LIKE serial killers and small men, Scientologists like to be taken seriously. Some of them even wear suits – civilised society’s most familiar reality distortion technique. With a matching blazer and kecks, any rogue can take advantage of the subconscious mind’s meek subservience to authoritative garb, with instant wisdom and sincerity bestowed upon the wearer.

Yet, even the subterfuge of Savile Row or Burtons’ finest can’t protect a Scientologist from societal mockery. And certainly not in cynicism’s ground zero – Scotland – where the church has now inexplicably chosen to purchase a large building in the heart of Edinburgh, after failing in its bid to occupy the city’s historic Lothian Chambers.

If its new Westfield House property is destined to become one of the religion’s infamously tacky headquarters, the sight of Auld Reekie’s skirted men blowing into sheep’s stomachs to summon the dirges of genocides past will only become slightly less ridiculous.

There is hope for Scientology in Scotland, however. This is a country where The Krankies have set a clear precedent for socially-accepted absurdity, so perhaps Scientologists should simply stop emulating other established religions with their formal dress code and just wear spacesuits. Like burkas, crucifix chains or turbans, which handily indicate their wearer’s belief systems, spacesuits would make it much easier to differentiate Scientologists from other evangelists of toxic fiction.

Presently, the only visual indicator setting a Scientologist apart is a curious wee device they possess called an E-Meter. Known as an electroencephaloneuromentimograph on Sundays, this rather curious gizmo allegedly detects a person’s stress levels. The dice are loaded, of course – it detects stress in everyone. Even Alexa.

After failing the test, your friendly Scientologist won’t stride off in disgust, however – they’ll smile. Then claim a pseudo-psychological technique called dianetic therapy can set you free from your psychological malady. And if you have enough money, you’ll eventually find out the real reason why humans suffer from stress, depression and mental illness – a secret privy only to the richest and most powerful members of the Church of Scientology.

So forget about those Easter Days Out coupons on Page 30 – today, The Herald on Sunday is saving you $100,000 – which is reportedly what it costs to learn that thousands of alien souls are currently swimming around your bloodstream, making you feel all your negative emotions. Perhaps the HoS editor can promote this freebie on today’s front page.

Once fully indoctrinated with this wisdom, Scientologists can then fully cleanse themselves of these pesky “thetans”. It’s an expensive process freeing alien souls from your blood, but try to imagine them clasping desperately to the blobs of fat bobbing around your cholesterol-ridden veins like icebergs as you hand over your cash.

Be warned, however, that this full bill of mental health through expensive thetan cleansing may come at a even greater price – as you could be ordered to marry Tom Cruise.

Metre out the medicine

THE Scientologist’s E-meter device is relatively simple, an electrical conduit with two “cans” to grip that measure your “resistance”.

Scientology’s Jesus – the imaginative sci-fi author L Ron Hubbard – claimed E-meters detect a person’s “galvanic skin response” when asked questions. Almost sounds like real science, but sober study reveals E-meters as simple “lie detectors”, most commonly used by Jeremy Kyle to gauge the rot on decency’s corpse.

Hubbard was a fan of using E-meters to aid the “auditing” of Scientologists – essentially, an amateur therapy session where psychologically destabilising questions are hurled repeatedly at the participant. Such exposition of the subconscious apparently removes “spiritual disabilities” and makes the Scientologist aware of their “immortality, basic goodness and personal divine nature”. 

How did Hubbard find all this out in the first place? Well, he claimed he made a seismic discovery in the 1950s that something odd is “entangling man” – describing our brain’s “combinations of mental image pictures” as a debilitating force. Anyone who can recall John Travolta’s Battlefield Earth movie can sympathise.

Hubbard, however, claimed to have “measured” these mind pictures using a rudimentary E-meter co-designed by his pal Volney Mathison – who was also apparently a chiropractor, radio engineer, psychologist, and hypnotist. He could also likely play violin with a peeled banana.

The E-meter has gone through several iterations since those early days, and the current model is the Super Mark VII. It looks a bit like an old Nintendo console. An electrical engineer who examined one in the 1990s estimated that such a device should only be on sale for around £200. Today, it is sold by the Church of Scientology for £2,800. And despite such blatant fleecing of true believers, some folk still claim it isn’t a real religion.

The tall tale of genocidal galactic ruler Xenu

NO self-respecting religion lacks an illogical origin story, and Scientology certainly doesn’t disappoint. Long before the Marvel Universe’s Thanos, there was the mighty Xenu. According to the story, he was an intergalactic warlord who killed billions of fellow aliens with atom bombs in Hawaii 75 million years ago.

Apparently, Xenu ruled 76 planets in an ancient galactic federation. Coincidentally, very similar to the one in Star Trek. Xenu’s reign had one major challenge – over-population. Each of his planets, including Earth – then called Teegeeack – had around 178 billion people and competition for resources was causing war, pestilence and plague across the galaxy.

A logical thinker, Xenu decided the only solution was to drop all living things into Hawaii’s volcanoes then pummel them with atom bombs. It’s doubtful if even Donald Trump would have backed the Xenu regime – this was a particularly extreme act of galactic genocide.

The souls of these murdered aliens then decided to inhabit Earth’s biology like wee parasitic demons, eventually swimming around inside humans as debilitating “body thetans” when we evolved. As for Xenu, he was finally overthrown and imprisoned inside an unknown mountain on Earth. Perhaps Kirk Douglas remembers which one.

And finally ...

THOSE who fork out to learn Xenu’s story – “Operating Thetans” – don’t get a receipt, but allegedly gain the ability to telepathically communicate with their alien pollutants to shoo them away.

The disclaimer is, however, that to gain these powers, Scientologists must truly believe in the Xenu origin tale – much the same way Christians need to believe in Jesus to get into heaven.

With their religion founded upon such a premise, it’s perhaps no surprise Scientologists face derision and social stigma. Some American detractors even prove the country does indeed have a sense of irony, laughing at Scientology while viewing life through the fogged lens of a similarly outlandish belief system themselves.

The only difference is, other comforting reality tunnels have been granted validity through centuries of viral sophistry and positive societal reinforcement. Scientology is relatively new – so we’ll be feeding believers to the lions for a few centuries yet.

Such blind faith is perhaps the real reason why the Scientologists are focusing on Edinburgh – after all, the streets are overflowing with gullible Americans with lots of cash who'll evidently believe any old tripe you'll tell them. Our politicians - more ridiculous folk in suits desperate to validate their reality tunnels by convincing others of their subjective realities - will never admit it, but it’s all those ghost tours and wee Nessie teddies that continue to keep our economy afloat in tough times. Edinburgh is quite clearly rich pickings for the not-so-daft Church of Scientology.

Follow Bill on twitter: @futureshockbb