ASSIGNMENT >> 1. Read “Handling Confusion in the Workplace.”


One might be led to believe there was something confusing about navigating one’s career in the world of work. And confusion there is to one who is not equipped with guides and maps.

As one looks at the many factors which might derange his life and undermine his security, the impression of “confusion” seems well founded. And it can be said, with truth, that all difficulties are fundamentally confusions. Given enough menace, enough unknown, a man ducks his head and tries to swing through it blindly. He has been overcome by confusions.

Enough unsolved problems add up to a huge confusion. Every now and then, on his job, enough conflicting orders bring the worker into a state of confusion. A modern plant can be so poorly managed that the entire thing appears to be a vast confusion to which no answer is possible.

Luck is the usual answer one resorts to in a confusion. If the forces about one seem too great, one can always “rely on his luck.” By luck we mean “destiny not personally guided.” When one turns loose an automobile wheel and hopes the car will stay on the road, by luck, he is often disappointed. And so it is in life. Those things left to chance become less likely to work themselves out.

One has seen a friend shutting his eyes to the bill collectors and gritting his teeth while he hopes that he will win at the races and solve all his problems. One has known people who handled their lives this way for years. Indeed, one of English novelist Charles Dickens’ great characters had the entire philosophy of “waiting for something to turn up.” But luck, while we grant that it is a potent element, is only necessary amid a strong current of confusing factors. If one has to have luck to see him through, then it follows that one isn’t any longer at his own automobile wheel. And it follows, too, that one is dealing with a confusion.

It would be wise, then, to understand exactly what a confusion is and how it could be resolved.

Confusion and the Stable Datum

A confusion can be defined as “any set of factors or circumstances which do not seem to have any immediate solution.”

More broadly:


If you were to stand in heavy traffic, you would be likely to feel confused by all the motion whizzing around you. If you were to stand in a heavy storm with leaves and papers flying by, you would be likely to feel confused.

Is it possible to actually understand a confusion? Is there any such thing as an “anatomy of confusion”? Yes, there is.

If, as a switchboard operator, you had ten calls hitting your board at once, you might feel confused. But is there any answer to the situation?

If, as a shop foreman, you have three emergencies and an accident all at the same time, you might feel confused. But is there any answer to that?

A confusion is only a confusion so long as all particles are in motion. A confusion is only a confusion so long as no factor is clearly defined or understood.

Confusion is the basic cause of stupidity. To the stupid, all things except the very simple ones are confused. Thus, if one knew the anatomy of confusion, no matter how bright one might be, he would be brighter.

If you have ever had to teach some ambitious young person who was not too bright, you will understand this well. You attempt to explain how such-and-so works. You go over it and over it and over it. And then you turn him loose and he promptly makes a complete botch of it. He “didn’t understand,” he “didn’t grasp it.” You can simplify your understanding of his misunderstanding by saying, very rightly, “He was confused.”

Ninety-nine percent of all education fails, when it fails, on the grounds that the student was confused. And not only in the realm of the job, but in life itself. When failure approaches, it is born, one way or another, from confusion. To learn of machinery or to live life, one has to be able either to stand up to confusion or to take it apart.

We have, in Scientology, a certain doctrine (principle) about confusion. It is called:


If you saw a great many pieces of paper whirling about a room, they would look confused until you picked out one piece of paper to be the piece of paper by which everything else was in motion. In other words, a confusing motion can be understood by conceiving one thing to be motionless.

In a stream of traffic, all would be confusion unless you were to conceive one car to be motionless in relation to the other cars and so to see others in relation to the one.

The switchboard operator, receiving ten calls at once, solves the confusion by labeling—correctly or incorrectly—one call as the first call to receive her attention. The confusion of “ten calls all at once” becomes less confusing the moment she singles out one call to be answered.

The shop foreman, confronted by three emergencies and an accident, needs only to elect his first target of attention to start the cycle of bringing about order again.

Until one selects one datum, one factor, one particular in a confusion of particles, the confusion continues. The one thing selected and used becomes the stable datum for the remainder.

Any body of knowledge, more particularly and exactly, is built from one datum. That is its stable datum. Invalidate it and the entire body of knowledge falls apart. A stable datum does not have to be the correct one. It is simply the one that keeps things from being in a confusion and on which others are aligned.

A confusion exists when all particles are in motion.

It becomes less confusing when one item is singled out and becomes the stable datum for the remainder.

Now, in teaching an ambitious young man to use a machine, he failed to grasp your directions, if he did, because he lacked a stable datum. One fact had to be brought home to him first. Grasping that, he could grasp others. One is stupid, then, or confused in any confusing situation until he has fully grasped one fact or one item.

Confusions, no matter how big and hard to overcome they may seem, are composed of data or factors or particles. They have pieces. Grasp one piece or locate it thoroughly. Then see how the others function in relation to it and you have steadied the confusion. And relating other things to what you have grasped, you will soon have mastered the confusion in its entirety.

In teaching a boy to run a machine, don’t throw a torrent of data at him and then point out his errors—that’s confusion to him, that makes him respond stupidly. Find some entrance point to his confusion, one datum. Tell him, “This is a machine.” It may be that all the directions were flung at someone who had no real certainty, no real order in existence. “This is a machine,” you say. Then make him sure of it. Make him feel it, fiddle with it, push at it. “This is a machine,” tell him. And you’d be surprised how long it may take, but you’d be surprised as well how his certainty increases. Out of all the complexities he must learn to operate it, he must know one datum first. It is not even important which datum he first learns well, beyond that it is better to teach him a simple basic datum. You can show him what it does, you can explain to him the final product, you can tell him why he has been selected to run this machine. But you must make one basic datum clear to him or else he will be lost in confusion.

Confusion is uncertainty. Confusion is stupidity. Confusion is insecurity. When you think of uncertainty, stupidity and insecurity, think of confusion and you’ll have it down pat.

What, then, is certainty? Lack of confusion. What, then, is intelligence? Ability to handle confusion. What, then, is security? The ability to go through or around or to bring order to confusion. Certainty, intelligence and security are lack of or ability to handle confusion.

How does luck fit into confusion? Luck is the hope that some uncontrolled chance will get one through. Counting on luck is an abandonment of control. That’s apathy.

Control and Confusion

There is “good control” and “bad control.” The difference between them is certainty and uncertainty. Good control is certain, positive, predictable. Bad control is uncertain, variable and unpredictable. With good control, one can be certain. With bad control, one is never certain.

A foreman who makes a rule effective today but not tomorrow, who makes George obey but not James, is exercising bad control. In that foreman’s wake will come uncertainty and insecurity, no matter what his personal attributes may be.

Because there can be so much uncertain, stupid control, some of us begin to believe that all control is bad. But this is very far from true. Control is necessary if one would bring any order into confusions. One must be able to control things, his body, his thoughts, at least to some degree, to do anything whatever.

A confusion could be called an “uncontrolled randomness.” Only those who can exert some control over that randomness can handle confusions. Those who cannot exert control actually breed confusions.

The difference between good and bad control then becomes more obvious. The difference between good and bad, here, is degree. A thorough, positive control can be predicted by others. Therefore it is good control. A non-positive, sloppy control cannot be predicted. Therefore it is a bad control. Intention also has something to do with control. Control can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes. But you will discover that when destructive purposes are intended, bad control is used.

Thus there is a great deal to this entire subject of confusion. You may find it rather odd for confusion itself to be used here as a target. But you will find that it is an excellent common denominator to all that we consider evil in life. And if one can become master of confusions, his attention is freed for constructive activity. So long as one is being confused by confusions, all he can think about are destructive things—what he wants to do most is to destroy the confusion.

So let us then learn first how to destroy confusions. And this we find is a rather simple thing.

When all particles seem to be in motion, halt one and see how the others move according to it and then you will find less confusion present. With one adopted as a stable datum, others can be made to fall in line. Thus an emergency, a machine, a job or life itself can be viewed and understood and one can be free.

Let us take a glance at how this works. There are a number of things which might influence obtaining, holding and improving a job. One can handle this entire problem, as people most often do, by entering into the problem the single datum, “I can get and hold a job.” By clutching to this as a single belief, the confusions and insecurities of life become less effective, less confusing.

But suppose one has done this: Without further investigating the problem, one, when young, gritted his teeth and shut his eyes and said, “I can get and hold a job, come what may. Therefore I am not going to worry about the economics of existence anymore.” Well, that was fine.

Later on, without warning, one got fired. One was out of work for ten weeks. He felt then, even when he did get a new job, less secure, less confident. And let us say that some accident occurred and one was out of a job again. When once more unemployed, he was once more even less confident, less secure. Why?

Let us take a look at the opposite side of this Doctrine of the Stable Datum. If we do, we learn that confusions are held ineffective by stable data and that when the stable datum is shaken, the confusion comes into being again.

Let us envision a confusion as stopped. It is still scattered, but it is stopped. What stopped it? The adoption of a stable datum. Let us say that one was bothered badly in the home by a mother-in-law. One day, after a quarrel, one stalked out and by inspiration said to himself, “All mothers-in-law are evil.”

That was a decision. That, rightly or wrongly, was a stable datum adopted in a confusion. At once one felt better. He could deal with or live with the problem now. He knew that “All mothers-in-law were evil.” It wasn’t true, but it was a stable datum.

Then one day, when he was in trouble, his mother-in-law stepped forward, true-blue, and paid not only the rent but the other debt too. At once he felt very confused. This act of kindness should not have been a thing to bring in confusion. After all, hadn’t she solved the problem? Then why does one feel upset about it? Because the stable datum has been shaken. The entire confusion of the past problem came into action again by reason of the demonstrated falsity of the stable datum.

To make anyone confused, all you have to do is locate their stable data and invalidate them. By criticism or proof, it is only necessary to shake these few stable data to get all a person’s confusions back into action.

You see, stable data do not have to be true. They are simply adopted. When adopted, then one looks at other data in relation to them. Thus the adoption of any stable datum will tend to nullify the confusion addressed. But if that stable datum is shaken, invalidated, disproven, then one is left again with the confusion. Of course, all one has to do is adopt a new stable datum or put the old stable datum back in place. But he’d have to know Scientology in order to accomplish this smoothly.

Let us say one has no fears of national economy because of a heroic political figure who is trying his best. That man is the stable datum to all one’s confusions about national economy. Thus one “isn’t worried.” But one day, circumstances or his political enemies shake him as a datum. They “prove” he was really dishonest. One then becomes worried all over again about national economy.

Maybe you adopted some philosophy because the speaker seemed such a pleasant chap. Then some person carefully proves to you that the speaker was actually a thief or worse. One adopted the philosophy because one needed some peace from his thoughts. Invalidating the speaker would then at once bring back the confusion one faced originally.

All right. We looked at the confusion of the workaday world when we were young, and we held it all back by stating grimly, “I can get and keep a job.” That was the stable datum. We did get a job. But we got fired. The confusion of the workaday world then became very confusing. If we have only the one stable datum, “I can get and keep a job,” then assuredly one is going to spend some confusing periods in his working life. A far, far better stable datum would be, “I understand about life and jobs. Therefore I can get, hold and improve them.”

Confusion need not be an unavoidable and persistent part of one’s working life. By employing the Doctrine of the Stable Datum one can gradually bring order and understanding to any situation.

disturb the order or arrangement of; upset the normal condition or functioning of.

laid the base of or supported, such as a conclusion, with evidence or reasoning. From Latin fundus “bottom, base.”

a reference to the motion of a boxer hitting or punching with a swinging motion of the arm(s). Hence, to battle one’s way through something conceived of as threatening or attacking.

lets go, releases.

Charles Dickens (1812–1870), popular English author who wrote about nineteenth-century society and whose stories often depicted eccentric characters. See alsowaiting for something to turn up.”

firmly established; solid; fixed. Stable derives from Latin stabilis meaning firm, steadfast.

a single piece of information, as a fact; something known or assumed.

proceeding, made or occurring without definite reason, method or pattern.

structure or the arrangement of the parts of something.

an area or field of activity, thought, study or interest.

Scientology is a practical religion dealing with the study of knowledge, which through application of its technology can bring about desirable changes in the conditions of life. It was developed over a third of a century by L. Ron Hubbard. The term Scientology is taken from the Latin word scio (knowing, in the fullest meaning of the word) and the Greek word logos (study of). Scientology is further defined as the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, universes and other life.

had in one’s way, as a problem, difficulty, etc.

make (something) invalid or erroneous. Cause something to be considered untrue or unimportant; make less of.

uncontrolled outpouring, likened to a violent, swift-flowing stream.

mastered or learned perfectly.

wake is the visible trail (of agitated and disturbed water) left by something, such as a ship, moving through water. Hence, a condition left behind someone or something that has passed; following as a consequence.

walked angrily and stiffly.

to deprive of value or effectiveness.

in a manner that is firm and determined.