Rationalist board member Hugh Harris continues his search for meaning ...
After my disastrous personality test in Scientology’s Castlereagh St headquarters, I decided to try again in Brisbane. Would I get the same dire result? Is the test calibrated to generally produce a negative result?
Scientology’s Brisbane headquarters had little of Sydney’s flashiness and Star-Trek-chic. Traversing a staircase of worn carpet, I entered an office of old fashioned desks and laminate bookshelves.
But, the 200 kooky questions of the Oxford Capacity Analysis (OCA) remained unchanged. Answering them honestly, I made an effort to choose the same responses as I did in Sydney.
Alas, my graph was nearly the same.
“A bit of a worry”, said *Liz, showing my “unacceptable” personality iceberg.
When I quizzed Liz on the credentials of the test, she it was developed by Oxford University.
“The one in England?” I asked.
“Yes, Oxford University”.
I pressed her again and she became agitated.
“You can check yourself online”, she said.
Of course the test was not developed by Oxford University at all, but by L. Ron Hubbard followers Julian Lewis and Ray Kemp in the 1950’s. Rubbished by many psychology organisations as manipulative and unethical, the Oxford Capacity Analysis is not scientifically recognised, nor has its results been substantiated using standard psychological methods.
Investigating Scientology in 1970, the British Psychological Society found that answering the test in three different randomised ways produced remarkably similar personality profiles. All three methods resulted in profiles with the first three scales in the extreme range of unacceptable, rising to normal for the 2-4 scales, and then returning to unacceptable for the remaining scales.
So my result is not so special after all.
“Downright dangerous,” is how the Australian Psychological Society denounced the OCA, in a 1990 investigation, commenting that:
“We’ve had a look at their tests and if you didn’t know better, they look credible … These tests are saying people are acceptable or unacceptable, but really there’s nothing in them to allow you to draw that kind of conclusion. It’s the interpretations that are bogus — they are drawing arbitrary conclusions that simply aren’t warranted”.
The British Psychological Society’s report went further:
“No reputable psychologist would accept the procedure of pulling people off the street with a leaflet, giving them a ‘personality test’ and reporting back in terms that show the people to be ‘inadequate,’ ‘unacceptable’ or in need of ‘urgent’ attention. In a clinical setting a therapist would only discuss a patient’s inadequacies with him with the greatest of circumspection and support, and even then only after sufficient contact for the therapist–patient relationship to have been built up. “
Recall the bluntly worded, and extremely negative judgements (below) that I received in Sydney.
“To report back a man’s inadequacies to him in an automatic, impersonal fashion is unthinkable in responsible professional practice. To do so is potentially harmful. It is especially likely to be harmful to the nervous introspective people who would be attracted by the leaflet in the first place”.
My simple question: how is this still allowed?
No reputable psychologist would accept the procedure of pulling people off the street with a leaflet, giving them a ‘personality test’ and reporting back in terms that show the people to be ‘inadequate,’ ‘unacceptable’ or in need of ‘urgent’ attention