« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#61 — The Power of Belief

2017-01-15 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with author Lawrence Wright about al-Qaeda & ISIS, Arab culture, 9/11 conspiracy theories, the migrant crisis in Europe, Scientology, parallels between L. Ron Hubbard and Donald Trump, the Satanic cult panic, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Today, I am speaking with Lawrence Right Lawrence is a journalist and an author and screenwriter and a playwright- He is very well known as staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, and he has written many works of nonfiction a book called remembering Satan the looming tower for which he won the Pulitzer Prize going clear. The regulatory work about Scientology there was made into a documentary thirteen days in September, and its most recent book is. The terror years, which has a a compilation of all his writing on arcade on the islamic state that he did for the new Yorker. So, needless to say, our our interests on a variety of topics here overlap. I've never met Lawrence of who have never got a chance to speak with him before so it was great, have an excuse to do it as one of the amazing things. I have in this package is a forum that consensus
when I admire and email ask them if they want to have a conversation sometime, they do and you get to hear it so Without further ado, I introduce you to the great Lawrence Right I have Laurens right on the line Lawrence thanks for coming back ass, good, a darkies to so I'll, introduce you before we got on here, but tell people how you describe yourself, you think of yourself as a journalist, first. Are you an author or more generally? How did you think you think of yourself? I guess I think of myself. Writer, a writer I right in addition to journalism I write, plays in reason retina novel have tried. I like experimenting with different forms. Yeah, that's actually want things, I most admire about what you're doing- and I am a huge fan of your work, but the quality of the work,
side, I love the way you use so many different platforms to communicate your ideas. That often starts with a New York article, but your articles often become books. And some of these books become documentaries and one became a state. Play and then became a documentary, and so is very creative and you're like the king of media this, why that's really should have already I'd for that, but it mainly, I think, you're. Those as thing as a writer is finding the ideas that you want to write about And though, the such a positive ideas that you want to devote your life to and So when I hit on something there, I'm really intrigue by the knife sometimes try to work it into different forms, or is there a primary concern or or set of ideas that unifies all of your work? My hat, how do you decide what sort of topics to today
as you know, this very intuitive, but now that I'm older, I looked back and I see the dove I've had lifelong interest in religion and why people believe one thing rather than another? It seems to be a thread that goes through much of my work I was thinking along those lines myself. It seems to me that that you and I share a common interest in the power of belief and in particular, the power of bad believe, so you have bad ideas that they become ascendant in some contacts or another and we'll get into specifically these different topics, but you spent a lot of time. Thinking about islamic extremism and Scientology and other cult like phenomenon like Jonestown and what's interesting to me on this is been a point of frustrate
but somehow I really admire behave treated these topics is that many people actually doubt whether or not ideas matter very much and is very common to meet people who think that that good people will do good things and bad people. Bad things and that ideology is more or less always just a pretext for good and bad people to do whatever they were going to do anyway, but one of the most refreshing things about your discussion of these abhorrent belief systems is that you make it clear how much beliefs matter and that that be Add believes, can get even very good people to do terrible thing, I'd our limited mainly to at least in our era, to religious belief. I think, then, the notion that it believes they are disk How to bowl mainly comes from observing the hypocrisy of political figures in, and people who
strong political views, but then act completely differently. In their own behaviour, was, would intrigues me as a journalist on religion, has very little status in the world of journalism. It's the are seen as alike IO, covering cooking or something like parent daily newspaper you know their religion beat, would be off the retina back section, but I observe somewhere along the line that people can have very strong political views without, changing their lives at all, but people they have strong religious views that tend to do Herman their behaviour in a very powerful away for good or ill NEA was so let's get in to for some name the buses really three books. I want to focus on here the looming tower, which is you're amazing book about our
and we also throw in here the the stage play and documentary my trip to Al Qaeda, which is also fascinating and connected to that book. And then you have you your most recent, but that the terror years, which again is also on the same topic and then there's going clear, which is your book and any subsequent documentary Scientology, and if we have time I'd like to touch on your book, remembering Satan, because that is just one of the strangest stories ever told- will see if we get there, let's start with jihadism and Islamism now work on this topic, at least to some degree. Before most people were aware of these issues, because you wrote this film, the siege which came out and ninety ninety eight, which depicts jihadist terrorism in New York and then Kennedy the attendant infringements of civil liberties that came in response You remember what point you are aware of jihadism as a global issue, and not just a local problem with there was narrowly focused on Israel,
lived in Egypt as a young man, and I was there were Nasser died in nineteen, seventy and one of Sudan who succeeded him. One of his first actions was to let the Muslim brothers, out of prison and of our professors had a brother who got out- and I was aware of this stirring inside- is law myself. Before a lot of other western people were, and then I, when I was working on the siege This is in the middle nineties, and you know Egypt was in tumult at the time, but at my producer had asked me to right, a movie about a woman in the CIA, and that was and is the whole idea. One really I've just a notion really- and I was trying to think about well The cold war is over. Who is the enemy and what an obvious at the time
Finally, I realise that the CIA did have a real life and tagging and it was the FBI and what they were struggling over was who was going to control terrorism in the night, states and never came they access for the sea. In Denzil Washington Blade, though FBI chief, and in a building was a CIA woman. The net I did respond bins. Bond from. And, as I began, researching bad, I turned out. The information about of Bin Laden and about. Of course, there was Omar Abdul Rahman, who was known as the blind shake who had a plan afoot to blow up Lincoln Tunnel in the statue of liberty and there were a lot of terrorist plots there were going around at the time
and then the movie, the trailers in the movie. He appeared in August of ninety eight and that, of course, was the same month. That day, Eric Embassies in EAST Africa were blown up by Al Qaeda zero opening blow. There was another bombing that same month in Cape Town, South Africa. Then people don't really know very much about. It was at a planet, Hollywood right and it was and is a radical islamist group claim credit for blaming trailers. They were for the movie, the siege as it as their problem. Cohesion and the reason they struck. Planet hollywood- is, it Bruce will as one of the co stars of the movie, was a partial owner over that chain. So I know it was a real shock to me, because two people were-
killed and a little girl lost her leg, and all of this came about because I'd in this movie, so I was affected by terrorism. I guess earlier than most Americans here at her. That story. I think you talk about that, at least in my trip to allocate a bride, and that's always been why I have resisted, offers to translate some of my more hard hitting criticisms of mom into the relevant languages, because I remember Salman Rushdie. The experience of an apart from his experience of having to go into hiding just isn't fair to finding out that his translator is in four and publishers have been killed or attacked, and that had to be rough did you feel they would have been very little basis, or at least most people wouldn't have formed an expectation that that anything like that
happen in response to a film my class at that point where you just blindsided by it, or did you told a thunderstorm? You know it was. It was of course now you know at this at the same time, When the movie came out, there were their protest, there were, Muslims were angry at being depicted as terrorists. They thought there was a stereo type of Hollywood and they were picketing the theatres. It was a big box office failure until nine eleven when it is the most rendered movie in America, it was a really use if scarring experience- and you know it came out- blue, where were you on nine eleven and when what were you working on well, I died I was having breakfast with a group. Ray Tuesday morning we get together and speak Spanish so that where I was in at the time
I was a plant, to get out of journalism. I had the idea I become a movie director. I was writing scripts for made a direct and and then suddenly nine slash eleven happened in the you know. I realized I was going to get back on the fire truck and in all the work you have done since on jihadism. What would you say you ve learned about it well I've learned? For one thing, the belief is very powerful and affecting, even violent behaviour, but One of the things it intrigue me about the origins of this movement, especially in Egypt, Is it a lot of people who went into call Jahaad, which was the egyptian organization and then later Al Qaeda weren't, really very religious. They were drawn
in some ways they were drawn into protest. You'd have to understand that living in arab countries, most arab countries at the time was a very stifle experience there, tyrannies and the opportunities for expression are very few and theirs. I very much alternative to either. Being the member a government, a bureaucrat our a member of the army and then there is a very diminish private sector and energy. Want to have any kind of alternative expression, you got the mosque, as were the muslim brothers arose. So there were people than I think, we're dead in this movement, and some of them were no ideal- is the kind of people that you would. You could build a country on it in other respects, but they were not there
dreams have been kind of perverted and drawn into these radical expressions of Islam. One of the problems in the arab world is itself few spiritual choices. You know you can only believe one thing here, your choices to believe it more or less, and so the what happened in enough in Egypt: was it the young men who were not originally very pious, drawn into this kind of radical groups, they were wanting to affect some kind of choice, in their country, but at the same time they underwent changes themselves and they became radicalized by the more strenuous views of his life and it began they began to use those used to justify the actions that they were taking I want no drill down a little bit on what you just said,
there that they were not very religious, was that I think people can misunderstand what you're saying soon. I disagree about the implications of what you're saying, because it's true that that many people don't come from addresses many people dont show any signs of of religiosity much less extreme it. Religiosity in their earlier life, but the people who becomes suicide bombers at the point they become committed really do believe what they say. They believe- and I say that the beliefs, r r r operative at that point and in the history of How they got to that point is an interesting one enemy. You can have you, no kids in Orange County becoming radicalized, but once they are she radicalized? They do share this belief system, and so it's a lot of people take. I think, a false comfort in looking at the biographies of some these people- and they say well, is this: is this
and didn't come out of Madrid. So this person went to the London School of Economics. So clearly this isn't about religion, there's something else going on here, but for the person who has an awakening experience of some kind, they gets channeled in You salivate style Islam, and they take it all away into the end zone of wanting to get into paradise. Right now, however, a secular they had seemed up until a year ago or fifteen minutes ago, at a certain point, what what gets them to actually act is this world view that has gotten communicated to them. Somehow I did do disagree with Do you think, there's a secular route to two martyrdom that is equally well subscribed and in this world look at the other world we're talking there now they're radical Islam. There are Islamists who become radicalized
and there are radical radicals and become islamist. You know that they can come from both of those directions in and arrive at the same point, and then you have people like rain. The use of who, by the World Trade Center and ninety ninety three, not at all religious, even just using you just ideas? He beat didn't really express them himself, but he used religious compatriots end, and you know you ve worked with Amara DORA Monday buying shake, but he was not at all religious himself, and there are people like that, although he wasn't a suicide bomber. No only, but in order the world of suicide bombers inside knows is a fairly small. Wondered world a radical Islam is quite large year. I would agree I get. I guess I'm in my issue. Is I I certainly don't doubt that there are some people who wage war against the west. In some sense,
under the banner of Islam without sincerely believe in all of its precepts. But an gradations of that I saw that you had interviewed by my friend and and collaborator budget now eyes, which I had forgotten. I seen my trip to allocate a some years ago when it where's came out and then watch it again and in anticipation of this conversation and then was surprise, I had didn't know modred when I had first seen it. Obviously I had no recollection he was in there so much it is when he was an Islamist was not not a a buddy and suicide bombers. Are there their different points of commitment on that spectrum of of being organised under this banner? But for me the key, the most toxic part of
the centre. The balls I here for the role of believers in particular this sincere belief and martyrdom, because it seems to me this as two consequences that it allows people to actually love death more than we love life. That becomes a sincere statement of just psychological fact and therefore to seek death in this. They become really undesirable, and you describe people like this in the looming tower and particularly the early Al Qaeda members who are fighting the Soviets, Afghanistan, who are taken. Absolutely no, steps to protect their own wives and when queried about this they said here we want. The whole point is to get killed here, but the other thing is it, so it allows people whether they are suicide bombers are not to kill innocence without any compunction, because really by
worldview. Nothing can go wrong. The good will go to Heaven. The infidels will go to hell where they belong and you can blow yourself up in a crowd of children and- and you have lived really done nothing wrong, because there's no conceivable outcome. That is a bad outcome, given that God is overseen all this and everyone gets what they deserve in the end anyway. He did to some extent, I think that we have people that are acting out. A believes that giving them a moral cover for actions it no one and otherwise understand, but there also psychopaths in this as well, and near their drawn like MOSS to it there I think there are a lot of the phenomenon of ices is fed. By that I mean people are excited by the by the carnage and then they they flock to it and then on the way they pick up. These believes almost like garments. You know a lot of the people you see,
You know they. They dont have this extremist religious background before they get there. And- and I dont know how seriously and we're talking about- there's- not a single unified hurry for why all these people can arrive at the same place There are many different pass to it: indifferent personnel. These are animated by different philosophies, and and longings and end and been dysfunctions, and is they can come in many different aroused in others. It interesting theory about Stephan her talk rota. A book called engineers of jihad what about the year. The number of people who come in to you heard from a technical.
Ashley Engineering background and even speculates is some of them are per hour on the autism spectrum at night. I think you know, you can look at it. You know this. If you have the whole universe of people who are educating their lives, did John Islamic Jihad you're going to find there's a lot of the leaders are going to be those kinds of engineering people who can use the web college. Mohammed is a perfect example. Not a religious man himself, really he's Rhonda use US uncle but down, but he was able to to use people who had these police force that you know they like. Like the hijackers of nine eleven and and and persuade them to give up their lives to enact a vision that is created near now. I was struck in watching my tripped. Al Qaeda
and because I had first seen it before anyone had even heard of ISIS. I believe I was struck the one for you. You are reading from some of the stated goals of Al Qaeda at that point, and it was interesting to see how much ISIS had had achieved those goals. Today do they seem to be in the process of losing those games, but I have forgotten how explicit Al Qaeda's goal was to form a caliphate in Iraq and to use it as a basis by which to ultimately create a global one. To draw us into further into a quagmire there, it just seemed like ISIS, was the combination, not merely of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the crazy sectarian sadism that that got express their but the original vision of Al Qaeda. How do you view ISIS as being the same were different from from Al Qaeda at this point
other stylistic differences and other their goals are the same They want a Islamism world, they want is long to be the only superpower in the world and they feel resentful there that is been put on the back shelf in the way of their first. To some extent, the idea that Caliphate with something that Bin Laden had mine is is a distant goal, because, first of all, you would have to persuade Muslims. There there. This is something they were going to have to import implemented eventually and but almost about our colleague, who is the founder of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which became them they precursor dicers. He was in hurry and he was not patient, has been line was also he had a decision at the end.
To create a civil war inside Islam, which he succeeded in doing by waging war on the Shi Ite, NOME in London. Wanna do should fight the west. He wanted to drive the west out arab and muslim lands and so then it could be thoroughly is on, according to the sorry, has sought salafi philosophy murder, and then eventually you know you were to create a caliphate. An tsar, Kali headed knows just a different back. Plan and so he became. We became very Prominent when we had Al Qaeda under such pressure that Bin Laden and it's a watery, and the other leaders of Al Qaeda couldn't keep their heads above. The ground would meanwhile sort always out. You know, creating total may him on the ground in Iraq. And this was exciting to
out of young Muslims who wanted to get in on the action and believed in the goals that our colleague was espousing. He seemed to be a proper psychopath. Would you draw a line between someone like him and Bin Laden just psychologically there their fascinating differences? You know When I was working on the looming tower, I was puzzled. The because Al Qaeda was essentially egyptian organization with saudi head on it- and there are minimum- but there were a couple of Jordanians in it now but essentially you know they were Persian Gulf Arabs and Egyptians, and I I. What looked around I wondered: where are the Palestinians were the Lebanese where the jordanian Assyrians, the region, that we call the lot? Where are they and Al Qaeda? and I realized that there was-
Actually, another training camps in Afghanistan, this time. Bin Laden was running, he is and there was run by our colleague, Annie she got money support from Bin Laden, although you not formally a member of Al Qaeda at the time, but that was the group then went into Iraq, after we invaded and and began to prosper there, and so you look at London he was in international business man. You know collar educated, wealthy, extremely wealthy at one point: and though he knows sort of de I compared him I described them as Saudi Arabia's first celebrity. And you know he had a lot of them- not charisma, a moreover mystique about him, and anyone in some ways kind of delicate
in his mannerisms and so on. Whereas our coffee was a criminal, he was a street thug. Ex criminal when he was in prison, and it was in prison that ah, he became close to shake my deasey, whose very influential jihadist the philosopher, and I think you know he was already radical, psychopathic and then in some ways, emboldened by this islamist philosophy, they gave him a warrant to act out there. The way that I think that he normally wanted to anyway. So you know his is gonna, be madness. By the way that he rampaged across a rag killing anyone in his path.
Suddenly had absolute from divine permission to do so, and there was something awe inspiring about the way that he now wage this unlimited war against the Shiites and for people that arm. India drawn to a conflict, you he caught a lot of attention. I you know I I imagine you are you're familiar with the frauds term the narcissism of minor difference here. I think that this really fascinating, where religion- concern, because the old Freud talks about how us people that are very, very similar in most respects can be the biggest enemies, because a very small differences between the two of them and the Sudanese in the Shi Ites are a perfect example of that. You know four up from outsiders. They're there just Muslims.
But for us, our coffee and in many people who followed him the small historical differences in the style. Stick differences in the way they prayed, for instance, were incredibly inflammatory, and you know it. It is created absolute chaos inside the islamic universe. That gives me an opportunity to point out something that I often point out what I'm talking about Islam and Islamism Jihad as and where everything I say is more or less implicitly or explicitly in criticism of the the doctrine here and the consequences of these ideas and linking it linking this doctrine to to violence. The thing to point out is that the most common victim of this violence is another Muslim by a thousand votes, yeah, see I am is- is not merely the feet, concern of a pampered westerner who doesn't want terrorism in his movie, theatres, the reality of the word
was on fire with this particular form of sectarian conflict and in an hour witnessing very likely Europe break apart in part as a result of this conflict in in Syria, Iraq and the attendant migrant crisis someday, I might raise with you in a minute but telling two. I am also a hearing in this context of its a. How do you view him as a personality compared to our Cowen and been lost Well, he was a man of science which is interesting you know you as a medical doctor, a surgeon S. Father was a professor at pharmacology yet at the Cairo University. So it came from a science background body. He was also very religious as a young man and, as was been one, there was not enough not a conversion experience for either man. They just became more deeply
located in their religion and euro zone. You know, I think they experience of of wines and watery went off with muslim brother doctors to Afghanistan. During the but John Dene WAR against the Soviets. I think that there was a turning point for him. And he had already at the age of fifteen had created a cell to overthrow the egyptian government are just think about his brows, the audacity of love, this young man, partly, I think he was very influence by his uncle too, was beside customs lawyer inside could is in some ways the ice get out about a yeah, I mean is ice intriguing to me somehow
months and belief. Systems always go back to a book. And you know you can trace it in. You know them, Bible or the Koran or art you know does copy taller than on my arm. Hitler's of mine com you know there are even animal rights as on animal liberation. They made there's always at the bottom of it, a book that is so influential and the book did really gave rise to the islamist movement. Was a book that quota baroque mile until Tariq, which means the sign along the road or milestones, and he had in the late forties. It kind of fled Egypt because the king was had at him and came to America where He was alarmed and disgusted by the american habits, suspect,
They are a sexual mores in and he spent time in this little town called Greeley Colorado, which in some respects would be a total average Heisman for the american dream. He is a darling, lit down and had a lot of churches and so on, but not enough. It was nothing that anybody can do that pleased him. Even his barber didn't do his hair right and but he saw some things about. America that I think Americans were willing to look at it. I know, for instance, of sight could the was very dark egyptian and he understood he experienced the racism. There was commented the time he had crazy oceans about a lot of things about America, but he went back to each of them. Some very influential articles and then became the head of the
sort of underground wing of the Muslim brothers the more violent wing and when gamala them now Sir, and the colonels and the egyptian Army stays there coup in nineteen. Fifty two Nasser offered could above an influential post in the new government, but it wasn't infolded influential enough and could have fought against Nasser and the regime, and eventually Nasser had him hanged, and down and that you know he became this. Martyr, but this this book did he rode on scrap paper that he smuggled out of the prison became the document that the debt aroused in he called for a vanguard of young men who would make this vision real and in a watery was certainly one of those people. One thing rarely remarked on it. You do in places that
The men in muslim majority countries grow up largely outside the company of women and references it like you, you just the story told about couture. As I recall the crisis, for him in his sojourn in Greeley was. He went to a dance where he saw the other young must maintain, majors young men and women dancing in a guy thing in the basement of a church. So the fact they have used their church for the desecration and he saw these young men and women caught a pine at each other and and he'd heat this passage and somewhere, where he talks about just the utter shameless of batting eyes of the women and the Afghan exposed, and what comes through those living out abs, cold outside. I may that there is such obvious frustrated lost here and the role played by sexual taboos and the disempower meant of being on the outside of,
any sphere in which you could plausibly gratify or desires in a way that seemed cycle? logically and morally healthy to you. It's just there's, there's somethin psychologically, so maladaptive about the way sex is viewed in this context and I just wanted you to reflect on as anything we can generalise about the consequences of keeping the sexes so radically apart and indeed the attendant massage any the political, not equivalence between men and women in these societies. Well, I've. My experience of it was especially you'd in Saudi Arabia. I went there and since two thousand and three, two thousand three or four and on the other side they wouldn't. Let me as a journalist side, I took a job as the mentor these young journalist and gender, which has been lost
calm down and the men and women really have. Was no interaction at all the You knew we think of them. For instance, the women all dressed up in black and young, sometimes their faces covered as well, but the men are pretty covered up too. You know therein widen the women are in black. It looks like you sometimes I feel. Like always. I would feel echoes in an opera. You know with a kind of cap, a gene monks or something like that. You're Endo, Mona, my room, orders. We went to a mall and there are some malls: were men can't go by themselves if there a family, but this was one more where we could go in my reporter was specially avid Romeo and hear spot in a couple of Howdy women coming down the escalator and they were totally encased in black and even there
were covered. It may sometimes you can't even tell what direction there phasing in He turned to me without a trace of irony. He said Jack, I'm out. There is theirs some power that he must have to see through those garment clairvoyant. I was always where I was told, aware of the sense of belonging and and frustration, and also I you know, a lot of civil, zation is young men learning how to please girls. You cannot get past. That end. When their outside of that world, and in a world of men almost exclusively, then, is it totally unsettled situation or behaviors are not moderated and in the end, also the day, take out their frustrations,
other ways you was intriguing about saudi society. Is it is a great sense of passivity and I You know it is born of being demoralized and at the same, time, you have so many. So much of this dream going into radical Islam into Al Qaeda or other groups, come out a Saudi Arabia and certainly the ideas, though, the propaganda that needs. These religious ideas comes out of Saudi Arabia and it is not entirely traceable to the gender apartheid, but it is a part of it and the absence of civil society. The inability to have two makes freely and talk openly
You know all those things created, stifled atmosphere here is also the fact that this is the division between the sexes is part of a larger on our culture, and then what happens there is you have that women become a cent? play props in the honor economy of the men and women become viewed as especially their sexual lives and then the prospect that day there could be some sexual indiscretion, whether it's your wife for your daughter The fact that would reflect back on you and your social currency, as as a person of honour that all seems so dysfunctional and and such a perfect recipe for unhappiness, and yet it is hard to see how to change it. Given the status quo. Well, you know the one thing we should not make the mistake of.
Taking away any sense of agency from these women the saudi women there they are one of my work. I had several young Sadie women reporters who I was both a mentor and at first they wouldn't. Let me see them. They all worked in this little office under the stairwell, and I said I can't to them. If I can't see them so, once a week, they were allowed to come up and this little black train into the conference room. And I am one I gotta know particularly well Nashua. She was extremely conservative and on the nose She wore a buyer which is the black the
they all and the job over her head. But she also warn Cobb to cover her face everything except for the eyes and she used to cover her eyes as well. Then she kept tripping so she sheep, but she would put on gloves whose chief talked about how he tried to become more conservative every year and I also reflected on the fact that no Saudi women are the mothers of these boys near they have a responsibility de in in how they turn out, and I did I went to Sally maybe a thinking there were women, be us a reservoir of progressive movement of some sort, and I didn't find that there were some women who were that way, but in general I would not say that
Saudi women are of force of liberal ideas. I would be surprised if they were. The beliefs exist on both sides of of this divide and when I see how a friend like I on her sally, gets attacked by women who are defending their faith from her crazy or may imagine, ours has attacked by women as a as a an uncle Tom. You see. What's going on there. Can you say something about the prevalence of conspiracy thinking in the arable as you encountered it yeah. I was thinking about that those, as are preparing to talk with you, because I find that there is a kind of parallel through this kind of news. They were going through now and when I am when I was working in the air breast, in Saudi Arabia Neil
One thing I noted is it you can have opinions and the newspapers are full of columnist, but what was dangerous, we're facts, and when I was trying to teach these young, borders how to go out and gather facts. I was actually providing them with skills. It They weren't going to be able to use its southern newspapers, were vacuous and and and gossip mongering, and after nine eleven. I remember when I was in Egypt in I was talking to this egyptian woman, who suggested to me, the nine eleven was something that the american government did to itself a very common thing, your ran into it again and again- and I said this happy I believe that I mean there's no evidence that the american government
any desire to do that ahead in a way to participate. It emerges is a totally nonsensical prejudicial view. What causes you'd say that, and she said well in Egypt, nobody, ever tells us the truth, so we have to determine for ourselves what it might be in. The first question we ask is who benefits and in her view, the beneficial of nine eleven was the american government because it allowed the: U S too, age war on the muslim world. When this, I can't tell you How common this view is- and you know, there's absolutely nothing to sustain it. It is just a opens piracy, theory that has taken root and unfortunately, given some support, by a number of american conspiracy as well down at rabbit whole. Very far, the nine eleven truth phenomenon in the West
They used to follow me around in my speeches and- and in Alex Jones- oh it's you says- and I've had a conversation before he's the main propagators of of this kind of nonsense it down. You know I've talked to them at length of if you analyze their view of how nine eleven happen There is not any doubt that the plane struck the World Trade Center, least among most of them ass. You think they were holograms or not actual planes. Yeah there are Europe, they had. No windows, he I go even further than it never happened at all. Yeah like the moon, and they never happened, but the the nine eleven There is normally believes that the planes did strike. But that's not what would happen if a brain hero guy scraper and, of course, this experiment is only happened twice so
In both cases you know the buildings fell down that, according to the truth, the recess. Now What would have you ever seen a building fall into its own footprint Lawrence? Yes, right is so what happened a well? There must have been explosives planted inside the building to make sure that they fell and asked where they met. Can government came in because they had to be. You know stealthily done, nobody could have observed them, they had to be no evidence for it and, and then, in the case of the Pentagon, which didn't all down and they know it. Then there are a lot of truth. Those who say that there was a missile. I wasn't applying waste ass, the case where the passengers, in a worse, a plane,
what about all the people who saw the plane flying low over? Why Weena busy once you start picking apart the things they accept as gospel there's, this is nothing but a ludicrous thread of of conspiracy all needed together into something. That's too, only absurd but which corresponds to their view of the while the world works he had. And crucially, when you follow- each one of these anomalies to some alternative conclusion is never the same conclusion, there's no unified view of what would explain everything that happened here. There's dozens hundreds or more different things and all of which are mutually incompatible, but all of which are different from the prevailing story that allocated but there is no unified view that makes it they perfect work of evil genius to have George
Bush sitting reading my pet goat when this thing goes off, you don't know what evil genius decided that to do it that way, this large or phenomenon of conspiracy thing which again now I once you connected to the fake news phenomenon that we living through now it becomes hugely consequential. It's like this. I have always thought of conspiracy, thinking as a kind of pornography of doubt there's an each that people scratching here you evil who, for the most part, feel disempowered and imagine that people in power are always doing something malicious and that whenever you can explain something based on incompetence, it's never really incompetence. The irony here is our attributing a sea for human level of competence to people where there is right. There is never any evidence of this kind of companies. May we bill Clinton, couldn't stop a seaman stain,
rest from appearing on the evening news right. You have President's can't do these sorts of things in the world or ass to imagine that thousands upon thousands of psychopathic collaborators killed some of the most productive people in our society in downtown Manhattan. Just for the what the pleasure of sending us to war in the Middle EAST, not to Saudi Arabia, the hijackers came from, but to Iraq when we could easily found a pretext go to war there anyway, and what a great war that was, and yet they did this without a single leak. There's not one person. With a guilty conscience who got on sixty minutes and spilled the beans and yet, generally speaking you, he can't even keep the next I found from being left on the bar before it gets released it since the maize in double standard of reasonableness there. That gives us this kind of thinking. Also, what what's your feeling about the fake news phenomenon aware that we are now, I think, did the elevation of fake news too,
to the level of real knows, is so pernicious and damaging and it reminds me so much of my experience- the arab world where conspiracies in an EU via for it. You know anything credibility with real news and when journalism has been weakened. You know I'm in for more than two decades now you know there's I cut back up and now the resources of journalism so that the roots of the of our trade have been partially pulled up, especially at the local level, is very difficult. You know to to measure how big a law that has been. But you're used to be that there were no news bureau, all over the world, in other words in a different networks, heads in euros in Bali, old capitals and so on him, and we were much more plugged here,
then we are now and now. The next step was the increasing partisanship that took over the especially the broadcast media so that, in addition to reporting what was the news There was a spin on it, an implicit comment, on how the world is- and so you get your new, from one state or another. You have a different impression of you know what was actually going on in others, there is not a consensus as there used to be about what was actually happening and Then. Finally, the internet solidified this kind of echo chamber so the or could go on the internet and naturally what they do, is they go find confirmatory information that supports their prejudices. So these three trends have converged to the point. It is very difficult for some people.
To distinguish what is real and what is what is fake, and that is a very dangerous situation, and it allows conspiracies to prosper go viral like crazy? How do you think jihadists view the prospect of a Trump presidency? I think, with some glee One of the goals of many jihadis is to create a polar position between the West and Islam Certainly tromp has not been loath to use language like that. So it may well be that he will present strongly on the military accelerator and try to do more, are damage, but our experience with it has been really mixed and even Rumsfeld early when he was the Secretary of Defence,
worried that we are creating more jihadis than we were killing and that's a continual problem. I'm not saying there's easy solution or alternative, but the way is in which we have mixed into the air. We're all in our Muslim in the muslim world has have not been so far very successful. What would you do if you were advising a present at this point? We just think about that problem of ISIS and terrorist groups like ISIS. How would you? How would you fight the problem? I think you have to be very cautious about how deeply you get into it militarily on us and we have to be absent, but we should not be putting boot on the ground? Where are we have no national interests, let's take the eggs ample of Syria, Syria, is useless.
Strange country I was there before on before the arab Spring and is totally dictatorship and the most sex our arab country, I've ever been, and I have to say that I was so surprised to see this time. And towards the Islamist Revolution in a country where I had not really detected that at all. But what could we do or could we have done in Syria is not clear to me how we could have behaved in a way they would have prevented a catastrophe you're having taken out Assad's air force before the Russians got involved. What might have been a good step? it might have, but then what will the consequences of that had been really know? Their choice that we were really facing as it turns out, is between a regime that is really the progeny of Stalin or Hitler.
It means the same mindset in. Is this appalling or Al Qaeda? The strongest force you may, even today, outside of the government forces which are supported by Russia is almost rather the Al Qaeda affiliate Inessa Desert a terrible choice for any country to make. But the truth is that the Assad regime pose no threat to America, and, given that reality, I dont think that we have very much to gain by overthrowing outside. If I don't Dont endorse him staying in power, but not, and I don't think we should be removed until there is a clear consensus about how to support the syrian government in a way, They won't led to an ethnic
funding of the Isle of Wight and other might. Religious minorities include doing: moderate Sunnis in that country and so there are near there we are one outcome that we're living in that we know is terrible, but the alternate about comes may have been as bad and one lesson I've learned. From living in the Middle EAST for a lotta years is it things can always turn out worse. I totally agree that this is a situation where it is not. That success was on the menu in any discernible form. And all options on their face appeared to be bad, but even in that situation we seem to have found a surprisingly bad option, which is in a way we have a president who, through a red line which one crossed proved to be an empty bluff that damage the prestige of our countryside. Get me in the eyes of both our friends and our enemies. And then we just sat buying
I washed another. I think you could call it a genocide amendment when five hundred thousand people die, it's pretty close to a genocide sore are claims of never doing that again after Rwanda or are as hollow is we could ever feared. They would be and now we to everyone's astonishment, we may be witnessing me the rise of fascist style, popular some in Europe and the break up of Europe in response to down the migrant crisis which a man that was, if you told us that that was likely to happen. If we didn't contain this problem, I feel like the civilised world Europeans in particular would have worked harder to contain it. Well, here is where I think America can do something in. I think the migrant crisis is its. It offers the legacy of terrorism the future of for decades to come, and if you think about, for instance, the palestinian exodus
The entire palestinian diaspora was seven hundred and fifty thousand people, and they of all the misery that they've endured and have created for others in the form of terrorism, sort of the the progenitors of modern terror. Five Megan now now close to six million Syrians outside of their country. That's not counting cluster eleven million people who are displaced internally. That is a repository of of despair and according to UNICEF, about half of those refugees are children, and only twenty percent of them are getting any kind of education. So if you were a six year old, child out in two thousand eleven, you ve already lost your entire elementary school education. So what future do you have? And I e
I understand the anxiety that Americans and frankly, people all over the world feel about bringing syrian refugees or any muslim refugees into their country is perfectly understandable, but the status quo is also very dangerous and left untended and on edge hated Unemployed unhoused on FED. You know this population could become a headache in the future. The dimensions of which would be have a very hard time. Estimating sum of the whole world has the character of Israel a few.
Years ago, when I was young men, I've always worried about that. It's very hard to put a boundary on this problem, and- and I was by no means expecting to see this kind of knock on effects in Europe, but it is amazing to see an end. It's amazing, to see how ill equipped. We are to deal with it because the moral imperative to help he's terribly unlucky people is really compelling use shyness, shine. Spotlight on any individual family with kids about whom There is no reason to suspect a commitment to jihadism. Of course you want to help these people in Asia their money for the dint of just da the dies. You know that would be me and my family born in Syria, who am I to keep them out on some level, but when you and when you just look at the fact that some percentage,
of any population drawn at random from muslim majority countries will be committed to views that that are deeply antithetical to the values of western civil society. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom, new pesticides. It becomes a very difficult to see what we as well, as has so far in the least in America. We ve done rather good job of it rating asylum seekers, but there were just lucky to have oceans right on that. We just haven't, hurt and confront this problem geographically. What would we do we were Germany or or any of these neighboring countries where people were just showing up on the train tracks and we had to had to decide what to do with them. I do fear that you know that you are up as a political entity. Fracture and yet at maybe the more immediate danger is in there
that region- and I am still in the Middle east- are nominal allies, freshens George has a million a syrian refugee in it, and one out of four people in Lebanon is a syrian refugee, two million refugees in Turkey. You know these are the people, We normally call our allies in and those caught. Their kind of demography can capsize those guys. For months, and then you have you know the inside those camps, the, the rise of alienation- it's U night! I think that here is a place where America could lead by trying to help those really helpless people and demonstrate our good will and that would create a repository of goodwill rather than just despair for the future. But what are you picturing by way of helping me even if we said we're going to put our best people on this we're going to vet as many people as we can as fast as we can and Viv
Here we are going to take a walk in four hundred thousand refugees into our society. First of all that seems impossible, but even if it were possible, it is just what a tenth of the problem young age, I think we should take a share and- and you know the varying and stuff like that- that we have to. It should be done and it takes a long time, but I'd in the larger says. I dont think that politically You know we're in a place where we're going to see that happen, and but that doesn't mean doing nothing is a good alternative. I think we should be over their building schools and shelter. We should try to be carving out space. Inside Syria, where they can return, there are places that are being eroded, probably secure now, and the then there's much is weakened: confine the spill over of migrants to that rule,
in and try to return them to their own country, that's something that we should set as a goal. But doesn't that suggests some sort of military involvement? create a safe spaces and maintain the right anything. You have to work freshness if you're working on this turkish border? You work with the turkish security services and the same with Jordan, so the these people are. I these countries want the the they refugees out of their country more than we want them back in Syria, and I think that you know the truth is especially with Turkey. They ve been so complicit in the LAO this problem to get so far out of hand, and I think- their beginning to feel the consequences of it. With these explode,
and they ve had recently? In the end? The mass murderers of you know this. This is a problem that in some respects and they have grown, we can assume responsibility for all the problems in the world, but I think the world does need our guidance yeah, no doubt while the marriage of of the concept of guidance worthy the incoming occupant of the oval office. Now people are to square that, but I think we will talk about him minute, because the parallels between him and L Hubbard are difficult overlooked by data final question, this area, you actually have written a book about the peace process with respect to the Palestinians and the Israelis, which I haven't read thirteen days in September about the camp David accords there with Carter and said dot and vague, and how do you view the prospects of a democratic Israel at this point? Well I'd?
I think Israel is, is made a terrible, mistaken and empowering the settlers and did it. I think, honestly, that a two state solution has been dead for some time and it simply hasn't been acknowledged. It's the end, honestly if the people in the region really wanted a two state solution, there would be two states there is in inside Israel is theirs variants, diminish peace and I think among those people who would like to see a two state solution so demoralized and beaten by The rise, no kind of right wing politics inside that country, this is not very much energy devoted to that in the past The needs are also led by a kind of stagnant leadership. Aging out of touch on it
listed in really pursuing in an alternative plan, and and losing mood patients who are the rest of the world and I mean I think honestly, you know when John carry started his efforts to bring about a two state solution. He said quite openly. This will be the last time that America invest this kind of interest in creating two states, and I think that that was an accurate statement. I doubt that will see any at you know. I noted trumpets said that he loved to make the deal and, if he's a great deal maker that claims to be Then this is the ideal of a lifetime buddy you what happened with Carter said DOT and begging, which was so interesting to me. These were three men of three different roles- and they are all very pious man. And actually young Carter and Sudan
more so than Beggin, but Beggin was the first Orthodox Jude led Israel, so they came together solve a problem that religion itself had largely caused and that interested me how they were able to overcome their differences and their animosity, I amended, said dot and beg and hated each other and after the first couple of days Carter had this notion that the camp David would last three or four days. It was so clearly in the interests of each of these men to make peace that they would come to agreement now they would first get to know each other and they will come to hike each other and the ended. No, they will trust each other and the opposite happened. They just noses flared up after the second day
Carter, couldn't let them be in the same room with each other, and the lesson of Camp David, I think, is in political courage is what, IE is the hazy missing ingredient in in the peace process in the Middle EAST. Now an ice goes to some extent in the: U S, but it was these men had terrible frailties, an enemy the dot in Baden Works, dinner via violent men, said DOT had been in nazi collaborator. He was an assassin. Beggin was a terrorist later. You know their scarcely the kind of people that you would think we come together in and shake hands and make peace, but they had in common a tremendous amount of political courage and soda did Carter that it really was courage cuz it in the case of he was killed over this. He was killed for it. I think he must have had some sense of pride
did he would pay. But you know, Carter lost the next election, probably more because of the IRAN situation, but he was the first democratic nominee, not to carry a plurality of the jewish vote and in a bag, and he rafter, surely drew Camp David with no longer having to worry about the Egyptians he invaded Lebanon, an operation that was supposed to take forty eight hours presented. Israel was in Lebanon for eighteen years, then Beggin was ostracised and went on to seclusion for the last nine years of his life, so in a way, each of these men aid a terrible price for what they achieve, but what they achieve peace between Israel. In Egypt, there hasn't been a single violation of that treaty, since it
signed and nineteen seventy nine and it's so remarkable to look at the Middle EAST, which is in such tumult a worse today than it has ever been in my lifetime, but think how much worse it would be If Egypt and Israel were still I wore yeah, I thought margin we mentioned before made an interesting point in response to the right sent you when resolution against Israel and this idea, this opposition, which is always invoked as you just did, between the settlers and the two state solution, is something that much called into question, and perhaps others have done this, but I actually hadn't heard that he he said, there's nothing in principle about Jews living in the settlements in what will ultimately be palestinian territory or the state of Palestine.
That prevents the formation of such a state. The idea that any one expects the Jews wouldn't be able to live among Muslims in Palestine is someone who expects the Palestinians to be absolute barbarians once they get a state right The assumption there just gonna kill all the Jews once they have their own autonomous state. Isn't that a weird subtext to this aviation is no. It is, as you know, the Jews lived in the Middle EAST problem, and even Saudi Arabia. You know they were there are one prophet Muhammad around. You came into being united and, unfortunately, after nineteen sixty seven but even earlier address, forty eight Jews were largely driven out of The arab world, with a great loss
to the arab world because there are so many community leaders and so on that the left that, asian and, became less diverse and far less interesting, and but there is the precedent of June in an Muslims living together in and did so for centuries and centuries, but now. We think, that's him possible. It's it's funny. When I was working on the sea I was studying. How I went in Brooklyn were the Arabs and Jews lived together quite happily, because they have the same love. Grocery stores. You know the same kind of foods and in they dress very semele another. They naturally gravitate each other living in the same boroughs, lawful as the underlying principle there, hello, food and so on. All of that they know, causes them to feel
a commonality that they actually have, and one of the things that I had really frustrated by the notion that beds, though, that the Arabs and Jews are different peoples. Not genetic testing shows that they are the same. This whole idea now that the Palestinians, for instance, were boat people. Came in from somewhere far away. It is absurd that the idea that the other the Jews were in Your damn were chosen people in a spent forty years crossing the desert. It is you know it actually, the promised land. It was always a part of Egypt at that It is all part of the egyptian Empire so they were never out of Egypt. In a way, but this
These guys, an ancient mythologies then drive so much of our current political predicaments. Even people who don't subscribed to their literal truth follow them as if they did. Let's move seemingly a great distance, but I think we're fine, it's not very far at all to Scientology, because your book and Alex Kidneys documentary based on your book both are fascinating. There say at one point that your goal wasn't to write an exposure of Scientology. Rather, you simply just wanted to understand. The organization and then the phenomenon, but it really couldn't help but be an export given how goofy the belief system actually as and given how much is known and how much they want to know about our on Hubbard do. It seems we, the Mormons, have a similar problem here, but, to a lesser degree, has given how much there is to know about Joseph Smith and
Less than divine many of the details of his life were to shine. Any light at all on the man is diminished the whole enterprise of Mormonism? I mean that there is no way to overlook the fact that he was just a highly libidinous con man on some basic level, and one of the most amazing things about l, DOT, RON, Hubbard and it's comes through in your book, but it was especially vivid for me when looking at that footage of him in the documentary is just how unimpressive he seemed as a person. I can't see how, people were taken in by him and is a similar problem. I have with Donald Trump and both of these men to my eye are just so firstly, making it up as they go along with their just bull shit. In every minute of the day, I dont see how this isn't in it in the case have Hubbard, wasn't more obvious to everyone who do have. What were you flabbergasted to encounter?
her IRAN, Hubbard in all his confabulate tory glory. Oh, I totally understand what you're saying he looked so goofy in seems impossible. Anyone would have taken him seriously, but then I've talked to a lot of people who new momentum and lay and work, maybe on one of his crews Were you know he went off from this old Scientology Navy exploring the world and they talk about how deeply impressed they were to be in his presence in this sense of charisma, and I thought that there must be something about their word: charisma. That is like a cloak that somehow the audience puts on its leader and and then they suddenly see something that we can't see. There is charming and wise and glamorous and those things are invisible to me, but I accept
The fact that, through the eyes of the acolytes that they must see it? That way? Glamour is a funny word here, because one of the other parallels between Tromp Hubbard, in my view, is their terrible style. The gilded stages of those Scientology Events online trumps apartment to me and there's some level of bad taste that I view is kind of morally disqualify fine. I guess it is just a matter of taste for many people in some people view that as glamour or exactly what you should be doing once you once you ve made it a thing for me is just both men. Indifferent contacts have said Peyton history of lying about almost every I'm just a line on a scale that you would just think would stop. The rotation of the earth. Trump lies about how many floors his buildings have he'll. Just add ten extra floors to a building the don't exist right Hubbard imitate the stories of Hubbard standing around with his devotees, pointing at various places in the night sky.
I am saying you're, that's where the fifth invader force lives in the leader. Has this name and we were driving cars Zena seventy five million years ago this the overlook names. You I'm just saying all These things in a context where it's all perfectly unfollow, viable and just manifestly crazy and yet is being believed by seemingly very bright people. First, it did. You ever meet an excellent scientologist who still believed some measure of the mythology and they were or were they all just amazed that they had ever believed any of it? Are they all like Paul Haggis, but are some people still struggling with their lingering faith in Xenia you and the hydrogen bombs in the volcano and all the rest? Only There I met. A number of people have struggled as they ve come out of. Scientology was shedding of the entire apparatus Thus they wanted to offer- and I
and in a way, I suppose, you're not really ex scientologist until they do that, but they may be outside the grip of the organization. In others is, I think, so. Things going on, one is out there. Were enchanted and in almost a literal sense of the meaning of that word by the. The ideology by the then trance by the the idea that, in that you ve had previous lives you will have more of them and sort of caught up in in this game. That do you know I mean was fascinating about Hubbard is He just wrote endlessly elaborating this. This fanciful cosmology and if you accept the general principle
love it. Then you sometimes get caught up in a little nets. You know of different kinds of elaboration. Of his scheme, and then in you become an expert. You almost like a mathematician studying formulas and how this would work and how that would work in this would equal that, if your inside that world, for all long period of time, then it is, it is required. A kind of reality for you, although one of the strange things- and this is different between Scientology end and really any other religion that I'm aware of they hold back some of the crazier metaphysics and and fake history. The cosmology until you are deep into it. Paul Haggis, describes this. This experience of reaching a certain level of his spiritual, develop
and and then being given the innermost documents of the organization where he has given a brief case and have had to go into a little like a bank of also to look at these handwritten pages. That give you the the answer. At the back of the book of the cosmos- and this is where- and he describes it has experienced there- he was wondering whether it was some kind of insanity test. If you believe this, they kick out the organisation, because it was all this. This was the stuff about Z, new and that the the souls of criminals were flown to. Our planet, which is called the TGV, act there or tv. I then flow on something that, curiously, was the spinning image I nine a believer DC eight, and this again this is what millions of years ago, trillions of years ago, and the souls are dropped into Kay, knows and then plastered with hydrogen bombs. He had been in the organization for
years and years before hearing this. Yes, and it was interesting about Haggis it, I think the term is probably true, priority of scientologist. You never really believed it, but he sort of assented to it in the sense that all this other stuff seems to be, meaning for a helpful to me and in other for all these different. What Hubbard did mostly was create this elaborate scheme of human behaviour, and how people react in what causes me and what generates our behaviour and in What processes can change it and so for the most part, you know scientologists have their heads buried in that and I don't know a lot of I know any scientologists, who spend a whole lot of time. Thinking about
Z, new in Tunisia, and all that that I mean when we talk about believe it's. It's always hard to know what people actually believe is true and what they just except in it, and don't spend much time dwelling on here. May there are plenty of people were your feelings, christian charges, for instance, who may not believe that Mr Jesus arose from the dead or that he was born virgin mother, but they think they are in it for the community or we know there are tons of reasons why people associate themselves with beliefs that they don't actually believe me on. That point that I should say I hear from pastors. Who are atheists, but the figure out what else to do with their lives. So there's restaurant I've had it makes experiences with when I grew up in Dallas and
then we were very involved in our church and Methodist Church and then years later, one of our God, a departure from a different church had been a close family friend. His wife had died and he'd come Austin where I live in Asia we had lodged in Yaller. I never believed in you that crap that was unsettling and then no, the pastor am I at the First Methodist Church, Dallas, where we attended after I left a man Walker Railey, strangled his wife into account. And he was acquitted. I shouldn't acquit embody never contested civil suited her. Right and he was having an affair with them. The woman who was the daughter of our past or when they there and she used to play the piano, my father's Sunday school class. So you know all of these. The religious seen own mentors,
he had shown that they have not just feet of clay by some. Is very dangerous impulses. Have you been threatened or or harassed by scientologist in the aftermath of of your book and an film well Alex, and I we were first while going back, he started off as a New York, her profile of Paul Haggis ended. We were subject then, and then the subsequent book and the subsequent in memory with innumerable the lawsuit threats and any actual suits. No, no, it was all noisy now, try you know how Halloween scare you you know it but we were in. I was well defended by by New Yorker attorney and by the canal, turning ending a we had to attorneys a number of them at HBO, which was doing documentary. So we we always
there were on firm ground. In the other thing about the threat of a lawsuit against a journalist. Is it he who brings a suit Opel's himself to discovery and of our who had loved, to kill two Scientology records They know that so it you know I didn't have. None of these suits ever materialised, and I made clear in I always gave the church its opportunity to respond to any charges, being made against it and on in there was a scene totally wild. Seen in New York or on the Scientology spokesperson. Originally would not talk to me, came to the new Yorker off this, along with his assistant and for lawyers and a truck load of documents- tourist
bond to all these queries that I had seven linear feat of them, and I looked at that. I thought they another trying to drown me in information. But you don't drown reporter and information about you. Just like pouring water, honest you know I just give me your more room to swim and I thought I've got a book here end up, so it turned out to be very useful, but we know not just the church, but individual scientologists such as you know, I'm Crows and John Travolta another's their lawyers threatened us in the air. But after the article came out. And after the book and after the documentary, what happened was not so much. Me and Alice Kidney other wheel we know we had people following us said Albert Convention, so on the people that talk to us were harassed in disgraceful ways, and I
I get really angry when I think about it. I just appreciate the courage that it took for those people to step out man. They knew what risks they were taking and is not just the harassment that they were getting from the church but The fact that families with disconnected from the other children or the mother or somebody wouldn't talk to them ever again. Now that's a terrible price to pay and and they, but they willingly did it in order to shed light on this organization. If interesting, to connect us back to jihadism for a moment and to see the parallel here. There really is a strikes me as a bit of a double standard here, because Scientology is is mostly viewed as a call to, even though it has tax exempt status as religion and the kind of harassment. Do you speak about, seems odious and no one would defended, but it is. We are talking about people, just you standing outside your house
with a video camera and being creepy, and maybe you can tell me exactly how they were harassed, but you know, I'm pretty sure they weren't The headed on television are burned alive and, if you imagine and Smash Scientology had a doctor and not merely of disconnection but the doctrine that apostates should be killed right, and this was a this was carried out from time to time, and it was a is a credible threat globally for anyone who was a former scientologist May, how do you think we would treat the church or Scientology what we do something differently a year. I think the dinner. If, if their perpetrating criminal acts, against Non Scientologists Dub though I am sure that near them,
nation would be aroused- and you know it probably you mention the Mormons at the beginning of the segment, and you know that the most despised group an American history a practically in no hounded from one state to another, and- and leader assassinated, and I think that I think Scientology is taken a leaf from that book. You do not want to provoke, non scientologist you'd save your wrath, the apostates of their religion, and it keeps it keeps a close. You know this whole phenomenon of disconnection in those which are like what they call all breaking off family members and people that are influential. It might open you up to other ideas other than Scientology, yet
ironically. My very first book was about the Amish who practice something very simple and and you know yet we think of the amish- is being totally armor. And and they are harmless and in many respects Pacifica there we'd people love, and I really enjoyed my time with them. But I have said before that when the Amish call preserve the worst they do, is they cut your beard off but the day they are a fundamental as though you know cause like group but down, but it shows you that you can have these practices they wanted. A differences with the Amish is at eight day acts ass. Their young people to leave them organizing other group, their community for a period of a year to go out in the world Rum Springer yeah see what is it?
Exhibiting abandon come back of your own free will. Of course, you know you can't really go back if you don't go back and annual and Mary outside of Europe, the low clan that you know that when we were- My wife and I were in central Pennsylvania studying this is in the chemical Coalesce Valley, in the middle of just below stay college in his famous among anthropologist before this gives me nature of it- and you know there were the old order Amish with different color buggies aunt if you're, a yellow, buggy you do not marry into the white buggies or the black, buggies and and in How do you know, even in this time little community or year your cut off from your family as the very cruel practice. I think, but Don T you but is enforced, and these Scientologists
are far more pernicious in the ways in which they punish their members, an arrow. They extract money from them. They actually imprisoned them on occasion. You know that there is no comparison with how the amish- behave, but it isn't Freaking to me that practices of my religious groups- often parallel each other, but it's just big city issue- that specific ideas and specific doctrines actually matter. The amish would be different if they had a doctrine that you have your daughter talks back to you before her wedding day. You should stone her to death right that, where an active doctrine, if the difference between Heaven and hell, depended on your following that precept or not They would matter- and I gotta think it would matter if the Scientologists
living there their lives the way the most doctrine, air isn't amiss and she hottest do perhaps be a little pc in framing it. That way, I'm just just conservative Muslims the world over if they were forcing their women and girls to two burgers. If there are performing clear directives on their daughters, if they were from time to time, throwing homosexuals from www rooftop at a celebrity centre. There would be a swat team on on the doorstep of every one of those centres. In the country tomorrow morning and and yet we we Scientology is to compare I and talons in Islam would be viewed by certainly most progressive people in, and certainly all Muslims as a slur. But I think the balance of scary practices imminent scientologists can certainly be scary, but the balance really is is on the side of conservative were hobby, Sala feast
Islam. Well, when I was investigating Scientology, I bumped into an FBI investigation. They were interviewing some the same people I was interviewing, and so I began to get interested in what the F b I was learning and and then they dropped investigation and I'd, we wondered about that, and I've been. I have not got a full explanation for this, but I is difficult. Given the first amendment ten day, bra Warren of Liberty that it awards not just to religions but to reporters like me, first amendment is difficult to determine what is not a religious practice, for instance,
people are not confined and beaten in no in the clergy of Scientology. Well, and their impoverished well in old franciscan monks are impoverished he had nothing in order in their impenitent sue lasserate themselves. Once you start going down that road about what is what can be considered a religious practice it's pretty amazing how broad no end in sight. This is the behaviors. Are they can be permitted? and I and imagine that you can sign away your liberty, the way that young people routinely do when they join.
See organ sign these contracts for a billion years reserves, but the government is very ill prepared to determine what is exactly a religion, and you know that the powers are invested in the IRS witches Probably I mean it's is a group of accountants and lawyers in other, not really theologians, so that they do not want. How to be in the middle of it all. That said, you know, I think, that a lot of the practices Scientology, financially very questionable in any in the seventies. You're eleven people were rounded up, went to prison for infiltrating and spying on government offices and stealing files and and the Irish was one of those offices they penetrated, and yet When the Irish was trying to determine whether or not Scientology
You should have a religious exemption and was very not disposed towards doing that they were the agency and individual agents were subject to more than twenty four hundred lawsuits by that. Search and individual members and and edges caved in. That was a fascinating moment. They just terrified the IRS with the threat of, as you say, it was over two thousand lawsuits and that was sufficient. The IRA, I just went away. Please stop suing us and and well will no longer look at your taxes. It was. I haven't, decided whether I can it adopts their strategy. Next time I get audited, maybe you and I do it There are two lads my last year to this point about the Scientology jail. Maybe forgotten but I don't recall it being clear to me everything you said about this- drawing a bright line between religious practice and anything else, and what this means for my kind of a law enforcement pointed the way this house made. A golden principle here has got to be consent
Sending adults should be able to do more or less whatever they want unless there are hurting some other non consenting adults. So you know I practice brazilian jujitsu. I consent from time to time to let some body whose better at strangle me you know this would be an assault if I hadn't consented, but because I'm you know, I want to learn to get too, and I have agreed to put myself in that position. It's fine is actually incredibly fun to do so. The people who were in the jail in did is called a gold basin is in him at California, in southern California. So now could they have left if they wanted to where they were they were they just held there by the fear of disconnection from their family and friends or or where they actually imprisoned. Well, they were actually imprisoned and some people escaped, and some people escaped in word dragged back but there were always has not been prosecuted by the, but there were also people there who in maybe most of them who, as I was
asking the same question to somebody: who had been in the whole agenda in their discussions with the FBI the F b I wanted to do a raid on the whole with the whole, by the way is to double wide trailers. They were married together more than a hundred a top level Scientology executors were confined there, some for a period of years oh no the ice sleeping on the floor now on a jury knows any big you doing is punishing exercises all day, but spiritual exercises in and being routinely physically abused and yet what my source were telling the FBI. Well, if you do break in body in there. We'll just say is it's all sunshine and sea shells asked whether there was that were there for their own volition, for their own spiritual advancement,
if you have, if you harbour thoughts about whether this is no doing you any good, and you admitted to some by they would rat. You out immediately be no debate, I would be even greater so people kept those thoughts to themselves if they had them and if day, if they really felt there they had to get out of there. Then there were two options: one was to try to escape and it was difficult. They noticed very locked into this whole led out once a day for a shower, and they are at stake. Impounded Gub barbed wire fences with coils of razor? Why around it- and
is not easy to get out of there, and even if you do the other were covered was called a blow drill. This team of Scientologist would They didn't go there. Only a few bus stations in there is very, very remote to one highway going through. There is not easy there. You know there is no valley of these hills, vamp play supplied with rattlesnakes and thorns and cactus, and so it's not an easy place to escape, but either you do escape? You know they will follow you, one guy was picked up, they knew he was a baseball fan and they found him in the parking lot of San Francisco giants stadia. These stories are legend among Scientologists into a real caution for those who would like to escape the other, the other way they can going to say, I'm I'm more get out. You know I'm done here
I'm no longer a scientologists. Ok, very well, you know support Will you join this organization? You know as a sea org member wishes, but they call their clergy say you'd and when you are twelve years over fifteen and your now thirty four years old and so, for your entire adult life. You have, You have not been educated you, have no job? You have no marketable skills in the outside world. The EU. Certainly your employers not gonna, give you are: commendation you're everybody you know, will no longer talk to young, your fan your friends, your children, near your parents, the no one will ever talk to you again and then you will be given a bill for services rendered. Many have only been paid fifty dollars a week so you got no money, but then you will be given a bill for fifty
hundred two hundred thousand dollars for all the you other lessons that you ve taken and so on there. Yeah, we're Scientology Lessons, and meanwhile they have a record of every dark thought. You ve ever confessed annual auditing sessions, so you know that delivers dead the church and bring to bear repair, powerful and so that One reason why people stay and the whole, even if the doors were unlocked, do you think a similar principle explains TAT, crews and John Travolta, these obviously the two most prominent celebrities young their content, tenure there, or do you have a sense of their level of actual commitment to the the beliefs and and the practices? What explains what seems to be a kind of a shocking level of moral culpability on their parts for propping up this organization. Casinos
clear. They must know about the hall and the fact that people are paid in the forties it's a day or whatever it is, and not educated and the whole phenomenon of disconnection and all of the attendant suffering. How do you explain their role here? Well, I've been very hard on crews, especially because I thought about how could see and ology change. You know it Mormonism survived in his actually seen mirror in a lot of places around the world is being this kind of super american religion It is ironic given it was so anti american and never forgotten in trouble in the first place, but is totally different. Religion and in many respects and is such that you know have Mitt, Romney and running President in his religion is not even
Much of an issue, so you know that could happen to Scientology but is likely to change at all as long as David miscarriages in total control of the organization. So how could Scientology reform at least is human rights abuses, and you're, one round was well the IRS could reconsider its tax exemption, but you know given how cowed they were by the church. Now they are utterly collapsed Face of all those lawsuits die, don't think they ve got the stomach to go back to them and the other only other route I could see do any enforcing any kind of change would be for some of those liberties and especially Tom Cruise, the most notable scientologist ever to say it's time for us to make a change and we need to look at some the actions that we ve, taken as an organization and in
I commend he has he's done very much the opposite, so and why I mean them in a way got me interested in Scientology in the first place, is it You know these are very notable people they learn their prestige and their names, to probably the most statement, eyes, religion and America today and I dont think it advances their careers advice. Let all I'm very much the opposite. Is people sneer Scientology so why? Why do they commit themselves? And I think, in the case of celebrities, are a couple of things going one like many scientologists? They feel like they ve gotten something out of it and joined her ball turn. For instance, you know almost
the very first experience as a young actor on US movie said in Mexico, were an actress on the said, gave him some Scientology treatment in and he went exterior witches. The sense that he added and out of body experience there now when you go back to La Aim, went to the celebrity centre for classes. You know he said who's up for this role and welcome back Carter, and so the teacher had all students turn in. Direction of the studio in telepathic Lee. Send this message, John, Our vote is right for the role he got. The role the early eyes attributed that two scientology and you know. I don't know exactly what secrecy may have told in these therapy sessions that are recorded, but I did speak to a scientologist who said
that he had been assigned to assemble all dark secrets on Travolta. Just in case he ever tried to break out and so it could be that then the other he hasn't left just because you're, what his church I hold on him. On the other hand, he said they went his son died and, in others the source of a lot of consolation. So there's another number considerations with him, with crews, you know he was already a movie star when he was exposed us. I intelligence and he claims helped him with his dyslexia. The way I look at crews in some of these other celebrities. People who go into Hollywood like Tom Cruise typically do so when there,
Very young? They drop our high school or that it is barely graduating, really go directly to Hollywood there. They have very limited educational. Even and and sometimes it becomes these stars right away, sometimes a cat food for seven years and never go anywhere. So an amazingly big risk that they take. And his always, I think, among a number of people, in Hollywood, a sense of inadequacy of not being they're not knowing very much about the world and but except for their own world and Scientology carbon, seeds in amazing way, which is it you don't. Need know all that stuff you know we will teach you not just how the world works but how to control of other human beings? And we will teach you, then you know we will demonstrate to you scientifically that you
had passed lies and, moreover, will give you a mission in life which is to save the universe. I think those things really reached on crews, and indeed there is an additional factor that is especially difficult for celebrities, which is the degree of people humiliation they might subject themselves to if they walk away from the church. They walk away, realizing to their shame that day, given the many cases millions of dollars they were, their name, to an organisation that has a press, many parishioners unexploited them. And Uneven David, like Tom Cruise may be responsible for the there. Many people joining the church and then they are opening themselves Liability of having all the darkest secrets poured out into the
national inquire people magazine or any any such source. It's a huge risk, so has anything like this happen to pour Haggis embassy, May he would be. The perfect example of someone who is right, in prominent and left in a spectacularly adversary away. He really uncorked this thing and now he's out their functioning in Hollywood. What's happened to him? They attacked him day. In our day. They ve done what they could they. We know he says they went through. The earth is trash and then you he had in order to be intimidated by the church. In some ways you have to consent to that and he simply hasn't consented. He refuses to be intimidated. You can read scurrilous things about him
on the internet, that the churches put out there and that's true, you know me and everybody else's come close to the church. But if you know with with Paul he's, not a he's not a movie star is a kind of behind the scenes guy. You know, I think that in terms of innovation Lester lose. I think you know Look at lay remedy, for instance, used a television star and he's doing this show now in wishes vociferously attacking the church and its practices, connection, and you know there certainly after her, but I is apparent she doesn't care and if you dont care, then the churches really power. Was in in the old days the other charge would frame people, and you know the that was haven't seen that happen. In more recent times
you know when they, when their critics we'll go after them like Paul it Cooper who wrote of one of the very first expos days of the church, call the scandal of Scientology. I think this was in the seventies. Now they tried to do I'm her for attack in threatening attacks on president forward and on the church itself, and they actually got a grand jury, they're gonna, to get an indictment to get us into a mental institution and a war until this FBI broke into Scientology headquarters to round up all material it had been stolen from the government by scientologist that they found the actual plans to attack Pollack Cooper. Otherwise she might have been present harassment. This is, point where I become excruciating, I aware of how generous you ve been with your time, but I want to give you can manage it. I want to touch, maybe just for a few minutes on your book remembrance.
Maiden because- and I found a story- I remember- reading it as a new work article first and it's like a twilight zone that you just can't believe has happened. Can you tell that story and in broad strokes, yeah? I do in the eightys. There was on. What we now understand was a mass hysteria based on what we call recovered memories, and these were memories that term oftentimes in therapy, especially young women with eating disorders would be coaxed. End remembering things that they had repressed according to the therapist they would explain why there dysfunctional now and the answer for So many of them was that their father had abuse them sexually and in the course of this sum,
these memories became because they weren't accurate quite extraordinary end, and there was a sense that they know they had been abused by courts. And I got interested in this when my own therapists said that they were seeing a lot of patience, young women, mainly who are suffering from multiple personality disorder, which was a really rare diagnosis and dead in therapy there. Recovering these memories of these satanic abuses, in my therapist told me that there were those satanist were responsible for fifty murders a year in Austin, well I've never had that way. One one year we had fifty two murders that was in nineteen sixty two or something like that. But if you know it's never approach that level and I did but she
but I have to stress you. These are really smart, cogent, reliable people, but day they were deeply sympathetic to to their patients and they invited me to a workshop for multiple purse. Now. At the end, there was led by these women who said that they had multiple personalities. One of them said she had three hundred personalities and what a management problem them owes. But- and it was bizarre to me because these women were talking about murders that they had witnessed baby being cut up on them in no neighbors being slain, and I thought what people really believes, Why is anyone calling the police- and then I went to a workshop for cops. There was led by it. Who is a national authority on satanic abuse, and he said that the sadness were responsible for fit
thousand murders in the U S. Every year we ve never had at many murders and in the U S, and indeed were cops and what is going on. So I went to my editor at the time. Tina Browned, and I said I was interested in writing about multiple personalities. I know- and I said well, you know when their explorer these these. When therapy with these, the young women. They often have these memories of the titanic abuse all that's hot hot. In pursuit of that, so my I wasn't. I was so will I went into this. I always try to go in with a kind of studied neutrality to see you know, do not form your opinion until you have encountered NEO, the Evidence- and there were already hundreds of cases- around the country in courts and in
charges in police stations about satanic abuse. Anyway, all over the daytime. Talk shows in it is a nation wide phenomenon also that there had been in the preschool trial. The other day care cases there were none of them. There was a corollary action going on, and so I started researching, and I found this one case in Olympia: Washington, where a man confessed, he was a deputy sheriff Paul Ingram. He confessed to abusing his daughters and they
had accused him of these sexual satanic crimes, and I thought well, if there's any truth to it, then then this would be the case that proves it so tat a great or abuse really exist. They saw. There was a case that I decided to profile and what I found is that you were Ingram was a pentecostal charge. Gore, his pastor came in the jail his own jail where he was being incarcerated and told him God would not permit any false memories to come into his mind and then a psychologist came in and hypnotized him.
And he began, having these vivid extraordinary visions of satanic ritual parties where they abuse his daughters and in his wife and so on, and and the girls began to having more and more elaborate thoughts, but in their memories and their fathers memories, never coincided so there wasn't. There was very frustrating to the investigators and the girls talked about. Been nail to the floor and you know raped in you know they had gave birth to these. Babies were sacrificed then you know it was it was of unbelief the whole story and empower you know because he confessed, he went to prison for and then implicating. There is, then they have like a poker game or something where the other yeah their men were implicated. Yes, and there was a desert in in the craft of writing.
There's a one little I that I love the friend of mine taught me. You called the rubber band theory, which is that when you plant an idea your question in the readers mine. You don't answer it right away. You know tease it out in that more attention that builds up the more pleasure the reader gets one. They question is answered and so Jim Raby was the name of one appalling grooms colleagues in the sheriffs Department in Thurston County, and he had the girls and Paul implicated him as one of the sadness you have been doing the abusing and he he was upset and end jailed and he demanded a polygraph and any failed tests, and this was a too New Yorkers story had left the new Yorker readers hanging for a week
wondering you know if this was really true but I had another polygraph admitted. Stirred to in which he passed with flying colours, but it turned out later that the girls and they were still virgins, there were no scars on their bodies. You there is no evidence to back up any of these fabulous visions, and yet Paul Ingram served eighteen years and for a crime that he never committed, only one that he remembered Is there a moment? Forgive me. I have been a long time since I read this, but wasn't there moment once he was imprisoned, were actually became like a proper twilight zone, because, either? You or the investigators some one way two Ingram with facts that they just they knew or fall because they had made them up and pinged him about these memories. Like you know you
son, said there was another thing that happened with a horse or whatever was which they just made up and Ingram. Sir. Oh yeah I ever did happen like he just be. He just proved to be the most suggestible person on earth it there was in the house. Adjustable people are as very interested me. I used to be very interested in hypnotism and on the other I was probably a dangerous eighth, greater, went through the abnormal psychology shelf of our public library and learn how to hypnotize my sisters, but Radio, the fact that you can actually plant ideas in people's minds. There is a case that I read about when I was doing research for that book Eddie at any, I know this is totally on ethical on the part of the therapists in wooden. I think be allowed to be done now
but he hypnotize one of his patience, and he too older under hypnosis that she was. She came late, which wasn't true, and he wanted to know why she was running late, and so she said well I was driving along the highway and I saw a cow and it was trying to give birth, and so I crossed the fence, and I was trying to help the cow and then some of the therapist said and a light appeared above and those are the only two that he said you are late and allied appeared above and suddenly it was a you have all day was descending and took her up, and so she had this extremely vivid. You f o delusion
and when she, when the therapist awakened her, he told her what she is said and he said that this was not. This did not happen, and this was not true, but it was weeks before she could shake off the sense of reality that it actually had him, and so they think, there's a commonality between all these UFO things in the history about Satanism and the daycare. Things are all something was cooking in our culture. You know they made a deep impression on me on how susceptible all of us are two of the oven. Suggestions that other people put into our minds. Yellow. This obviously ties back nicely today. They fake news phenomenon- we were talking about earlier in the conspiracy theories, very familiar with the book, the nineteenth century book, extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds by Tunisia, yeah
I can say that there is a section there on the on the witch mania in Europe, which are just recorded a an audio book edition of just that chapter, but is exactly the same phenomenon that you describe in the Ingram Household and you have. These, These hysterical young women just going to broadcasting whatever side pathologies going on in the family into this confabulate. Tory active imagination and is happening in the context of religious world where are more or less every one in sight shares a religious world view that the devil's real and walk the earth rights. Of course, he's gonna he's gonna come then tempt somebody sometime. If I recall not only did the family share this, world view, but some number of the copse who are investigating the cry, absolutely yeah. It ended the another thing this surprising, but I think you know a lesson you have to learn from this. You know that
the demand that the people who claim to be victims, their great demand, was believe us If you don't believe us, you are re abusing run. Of course, therapist in the cops are helpers. Their goal is to protect the victims and take care of them. So there are naturally drawn to try to help any by this in such distress, and those are the distress appeared, real mean that I think the distress was real has just as a cause of the distress wasn't real and it caused them to suspend their rational judgment of what was actually going on, because if you thought about a critically, then in some ways you are betraying the trusted. This victim is demanded house, I think, just to spare ourselves a lot of pain on twitter. We should make it clear that we are not disputing the fact that somebody somewhere gets rape,
by her father and absolutely and in fact, even in this case, if I recall that there was some real dysfunction in the house link, the brothers were having sex with the sisters or some right. There may have been true. That was the first allegation by them and there was no his mother was no satanic coloration to it. But you know one of the one of the consequences of this is that Young women, who may not have been abused, but had these extravagant visions were in some ways there barricading people who had real experiences are nearly as elaborate arena of fanciful, We know that and colorful, and so I talked to women who had been in therapy groups with people who said that there have been substantial abuse they felt totally cut out the conversation and overwhelmed, and so in a way they were them. They were really victimized by this
Ok Lawrence, a fine, all very brief question, but I have to ask it because I've been thinking bad broadening my the range of my podcast guests and just of nowhere. I had the idea that I could I could go to the supermax prison in nor is Colorado and interview the Unabomber about his hands. I technology manifesto and I was wondering just you know how one did that, and if that was possible, if he had done any interviews in the past and then I saw that he reached out to you one journalist on earth he would want to talk to and that you showed up interest at all, and in talking to him to talk. Tell me why, given that the breadth of your interest in the kinds of people you engage, why you would have no interest in the interview intact gusinsky. Well, It's not true that I would have no interest in it and I give its aid
like a real letter to me I'd. I have no idea why anybody with fake it, but you know so I am- and I did respond to him. And never got a reply, but was a time when I was interested in, in writing about really heinous criminals to try to get a sense of you know What's going on in their mind that causes them to do the thing they do, and I don't think I don't think I had written to as key, but I know Hinkley others, that assassins and I had and and all I stuff comes up and freedom of information stuff. So I got storage. Internet by the Washington Post Media guy when he found all these letters that already anyhow the There's you, you really can't get enters supermax. I I wanted to talk to Ramsay use a thin and
a marsh outdoor who are both in Florence and done. I just go getting traction. You might have more luck, then I but the other. For the most part, I do you have to be a family member. You have to have some kind of sanction Normally, when you want to talk to him prisoner, URI you their lawyer to help you out, and you know that, but it is far as you actually getting into supermax. In order to talk to them. That's a challenge was Moore has been actually fascinating. To talk to you, and I am incredible grateful you took the time next time. I hope it's in person. I look forward to his and thanks Your interview, best of luck with everything. Ok take here if you find this pancakes viable. There are many ways you can support it. You can review it on Itunes or sticker, whoever happens to listen to it
you can share it on social media with your friends, you can blog about it or discuss it on your own podcast or you can support it directly and you can do this by subscribing through my website has samharris dot org and there you'll find subscriber only content, which includes my ask me anything episodes he also get access to advance tickets to my live events as well as streaming video of some of these events.
Transcript generated on 2020-03-24.