Lex Fridman Podcast - #361 - Aaron Smith-Levin: Scientology

The following is a conversation with Aaron Smith-Levin,

a former Scientologist, raised in Scientology,

and have worked in the organization full-time

for many years as a staff member and a Sea Org member,

including the job of training Scientology auditors.

Today, he educates the public about Scientology

on his YouTube channel called Growing Up in Scientology.

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And now, dear friends, here’s Aaron Smith-Levin.


Let’s do a full overview of Scientology,

its ideas, how it operates,

how it wields its power and influence.

And let’s start at the very basics.

What is Scientology?

Scientology is a belief system created by L. Ron Hubbard

that does fundamentally believe

that we are all immortal spiritual beings called thetans,

that we have native godlike potential,

that there is nothing more powerful

in the universe than a thetan.

So godlike is quite literal here.

And that through various decisions thetans have made,

they have fallen away from their native godlike power

to falling down to a state where most thetans

aren’t even aware that they are thetans,

aren’t even aware that they ever have lived before

or have these powers,

and that thetans are now in a state

where they’re trapped in bodies, trapped here on Earth,

trapped in this prison of a physical universe,

trapped on this prison of a planet,

and that only Scientology can restore a thetan

to its native state.

Are these multiple beings?

Like is there one thetan inside of me

that’s trapped in this prison?

Well, the thane would be you.

The thane would be me.

The thetan is you.

But I’m presumably limited in some fundamental way.

So this thetan that is me is limited.

So there’s like eight billion thetans on the planet.

There’s one primary thetan animating each body.

Later in Scientology you learn there’s actually

tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands

of sick, unconscious, half-dead thetans stuck to you

that are now an additional cause of problems for you.

But fundamentally at the lower levels,

the non-confidential levels,

there’s just one thetan per body.

Well, I mean, it’s an interesting idea.

I just would like to kind of explore

the philosophy of that.

So there’s a being that’s all-powerful that’s immortal,

and its projection, its manifestation on this Earth

is fundamentally limited.

And you’re trying to, the process of Scientology

is the process of letting go of those limitations.

You know, that’s an interesting idea.

I mean, a lot of religions have this kind of idea

that there’s, not just religions,

but like we have the capacity as human beings

to achieve greatness in all kinds of ways.

And that’s the question we have with our cognitive abilities

we start with an embryo and build up into this organism

and like this world of opportunities before us,

what are we capable of?

And the idea that we’re capable of almost anything

is a really powerful one.

And there’s a lot of religions,

there’s a lot of philosophies,

there’s a lot of advice, self-help

that kind of explore those ideas.

And so it seems like with Scientology,

the application of this religious philosophy

means that we’re limited

and we have to break through those limitations.

And there’s a process to break through those limitations.

That would be correct.

So what can make it challenging to adequately

and completely describe Scientology in the beginning

is what Scientologists believe actually changes

as they progress further into or further up in Scientology.

So the explanation is I’ve given it

is pretty consistent with what you would get

at the lowest levels, right?

You’re a Thetan, I’m a Thetan, everyone’s a Thetan.

And we have a reactive mind.

L. Ron Hubbard would say the reactive mind

is a collection of these recordings,

mental recordings of any moments of pain and unconsciousness

you’ve ever had in your life.

It’s like the subconscious mind.

It’s always recording in moments of pain and unconsciousness

and that these recordings,

L. Ron Hubbard called them engrams.

Now, when L. Ron Hubbard first wrote Dianetics in 1950,

this was before Scientology came along

a couple of years later, right?

So in 1950, when he wrote Dianetics,

it wasn’t a spiritual endeavor.

It was supposed to be a mental health,

a science of mental health.

So as of that time,

the earliest engram you could have

was the incident of birth.

Being born was an engram.

And technically in Dianetics,

he said you could have prenatal engrams,

like when you’re still in the womb.

But there was no concept of past lives

as of 1950 version of Dianetics, right?

And so the idea there was that the reactive mind

is essentially a stimulus response mechanism

created through evolution millions of years ago

to protect the individual from things that would harm them.

In other words, things that would bring

about pain and unconsciousness.

So you have these recordings of things that hurt you,

create a pain and unconsciousness.

And in present time, these things will react upon you

in a way to cause you to avoid similar things

reacting upon you in a subconscious, unconscious way.

So the reactive mind protects you

from the trauma that is inside your subconscious mind.

Yes, and the idea is we’ve now,

as human beings, evolved to a state

where it no longer serves us beneficially.

It only serves us negatively.

This was Hubbard’s theory.

And he says you can get rid of these engrams

by basically recalling them and going over them

again and again using Dianetics auditing therapy.

And if you get back to the moment of birth

and erase the earliest engram,

all the other subsequent engrams on the chain would vanish.

Oh, nice, so there’s a chain.

Earlier, similar, earlier, similar,

earlier, similar, earlier, similar, okay.

So that gives you a pretty good understanding

of how L. Ron Hubbard thought of the mind

because that carries on,

has applicability later on in Scientology.

I mean, that’s a pretty powerful model of the mind.

I mean, Freud had similar conceptions

that a lot of our traumas are grounded in

sort of poor formulation of sexuality

or imperfect formulation of sexuality in early childhood,

something like this.

And then we’re trying to figure out the puzzle

of whatever we formed in early childhood.

I mean, it’s similar, similar kind of-

It is similar.

It’s probably what Hubbard took it from.

In the early days of Dianetics,

before he decided psychiatry was evil,

he actually credited Sigmund Freud

with some of the shoulders he was standing on

in writing Dianetics.

So he still admired psychiatry at that time.

So that’s an interesting moment of Dianetics.

So what else?

You mentioned Dianetics.

Auditing was there too.

So if we just, before Scientology,

what are the ideas that formed what we know as Dianetics?

As I’ve just described, that is the fundamental.

That is pretty much the nuts and bolts of Dianetics.

Was it applied?

Was it applied often?

Oh yeah, no, that’s what Dianetics in the early days

was all about, was just auditing.

Auditing is the process of the one-on-one counseling,

recall a moment of pain and unconsciousness,

run through the engram over and over and over again,

find something early or similar.

That is Dianetics auditing.

One of the main things that changed with Scientology

is that birth or prenatal engrams

were no longer the earliest engrams on the chain.

The idea is you have to get the earliest engram

on the chain for the later ones to blow, which is a race.

And so, but all of a sudden now,

with the addition of an immortal spiritual

being into the equation,

well now the earliest incident

could be trillions of years ago

in other galaxies and universes.

Other universes?

So before the origin of this universe?


Is there a model of physics integrated in any of this?


The model is you have the physical universe

and then above that you have the theta universe.

So we used the word thetan earlier.

So in Scientology, they just use the word theta.

Theta is just basically thetan power,

thetans collectively.

So Hubbard would say you have the theta universe,

which is senior to the physical universe

and creates the physical universe.

And remember, I said native God-like potentials.

So we’re not talking about the God who created the Earth.

We’re just, like Scientologists don’t believe in a God,

but we’ll get into that later.

We’re talking about just creating universes.

Like just think like matrix.

Like just, when I say creating a universe,

essentially just creating different thetan simulations.

But it sounds like a little bit more

like the ideas of Plato,

which is there’s these platonic forms,

there’s abstract forms that are bigger, more general

than our particular reality here.

And those forms are used to construct the reality.

Well, I grew up in a cult,

so I’m not familiar with the works of Plato.

You can’t use that as an excuse for everything.

I would like to, you know, non-jokingly steal man the case

because a lot of philosophies, a lot of religions,

a lot of even scientific endeavors

are a little bit full of uncertainty.

You can call it bullshit,

but you’re on sturdy ground

because we’re surrounded by mystery.

And you have to take these ideas somewhat seriously

and see where those ideas go wrong.

This happens with communism.

This happens with capitalism.

These ideas sound beautiful in their ideal forms.

And then they somehow go wrong

and some go more wrong than others.

And so I don’t think sort of,

it’s easy to sort of caricature and make fun of the ideas.

I think if we take them seriously,

you’ll start to understand like when you’re in it,

it was serious.

It can be very convincing.

It’s, you know, the devil is going

to be a charismatic person.

He’s not going to be a caricature of ridiculous person.

So that helps us understand which ideas

will sound appealing, but will become dangerous.

I totally agree.

In fact, it’s one of the thrusts I have on my channel

is wanting to talk about Scientology in a way

that would actually resonate with current Scientologists,

not just resonate with former Scientologists.

I want people who are still in

to be able to hear how I talk about it and go,

wow, he’s being really fair and really accurate.

He’s not just a hater.

You know what I mean?

If you look at the, you know,

let’s take one of the worst places on earth is North Korea.

You have Kim Jong-un.

And the reality is there’s a lot of citizens of that nation

that deeply love the leader

because they’ve grew up in that way.

And you, I mean, through fear,

through all kinds of manipulation,

through propaganda and so on,

they’re not allowed to love members of their own family.

They’re not allowed to have romantic love.

They’re only allowed to have love for the leader.

And to reach those people,

you have to empathize with the fact that in their eyes,

in some sense, this is a great man.

This is a God, a messianic figure.

You can’t just make fun of the ridiculousness

of the situation that is this pudgy person

waltzing around creating propaganda.

With a funny haircut.

With a funny haircut.

Like it’s so easy, Hitler too,

to make fun of, to make a caricature of the person.

But this is a real person,

a real person that influenced the minds

of millions of people.

In the case of Hitler, you know,

tens of millions of people

and created a huge amount of suffering,

not because of the caricature version,

but because he was a charismatic leader.

He was somebody that people deeply, deeply loved.

And that just, over time,

with the abuse of any kind of ideology,

this happens over and over.

And so it’s interesting because Scientology

is so close to the core of what is America

because so many Americans are involved with it.

So it’s interesting to study the beauty

and the power of the ideas that underlie it

and where things go wrong.


And I’ll just say, it’s interesting to note,

you would never get a representative

of the Church of Scientology to sit down

and have a conversation with you

and even be as fair and accurate about Scientology

as I’m going to be, which is noteworthy.

Do you honestly, deeply believe that’s the case?

There’s not going to be a high-level official

that would sit down for a conversation?


I disagree with you.

I hope you’re right.

Because I think that given the current dynamics

of what’s happening, I think in order to say,

from their perspective,

in order to save the Church of Scientology,

they have to be transparent and authentic,

basically still mend their case, but better.

You would think so.

Well, we’ll talk about the other ways you could do that,

which is through manipulation, through propaganda,

through controlled media, and all that kind of stuff.

They paint themselves into a corner

of not being able to send a representative out

into the world to speak honestly about it

because you’re literally not allowed to.

So when faced, if you’re just sitting down

with an entertainment journalist,

a representative might be able to fudge their way

through an interview,

but sitting down for a long-form format interview

with someone who is going to ask them about Zinu

and the body thetans and Leah Remini and Lisa McPherson,

that’s a no-go zone.

So I’m representing why it will never happen,

but shit, I would tune in for that interview.

I mean, I hope you do get someone.

You don’t think David Miscavige would sit down

for an interview?

I would love to be wrong.

In general, journalists in these kinds of situations

can attack in a way that doesn’t empathize

and doesn’t come from a place of deep knowledge

and understanding, and I think it’s possible

to have serious conversations with people like that

in an empathetic way, but it’s also in a challenging way.

I think there’s a huge amount of trust required,

and obviously for a very secretive organization,

the amount of trust, yes, might be too much required.

Anyone over there, if they’ve done their homework, knows

you’re gonna be as fair as anyone in the world’s

going to be, and yet, there’s simply things

they’re not allowed to talk about,

and they’re not even allowed to say

I’m not allowed to talk about it.

So that’s a fundamental part of the church

of Scientology is the secrecy.


So that’s where you’re trained as you go up

through the ranks is secrecy, secrecy.

It’s not even a matter of training.

It’s that there’s an entire, the entire upper half

of Scientology’s bridge is simply confidential.

I mean, and I never even did those levels

when I was in Scientology.

I didn’t learn what Scientologists actually believe

on those upper levels until after I got out of Scientology,

and I was frickin’ born and raised in it.

Let’s go there.

Let’s go to your personal story.

So you’ve spent 30 years in Scientology.

Yeah, I was four years old when my mom got in.

And then about seven years ago, got out,

and you’re on what, YouTube channel now,

and you’re an educator?

So I was four years old when my mom

got introduced to Scientology,

and she got in really fast, really quick.

I was 12 years old when I was taken out of school

and started officially full-time working for Scientology.

Okay, so in various capacities,

I worked for them from the ages of 12 to the age of 26.

Okay, so, and then I was 34

when I officially parted ways with Scientology,

which was really more them officially parting ways with me,

but we can get into all that later.

That’s just kinda how Scientology does it.

And what do you do now in terms of Scientology?

So now I run, growing up in Scientology,

the YouTube channel, but what I primarily do

is I help run an organization that helps people

who are escaping from Scientology.

I’m the vice president of the Aftermath Foundation.

And we created the foundation

after the television show,

Leah Remini, Scientology and the Aftermath.

And there was such an outpouring of support

from non-Scientologists all over the world.

What can we do to help people leave Scientology?

That we decided to create a foundation,

and it’s been incredibly successful.

We’ve helped people escape from all regions

and echelons of Scientology.

What we’ve accomplished is far beyond

what we actually envisioned would be possible.

It’s been a huge success.

So we’ll talk about the negative aspect,

the abuses of power,

but let’s just explore the ideas a little bit more.

So the public facing three fundamental truths

of Scientology, maybe correct me if I’m wrong.

Man is an immortal spiritual being,

like we said with Thetans.

His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime,

so infinite memory backwards.

His capabilities are unlimited,

even if not presently realized.

The capabilities are unlimited.

So when I say godlike, I really just mean,

you know, Thanos, like unlimited.

Scientologists don’t believe in a god.

So when I say godlike,

I just mean the most powerful entity, the creator,

the prime mover unmoved,

except we are all that.

You know, a Thetan in Scientology,

a Thetan has no position in space or time.

A Thetan does not actually exist in the physical universe.

It might choose to locate itself

in the physical universe, right?

And then forget that it made that decision

and then sort of get caught and trapped

in the physical universe.

But that once the Thetan is restored to its native powers,

everything you see here in the physical universe

is just a Thetan playing a game.

We are in a simulation right now of some Thetan.

So like physics doesn’t have to make sense

when we’re talking about it this way.

Like technically you’re a Thetan, I’m a Thetan, we’re here,

but this could also all just be another Thetan’s game.

So Thetan’s all the way down.

Yeah, it’s just Thetans everywhere,

Thetans, it all comes down to the Thetan.

Is there an idea of a god?

Because I read there is a kind of,

there is a sense of a supreme being.

Is that basically the Thetan that’s at the core,

at the bottom of it all?


Not defined, undefined.


Scientology has this concept of the dynamics,

how Ron Hubbard breaks life into eight different dynamics.

And the dynamic meaning a thrust towards survival.

So he would say, the first dynamic is you yourself,

second dynamic is your family,

third dynamic is any other group

that you’re a part of other than your family.

Fourth dynamic is all humankind.

The fifth dynamic is plant and animal life,

all non-human life.

Sixth dynamic is the physical world.

Seventh dynamic is sort of like spirituality,

collectively, Thetans, us as Thetans.

And the eighth dynamic, Ron Hubbard says,

Scientology doesn’t deal with the eighth dynamic.

But we recognize that people have this idea

of a supreme being.

And so Scientology says, you can call the eighth dynamic

the supreme being dynamic, but we call it infinity.

Just the allness of everything without having to define it.

And then they sort of do a little dance

and they’re like, Scientology,

the purpose of Scientology is to get you to the point

where you have your own understandings or realizations

about the nature of the eighth dynamic.

We don’t tell you what you have to believe about that.

And technically speaking, that is true.

Technically speaking, that is true.

There’s no point in Scientology where they sit you down

and say, you’re now required to revoke your belief

in a supreme being.

It’s just that everything in Scientology is inconsistent

with a belief in the supreme being.

You can still find Scientologists

who, through cognitive dissonance,

will tell you they believe in a supreme being.

Mostly, they’re lying to you.

How’s this inconsistent with a supreme being?

Because like, Thetans could just-

Because Thetans have created everything, not God.

Okay, so Thetans created, they’re also a creative force.

They’re not just the force that runs everything.


But can’t those be just the fingertips of a God?

Sure, the only way you could reconcile a supreme being

is if you say a single supreme being created all Theta.


Like the spiritual Big Bang.


And that’s not what most people think

when they talk about God.

They’re talking about a creator of-

The physical universe.


There’s no Theta.


I mean, even as I’ve described Scientology so far,

none of what I’ve said is something

I even subject to ridicule.

This is pretty common sense stuff, actually.

I mean, if you believe in spirituality or spirits at all,

there’s nothing I’ve described so far that’s crazy.


You know, believing in past lives

isn’t particularly unique or special.


The fact that Scientology does this little dance

of pretending to believe in a God,

I mean, it’s even like a PR line.

Scientology representatives will tell you

you can be a Christian and be a Scientologist.

Well, let me tell you what.

Christians don’t believe in past lives

and lives on other galaxies and planets and universes.

And Scientology knows that.

Scientology knows you can’t be a Christian

and be a Scientologist, but they will say that.

It’s just an example of sort of

the fundamental baked in dishonesty.

Because it’s so important to Scientology

on the organizational level to have tax exempt status.

I wonder, do you know the process of what it takes

to prove that an organization is a religion?

While going through that process with the IRS,

for the second time, by the way,

Scientology actually had tax exemption in the early days

and the IRS pulled it and then they got it back in 1993.

While going through that process again,

the IRS actually took issue with the fact

that Scientology was claiming you could be a Scientologist

and a member of another religion.

The IRS actually said, pump the brakes there.

If you’re gonna say that,

we’re gonna say you’re not a religion.

And they actually put in writing to the IRS,

no, no, no, no, no, that’s not what we meant,

that’s not what we meant.

We meant in the beginning you can be both,

but eventually you just have to be a Scientologist.

So you mentioned the eight dynamics,

but you also mentioned survival.

So that seems to be a core principle

that human existence is about survival.

Can you elaborate what is meant by survival?

Are we talking about the survival of the human species,

survival of the individual humans,

survival of the manifestation of thetans in human form?

What’s survival?

So it would be all of that,

because survival is the dominant force

across all the dynamics.

That, I mean, L. Ron Hubbard,

it was either Dianetics or Science of Survival.

He says he discovered the principle

upon which all life exists,

and that is all life, no matter what it is trying to do,

are you ready, Lex?

It’s trying to survive.

That’s pretty powerful.

That’s pretty powerful.

See, here’s the thing.

No, I gotta tell you, I gotta-

You might get me back in, Lex.

No, I’m not trying to get you back in.

I’m trying to get you to take seriously

the power of the ideas behind Scientology,

because I think those ideas are not bad ideas.

They resonate with a lot of ideas throughout philosophy,

throughout religions,

throughout the history of human civilization.

The interesting aspect is how it goes wrong.

But here’s the thing, Lex, here’s the thing.

It is consistent with prior efforts or studies.

It’s just that L. Ron Hubbard said

this was a watershed breakthrough

that was being discovered for the first time.

That’s kind of what I’m mocking, really.

Yeah, but you can mock Nietzsche for saying,

man is will to power.

You can mock Freud-

But did he claim to be the first person to ever say it?

Well, Nietzsche, he’s had a bit of an ego, so.

Like, and he’s full of contradictions,

but I’m pretty sure the implied thing

is that he was the first to say it.

There’s a lot of scientists.

There’s one of the people I really admire,

Stephen Wolfram, who wrote a book

called A New Kind of Science

that explores complex systems and cellular automata

and these mathematical systems

that have been explored before.

But he boldly kind of defined,

I am presenting to you a whole new way to look at the world.

And if you just set a little bit of the ego

behind that aside,

there’s actually beautiful ideas in there.

They have, of course, been done before and explored before.

But sometimes people declare this is the coolest-

That’s the only thing I’m really mocking is he said,

this discovery that life is trying to survive

is greater than the discovery of fire.

Okay, I mean, it gets a little silly, but that’s fine.

We can agree that the fact that life is trying to survive

has meaning and is meaningful and is valuable.

And it’s true.

I mean, life is trying to survive.

Also, there’s a non-trivial definition

of what is life here.

So this idea of a thing that permeates through lifetimes,

through people, there’s some fabric

that is bigger than individual biological bags of meat.

That’s a philosophically interesting idea.

Of course, if it’s not grounded

in a little bit more physical reality,

then it becomes a little too woo-woo.

And the way L. Ron Hubbard in Scientology defines survival

is very much intertwined with how they define ethics.

Ethics, anything to be ethical is pro-survival.

To be unethical is counter-survival.

But we were talking about just the concept of the dynamics,

like what does survival refer to?

And it actually does refer to all of them,

but just keep in mind when it comes to the seventh dynamic,

Thetans collectively involved in here is the idea

that a Thetan cannot die.

There’s no such thing as killing a Thetan.

A Thetan can only survive.

And so, anyway, this concept of the dynamics

is one of the most fundamental

and important concepts in Scientology.

But because I mentioned that it also gets tied up

with ethics, and this probably speaks

to what you were just talking about,

is you can have the ideas and the concepts,

and you can have how do they go wrong,

because they hold that Scientology, applying Scientology,

getting people into Scientology,

is the key to basically saving

every spiritual being in existence.

When you’re analyzing what is ethical,

it becomes whatever’s good for Scientology

becomes by definition ethical,

because anything that’s good for Scientology,

which is a third dynamic,

is inherently good for all the dynamics.

So that’s where you get the ends justifying the means

to do anything possible, use any means necessary

to forward the aims of Scientology.

That’s kind of where a lot of Soviet implementation

of communism went wrong, is the ends justify the means.

The equality, the justice for the workers,

if we have to kill, murder, imprison, censor,

in the name of that, then it’s for the greater good

in the long term to achieve the ideal of communism.

In some respects, Scientology created

a near-perfect communist experiment in its C organization.

What is it, from everyone according to their ability

to each according to their need or something like that?

Scientology’s C organization is damn near

a perfect communist experiment.

Coming from someone who doesn’t necessarily know

what a perfect communist experiment really is,

because I grew up in a cult, Lex.

You can’t keep using that as an excuse.

It’s a funny tagline I use in my videos.

I like it.

It is interesting that an organization

that is so hyper-capitalist and so money-hungry

and is known to be very wealthy,

at its core is run by this group of C org members

that live a communist lifestyle.

We’re gonna jump around.

Let’s go, what is C org?

What is C organization?

What is this organization?

The C organization is the most dedicated version,

the most dedicated brand of Scientologists.

So there’s three echelons of Scientologists.

There’s public, who just live normal lives

in the real world and they pay

to do Scientology courses and auditing.

Then there’s staff members, who also live in the real world,

but work on two-and-a-half-year contracts

or five-year contracts at their local Scientology

organization, and then once they finish their contract,

their debt is paid or whatever.

And then there’s the C org members.

These are the guys who sign the billion-year contracts.

They don’t have lives in the outside world.

They don’t own property.

They live in Scientology-provided housing.

They eat in Scientology-run cafeterias.

Is there an actual contract that says a billion years?

It’s symbolic, but yes.

Like, no, it’s not a legally enforceable contract.

Ha ha ha!

They haven’t succeeded in enforcing it

in any subsequent lifetimes yet.

Marriage contracts should be like that, a billion years.

Not until death do us part, but a billion years,

it really makes it very concrete

of what you’re signing up for.

Yeah, those are the billion-year guys.

You hear a lot about the billion-year contract,

the billion-year contract.

That’s the C org.

And all of Scientology management,

international management, middle management,

continental management, and even some lower-level

service orgs, are composed 100% of C org members.

You’re not allowed to marry or date someone

who’s not in the C org.

You’re also not allowed to have children.

With anybody outside of C org, or in general,

you’re not allowed to have children?

C org members are not allowed to have children

unless they leave the C org.

You’re expected to have an abortion and stay in the C org,

because it’s the greatest good for Scientology,

if you accidentally get pregnant.

Interesting, because it distracts

from the focus of the work.


What about sexual relations?

Only once married, but that’s why people get married

after like three days.

You’re like, hey you, you look all right, let’s get married.

Are you allowed to have divorce?

Yeah, you get divorced a lot in the C org.

I’ve known people who get married and divorced

three times by the age of 25.

Oh wow.

Because in the C org, getting married

is practically like dating.


Also, unless you’re married, you’re living in dorms

with a bunch of other people.

So in order to get your own room,

you also have to get married.

So there’s many benefits.

Oh wow, okay.

So you mentioned communism, in which way,

because is there a hierarchy inside C org?

Is there a redistribution of influence,

position, money, power inside C org?

Everyone in the C org makes $50 a week.

Everybody, except David Miscavige, but.


And some posts might have a cash bonus incentive structure,

but fundamentally their pay is $50 a week.

So even the head of a big Scientology organization

is getting 50 bucks a week.

Are celebrities also part of C org or not usually?

So this is really the management layer.

So what’s the idea behind $50 a week?

Is that basically live a humble life?

They don’t have to give you anything at all.

It’s just, oh, you mean like,

what’s the idea behind not paying?

Yeah, basically not paying.

Everything you need is already being provided for you.

You’re not here for the money.

You’re working all the time anyway.

It’s not like you don’t have days off.

I mean, you’re working all the time.

There’s not, there’s no concept of the weekends.

There’s no, oh, thank God it’s Friday.

Friday’s just another day.

And how are the position, the tasks,

the jobs allocated within the C org?

What do you mean?

Like what kind of tasks you’re doing?

What kind of stuff you’re doing?

It’s very similar to just any other business

as far as you can have your human resources,

you can have your sales,

you can have your accounting, your operations,

your quality control.

It’s just that in Scientology,

your operations is delivering courses and auditing.

So your operations and your quality control

where most of the activity occurs

as far as delivering Scientology.

And then you’ve got your, you’d call it business development,

but that’s just bringing in new members, right?

So the function of Scientology’s organization

is very comparable to a normal business

in the normal world.

So let’s talk about the products of this business,

auditing and courses.

So what’s auditing?

So auditing is, so we described earlier,

Dianetics auditing.

Scientology auditing is very similar to that.

So at first glance, it looks like psychotherapy,

a kind of therapy.

All Scientology auditing is going to look like that.

It’s one-on-one talk therapy.

You’re in a room by yourselves, no distraction, no noise.



So like this?

Yeah, and in Scientology,

they have what’s called an e-meter.


Almost all auditing employs the use of an e-meter.

What’s an e-meter?

So an e-meter is a device that just measures the resistance

to a small electrical flow,

except Scientologists believe that this e-meter

can be used to simply direct the progress

of an auditing session,

to determine whether the auditing has reached

a good satisfactory conclusion.

All auditing sessions have to end

on a satisfactory conclusion.

Like that’s the job of the auditor.

You don’t just, it’s not like,

sorry, the session sucked, see you next week.

It’s not like that.

Every auditing session has to end on a positive note.

And if it doesn’t, there’s corrections to be made.

So the e-meter.

What does it look like visually?

Oh, you can pull it up.

Pull up mark eight, e-meter mark eight.

So there’s a few dials.


There’s a basic information about time and duration,

I’m presuming, and then a dial

that just goes zero to something.

Okay, so let’s say that the meter’s in front of me

and you’re the one holding the cans.

I’m holding the cans, so you’re doing the auditing of me.


Okay, I’m holding the cans.

No, literally, in the beginning of an auditing session,

when you’re calibrating the sensitivity of the e-meter,

you do a can squeeze.

So I go, squeeze the cans, please.

Okay, so I’m just like squeezing the cans.

And I’m just changing the sensitivity,

because when you squeeze the cans,

I wanna get about a 1 3rd of a dial drop on the needle.

The idea is you don’t want, if the needle’s too sensitive,

then every time you shift around in your chair,

the needle’s gonna bounce all over the place.

So you’re trying to set the sensitivity of this thing.

And that’s all, the knob there on the bottom to the left,

that’s the sensitivity knob.

And that determines just how sensitive

the needle’s gonna be.

And the bigger dial is called the tone arm.

And that is changing, I wanna say voltage or current,

but I’m not intending,

I’m gonna get one of those words is wrong, right?

But it is a real device.

It’s a real device.

That you can actually calibrate to probably,

you know, get an outcome that you want.

Yeah, so here’s even how a Scientology auditor

believes it works.

You’re holding the cans,

there’s a tiny little battery in that e-meter

that’s sending, you’re completing the circuit

when you pick up the cans, right?

So you got a little thing going there.

And that needle will respond to your physical movement,

but that’s not what we want.

We want you to sit the hell still

so that we can read this thing

when I’m asking you questions, okay?

So you’re sitting there still, very still.

As still as you can, comfortable, right?

And I’m gonna go,

is there something you’re withholding from me?

And what I’m looking for is right when I say

at the end of me,

I’m looking for the needle to dip to the right.

Having a needle, even if it’s kind of random,

can really be like a catalyst for conversation.

That’s what it’s used for.

Except it’s an enforced conversation.

So I’ll give you a really good example of this.

So you’re holding the cans.

Say, is there anything you’re withholding from me?

And I get an instant read.

And I go, is there anything you’re withholding from me?

You’re gonna go, I don’t think so.

And I don’t see the needle.

No, you don’t see the needle.

I go, well, what did you think of

when I asked you the question?

Now, if you’ve already had a lot of auditing,

you know how this goes.

It means I got an instant read

and we’re not going to move on

until this question gets resolved.

Okay, so you’re gonna go,

I don’t know what I was thinking of.

And then I’m gonna be like,

take a look and I’ll help you out here.

I’ll try to steer you.

Okay, so I’m looking to get roughly the same read

while you’re thinking about whatever.

I’m going, what was that?

What was that right there?

And you can start digging to what?

You can start.

I just want an answer to the question.


And I can go to memory.

Yeah, and you can give me any answer you want.

There’s no way for me to know

if you’re giving me the right answer,

but I want you to give me something.


If you say you can’t give me anything,

I’m gonna keep using the emitter

until you give me something.


Okay, so let’s say you give me something.

I’m gonna get all the details about that

and until time, place, form, and event,

I wanna know everything that happened.

I wanna know all the details.

And by the way, I’m writing all this down.

So I’m taking notes of everything you’re telling me

that it’s a bad thing that you did

that you haven’t told me about.

Okay, so I’m keeping notes.

When you represent to me

that you’ve told me everything there is to tell,

I’m looking for the needle

to give a smooth back and forth motion like this.

And Scientology calls that a floating needle.

That means, in Scientology land, we’re done with that.

So now I might go back to check the question.

Okay, good, I’ll check the question again.

Is there anything you’re withholding from me?

Ooh, if I get another read,

we gotta go through the process again.

Okay, if you tell me I’ve told you everything

and I don’t get a floating needle,

I’ve gotta go, okay, is there an earlier similar thing?

Have you basically done an earlier similar thing?

Is there an earlier similar time

you haven’t told someone something

or is there an earlier similar thing

that you did to the thing that you just told me?

We’re gonna keep going earlier similar,

earlier similar, earlier similar

until I get a floating needle.

And that’s where, explaining it this way,

you can see how no matter

what the specific auditing session happens to be about,

there’s still the potential in any auditing session

that you’re going into past lives

just because you have to go earlier similar

until you get a floating needle.

Okay, now here’s how Scientologists think

the e-meter actually works,

meaning why does the e-meter work?

So we talked before about these mental pictures, right?

These recordings, okay?

Well, we spoke about engrams,

just recordings of pain and unconsciousness.

Well, Scientology would hold the bad recordings

aren’t the only recordings that you have.

Those are just the recordings in your reactive mind.

You also have an analytical mind,

which is just your conscious memory,

conscious recording of everything from present time

to the last 76 trillion years.

And Hubbard would say that these memories

are actually a perfectly detailed recording.

I think he says like 56 perceptions or something.

And that it’s perfect.

And you can access that information,

you just have trouble doing so.

Okay, so he says that these recordings,

these mental pictures have actual electrical charge and mass.

Now you asked before,

is there any actual physics in this?

I don’t know, where are you supposed to store

the pictures of your last 76 trillion years

that have charge and mass?

I don’t see it, but Hubbard says it’s there.

Okay, so he says that these things have mass.

And when you recall them or put attention on them,

you create an electrical flow,

which maybe through magnetic fields or whatever,

impinges upon the electrical flow of the e-meter

and it shows up as a read on the needle.

That’s how Scientologists believe

that’s why the needle reads.

Now cynics would say the needle only reads

on palm sweat and movement.

Well, I know that’s not true.

Right, I can’t tell you everything the needle does read on,

but I can tell you it’s not just

moving your hands and sweaty hands.

It does correlate to thoughts probably.

Some way, somehow.

Because if it didn’t correlate to thoughts,

then this process would be way too inefficient.

Because it would be too,

there’s going to be a bunch of people who are just not,

you’re not gonna get the,

what is it called, the floating needle.

Like no matter what.

I can’t explain to you how you get a floating needle,

but it sure as hell isn’t hand sweat

and it sure as hell isn’t squeezing the cans.

Right, so you eventually,

most people will get to the floating needle.

And somehow. You get floating needles.

There’s like a feed,

there probably is a feedback mechanism

that each person realizes how their mind and body,

because you want a resolution, right?

It’s probably. You want your needle to float.

For both people. Yes.

And it’s probably a great experience

when you’re like, yes, it’s a gamified feeling, right?

Well, when you’re training on how to use the e-meter,

there are drills where you practice

generating with your mind various needle reactions.

So, you know, there is a drill where you sit there

and you consciously try to create a floating needle

by recalling happy thoughts.

You go to your happy place.

And at the end of every auditing session,

you actually have to go to a third party,

sit down in front of an e-meter

and verify that your needle’s floating.


Every single auditing session

not only has to end on a floating needle,

but then you have to go to someone else

and have the floating needle verified.

Any Scientologist who’s a seasoned recipient of auditing

knows how to make their needle float at the examiner.

Well, I gotta be honest though,

this process, again, sorry to be sort of going there,

but it feels like this is a very rigorous

talk therapy session.

Is there good aspects to this?


A lot of people find auditing very helpful.

I mean, I’ve heard some describe it

as quite thoroughly addictive.

Me personally, I never enjoyed getting auditing.

That’s probably more a function of having been raised in it.

And it was never something I wanted to do.

It was something that was forced on me as a child.

And also I was never, I don’t like talking

about private secret stuff.

Like you kind of have to want to be an open book

to honestly and thoroughly participate

in an auditing session.

Because there’s not necessarily a belief

that this is gonna be private.

There’s no expectation of privacy,

but there’s no expectation

that your stuff’s gonna be leaked for blackmail either.

I mean, you trust the people in the organization.

Even despite rumors and stuff like that.

But the rumors are coming from people

that are lying to you, essentially.

If you’re a Scientologist,

and you’re participating in an auditing session,

you know that anyone in the organization

has the ability to know the stuff that you talk.

It’s not like, oh my God, I’m only telling my auditor

because I think no one’s ever gonna know.

You know that people know.

But you also trust the organization.

How quickly does it go to past memories?

For people who are seasoned,

like they actually like going past life.

I hated it.

I would make sure, I was really good

at making my needle float.

I didn’t want to have some auditor,

because I never believed in the past life memories.

So I didn’t want to be in that impassable,

reach an impasse in an auditing session

where I was being asked for something I couldn’t provide.

Because I knew this auditing session

has to end on a good point.

But Scientologists enjoy, for the most part,

they call it whole track.

Whole track is past life.

Going whole track.

Your time track, they call it the time track,

is your whole memory.

But whole track refers to anything past life.

So going whole track or deep whole track with high reality.

Meaning it’s not like, oh, I have a fuzzy memory

and I’m not sure if it’s real.

Like your real seasoned Scientologists are like,

oh yeah, I was on this planet at this time,

circling this star, and this is what I was eating

for breakfast.


Before the origin of life on Earth,

so billions of years ago, on a distant planet

where you were eating for breakfast.

Or other universes.

I wonder if there’s a nice shortcut

to sneak up to actual trauma that happened to you

as a therapy device.

I just, so putting Scientology aside,

I just am thinking about, as a technique for therapy,

discussing, basically, some people have trauma,

and one of the things you do with therapy

is bring the trauma to the surface.

That’s the stuff that happened to you in childhood.

Maybe it’s a more convenient thing to do

to kind of map that indirectly onto a fictitious telling

of what happened to you, something like that trauma

on a distant planet elsewhere.

Could be a nice way to sneak up to it.

Yeah, and it goes both flows there.

Not just things that have happened to you,

but things that you’ve done.

So you could be being asked for,

you’d be going back to, I wiped out a civilization.

I committed genocide on this rice on this planet.

Oh wow.

Oh yeah.

But so you can actually take on a whole new guilt.

Oh yeah.

So I, okay, all right.

You might actually take on a lot more guilt than I go of.

Because if you feel like that self-critical aspect

of the brain, boy, because my brain is really self-critical.

So I could see myself manufacturing,

if I was forced to over time,

some kind of story where I did genocide

a whole population of like Pluto or something

at a distant, somewhere in Alpha Centauri.

Yeah, so I mean.

And now I walk around with that guilt.

Wait, I’m actually a horrible person.

So imagine though, if you had not only are you looking at,

you know, if someone’s being self-critical,

trying to identify destructive patterns of behavior

in your present life.

But what if you really internalize the fact that

I haven’t only been this way for 40 years.

I’ve been this way for 40 trillion years.


But Scientology would argue that as a thetan

you’re inherently good.

All thetans are basically good.

So the goal of the auditing procedure there

would be essentially to figure out, find the moment,

find what it was that caused you to make that shift

as a being to dramatize, you know,

evil intentions and stuff like that.

So even if you’re going whole track,

looking at all the horrible things you’ve done,

the goal is to find like,

well, what happened just prior to that?

What was like the prior confusion?

And what did you misunderstand

just before that and whatnot?

So the goal is basically,

so Scientologists after a lot of auditing

are also convinced that they have fixed

the reason for any non-optimum conduct.

And underlying this is a belief that

at the core, we’re all good.


There’s a lot of really powerful ideas in Scientology,

which is so interesting that it goes wrong.

Okay, what about the training you mentioned,

the training of the auditor?

That’s really interesting.

So what’s, how lengthy is that process?

It can take years.

I mean, one of that question I wanna ask is,

are people in Sea Org, like as an auditor,

do you believe everything?

How much, is there a crisis of faith that creeps in?

In religion, you have a crisis of faith

when you start to wonder like, does God even exist?

So in this case, how often do you start to doubt

that some of the core beliefs of Scientology are false?

Scientology would say that Scientology is not about beliefs.

It’s about application of the techniques

of Scientology auditing to improve

someone’s spiritual awareness and ability.

So the belief level of Scientology

is pretty much the stuff we’ve already discussed.

The effectiveness of the auditing process.

So the effectiveness of the auditing process,

this is one of the things Hubbard says,

is that standard tech, standard Scientology,

they call it the tech,

the technology of how to deliver auditing,

standard tech, works 100% of the time

when applied 100% correctly.

Well, that’s kind of unfalsifiable, right?


Because any time it doesn’t work.

It wasn’t applied correctly.


That’s a nice little escape hatch

to pull on having a crisis of faith.

It didn’t work.

Well, then obviously it wasn’t applied correctly.

That’s where quality control comes in.

Their job is to nitpick,

and you can always find one thing

that wasn’t done correctly.

Communism didn’t work

because it wasn’t implemented correctly.

It’s always an escape hatch with ideologies.

That’s right.

That’s right.

I would probably argue that auditors

are not in a position of having many crisis of faith,

because actually they’re usually seeing people,

for the most part, improve in some ways

through the process of auditing.

Now, auditing can create like a state

of somewhat of a euphoric state.

You feel great.

You’re just blown out of your head.

You know, you feel on top of the world.

I’ve had that in some of my auditing.

As an auditor, sorry?

No, as a person receiving auditing.

And so my point is that as an auditor

doing a lot of auditing,

you know, you’re gonna have someone in front of you

called the pre-clear is the person in front of you

who’s getting the auditing,

called the PC or the pre-clear.

They see over and over and over again,

these PCs having these sort of euphoric states

and floating needles,

and I feel great and fantastic.

No, thanks, you saved my life,

and da-da-da-da-da.

Like, I’ve always said,

if people didn’t find Scientology helpful,

nobody would ever stay in Scientology.

And so auditors are pretty much the ones

doing the heavy lifting

of what it even means to be a Scientologist.

Those guys aren’t the ones

that you end up having crisis of faith.

I mean, doing Scientology, auditing,

it doesn’t require that you just have faith

that you believe something.

You just have to go through these motions.

And Scientologists, one of the reasons Scientologists

think this is all scientific

is because it’s like,

I don’t care if you believe why this works.

I care how you feel at the end of an auditing session.

And empirically speaking,

like anecdotal data is,

it actually seems to improve people’s lives

within the context.

So taking the outside world out of it,

within this particular organization,

you’re actually measurably seeing improvement.


Is that to some degree real?

Because like, if you look at a book like Animal Farm,

where the pigs start to rule the other animals,

and over time, the life of the animals

gets worse and worse and worse

while the pigs keep saying

that it’s actually getting better and better and better.

Again, communism, same thing.

The rationing is getting worse and worse and worse,

less and less food.

But there’s constant reporting

that there’s more and more food.

We’re winning, hashtag.

I would argue that what you’ve just described

could be an identical description

of what it feels like and what it means to go up.

Scientology’s bridge to total freedom.

You are reinforcing to yourself

that everything’s getting better and better and better.

And you’d be like,

you don’t spend time with your family anymore.

You’re broke, even though you make a lot of money.

You’re always stressed.

You’re at the beck and call of these people

who seem to run your lives.

Like, how a Scientologist feels about their own life is,

it’s very interesting to compare that

to how that person’s life looks

to their non-Scientology family members.

I get contacted by a lot of people

who’ve never been in Scientology,

but they’re like, I got a family member

who’s really deep,

and can you help me understand some things?

Why is this person’s life like this?

Why is this person’s life like this?

So, I don’t wanna say that Scientologists

do not actually, I don’t wanna say,

oh, it’s all in their heads.

They think they’re being helped, but they’re really not.

That doesn’t feel honest, you know?

But it’s this thing where if Scientology

was just getting auditing when you wanted,

about the subjects you wanted,

and you could take it or leave it,

that would be fine.

It’s the fact that it’s part and parcel

to this entire organization and this entire experience

that has, as a part of that experience,

taking everything from you,

demanding everything from you,

controlling who you can speak with,

controlling who you can have relationships with,

who you have to erase from your life.

This is where, and it’s hard to,

it’s hard to place one pinpoint on,

this is where Scientology goes wrong.

It’s really hard to do that,

because the good parts of Scientology

and the bad parts of Scientology are all just Scientology.

Yeah, so there’s definition of what’s bad for you,

and it’s probably, in the beginning, is bad for you.

This almost just sounds like a template

of a toxic relationship.

You know, there’s a bunch of stuff in this world

that is just not good for you,

so the authoritarian says, like,

I’m just protecting you by blocking you off

from those negative things,

and they are probably negative things,

but then this freedom starts closing in

to where you can’t no longer speak freely,

think freely, act freely, and there’s some,

I mean, that’s why sort of power corrupts,

and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

That person doing the controlling

actually starts getting that dopamine rush

of the controller that’s exciting.

It’s a vicious negative cycle,

so you start out as a, it starts out good,

because you’re trying to do good for the person,

but then it somehow goes to shit.


So what are the aspects that just,

that are often controlled about a person

who’s in Scientology, especially Sea Org?

Well, information control, access to the internet,

access to any information critical of Scientology.

Is some internet access allowed?

Public Scientologists has no restrictions

to their access to the internet.

They’re just not allowed

to read anything critical of Scientology.

Oh, okay, so they’re supposed to self-control

what they read or not, and what’s the explanation?

Is it always assumed

that anything critical of Scientology is a lie?

They really push this thing that

unless you’ve been in a Scientology organization yourself,

or unless you’ve actually been a Scientologist,

you couldn’t possibly know the truth about Scientology.

If you’re only getting information

from people who aren’t members or former members,

then you couldn’t possibly be getting

the correct information.

Now, they don’t realize the math there doesn’t make sense.

If you can find out the true information

by becoming and being a Scientologist,

then that means you can get the correct information

from a former Scientologist,

because they traveled that path

and they got the correct information.

So they still create this,

they try to create this unfalsifiable loop

where unless you are personally doing it,

you don’t have correct information.

And you go, what about people who did personally do it,

got the correct information, left,

and are now sharing that with others?

Well, no, those are lies.

Well, okay, so just anything you don’t like is a lie then.

You go, yeah, pretty much, that’s kind of how it works.

So what about the control

of negative information on the internet?

What the actual operations?

I’ve, you know, preparing, I should admit,

I don’t know too much about Scientology.

I was doing a bunch of reading,

and the Wikipedia page on Scientology,

interestingly enough, is not that negative

about Scientology.

So it made me ask, you have to be a little bit careful

how you consume stuff from Wikipedia.

You have to consider, because money can buy things there,

there’s certain special interests and so on.

But it made me wonder,

like with a lot of controversial topics,

what is true, and where do I look,

where do I go for truth?

So like how much sort of deliberate action is there

to control what is true on the internet by Scientology?

Well, these days, they’ve pretty much, I think,

thrown in the towel.

But the Scientology middle management

was editing Wikipedia so often from IP addresses

that were traced back to the Scientology buildings

that Wikipedia locked them out from any IP addresses

associated with Scientology from being able to edit it.

The Scientology was so infatuated

with trying to control the information,

and in the early days of the internet,

they had a certain degree of success with that.

It’s just hopeless these days.

It’s the scale, the scale’s not there.

But actually, I’m very surprised how bot farms,

how effective they can be at a very small scale.

If you just pay 100 people to spread narratives.

But the reason that’s effective

is you can kind of create conspiracy theories

that create chaos, and nobody knows what is true.

That bot farms can do.

But actually really nicely control a narrative is hard.

So to create chaos, it’s easier to do.

To basically say like, you know, do PR control is very hard.

Yeah, so especially on the internet,

especially when the critical eye is there.

The internet can smell bullshit,

which is one of the really,

really powerful thing about the internet.

And I gotta tell you,

it’s one of the reasons I do my YouTube channel.

It’s one of the reasons I decided to upload every day.

I’ve uploaded every day for the last six months.

I just wanted there to be a nonstop flow of information

of any kind and any variety,

as long as it’s fair and balanced,

intelligent, interesting,

that Scientologists who stumble upon the internet

will go, oh look, someone’s talking about my thing.

Let’s see what they got going on.

And I know this guy.

The fact that Scientology crushes so much information.

Before YouTube, before like,

I have the only like big Scientology channel.

And that only got big in the last six months.

Okay, so before that, there were channels, there was things.

But it’s almost like it took a lot of like,

people felt like it took a lot of bravery and courage

to like say something on the internet about Scientology.

And so people would pop up

and there weren’t very many voices.

And I was like, I want this to be prolific.

I want to be prolific.

I want to have 30 or 40 other channels being prolific

so that Scientology couldn’t possibly

successfully control the narrative about it.

Have you been personally attacked?

AaronSmith11.com is a website

created by the Church of Scientology.

Have you seen it?

No, what kind of content is on there?

Oh, Aaron’s abusive father and a horrible husband

and the worst staff member we’ve ever had.

And oh, I openly talk about it

because I think the fact that Scientology

even does things like that is fucking hilarious.

And anything they try to do to me,

the way I think about it is,

you know you’re just giving me an opportunity

to turn the mirror back on you

and show everyone how horrible you are.

Does it stick?


So you find that there is ineffective?

It’s completely ineffective.

They’re so over the top.

And I’ll tell you how the website even came into being.

So I was on the first season of

Leah Remini’s Scientology in the Aftermath.

Every single person who participated in that show

got a website.

It’s just that everyone else’s website is like,

whoismarkhedley.com, whoismikerender.com.

Well, I bought whoisaaronsmith11.com,

but I was too stupid to buy Aaron,

I didn’t buy aaronsmith11.com.

So I’m actually the only one

who has a website in their name.

Oh, nice.


And I’m like, I could probably get a lawyer

to get it back for me, but I’m like, why?

I want everyone to see what a nasty, petty,

disgusting organization that this is.

And nobody believes anything Scientology says anyway.

Does the general public know

that it comes from Scientology?

Pull it up.

It says right on the bottom, copyright 2000 whatever,

Church of Scientology International.

Like they didn’t even try to hide it.



A man with no moral compass.

Aaron Smith, who is he really?

Aaron Smith Levin, a man with no moral compass.

Read about Aaron Smith Levin,

an angry man spreading hate from the internet’s shadows.

Open mouth shot.

And you’re saying like at the,

but wow, there’s testimonies.

Oh, there’s videos from former coworkers.

The slightest thing just sets him off

and he just goes totally nuts.

Well, that one is true.

I didn’t understand why you slapped me

before the interview.

I felt that.

They’ve got links to everyone else’s website on the bottom.

It’s so funny.

Who is, okay, the other one.

2021 Church of Scientology International,

all rights reserved.

Here’s an example of just Scientology’s

complete lack of self-awareness.

So me and Mike Rinder,

we went and have these on like a house flip project, right?

You know, Mike Rinder.

You know Mike Rinder.

Do I?

He gave me a bobblehead of the guy.

I don’t know him.

I was just, I would like to talk to him about him,

but this, there’s a very fine gentleman here

with a bobblehead.

The reason we created the bobblehead

is because on Mike Rinder’s hate site,

Scientology created a gif or a gif.

How do you say it?

What’s the right way to say it?

The correct way is gif.

Gif, good.

Scientology created a gif of Mike Rinder as a bobblehead.

It was an insult, like,

oh, all he does is sit next to Leah Remedy

and go, yes, Leah, yes, Leah.

And so they made a gif of him with a bobblehead.

So we were like, we’re gonna make Mike Rinder bobbleheads

and we’re gonna sell them on the spshop.com

to raise money for the Aftermath Foundation.

I love it.


And now that I-

So go out and buy.

Yeah, go to the spshop.com

and get yourself a Mike Rinder bobblehead.

Now look, now that my profile’s getting a little higher,

this head was made to bobble.

Like this smooth, shiny head needs its own bobblehead now.

It does, 100% does.

I can’t believe it doesn’t exist.

So, but let me show you.

So here’s what’s happening here.

We just hired some day laborers off of what,

like Craigslist or something.

So what Scientology did was they had a private investigator

stake out the house flip project.

They were clearly running license plates

of anyone who visited the property

because otherwise how would they find out

the laborer’s names, do background checks on them

to find out they had criminal records?

And they published this as if it’s gonna

reflect negatively on me.

Oh, we hired someone to do work who had a criminal record?

Who gives a shit?

Do you know one of the biggest problems

people with records have is finding employment.

There’s nothing bad about hiring someone

who’s got a criminal record.

It doesn’t reflect negatively on me,

but it shows you what they think about those people.

It shows you what they think about people

who are trying to put their lives back together

and maybe, you know, actually work for a living.

And it also shows that they’re surveilling us.

You’re like, they don’t realize that putting this up,

they’re publishing information that they could only have

if they’re surveilling me and Mike

and it doesn’t occur to them,

maybe we shouldn’t put that up.

Just the general process, sad to say, of journalism

where they’re looking for any kind of dirt

and it’s, they’re trying to conjure up a story

and there’s something about drama

and negative stories that get clicks and so on.

So this is a general process.

The more, especially the more celebrity you become,

the more of these kinds of attacks come

and they look for any kind of thing that could be,

you know, it doesn’t even have to be facts.

It could be just asking, who is he really?

Seems to have traction on the internet.

What is the actual truth of the man

you keep claiming you are,

of the good man you keep claiming you are?

It’s fascinating.

But sometimes that can be effective.

But I think if you’re being transparent and authentic

and just putting yourself out there completely

and your story completely,

then that’s the best way to fight it.

That’s the other reason to be prolific

on the internet, right?

The reason Joe Rogan can’t get canceled

is because anyone can watch thousands of hours

of the authentic Joe Rogan.

You can’t misrepresent him

because he spent thousands of hours

representing himself genuinely.

Yeah, the nice thing when you’re representing yourself

genuinely, you should be a good person.

So if you’re a good person, then the internet will know.

They can smell out the bullshit.

Who is David Miscavige?

It’s even like,

because you said L. Ron Hubbard founded Scientology.


Let’s go to the story of how we transitioned

from that to David Miscavige.

The current leader of Scientology.

He was actually not selected by L. Ron Hubbard

to take over,

but ended up usurping power and taking over.

It sounds like Stalin and Trotsky and communism,

similar story.

It’s the person oftentimes in the situation,

it’s not the natural successor to power.

It’s the one that takes power.


I think the quote,

sometimes it gets attributed to David Miscavige is,

power is not given, it is assumed.


Something like that.

The last six years of L. Ron Hubbard’s life,

he was often a seclusion,

essentially hiding from lawsuits.

Now, by the time Hubbard went off into seclusion,

Miscavige had sort of already risen up

through the ranks of the C organization.

Now, Miscavige was like a teenager,

either like 11, 12, 13, something like that.

Miscavige was not born into Scientology,

but he was a young boy

when his father got into Scientology.


So Miscavige did start working as a C org member.

So there’s one organization that existed

to essentially serve Hubbard directly

and to represent his interests.

And that was called the Commodore.

He was the Commodore of the C organization.

The Commodore’s Messenger’s organization,

we’re gonna call it the CMO.

Miscavige started working for the CMO

pretty early on in his C org career,

by the way, as did Mike Rinder,

mini Mike.


And so he just became known as a doer,

like a guy who’ll get it done.

No excuses, no stops, get it done.

So he had made a name for himself in the CMO

around the time, by the time Hubbard

went off into seclusion.

Now, when he went off into seclusion,

he took two other CMO,

or I’m gonna call them messengers, right?

Commodore’s messengers.

He took two other messengers with him,

Pat and Annie Broker.

Now it has been said by people,

Mike, Mike Rinder has told me,

he goes, the reason Pat and Annie went off with LRH

isn’t necessarily because he desperately wanted them to,

but partly because we could afford to let them go.

We didn’t necessarily need them.



And between the two of them,

Annie was the one who was like a really compassionate person,

intelligent person, caring person.

Was there a possible trajectory of this world

where she was the one that took over?


In fact, Pat and Annie Broker were the two people

that were supposed to take over.


But because Pat and Annie were with Hubbard in seclusion,

Miscavige basically had the complete run of the operation

without any oversight from Hubbard.

The only way any information would get

from Scientology World to Hubbard

is Miscavige and Pat Broker

would meet at a confidential location,

and Miscavige would give Broker any information

he wanted to go to LRH.

So if Miscavige wanted to get rid of somebody,

all he had to do was feed LRH false information

that this person had been caught doing something treasonous.

And then he would get in response some order

from LRH to get rid of this person.

So are there so many similarities

between various communist regimes and fascist regimes?

Well, Hitler did the same thing

when he became the Supreme Leader.

He had to take power.

Yeah, he had to wait for the president to die,

but the whole time there’s a control on information

and a slow aggregation of power.

Of course, with nations it’s different

because if you control the military, you control a lot.

So you have to also get the generals on your side

and so on, but I’m sure in this situation

there is similar kind of dynamics.

You have to get certain people on your side,

control the flow of information,

let the original founder, the original leader die off,

and make sure that you are the one

that’s left with the power.


So whereas Pat and Annie are off with LRH,

all of Scientology’s attorneys and accountants

and lobbyists and whatever, they all know Dave.

Dave’s the one they deal with.

LRH passes away, Pat and Annie make disappearance.

Nobody knows Pat and Annie.

Everybody knows Dave.

And so he ended up getting rid of Pat and Annie.

This is a very short, perhaps slightly bastardized version

of it, of Miscavige basically.

They had been ushering just suitcases of cash

to L. Ron Hubbard during this time.

So you have Miscavige handing boatloads of cash

to Pat Broker.

Pat would do crazy things like hide the money

in the walls of houses and dig pits and everything.

So Miscavige basically threatened to turn Pat Broker

over to the IRS for tax evasion.

That’s part, Pat Broker’s still alive.

Is he a Scientologist or no?

No, he basically went away and kept his mouth shut.

She died a handful of years ago.

She stayed a loyal Sea Org member until the very end.

But literally, Miscavige put her on menial tasks

like she had no authority whatsoever.

She was just put on menial tasks,

washing dishes, but not really, groundskeeper,

just stupid low-level assistant, paper pusher stuff.

She never operated with any actual authority,

even though she was supposed to be the one

to take over her and Pat.

So on David Miscavige, difficult question,

but can you make both the case that he is a good man

who’s misunderstood and the case that he’s not a good man?

First of all, I believe that Miscavige

is a true believer in Scientology.

I do believe that.

That’s a really important question.

Do you think he believes in all the thetans and all of that?

He definitely believes in that.

I think he believes in Scientology,

but in a different way than all other Scientologists

because he’s aware of a lot more information,

damaging information about L. Ron Hubbard

and the true story of Scientology than most people.

So his version of belief is different.

I’ll give you one example here.

So Scientology’s bridge to total freedom

goes up to what they call OT8,

Operating Thetan Level Eight, okay?

Scientologists have all been told

that L. Ron Hubbard, before he passed,

finished, completed, putting together OT9, 10, 11, 12,

13, 14, and 15.

It’s just sitting in the vault, waiting to be released.

This is part of the Scientology belief system

because remember, I said going up Scientology’s bridge

to total freedom is how you’re supposed to get back

to your native godlike state.

Well, all the Scientologists in the world

who’ve already done OT8 know that they haven’t gotten there,

but they still believe in Scientology

because they’re told there’s more.

But wait, there’s more.

Miscavige knows there is no more.

So Miscavige knows the fundamental promise

of being able to achieve full Operating Thetan is a lie.

He knows L. Ron Hubbard didn’t accomplish that,

so therefore, no one else is going to accomplish it as well.

If L. Ron Hubbard had accomplished it,

Miscavige knows, well, he didn’t write it up.

He didn’t leave instructions

for how anyone else would accomplish it.

So no matter what, Miscavige knows

that the fundamental promise

that what Scientology is saying they will be able

to deliver to mankind is a lie.

Now, it’s gonna sound like I’m contradicting myself

because it sounds like I’m saying,

well, he knows it’s bullshit.

I think he believes that L. Ron Hubbard just failed

to finish his work, and he’s kind of hoping L. Ron Hubbard

is gonna come back to finish the job

because L. Ron Hubbard did tell the people

at the International Management Base,

at least a core of them, that he was coming back.

Now, we know that David Miscavige believed this

because right around the 21-year mark,

he was supposed to come back like 21 years after he died.

Right around the 21-year mark,

David Miscavige was getting busy putting some things

in place that had to get done

in case L. Ron Hubbard came back.

So we know he at least believed to that level.

Do you believe that L. Ron Hubbard

can sort of enter his own body?

No, that’s not how it works in Scientology.

Okay, so you can’t have a transfer of thetans.

If you were full OT, you could.

Can you describe the OT again?

So OT levels, OT one, two, three, four, five to the eight.

What are they?

How do you get to level one?

I’m gonna answer this question

by first connecting some dots.


We spoke earlier in the interview

about achieving your native god-like state.

That in Scientology is called native state.

Native state and full operating thetan

mean the exact same thing.

Because at native state, you are a fully operating thetan.

Operating meaning operating in your full capacity.

So OT means operating thetan.

So the upper confidential half of Scientology’s bridge

are called the OT levels, the operating thetan levels.

And these, and remember, they’re confidential.

So most Scientologists have not done these levels.

They don’t know what’s on them.

It is on these levels that you learn

about the xenu in the body thetan story.

Can you describe xenu, please?

We spoke earlier about how at the lower

non-confidential levels of Scientology’s bridge,

Hubbard is saying that what’s wrong with you

is your reactive mind.

Okay, well in Scientology,

once you’ve gotten rid of your reactive mind,

that is what’s called the state of clear.

Okay, so after you finish state of clear,

the next thing on the bridge is the OT levels.

Well, if you’ve already gotten rid of your active mind,

what the heck are you supposed to do now?

Well, now L. Ron Hubbard says,

okay, first, what was wrong with you

was just your reactive mind.

But now the next thing you have to resolve,

the next thing that’s wrong with you

is you actually have tens of thousands of thetans

stuck to your body,

and they all have their own reactive minds.

You have to audit the thetans.

How do you audit the thetans?

Are these like different shades of your inner mind,

and you just have to try to access them somehow?

You use the e-meter, just like we spoke about,

except now you’ve got a divider that separates the cans

so they don’t short circuit,

and you hold both cans in one hand,

and you have the e-meter in front of you,

so now you’re auditing yourself.

You’re telepathically talking

to the thetans that are stuck to you.

You are thinking the commands

instead of saying them out loud,

and you sort of do drills where you practice

looking for e-meter reads at the instant you have a thought.

You’re telepathically auditing spirits

that L. Ron Hubbard says are stuck to your body.

Does this sound like a recipe for a mental breakdown?

Or a heck of a mental journey?

Wherever that leads, it could lead anywhere.

It probably would lead to a very bad place, right?

Very often does, and you combine that

with the fact that Scientology is against

any forms of mental health or health outside of Scientology,

and you have a recipe for disaster.

Now, you might go, where did all these spirits come from

that are stuck to your body?

This is where Zinu comes into play.

So Hubbard says that 75 million years ago,

Zinu was basically a dictator at,

the Galactic Confederation is like 70-something

or 80-something planets somewhere in the Milky Way,

and Zinu was like a dictator, an overlord

for either one of these planets or the whole system,

and they had a population problem.

And Zinu was like, we need to get rid of half the people.

So we called them all in for tax audits.

L. Ron Hubbard didn’t like the IRS,

so of course the story has to do with tax audits.

Called them all in for tax audits,

said, psych bitches, froze them in glycol,

loaded them up on space planes, flew them to Earth.

Remember, the story has to be Earth

because the story is What’s Wrong With Us?

Flew them to Earth, dropped them in volcanoes,

blew them up with hydrogen bombs,

and then captured them with spirit magnets.

I’m making up words, because, okay.

And these disembodied spirits of these people

that got blown up have just been blowing in the wind

here on Earth, and they attach themselves to things,

and they can be in the environment,

and they stick to bodies and everything,

and they all have reactive minds.

So at Scientology’s upper levels,

if you get sick or you have cancer

or there’s something wrong with you,

Scientology will say, that’s one of your body things.

You need to get some auditing to fix the body things.

So this story, you do it with a bit of a chuckle,

but when done seriously,

so it’s just told in a serious way,

or written down, and you read it.

By most accounts, Scientologists struggle

when they read this for the first time,

because this is not consistent with what Scientologists

are hoping for is on the OT levels.

They’re hoping for some real life-changing magic.

The way these things are described and sold,

remember, they’re hoping that these OT levels

are gonna give them the ability

to go completely independent of their body at will,

exteriorize from your body, go back into your body,

like have some real spirit powers.

So at first, it’s kind of a shock.

But then you still probably believe, you hope,

and you might turn it on yourself,

self-critical that this is, I’m just not strong enough yet.

Yeah, because also part of Scientology,

remember, it works 100% of the time

when used 100% correctly, and if it doesn’t,

it could be because something’s not being done right,

but it also could be because you’re doing bad things

that you’re not telling people about.

Like if you’re committing present time

overts, crimes, sins, Scientologists would be like,

that’s part of the reason auditing isn’t working on you

is because you’re committing criminal behavior

that you’re not being honest about.

So every Scientologist is sort of incentivized

to make auditing work on them, okay?

Now, Lex, this is where it gets a little crazy.

On OT-3, you learn about the OT,

the body things for the first time.

When you finish OT-3, you attest to having achieved

the state of having no more body things,

and then you start OT-4, and he’s like,

psych, you got more, you got more BTs,

except those other BTs, they had drug problems,

and that’s why you couldn’t find them the first time.

So we’re gonna do something a little different here,

do something a little different there,

gotta get rid of these BTs that were addicted to drugs, okay?

Then you finish OT-4, and you’re thinking,

man, I hope we get to the good stuff soon,

and then you get to OT-5, and he’s like,

psych, you got more BTs, you couldn’t find these BTs

because they were all bunched up together in clusters,

and first you have to break up the clusters,

and then you can get rid of the BTs,

and you’re like, okay, gotta do that.

And this was all L. Ron Hubbard approved.

Yeah, this is from L. Ron Hubbard.

And then, after you finish OT-5,

you get rid of all the BT clusters.

OT-6 is just a training course to teach how to audit OT-7.

Well, OT-7 is now more BTs,

except it’s in the environment and stuff,

if you’re trying to locate BTs,

you can find them on your body, but it’s just more BTs.

Okay, and then OT-8 is, remember we talked about

in all these auditing sessions

throughout the entire Scientology bridge,

you have people who’ve run hundreds or thousands

of past life whole track incidents.

These memories have become part of their self-identity

of who they even think they are.

OT-8, you go through all these past life recalls,

and essentially, I’m oversimplifying this a little bit,

he goes, psych, all those past life memories weren’t yours.

They were your BTs.

And he goes, now that you’ve discovered this,

now you know who you are not,

and you are ready to find out who you really are.

Well, now you’re supposed to find out

who you really are on OT-9 and 10.

Those don’t exist.

Do we know they don’t exist?

Yes, in fact, the whole story of how that became known

is part of how David Miscavige was able

to get rid of Pat Broker and take over power,

because it was believed that Pat Broker

was in possession of the upper unreleased OT levels,

and when Miscavige determined that he was not,

and there weren’t, in fact, any levels,

that was a bad day to be David Miscavige,

because he now knew he had something on his hands

he could not get himself out of.

He’s like, oh.

So there’s no gap for faith to seep in,

that there is a level nine and 10, 11, and 12.

Oh, the faith is there.

Scientologists believe that these things do exist.


L. Ron Hubbard didn’t leave anything behind.

Does David Miscavige believe they exist?

Oh, no, he knows they don’t exist.

No, but.

When I say exist, oh, I don’t mean

do advanced levels of spiritual awareness exist.

What I said is, I mean, did L. Ron Hubbard

write down what anyone is supposed to do

that’s called OT nine?

That doesn’t exist.

So you’re saying David Miscavige believes

that they can be written down,

so they exist sort of in a platonic sense,

and L. Ron Hubbard is the only one that can write it down?


So his faith is really deep.

Oh, you mean his faith that only L. Ron Hubbard

could have ever been the one to do it?


The full principles, beliefs of Scientology,

he is, do you have, are you sure he believes?

That what exactly?

Everything about Scientology that is true.

To the best of my ability to know

that I believe it to be true.

Like, I’ll give you some all even stupid examples.

Like Mike Renders told a story

where at the International Base,

Miscavige actually had like a copper contraption

built into the ground, like grounded into the ground

to come out where you could hold it,

and here’s something he sort of came up with to,

your BT, it could ground your BTs,

could get your BTs that if you were feeling

overstimulated or something,

I’m probably slightly bastardizing this story,

but he came up with this as a great idea,

something to help someone de-stimulate

if their BTs were getting a little too overactive.

Now, so that’s a stupid story that’s sort of like,

well, it shows you he believes in the concept of BTs

if he’s creating little rods to get rid of them,

to ground them into the earth.

Well, he could be conjuring up the stories

because he understands the power of myth and narrative

and so on to inspire.

Sure, but like, but also if we look at history,

both with, this is an interesting thing

because I’ve been reading a lot about Hitler and Stalin,

and it seems like both of them in different ways

believed in the stories they were telling.

Even when the stories, this is the fascinating,

especially with Hitler and propaganda,

where they were literally conjured up at first,

but then you start to believe you’re in propaganda.

With Stalin, I think what he always believed

is the bigger ideal of pure communism

and anything justifies the journey to communism

because it will ultimately be good for humanity

to achieve the state of pure communism.

And then he’s a godlike figure

that can bring humanity there.

But like, with Hitler, it’s interesting

because there’s constant propaganda

that he knows is not true.

A little bit, there’s gotta be doubt,

but then he like, all doubt is removed very quickly.


So I guess humans are just, this is how they operate.

Yeah, the conversation about David Miscavige

gets really interesting because I could give you a,

if I wanted to make the argument that he didn’t believe,

I could give you a dozen examples to make that argument.

I just happen to think that he believes in a different way,

whereas your average Scientologist

believes that Alvaron Hubbard was practically infallible,

that he thought of everything in advance,

he took care of everything before he left,

and Miscavige still believes

in like the main structure of this thing,

but he’s like, oh shit, it’s falling to me

to figure out how to actually make this thing happen.

I think Miscavige sees himself as someone

who has to a certain degree had to go back

and fix Alvaron Hubbard’s mistakes.

Do you think he sees himself as doing good for the world?

I do.

What about for the people of Scientology?

I think in his own way, he does.

I don’t think he wakes up thinking

he’s screwing Scientologists.

I think he sees everyone else as screwing him.

I think he sees that it is his job to expand Scientology

throughout the world and accomplish the aims of Scientology,

and he sees that it’s not happening,

and he thinks if everyone else would just stop,

if everyone else would get out of his way

and stop creating problems for him, it would happen.

I do think he sees himself as someone who is doing good.

I think that’s fair to say.

I think the evidence shows that.

What about the effects of clearly power and influence

that he’s had and money?

Yeah, without question that has served

as a corrupting force.

It has.

Without question.

Have you seen sort of evidence of that,

that he’s changed over time?

After the 1993 IRS exemption that Scientology won back,

and this information comes from Mike Rinder,

that’s when David Miscavige,

as soon as the checks on his power were removed,

Miscavige’s behavior changed markedly.

Can you tell the story of Shelly Miscavige

and the mystery surrounding her?

I saw that there is quite a bit of mystery.


So Shelly Miscavige, for many years,

held the job of her post in the C organization

was David Miscavige’s assistant.

That was her post.

It’s important to truly understand that and what that means

because the fact that she was Miscavige’s wife

is meaningless.

And this is something that’s hard to,

for regular people in the regular world,

to truly grasp how meaningless it is in Scientology.

For C-Org members who are spouses, it means nothing.

Your role matters more within C-Org.

Your role’s the only thing that matters.

So let’s say if Shelly was married to Dave,

but she worked in a different organization.

She would never be seen with him ever, publicly ever.

Wouldn’t travel with him,

wouldn’t go to events with him, nothing.

Sometime around 2006, 2007,

and I’m very oversimplifying this, okay?

Shelly basically pissed off Dave to the point

where he’s like, okay, I’m done with you.

I’m gonna take you off of your post, okay?

At that point, she was reassigned

to another confidential Scientology base

up in Twin Peaks, California.

Why am I, the reason I’m providing this type of detail

is because we hear that Shelly’s missing.


Okay, well, you realize the same people

who report that Shelly’s missing

are also the same people

who will tell you exactly where she is, okay?

She works at this secretive CST,

Church of Spiritual Technology base

out in Twin Peaks, California.

I have personal confirmation that she was seen

and spoken with by someone who knew her well

in, I’ll say, 2019.

Shelly Miscavige is missing in the sense

that she hasn’t been seen with David Miscavige

since about 2006,

but because she’s no longer his assistant,

you would never see her with him.

As opposed to the mystery of a person

that might be murdered,

this is more of a reallocation within the organization.

Certain people who cover Scientology,

who have published stories

where Shelly Miscavige’s family member

told a story to another family member,

who told the story to a friend,

who told the story to a former Scientologist,

who told the story to a journalist,

who published the story,

has created the impression

that some of Shelly Miscavige’s family members

are actually talking to the press,

when in fact that has never occurred.

And so the very people who are publishing

about Shelly Miscavige missing

have contributed to the fact

that Shelly Miscavige does no longer speak

to those family members,

because she thinks they’re talking to the press,

when they never have.

It’s pretty messed up.

It’s sad that she,

because those family members,

what would be a way for her to recover,

to flourish as a human being, to escape?


So I believe the information that I have,

that I verified,

I’m the one representing it’s true

without revealing my sources,

that Shelly was still actively in touch regularly

with family members outside of the C organization

since about, until about 2014.

So I mean regularly.


So there’s no question about her safety

during that period.

And then someone else who knew Shelly very well,

did see her and actually have a conversation with her

in a public place in 2019 or 2020.

Now somebody could still come along and be like,

how do we know she’s okay?

It’s been three years.

Yeah. Okay.

You can say that about anybody.

There’s the nature of working

in the highest levels of Scientology management

at these super secretive bases.

It’s a very weird and unique situation.

It has isolation baked in.

How is secrecy enforced?

Why is everybody holding on to their stories so intensely?

People that are within the organization,

like it’s hard to leak information.

Oh, they wouldn’t want to leak.

They’re true believers.

They see, like there’s sort of a conspiracy theory

that runs right through all of Scientology,

which is that Scientology represents

like an existential threat to the powers

that really control this planet.

Do they have a face to the powers that really control?

Do they have names to it?

Like who’s controlling?

It’s Zeno’s homies.

Well, I’m sure that’s not what they say.

Zeno embodied in-

It’s actually sort of a multifaceted conspiracy

in that on the one hand, L. Ron Hubbard points his fingers

at like the international bankers,

which has shades of antisemitism to it.

And then the IRS is going to be quickly baked in or no?

The IRS, no, the IRS is so low on the totem pole

as far as the, I mean, the international bankers,

he would say runs everything.

Got it.

But use that these bankers also use big pharma

and big psych to control the population.

And Scientology’s famously against pharma and psych.

And so this is sort of how L. Ron Hubbard characterizes

like this big war between Scientology

that’s trying to set everyone free

and big pharma and big psych

that’s trying to enslave everyone on the planet.

Yeah, controlling their mind,

controlling their body through chemicals and-

And who controls the press, big pharma and big psych.

So there’s a lot of correlation

to other kinds of conspiracy theories.


Oh, that’s fascinating.

But you asked the question,

where, why would all these people hold onto their stories?

They don’t, they would never want to leak.

Like by even anyone who would want to leak

would not even want to be a Scientologist anymore.

Like if you truly believe,

if you truly believe in Scientology

and you got your shoulder to the wheel

and you’re a Sea Org member,

you think Scientology is literally the only thing

that can save every being on this planet

from a fate of eternal amnesia and slavery, right?

And so it’s like, I mean, you’ve seen The Matrix, right?

So you’ve got everyone,

once you’re unplugged from The Matrix

and you realize, yeah, you can get plugged back in

and live your nice life, but you’re a slave.

That’s how Scientologists see this planet.

They actually, they refer to Earth as a prison planet.

Just at an individual level,

how is it possible to reach a person like that?

Is there something you could say to that?

Like what’s the journey of reaching a person like that?

I personally, because when I was in those shoes,

I say there’s nothing anybody could have said to me

to get me to change how I felt and thought about Scientology.

It’s almost foolproof that the more evidence

you try to present that there’s something wrong

with what Scientology is doing,

the more you’re just working for the psychs, you know?

It’s very, very difficult.

I mean, most people who leave Scientology

leave because they have had some personal experience

that was just such a grave injustice

that it just pushed them beyond the point

of what they were willing to experience.

Very rare, I’m not sure I’ve really ever heard a story

of someone going, yeah, I just woke up,

I just gradually realized it was all BS and drifted away.

It’s usually like, no, I really believed

and they treated me so horribly,

I almost had no choice but to leave.

And then the stories get pretty crazy.

Meaning you don’t care what’s true anymore,

you just have to leave with the unpleasant feeling,

the suffering.

Yeah, and this sort of goes back to the conversation

we’re having about, well, does Miscavige really believe?

And I said I could make an argument

for the fact that he doesn’t, right?

Because I go, it wouldn’t be that hard

to change the way Scientology treats people

just a little bit and you’d probably stop losing anyone

because Scientologists already believe

to such a strong degree, you have to be

pretty frickin’ horrible to people to make them leave.

And that’s where you go, well, does Miscavige

even want Scientology to expand?

Because if he was really being clever about it,

it seems like he could at least stop the bleeding

and yet he doesn’t.

So that’s where you make the argument,

well, if he doesn’t, then he must not want to.

So his mind is corrupted to the point

where he’s not able to actually

be a good businessman, essentially.

It seems that way.

The numbers of Scientologists have been going down

and down and down since the early 90s.

Is there a good, I mean, it’s very difficult

to get to this number, but is there a good estimate

of what the current number of Scientologists,

of practicing Scientologists is?

Oh yeah, I did a video about this.

It’s actually quite easy to get to the number.

It’s not more than 35,000 in the entire world.

And that’s being very generous and charitable.

I was intentionally generous.

I broke it all down in a spreadsheet and everything.

Can you give some insights of how you get that information?

Sure, there’s about 175 to 200 Scientology organizations

in the world.

Anybody who’s ever worked at these organizations know

there’s not more than 35 to 50 staff members per org.

There’s not more than one to 200

public Scientologists per org.

I broke down the number of C-Org members

who’d be working at every continental management unit,

middle management, international management.

I broke down the mission network, and I was generous.

I mean, my numbers were like, if L. Ron Hubbard came back

and they were doing an event, L. Ron Hubbard was coming back

and announcing OT nine and 10?

How many Scientologists could we scrape together

in every city to come to this event?

It wasn’t more than 35,000.

Now, contrast that to what Scientology says.

Millions, 10 million people.

Is this less people than there used to be?

At its peak, it was about 100,000 active members.

But never the millions.


Has David Miscavige used violence?

Has there, in your understanding of it, in your estimation,

sort of harassment, assault, and actual,

I don’t know how to define assault, but violence?

Oh, yeah.

Dozens of former C-Org members

from the international base have told stories

of being assaulted by Miscavige.

In fact, Mike Rinder is probably the one person

who’s been assaulted by Miscavige more than anyone else.

He’s personally probably been assaulted dozens of times.

Who is Mike Rinder, the man here?

One of the highest ranking executives in Scientology.

The author.

There you go, a billion years.

Of a billion years.

It really is a fantastic book.

Because Lex, the guy was born and raised in Scientology

and worked personally with L. Ron Hubbard

and worked personally with David Miscavige for decades.

It doesn’t get much more insider than that.

A candid and deeply felt memoir of a life lost

to false belief and courageously regained.

Lawrence Wright.

A billion years, my escape from a life

in the highest ranks of Scientology, Mike Rinder.

It’s a fantastic book.

He also narrates his own audio book, too.

I know you like the audio books.

That’s how I listen to them.

So Mike, famously, I just said a moment ago,

someone who’s treated so horribly,

even though he still believed in Scientology,

he had no choice but to leave.

And he tells the story in that book.

And he still believed in Scientology for years

after he escaped.

For years.

Because there’s this thing called

the Independent Scientology Movement

or the Free Zone or whatever.

There are people who do Scientology

outside of the Church of Scientology.

There’s just not many of them.

But Mike was one of those people

who was actually doing Scientology even after he left.

Now he no longer believes in that anymore

and he doesn’t do it.

But even though he still believed,

even though everything he knew

was what he was leaving behind,

he still had to leave it behind.

And by the way, I just opened a random page

and he says,

when I signed on for Sea Org in Adelaide in 1973,

the recruiter promised I would train

as a Scientology executive

under the direct tutelage of Hubbard on the Apollo.

So this is another thing I should probably ask you about.

Oh, we could go for days.

I was also told that after I learned

all I needed to learn at the foot of the Master,

I would return to Australia

to help expand Scientology in my home country.

So what was the thing that really broke him?

The final thing is when he got to a point

where he was no longer being forced

to lie to protect L. Ron Hubbard.

He was now being forced to lie to protect David Miscavige.

And specifically, it was about the allegations

of having been assaulted by Miscavige.

Mike Rinder was at some event,

it might’ve been a grand opening for a building,

a Scientology building in London.

And I believe it was John Sweeney,

at that time a BBC journalist,

who stuck a camera and a microphone in Mike’s face.

Is it true David Miscavige assaulted?

Is it true?

And Mike denied it on camera.

And then turned around and to himself is like,

this is what my life has been reduced to?

Lying to protect David Miscavige?

This used to be about L. Ron Hubbard.

This used to be about Scientology.

Now it’s about protecting this douchebag?

And Miscavige had just issued orders

that was gonna send Mike off to Australia.

Like Miscavige is sadistic, that is without question.

Sadistic meaning?

He enjoys inflicting pain upon others.

So he very specifically was gonna tell Mike,

tell Rinder, or tell that cocksucker,

we’re shipping him off to Australia,

and he’s never gonna see his wife

and his kids again, essentially.

And that’s when Mike was like,

they were the only reason I hadn’t already left.

So if I follow the orders, I’m gonna lose him.

If I leave Scientology, I’m gonna lose him.

At least if I leave Scientology,

I’ll be free of something.

It’s fucking sad.

And he still believed Scientology

to some degree after he left, is what you’re saying?


Has he spoken about what it took to let go

of believing in Scientology?


He does a very good job talking about all of this

in the book.

And it took him like four or five years

to get that book done.

Like it’s a polished version.

It’s a polished version of his story.

And I think Mike’s about getting ready

to start his own YouTube channel,

so that’ll be a lot of fun.

Actually, Mike comes on my channel all the time.

Yeah, you guys do a thing together, right?

Yeah, we do Three Amigos

with me and Mike Rinder and Mark Hedley.

That’s why I gave you Mark’s book,

I thought maybe you would know him

from our little Three Amigos,

our Mondays with Mike and Mark videos.

Mark Hedley, blown for good

behind the iron curtain of Scientology.

So he escaped from the International Base on a motorcycle.

It’s a wild story.


I won’t even try to do it justice, but-

Who’s a better writer of the two of them?

You’re not gonna get me there, like.

I’m trying to be investigative journalist for once.

Mike and Mark are both on the board

of the Aftermath Foundation with me, so.

Who’s better looking?

No, I’m just kidding.

It’s one of my justifications

for just putting up content every day

is every video is just an excuse to,

in some little way, promote the Aftermath Foundation.

And I do that again, one, to genuinely help people escape,

and two, because I know it drives David Miscavige crazy.

If you look in your own heart, is there anger there?

I don’t think it’s anger.

I don’t hate Scientology.

I don’t hate David Miscavige.

I don’t even hate my experience in Scientology.

Do you able to accept the good from your experience?

Yeah, absolutely.

But it’s also the only path that I traveled.

So I tend, okay, a little less so these days,

but earlier in life, I tended to attribute

all positive characteristics in me to Scientology,

because in my simplistic way of thinking,

I was like, what else could it possibly be attributed to?

That’s a very black and white way of seeing.

Well, it’s a beautiful way to see life.

No matter what happens to you, you attribute,

like you focus on the positive,

and sometimes people have traumatic experiences

with parents and so on, and if you focus on the positive,

it’s a good way to let go of the trauma associated with it.

True, but another example would be,

I didn’t go to school.

I stopped going to school in the seventh grade,

but people go, but you sound so smart.

And what am I supposed to do?

Am I supposed to say, well, it’s because of Scientology?

How do I answer that question?

If it’s the only path I traveled,

how do I answer that question?

I don’t necessarily want to give Scientology credit,

but what the hell am I supposed to point to?


I mean, you said you kind of enjoy,

I mean, part of it is you joking and trolling,

that you enjoy knowing that your YouTube channel

drives Dave Miscavige crazy.

That means you still, I mean, there is a joy you have.

There is a joy, I’m not gonna deny that.

I don’t know what to make of that,

because I suppose there’s an intimacy

when you’re part of a tribe of that kind.

It’s almost like, let me try to frame it.

I wasn’t trying to get kicked out of Scientology.

I was trying to not get kicked out of Scientology.

So what happened, first my mom got kicked out

for basically talking some smack about David Miscavige.

And then they go to me and they go,

okay, you’ve gotta disconnect from your mom

or you’re gonna get kicked out.

And I lied about that.

I was like, okay, I’ll disconnect.

But I never did.

For a couple years, I lied my ass off about it.

Eventually they were like,

this guy’s gonna keep lying to us, right?

Yeah, like, all right, you’re out.

So then they go to my wife.

So you gotta divorce your husband

or you’re gonna get kicked out.

And she goes, no.

That’s a hell of a statement from her.

It’s gonna get harder from here, so.

I’m not quite sure how to.

Okay, so I’ll try to get, I’ll try to do my best.

You don’t seem like a man who’s afraid of hard things.

Okay, so she’s like, no.

So then they go to her parents.

And they say, you’ve gotta disconnect from your daughter

and your three granddaughters

or you’re gonna get kicked out.

But they have three other kids who are Scientologists

who have spouses who are Scientologists

who have grandkids.

So I feel like up until that point,

everybody was sort of making a decision for themselves

on what would be best for themselves

until they get to her parents.

And then they’re like, which grandkids are we gonna lose?


At the part where they were trying to get me

to disconnect from my mom,

there were hours that I spent talking to them going,

you know, guys, there’s another way.

It doesn’t have to go this way.

There’s another way that ends well for all of us.

And that wasn’t even considered.

And I go, like, they created this monster.

And that’s a fact.

And that’s why I take joy in it.

When people ask me, is Scientology a destructive cult?

I don’t even have to get into all the academic discussions

of what’s a religion and what’s a cult

and what’s the difference.

I go, as long as they destroy families like that,

they’re a cult.

So they cut people off deliberately, one by one.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.


And why is it that way?

I mean, it started with L. Ron Hubbard

laying out a policy framework, a policy structure

that if interpreted and applied in the worst possible way

with the worst possible judgment,

can be abused in that way.

I would make the argument that if an anti-broker

had taken over, that Scientology policy

does have enough little caveats baked into it

that even the policies about disconnection

could be interpreted and implemented

in a non-destructive way.

There is room for judgment and discretion.

And Miscavige has just created the worst possible version

of Scientology, and that’s where you sort of get

that argument of, does he even want Scientology to succeed?

Because he seems to be hell-bent

on making sure that he doesn’t.


And I don’t want to see him make it succeed,

but it does bring that question up of like,

what are his motivations?

Can he not see that he’s destroying the thing

he’s supposed to be expanding?

That’s also, you know, there’s ways to measure cost.

And that would probably be the most costly aspect

of Scientology, is the suffering associated

with the separating of families.


I mean, that actually just puts, makes it very concrete

what we value in human life,

is the connection to our loved ones.

Like, everything else doesn’t matter.

Like, getting 50 bucks a week,

like that, like getting money stolen from you,

getting the truth stolen from you,

none of that compares.

You can even frame that as the good.

There could be a lot of positives, whatever,

in the tribe, but separating families,

separating loved ones, that’s the destructive thing.

So no hate, though?

No, I genuinely don’t hate them.

Do you forgive them?


There’s no one I look at in Scientology that I go,

how dare you?

If I was in their shoes, having to, you know,

operate under David Miscavige’s orders,

I would have done the same thing,

and I would have loved it.

Truthfully, I don’t blame any of them.

I mean, I take the opposite approach.

If they knew what I knew, they’d be doing what I’m doing.

If they knew what I knew and believed it,

they’d be doing what I’m doing.

They’re not dumb.

It’s not dumb people in Scientology.

They’re ambitious, they’re dreamers, they got hope,

they’re driven, all that kind of stuff.


And it’s one of the reasons I like

putting up content on my channel,

so they can see, hey, like if you’re a Scientologist,

you look at it and you go, hey,

he seems like he’s doing well, he’s happy,

he’s a positive guy, he’s a good communicator,

he knows what he’s talking about,

he’s not lying, he’s not exaggerating.

I don’t exaggerate anything on my channel.

I don’t make up anything.

And this actually comes from an experience I had

from 1998 to 2000.

I was living in LA.

I sort of had a two-year period in my life

where I actually had almost no contact with Scientology.

And during that time, I found my way onto the internet.

And there was a website.

It might have been ESMB, X Scientology message,

but whatever it was, it was, at that time,

the main source of critical information

about Scientology on the internet.

And I looked at it.

And remember, I was still a true believer.

And I looked at this, and it was so offensive,

insulting, hyperbolic, exaggerated.

I was like, oh, just a bunch of bullshit.

I was in Scientology for 16 more years.

If what I had seen on the internet

about critical of Scientology,

if what I had seen when I had seen it

was something that actually resonated with me,

that I was like, oh, that I believed was true,

that seemed credible,

I would have gotten out of Scientology 16 years earlier.

So I was like, how can I help create an experience

on the internet that if a Scientologist stumbles upon it,

it will resonate with them instead of repelling them?

And that is exactly what I have set out to do

and what I believe I’ve accomplished.

There’s the content, the message,

but also just showing that you can be happy

outside of Scientology.


You can have a fulfilling life.

You can be a good man.


All that.

What benefit do you think Tom Cruise gets from Scientology?

So why is he still in Scientology?

He genuinely loves it.

And also, Miscavige does,

there’s one celebrity who does have

the most unique experience in Scientology,

and that is Tom.

Scientology hires all of Tom’s staff.

All of Tom’s staff are subject

to interrogations by Scientology,

not only in the hiring process,

but during the employment.

David Miscavige on Scientology runs Tom Cruise’s life

and his production company and his household staff.

Do you imagine there’s some personal connection there

where they’re just, they like each other a lot?

Best friends.

I mean, it’s them against the world is how they see it.

I think it’s pretty easy to see how that works

between the two of them.

I think this idea of them against the world,

us against the world, is a really powerful, intimate,

I kind of see like friendships and relationships that way.

I’m not in a dark sense, but it’s like,

the world is full of cruelty and absurdity

and unfairness and so on.

It’s nice to huddle together like the penguins

in March of the Penguins against the cold.


And they’re just like, and so,

especially with the ideology of Scientology,

this idea that you can be anything,

you can essentially, I mean, you can manifest it,

essentially, through like believing it.

I mean, you don’t really put it into those words,

but believing that you’re a god

is a really inspiring, positive thing to think.

If they could figure out how to do all that

without destroying families and bankrupting its members,

they might actually have a future.

That’s why, like it’s funny,

because sometimes I feel like it’s like,

like I’m rooting for them to succeed and do it right,

and I’m not, but it’s an interesting academic discussion

to have of like, we can all see how much people

will sacrifice in the names of belief and religion.

We can see how much Scientologists sacrifice

based on what they already believe.

If you would just start treating people less horribly,

you know what I’m saying?

It might actually have a future.

Not that I want it to.

It seems like this dark lesson of human nature

that there’s something about, to use the word cults,

that you just stop seeing reality for what it is.

There’s a lot of things that could make this

a better organization that’s actually helping people

flourish and be a little bit more like loose

about membership, not dividing families,

not causing suffering, not causing financial harm,

but actually inspiring people and helping people.

But then maybe it fundamentally changes

what the organization is, and maybe that means

somebody like David Miscavige loses power too,

which might be very difficult,

or people that are close to him lose power,

and people hold on to power, so.


Whatever the human force is here,

it seems to become worse and worse over time.

What about, oh, let me ask a conspiracy question.

Is there a chance that Tom Cruise is being blackmailed,

that there’s information from auditing?


So that kind of stuff is not, that’s very conspiratorial.

I’ve actually come out and said definitively,

I do not know of a single person who stays in Scientology

because they’re afraid of being blackmailed.

It’s just not a thing.

It’s just not a thing.

Does Scientology have enough information

to blackmail someone if they wanted to?

Well, sure.

I mean, and it doesn’t even have to be true.

It could just be lies.

Who cares, who knows?

Scientology can say whatever the hell they want.

So that’s the thing, it doesn’t even have to be true.

And actually, that would be the argument

against blackmailing.

Like, in order for Scientology to blackmail you

with that information, they’d actually have to represent

that, yes, he really did tell us this.

And it’s like, well, then why are you spilling secrets

of members, right?

Like, it sets a bad precedent.

What are some of the sins according to Scientology?

Most of the sins from a Scientology perspective

are just doing or saying anything that brings disrepute

to Scientology itself, right?

Remember, it’s not like Christianity where there’s rules.

If you break this rule, you’re not getting into heaven

because Scientology doesn’t think about things that way.

Oh, there’s the drug.

You can’t do drugs, right?

You can’t do drugs.

And you can’t take any psychotropic medications.

And no medications almost at all?

You’re allowed to take medications.

There’s no rules expressly prohibiting it.

It’s just most Scientologists tend not to.

You can take Advil, but many Scientologists won’t.


You just can’t take anything prescribed by a psychiatrist,

a psychologist, or any drugs that are psychotropic drugs.

I mean, SSRIs are considered probably the closest thing

to pure evil in the world of Scientology.

What about, weird question, what about sex?

Is there boundaries on what’s?

There used to not be.

It’s become very puritanical in the last many decades

for a reason I can’t actually explain.

Like, miscavige does seem to be infatuated

with controlling sex.

Like, that is one thing about miscavige version

of Scientology that’s gotten very strange.

I mean, L. Ron Hubbard even specifically wrote a policy

that says we are no longer going to regulate

in any way the bedroom activities of people.

He literally said, from this point on,

no one is allowed to be subject to any justice actions

of any kind whatsoever for anything they do

in their sexual lives.

But that still did not give permission for gay relationships.

That was still referring to straight stuff.

And monogamous only.

Can you do open marriages and open relationships?

According to L. Ron Hubbard policy, you can.

Yeah, but you know.

I think he wrote that policy

before he created the C organization.

And then what happened is,

this is actually how this came into effect.

He created the C organization,

you had a lot of people on a ship,

and everybody was just banging each other,

and it created just a nightmare of personal relationship.

It was making production impossible.

Not because everybody was spending so much time banging,

but because everybody was so upset

about who was banging who.

Yeah, yeah.

I mean, sex and that kind of dynamic is really,

I mean, humans do what humans do,

and then there’s drama and all of that.

It’s understandable, because everybody’s so intimate,

it’s a closed tribe.

It makes sense to limit sex, otherwise everyone’s,

but otherwise it becomes a sex cult.


Which a lot of them end up becoming.

On that topic, would you classify Scientology as a cult?


But not because I’m fully conversant

with the academic differentiations

between what’s a religion and what’s a cult.

I mean, Scientology would say,

well, all small new religions are cults,

and I don’t know, that’s probably true.

Some people would say, all religions are cults,

and I’d be like, depends on how you define religion,

and it depends on how you define cult.

But I just fall back on my thing of like,

if you’re destroying families and bankrupting your members,

you’re a cult.

That’s how I look at it.

It’s us versus them, and the them could be your family,

could be your loved ones, that’s deeply destructive.

And one of the things you would probably throw

into the definition of a cult

is something that’s actually destructive.

It’s like, I do a lot of stuff that’s cult-like,

like jiu-jitsu.

There’s a lot of really close-knit tribes,

but there’s no negative toxicity to it.

There’s no divide, there’s no divisions.

Or if there is, it’s more, boy.

Try being a fan of a certain soccer team

and then becoming a fan of another soccer team.

That’s hardcore.

And like, whew.

But I’ll tell you, I train jiu-jitsu as well,

and I have found that community of people

to be one of the most loving

and helpful group of people ever.

Shout out to John Keller at Gracie Baja Clearwater.

No, but seriously, it’s one of the reasons

I continue to do it, despite my back, my hip, my shoulder.

It’s like, it’s just such a cool group of guys.

This goes on.

It used to not.

I think it was much more divisive in the beginning

from its Brazilian roots.

One of the things that’s really hard

is the team-oriented, like, if you’re this team,

you’re ride or die with this team.

And there’s no, there’s the Crianchas,

they go to another team.

And I think that aspect, that was actually a turnoff

for me in the beginning, that the toxicity of that.

Because I understand that a little bit for the elites,

for the highest of the highest.

That there is, I like the brotherhood

and the loyalty of the people,

like the Olympic gold medalists,

the best in the world, yes.

But for recreational fun, it’s like,

this is all ultimately about the camaraderie

of all human beings together,

not some, whatever label you put on yourself.

I don’t think we actually talked

about the organization itself.

We talked about tax-exempt status,

which is really important.

We talked about some of the control,

like through the propaganda control of what’s out there.

It’s actually interesting that you said

that Scientology has pretty much lost the battle

with the internet at this point.

Oh, yeah.

Which is kind of inspiring

that it’s hard to defeat the internet.

But then there’s bots that are,

I think if you’re sophisticated,

I’m not sure that’s true.

But if you’re not-

It’s kind of remarkable they haven’t been able

to capitalize on these bot armies.

Because there’s one thing that they have,

it’s a lot of tax-free money

that they got nothing else better to do.

Yeah, right, they can invest.

They just, they should give you a call.

They just don’t have the right people, apparently.

But that said, how do they wield influence

with government agencies?

You’ve talked about the local police enforcement,

also federal agencies, anything.

That is the one way they effectively put their money to use,

is lobbyists and attorneys, judges.

Very rarely have they ever been able

just to get a politician on their side.

It’s the behind-the-scenes people.

Greta Van Susteren’s a very high-level,

long-term Scientologist, and her husband,

I always get it wrong, it’s either Jim Cole or John Cole,

I always get it wrong.

He’s a very powerful attorney

who has a lot, wields a lot of influence behind the scenes.

And that’s just one example.

Like, the reason why that’s an interesting example

is because he’s actually a Scientologist,

and he travels in those circles.

Scientology, though, its money goes to good use

by hiring non-Scientologists,

retired judges, attorneys, lobbyists.

It really is how they get almost anything done.

Like, Miscavige himself is not hobnobbing and glad-hanging

and shaking hands and meeting these folks.

It’s the non-Scientologist professionals

who work behind the scenes on Scientology’s behalf.

Can you describe the dynamics

of how that actually happens?

Like, why would the police department

work on behalf of Scientology?

I meant more the courts and regulators,

not the police department.

But, well, for example,

it can come down to something as simple as this.

In Clearwater, Scientology hires Clearwater police

to do off-duty work for them.

They pay like three times their normal off-duty rate.

They will, even though I’m not aware of anyone

on the Clearwater PD who’s actually a Scientologist,

they basically end up with,

they would call them allies or safe points, right?

People who will literally operate as Scientology spies.

Someone comes in and follows a report

about some child sex case.

Someone in the Clearwater PD is calling Sarah Heller

at the Office of Special Affairs

at the Flank-Laddin base to let her know,

hey, heads up, we got a thing coming in.

And then Scientology can run around

and go talk to all the Scientologists

who have knowledge about this

and either get them out of Clearwater, you know.

So it’s not like a direct, explicit corruption,

but more just friends and coworkers

integrated deeply in the community.

Yeah, I call it soft corruption.

So another example,

you have the mayor of Clearwater, Frank Hibbard.

Well, he used to, when he won his recent election,

he stepped down from some of these nonprofits

that he served on.

But the nonprofits that he served on

also gets millions of dollars of donations

from some of Scientology’s richest Clearwater members, right?

You have one of the mayor’s best friends, Joe Burdett,

literally a paid lobbyist for Scientology.

So that creates a chilling effect

on anyone who’s gonna be talking smack about Scientology

because his friends are on their damn payroll.

So I call it soft corruption.

It’s not illegal, it’s not illegal,

but it’s how Scientology wields influence.

And what’s ironic is that a lot of these people

who work on Scientology’s behalf

actually secretly hate Scientology.

They kind of see through it,

but it’s part of the community.

I mean, it’s deeply integrated in the community

and there’s financial leverage.

Are you ever afraid?

I mean, afraid for your wellbeing,

afraid for your ability to function in society

because of the pressures from Scientology?

Is that because you’re genetically malfunctioning

or mentally or is there,

speaking out as a kind of protection?

I think it’s one of those things

that once you’ve seen behind the curtain

and you see the Wizard of Oz, it’s just a silly man.

You just don’t have any fear.

Now, it’s one of these things,

like people will say, oh, you’re so brave.

And I go, eh, what’s that quote?

Bravery is being a soldier

and being afraid and going in any way.

It’s not brave to run in if you don’t think

nothing’s gonna happen to you.

I’m just trying to,

like I do not hold myself up as an example of bravery

because it’s not like, oh, they could destroy me,

but I don’t care.

No, there’s not a damn thing they can do to me.

And it’s one of, that’s one of the reasons

I continue to put out content every day

to just basically go, hey, still here.

I dare you to try to do something about it,

but you can’t and hope that that also serves

as kind of an example for other people to go,

if this schmo can do it

and they can’t do anything else to him,

then maybe I can do it too.

Because I would love it.

I would love there to be a 20 channels

where former Scientologists talk about their experience.

I mean, that is bravery because what happens

is fear seeps in even if it’s not grounded in reality.

But at the same time, like my grandfather

who fought in World War II,

I mean, the story is, I mean,

he was very convinced and sure.

Most of the people he fought alongside with died.

He was a machine gunner,

but he believed that bullets can’t hit him.


That’s what he said?


Well, you know, he was right, right?

Because he survived.

So there’s some sense like you’re-

Survivor bias.

That he’s like, just like you are.

I was like, I’m not brave.

I just, the bullets can’t hit me.

I mean, there’s a dark kind of truth to that.

There’s some, you know, it’s like a,

it’s a feedback loop where if you have the confidence

and you push on forward and you’re brave in that way

to not let fear seep in and affect you,

it actually gives you less things to be scared about.

I mean, but that initial few steps might be,

for people, it might be a very difficult step to take

to talk about it publicly.

The fear was knowing how the family

was gonna be destroyed and trying to prevent that.

I was terrified of that happening, but it happened.

There’s nothing left to be afraid of.

And that’s kind of the thing, like they created this beast.

And the same is true for Mark Headley.

The same is true for Mike Rinder.

I said, they’ve essentially created

a Scientology proof virus, Scientology resistant strain.

By throwing everything they have at us for so many years,

they have just, through natural selection,

created people who just do not give a damn

about anything they could or would do.

And maybe there is something a little wrong with me.

Because when I get a phone call from someone,

like, I just got this phone call about you,

and it’s clear that it’s Scientology PIs

doing work behind the scenes, I get really excited.

I get really excited.

I don’t get nervous.

I don’t go, oh no, it’s happening.

I’m like, oh yeah, this is gonna be exciting.

I’m like, okay.

Because everything they try to do to me,

I’m gonna figure out how to reflect it back on them

and make them look ridiculous.

And that pales in comparison to the separating from family.


Is there parts of your family

that you’ve lost because of Scientology?

Just, yeah.

If you…

Most of my episode on The Lee Remedy and the Aftermath show

was talking about me and my twin brother.

It’s just a pretty horrible story.

It’s just a pretty horrible story.

So I do have a younger brother

who’s still in Scientology and disconnected from me,

but I never had much of a relationship with that brother,

really, to begin with, right?

But my twin brother died when I was like 23 or 24.

And that was, without any question,

a direct result of our Scientology experience.

He died in a car accident

that wasn’t technically his fault or anything.

He wasn’t even the one driving.

But the specific fact of his death was not,

meaning the fact and the manner of his death

wasn’t specifically because of Scientology.

But our story and where our relationship got to,

and how he was even in a position

of having something like that happen to him

is directly attributable to Scientology.

Do you think about him?

Miss him?

As part of what you’re doing in memory of him?

Yeah, for sure.

Man, this is such a…

I mean, we were identical twins.

Can you imagine two of me?

I can barely handle one.

I love it.

Losing him, would that be the darkest moment

in this whole journey of Scientology for you?

Two moments would equal the darkest moment.

It would be that,

and also just the period of six, nine, 12 months

of impending doom,

knowing that my wife’s whole family

was gonna be obliterated,

and that there’s nothing we could do about it.

And kind of telling ourselves every step of the way

it wasn’t really gonna happen, you know?

And I really felt like,

you ever watch the Ozarks?

I felt like Marty Bird.

Now, this was happening before the Ozarks,

but when I watch the Ozarks,

and I see that character,

the entire world is crumbling down around him,

and all he can, all he did was like,

all right, what’s the next step?

I watch Marty Bird, and I go,

that’s my fucking spirit animal.

Because you can only control what you can control.

And you can’t keep Scientology from destroying your family.

And literally, it’s funny, I mention this show a lot,

because I watch that, and I go,

that’s exactly how I felt, you know?

I talk about this six months, or nine, or 12 months,

whatever it was, of impending doom.

It’s not like I was an emotional wreck during that time.

In private, I was, but it’s not like I was just freaking out.

It was like, the sun’s gonna come up tomorrow,

the world’s gonna keep spinning, I can’t control it,

this is horrible, I can’t believe this is happening.

But tomorrow’s a new day.

I’ve never, personally, even at the darkest times,

I’ve never experienced anything

that I would characterize as depression.

Certainly not ever any suicidal thoughts or anything.

Even in the darkest of times, and again,

this one thing I go, is it because of Scientology,

or is it just me?

There really is an emotional detachment.

There almost has to be.

And it’s a cold calculation, what are my options?

What do I do here?

And then once I figure out the answer to that question,

I’m actually quite chipper and happy.

That’s sort of my default.

You could give me six horrible options.

Once I figure out the best of those six,

I’m gonna feel like I just had a pretty good day.

That’s brilliant.

Because just watching Ozarks is so stressful.

It is, right?

So stressful watching it.

And he usually finds a way,

and usually it is a set of really bad options,

and it’s one of the bad options,

but it’s the best of the bad options.

And he almost gets pissed off at everyone around him

for being so pouty about it.

Oh, I’m gonna watch that show again,

the same way again.

Oh, that’s beautiful.

But it’s still simmering there right under the surface,

like pretty damn close to the surface.

Do you know what I mean?

Yeah, yeah.

And people sometimes ask about recovery and whatnot,

and what does that look like, and what does that mean?

And it sort of goes back

to kind of the emotional detachment,

is I go, what the fuck does recovery even mean?

If you’re an alcoholic and you’re recovering,

you know what that means.

I used to drink, I don’t drink now.

Well, I used to be in a cult, and I’m not in a cult now.

How else am I supposed to feel about this

for someone to be like, it seems like you’ve recovered.

What the fuck does that even mean?

Like, I’m sure some academic has an answer to that question.

I’m not someone who particularly,

I don’t spend any time thinking about that.

My recovery is success,

and a little bit of trolling and revenge,

but mostly success.

You know, what does it mean

to be a recovered former cult member?

What, you don’t cry when people ask you about your brother?

I don’t know what it means.

I don’t know what it means.

I don’t know what it means.

I don’t know what it means.

I’ve never had therapy,

but not because I’m still against it from Scientology.

I just like, I’m not gonna pay to talk to someone.

Do you know where else I could do that?


Now, I know there’s a lot of people going like, oh boy.

I know there’s a lot, I’m not shitting on therapy.

I would rather have a beer with my friend

and talk about this shit

than talk to a professional for $200 an hour.

That’s the kind of therapy, yeah.

Yeah, listen.

That’s the part of the reason I do this podcast.

It’s talking to people that you care about,

that you’re close with.

It’s a really powerful, powerful thing.

But yeah, I don’t know what recovery looks like.

Success to you is defined, just be, find happiness.

Find happiness outside the closed bubble

that defines what happiness looks like on Scientology.

If I can make my kids happy, that’s success to me.

What advice would you give to your kids

on how to live?

Travel the world.

A life they can be proud of.

Travel the world.

Travel the world.

Get rid of friends who don’t push you up

and don’t celebrate your success.

It’s hard to give that advice to young children

because kids are always so catty.

But honestly, it’s like, when I see,

that really is, I just think, not just advice to my kids,

but some of the best advice to anybody.

If you’ve got anyone around you

who doesn’t celebrate your success,

just spend less time.

With those people.


Surround yourself with people

who actually wanna celebrate your success

and push you to succeed.

I think that’s true.

I think it’s even more important at a young age

because if at a young age,

you get used to being around people

who kind of take joy in tearing you down,

then that’s what you become accustomed to.


You know?

And I just think, you know,

having friends who love you and support you

is just about the closest thing to the true meaning of life.

And who believe in you, who believe in your potential.

And some of those ideas underlie

the good parts of Scientology.


And except there’s a lot of dark parts of Scientology

that separate you from the people

that believe in you and that love you.

Well, this was a beautiful conversation.

You’re a beautiful human being who came full of gifts.

And I mean, I genuinely,

first of all, you’re an inspiring human being,

but most importantly,

I can’t wait until I can purchase a bobblehead on the store.

So I can keep that inspiration on my desktop.

Aaron, thank you so much for talking to me.

Thank you for being you, for being brave.

I know you said you’re not,

but thank you for being brave, for talking about this.

You’re an inspiration and you help a lot of people.

Thank you, brother.

Thanks for having me.

Thanks for listening to this conversation

with Aaron Smith Levin.

To support this podcast,

please check out our sponsors in the description.

And now let me leave you with some words

from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Be not the slave of your own past.

Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far.

So you will come back with new self-respect,

with new power and with an advanced experience

that will explain and overlook the old.

Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.

Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.

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