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Scientology's Tone Scale is Wild And Completely Messed Up

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | June 25, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | June 25, 2019 |


Beyond what is written on this site, typically as it relates to celebrity, I do not know a lot about Scientology, because I am not a Scientologist. There’s something called Thetans, and there’s a sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, and Beck and Elizabeth Moss and Tom Cruise are Scientologists, but Suri Cruise is a suppressive person, which I think means that Katie Holmes gets full custody.

However, in the course of my daily Internet surfing, I can across a piece from The Sun — meaning that it may or may not be bullsh*t — about how the Church of Scientology tried to recruit Michael Jackson after he and Lisa Marie Presley married, and how they brought him in for three days of questioning or auditing or whatever it is they do in an attempt to cure him of his homosexuality.

This all had something to do with what is called the Tone Scale, which I became instantly fascinated by, which led me into a very strange rabbit hole. Briefly: The Tone Scale affixes a number from between -40 (dead) to +40 (Serenity of Beingness) to each emotion or state of being, and most people reside between the numbers 0-4. There’s a temporary state of being, and a more permanent or chronic state, and when you’re audited, they’re trying to determine where you sit chronically on the Tone Scale. On the scale, Grief is a .5, Fear is 1.0, Anger is a 1.5, Boredom is 2.5, and Enthusiasm is a 4.0.

Apparently, it’s important to understand where you are on the Tone Scale, but it’s also important to be able to recognize where others are on the Tone Scale because it allows you to react accordingly (or manipulate, accordingly).

Here’s a short, fairly boring video to explain the Tone Scale from 2008 (there’s another almost identical video from 2014 on the Scientology website updated to be more inclusive, I think: The basketball players in the new video are black, and a white woman walks with a black woman in the newer video, although the couple at the end of the video is the exact same).

Here, meanwhile, is the Tone Scale in picture form, from the Scientology Handbook:

Screen Shot 2019-06-25 at 11.49.55 AM.png
Screen Shot 2019-06-25 at 11.49.45 AM.png

In other words, do not feel your feels. Grief and fear are bad, and you should aspire to a higher tone (but not with medication, because medication is bad).

What does all of this mean, exactly? Apparently, on your way up the Tone Scale, you feel all of the emotions in ascending order, even if it’s only briefly. In order to get someone else up the scale, you try to elicit a higher emotional tone. So, if someone is feeling fear, you actually want to elicit anger out of them because it helps them to rise up the scale. For instance, the Church claims that the Scientologist being interviewed here actually manipulated the BBC Reporter, John Sweeney, up the scale from Covert Hostility to Anger (and boy, was he angry):

The Tone Scale is one of the foundations of Scientology, and bad people are often thought to reside on 1.1 on the Scale, which is “Covert Hostility.” This is where Donald Trump might reside. It’s also where they allegedly believed that Michael Jackson sat, because homosexuality reflects a hostile desire to stab someone else in the back (with their penis? What? I don’t know. L. Ron Hubbard was a very paranoid man).

However, what I found most telling about the Tone Scale is that “Sympathy” (.9) resides below “Covert Hostility (1.1), which tells you everything you need to know about Scientology. Sympathy is bad. It’s worse than “hate.” What? WHY? Because Sympathy leads to failure.

To wit, from Ruth Munshell’s How to Choose Your People:

What no one said (until Ron Hubbard uncovered this emotion) is that behind every upscale man who goes downhill and fails, there’s probably a sympathetic woman. No high-tone man ever broke down from mere hard work or even a few setbacks. He can be crushed, however, by the slow, eroding benevolence of a Sympathy person who “helps” by supplying infinite justifications for his failures.

Sympathy is so devastating because he is telling the low-tone person: “The helplessness you feel about yourself is so justified that I feel it too.”

And that, folks, is one f**ked up way to look at the world.