Cult Expert, London School of Economics Social Science Professor Eileen Barker Submits Herself to the Gearty Grilling

Eileen Vartan Barker OBE, (born 21 April 1938, Edinburgh, UK) is a professor in sociology, an emeritus member of the London School of Economics (LSE), and a consultant to that institution’s Centre for the Study of Human Rights. She is the chairperson and founder of the Information Network Focus on Religious Movements (INFORM) and has written studies about groups she defines as cults and new religious movements (NRMs). (See More at Wikipedia Article)

In this interview (running time 5min 12secs), Eileen Barker is grilled on her views of “cults” after studying them – using science – for 40 years.

Very often because it’s more visible in a so-called ‘cult’, people notice it. And they forget to notice, say a cult member committing suicide could be perfectly true, but it wouldn’t be reported if it happened to an Anglican. It’s not news, whereas if it’s a cult then it’s far more visible. And so we try to make comparisons, use control groups and so forth, and say well this might not be anything to do with the movement in fact the rate [of suicide] in a new religious movement might be lower in the new religious movement than it is in an old religious movement.”

As with so many other areas of life, science can bring new insight into the reality of religions and new religious movements. And yet scientists in these areas are rejected by Tony Ortega and other anti-cultists as “shills” and “quacks”.

Why do you think anti-cultists like Tony Ortega, Chris Shelton, and others reject science so much? And when they call a social scientist a “shill” or a “quack”, where is their quantitative data that disputes the work of the social scientist?

I have never once seen them offer any scientific data to dispute the results of any of the scientists they wish to discredit with this juvenile name calling character assassinations.

So who would you listen to on the subject of ‘cults’?

Scientists with actual data, or anti-cultists with no quantitative data whatsoever?

23 thoughts on “Cult Expert, London School of Economics Social Science Professor Eileen Barker Submits Herself to the Gearty Grilling”

  1. The Aftermath is focusing on the “horrors” of scn, but I think the overall gist is the eradication of the entire subject. In the 1970’s auditing cost $25/hour which was maybe four or five times a wage earners salary. My e-meter cost $125. If Elron wasn’t so greedy and didn’t jack the prices up so high the thing might still be humming along.

    introspection –
    1. observation or examination of one’s own mental and emotional state, mental processes, etc.; the act of looking within oneself
    2. the tendency or disposition to do this

    That’s how I looked at and experienced scn and imo there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • I’d agree with you except for a few things.

      I got involved in dianetics and then scientology because I could go clear and then OT.

      Never happened and never will, even Alanzo knows this.

      Calling scientology a religion or a science of the mind is not a moot point.

      Shoot, even the founder said he failed and wasn’t coming back, but no matter what the founder said, I’ve never see it, that is a clear or OT.

      Never happened, never will,

      • Yes Gib! There are NO Clears or OTs! Thank you! I understand! I got that!

        There are several lists by sociologists rating cults and scn ranks high on the lists. After I exited scn in 1983 I looked back and realized I had been in a cult but the broad range of subjects it covered is a basis for comparison. When I got into scn at age 25 I had no background in science, religion or philosophy. I had to start somewhere! laughter!

        • “Yes Gib! There are NO Clears or OTs! Thank you! I understand! I got that!”

          If we just give.him.a hard enough ack, maybe he’ll move on to a different point. Maybe I can code in a sig line for him which will allow him to make the same point every time he posts but also discuss other topics.

          • I use repeater technique, just like LRH, You know number of times over = certainty, but that could probably be amended to number of times over = certainty = repetition = then a person believes anything in scientology and hubbard’s lectures, books, etc.

            It is called mystic logic, which is where Hubbard got the idea from reading Le Bon The Psychology of Revolution.

            As LRH said, always look to source writings.

            As far as the video you posted, I don’t know. I don’t know anything about other religions or cults.

            • Gib – After you posted a link a link to LeBon’s book I did a bit of reading there and learned some things about crowd psychology. Mystic logic/repeater technique explains fake news. Credit to LRH for starting the investigation which got you interested which got me interested. The “Collective Wisdom”!

              • yep, glad you poked around. Don’t forget to take a look at Le Bon’s first book The Crowd and specifically book II, chapter III – The Leaders of Crowds and their means of persuasion. And just compare to what hubbard did in creating scientology.

                I believe I read somewhere that Hilter loved rhetoric and read Le Bon’s works.

                Interestingly, Le Bon is French and the French as a country are not too happy with scientology, is their a connection?

  2. Your use of the word “hysterical” shows the complete bias of your “analysis.” Of course one could debate the use of the word “scientist” in the above context as well, but for another time. Leah is exposing to the public the stories that TRULY SHOW and are indicative of the CoS’ s attitude toward individuals (what I observed in my 35 years of working in Scientology). This is the MAIN point that she is making and I might add, making fantastically well.

      • Here’s an idea Alanzo, you asked the question then you tell us what the suicide rate is with evidence to back it up.

      • Of course I don’t know the answer to that question, but I think maybe I did not explain my viewpoint well enough in my last comment. Let me try another (and hopefully better) explanation.

        The program is not ABOUT suicides or even the assertion that involvement in the Church of Scientology itself is more likely to cause them. The essential thrust of the program (and why I think it is vital information for the public) is that involvement with the CoS will have some usual outcomes that are extremely negative and that a person should know about these before joining. Possibly the most distressing thing that happens to people (besides ultimately giving oneself to a totalitarian organization which demands license and authority over one’s thoughts and behavior in every area of life) is how one begins to view other people, and ESPECIALLY close friends and loved family members who do not toe the line. Now I am NOT going to be verbose in explaining this; I’ll just say briefly that the outcome is usually some sort of bizarre “no sympathy” attitude, along with canned explanations that the group uses frequently to DISMISS other people, their viewpoints, their troubles, their concerns, their illnesses, etc. And it makes it EASY in many cases or certainly very doable for family members to disavow even children or parents that one has had a loving relationship with (as Sara Goldberg’s daughter did with her, presumably not just to stay in the church but to keep her marriage together with a well connected Scientologist).. Claire Headley’s parents have never met their three grandchildren. There are lots and lots of examples, most of which I know you’re well aware of. ANYONE in Scientology can be completely dismissed as a being, ON A DIME, no matter how many decades of service. Hell, Mary Sue Hubbard, without whom Ron could not have even built the church, became a non person. One day David Mayo is worshipped as the top tech guy on the planet (who was LRH’s auditor, saved his life and helped him develop the subject), next day he’s in complete disgrace. It happened to MSH, Mayo, Otto Roos and on and on and on. And yes, it happened to me, to Karen DLC, Sheldon Goldberg, Kathy Nather Thomas and many many other people I know personally.

        So, it isn’t just the FACT of Aaron Poulin’s suicide which was being portrayed (as terrible and as tragic as that event was) because YES, people from every religion and background have committed suicide, but how it became a NON event, really forbidden to even be known or spoken of, and how his wife was treated the very day of her husband’s death. That’s how the vast majority of Scientologists act upon my own 35 years of observation. Heck, when Quentin Hubbard died (a Cl XII and looked at as almost a God in my org), we just KNEW it was a “distraction” to even mention it, and no one did to my recall. THIS is what this program is about and it forms the question to the public “Do you want to be like this?” People can criticize any one point of the program, but they are missing the forest for the trees.

  3. Season 1 of Aftermath was more interesting. They need to come up with something new or the public will lose interest. Promoting that scn causes parental neglect and suicide is running out of gas.

  4. In episode 3 they went back to the “Going Clear” movie format in showing a cartoon of a fetus in a womb and implying scn-ists believe everything written in “Dianetics The Modern Science of Mental Health” which was published in 1950. That was about “pre natals” causing some mothers to believe they need to distance themselves from a child, for anyone who hasn’t watched the show. Ridiculous

      • Contrast Jason Beghe and his attitude and behavior from when he was active in Scientology with how he evolved from the moment he dumped it for good. I can personally attest that Beghe was one of the most popular and respected regulars at CC Int and in all that time I never encountered anyone who harbored any level of negativity or antagonism toward the man. Even after he left and did the video interview with Mark Bunker, which immediately made him persona non grata and a declared SP (though with a number of caveats — he’s not in the same category as those like Rinder and Remini, who are permanently banned with no chance of recourse even if they got down on their knees and begged), HCO and OSA personnel found it almost impossible to find anyone —
        both staff and public — willing to go on the record and call his ass out on video for all the world to see. The situation so frustrated the folks from Int that they were almost on the verge of firing everyone in the President’s Office, including Dave Petit and Shane Woodruff. A few did get offloaded after months and months of sec checking and investigation, but they kept Petit and Shane Woodruff, but stripped them of any decision making ability and even the right to do any kind of action on their own initiative making their posts 100% ceremonial, and all PR activity is directed from Int. Even the hotel execs, head chefs, course room sups and BSO have more freedom and autonomy in their decision making. No one in the President’s Office has any at all.

        So that’s the kind of situation that developed when someone like Jason Beghe got fed up and left.

        With Leah Remini, it’s the exact opposite. She was rude and condescending toward staff, even those that went out of their way to be friendly and helpful. Like Paul Haggis, she always behaved like she had a major chip on her shoulder but wasn’t willing to voice their issues until after they decided to jump ship. The only positive thing I could say about Remini is at the very least, she was not a fanatical glassy-eyed android like Jenna Elfman, who was and continues to be an absolute nightmare. Disgusting personalities on opposite sides of the spectrum.

        All that said, I would’ve never imagined Remini stooping so low as to deliberately and maliciously distort Hubbard’s quotes to “prove” that Scientologists are guilty of enabling child rape and turning a blind eye if and when such abuses occurred. At CC Int, anyone even remotely suspected of being a sex offender were immediately routed out (typically after rigorous and exhaustive sec checks) while the matter was investigated, and in instances where credible eyewitness testimony and/or evidence was available, a citizens arrest would be made and the suspected offender handover to the police, which in most cases always seemed to be the L.A. County Sheriff. Anyone guilty of rape or child molestation (or any other criminal sex offense) are automatically ineligible for the RPF and are permanently offloaded out of the Sea Org.

        Some may point out that Sea Org members guilty of adultery or premarital sex are eligible for the RPF, but in this country, adultery and premarital sex are not criminal offenses. Indulging in adultery and premarital sex does not make one a sex offender.

        What’s amazing is that one of the most common lines of attack used by anti-Scientology folks against the church is the issue of sec checks. Unlike the Catholic Church, which had NO EFFECTIVE SCREENING to identify and weed out sex offenders or those with the potential to commit such offenses, even for years AFTER the child sex abuse scandal was leaked to the public. As if that weren’t criminal enough, the Catholic Church actively and deliberately attempted to cover up the scandal and deny any and all wrongdoing.

        Scientology is the only organization I know of that has such exhaustive screening procedures for both staff and publics. Especially for staff, it can be very grueling and stressful to endure such sec checks multiple times in a year, but most staff and publics would agree that such discomfort is worth it to keep rapists and child molesters out of the churches and away from children. Security at Scientology orgs is such that it is virtually impossible for someone to walk in and abduct a child on or near church property without being caught in the process. There are abundant incidents of such abductions in churches and temples that lack proper security, and most of them don’t even employ security guards. Rare exceptions are mosques and synagogues, particularly in areas where antisemitism and Islamophobia are common.

        If Scientology wasn’t so hardline when it comes to security and safety, the anti-Scientology crowd would be viciously attacking the church for not properly screening its staff and publics when such incidents do happen.

        One of the most egregious examples of such hypocrisy is when RTC and church attorneys revised the entire routing procedures for public and introducing a bunch of new disclaimers and warnings and so forth, as well as expressly prohibiting anyone with any history of psychiatric problems, no matter how seemingly minor or insignificant, from undergoing auditing and/or joining staff. In addition, the church began aggressively enforcing the decades-long prohibition imposed on staff that made it a high crime to give medical advice or demands on prospective members. Before McPherson, it was not uncommon to find staff actually telling prospective members who were on psych drugs that they would have to stop using those drugs cold turkey before they can even sign up for a course. Any medical professional will tell you that this is potentially catastrophic and fatal — you cannot just stop taking Prozac or other such SSRIs cold turkey after having been on the meds for an extended period of time. I believe it is actually illegal for anyone who is not a doctor to make such determinations and there is not a single instance in any of Hubbrad’s writings and lectures that allows staff to do that kind of thing. There are, however, plenty of instances where Hubbard basically says if you’re not a doctor, just STFU and mind your own business and let medical professionals handle that.

        The standard procedure in Scientology for someone on psych drugs that wants to discontinue such, they have to have their own doctor work out a program to wean them off the meds on a gradient. Fundamental datum is when it comes to psych drugs and street drugs like heroin, you never stop cold turkey. Whenever a staff member violates this policy, the results are ALWAYS catastrophic and potentially fatal. Fortunately, these situations are very rare and isolated.

        So there is not a shred of evidence to support the notion that there is a correlation between suicide/homicide and the practice of Dianetics/Scientology, like thosidiots who keep promoting the absurd and thoroughly unscientific claim that Scientology “kills.” Stupid and irresponsible.

        There is, however, abundant evidence that demonstrates a grave correlation between abruptly stopping psych/hard drugs and suicide/homicide. Anyone who bothers to do any research will find that one of the most common grievances in psychiatric malpractice suits are situations where a doctor botched drug treatment in such a way (in addition to overprescribing meds or prescribing the wrong meds).

        What very few in the anti-Scientology scene fail to comprehend is the fact that the human body is subject to so many different variables and contraindications that it is impossible for any medical professional to be 100% certain of any diagnosis. Any competent psychiatrist will admit that drug treatment is most often hit or miss and that most psychiatric diagnoses are subjective and likewise, most psychiatric disorders can only be determined through a subjective process of elimination. There is no scientific or biological test to find out if someone is schizophrenic or bipolar. It’s all mostly trial and error.

        But Ortega and his fans don’t care about science and medicine. They just get off on bullying Scientologists, since they’re such a safe target. Ortega will never have the cojones to attack and belittle Islam the way he does Scientology. And that speaks volumes as to his utter lack of character and class.

  5. ‘So who would you listen to on the subject of ‘cults’? Scientists with actual data, or anti-cultists with no quantitative data whatsoever?’

    I observed the likes of Melton, Davis, Lewis and a couple of others from academia being led by the nose through a finely orchestrated production put on by the Office Of Special Affairs and the LRH PPRO Office at Saint Hill, I think that was 2000. Now, the RPF was pulled off of their grueling slave labour two weeks before, they were given good food, lots of rest and very carefully coached on every possible aspect of the expected line of questioning. They were even allowed to watch television and particularly the ongoing FA Cup league so that they would appear up to date on current affairs. I mean, it was a joke, myself and other SO memebers and indeed, the RPFers, were sniggering at how cleverly the wool had been pulled over the eyes of these fuddy-duddy researchers.

    Hmmm… Let’s go to Syria for a moment. Who would you believe about ISIS atrocities? The Yazidi people brutalized by ISIS fanatics and the women sold off into sex slavery? Or a CNN account?

    Now I would love to know what the ‘actual data’ these scientists have.

    • Hello John. Welcome back to AlanzosBlog.

      I am sure that your account of a Scientology PR stunt for those specific people who were trying to collect objective information on Scientology is true. But there is work done by other social scientists that is not tainted with this kind of “PR Area Control” that you describe. Can you hold out the possibility that some of these “religious studies types” and “apologists” “shills” and “quacks” as Tony Ortega and others in the anti-cult movement pejoratively describe them, might somehow have gotten hold of some information of use?

      I mean, just because they were paraded in front of you like Red Cross members at a concentration camp says nothing about them, and everything about Scientology. Why should they be tainted by Scientology’s attempts at deception?

      For an example of useful quantitative information generated by social scientists, Eileen Barker’s book “The Making of a Moonie“. Have you read it?

      It documents the recruitment processes of the Unification Church in the late 70’s – at a time when the moonies were being accused of using “mind control” to recruit new members. She shows that 90% of the people at those weekend retreats where “mind control” was said to be used, did not join. And the overwhelming majority who did join left within 2 years. I’ve seen similar rates of drop off as a staff member in missions of Scientology for 8 years.

      What does that say about the POWER of these ‘mind control techniques’ that are supposedly the reason you joined a cult?

      Could there be other reasons you joined a cult than “mind control”?

      Great to see you here, John. Your book “The Complex” is definitely one of the better Ex-Member accounts of life in Scientology’s Sea Org.


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