The NZ Law Commission has set up a forum for the discussion of the issues around the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Tenchinage drops in there about once a week to see if anyone’s said anything new..
It seems the Scientologists have found it.
Moreover, it seems the Scientologists have an agenda of attempting to get the Narconon progamme instigated in New Zealand prisons. It started with one chap by the name of Kevin Owen spamming comments all over the show about the current drug treatment programmes and their failure to deliver, strangely interspersed with links and quotes from various Dianetics sites. Then another showed up, calling him/herself Iatrogenic Doctor. This one claims to have been the main person behind the implementation of Narconon in Russia. People started going “Um, Dianetics? L Ron Hubbard? Scientology? Quack organisation!” To which the good Doctor took offence, stating that Narconon is the biggest rehab organisation in the world, achieving success rates far in excess of any other programme available today.
I’ve heard of Narconon and assumed that it was somehow related to Alcoholics Anonymous, and thus a similar programme. By the time I went searching I’d realised that this might not be correct, since every link posted by Kevin Owen and Iatrogenic Doctor led to Scientology.
Anyway, I googled “Narconon success rate”. What I got was a page containing 10 google hits – there are five links to sites claiming that Narconon has a success rate of around 70%, and five links to sites that question this claim.
Note here: Non-Narconon drug treatment programmes have a success rate of between 2 and 20%. Whether this is because the treatment is not effective or because the people in these programmes are often coerced into them by the criminal justice system, do not actually have a drug problem and have no intention of stopping use, is a debate for another day. The point here is that Narconon is claiming a success rate in excess of three times that of the most successful of other programmes, as is Iatrogenic Doctor, who is also suggesting that certain people in New Zealand government are greedy and wanting to keep funding for themselves, and that this is why Narconon hasn’t been introduced here.
So anyway, I first followed the links supporting Narconon. As it turns out, every single one of them leads to a Narconon-owned website. On these websites, it claims ‘proven results’. Here’s a link to their proof as presented. Question here: could I submit this page as an essay reference for a university course? If not, why not?
If you answered “HELL NO TENCHI, DON’T DO IT!” You got the right answer. And the reason this wouldn’t be accepted as a reference is that nothing is supplied that a marker could use to verify the claims. No links to studies, no research, not even names and publication dates (An independent sociology group? Who?). No peer review, no EVIDENCE, no proof. And what does this even mean?:
“During the Narconon Drug Rehab Program study, 38% of guilty findings decreased. 40% decreased after the study. As a comparison, a random selection of 10% of the prison population was tabulated. The Narconon program had reversed the trend of guilty findings having increased by 77%.”
*cough* Anyway, I could see that I wasn’t going to find anything useful on those sites, so off I went to the other ones. The first link goes to an assessment studies, and includes the Spanish study and the Russian study mentioned on the page quoted above.
Turns out the Spanish study was conducted by an organisation that no longer exists, using creative manipulation of statistics, and the subjects were, for the most part, employees of Narconon. Additionally, when the intake from the year of the study was surveyed as a whole by investigators, even with the Narconon employees included the actual number of people who claimed to be drug-free totalled 33%, less than half that of the claims by Narconon.
The site says about the Russian study:
“As usual, it is not reproduced in full – all we have are the “headline figures” which, as we have already seen, Narconon misrepresents for other studies. (In fact, it appears to be mentioned only once on just one of Narconon’s many websites.)
Because of this, we have no information about the methodology used. Without knowing something about the methodology, it is impossible to assess the reliability of the survey methods used.
The sample size is very small (only 32 people); this makes it impossible to reliably extrapolate the results to other Narconon organisations.
The only actual statistic quoted is so vague as to be meaningless; what is a “ratio of efficiency”? If the figure of 72% of 32 people is supposed to represent a cure rate, it is mathematically impossible; it works out at 23.04 persons.
The qualifications and independence of its authors are questionable; one of the authors was the man who ran Narconon Russia (hardly an independent assessor!), one was a lecturer and one was a journalist, leaving only one medical doctor whose relationship with Narconon is undisclosed.”
And the much-touted Swedish study, which claimed a 78% success rate, was followed up by contacting enrolees and asking them about their current drug use. The bottom line figure from responses is that only 6.6% of people who began the Narconon programme had remained drug free.
In addition, Narconon seems reluctant to release their studies for peer review, verification and evidence-testing.
The Wikipedia page also says this:
Investigated in Russia
In April 2007, it was revealed that Moscow’s South District office of public procurator had begun an investigation into Narconon’s activities in Russia.The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily paper reported that legal proceedings were begun against the head of the clinic “Narconon-Standard”, for violating practices forbidden in Russian medical practices. Russian law enforcement became interested after receiving many complaints from citizens about the high fees charged by Narconon. The Narconon office in Bolshaya Tulskaya St., Moscow was searched, and documents and unidentified medications were seized.
In April 2008, as part of an investigation in Ulyanovsk into the Church of Scientology, police searched a Narconon office in the town of Dimitrovgra.
So what we have here is an organisation that will not conform to accepted standards of academic integrity in its research and thus cannot be believed when it claims such a high success rate. The programmes are considered to be expensive enough to warrant investigation in some countries, and their efficacy in treating people with drug problems is questionable at best. Never mind the link to Scientology..
And the person who claims to have been heading the Russian Narconon at the time of the investigation is now in New Zealand, pushing an agenda of implementation nationwide here as part of coercive treatment in prisons. They’re backed by someone with a vested interest in the success of Dianetics in this country – I believe Kevin Owen is the head of RehabilitateNZ, a Dianetics promotion organisation. These people are attempting to frame the drugs debate on the Law Commission website into discussion of which drug treatment method is best, with a view to implementing government-endorsed Scientology in prisons. And they wonder why Unzud isn’t interested?
I smell a Thetan that could stand some rehabilitation of its own.