The only valid definition of a dirty needle is given in HCOB 3 September 78, Definition Of A Rock Slam, as:
“Dirty Needle: An erratic agitation of the needle which is ragged, jerky, ticking, not sweeping, and tends to be persistent. It is not limited in size.”
It is caused by one of three things: 1) the auditor’s TRs are bad or 2) the auditor is breaking the Auditor’s Code or 3) the pc has withholds he does not wish known.
The definitions are pointed up in the above HCOB because it is vital not to confuse a dirty needle with an R/S. They are distinctly different reads. The difference is in the character of the read: it has nothing to do with size.
Auditors, supervisors and C/Ses must understand the difference between these two reads and must be able to recognize each instantly when they occur.
Because of the underlying causes of these two different types of reads they are both most apt to appear when Confessionals are being done or when areas of O/Ws are being addressed. But they are different and the auditor must know the difference cold.
A dirty needle must not be ignored especially when doing any type of Confessional action.
If the auditor’s TRs are in and he is maintaining the Auditor’s Code, a dirty needle, taken up, will either clean or turn into an R/S. It is not to be overlooked.
The dirty needle is your hottest string to pull in finding and turning on an R/S. Whatever is behind it, ignoring it will cut the comm line between auditor and pc and wreck the auditing comm cycle.
The area that is producing a dirty needle, when questioned to get full data, will either clean or go into an R/S.
The area is considered clean when you can go over the area that gave the dirty needle and it no longer produces a dirty needle.
If it still produces a dirty needle then there is more to the withhold itself or something the pc isn’t voicing about the withhold or how he feels about the withhold, or the auditor’s TRs are terrible, but — pursued and taken up with auditor’s TRs in — this dirty needle will either turn into an R/S or it will fully clean. Until it does, however, it is still a dirty needle.
The procedure for fishing a read is covered in Auditing Demo Tape 6205c23 SH TVD-7, “Fish And Fumble, Checking Dirty Needles.” Cleaning a dirty needle is covered in E-Meter Drills 17, 20 and 21 as well, and Class II auditors and above should be very adept at this.
The rule is: Don’t ignore dirty needles. Always follow them up.