[email protected] (Stillwaters) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> Chris Owen wrote:
> >I'm currently doing quite a bit of research into Narconon, which I'll
> >be publishing on the web some time next month, and I'm finding a lot
> >of very unpleasant things about Narconon. One of the most glaring is
> >that they are systematically lying about their success rates. If you
> >check on almost any Narconon website, they will say that they have a
> >76% to 78% success rate (see http://www.drugsalvage.org/page10.htm
> >for an example - http://www.google.com/search?hl=es&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-
> >8&q=narconon+success+78%25&lr=returns lots more examples).
> >This figure comes from a study carried out in Sweden in 1981 by a
> >Stockholm social worker, Peter Gerdman.
> No. That's not true Chris.
> Here's the quotation from the page you cite above:
> 'Official studies in Sweden showed that 69 percent to 76 percent of
> Narconon's graduates were still off drugs after two years, with no
> instances of drug-related crimes among its graduates.'
> 1. That page talks about ~studies~ not ~a~ study.
> 2. The figures given about those studies are 69-76 percent - not
Read more carefully. See the photo caption on the right hand side of that page? It says: "Narconon Huddingen, Sweden's first residential treatment center, opened its doors in 1972. A 1981 Swedish evaluation determined Narconon has a 78 percent success rate." Note that it says not that Narconon Huddinge has a 78% success rate but that Narconon itself, generically, has that success rate.
Here's another one from the website of a local provider of the Purification Rundown in British Columbia (http://www.holisticwebs.com/program/narconon2.html): "The Program Achieves A 78% Success Rate".
From Narconon International itself, in a page which is no longer on their website but is still in Google´s cache (http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:5xbSCxalozAC:www.narconon.org/html/30thanni/html/intscope.htm+narconon+78&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8): "A Swedish evaluation conducted in 1981 showed the remarkable success percentage of 78%." (Note that it does not say "an evaluation of Narconon in one location in Sweden" - it says "a Swedish evaluation [of Narconon]", a significantly different thing.)
Narconon Australia (http://www.drug-rehabilitation-resource.com/Sweden.html) refers to "the evaluation conducted by social worker, Peter Gerdman, in 1981, which showed the remarkable success percentage of 78 percent". (Same objection as above.)
Freedom magazine speaks of "surveys of one test group showing that 78 percent of its graduates are still off drugs two years after completion of the program".
Note that in all of these cases Narconon is deliberately omitting crucial information - in particular, that the graduates were only a small minority of those who actually started the course (Gerdman's figures showed that only 23% completed it) and that the claimed success rate refers only to those who had completed it. Freedom is a bit more honest when it says that the figures refer to Narconon graduates, but it doesn't then say what percentage of the entrants graduated. The impression given is that Narconon *always* has a 78% success rate and that the remaining 22% are those who don't graduate. This is clearly false.
You mention also the 76% success rate which is cited everywhere by Narconon. That figure appears to come from the Gerdman study - according to Narconon Chilocco it does, anyway. Way back in 1993, a Norwegian named Gisle Hannemyr (sp?) did a lot of research on the subject here on ars and was informed by Narconon Chilocco and Narconon's then president, John Duff, that the Swedish study was the origin of the 76% figure.
> 3. There is ~another~ study cited which mentions 78% - it was one
> that was done in Spain:
> 'A study performed in Spain found that 78.37 percent of the people
> rehabilitated at Narconon continued not taking drugs years after
> having finished the program. Other drug rehab programs consider a
> non-recidivism rate of 20 percent to be exemplary.'
Ah yes, the TAIM study. This has a curious story behind it.
By 1987, when the study was conducted, Narconon had already been operating in Spain for several years when it and the CoS ran into legal trouble. (That eventually led to Scientology President Heber Jentszch and 75 other Scientologists being arrested on a variety of fraud charges, all of which were eventually dropped). Some of the documents seized during the subsequent raids on Narconon make interesting reading, as they show how the study came about. On 14 January 1987, the Asociación Española de Mejoras Sociales (the Spanish equivalent of ABLE) held a meeting with a lawyer - presumably from OSA - named Jose Luis Chamorro, to work out a strategy to deal with Narconon's PR problems. According to the confidential "Summary of the meeting with Sr. Chamorro", he "said that if we can demonstrate that 60% of Narconon students really are rehabilitated, we will be able to use this to demonstrate the effectiveness of our system" and thereby defend against attacks. (How come Narconon couldn't already say if 60% of its students were rehabilitated, if it had been in operation in Spain since the early 1980s?)
Narconon contracted a Madrid marketing bureau, Técnicos Asociados de Investigación y Marketing (TAIM), to do the study. (The organisation no longer exists.) The theoretical sample of the study was 93 individuals from Madrid, Santander and Valencia who had passed through the Los Molinos branch of Narconon (near Madrid) in 1985, comprising 73.8% of the total number of students that year (which must therefore have been about 120 people). Only 52 of these individuals could be contacted (hence the sample was only about 43% of the total). 78% of this sample said that they were drug-free, although there is no qualifier as in Gerdman's report of whether they had been totally drug-free since completing the programme. 78.4% said that they recommended Narconon to others. And by an amazing coincidence, 78.37% said that they now worked at Narconon.
In short, it appears that everyone involved in the Spanish study who claimed to be a successful graduate was in fact also a Narconon employee. No wonder they were easy to contact! In other words, the sample is largely self-selected from people who were always going to say that Narconon was great (otherwise why would they work there?). Note also that the figure given above is 78% of 52 people - an improbable 40.56 people - which corresponds to only 33% of the total who entered Narconon Los Molinos that year. In other words, the overall "confirmed" success rate of that study is only 33%, not 78%. The success rate of the graduates is irrelevant, frankly: the important issue is how many of the entrants succeed. Narconon invariably misrepresents this particular figure.
One other curious thing about the Spanish study which Narconon doesn't mention is that it shows that the length of time spent on the programme is directly related to the socio-economic class of the individual. The average time spent was 160.8 days (about 5 months). The wealthy spent 97.5 days on average (3 months), the middle class 123.8 days (four months) and the poor 174.6 days (nearly 6 months). Why should socio-economic class have any effect on a residential drug rehab programme, unless different levels of treatment are being given depending on ability to pay?
The very nature of the study itself is interesting. It was clearly a PR stunt - the Chamorro meeting shows that and its results were announced in a press conference in the Hotel Princess Plaza in Madrid on 19 May 1987, in which it was described as "the first scientific study in Spain on the rehabilitation of drug addicts and related issues". But why does Narconon not make it or the Swedish study available? I´ve asked for copies, as have many others over the years, and I know of *nobody* who has got a copy from Narconon. (I had to use other channels in the end.)
Another interesting question to ask is why there are so few studies. It suggests very strongly that Narconon itself doesn't do any significant post-programme evaluations - presumably people go in, do the course, leave or complete it and (unless they join staff) that's the last that Narconon ever hears of them.
> >In fact, it's a total misrepresentation of the study's results.
> Chris appears to be very confused these days.
> >61 people entered the programme in the year Gerdman examined. Of
> >these, 47 (77%) quit before completing it - only 14 people (23%)
> >actually got to this stage. Of these 14, 13 were interviewed by
> >Gerdman (the last one could not be contacted). 11 were not using
> >drugs at the time of the interview - hence a figure of 78.5%
> >(i.e. 11 out of 14). This is the figure that Narconon likes to
> >quote, even though it corresponds to only 18% of the total number
> >of people on the course. However, the catch is that 7 of this group
> >said that they had gone back onto drugs after completing Narconon -
> >only 4 had stayed completely clean. This means that only 4 out of 61
> >people - 6.5% of the total - had been successfully treated by
> >Narconon. That's an appalling success rate, well below other
> >treatment regimes.
> Nonsense. You are misrepresenting and incorrectly generalizing.
> I shall explain why.
> I smoked a small amount of marijuana after I'd taken a few Scientology
> courses and had some auditing.
> That was about 6 months after I'd started.
> That doesn't mean that the information I'd learned in Scientology
> hadn't been effective.
> It was the knowledge I gained in Scientology that helped me to
> quickly stop and realize that going back to marijuana wasn't at all
> a good idea.
> From the data you're quoting, a similar scenario could have occurred
> with those guys twenty one years ago.
Your example isn't remotely comparable. We are talking about a *drug rehab* programme here, not a Church of Scientology course. And the drugs that those guys went back to were highly addictive ones - cocaine, heroin etc. These were serious, hardcore drug addicts who (according to Gerdman) had been abusing addictive drugs for, in most cases, two or more years.
Don't forget that only 4 of the 13 interviewees said they had not touched drugs since graduating. That's 4 out of 61 initial entrants - 6.5% of the total. Isn't Narconon supposed to produce people who are "drug free permanently"? If a majority of graduates go back onto drugs after the course, which is what Gerdman's study showed, how can they possibly be "drug free permanently"? Of those who said they had used drugs since Narconon but weren't using drugs when they were interviewed, what guarantee is there that they wouldn't go back onto drugs the next day? On drugs, off drugs, on them again and back off again - I think you would call that pattern of behaviour rollercoasting, if I've got my Scientology jargon right.
> > Needless to say, there's simply no way that you can apply a success
> > rate obtained for one group of people at one Narconon branch in one
> > country at one time to every Narconon branch worldwide.
> Of course not. But it's ~you~ that needs to look at the other studies.
> After all... there's simply no way that you can apply a nit pick
> obtained from one small group of people ... at one Narconon branch ...
> in one country ...at one time ... to every Narconon branch worldwide.
Let´s have a look at what Narconon says, shall we? (Note that some of these may now only exist in Google's cache - use http://www.google.com/search?q=narconon+76&hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 to retrieve them.)
- "The Narconon Program has a 76% Success Rate" (http://www.drugrehab.net/)
- "76% of Narconon® Clients remain drug-free permanently!" (http://www.drug-rehabilitation-resource.com/)
- "76% of Narconon Arrowhead clients remain drug-free permanently" (http://www.methamphetamineaddiction.com/about.html)
- "76% of Narconon Graduates Beat Their Drug Addiction Permanently" (http://www.addiction2.com/)
- "Narconon is the only program that, in over 76% of the cases, produces a permanent, verifiable solution to the problem of drug addiction" (http://www.usnodrugs.com/faq.htm)
Now, from your account and Narconon's, that 76% figure comes from one study conducted in Sweden. How can this apply universally to Narconon branches in Oklahoma, Stockholm and Melbourne, to name but a few? Also, how come Narconon can't keep its own story straight? According to Narconon Melbourne, "76% of Narconon® Clients remain drug-free permanently!". Narconon Southern California similarly says "over 76% of the cases". Yet according to Narconon Arrowhead, the figure actually refers to *graduates*, not clients - a totally different proposition. How many people graduate? Narconon doesn't say, of course.
> Many studies have actually been done - and are being done
> now - on various aspects of Hubbard's approach.
There's a much more comprehensive list at http://www.detoxacademy.org/detox.htm. But by another one of those amazing coincidences that just keep cropping up where Narconon is around, the majority of those "studies" are (a) not peer-reviewed, (b) written by Scientologists and/or (c) written by Narconon staff. Some of the early comments I've had back from people reviewing those studies for me suggest that many rely on very bad science, which is no doubt why they haven't been submitted to peer-reviewed journals.
Here's a challenge for you. Search on a medical periodical database such as MedLine and find out how many articles have been published about Narconon in the indexed peer-reviewed journals. You'll draw a blank. If you actually ask those journals if Narconon has submitted any articles for peer-review, you'll also draw a blank.
> Let's see, what else do we have?
> Oh yes, Chris chooses to complain about an 18% retention rate in 1981.
> It would be more helpful if he were to look at more recent data:
Ah yes, this is the well-established "it's old data so it can't be relied upon" argument. If it's old data, why does Narconon continue to use it and the Spanish study, which is itself 15 years old by now? Here's another oddity. It would appear from http://www.detoxacademy.org/detox.htm that the first published research on Narconon appeared in 1981, by which time Narconon was already 15 years old. Where is the earlier research and why is there nothing by Hubbard himself, who after all is supposed to be the originator of the Narconon methodology?
> Program Retention 
> An important factor in judging the success of any program is whether
> or not it can keep its clients. Retention can refer to both the number
> of days at a facility and the amount of work completed. The most
> important point as regards retention is whether the client completed
> the program.
> Of the 273 clients who participated in this study, 66 percent
> completed the Narconon program. Similarly, of the 184 clients doing
> the full program for the first time, 67 percent completed their
> Narconon programs.
> Within this population, program completion did vary by drug of abuse.
> Of the 184 doing the full program for the first time, crack cocaine
> users had the poorest rate of program completion (60%) while users of
> other forms of cocaine had the highest completion rate.
No information on methodology; the author is the Research Director of Narconon and a Scientologist, so can hardly be considered an unbiased researcher; the "study" is not peer-reviewed; and the forum at which it was presented (the "International Conference on Human Detoxification") is an annual Narconon/Scientology love-in at which Hubbard's supporters spend two or three days saying how wonderful the Hubbard detoxification method is. See http://www.fasenet.org/conference_proceedings.pdf for the proceedings of the 1995 conference, which demonstrates the point - virtually every single page is a hymn of praise for Hubbard. No other methods are discussed. Some conference!
> Do you see how Chris twists his data?
> 'Pretty apparent ... often claims ... not true from Gerdman's
> He gives no citation for that claim. He mixes separate things and
> claims that proves his point.
> Of the two citations he gave at the top of the page, only the main one
> worked - and, as I showed, it didn't back him up.
*ahem* You really should look more carefully, as sloppy research will just show you up...
> Chris: Fight your tendency to bigotry. Narconon is a very
> useful program that I have personally seen salvage lives
> from the gutter.
The more I look into Narconon, the more it becomes apparent that it's a crock. Its own cited studies don't support its claimed success rates, it deliberately misrepesents the conclusions of those studies (and doesn't make them available, so that you can't readily check the lie) and it claims that it's secular when there is black and white evidence that it is pure Scientology. The most important point is that it clearly does not do what it claims to do, and it is not what it claims to be. I don't doubt that it may work for *some* people, but its claims to be a uniformly successful treatment (76% of clients!) are simply false. In my view, deceiving vulnerable drug addicts and taking their money under false pretences - which is patently what´s been going on - is a deeply contemptible activity.
> Take note of the points Nigel made when he showed how you had
> selectively ignored material which supported Hubbard's account
> of the submarine incident.
"Nigel" was completely demolished in that particular debate and, sensibly, never came back for a second helping. His arguments were tendentious and, like you, he was fundamentally a bad researcher. No doubt you both suffer from the same problem - since it's a matter of ideology for both of you, you select data to support your argument rather than the other way round. Yes, I'm a critic, but I don't have an ideological commitment to say that Narconon is either good or bad. If it was good, I would say that. Since it isn't, I won't. Simple as that.
| Chris Owen - [email protected] | |---------------------------------------------------------------| | THE TRUTH ABOUT L. RON HUBBARD AND THE UNITED STATES NAVY | | http://www.ronthewarhero.org |
[email protected] (Stillwaters) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> Replies for Gandalf, Ptsc and Chris Owen:
> Gandalf wrote:
> >No, I don't see the point.
> 1) Chris is ignoring all the other studies.
Not so. You referred specifically to the studies conducted in Sweden and Spain; I discussed those studies.
> Firstly, there are those prominently featured on the page he cited.
> One of those had a similar statistical success rate - even if it
> was for a different measure of success.
> Secondly, there are a good deal more studies referred to in a 1994
> research overview that appears on many of the Narconon web sites.
You seem to have missed an important paragraph from my previous post, so let me repeat it for you:
"There's a much more comprehensive list at http://www.detoxacademy.org/detox.htm. But by another one of those amazing coincidences that just keep cropping up where Narconon is around, the majority of those "studies" are (a) not peer-reviewed, (b) written by Scientologists and/or (c) written by Narconon staff. Some of the early comments I've had back from people reviewing those studies for me suggest that many rely on very bad science, which is no doubt why they haven't been submitted to peer-reviewed journals."
Let me ask you a question, which has a crucial bearing on everything that you discuss below. Are Scientologists allowed to disprove Hubbard's theories? My reading of Scientology Ethics and the points of Keeping Scientology Working suggest that they are not. ("Getting the correct technology applied consists of: One: Having the correct technology, Two: Knowing the technology, Three: Knowing it is correct.) If they are not, then you can forget about the scientific credibility of any study co-authored by a Scientologist. If your own moral code requires you not to produce a negative result, then what you are producing is not science.
Quite a few of the reports are sponsored by FASE, the Foundation for Advancement in Science and Education, which portrays itself as an independent research organisation. However, its incorporation papers filed in 1981 with the Californian Attorney General in Sacramento give its purpose as being to "research the efficacy of and promote the use of the works of L. Ron Hubbard in the solving of social problems." Note the inclusion of the word "promote". How is unbiased scientific research compatible with a role of cheerleader for the subject of said research?
> Thirdly, there has been an extensive academic study done of Hubbard's
> rehabilitation technology carried out over the past 6 years:
I thought we were talking about *Narconon* here? Criminon is a rather different kettle of fish (which I intend to fry separately).
> Here is some more information about this program:
> 'The most extraordinary example of Narconon methodology becoming a
> major force for rehabilitation inside institutions is the program at
> Ensenada State Prison in Baja, Mexico. (This began as a pilot project
> with volunteers administering the full Criminon criminal reform
> program, incorporating the Narconon drug rehabilitation method, to a
> number of inmates.) The crisis of daily heroin use inside the prison
> had been estimated by prison officials at 80 percent. But with the
> introduction of these programs, literally hundreds of inmates have
> been brought through drug-free physical withdrawal and gone on to
> cleanse their bodies of drug residuals and to study the Narconon
> course, many of them learning to read in the process. The staff of the
> program are now almost entirely inmates who have themselves recovered
> from drug addiction and then trained on the Narconon method inside the
> prison. One prison official estimated that heroin use has dropped 80
> percent from its former use level since the Narconon program was
> introduced. And justice officials outside the prison in Ensenada
> reported that the crime rate in the whole city has significantly
> dropped. Thus, Narconon has returned to the social environment in
> which it was founded three decades ago to continue to rescue prisoners
> from drug-induced oblivion.'
> Chris doesn't mention such information, because, in my opinion, he is
> desperate to find reasons to knock Hubbard and his work.
I didn't mention it because it wasn't particularly relevant to my post; don't worry, it *is* mentioned in the web pages I'm putting together. But again you miss the obvious point. The extract you quote is useless in terms of evaluation - it gives no details of the methodology used, who conducted the study, the sample size, etc etc. It might just as well say that Narconon's graduates sprouted wings and flew away - I would have no more evidence on which to accept or refute that proposition.
And why, on the entire page, are none of Narconon's supporters named? "A nationally respected American drug abuse consultant" ... "A leading drug rehabilitation expert" ... "A Parole agent from the California Department of Youth Authority" ... "a New London, Connecticut, attorney" ... "The head of a Russian delegation from the Ministry of the Interior". Do none of these people have names? Why doesn't Narconon name *any* of them?
> This time it's primarily by (a) nit picking and (b) focusing the
> reader's attention solely on a small 1981 study of Narconon graduates
> - a group who actually did the program back in 1977.
> 2) Chris ignores the positive changes that took place in the 13
> graduates interviewed. He magnifies the flaws by falsely inflating the
> significance of the study to Narconon in 2002.
Pardon me, but I'm not the one using the study to claim that my drug rehab programme has a 78% effectiveness rate...
> There have been many positive studies of Narconon. Some might be
> flawed in some way. But how many academic studies are truly
> unassailable? The sensible thing is to look at the aggregate and
> at how they compare.
> 3) The program has been refined over the years as the staff and
> management have become more experienced.
> For example, they have managed to dramatically increase retention
> rates. Also they have recognised the need for follow ups to be done
> with graduates in order to help them after they finish the
> residential program. It can be a hard world.
> Chris ignores this information as well (although it's easily found)
> and blithely states that Gerdman's study is the only one being
> referred to (even when the percentage mentioned is different).
Maybe I can refer you to Brian Wenger, a Scientologist who posted on the subject way back in 1993:
<quote> The information that we have to date from Narconon is as follows:
1. Narconon says in its literature that there have been two studies (both commissioned by Narconon, according to John Duff, President, Narconon International) done of the effectiveness of their program:
A. A 1981 Swedish study of 13 Narconon graduates, that showed that 76% of those that completed the Narconon Program were still drug free two years later. </quote>
I'll leave it to you to do the digging, but in brief, Brian contacted Narconon directly and Narconon's own president gave him the 76% figure and associated it with the 1981 Swedish study - which has to mean Gerdman's, as to my certain knowledge was the only one done on Narconon in Sweden that year.
> >Nonetheless, I'll stand "corrected" given there were
> >multiple studies on a tentative basis
> Good for you Gandalf. Try to look at the bigger picture, at what
> Narconon is trying to do.
> It's a social reform program that is making a real difference to the
> people who do it and to their communities.
> 'From 400 persons enrolled in the Rehabilitation Program*, 192 were
> released interrupting the treatment in some phase. From the 192 who
> were released, 20 were reincarcerated because they committed an
> illegal act (10.42%). This recidivism rate is very significant, because
> the normal general recidivism statistics in the State fluctuate between
> 36%(corporal crimes) and 70% (robbery).'
> Cureces et al. 1998. http://www.penalrehab.org/results.htm
Without getting into the detail of this particular study, I can spot a flaw straight off in that extract you quote: of 192 people, 20 were sent to jail again for further criminal offences. What are the detection and conviction rates in Mexico? In the UK, only 24% of crimes are detected and only 9% result in a conviction. A similar rate in Mexico - a much poorer, more violent and more corrupt country - could theoretically lead to all 192 people committing more crimes but about the same proportion - 10% - going back to prison.
In short, relying on solely on reconviction rates seems a risky proposition; it's hugely influenced by external factors such as the detection and conviction rates.
> Chris is a good, albeit bigoted, researcher and I think he might turn
> out to be very helpful.
> : -)
A backhanded compliment - woohoo! ;-)
> *The Gerdman study*
> Gerdman found that the program was successful for 11 of the 13
> graduates interviewed (no more drug-related crime and other positive
> factors to do with work and family).
> 1) Seven of those fourteen 1977 graduates had later reverted to drugs
> again for a while (although eleven of the 13 interviewed were drug
> free when interviewed by Gerdman four years later).
> 2.) 47 of the 61 people who started the course apparently didn't
> finish the whole program.
> It was a very small study and so the results would be most useful
> when looked at along with the various other studies that
> have been done over the years.
> It could also be of help as a way of picking up on things that
> needed changing.
> In 1994 Beckman examined all the studies that had been done on
> Narconon and came up with the following analysis:
> 'The Narconon® program addresses all aspects of addiction, with the
> result being that 76% of those graduating the Narconon program are
> drug-free two years later. This is in contrast to the 16%-20% of more
> traditional programs.'
> Beckman. 1994.
> Unlike Owen, she gives no undue weight to the 1981 study. It's only
> one of many studies that she refers to.
What is Beckmann's source for this finding? She says baldly that Narconon's success rate is 76%, but nowhere in the piece you quote does she repeat that figure or explain how it was obtained. Could you please tell me where it comes from?
If Beckmann is averaging different studies, how compatible are those studies? - i.e. did they use the same methodologies, sample sizes, periods etc?
> There aren't enough evaluations of the program at this time.
> Particularly of independent studies such as the ones being done in
> Mexico. We need more studies of all kinds, both to help show people
> that it works and also to help refine the program and make it even
> more effective. The web pages need updating and correcting in places.
> I ~know~ the program works when it's run well - I've seen it working.
> I'm really looking forward to the next academic studies.
I agree that there aren't enough evaluations. The biggest problem, it seems to me, is that far too many of the ones which have already been published are produced by people and organisations who are at the very least *capable* of bias - by which I mean Scientologists and Scientology-related organisations whose moral codes do not appear to permit them to disagree with Hubbard.
I think it's also very significant that an article about Narconon has never been published in a peer-reviewed journal; would you care to speculate about why this might be? Is Narconon somehow immune to, or standing aside from, the practice of peer review which is so fundamental to scientific and medical research?
And as I asked in my previous post, why is there no published research on Narconon prior to 1981 (when FASE was founded - not a coincidence, I suspect), despite the programme having been founded in 1966? Where is L. Ron Hubbard's original research? Would you care to write to Narconon to ask them if they would give you a copy of Hubbard's research?
| Chris Owen - [email protected] | |---------------------------------------------------------------| | THE TRUTH ABOUT L. RON HUBBARD AND THE UNITED STATES NAVY | | http://www.ronthewarhero.org |