Category Archives: LRH Tech

Sociopathic behavior

I originally intended this blog entry as a quickie, a simple prediction of how the Church would react to Marty Rathbun’s latest blog entry, the sociopath next door (a review of a book of that title, by the way, and not just another assessment of Church leader David Miscavige). Easy prediction: This Church-run site will accuse Marty of not only using non-LRH tech, but relying on a source written by – *gasp* – a psychiatrist. (Author Martha Stout is actually a psychologist, but to most Scientologists, it’s all the same.)

Understand that in Scientology, this is a Huge Deal – equivalent to a devout Christian saying that it might have been better if Jesus loosened up and got himself laid now and then.

Besides what I expected from the article – Marty saying that Dr. Stout’s findings validate the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, which they don’t quite, and I’ll talk about that in a minute – Marty does make an interesting point that is useful for protesters.

He talks about the period of “decompression,” when people have just left Scientology, and how he says it’s common to turn away from Scientology altogether – something, I was surprised to learn, that even he did — although his reasons came back to Church management rather than LRH:

“During my own decompression period I did not want to read or hear anything about Scientology. That included reading Hubbard books or listening to his lectures. While I never doubted any gains I had achieved and used my training in living life, delving back into the subject brought about depressing emotions with the recognition that the entity that ‘owned’ the technology was for all intents and purposes destroying it. I have found that many people shared that resistance during their decompressions.”

Interesting. Other Scientologists have talked about this “waking up” period, although I don’t know if the idea that the frustration has to do with current management is universal – perhaps it’s Marty just trying to plant a seed in the minds of potential customers. Or perhaps that’s really how he felt. Regardless, it’s an interesting insight into the mindset of someone leaving the Church – and something we can all keep in mind as we talk to people who are leaving, or thinking of leaving.

Thanks for the data, Marty.

Let’s talk about Marty’s conclusions about Stout’s book and Scientology “tech.” We’re used to hearing Scientologists say that some modern-day work validates the findings of L. Ron Hubbard (although few would dare to say that about the writings of an “evil psych”). Marty writes:

“Her observations are remarkably parallel to Hubbard’s description of the Suppressive Person. Note, modern accepted characteristics of the sociopath very closely align with Hubbard’s descriptions of the emotional tone level of Covert Hostility and of the Suppressive Person. This is so much the case that I have taken to using the terms ‘suppressive person’ and ‘sociopath’ interchangeably.

“But, Stout’s first and foremost marker for the sociopath is more complementary of Hubbard’s work than it is duplicative. Per Stout, the sociopath first and foremost lacks conscience. It is a very useful and workable observation she shares.”

Interesting, and I’m impressed that Marty differentiates between “complimentary” and “duplicative”. But Marty did leave out one huge, glaring fact.

A sociopath is generally defined by the “Wog world” as someone who has no conscience, no concerns about right and wrong, and feels no remorse. It is considered a form of antisocial personality disorder.

Hubbard used several definitions for Supressive Person, and many of them conformed to the definitions used by mental health experts; he even used the term “anti-social personality” as a synonym. (No, the mental health experts did not get this from Hubbard; according to Webster’s dictionary, the term “sociopath” was first coined in 1930.)

But among his long list of definitions, Hubbard has this one: “[O]ne that actively seeks to suppress or damage Scn or a Scientologist by suppressive acts.” (Source: Technical Dictionary of Dianetics and Scientology.)

And what are suppressive acts? “1. acts calculated to impede or destroy Scn or a Scientologist. 2. actions or omissions undertaken to knowingly suppress, reduce or impede Scn or Scientologists” (ibid).

So, you see, according to Hubbard, one could be a sociopath by displaying conscience-free antisocial behavior…or by speaking out against Scientology. (So, per Hubbard’s definition, I am a sociopath, and if you’re reading this, chances are you are, too.)

More significant and ominous is the implication that impeding Scientology is just as bad as acting with no conscience or remorse.

And let’s face it, to die-hard Scientologists – from Rathbun to Miscavige – that’s true. (Eternal spiritual freedom, dontcha know.)

Of course, Marty seems unwilling to accept Dr. Stout’s conclusions that don’t jibe with Hubbard’s:

“…the last 1/3 or so of Stout’s book meanders down a sometimes painful path of speculations about possible genetic sources for sociopathy… I was able to recognize that despite Stout’s wonderful contributions (and clearly unintended validation of Hubbard’s work) modern mental health practitioners, regardless of their evolutionary progress over the past four decades, are still shackled by their inability to perceive or unwillingness to credit the spirit or soul.”

Translation: Hubbard: 1, Mental Heath Profession: 0.

The ironic thing is that I have read opinions that L. Ron Hubbard may well have been a sociopath, as demonstrated by his willingness to lie to all and sundry, behavior that indicated he felt he was exempt from consequences, and his alleged lack of remorse after tragic events like the jailing of his wife and the suicide of his son Quentin. (Hubbard’s alleged response: “That stupid fucking kid! Look what he’s done to me!”)

We’ll wait to see if the Churchies condemn Marty’s latest as I expect they will. And I think Marty’s article is an excellent illustration of how Scientology affects one’s perception of the outside world. Scientologists are trained to recognize information that parallels Hubbard’s writings and give him credit, and reject anything that doesn’t agree with Hubbard (“what’s true for you is true”).

Question for Marty: If you think I’m wrong about that, would you be willing to say that Hubbard was wrong about labeling people who were antagonistic towards Scientology as sociopaths?

The comments section is open, Marty – remember, around here, dissenting viewpoints are never censored.

You can find Marty’s original blog entry here.


Where’s Ron?

I was reading yet another Scientology declaration of independence – this one by OT8 Ziba Feulner – and one particular passage stood out:

“The Gestapo-like ethics and justice machinery of Miscavige cull these people’s PC folders for overts revealed in confidential sessions and publish them on SP Declares; examples are Mark Rathbun or Mike Rinder. What other church does this? Would LRH do something like that? NO, he would NOT!”

Actually, LRH probably would – and did. As we know, there is plenty of evidence that L. Ron Hubbard was a ruthless man who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted, including cutting off his children and letting his wife go to prison for Scientology’s crimes.

But let’s pretend that wasn’t the case. Let’s say Ms. Feulner is correct, and David Miscavige really has steered the Church of Scientology away from the course set by Hubbard.

Why hasn’t LRH come back to fix it?

Think about it: According to Scientology technology – which, Ms. Fuelner writes, “works 100% if applied correctly” – LRH didn’t die in 1986; he voluntarily dropped his body, and his immortal soul, or Thetan, lives on. According to LRH, Operating Thetans are not bound by matter, energy, space or time. LRH and other OTs can move about the universe as they please, and grab a new body, human or otherwise, as needed.

Since LRH worked so hard to free Earth, and since he repeatedly told his Scientologists that they were the only hope for Mankind and/or the Universe, one would think he’d drop by periodically to check in on things. Surely he would have noticed what David Miscavige has done to the Church. Why hasn’t he grabbed a body and started kicking some ass?

The way I see it, there are two possible answers.

1) LRH’s technology was wrong. Either a, the soul does not really live on; b, LRH’s idea of the Thetan was not correct; or c, his procedures for freeing the soul do not work.

2) LRH has been here to inspect things, and he’s perfectly happy with the way David Miscavige is running the Church.

I suppose there is a third option, which is that LRH is busy elsewhere and hasn’t made time to check on the Church, but I find this extremely unlikely. LRH maintained tight links to his followers for the 35 years between writing Dianetics and his death. I can’t see him staying hands-off for the next 25, unless he lacked the ability to return.

I don’t see a way to explain this one away. The good news is that this is just one of many ways in which Scientology doesn’t stand up to logic and thought. That’s a key element of LRH “technology:” Bury ’em in bullshit, and fill in enough minutiae that they won’t think things through forthemselves. Because people who think things through tend to leave Scientology for good.

Incidentally, the Feulner declare shows the danger of relying solely on a single course for information about Scientology. In her declaration, Ms. Feulner asks “Where is Mr. Heber Jentzsch, one of our most favorite leaders in Scientology?” and refers to Marty’s Free Heber post. I’ve already supplied the answer: According to Rathbun supporter Karen de la Carriere, Heber was in Los Angeles visiting his son three days after Marry’s post. I notice that in the 200 or so comments following the declaration, neither Marty nor any of his sheep have bothered to set Ms. Feulner straight (and if anyone has, Marty censored the comment). OVIIIs like Ms. Feulner have money, and it wouldn’t be good for business if she knew that her beloved Heber Jentzsch is most likely staying in the Church of his own free will.


History of Fair Game, Part 1: What did Hubbard really say?

A recent comment exchange on Marty’s site (starting here) led me to do some research into the Fair Game law. Now, when critics cite the Fair Game law, they often refer to the following passage from a Hubbard Communication Office Policy Letter (HCO PL) which has long since been deleted from the Management volumes:

“ENEMY – SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”


Scientologists, both Independent and Church-going, frequently fire back with this definition:

“A Suppressive Person or Group becomes ‘fair game’. By FAIR GAME is meant, may not be further protected by the codes and disciplines of Scientology or the rights of a Scientologist.”


But what they won’t tell you – in fact, what they may not even know – is that this was Hubbard’s second definition of Fair Game. In the first version of this policy, issued on March 7th, 1965 and now very difficult to find, Hubbard wrote:

“By Fair Game is meant, without rights for self, possessions or position, and no Scientologist may be brought before a Committee of Evidence or punished for any action taken against a Suppressive Person or Group during the period that person or group is ‘fair game’.”

The old definition of Fair Game does not appear in the Admin Tech volumes (and as of 2001, all references to Fair Game appear to have been eliminated altogether). I’ve read that the original Fair Game definition appeared in the 1968 version of Introduction to Scientology Ethics; the current version has also been scrubbed of all Fair Game references.

And what of the phrase “May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed”? Technically, that phrase refers not to fair game, but to people in the condition of Enemy, and that PL was replaced by a slightly softer version a year later:

“May be restrained or imprisoned. May not be protected by any rules or laws of the group he sought to injure as he sought to destroy or bar fair practices for others. May not be trained or processed or admitted to any org.”


This definition was canceled in 1970, and then reinstated in 1971 (HCO PL 19 October 1971, ETHICS PENALTIES REINSTATED). So the softer definition – complete with the phrase “May be restrained or imprisoned” – remains valid L. Ron Hubbard policy to this day.

So what did Hubbard really mean? For most of us, this is a fairly black and white issue. Hubbard may have canceled his original Fair Game and Enemy definitions, but that doesn’t change the fact that he came up with them in the first place. Unless, of course, you are a Scientologist. To their way of thinking, the fact that Hubbard replaced the original definitions means the originals no longer exist. Intent may matter to us, but not to a Scientologist – at least, not as far as Hubbard is concerned.

In my next blog entry, we’ll comb through LRH’s policy to trace the history of the Fair Game law. I’ll present the facts, and you can make your own decision about Hubbard’s intentions – and about whether Fair Game ever really was canceled.


“Push-button McScientology:” Hubbard would have loved it!

A while back, Marty Rathbun published an entry criticizing David Miscavige for what he called push-button McScientology. The “document” he reveals is another alleged transcript from a half-decade-old speech, but let’s give Marty the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s accurate, if outdated. Anyway, it refers to DM wanting to install menu-driven audio-visual (A/V) kiosks at Scientology churches to introduce people to the subject, rather than hear about it from live people. The idea is that people can get instant Scientology answers to whatever issue they face, all at the push of a button.

Marty accuses David Miscavige of trying to eliminate the human factor from Scientology dissemination, and he’s correct. But from what I know about Scientology, I think DM’s video idea plays right into what Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard would have wanted.

Despite its reliance on cheap labor, very little of the manpower that runs Scientology is used to actually teach Scientology. While “auditing” (counseling) is done with another person – and eventually on one’s own – much of Scientology study consists of taking courses, which are delivered in Scientology course rooms.

Course rooms don’t have teachers; they have “supervisors” – and they aren’t allowed to teach. They can only steer “students” to LRH policies or dictionaries, look at their clay demos (Scientologists build models out of clay to show they understand concepts), and test them on what they have studied, but the actual information they are learning is supposed to come exclusively from tapes or writings – never from the Supervisor’s mouth. That way, there is no room for interpretation; students learn exactly what LRH wanted them to learn. And they are further conditioned to credit no one but LRH for delivering that information.

Matter of fact, explaining LRH’s “technology” is a sin — a major one. Christians, Jews and Muslims are free to sit up all night and debate the meaning of Bible or Koran passages, but not Scientologists! They are only allowed to show each other written references. Telling someone about a policy or bulletin is considered “verbal tech” and is a major sin. From the Admin Dictionary:

“VERBAL TECH: about the most ghastly thing to have around is verbal tech which means tech without reference to an HCOB [official Scientology bulletin] and direct handling out of the actual material.”

Here’s some of what the Ol’ Fraud Hisself had to say about verbal tech (sorry to shout, but LRH wrote the first policy all in caps):




“The worst thing would be to pretend to have a course but have missing materials and Supervisors giving verbal advice or tech.” — HCOB 27 June 1971, SUPERVISOR TWO-WAY COMM EXPLAINED

“If it isn’t written it isn’t true.” — HCOB 9 Feb 1979, HOW TO DEFEAT VERBAL TECH

Now, in the real world, one way to see if a student understands a concept is to have him explain it in his own words. But in Scientology, that’s a major no-no. Know what the Scientologese word for “learn” is? It’s “duplicate.” Now you know why.

It gets better: Not only can supervisors not actually teach the work, but students may not discuss it with each other. Most course room “study” is done on one’s own, but students must occasionally work together, a process known as “twinning.” Since Scientology is all about isolation, it’s no surprise that Hubbard wrote a long policy dictating the rules of twinning, including a warning that students must not exchange opinions about the material:

“The issues on verbal tech, HCOB 9 Feb 79 HOW TO DEFEAT VERBAL TECH and HCOB 15 Feb 79 VERBAL TECH PENALTIES, should be well-known in the course room.

“Even so, students, particularly when they are new, sometimes get into an exchange of verbal data or opinion while they are twinning. A Supervisor must be on the alert for this and step in to handle at once when he observes it happening. He … always refers the students to the above mentioned HCOBs on verbal tech.” — HCOB 21 August 1979, TWINNING

This is why I think Hubbard would have loved the idea of an all-A/V org – it’s the perfect way to wipe out the scourge of “verbal tech.” Even the best trained Scientologist can’t be expected to remember everything about the Tech – hell, not even Hubbard could keep it all straight. So why risk missing out on a chance to provide the right answer and sign up a new Scientologist?

The idea of A/V dissemination is not new. Remember, Hubbard was obsessed with making films – a fact David Miscavige would know, as he was one of Hubbard’s favorite cameramen. But at the time Hubbard was alive, reproducing films was an expensive and time-consuming process. Video was still in its infancy, and quality was not good.

Today, we have the ability to instantly broadcast HD-quality video to any place in the world from a central server, providing perfect quality with total control over the message – exactly what LRH wanted. If LRH was alive today, he might well give David Miscavige a gold star, a written commendation, and a pat on his little head for his A/V kiosk concept.


My OT powers at work

Just a quick post to validate my Operating Thetan powers! In my last post, I predicted that Marty would leave the Mayo thing behind and get back to his “greatest hits”: Talking about how David Miscavige is screwing up the Church. Sure enough, that’s exactly what his latest post, Doomsday Dave – KoS pt 2 is – complete with unverifiable hand-typed “dox”.

Stand in awe of my ability to predict the future! Or, better yet, stand in awe of L. Ron Hubbard’s “condition formulas,” which dictate exactly what a Scientologist must do in any situation. In this case, Marty’s readership is slowly starting to trend back up, showing an apparent recovery from the Mayo fiasco. If Marty is watching stats daily, he’s in the condition of Normal, and he’s following Hubbard’s instructions:

“Don’t change anything… If a statistic betters, look it over carefully and find out what bettered it and then do that without abandoning what you were doing before.”

Marty went back to trashing David Miscavige and his stats went up, so he’ll do more of that. And he can turn to his friends and say once again how LRH’s technology, when properly applied, always works.

One wonders how “wog” businesses manage to survive without Hubbard’s tech. I mean, the concept that if a new product or service fails, you should get rid of it and go back to what sells, and if something improves your bottom line, you do more of it – this is earth-shattering Teeegeeak-shattering stuff! It’s amazing the wheels of commerce didn’t grind to a halt before Ron came along.


I’ll get back to talking tech and policy tomorrow, I promise. Unless Marty does something irresistibly bone-headed, that is!

Incidentally, Gerry Armstrong wrote an interesting essay on this whole Mayo fiasco. I disagree with his religious views, but I always respect the opinion of Hubbard and Scientology from those who were neck-deep and got completely out.


Reverse! Reverse! Full throttle! Reverse!

I have a blog entry on “Look Don’t Listen” almost ready to go, but I can’t resist posting a commentary on Marty’s latest, The King of the Squirrels.

This is what is known in Scientology as an attempt to repair an ARC break. For those unfamiliar, the “ARC Triangle” is Affinity, Reality, and Communication. In Scientologese, affinity means regard or liking; reality means a common point of agreement; and communication means the same thing it does in English. According to LRH, these three things go hand-in-hand, and raising one factor will raise the other two. (This isn’t entirely true, something I talked about in this blog entry.)

What Marty did was go out-reality with his public, thereby causing an ARC break. Translation: Marty said something people disagreed with (David Mayo is a bad guy) and pissed people off. So how does Marty fix this? He has to get reality (agreement) back in by posting something his readers will agree with: David Miscavige is a ruthless little twat who is ruining Scientology. Can’t go wrong with that!

As part of his damage control, Marty tries to downplay the controversy:

“The earlier beginning to my having even gotten into this terrain, was a controversial comment of mine to the effect that folk promoting their skype auditing, and long-distance internet NOTs supervision was, in my view, squirrel.”

That’s a rather creative way of looking at things, especially when you consider what Marty actually said:

“I have noticed over the past year several old AACers coming out of retirement and hanging up their shingles… Well, over the past couple months I have had some bedraggled souls wind up on my doorstep who have been mauled by old-timer squirrels… Squirrels leave the church seeking freedom to do whatever hair-brained scheme their banks feed them.”

No matter; the way I see it, the real reason this whole thing started (and forgive me if I’m repeating myself) was that Marty posted what amounted to an advertisement for his auditing services, saying that he has legitimate OT-level materials (because the OT5-OT7 materials published on the Internet by Mayo are legit) and he’s best qualified to deliver them (because other Free Zone auditors are – and I quote his original post – “hucksters, clowns and pick-pockets”).

No matter what spin he puts on it, the bottom line is that Marty pissed off the faithful, so now he’s doing what any good performer does: Give ’em what they want. If a comic tries some new material and it bombs, what does he do? Go back to the old stuff that always gets a laugh. In this case, there’s nothing like some anti-DM rhetoric and a Tale from the Ol’ Days to rally the troops.

Of course, if one reads between the lines, one can see that Marty’s foot is still firmly in his mouth. After all, he just labeled David Mayo and his ilk as squirrels, and now he’s calling David Miscavige the King of All Squirrels. So basically, he’s lumping Mayo in with Miscavige. (Marty was less subtle in his previous post, where he came right out and classed them together as “iconoclasts.”)

So will this latest post alienate his followers even further?

Of course not!

See, Scientologists have a knack for ignoring uncomfortable truths – all you have to do is give them some little shred they can agree on and they’ll rally around it. (I shouldn’t single out Scientologists; this is a common trait among the blindly faithful.) All it takes is a shiny object to distract them, and an anti-Miscavige story is the perfect gem.

And the proof that this works is in the comment section: Karen De La Carriere has returned with this comment about how evil David Miscavige is. I bet Marty breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that! And unlike her defense of David Mayo, after which Marty wisely kept his trap shut, this time he was Johnny on the spot with a reply – six minutes after she posted her comment, he replied with “Nice sum up Karen. Your conclusion is absolutely spot on.” Way to go, Marty – the customer is always right!

Judging from the comments posted – or at least the ones Marty didn’t censor – the shitstorm isn’t entirely over, but the worst has passed. If Marty is smart, his next few posts will get back to basics: More trashing of DM and stories of Scientologists leaving the Church, and fewer advertisements and swipes at Free Zone auditors.

Personally, I’m hoping Marty isn’t that smart, because this has been a very entertaining week!


Related: The BS of ARC

Positioning, Misunderstanding Of

Back in college I read a fantastic book called Positioning, which is now considered a marketing classic. The basic idea behind Positioning is that brands occupy a sort of ladder in the mind, and the goal is to be on the top step. If I ask you what the number-one fast food chain is, chances are you will say McDonalds. If I ask you about cola, you’ll probably think of Coke. Those brands occupy the lead position in your mind.

So when I went to work for a company that uses Scientology’s “Administrative Technology,” I was pleased to see that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was also a fan of Positioning; in fact, The Positioning Era, an article which preceded the book, is reprinted in the current Admin Tech volumes as HCO PL 13 September 1988R. (For those who have this PDF, it’s in MS3 under Marketing Series.)

The realization that Scientology embraced Positioning was like running into an old friend in a foreign country. I was hugely relieved. Finally, I thought, some proven marketing methodolody that actually makes sense!

But my joy was short-lived when I turned the page and came to a Hubbard policy called HCO PL 30 January 1979, POSITIONING, PHILOSOPHIC THEORY. The beginning is classic Hubbard:

“Although Madison Avenue has used ‘POSITIONING’ for some years, it has not fully understood the actual philosophical background that makes ‘POSITIONING’ work.

“There is an excellent booklet called The Positioning Era put out by Ries Capiello Colwell… It is an excellent booklet. It does not, however, give the philosophical background which, probably, is not generally known. Probably it was never discovered. I had to work it out myself.” — LRH

Did you get that? Jack Trout and Al Ries, the marketing geniuses (and I don’t say that lightly) who came up with Positioning, did not understand the philosophic theory behind it. It took L. Ron Hubbard to straighten them out.

Here’s the true tragicomedy: Once you read the entire policy letter, it becomes clear that Hubbard has no idea what Trout and Ries’ Positioning is all about. The subject appears to have gone entirely over his head.

Hubbard’s idea of positioning is that one can influence someone’s opinion by comparing the unfamiliar to the familiar. Which, by the way, is true. You may have no idea what frog legs taste like, but if I tell you they taste like chicken, you’ll understand.

Hubbard writes:

Positioning takes advantage of a fact that one can compare the thing he is trying to get the other person to understand with desirable or undesirable objects… one can position above a familiar object, with a familiar object, below a familiar object, at, to, against and away from a familiar object. This opens the door to an opportunity to establish an opinion of the thing one is seeking to communicate. You might call it an ‘instant’ opinion.

“For example, we know that an astronaut is a familiar, highly regarded being. Thus, we position a product above, with, below, at, to, against or away from an astronaut.” — LRH

Of course, Hubbard can’t resist taking a swipe at his old friends, the “psychs” and the IRS:

“We know people loathe psychiatry, so we communicate something as being loathsome as saying it is below (worse than) psychiatry. We could also make people think something was good by saying it was against psychiatry, bad because it would bring them to psychiatry, or awful because it used psychiatrists (like the tax people).” — LRH

(This, by the way, is one reason Scientologists come up with such ridiculous opinions. Society at large does not loathe psychiatry, but Scns believe this because Hubbard said so.)

Again, this is sound marketing. But original to Hubbard? Not by a long shot. Advertisers have been using it for years — beer ads showing people having a good time, watch ads showing people getting off private jets, etc. Nothing new. And yet in a different policy (HCO PL 27 Septemper 1979, ADS AND COPYWRITING), Hubbard says this that doing it this way is wrong:

“Here’s an example of an ad that doesn’t communicate… It’s actually supposed to be a cigarette ad but it shows somebody getting dragged on a sled through the snow. It’s obvious what they’re selling – they’re selling snow!” — LRH

As someone with a fair bit of experience in advertising, stuff like this makes me wonder if there isn’t a higher-than-normal suicide rate among “wog” marketing professionals forced to use the Admin Tech.

Anyway, let’s get back to POSITIONING, PHILOSOPHIC THEORY. Hubbard goes on to say how the pros on Madison Avenue are doing it all wrong:

“A common use of positioning in advertising is to take a product which… is regarded by [the public] as the leader in the field and then positioning a new, untried, unfamiliar product above it, with it, or just below it…

“Apparently, from talking to ad guys, they thought that by putting their products in the pecking order against the top product they made their product higher or just with or just below the top hen. That’s what the advertising people get for associating with such ‘experts’ as psychologists.” — LRH

This last bit proves that Hubbard doesn’t understand what Positioning is all about. In fact, Trout and Reis came right out and differentiated their concept of brand positioning from the sort of product positioning LRH is talking about:

“Yesterday, positioning was used in a narrow sense to mean what the advertiser did to his product. Today, positioning is used in a broader sense to mean what the advertising does for the product in the prospects mind.” — Trout/Reis

How did Hubbard miss this?

Trout and Ries are very clear: If a brand owns the top rung on a ladder, like McDonalds does on the fast food ladder, it is very difficult to unseat them. That’s the whole concept of Positioning – it’s better, they say, to try to create a new ladder – for example, fresh-made fast food or “The Un-Cola”.

Now, if Hubbard really understood Positioning, he’d be talking about trying creating a new ladder in the mind by making Scientology synonymous with some concept – say, freedom or charity. The idea would be that when people think of freedom, they think of Scientology.

Instead, he goes off on a tangent about finding a concept that people can relate to, and then writing copy and generating illustrations that will give people an instant favorable opinion. To be fair, this does have some validity. And one could argue that “positioning” is the correct word to use, in the sense that one is positioning a product with something people find favorable. But to say that this is the previously-undiscovered philosophic theory behind Trout and Reis’ thesis just shows that Hubbard had no idea what these guys were talking about. The two concepts simply don’t connect.

Fortunately, at the companies I worked for, my fellow marketers (mostly Scientologists) did have a good understanding of Positioning and we were able to put it to use with excellent success. From what I see of Church ads, the Co$ doesn’t — and I suppose that’s a good thing.

This is why it irks me when people defend Hubbard by saying that, for all his lousy personality traits, his “tech” was basically good. Here we see Hubbard claiming to have discovered the philosophy behind Positioning, and yet it’s clear to anyone with a two-year degree in marketing that he doesn’t understand the basic concept.

Much of Hubbard’s marketing “tech” is good and usable, but very little of it is original – it’s a collection of good ideas that were already in widespread use in the real world. Where Hubbard does claim to have some original insight, he comes across as naïve and oblivious. As we discussed recently in The Art Series, the same is true of his artistic “tech” – and we have the awful music and movies to prove it. I’ve read anecdotes about ship captains who were appalled by his seamanship. It seems that any time an expert in any field weighs in, they find Hubbard’s “philosophies” to be baseless and ineffectual.

And yet Hubbard’s followers are convinced that he has uncovered the true secrets of life, the universe and everything.

Perhaps there’s one thing at which Hubbard did have some true expertise: He was one hell of a con man.