One of these days, I'm going to read L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. For one, I was always intrigued by it, ever since I saw those TV commercials in the 1980s with the exploding volcano. (I've since learned that the volcano is meant to trigger a repressed memory of a historical event, placed on the cover to make it enticing.) More importantly, I want to read it because it's the book that kick-started what eventually became the religion of Scientology. And I like to read source materials more than I like listening to what second-hand sources have to say. However, since what I'm writing about today isn't meant to be exhaustive and since what I'm writing is largely about these second-hand sources and opinions, I'm going to jump on in and discuss it.
Scientology gets picked on more than any religion I can think of. It gets picked on by religious people in the same way that other religions get picked on by non-religious people: as something ridiculous, man-made, harmful, etc. Tom Cruise jumped on a chair once on Oprah Winfrey's show and John Travolta made a bad movie, and now everyone feels they have the right to mercilessly tease a group that many take as seriously as the more established religions.
And yet -- again, having not read Dianetics or any other book by Hubbard -- based on my current understanding of Scientology, I don't see how it is different from any other religion. Furthermore, Scientology seems to have the added bonus of being just as much about real life (psychology, "self-help," etc.) as the supernatural, a bonus that religions that pretend to be more "normal" don't have.