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The Natural Philosophy of Scientology

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Someone went way overboard, and mailed packets of suspicious white powder to a number of Scientology offices. Fail; it terrified a bunch of people and wasted time and resources better utilized keeping the peace and tracking down Osama. This act has been vilified in the blogosphere, and Anonymous has condemned it and declared itself innocent of provoking this sort of behavior. Many have commented that this would make a good form of black propaganda, noting the many misdeeds of major and minor Scientologists.

If this was a Scientology operation, then it was done by a squirrel. Ditto if it was an Anon op. Not standard tech! The more I study these guys the less I believe that your average Scientologist is crazy or immoral; they are sane, rational, and follow the same basic code of ethics that the rest of us do. Good, solid citizens that you want for next door neighbors. They might try to give you a copy of Dianetics, but as long as you respect their beliefs they’ll respect theirs.

But if you are hostile to their beliefs, there is a good chance they’ll label you a suppressive person and consider you fair game. This is unfortunate and all to common in CoS, anybody who openly disagrees with their view of the world is persecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law, and sometimes beyond. This meme has been very damaging and is leading to a public relations nightmare that the church might not ever recover from.

Scientology was nominally founded as a way to improve the human condition through Science and Dianetics. Find me one Scientologist that would disagree with this and I’ll give you a nickel. But in order to practice the Scientific Method, you must publicize your finding for peer review, allow people to disagree with your findings, and even attempt to discredit them. You must take people’s criticisms and address them, and even discredit your own findings if you become convinced by evidence that you were wrong.

Indeed, this is a very accurate representation of L Ron Hubbard’s earliest activities, although he was of the type to rarely be convinced he was wrong about anything. Still, he tried to answer every critic, and deal with every situation; obsessively detailing exactly how everything should be painstakingly interpreted and resolved in order to make the idea all hang together. In this he behaved almost exactly like a scientific revolutionary, in the Kuhnian sense.

THIS DID NOT CONTINUE. The organization became more and more insulated as the attacks on their belief system became more hostile. They were called a cult, and started to behave like one. LRH became more and more isolated, always surrounded by adoring believers who thought he was the best thetan incarnation to come around in trillions of years. By definition it is impossible to practice Good Science in that environment The system became extremely hierarchal and tightly secretive. These days, to openly disagree with the church became exactly the same as mocking someone’s religious faith, and it is not taken lightly.

This is a far cry from where Scientology began, and it’s my personal belief the young LRH would be heartbroken if he saw his legacy today. He got rich, yes, but he lost the very basis of scientific value along the way. I’m a big science fiction fan, and Hubbard was one of the founding members of this genre. Their views on religion were extremely influential, as were their views on science. These were unmistakable and obvious values of the science fiction of Hubbard’s early career, causing many a Christian to vilify scifi as atheistic and humanistic propaganda. I’ve read a ton of it, and I think that’s a pretty fair judgment. They convinced me!

Nowadays, both Science and Science Fiction have moved into new territory, while Scientology is stuck in the 1940s. We now understand that rigid and authoritarian tech guidelines can never accurately model robust complex behavior. We understand that electroshock therapy really F’s people up, as does giving kids a bunch of mood altering drugs. Complexity, decentralization, networks and computation are everywhere around us, yet were practically unknown in the golden age of scifi. We understand that the clockwork universe is a myth, as we stare into the throat of the Singularity.

Is Scientology a corporation or a religion? Is it a sociological cult or a personality cult? Are they Amway or Jonestown? A knowing fraud or an honest delusion? Maybe it’s all true and 100% correct and Scientific Rationalists are the crazy ones. Probably something in between. I’m still checking it out.

Word of God Copyrighted?

Original Posted Date: January 24, 2006 – Tuesday – 5:24 AM

Recently the Catholic Church has decided to impose copyright on all papal pronouncements.

Scary, huh?  Especially when you consider the dogma of Infallible Magisterium,which essentially says that the pope can speak for God..  Think about this for a moment; in a sense the Catholic Church has copyrighted the word of God.  Now try to tell me religion isn’t all about money and control.

Copyright is an extremely important issue right now, threatening many of our freedoms, free speech being the most important.  Here are some links that  provide more information:
EFF
Boing Boing
Corante

Update: Two years later and I’m reposting this on WordPress due to moving my blog.  These days copyrighting religion is a much more popular topic due to Scientology DMCA abuse.

The iTunes Killer: Amazon MP3

Posted Date: September 25, 2007 – Tuesday – 2:55 PM
Amazon has announced the beta release of a massive online music store:

“Every song and album on Amazon MP3 is available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. This means that Amazon MP3 customers are free to enjoy their music downloads using any hardware device, including PCs, Macs, iPods, Zunes, Zens, iPhones, RAZRs, and BlackBerrys; organize their music using any music management application such as iTunes or Windows Media Player; and burn songs to CDs.”

I’d also add my new LG Chocolate cell phone to the list.  In fact, any electronic music player will work with mp3s.  This is to compare to iTunes music, which can only be played on the iPod.

For anybody who has read my blog with any regularity knows how I feel about DRM, so this is a huge win.  I’m already getting my indie music from emusic.com, and now I can get the mainstream stuff from Amazon.

Woot!  Now if only I can find some decent major label music…any suggestions?