Searching for Evidence That the Church of Scientology Paid Social Scientists to Shill for Scientology

shills for scientologyThere is a claim made by many anti-Scientologists, such as Tony Ortega, Mike Rinder, Chris Shelton and others, that the Church of Scientology paid social scientists and other academics in the field of religion to alter their research and to write articles favorable to Scientology.

Since objective scientific research is important to critical thinking about Scientology, and since it is important to seek positive evidence in support of a claim, especially one as serious as this one, I’m asking anyone with knowledge to provide actual evidence that this suborning of scientific research actually occurred.

It’s certainly convenient for Anti-Scientologists to believe this, since any objective research results that turn out favorably for Scientology causes an Anti-Scientologist heartburn. But I think even the most staunch Anti-Scientologist would agree that it’s important to have evidence before you slander a scientist’s career like this.

The person who would probably have been involved in paying these academics to destroy their professional integrity, and their own careers, would have been Mike Rinder as the head of the PR section of the Office of Special Affairs. There were many articles written about Scientology while he was in that position.

Does anyone know of any statements by Mike Rinder confirming that he did this, or statements he or anyone else made that would confirm these slanderous accusations made by Anti-Scientologists are true?

Did they just pay for for travel and lodgings while at a conference? Or did they slip them wads of cash to write what they wanted?

Particularly need evidence for Donald Westbrook being a “shill”. He’s a PhD lecturer at UCLA who Tony Ortega accused of being a shill for Scientology on the Facebook page for the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion last year:

tony ortega calls donald westbrook a shill

I’ve scoured the Internet for a couple of days now in search of any statements from anyone which would comprise evidence that these social scientists and university academics received even one penny from Scientology to make any statement for or against it in their scientific research or university publications. There has been a lot of mud thrown by anti-Scientologists such as Tony Ortega and Chris Shelton at these professionals, but I can find NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER so far that would support these anti-Scientologist’s slander of these peoples’ careers.

I’ve reached out to Tony Ortega to ask him what evidence he has which justifies this slanderous remark on Donald Westbrook’s work and career, and I am awaiting Tony’s reply.

I’ll let you know if he gets back to me.

24 thoughts on “Searching for Evidence That the Church of Scientology Paid Social Scientists to Shill for Scientology”

  1. Alonzo, I have several times run across Denice (formerly Larry) Brennan explaining how the CofS engaged and manipulated scholars. I don’t know how you missed that searching – maybe some of it is in videos – but the most obvious example I could quickly find again is in the Declaration of May 6, 2008.

    “12. Once religious cloaking was begun in earnest and many self serving documents were
    made and images created to reflect a religious image, it was considered vital to get
    “experts” to support the concept that organized scientology was in fact an organized
    religion., it’s policies “religious scripture”, etc. The entire intention behind the
    acquisition and use of such religious and legal scholars was to create and develop
    “evidence” to support the religious cloaking that could be used in courts and elsewhere
    where needed. While organized scientology today parades out various scholars that say
    they are “religious”, I can tell you that this scholar program was started in the Guardian’s
    Office and I worked on it as early as 1974. I worked on the obtainment of such scholars
    opinions personally and by supervising others to do same and I used such scholars
    opinions to obtain recognitions that organized scientology would not otherwise have
    13. At no point where any scholars briefed on either the real controls of organized
    scientology or the reasons why religious cloaking was developed. Instead they tended to
    be briefed using the religious cloaking materials developed and/or by speaking with pre
    qualified, briefed scientologists who were told what to tell the scholars. If scholars wrote
    less than glowing reports of scientology being religious in nature, their opinions were
    discarded. For those who would write glowing reports supporting scientology’s “religious
    nature”, those reports were kept for further use in legal and/or PR matters.”

    That doesn’t specifically address the issue of expenses or grants paid, but a search specific to that turned up an article in the Marburg Journal of Religion Volume 8, No. 1 (September 2003), Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi of the University of Haifa (Israel) writes:

    “Scientology at some point decided to cultivate contacts with NRM scholars, and this has taken place through the OSA. Its members have registered as participants at meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Most recently, scholars have been invited to visit the organization’s headquarters in Los Angeles, with all their expenses paid.”

    In Going Clear, Lawrence Wright says:

    “Often, such experts are paid to testify in court on behalf of these organizations.”

    That gets to the monies that might be made indirectly by scholars who write favorably on Scientology, and it would be entirely in keeping with the established and well-documented modus operandi of OSA/GO to have found less obvious ways to make support of Scientology remunerative, though of course that doesn’t satisfy the desire for more concrete proof.

    • What’s needed are the specific names of scholars who have been paid by Scientology to alter their research results or to write glowing papers on Scientology in return for the money they were paid.

      Just because Scientology paid their way to a conference, or paid their expenses while researching Scientology, does not mean that Scientology paid for their scholarly results to be altered in favor of scientology. Academic study is often conducted in this way and it is incorrect to immediately assume that a reimbursement for a plane ticket is payment to alter research.

      It is a no-brainer that Scientology, in their many OSA charm offensives, would reach out to every religious scholar they could find.

      But does that make all research on Scientology by any religious scholar invalid?

      The anti-cult movement – Scientology wing – has been smearing religious scholars in the area of the social sciences for almost a couple of decades now. And what’s so ironic here is that most of these people in the ACM say they value science and objective research on Scientology.

      And yet anyone who has produced it, especially if their results are neutral to Scientology, or if they can find no evidence for a claim made against Scientology by the ACM, has had their work simply dismissed by the ACM as the work of a “shill”.

      I appreciate you producing this information. Now we just need the names of each of these “shills”, and for what they were paid, so that we can then identify the work of the scholars whose results can be trusted.

      Not all religious scholars are shills for Scientology, are they?

  2. Mike Rinder wants the CoS Inc. to be deleted. My general observation is that five or six people have shown up, particularly on the “Terra Cognita” posts which go into the details of scn (subject of, not the cherch) and claimed benefits. They are usually met with extensive counter essays and most of them gave up.

    • My comment was in response to “trying a social science experiment” mentioned above. The experiment would be trying to post a comment with anything positive about scn in it. Reading Mike’s or Tony’s blogs tends toward materialistic atheism which I choose not to do. A couple of people on Mike’s blog have extensive backgrounds in other philosophical areas. They occasionally go into it a bit, but then sort of apologetically back off since it’s not on the topic of discrediting and bringing down the CoS.

  3. In that we’ve all been paid by big pharma to post negative things about Scientology here and elsewhere, what’s the big deal if Scientology pays a bunch of shills themselves?

    By the way, my check from Eli Lilly for this month is late. Anyone else’s late as well?

  4. Lecturer is not really faculty. Westbrook is part time, paid on a course by course basis. He may not even be there now.
    His dissertation acknowledges “logistical help” from COS. Logistical help is considered payment, that’s why he had to note it.
    Let’s forget research standards and apply common sense. Alanzo, if you were studying me, and I gave you a list of 69 people to talk to, would you publish a dissertation claiming to know the truth about me?
    If it walks like a shill, and quacks like a shill…

    • Well this is good information, Eileen.

      So would “logistical help” be paying for plane tickets, hotels, etc? How does that work, exactly? Do you submit your ticket stubs and they reimburse you, or do you just make up whatever invoice you want, including a little “sumpin-sumpin” on the side?

      Also do you know if the Church gave Westbrook the names of the people in his study? I tried to read the study to see his full methodology but it’s behind a paywall.

      Hey! Maybe I can get the Church of Scientology to pay for his study behind the paywall so I can read it!

      By the way, the other day, because I asked some anti-Scientologists for positive evidence in support of a claim that Scientology was still running The Hole, I was:

      1. Accused of being a Scientologist
      2. Repeatedly told that I have “Stockholm Syndrome”
      3. And accused of being on the payroll of the Church of Scientology.

      So while you might legitimately question the results of some of these studies produced by social scientists (after all, that’s what publishing these studies is for), there is a rampant slanderous behavior here on the part of Anti-Scientologists to slur the integrity, reputations and careers of people who say and write things which do not confirm the anti-Scientology narrative.

      To suggest that someone is insincere because he wrote something that does not confirm your existing beliefs, or to even call him a shill is not legitimate without evidence that he is.

      Now, wouldn’t you agree with that?

      • Hi Alanzo,
        I can’t comment on rampant slanderous behavior to you, If people are saying that about you then they need to provide proof. Can’t say I’ve seen any evidence that would lead me to believe it.
        However, your innocent “questioning” style does have the ability to make some people red. Personally, (not at this site) I have witnessed you lead people to the end of the plank, and then give them a gentle questioning nudge.

        I also can’t say say that I’ve seen anything that rises to slander regarding Westbrook. No one has accused him of pedophilia. They have accused him of doing shitty research. From what I can see, that is a fair call.
        His dissertation should be viewable at the University of Michigan. I took a quick look and couldn’t find it. Don’t have time to look into it. Also, someone at the Bunker will probably hunt it down.

        The term “logistical support” is, in itself, extremely dishonest. It can conceiveably mean any of the things that you listed above. If he has any support from scientology he needs to specify exactly what it is. I don’t understand how a dissertation chair would let that go by.

        So, to repeat my question to you (and expand it). You want to study me. I give you the names of 69 people who work for me. They have to report back to me what they say. Would you feel you could get enough “truth” about me to write your PhD dissertation, and publish as an expert?

        • “However, your innocent “questioning” style does have the ability to make some people red. Personally, (not at this site) I have witnessed you lead people to the end of the plank, and then give them a gentle questioning nudge.

          That’s a very accurate sketch of what I do.

          You forgot the hook, the eye patch, and the parrot, though. 🙂

          I’ve been speaking to someone to learn more about these issues in academia. He’s familiar with Westbrook and his dissertation. There is a question as to whether some of the 69 public scientologists were provided by Scientology, or whether all of them were.

          If more than a handful make up the study population, then that would be a problem for the study.

          And no, he would not be an expert on you if they were your employees, and you supplied all 69 of them. The results of such a study on you could be criticized ruthlessly if he claimed to be an expert on you based on such a study.

          Now, if he ALSO ran a blog where you were a frequent contributor, THEN he might have some substance to his claim! 🙂


          • I thought you had the eyepatch? wow, now I have to totally change my image of you.

            I briefly got into the study, then lost it while trying to copy it for you..
            He states that COS approved all of his interview questions (sounds like they approved every question he proposed).
            The contacts were made through OSA, all interviews were conducted at churches (for the convenience of the interviewee), data collection was through a “non random snowball” study. This means that the interviewee was asked to recommend other potential sources.
            Interesting note: He stated his estimation that 90% of all scientologists are at the lower levels (preclear). However, he noticed that most of his sample were higher level scientologists. He made an attempt to get lower level scientologists by approaching staff for interviews. Found that they tended to be on lower levels.
            He toured many of the sites, and took several courses (can’t remember which).

            That is all I can remember offhand, I was focused primarily on the methods. So, in your opinion, what would be the effect of OSA providing the contacts? That is your area of expertise, I’m just a poor researcher.

            • It would be a horrible effect on the results of the study. The results are likely to be very unreliable. And your observation that he knew that 90% of all Scientologists were lower level scios, yet he went for staff members to make up that part of the population makes it even worse.

              I need to get a copy of the study and see it for myself, and I’m making arrangements to do that today.

              So Eileen, tell me now: From this information above can we conclude, right along with Tony Ortega and Tory Christman, that Donald Westbrook is a “Scientology shill” and a “quack”?

              Is that intellectually honest or even logically sound?

              No. It’s an hysterical rhetorical tactic, similar to the ones Hubbard used to discredit his enemies. But used now by anti-Scientologists to do the same to theirs.

              Are you okay with that?

              • “Eileen, take a little walk with me, out on this plank”
                Hysterical? I really dislike the use of the word hysterical in a dialog. it doesn’t really describe anything except the accuser’s bias. I deny the word hysterical.
                Rhetorical tactic? Does that mean words used to entrap?

                I think he is something worse than a shill. I think he is a researcher who calculatedly decided to “Privlege” COS information over exes stories. I believe he knows about the other side of the story, but doesn’t care. He described OSA as though they were just Human Resources.
                Quack? Absolutely. I can hear his dissertation sqwaking from here.
                Shill? Does he use his research to defend COS against charges of abuse? If so, yes.

                I do believe that someone could honestly describe COS from the believers perspective. I think Reza Aslan gave it a pretty good try.
                I know, I know, the anti scios went after him too. In this case I think they are wrong.

                I am very interested to see what you think of the Westbrook piece.
                Can I come down off the plank now?

              • allow me to further explain, since hubbard used rhetoric on us to get us involved, I don’t have a problem with using rhetoric to get those members involved out of scientology. But, Aristole said the most important part of rhetoric was using logic.

                • When Tony Ortega goes to a Ucla Facebook page and calls a lecturer there a “shill”, he’s not getting anyone out of scientology.

                  He’s trashing the careers and work of social scientists without any intellectual honesty. He did the same thing on Twitter for hours before Reza Azlans Believer episode on scientology.

                  He hadn’t even seen the episode and for 4 hours previous he was calling it “dishonest” for not containing messaging that he wanted it to contain.

                  That isn’t “dishonest”. That is simply being in disagreement with Tony Ortega.

                  Because there are aspects of scientology that Tony Ortega does not get and never will, there are aspects of scientology that are the truth that Tony Ortega will never recognize.

                  So the question becomes, Gib: Are you loyal to the truth, or are you loyal to your tribe?

                  When I left scientology I learned a valuable lesson. At that time it was clear to me that my tribe did not get the truth, and it never would.

                  The same lesson obtains today with anti-scientology.

                • I don’t think Gib has to choose. Regarding Scientology Truth is not a fixed line in the sand. Inside and outside perspectives on Scientology are not comparable.
                  Inside Scientology truth is fixed, set by the mind of LRH.
                  But In the antiscio groups truth is fought and squabbled over. There are as many truths as there are people, and every new piece of information shifts the kaleidoscope.

                  About the Facebook posting at the top of the page; I personally feel that taking these protests to an institutional website (or a licensing board) is pointless and tacky. It looks like Tony and Tory stopped after they were reprimanded. Fair enough, case closed.

                  About the charge that Alanzo is OSA; the first paragraph of Alanzo’s 4:06 post from yesterday absolves him from that charge (IMO). You don’t have to be OSA to be a pain in the ass (although it probably helps). 😉

                • Yes Eileen, correct. I’m not sure why Alanzo thinks I’m part of some tribe, or maybe it was a rhetorical question. After reading Le Bon’s books I want no business with being part of a crowd, or a member having loyalty, as I see how Hubbard did it, to create a scientologist whether indie or official COS. This doesn’t mean I won’t make posts giving my opinions on various blogs and message/discussion boards, war stories are great.

                  I even joined the Sea Org, lasted a few weeks before I blew, figured I would be declared SP, but I didn’t care, I had my complete library of LRH in storage and knew at the time the tech was good and the organization screwy and one day I could get back in, and I did. What a fool I was, tech good, management bad. Both are bad and harmful in the long run.

                • You said that Tony Ortega is getting people out of scientology. And he is not doing that, especially by trying to discredit social scientists who study scientology.

                  It is a tribal position that Tony Ortega Is getting people out of scientology and that social scientists are “shills”.

                  Neither of those positions are true except within the tribe.

                  All you have to do to perceive the tribe is to say something that you know is true but which goes against what the tribe says is true.

                  They will come down on you and try to handle you. If you persist in your Apostasy, they will begin to suspect you are Osa or try to discredit you in other ways.

                  Try it.

                  Like a little social science experiment.

                • I don’t know Alanzo about Tony O getting people out of scientology, but I think there is some truth to that only because I’m UTR and know of several people reading his blog being UTR as well. And the thoughts are shifting from many people involved in scientology that have achieved the OT8 level.

                  There a couple of things to think with. You are behind the scenes on present time scientology and it’s members, and do not know of UTR’s.

                  Calling somebody a shill might actually get the person to question what they wrote and do more due diligence.

                • So you’ve made two strong arguments in favor of the use of rhetoric if it suits a purpose that you presently believe in.

                  So are you now willing to forgive l Ron Hubbard for his use of rhetoric, too, in pursuit of a purpose that you used to believe in?

                • I am listening to his viewpoint, Eileen.

                  Gib said that

                  “Calling somebody a shill might actually get the person to question what they wrote and do more due diligence.”

                  Calling someobody a “shill” – especially with no evidence – is a low level and logically fallacious use of rhetoric that L Ron Hubbard used throughout his tech and policy to “poison the well” and assassinate the characters of people he deemed as his “enemy”.

                  Gib’s point above is that it is okay to use this kind of rhetoric if it is for a purpose he agrees with.

                  My whole post is about this subject.

                  So what is it in Gib’s viewpoint that I am missing?

                  A much more intellectually honest approach to modifying the behavior of social scientists is to do what you are doing – scrutinize and expose the methodologies of their studies and criticize their results.

                  Don’t you think?

                • I lost track of the post heading, sorry. I tend to do that.
                  I was responding to the “tribal” classification. It is similar to calling a researcher a shill, or the use of the term hysterical. Ways to discount a group of people without evidence.
                  I also find the fact that Gib is UTR very interesting. I think the perspective on Ortega may be different for someone still inside.
                  I think the truth about these things depends on where you stand.

                  Now the real pressing question I must answer is why I am typing on a blog instead of grading papers on the topic of “An assessment of Informatics systems in hospital settings”

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