into their own files and rriay be used as evidence of their own “out Ethics.” Along with procedures for investigation, adjudication, and subsequent handling of deviance, the Scientology Ethics Code (Hubbard, 1970b) lists some 168 errors, mis- demeanors, crimes, and high crimes. Some acts are specifically defined as criminal, such as the “high crime” of“testifying as a hostile witness against Scientology in public”(Hubbard, 1970b:49). Others, such as using illicit drugs, have come to be so defined although not specifically listed in the codes. In general, any violation of Policy, hence any deviation from bureaucratically defined roles, can be grounds for “Ethics” actions. Underlying this entire system is a fundamental identification of criminal deviance as anything, however seem-
ingly trivial, which threatens the consensus upon which Ihis world is built.
The relativistic, interactionist-like strand within Scientology once again becomes evi- dent in a second set of conditions formulae used primarily in the correction of deviance. These are based on Hubbard’s theory that conduct flows from one’s social identity within a reference group. Much as Strauss (1959) has suggested, the progressively “lower” conditions of Liability, Doubt, Enemy, and Treason, identify becoming deviant with a process of loosening or abandoning allegiances to one group while drifting into the networks and perspectives of another.
Scientology “Ethics” defines stages of dis-identification and identification, providing specific formula for the rational management of each. While the Scientology culture portrays leaving or harming Scientology as contrasurvival and, hence, insane, these formulae are themselves relativistic and value-free in the sense that they are designed to be isomorphic for any change of reference group and for use in either halting a slide into deviance and rehabilitating the group member of enabling the individual to become a functioning member of another group.

We will now look at how this criminal justice system operates in practice through consideration of a hypothetical case. The Ethics Office of The Church of Scientology of Gotham receives the following report:
This afternoon. while I was sitting with a friend at Moe’s Coffee Shop, 1 overheard Peter Sim • t• ho works in Central Files) talking with some people in the next booth. I don’t know them, or if they are Scientologists. Anyhow, he was saying that when he was on the maintenance crew at Flag Land Base [in Clearwater, Florida] he used to know this girl who worked on a col!ege newspaper and, ro get into her pants, he made up stories about how everyone down there was into group sex and that this was one of the secret processes on the O.T. course. He said that she actually reported this is an ariieIe she wrote! They all cracked up and left the restaurant.
Bill Williams, Staff Auditor


Telling lies about confidential materials to a reporter constitutes a “high crime,” specified in the “Ethics” Codes as “public dissemination of false or forbidden or danger- b us data” t* Ubbard, 1970b:52). While lesser violations are dealt with by the E/ O, high crimes are handled by convening a Committee of Evidence, which is rather like a court martial but without lawyers or formal procedural norms.
After investigation to ensure that this was not a false report (itself an “Ethics” offense), the E / O would write up a proposed Ethics Order listing charges and convening a
“Comm Ev” to investigate and adjudicate this case. Charges would include all wrong- doings relevant to the above report as weJl as any errors, pstty malfeasance, or other “out Ethics” behavior contained in Simon’s file. Once the propose‹1 order is okayed by the E/ O’s superiors, it would be printed up on goldenrod stock and distributed for posting in all other Scientology units. When the Comm Ev is convened, Williams and any other witnesses would be called. Every Scientologist who wishes to do so may also present evidence for or against Simon. The Committee itself would be composed of some five Scientologists in good standing, typically high ranking staff members from Gotham Org. After establishing that the reported offenses did, in fact, occur, the Comm Ev would decide which éounts Simon is guilty of and what the appropriate penalties would be. In this case, since Simon’s actions have publicly discredited Scientology, it is probable that he would be assigned the Condition of Treason. Like others who have gotten this far into Scientology, Simon can be expected to decide that it is worth his while to “suffer up through the conditions” and restore himself to good standing as a Scientologist.
His only alternative is to walk out on everything he has come to define as valuable. Simon would be barred from “the only road to total freedom” forever (literally). His income would be lost, he would forfeit his investment of time and money in auditing and training, he would lose face among those for whom he has established himself as a Scientologist, he would have to define away the benefits he has identified from Scientol- ogy technology, change the very terms in which he has become accustomed to think, and cease to,id ntify with his status in terms of auditing, training, and organizational posi- tion. Most bitterly of all, in Scientology he is somebody, whereas to the outside world he is just another ex<uIt member (see Stark and Bainbridge, 1980). Thus, we can expect to see Simon act to salvage his vested interests as suggested by Becker’s (1960) model of the commitment process.

At this point, Peter Simon would be escorted out of the Org. No Scientologist would be permitted to communicate with him in any way (since Scientologists comprise the vast majority of his friends and acquaintances, this form of shunning has great impact). He is now officially stigmatized, his identity publicly spoiled. He has, in effect, been branded a criminal. The Ethics formulae, however, provide an alternative to the secon- dary deviance process associated with this situation in the American criminal justice system (Lemert, 1951).
The Treason formula, “Find out that you really are,” represents the bottom line of Scientology crime control.‘ Hubbard’s rationale is almost identical to Shibutani’s (1955) thesis that when one changes one’s reference group one’s “ordered view of the world — what is taken for granted” changes in line with the new group’s interactional consensus.

Scientology "£thics" 75

Thus, the Treason formula assumes that, to be capable of behavior threatening the group to which one claims allegiance, the person is acting out of another cultural reality and has lost sight of the original reference group’s basic grounds of meaning and value.
Peter Simon now enters into virtual seclusion. His task is to meditate on the Treason formula until he can embrace the Scientology culture as his own perspective and perceive his true nature as a thetan. At this point, as part of his rehabilitation, he must make a self-conscious decision to believe and, by so doing, to reestablish Scientology as his only reference group.
He might then write a letter to the E/ O saying that he is ready to come in and apply for upgrading. The E/ O might telephone to arrange an appointment, at which time Simon would be ushered into the Ethics Office without permitting him to interact with other Seientologists at the org. He would be interrogated to ascertain whether he believes what he is saying and is truly penitent. Great significance is placed on presentation of self; the subject’s demeanor, appearance, speech, and condum will all be scrutinized for "good indicators.” If the E/O has the slightest doubt, Simon will be escorted back out of the org to have another go at it. I I he convinces the E/ O that he has “worked out of Treason” Simo,n is "upgraded" to the Condition of Enemy and ushered out of the org to work on that formula under the same conditions as before.
To complete the Enemy formula, Simon has to “find out who you really are” (Hub- bard, 1970b). A typical working out of the Enemy formula might be “I now realize that I am simply another thetan seeking to go free with Scientology.“ The words alone are not enough: the E/ O will demand that Simon’s conduct show he has reinternalized the group as his generalized other. The strategy here is to halt the downward spiral of deviance at the point where one acts like an enemy of the group because one identifies oneself as something other than what one really is —before falling out of the consensus within which those words have intersubjective meaning.
Once again, Simon will be brought into the org to meet with the ECO. Once again, the official necks for "good indicator" such as looking and acting glowingly sincere, both happy arid grateful about completing the Enemy formula. Thus, a series of implicit tests are built into the resocialization structure: to "pass," the subject must give off an impression of positively embracing whatever role and identity the group imputes to him, no matter how degraded. Again we see that, in Scientology, conduct is held to reflect the perspective constructed by the individual, who is therefore held accountable not only for conduct but for identity as well—about as extreme a rationalization of sociai control as is conceivable.
If the ECO is, in fact, convinced that Simon has satisfactorily reestablished his identity, an order would be issued upgrading his status to the Condition of Doubt. Peter must now formally decide as to which group his allegiance is due. He would, of course, only choose a group other than Scientology if he has not "successfully" completed the pre- vious formulae. The Doubt formula, however, is not only a step toward reestablishing oneself in a specific group but also resolves a stage of identity loss characterized by confusion as to one’s reference group which, if not caught and corrected at this point, would lead to a downward spiral into acting like an enemy of the group. Theoretically, this condition depicts the crisis point at which differential assoéiation processes (Suther- land and Cressey, 1970) leave the person poised between two sets of meanings. ln contradiction to sociological conventions, Scientology defines this not as a matter of "drift" but of personal choice to pursue one line of action as opposed to another.


The Dou bt formula prescribes a method for making a decision as to one’s reference group. After evaluating the statistics of the groups one is in doubt about, one decides which group to join, makes a public statement of joining or rejoining that group: and then acts to demonstrate the sincerity of one's decision —in effect, goes through the process of conversion (Greil and Rudy, 1983). I n “working out of Doubt" the Scientolo- gist would traditionally do a straight 48 hours of menial work in the org as a symbol of commitment to the group while wearing a chain around one arm to signify his status. In addition to the combination of empiricist rationality and sociological perspective, we now see the utilization of degradation rituals (Garfinkle, 1955), public confession, and other rites of passage to translate changes of status and identity into intersubjective reality.
Scientology’s deft integration of these elements is even clearer when, assuming Simon has completed those steps to the satisfaction of the E/ O, he is upgraded to the Condition of Liability. Here the formula goes:

Decide who are friends.
Deliver an effective blow to the enemies of the group one has been pretending to be part of despite personal danger.
Make up the damage one has done by personal contribution far beyond the ordinary demands of a group member.
Apply for re-entry to the group by asking the permission of each member of it to rejoin and rejoining only by majority permission, and, if refused. repeating (2) and (3) until one is allowed to be a group member again. (H ubbard, 1970b:34)
Simon would write out his decision that Scientologists are his friends and that the young woman in Florida is not. He might give the E/ O the names of his friends from the coffee shop and do whatever he could to get that reporter in trouble with her school or the authorities. Peter would then work another 24 hours straight in the org while wearing a dirty gray bag around his arm symbolizing his contaminated identity. Finally, he writes out, step by step, what he has done to complete the formula and, upon the approval of the E/ O, humbly goes to each person in the org asking them to please sign his petition for re-entry to the group. Most will do so without comment, some will refuse to sign, yet others will go out of their way to humiliate him in whatever way they can, rubbing Simon’s nose in his one-down status. He must maintain his “good indicators" and not abreast whatever they say or do.
In this formula, the implicit theory comes close to Lofland and Lofland’s (1969) model of deviance and identity, even suggesting that the first step toward deviant identity is friepdship with bearers of an incompatible culture and way of life. As a corrective, the formula seeks to abort such affective ties before they lead to differential association and establishment of a new reference group.
On another level, as a ritual, Liability serves a a launching platform for the individual's rebirth as a person. That is, completing the formula serves as a rite of self-reconstitution (Sarbin and Adler, 1970) involving symbolic death in one’s totai abnegation of face and then a resurrection, as the individual both formally and symbolically, privately and publicly reenters the solidarity of group members. This also reinforces the sense of belonging to a valuable group on the part of others involved in the ritual. From this public rehabilitation of self, the subject goes on to complete the Non-existence formula


Scientology “Ethics” ,

which, as we have seen, establishes the individual within a specific status as a group
member in good standing.

There are remarkable similarities between Scientology “Ethics” and interactionist theory. I n both cases, conduct is held to flow from the definition of the situation, and the definition of the situation is held to be primarily a function of interaction with a reference group. Both Scientology and symbolic interactionism reject purely psychological be- haviorism, stressing meaning as a critical factor. Scientology, however, institutionalizes individualism to an enormously greater degree than the other two approaches. lt adopts the idealist premise that the individual’s subjective definitions are primary realities, while the psychological and sociological views hold that the individual entity is more or less illusory. The “Ethics” system nevertheless converges with the interactionist models in that one is held to only become a person in the sociological sénse of the term when self is identified as an individual with status within a specific group.
These abstract principles are modified in practice by their embeddedness within an organizational context The situation is very similar to that of American capitalism generally, in that while a central value is placed upon the individual and the central explanatory discourse is premised upon individualism, these are bounded and implicitly defined by a functionalist, system-centered rationality. So long as individuals behave within the boundaries of free choice deemed acceptable by the organized social system, the society appears open and consensual. When they violate these boundaries, however, those identifying with the system asserts its “right” to ensure functional integrity through social control mechanisms.
The definitions of the situation embedded within the structured interpersonal system, in other words, tend to not only have greater practical force than conflicting individual definitions, but are treated as boundary conditions for individual choice. Both in sociali- zation and the operation of social control, norms deemed functional by the system are at once make credible and elevated into moral imperatives by drawing upon claims of ontological fact or religious truth. Once a systems-level of interaction has been or- ganized, in other words, its survival becomes an end in and of itself for those who identify their interests with that of the system.
Scientology follows this pattern, so that its abstract resemblances to interactionism are bound up with a normative rationality based upon the structure and function of the organized world. “Ethics” as a social control system is explicitly designed to structure conduct through identity management. As we have seen, it identifies stages of identity loss and establishes a social technology for resolving each level of crisis. A particularly interesting feature of “Ethics” is the provision of means by which individuals can re- habilitate their status within the group and avoid self-fulfilling prophecies associated with deviant labeling.
At the same time, Scientology employs (and injects into its “Ethics” system) a degree of bureaucratic rationalization most sociologists would reject as repressive or totali- tarian. Despite Scientology’s intensive socialization efforts and the existence of “Ethics” as a social control technology, some individuals who seek to remain within the system nevertheless engage in deviant conduct; cliques and informal systems still arise despite


the best efforts of the group. Even the highest ranking Scientologists, for better or worse, do not behave like the brainwashed robots of popular imagination. For example, the author in 1968, witnessed high-ranking Scientologists, at the time Hubbard’s protégés, strategizing to steal classified technology and offer it for personal profit.
It is not, in any case, the purpose of this article to evaluate or value judge Scientology’s "Ethics" system but, rather, to describe it; to show that it represents a working example of a social control system forged within the same cultural, situational, and historical context as those institutionalized by Western societies; and to point out that it displays surprising consonances with interactionist theories about deviance and social control. Perhaps the most cogent differences between Scientology and interactionist thinking stem from the fact that "Ethics" cannot be separated from its institutional context, so that its abstract similarities are subordinated to the normative concerns of a functioning social control system. Whatever its flaws and whatever our opinions, it has proved adequate to the practical task of keeping Scientology viable.
Grounded in the American capitalist society, Scientology goes about social control in a rational, systematic manner commensurate with sociocultural realities of twentieth- century life. .By doing so in a "no holds barred" manner, it offends the sensibilities of many observers, while (or perhaps by) making explicit value contradictions inherent in the American culture, such as that between "free choice" and conformity to group norms. Operating on a scale and in a manner reasonably close to that implied by the term sociei y, the social world of Scientology remains compact and integrated enough to permit more sweeping generalizations about its functioning than would be possible in the relatively chaotic case of a "real" society. This social world not only constitutes a fascinat- ing case study of an institution embodying close analogs to interactionist principles, but provides a valuable resource for comparative macrosociology.

I shoulñ w like to shift level of discourse and reflect upon the 15-year-long process culminating in the foregoing analysis of Scientology’s social control system. As I have indicated, my "insider’s perspective" was arrived at through having been involved in the group prior to my training as a sociologist. That simple fact leads to a host of complications.
For one thing, during the period of immersion in the field, there was no systematic data gathering or theoretical sampling. Rather, my wife and I stumbled into this world in Spring of 1968, decided "if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right," got ourselves onto L. Ron Hubbard’s "Sea Org"’ flagship, subsequently became high-level staff auditors in Los Angeles until, in 1970, we broke with the organization in an escalating series of conflicts over local policy and working conditions. Our initial reac- tion was to blame it on the bureaucracy and the individuals with whom we had come into conflict. Then, as we drifted out of Scientology networks, we found ourselves increasingly hostile toward Scientology generally. (This seems to be a common pattern for disaffection with high-commitment groups.)
As we drifted back, more or less, to our former perspectives, I returned to college and completed my undergraduate degree. This was the first time I had been exposed to the sociological tradition. For a course on qualitative methods, it seemed appropriate to

Sciento/ogy "Ethics" 79

work up my experience in the form of detailed field notes. Attempting grounded theory, I hypothesized a basic social process of "luciferization" reflecting my negative evaluation of the moral implications of a system in which the goal was "total power" for self (reducing others to mere use objects). The data was there, but so was the hostility!
Nevertheless, this constituted a breakthrough, enabling me to begin treating my ex- perience as a resource. As a graduate student vnder John Lofiand’s tutelage, I initiated a systematic research program into identity transformation organizations and processes, while continuing to gather material on Scientology. I found that my experiential base afforded me a degree of k’ersIehen and an overarching perspective not otherwise attainable.
I can see no ethical objection to "mining" one’s experience for ethnographic material as I have done, or obtaining information from the widest variety of sources including both apostates and insiders. Nevertheless, lt is my strong suspicion that it would be far easier (and more rewarding financially) to write an anti-cult "exposé" than go through the sometimes painful effort and self-discipline of working up nonjudgmental analysis of the sort this 'article seeks to represent. It is not that 1 committed to a "value free" sociology, but that noninjury to subjects seems no less valid a concern here than in clinical practice. Certainly, if one can demonstrate overriding, factual cause to attack a group, then such an act can be defensible, as in the case of Richard Ofshe's work on Synanon. I n the same way, to ignore clear violations of central values (as in a value-free report on the social dynamics of Nazi concentration camps) would be morally indefensible.
Consider, however, publication of discrediting information about Scientology. Granted, this would very likely trigger a lawsuit brought by the Guardian’s Office of the Church of Scientology. It was to avoid such an eventuality, for example, that Wallis (1977) included a response by the group in his monograph. But what, in any case, would be the vgl of such an act? To make a moral point? To gain pu blicity? To ventilate one's hurt or disagreement or distaste? To harm the group? Anyone who has intimate knowl- edge of any organization or social setting would probably have at least some information of this sort, so what’s the big deal?
Thus, unless I were to be convinced that Scientology is demonstrably evil or harmful or an underhanded scam, my opinions about it should be separated from scientific discourse. I am not so convinced. Certainly there have been individual Scientologists who have exploited their position for undue personal gain or gratification, but that is in itself an "Ethics" offense. Nobody is forced to join or remain in Scientology; despite its formal and informal social control systems, a majority of members seem to eventually become "inactive" or otherwise drift away from the group. Being "in" Scientology is not all that dramatic a situation, anyhow. Most Scientologists simply take occasional audit- ing or training courses and use Scientology methods and concepts in their lives and work. In high-pressure situations, such as 1 encountered in the Sea Org, people often do stupid, irrational, or even unconscionable things —-but that is certainly not limited to Scientology.
My impression is that Scientology "insiders" are generally convinced that the system is valid and that their interests lie with the group. Rumors of violent attacks upon apostates seem no more than that; in fact, confidential materials 1 have seen indicate that there was at least one time when Hubbard got wind of such an attempt on the part of subordinates


and, to their dismay, ordered them to abort their plans immediately. It is not that this group believes in “turning the other cheek"; it is, rather, Policy to do dirt to those that do you dirt and to safeguard Scientology at all costs.
I n 1968, 1 had the opportunity to interact with L. Ron Hubbard on several occasions and to observe him covertly when he was alone “backstage.” I have no cause to hypothe- size that he had any ulterior motive but to further his “baby,” Scientology. His major luxuries at the time seemed to be full-dress dinners with his staff officers and having his personal steward serve him an iced glass of Tab on a silver platter. Unlike the leaders of some other groups, he has not been observed to exploit the group for personal gain or gratification; rather, I observed him working away at his paperwork at all hours of the night and day.
Once the emotional reaction cleared away, I found that I could see some positive things about Scientology. In any case, there is a great deal of practical wisdom in its strategies and tactics. One does not have to accept the explanatory scheme or underlying cosmology to appreciate something that works. Not that everything is peachy-keen-and- rosy in the Scientology world, or that they are a nice bunch of people just waiting to serve you milk and cookies while you bask in the warmth of their company. No way! The operative terms here are “toughness,” “effectiveness,” “getting the job done.” There are no compunctions about hard-sell, no embarrassment about instrumental values or bureaucratic rationality.
I had problems with these aspects of Scientology from the beginning; in the end, they drove me out. Looking back, I suspect that my commitment to humanist values is a direct outgrowth of my experiences with the alternative offered by this system. I did not personally like its style. But, as William S. Burroughs (1964) puts it, “Who am I to be critical*’
In conclusion, I have no cause to adopt anything but a “live and let live” approach toward this group. I have friends who remain Scientologists and more friends who are ex-Scientologists. My opinions about the group, its style, policies or behavior are merely opinions. I learned a great deal from my experiences within the group (although not necessafi I/what it was intended for me to learn . .. ). It has been extremely difficult for me to work through my reactions to the negative aspects of my experience and eventual separation from the group but, at the same time, this has forced me to think through my commitment to humanism, to adopt a nonjudgmental perspective, and to clarify my personal convictions regarding self, reality and interpersonal relationships. Thus, while I could choose to regret the time I put into that segment of my youth, it seems more appropriate to make it serve as a resource and to get on with the show.

An earlier form of this article was presented at the Meetings of the New York State Sociological Association, New York City, October 19, 1984.

Expanding Loftand’s (1976) definition, I define the social world as a constellation of roles, groups, institutions, social networks (and sometimes communities) forming a discrete and collec-

Scientolog/ "Ethics” 81

tively defined whole. While some —-such as Lo£tand’s "business world” and “sports world”—-are largely undifferentiated trom general social life, others —-such as "cults" like Scientology and the Unification Church –exist as strongly bounded encla 'es in tension with their host society. This latter situation can result in a social w orld with a well-articulated culture and a set of institutions of scale and corriplex ity resembling a society-in-miniature. Still m ore to the point, a thriving
social world of this type has found ways to deal with the same basic conditions as the host society with which it coexists in time and space.
Which, it should be noted, have generally originated as critiques of the theories, ' institutions and practices of the mainstream society.
Details of Scientology's earlier organizational history are givgn in the generally hostile report by Foster (1971).
4. H owever, no such "full O.T.s” have yet been produced. Wtiile potentially a problem threatening to create cognitive dissonance and hence disaffection, this is not the central problem Bainbridge and Stark ( 1980) made ii out to be. Rather. the focus is, as discussed. on producing or defining changes in the direction of this ultimate goal.
This discussion is based on the system as it was institutionalized through at least 1970 (H u bbard, 1970b). Furthermore, certain su btleties and complications of the "Ethics" system have been omitted to avoid needlessly confusing the issues d iscussed in this article.
Since 1970 there have been several modifications ot the "Ethics” system including identification ot a Condition below Treason. Labelled "Con fusion," it defines a state in which the person laas not only lost the sense ot cultural identity but has become confused as to any basis tor rational action. I ts formula. my informants report, is "Find out.” to define something as a working truth or "stable datum" by which one can begin to evaluate what is a nd is not so as a basis for making a rational choice about anything.

1984 The Auditor, the Monthly Scientology J ournal. Worldwide Issue 19 I (no pagination). Bainbridge, W.S. a nd R. Stark
1980 “Scientology: to be perfectly clear.” Sociological Analysis 41: I 28—136. Balch. R. W.
1979 “Two models of conversion and commitment to a U FO cult." Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, A naheim. Calif.
Beok<r, H.S.
1960 “N otes on the concept of commitment.” American I ournal of Sociology 66:32—40.
1964 Nova Express. New York: G rove. Church of Scientology. International
1984 The Guidebook to Clear & OT: The complete catalog of Dianetics & Scientology Training, Spiritual Counseling & Books. Tampa, Fla.: Church of Scientology, 1 nternational.
Foster, Sir John
1971 Enquiry Into the Practice and Effects of Scientology. London: H MSO. Ga rfin k le, H.'
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1983 “Conversion to the world view of Alcoholics Anonymous: a refinement of conversion theory.” Qualitative Sociology 6:5—28.


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Aristotle’s Sausage
Aristotle’s Sausage
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Now THAT’S word salad!

What else would you expect from a journal called “Symbolic Interaction“?

The social sciences are infested with this kind of Postmodern nonsense. Ten thousand words of gobbledygook to say precisely nothing. Loaded up with professional jargon past the point of comprehensibility, it might as well have been written by a computer program combining random nouns, verbs, and adjectives. (In fact this has been done. In peer reviewed academic journals. See Alan Sokol).

1 year ago

“postmodern” lol

Just admit that you don’t understand it, A.T.

Otherwise, explain and critique, for and against, what a “good indicator” is in Scientology. Show us you understand it. Include data from outside of this article, too, to prove that you are not just an ignorant and dismissive blowhard.


1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Parlato

Aristotle doesn’t typically debate. He prefers turtling when his concrete beliefs are questioned.

1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Parlato

Frank wrote:

“But he [Aristotle’s Sausage] makes intelligent arguments. This fosters debate and the robust exchange of ideas. I do not think he is a dismissive blowhard.

Why do 100% of his arguments simplistically dismiss anything and everything about minority religions & subcultures then?

I asked him about “good indicators” in Scientology, one very simple idea to show that he knows nothing about the subject he is commenting on so dismissively.

Let him prove then that he is not just a dismissive blowhard, that he really does make “intelligent arguments” and is a “thoughtful commenter” as you claim.

Watch what happens, Frank.


1 year ago

Symbolic interaction was waaay before postmodernism. Too bad the commenter had to post like 15 copies of the article.

1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Very interesting.

1 year ago

Suneel boasts that he took Clare Bronfman to the bathroom. Is that an accomplishment to boast about, or does it just depend on the person you did it to? Why even mention something like that?

Benji Carver
Benji Carver
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Suneel thought the judge would go easy on Clare if he knew that she let Suneel wipe her filthy bottom. Yeah, I got nothing either.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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