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The Church Almost Answers — I Mean, You Know, Like... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
davisOn Thursday, January 8th, Tommy Davis, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology International [COS], appeared on the NBC Today show to respond to questions about the possible COS influence on actor John Travolta's actions re the recent tragic death of his 16-year-old son, Jett. NBC interviewer Ann Curry asked Davis whether the Church approved of the use of "medicine prescribed by a doctor," to which Davis answered:

Absolutely, Ann. When - whenever you're dealing with any kind of physical condition - I mean - this - this isn't the kind of thing that's - that's even an option, I mean, this is - this is, mandatory, ah, ah, you know - you have some sort of physical condition diagnosed by a medical doctor and that doctor is prescribing the medication, the person is going to take it, I mean, just - just, like anybody else would. Dealing with a physical condition, you're going to do that.

Please note that Davis used the specific expression "physical condition" in this answer, three times. He had evidently been coached to emphasize that the COS - following their founder L. Ron Hubbard's confusing view of how the universe works - accepts medical intervention in "physical" problems. As for whether they were equally willing to discuss psychological or emotional situations, Davis was prepared to waffle and dodge, and he did. Examine the following section of the transcript and decide for yourself. Asked by Ann what's meant by the Scientology expression "drug free," and whether it means not using substances like cocaine and marijuana, Davis answered:

Yeah, exactly. We're talking about street drugs there, or that kind of thing, in terms of drug abuse or drug addiction and - and you know, any sort of illicit or street drugs, that kind of thing, but, as far as medical drugs, as far as going to a doctor and being with any kind of physical condition or something that might be wrong with somebody, Scientologists go to doctors, for sure. It - it's, you know - it's a matter of Church policy, frankly, you know. If someone has some sort of physical condition and they're suffering in some way, uh, something's going on, they're going to go to a doctor and - and seek conventional medical help, and - and follow that course of treatment that - that any doctor  would recommend.

Ann then inquired:

What if it's a psychological condition or a neuro... neurological condition like autism? Does the Church recognize that?

Davis:

Well, I'm - you know, when - when you're talking about a medical condition you're talking about this, something that's physically wrong with somebody, and - and, and that kind of thing and the provenance of, of a medical doctor, it - I mean, that's really what we're talking about here, um - and, you know - and sometimes physical conditions involve the brain, or some sort of malfunctioning - you know - in that regard, and - and again that's absolutely the provenance of medicine, and -  and Scientologists go to doctors for that.

Notice that Davis maneuvered around Ms. Curry's direct question, one that only required a "yes" or "no" response. He used 85 words to say nothing, and he wasn't pressed for a yes-or-no answer... Ann then asked:

Let me ask you one last question, because some people who have reported on the Church, and some who have left the Church, have said that according to Scientology, people with disabilities like autism are classified as - and I'm using a quote here - "degraded," that they're capable of curing themselves by working harder on the Church's teachings. Is that the position of Scientology?

The pressure was on. Davis answered, after a pause:

Absolutely not. I mean, that's completely false, and - and frankly... really what we're talking about here is - is, uh, this - this is a tragedy, I - I mean - no parent ever thinks they're going to lose their child, and - and I think if, if you have people, uh, coming out of the woodwork like that, ah, saying these kinds of things - I mean, I think that's pretty disgusting, and - and really what - what you said not true. I - I've never heard of any such thing, uh, and there's - there's nothing in or with Scientology that would ever look down on somebody in any way, shape, or form, um, we think, you know - I, I think that's, I mean, pretty gross, and I think it's a tragedy, and - ah, and it certainly doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard, I can tell you, it's absolutely, absolutely, not true.

In my opinion, Mr. Davis was floundering about trying to avoid answering. He turned his response into an appeal, reaching out for an understanding of this bizarre cult designed by a minor science-fiction writer - a cult that even he doesn't understand.

Nor do we...

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Alaska
written by mackhitch, January 10, 2009
Has this fellow been up in Alaska taking lessons from Sarah Palin?
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Blah Blah Blah...
written by Realitysage, January 10, 2009
Mr. Davis is talking a lot-but he's not saying anything.
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Um, I mean, no, you know?
written by ZorkFox, January 10, 2009
I know this kind of verbatim quoting helps enhance the aura of bogosity around kooks, but it also makes for much harder reading. Would it be considered journalistically inappropriate to "edit" their words to cut out all the ums and uhs and whatnot? I find them distracting because I automatically try to edit them out as I read.

Davis was clearly making an ass of himself without any help from the transcriptionist.
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written by Trish, January 10, 2009
I have to ask if Lisa MacPhearson's dehydration & malnutrition "counted" as physical diseases, or did the Scinetologists who supervised her while she died think they were talking her out of ideas?
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written by nelson650, January 10, 2009
Scientology has to be the most absurd religion ever invented. It lacks the basic threat of damnation, vengful, jealous, yet loving superbeing, bogey-man of the dark forest, any ties to natual disasters due to our neglecting to beg for mercies for our unavoidable sins. They do beg for money, tell their people how to think and claim to be persecuted. How you live like that is beyond me. But whatever floats yer boat is my motto, just keep it to yourself. My 2 cents...
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written by Rogue Medic, January 10, 2009
She should have made it so that he has to answer yes or no. If he does not, just keep pointing out his evasions and keep repeating the question. When people realize the way he is evading the question, they will realize that he is not worth listening to.

Simple questions.

Does Scientology ever discourage people from taking medication for seizures?

Does Scientology ever discourage people from taking medication for autism?

He can hem and haw all he wants, but if he is there to answer questions about Scientology's medical positions, the interviewer needs to insist that he be clear.

Many of the people watching this do not understand anything about medicine. They may believe that he actually said something. He did not, but he was provided with a forum to pretend to say something. That may cause some people to trust this con man.
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written by jensfiederer, January 10, 2009
> Mr. Davis is talking a lot-but he's not saying anything.

A psycho-killer reference definitely works, here.
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written by BillyJoe, January 10, 2009
At this point, though, there is still no evidence that scientology played any role in the death of Jett Travolta.

BJ
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written by yarro, January 11, 2009
To me Tommy Davis speaks in volumes.
It's all too clear the COS has many things to hide.

Reminds me of those old fashioned carnival side shows where the "naked lady in the bath" turned out to be a monkey and punters being asked not to tell what they actually saw so they could reel in more gullible people.
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written by Rogue Medic, January 11, 2009
BillyJoe,

You're right. We do not know anything definite about why Jett Travolta was not taking any medication to treat his seizures.

We do know that Scientology is not comfortable speaking clearly about their approach to seizure medicine. He had been taking Depakote, but stopped. Ineffectiveness and liver problems are legitimate reasons to switch to a different medication. If he was considering surgery to treat the seizures, that might have been a reason to stop the medication. I do not know, but nobody speaking for Scientology or speaking for the Travoltas has suggested this.

When a child has a treatable disease, dies, and we learn that the child was not being treated at the time of death, the investigation should involve more than just press releases. The leaked results of the autopsy do not answer these questions.

As long as there is not something that demonstrates a thorough investigation of what happened, by somebody independent, I do not feel that Jett Travolta has received fair treatment.
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written by BillyJoe, January 11, 2009
I would tend to agree with you, but it doesn't sound like this is going to happen
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written by Rogue Medic, January 11, 2009
I'm a hopeless optimist, yet I maintain a high level of cynicism. smilies/wink.gif
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written by Roo, January 12, 2009
Tommy Davies is a very scary guy, despite his inarticulate appearance here. On the BBC 'Panorama' documentary investigation, he stalked John Sweeney (the reporter) openly - waiting for him in his hotel foyer late at night, turning up unexpectedly during interviews with other individuals and generally showing what a repellant man he is. He is therefore an ideal advocate for scientology...
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written by cwniles, January 12, 2009
Scientology really should take a look at who it deems appropriate for spreading business propaganda. First Cruise gives the business a black eye that still hasn't healed and hopefully never will, and now, Tommy Boy does a classic Clintonesque, speaks with forked tongue type dance. Are these the best Scientology has to offer?

Anyone who views that interview can come to only one conclusion, that boy ain't telling the whole story.
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written by Diverted Chrome, January 12, 2009
I think what we're saying here, and I mean, that what we're saying is, well, is basically something that we're talking about is something that we're going to be discussing in regards to this post, and, well, frankly, the story here that we're talking about, is that, the actual reason, is that you can't deny that when a tragedy takes place that we feel for people because it's never a good thing when a situation like that occurs, I think we can all agree, that with a post such as this, that much is clear.
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written by BillyJoe, January 14, 2009
Whatever you paid for that, it was too much.
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written by Surak, January 17, 2009
ALL conditions are physical.

To say that mental / psychological conditions are not physical is to show you don't understand that your very physical brain and nervous system is responsible for the mind, akin to how muscles are responsible for motion.
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written by BillyJoe, January 17, 2009
Physical disease is quite different from mental disease which is why physicians treat one and psychiatrists treat the other.
Speaking more broadly, sure there is an underlying physical basis for psychiatric disease. And I think everyone understands that the mind is what the brain does.
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