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Scientologists Team with eBay to Keep 'Tech' Away from 'Suppressives'

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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DEVIL EX MACHINA Scientology's E-meter Are you experiencing buyer's remorse after purchasing an extremely costly, Church of Scientology-sanctioned e-meter and hope to assuage your guilt by selling it on the secondary market? You might be out of luck. According to a recent report, the Church has been granted direct access to eBay auctions to block the secondhand sale of the nominal lie detectors, both to prevent them from being sold to "suppressives" as well as to ensure that all would-be e-meter purchasers buy them directly from the Church (at a higher price, of course).

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E-meters—essentially tin-can contraptions that pass an electric current through the user and spit out a dubious assessment of his or her state of mind (these are the machines that street recruiters and maybe even have tried to hook you up to for a "free stress test")—have zero scientific utility, though that hasn't prevented the Church from selling them for upwards of $4,500 a pop. Now, the Church, through eBay's Verified Rights Owner Program, has been granted permission by the online auction house to go in and delete any listings for second-hand e-meters.

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