At the end of 1992, scientologists started to arrive uninvited on my doorstep. They always came in pairs, a new pair each time. The visits happened about once a week, but not on the same night. The timing of the visits varied, with the latest being after 11 o'clock. The first couple accused me of "persecuting" their religion. When I asked for details, one of them said that I had told a newspaper that Scientology "brainwashed" its members. I explained that the journalist had given his own opinion. I tend to avoid the emotive term "brainwashing" and speak instead of "coercive psychology". Having failed in the particular, they moved on to the general. I was accused of being a liar. Unable to give any example of a lie I had told, one began chanting hysterically "you tell lies".
In Scientology, this phrase would be called a "button".(2) After careful analysis, the member of Scientology's Investigation bureau who drilled these scientologists, had decided that I would be upset by this particular accusation. "Buttons" used on subsequent visits included the accusation that I am a "failure" and a practitioner of "deprograming". All of the meetings started with my attempt at reasoned dialogue and finished with screaming scientologists parroting drilled phrases.
Such behaviour is always alarming. Although the "buttons" may not create the desired psychological collapse, the fanatical intolerance and incapacity to enter dialogue evidenced in such meetings is disturbing. But then, the creator of Scientology gave as an aspect of "religious scripture" the dictum "Don't ever defend. Always attack."
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