Marty Rathbun married his girlfriend “Mosey” this weekend – congratulations, guys! I hope you never let anything come between you, especially Scientology. (Scientologists are quick to divorce when one spouse stops believing.)
Just like a real religion, Scientology has several wedding ceremonies, and most revolve heavily around a Scientology concept known as ARC (pronounced as the letters “A-R-C,” not the word “arc”). ARC is a great example of Hubbardian twaddle – a simple concept that sounds intelligent and insightful if accepted at face value, but falls to pieces if you put even a moment’s thought into it.
ARC stands for Affinity, Reality, and Communication. Scientology defines affinity pretty much the same way the dictionary does: Liking or affection. Same for communication (an exchange of information between people).
Reality is a little different, because Scientologists do not believe in a hard-and-fast, this-is-the-way-it-is reality. In Scientologese, reality it means “agreement,” i.e. what is real for different people. If we both think L. Ron Hubbard is a fraud, we have the same reality; if you think he’s a genius and I say he’s a fraud, we are “out-reality” – we do not have agreement.
According to L. Ron Hubbard, Affinity, Reality and Communication – A, R, C – form a rigid triangle. Scientology teaches that the three points of the ARC Triangle are interrelated; you cannot have any one without the other two. We must have affinity and (common) reality in order to communicate. We must have common reality and open communications to have affinity. And we must have affinity and communications in order to have agreement (reality). Hubbard told us that if two points go up, so must the third point, and if you increase one point, you can raise the level of the other two.
What do you think? Perfectly sensible? Or complete and utter bullshit?
I say bullshit. If A, R and C were really interdependent, how the fuck would anything get done?
Example 1: The Cold War. The United States and Russia had little affinity for one another. They certainly had different realities – polar-opposite viewpoints on how society should be run. And yet communication was constant and careful, because without it, one country could very well have misinterpreted a signal and blown the entire planet to smithereens. Even without A and R, they did enough C-ing to avoid nuking each other to Kingdom Come.
Example 2: Years ago, I had a brief love affair with a woman named Nadine. We were both without partners and we were both consenting adults, and we had an absolutely mind-blowing time. But we wanted different things out of life, and after our tryst, we said good-bye and thanks and went our separate ways. Through a chain of mutual friends, I know that we both moved on to happy relationships and that neither one of us pines for the other, yet I still think of Nadine with a great deal of affection, as far as I know she feels the same. We simply lead different lives. We have little reality and no communication, and yet a great deal of affinity.
Example 3: I know a guy named Jim who hates his boss, and the boss isn’t exactly over the moon about Jim. They have no affinity for each other whatsoever. But they both want their company to succeed, and they are professional enough not to let their personal feelings get in the way, so they work together closely as needed. They continually increase their R and C, but their A remains completely non-existent.
I can think of a lot more examples – I’m actually having more fun with this than I ought to – and I’m sure you can too.
Now, if you try to tell this to a Scientologist, they will no doubt find a way to talk around it. One could successfully argue that the US and Russia had a common reality of not wanting to get blown up, or that Nadine and I have some level of communication in that we occasionally hear snippets from friends of friends of friends, or that Jim and his boss must have some sort of affinity that comes from having a common purpose. And that right there is a sign that the ARC Triangle is not just bullshit, but really good bullshit — because really good bullshit is just vague enough that it can be successfully argued either way. Hubbard really was a bullshit artist, and I use the term “artist” with no small measure of respect.
That doesn’t change the fact that affinity, reality and communication are distinct concepts. Just because they often occur at the same time, that doesn’t mean they are interdependent. Bottom line: There is no ARC Triangle.
That so many people accept the ARC Triangle as a workable concept just goes to show that if a line of bullshit can manage to sound plausible and intelligent, people will readily accept it as a belief system. Scientology relies heavily on this phenomenon. LRH’s “Technology” is rife with examples, and the ARC Triangle is just one.