Sunday, August 7, 2022

Book Report: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & The Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

    General Overview

        Lawrence Wright has spent most of his career examining how religion plays a significant role in people's lives. In Going Clear, Wright attempts to answer questions most people have regarding Scientology. In addition, he also tries to comprehend Scientology as a whole. The questions posed by outsiders are: why is this religion so appealing to others? what kind of benefits does the head of the organization reap? why do people abide by the beliefs of this religion that seem beyond one's grasp, and why do famed individuals associate themselves with this organization? He also writes about former Scientologists' experience with the organization, specifically what made them attracted to Scientology and what caused them to disassociate themselves from the religion later on. Throughout the book, it's clear that this religion had some everlasting effects on those who experienced what went on behind closed doors.

    Wright also dissects the Scientology hierarchy. For instance, a catholic church contains a leader that is Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio. However, no one is really aware of who represents Scientology and who orchestrates the direction and decisions of the organization. Wright goes even further to discuss the organization's questionable financial status. According to Going Clear, they have acquired 1 billion dollars in liquid assets throughout the years. As Wright interviews endless people and does research, he learns the beliefs of Scientology, their defense tactics when they are criticized by the public, the responsibilities members have, and the necessary steps for them to achieve their full potential. 

Favorite Part

    Although the celebrity section of the book was interesting, my favorite part by far was the biography of L. Rob Hubbard. He founded Scientology and created the doctrine that Scientologists abide by today. I found this part very important since he is the face of the billion-dollar organization and everything traces back to him. While reading his biography by Wright, I was surprised by what I learned. Hubbard claimed that applying Scientology to your life boosted your IQ for every hour of auditing. Auditing consists of a process of using an E-Meter that detects the mass of your thoughts and spiritual distress. I had to pause for a moment because there is no scientific evidence that thoughts and spiritual distress have mass. I continued reading and learned that he was not an honest man as he seemed to be. Hubbard has lied about his military records stating he was honorably discharged. It's different to lie about something as simple as saying the sky is green, but to claim to be someone that you were not is bringing it to a different level. 

    Despite his discrepancies, I can understand why they perceived him to be the most intelligent man that has walked this earth. He was a great writer, he knew how to lead others, and he spoke with conviction. I also read that he wasn't fair to his followers and constantly made them work nonstop. When I think of him, I resort back to lecture 1: Ways of Thinking. There are three ways of thinking, and out of the three, I align Hubbard with The Selfish Critical Thinker. He is a smart man there is no doubt about that, but I believe he had selfish tendencies. I don't believe he was fair with some people that he has crossed paths with nor those that considered him their leader. 


    From what I've read, Scientology is really geared towards oneself. It's about constantly improving yourself in the hopes of unlocking any hidden potential. The auditing session made me think of Lecture 5: Subliminal Messaging and The Mozart Effect. The end goal of an auditing session is to be "clear" clear of what's weighing a person down. Wright explains that once an auditing session was complete, people felt better, their IQ would raise and Scientologists would tell people they will feel better once they get through it. However, I feel the session is a placebo. I don't believe E-Meters can measure the thoughts or traumatic events that a person has in mind. In a way, it seems therapeutic since you unleash what's bothering you. Being connected to a device that supposedly measures your thoughts can send a subliminal message to your mind that it can actually catch whatever you're thinking about. Venting and speaking out loud is what makes someone feel better but there is no empirical evidence that attending auditing sessions would increase your IQ, at all.


    This video uploaded on YouTube gives an easy explanation of the origin of Scientology as well as some information regarding L. Ron Hubbard. It's 1 minute and 41 seconds and very easy to understand.


    It takes a lot for someone like Lawrence Wright to provide people with no prior knowledge of Scientology to interview former members and conduct a plethora of research on it. I think this religion is very interesting, however, I don't agree with certain principles that they have. Despite having my own opinion, I respect Scientology like I respect any religion that is not my own. I think we have to put ourselves in their position and try to understand why they believe in the things they believe in. I am not sure if Scientology or any religion can solve a world problem. I do believe it is a journey for those trying to look for themselves and try to understand who they are. 

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