Last week I decided that I wanted to take the free personality test and stress test offered by one of the Scientology centers here in Los Angeles. I had my girlfriend Nicci come along so that she could take the tests too, but also to make sure I wasn't abducted and sodomized and left for dead. They do that, you know, it is just not widely reported. So, she and I drove into Hollywood to see what Scientology could teach us about ourselves, and experience firsthand just how hard the advisers at the center try to sell people on their cult religion.
The center we visited was laid out as follows. The storefront featured two bookshelves on opposite walls, and a large desk set back a bit from the entrance. All manner of Scientology books lined the shelves. Behind the front desk there were a number of free-standing displays with pictures of L. Ron Hubbard and various graphics and news stories depicting all the wonderful things Scientology does for the world. Beyond that there were some school desks and a small "theater" that included three rows of wooden chairs and a television set. The back of the room had large, office-style desks, an enclosed area where tests results were generated, and a door to a back room. There were one-way mirrors on the rear wall that I imagined were used for surveillance purposes.
Upon entering the center, an older gentleman with grey hair asked the purpose of our visit, and I mentioned the free tests. He asked us if we had thirty minutes to spare, and we said yes. Then he showed us to our desks and gave us a copy of the Oxford Capacity Analysis (Wikipedia) and an answer sheet.
To ensure I would not be contacted by the Church in the future, I used a fake name (Calvin Lavigne, like Avril, but Calvin) and fake phone number. Well...the phone number wasn't exactly fake. Let's just say I hope if they ever choose to call "me" they do so on a Tuesday between 8-11pm EST or on a Wednesday between 6-7pm EST. The test consisted of 200 questions. There were three possible answers: "Yes," "No," and "Maybe". The questions were mostly hilarious. Some of my favorites were:
"Can you see the other fellow’s point when you wish to?"
"Can you get quite enthusiastic over 'some simple little thing'?"
"Would you use corporal punishment on a child aged ten if it refused to obey you?"
I tried to answer as honestly as possible. Nicci, on the other hand, tried to cheat by answering as happily as possible. The test is designed to expose supposed flaws in your subconsciousness that need adjustment. Her theory was that more positive answers would enable her to combat allegations that she needed "help" in any way.
As we waited for our test results, we mulled around the room. The explanation of how the E-meter works was stunning. A picture of a young woman gripping the handles of the meter is thinking hard about positive experiences she's had in her life (home, school, work). One bad memory is sabotaging everything: a man in black standing over a little girl with a wooden cane in his hand about to strike her in the leg. Words cannot accurately render how funny the image is. For fear of being caught snapping a photo inside the center, I was only able to get a somewhat close-up shot:
Finally, it was time for our evaluation. The gray-haired advisor walked over to us and asked if we'd like to hear about our results. I said yes. He then introduced himself as Terry, and then I said, "Hi, Terry I'm --" and as he was saying "Calvin," I said "Evan". Then I quickly said, "Yeah, Calvin, right." I don't think he heard me misspeak my fake name, but I felt like a total jackass.
To enlarge my results, click the image below (.JPG):
My results were up and down. According to Terry, My stability and happiness were in the positive range, but my composure score was a -10, which meant I'm more nervous/anxious than composed. I told him I was Jewish, but he didn't laugh. He said that because my "certainty" level was so high (85!) it was his belief that I am an actor trying to convince the world I am more composed than I really am. I made another joke about how it was a good thing I moved to LA, but when excitedly asked if I was an actor, I responded by saying, "No. I have an online job." Oh, if only blogging paid the bills...
My results also showed that I am more active than inactive, and more aggressive than inhibited. Terry also made sure to spend a good amount of time talking about my responsibility/irresponsibility score (4). Nicci's score for that segment of the test was also low (20). Terry claimed this was because we both "take on more than you [we] can handle." Then he inquired, "What do you do?" To which I responded, "We date each other." Nicci was not amused.
Terry was very serious about the last three segments of the test, claiming that they were the three areas Scientology strives to change in all people. Conveniently, the last three areas of the test were all related to relationships! They are: Correct Estimation vs. Criticalness, Appreciative vs. Lack Of Accord, and Communication vs. Withdrawn. Terry told me I'm overly critical, which makes perfect sense considering I'm a music snob, general contrarian, and part-time elitist. I was shocked to see how little accord I have. I'm not quite sure how to explain that one. My communication levels were positive (44!), but that -56 score showing my lack of accord pretty much made me ignore everything else Terry had to say. Nicci was critiqued less than I was, because her scores were generally good.
The E-Meter stress test is a sham. The meter only moved when I opened my mouth to respond to Terry. I was told to think of happy thought, and then sad ones. When he said, "What are you thinking about now?" I opened my mouth to answer and the meter jumped. "See!" he said, as if it meant something that my heart rate was altered each time I had to explain something myself. The test was very brief, and Terry seemed very pleased with the results. I did not. After an invitation to L. Ron Hubbard's birthday party at the Showbox Theater, Nicci and I left the Scientology center. We did not attend the party. We are not brainwashed. I was not raped. Terry was nice, if a little misguided and cloying. I recommend the test if only to giggle at all the silly questions. I recommend the E-Meter test because, well, you'll see how unbelievable it is.
In honor of my descent into Scientology, I would like to share with you an album by The Apollo Stars, entitled "The Power Of Source." So what, you ask? This wonderfully jazzy, soul-funk record was pressed privately and released by L. Ron Hubbard in 1974! You know, <i>Scientology's</i> L. Ron Hubbard!? The band was actually formed in an attempt to gather recruits with the proposition of free Scientology rock concerts around the world. When you listen to the songs, you’ll understand why this is such a foolish and hysterical proposition. The album was recorded on the Apollo ship, which is where Scientologists lived in the early ’70s because they were being banned and exiled from countries across the globe. An excerpt from the included booklet (.txt file) is available.
The Apollo Stars
Power Of Source