Scientology in society

In his second post on the controversial beliefs of Scientologists, Kenneth Eckersley discusses the p

Because the fundamentals upon which Scientology rests embrace all aspects of life, certain key principles can be broadly employed to better any condition. Scientologists use these principles in their daily lives, and I have found that their usage alone can often make the difference between success and failure.

One of these principles provides a means to separately view the components of life so that its many activities, often confused, can assume a new clarity. L. Ron Hubbard discovered that the basic drive behind all of life is “Survive!” This dynamic urge can be subdivided into eight parts so that each one can be more easily inspected and understood. These parts are called the eight dynamics, and by understanding each of them and their relationship, one to the other, a person is able to increase his or her survival on all of them.

What I found was that these dynamics describe one’s drive to survive for self, family, groups, mankind, all life, the physical universe, the spiritual universe and the Infinite or Supreme Being, and I have personally used Scientology to enhance my survival in all of these spheres.

My parents and other family have helped me in numerous ways and I have been able to return that help. For example, in his twenties, my brother was able to rid himself of 19 years of asthma through Dianetics procedures. My first wife, after several years of non-conception, was diagnosed as totally incapable of bearing children, yet later gave birth to our two beautiful girls as a direct result of Scientology spiritual counselling.

As to groups, without membership of the C of E church choir, my Boy Scout Troop, the Air Cadets, my teachers and fellow pupils in the various schools I attended and without my colleagues in the companies in which I worked - I could never have achieved my present 80 years of enjoyment of life, and my good health and high level of activity in the community. Over that period I have regularly studied Scientology, and still do every week. Without this, I know my life to date could never have been as full or as satisfying to both myself and others, and might also have been much shorter.

Then there is the broader group we call Mankind. My Scientology beliefs guide me in contributing in numerous ways to other people. I voluntarily help to run a Narconon drug rehabilitation and prevention education charity, with a high success rate in helping our students achieve complete abstinence for life. I also work with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights; the Volunteer Ministers community help group; the Foundation for a Drug Free Europe in Brussels; Criminon the criminal rehabilitation programme; and with The Way To Happiness Foundation distributing a common sense guide to better living. I also support my wife in her work with Applied Scholastics the revolutionary teaching system which is today helping so many of our youth to escape illiteracy. Groups all utilising the work of L. Ron Hubbard.

Without all this, I could never be as fulfilled as I am. You have only to see the light of comprehension in the eyes of a child or a young offender; you have only to witness the relief of an individual who is now off heroin and holding down a job, or the relief of one who has just escaped physical or emotional pain - to know the value of Mr Hubbard’s work.

Kenneth Eckersley is active in the Church of Scientology, and is a former Magistrate and Justice of the Peace.
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White supremacists are embracing genetic testing - but they aren't always that keen on the results

Users of far-right site Stormfront are resorting to pseudo science and conspiracy theories when DNA tests show they aren't as "pure" as they hoped.

The field of genomics and genetics have undergone almost exponential growth in recent years. Ventures like the Human Genome Project have enabled t humanity to get a closer look at our building blocks. This has led to an explosion in genetic ancestry testingand as of 6 April 2017 23AndMe, one of the most popular commercial DNA testing websites, has genotyped roughly 2 million customers.

It is perhaps unsurprising that one of the markets for genetic testing can be found among white suprmacists desperate to prove their racial purity. But it turns out that many they may not be getting the results they want. 

Stormfront, the most prominent white nationalist website, has its own definition of those who are allowed to count themselves as white - “non-Jewish people of 100 per cent European ancestry.” But many supremacists who take genetic tests are finding out that rather than bearing "not a drop" of non-white blood, they are - like most of us a conglomerate of various kinds of DNA from all over the world including percentages from places such as sub Saharan Africa and Asia. Few are taking it well.

Dr. Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan, of UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics and the research institute Data and Society respectively, presented a research study (currently under peer review for publication) at the American Sociological Association a week ago, analysing discussion of GAT on Stormfront forums. Panofsky, Donovan and a team of researchers narrowed down the relevant threads to about 700, with 153 users who had chosen to publish their results online. While Panofsky emphasised that it is not possible to draw many quantitative inferences, the findings of their study offer a glimpse into the white nationalist movement's response to science that doesn't their self perception. 

“The bulk of the discussion was repair talk”, says Panofsky. “Though sometimes folks who posted a problematic result were told to leave Stormfront or “drink cyanide” or whatever else, 'don’t breed', most of the talk was discussion about how to interpret the results to make the bad news go away”.

Overwhelmingly, there were two main categories of reinterpretation. Many responses dismissed GAT as flimsy science – with statements such as a “person with true white nationalist consciousness can 'see race', even if their tests indicate 'impurity'".

Other commentators employed pseudo-scientific arguments. “They often resemble the critiques that professional geneticists, biological anthropologists and social scientists, make of GAT, but through a white nationalist lens", says Panofsky. 

For instance, some commentators would look at percentages of non-European DNA and put it down to the rape of white women by non-white men in the past, or a result of conquests by Vikings of savage lands (what the rest of us might call colonialism). Panofsky likens this to the responses from “many science opponents like climate deniers or anti-vaxxers, who are actually very informed about the science, even if they interpret and critique it in idiosyncratic and motivated ways".

Some white nationalists even looked at the GAT results and suggested that discussion of 100 per cent racial purity and the "one drop" rule might even be outdated – that it might be better to look for specific genetic markets that are “reliably European”, even though geneticists might call them by a different name.

Of course, in another not totally surprising development, many of the Stormfront commentators also insisted that GAT is part of a Jewish conspiracy, “to confuse whites by sprinkling false diversity into test results".

Many of the experts in the field have admitted to queasiness about the test themselves; both how they come to their results and what they imply. There are several technical issues with GAT, such as its use of contemporary populations to make inferences about those who previously lived in different places around the world, and concerns that the diversity of reference samples used to make inferences is not fully representative of the real world. 

There are other specific complications when it comes to the supramacist enthusiasm for GAT. Some already make a tortous argument that white people are the “true people of color" by dint of greater variation in hair and eye color. By breaking up DNA into percentages (e.g. 30 per cent Danish, 20 per cent German), Panofsky says GAT can provide a further opportunity to “appropriate and colonise the discourse of diversity and multiculturalism for their own purposes". There's is also, says Panofsky, the simple issue that “we can’t rely on genetic information to turn white nationalists away from their views."

“While I think it would be nice if the lesson people would take from GAT is that white nationalism is incoherent and wrong. I think white nationalists themselves often take the exact opposite conclusion."