Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cruising for Scientology… Again

My, my... two skepticism articles in one week. Truly the nonsense is flowing freely in the world this week. This little gem turned up during a brief browse of the Internet Movie Database.
Tom Cruise is attacking those who prescribe psychiatric drugs again in the May issue of men's style magazine GQ. The Mission: Impossible III actor, who embarked on an anti-drug tirade in TV interviews last summer on behalf of his Scientology beliefs, has launched a fresh attack on psychiatry, calling for prescription pill poppers to think carefully about the harms they're doing to their bodies. He tells the magazine, "I've always found the 'if it makes me feel better, it's OK' rationale a little suspect. I think it's appalling that people have to live a life of drug addiction when I have personally helped people get off drugs." In the interview, the actor claims he can get someone off heroin in three days through Scientology's detox programs.

-- IMDB News

Will celebrities ever shut up about fields in which they have no qualifications? The Scientology detox program is known as Narconon, and there is no evidence to back the claims that Cruise makes for it. You can get details from the Narconon Exposed website, but here are some of the basics.

  • Narconon publishes its own studies of the effectiveness of the program without peer review. There have been no neutral clinical trials of the program’s effectiveness.

  • The program was invented by L. Ron Hubbard, who had no medical qualifications of any kind.

  • The program’s methodology of “cold turkey” detoxification, massive overdoses of vitamins, and vastly prolonged sauna sessions is inherently unsafe.
It would be interesting to see Narconon’s records opened up to thorough scientific scrutiny to see if they support the program’s claims, and a genuine clinical trial of the procedure wouldn’t hurt, either. Neither of these actions is likely, though, as Narconon is essentially a “faith-based” organization run by the Church of Scientology.

I don’t doubt that Tom Cruise absolutely believes his own rhetoric about psychiatry and Scientology, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s just blowing smoke; his beliefs stand on feet of clay. It’s almost like an actor giving medical advice because he plays a doctor on TV, but Cruise doesn’t even have that negligible level of qualification.

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