Can ESMB Live Up To Its Own Rules?

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From Michelle Sterling’s (Emma’s) own “Forum Rules“:



“1. Treat others with respect.


You are to respect every other user on the board despite any personal, religious and political differences.

The following will not be tolerated:
Personal insults
Ad hominems
Threats or promotion of violence”


Like the Creed of the Church of Scientology hanging on the front wall of every Scientology organization throughout the world, this rule which everyone is supposed to read before they post to ESMB is a lie.

I am not aware of any time when this rule has been enforced by the moderators as it is written here. This rule certainly isn’t being applied today. And “Emma”, who has always treated ESMB like it’s her own personal blog, has been consistently one of the most egregious violators of it.

When I asked her in 2013 why she did not apply her own rules to ESMB, Emma replied to me with the question “Why should I?”

I’m going to answer that question for her in this post.

Any message board can have a majority opinion, but how does a person with a minority opinion get treated by the majority there? Do the moderators allow him to be ridiculed? Is he constantly made out to be crazy or evil by the majority?

Can he post his minority opinion without being set upon and insulted by every other member of the ruling clique, one after the other like some Routing Form From Hell, with no moderator ever stepping in?

The majority of Ex-Scientologists today avoid posting to ESMB. They had enough mental abuse in the cult and certainly don’t need any more of it as an Ex-Scientologist on ESMB.

It is the enforced majority groupthink through ridicule and disrespect, in violation of this rule, which is the main factor that has made ESMB so toxic for an Ex-Scientologist to stay involved in for any length of time. And it is the continuous and flagrant violation of this rule which makes ESMB so destructive for most Ex-Scientologists’ continued healing, growth, and evolution after Scientology.

The whole nature of “decompression” after Scientology is a mind that keeps changing as more new information is learned. But a ruling clique on a message board which enforces its groupthink on every one else through ridicule, browbeating, insults, and character assassination can halt the personal growth necessary to heal from Scientology’s negative experiences.

And especially after something like Scientology, no Ex needs that. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of what they need.

Here’s how:

ESMB Can Enforce Cognitive Distortions About Scientology

There is a great set of skills from Cognitive Behavioral Psychology called Cognitive Restructuring. Cognitive Restructuring is a process of learning to identify and dispute irrational and inaccurate thoughts known as cognitive distortions. This is a skill that you can learn to apply to your own thinking patterns which can bring almost immediate relief.

Cognitive distortions are exaggerated or irrational thought patterns that are believed to perpetuate the effects of pathological states of mind, especially depression and anxiety.

Not all Ex-Scientologists had negative experiences in Scientology from which they had to heal. Many did. And what some people define as a negative experience might not be defined the same way by someone else. Hanging around a group like ESMB, day in and day out, can cement in those negative experiences – if you did have them – and even prompt an Ex-Scientologist to make up negative experiences that he never had.

How can hanging around ESMB’s Enforced Groupthink do this? By getting an Ex-Scientologist to re-interpret his neutral or even positive experiences in Scientology negatively, using cognitive distortions.

There is a list of these cognitive distortions on wikipedia, with descriptions after each one.

These are all highly recommended to learn after Scientology.

Practical Exercise: Spot the Cognitive Distortions About Scientology on ESMB

Familiarize yourself with that list of cognitive distortions on wikipedia and then go over to ESMB to identify the ones being used to interpret Scientology there. Especially look for cognitive distortions being used to negatively re-interpret an ESMBer’s time spent in the cult.

If you’ve knowingly or unknowingly adopted the enforced groupthink at ESMB about Scientology, and your own experiences in it, this exercise will literally blow your mind.

It’s a really good skill to develop for anyone, but especially after Scientology.

ESMB has so much vital information that an Ex-Scientologist needs after Scientology. It is a criminal shame that the insulting and the ridicule and the character assassination by the few remaining dead enders there is allowed to make ESMB such a toxic place for any free thinking individual.

Watch this scene from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and tell me if it doesn’t remind you of ESMB. Especially watch how Harding’s mental state deteriorates having to defend himself against all the insults and browbeating from the group of other inmates there.



The harmful effects of cyberbullying are real. The irony is that most of the people who are the biggest CyberBullies on ESMB have themselves been CyberBullied for years on the Post Scientology Internet.

So Emma: That’s why you should actually apply the rules that you claim are the rules of ESMB.

There used to be a war raging about Scientology on the Internet, and the behaviors necessary to fight that war are no longer necessary.

How can your toxic environment be fixed for Ex-Scientologists? By simply applying the rules as you have written them.

For the sake of new and existing Ex-Scientologists, please apply your own written rules of moderation to ESMB.

That’s all I’m asking.


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8 thoughts on “Can ESMB Live Up To Its Own Rules?”

  1. I went back to ESMB and started reading the thread about me to get specific examples to show the egregious violations of their own stated rules in just that thread. I decided not to do it when beginning to read the thread made me nauseous.

    I guess to be honest, I was already nauseated by watching that “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” clip.

    Any group of people can turn into a gossipy vicious mob given enough motivation.

    IMHO society as a whole has become less polite. I observed it yesterday in the grocery store where a young girl DEMANDED that a second person drop everything to wait on her while another person was already doing her bidding.

    I complimented the clerk who treated her politely. She replied “there is so little kindness in the world today.”

    The reason there need to be rules at all is because people can’t wrap their mind around the basic concept that they would not enjoy being treated the way they consider it their right to treat others.

  2. Sort of reinforces what you said about rules needing to be in place and enforced and what I said about common courtesy.

    It is not nice to talk bad about people behind their back. It’s strange to see people who allow that behavior being offended by it when it occurs to them.

    If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it. How’s that for a rule? It’s hard to follow all the time but I try to steer myself that direction at least.

    • Yeah, anyone can see what we’re saying. And we can see what’s being said on ESMB. Even in the open as this all is, feeling get hurt. Being upfront and public does not always work.

      Honestly, I’d really have preferred to have real dialogue and discussions with some of those folks. But when they ask stuff and one answers the questions and then gets a shot between the eyes, yah, no meeting of the minds there.

  3. What a great movie Cuckoo’s Nest is. I need to watch it again sometime soon. Anyway…..Wow! That scene really did feel like a lot of threads I’ve been involved in on ESMB. I’ve played pretty much each role in that scene. I’ve done some bullying….I’ve defended others from bullying….and I’ve been bullied myself. The full circle.

    You know someone who gets bullied, or at least treated miserably almost all of the time over there? Terril Park. I’ve been wanting to give him a shout-out and I think now is the time to do it. Terril is an unapologetic freezoner, or Indy Scientologist. He of course has caught a lot of hell for this, and continues to weekly, if not daily. I admire his ability to take all of that abuse with such grace and patience. Sure, he’s gotten pissed off a few times and expressed it. But it is very rare. I think he deserves a lot of credit. He doesn’t break the rules, and yet he endures many breaking the rules while replying to him continually. He is one of the most genuine nice guys on all of the boards and blogs, IMHO.

    • I’ve played each of those roles, as well.

      Every Ex goes through a bitter period, and an almost unmoderated forum such as ESMB can bring out the very worst in anyone.

      And you’re right, Terril Park is basically Jesus Christ. It is amazing what that guy has put up with over the years.


      • Yah. I’ve seen him say something completely unexceptional- nothing about auditing or FZ- and just get screamed at. Lots of times. And moderation completely absent- every.single.time.

  4. Emma mentioned people who try to do something about it and others who criticize from their armchairs then names Alanzo, Oracle, me.

    No. Point of fact, I’ve done more than just sit and comment from my armchair. So have others on the blog. But be that as it may, the statement implies that they can say things publicly about people but that those people do not have the same rights and privileges to publicly comment on those things. I don’t accept that reasoning.

    That’s all. I’m done with it.

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