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Unique Experience-LiveIamA South Pole winter-over who worked at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for 12 months straight AMA!

Dec 3rd 2016 by AStrangerWCandy • 40 Questions • 182 Points

Hi everyone, I’m Leah Remini, author of Troublemaker : Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. I’m an open book so ask me anything about Scientology. And, if you want more, check out my new show, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, tonight at 10/9c on A&E.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/ri3zbip14g0y.jpg

Q:

I JUST watched a documentary on Antarctica on neflix about McMurdo and Scott base yesterday. Super interesting. As I understand it during the winter you get no supply shipments for several months with the only communication to the outside world being internet. How fast was the internet? Could one reliably play online gaming in Antarctica? Did you experience T3 syndrome? Would you do it again? What was your favorite thing about it?

A:

How much did you pay to the church throughout your time there?


Q:

I was the network engineer. There is no online gaming at the South Pole. We have three different satellites that provide Internet access for about 11-12 hours a day. Each satellite provides a different speed ranging from 1.5 Mb to 30 Mb for the entire station. The satellites also shift their uptime by about 4 minutes per day so part of the year it's up during normal working hours and part of the year its up while most people are sleeping.

It's true that from mid February to mid October no planes come or go from the South Pole so we have to make due with what we have on hand. We do have limited ability for 24/7 communication via phone and e-mail by utilizing some Iridium modems.

A:

Millions.


Q:

Time to bust out the smash bros then.

A:

Have you seen the HBO documentary Going Clear? If so, would you say it's an accurate representation the church and worth showing to people?


Q:

Yes we did do a lot of multiplayer gaming like Mario Kart, Smash Bros etc... there :)

A:

Very much so. I thought it was very accurate. I was shocked how accurate it was for not coming from Scientologists. I wanted to see more stories about how it affected children. The systematic recruitment of members' children. I wish it would have told the story of how Scientologists give their children to the "Church." It protects the life source that is continually bolstering the religion. But, I think they did an amazing job and they cleared the path for people like me to speak about it. HBO was very brave in taking it on. As is A&E, as it will be the first network is do a full series about it.


Q:

Why a Wii, and nit a WiiU, ps4, xbox, etc?

Particular reasoning, or just cheap and small and nobody's donated anything else yet?

A:

Is it true they record your meetings and blackmail you with the recordings?


Q:

There are PS3's and XBox 360s as well. People played Call of Duty and Halo also.

A:

Yes, every "therapy room" is equipped with cameras and listening devices, as admitted by the "Church." Do they use it for blackmail? No, they use it to discredit you when you speak out.


Q:

What are your thoughts on the rumors of Nazis having a hidden base there and that Antarctica is actually Atlantis before it froze over?

Thanks!

A:

If all Scientology's secrets were revealed tomorrow, which do you think would be most shocking?


Q:

We did watch the Ancient Aliens episode on Pyramids in Antarctica while we were there. It's mostly just chuckle worthy stuff. It's a little surreal listen to these conspiracy theorists talk about where you are right now and spout off stuff that isn't event remotely accurate. It IS however interesting to think about what is hidden bellow the glacial abyss but none of these people that spout this stuff off have any idea.

A:

When you reach the top of The Bridge (OTP 8) you will be told that God is a lie for LRH, and there are more levels ahead, that will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is no end to Scientology.


Q:

What are the relationships like there? Are there married couples? Are the support staff and scientists in the same social groupings? Is it like high school, or is everybody professional, mature, and responsible? Gossip!

I'd there active monitoring of individuals mental health? What happens if someone is struggling to fit in, or whatever? Any examples of a toxic personality?

A:

Can you imagine a scenario where you may be cast alongside a Scientologist or would it not be allowed?


Q:

There were couples during my winter and summer. I'm not familiar with any that were actually married but I'm sure it has happened. At least for the winter at Pole it's pretty hard for the scientists and support staff to not be in the same social groupings. We had 46 people total on the station for the polar winter so you see almost everyone every day. Some of the best friends I made on ice were scientists.

As far as struggling to fit in it does happen. As far as the community's response to that it varies from winter to winter and person to person so it's hard to give a blanket answer to that. Both the Dr and Physician's Assistant will give pastoral care to anyone on the station though so you have someone you can speak to privately and trust that it will remain so.

A:

That would not be allowed from their end.


Q:

So...how often did you hook up?

A:

Are you still in contact with any friends that are still part of the church?


Q:

At Pole during my winter there were only 8-9 women with the rest being men and most of the women had significant others. So you can do the math from there :P

A:

I am an SP (supressive person). You are not allowed to be in contact with an SP. I would love to talk to my former friends and see my goddaughter.


Q:

Do you have a film library at the station, and is John Carpenter's The Thing in that library?

A:

When you were a scientologist did you ever get any weird reactions from other famous people?


Q:

It is a tradition amongst south pole winter-overs to watch The Thing together after the last plane leaves at the start of winter. So yes we have it :) We also have a very large film library of movies, documentaries and TV shows.

A:

Weird reactions? No. I got appropriate reactions, "Why are you in this crazy shit?"


Q:

What's your opinion on countries potentially launching mining operations or similar in Antarctica?

A:

Was there a secret group of people or friends you had in the church that doubted it? Or did you feel alone.


Q:

Probably not a great idea on the continent proper from an employee safety standpoint. I am not super familiar with the Antarctic peninsula where it is a lot less frozen so I honestly can't speak intelligently there. Plus like most people I much prefer to see the continent as pristine as possible.

A:

I felt alone. If you ever confided in friends then you were (as policy dictates)... reported and turned in. Very 1984, very George Orwell.


Q:

Is it anything like The Thing on a day to day basis?

A:

How are they able to recruit intelligent people into what appears to be an obvious scam and cult?


Q:

No lol we do not have flamethrowers in every closet.

A:

Most Scientologists are 2nd or 3rd generation, they were born and raised into an ideology and have been surrounded and isolated. It is all they know. They are victims. Most of the original Scientologists are all out and have spoken out. Unfortunately, their children were indoctrinated by them.... are still loyal, faithful and have cut off communication due to the policy of disconnection.


Q:

I am a new postdoc working on the SuperDARN radars. Gonna be heading down to McMurdo and then South Pole at the end of the month. Are there any cool things to do/see down there that I might miss if I didn't know about them?

A:

Do you think there are members of the cult of Scientology reading this AMA?


Q:

Hrm, if there's an opportunity you could go to SPRESO. It's 5 miles from the station and you have to dig out the hatch into a room down a 40 foot ladder. The people who make it there sign their name on the walls. Not many people get to go out there though so it might be a longshot.

Also get someone to give you a tour of the ice tunnels. There are a lot of shrines down there that are pretty cool to see.

Lastly IMO it's worth it to take a walk out to "the end of the world". It's a spot far from the station where the heavy equipment operators stop grooming the snow. We built a snowman out there last year but it's pretty cool.

Most of the rest of the stuff like ARO, SPT etc... will be pretty well publicized.

A:

Do I think? I know. Hi Karin Pouw and members of OSA! If any Sea Org member is currently reading this and works for OSA and wants to leave, I will help you... including Karin.


Q:

Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! I will definitely try and do that.

A:

What do you think Scientology will look like in 50-100 years? Do you think it has longevity or is it going to come to an end?


Q:

Also just as an aside. Understand that the Internet in the summer there will be super slow and sometimes unusable. There's nothing the support staff can do about it so don't get upset with them :P

A:

I hope that its abusive practices come to an end. I'm all for people believing in things that are decent.


Q:

How did you get the opportunity to go to Antarctica for work?

A:

What OT level are you?


Q:

I kept applying. I applied for 5 seasons before getting a callback. The current primary contract holder is Leidos. For Pole positions like the winter site manager and research assistants are Leidos jobs. The bulk of the positions though are hired by PAE. IT positions are hired by GHG and galley positions are hired by GSC. Check out their various websites from between January and March which is when jobs for the following season typically get posted.

A:

V


Q:

What's the best way to be selected to work there? I'm currently studying applied math, but it's always been of mine to do research there. Are most of the workers engineers? biologists? environmental scientists?

A:

Considering that Scientology is consistently painted in such a negative light how did you maintain the commitment to Scientology for so long?


Q:

Hard to classify "most". In the winter there are about 9 grantees that work on research. We also had two research assistants that were Leidos contractors. So that's 11 "science" positions plus two meteorologists that were also contractors out of 46 people. We had 5 IT staff members, 4 galley staff and the rest is pretty hard to classify as it is power plant mechanics, carpenters, facilities engineers etc... so I guess trades.

The best way is persistence in applying. I have no experience in coming down as a grantee so I can't speak to that but I applied for 5 years before getting selected. Some people get selected the first year but IMO if you have a decent resume if you just keep applying you'll get a callback eventually.

A:

Because i was taught to believe that the controversy was due to people being unaware of what Scientology was truly doing in the world which was good things. I also felt the press was focused on making fun of Scientology and not what was important, so it was easy to turn away from the information. And also a major part of Scientology is learning how to fight your critics. If i wasn't fighting I wasn't being a good Scientologist.


Q:

Did you ever see any hourglass dolphins on the way there? Because that would be amazing!!!

A:

What is something the average citizen can do to help prevent Scientology growth?


Q:

Unfortunately not. The main animals in Antarctica I saw in McMurdo were Weddell Seals, Southern Skua, and one Adele Penguin. I didn't spend that much time in McMurdo though and there are no animals at the South Pole.

EDIT: However on my way out I did drive to Akaroa from Christchurch and got to see Hector's Dolphin which was really cool and also a really rare dolphin.

A:

Speak to your local councilmen/women about cracking down on the abuse of its citizens. I believe people have influences, they know judges, lawyers, police enforcement I think everyone bringing attention to these abuses can help. It takes a community to police itself.


Q:

What an amazing experience. During you stay, were you able to travel around the continent? Did you get to do any outdoor adventuring? I have a bit of a fascination with the Pole of Inacessibility... does anyone ever get go there?

A:

Do the higher ups know it's a scam or do they really believe this crap?


Q:

You don't travel around a lot at Pole because of limited air traffic. There were a few boondoggles to AGAP and some other remote sites in January but I didn't get to go on them.

EDIT: However when I was going to McMurdo for a week of R&R before the station closed I got to ride the Basler (an old twin prop DC-3) and we got to fly really low through the Transantarctic Mountains. THAT was super cool. Getting to see an area of the world that even by Antarctic standards hardly anyone gets to see and certainly no one has ever walked on fairly up close.

A:

The higher up is singular. And he definitely knows. however I believe most parishioners and Sea Org members (people who work for the "church") are int he dark and believe that they are doing amazing things for the world. And David Miscavige is directly responsible for that fraud.


Q:

What's the vibe between McMurdo, Scott, and Palmer?

I understand they're wildly different from a size and scope standpoint, but is Palmer the stepchild because it's not in the circle? McMurdo feels like a metropolis in comparison.

A:

Was there a single breaking point that convinced you to leave the church? Or was it a long term struggle with the decision?


Q:

Metropolis is probably generous for McMurdo :P It's more like a small coastal town in Alaska. I've never been to Palmer so I can't speak to that but Pole is a very small close knit community where you get to know everyone. Whereas McMurdo to me seems more like you get to know the people you work with and a few others.

A:

Long term struggle, however, seeing the "church" attack those who were speaking out, those who gave their life, life savings, their children to this organization that were once considered exemplary Scientologists or staff members of the church to being liars, bitter apostates, and what ever vile sophomoric, vitriolic adjective they can find overnight says a lot about the organization.


Q:

What's the most amazing wildlife encounter you've had?

A:

Over the past 10 years, I've seen my parents get deeper and deeper into Scientology. Decent reasoning, science and logic have done nothing to convince them to question the church. From someone who left, is there anything a loved one can do to help a brainwashed member see the truth, without ruining the relationship completely?


Q:

On our last day on the continent as we are on Pegasus Field getting ready to board the C-17 someone shouts "Look a penguin!". We had not seen a penguin the entire year but sure enough a single Adele penguin was sprinting across the runway and came and stopped next to us to hang out for a while. Was really cool.

A:

Fight like Hell. Never give up.


Q:

How many scientists believe that global warming is a fact?

A:

Are people actively being held prisoner against their will?

If so, how upsetting is it that the government and law enforcement does not act?


Q:

None that I'm aware of!

A:

It's very upsetting. I'm only an actress with a short window of interest. So it is up to the authorities who have to do something about it and the judges who are hearing cases of abuse, coerced abortions, being held prisoner, fraud, mental and emotional imprisonment. They won't look at cases to decide its a religion. They have to separate and look at the law. Your doctrine is abusive. It mandates that you abuse people.


Q:

What odds do you give of the whole thing collapsing once Miscavige dies?

A:

The policies of the "Church" are the policies of the "Church." They will not change, and there will be someone right behind him ready to pick up where he left off.


Q:

What is the most unusual 'corrective action' you've seen them physically do to someone?

A:

The most abusive thing that I've experienced is seeing the victims being further victimized by an organization that claims these things did not take place... from physical, to sexual, to mental abuse.


Q:

do you remember what your initial reaction was upon first seeing the course materials for OT3?

A:

Yes my first reaction was "Are you all fucking nuts?" and then I looked at my mother and said "What kind of bullshit did you get me in?" My only option was to leave, but at the time my family was not ready to go. The "church" told me I didn't need to believe it, just do it. And they always pose this question: "Are you ready to leave everything you've ever known?"


Q:

What do you think happened to David's wife?

A:

I actually do not know. Ask the LAPD.


Q:

Why do you think there are so many people in the entertainment industry in the religion?

A:

If you really look at the numbers at the entertainment industry, in comparison to the small number of scientologists that are celebrities, the number wouldn't even register. I think Scientology has done an amazing job convincing people that there is a great number of celebrities in the "Church."


Q:

I've been a huge fan since the early days of KoQ (was watching at 11, now 24!). Did you ever find that your religion interfered with your work in a way you would turn town any potential jobs, either for your own religious reasons or advice received from members?

A:

I was punished for doing Stuff magazine because it was too racy. They would not want us to do anything that would be considered not "becoming of a Scientologist." I see they have since changed their stance of what they believe is "becoming of a Scientologist."


Q:

How do the powers that be in Scientology keep their followers from reading anti-Scientology news, or your book? Why don't more scientologists leave?

A:

Great question. Because very early on in the brainwashing process, L. Ron Hubbard's "technology" teaches you that outside sources (i.e. The news, the Internet, books, magazines) are ALL LIES and hellbent on destroying something decent like Scientology. The AMA, and APA, and all "governments" do not give scientology its due because they have a vested interest in not healing people and not helping people. And Scientology is in the business of making people better. So Scientologists are taught that their safest bet is to get their info from the only true decent people...and those are Scientologists. And if they look on the internet, if they read time mag, they will be met with punishment at their expense. And, as a Scientologist...you have to confess that you've read outside materials, and that will be met with punishment at your expense.


Q:

Have any other actors come to you for support or help?

A:

The policy of the "Church" does not allow them to come to me. Former high ranking Sea Org members like Debbie Cook and former members like Katie Holmes are forbidden to speak to other SPs. Certain members are forced to sign agreements that does not allow them to speak to ex members.


Q:

Do you personally feel like you're being watched/tracked/etc by the church for doing everything your doing?

A:

I am. I'm okay with it because I knew what I was getting into and I knew the policies of the "church" and what would happen by my speaking out against it.


Q:

Are there any sexual malpractices that occur in the church?

A:

I have read stories on the internet. I was told personally by a few people that I personally know that there was sexual abuse. When I was 16 and working for a "senior Scientologist" who was in his late 30's, he had sex with a 16 year old friend of ours. And the "Church" handled it internally. All abuses are dealt within the "Church" as it is an enemy act in the "Church" to prosecute another member. Please do not take my word for it, just google the words "Scientology and sexual abuse."


Q:

What do members actually gain from being a member? How is it made worth all the money and time they invest?

A:

They gain a purpose. They gain a group. They gain a sense of accomplishment (awards, certificates). They gain an education that in the real world LRH states would be equivalent to getting a "PHD in life." You become an elitist. That you have all the answers in life. If you have a question about life, you are made to think that Scientology has the answer.


Q:

How are children treated in Scientology?

A:

As old spirits in little bodies who have returned to Scientology... children are treated as adults.


Q:

You are so brave for telling the truth about Scientology. Why are so many other people staying quiet? What can we do to help?

A:

Thank you! Watch our show tonight and spread awareness. It is bigger what people think. This religion is massive.


Q:

Are you safe?

A:

Yes, I feel very safe. I have the support of my family and friends. And, I feel strangely protected by the world at large.


Q:

How different would you say your view of Hollywood is now compared to when you were on Saved by the Bell and did your experience with Scientology effect these views versus if you never joined them?

A:

When I was a Scientologist I saw Hollywood as a dark, lost bunch of souls that needed saving. Now I see it as any other business and that we're all just trying to do right by ourselves, right by our friends and family and that people outside of scientology are not bad.


Q:

What is your overall opinion on organized Religion now? Did your view on say Christianity change?

A:

Yes my view of religion changed in that I am no longer a bigot against people's religious beliefs when it doesn't harm other people, promote killing people for their beliefs... like extremism. But if religion brings you comfort, hope, and a sense of community, I say "whatever works for you."


Q:

From what I've seen of Scientology, it seems like there is a major difference in treatment between celebrity "followers" and folks in Sea Org who are tortured, locked in the Hole, beaten publicly by Miscavige, etc.

Did the news of this mistreatment find its way to celebrities and general "members" of the Church who weren't in Sea Org? Or were people left completely in the dark?

A:

No, and if they did hear about it, we were told that those claiming abuse were lying. Then I would have been interrogated and even punished for asking.


Q:

As a psychologist, I am curious what you observed as mental health 'treatment' with Scientology? In addition, I am aware the 'church' is against psychology; how was this opposition demonstrated within or by the 'church'? Finally, in your opinion how prevalent are mental health difficulties with the Scientology community?

Thank you for your time.

A:

The "Church" doctrine thinks that fields of psychology and psychiatry are a sham. They deny mental illness and afflictions. They promote that you can heal your psycho-sematic issues with their "technology." They will get in the way of people taking medications. They will prevent people from getting the real medical help that they need. and in some cases have caused suicides because of it. Scientology is mentally abusive because we are all taught that we are responsible for everything.


Q:

Did being a Scientologist help your acting career?

A:

I'm sure there were tools that helped me to be able to communicate better, not be nervous when I walked in the room. Acting classes would have been cheaper. Or maybe staying in Brooklyn a little longer would have been more beneficial to my acting career.


Q:

How can we destroy scientology?

A:

I don't want to destroy Scientology. I only want them to admit to the fraud that they promote, to not deny the confidential upper levels of the religion, so people can decide if they want to spend $250K and their lives doing it. That they admit to the policies of Fair Game. That they allow people to decide for themselves where they get their information. That they admit to disconnection and leave families the fuck alone.


Q:

Out of all the rumors surrounding Scientology, which one is true and hits home the hardest for you?

A:

I don't what rumors we're referring to here. I haven't read anything that has been inaccurate.


Q:

We can (almost correctly) assume that celebrities receive special treatment because of their status - could you elaborate more on that? For instance, how would your experiences in the church differ from someone who is not a celebrity?

And a follow up - do you think that more celebrities would like to break free from the church but are afraid because of the repercussions? Is there any merit to the claim that there's so much dirt on them that could be exposed that they may not want to leave?

Hope you convince others to follow your path!

A:

We had special course rooms in separate parts of the buildings. Any complaint we had about the outside world was met with agreement from the "Church." We were serviced differently, we had supervisors doing courses in our homes, giving special schedules to celebrities. Staff was interrogated by the Church. Often times there were Sea Org members working for celebrities in their homes, personally working for them. I know of one celeb who had a sea org member working in their home and sea org members were averaging $25/week. The labor laws don't apply to any church therefor they were made to work ungodly hours, forced into interrogations if making human mistakes around the celebrity.