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I Went With Andrew Gumbel To The Scientology Museum...
And all I got to blog is this one lousy photo.


That's me, outside the museum, saying "Ritalin changed my life!"

Why can't I put up more of the photos, when I took quite a few inside the museum? Because the Scientologists who run the museum are a weeeee bit controlling, let's just say. You can't just walk into the museum and walk around. You have to go in groups with other people, on the half hour, and watch and listen to a series of videos on headphones. Are all those people being herded into the padded cell-style museum actual tourists? I wonder.

At the start of the video tour, the guy telling us how to use the headsets told us not to just walk around independently and look at the curio collections there. No, you ripe little bunny-minds, don't you miss any of those propaganda films, not a minute of them, or you might not hear something like the stentorian voice intoning about the Holocaust, "What could lead men to commit such horrors on their fellow human beings?!" All together now, let's fill in the blank: PSYCHIATRY!

Sure, there are horrors of psychiatry, like the lobotomies and other barbaric surgeries performed in the name of mental health. But, is it really behind 9/11 and the Holocaust, as the Scientologists behind the museum suggest?

And, why, pray tell, would psychiatry, as they intimate, want to own your brain? What's with "the mass drugging of millions"? It's all about...all together now: MONEY! Psychiatry as some great conspiracy, getting their hands on your money! (Nothing like Scientology, now,

At one point, one of the videos went so far as to call it "psychiatry's master plan to infiltrate all sectors of society."

Oh. Please.

You go to one of Albert Ellis' Friday night workshops in New York (cost, last time I was there, $5), and tell me this frail, 90-something man wants to take over the world, not just help you stop repeating the same dumb, unproductive behavior. Hell, he couldn't even stop a takeover of his own Institute. As my friend Nando Pelusi put it, Ellis read a little too much Karl Marx in his formative years, and not enough Machiavelli.

Who really wants to take over the world, one brain and one wallet at a time? I believe the "I'm rubber/you're glue" saying from childhood applies.

Who's truly controlling? Well, after I took pictures inside the museum (my favorite was the "Psychiatry: Behind The Holocaust" exhibit, complete with photos of Adolf, the ovens, and dead concentration camp bodies), the publicitron who works there emailed Andrew that I couldn't publish any of my photos because the contents of the museum are (sic) "copywritten material"! (I knew what she meant: copyrighted.)

Again, that sort of attitude is spelled like so: C-O-N-T-R-O-L! They don't want their propaganda brought out where they can't control how it's taken -- you know, all those independent thinkers out there might find the notion that 9/11 was caused by psychiatry...a bit...laughable, shall we say? I believe it's "fair use," as long as I use the photos for commentary and criticism, but I'm mindful of the way Scientology goes after people who write critically of them, so I'm just posting the photos of me outside the museum. I will write to the publicitron and ask for permission to publish my photos of the museum. She said I'd need to do that, in the email to Andrew, in order to use any of them. Let's see if she gives me permission! What do you think will be the outcome?!

I especially loved, in our little chat session with the publicitron afterward, how she kept barraging Andrew and me with questions, as if we were on trial. One she asked me repeatedly: "Do I know the side effects of Ritalin? What are they?" Answer: Yes, you brain-snatched harpy, I do, but I'm not going to recite them for you. (The hilarity in attempting to conduct a rational discussion with somebody from a religion dreamed up by a sci-fi writer that centers around belief in space aliens apparently escaped her.)

I kept asking her a question she never answered: Why, if Ritalin helps me focus better, shouldn't I take it? What's wrong with "better living through chemistry"? Ritalin makes my life better. (In fact, I couldn't have gotten through the museum without climbing the walls if I hadn't popped 10 milligrams just before Andrew picked me up!)

The answer, I believe, is MONEY: Scientology wants yours, and if they can run psychiatry into the ground (unlikely that they can brainwash the entire American public, so I think we're safe), they can suck up your life savings into getting "clear," and preparation for the return of the space aliens and all that. Thanks, but I'll just stay home sucking up my Methylphenidate, if you don't mind!

Here's Andrew Gumbel's piece on the museum.

And here's a piece from Reason, from a few years back, on Scientology and fair use.

Posted by aalkon at January 12, 2006 11:07 AM

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Yeah, those people are nuts. You should condense this report and send it to James Randi for inclusion in his Swift newsletter. This is usually the kind of thing his readers, such as me, like to laugh about.

Weren't you afraid they might take out your brain and give it a good dip in dishwater? Just kidding.

Posted by: Silver_Fox at January 12, 2006 8:56 AM

That photograph is golden.

Posted by: Crid at January 12, 2006 9:34 AM

I actually prefer these religious freaks to the more traditional ones.

Did you catch the SouthPark episode about them? It was great!

Posted by: alex the sea turtle at January 12, 2006 11:42 AM

alex :

I agree. Very few people take Scientologists seriously, so they do not pose a serious threat. When they make claims like this one, they only aggravate their influence problem.

Posted by: Silver_Fox at January 12, 2006 12:00 PM

While $cientology is not a serious threat, it is in fact a threat; a threat that should be exposed. And as they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. The more people know about the lies, con games and illegal harrassment of $cientology, the less influence they will be able to wield over the public at large.

Yes, you make a good point about the irony on display here. Let's actually go to the field of psychiatry and name-check one of its most useful concepts: projection. The symptom of accusing others of what you yourself are guily of doing. The Co$ is certainly guily of projection in accusing the field of psychiatry of being controlling, manipulative, and money-grubbing. $cientology is that to a factor of ten.

I always found the idea that $cientology was criticizing psychiatry laughable. The easiest analogy is: this is like Wal-Mart accusing K-Mart of selling shoddy goods (I was going to say Macy's and Gimbel's, but that just gives away my age.)

It's just one competitor for the same marketplace and money trying to discredit its competition. I must say that while I feel psychiatry is not as helpful as it claims to be, it is not dangerous, merely ineffectual. Psychiatry is certainly not anwhere near the threat of the "Church" of $cientology, a highly dangerous cabal of liars and confidence hucksters.

Anyone who wants to find out more about the dangerous $cientology cabal and their celebrity enablers, check out

Posted by: David Addison at January 17, 2006 9:56 AM

Hello Amy: long time reader, first time writer! Completely off-topic but.... that's a great scarf!!! Is it handknitted? Do you have a pattern?
BTW, I like your style, and agree w you most of the time :-)

Posted by: Rajkonya at January 18, 2006 2:29 PM

Thanks so much for dropping in and commenting. I do not knit, cook, sew, or vacuum! The scarf is from Galleries Lafayette, on Boulevard Haussmann, in Paris. I highly recommend the Evita Peroni hair device boutique there, for truly cool but functional hair ornaments.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 18, 2006 3:43 PM

Did you know Ron was a musical genius?

Listen to him sing on:

Posted by: Ken Moxooon at January 19, 2006 10:50 AM

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