My second encounter with Scientology was in my mid 20s: me and a pal went to their centre to take their personality test. To be fair, we were wandering around Vancouver killing time between movies, saw the personality test sign and decided to have a laugh.
We asked for the test, with every intention of completing it honestly, but something happened to me within the first few questions. I realized the 200 multiple choice questions could all be boiled down to variations on 2 themes – how much of a sheep/follower are you and how well do you respond to corporal punishment.
Hardly a robust personality test, but then, I suppose, there is only one personality they are looking for: sheep who beleive they deserve to be beat.
I didn’t even read the test questions, I just skimmed the answers and marked whatever answer best involved being passive or beaten. It was a bit disappointing that they weren’t even smart enough to realize that the test should have taken more time, my pal who answered honestly, took almost an hour to complete the test. He was told he was artistic and mistrusted authority and was shown the street.
It’s also a bit surprising that the consistency of my responses didn’t raise any warning flags for them, but, I guess that might be expecting too much of people who are involved with the organization because they are followers who enjoy corporal punishment, for them to be suspicious of a random person off the street who scored as a perfect mark – to be something other than how they present.
The first person who debriefed me following the test was a seven year Scientology veteran, who was big on promises but not information.
I had heard that one thing scientologists do is to stare in your left eye to stimulate your emotions, to confuse you and make you be willing to agree to anything if they just stop staring. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the next time you have a conversation with a person, notice their eyes and your eyes – during conversation, you look around the environment and so does the other person. Scientiologists in recruit mode do not – they blink, but they maintain a direct and continuous eye lock on your left eye exclusively.
I decided that if I was really going to make a night of it, that I wanted to go for broke, so I kept saying that I didn’t understand to the man how they can measure emotional pain all while staring at his left eye and not looking elsewhere.
Before too long, he was squirming in his chair and looking furtively around the room to find someone higher than himself to pawn me off on.
He brought me over to a desk where a woman took over my introduction – and she was a 15 year veteran who was well versed in the eye lock predator stare better than smart alec me who’d been able to bluff my way through the technique and throughly rattled the 7 year veteran.
So, the woman prattled on about the benefits of being clear and what a great community the church is – and she got the eye lock on me, and I found that I was soon feeling very distressed and a little panicky. I even forgot that being there was optional and that I could leave, such was the completeness of feeling trapped by the steady gaze.
So, I did the only thing I could think of – I flirted with her. Just outright said that I’d like some one on one with her. Nothing I would have said in a lesbian bar, but it had the effect that I was looking for: she broke her gaze, rolled backwards in her chair, turned bright red and began to stammer that they could fix me so I wouldn’t be gay anymore.
Seriously, they continued on as if the test I completed was real and ignored the evidence that suggested the test results weren’t real – I was argumentative, challenged their authority, disputed their claims and facts and asked about their testing methods.
I cant help but think they get so few people willing to talk to them, that they don’t seem to have a baseline for people who are entertaining themselves at the Scientology centre’s expense.
After I regain equilibrium by flirting, I was taken downstairs to a hallway where there was a number of doors opening into rooms no bigger than a small closet with a narrow table and two folding chairs – I was told to take the inside seat against the wall and immediately knew that this was a serious mistake.
I had visions of brainwashing until they showed me the measuring device – a simple volt meter with wires leading to metal toilet paper roll tubes. This was the measuring device – the best it could hope to measure would be a small electric current through my body or heat from my hands.
I was told to think of the happiest thing I had experienced and the meter read extremely happy – never mind that I was imagining my grandmother’s funeral from when I was 12.
Then I was told to remember a sad event, so I remembered how great it felt to ride my pony when I was a little girl. Yes, I had a pony at my other grandparent’s farm, his name was Raindrop:
Their meter registered whatever they asked me to feel and I went with the opposite feeling with no impact on the device at all. There was no tingle of current and the room was quite cool and squeezing the metal tubs had no impact, so there must have been a foot controller or some other out of sight control to make the meter’s needle register anything on the meter’s face – because it certainly wasn’t measuring emotions.
Unfortunately, by the time I got out of there, we had missed whatever the movie was – and my friend was waiting outside on the street for me. He said he’d been bum rushed out so fast and I’d taken so long, he was starting to consider getting the police to go in and get me.
At this point, I explained what I did on the test – and I think he was seriously annoyed that he hadn’t figured it out on his own, but then, he’d just gone to kill time and I had decided to run an experiement.
My first encounter with Scientology was an employer of mine – he was a convert and he enjoyed challenging his beliefs by debating with me – and even though he was a believer, he didn’t beleive all the stuff they tell to the punters – apparently, there’s levels to Scientology, so what you learn as an initiate is later changed – which is a clever way to deal with having claims proven bogus, is to admit that they are bogus until you attain a certain level of enlightenment and are given the real true truth.
I have to admire a religion that admits their public claims are foolish and only the true faithful are shown the truth – it’s a way to be able to constantly remake the religion as needed, by revealing ever new insider circles, leaving the followers to wonder if they will ever reach the final level.
After all, why quit when you’ve been in for so long and you must be close to the final secrets…..