IT WAS Mr Justice Latey in the Royal Courts of Justice on 23 July 1984 who made the most swingeing public attack on L. Ron Hubbard's credibility yet mounted. He was trying a custody case involving a ten-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl. Their mother had left Scientology and contended that if the children remained with their father they would be brought up as Scientologists and severely damaged. The teachings and practices of Scientology became an issue in the trial, as did the character and conduct of its founder, Lafayette Ron Hubbard. Mr Justice Latey described Hubbard variously in the course of his judgement as a 'charlatan and worse'; 'a cynical liar'; 'grimly reminiscent of Hitler'; and his church as 'corrupt, sinister and dangerous'. On the other hand, Hubbard's followers saw him as a unique spiritual teacher who had an insight into the mysteries of life, a guru who had been a prolific science-fiction writer (with claims of over twenty-three million books sold) and teacher, pouring forth articles, memoranda and books on the subject of Dianetics, which he transformed into the religion of Scientology.
Where there is such a sharp divergence over a person it is usual to turn to the published facts as any historian would. This is where Hubbard achieves a unique distinction among controversial figures. Not even the facts about him are beyond dispute. That he was born on 13 March 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska, is about the only agreed fact. Thereafter the claims Hubbard made for himself in submitting material to reference works (or the claims that were made on his behalf by his zealous admirers) part company with the facts. Even a little detail such as the claim that he grew up on a ranch owned by his grandparents in Montana is completely untrue. His exploits as an explorer or as a young boy travelling extensively in the Far East, sitting at the
L. RON HUBBARD: GURU, GOD, OR DEMON?
feet of gurus, are as fictional as any of his later sci-fi stories. The picture of a romantic adventurer invented by Hubbard for himself is forgiveable in a teller of stories as a harmless vanity, but when his academic record is claimed as some kind of authority for his views, or his war record touted as evidence of his courage and moral integrity, and then both are shown to be a tissue of lies, then one begins to suspect that Hubbard was more of a pathological liar than a dreamer. The 'doctorate' from Sequoia University is nothing more than a $20 mail order effort. The nuclear physics course ('the first of its kind ever') that he attended while gaining his civil engineering degree at George Washington University was one of the courses he registered for while there for ONE term - and he failed it, gaining an overall grade of 'D'. The exploits of Hubbard as an explorer and pioneer of geological surveys of Puerto Rico are fictitious. His career as a 'Barnstormer' pilot before the war must have been severely handicapped by the fact that he never possessed a licence to fly powered aircraft, only a glider licence.
All these claims and more have been subjected to extensive research - none more so than Hubbard's war record in the US Navy. He claimed to be a much-decorated war hero who commanded a corvette and during hostilities was crippled and wounded. The only true fact is that he was in the Navy. The rest is pure fiction.
It was the discovery that Hubbard's war record was bogus which sparked off the defection of researcher Gerry Armstrong from Scientology. He had been assigned to assist writer Omar Garrison in preparing a biography of Hubbard and kept some of the documents as proof to protect himself. It was in the court case to win them back in 1984 that Scientology scored its biggest own goal. The case was presided over by Judge Paul Breckenridge in California Superior Court (Los Angeles County) and was brought by Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue.
At first it looked as if the defence documents tracing Hubbard's naval career were to prove damning. When Hubbard was briefly in command of an escort vessel USS PC-815 in the spring of 1943, he ordered its guns to be fired on an uninhabited island in neutral territorial waters off Mexico. He was summoned to a court martial and removed from command. In 1945 he was hospitalized - not from war wounds, but on psychiatric grounds. Documents testifying to his unfitness for command were introduced. Then the Scientologists brought out their star witness, Captain Thomas Moulton, who testified that he had known Hubbard at submarine school in 1942.
Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, under cross-examination Captain Moulton related that Hubbard had told him how he was involved in the first action in the Second World War at Pearl Harbour and how his destroyer had gone down with all hands save himself. Hit in the kidneys, Hubbard had crawled ashore and subsequently sailed to Australia. Captain Moulton's testimony not only stressed his credulity but exposed yet another well-spring in the abundantly irrigated fields which had been sown with Hubbard's lies.
The difficulty Hubbard had in urinating at the time he knew Moulton was not the result of a war wound. Documents in Hubbard's handwriting produced in court showed he had contracted gonorrhoea after sex with a lady named Fern.
In the British case, Justice Latey poured scorn on another claim that Hubbard was sent by US Naval Intelligence to break up a black magic ring in California: 'He was not. He was himself a member of that occult group and practised ritual sexual magic in it.'
Thus the picture of Hubbard as a romancer and purveyor of flim-flam gives way to a darker portrait of a pathological liar distorting the truth about himself for personal gain. His application for a disability pension for a war wound that never existed was cynically undertaken. Armstrong's attorney Michael Flynn tells of a document which relates how Hubbard declared he was going into the hearing for the pension and 'convince the Feds I'm disabled and then I'm gonna laugh at them'. 'This is the mindset which created Scientology, a man who is making these fraudulent claims about himself,' says Flynn.
It was in 1946 that Hubbard was first involved with Aleister Crowley's black magic movement, the Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of the Oriental Temple). The Church of Scientology claims that Hubbard was working as an undercover policeman for the Los Angeles Police Department when he infiltrated a black-magic ring in Pasadena at that time. It was run by Dr Jack Parsons, a top rocket scientist who was a disciple of Crowley. In this instance the facts are not in dispute: Hubbard ran off to Florida with a lady named Betty in a yacht belonging to Parsons and with $10,000 of his money. Soon afterwards the ring broke up. Hubbard's devotees hold this up as a successful undercover operation, but in the absence of official acknowledgement by the authorities of Hubbard acting as their agent, many may choose to believe that it was a case of one scoundrel ripping off another.
The Church of Scientology was successful in obtaining a retraction by *The Sunday Times* in 1969 and in winning an action in 1971
L. RON HUBBARD: GURU, GOD, OR DEMON?
against the author John Symonds and publishers of *The Great Beast*, a biography of Crowley, which alleged that Hubbard's new religion was derived from black magic. There is no evidence that Hubbard continued his occult practices through the time that he was in charge of the cult in the sixties and seventies, but there is evidence linking him with Crowley's beliefs.
First, there is the *Penthouse* interview of June 1983 with Hubbard's son Ronald (nicknamed 'Nibs'), who broke with him in 1959. There are some grounds for doubting Hubbard Jr. as a reliable witness. As we shall see in a later chapter, he has at different times retracted some of his allegations against his father, but in this interview he stated: 'When Crowley died in 1954, my father thought he should wear the cloak of the beast and become the most powerful being in the universe ...What a lot of people don't realize is that Scientology is black magic ...spread out over a long time period. To perform black magic generally takes a few hours or, at most, a few weeks, but in Scientology it's stretched out over a lifetime and so you don't see it. Black magic is the inner core of Scientology - and is probably the only part of Scientology that really works.'
The fact that Nibs Hubbard (or Ronald DeWolf as he is now known) still conducts courses in techniques derived from Scientology, for fees, perhaps undermines the credibility of these allegations. His analysis of the dependency of Scientology on black magic is perhaps tinged by his deep animosity towards his father. But the 'mindset' of an occultist, who uses ritual to acquire power and dominance over others, is totally consistent with Hubbard's psychological profile. In his Philadelphia lectures in 1952 he makes the link himself in his own words: 'The magical cults of the 8th-12th centuries in the Middle East were fascinating; the only modern work that has anything to do with them is a trifle wild in spots but is a fascinating work in itself, and that's written by Aleister Crowley - the late Aleister Crowley - my very good friend...Crowley exhumed a lot of the data from these old magic cults and he handles cause and effect quite a bit. Cause and effect is handled according to a ritual...Now a magician - getting back to cause and effect and Aleister's work - a magician postulates what his goal will be before he starts to accomplish what he is doing.'1
Ron Hubbard was never openly a magician but in cause and effect through Scientology he created rituals and held millions spellbound through the power of his will. How he came to discover the means to
1 (PDC Lecture 18)
do it is a fascinating story. Like Mae West's 'Come up and see me sometime', or Bogart's 'Play it again, Sam', or Cagney's 'You dirty rat', the saying attributed to Hubbard regarding the profit to be made out of starting a new religion, was probably never made by him. Scientologists have drawn attention to a letter of Eric Blair (George Orwell: *Collected Essays*, Vol. 1, p. 304) which ironically suggests that the way to make a million is to start a new religion. Hubbard certainly achieved that, but before the chicken of Scientology came the egg of Dianetics.
Dianetics means literally 'through the mind', although Hubbard defined it as 'through the soul': Since he did not complete even a fictitious course in Greek, the mistake is perhaps understandable. The bible of Dianetics is his book *Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health* (DMSMH), published in 1950. This date has been adopted by the Church of Scientology as the *fons et origo* of its religion and you will sometimes see red-letter events designated 'A.D. 25', which means 1985 or 'after Dianetics 25', not *anno Domini*.1
It is uncertain how much of Dianetics was actually discovered by Hubbard. In the late forties he was writing science-fiction stories and spent some time in California as a screenwriter. Whether or not he plagiarized the ideas in DMSMH became irrelevant after its publication, when he became widely acknowledged as the authority on the subject. It defines the principal driving force in life as the will to survive. This expresses itself through eight dynamics - the original four being: through self-preservation; through procreation; through family or race; through all mankind. Thus if you hear a Scientologist saying that someone is '2-D out-ethics' he means that they have been guilty of a sexual misdemeanour or unethical behaviour in the second dynamic. This org-speak is a feature of Scientology in which all terms are defined strictly and processes given technical names by Ron. Like the Red Queen, a word means what Ron says it means. Dianetics postulates the analytical mind which sets men apart from the animals and the 'reactive mind' which absorbs all experiences of pain and pleasure as individuals pass along the 'time-track' of life. Hubbard took an Eastern view that this time-track was cyclic through successive reincarnations. In the early years of Dianetics there were practitioners who violently disagreed with this. It led to some of the first splits within the Dianetics movement.
1 The first Church of Scientology org was opened in Los Angeles in 1954: the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, DC in 1955.
L. RON HUBBARD: GURU, GOD, OR DEMON?
The theory of Dianetics was developed by Hubbard through lectures and publications. Other dynamics were added. Number five dealt with the urge to survive as a life organism. Six was the urge to survive as part of the physical universe of MEST, which stood for Matter-Energy-Space-Time. Seven was the survival of the spirit or 'theta', as he called it. Thetans are spiritual beings who have realized their potential and are not held back by the handicap of 'engrams'. Up to this state a person is a 'preclear'. Engram-free, they become 'Clear' - a state akin to salvation, but different from the religious concept in that Clears could supposedly be made and measured, The controversial claim was made that Clears recovered from illness more quickly and suffered disease less often, a result which has, not surprisingly, never been borne out in proper scientific research. The eighth dynamic was survival as part of the supreme being, Scientology's nirvana.
Two other dogmas are worth noting. First, the ARC triangle, which stands for Affinity-Reality-Communication. These are mutually related so that if communication is low then it follows that affinity and reality will be low. Secondly, there is the tone-scale invented by Hubbard, which ranges from 0.0 (dead), through grief at 0.5, sympathy at 0.9 and covert hostility at 1.1, to the ceiling of 4.0, which equals enthusiasm. Walking tall at 4.0, the individual would be a MEST clear, free from psychosomatic ills and nearly immune to bacteria. Hubbard extended his observations to declare that some political ideologies were higher on the tone-scale than others. Liberalism has a 'higher tone' than Fascism, which is superior to Communism.
The preclear who cannot recall incidents in his present life while conscious, awake and 'in present time' (known as straight-wire processing), is badgered time and again with the same question until he remembers. Or various techniques can be used by the auditor, the person who is conducting the session with the preclear (often abbreviated to pc). For example: 'The auditor asks the pc to run through a moment of sexual pleasure and then when his pc, who does not have to recount this moment aloud, appears to have settled into that moment, the auditor demands that the pc goes immediately to conception. The pc will normally do so...' (*Science of Survival* II, p. 173). Persistent cross-examination by the auditor can break down the resistance of the pc to confronting certain painful incidents or engrams in his or her past. The induction of Dianetic reverie heightens this quasi-influence of the auditor over the pc, but clearly in the right hands Dianetics
could be an effective form of releasing mental blocks and trauma. It was a tool that Hubbard was to develop into a complex system dominated by his strong and ugly personality, which has more than once been called paranoid and schizophrenic.
With the publication of DMSMH in 1950, Hubbard had been lucky enough to acquire two influential figures to join the Board of Directors of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, which he set up in 1950. One was John W. Campbell, the editor of *Astounding Science Fiction*, which Hubbard had contributed an article on Dianetics in 1948. The other was a medical man, Dr Joseph Winter. When the initial interest waned and cash-flow to the Foundation became a problem, Don Purcell of Wichita, Kansas, stepped in to provide a cash injection in 1951. Purcell became President of the Foundation, with Hubbard as Chairman and Vice-President, and the Foundation was relocated in Wichita. However, in 1952 the Foundation went bankrupt and Hubbard sold his stock to Purcell along with all the copyrights, including DMSMH.
There were many reasons for the fragmentation. The various scattered field groups jealously guarded their independence and did not acknowledge Hubbard as chief. His authoritarian style was a problem and this led to a split with John Campbell. Hubbard's espousal of occultism and his identification of 'past lives' as the source of many engrams did not please those, including Dr Winter, who wanted to see Dianetics accepted by the scientific community. It had been lumped together with psycho-analysis and hypnotism because of its stress on childhood trauma and its use of Dianetic 'reverie'. The battle was fierce, each group having its own journal (*Dianews, Dianotes*, etc), and several breakaway methodologies based on Dianetics were formed at this time, including Synergetics.
Hubbard was faced with a problem in the early days of the HDRF. So far the state of 'Clear' had been much touted but there appeared to be no means of agreeing that Clears had been achieved. With characteristic initiative, Hubbard announced that his second wife, Sara Northrup, was one, but when she divorced him, making bitter accusations against him, the status of Clears and of the HDRFs suffered another blow.
Roy Wallis, the sociologist who catalogued the rise of Scientology from its origins in Dianetics in his book *The Road to Total Freedom* (1976), accounts for the popularity of Dianetics in 1950 as a reason for its demise. Like the concept of a 'flying saucer' current at the time, 'Clear' became a Rorschach blot concept which could be all things to
L. RON HUBBARD: GURU, GOD, OR DEMON?
all people. They could impose their aspirations upon it. Simply by reading DMSMH they could start auditing one another and, unlike other psychotherapies, it did not insist on professional training or standards for its practitioners, whose claims about their competence could not be verified. In *Marginal Medicine* (1976) Wallis argues that when Hubbard came to found Scientology, he profited from these lessons. 'Scientology was organized from the outset in a highly centralized and authoritarian fashion and was practised on a professional basis. Its theory and method were only gradually revealed to those who displayed commitment to Hubbard and practised its techniques in a pure and unalloyed fashion. A rigorous method of social control emerged and it was made clear to all followers that Hubbard was the sole source of new knowledge and of interpretation of existing knowledge.'
However, in 1952 the phoenix had yet to arise from the ashes of the HDRF in Wichita. Hubbard took himself off literally to the town of Phoenix, Arizona, and opened a centre there in March 1952. He travelled in September of that year to England to lecture in London and returned again in January to find interest in his theories increasing. In between these visits he delivered the famous Philadelphia Doctorate Lectures (1-19 December 1952). These are still for sale on cassette by the Church of Scientology at over $2000 for the set and include Hubbard's notorious reference to the R2-45 process for exteriorisation. In plain language, it means that someone can be released from their body by shooting them with a Colt '45, which Ron proceeded to demonstrate by firing a revolver into the floor of the podium.
Hubbard then 'invented' the term Scientology. Whether or not he borrowed the term is immaterial. He has made it all his own, one of the few achievements which is undisputed. He defined it as 'the science of knowing how to know' and differentiated it from Dianetics, which he explained as derived from through (*dia*) the soul (*nous*). 'Dianetics addresses the body. Scientology addresses the thetan [spirit]...Thus Dianetics is used to knock out and erase illnesses, unwanted sensations, misemotion, somatics, pain, etc. Scientology and its grades are *never* used for such things. Scientology is used to increase spiritual freedom, intelligence, ability, to produce immortality.' (*What is Scientology?*, p. 209)
In Phoenix, Hubbard began HASI (Hubbard Association of Scientologists, which later gained the suffix International) and waged war on Purcell in Wichita, accusing him of profiteering from Dianetics. In late 1954 Purcell switched his support to the splinter group
Synergetics and Hubbard had a lucky break. Anxious to free himself from Hubbard's lawsuits, Purcell gave Hubbard back the copyrights of the Dianetics material. Ron now had the opportunity to have his Scientology cake and to eat Dianetics for breakfast. He took it.
In the next chapter we shall see how the tools of Dianetics became the trappings of a religion. One of the most important of these tools had hardly been used by the Dianetics movement. This was the E-Meter which had been developed by Volney G. Mathison in 1959. Although there is very little that Scientologists do not attribute to the apparently limitless genius of Hubbard, they do agree that Mathison produced the device which with minor modifications has now been renamed the 'Hubbard Electrometer'. Hubbard's original specification was for a device that was capable 'of measuring the rapid shifts in density of a body under the influence of thought and measuring them well enough to give an auditor a deep and marvellous insight into the mind of his preclear'. The instrument which fulfilled these great expectations was a form of galvanometer which operated on the principle of the wheatstone bridge so beloved of school physics labs. It was wired up to two tin cans such as those used to hold baby food or frozen orange juice. The terminals are held, one in each hand, by the preclear and thus measure the conductivity (or conversely the resistance) of the skin of the hands. Obviously this will be affected by pressure, but operators attempt to stabilize the reading for each preclear (the 'body reading') and then look for significant swings in the galvanometer needle. This is also the principle on which the lie detector works and when used to ask a preclear about his 'overts' (wrongdoing), it functions precisely in this manner.
A complex terminology was developed by Hubbard to interpret the readings of the needle. It was a cocktail of slang and pseudo-science: 'theta bop' (steady dance of the needle); 'stage four' (needle goes up an inch or two, sticks, falls to the right and repeats this action); 'rock slam' (needle goes back and forth in jerky fashion); 'floating' (the goal of the auditing session when the needle floats free over a wide area unaffected by questions or commands).
Scientologists usually demonstrate the working of the E-Meter by asking a subject to hold the cans, then pinching him or her on the back of the hand. This will usually cause a deflection of the needle, since it is a painful experience. When the needle has settled, the auditor then asks the subject, 'Recall that pinch'. The needle will then deflect in the same way as in the original pinch, but probably with less intensity. This test is said to demonstrate Hubbard's view of the reactive mind
L. RON HUBBARD: GURU, GOD, OR DEMON?
- that all painful experiences on the time-track are stored until released by auditing. Wallis reviews some of the scientific work done to test this hypothesis. In one test a pc was given sodium pentathol and while he was unconscious a passage from a physics textbook was read and pain administered. Six months of subsequent auditing sessions failed to produce recall by the 'reactive mind' of the incident.
The area of auditing is intensely personal. Two common questions are: 'What are you willing to tell me about?' and 'What are you willing to tell me about it?' Clearly guilt and sensitivity are being looked for by the E-Meter as voraciously as the diviner's rod hunts for water. Persistent questioning will follow 'withholds' (matters about which the pc would rather not give a straight answer). Auditing can thus be seen as a cousin of techniques such as psycho-analysis (where childhood experiences, particularly of sexuality, are tapped) and of psychotherapy. We shall see in a later chapter how this has led to accusations of brain-washing and manipulation, some of which are no more justified against the Scientologists than against any other religion. But in its early days the E-Meter ran into formidable opposition from the medical establishment in the US. It is against the law in the USA to diagnose and treat disease unless as a properly qualified medical practitioner. Dianetics had been attacked from its inception by representatives of the American Medical Association (AMA). Dr Morris Fishbein was widely quoted in 1950 when he called it yet another 'mind-healing cult'.
Omar Garrison catalogues the antagonism towards Scientology by the AMA in his book *The Hidden Story of Scientology* (1974), which is largely sympathetic to the Church of Scientology and is sometimes sold in its bookshops. He contends that the AMA at one point considered planting a spy in Scientology's Founding Church in Washington and that black propaganda was spread by the AMA about Hubbard, particularly that he had received psychiatric treatment. Both these charges are somewhat ironic in that such black propaganda became one of the officially sanctioned tactics of Scientology, and evidence introduced in 1984 in the Armstrong case supports the contention that Hubbard was subject to psychiatric treatment on demobilisation from the Navy. However, it was the E-Meter that gave the authorities their greatest chance in the fifties of acting against Hubbard's organization. Garrison quotes Oliver Field of the AMA's Bureau of Investigation writing to an Ohio scientist opposed to Hubbard: 'We notice in copies of correspondence you enclosed that Dr Milstead of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
indicated that an investigation is going forward so far as the device of the E-Meter is concerned and perhaps that activity is the only immediate hope of achieving any interference with the activities of the Scientologists.'
The FDA already had an agent within the Washington church. His reports were eventually to lead to a raid on the church on 4 January 1963 by US marshals, in which Scientology files and E-Meters were seized. The Scientologists were outraged. A protracted legal battle ensued with the Church of Scientology contending that what was involved was not simply an attack on itself as a religious movement but upon the First Amendment to the US Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion. In the course of its submissions it contended that the E-Meter was a religious artefact and if it was held to be an instrument of healing then this would also have to apply to the mass wafers, candles and holy water of Roman Catholicism. What was important here in the development of Scientology into a religion was that if the E-Meter was judged to be a religious artefact then a religion had been created in which spiritual progress could actually be measured and practised without recourse to providential grace from God. It could be assured by performing the correct techniques and by following a manual. It was truly a religious 'technology'. The 'truths' of religion had been rendered as quasi-scientific principles. Salvation was not something which came to those whom God chose, but was open to anyone who paid for an auditing course. That was, of course, blasphemy to orthodox religionists. It was the age-old heresy of gnosticism repackaged in a way to appeal to twentieth-century scientific man. The E-Meter was declared by Hubbard to be more infallible than any pope and was as immutable as any law of thermodynamics. 'It sees all, knows all. It is never wrong.' (*Electro-psychometric Auditing Operator's Manual*, p. 57)
Right from its inception in the fifties the Church of Scientology had established a collision course with orthodox religion and medicine. It also acquired another enemy, the Inland Revenue Service, or IRS. Scientology had been incorporated on 21 July 1955 as a non-profit-making society and corporation. Like other churches in the USA it did not, therefore, have to pay taxes. In 1958 the IRS began to try to alter this state of affairs and to withdraw the tax-exempt status of Scientology. This hostility from Government agencies did much to establish the paranoia about the State which was to lead Scientologists and their founder into many excesses in later years. Despite a growing network of churches throughout the US and a burgeoning income, it
L. RON HUBBARD: GURU, GOD, OR DEMON?
also explains why Hubbard sought a new Mecca for his Dianetic dollars in the late fifties which was far from his enemies' influence. He found it in the rural splendour of Sussex, England, in the grandeur of a mansion which was once the domain of the Maharaja of Jaipur.
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