Tag Archives: Joseph Winter

Scientology, Science and Squirreling

But for the first and last paragraphs, included for the purpose of establishing context, the following is a new passage added to venture three of a course on graduating from Scientology.

The further Scientologists proceed in their study, the more they are precluded from comparing their learning to any other discipline.  They are trained to treat any independent, evolved learning about the mind and spirit with disdain. The greater the degree of arrogant certainty with which the Scientologist identifies and authoritatively rejects incursion of data originated by someone other than Ron, is the degree to which an individual is considered valuable and is validated and promoted within the ranks of Scientology.  There is no more important standard of credibility within Scientology than this.

I began the search that lead to this course by attempting to do what L. Ron Hubbard proclaimed Scientology sought to do.  That is to reconcile science with spirit.  Quite evidently somewhere along the line Scientology divorced itself entirely from science and became a full-fledged religious belief system.   My journey gave me a much deeper appreciation for where and how that departure came about – some of which has already been summarized in books and blog essays.

For decades I was of the belief that there was good reason for Hubbard becoming so defensive of his creation.  After all, I had been thoroughly indoctrinated in Hubbard’s version of the war that the medical monopoly and psychiatry declared and waged against him.  Even as late as 2013 (Memoirs)  I was defending Hubbard on that basis.  But, in researching deeper into the philosophical seeds from which Dianetics and Scientology sprang I came to doubt the primary cause of Hubbard’s travails.

There are ample references in Hubbard issues and lectures to Dr. Joseph Winter as the original ‘squirrel.’  I became convinced of the fitness of that sobriquet given Hubbard’s oft-expressed revulsion for Winters.  That condemnation included Hubbard gloating over the fact of Winter’s death many years after he had departed the original Dianetics foundations.  Incidentally, his was not the only death Hubbard celebrated. He similarly implied another untimely death, that of John F. Kennedy, was somehow proof of divine retribution being in store for those who defy Hubbard and his ideas (even though Hubbard had not one shred of evidence that Kennedy even knew of Hubbard and Scientology, let alone opposed them).

After twenty years of directing attacks against squirrels, then another five fending off attacks against me and my wife for my purveying allegedly heretical views, I decided to read the book that the original granddaddy of squirrels had written.  That is, Winter’s 1951 publication Dianetics: A Doctor’s Report.  Hubbard characterized it as one of the first  American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association backed assaults on mankind’s only hope.

I found Winter’s book to reflect much the same advice I suggested in What Is Wrong With Scientology?   From well before the publication of Dianetics Winter beseeched Hubbard to integrate, evolve and thus attain the ability to transcend.  A Doctor’s Report is not an attack on Dianetics.  Instead, the book is one of the most rational and authoritative endorsements of Dianetics ever published.  Winter’s scholarly validation of Hubbard’s ideas and general approach were eschewed wholesale by Hubbard because apparently the latter could not tolerate even polite, respectful, and wise counsel.  What apparently rankled Hubbard was Winter’s lament that Hubbard violently rejected Winter’s advices for making Dianetics less absolutist, bombastic, and individuated from related fields.   Winter made recommendations for making Dianetics more effective and potentially more capable of dissemination.   Winter’s book serves as the finest advice Hubbard could have received in 1949 when the two first met, or at any subsequent time up until the latter’s death. 

Winter noted that Hubbard’s invented, eminently disprovable claims of 100% invariable success were put in writing by Ron a year before he had even published the first handbook on the subject:

‘A very exhaustive research has located no exception to any axiom and broad application to types has discovered no exception to treatment technique – anything surrenders.’   – 1949 letter from Hubbard to Winter 

Ultimately Winter discovered no such research existed beyond Hubbard’s claims of one-hundred percent success. Hubbard originally approached Winter hoping to use him to infiltrate Dianetics into the medical/psychiatric field.  Winter attempted to do so.  He reported initial receptivity:

‘The professional people evidenced an interest in the philosophy of dianetics; their interest was repelled, however, by the manner of presentation of the subject, especially the unwarranted implication that it was necessary to repudiate one’s previous beliefs before accepting dianetics.’

In this short passage from A Doctor’s Report Winter accurately summed up what was wrong with Dianetics in 1950 and what remains wrong with Scientology to this day:

‘Insofar as the dangers of dianetic therapy are concerned, they are no greater than those inherent in many other therapies; in my opinion, the effectiveness of dianetics far outweighs its possible dangers. However, there is one danger which lurks in all forms of healing, no matter whether the efforts are directed at the psyche or the soma:  we should beware of overenthusiasm, especially when the enthusiast is unskilled and uncritical.  If one regards any hypothesis as a perfect, closed system, one which gives an invariably correct answer to every question, he is asking for trouble.  A persistent scientific skepticism and an ethical regard for the rights of one’s patients must be maintained in the practice of dianetics as it should be in any other form of therapy; in the absence of that attitude any therapeutic method is apt to be dangerous.’

As anyone knows who has engaged in Scientology in the decades since, no skepticism (scientific or otherwise) is permitted, and no rights are afforded the participants (not even its highly touted unconditional right to refund for bad results).  The two dangers Winter noted were inherent in all forms of healing have been systematically reinforced in Dianetics and Scientology for six and one half decades, while Hubbard’s designated bogeymen the psychs (psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists) -have all that while been evolving – however haltingly and slightly – on both scores. Ironically, that evolution has been prodded by Scientologists while their ‘science’ continues to degrade for lack of evolution on either count.

Winter goes on to chronicle how the absolute prohibition against putting Dianetics to any objective test was fully in force from the earliest days, a policy that sealed the fate of Hubbard’s creation becoming a system grounded not in science but instead upon assiduously policed religious belief.

The result is that today to Scientologists, their discipline reigns supreme in all respects irrespective of any evidence to the contrary.  If another idea conflicts with Scientology it is energetically rejected and discredited, with no inspection or test for worth.  The most common method of discrediting is done by assignment of guilt by association to its originator.  The most common and convenient association ‘found’ by the Scientologist to discredit such ideas is some link, real or imagined, to psychiatry (actually ‘psychs’, which includes psychologists, psychotherapists or any other established mental practitioners).