Daily Archives: April 23, 2011

The truth about “Look, don’t listen”

A while back, in an Independent declaration called “A Letter from Garcia”* (PDF from Marty’s site), Luis Garcia quoted the L. Ron Hubbard phrase “Look, don’t listen,” as coming from Keeping Scientology Working, the policy that is at the core of Scientology beliefs. “Look, don’t listen” has become a rallying cry among Independents on Marty Rathbun’s blog.

Too bad Luis Garcia got it completely wrong.

The phrase “Look, don’t listen” does not actually appear in KSW, and while that may sound like nitpicking, it’s actually a very important point. Scientologists are all about “duplicating” (knowing/ memorizing) LRH’s tech, and there is a ban on “verbal tech” – it is against the rules to tell someone about a policy; instead, one must physically show them the written LRH reference. So it surprised me that such a pro-LRH group would repeatedly cite “Look, don’t listen” as coming from KSW.

Ever the optimist, I tried pointing this out on Marty’s blog. Naturally, Marty censored my comment and ignored my email.

So I figured I may as well set the record straight, because the true meaning of “Look, don’t listen” is actually pretty telling about the Scientology mindset. Put on your tin foil hats and let’s get started!

LOOK DON’T LISTEN is actually the name of a Scientology policy (HCO PL 16 March 1972 Issue I), which is part of the Establishment Officer series. The job of the Establishment Officer (“Esto”) is to establish the organization. He or she makes sure an organization and its staff have everything needed to produce products – training, supplies, a desk, a working phone, etc. – and that those products get produced.

Basically, an Esto is a cross between a troubleshooter and an ass-kicker. If there’s some problem keeping you from pulling your weight – whether it’s that you’re out of paper clips or that you’re a lazy, incompetent twit – it’s the Esto’s job to find the cause and solve it. Back in my Admin Tech days, I regarded Estos as a force for good – but I was in the business world, not the looking-glass world of a religious Scientology org.

Anyway, here’s some of what Hubbard has to say in LOOK DON’T LISTEN:

“An Establishment Officer who stands around or sits around just talking to people or seniors [people of higher rank] is dev-t [developed traffic, a waste of time and resources].

“If these people knew what was wrong the stats would be in Power. So if they aren’t, why gab?

“A GOOD ESTO LOOKS…. THE SCENE IS RIGHT BEFORE ONE’S EYES. [Statistic] graphs are rising or they are level or falling… Products are appearing or they are not… None of these things are verbal.

“You start listening and you get PR [Public Relations], problems, distractions, 3rd partying, etc., etc. An Esto gets into a cycle of: Outpoint [problem], handle, outpoint, handle, outpoint, handle. He hasn’t looked and he hasn’t found a why. So the scene will get worse.

“You can’t know what’s happening in a kitchen by talking to a cook. Because he’s not cooking just then. You can’t know how good the food is without tasting it.

“To adjust a scene you have to LOOK AT IT.” — LRH

So what LOOK DON’T LISTEN really says is that if a person isn’t getting his job done, don’t ask why and don’t listen to what he has to say. Just look at the stats, look at the production, look at what’s going on, and you will find your answers.

One could see this as a little Draconian (“Why have you written so few letters this week?” “Well, my wife of 38 years just died in a freak sewing accident, and I’m a little depressed.” “GET OVER IT AND START WRITING! WE HAVE A PLANET TO SALVAGE!”). But the policy does make sense, especially if you’re not overly concerned with the feelings and morale of your employees: If the job isn’t getting done, then it isn’t getting done, and that’s that.

Ronald Reagan espoused a more compassionate version of this policy, but while LRH stretched it out to three pages, Reagan said it in three words: “Trust, but verify.”

So that’s the origin of “Look, Don’t Listen” — not exactly the fodder for a battle cry, although I do see the point. Indies will say that if you listen to the Church of $cientology, you will hear them say that Scientology is stronger than ever. But if you look, you’ll see empty Churches, low completions (when they are even published), and more negative press than the Church has ever known.

That said, even Independent Scientologists are only willing to look so far. Marty often talks about the crimes of David Miscavige. One need only LOOK at the actual Scientology policies written by L. Ron Hubabrd to see that Dave learned his evil ways from L. Ron Hubbard. How quick they are to forget the horrors carried out under LRH’s iron rule! Sadly, most Scientologists are satisfied merely to LISTEN to what their leaders have to say and ignore the uncomfortable truths. Why move out of their comfort zone?

The fact is that Scientologists are trained to LOOK – but only inwards, never outwards.


* The title “Letter to Garcia” is inspired by the short book “Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard (no relation), which is popular among Scientologists. You can read the text here. The gist is that a man named Capt. Rowan was told to take a letter from President McKinley to Garcia, leader of the Cuban rebels. Rowan didn’t ask for a plan; he simply took the letter, snuck into Cuba, made his way past hostile troops to cross the island, and delivered his message in four days. This devotion to duty fits in with Scientology’s “Make it go right” philosophy: Don’t ask questions, don’t wonder how, just find a way to get the damn thing done, no matter what it takes.