"The Appliance of Science" - Irish Sunday Mirror, March 20th 2011

SCIENTOLOGY bosses are trying to brainwash vulnerable people to get at their cash, an undercover Irish Sunday Mirror investigation reveals today.

We went behind the scenes at the secretive religion's four-hour long Personal Efficiency Course last week.

Our aim was to discover just what goes on inside what experts call the biggest cult in the world.

And our findings weren't pretty. Our reporter was told he was depressed, nervous, and unstable, and warned the only way to fix his life was by signing up for a further course of treatment - at a price, of course.

Then, when he tried to leave the Dublin headquarters, cult leaders blocked him for half an hour, and tried to force him to sign up for more courses he didn't want or need.

This is the true, ugly face of the fastest growing religion in the world.

Nothing divides people's opinion as much as Scientology.

A-list celebrity fans - and there are a lot of them - claim it's the only way to personal happiness and success in life.

Detractors - and there are plenty of them, too - insist it is nothing more than a cult, sucking in the vulnerable, bleeding them dry, and tearing families apart.

We decided to find out for ourselves.

The headquarters of the Irish Scientology movement, in Dublin's city centre, looks perfectly normal from the outside.

This is Samuel Hamilton's report: I signed up for the four-hour Personal Efficiency course to see what really goes on behind closed doors.

After first completing a personality test the week before, I sat down with the two other people who turned up to hear just who we really are.

Pony-tailed Victor, my teacher, from Hungary, wasted no time in telling me I am abnormal.

Victor took my 200 question personality test from a folder and attempted to explain it - pointing out that of the ten elements he tested me for, only one barely registered as normal.

He told me I was "depressed", "nervous" and "irresponsible," with serious character flaws that need immediate fixing before it's too late.

Victor warned: "The test indicates you are extremely unstable in character, your memory is bad, and you cannot concentrate on things at hand, or your attendance is always fixed compulsively on something." Not nice to hear, and I'm sure words that would strike right to the heart of anyone feeling vulnerable.

During the course - which has attracted a number of complaints after being advertised on buses across Dublin - my fellow listeners and I were bombarded with barmy Scientology principles and told: Only by following the teachings of Scientology could we have any chance of leading a happy, fulfilled life or maintaining meaningful relationships.

It's often better to stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of children, animals and nature - leaving your partner will have a terrible effect on everyone else.

Marriages only ever fail because of a lack of communication.

Scientology would "raise our intelligence" and ensure we move up in the world Money means nothing to Scientology - despite refusing to let me leave for more than half an hour after the course as I was pestered to sign up for my second programme, despite repeatedly saying I didn't want to continue.

After arriving at the offices, Victor made the three of us watch 8 short videos, which we were told provided an insight into the principles of Scientology.

Following the videos, we were then asked to discuss as a group situations from our own lives that could be adapted to the principles of Scientology - the favourite of celebrities including Tom Cruise and his wife Katie Holmes.

None of this was particularly groundbreaking.

A lot revolved around tired concepts I'd heard a million times before, like the idea that going for a walk could be good for you. Next I was taken into Victor's office again to see the results of my personality test - but not before he pointed out the electronic machine used in Scientology counselling sessions.

He asked me to grip tightly on the two metal tubes attached to the e-meter by wires, as he played around with the dials on the front of the machine.

He then told me to think about a time in my life when I was stressed, before the machine's needles jumped to the right.

Victor swore the e-meter was a completely scientific way of discovering exactly what was wrong in peoples' lives - despite critics calling the machine a fraud and courts blasting claims made by Scientology about the technology.

He added: "The auditors who are using this meter, they are in training for two years for how to use it and the specific questions to ask. They can handle anything." After going through my personality test Victor told me that in order to have any chance of fixing my life, I needed to immediately sign up for a new Scientology course.

He then began to pressure me to continue with Scientology.

He told me: "I would recommend doing the Ups and Downs course... almost everyone who is here has done it, because it is such a basic. It gives you the reason why someone is rollercoastering in life. Why it happens that sometimes you feel good and other days you just feel down. We have a great success from doing these courses because what they do, it's really just shows you the tools that you can use to make your life better. You will find them in the course, then you can see if it's for yourself.

"Why don't you start on this course? We can get you rolling and then you can arrange a time with the course supervisor. "These are not long courses. It depends how quick you are, but it shouldn't take more than two weeks, I would say. It also depends how much time you put in.

"It's only EUR50 together - EUR15 for the material and EUR35 for the course, which is nothing, for the data that you are getting. So do you want to pay with card or cash?" Victor continued his hard sell even when I repeatedly asked to put off paying for the course.

He said: "If you have money on your card, we can get your rolling right now, because the course supervisor could schedule you or you could schedule yourself because there are quite a number of people in the course room now.

"And the other reason I would recommend it, is because once you've started it, you kind of force yourself to do it.

"But if you put it in the future - I have some experience with this - many people say, 'Maybe next week', my suggestion would be, if you want to do it, just go for it.

"Because once you start thinking about it - I know this because for many people, things just come up in life."

My verdict? It's very difficult to continue saying no to someone who has you cornered.

For anyone out there feeling generally vulnerable, being told they are unstable and heading for a crash could be devastating - just as being told they can be fixed, for a price, could seem a dream come true.

The problem with scientology, as your cash slowly vanishes, is that the dream could become a nightmare.

WHAT IT'S BASED UPON

SCIENTOLOGY is based upon the idea that we are all constantly being pestered by invisible aliens.

People who lead the religion at highranking levels teach that Xenu was an alien who headed the Galactic Federation, an organisation of 76 planets - including Earth.

And when the planets were faced with an over-population crisis more than 75,000,000 years ago, he decided a huge culling of people was required.

The citizens were, it is claimed, gathered in large groups and killed before their souls - or, as the religion calls them, thetans - were frozen.

These were then shipped to Earth, then known as Teegeeack, and left close to volcanoes that were later destroyed in a series of high-powered nuclear explosions.

Scientology teaches that we all have our own thetan - and attached to these are destructive engrams, the leftover destructed souls from the mass killings.

And they say that only through paid counselling sessions can these destructive engrams be removed, until a State of Calm is achieved.

At this point, the so-called religion says people's thetans can achieve their full potential - and even work alone outside of a physical body.

Scientology also claims that they will make you look physically younger.

In material given at the Personal Efficiency Course they state: "By the most exact tests known, it has been proven that Scientology can greatly increase intelligence in an individual.

"And Scientology can do other things. It can reduce reaction time and it can pull the year's off one's appearance... it is a science of life and it works. It adequately handles the basic rules of life and it brings order into chaos."

 

Samuel Hamilton, March 20th, 2011

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