Vintage Books (2013), 538 pages
Book Depository, €10.90
Scientology is belief system that has polarised public opinion since its creation by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1953. Opponents have characterised the Church of Scientology as a cult that demands its adherents money, disconnection from family and friends, and belief in a bizarre set of creation myths. Scientology’s most prominent public faces are those of its celebrity members such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Beck, Kirstie Alley, Isaac Hayes, Juliette Lewis, and Priscilla Presley.
Scientologists claim that by applying the principles of Dianetics they can achieve the “Clear” state of mental perfection. Dianetics is a pseudoscience developed by L. Ron Hubbard which promises to remove the negative emotions of the “reactive mind” (called “engrams”). In order to reach the Clear state Scientologists pay for auditing sessions using a device called an e-meter. After successfully completing a level of auditing the Scientologist can rise a level up the Scientology Operating Thetan (OT) scale.
Wright’s many claims (and he is not the first to mention most of them) are too many to list here but some of the most sensational are: his appalling treatment of the women in his lives. That members of Scientology’s Sea Org sign one billion year contracts. David Miscavige’s wife hasn’t been seen in public since 2007. Operation Snow White was Scientology’s attempt to infiltrate US government offices with Scientologists convicted in a subsequent court case. L. Ron Hubbard’s war record was fabricated, he claimed some military awards that never existed. Scientology tried to find a girlfriend for Tom Cruise. Scientology’s opposition to psychiatry stems from Hubbard’s belief that psychiatrists carried out a genocide in the Galactic Confederacy 75 million years ago.
Wright punches massive holes in Scientology’s claims about its founder, its scientific claims, and the image of Scientology’s current leader David Miscavige. Wright’s credibility as a respected journalist with The New Yorker mean that his claims carry more weight than those on anti-Scientology websites such as Operation Clambake. Going Clear: Scientology. Hollywood & the Prison of Belief is a nuanced and balanced account of Scientology from its beginning up until the present day which is both a shocking and a gripping page turner.