Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The madness...

The St. Petersburg Times finds some insiders who are willing to speak:
The church says that Rinder, Scientology's top spokesman for decades, is an inveterate liar.

I am in the middle of reading the first part (of three), and I have two observations. (I pulled that line for the link because of its sheer perversity.)

First, this is reminiscent of the floundering of the Hare Krishnas in the early 1980s (I think I have my time frame right).

Second, this stuck out:
At 49, Miscavige is fit and tanned, his chiseled good looks accented by intense blue eyes. His frame is on the short side at 5 feet 5, but solid, with a matching, vise-like handshake.

The voice, resonant and strong, can transfix a crowd of thousands. Many call him "COB," because he is chairman of the board of the entity responsible for safeguarding Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1954.

"He is one of the most capable, intelligent individuals I've ever met," Rathbun said. "But L. Ron Hubbard says the intelligence scale doesn't necessarily line up with the sanity scale. Adolf Hitler was brilliant. Stalin was brilliant. They were geniuses. But they were also on a certain level stark, staring mad."

The idea that Hitler and Stalin were geniuses is a Nietzschian delusion: that all 'great men' are intellectually superior. It is natural to want to believe that those who achieve such power must be better, greater than everyone around them -- and while cunning and political savvy certainly are hallmarks of intelligence, there is nothing in Hitler's or Stalin's lives to suggest an extraordinary amount of it (If anything, history suggests that Stalin more paranoid and more complacent, and perhaps stupider as a result, as his position became unassailable).

Or, to put it a different way: don't confuse sociopathy with intelligence!