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Barney Continues Telling His Story
- through Craig Biddle -

“Oh what a tangled web we weave
“When first we practice to deceive.”
— Sir Walter Scott (1808)

Like a man stuck in a tar pit struggling to extricate himself, Barney sinks lower and lower the more he tries to explain how he “dabbled” in Scientology. He fell into the tar headfirst by helping Craig Biddle write “Regarding Carl Barney and Scientology” (The Objective Standard online, 15 July 2019). That article was supposed to put an end to questions about his character but apparently some readers were unconvinced. Mr. Biddle came out with a Part Two (undated but advertised in the TOS newsletter of 11 September 2019) again based on a conversation with Barney. He retroactively subtitled the earlier article, Part One.

Mr. Biddle begins Part Two by referring to more “half-truths and lies regarding Carl Barney’s involvement in Scientology ... spread on social media.”  Some people, he says, have questioned him about these “rumors” so he will address the subject again.

But not right away. After saying that  “Carl is a profoundly good man”  –  you thought you were good, LOL – he spends almost 500 words on the theme:  “once such damage is done, it cannot be undone” – that is, the purported half-truths and lies about Barney have irreparably damaged his reputation.  Our reply: Search the Internet for the name Carl Barney and immediately you find Mr. Biddle’s article defending him listed among the top results. By saying that lies are more powerful than truths Mr. Biddle insults those of his Objectivist readers who can weigh evidence and analyze arguments.

Perhaps Mr. Biddle is afraid that few Objectivists will be convinced by his article, and he would prefer that people believe this is due to the greater power of lies rather than that the “lies” are true.

After that digression Mr. Biddle digs in. By the time he is through he will have used or quoted the word “gossip” seven times, once italicized, to describe criticism of Barney such as ours. He never mentions the documents from the time of Barney’s activity in the Church of Scientology cited in our review of Part One,  Barney Tells His Story.  Are these documents gossip, or  hard evidence ?

Mr. Biddle begins by saying

“Carl was never involved in the upper management of Scientology. Indeed, he was quite removed from it.”
Come now Mr. Biddle, he managed five Church of Scientology missions, including the one in San Diego which of all Co$’s missions took in the most money. He managed more missions than David Miscavige who eventually succeeded Hubbard. A pamphlet published by Barney’s Scientology Coordinated Services, the umbrella organization covering his missions, refers to him variously as the organization’s “President” and “Executive Director.” Saying he was in upper management is a good way to describe his place in the Church of Scientology hierarchy. How else to describe it? “High in cult leadership” or “Vice President of Operations, Los Angeles area?”  Saying he was “quite removed” from L. Ron Hubbard doesn’t tell us much, everyone in the Co$ was quite beneath L. Ron Hubbard.

The frequency of the word “gossip” in Mr. Biddle’s article is matched by the infrequency of the word  “church.”  It is completely absent !  As in the quote above you always read “Scientology” or “organization,” never “Church of Scientology.”  A strange void and why? [1]

Mr. Biddle says, as if it corroborated Barney’s lowly status:  “He was always in the ‘free-enterprise sector’ ...”  Stop the presses, the Church of Scientology promoted Capitalism !  I guess that’s what it means; Mr. Biddle doesn’t elaborate except to continue cryptically, “which [the true] upper management looked down on.”  Meaning, I guess, that Co$ management didn’t like Scientology’s “free-enterprise sector,” whatever that was  If Hubbard didn’t like it how was it there ?

Mr. Biddle then admits, finally, that Barney operated “several” Scientology franchises. That statement is quite a step up from Barney’s “dabbling briefly” lie to the New York Times.  In fact Barney owned and operated five Co$ franchises. Mr. Biddle takes care not to bring up the question “For how long?”  (Answer: nine years minimum.)  He then gets out a bucket of whitewash and begins painting like a Scientologist press agent, with an Objectivist twist.  These franchises

“... were dedicated to teaching others what he had learned so that they, too, could live better lives. These franchises taught courses in communication, personal efficiency, and relationships, and they provided counseling ([or] “life repair”) to those in need. Carl saw the courses and the counseling as valuable and useful for good living, as did most of the people who participated. They traded value for value, and participants usually were happy with the exchange.”
Happy Church of Scientology traders, Capitalism at its best !  Later in the article:
“Carl ... got involved with the organization [Church of Scientology] specifically for the self-help ideas it offered, stayed involved because he regarded many of these ideas as life enhancing, and ...”
We will quote the remainder in due course.  In those halcyon days the Church of Scientology
“... was a set of ideas, courses, and introspective techniques intended to improve one’s communication skills, personal efficiency, and personal relationships so as to maximize one’s success in life ...”
Become an Objectivist and learn to write great advertising copy !  Wait a minute, I’m a little confused. Mr. Biddle’s article reads like a blurb from the Co$. What was the reality? You can find journalistic exposés and first hand accounts in your local library or on the Internet. The self-improvement, success language suckered people into the cult, [2]  then by using ego-destroying, dependency inducing techniques the Co$ raked in a fortune.

Some students, more cunning than most, eventually managed to insert themselves into the money making end of the cult.  How much did Barney get?

“The franchises were nonprofit organizations, so the only money Carl made from them was his small salary ...”
Considering that Carl Barney is a proven liar about large parts of his past – telling the New York Times that he once dabbled briefly in Scientology for example – we can be permitted to doubt the veracity of “only.”  But for the moment let’s bypass the insinuation that a nonprofit can pay only a salary and just assume that Barney received only a salary. How much? Mr. Biddle says it was
“... less than $1,000 dollars a month. Even in the 1960s and ’70s, that wasn’t much money.”
“Less than” is a well worn trick to belittle a number. Let’s say about a thousand dollars. Can Mr. Biddle do simple arithmetic? Because of inflation, the value of a thousand dollars back in 1969 to 1979 ranges from $6,991 to $3,534 in dollars of 2019 (the year Mr. Biddle is writing) – an average of about $5,263 a month or $63,150 a year. (This is based on the inflation rate as given by the federal government which significantly understates the true rate.) Assuming Barney is telling the truth, his salary was above the median salary for the time and certainly not  small.

Now Barney may be no more truthful about the money he got out of the Co$ than he is about his defunct dabbled claim.  Note the word “franchise.” That is what his missions were, franchises that he owned, like you own a McDonald’s franchise. He had a contract with the Church and rules he had to follow. (Hubbard began calling them “missions” because “franchises” sounded like what they were, commercial enterprises, so for tax purposes Scientology became a religion.) This undermines Barney’s statement that his only source of income was from Hubbard paying him a salary. Indeed it is evidence that he received no salary at all, that his income was what he could take out of the revenue generated by his franchises after paying operating expenses and the Church’s – Hubbard’s – fee. That’s how franchises work. [3]

As noted earlier, Mr. Biddle / Barney makes much of the Co$ having been a non-profit. To quote their text again:

“The franchises were nonprofit organizations, so the only money Carl made from them was his small salary ...”
as if the Co$ had been truly non-profit instead of in name only. The above claim is similar to Barney’s claim that he doesn’t make a profit from his trade school colleges because his schools were (at the time of the article) “non-profit.”  The following is from “Some Owners of Private Colleges Turn a Tidy Profit by Going Nonprofit” by Patricia Cohen, New York Times, 2 March 2015.  Speaking of Carl Barney:
“He derided the notion that he was making any money from the schools or the center, an organization devoted to libertarianism and the free-market philosophy of Ayn Rand.  ‘You cannot profit from a nonprofit,’  Mr. Barney said.”
It was sophistry with Miss Cohen (he makes a huge profit) and, it is easy to suspect, sophistry with us now.

According to Mr. Biddle, Barney began investing in real estate while he was in the Co$. He started with  “just a few thousand dollars”  and made “a few million dollars.”  This  “enabled him later to acquire and improve several colleges ...”  It could be true, however from past experience any testimony from Barney requires independent verification. Some of his contemporary Scientologists whom we have less reason to mistrust say he walked away with a fortune from his franchises. That too could be true. As outsiders without objective knowledge of his affairs we cannot determine which possibility was the case, but which appears more probable?

Turning to more recent times when Barney is running his trade school colleges, Mr. Biddle says that contrary to a rumor Barney never was a billionaire. I have not heard that rumor but when in 2012 Barney took his schools private by acquiring the Center for Excellence in Higher Education and having it buy them, the cost was $630 million, well over half a billion dollars. Later, CEHE’s 990 form for 2014, filled out by Barney or his accountant, valued the foundation’s assets at $569,929,222. (The 990 form for subsequent years shows substantially decreased assets, steady at a little over a quarter billion.)

A major theme of Mr. Biddle’s article is that the Church of Scientology began as a benevolent enterprise, was still benevolent when Barney joined (the early 1960s), and only later turned into a cult. This fantasy is illustrated in the rest of the sentence we interrupted above:

“[Barney] got out when he saw the religious and authoritarian elements rising to prominence.”
According to a notice in issue #110 of the Church of Scientology’s monthly journal The Auditor, a man and woman  “were married on March 16, 1975 by the  Rev. Carl Barney.”  Barney didn’t leave the Church of Scientology until about four years later. Apparently he was slow to notice that occasionally people addressed him as Reverend.  I’m being sarcastic.

In 1970 Barney’s Scientology Coordinated Services published Vol. 1 No. 1 of a pamphlet called Source. The front cover lists the contents, among which, starting on page 19, is the article  “Have you lived before?”

The Auditor contains references to OT (Operating Thetan) and its levels (I, II, III, IV, ... VIII) at least as far back as 1968.  Search the Internet for “Operating Thetan” and “Body Thetan” to see how nutty it all is.

Read  issue #41  from 1968 to see how cultish Scientology was when Barney says it wasn’t.

In Part One of Mr. Biddle’s article Barney says Hubbard threw him out of the Co$, which is corroborated by some other Scientologists of the time except they give a different reason for his ouster. In Part Two Barney gives the impression he left voluntarily.

Hubbard ( “I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is ! ”) began calling his confidence game a church long before Barney joined it in the early 1960s.  Hubbard originally called his psychological theory “Dianetics” but in 1952 he changed the label to “Scientology” and said it was “a religious philosophy.” Near the end of 1953 he incorporated three churches one of which was the “Church of Scientology” and eventually that one prevailed. As for “authoritarian elements,” Hubbard completely controlled Church dogma and practice from the beginning.

Mr. Biddle denounces  “what Scientology has become,”  claiming that it  “is not the same as what it was initially.”  We needn’t address initially, only the early 1960s when Barney began, and by all accounts it was substantially the same E-meter cult then as it was when Barney left.

According to Mr. Biddle even today Scientology  “has some relatively good elements”  though packaged with  “some seriously bad elements.”  Barney

“... accepted and embraced the part of the package that he regarded as providing useful guidance for self-improvement and business success. When he saw the other part of the package rising, he rejected it. And when he was required to embrace that part in order to stay involved, he said, ‘no thanks’ and walked away.”
It simply isn’t credible.  See  Who Is Carl Barney? on this website.

Mr. Biddle says that when Barney joined Scientology in Melbourne, Australia it advertised itself as “non-religious.” If so that is the Church’s contradiction not ours. It strains credence that Barney did not realize it was religious after moving to America (1965) and seeing the “Church of Scientology” signs. Note the vagueness of “over time” in the following, a phrase Mr. Biddle also used in Part One and for the same obscuring purpose:

“Over time, however, Hubbard chose to make Scientology a religion.”
Barney left – voluntarily or involuntary as he says at different times – in 1979. Mr. Biddle / Barney expects us to believe that the religiosity and looniness of the Church of Scientology didn’t begin until then. But that simply isn’t true. First of course is the very name, which Mr. Biddle can’t bring himself to say.  They were performing marriage ceremonies long before Barney left, as Barney well knows, and the Thetan nuttiness began two years after Dianetics was published.  The rhetorical question in our review of Part One applies to Part Two:  How stupid and uninformed does Mr. Biddle think his readers are?

He writes of Barney:

“He never worked for or with Ron Hubbard and never had any relationship with him.”
Of course Barney always had a relationship with Hubbard until he left his Co$ organization. The “never worked for” part is true only in the sense that Barney was a franchise owner, not an employee.

Throughout his article Mr. Biddle makes quite a show of self-righteousness, painting himself as a truth-teller and his critics as gossip-mongering liars. Barney is so virtuous he would blush reading it if he had any sense of shame. For myself I try to discover the truth and report it accurately. Were it not for my investigative reporting, Objectivists wouldn’t know what little Barney is now compelled to admit. I may make a mistake but it is not a lie.

Mr. Biddle, flattering his benefactor, speaks of Barney’s  “benevolence and goodwill,”  and how his embracing Scientology and his leaving it were both  “acts of virtue.”  Barney is not merely good, he is profoundly good.”  Mr. Biddle concludes his article with a reference, apparently, to the fortune Barney acquired by working what we would call the federal student loan racket, as unproductive, greedy for the unearned, and selfish in sacrificing others to oneself as it gets:

“Carl deserves admiration for producing substantial wealth, and he deserves gratitude for spending his hard-earned money to advance the fundamental ideas on which human life, liberty, and happiness depend.

“I hope you’ll join me in defending him, and men like him, when they are attacked.”
How about running for the nearest exit.  The Objective Standard, and its newly created umbrella organization the Objective Standard Institute, are as intellectually dead as the Ayn Rand Institute.  Nat Turner and MLK as heroes, “same sex marriage,” Trump voters deplorable and scary, nuke Iran, open borders, promoting a creep like Carl Barney ... it’s not our idea of flourishing.

1  According to Mr. Biddle’s LinkedIn page he is working on a book  “tentatively titled ‘Thinking in Principles: The Science of Selfishness’ ... about the nature, need, and method of principled thinking.”  The principle here is evasion.

2  For an example of Barney’s  Scientology Coordinated Services  come-on  advertising, see this innocuous looking  handout   from 1972.  The same snare the Church of Scientology used then, a free personality test, they use today. They call it the  “Oxford Capacity Analysis.”

3  It looks like they called the fee a  “tithe.”  See this post on the Ex Scientologist Message Board by  “Mary McConnell: Formerly Fooled – Finally Free”  (joined 2008):

Barney Sticks to His Story  »