“Dianetics” as it First Appeared in “Astounding Science Fiction”

campbell intro dianetics

The March 1950 issue of “Astounding” in which “Dianetics” was first promoted.

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

campbell intro dianectics 1 campbell intro dianetics 2


The Complete “Dianetics” Article, As It Appeared in the May 1950 Issue of “Astounding Science Fiction”

Download as .pdf

astounding-bigThis material is worth preserving, if only in the form of scans, because it is almost unique among Hubbard’s publications – it is rare and sought after.

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.


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9 thoughts on ““Dianetics” as it First Appeared in “Astounding Science Fiction”

  1. I would like to comment, that regarding the Piltdown Man, many educated people and even some scientists were fooled for a while and believed the Man to be real. Regarding “Zulu” in my opinion this did not indicate any racial prejudice on Ron’s part; he was using one particular tribe to illustrate a point — that the strenuous life of a tribe member was likely to lead to a lot of engrams.

    • Piltdown Man, first – those educated people and scientists were taken in by fraudulent evidence (and, perhaps the fact that they wanted it to be true). When they were able to examine the bones, the truth quickly came out.

      However, this is surely irrelevant. As I understand it, Hubbard claimed to be writing about Piltdown Man on the basis of his direct experience of previous lives which he had explored through the application of Dianetics. This implies a whole population of ‘Piltdown People’ in the evolutionary line. Consequently, the fact that Piltdown Man never existed brings this experience, and Dianetics, into question.

      Regarding the ‘Zulu’ passage, I think you are being very charitable. The Zulu people live in equatorial Africa. They are, quite obviously, black – and Hubbard is clearly equating this with inferiority. Also, Zulu culture has historically been rich, complex and well organised – not “a madhouse”. Finally, the life experience of the Zulu people is no more inherently “strenuous” than that of people living in Western cultures.

      I quoted this passage to illustrate how Hubbard’s text was changed to de-emphasise his racism. If the Church of Scientology did not think this passage was racist, why did they change it? (and, incidentally, insult tribal peoples instead).

      It is impossible to get away from the fact that Hubbard was a man of his time and culture, and clearly harboured racist ideas. This link provides many (properly referenced) quotes which demonstrate this time and again (the word ‘Bantu’, which frequently occurs, was a colonialist term for ‘Zulu’).

      Thank you for your comment.

      • On Piltdown Man, if what you say is true about Ron claiming the data was from his previous lives, that certainly would put a new light on it. Regarding the use of the word “Zulu” I’m sticking to my guns. Life for people in non-technological societies, people who are hunters/gatherers or agriculturalists, is necessarily more strenuous and does provide more opportunities to receive engrams. He may have been wrong about the sanity/insanity ratio of the Zulus but I don’t really see any evidence that he was singling them out because they are Black. The Church of Scientology changing the word Zulu to primitive — that’s their insanity.

        • I used the particular quote we are discussing to demonstrate The Church of Scientology’s willingness to change Hubbard’s words when they think it suits them, despite teaching that making such changes is a high crime. It seems we agree about this.

          However, even if we accept your point, there is ample evidence that Hubbard made outrageously racist statements in both books and lecture tapes referenced in in the link I included earlier

          For example

          […] the African tribesman, with his complete contempt for truth and his emphasis on brutality and savagery for others but not for himself, is a no-civilization.

          L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, Bridge Publications: Los Angeles, 1997

          Actually, have you ever noticed how a Negro, in particular down south, where they’re pretty close to the soil, personifies MEST? The gatepost and the wagon and the whip and anything around there—a hat. They talk to them, you know. “What’sa mattuh wi’ you hat?” They imbue them with personality.

          L. Ron Hubbard, Therapy section of Technique 80 (“Route to Infinity” tapes), Part I, a lecture given on 21 May 1952

          BTW: You appear to take the engram hypothesis seriously, but not the Church of Scientology. Consequently, I take it you are an Independent Scientologist. As you may have gathered from this site (and this discussion) I am a critic of the Church who completely rejects Scientology.

          May I say that it is good to talk to a Scientologist who is prepared to engage in a proper discussion with a person like me. You are most welcome here.

          • Hi there,
            You are right, I am an independent Scientologist. I left the official church in April of this year. Since my views are in flux it is hard to exactly pinpoint where I stand. I am very very very very interested in spiritual improvement and advancement and have found Eckhart Tolle and Taoism, and possibly Zen Buddhism to be valuable. But I haven’t rejected everything from Scientology either which is why I can perhaps call myself an Indie Scientologist. You may not accept the engram hypothesis but on the other hand you probably would go along with the idea that past experiences can have an effect on one’s attitudes and behavior in the present.

            Regarding Ron’s comments, I do understand why you reached the conclusions you did and possibly most people would reach the same conclusions. Maybe (horrors) I’m wrong! But I do see his remarks in a somewhat different light. More of a comment on a culture than on a race. Actually I see this more for the second remark but the first remark I have to agree with you. Well, he wasn’t perfect, that’s for sure. Incidentally Ron would have to level the same criticism at me because I too imbue MEST objects with personality!

  2. P.S. I read the quotes on your link and I do see your point. I guess I can say this in Ron’s or the Church’s defense (although it is a pretty weak defense):

    Compare the Church of Scientology with Christian churches and historically Christian churches were really poor in their treatment of women, Jews and minority races. Christian churches supported and defended slavery and Jim Crow. Even today (I was told by an Oklahoman) rural White churches in Oklahoma will not allow Blacks in their congregations. And of course many Christian churches are still resisting an equal role for women. With all its faults I haven’t seen these particular faults in the C of S. Nevertheless, and unfortunately, I do see your point.

    • My grandmother (I can practically hear her saying it) would have observed “two wrongs don’t make a right”.
      Also, if I were to be cynical, the CofS cares more about the colour of a person’s money than the colour of their Skin.

  3. Hello, it might have been nice if you had credited my wife for the “On Human Memory” article you are highlighting. She is who ordered in the magazine and put the scans of the article up over 3 years ago at my blog, which is why you even have them to show.

    See here:

    http://mikemcclaughry.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/astounding-science-fiction-march-1950-intro-to-dianetics-by-john-w-campbell-jr/

    Regardless, I’m glad to see her work spreading like this – it’s quite a compliment.

    Thanks for all your work here.

    Mike McClaughry

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