(Note: For a long-winded introduction to L. Ron Hubbard’s Administration Technology, go here.)
The subject of statistics may sound boring, but statistics are huge in Scientology. Huge. And not just in the Admin Tech. If you want to understand how Scientologists think, you need to understand how they think about statistics.
In any Scientology or Admin Tech organization, every job is assigned a statistic: How much money in donations you collected, how many hits your web site got, how many new people you assigned to the RPF, etc. At the end of the week – which, in Scientology, is Thursday at 2:00pm (no, really) – employees look at the trend in their statistics, which determines what they will do the following week.
Statistical analysis for simpletons
Trend analysis in Scientology is simple: Draw a line from one point on the graph to the next and look at the angle of the line. For long-term stats, one simply draws a line that looks like it runs roughly through the middle of the graph.
At first glance, this might seem like a simple, common-sense way to approach the highly complicated subject of statistical analysis (unless you’re a professional statistician, in which case you’ve probably just pissed yourself laughing). But think of all the things that can change the angle of a trend line, such as the scale of the graph or the size of the computer window or the paper on which it’s drawn. Simply switching to a wide-screen monitor can change the angle of the line. This is why real statistical analysis uses math rather than eyeballed best-fit lines.
You may ask yourself how Hubbard could pick such an error-prone method – was he that foolish? Actually, there’s a very good reason, which I’ll get to shortly.
One uses the angle of the trend line to assign a “condition” – the assessment that determines how one is doing and what one does next. There are no numerical thresholds (i.e. 0 to 30 degrees is this condition, 31 to 60 is this one, etc.); one simply eyeballs the trend line and has a guess. A line that drops sharply to the bottom of the graph means that one is in the condition of Non-Existence. A sharp downtrend is Danger. A flat or slightly down-sloping graph is Emergency. A slight rise is Normal, a steep rise is Affluence, and a plateau at a high level is Power. Based on the condition one is in, one completes a series of steps called a “condition formula,” which I’ll talk about in Part 3 of this series.
Where stats fall down
The idea is that one’s stats should always be rising. Of course, this isn’t always possible, as some stats have inherent limits. If you are an organization’s tree trimmer, and your stat is Number of Trees Trimmed Per Day, and there are only 20 trees on the property, what do you do when you hit 20? Ask management to plant more trees? Or go next door to do some guerilla gardening?
In other jobs, increasing stats can cause problems. Let’s say you’re a letter registrar and your stat is the number of letters written. On a good day, you can crank out 75 letters. But if you do 75 letters a day for three weeks in a row, your stat is in Emergency. How do you write more letters? Work longer hours? Fine, but you eventually have to work 24/7 to keep your stat rising, and even if you could do that, you’ll wind up in Emergency again. So you write faster, your handwriting gets messier, and you substitute quantity for quality – a frequent problem among Admin Tech-based businesses, as well as the Church.
Sometimes your statistic is outside of your immediate control. Maybe you’re a fireman, and your stat is the number of fires extinguished. How are you supposed to increase that stat? Become an arsonist?
Like the whole “eyeball the line” thing, this seems terribly imprecise, but there is, once again, good reason for such imprecision – it forms a very convenient loophole.
The problem is you
Let’s say someone has increasing stats, but business isn’t getting better. Clearly, that would indicate that the Admin Tech isn’t working, right? Wrong! The Admin Tech always works. Along comes the Director of Inspections and Reports (D/I&R) to do a “stat analysis.” The D/I&R will find something wrong with the way the stats were plotted – maybe the graph wasn’t scaled correctly, or the angle of the line wasn’t quite right for the condition that was assigned. Bingo! The problem isn’t that the “technology” isn’t working, it’s that it wasn’t being applied properly. Blame is attached to the person, not the method, and we have yet more “proof” that “the tech always works.”
Or maybe the person isn’t using the correct stat. Number of fires put out? Wrong! This person should have been looking at the average time to put out a fire. (Of course, that will cause problems down the road, too, but that’s OK – we’ll come up with something different in the next stat analysis.)
The Admin Tech’s misuse of stats is just one of reason why Admin Tech businesses never make the Fortune Five Hundred. Hubbard’s oversimplified version of “management by statistics” sounds good in theory, but in practice it causes chaos. And when the system breaks down, as it frequently does, its practitioners are trained to blame themselves rather than Hubbard’s faulty methodology. (I told you Hubbard was an evil genius!)
Statistics: The human factor
If you think Hubbardian statistical management can mess with a business, you should see what it can do to a human life.
At the beginning of this article, I said that understanding Scientology statistics is vital to understanding how Scientologists think. L. Ron Hubbard taught that statistics aren’t just a way of evaluating business performance. They are a way of evaluating human performance. To a Scientologist, stats are everything. LRH explains in a policy called “Rewards and Penalties” (HCO PL 6 March 1966 Issue 1, reprinted in full here):
We award production and up statistics and penalize nonproduction and down statistics. Always. Also 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…Reward the up statistic and damn the down and we’ll all make out.
According to Hubbard, governments go wrong because they reward down statistics with programs like welfare and socialized medicine. (Amended Aims of Scientology: “A civilization where the able can prosper and the poor and sick can be left to die alone.”) Scientology is determined not to go the same way. If stats are down, there is no mercy:
So don’t even consider someone with a steadily down statistic as part of the team. Investigate, yes. Try, yes. But if it stays down, don’t fool about. The person is drawing pay and position and privilege for not doing his job and that’s too much reward even there. Don’t get reasonable about down statistics. They are down because they are down. If someone were on the post [i.e. doing their job], they would be up. And act on that basis. Any duress leveled by [the] Ethics [department] should be reserved for down statistics.
In a business environment, this is understandable, if a bit draconian – if someone isn’t doing their job, get rid of them. But in Scientology, the concept extends to all aspects of life.
Abuses explained by statistics
The worst effects of this are seen in Scientology’s secretive Sea Organization. Most protesters know about the Rehabilitation Project Force, or RPF, the Sea Org’s in-house penal colony. RPFers are “down-stat,” which explains their inhuman living conditions. Never reward a down statistic.
It also explains the appalling and unsanitary conditions in the Sea Org’s day care system, the Cadet Org. Scientology sees children as “downstat.” Remember, according to Scientology, we are all trillion-year-old thetans (spirits), and a child is just a thetan in a small body. Thanks to those pesky child labor laws, children consume resources but produce very little (a condition known in Scientology “out-exchange,” meaning they are not exchanging valuable goods or services in return for what they receive). If gives a young child nice clothes, good food, toys, trips to Disneyland, etc., one is rewarding a down statistic. This partially explains the issue of abortions in the Sea Org – management does not want children around, and parents who know what the Sea Org and Cadet Org is like (and who still have some shred of independent thought) might understandably choose not to bring a child into such an environment.
It is some small consolation to know that the worst of these stat-related abuses seem to be limited to the Sea Org. Employees of admin tech companies are protected by labor laws; managers cannot impose longer hours and rice-and-beans for lunch as they can in the Sea Org. And in keeping with the Scientology policy of telling “acceptable truth,” public Scientologists are not instructed to treat their children with a minimum amount of care, as this would be bad public relations (“out-PR”). Sure, Sea Org abuses are reported in the news media — but Scientologists know that reporters are untrustworthy wogs who frequently make up stories about their religion. After all, if Scientology was such a bad group, would their stats be up?
The Independents do it too
Nevertheless, the stats-uber-alles mentality pervades among Scientologists. Were you confused by the weird Annual Report entry on Marty’s blog, which repeatedly cited numbers of comments as proof of Marty’s success? Now you understand – to a Scientologist, stats are the only real measure of success. (If you ever get to watch an IAS event – there are clips on YouTube and full videos floating around the Internet – you’ll see the same barrage of meaningless stats. Incidentally, anyone who runs a blog (and many who don’t) will tell you that comments are a lousy way to gauge blog traffic. As a free WordPress subscriber, Marty has access to stats on “hits” – perhaps the story isn’t so good.)
The tragedy of Scientology statistics
The Scientology fixation on statistics is nothing short of a tragedy. L. Ron Hubbard taught his followers that they are judged not on who they are, but on what they do. You could be Mother Teresa, you could be Martin Luther King Jr., you could be Mark Bunker – but the minute your stats go down, in the eyes of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, you are a worthless, downstat bum.
NEXT: In Part 3 of this series, I’ll talk about the Condition Formulas, and you’ll see why Scientologists and Scientology groups are both surprisingly predictable and intrinsically hog-tied.