"Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" by Lawrence Wright

Discussion in 'Media' started by The Wrong Guy, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    Lawrence Wright’s a Finalist!

    By Tony Ortega

    Lawrence Wright’s excellent history, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, has been selected as one of five finalists in the non-fiction category of the National Book Awards.

    The other finalists are Jill Lepore for Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf); Wendy Lower for Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); George Packer for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); and Alan Taylor for The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (Norton).

    We asked Wright for a word about making such a fine list of finalists, and he sent us this:

    Continued at
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  2. Anonymous Member

    If you're at (or can get to) Austin City Limits, you can see Lawrence Wright perform today in about 2 hours.

    Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

    Lawrence Wright

    Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Oct. 25, 2013
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  3. Aurora Member

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  4. The Wrong Guy Member

    From Scientology To Steve Jobs: A Dozen Great Books For Holiday Giving | The Moderate Voice

    Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief (Lawrence Wright, 2013)

    Wright is the author of Falling Towers, the definitive book on the events leading to the 9/11 attacks. In Going Clear, he applies his Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative chops to the profoundly secretive, wealthy, powerful and vindictive Church of Scientology, which is based on the pseudo-scientific flapdoodle of sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard, and has successfully courted celebrities like Tom Cruise.
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  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Church of Scientology will skip tonight’s National Book Awards

    By Ron Charles, The Washington Post

    On Wednesday night, while New York theater goers laugh at “The Book of Mormon,” another American-grown religion will be enduring far more uncomfortable attention just a few miles away.

    “Going Clear,” Lawrence Wright‘s devastating critique of the Church of Scientology, is one of five finalists for this year’s National Book Award in nonfiction.

    Even for a church legendary for defending itself, Wright has posed a particularly tough challenge. His credentials — New Yorker staff writer, Pulitzer Prize — are solid gold. His methodology is rigorous and exhaustive. And perhaps most formidable, his manner is calm and thoughtful. He never sounds caustic, vengeful or even impolite. He’s no spiteful apostate out to wreak vengeance. Reading his book, one senses that he sincerely wants to understand this organization and its members.

    In the New York Times, Michael Kinsley wrote, “That crunching sound you hear is Lawrence Wright bending over backward to be fair to Scientology.”

    So, after watching “Going Clear” receive glowing reviews since it hit shelves in January, the church must now contend with the possibility that Wright’s book might also win one of the nation’s most prestigious prizes.

    Continued here, with open comments:
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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

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  7. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology's worst nightmare: Why they made author Lawrence Wright look like a demon |

    November 22, 2013

    Larry Wright woke up one day this year looking demonic.

    Images resembling him - just with pale skin, crazed eyes and a sinister look - were plastered across the internet. All thanks to the Church of Scientology.

    An investigative journalist, Wright would have seen the no-holds-barred assault on his reputation coming.

    At the beginning of this year he published the book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief.


    Lawrence Wright appears unscathed. He came close to winning the US's National Book Award yesterday.

    It's clear the Church wasn't cheering him on.
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  8. Anonymous Member

    So nice to see that appearing in the Australian press. Thanks for posting WG.
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  9. The Wrong Guy Member

    The year’s 10 most intriguing religion books | The Washington Post


    7. “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief,” by Lawrence Wright

    Show trials, forced confessions, penal colonies, re-education camps, humiliation rituals, secrecy and spying are the sacraments observed by the “church” of Scientology, according to Wright, a New Yorker staff writer who previously won a Pulitzer Prize for his penetrating look into another secretive movement, al-Qaida. This time, Wright sets out to answer a question that had long mystified him: Why would reasonable people, especially Hollywood celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, risk their reputations and surrender their lives to a stigmatized, totalitarian regime? He soon learned the secret: It’s easy to get in, almost impossible to leave. The lawsuit-happy organization’s undercover goons tailed Wright as he interviewed Scientology defectors, then pre-empted the release of Wright’s book by airing an ad during the 2013 Super Bowl. The book’s title, “Going Clear,” refers to a stage of Scientological enlightenment, wherein “thetans” (i.e., earthlings) empty their minds of self-defeating “engrams” (suppressed memories from previous lives).
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  10. Budd Member

    Also here in today's Orlando Sentinel, a Tribune Newspaper affiliate: "...the ten books that rose to the top of 2013 selections." :rolleyes:
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  11. DeathHamster Member
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  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Lawrence Wright goes clear on Scientology and religious fervor |

    Lawrence Wright grew up in Dallas, and while he realized early on that one can't be "a Methodist extremist," he also experienced the fiercely seductive nature of religious conviction.

    In his subsequent tours of journalistic duty in the Middle East -- Wright won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9-11" -- and the American back roads, he saw lives rearranged and unhinged by faith and zealotry.

    "Again and again, I began seeing the influence of religion, driving people toward good and bad ends," the staff writer for The New Yorker said Tuesday at the Heathman Hotel.

    And Wright saw far too little reflective coverage of what he calls "the effects of religious beliefs on people's lives -- historically, a far more profound influence on society and individuals than politics, which is the substance of so much journalism."

    That's what eventually brought him to confront the Church of Scientology in "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief."

    "The thing you have to keep in mind about Scientology is that people go into it for the best of reasons," Wright said. "They want to change the world. They're idealistic. They're willing to sacrifice."

    Then they sign billion-year contracts, willingly accept sadistic levels of isolation and humiliation, vanish behind the delusional wall. "The belief system, like with all religious beliefs, acts as a barrier to the rest of the community," Wright said.

    "Sometimes, the crazier the beliefs, the higher the barrier, and the more solidified the community inside it."

    In journeying to Oregon this week for the Portland Arts & Lectures series, Wright returned to the scene of L. Ron Hubbard's great World War II heroics -- in 1943, Scientology's founder claimed to have destroyed not one, but two mythical submarines while commanding a harbor patrol ship off Cape Lookout -- and the infamous "Battle of Portland."

    Continued here:
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  13. The Wrong Guy Member

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  14. muldrake Member

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  15. No, it is not a novel it is a dramatic re-creation.
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  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    Science Fictions: Mormonist Lit and Scientology, too!

    You need to know about what goes on in the head of your favorite OC Weekly literary arts blogger like you need a hole in your own head or one of these, an E-Meter. But you might want to know about how what is in Mr. Bib's noggin actually gets there, at least by way of tardy recommendations of a couple of terrific reads. This E-Meter "Mark Super VII Quantum"- for sale on E-Bay (!) as it happens - is a high-tech looking gizmo that measure galvanic skin response, which is basically how much you are sweating, which increases conductance of your skin, which is about as valuable as a mood ring. No, it's not much to begin with, but this baby is a far cry from crazy-as-a-loon sci-fi hack writer and all-around con man Lafayette Ronald Hubbard's original, a bit of mad genius gimcrackery just perfect for the perfect all-American fake religion meets Ponzi scheme, only mildly critiqued in Lawrence Wright's otherwise excellent nonfiction take-apart of the religion, its founder and the leadership of that criminal enterprise in Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief.

    Which is to say that you, like the Bibster, knew all of that already. But having read the Lawrence Wright book I can't stop thinking about, writing about, talking about this important book, a kind of case study of the kooky religion whose truths positively glow on the page.

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  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    In Arena Stage’s “Camp David,” Lawrence Wright Tells the Peacemakers’ Story

    The “New Yorker” staff writer dramatizes the events surrounding the 1978 Camp David Accords in a world premiere production.

    It’s hard to imagine many dramatists getting access to a former President and First Lady while researching a production. But few have Lawrence Wright’s résumé: New Yorker staff writer, Pulitzer-winning author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, creator and star of the acclaimed one-man show My Trip to Al-Qaeda. So when Arena Stage commissioned Wright to pen Camp David, about the 1978 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel — premiering March 21 through May 4 — he headed to Plains, Georgia, to interview Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter about the historic negotiations. (He also traveled to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Cairo to interview surviving members of the negotiating teams.)


    The author has been in the news most recently for his 2013 book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief. “Now there’s a play,” he jokes. The 448-page work was a finalist for the National Book Award for nonfiction. Wright shrugs off the challenges he and his publisher, Knopf, faced by reporting on the notoriously litigious institution. “There have been lots of threats, but I don’t think they’re going to follow through on any of that,” he says. “The church has plenty of other problems. I’m glad I was able to give voice to the experiences of so many people who’ve been mistreated.”
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  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    Joel Grover story on NBC4, Scientology book win IRE awards | LA Observed

    By Kevin Roderick, April 3, 2014


    Winning in the book category was Lawrence Wright's "Going Clear, Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief." Say the judges:

    Wright's investigation of the Church of Scientology is groundbreaking in its examination of one of the most well known, but secretive, religion organizations in the world. He draws on previously secret documents -- including internal works of the church's founder L. Ron Hubbard -- interviews with former and current members of the church and hundreds of court records to present a hard-hitting, but balanced view of church and its followers. The book shines a light on the church's harsh treatment of those who try to leave, but also highlights those, including some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, who have benefited from its teachings. The book also explores the complicated biography of the church's founder and its relationship with its most famous member, actor Tom Cruise. Despite threats from the church, which is known for its aggressive defense of its works and members, this work provides the best understanding of Scientology to date.
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  19. RightOn Member

    YAY Lawrence! Absolutely excellent!
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  20. vaLLarrr Member

    Hey Hubbard fans, Mr Wright here is a PROPER writer.
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  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    Winners of Texas Institute of Letters competitions

    Congratulations to the following Texas authors who received awards earlier this month from the Texas Institute of Letters:

    Austin’s Tom Zigal won the $6,000 Jesse H. Jones Fiction Award for his novel, “Many Rivers to Cross.”

    Austin authors Lawrence Wright and John Taliaferro split the nonfiction Carr P. Collins prize of $5,000. Wright won for "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.” Taliaferro won for “All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay from Lincoln to Roosevelt.”
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  22. anon8109 Member

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  23. Anonymous Member

    Nifty Article!
    And the book cover, if authentic, is lulzy!

    Going Clear - L. Wright.jpg
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  24. snippy Member

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  25. The Wrong Guy Member

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  26. What impresses me about that whole listing of Scientology bestsellers is that the CoS publications don't even appear until #15.

    (No doubt this is only because the millions of Scientologists are choosing to buy from their local registrars. The unprecedented CoS expansion will surely lead to entire cities, nay, countries becoming cleared very soon.)
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  27. For some reason Louanne does not like the book. Her best buddy, Pat doesn't like it either. There is no pleasing them Scilons.

    Join in the fun at her WARNING, WARNING, WARNING, Scientology site:

    The comments have become a long rambling thread with lots of side-trips and slight and not so slight derails but at least it is happening on their turf and that is half the fun.
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  28. Quentinanon Member

    Wright did a brilliant job on this book. He's a top-notch writer, compared to L. Ron who could only produce bad sci-fi.
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  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    Book Review: Real-life Horror Story is a Prison of Disbelief in ‘Going Clear’ | Publishers Newswire

    By John Scott G, March 9, 2015

    A beautifully crafted book on a mesmerizing but ugly topic, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright (ISBN: 9780307745309) is a shocking investigation into the cult of Scientology. As with today’s torture-porn horror films, its followers are allegedly berated, degraded, and psychologically harmed.

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  30. The Wrong Guy Member

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  31. Django Member

    Just a data point: I'm listening to Wright's "Going Clear" audio book. Most of you know this; if you maybe don't, be advised: Wright's book goes incredibly farther into the Scientology world than Gibney's Doc. That's not a knock on Gibney, whose doc is an excellent intro into the subject. But Wright's book, so far, is just so comprehensive, just a wonderful and often hilarious overview of all the controversies surrounding this crime syndicate. I think I'm up to part 2, and we're still delving into a pretty comprehensive history, not into his main point, which (if I'm not mistaken) delves into the stranglehold Hubbard's con has on certain Hollywood figures. There's a lot of info here, some of which I was already familiar with, some of which was surprising to me (and I've been watching Scn since 2007)

    My own point: if you think Gibney's film covers the gist of Wright's book, think again. Gibney's film is wonderful, definitely worth the look, but Wright's book is the shit. Thoroughly enjoying this thing, hope you will too (if you haven't already).....
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  32. Incredulicide Member

    The emphasis of this is best shown by a direct comparison of the duration of Gibney's doco (2 hours) and the duration of the Going Clear audio book (17 hours 27 minutes).

    Here are a couple reviews of the audio book: (Wayback mirror of podcast)
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  33. Spectator books of the year: Thomas W. Hodgkinson on a hair-raising account of Scientology.

    Spectator: Spectator books of the year: Thomas W. Hodgkinson on a hair-raising account of Scientology

    * * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

    Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (Vintage). Originally published in the US, this history of scientology isn’t available in UK bookshops. Buy it online. Hilarious, hair-raising and amazingly evenhanded, given the subject matter, it describes how the science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard turned his toxic neuroses into the basis for an utterly bogus belief system designed to extract money from dupes. This is the guy who punched his wife for smiling in her sleep. This is the guy Tom Cruise refers to, with reverential affection, as ‘LRH’.

    * * * * * END EXCERPT * * * *
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  34. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s caretaker and friend, Steve ‘Sarge’ Pfauth, 1945-2016

    By Tony Ortega, July 11, 2016

    Sinar Parman, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s former personal chef, revealed on Facebook last night that Steve ‘Sarge’ Pfauth died yesterday in Michigan of heart and kidney ailments. Pfauth was 70.

    Pfauth was a loyal friend to Hubbard and served him as a caretaker and ranch hand in his final years. From 1983 to 1986, Pfauth worked at the Creston, California ranch were Hubbard spent his final days. As Pfauth later pointed out, he worked so closely with Hubbard his signature appears on both Hubbard’s death certificate and his last will.

    And it was Pfauth who had such a bombshell of information about Hubbard’s final days author Lawrence Wright chose to use it as the ending for his 2013 history, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. In that anecdote, Pfauth revealed that late in 1985, Hubbard asked Pfauth to construct a lethal version of an E-Meter so he could end his life. Pfauth instead built one with low voltage that made a lot of sparks, and Hubbard didn’t harm himself. But Hubbard died several weeks later of a stroke, on January 24, 1986.

    It was a powerful ending to an epic book. We asked Wright for his thoughts on the news of Pfauth’s passing.

    “A journalist never knows when he’s treading on the edges of history. I’m always grateful to have had the opportunity to talk to people and get their stories before they pass on, and often regret not getting there in time. Steve Pfauth – Sarge – was one who had a unique piece of history that might have gone with him to the grave if he had not agreed to talk to me. Thanks to his courage and generosity, we know the truth about L. Ron Hubbard’s final days. I hope Sarge’s final days were comfortable and fulfilling.”

    Continued here:
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  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    The New Yorker’s chief fact-checker on how to get things right in the era of ‘post-truth’

    By Shelley Hepworth, Columbia Journalism Review, March 8, 2017


    The most extreme checking Canby recalls was for a 30,000-word story by Lawrence Wright about the Church of Scientology, an organization renowned for being extremely litigious. Canby assigned two dedicated fact-checkers to the piece, one of whom spent six months working on it. After the Church of Scientology refused to respond to questions unless they were emailed, the fact-checker compiled a list of 938 questions.

    “They came one day with 47 binders, four lawyers, and two publicists and we had an all-day showdown with the two or three checkers, David [Remnick], our lawyer, their lawyers, and Larry Wright, and Larry’s editor Daniel Zalewski,” says Canby. “We went through the 938 questions, and a lot of them they’d go, ‘right,’ ‘wrong,’ ‘not right,’ which would be not useful. But over the course of the day, enough information was dropped that it put us on to all kinds of other sources, other ideas.”

    Here's the complete article:
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  36. Actress Tea Leoni recommends Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright.

    The tweet:


    Excerpt from the linked article:

    * * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

    I hesitate to include Lawrence Wright's Going Clear for fear of becoming &quot;fair game&quot; on both counts, but as more and more ruthless tactics, crackpot psychology, and shrewd brainwashing are revealed in the everyday workings of the Trump administration, the more eerily congruent it all feels to Scientology—an empty shell of a fervent movement begun by a maladjusted ginger who wants nothing more than to be universally worshipped, world famous, and taken seriously by the establishment he claims to abhor? No coincidence both men staked headquarters across the peninsula from one another in Florida.

    * * * * * END EXCERPT * * * *
  37. The Wrong Guy Member

    Someone is faking Lawrence Wright emails — and this one is about the Underground Bunker

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 9, 2018


    More than five years after the publication of his epic history of Scientology, Going Clear, and three years since the hugely successful HBO documentary of the same name, Lawrence Wright is still the target of stupid dirty tricks and harassment.

    Yesterday, he posted on Twitter and Facebook the news that someone has been sending out emails under the name “” asking his sources about Scientology, and he wanted to warn them that it was a sneaky scam:

    A fraudulent account has been set up in my name,, soliciting information from sources about the Church of Scientology. You can guess who is behind it. Please do not respond to queries from that address.

    — Lawrence Wright (@lawrence_wright) November 8, 2018

    We know a lot of you saw that message, because it was posted several times in our comments section. We were too busy yesterday to call Larry to learn more about the scam, but then last night we heard from Chris Shelton, who turned out to be one of the people who received an email from the bogus address.


    Says Chris: “When I first got this email, I was obviously surprised because it’s not every day that you hear from Lawrence Wright. It says he’s writing a piece on Scientology and I immediately think that this must be a Going Clear follow-up and wouldn’t that be cool? This is all of about 1.5 seconds into the email and then I read the first question and I’m like, ‘Wait…wut?’ And from that moment forward it was obvious this email was NOT from Lawrence Wright and was very likely from some private investigator or directly from the Church of Scientology itself. The questions actually reminded me immediately of an article I’d read here on The Underground Bunker about a Church critic whose friends and neighbors were called by someone purporting to be doing an investigation of the critic for illegal acts. The only purpose of such an activity, of course, being to cast doubt about that critic and make his or her friends distance themselves. Scientology would be the only people who would think such brazenly nefarious and obvious tactics would still work in this age of instant communication and the Internet. So I immediately got onto verifying the authenticity of the email and once it was clear that Lawrence Wright had definitely not sent this, I contacted Tony and Karen and let them know what was up. The Church of Scientology (or anyone else for that matter) can waste their time trying to do this kind of nonsense, but it’s only fodder for our cannons.”

    Well, we’re not sure what sort of effect the private investigator or other OSA operative was after when they wrote this. But all we can say is…

    Thank you!

    We don’t really enjoy bringing up the fact that donations help to keep the Underground Bunker going, but now that you have, let us make things perfectly clear: If there are any wealthy benefactors who enjoy reading this website and would like to see it continue and even expand, please drop a line to Scott Pilutik, our webmaster and attorney, who handles all donations to the site. You can reach him at

    Scott never divulges to us who donates or how much, which we believe is a necessary way to protect the journalism of this website. But if someone of means wants to help us grow, please send a message to Scott as soon as you can!

    Continued with video at
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  38. Lawrence Wright interviewed by the Committee To Protect Journalists about covering Scientology.

    Legal threats prompt journalists to take creative approaches to investigative stories

    * * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

    Lawrence Wright, a writer who faced legal threats while covering the Church of Scientology at the New Yorker and in the 2013 book and 2015 HBO series Going Clear, echoed that sentiment.

    “I had to imagine defending every single word on the stand, and that’s one reason why you’ll find very few modifiers,” Wright said. “There are very few adjectives and adverbs, because I could imagine being on the stand and being asked, ‘Well, Mr. Wright, why did you say it was very severe? How do you define that?’”

    Wright told CPJ that he involved five members of The New Yorker’s fact-checking team on his stories, and even took a checker with him to media appearances.


    Wright told CPJ that he was less concerned that he would lose a case, and more that Scientology “would tie us up in court forever and it would cost me and my magazine, or publisher, or HBO innumerable millions of dollars just to defend ourselves,” as had happened with Time magazine, which Scientology sued for $416 million in defamation damages in the early 90s. A judge dismissed the case in 2001, but not before the magazine had spent millions in legal fees for its defense.

    In a statement emailed to CPJ, Karin Pouw, the public affairs director of the Church of Scientology, disputed the accuracy of Wright’s book and described the church’s suit against Time as an attempt to “ensure that portrayals of the Church in the press do not open the door to bigotry and persecution.

    ” * * * * *


    I want to add that I find Lawrence Wright's observation that there are "very few modifiers,” "very few adjectives and adverbs" in his book to be very interesting and instructive. Food for thought.
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  39. Disambiguation Global Moderator

  40. Yeah whatever. Soon you will be banned and your spam posts will be removed.
    I am glad that you revived this thread to spam on. It gives the lurkers even more information on the criminal cult of Scientology.

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