The Data Series as Revisionist History

A part of another project we’re working on here at, I’ve been taking a dive into one of the more esoteric bits of Scientology “tech”: the “Data Series” in the Management Series, Volume 1.  Volume One also contains the Organizing Series and the Personnel Series. The Management Series or “Green Volumes” are an extensive set of works that cover every permutation within the organizational domain of Scientology management.

Written over several years starting in 1970, the Data Series is defined as “a series of policy letters written by L. Ron Hubbard which deal with logic, illogic, proper evaluation of data and how to detect and handle the causes of good and bad situations within groups and organizations.” Hubbard felt that Scientology management was failing in certain areas of understanding and leadership, and in writing the Data Series, he created a highly prescriptive set of policies, procedures and instructions in dealing with every conceivable challenge those in management might face on a daily basis. Starting with “The Anatomy of Thought” (HCO PL 26 April 1970R), Hubbard pontificates on “Logic,” “Breakthroughs,” “Data and Situational Analyzing’” and “Information Collection” among other topics, all in his uniquely bloviating and paradoxical fashion. However, what struck me most while reading through this “guidance,” was not only his convoluted, typically tortured syntax, but more so, the abundance of nonsensical historical analogies and examples he alludes to throughout as a means of “illustrating” his points. 

Hubbard begins by offering his definition of “sanity,” derived from his unpublished work Excalibur, which apparently included a “fundamental truth,” which was his definition of “sanity.” Hubbard defined sanity as “the ability to recognize differences, similarities, and identities;” he further goes on to state that “this is also intelligence.” Aside from the usual Hubbardian bluster, none of this is even remotely close to the universally accepted definition of both “sanity” and “intelligence.” If anything, it may vaguely resemble “cognition,” which is “the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”

It’s pretty much downhill from there, including his nonsensical narrative regarding Alfred Korzybski’s relationship with William Allison White, as well as a mash-up about semantics, basic logic, and his observation that “Schools no longer teach basic logic. Due to earlier miseducation in language no real education in logic much broken down ‘think’ can occur in high places.” Huh? Hubbard takes quite the deep dive into his incoherent narrative on logic, even going as far as to lay out a series of steps to identify both “logic” and “illogic,” none of which would be relevant to any serious student of the subject. He further attempts to invalidate both classic logical theory and its practitioners by stating that:

A system of thinking derived from a study of psychotics is not a good yardstick to employ in solving problems. Yet the ‘thinking’ of heads of states is based on illogical and irrational rules. Populations, fortunately less ‘well educated,’ are assaulted by the irrational (kooky) ‘thinking’
of governments. This ‘thinking’ is faulty mainly because it is based on the faulty logic shoved off on schoolchildren.

“You must study geometry because that is the way you think” is an idiocy that has been current for the past two or three decades in schools. I have nothing against Korzybski. But the general impact of ‘general semantics’ has been to give us stupefied schoolboys who, growing up without any training in logic except general semantics are giving us problems. Increasingly we are dealing with people who have never been taught to think and whose native ability to do so has been hampered by a false ‘education.'”

The irony is stark here, especially where he says “Yet the ‘thinking’ of heads of states is based on illogical and irrational rules;” this from the guy whose “rules” consisted of capricious fiat, enforced by arbitrary violence and pervasive malevolence. Furthermore, the Data Series is rife with examples of his disdain for formal education as well as his obsession with “the psyches” being the root cause of all the world’s evils. But what’s especially rich, is his attempting to use those very ideals of traditional Western logic, articulated in his uniquely bastardized syntax, as a means to invalidate those very ideals as the premise for his own superiority in logical thought! It’s an irrational, confusing and perhaps deliberate mental maze that can’t help but confuse any reasoned interpretation of the entire section, especially given his absurd definitions of “sanity,” “facts,” “opinions,” “intelligence” and “logic.” Yet there’s more, as seen in his following examples of “modern ‘think’” which, as is typical, alludes to geopolitics or military affairs, yet also reveals his somewhat conflicted grasp on the reality of the matter:

“The Ford Foundation is believed to have financially supported the arming of revolutionary groups so they will be dependent upon the capitalistic system and won’t overthrow it even though the revolutionary group could not exist without Ford Foundation support!

A war is fought and continued for years to defend the property rights of landlords against peasants although the landlords are mostly dead.”

Given this was written in the early 70’s, he’s most likely bought into one of the many conspiracies of the times, that had the Ford Foundation, much like the Trilateralists of the 80’s and 90’s, working in the shadows to subvert the world order, in this case, most likely within Latin America. However, the CIA was doing just fine without overt funding from The Ford Foundation of all people, who tended to work with social justice organizations within Latin America, rather than running guns to wannabe Marxist revolutionaries and proto-Castros. Contemporary to his writings, Central and Latin American were indeed rife with guerilla movements fighting to re-appropriate land from the original Colonial Caudillos, (the “dead landlords” he most likely is alluding to, who in many cases, were still very much alive, given generational land holdings). So in typical Hubbard fashion, there’s a bit of truth intermeshed with nonsense. Hubbard constantly name drops philosophers such as Plato, Kant, or Hume, along with using quasi-academic terms such as “non-Aristotelian logic” in trying to bolster the gravitas of his argument, that to the uninitiated, in some instances would appear to give credence to the premise at hand.

However, any pretense at gravitas is quickly erased by howlers such as the following, wherein Hubbard attempts to provide an example of how intelligence agencies or governments are “jammed with false reports and false estimates:”

“An event contemporary with this writing where the US invaded Cambodia shows several data and situation errors. Yet the Viet Cong HQ were using computers. Yet their HQ was wiped out. The US president used CIA data which does not include, by law, data on the US. So the info on which the US president was acting was 50 percent missing! He was only told about the enemy evidently. When he ordered the invasion the US blew up!”

So aside from the fact that the Invasion of Cambodia occurred during the Vietnam conflict in 1970, primarily to destroy the People’s Army of Vietnam’s (PAVN) troop and logistics sanctuaries, and that the Viet Cong ceased to be an effective fighting organization upon their political and tactical neutralization after the Tet Offensive of 1968, what else could be even more ludicrous within this example? Perhaps the statement that the now irrelevant Viet Cong (VC) had a data center in the wilds of Cambodia? How about the fact that the PAVN could hardly deploy and support modern Chinese and Russian-sourced tactical communications it had in hand, let alone maintain the infrastructure needed to power computers in Southeast Asia’s triple-canopy jungle? How in the world could Hubbard ever have envisioned a mobile guerrilla force like the VC transporting, let alone using, bulky, 1970’s-era computer technology?

What about the absurd statement about the CIA and domestic intelligence; where is this even relevant to the example? Why does he not mention the CIA providing the President extensive, prescient intelligence on enemy movements in Cambodia, let alone the timely intelligence provided by our South Vietnamese allies? By what stretch of the imagination is his arbitrary ratio of 50% even germane, given its 50% of nothing? What does “He was only told about the enemy evidently” even mean? (“He” being then President Nixon I would imagine…) While protests occurred because of the invasion and the secret nature of the bombing of both Laos and Cambodia, the US hardly “blew-up”! There are more anecdotes such as these throughout the Data Series, but this one in particular exemplifies the absurdity of many of those he alludes to.

Hubbard returns again and again to sanity, or data, or other “key” concepts such as the “Ideal Scene” as definitions or metaphors for use in understanding his directives on “thought processing.” He continues in the military/political vein throughout, often framing his examples in the guise of intelligence operations, intelligence failures, and espionage. The KGB and CIA pop-up frequently, as does Japanese and German intelligence capabilities in WWII among other oddly-placed anecdotes. While intelligence failures certainly occur, they aren’t necessary the result of what Hubbard describes as “bad data systems,” consisting of “reliable source” (sic) and “multiple report.” (sic) Quite often it’s the opposite, as a reliable source may have information that’s verified by multiple sources (reports); a “failure” can arise from numerous factors, such as insufficient analysis, poor contextualization, or delivery from a compromised asset, none of which Hubbard even mentions. At the heart of the matter is the rampant confirmation bias induced by his “steps,” so that the “truth” is dependent on Hubbard’s method of defining it as such. Hubbard’s use of absurd anecdotes, and supposed actual events he witnessed, and not surprisingly, outright falsehoods as a means to reinforce the validity of how one should define “data” and “truth,” simply confirms there’s only one way to arrive at any acceptable outcome in Scientology, and that’s Hubbard’s way or the highway, otherwise known as “the Data Series.”