For critics of Scientology, credibility is everything.
Representatives of the Church do not have an arguable case – in fact, they are often placed in the invidious position of having to defend Scientology doctrines that they are not presently aware of (or, if they are, are not allowed to discuss).
Their only option they have is to catch critics out in a mistake – and use this to attack their credibility. This is why it is important for critics to check their sources.
In the June 1929 issue of Amazing Stories, Mathison’s story, “The Mongolian’s Ray” appeared and was promoted on the cover. Forrest J. Ackerman and Brad Linaweaver write in the book Worlds of Tomorrow, “In this story, he created the fictional device that shortly after the introduction of Dianetics, morphed into reality as the E-meter employed today to supposedly reveal the personalities of individuals interested in becoming ‘clears’ in the Dianetic regimen.
Ackerman, Forrest J.; Brad Linaweaver (2004). Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Collectors Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-888054-93-4.
It turns out to be wrong in every respect.
The quote itself is accurately taken. Here is an extract from the book where it appears. However, As you can see from the cover of Amazing Stories for June 1929 (above) Mathison is not mentioned, and the cover illustration has nothing to do with his story. Also the story itself (see below) contains nothing that resembles an e-meter in any way.
I have criticized the Church of Scientology for yielding to confirmation bias – carefully selecting sources that agree with you, and ignoring those that do not. The idea that the e-meter was born in fiction, in the same way that many of Scientology’s more controversial doctrines were presaged by Hubbard’s pulp stories, was very attractive to a critic.
It would have been very easy to take someone else’s word for it, and not bother to check, because this claim supported my views. I’m glad I took the trouble to check. Nullius in Verba.
Take a look for yourself. The story is reproduced below. To read it, you can click on one page at a time, and a larger version will open in a new tab, or you can download this .pdf file and read it from there (please be warned, it it written with an unpleasant, casual racism that is very much of its time).