L Ron Hubbard’s breakthrough book, “Dianetics” included sweeping scientific and medical claims made by an author who was unqualified and unknown in those fields. It only attracted attention from mainstream reviewers (literary, scientific and medical) only when it unaccountably sold many copies and triggered a popular fad. Those reviews were universally negative.
The reason that it sold so well was that the overwhelming majority of buyers had encountered editorial material promoting the book in the pages of “Astounding Science Fiction”. This first appeared as an enthusiastic recommendation for an article about “[…] a new science of human thought” that was to appear in the March 1950 issue. This article, which described “Dianetics”, was written by L Ron Hubbard and was published at the same time as his book.
It was the editor of “Astounding”, John W Campbell, who gave Hubbard this invaluable free publicity. An enthusiast for many fringe ideas, he was carried away by what he saw as the promise of Dianetics.
In an interview, the science fiction writer Alfred Bester describes how he experienced this first hand. While preparing the May 1950 extract for publication, he told Bester that the book deserved at least a Nobel Peace Prize.
After the break, you can view and download scans of both Campbell’s March 1950 introduction and the “Dianetics” article, as it appeared in May 1950.
Campbell’s March 1950 Introduction to “Astounding Science Fiction’s” Upcoming Article about “Dianetics”
Click on the images to enlarge &/or Download as .pdf
The Complete “Dianetics” Article, As It Appeared in the May 1950 Issue of “Astounding Science Fiction”
Pulp magazines were the (literally) disposable entertainment of their day. People read them, then threw them away. There were also printed on very poor quality paper and stapled together. Even magazines which have been stored away to have yellowed and crumbled away, so the number of readable copies declines every year.
There is now a lucrative market in science magazines of this period, and this issue is also sought after by Scientologist. Although there are presently copies to be had today for around $50 US, they are likely to appreciate in value and become even more difficult to obtain.
The availability of primary sources is crucial to any accurate history of Scientology, especially now that changes have started to creep into the supposedly inviolable writings of ‘source’ (Hubbard).
Despite the fact that it is a doctrine of the the Church of Scientology that Hubbard’s work cannot be revised in any way (and doing so is considered to be a serious offence) new editions of his books are often significantly different from the originals.
Passages which today appear astonishingly racist, misogynist and homophobic have disappeared, as well as rants against psychiatrists, and assertions that are embarrassingly wrong (for example, Hubbard’s description of ‘Piltdown Man’, a supposed ‘missing link’ which later turned out to be based on skeletal remains that were put together as a prank by students).
For example, the following (astonishingly racist) passage can be found on page 135 of the 1976 edition of “Dianetics”.
The number of engrams in a Zulu would be astonishing. Moved out of his restimulative area and taught English he would escape the penalty of much of his reactive data; but in his native habitat the Zulu is only outside the bars of a madhouse because there are no madhouses provided by his tribe.
This same passage has been revised for page 165 of the 2007 edition. It neatly neutralises the bigoted racism expressed in the original by changing one word.
The number of engrams in a primitive would be astonishing. Moved out of his restimulative area and taught English, he would escape the penalty of much of his reactive data. But in his native habitat, the primitive is only outside the bars of a madhouse because there are no madhouses provided by his tribe.
There are also examples of alterations which have been made to retrospectively bring Hubbard’s words into line with the present Church of Scientology. For example, this passage (on page 167 of the 1976 edition) directly contradicts the Church of Scientology’s present absolute prohibition against medicinal drugs.
The auditor can do everything backwards, upside down and utterly wrong and the patient will still be better, provided only that he does not try to use drugs before he has worked a few cases, that he does not use hypnotism as hypnotism and he does not try to cross dianetics with some older therapy. He can use drugs in dianetics if he knows his dianetics and if he has medical concurrence. He can use all the techniques of hypnotism so long as he is thoroughly experienced with dianetics. And once he has used dianetics, he will not fall back to mystic efforts to heal minds. In short, the point which is offered here is that so long as the auditor takes a relatively simple case at first to see how the mechanisms of the mind work and uses only the reverie he cannot get into trouble.
Page 203 of the 2007 edition brings Hubbard’s words into line with the present-day policy of the Church of Scientology by simply editing out the offending parts (and removes an embarrassing reference to hypnotism).
The auditor can do everything backwards, upside down and utterly wrong and the patient will still be better, provided only that he does not try to use drugs, that he does not use hypnotism and he does not try to cross Dianetics with some older therapy. Once he has used Dianetics, he will not fall back to mystic efforts to heal minds. In short, the point which is offered here is that so long as the auditor takes a relatively simple case at first (to see how the mechanisms of the mind work) and uses only the reverie, he cannot get into trouble.
These examples, and many more, are detailed on this excellent site.