The New Yorker piece on Scientology is online here, all 26 pages.
Mostly it reminded me that religions, cults, single codes of beliefs, can gather followers of any intellectual level. They aren’t appealing to reason or intelligence, but a primal longing. I suppose the primal goes without saying; longing is visceral, and doesn’t always make us act in our own best interests.
Longing can make us believe the impossible, even when we know it's impossible. And so we draw for that inside straight, over and over again.
The deck is stacked, really, as given the power, heads of these organizations usually are or eventually become the worst human nature can dish out.
I lost many friends to groups like this. Friends who were so much smarter than I was or am. But I have one thing they didn't -- skepticism. Heaps of it, in spades.