Secrets of Scientology: The E-Meter
Welcome to the Internet's most extensive E-Meter site. The device
above is a Hubbard electro-psychometer (E-meter): a crude lie detector
used by Scientology auditors (counselors) to examine a person's
mental state. Scientologists claim the device allows people to "see a
thought". In the hands of a trained auditor, they believe it can
uncover "hidden crimes". John Travolta
swears by it. And so do Jenna
Elfman and Priscilla Presley. Here you
will learn the truth about this device.
Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes (parody)
How The E-Meter Works
- The Book Introducing the E-Meter. Gives basic data on the
E-Meter, chapter 14 of the Report of the Board of Inquiry into
Scientology ("The Anderson Report", Victoria, Australia, 1965.)
- The E-Meter,
chapter 18 of Paulette Cooper's historic book, The Scandal Of Scientology.
- alt.religion.scientology FAQ entry on the E_Meter.
- What's a Wheatstone Bridge?, from a post by David Morning.
- Biophysics and the E-Meter, by Chris Schafmeister.
- How to Audit Aphids, by Perry Scott.
- Jon Atack Takes Apart the Scientology E-Meter, from Tony Ortega's blog
- A Study of E-Meter Frequency Response, by Perry Scott.
Devices" are described by Stephen Barrett, M.D., at his award-winning
quackwatch.com web site. And check out
this page on Radionics, another
quack diagnostic "technology".
about the E-meter from a 2009 Scientology trial in Paris.
- Electroplating and endorphins --
Arnie Lerma's controversial speculations about the biological effects of prolonged
exposure to the E-meter's low current.
- The E-Meter Unveiled, by Chris Owen.
``By itself, this meter does nothing.'' --
Excerpt from a disclaimer found in every E-meter book, and on the
In this photo, a course supervisor monitors the
performance of student auditors at a Scientology training facility.
Notice that the meter's tone arm is worked with the thumb of the left
hand; the right hand is used to take notes. Left-handed auditors must
purchase a left-handed E-meter, where the positions of the dials and
knobs are reversed.
- The E-meter drills. A detailed summary of the actual
drills used to train Scientology auditors.
Metering Course available free online, courtesy of Clearbird, a
- The Language of the
E-Meter, by L. Kin, offers a good explanation of needle
movements and basic auditing procedure.
- The TRs. Scientology's
training routines (actually brainwashing procedures) teach an auditor to
suppress all affect (and critical thought) while maintaining positive control
over the pre-clear throughout the auditing session.
- David Alexander answers some questions about
This photo from the St. Petersburg
Times shows an E-meter with the optional remote tone arm to the
The two "cans" in the photo are joined together by a plastic insulator
insert, allowing both to be held in one hand for solo auditing. This
type of auditing is practiced only on the most advanced (and most
expensive) Scientology levels, namely, OT III and Solo NOTs (New Era
Dianetics for Operating Thetans.)
The remote tone arm attachment, sitting to the left of the meter, is
used in solo auditing. The person holds the cans in one hand and uses
their other hand both to take notes and to work the large knurled knob
on the left side of the remote. The knob is geared to the dial on the
front of the remote, so moving one also moves the other.
Alternatively, the person could move the front dial with their pen.
What is metered auditing really like? Robert Kaufman spills
the beans in his book Inside
Scientology/Dianetics, which the Scientology organization
tried to suppress.
Schematics for Early E-Meters
Embarassing E-Meter Facts
- Although Hubbard's name is on the patent application, the E-meter
was actually invented by a chiropractor named Volney Mathison, and was originally called the
Mathison Model B Electropsychometer.
Mathison also marketed a cheaper Mathison Quiz Meter and a manuscript
on "Electropsychometry" by L. Ron Hubbard and himself. Here
is an excerpt.
- Mathison's Electropsychometer (meter photo) was promoted as an aid to psychotherapy and psychoanalysis,
which is anathema to Scientologists!
- The more modern "bathroom scale" E-Meter design was registered
with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 1997 under registration
number 2056778. (Thanks to Scientology attorney Samuel D. Rosen, of
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, for pointing this out.) Here
is the trademark registration. In August
2001, Scientology also registered "E-Meter" as a word mark; the
registration is here. But there are many
commercial uses of the term "E-Meter"! It appears the main point of the trademark registration
would be to prevent FreeZone groups from marketing their own electropsychometers under this name.
- Needle actions can be faked. Martin Hunt
confessed to faking an F/N (floating needle, a movement that
signals the end of an auditing process) by gently squeezing the cans.
E-meter drill 9 and drill 13 are supposed to teach
auditors to recognize such actions, but they don't always catch them.
Pxxxxxx Jxxx and Arnie Lerma have found that a violent needle movement
called a rockslam can be produced simply
by checking the electrode leads, or by corrosion in the plug
- The ``metabolism test'' done at the
start of each session has nothing to do with metabolism.
- The mechanical meter movement is
specially designed to bounce around a lot, producing extra
``phenomena'' for the auditor to interpret.
- The US Food & Drug Administration raided Scientology on
January 4, 1963 and seized hundreds of E-meters as illegal medical
devices. The incident is described in Jon Atack's book, A Piece of
Blue Sky, and in this essay by Stephen
Barrett, M.D. Since that time, meters have been required to carry
a disclaimer stating that they are
purely a religious artifact. This appellate court decision describes the
trial and the various witnesses who appeared.
- This subsequent court decision
says in part: "As a matter of formal doctrine, the Church professes to
have abandoned any contention that there is a scientific basis for
claiming cures resulting from E-meter use. The Church, however,
continued widely to circulate Scientology literature such as
Government's exhibits 16 and 31, which hold out false scientific and
medical promises of certain cure for many types of illnesses." Also
see this decision by the US
District Court in Minnesota concerning the E-meter and unlawful
- The 9th Circuit reached a
similar conclusion, noting that "Labels of disclaimer, to-wit:
'Not intended or effective for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention
of any disease,' found on about half of devices, were not controlling
in determining whether devices were mislabeled within Federal Food,
Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and thus subject to prohibition of
importation, but were to be considered together with any extrinsic
evidence of intended use of device."
- The actual ordered E-meter
warning was published in Federal food, drug, and cosmetic act:
judicial and administrative record, 1969-1974, 1969-1974 FDCA
Jud. Rec. (FDLI) 90 (D.D.C. 1971) and 1969-1974 FDCA Jud. Rec. (FDLI)
131 (D.C. Cir. 1973).
E-meters are assembled at "Gold Base",
Scientology's armed compound in Hemet, California.
The St. Petersburg Times reports
it takes only 80 minutes to put one together, as the technician shown
at left is doing.
And for this they charge over $4,000???
- E-Meter-like devices are available from sources outside the
Church of Scientology at much lower prices. Rest assured, these fine
products are every bit as worthless as the Scientology models. Check
out this Google
directory for links. But if you want a genuine Scientology
E-Meter, you can purchase the "Mark Super VII Quantum™
E-Meter® pastoral counseling device" from the FLAG bookstore. Or pick up a used
- From the "idols with feet of clay" department: even L. Ron
Hubbard had "discreditable
reads" (indications of serious aberration or criminality) on the
E-Meter. This really ticked him off!
- Here's how Scientology uses eBay's VERO program to keep
ex-members from selling their E-meters. Thanks to attorney Scott
Pilutik for permission to reproduce his essay (original
Look Inside the Mark Super VII E-Meter
Click here for a guided tour of the Mark Super VII..
Until the release of the Mark VII Quantum model in 1996, the Hubbard
Professional Mark Super VII was the latest (mid-1980s) and most
sophisticated model E-meter sold. Scientology doesn't want anyone
looking too closely at their "advanced" technology, but this web page
offers you a guided tour of the device, with exterior and interior
views including the main circuit board, charging circuit, jacks, and
data plate. "Hey, it's got Intel inside!"
Here is US Patent 8,121,676 detailing some recent (circa 2003) advances
in E-meter technology. Interestingly, Hubbard is listed as an inventor, although he died in 1986.
What's Next? The Mark VIII Ultra!
The Mark VIII Ultra
E-Meter shown at left (click
for larger version), was manufactured in Japan in 2004, on a
production line that once made Sony Walkmans. It was finally released in
November of 2013.
Some folks think the new meter looks a lot like the
Easy Bake oven, a popular kid's toy.
Here's a drawing of the meter that came out several
years before its release. Look at those cans! The TA counter is
visible behind the dark plastic wedge at the top center of the meter.
This is Russ Bellin's baby. Too bad he stuck with an old-style serial
port connector instead of putting in a USB port. Those all had to be
replaced before the meter was finally released.
There were 20,000 of these white elephants sitting in the Bandini
warehouse in Los Angeles, awaiting the day when DM decided to release
them to the world. That day finally came in November 2013.
For more juicy background details on the meter, read this and this and this.
Here is US Patent #6011992, System
for Measuring and Indicating Changes in the Resistance of a Living
Body, which covers the Mark VIII Ultra and perhaps some of its
E-Meter, an old book by L. Ron Hubbard that Scientology now prints
with a more modern sci-fi cover.
Here's the book description from the Church of Scientology's own web site: "Is
the theta being inside or outside the mest body or both? How big is a
theta being in relation to his body?" The answers aren't very
convincing, but it's unusual to see Scientologists even asking
loopy questions like this in front of raw public, much less purporting
to answer them. Bottom line: $50 buys you a load of comic book
physics and a revealing look at what constitutes a "scientific
explanation" in the cult of Scientology.
- The Book of E-Meter Drills. Compiled by
Mary Sue Hubbard, who later went to jail for a long list of crimes
including bugging the IRS and stealing files from the FBI. Her husband L.
Ron Hubbard was named as an un-indicted co-conspirator.
- The Book Introducing the E-Meter. This
title no longer seems to be offered by Bridge Publications, but used
copies are still available.
- CoS and Totalitarianism, by Laura Kay
Fuller. This excerpt is the section on Technology, which
focuses on the E-meter. The full thesis is available here.
A Fictional E-Meter
Peter Alexander's Scientology parody, an independent
film called The Profit,
features a device called a "mind meter" that is modeled after
Scientology's own E-meter. You can see more pictures at
The Profit: the Movie
Scientology Won't Let You See. The movie's official web site
Back to the main "Secrets of Scientology" page.
David S. Touretzky
Computer Science Department & Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3891