The Tone Scale, or Scientology’s Army of Stupid

If you’ve ever wondered why Scientologists seem so weird, you have to understand that their behavior is the result of a grooming process that begins with seemingly sensible advice, such as how to communicate better, and slowly gets ramped up until an adherent becomes a crazy-eyed cult member incapable of independent thought. One of the most important elements of this grooming process is the fine art of emotional manipulation.

Scientology’s instruction manual for emotional manipulation is called the Emotional Tone Scale, which Scientologists always refer to as, simply, the Tone Scale. One of L. Ron Hubbard’s most devious constructions, it is a prime example of Hubbard’s use of invented language. First he mashed together two words, emotion and tone, and implied that they were the same thing. After establishing this connection, he then defined tone further, thus smoothly carrying his subject from the real world of emotion into the artificial world of Scientology’s tones. Hubbard was a master at creating these types of bridges in people’s minds to make them think they were expanding their understanding of familiar concepts when in fact they were allowing their viewpoints to be sharply constrained or altered.

Hubbard realized that emotions can be messy and uncontrollable, so he created a predefined list of approved emotions and called them tones. Furthermore, he added to this approved list quite a few mental and physical states which are not emotions at all, like “activity”, “aesthetic”, “self-abasement” and “body death”. He then placed this list of preapproved emotional and physical conditions on an arbitrary scale that starts at negative forty (-40) and continues all the way to positive forty (+40).

Scientology Tone Scale
Scientology’s Tone Scale: Pre-Approved Emotions for Cult Members

Because they are taught to avoid using their specialized vocabulary when speaking to the public, you should understand that when Scientologists talk about emotion, they are actually talking about tones.

The Tone Scale brings to mind the old saying never to underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups, which was undoubtedly L. Ron Hubbard’s vision when invented this bizarre list. To create his own army of stupid, he had to convince his disciples to believe in certain things and to act in certain ways, and the Tone Scale is a primary mechanism for this. What better way to control people than to manipulate their emotions as if they were wind-up dolls?

He claimed that the Tone Scale is the succession of emotional states experienced by all human beings. He claimed that it was an exact science, as if he had uncovered a universal truth, when in fact he described three simple – and mostly false – concepts:

1. Humans can only experience one emotion at a time;
2. Emotions always occurs in the exact same order; and
3. Emotions can be manipulated either upward or downward.

The third concept is the one that has an element of truth, even if it’s evil in intention. Manipulating emotions is one of the characteristics of a sociopath, so it’s telling that Hubbard would train his disciples to act like abusive jerks with the sole purpose of enraging critics, as if Scientologists were the first ones in history to discover that people who act like jerks make the rest of us angry.

Beyond this rank manipulation, the tragedy of the Tone Scale is an army of simpletons who are only allowed one emotion at a time, to be dictated by management, when in fact humans are complex and thoroughly capable of experiencing multiple emotions simultaneously – it’s one of the features that makes us human! Nothing in the real world compares to Hubbard’s foul invention; the closest is the stages of grief, and right there you can perceive the difference between a psychological philosophy (even if somewhat controversial) which acknowledges and enriches the human experience in all of its messy glory – and a Scientological philosophy that tries its hardest to stop the human experience from happening at all.

The Tone Scale is a fraud. Don’t buy into it. Recognize that when you are talking to a cult member, they may use this particularly rancid piece of “The Tech” to try to make you go “down tone”. Emulate the examples of Marty Rathbun and Marc Headley and stay calm – or even jovial! Scientology’s army of stupid is getting smaller by the day, and there’s no reason to let them get to us. I would only ask you to find it in your heart to forgive them when they realize what they’ve done (at least the duped minions who merely acted like jerks, as opposed to the true criminals).

It’s always amusing, if annoying, to read this stuff straight out of the horse’s mouth, in all of its tautological idiocy: “When a man is chronically in grief about his losses, he is in grief.” Scientology’s bizarre explanation is quite something, not least for the cheesy scare story involving a toddler and a dog. (But then I may be a literary masochist.) However! We obviously don’t want the cult to get the traffic (or the link boost), so I used the wonderful service Archive.Today to capture the cult’s webpage which may be safely viewed here:

I also recommend further reading at Tony Ortega’s wonderful Underground Bunker.


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